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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Two of a Kind :-)

Yipppeee…Its weekend time, n what do most of us do on weekends?…well it isn’t rocket science …its as good as anybody’s guess…
For a change it is breakfast@ 12 PM, lunch@ 4 PM and dinner @ 10 PM :-) …we think we’ve slogged over the week so hard that sleeping over-time becomes a necessity(now it doesn’t matter if we’ve spent 2 out of 8 hrs workin’ & the rest cribbin’ ‘bout how our jobs are monotonous, ‘bout how ignorant our higher-ups are ‘bout employee needs, ‘bout all those grapevine talks at the coffee vendin’ machine, ‘bout the hikes, ’bout changin’ jobs…etc etc etc…there seems to be no end…In short: ‘Welcome to the world of highly superficial supposedly over-paid ordinary mortals who claim that no other section of the society work harder than them, the high cost of livin’ attributed to them’…in other words ‘Welcome to IT’ :-) )…If only one knew better! Phew!!!
Do we talk ‘bout bringin’ ‘bout a change? Well tough one to answer…;-)

Well the above stuff was juz my way of startin’ off with my post on somethin’ other than soccer :-) …To those people out there who want me to write on juz bout everythin’ else around (juz coz I happened to write on somethin’ I love doesn’t qualify me to take over the mantle of a full-fledged writer, c’mon I have a lonnnggg lonnnggg way to go :-) )…Over the past few days since the time I started writin’ ‘bout the passion I have for the sport, I’ve had so many people comin’ n tellin’ me…’Amari, we love your posts on sports, don’t u think its high time you wrote on other stuff n start takin’ your skills seriously’? Well, Im honoured, thank you! But I’d still maintain am a free-lancer n I have loads to learn n that comes from experience and an amazing audience like you all! So I’d like to say, ‘Thank You folks, u make my posts worthwhile’!

Now forgive me if I commit errors while Im writin’ this post…am yet to come out of the sleep I’ve lost over the last week sittin’ up late nights watchin’ the semis of Euro-’08…Was it worth it? In a way yes, in a way no…

Yes for the followin’ reasons…
Yes, ‘coz Germany defeated Turkey n Spain defeated Russia…
Yes, ‘coz Germany Vs Spain is an ideal Euro-’08 final…
Yes, ‘coz Turkey n Russia gave a good fight before goin’ down…
Yes, ‘coz players like Bastian, Xabi, Silva, Lahm, Torres, Villa make soccer special…
Yes, ‘coz Spain plays fabulous football, they score with that than a mere chance…
Yes, ‘coz of the joy of seein’ the fantastic enthusiastic colourful crowds..
The ‘yesses’ end here…

No for the followin’ reasons…
No, ‘coz lotza weaknesses in the German defence exposed…
No, ‘coz there was mighty complacency in the German side, their feet were not quite movin’…
No, ‘coz Lahm’s goal which saved them was not somethin’ they were happy ‘bout n this came from Miraslov Klose’s mouth…I agree!
No, ‘coz Turkey were the better side on the day play wise n I think I feel sorry for them..
No, ‘coz there’s over-dependence on Villa and Torres…
No, ‘coz David Villa, the highest goal scorer in the tournament is out for the finals with an injury(He is gonna be missed)
No, ‘coz Spain need to have more faith in themselves …they can do it BUT only if they want to!

All said and done, Germany Vs Spain Finals on Sunday is one worth watchin’…Now rather than debatin’ how these two teams reached the finals from their group stages, how they got away with amateurish football in some of their games, how they overcame the mighty Turkey n the very fantastic Russians, how they attack or defend, how their respective coaches use tactics, how well they move their feet n above all ‘How well they handle the pressure of playing at this level’, we’d rather juz sit back, relax n get set to watch a good game of soccer!

Now who’s gonna take the prized Euro-‘08 cup? A million ‘dollar’ nah ‘euro’ question folks…very very tough to answer…
Spain n Germany, strictly in that order, both look good…
Germany is unpredictable n Spain can get rattled sometimes…
Germany have Ballack,Podolski, Bastian, Klose, Frings(If he’s playin’) in their line up…
Spain have Torres,Xavi,Silva, Xabi barrin’ Villa in their line up….
Casillas or Lehmann, who’s gonna turn ‘Life-savers’ on Sunday?
Statistics always doesn’t help, simple example is the way these two teams have reached the finals…
I love Ballack, I love Klose, I love Germany n I’d love to see Germany win, only for Ballack(It was hard to see his Chelsea, fav League team lose to Man U in the finals of EPL :-( )…Germany has already won Euro thrice so it would be nice to see them win again!

