Jumat, 31 Desember 2010

AFC Club Licencing deadline, Clubs hand in papers

The AFC Club Licencing deadline for I-League clubs ended yesterday on December 31, 2010 with the remaining eight clubs handing in documents which would allow them to stay in the I-League in the 2011/12 season, but some could face the axe.

When the results were released in November 2010 of the assessment of Indian clubs it was a slap in the face of Indian club football. All clubs failed the tough AFC Club Licensing criteria; while only six clubs - Chirag United SC, Mumbai FC, Pune FC, Churchill Brothers SC, Dempo SC and JCT - could fulfill the watered down I-League criteria. The eight other teams - East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan AC, Salgaocar SC, Viva Kerala, Air India, ONGC, HAL, AIFF XI - had until yesterday to provide the AIFF with documents to prove that they have fulfilled the criteria.

The Kolkata giants East Bengal Club and Mohun Bagan AC have been able to sort out their ownership issue. The United Breweries Group owns 50% of both the clubs through different companies, but had their chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya as director of both clubs. This was changed with Dr. Mallya resigning as Director of United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt. Ltd. and his taking Sidhartha V. Mallya being given a place on the Board of Directors.

Two other clubs in Salgaocar SC and Viva Kerala had not met the criteria due to not submitting in audited profit and loss statements, have both now done so; while the AIFF XI, India's Under-20 national team, is a matter of concern as they do not fulfill a number of criteria; but the AIFF think that this developmental team should be seen as a special case and not judged by standard guidelines.

The three public sector unit clubs in Air India, ONGC and HAL could face the axe as their football teams still aren't separate private entities. Air India and HAL have applied for privatization, but ONGC has asked for an extension of the deadline to meet the criteria.

The AFC Special Mission Team is set to return to India in February 2011 after reviewing all the updated documents and will announce which of the current 14 teams would be allowed to play the I-League in the 2011/12 season.

I-League - Round 6: Mixed bag of results

The sixth Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played on December 29/30 across India. East Bengal continued their winning streak and now have 18 points, six more then second placed Salgaocar while clubs at the bottom mostly won, which has pushed the clubs closer together in the league table.

Round 6 Match by Match Short Review
29-Dec-2010: East Bengal Club 6-1 (3-0) Air India (in Kolkata)
East Bengal Club made it six out six as they steam-rolled past a hapless Air India in a 6-1 trashing at the Saltlake Stadium. Captain Saumik Dey opened the scoring in the 11th minute before striker Robin doubled the lead in the 33rd minute. Inform Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey scored one goal on either side of the breather, in the 42nd and 50th minute; before Air India reduced the deficit through a goal from Eric Bolwe Mputu in the 55th minute, the first goal that the red-and-gold conceded in this I-League. The Kolkata giants would finish off with a lovely long-ranger from Mehtab Hussain in the 90th minute and then Ravinder Singh would finish off the 6-1 rout in injury time.

29-Dec-2010: Salgaocar SC 0-1 (0-1) Pune FC (in Goa)
Salgaocar SC suffered a home defeat at the hands of Pune FC their second loss in a row. Salgaocar didn't have a good first session and deservingly Pune's defender Selwyn Fernandes headed in the winner. The Goans tried their best to get the equaliser, but it wasn't to be as Salgaocar remain on 12 points while Pune FC moved mid-table with their first win and now seven points.

29-Dec-2010: JCT 1-0 (0-0) Viva Kerala (in Ludhiana)
The Millmen from Punjab scored their first win of the 4th I-League, a 1-0 against Viva Kerala at home in Ludhiana. A solo effort from Maninder Singh in the second half was enough to give JCT their much needed win after the club was only to garner one point from five matches. Viva Kerala meanwhile remain winless with four draws to their name.

30-Dec-2010: ONGC 1-1 (1-1) Churchill Brothers SC (in Kolhapur)
Newcomers ONGC held former I-League champions Churchill Brothers SC to a one-all draw in Kolhapur. Nigerian striker N.D. Opara gave ONGC the lead which Odafe Onyeka Okolie equalised with a freekick, it was Odafe's 10th goal in six I-League matches.

30-Dec-2010: AIFF XI 2-1 (1-0) HAL, Bangalore (in Gurgaon)
The AIFF XI beat Bangalore's HAL 2-1 in the I-League at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon. The India youngsters had the better start into the game, but Jeje Lalpekhlua missed a penalty still they took the lead through Malswamfela and they went into the break with the 1-0 lead. In the second session Bikramjeet Singh would double the lead before seasoned HAL striker R.C. Prakash would reduce the deficit through a penalty.

30-Dec-2010: Dempo SC 1-1 (1-0) Chirag United SC (in Goa)
A late equaliser earned Chirag United SC a one-all draw against I-League champions Dempo SC. The Goans can only blame themselves for not winning the match with Ranty Martins Soleye even missing a penalty plus former Dempo keeper Abhijit Mondal, who had a good game for the Kolkata side. Dempo's Clifton Gonsalves gave his side the lead in injury time of the first session, while Josimar da Silva Martins gave Chirag United the equaliser a minute from the end.

30-Dec-2010: Mohun Bagan AC 2-0 (1-0) Mumbai FC (in Kolkata)
Mohun Bagan AC continued their winning run with a 2-0 win against Mumbai FC in Kolkata. It was an even game before striker Subair Muritala Ali gave the green-and-maroon the lead in the first half injury time. Ashim Biswas would double the lead in the 79th minute to win it for Mohun Bagan.

Click here for the 4th I-League 2010/11 - League Table & Fixtures .

Kamis, 30 Desember 2010

Asian Cup: India's opponents name their squad

India's opponents in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup - Australia, South Korea and Bahrain - have all named their 23 players squad for the tournament set to kick off on January 7 in Qatar. India face Australia in their opening match on January 10, while taking on Bahrain on January 14 before their final group game against South Korea on January 18.

The tougher opponents will be Australia and South Korea, who both will be missing their key strikers. The Aussies will be missing tall Joshua Kennedy, who plays for Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan; while the South Korean will miss AS Monaco's Chu-Young Park, one of their star performers in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham FC, England); Nathan Coe (Sønderjysk Elitesport, Denmark); Brad Jones (Liverpool FC, England)

Defenders: David Carney, (Blackpool FC, England); Jon McKain (Al Nasr, Saudi Arabia); Lucas Neill (Galatasaray Istanbul, Turkey); Jade North (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand); Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa, South Korea); Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan); Luke Wilkshire (FK Dinamo Moscow, Russia)

Midfielders: Jason Culina (Gold Cost United, Australia); Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers, England); Richard Garcia (Hull City AFC, England); Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands); Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi SK, Turkey); Harry Kewell (Galatasaray Istanbul, Turkey), Neil Kilkenny (Leeds United, England); Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar, Australia); Carl Valeri (US Sassuolo Calcio, Italy)

Forwards: Nathan Burns (AEK Athens, Greece); Tim Cahill (Everton FC, England); Robbie Kruse (Melbourne Victory, Australia); Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough FC, England)

Coach: Hogler Osieck


Goalkeepers: Sung-Ryong Jung (Seongnam Ilhwa, South Korea), Yong-Dae Kim (FC Seoul, South Korea), Jin-Hyeon Kim (Cerezo Osaka, Japan)

Defenders: Hyo-Jin Choi (Sangju Sangmu, South Korea), Jae-Won Hwang (Suwon Bluewings, South Korea), Yong-Hyung Cho (Al-Rayyan, Qatar), Tae-Hwi Kwak (Kyoto Sanga, Japan), Yong-Rae Lee (Suwon Bluewings, South Korea), Young-Pyo Lee (Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Jung-Soo Lee (Al-Sadd, Qatar), Jeong-Ho Hong (Jeju United, South Korea), Du-Ri Cha (Celtic Glasgow, Scotland)

Midfielders: Ji-Sung Park (Captain; Manchester United, England), Bit-Garam Yoon (Gyeongnam FC, South Korea), Heung-Min Son (Hamburger SV, Germany), Ja-Cheol Koo (Jeju United, South Korea), Sung-Yueng Ki (Celtic Glasgow, Scotland), Chung-Yong Lee (Bolton Wanderers, England), Bo-Kyung Kim (Cerezo Osaka, Japan), Ki-Hun Yeom (Suwon Bluewings, South Korea)

Forwards: Byung-Soo Yoo (Incheon United, South Korea), Dong-Won Ji (Chunnam Dragons, South Korea), Shin-Wook Kim (Ulsan Hyundai, South Korea)

