'The histories of both the clubs date back to more than a century. FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 and our club was founded in 1889. Hence, we match each other in the legacy. It will be our honour to face a club that is rated amongst the topmost clubs in the world,' Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said
Kolkata: The football-loving city of Kolkata is set to welcome FC Barcelona greats for an exhibition match for charity on September 28 at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium.
The “Clash of the Legends” game will see former Barca stars facing ex-Mohun Bagan players. The fine line-ups are yet to be confirmed. They will play for a cause and the money will go to Liver Foundation, a charitable medical organisation.
Eric Abidal, Gianluca Zambrotta, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and other big names are set to descend on Kolkata.
In the past too, many top foreign football clubs and international teams have played in India. Brazil’s Sao Paolo and Cosmos, Germany’s Bochum XI and Bayern Munich, PSV Eindhoven of Netherlands and others have played in the country.
Superstar Lionel Messi played in Kolkata in 2011 as India hosted its first-ever international friendly. Argentina edged Venezuela 1-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium in that match.
Brazilian legend Pele turned up for Cosmos in an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan in 1977. In 1970, East Bengal beat Iran’s PAS club in IFA Shield final at the Eden Gardens.
Also, East Bengal had beaten Al-Zawra of Iraq 6-2 in the Asian Cup Winners Cup in 1993 in Kolkata. PSV Eindhoven had visited India in 1991, beating India XI 7-0 and 8-1.
In 2010, Bayern Munich All Stars displayed their superior skills as they thrashed East Bengal All Stars 10-3 in a friendly at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Last year, Kolkata hosted FIFA Under-17 World Cup matches including the semi-finals and final.
Mohun Bagan’s secretary Anjan Mitra said they are “proud” to host the Barcelona legends.
"In the past, Mohun Bagan hosted Pele's Cosmos and Bayern Munich in their goalkeeper Oliver Kahn’s farewell match here. We are now proud to host another powerhouse in world football,” Mitra said.
“The histories of both the clubs date back to more than a century. FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 and our club was founded in 1889. Hence, we match each other in the legacy. It will be our honour to face a club that is rated amongst the topmost clubs in the world,” Mitra added.
Mitra thanked the Bengal government’s sports department for supporting the big game.
"We might not match them in terms of the heavyweight World Cuppers and footballers they have, but we are no less in terms of the rich football history we have. We thank the sports department, government of Bengal for their support in this venture,” he said.
This match is being hosted by Merlin Group and is an initiative by the Football Next Foundation.
“It has always been my dream to provide our city with the best footballing experience and what can be better than having one of the best football teams in the world play against Mohun Bagan,” Kaushik Moulik, founder of Football Next Foundation, said.
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Last Updated Sep 9, 2018, 10:41 AM IST