But again, if Im talkin’ ‘bout good football here, I’d root for Spain, definitely n honestly the better team among the two finalists (Yes, they are better than Germany here!)…from what form they have displayed in this edition of Euro, to losing David Villa to injury,defeating Russians 3-0, their first apprearance in the finals of a Euro cup,their immaculate sense of team spirit…they do not seem to have made many mistakes in reaching the finals, I’d give them a Thumbs Up!

Be it Germany or Spain, I wouldn’t mind either of them winning…
Two great teams, two contrasting semis…one pulsating final is what we want…

The land of Beethoven & Goethe on one side and the land of Picasso & Flamenco on the other…who will triumph? :-)

Watch the finals on the Sunday, the 29th June, final kick-off@ 11:15 PM IST

Cross my heart, in a sentence I pray ‘May the better team on the day win’!

Adios Amigos,
Amari

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Ode to d Mighty Shan!

PS: Today's post is an ode to one of my fav cousin…Cheers Shantan bro, u rock as always!

'Follow only top dogs, but root for some under dogs…ANYWAY'

I have this above sayin' on the wall at home in front of my study table… Somehow I've always related the statement to sports n have spent all my days followin' it to the hilt…But that's not what I believed in a couple of years back…It was one famous memorable argument with my cousin that changed the very essence of my thought…a brief flashback:

"It was 2002, the year Brazil lifted the World Cup(still remember Brazilian captain Cafu holdin' the FIFA trophy atop his smiling face…what a sight! J) , a time when I was juz getting' into the groove of soccer n thought that Brazil was the BE ALL,END ALL of soccer! ;-) …lil' did I realize that here was a sport I would fall in love with…a game that truly gave me an adrenaline rush…a game that took away my major focus from Cricket ;-) (n trust me when I say this, I did love cricket once upon a time n I do so to this day, but now it's only 20-20...my job doesn't gimme more patience u see! ;-)…

Well, I went around declarin' that cricket interested me no more n that soccer was my new passion…All was well until 2003…n bang comes ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 n whoooossshhh… my new found passion went for a toss n I was back cheerin' Team India under Saurav dada (Ol' habits die hard u see ;-))…At this time, I was still a student, a student of Engineering, they say 'Engineering is Applied Science' n to this day Im still wonderin' where I'm applyin' what I've learnt in those 4 years!... Ironic, isn't it? Well, that's the way of life…u learn somethin, u do somethin else.. n all this while keep complainin' that u aren't getting' a chance to do somethin' u love when u could have as well as gone ahead n done it!('Me' included!)…

Now bein' a BE grad…ooopssss this was supposed to be a post on sports n am talkin' of engg trivia…trust Amari's brains to wander off every few seconds ;-)…sorry guys

It so happens that my bro n me were supporting our own favourite teams in that Cricket World Cup…I was as usual so proud of our team n all the teams that were winning paying no attention to neither the technicalities of the game nor consistency! My bro was in awe of the Australians, always speakin of their immense ability to take on anybody in their field… I was all red lookin at him supporting them… I happened to tell him 'We are playing amazingly well n I think we are one of the best teams in the world, what the hell makes u think we aren't?' It was at this point of time, he said somethin…somethin that's embedded in my mind forever, somethin' that changed the way I looked at sports n life in general:

" True Champions aren't those who win once, who win twice…Champions are those who win n win ALWAYS…They are those who are CONSISTENT…n that speaks of real Talent...they are those who don't know anything else other than WINNING!"

Now these were not the exact words he used, but that was what he conveyed through his words…n that explained why he always loved Michael Schumacher when I spoke about Raikonnen or Montoya durin those days in F1:-)…after all Michael was a true champ who had made winning a habit… It also explains why people who win once in a while, win it more out of fluke or other circumstances than real talent!

Thanks to u bro, thereon I've always rooted for the top dogs…have appreciated the under dogs n dark horses no doubt, but have ADMIRED n followed only top dogs!"