Coach: Kwang-Rae Cho


Goalkeepers: 1-Mahmood Mansoor Ali Abdulla, 21-Ahmed Ali Ahmed Ali Mushaima, 22-Abbas Ahmed Ali Khamis

Defenders: 2-Rashed Khalil Ebrahim Talha Khalil Alhooti, 3-Abdulla Abdurrahmn Mohammed Marzooq, 5-Saleh Abdulhameed Saleh Mohamed Mahmeedi, 6-Abbas Saeed Ali Mansoor Ayyad, 16-Dawood Saad Salman Mohamed Saad, 17-Husain Ali Hasan Ali Mohamed, 23-Ebrahim Ali Hasan Meshkhas

Midfielders: 4-Abdulla Bab Fatadi, 7-Hamad Rakea Humood Alanezi, 9-Abdulwahab A Rahman Hedaib Isa Ali Almalood, 10-Mohamed Ahmed Yusuf Salmeen, 12-Faouzi Mubarak Aaish, 13-Mahmood Abdulrahman Mohamed Noor Abdulrahman, 14-Salman Isa Ghuloom Ali, 15-Abdulla Ismaeel Omar, 18-Abdulwahab Ali Abdulwahab Husain Alsafi, 19-Mahmood Merza Mahdi Ahmed Alajmi

Forwards: 8-Jaycee John Okwunwanne, 11-Ismaeel Abdullatif Ismaeel Hasan, 20-Abdulla Adnan Saleh Salman Aldakeel

Coach: Salman Sharida

Rabu, 29 Desember 2010

VIDEO: Bob Houghton receiving the Swedish football award

Robert Douglas Houghton, better known as Bob Houghton, had his first coaching success in Sweden with a small club called Malmö FF, which he coached from 1974 to 1979. The highlight was the 1979 European Cup (now called UEFA Champions League) final which the club lost 0-1 against Nottingham Forest and what made the achievement even bigger was the fact that this Malmö team was made-up of local boys, who came from within a radius of 60 kilometres.

Bob Houghton and his friend current FC Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson are widely regarded as being responsible for the 'transformation of Swedish football into a relative modern power'.

And for his achievements in Sweden, Bob Houghton in the summer had received the Lifetime Award of Swedish football after former UEFA president Lennart Johansson received the award last year and it was handed over to Bob by none other then Dutch football legend Johan Cryuff.

Here is the video for you all to watch (there is an ad at the start of the video):

The story of Seychelles FF & Andrew Morrison

Have you read or heard about the story of the Seychelles Football Federation looking to appoint a new national coach and then appointing the wrong Andrew Morrison. A great story but major embarrassment for the island nations federation.

Here the story from the start.

A certain Andrew Amers-Morrison, a junior coach who runs the Samba Street Soccer School for disadvantaged kids in London, travelled to the Seychelles for a holiday but he was mistaken by the Seychelles FF to be Andrew Charles Morrison, a former Scottish footballer best known as a former Manchester City defender.

The SFF chairman Suketu Patel had said at the time, "We thought we were getting the real Andy Morrison, but instead we have an impostor."

The SFF originally offered Andrew Amers-Morrison a two year contract which he accepted. But when the SFF realised their mistake they asked their newly signed national coach to come for a meeting. Surprisingly Andrew Amers-Morrison wasn't fired, but rather given a six month contract to prove himself to the SFF. And if successful he could be given a long term contract.

An unbelievable story, but life sometimes is as crazy like this...

Selasa, 28 Desember 2010

Bundesliga 2010: Tops & Flops

The German Bundesliga after 17 of its 34 rounds is having its usual winter break with no games over a four week period. And it has been an interesting, sometimes crazy first half of the season with Borussia Dortmund as the surprise league leaders and other smaller clubs like Mainz 05, Hannover 96 and SC Freiburg in the top six of the league. Meanwhile league giants Bayern Munich are only fifth, but other clubs like VfL Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen could be fighting relegation while VfB Stuttgart are in the relegation zone. Their club managements will have something to ponder over the holiday break.

Here are the tops and flops of the first half of the 2010/11 Bundesliga season.


1. Borussia Dortmund - The Juergen Klopp coached side are one of the youngest teams in the league, but have had an incredible run with 14 wins from 15 matches ater losing their first and then the last match. 43 Points from 17 matches is the second best ever record in the Bundesliga and the youngsters proved their class. Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin is the man in the middle with captain Roman Weidenfeller the oldest and most experienced player at the back. Young central defenders Mats Hummels and Nevin Subotic have been playing together for a while though still in their early twenties and then there are teenage sensation Mario Goetze and Japanese surprise Shinji Kagawa plus striker Lucas Barrios, who have all played their part. Klopp over the last two and a half years has wisely put together a squad with talent and now they are proving what they can achieve.

2. FSV Mainz 05 - The early league leaders and the biggest of all surprises. Mainz was expected to fight relegation, but from the start they have been on top with great attacking football and a rotation within the team, which allowed coach Thomas Tuchel to keep his young bunch on course. Mainz did have a few bad games towards the end, but still they recovered and are second in the league. And 37 year old Tuchel is the architect of this surprise success. Tuchel is said to be thorough in his match preparations and that has so far paid off.

3. Hannover 96 - Last season after the suicide of goalkeeper Robert Enke the club was totally out of sorts and the team nearly got relegated. This season a number of new players came in, the club has been able to shrug off last seasons events, but coach Mirko Slomka was a top candidate to be fired first. Slomka was able to form a unit and Hannover have stayed amongst the top clubs through the first half of the season. But the question remains if they can retain their form after the break.


1. Werder Bremen - They have been the most consistent German club after Bayern Munich over the last decade, but somehow this season things haven't been going right for the Thomas Schaaf coached side. The club sold Mesut Özil to Real Madrid in the summer, they thought no replacement was needed as they generally have a good squad, but after these five months they have had a rethink and look to strengthen their squad over the winter.

2. VfL Wolfsburg - They took a gamble by signing Steve McClaren as the first English coach in the Bundesliga. So far the experiment has failed, but McClaren wasn't fired as had been expected and has been given more time to turn things around. The Volkswagen backed club has spend millions on players over the years, build infrastructure and now expects the Wolves to be playing in European competitions year in and year out. A tough ask for coach McClaren, who said he doesn't have a team but a group of individuals. He has a few weeks to sort it out otherwise someone else will be given a chance.

3. VfB Stuttgart - In Stuttgart history seems to repeat itself each winter, but it hasn't been as bad as this season. The club is 17th and fighting to stay in the Bundesliga. They fired their coach in autumn like in the last two years, but only named an interim coach in Jens Keller and then brought in Bruno Labbadia before the two matches against Bayern Munich, which the club lost. Like Bremen they lost a player in Sami Khedira to Real Madrid plus Jens Lehmann retired and the club suddenly seemed to lack a leader on the pitch. In the last three years the club has been amongst the best in the second half of the league, in 2007 they actually went on to win the Bundesliga title. But this season it is different and difficult too.

Asian Cup blues for European clubs

The 2011 AFC Asian Cup has been shifted from August to January due to the summer heat in Qatar, but with more and more Asian footballers playing in Europe these day those clubs who depend on their Asian players aren't very happy about the January slot. European clubs know that every alternate year they would miss the services of their African players for two to four weeks due to the African Cup of Nations, some even disappear thereafter and reappear weeks later.

Now this won't happen with Asian players, but they will be away for three to four weeks and that does upset the rhythm of that concerned player and sometimes even that of his club side. But the Asian Football Confederation took a wise decision to shift the tournament to a more climatic suitable period of the year.

Asians are playing across the European continent like Ji-Sung Park and Tim Cahill in the English Premier League, Shinji Kagawa and Makoto Hasebe in the German Bundesliga, Yuto Nagatomo in Italy's Serie A, Sung-Yong Ki and Du-Ri Cha in Scotland or Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill in Turkey. All of them and more will be missing club action to represent their countries.

Managers like Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Everton's David Moyes or Owen Coyle of the Bolton Wanderers aren't happy about the situation, but with the Asian Cup being a FIFA recognised event, the clubs are bound to release their players.

Michael Zorc, Director of Sports at German Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, had said recently, "I don't see a big chance that he is allowed to stay with us. Shinji has a central role in our team, but Japan wants to field its best players because of the importance of the Asian Cup."

