Scott Jameison: Playing Kerala Blasters, Girona great opportunity in pre-season

The Toyota Yaris La Liga World pre-season football tournament gets underway on Tuesday (July 24) in Kochi.

Taste of India: Melbourne City FC stars, Luke Brattan (left), captain Scott Jameison (centre) and former World Cupper Dario Vidosic try to experiment with Indian tea at the Lulu Marriott in Kochi on Friday.   -  Stan Rayan

It’s a game we would love to talk about for years. Some six decades ago, riding on a Neville D’souza hat-trick, India defeated host Australia 4-2 and entered the semifinal of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

A lot has changed in Indian football since then. Australia is now 36th in the FIFA world rankings and has played the World Cup while India is down at No. 97 and just dreaming of entering the sport’s biggest stage.
So, it is rather surprising to see Melbourne City FC, an Australian A-League club, and Spanish La Liga side Girona FC coming down to Kochi to play the Toyota Yaris La Liga World pre-season football tournament which begins at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.

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But Scott Jameison, the Melbourne captain, explained that it does make sense to play in India. “Well, we get to benefit playing Kerala Blasters, one of the strongest teams in India, and also playing a La Liga team, it’s one of the strongest leagues in the world. For us to play these two teams in our pre-season is a great opportunity,” said the 29-year-old defender at the Lulu Marriott on Friday.

“Because, it’s hard to play two quality teams being in Australia because we are quite far away from everywhere else, unless we play other A-League teams.”

Scott, who was with English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers a decade ago, feels that the A-League and the Indian Super League are very similar though he has not done much digging on the Blasters.

“We got to see one or two ISL games in Australia but we haven’t done too much research yet. But the ISL is like the A-League. It’s slowly getting bigger and bigger and names like (Dimitar) Berbatov, (Iain) Hume and David James here will raise interest,” said the Melbourne captain.

SACHIN NO. 1, PONTING NO. 2 FOR NOW!

This is Scott’s maiden trip to India.

“I’m enjoying it. It’s a country that, obviously, Australians know all about because of the cricket. Australia and India have always had a good rivalry…your king Sachin versus our king Ricky Ponting,” he said.

“For me, it’s Sachin No. 1 and Ricky No. 2 now and when I go back home, it will be Ricky No. 1 and Sachin No. 2.”

Scott also said that playing in front of the Blasters’ noisy and enthusiastic fans will bring plenty of lessons for many of his team’s youngsters.

Though Melbourne is a part of the City Football Group which also owns Manchester City and has a big stake in Girona, it has not played the Spanish club before.

“We have played friendly matches against Valencia four to five years ago, Liverpool and Celtic,” said England-born Luke Brattan, the Melbourne midfielder, who is on loan from Manchester City.

The team also includes Croatia-born midfielder Dario Vidosic, who moved to Australia as a little kid and played for the team in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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