Created on 26-11-2005 at 00:00 AM
The Munich reserves, officially known as FC Bayern Munich II, will spend Monday 28 November until Tuesday 6 December in Calcutta as contenders for the 111th Indian Football Association Shield. Hermann Gerland's youthful side are the only seeded team in the six-strong starting line-up, and will join the tournament at the semi-final stage in front of a daunting 120,000 crowd. fcbayern.de caught up with junior team chief Werner Kern before the party set off.
Interview: Werner Kern:
fcbayern.de: The Bayern reserve team are competing at the IFA Shield in India. What's the idea behind this somewhat unusual trip?
Kern: "The Indian Football Association invited us to take part. We knew our first team wouldn't be able to find time, but everyone agreed we would send the second team instead. We were delighted to accept the invitation."
fcbayern.de: Wouldn't Hermann Gerland rather have stayed behind in Munich with his team and continued preparing for the last third division south fixture before Christmas?
Kern: "No. We only have one game left before the winter break, and we'll be given perfectly good training facilities in India, although that's really a secondary matter. The most important factor is to demonstrate the excellence of the youth set-up at Bayern, to win admirers for Bayern Munich, and make sure we promote the image you'd expect from a global club. Bayern are currently focusing on the Asian market, and that extends way beyond just Japan and China. We'd like to build up our reputation and fan base in other areas of Asia too."
fcbayern.de: The team must be thoroughly looking forward to discovering India.
Kern: "Yes, the trip is a welcome change for the lads. They're permanently under pressure here, but they'll be able to put that to one side for a whole week. And I also believe it's important to learn about other cultures, and see the contrasts in a country like India for yourself. On the one hand you have an historic colonial infrastructure, but on the other hand you see extremes of wealth and poverty. The lads will lappreciate what they have here a lot more afterwards."
fcbayern.de: Have you arranged a supporting programme?
Kern: "Yes, because we don't want our players confined to the football pitch. They should take in some of the local culture too. We're visiting a centre established by Mother Teresa, where we'll hand over a cheque and donations in kind. Then we're joining our partner adidas to visit a kids' hospital, where we'll present the 2006 World Cup replica shirt. We're making a trip on the river Hugli, and we'll go sightseeing in Calcutta and New Delhi."
fcbayern.de: You'll be playing football as well. How do you reckon the team will get on in the tournament?
Kern: "We honestly can't say, because we don't know much about standards there. India lie 135th in the FIFA World Ranking. But it'll definitely be a challenge for our young lads. They have to prove they can hold their own there. And playing in front of a 120,000 crowd will be a totally unique experience."
fcbayern.de: Thanks for talking to us, and have a great trip!