In what can be termed as one of the most dramatic and miraculous turnarounds in sporting and soccer history, India hosting Brazil for a one of international friendly soccer matches came back from a huge thirty goal deficit to win the match 60-30, thanks to a super substitution made by the Indian coach leaving the media and Brazilian team totally dumbfounded.
The match was held in the famous Salt Lake stadium of Kolkata with a capacity crowd of 50,000, all cheering for Brazil rather than India. Predictably, the Samba boys got off to a flying start with Neymar Junior scoring a Hat-trick in the first three minutes itself.
The other players soon piled up the agony and soon the score-line was looking more like a cricket score. The Indians on their part made a brave attempt in the 30th minute and their efforts found the ball in the back of the net only to realize that they had scored an own goal. To make matters worse, as many as eight Indian players were shown red cards and sent off due to biased refereeing by a Japanese FIFA referee who is also incidentally a distant relative of West Indian Cricket umpire Steve Bucknor. Brazil dominated possession throughout the first half and scored almost at will, while the two remaining defenders and the Goal Keeper could only watch helplessly as mute spectators. After 34 minutes the score-line read: Brazil 30 India 0.
Things went from bad to worse for India in the 35th minute as one defender actually kicked the referee in a fit of frustration. Needless to say, he was promptly shown the red card and had to leave the field. India were now down to only 2 players including the goal keeper. In the 36th minute, the other remaining defender attempted to shoulder charge Neymar Junior who was looking on course to score for the 12th time in the match, but ended up dislocating his own shoulder instead and had to be carried off the field. At that moment, Indian soccer coach Mithun Chakraborthy (Lovingly known as Mithunda amongst fans) made the only sensible decision in his entire coaching career and brought on good friend and soccer superstar Rajnikanth on the field in place of the injured defender.
And then the tables turned.
As soon as Thalaiva got the ball, it was the Brazilians who were on the receiving end. With no-one but the goal keeper to pass the ball to, Thalaiva started the proceedings with a huge kick from the centre circle. So intense and powerful was the kick that the ball travelled like a rocket and ended up in the Brazilian goal before anyone even had time to blink, much to the shock of the Brazilians and the crowd. But this was just the preview. The best was yet to come. And soon after, the Brazilians who had up till now dominated the possession, had to fight dearly to see the ball, leave alone possess it. With lightning quickness and superb dribbling skills Rajini manipulated the ball past attackers and defenders alike with a speed and precision akin to Superman and scored rapidly at a rate of a goal a minute to open India’s dry goal account. At the end of the first half, the Brazilian team were left licking their wounds and nursing their ego as the score-line read Brazil 30 India 10.
But the end of the first half was just a preview of things to come. In the second half, Brazil started the game determined to dominate as they had in the first half. But they never stood a chance. Hardly had the ball been passed when Rajini showed his magic, wrested possession and controlled the ball in a manner which would have put Messi, Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to shame. Very soon the score-line started ticking in India’s favour with Thalaiva scoring rapidly at the rate of a goal a minute.
The dumbfounded Brazilians soon recovered from their initial shock and tried all the tricks in their book to take control but failed miserably. An unlucky defender attempted a sliding tackle against Rajini who was rushing in at full speed but ended up fracturing his ankles instead. Another time, the entire Brazilian team surrounded Rajini in a Chakravyuh of sorts and charged at him with full force. But in an incredible display of acrobatics, Rajini leaped in the air at the last moment with the ball at his feet, Matrix style and simply jumped over the players, resulting in the Brazilians colliding with each other. Rajini then simply dribbled the ball all the way to the goal and scored: yet again.
Frustrated by the sudden onslaught of goals, the Brazilians tried desperate measures such as kicking the ball high in the air and using long crosses hoping to keep the ball out of Thalaiva’s reach but once again showing his legendary skills, Rajini would simply leap high up in the air, intercept the ball and kick mid-air with such force that many-a-times Julio Cesar, the unlucky Brazilian goal keeper would be pushed inside the goal post owing to the tremendous power and accuracy of the shot.
Towards the end of play, with just 10 minutes remaining, Thalaiva went into overdrive and started scoring goals at the rate of 2 goals each minute. When the referee blew the final whistle the score-line read Brazil 30 India 60.
There were mixed reactions from the Brazilian team at the end of the match. Some wept openly while others ran off from the field straight into the dressing room. Some just stood on the field with their mouths wide open and had to be escorted out of the ground. Brazilian coach Luis Philipe Scolari collapsed in a state of shock and had to be admitted to hospital for immediate medical attention. Rajini was surrounded by the Indian players and coach was and hoisted on the shoulders of the team who started singing and dancing. Fans too joined in the celebration and very soon the entire stadium became a crescendo of songs and firecrackers. At the end of the match India have moved up the FIFA rankings to join the top 30.
Indian Coach Mithun Chakaborthy was elated at the result and stated, “I wish I had this brainwave earlier and brought him (Rajini) on at the start of the match. I should start eating more fish. My brain power should improve then.”
Impressed with this result, Mithunda says he has now set his sights on the Football world cup 2022 to be held in Qatar. He also plan to recruit other special players such as Sunny Deol, Nana Patekar, Govinda, Asrani and other talented players to make an unbeatable dream team. What the future holds in store no-one knows but if today’s victory is anything to go by, then there are bright days ahead for Indian football. Ab acche din aane waale hain !!