First Whistle – February 2012

February may be the month of love but we at Goalden Times started our season of love and longing early in January, thanks to the readers’ response to our first edition of 2012. Words aren’t adequate enough to express our gratitude.

The euphoria was carried onto the football field where Zambia scored a fairytale win in the African Cup of Nations against the Ivorian ‘golden generation’. This should have an extremely positive impact on a nation that saw its players, coaches and the crew die when the plane carrying them to Senegal for a World Cup qualification game in 1993, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon. That was a sad day not just for them, but for the entire world.

1st February 2012 was another such day when fans invaded the pitch and 74 of them died in the Egyptian city of Port Said following a football match between top Cairo club Al-Ahly and the local side Al-Masry. The problems in Egypt are more deep-rooted and we hope they come out of it much like the way the Zambians came out of the pain with the lone survivor of that squad, Kalusha Bwalya (he had flown directly from the Netherlands to Dakar), leading an entirely new team to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 1994.

On the subject of leaders, the manager’s post lies vacant as England coach Fabio Capello resigns. The popular choice for replacement is Harry Redknapp but he seems focused on his current job with Tottenham, sitting steady at number 3 right under the Manchester rivals on the Barclays Premier League table. The colour of the ribbons on the La Liga trophy looks certain to change after three years with the Madrid side taking their lead to double digits now. Juventus still remain unbeaten this season in all competitions and looks like good times are going to be back for the ‘Old Lady’.

The winter transfer window closed without any major signing but the tale of two strikers, both extraordinarily talented, stood out. Filippo Inzaghi, supremely loyal that he is, chose to remain with Milan while Carlos Tevez’s bohemian career failed to find a new anchor. Goalden Times looks at both the stories in detail. The Arsenal legend Thierry Henry came ‘home’ for a short spell on loan and finished it in style scoring another match-winning goal before heading back to Major League Soccer (MLS) in the US. Although MLS has been able to attract some big names in football, the game still has a long way to go in the country. A rip-off from MLS will now be seen in India with players of the calibre of Hernan Crespo, Fabio Cannavaro, Robert Pires, Robbie Fowler and Jay Jay Okocha joining the Premier League Soccer (PLS) in West Bengal, India. PLS will begin in March and we keenly wait to see how it impacts Indian football. We do hope that the players as well as the viewers love the ‘new experience’.

As love is in the air and we believe football can create a stronger sense of bonding, we dedicate this edition of Goalden Times to the martyred saints of ancient Rome. We also take this opportunity to pay our humble tribute to the “Busby Babes” who had left us this month back in 1958 in the Munich air disaster.

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