24 June, 2021

Boys From Brazil

The Samba-ists are a refreshing change, but don't hold your breath waiting for a rub-off on local lads

Boys From Brazil
On a cold wet Sunday afternoon—as the current edition of the once-popular Durand Cup meanders on in a near-empty Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi—two former India stars ponder their responsibilities. Huddled in a corner of a sofa is a frowning Mohammed Habib, Indian soccer legend and now coach with Calcutta's Mohammedan Sporting, whom the All India Football Federation (aiff) has requested to spot talent for the annual Arjuna Awards. The last time a footballer managed one was three years ago. But the sheer poverty of calibre on view leaves the veteran in a piquant spot—if he had his way, his choice would be not any of the local boys peddling their wares but one from among the freshly-imported crop of Brazilians! They simply stood out, despite their domestic colours.

In a similar predicament is Subhas Bhowmick, former India centre-forward and now East Bengal coach. His chief worry is—his team has no reliable scorer, save for a new Brazilian recruit.

Brazilians? A Rio carnival in India? A Houdini trick to infuse life and joy back into a rigor mortis-stricken game? Is...

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