First Whistle – November, 2011

Here’s presenting the fourth issue of Goalden Times and it’s been like ‘watching the baby grow – from the tiny bundle of joy, kicking in the air to rolling over and then taking its first wobbly toddler step to feel the earth that is soon to become its playing field’. It’s the most fascinating magic show in the world – perhaps only comparable to the magic on a football pitch. One is never prepared for the surprises that a fascinating game of football can present on a given day.

Take for instance, how Sir Alex Ferguson reeled for a while from the merciless drubbing as his “noisy neighbours” emerged as the club of the month to retain the top spot in England. And first time around in UEFA Champions League, they have turned the tables and brought alive the group of death. Moving on to Germany, Bayern Munich seems to be cruising through both the domestic and European competitions, but it remains to be seen how they perform after losing their charismatic midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger to an unfortunate injury which can keep him out of action for the rest of the year. In Spain, Real Madrid appears to be in great form. They have established a 3-point lead over their archrival Barcelona and look forward to changing the colour of the ribbon on the league trophy. Serie A continues to be the most competitive league with Udinese and Lazio sharing the top spot and Milan right behind them; but Juventus have a game in hand and a win will bring them back on top and make it a 4-way title fight.

In the European circuit, Ronaldo led Portugal into Euro 2012. They were joined by Czech Republic, Croatia and Ireland who also won their respective play-off matches. Moving to the land of Africa, Esperance have lifted the prized CAF Champions league and Zimbabwe striker Edward Sadomba has won the Golden Boot. In other news, as FC Barcelona players continued to dominate the Ballon d’Or shortlist‎ this year, the club president has triggered a fresh debate, suggesting FIFA should pay players during the World Cup. We will keep an eye on how this debate unfolds.

The month was marked by sudden, unexplained illnesses of Rino Gattuso and Antonio Cassano. Last heard, they are recovering steadily and inching back to being match-ready. As true blue football fans, we’d like to wish them all the best and look forward to their speedy return to the pitch. As Diego Armando Maradona says: “Forza Antonio. Forza Rino. Football needs you.”

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