First Whistle : July 2012
“On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail. Reasons the card, but passion the gale.”
As this edition marks the completion of its first year of e-publication, it is with passion that Goalden Times forges forward in its mission to unite every football lover across nations in their vision to support evolution of freedom of expression and attain the goal of knowledge sharing across generations; finally, hoping to bring its dream to fruition.
For the editors and all the staff of this periodical it has been a valuable and satisfying 12 months.
The magazine is intended as a medium by which everything under the sun surrounding the ‘beautiful game’ is conveyed in all humility, and a forum for debate on issues which are likely to shape the future of football.
When our first issue appeared, we did not know how much of a response we would enjoy. In the event, site views have risen slowly but surely with each subsequent issue, affirming your faith in us. We could not have made this headway without your constant support.
Our aim is to offer a variety of genuinely different ideas and we have never made any attempt to impose editorial uniformity where the views of our contributors are concerned. We heartily encourage our readers to provide feedback as much as they can. Your contributions, whether formal or informal, are very welcome. We may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our home page address on the internet is: www.goaldentimes.org.
Goalden Times was conceived at a time when there was no football following Copa America. This year, the scene is a little different though. After the domestic leagues in Europe, we had Euro and now football in Olympics will nicely take us through the beginning of the European leagues.
Olympic football has kicked off with a stunner from Japan as they beat the European and World champions Spain. This naturally leads people to question how good Spain really is. Do they belong to the same league as the other great sides in international football like the Uruguayan team of the 1920s, the Italian side of the 30s, the Argentina team of the 40s, the Brazilian team of late 50s and 60s or even the French team of late 90s? Spain has always produced supremely talented football players who played with their contemporary international football greats, thanks to the high standard of the domestic league in Spain. However, before Euro 2008, Spain was tagged as the serial underachievers and rightfully so; but since then they have won everything that they have played for. Right after the Euro 2012 triumph, their under-19 team won the UEFA European championship.
Coming back to Euro 2012 – a tournament played across two time zones, two languages, two currencies – our team followed the game closely and brought insights before and after the game for our readers. In this issue we have done a team by team post-mortem of the big names in Europe.
The football transfer market has been simmering with Paris Saint-Germain leading the battle; they have already bagged Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan, Ezequiel Lavezzi from Napoli among others and are looking to strengthen their squad further by bringing in the likes of Luka Modrić. UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea has signed on three talented midfielders: the Brazilian wonder kid Oscar, Marko Marin of Germany and Eden Hazard of Belgium. We shall no longer see Park Ji-Sung donning a Manchester United jersey this year, but he will still be seen in English league playing for Queens Park Rangers. United’s new signing Shinji Kagawa has already made an impact and will be the Asian prospect in England. Ballon D’Or winner Ricardo Kakà is facing an uncertain future as the Real Madrid boss José Mourinho has made it clear that Kakà will not be a part of his plan A next season. Kakà, however, is desperately seeking to return to regular football. Can he get back to his old club AC Milan and restore the glory days for him and the club?
We shall bring you more transfer stories and football news from the Olympics while stepping into Year Two of Goalden Times, looking for the same love and encouragement that we have received so far.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, especially those who contributed articles and ideas, for helping us in our work over the last year. Working together with you all has been a most fruitful and rewarding partnership for us. We look forward to continuing our collaboration in future issues. May football unite us.
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First Whistle – June 2012
Sixteen nations, eight venues, 31 matches and finally on July 1 we had one winner at the Stadion NSK Olimpiyskiy, Kiev. La Roja saved their best for the last to win what was one of the most one-sided final in any international tournament ever. As the world witnessed Europe’s top teams battling it out over the span of 24 days, our correspondents from across the globe got busy penning down stories of Euro 2012. Hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we did in bringing them to you.
While the Euro-phoria persisted and the red-and-yellow fans continued to revel in the joy, Goalden Times took a moment to step back and savour the flavour….to present the June 2012 issue, with a vibrant new look. Download our PDF to bask in this whole new experience.
The transfer market is already in motion and will keep gaining momentum before the domestic football leagues in Europe start in August and September. Follow our Scouting Network to know which youngsters are sure to hit the headlines in the coming months. After all, most of our Euro stars did shine in Poland and Ukraine.
In transfer news from India, the Indian captain Sunil Chhetri has joined the Sporting Clube de Portugal B in the Liga Orangina. The club is planning to do some work in Indian football with the All India Football Federation (AIFF). We shall bring you more news from Indian football this season along with football stories from all possible corners of the planet.