United Sikkim Sporting Club: Baichung's dream project

India captain Baichung Bhutia is currently focusing on getting match fit again for the upcoming 2011 AFC Asian Cup, but off the field Baichung has been doing a lot which has to do with his own future but also that of Indian football. Be it forming the Football Players Association of India a few years ago, launching the Bhaichung Bhutia Football School a few weeks ago and now Baichung is trying to get his own club United Sikkim Sporting Club to play in the second division of the I-League.

United Sikkim Sporting Club is based in Gangtok with Baichung Bhutia as its patron and currently also main financial backer with support from the Government of Sikkim. Baichung's dream is to see United Sikkim SC one day amongst the best clubs in India.

Baichung had told IANS from the training camp in Dubai, "United Sikkim will surely boost football in Northeast. Things are still premature as we have just applied for permission from the AIFF. But we will look to run the club in a professional manner, with the help of some corporates."

And the club is already in action as United Sikkim SC are already part of the football set-up in Sikkim and at the Sikkim Governor's Gold Cup about two month's back they had beaten Bhutan XI in their biggest win so far.

Baichung in the name of the club has applied for a 30 acre plot from the Sikkim Government for building a football specific stadium and Academy infrastructure, which if accepted could help the club attract some of the best talent initially from the Northeast and in future from across India.

United Sikkim SC has handed in the necessary documents to the AIFF regarding participation in the I-League's 2nd Division this season, but some more details are wanted from them and if those documents are correct and accepted then the club could be seen in action in the second tier of Indian club football.

Senin, 27 Desember 2010

Bayern Coach van Gaal & his four future options

FC Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal has his own mind. A current example is when the Dutchman talks about his own future. Van Gaal has a contract until summer 2012 with Bayern Munich, but as he himself says he is considering four options for his own future following the end of his contract.

Speaking to the Sunday edition of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung he talked about those four options. Number one is to become the coach of a big national team and lead them into the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, number two is to return to his home club Ajax Amsterdam and become the clubs Director of Sports, number three is to extend his contract at Bayern Munich, while number four would be to end his coaching career altogether.

A few days earlier he had told German tabloid Bild something similar, "After 2012 I will only sign one more contract, either extending with Bayern, with a national team or at Ajax Amsterdam as general manager.

And van Gaal had also said, "I'm not working for the money any more. I am just doing it for fun."

Such interviews and those personal options once more highlight Louis van Gaal and his character. He is a straight forward guy, who likes to organise and plan things, ideally well in advance and even if it looks arrogant he shows what he is capable off and what we wants. The only real ambition left for him as a coach is to guide a team in a FIFA World Cup.

Rift between AIFF & Players???

As I have mentioned a few times before, not all is well in the Team India camp. I get the worrying feeling that there is a widening rift between the players and the All India Football Federation top brass, which is happening at the worst possible time then with the 2011 AFC Asian Cup just days away, everybody in Indian football - administrators, clubs, players, media and fans - need to rally behind the Indian national football team ahead of its big assignment.

And most of us know that it will be a daunting task for our boys to face Australia, Bahrain and South Korea in Qatar. The manager Pradip Chowdhury leaving on Friday came at the worst possible moment, but surprisingly numerous players questioned the role of the manager and amongst them even those players who normally say nothing negative about anybody in public.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das speaking to the Telegraph had said, "The players shouldn't have got involved into this controversy. I will consult the AIFF president (Praful Patel) and the executive committee before deciding on our next course of action."

And that too is a worrying reaction from the new AIFF General Secretary, then the players are key members of the squad and they are openingly supporting their coach Bob Houghton plus they are also making a ver valid point by saying that they are worried that internal team information is being leaked to the media, which to them is causing unwanted distractions.

An unnamed AIFF office bearer also told the Telegraph, "We have a strong feeling that some people in the team are trying to cover up for their poor performance and are being encouraged by a section of the staff."

And this AIFF office bearer would add, "We have spent Rs. 16 crore for the team in the past eight months and all we received in return were 27 goals against us in nine matches. The Indian football fans surely deserve better treatment."

Such statements make me thing even more that there are problems between the AIFF and players, then I guess spending the money to prepare the team for the Asian Cup shouldn't really be an issue as India goes into the tournament as the lowest ranked nation plus no exposure at this continental level for nearly three decades and that is showing now. But as said, lets all keep together now and focus on the Asian Cup!

And all this brings me to one conclusion. There needs to be retrospection of Team India's preparations for the Asian Cup, which only should be done once the tournament is over. Be it the GOAL2011 project; the costs involved; the roles of coach Bob Houghton, manager Pradip Chowdhury, other officials and the players; the players selection; the many injuries; the lining up of friendly matches and all other related points. And an independent body should look into these issues for us to learn something for the future and how things could and should be done better.

Team India for 2011 AFC Asian Cup announced

The All India Football Federation today announced the final 23 player squad for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup to be played from January 7 to 29 in Qatar. The deadline of sending the final squad was tomorrow, but the AIFF send their final list one day in advance.

And there aren't any such surprises in the squad with Baichung Bhutia named as its captain. That was the big worry if Baichung would be available for selection or not. Missing the tournament due to injuries are goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya, defender Samir Naik and winger Anthony Pereira. Arindam has been replaced by young Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as East Bengal did not release seasoned Sandip Nandy.

Others missing out from the 30 players preparatory squad are defender Nallappan Mohanraj; midfielders James Lukram Singh, Jagpreet Singh, Baljit Singh Sahni; and striker M. Mohammed Rafi.

In a positive but surprise move Raul Fernandes, the organiser of the training camps in Dubai, has been named as manager for the Asian Cup while AIFF vice-President Subrata Dutta will also accompany the team as Chef de Mission and Larsing L Sawayan as Head of Delegation.


Subrata Pal (Pune FC), Subhasish Roy Choudhury (Dempo SC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (AIFF XI)

Anwar (Dempo SC), Mahesh Gawli (Dempo SC), Deepak Kumar Mondal (Mohun Bagan AC), Nanjangud Shivananju Manju (Mohun Bagan AC), Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan AC),Syed Rahim Nabi (East Bengal Club), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Govin Moirangthem Singh (East Bengal Club), Irungbam Surkumar Singh (Mohun Bagan AC)

Steven Benedic Dias (Churchill Brothers SC), Climax Lawrence (Dempo SC), Clifford Miranda (Dempo SC), Naduparambil Pappachan Pradeep (Mahindra United), Baldeep Singh Jr (JCT), Potsangbam Renedy Singh (East Bengal Club), Mehrajuddin Wadao (East Bengal Club)

Baichung Bhutia (Captain - East Bengal Club), Sunil Chhetri (Kansas City Wizards), Sushil Kumar Singh (East Bengal Club), Abhishek Yadav (Mumbai FC)

Robert Douglas Houghton (Chief Coach), Savio Medeira (Assistant Coach), Antonio Marcus Pacheco (Goalkeeper Coach), Suresh Babu (Physical Trainer), Dr. Gagan Kapoor (Physiotherapist), Liaqat Ali (Masseur), Sanjay Kumar (Media Manager), Raul Fernandes (Manager), Subrata Dutta (Chef de Mission), Larsing L Sawayan (Head of Delegation)

Minggu, 26 Desember 2010

23rd Airlines Gold Cup: Md Sporting champions!

The 23rd edition of the Airlines Gold Cup was played from December 21 to 26 at the Mohammedan Sporting ground at the Kolkata Maidan. And yesterday afternoon the hosting club in Mohammedan Sporting went on to win the title against a resurgent 'Techno' Aryan Club 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match had ended in a one-all draw in regulation time.

After a goalless first session Mohammedan Sporting went ahead through a Satyajit Bose goal in the 60th minute, but only five minutes later Sporting's Gautam Kujur would score into his own net to give Aryan Club the equaliser. In the penalty shootout four of Sporting's penalty takers would score, while only three of Aryan's did.

Captain Habibur Rehman lifted the clubs first trophy of the season, while it was the third time that Mohammedan Sporting has won the Airlines Gold Cup. Besides lifting the trophy Mohammedan Sporting also received Rs 100,000 (1 lakh) in prize money. Defender Debkumar Sashmal (Mohammedan Sporting) was named as the final's 'Man of the Match', while his team mate Dipendu Biswas emerged as the highest goal scorer due to his semifinal hattrick against Janbazar SC.

This years Airlines Gold Cup was organised by the All Airlines Recreation Club with help from the Indian Football Association (West Bengal). The Tower Group had come on board as the title sponsors.