Comin' back to Euro-08, was extremely disappointed seeing Croatia lose to Turkey in a penalty shoot-out…sincerely thought Croatia should have won it, won it for the simple reason that they played brilliantly in the group stages, were technically more competent than the Turks, a Turkey team which came into the game with 8 out of their 11 players holding a yellow card, 4 already bein suspended for the semi-finals…now that's not a team which should be winning…that's not stuff what soccer is made of...Aggressive n hopelessly low on the sprit of the game! I'd be hoping that Germany ousts them in the semis J

In sharp contrast, I absolutely hand it to the Russians who defeated The Netherlands, defeated is not the word…They literally DEMOLISHED them…n this was definitely no fluke. Remember the Dutch were definitely one of the best in this competition n for the Russians to win in the fashion they did, Kudos to them…Andrei Arshavin again turned out to be the play-maker in this crucial game…(I mentioned him as the man to look out for in my last post…now am getting' better at this, ain't I? ;-))…One of the finest games in this edition of Euro-08…Lets keep our fingers crossed for the semis when Russia take on Spain!

The Spain Vs Italy quarter final is nothin' special to write about…I always knew Italy was gonna lose it for they barely made it to the quarters in not-so-impressive group games except for a one-off game against France…Italy was juz lucky that Spain missed lot of chances at the goal n the game went to a penalty shoot out…Casillas of Spain saved some brilliant shots from the Italian strikers…tho' Spain advances to the semis thru' a 4-2 penalty shoot out, Italy still hold the record of never having lost to Spain ever in a European or World championship since this game is a tie...nevertheless the Spain vs Russia semi-finals is definitely one to watch out for!

A Germany Vs Spain final is what ideally one would want to see considering the depth of talent in both the teams…but like they always say 'In sports, u never know!'…It happened to dark horses Greece last Euro n France in '98 Euro…so will it happen to Russia this Euro?:-)…..Lets wait n watch…

Until then, have a beautiful week ahead!

Adios Amigos,

Amari

Friday, June 20, 2008

Euro-08...AM l'aimant !

Euro-08 can’t get any bigger, can it?....TV headlines screamin’…’Battle for Europe’, commentators goin’ ga-ga over every pass, every move…new playmakers havin’ emerged, the regulars havin’ justified why they are wooed by every other major club for crazy millions, the shrewd coaches with mixed loyalties, the crowds which have been exhileratin’…n well what ‘bout us? We,the millions out there in the world who sit in the four-corners of a room watchin’ all our heroes battlin’ for European Supremacy…what’s in it for us?....if you ask me, its SHEER ECSTASY! :-)
The way the first half of Euro-08 has unfolded…its nothin’ but pure tintillatin’ joy of watchin’ some brilliant display of talent, a talent that changes the lives of lot many a people associated with the game!...Hail Euro, My Salutations! :-)

We saw the superb games like Netherlands-Italy, Germany-Croatia, Russia-Sweden, Portugal-Czech Republic, the drab ones involving Switzerland, Austria, Romania n well surprisingly defending champions Greece n the last FIFA runners up France…The former three teams can atleast be forgiven for the losses as they are all emerging teams n they did show part of good talent here n there…but Greece & France??? Lemme include the Czechs too… Not excusable!

The Greeks have proved that their last Euro win was nothing but a fluke…they didn’t look like they were defending the title in any of their games…am not speakin’ more of them here…total disappointment!
‘Bout France, well what can I say…despite having players like Lillian Thuriam n Thierre Henry in their ranks, they’ve always somehow failed to click as a team(n this is the team which had Zinadine Zidane once upon a time!) …time for a REVAMP Team France :-)!!!
Czechs…looked extremely promising, were great to watch in their game against Portugal…simply lost momentum and failed to hold onto their nerves when it mattered the most in their later games…but well, it was juz a one-off tournament for them…I’d still count them as one of the good teams in the world of soccer!
We saw some awesome in-form teams in Euro-08 this time around…Spain, Croatia, Netherlands, Portugal…they played well in most of their games(tho’ Portugal is out now)…if somebody has noticed, am not talkin’ bout Germany & Italy here, the reason bein’, their path to the quarters hasn’t exactly been smooth…I can say they ‘JUST SURVIVED’!

