India’s loss to Australia in the ICC World Cup final on November 19 was more than just a defeat. A sport worshipped in this part of the world plunged the country of over a billion people into mourning.
But in an era of frugality, where reels attract more eyeballs than 70mm films; when the sun rose the next day, Bhubaneswar saw hundreds of people trying to move on.
The counters along Gate No. 4 of the Kalinga Stadium, with ‘box-office’ written on them, had long queues, the stadium unfurled more blue posters and news channels found a fresh hook to cue their tickers on television screens.
India, led by Sunil Chhetri, is set to play Asian Champion Qatar to take a step forward in reaching the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers for the very first time on Tuesday.
Despite it being a weekday, the exuberance is intact as supporters look to swarm the Odisha capital, with most people waiting patiently to redeem their tickets, with QR codes ready on their smartphones.
For the people arriving for new tickets on Monday, however, it was just despondent silence amid the bustling traffic along the Katikada-Jaipur road adjacent to the stadium.
“Tickets sold out!” read two A4 sheets at the counters, with the football aficionados only left with the choice of buying replica jerseys from the nearby hawker and enjoying the game from somewhere outside the stadium.
“I wanted to watch the match with friends here,” said Pratyush Patra, one of the many standing at the counter, with three of his friends, “But they are saying that it’s all gone. I don’t know (what to do), I will try and wait and see if I get at least something from the last lot.”
The last lot, unfortunately, finished yesterday, one of the ticket officials said. “Tickets were priced at 500 (North-west Stand) and 200 rupees (for all other stands). But there is no more left,” he added.
Sport, in itself, has never been a life-and-death problem. Though it puts bread on the table for a minority of the populace, for the larger chunk, it is never a disposition that can bring the world to a halt.
It is, instead, a realm of hope, joy and at times, screeching dejection that seduces people to fall in love with it over and over again.
The occasion seemed to have bound kids around the ticket counters, clutching fingers their fathers’ fingers, painters holding tricolour-painted brushes and hawkers with blue shirts with ‘Chhetri’ written on them.
India’s match against a side ranked 41 spots above it looks like a loss on paper but sport doesn’t work that way. India will be hopeful of providing goosebumps to the cluster of cheering Indian football fans.
- IND vs AUS Final Toss Update, World Cup 2023: Australia wins toss, elects to bowl
- India vs Qatar LIVE score, IND 0-0 QAT, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier: Match kicks-off, Blue Tigers look for second consecutive win
- After India’s heartbreak in the cricket World Cup, fans look for hope in Indian football against Qatar
- Brazil vs Argentina Dream 11 Prediction, 2026 FIFA CONMEBOL Qualifiers: BRA v ARG predicted XI, fantasy team, team news
- Indian sports news wrap, November 21