21 May 2008

The "Zenith" of Russian Football: Aren't we there yet?...

Lately the sleeping soccer giant seems to be awakening from its cold snooze in Russian soil. This year, FC Zenith of St.Petersburg not only had their national cup but also won the UEFA Cup by beating Glasgow Rangers in the final last week.

Zenith was the first team that accumulated collected sympathies of the Turkish expats in Russia and the soccer jerks in Turkey alike for a while after the transfer of a high caliber player, Fatih Tekke, from his homeground in Trabzon to the frozen ground of St.Petersburg. Although I have sympathies for TsSKA, or CSKA as you may call it, which means that I need to stab any Zenith fan in my hands' reach (though Spartak fans are better armed against Zenith as Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce), I was keen on checking the scores of Zenith games and the performance of Fatih Tekke. He wasn't a great hit as prophesied but managed to secure his place by scoring some goals this year's season that is spotted with months of injuries (He claimed that he wasn't used to play on the frozen ground...what were you expecting? Even the Luzhniki field was transformed from real lawn to the artificial turf which can withstand subzero gaming...now they are removing it fto better suit the million dollar feet of the Champions League stars). So has passed a year and they were crowned as the best team in Russia this season...and so much to debate about the overall quality of the Russian football that couldn't stop the steady decline from the times when every team beyond the Varshaw dubbed Dinamo or Spartak roamed the international cups, mighty Lev Yashin scored goals for the glory communism or the goalkeeper Rinat Dassaev was called the Iron Curtain (Now he is the host of the final match in Moscow).

Fatih Tekke in St.Peterburg...as odd as Pele in New York Cosmos

Now that Russian teams are back to business with easy spending oligarchs behind the Moscow teams and the State-within-State Gazprom proudly backs the Zenith, they can replenish the roster with fresh and star players from the West, given that they can play on ice (not literally) and break the language barrier. I know it takes time but it took me a month to learn the basic football slang...Blya! :)

Another spectacle is undeniably the Champions League Final in Moscow today. The interesting fact is that the match will be played between two English teams: Chelsea and Manchester United and so as the Hadj for Muslims, many English fans are flocked into Moscow. (Check what my partner-in-crime Chris posted about this)

Who's your daddy?!

"Mr.Abramovich, the team is losing; what shall we do with the players?"
"Shoot them...and buy the other team"

The interesting fact is that Chelsea is owned by the international man of mystery and the universal man of wealth, Roman Abramovich, and he is known to have a passion for football and an eye for success both in and out of the field. Knowing that the finals will be held in his hometown, Abramovich is rumored to have kept the majority of the hotel rooms booked for himself even months before the date and since a hotel room for a night costs roughly a years's salary for an ordinary Russian even in the off season, now it seems that Roman must be doubling his daily income from sucking the English football fan's money. That seems fair enough in a country where the public interest for a national oligarch buying out a hi-class English soccer team is exploited to the limits of reason...even a boy band called "Chelsi" was around this year with some one-hit-wonder song.

The "Chelsi"...an eye candy for the Russian girls and awful to our ears

I realized that wearing a navy blue Chelsea jersey with Samsung Mobile ad on the chest looks more fashionable than the red-green Lokomotiv Moscow jersey with a soviet locomotive logo on, but the main drive for this craze is of course the way the Russians hit back with a vengeance...buying Chelsea must be more bitter bite for the English fans than Russkies buying out the Buckingham Palace, renaming it as Buckingsky VIP Palace, changing the royal guards with half naked supermodels and building fountains with vodka in the front garden. Good job Roman...I wish we had the same Turkish venturers who would buy Panathinaikos or Olympiakos...in my wildest fascist dreams of course :) may fair play win or something like that...

An oligarch in training..."Irina, I promise I will be the richest man in Galaxy and buy an English soccer team and then cheat on you with supermodels...oh yeah"

As for my support, it definitely goes to Chelsea but i am stuck in the middle, just like a African slave who is left to choose between the rugby teams of Virginia or Mississippi.

Update: Manchester United won by penalties...next time, Roman.

No comments: