Saturday, May 25, 2019
Spectrum » Books

Posted at: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

A handbook for soccer lovers

Gaurav Kanthwal

THE most-awaited event in football, FIFA World Cup, is here and so is the ready reckoner. Four years after the release of The Football Fanatic’s Essential Guide, eminent football writer Novy Kapadia has come out with an updated version just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup starts in another four days in Russia.

Kapadia’s book is for those die-hard fans, who wish to brush up their facts and figures about various World Cup matches before the action hots up. The pocket -size book has all the stats and trivia which an ardent football fan would need to flaunt in front of their mates or their colleagues to impress upon them of their elephantine memory.

It has a brief description of every World Cup — starting from Uruguay in 1930 to the most recent one held in Brazil in 2014. Kapadia recaps the group stages, pre-quarters, quarterfinals, semi-finals and the finals, along with the epic matches and, of course, the upsets. A brief description of heroes and legends keeps the reader hooked till the last page. Each chapter, 20 in all, ends with a page titled, Extra Time, which has interesting anecdotes related to players, coaches and the teams.

Every four years when the World Cup mania starts gripping India, fans across the country are hit by a secret longing, no matter how unrealistic, to see the Indian team feature in the mega event some day. They will be shocked to know that India qualified for the 1950 World Cup but spurned Brazil’s once-in-a-lifetime-offer to send their team to the Mecca of football.

Kapadia, a sports commentator and an unofficial chronicler of the sport, writes that “the official reason stated by the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) was disagreements over team selection and insufficient practice time.”

In the very beginning of the book, the author brings up India’s missed opportunity, their would-be opponents and how far India could have progressed through the pool. Since there were no continental qualifiers in those days, the author has an interesting take on why the hosts Brazil wanted India in the World Cup. All these India-specific details may be of great interest to an Indian football fan.

There is also an interesting quiz at the end of the book to test the knowledge of the fans. The book, expectedly, ends with Russia 2018 track charts and schedule.

Fans of Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo would be mightily disappointed with this book as it has bare minimum information on football’s biggest stars and their campaign in Russia. Messi and Ronaldo would be 35 and 37, respectively, when the next quadrennial event begins in Qatar in 2022, and there is a growing feeling that this might be the duo’s last bid to win the elusive trophy.

Kapadia, perhaps, thinks otherwise, as he talks about Nilton Santos who at 37 was Brazil’s oldest player when he lifted the trophy in Chile in 1962. Germany’s Miroslav Klose was also 36 when his two goals helped his team win in Brazil in 2014. So maybe, if the big cup eludes these two in Russia, they still can have a shot at it in Qatar.


All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On