RUSSIA…well, what can I say! I think ill take back my cynical comment the last time around when I said, they did not deserve to be here at the cost of England…they were in one word ‘OUTSTANDING’ in their game Vs Sweden…watch out for Arashavin, he’s good :-)…the Swedes were left clueless, nothin’ workin for them…be it the attack or the defence, Russians simply outshone them in all departments of the game! Good tactics Mr.Luus Giddink :-)

Players like Edwin van der sar, Podolski, Luka, David Villa, Nistelrooy, Andrei, all from different nationalities have made Euro-08 a treat for every soccer lover!

Coming back to the first of the quarter-finals yesterday, Germany Vs Portugal, both pre-tournament favourites to win EURO-08, the former a good but unpredictable team under Chelsea star Micheal Ballack, the other having one of the world’s best player Cristiano Ronaldo…what a game! A treat for the eyes for a true-blue soccer fan like me :-)
Score reads: Germany 3-Portugal 2, n out go Portugal losing again under pressure, a repeat of last FIFA…but am not sad, coz the men who made it for Germany were KLoSe & BaLLAcK (Oops sorry for the small-big letter combo…u see I juz lose it when I hear their names…I absolutely swoon over them for… their talent ofcourse! ;-)
They are amazing players…Bayern Munich & Chelsea must be proud to have them…both fired headers into the goal past the very agile Ricardo…they were backed by brilliant passes by Podolski n Bastian ofcourse…Bastian (was brilliant in this game) firing one good one too, for once the German attack n defence did not falter, they kept a good check on Ronaldo…tho’ Ronaldo looked dangerous throughout, he somehow did not get enough support from the others…I juz came to a very subtle realization tho’….Ronaldo definitely is one of the BEST players in the world right now…its not juz his dribble, but his attitude…UNSELFISH! Not many all time great players play that way…biggest one being Diego Maradona…Superb talent but a very selfish player (My apologies Maradona fans, its juz my view!)… sorry Captain Nuno Gomes, for all your team’s fabulous display of grit, Portugal had to go!:-)

Germans…well up ur attack a lil’ bit, defend well, have a 4-3-2-2 combo if possible n u could go on to win the tournament! Good Luck!:-)

Watch out Croatia Vs Turkey today…am favouring Croatia for the day:-)

That’s all I have for today…
‘n’ now here’s Amari summing up the first half of Euro-08 with the following words…

“ They came, they played…some fought, some flew…few shone, few faded…what remains is what we’ll see”!!!!

One tournament, One Winner…n that only Time…nah Ill TELL!;-)

N for all those who are still wonderin’ what am talking about…well, the game’s not for you! Crude but true!….
Cheerio!

Adios Amigos,
Amari

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Soccer Trivia

Its Year 2008….Called as the ’Year of the Rat’ in the Chinese Calendar…we’ve been witness to events galore…some good, some bad…some worthy sittin’ up n takin’ notice of…n some better forgotten…So what’s occupied our lives for the last 5 months?...For those of you who’ve been too busy to wake up n take a look around….here’s a brief flashback:

Inflation…around 8.1%, an all time high(somethin’ which is affectin’ every normal Indian! :-()…Prices are soarin’…Livin’ costs are increasin’…definitely a big issue needin’ immediate concern from our current rulin’ government if they need a hefty favourable vote bank in General Elections-2009…Wake up PMO:-)

US Recession-Indian Sensex…Now you must be wonderin’ why Im takin’ up these two topics in common…Well, it so happens, that whenever we have a ‘Hera-Pheri’ on Dow Jones or NYSE, it directly translates into a mighty Bear hijackin’ our Indian Stock Market…Over-dependence on US Or Over-emphasis on certain sectors? Instinctive buyin’ & sellin’ on Dalal Street Or simple plain Ignorance?... Doesn’t matter, for the average Indian, its still all about ‘Roti-Kapda aur Makaan’!!!!

