INDIA VS CHINA
Two of the world’s fastest foot growing football markets face each other in the field. Here's the fans reaction
The Indian national football team will play against the Chinese national team for the first time in 21 years in an international friendly match in China this October. The Indian team is scheduled to travel to Beijing on October 8; the two national teams will face each other at the Suzhou
Olympic Sports Center Stadium at Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, on October 13, according to AIFF (All India Football Federation).
While both 97th-ranked India and 76th-ranked China embrace large populations and fast growing soccer markets, neither is considered to be performing well in the international football field. The 1997 Nehru Cup saw a draw and a win for China when they played India 21 years ago. As this friendly match becomes a focus for 2.6 billion people, Metropolitan spoke with both Chinese and Indian football fans and players in Beijing to get a feel of their expectations.
Techniques or team work?
Yao Lan, 24 from China, is a soccer fan. “For China, it’s going to be a home game. In terms of the opponent, I don’t think the Indian national team has performed well according to their world ranking. I’ll bet on China to win the game.”
China has faced India 17 times. It won on 12 occasions and was drawn the rest of the games. Yao is not alone in her confidence for China’s record against their opponent who seems likely to succeed.
Tom Gizachew, from the US, is an amateur soccer player in Beijing. To him, the Chinese players are not too bad. “I’ve never seen India play soccer before. It could be embarrassing if China loses,” Gizachew said.
Others see the game differently. Jennifer Chen from Fiji loves playing soccer recreationally. The 26-year-old believes that the friendly match may see a win for India. “Football is a team sport. Compared to the technically superior Chinese players, Indians may perform better as a team based on my own experiences here in China,” she said.
According to an AIFF report, AIFF general secretary Kushai Das said that China and India are today being seen as the two fastest emerging soccer markets.
Could China, known as the world’s
most populous country, hold a World Cup one day? In order to answer this question, the Chinese government is going to build its “soccer pyramid.” According to a Xinhua news report, The Ministry of Education has published a memo for pilot programs with an aim
to reform soccer education in schools in order to foster talent in the country.
The Indian perspective
Some say the dominance of cricket in India makes it difficult for the country to focus on any other sporting endeavors. Saurabh Dwivedi said his nation has seen big changes surrounding the game. Dwivedi is from New Delhi and studies at China Medical University. Summoning up his childhood memories, Dwivedi said that when you turned on the TV in India, the only sport you could find was cricket. If you asked children what they wanted to do when they grew up, no one wanted to be a soccer player. “Now, everything is different,” he said. This is thanks to the creation of the India Super League (ISL) in 2013.
One of its organizers is Star Sport, also the official broadcaster of the league in India. At the end of the first season, the ISL drew 429 million viewers across India, two and a half times more than the FIFA World Cup.
“The development of mobile phones and the internet also helps with the popularity of soccer,” said Dwivedi. He added that currently, almost every soccer fan in India has their favorite team.
When it comes to the match between India and China, there will be a winner and a loser. However, for some, there is something more important than the result.
“The match could be seen as a competition between two countries, about 3 billion people,” read one news on the internet. If it was Dwivedi who wrote the record, he would not term this match as a “competition.” Dwivedi said, “It’s just a friendly match without too much competition.”
In recent times, Indian soccer players have improved a lot. Within three years, India has climbed from 173rd to 97th on the FIFA world rankings.
“No matter who wins the match, this will be a good experience for those Indian players playing a friendly in China,” said Dwivedi. “It’s a good thing that they’re doing it after so many years and it will be a step forward for the China-India relationship,” he added.
India and China will have a “historic” friendly match at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium at Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province on October 13, 2018.
No matter who wins the match, this will be a good experience for both teams.