21-Dec-2010: IFA Academy 0-1 Janbazar SC
22-Dec-2010: George Telegraph SC 3-1 Coal India

23-Dec-2010: Mohammedan Sporting Club 4-0 Janbazar SC
24-Dec-2010: 'Techno' Aryan Club 2-0 George Telegraph SC

26-Dec-2010: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-1,4-3 'Techno' Aryan Club [penalties]

Rene Adler a Manchester United target?

40 year old Edwin van der Sar is finally set to retire next summer and that is giving manager Alex Ferguson some headache, then who would and could replace the reliable Dutchman? Now a new (old) candidate has emerged in German international goalkeeper Rene Adler and what makes it really interesting is that Adler is a Manchester United fan since his childhood days and has a special release clause for only the Red Devils.

The list of potential new Man United goalkeepers include Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg from Ajax Amsterdam, Germany's number one Manuel Neuer of FC Schalke 04, Atletico Madrid's young sensation David de Gea, FC Liverpool's Spanish keeper Pepe Reina and now Adler. In the meanwhile Ferguson has already signed Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard for 5 Million Euros from Norwegian club Aalesunds FK for January. But Lindegaard's signing is one for the future.

The nine time German international missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup due to injury, but along with Neuer he is part of the new wave of young German goalkeepers, who have been making a mark in the Bundesliga. And the special clause in his contract make him even more interesting for United for whom Adler surely would be a wise buy.

The clause was confirmed by Bayer 04 Leverkusen Managing Director Wolfgang Holzhauser saying, "It is an escape clause with a difference, because it only refers to one club. If United offer a certain amount, we have to let Rene go. He has always supported them, and he wanted to make sure the door was open, should they come calling. I know they have watched him quite a few times, so it may be difficult for us."

Adler has a contract at Bayer 04 Leverkusen running until 2012 and the release clause would allow him to leave Germany for a fee of 24 Million Euros in 2011 for Manchester United and with van der Sar retiring it would be the perfect time for him to make the switch to England, if the club wants him. Therefore Leverkusen's offer to extend Adler's contract is on hold until Manchester United sort their goalkeeper issue. If not Manchester United, then Adler will remain in Leverkusen.

Besiktas Istanbul sign Portuguese duo

Ambitious Turkish SüperLig side Besiktas Istanbul have been quite active in the transfer market by signing two Portuguese internationals in Simao Sambrosa and Hugo Almeida, who will join them once the transfer market opens in January. They join fellow Portuguese Ricardo Quaresma at the Bernd Schuster coached club.

31 year old Simao has been signed for a fee of 900,000 Euros from current Europa League champions Atletico Madrid of Spain and has signed a contract until summer 2013. He leaves Atletico after two and a half years and would earn up to 7,2 Million Euros.

On leaving Atletico Simao said, "It is difficult for me, I can hardly speak because since I came to Atletico I have grown and become a better professional. When I arrived I said I would do my best to win a title and I eventually ended up with two in Europe (the Europa League and the European Super Cup)."

26 year old Hugo Almeida leaves German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen and has signed a contract until 2014, which would guarantee him a salary of 9,15 Million Euros. At Bremen Almeida was their top scorer of the season with nine goals, but had recently been send off due to indiscipline against St. Pauli which forced the club to rethink their offer to extend his contract. Almeida joins Besiktas for a transfer fee of 2 Million Euros.

Besiktas' president has money to spend and wants to be the top club not only in Istanbul, but across Turkey and also target the UEFA Champions League. Currently they are only fifth in the Turkish league and had already spend money in the summer to bring in former Real Madrid star Guti, Portuguese talent Ricardo Quaresma, former German international Roberto Hilbert and Turkish international Mehmet Aurelio amongst others. The club had appointed former German international and Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster as their manager.

Sabtu, 25 Desember 2010

Team India's growing worries

The closer the 2011 AFC Asian Cup is coming the worse the situation surrounding the Indian national team seems to be getting. Injury worries to key players, players having to drop out, international friendlies being called off, clubs not releasing players and then the manager leaving. It seems to be a never ending negative story at the moment surrounding Team India and their preparations for the tournament.

Matters reached their negative climax yesterday when manager Pradip Chowdhury left the camp after differences of opinion with national coach Bob Houghton. The manager cited personal and health reasons for the problems, but it is publically known that there was a difference of opinion between Bob and Pradipda. This incidence came at the worst possible moment with the tournament just a couple of weeks away and the players have heavily criticised the decision.

Then there is the issue of injuries. At one time up to 12 out of the 30 players were injured, even the two reserve goalkeepers Subhashish Roy Chowdhury and Arindam Bhattacharya with youngsters Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Jagroop Singh called up as back-up. Now Sunil Chhetri is regaining full fitness which is welcome news; but if Baichung Bhutia will be fit for the Asian Cup will have to be seen. Baichung had recently recovered fully from an injury suffered on September 15 against Namibia but he is again out, so he is flying in his own doctor to get himself treated. Baichung might have to miss the tournament altogether and this would be surely a big blow to India.

Now winger Anthony Pereira and keeper Arindam Bhattacharya have been ruled out of the tournament due to injuries, but Indian club are unwilling to release suitable replacements. With seasoned Sandip Nandy (East Bengal Club) and Asian Games Under-23 captain Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC) the players of Bob's choice. East Bengal don't want to release Sandip, not to lose their current momentum; while Joaquim is injured, hasn't played in the I-League so far and Dempo don't want to release an injured player.

Then there are the called-off international friendlies. India were supposed to play Qatar on December 19 and then Syria on December 26, both matches to be played in Dubai. The first game was called-off as Qatar wanted the match to be shifted to Doha which Bob Houghton didn't agree to; while issues surrounding the Syria match aren't really clear, but rumours have it that cost factors have led to the match being called-off. Now India are set to go into the Asian Cup with no friendly international game since mid-November.

The AIFF will have to send the names of its final 23 player squad on Tuesday, December 28 to the Asian Football Confederation. And it will be interesting to see which 23 players will go on to represent India at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. As said things don't look good at the moment, but hopefully the boys will deliver.

Manager Pradip Chowdhury leaves Team India

Things aren't turning out the way we would like it to be before Team India's biggest assignment in close to three decades, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Matters reached their negative climax yesterday when manager Pradip Chowdhury left the camp after differences of opinion with national coach Bob Houghton. The manager cited personal and health reasons for the problems, but it is publically known that there was a difference of opinion between Bob and Pradipda.

The AIFF meanwhile has not reacted officially only mentioning on their website "Manager may have to return home due to some urgent personal and health issues." with the 'may' becoming a 'certainty' by now and not mentioning the problems within the team management. The AIFF will have to name a new manager as soon as possible as it looks rather unlikely that Pradip Chowdhury will return to the team ahead of the Asian Cup. And normally a manager is a key element within the team.

This incidence came at the worst possible moment with the tournament just a couple of weeks away and things not looking good. And this episode has left a bad taste amongst the players who aren't at all happy about the incidence, especially the timing of all this as some say the manager was leaving a sinking ship.

The players reacted through the "Football Players Association of India" website. And there were different reactions, some quite honest one's from them.

Captain Baichung Bhutia was quite diplomatic in his statement, "I spoke to Pradip Chowdhury immediately after I came to know that he gave up his position as manager of the national football team. He mentioned to me about his ill health and piled up personal work. That may have been the reason he gave but we strongly feel that he could have stayed back and those were only alibis. At a time where the team needed all the support it could get, its manager left the team. This is something we did not really require when we needed to stick to together as a family. I am very disappointed at his decision to leave us at such a difficult phase."

Striker Sunil Chhetri reacted by saying, "This news was quite shocking to us and left us in a very sad mood. This is obviously a very tough time for us, given the fact we have been struggling with injuries and finding it difficult to win games. This is a very big jump for us and we need all the support possible to cope up with such tough tests. Only with the support of people can we overcome hurdles. Pradip Chowdhury leaving us will not help matters at all. In fact it will create an atmosphere which everyone can do without. He should have remained behind and we should have stuck together like a family than bringing up petty, personal issues. This is completely unexpected from a man of his stature.”

Arjuna Awardee Deepak Kumar Mondal was quite critical, "Well, what more can I say. He really did not do much at work. We were not really happy with his work as he never gave the adequate time which the job required. I am really disappointed as he has left everything in disarray just before the start of the biggest tournament of our careers."

And fellow defender Mahesh Gawli was quite harsh in his reactions, "I did not interact with him much. But we saw very little of him. Most of the time he was away on personal agenda. To me his absence really does not make much of a difference. He was part of the football family when we won trophies and during the happier times. He should have had the courage to stay back and face the music during the tougher times like now. I feel him leaving was a very wrong decision and his excuses are baseless."

