Monday, February 26, 2024

Messi, Tevez, Di Maria to play in Kolkata

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Kolkata: Star soccer players like Carlos Tevez, Angel Di Maria and Xavier Mascherano, along with Lionel Messi, will be seen in action in a FIFA international friendly match at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium on September 2, a sports management group said here on Monday.

“Its official that the national team of Argentina will take on the national team of Venezuela in a FIFA international friendly match at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium on September 2. The motto of this match is not only to establish India as a destination on the World Football Map, but at the same time attract the youngsters of our country towards the game,” said Bhaswar Goswami, executive director, Celebrity Management Group (CMG).

Lionel Messi, adjudged 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or, would be a part of the squad that would play against the national team of Venezuela.

“We will shortly announce the ticket distribution plan. Tickets can be purchased online from any part of India,” said Dharamdutt Pandey, another official of CMG.

Speaking on the occasion, West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra said that the state government will extend all support for the smooth conduct of the match and will also renovate the Salt Lake Stadium for the most-anticipated sports event of the year.

The visit of the Argentine team will be the latest addition to a host of football celebrities and sides which have visited this soccer-loving city of a cricket-crazy India in recent years.

Last year, Uruguayan star footballer Diego Forlan — the golden ball winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup — spent two days in the city for a promotional programme.

Brazillian star Zico had come as the coach of Japan’s national side for a pre-World Cup game, while Cameroon’s Roger Milla — adjudged the best African player of the 1990s — played an exhibition match months after his sparkling performance at the 1990 World Cup.

Kolkata has also hosted legendary footballers like Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerd Muller, Romario and Branco. It all started with Brazilian football legend Pele’s trip to the city as a member of the Cosmos football club in 1977.

The Argentines will also play Nigeria on September 6 in Dhaka. (IANS)

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