Created on 27-05-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern and Germany stalwart Oliver Kahn, one of football’s living legends, bowed out of the professional game on Tuesday as the Munich giants eased to victory over Mohun Bagan in the final match of the 2007-8 campaign.
For all the interest in the meeting between the German double winners and Asia’s oldest club, the main focus for the vast 120,000 crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata was the final act in the three-time world goalkeeper of the year’s illustrious 20-year career.
Legend addresses crowd
After a series of presentations and laudations before kick-off and again during the half-time interval, a visibly moved Kahn himself took to the microphone, addressing the huge throng of spectators in English.
“Thank you to everyone, thank you India, and thanks on behalf of Bayern Munich,” the keeper pronounced, as the crowd rose to its feet waving banners showing slogans such as ‘Kaiser Kahn’ and ‘Kahn’t be any better’.
The Bayern and Germany great left the field after 55 minutes to a prolonged standing ovation, making his way to the bench for the last time and handing over to his designated successor Michael Rensing.
As to the game itself, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s final line-up as Bayern coach showed one change to the team which beat Indonesia 5-1 last week, Christian Lell coming in for youngster Diego Contento at right-back, with fellow junior team hopefuls Uwe Schlottner and Victor Bopp retaining their places in the starting eleven.
The first chance in the oppressive heat of the Kolkata evening fell to U-19 starlet Schlottner, but it took a Jose Sosa cross and a defensive howler to let in Jan Schlaudraff for the 18th minute opener, as the Hanover-bound striker continued his tantalisingly excellent form in non-competitive matches.
Mohun keeper Sangram Mukherjee saved well from Schlaudraff and Ze Roberto before contributing unwittingly to the visitors’ second after 37 minutes, handling outside the box and conceding a free-kick which Ze neatly curled into the net at the near post.
Fireworks on and off the field
Pachau Lalampuia finally drew a save from Kahn with half-time approaching, but the German double winners drew further clear when Schlaudraff slotted home from close range on 51 minutes following an athletic burst into the box by Lell.
The I-League cracks, depleted by international call-ups and showcasing a host of their own talented youngsters, invested a shade more than the tiring Bavarians in the final 20 minutes of the game. Deepak Modal went close with a solo effort and Lalkamal Bhowmik landed a fine shot on Rensing’s crossbar, although Schlaudraff came within an ace of a second hat-trick in a week with a nudge into the side-netting.
The heat, the occasion and the commendable willingness of both sides to keep going until the end even produced a slightly unsavoury finale. Breno marred an otherwise commanding performance by tangling with Mohun sub Cardozo after a heavy foul from the home striker, resulting in both players receiving their marching orders six minutes from time and missing the crackling Bengali firework display at the final whistle.
Mohun Bagan AC 0 Bayern Munich 3 (H-T: 0-2)
Bayern Munich: Kahn (Rensing 55) – Schlottner, Breno, Ottl, Lell – Ze Roberto (Kuru 77), Van Bommel, Bopp (Simari 70), Sosa (Contento 46), Kroos (Pizarro 81) – Schlaudraff
Attendance: 120,000 (Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata)
Goals: 0-1 Schlaudraff (18), 0-2 Ze Roberto (37), 0-3 Schlaudraff (51)
Yellow cards: Mukherjee / Schlaudraff, Kroos
Red cards: Cardozo (84, serious foul play) / Breno (84, retaliation)