Afellay joins FC Barcelona

Catalan giants FC Barcelona have one of the best squads in European club football but as per the assessment of their own coach Pep Guardiola they are a little short on bench strength and that was corrected on christmas eve with the signing of Dutch international midfielder Ibrahim Afellay. And it was a real bargain then Afellay was signed for only 3 Million Euros from PSV Eindhoven, the reason being that his contract would have ended in the summer.

The 24 year old Dutch international of Moroccan origin has come through the youth system at Eindhoven and has been an international for over three years being part of the 2008 European Championship and 2010 FIFA World Cup squads. And now he has signed a four and a half year contract until 2015 and a fixed transfer fee of 100 Million Euros have been incorporated into his contract with Eindhoven set to get a fee on any premature transfer.

FC Barcelona official unveiled him to the media yesterday and Afellay surprisingly speaking in reasonable Spanish said, "I am very happy to join the best club in the world. I will wear this shirt with pride and respect."

And he added, "There are great players here but I am going to show what I am capable of. It is an honour for me to be here."

Over the last few month's Afellay had been linked with a number of clubs. In the summer it looked like he would sign for German Bundesliga side Hamburger SV, but thereafter the usual European giants from England, Spain, Germany and Italy showed interest. In the end Afellay signed for Barca then, "Since I was a boy I wanted to play for Barca. For me it is a dream to be here!"

In Spain fans and media alike think it is a wise signing as Afellay has the necessary standard to play for the Catalan giants. And Afellay could debut at the Camp Nou against Levante in the Primera Division on January 2.

Jumat, 24 Desember 2010

The Importance of Developing Vision Skills for Football Players

I often get asked about tips on football training and it isn't an area of my strength, but my friend Horst Wein from Germany, who is based in Barcelona, is a coaching instructor and he recently visited Mumbai to work with the Kenkre Football Academy. And here is something of interest to all footballers or those who want to become professional footballers. The sense of vision and its importance in modern day football. A merry christmas & happy reading!!!

When Xavi Hernandez from FC Barcelona, best player of Euro2008, is receiving the ball, he rarely shows stress under pressure, because he always peeks over his shoulder before receiving a pass. Before he receives the ball, his vision is a critical component in achieving his first main objective: to maintain the possession of the ball. Xavi is able to determine (before the ball touched his feet) 1) if he is going to be challenged for the ball by one or two opponents and 2) what are his best choices for his successive play.

At times his eyes and brain recommends him to dribble and at times he prefers to pass, yet he is always remaining calm and rarely gives the ball away. Great players in other sports also possess outstanding vision skills and are able to make consistently spectacular moves and passes to the amazement of their fans and the enjoyment of their team-mates.

The training of visual skills for elite athletic performance is becoming more and more important in training individuals of many sports, besides the coming trend to improve performance levels in football or soccer through "brain-jogging". While the majority of coaches and athletes are still in the dark about the benefits of perceptual training, those at the highest levels are steamrolling forward.

Since the beginning of this new century I have affirmed in many conferences around the globe that "Football or Soccer nowadays must always start in the head of the players before it is finished with their feet". The number of world-renowned football or soccer coaches is increasing who agree that the performance level of their players could be further improved through teaching them to read and understand thoroughly the game of football, stimulating to a maximum all their senses!

It's known that 85 percent of the information the players get is through their eyes, but normally human beings only tend to use 40 percent of their senses. They can only perform as well as they are able to see, and seeing the "key-things" is a skill everybody can learn. The eyes of a player can only see and finally recognize what the brain knows! And the more you know about football, the more experienced you are, the more you are able to see, to detect or to read from a particular game situation on the field.
One big mistake a professional footballer can make is to believe that he is either born with or without the skills of anticipation, vision, timing, game intelligence, game tempo, speed of reaction, focus and concentration and that these qualities are not trainable. But if they want to achieve optimal performance levels, they must do exercises in order to condition and sharpen their sensory system, including their vision skills, auditory and brain-processing speed.
Football players often have to react to changing game situations very quickly, for instance in the phase of transition. Therefore they should be prepared to make a snap decision. Visual training which improves the way the players see and process all important information around them, is the most underrated and overlooked tool available to any serious soccer or football player who pretends to take his game to a higher level.

The consideration of visual skill training doesn't only help the player to track the ball and opponents as well as his team-mates more quickly and accurately, it will greatly improve his peripheral awareness, his reaction time, his capacity of anticipation and, most importantly, his ability to maintain the focus for a full game. Once the vision skills of our football players are systematically developed it will help them to reach a higher level of play, though assuring a competitive advantage against those who only master the many physical skills.

Very often the difference from a good player to a great player is simply their visual skills on the playing field. Teaching a player depth perception and peripheral vision has to become therefore an important task from now on for all who are looking to improve visual awareness as players with an excellent perceptual ability are capable to see things that other players don't see (for example Xavi or Iniesta from FC Barcelona). This ability helps physical weaker players to be successful against bigger, stronger-built players. And if they are capable to anticipate an opponent's play, they don't need to be as fast...

Today football players are realizing that sports vision or sensory training as well as football specific brain-jogging are absolutely essential for achieving top performance levels in the game. Indeed, like physical conditioning (different kinds of speed, endurance, strength and coordination), technical mastery and proper diet, vision coaching and "brain-jogging" can make all the difference, particularly when there is so little to choose between in top competition.

Wolfsburg allows Coach McClaren to continue

German Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg yesterday held a board meeting to discuss the current situation at the club after a dismal first half of the 2010/11 Bundesliga season. It was expected after Wednesday's terrible German Cup performance against second division Energie Cottbus, which the club lost 1-3, that English coach Steve McClaren would be fired. But the club decided otherwise and at least for the moment McClaren stays on with the north German club.

Since winning the Bundesliga title in 2009 things haven't been going right for Wolfsburg. Last winter Armin Veh had been fired and second team coach Lorenz Guenther Koestner had taken over on an interims basis. And this summer McClaren had joined the club from Dutch side Twente Enschede, who had just won their first ever Eredivisie title under him. But since the start of the league McClaren hasn't been able to form a unit though the club spend close to 40 Million Euros on new recruits like Diego and Simon Kjaer.

After Wednesday's embarrassing defeat McClaren had this to say to the media, "I am disappointed, frustrated. We have problems in the dressing room, problems on the field. We have hit rock bottom."

For now the board stands by their coach and after his statement on Wednesday there are set to be changes in the squad, if not now then surely in the summer. With immediate effect Karim Ziani and Caiuby are no longer part of the team and will train with the second team, maybe they'll be sold off in the winter; while youngsters Akaki Gogia, Kevin Wolze and Michael Schulze join the squad from the second team and Florian Hartherz from the Under-19s for the winter training camp.

McClaren has gotten some more time to mould his own team in Wolfsburg, but one will have to see if the experiment of having an English coach in the German Bundesliga will work. Currently as Bundesliga 13th with only 19 points that simply isn't enough for a team which is backed by Volkswagen and wants to play in Europe.

I-League: East Bengal's impressive run

After five rounds of the 4th edition of the I-League 2010/11 only one team has been able to maintain a 100% record - Kolkata giants East Bengal Club. And the red-and-gold have been able to do so in style having not conceded a single goal so far though four of their five wins were 1-0 victories. With this the team continues their unbelievable form which got them the Federation Cup, the Platinum Jubilee Trophy of Mohammedan Sporting and the Calcutta Premier Division title.

East Bengal has been having a great season overall. The team has played 32 matches in all competitions - Calcutta Premier League, Federation Cup, Durand Cup, Platinum Jubilee Trophy of Mohammedan Sporting, Super Cup and I-League. And the team has been able to win 28 of those matches, has drawn one in the Calcutta Premier League and lost three games in all competitions. Surely an impressive track record.

So who have been the architects of this phenomenal season so far?

The biggest influence on the team and their performance has been new English coach Trevor Morgan. Many in Kolkata questioned if this foreign coach could turn East Bengal's fortunes around after the club had a few terrible seasons with numerous coaches trying their luck plus players coming and going, especially the choice of foreigners has to be questioned.

But the 54 year old Londoner has been able to do things which none of his predecessors could do at the club. Work calm and quitely, prepare his squad for the assignments ahead and blend experience with youth.

The other major thing has been the well put together squad. Unlike in earlier seasons were the club only went after names this year they have looked at the different positions and ensured that there are at least two players who can play in each position. This has given the squad much-needed depth and bench strength.

