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In India, King Kahn bows out with a clean sheet

27 May 2008 17:45

KOLKATA (AFP) - Some 100,000 Indians came together to bid legendary German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn a fond farewell when he played his last match as a professional for Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Fans in this football-mad eastern city packed the Salt Lake stadium to watch Kahn's Bundesliga champions side outplay the local Mohun Bagan club 3-0 in an exhibition match.

Jan Schlaudraff opened the scoring in the 18th minute and netted another goal in the 51st, while Ze Roberto scored the other in the 36th minute.

Bayern gifted Kahn a winning send-off despite being reduced to 10 men in the last six minutes after defender Branco Cardozo was sent off.

"Thank you, thank you for making this a very special night," Kahn told his audience during the interval after being presented with a gold-plated miniature ball studded with 8,640 diamonds by the organisers.

Kahn received a standing ovation when he left the field for the last time in the 55th minute and was replaced by Michael Rensing.

It was the last match of Bayern Munich's nine-day tour of Asia that also had stopovers in Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia.

The 38-year-old Kahn, a three-time world goalkeeper of the year, retires to become a television expert after claiming a record eight Bundesliga titles and featuring in a league record 557 matches.

Kahn, who also played 86 matches for Germany during his sparkling 20-year career, was adjudged the best player of the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea when he led the team to the final.

Tuesday's friendly also marked the last game for Bayern's coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who is due to take over the Switzerland national team in July.

Former German captain Jurgen Klinsmann will replace Hitzfeld at Bayern.

"Seeing players of Oliver Kahn's calibre is a rare privilege," said Indian Football Association official Utpal Ganguli. "I don't believe we will stage another such game in the foreseeable future."

India, a nation better known for its mass following for cricket, is ranked 151st in football. But there is great interest in European football, which is beamed live to television screens across the country every week.

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