J&K Invitational Cup-2018

  • ASIF M D HAJRA
  • Publish Date: Oct 29 2018 3:05AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 29 2018 3:05AM
J&K Invitational Cup-2018Photo: KashmirInk

For a few football teams considered minnows till recently, both at global level and locally as well, year 2018 has been historical in terms of achievements. 

Globally, Iceland with a population of 0.335 million, in 2018 FIFA World Cup played in Russia, became the smallest nation in the world ever to make it to the World Cup, playing their first match against one of the greatest football nations of the world – Argentina. So was the North American country of Panama.   

And at local level, it is our own Real Kashmir FC, a budding football team from the beautiful valley that created history by winning I-League (2nd division), thereby qualifying for I-League (2018-19) - premier league football tournament. 

Real Kashmir FC playing in I-League has not only created history but it has also given a fillip to the football infrastructure development in the valley. Moreover, football fanatics of the valley will have many football feasts to taste with the arrival of top clubs viz. East Bengal, Mohun Bagan etc. in the valley scheduled to play against Real Kashmir FC in its home matches starting November 6th.             

A prelude to these football feasts, the valley hosted ‘Pre-I League J&K Invitational Cup 2018’ – a straight knockout format tournament to prepare Real Kashmir FC for their I-League debut, held in the 3rd week of October. 

The intent was, of course good. What about execution? Was it good, bad or ugly?

While there were many Goods to witness, a few Bads did happen also, and something was Ugly as well. 

 

 

GOOD

 

Performance of Real Kashmir FC was good, rather better. Over the period of one year, the team has become solid - structurally, technically and aesthetically. It looks like an international football club. Having emerged as the joint winners of the Cup along with the current I-League champion Minerva Punjab FC, the team has already signalled its intent for the upcoming I-League.  

In addition to the local heroes of Real Kashmir FC, players of the visiting teams like Minerva Punjab FC and Benguluru FC (B) displayed quality football to the local crowd. A large number of football lovers spent hours on the uncomfortable ‘solid iron’ seats of TRC Astroturf ground, watching local teams get drubbed at the hands of outside state clubs. The tournament was a crowd puller despite prevailing disturbance.

The team of visiting referees made the game of football look cleaner given their judgements were fair enough in every game. The linesmen were in sync with the referee with regard to their signalling activities. 

Above all, Real Kashmir FC were exemplary in offering Minerva Punjab FC the winner trophy, despite the jury having adjudged the teams as joint winners. It was another gesture of ‘Kashmiriyat’.                 

 

 

BAD

 

Apart from J&K Bank FC, which showed some resistance before being beaten 3-1 by Minerva Punjab FC, the other two local clubs viz. Lonestar Kashmir FC and State Football Academy exhibited dismal performance. More so, Lonestar Kashmir FC was the worst, conceding 7 goals against Bengaluru FC (B) at home ground. The game was a complete mess of football, as the visitors made the local lads dance with their ‘tiki taka’. As one of the spectators rightly said, “It is the game of carrom with the striker in the hands of Bengaluru FC (B) from start to the end”. Even State Football Academy (SFA) looked ordinary against lesser-known visitors - Sudeva FC. From the start, Sudeva FC dominated all departments of the game, thrashing SFA by 3-0. From spectators’ point of view, it was another dent to the image of football in Kashmir.

Although the tournament reached its apex with the best two teams making it to the ‘Clash of the Titans’, yet the prevailing situation in the valley gave a big jolt to the football lovers, as the organizers were forced to cancel the final match for time constraints and security concerns. The final match did not happen on ground; it was settled on papers only.

 

UGLY

 

If we go by history, Italy as a footballing nation, carries the richest legacy. The nation has won four world cup titles (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), was runner-up twice (1970, 1994), reached a third place once (1990) and the fourth place once (1978), besides winning many other trophies including European Championship, Olympic football tournament etc. However, the same nation failed to qualify FIFA World Cup 2018 finals – their first failure in 60 years. Both the success and the failures of team Italy was on ‘merit’.     

Never on earth does historical performance act as ‘Life-time Performance Certificate’. 

As against this, in this part of third-world, it actually happens. Lonestar Kashmir FC on the pretext of being an I-League (2nd Division) team in 2014, was chosen ahead of much formidable football teams at present, including the J&KSPDC FC, J&K Police FC, AG’s Office, to play in the J&K Invitational Cup-2018. 

Contrarily, going by the statistics this season, at the end of 11 league matches, Lonestar Kashmir FC was placed at bottom-of-the-table at 12th place in JKFA’s Premier League Football this season, without a single win. Moreover, the team has conceded 30 goals so far - the highest by any team this season, and scoring only 2. 

Even State Football Academy (SFA) team is placed well below J&KSPDC FC, J&K Police FC and AG’s office FC on the Premier League table.           

If we go by the consumption pattern, we are at par with citizens of any developed country. Be it using Apple phones, wearing Nike shoes, putting Ray ban gogs or talking ‘English’, we are really not far behind any honest ‘angrez’. But when it comes to sincerity on job, acting with due diligence, taking a decision in the public interest, delivering on the principles of natural justice, is our approach the same?                         

Choosing Lonestar Kashmir FC and State Football Academy FC over the much formidable teams, which apart from spoiling the efforts put behind the tournament has also posed questions on the credibility of the organizers, was of course, Ugly!