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09 December 2023

Bayern impress Indian fans in Bhutia farewell

India's Baichung Bhutia leaves the ground after he played in a friendly against Bayern Munich in New Delhi on Tuesday. (REUTERS)


European giants Bayern Munich dazzled nearly 35,000 cheering fans during their impressive 4-0 win over India in an exhibition game on Tuesday.

The match, played under lights at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi, marked the farewell of India's soccer hero Baichung Bhutia, who announced his international retirement in August last year after a string of injuries.

The star-studded German outfit were hardly tested during the friendly encounter which was their final outing before the resumption of the Bundesliga following a four-week winter break.

Jupp Heynckes' troupe currently lead the domestic league after having played 17 games so far.

"We allowed our best players to take the field despite coming off a strenuous training session in Qatar," Heynckes said at the post-match news conference.

"We had a good 90-minute outing which was a part of our preparations for the return leg of the Bundesliga which begins next Friday."

Bayern have also been in impressive form in the Champions League, a tournament they are especially keen on, with the final set to take place at their home ground - the Allianz Arena - in May.

The Bavarians took the lead in the 14th minute through in-form striker Mario Gomez before World Cup Golden Boot winner Thomas Muller slammed in a brace to make it 3-0 for the visitors.

Star midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, making a comeback after recovering from a collarbone injury picked in November, netted in neatly two minutes from the half-way mark to take the tally to 4-0.

The Indians, placed a lowly 162 in FIFA rankings, tried to put up a spirited fight but were outclassed by their rivals who treated the Indian fans to some high-quality European football.

"Our players got carried away by the big names in Bayern which is one of the best teams in the world at the moment," said Bhutia. "But it was a great learning experience for our young side.

"Bayern are a great club with a great history. So personally, it was a great honour for me to sign off after a game like this. Lot of Indians will get inspired by the kind of football that was dished out by Bayern."

Part of the proceeds from Tuesday's game will go towards helping earthquake victims in Sikkim, Bhutia's home state in India's remote northeast region, which was rocked by a 6.9 magnitude quake in September.

Bhutia co-owns and plays for United Sikkim FC in the domestic league.