Pune at Fifa World Cup 2018: Football euphoria kicks in as city readies to watch stars align
Here’s how Pune is living up to the World Cup hypepune Updated: Jun 11, 2018 16:16 IST
Every four years, football fans around the world are treated to a month of exhilarating and enthralling action in the form of the FIFA World Cup. All star players, who they tune in to watch every week in the European leagues, participate in a sporting blockbuster like none other. The beautiful game unites the entire world, but for this month, once in every four years, patriotism hits a completely different level.
However, for football fans in India, fans support a plethora of countires, with Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain being the most popular. The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are household names for anyone with even an iota of knowledge about the game and this World Cup in Russia could be the last time the La Liga duo participate in the competition. While football aficionados are geared up for the game, how is the city of Pune preparing for the mega blockbuster?
While sports lounges across the city will be telecasting the games, clubs and five stars hotels are still deciphering how to market the tournament. A competition that is hyped for months before it begins, is now seemingly losing its charm in Pune.
Punekars in Russia
For numerous reasons, fans who were planning to go to Russia and watch at least one game of the tournament, still remain undecided, with only a few days left to go before the curtain raiser on June 14.
However, the city will have some representation for sure as Mubarriz Mukadam, a 22-year-old, born and brought up in Pune, will be visiting the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11 to watch the second semi-final. Mukadam is currently studying in the city and was overjoyed thinking that he will be in the country at the time of the World Cup.
“I was ecstatic on getting a ticket confirmation for the game. This is my first ever World Cup game and it will be a huge one as it will decide who’ll be in the final. My stay in Russia has been a pleasurable one and I’m getting a grasp of the language. The local residents are extremely friendly and they’re the ones I’ll be going with for the game.”
He also explained how the entire capital city is buzzing. There are decorations on the street and wherever one goes, they are likely to come across people speaking about the World Cup. There are people from different countries that have already reached Russia and are getting a grasp of the Russian culture.
Turfs ready for kick-off
According to Sangram, owner of a football turf in the city,said, “The World Cup is a huge tournament and we’re doing as much as we can to promote it. We have a 52-inch TV next to two of our turfs and will be streaming the games on it. All our regulars have said that they will come for the big games. We are also forwarding messages to registered numbers and are informing them about the matches.”
Dwayne, owner of HOTFUT and Aufside turfs, said, “We will be showing all the games on our TVs. We are planning to hang posters and flexes outside as well as inside and for a month, we plan to change the decor of the entire place and make it World Cup-themed.”
Pune footballers aim to score big from games
Meanwhile, in the city of Pune, DSK Shivajians are encouraging their players of all age groups to watch and analyse the games together as the coaches believe it can be a learning experience for them. They added that the games will help them fall in love with the sport all over again. Deggie Cardozo, head of the Shivajians academy, spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times about why he’s looking forward to the World Cup and how the club is preparing the younger players for it.
“Football is a very interesting game and it changes with each passing day. So many nuances and different styles of football will be on display at the World Cup. I have a slight bias towards Portugal for this competition due to my Goan roots. For the boys, we will be screening each game in the press conference room as every match can prove to be a learning experience. Our players will learn the way the international players play, keep an eye on the tactics, the way they maximise their skill sets and so on.”
Another football enthusiast, who is keenly looking forward to the World Cup, is UKM Kothurd attacking midfielder Bruce Luis. Being an Arsenal fan for over a decade and a player for the same amount of time, Luis has grown ever so fond of the game and is pumped up for the tournament for the fourth time.
Speaking about his expectations from the competition, he said, “I’m planning to watch each and every game with friends and teammates because the World Cup is like a festival for me. I’m backing England this year in Russia because they have a young and exciting squad and despite being an Arsenal fan, I’m a huge fan of Harry Kane.”
He also spoke about how the city is reacting to the World Cup and is bullish that things are changing for the better. “The World Cup fever in Pune is gradually increasing due to India’s great showing in the Intercontinental Cup. Schools advise students to watch the matches and even give holidays for late night matches. I would like to see more adverts, such as hoardings, and some Indian star should help promote the tournament in our city.”
Where to watch the matches?
For the first two rounds of the group stages, three matches will usually take place, with the games kicking off at 5:30pm, 8:30pm and 11:30pm, with an exception on June 16, when there will be four games, with the first one starting at 3:30 pm.
For the final round of the group stages, two matches from the same group will kick off at 7:30pm, while two of the following group will begin at 11:30pm.
For the round of 16 and quarter-finals, games will begin at 7:30pm and 11:30pm.
For the two semi-finals, matches will kick off on the July 10 and July 11 at 11:30pm.
The final will begin at 8:30pm
All matches will be broadcast on the Sony Network channels
Live streaming will also be available via Sony Liv
First Published: Jun 11, 2018 15:58 IST