IPL…Well this needs no introduction…Player Auctions, Icons or no Icons, Big bucks or Spirit of the Game, Brand Ambassadors or Owner-spats…we’ve seen it all…!...With all the glitz, glamour, controversies in plenty…its still managed to connect! Now if we have SRK, Preity Zinta and the ever-obligin’ cheer-girls addin’ the ‘oomph’ factor to the whole event…we have a Ganguly huggin’ an Akhtar, a Dhoni pattin’ Hayden, a new Asnodkar gettin’ an approval from the mighty Warne, Bhaji slappin’ Sreesanth (No Sree…cryin’ is still a big no-no in public for men! ;-))…Do we need more Globalization? Cricket has always been a passion that unites we Indians…n with IPL, guess the game’s juz gotten truly INTERNATIONAL!!! …Bulls-Eye BCCI!!!!
PS: For those of you who missed it, the Rajasthan Royals(RR) spearheaded by the ever affable Shane Warne made it with the inaugural IPL Finals Prized Cup by beatin’ truly deservin’ runners-up, the Chennai Super Kings(CSK), lead by the ‘Enjoy the game boys’ congenial MS Dhoni …so what if one thought that RR was juz a team to make up the numbers, they’ve still proved that ‘Agar Insaan real main kuch chahta hai, actual main, usse wohi milta hai’(Forgive me Mr. Dialogue Writer of ‘Jab We Met’ for the quote here, but I sincerely thought there was no other way to sum it up, treat it as an appreciation of your talent!;-))

Aarushi Talwar Murder case…a 14 year old n her servant brutally killed by suspect, father Dr.Rajesh Talwar…Wide news coverage, goof up by Noida Police, manipulated witness statements…its all been one shockin’ instance of fragile human relationships!...Does it potray a very vulnerable new India prone to declining parent-child bonding? Well from the looks of it, it certainly does! Irrespective of who the murderer is, irrespective of what the CBI does now, irrespective of how many such cases go unnoticed everyday…It still raises a lot of Unanswered Questions!
May Justice prevail, that’s the least we can do for the innocent Aarushi’s soul to rest in peace! Amen!

The earthquake in China, the Jaipur Blasts, Nitish Katara Murder Judgement, Indecisive Nuclear deal, Fuel-Price Hike, Run up to US Presidential Elections, Tibet chaos, Olympic Torch, New Pakistan Government, Roger Federer’s form(Well pardon me, but sports is somethin’ am always partial to :-)) …n much more, has kept us occupied…Media never leave any stone unturned in turnin’ anythin’ into ‘Breaking News’, do they? ;-)

Now Now…forget all the above, the purpose of me writin’ all the above stuff is again related to my favourite topic: SPORTS!(For all the cynics out there, I think I can be forgiven here for thinkin’ that ‘sports’ is the only thing which brings both a Jekyl n Hide together ;-))….Wonderin’ where all this is leadin’ to? …Scroll further down…

Welcome to EURO-2008 :-) ,
A Wonderful world of Soccer (Nothin’ but ‘Football’ in ordinary terms for the rookies out there :-))

Time of the year again to go out n watch the 16 best teams in the world of Soccer coming together for EURO-2008, an event that is known as the prelude to FIFA World Cup, if not better than that!
Juz a lil’ statistics:
Group A: Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Turkey
Group B: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland
Group C: Netherlands, Italy, Romania, France
Group D: Greece, Sweden, Spain, Russia

Did I miss somethin’ out there? Ummm…well…Guess I did, its ENGLAND… am gonna miss them real bad…after all we wouldn’t get to see the magical combo of Beckham-Lampard-Rooney-Gerrard-Owen :-( …sad that they did not qualify despite havin’ a fantastic League team, hope Russia proves its worthy of bein’ in the top-16 for Euro this year, after all they were the ones responsible for England not makin’ it!

Fantastic teams… top dogs, under-dogs, no-dogs ;-)…they are all there…
My choice of players to watch out for:
Ballack(Germany) , Nistelrooy(Netherlands),Ronaldo(Portugal), Klose(Germany), Torres(Spain), Villa(Spain),

Today:
Match1: 9.30 PM, Czech Republic Vs Switzerland(I favor Czechs here, one of the best in Group A here…)….btw I forgot to mention, the match is already underway n as of now its 0-0 each!

Match2: 12.15 AM, Portugal Vs Turkey (Am all for Portugal, with a very Dynamic n aggressive Scholari as their coach n Cristiano’s antics on d field, they are my clear favorites, hopin’ Turkey do not spring any surprise…;-))…….

There’s more to come…Post-match analysis, players who ruled the roost on the day…
My new fav(at present ill stick to Ballack(For his feet) n Klose(For his headers), I absolutely luv the guys ;-)…)…

As of now, this is Amari signing off for the night…

Hail Euro, Hail Soccer!!!!

Adios Amigos,
Amari