Chance for Calcutta to bid Oliver Kahn farewell - Bayern Munich to play Mohun Bagan on May 27

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 13.03.08
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Oliver Kahn

New Delhi: Soccer fans in Calcutta will have the privilege of watching Oliver Kahn in action when top German club Bayern Munich take on Mohun Bagan in an exhibition tie on May 27.

The Bundesliga leaders are set for a 10-day tour of Asia in May as they look to raise their profile in the continent.

The team will fly out to Indonesia on May 18 and play their national side on May 21 before taking on the Chinese Olympic side on May 24 in Guangzhou. Calcutta will be their next stopover.

The Calcutta tie assumes greater significance since it is set to be Kahn’s farewell match for Bayern as a professional footballer.

Kahn is in his final season at Bayern, where he has played with distinction since 1994. He has helped the club win the Champions League in 2001 and was named the best player of the 2002 World Cup when he led Germany to the final.

The Calcutta part of the tour is being organised by the Bengal Peerless Group.

“It is a dream come true for us,” said Kumar Shankar Bagchi, the managing director of the company, from Munich on Tuesday.

“All the top Bayern stars will be there at the Salt Lake Stadium on May 27,” Bagchi told The Telegraph after finalising the deal.

“We’re delighted that Bayern will play in Calcutta,” said Indian consul general J.S. Mukul, at a news conference in Munich.

“The match will give a new dimension to the Bavarian-Indian relationship.”

However, All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Alberto Colaco said he was unaware of the development. “We know nothing about it,” he said.

Bayern Munich chairman and former Germany captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on the club’s website: “We want to fly the flag abroad. The Asian market is very important, if not the most important in the world. We want to advertise both Bundesliga and Bayern Munich on the world stage.”

Though a clutch of Bayern’s internationals, including Franck Ribery, Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, will be away preparing for the Euro 2008 in Switzerland, Rummenigge promised that the club would field a “high quality team” featuring the likes of Mark van Bommel, Martin Demichelis, Lucio, Ze Roberto, Daniel van Buyten and Andreas Ottl alongside captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

The tour will be the last appearance for the former World Cup captain, who will hang up his boots at the end of the season.

“Our objective is not simply to play an exhibition match and collect our fee. We want to contribute to the development of the game,” Rummenigge said.

Bayern Munich also plan to hold training sessions in Calcutta for kids and youths together, led by Ottmar Hitzfeld and Michael Henke. Exceptionally talented youngsters may be invited to the FC Bayern Football School in Rust forfurther skills training, supervised by qualified coaches.

Fortunately, the date of the match doesn’t clash with the much-hyped Kolkata Knight Riders’ engagements at the Eden.