There will be a South American flavour to the final of the Subroto Cup to be played at the Ambedkar Stadium in the Capital on Saturday. Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense’s U-17 team, playing their first tournament in the country, will be taking on Army Team from Bengaluru for the title.
The presence of Atletico Paranaense, a top division Brazilian side, has created ample buzz. The boys from the South American club, as expected, have made a smooth entry to the title match beating a team from Mizoram 6-1.
During the final, though, the limelight might be on another Brazilian. Rivaldo, 2002 World Cup winner, will closely watch the proceedings from the VIP enclosure.
Last year the organizers roped in Pele as chief guest for the final and this time, after dilly-dallying between Rivaldo and David Beckham, they managed to bring in the former.
There is considerable excitement not only among fans who will turn for the game, but also among players who will get to exhibit their talent before the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner. Joao Victor, a member of the Paranaesnse squad, is eager to put up a decent show in front of his ‘hero’.
“Everyone knows Rivaldo is a legend. I am really motivated and looking forward to showcase my skills in front of him,” said the youngster.
Rivaldo, addressing a press conference at a swanky hotel in Gurgaon, seemed a bit reluctant to answer the routine questions thrown at him. “How would you compare Messi, Suarez and Neymar to the trio of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho ?”
“You can’t compare players from different generation,” came the reply.
“Pele or Maradona?” “Both are my friends and I like them equally,” was the former Barcelona midfielder’s response.
But he did not mince his words when asked about the national team and their disappointing World Cup campaign. “It is something we will never forget. Even if we win the next World Cup, we might forget it a little bit, but it will always remain in the back of our minds,” he said.
Coming back to Saturday’s final, it was no surprise that he threw his weight behind the Brazilian side to win the trophy. “I hope they are inspired by my presence.”
This is the second time a team from Brazil is taking part in the tournament. In 2014, Brazil side Colegio Estadul Santo Antonio lifted the trophy after winning on penalties against MSP Higher Secondary School from Kerala. MSP were leading 2-1 till the dying minutes of the game, but a turnaround happened just seconds before the final whistle.