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Crowd energy impresses stars from Germany

sports Updated: Jan 11, 2012 00:01 IST
Tomojit Basu

It probably does not compare to an evening at the Allianz Arena but Tuesday's showdown against India left quite a number of Bayern Munich stars pleasantly surprised. Even though they put on a dominating display, Die Roten's finest were humble in their victory.

"It was a great experience to have come here, I'm glad we made the trip ahead of heading back to Munich after training in Qatar. I have been to Kolkata before to play but this was a much bigger match because Delhi's also a much bigger city," said 22-year-old Thomas Mueller who won both the Golden Boot and the Best

Young Player awards at the 2010 World Cup.

"You could see that the crowd was very passionate in their support also because this is Bhaichung Bhutia's farewell," he told HT at the mixed zone after the match where he netted a first half brace in the 4-0 rout. Mueller added, "The right-back (Nirmal Chhetri) was very good, he's very physical and quick. I was quite impressed."

'Crowd surprised me'
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored a stunner on Tuesday, said: "It was a comfortable match but even though the crowd was less they were very loud which surprised me. As a team, India played well in the second half and I won't be surprised if they rise up in the rankings in a few years."

Approximately 35,000 in number, the audience was vocal through the match even though India seemed overawed in the first half where they conceded all the goals. The Bayern Youth Cup match between Delhi and Mumbai was played ahead of the kick-off to the main game in the midst of atypical cheering while the Asteria Electric String Quartet comprising four ladies as incredibly adept at their violins and cellos as with drawing wolf-whistles put on a show.

"We were very tired when we got here because of two matches and a lot of training in Qatar. The crowd was very impressive and it surprised me a little because I never knew football was popular here," said striker Ivica Olic who replaced Mueller in the second half.

Would like to come back soon? "Of course, it was great being here and everybody's been so warm and helpful. We hope to help in the development of the sport here as you saw that right now India are still a few levels below. But all in all, it was a great experience and I hope next time we're here for a little longer," skipper Philipp Lahm.