Corinthians, the Brazilian club, won their first Copa Libertadores beating the six-time champion Boca Juniors from Argentina 3-1 in aggregate. We congratulate them and hope for an intriguing final against Chelsea in the 2012 Club World Cup final.
We also congratulate Ashvin Kumar for winning the National Award for the film ‘Inshallah, Football’. Goalden Times takes immense inspiration from the Argentinian-Brazilian couple, Juan and Priscla, who came to Srinagar, India to set up a football academy to engage the Kashmiri youth in the art form we call football. We share the vision of Juan and Priscla that football can and will make a better society with a stronger sense of friendship and fraternity.
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First Whistle – April, 2012
At the impressionable age, when I just entered high school, the goal that left a lasting impression is what we depicted on the cover of our very first issue. We call it the ‘Locus of God’. But that’s not the only way to score a great goal. There could be a set of amazing passes leading into a goal, or a chip or a free-kick. Our revamped look from March onwards is somewhat a convex combination of such techniques; largely run solo, but ably assisted by other key players in team Goalden Times. We have received encouraging feedback on our new layout from our readers and this kind of support eggs us on to continuously improve and enrich our content.
Moving on to the football pitch, news of Antonio Cassano, the Milan and Italy striker finally receiving a go-ahead to resume playing following a heart surgery has been very heartening. With the collective prayer of football fans around the globe, Fabrice Ndala Muamba is getting better and Eric Abidal is progressing fine. However, not all news has been good for the heart. We would like to take this opportunity to send our sincere best wishes to Aston Villa’s captain Stiliyan Petrov, who doctors say, has been a victim of the Chernobyl disaster. We wish him a positive outcome and speedy recovery. The game also lost a great man in Livorno midfieder Piermario Morosini who collapsed on the pitch and died of cardiac failure last week. We extend our condolences to his family and friends.
Outside of health hazards, Carlos Tevez is back doing what he does best – showing his (hat)tricks on the football pitch. But his club, Manchester City is now 5 points behind the city rival United with five matches to go. In Italy, just 1 point separates the league leader Juventus, still unbeaten this season, and AC Milan. Borussia Dortmund seems to have a decisive 8-point lead over Bayern Munich in Bundesliga. In La Liga, Real Madrid won an El Clásico inalmost five years at the Camp Nou to almost seal the top spot. Elsewhere in Europe, Montpellier has a narrow 3-point lead over their nearest rival – the big spending Paris Saint-Germain, while Ajax is 6 points ahead of AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord Rotterdam. In India, Dempo Sporting Club has clinched the I-League title.
Odds are of another El Clásico on May 19 in the UEFA Champions League final. There is a distinct possibility of an all-Spanish final in the UEFA Europa League as well with three Spanish clubs in the final four.
We shall see how the Spanish national team dominates the UEFA Euro 2012 starting June 8, in Poland and Ukraine. Goalden Times will celebrate Euro and football in more ways than one. Keep watching this space, our Facebook page and Twitter.
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First Whistle – March 2012
The onset of Spring brings with it rebirth, renewal and regrowth. And so is Goalden Times reinventing itself while keeping pace with the winds of change. Well, the Armani’s, Dior’s and Saint Laurent’s may not be around to drape us with a new look, but we can redesign our outfit, alright. Hope you like our brand new attire! And don’t mind us being fashionably late…
In other news, the Ides of March brought evil tidings for clubs from England. Widely acknowledged as the most competitive league in Europe, the Premier League suffered one reverse after another, the worst being Athletic Bilbao sweeping aside the English champions Manchester United through some exceptional football. It would have lost its entire stock of clubs in Europe, but for a miraculous comeback by Chelsea in a pulsating thriller with Napoli. Having fired their manager, the old hands of Chelsea turned the clock back to produce vital performances. Elsewhere, it was a celebration of Michel Platini’s efforts to empower the clubs from outside the traditional powerhouse leagues. Apoel FC from Nicosia is a poster boy for this, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals where they will be up against the might of Real Madrid. Traditional giants AC Milan and Bayern Munich also made their presence felt. Mario Gomez was no match for Lionel Messi who slammed, slalomed, crashed, walloped and blazed five past Bayer Leverkusen. Milan against Barcelona would be the tie of the quarter-finals but having faced each other in group stages, many would have argued that UEFA needs to relook at the system.
Domestically, most leagues threw up two-horse races. Milan leads Juventus in Serie A, the Manchester clubs are separated by one point in Premier League, Borussia Dortmund have advantage over Bayern Munich in Bundesliga, Paris Saint-Germain have a slender lead over Montpellier and Porto lead over Benfica in Primeira Liga. In La Liga though, Real Madrid’s eight point lead over Barcelona seems to have already ensured another league win for Jose Mourinho.