And then there are the players, especially the foreigners. Only defender Uga Okpara was retained and he is one of the teams star performers, while new one's in midfielder Penn Ikechukwu Orji and striker Tolgay Ozbey.

Starting with Sandip Nandy in goal, Okpara and the central defenders in Sunil Kumar and Gurwinder Singh, Penn along with Mehtab Hussain and Sanju Pradhan in midfield and then Tolgay with young Robin Singh in attack plus the other players; the team has been playing quality football with the right results. And at the moment they are a top title contender, but one would have to see what happens if they lose a few matches. And the way the team has settled even that might not rattle them too much.

Kamis, 23 Desember 2010

Rafa no more Inter Milan coach

Some relationships people say are made in heaven, but that between Italian giants Internationale Milan and their Spanish coach Rafael Benitez simply wasn't and the much awaited sacking came earlier today after the club and their now former coach worked out the financial details before officially parting ways. It somehow didn't work and Benitez in the end didn't even survive six months with the Nerazzurri (The Black & Blues).

But Benitez was on a lost mission from the start. His predecessor Jose Mourinho won everything with the club in his two years in Milano and this summer the club mainly retained the same squad, but injuries robbed Benitez of some of his best players and after such a sensational season as the last it always was difficult to recreate that form and level of performance.

The official statement from Inter Milan on their website read "a mutually satisfactory agreement for the early termination of his contract had been agreed." And this was the reason why the dismissal took so long to be officially announced.

The timing of the sacking can be termed as unfortunate with Inter Milan last week winning the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi against TP Mazembe from Congo, but the relationship between Benitez and the board had been damaged beyond repair after Benitez in a press conference said the following, "There are three possibilities for the club. One, 100% support for the coach and buy four or five players to build a stronger team with competition among the players to be able to carry on winning matches and trophies. Two, carry on like this without a project, without planning, and go ahead with one person to blame, for the whole season. The third is to speak to my agent to reach an agreement if there is not this support. Simple."

The club took option three. Inter president Massimo Moratti is known not to stick too long with a coach who he thinks isn't going to deliver. And it became more and more evident from the statements he made over the last few weeks that this was the case and even winning the FIFA Club World Cup couldn't save Benitez his job. Moratti had said in Italy, "I'm sorry the relationship with Benitez is over, but the split had become inevitable."

Now Benitez leaves and the discussions have started who will replace him. The front-runner is said to be a former AC Milan star and last season Milan's coach Brazilian Leonardo. Other names being mentioned are those of Walter Zenga, Luciano Spalletti, Frank Rijkaard, Fabio Capello or Diego Simeone.

Meanwhile Benitez's reputation as a top coach has suffered but his success at FC Valencia and FC Liverpool make him a hot property on the European coaching circuit. And the craziest of all rumours is that of a possible return to Liverpool if Roy Hodgson is shown the door at Anfield.

Nothing is impossible in football, but one will have to wait and see...

I-League - Round 5: East Bengal now alone on top

The fifth Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played on December 22/23 across India. East Bengal are now the lone team at the top of the I-League standings with 15 points from five matches after they beat Salgaocar SC to end their unbeaten run. In some good news the AIFF XI got their first-ever win in the league against Air India which pushes them up from the bottom of the table, while JCT are now last in the table with another loss.

Round 5 Match by Match Short Review
22-Dec-2010: East Bengal Club 1-0 (0-0) Salgaocar SC (in Kolkata)
East Bengal Club prevailed in the top of the table I-League clash against Salgaocar with Australian Tolgay Ozbey once more scoring in a lone goal victory. In the first session it was more of an even match with both sides trying to score, but the longer the match lasted the more it tilted in East Bengal's favour as their defence once more did not concede a goal. Tolgay Ozbey would score the only goal of the match on the hour mark, but East Bengal could have won the match by a bigger margin.

22-Dec-2010: AIFF XI 2-1 (1-0) Air India (in Gurgaon)
The AIFF XI, India's Under-20 team, got their first-ever win of the I-League by beating Air India 2-1 in Gurgaon. After their trashings against East Bengal and Salgaocar people questioned why such an inexperienced side is playing the league, but the boys gave the right answer today. They were the better of the two sides and Shilton D'Silva gave them the lead through a header in the 33rd minute with Jagtar Singh doubling the lead in the 73rd minute before Samson Singh reduced the deficit in injury time.

22-Dec-2010: Dempo SC 1-0 (0-0) Mumbai FC (in Goa)
Defending champions Dempo SC needed the brilliance of Roberto Mendes Silva to overcome a fighting Mumbai FC. The Brazilian scored of a freekick in the 58th minute to keep the three points in Goa. It was an open game in the first session with Dempo having the better chances. After the break they took the lead and late in the game Mumbai FC did try to equalise but failed.

23-Dec-2010: JCT 0-1 (0-0) Mohun Bagan AC (in Ludhiana)
Mohun Bagan AC scored their first win of the 4th I-League, a 1-0 win in Ludhiana away to JCT who are now bottom of the league with their fourth defeat in five matches. It was a crucial win for the Subhas Bhowmick coached Kolkata giants, who won through a second half goal from India Under-23 international Manish Maithani, who later also earned the 'Man of the Match' award for his performance.

23-Dec-2010: ONGC 1-1 (1-0) Pune FC (in Kolhapur)
Both clubs went into the game with the aim of finally winning their first game, but once more it ended in stalement for the two sides from Maharashtra. Nigerian N.D. Opara gave the Oilmen a first half lead, which another African striker in Mandjou Keita egalised for Pune FC just before the end of the game.

23-Dec-2010: Churchill Brothers SC 1-1 (0-1) Viva Kerala (in Goa)
Odafe Onyeka Okolie had to come to the rescue of Churchill Brothers SC with an injury time equaliser to allow the Goans to hold Viva Kerala to a 1-1 draw. Former Churchill Brothers striker Felix Chimaokwu had given Viva Kerala the lead, but once more it ended one-all for Viva, their fourth 1-1 draw in a row. Odafe meanwhile kept his incredible I-league intact scoring his ninth goal in only the fifth match. This time around Odafe needed a penalty to score after he himself had been brought down by defender Charles Dzisah, who received his marching orders for his second yellow card.

23-Dec-2010: Chirag United SC 1-0 (1-0) HAL, Bangalore (in Kolkata)
Chirag United SC returned to winning way by beating promoted HAL at the Saltlake Stadium. The winning goal came on the stroke of half time through winger Jerry Zirsanga off a pass from Lalkamal Bhowmick. The Kolkata side had more of the game and deservingly won the game to earn three points which moved them to eight points past HAL who remain on seven.

Click here for the 4th I-League 2010/11 - League Table & Fixtures .

Women's SAFF Cup: India are champions!

The final of the first-ever Women's SAFF Cup (South Asian Football Federation Championships) played earlier today was a close affair at Cox's Bazar Stadium in Bangladesh with tournament favourites India beating neighbours Nepal by only a goal. With this win India lifted the first-ever Women's SAFF Cup title.

And once more India won a women's football final on Bangladeshi soil against Nepal. Earlier this year the same two sides had faced each other in the final of the South Asian Games football tournament in Dhaka, which India won 3-1 to win the first ever women's football gold medal.

The match was a close affair with the Nepali women often matching their more experienced Indian rivals. It remained goalless after a tense first session, but then midfielder Sasmita Mallick would score in the 65th minute which would remain the only goal of the final. And after the final whistle was blown it was party time for the Indian women.

The Indian Women's national team has had a great run throughout the tournament. In the group stage India had walked through their Group A with an 18-0 hammering of minnows Bhutan, then a 7-0 trashing of Sri Lanka and in the final group game a 6-0 win against hosts Bangladesh. Then an 8-0 followed against archrivals Pakistan in the semifinals before the 1-0 final victory against Nepal. This means our Indian women scored 40 goals and conceded none in their five games, a really impressive piece of statistic.

My congratulations to the Indian Women's team, coaches and support staff!!!

Rabu, 22 Desember 2010

VfB Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich: Twice in four days

These are the kind of stories that only football, the beautiful game, can write. German Bundesliga rivals VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern Munich would meet twice in four days and that too at the same venue, Stuttgart's Mercedes Benz Arena just before the Christmas break. Last Sunday, December 19, they faced each other in the league and last evening they would meet again 73 hours later, only in a different competition, the German Cup - the DFB Pokal.

