regular-article-logo Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Unfairest and ‘brutal’ cut for devastated Borussia Dortmund

Congratulations to Bayern because this is the most honest title, being top after 34 matches, says coach Edin Terzic

Angshuman Roy Calcutta Published 29.05.23, 06:39 AM
Edin Terzic.

Edin Terzic. File photo

Long after the final whistle on Saturday, Iduna Park was finding it difficult to believe that Borussia Dortmund have tripped yet again.

Needing three points against Mainz 05 to win the Bundesliga for the first time since 2012, Dortmund did the unthinkable. They managed a 2-2 draw and Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win at Cologne meant the latter took home the title for a record-extending 11th time.


Mat Hummels, Marco Reus, Sebastian Haller, Jude Bellingham — he was in the squad but did not play a part — and Niklas Sule looked distraught. The wait continues.

“Thank you to all fans for your support,” read a message on the screens and advertising boards. “Only BVB (Dortmund)! Whatever may happen.” Dortmund gave the it-was-so-near-yet-so-far story a new hue, yellow.

In Cologne, Bayern could not believe their luck and even as they were celebrating with a copy of the “champions bowl” — the original was taken away from Dortmund’s stadium — the Manuel Neuers and Leroy Sanes knew they had not won it.

Dortmund lost it. An otherwise average season for Bayern turned into a surprise party. No wonder, minutes later Bayern gave the boot to CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

“Congratulations to Bayern because this is the most honest title, being top after 34 matches,” a teary-eyed Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said. “Today is the toughest (sporting) moment you can imagine and feels a bit unfair,” he added. “This matchday will hurt for a long time.”

Hummels, a 2014 World Cup winner with Germany, was despondent too. “This is a brutal disappointment,” the defender, who missed a golden opportunity at the fag end of the match, said.

It was the rarest of rare things. Seldom do we see a team wilt under pressure as Dortmund did with the title in their grasp. They began the day with a two-point advantage over Bayern, but a nervous start to the game gave way to disbelief. And then despair.

In 1994, Deportivo La Coruna lost the La Liga to Barcelona on goal difference on the last day. Like Dortmund’s Haller on Saturday, Deportivo’s Miroslav Dukic also flunked from the spot in the barren game against Valencia in 1994.

Closer home, in the inaugural National Football League in 1996-97, Churchill Brothers needed a win against Indian Bank to lay their hands on the crown. But they were held 1-1 at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai and an expensively-assembled JCT side routed Dempo SC 4-1 in Margao to run away with the Rs 35-lakh winners’ purse. Bhaichung Bhutia got a treble and IM Vijayan scored one for the winners.

“It still hurts,” Kasif Jamal, a key member of that Danny McLennan-coached side, told The Telegraph from Mumbai.

“The heat was a factor. It was 40 degrees in Chennai and inside the stadium the temperature was five degrees more. Remember, unlike now when matches start in the evening, those days it used to be afternoon kick-offs. The weather sapped all our energy,” he said.

“We fought but destiny had other ideas. After the match the mood was depressing and nobody had dinner as we kept thinking about what could have been,” the Tata Football Academy graduate remembered. “Now when we speak about that match, I feel we should have been more enterprising in front of goal.”

Churchill had to wait till 2008-09 for their first I-League (NFL was given a new name) title. “Twelve years!” Jamal exclaimed.

For Dortmund, it’s been 11 years. Juergen Klopp had masterminded back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. On Saturday, Mainz — Klopp was their coach from 2001-08 — spoiled the party.

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