One of the highlights of India’s first win in the 2018 World Cup qualifying stage was the immense support from the crowd at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore. It was further thrust into focus by the massive banner unveiled before the game when the players walked onto the pitch.
India had lost 5 games on the trot going into this game, regardless of their low ranking, they were expected to perform better than they had and they weren’t living up to the billing. However, this would be among their best chances to get the first points in the group. The Blue Tigers would not disappoint as Robin Singh put them ahead early and despite going down to 10 men at the end of the first half due to a direct red issued to Sehnaj Singh, Constantine’s men persevered to register a win.
Speaking after the game, the goalscorer on the night and the Indian national football team boss were asked about the fans’ support after some recent criticism, especially of the misfiring striker Robin Singh.
Stephen Constantine jokingly replied, “He (Robin) paid them!”
The India and Bengaluru FC striker then added, “I’d like to thank the fans, especially for the huge banner (unfurled before the game), I think it’s one of the biggest in Asia.”
The 25-year-old was spot on in his assessment as the mammoth banner was roughly a whopping 5,200 sq. feet in area. Surely the biggest Indian football has seen in its history and among the biggest in Asia. The banner wasn’t the only thing that adorned the stadium on the day, it was a slew of Indian flags draped around shoulders, waved around and painted on faces.
In addition, the fans painted the air with colours of the Indian flag thrown into the air in the form of coloured powder (gulaal) soon after the Indian National anthem played across the stadium. It no doubt played a role in creating an atmosphere that would have instilled confidence and belief in the players on the pitch .
It was the brainchild of Waseem Ahmed who coordinated and organised the whole effort from the banners, to the colours and the manpower required to pull off a stunt of such magnitude. The fans who have rallied around him in the past to create a vibrant atmosphere in the stadium once again were at his side to pull off the biggest show of strength and belief in a national team that is just beginning to find its feet.