Just looking at the pure stats - 17 goals scored in two matches. Bayern Munich coming out as winners in both the games, a 5-3 on Sunday and then a 6-3 last night. It was some interesting football, really entertaining games.

Stuttgart went into this unusual double header by changing their coach over the weekend earlier firing inexperienced Jens Keller and bringing in Bruno Labbadia, a former Bayern Munich striker. The reason being that the club from the southwest of Germany is surprisingly fighting against relegation from the Bundesliga. And in Stuttgart Bayern has suffered some unwanted defeats over the years.

On Sunday Stuttgart looked initially better, but three quick goals between the 31st to 43rd minute from Mario Gomez, Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery gave Bayern a good looking 3-0 half time lead. At this stage it looked an easy game for the Bavarians, but five more goals would be scored in a crazy second session. First Stuttgart reduced the deficit through substitute Martin Harnik before Mario Gomez would score two more to give Bayern a comfortable 5-1 lead, but then Stuttgart would close in on the champions with another goal from Harnik and Christian Gentner to reduce the deficit to 5-3. And suddenly Bayern looked vulnerable, but Stuttgart on this day just didn't have the quality to stop Bayern from winning.

After last Sunday's game many thought that the German Cup match wouldn't be such a thriller, but actually it was even more intense and had ups and downs for both sides. The game quickly got out of the blocks with an Andreas Ottl long ranger and Mario Gomez goal giving Bayern a 2-0 lead by the 8th minute and it looked like in the match on Sunday that Bayern could win easy, but once more Bayern looked over-confident and started making mistakes. Two goals from Russian Pavel Progrebnyak for Stuttgart would take the match on even terms into half time and anything looked possible from there on.

And Stuttgart came out as the better side after the break, but once more Bayern Munich would take the lead and this time substitute Miroslav Klose would score the 3-2 in the 54th minute. Thereafter it was often one way traffic towards the Bayern goal with Stuttgart's Harnik hitting the crossbar but they were reduced to ten men as Khalid Boulahrouz received his second yellow card. It looked all over for Stuttgart, but that wasn't the case as things became more and more hectic as the match was moving towards its climax. In the 74th minute Stuttgart got a penalty as Hans-Joerg Butt brought down Cacau, but he made up for his mistake by blcoking Christian Gentner's shot. Still only three minutes later Stuttgart got their 3-3 equaliser through a header from Matthieu Delpierre. And now anything seemed possible. But Bayern Munich got the control of the match back as Thomas Mueller and Miroslav Klose would score to make it 5-3. Would it be a déjà-vu? But first Delpierre would also get his second yellow card to reduce Stuttgart to nine men and it was all over as Bayern Munich played out the last few minutes, but there was one left as Franck Ribery would score off a rare header late in stoppage time to make it 6-3.

Some players said afterwards that they were happy that they have a break now after those crazy two games, while the pitch will be happy to get some break after three matches in six days which has destroyed the playing surface in this terrible weather.

Blackburn Rovers: Steve Kean manager until end of season

English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers have named interim's manager Steve Kean as the permanent manager of the club until the end of the current season. The rather inexperienced 43 year old Scotsman will have to prove his coaching qualities after convincing the owners about giving him the chance to prove himself.

A statement on Rovers' website said, "Venkys London Limited - Blackburn Rovers - has decided to continue with Mr Steve Kean as manager, until the end of the season, June 2011."

Steve Kean had flown down to India over the last few days to discuss the clubs future with the new owners Venky's, but there are doubts about him being able to deliver due to his lack of top class coaching experience. Before Sam Allardyce brought him on board at Blackburn Rovers in August 2009 as the first team coach, Kean had worked as Chris Coleman's assistant at FC Fulham, Real Sociedad and Coventry City.

The happenings surrounding the club over the last 10 days has surprised many in football circles. First the shock sacking of Allardyce by the Venky's, then Steven Kean's appointment as caretaker manager and now him taking full charge. Questions are there on how much influence the agency Kentaro, who advised the Rao's on their takeover of Blackburn Rovers, are taking on their clients. Some even asking for an investigation surrounding the takeover and influence from Kentaro.

Kean will have to prove if he can fulfill the ambitions of the owners, who are said to give him around 5 Million Pounds to strengthen the team. But there is discontent in the squad and defender Christopher Samba could be the first to hand in a transfer request, others could follow. On the other side this might make it difficult to bring in quality players.

Blackburn Rovers under the Venky's remain interesting to follow. Now the results on the pitch will have to follow...

Women's SAFF Cup: India face Nepal in finals

The final of the first-ever Women's SAFF Cup (South Asian Football Federation Championships) will be played tomorrow at Cox's Bazar Stadium in Bangladesh with tournaments favourites India facing neighbours Nepal. The match will kick-off at 13.30 local time (13.00 IST).

Once more the Indian women's national team will depend on a strong performance from midfielder Sasmita Mallick besides the strikers Ng. Bala Devi, T. Tababi Devi and Pinky Bompal Magar, who all have been scoring goals at will against opponents who lack the international exposure of our Indian team. But Nepal has been the other expection in this tournament, so maybe it could be a close encounter though India go into this final as the big title favourites.

The Indian Women's national team has had a great run through the tournament so far. In the group stage India had walked through Group A with an opening 18-0 hammering of minnows Bhutan, then a 7-0 trashing of Sri Lanka and in the final group game a 6-0 win against hosts Bangladesh. And then an 8-0 followed against archrivals Pakistan in the semifinals. This means our Indian women have so far scored 39 goals and conceded none in their four games, a really impressive performance.

But the Nepali Women's road to the finals has also been quite impressive. They easily won Group B with an all-win record. It started with a 6-0 win against the Maldives, a crushing 13-0 win against Afghanistan followed, before they demolished Pakistan in a 12-0 victory. In the semifinals they then beat the hosts Bangladesh 3-0. It means they have scored 34 goals, while conceding none. And statistically are only five goals worse then India.

Selasa, 21 Desember 2010

Goalie Rensing signs for FC Cologne

Former FC Bayern Munich goalkeeper Michael Rensing has signed a contract until the end of the season with 1.FC Cologne which the keeper hopes will resurrect his career. Since the end of last season Rensing has been without a club after Bayern Munich released him, while Cologne were on the lookout for a new keeper as current goalie Faryd Mondragón is leaving the club over the winter after having played for Cologne since summer 2007.

In his Bayern Munich days Michael Rensing was seen as one of the brightest German goalkeeping prospects and the heir of Oliver Kahn. When Kahn retired in 2008 Rensing took over, but he never could prove that he is a suitable replacement and seasoned Hans-Joerg Butt took over with former coach Juergen Klinsmann and Louis van Gaal giving Rensing numerous chances to prove himself, but he failed. In the summer Bayern did not renew his contract and suddenly Rensing was on the road.

Since then 26 year old Rensing has had offers from Spanish side Real Mallorca, English Championship club Leicester City, 2.Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin and from other clubs; but he waited for further offers. And then Cologne came along and it was perfect timing with both sides looking for a suitable solution.

FC Cologne is fighting for survival and after the first half of the Bundesliga season they are in 16th spot, which would mean a playoff against the third team from the 2.Bundesliga at the end of the season in a fight for survival. And this is something which the club will want to avoid.

Cologne were looking for a new keeper as their Columbian goalie Faryd Mondragón a few weeks ago placed a request with the club to leave in the winter to join MLS club Philadelphia Union in the new year. And the 39 year old's request was granted and the search for a replacement started. Initially it looked former Cologne keeper Markus Proell would come back to the club, but in the end the decision fell on Rensing, who will now have to prove his Bundesliga worth.

AC Milan: Cassano in, Ronaldinho out

Italian giants AC Milan are currently top of Serie A and have made it into the Pre-Quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, but in recent weeks their performance hasn't been the best and the club is looking to strengthen the team further in the winter transfer period. Upfront the club brought in Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer, but have had oldie Filippo Inzaghi and youngster Pato mainly on the injury list while Ronaldinho has seen little match action.

Now the club is set to exchange players for the second half of the season. Italy's 'enfante terrible' Antonio Cassano has been confirmed as an addition to the Milan squad joining the Rossoneri from Serie A rivals Sampdoria Genoa, while Brazilian Ronaldinho seems to be on his way out with him moving further down the pecking order with Cassano joining Milan in January when the transfer list opens.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, who is also Italian prime minister, said: "Yes. We will be signing Cassano. I am also very happy with how the side are playing."

