Are you ready for the World Cup frenzy?
FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and the football crazy fans in Goa have already picked their favourite team and are quite vocal in their support. Café follows the fans to see how the upcoming World Cup is the highlight on their sports calendar
If you think the phrase ‘Football is a religion’ is over-the-top, you should see the behaviour of football fans in Goa. For a state where the passion of the sport is described as something that runs through their veins, the enthusiasm for the world’s greatest and most watched sporting finale reaches a feverish high during these months.
From groups of friends, to families, everyone from school children to retired folk make topics related to the World Cup the centre of all discussions… in the balcao, at the dinner table, on the playground, at social gatherings and even at work. At home, the usual TV viewing schedule is disrupted as the match screening takes prominence and similarly, any plans made during this month revolve around these matches. So much so that there are already large groups of Goans who are in Russia and one of the first games they are excited to watch is the Portugal-Spain match. This match, in Goa, will be watched by thousands and public venues will host packed screenings. You can expect emotions to run high as fans supporting each team, wearing the team jerseys and other props will be celebrating each notable moment. In such heady environments, one can cut the tension with a knife and a loss to teams like Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Germany or England, among other favourites, can ruin the fans’ day. A victory, on the other hand, can see fans light firecrackers, roam in their four-wheeled drives and sing anthems. “Every year we may look forward to our annual festivals but every four years, when it comes to the World Cup, it is something else altogether,” says Max Rodrigues from Fatorda, who has a giant World Cup Schedule pinned against his wall at home. At Colva, Fred Fernandes and his group are still shocked at some of the squad line ups for the World Cup, particularly the players who did not make it to the squad and those who did make it. They have started questioning the mentality of the coaches and feel their teams are already doomed before the World Cup has even started. The permutations and combinations regarding speculation about how their teams will fare will continue with every game and there are bound to be some shocks along the way. “The fact that there is no Italy and Netherlands is already a big surprise. Brazil was the shocker last year with the way they lost to Germany but they seem to have quite the formidable team,” says Sanket Kamat from Canacona. Sanket and friends are die hard supporters of Germany and not only do their have all their jerseys in place, they have paintings of their team on the walls of their houses. It is common to see such large colourful installations made by fans, especially along village roads or even colourful face paintings. Another football fan, Johann Conceicao, is sticking to Goa favouites, Portugal. “I support them because of the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo. The team has shown great team spirit as they did at the Euro 2016. They’ve got great talent added to Ronaldo’s brilliance and strong team ethic, making them hard to beat. Credit also goes to their head coach Fernando Santos and a dependable midfielder in Manchester City’s Bernando Silva. Altogether, they have a balanced team.” Going with something different Evelyn D’Souza, supporting Belgium. She says, “A team that has been building up and has my support simply because of this team’s potential is Belgium. They have been unlucky with injuries and luck but there is a special talent. With Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne they have two of the best players of the English Premier League. Appointing Thierry Henry as an assistant coach will work wonders for them. Let the attention be on the top favourites, this team could surprise everyone.” And as the tournament is upon us, these fans are spending this week talking up their team’s chances and are quite firm in their opinion that their team will win. “There are teams beyond the usual favourites in Goa and I will wait to see how the tournament starts. I have no favourites now but I will support the underdog. You had teams like Uruguay and Colombia that had decent run- ins till the finals, “adds Usman Sheikh from Porvorim.
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