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Olli can’t show what he Kahn

Calcutta, May 27: He collected a few back passes and smothered a handful of weak attempts. He watched a couple of wild shots sail over. But Oliver Kahn spent most of his time on the ground crouched, his hands resting on his knees, waiting to make a save. The wait never ended.

Unlike forwards Pele or Roger Milla, who showed Calcutta glimpses of their genius despite being past their prime, the three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year never had a chance to display his wares against an outclassed Mohun Bagan.

The only time the man nicknamed Genghis Kahn exhibited his fearful way with raiders on his goal was when he imperiously waved off a dog that had strayed onto the ground. Minutes later, he was gone for ever.

It’s hard to say if the 120,000 at the packed Salt Lake Stadium felt cheated when the anticipated climax came too early in the 54th minute. At 7.36pm sharp, Bayern Munich’s “Olli”, 38, walked off the football field for the last time, substituted in the last game of his 22-year career.

As the fourth referee held up the substitution board with the number “1” displayed, players of both teams stopped.

Kahn was slow but firm in his movements, in control of his emotions. He looked round the stadium, glanced at the team bench and began walking towards the touchline before the stunned spectators. Then the big man started clapping, and the crowd broke into applause.

It was hard to escape the irony: this was the most memorable “action” of the day from the German.

For most of the Bengal Peerless-organised game that Bayern won 3-0, he had stood in his familiar hunched posture, eyes watchful for danger that never arrived.

He got his first touch as early as the third minute, ahead of his opposite number Sangram Mukherjee. As Lalawmpuia directed a hopeful grounder goalwards, the 6ft 2in German stepped out and collected the ball.

Ten minutes later, a Bagan one-two ended in a mispass that gave him no trouble. Another 10 minutes and Kahn was rushing to the corner of the box to grab a bump ball that was meant to be a centre.

The most Kahn-like moment — he had earned the Genghis sobriquet for attacking an opposition striker like a martial arts fighter — came after his departure.

This time, his Brazilian team-mate Breno picked up the mantle, kicking Bagan’s Branco Cardozo after a vicious challenge. That set off a scuffle between the teams with the referee being pushed, and both players were shown the red card.

Kahn did not forget to thank the city. At half-time, he was presented with a diamond-studded, gold-plated football. He studied the ball, then took the mike to say: “Thank you for this great moment in my career. It is a very special moment for me to play my last game in Calcutta and thank you very much for this great night.”

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