News & Reviews

David wins again - FIFA Finals at DI Author:Amit Dutt   Posted On:2018-07-21



David - 2, Goliath - 4. Predictably. However, while David lost the battle, they have won the war. They have taken home a much bigger trophy: the hearts of millions upon millions across the breadth of the planet. When the dust has settled and the World Cup is crowded out of the front to a footnote on the sports page, consigned to the archives of statistics, as it already has been to a considerable extent, the world will yet remember that a tiny nation with a population of barely 4 million – Kolkata, infamously or otherwise, teems with a much bigger headcount – had the grit to craft together a team that defeated a string of nations on their way up, the giant Three Lions among them, finally to face a much superior France.

The key to Croatia’s ascent was succinctly summed up by the legend on their team bus: mala zemlja, veliki snovi (Little country, big dreams). Their manager, Slatko Dalic, impressed upon and consoled his dejected boys that to be dignified in defeat is just as important as being dignified in victory. A spirit amply illustrated by their illustrious President, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, whose accomplishments match her beauty. Eminently. An ex army commando and an ace marksman, a Fulbright scholar who speaks fluently in eight languages, this First Citizen did not consider it demeaning to travel to Russia in economy – or, as one of our more scholarly MPs prefers to qualify it, cattle-class, on her own ticket, felt proud in wearing the team jersey and in watching the game from the ordinary stands till she was recognised and whisked away to the VIP enclosure. She did not squirm while hugging the sweating players, some in underwear, when she suddenly appeared in the dressing room to congratulate them after the semis. And again, to go back to the words of Dalic, dignified in wiping away the tears of Luka Mordic, who could not be consoled with the golden ball, the best-player award.

To go back to the match, Mario Maudzukic’s six-feet-three-inches proved his undoing when his header headed straight to his own net, the first such in the history of a World Cup Final. While Ivan Persisic managed to bring the game back to its frenzied white-knuckle start, it was his handling the ball – a VAR controversy that refuses to die down -- that Antoine Griezman punished with a second goal, Griezman’s  fourth in the tournament. Pogba steered France ahead, but it was young Mbappe, adjudged the Best Young Player who, with that spectacular shot a good 25 yards away from the goal post, took his team to an unassailable lead, something that captain goalkeeper Loris’ howler could not undo. Les Bleus, just the 6th team to win the Cup twice -- the earlier occasion they had tasted supreme success was exactly two decades ago -- were decidedly the better of the two in every department of the game. By a quirky coincidence, their manager, Didier Deschamps, had played then and has now managed this winning squad. The final whistle saw the stadium explode in blue. Back in France, celebrations erupted across the country, from Calais in the north to Marseille in the south, from Strasbourgh in the east to Brest in the west. Paris was afire.

Two giant screens at 42 brought alive this frenzy of Moscow down here to Kolkata. Indoors@DI had been commandeered by the early birds. Stragglers had but to drift to Live@DI. But they had little or no interest in the tennis final where another Slav, Novak Djokovic, was tearing apart Kevin Anderson in a convincing 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 blitzkrieg, despite the late rally by the South African on the centre court at Wimbledon. Avid football enthusiasts, these DIites (preferred to DIots lest a slight typo leaves us red-faced) mobbed the authorities to switch to the commoner’s game, which they amply compensated by notching up a hefty collective bill at the bar. Overwhelmingly supporters of Croatia, they eluted their sorrows with eau-de-vie, to borrow – appropriately, one feels, -- from French. Not to be outdone, the kitchens rustled up brisk, mouth-watering business. DI this last one month had been festooned with the colours of the 32 warring nations. Posters of the ties of each day, crafted with excellent artwork by member Leonardo D’Gama, were regularly sent out to the members. The waiters had been outfitted with the jerseys of the popular teams, and while they kept a propah, distant countenance, on an occasion or two betrayed their inner feelings with what can be construed as learned comments, though it must be conceded, they never ventured into the outré. Warren Snelleksz and Daniel Johns conducting the trivia and the lucky draw that further lit up the live streaming, gave away prizes – legion -- sponsored by beverage companies.

Hopefully, the lull that has descended after the frenetic month gone by both at Courtyard@DI and at Live@DI, will be overcome before long with the Friday, Saturday and Monday evening entertainments and the sundry other events lined up. Keep your eyes peeled, dear DIites.

[Editorial note:  A vote of thanks to the combined teams of Entertainment, Food, Live@DI, Sports and Communications for building up the excitement over the month and keeping members well entertained, filled full and up to date!]