The constant game of alternately flexing their nuclear muscles that is ongoing between the President of the United States and the dictator of North Korea has certainly made the world sit up and take notice. Suddenly, the scenario of global nuclear annihilation is a grim reality. Alongside the impending fear, it must be conceded that the clash of egos between the two men has provided the rest of the world a new avenue to vent their disgust on.
While both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have been engaged in showcasing their military strengths, they seem to have become oblivious to the laughter and jeers from the rest of the world. Often in the world news for his eccentric mannerisms and the penchant to force his country into laughingly idolising him, Kim Jong-Un and his antics seem to have overshadowed a very historic event set to take place in the exotic country later on in the day.
A few days back, the Indian government unconditionally condemned the nuclear tests carried out by North Korea. Today, the club widely touted as the best footballing club in India will be looking to take on the Korean footballing champions and will create history during the course of the game. This is the second leg of the inter-zonal semifinals of the AFC Cup.
Will the stalwarts of Indian football who make up Bengaluru FC be able to successfully tame 4.25 SC in front of their home crowd? The outcome remains to be seen. But no one can deny that the visitors from India are at a position which is more than comfortable when it comes to winning the bout and Bengaluru FC surely are favourites to win. They sit at a compelling lead of 3 goals to none from the first leg that was held back in August.
But beating this club on their turf will be a different ball game altogether. 4.25, or April 25 as the club is colloquially known, will rally the home support and will definitely be looking to taking complete advantage of the crowd and the conditions. Couple that with the fact that little is known about North Korea’s grounds and geographical conditions and it is safe to conclude that the Indians might just be traipsing into unknown waters here.
And then, of course, there is the psychological effect of a country so limited and cut off from the rest of the world that they have no concept of social media at all. Living in their own specially constructed bubble might be something that the hosts may have gotten used to by now. But think about the travelling Indian contingent.
With barely functional mobile phones and Internet access available at INR 45,000 per day, the depressive atmosphere is enough to get the best of teams down. In conditions like this, it is a miracle if the match ends up being streamed at all. The hermit’s lifestyle that North Korea infamously leads may just stop expectant Indian football fans from watching their favourite team create history.
The hype surrounding the match is quite real. 4.25 SC is definitely a force to reckon with- at least its local fan following seems to suggest that. They have been winners of the DPR Korea League Cup on 10 occasions and have been named as one of the most successful football clubs in the country. The club has special significance among the country’s footballing culture. In a region obsessed with its military strength, 4.25 SC is owned by the Korean People’s Army and it derives its name, “April 25”, from the country’s Military Foundation Day.
If Bengaluru can comfortably capitalise on its 3 goal lead, add on some more and necessarily have a higher aggregate score than its opponents, they will qualify for the inter-zonal finals. The two-legged final will see the Indian club play against Tajikistan’s FC Istikol.
Interestingly enough, there are no immediate injuries that the club officials have to worry about as the full squad will rally to the team’s need of the hour. However, a couple of key players stand on a dangerous territory as they carry over a booking from the previous game. Dimas Delgado, Harmanjot Khabra and Lenny might be suspended from the next game in the wake of a second booking today. Should India advance and if these key players intend to play in the finals, they are required to be more careful.
Bengaluru FC will be looking to finish what they started and convincingly make its place in the finals. Now it remains to be seen whether the team creating history can do so with a win.