Juventus remained the only club among the big leagues to remain unbeaten across all competitions, though having drawn more than they have won, their title hopes are dependent on Milan suffering reverses. One such ‘reverse’ for Milan was when this happened in the title clash with Juventus, leading to increasing calls for goal-line technology.
Liverpool managed to grab their first trophy in six years, winning the League Cup beating Cardiff City in tiebreaker, thus ensuring their participation in European competitions after a year’s absence.
On the other side of the globe, in India, the fourth oldest cup competition in the world (started in 1893), the IFA Shield was won by local giants East Bengal. The win is memorable for it came in the centenary year of the first ever win of the Shield by an Indian team – ironically, East Bengal’s archrivals, Mohun Bagan.
With the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and various domestic tussles in Europe, the next four weeks look promising. We shall be around to bring you all the riveting updates.
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First Whistle – January 2012
Goalden Times wishes its readers a wonderful 2012. Hope football brings in golden times in our lives throughout the year.
We have witnessed some amazing football in the year gone by – especially with the return to glory for some of the greatest and oldest institutions of the game. It had ended though, with two shocking losses for Football ‘upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to be silent’.
Another significant event of 2011 has been the launch of Goalden Times. Our efforts on the website were recognized by top20footballblogs.com. Such acknowledgement made us feel good but in the longer run it’s your love for the game that will keep us going and help in widening the fraternity.
The beginning of 2012 saw the Argentine international, Lionel Messi winning his third successive Ballon d’Or, thus equalling Michel Platini – the only other player to have won the award three times in a row. The award was open to Europeans only, when Platini had won it from 1983 to 1985; thereby making Messi’s achievement even more astounding.
Baichung Bhutia, India’s most accomplished footballer bid farewell to football as a player, with an exhibition match where the Indian national team played against FC Bayern Munich. Although the Munich side made it look too easy in the 4-0 triumph, it was a grand and emotional end for Baichung. When he left the pitch on the 85th minute, 30,000 fans at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium gave him a standing ovation. Players from both the sides shook hands with him as he walked his way to the bench for the last time.
With the Africa Cup of Nations in a few days, the UEFA Champions League back in action in February and the domestic leagues moving into critical stages, football looks to get more exciting in the days to come. Some clubs are making some meaningful adjustments in their squad using the winter transfer window and we are sure to watch some more drama on the last few days of January. At Goalden Times, we introduce some exciting new features, while continuing with the ones you have liked. Keep helping us spread the love for the game.
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First Whistle – December 2011
We’ve all played out a rather eventful year – personally, professionally, on the field and off it. But the only constant was the ‘soccer syndrome’ that consumed us, irrespective of our other commitments. So much so, that we decided to manifest our passion and fanaticism a tad productively through Goalden Times, back in August. Little did we know the fruits of labour would be so rewarding. Four editions and a few trials on, we’re proud to see our baby find its footing, albeit virtually. Minor hurdles and challenges can never ebb the passion that drives us to present an improved GT for you every month – just like one loss can’t dampen the spirits of a football team. We take our management lessons from football, afterall.
Here’s presenting the football news for the last time this year, in the same fever pitch. The Euro 2012 draws were held a couple of weeks back. What ensues between the participating groups can only be a delectable conjecture for us all. The top European leagues, on the other hand, are gearing up for holiday matches; it’s testing times for the squads and their might. For now, Manchester City and Real Madrid are holding on to their top positions in Premier League and La Liga respectively. AC Milan, Udinese, Juventus and Lazio keenly contest for the pole position in Serie A. Indian football is also on a rare high after winning the SAFF Cup. We eagerly await our new Ballon d’Or, to be announced early next year. While we hunt for glory, don’t miss all the speculations on the impending winter transfers.
In other stories, while Carlos Tevez refuses to play for Manchester City as he ‘doesn’t feel up to it’, Doncaster captain Billy Sharp – a minnow compared to Tevez, in terms of stature and salary – was on the pitch just two days after the tragic loss of his two-day old son and scored a ‘goal from heaven’ as a tribute to his late son. As Bill Shankly famously said, football is more important than life and death. We pay our tribute to two legendary captains: Socrates – the Brazilian with languid skills and handsome grace and Gary Speed – the Leeds attacking midfielder. More than footballers, they were both great ‘football men’.
Come join us in celebrating our little personal victories as the teams rejoice theirs on the field. As 2011 draws to a close, we would like to greet all our well-wishers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you achieve your goals!
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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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