Rahul Bose was one of the lucky few at Kolkata’s Salt Lake stadium on Friday for the much-hyped ‘friendly’ match. He saw Lionel Messi in action, live, with running commentary from India’s ace footballer Baichung Bhutia, who dissected Argentina’s game plan for him, along with Venezuela’s ‘breakaway’ moves that almost resulted in a shock goal.
Quiz him on the man of the day and a ‘mesmerised’ Rahul says, “There are good sportsmen and there are geniuses like Messi. He had a fantastic game. I was surprised he played for all the 90 minutes. Even though the intensity on the field was just 75 per cent, it was evident that his team relies on him almost 90 per cent despite solid players like Kun Aguera. The two teams will meet again in two months for the 2012 World Cup qualifiers, and given the way Venezuela was playing as a team, I give them a 50-50 chance next time.”
Rahul didn’t get a chance to meet Messi, but says that he wasn’t expecting to.
The game was organised by FIFA and he knows the rules are strict.
“There was no opportunity of clicking pictures or shaking hands with the players beyond the actual match. It would have been great if Messi had autographed a football for my annual auction that raises money for my charity, but the organisers told me it was impossible. I’ve left the ball with Baichung, I hope he gets lucky,” he says.
He admits that the edge that’s there in the Mohan Bagan-East Bengal matches was missing.
There was a festive carnival-like atmosphere and the adulation for Messi was unbelievable.
Rahul smiles, “The man himself was chilled out, but then that’s Messi.”