Next January, Bayern Munich are likely to play in New Delhi with Philipp Lahm, Bastain Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and the other top stars of the first team. Plans to that end are being firmed up at the Bavarian club’s headquarters in Saebener Strasse here.
Club president Uli Hoeness and Karl Heinz Rumminegge, Bayern’s chief executive officer, confirmed to HT over the week of their intention to take the first team to New Delhi after the annual winter training camp in the Gulf region. The camp is likely to begin on January 2 during the German football season’s annual winter break between December 20 and January 21.
Bayern went to Dubai in 2010 and to Qatar this year for a week’s session during the winter break. A club official said they are likely to be in Qatar next year too. It is possible that Hoeness and Rummenigge, both former West Germany stars, would be part of the delegation to New Delhi. “The flying time to New Delhi from our winter training camp is only around three hours,” said a Bayern Munich official explaining the club’s preference for New Delhi. The official didn’t want to be named as he isn’t authorised to speak on the matter.
Rummenigge said their opponents haven’t been decided. It is possible that former Bundesliga champions Vfl Wolfsburg, now coached by ex-Bayern boss Felix Magath, would be chosen. If that happens, it would be the first time two top European clubs will be playing a standalone friendly in India. Japan skipper Makoto Hasebe plays for Wolfsburg, having extended his contract there till 2014 over the weekend.
Bayern visited Kolkata in May 2008 with six players of the first team, among them Mark van Bommel, Ze Roberto and Oliver Kahn who played his last club match against Mohun Bagan in packed Salt Lake Stadium.
The reason why Wolfsburg emerged frontrunners to play in New Delhi is that it is owned by the automobile giants Volkswagen Group which also controls Audi which, along with Adidas, is a Bayern shareholder. Both will conduct the first U-16 FC Bayern Youth Cup in New Delhi, tentatively scheduled on October 8 and 9, with Paul Breitner, Bayern All Stars captain and 1974 World Cup winner, being the tournament’s ambassador. Bayern and their partners organised an 11-day training camp for six boys chosen from trials in Kolkata last November. The boys also played against Bayern’s U-16 team.
One of the six, Raju Chakraborty, was diagnosed with a heart problem here and Bayern said it would fund the treatment. “The doctors at Bayern are hopeful that he could return to football then,” said Martin Haegele, the head of international.
The writer’s trip has been sponsored by Bayern Munich