Cassano isn't the easiest of characters, actually he was suspended and then fired by Sampdoria after abusing club president Riccardo Garrone, but the club couldn't fire the outlaw and were looking to get rid of the striker. In Milan Cassano is set to sign a contract until 2014, but is said to get less then the 2,8 Million Euros he was receiving in Genoa. And Sampdoria will have to share the 5 Million Euros transfer fee with Real Madrid, the former club of Cassano who still hold a stake in the player.

Coming to speak about Ronaldinho Silvio Berlusconi said, "It is a shame for Ronaldinho. At the moment, he has not been playing well or training as well as he can."

With Cassano coming in it means it could be the end of the road for Ronaldinho. And his home club of Gremio Porto Alegre along with rivals Flamengo and Palmeiras are interested to bring the former Brazilian international back to his home country, but there is also interest from the English side Manchester City and MLS club LA Galaxy.

Gremio president Paulo Odone see's his club at an advantage and told Brazilian daily Zero Hora, "Ronaldinho feels that he owes our club something. He told us he wants to return to Gremio and end his career where it started. There are conversations going on and a very good chance that the move will go through."

Does Qatar want to buy Manchester United?

The small Gulf state of Qatar has been making headline news in the world of football in December 2010. First they were given the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, then the Qatar Foundation became the first paying sponsor of Catalan giants FC Barcelona in a deal worth 165 Million Euros and now rumours suggest that the Qatar Holdings are interested in buying English Premier League giants Manchester United from their American owners the Glazer family.

The Qataris could place a 1,5 Billion Pound bid for the Red Devils, but the club was quick to deny that their American owners the Glazer family are in any mood to sell the club which they bought under massive fan protests about five and a half years ago in 2005. And the club has been put under financial pressure by the Glazers as they made their buy only possible by financing it through bank loans, which are an unnecessary burden on the club.

At least for now speculations were ended by Manchester United communications director Phil Townsend who insists the club is not for sale. "There is nothing in this," he told the Manchester Evening News. "The club have had no approach at all and it is not for sale."

But as those who know the business know that such things can change very quickly. Especially due to the fact that the Qatar Holdings have asset in the region of 40 Billion Pounds. And through such a takeover United could challenge their city rivals Manchester City who were taken over by the Abu Dhabi royal family's Sheikh Mansour and have spend a few hundreds millions on their squad since then to challenge for the Premiership title.

And as mentioned earlier Qatar is trying to make a name for itself around the world using football. Actually very few know that Spanish Primera Division side FC Málaga had been bought in June 2010 by Sheikh Abdullah al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family. And now maybe Manchester United is on Qatar's radar after earlier talks with FC Everton didn't get the desired results.

Senin, 20 Desember 2010

VIDEO: Harsh Winter in Remscheid

We have been experiencing consistent snowfall and sub-zero temperatures in my home town of Remscheid over the last three weeks. And now the snow levels are so high as never in my life time. Everyday life is slowly coming to a standstill and we spoke to people to get their reactions.

Sadly the video is in Germany, but you get to see the amount of snow we have here...

Women's SAFF Cup: India trash Pakistan, reach final

The Indian Women's national team continued their great run in the first-ever Women's SAFF Cup by beating archrivals Pakistan 8-0 in the first semifinal at Cox's Bazar Stadium in Bangladesh. India will now wait to see who wins tomorrow's second semifinal between Nepal and Bangladesh and will face that side in the final on Thursday, December 23.

India were leading 7-0 at the break against another opponent who just wasn't up to our standard. This time Ng. Bala Devi scored three, while Gayatri Mallick scored twice with Sasmita Malick, Amoolya Kamal and Manpreet Kaur also got onto the score sheet.

Ng. Bala Devi opened the scoring in the 18th minute with Gayatri Mallick doubling the lead in the 26th minute before Ng. Bala Devi would score two quick goals in the 31st and 32nd minute to already seal the win just after the half hour mark. And only a minute later midfielder Sasmita Malick would make it 5-0, but this wasn't the end of scoring in the first session as Gayatri Mallick would score her second and India's sixth in the 39th minute before Amoolya Kamal made it 7-0 at the stroke of halftime. India would once more not press too hard in the second session and Manpreet Kaur would make it eight just two minutes from time to finish off a memorable 8-0 victory.

In the group stage India had walked through Group A with a 18-0 hammering of minnows Bhutan, then a 7-0 trashing of Sri Lanka and in the final group game a 6-0 win against hosts Bangladesh. This means our Indian women have so far scored 39 goals and conceded none in their four games, a really impressive performance.

Mohun Bagan: Director Vijay Mallya hands over to son

United Breweries Group chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya has resigned as the Director of the company United Mohun Bagan Football Team plc, the company which was created by Mohun Bagan Athletic Club and the UB Group to run the affairs of the football club. The reason of the resignation is the fact that Dr. Mallya was director and chairman of both Kolkata clubs - McDowell's Mohun Bagan & Kingfisher East Bengal - which are 50% owned by the UB Group, which is against the regulations of the Asian Football Confederation's Club Licencing Criteria.

With Dr. Mallya steping down his son Sidhartha V. Mallya has joined the board of United Mohun Bagan Football Team plc as an Additional Director of the company. With this step both clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal think they fulfill the AFC criteria.

A press release from Mohun Bagan today reads, "Dr. Vijay Mallya has resigned from his post as a Director and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt. Ltd. His resignation has been accepted with deep regret by the Board of Directors of the Company in a meeting held on 16th December 2010 at Kolkata. Mr. Sidhartha V. Mallya has been appointed as an Additional Director of the Company."

If the clubs now are conform as per club licencing regulations will have to be seen. The UB Group through two different companies are stake holders in the two Kolkata giants, but still as such as per my knowledge they are owned by the same entity. The clubs are sponsored and owned by McDowell and Kingfisher two brands under the United Breweries Group umbrella, which are owned by the Mallya's.

The clubs have met the AFC deadline of club ownership of December 24, but if the issue as such is solved will have to be seen. My hope is in the interest of the fans of both clubs that the officials have checked that replacing a director will be enough or if different owners will have to come in for the two clubs.

Minggu, 19 Desember 2010

Bayern Munich: van Bommel to stay or to leave?

It is one of the biggest rumours of the winter that FC Bayern Munich are trying to get rid of their captain Mark van Bommel whose current contract expires at the end of the season. The Dutch international Mark van Bommel wants to continue playing football at the highest level until summer 2012 as he plans to play for the Netherlands at Euro2012 in Poland and the Ukraine, and thereafter end his international career.

But rumours surrounding van Bommel's name seem to suggest that Bayern Munich have already found a suitable replacement in versatile 23 year old Brazilian Luis Gustavo, who plays for 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, and it is only an issue of transfer fee and what the Bavarians can offer Hoffenheim. And there is a rumour that suggests Bayern are offering striker Miroslav Klose plus 10 Million Euros for Luis Gustavo and if the Brazilian joins then van Bommel's place in the starting eleven could be in danger.

Meanwhile 33 year old van Bommel himself is already being linked with a number of clubs across Europe. In Germany rumours say that VfL Wolfsburg are interested to sign the Dutchman to strengthen their fragile midfield and Bayern Munich might do a deal with them to have the first right to sign Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko. Meanwhile out of England there is interest from Premier League duo Tottenham Hotspurs and Manchester City, who both could do with a player of the calibre of Mark van Bommel.

Talking to the German newspaper Die Welt Mark van Bommel said, "Anything is possible in football, but it would certainly be something extraordinary if the captain left during the winter break. I do not have to leave Bayern, I am very happy as captain of the club."

But he added, "If the club says that I must remain here for six months, then I have to stay. If the club says, we talk about a new contract in the spring, then I can't do anything about it. I can't leave without the club's consent."

It sounds like a difficult situation for Mark van Bommel as he surely would like to extend his contract until 2012 and not worry where he is playing up to 2012. But Bayern Munich over the last few weeks have been working to ensure their future by extending contracts of Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger up to 2015 & 2016. So signing someone like Luis Gustavo would make complete strategic sense.

Blackburn aiming to sign Chopra?

English Championship club Cardiff City FC striker Michael Chopra has been in the news back in India recently for showing interest to play for Team India ahead of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. But due to passport issues Chopra will not be playing for India in the Asian Cup, but lets see if it happens in the future.

And this piece of news has been tracked by new Blackburn Rovers owners Venky's out of Pune and now the Rao family, owners of the VH Group, are considering to bring the striker to Lancashire from Wales and also back to the Premiership. Especially the two Rao brothers think that Chopra could be a real asset for the Rovers in developing links between their new club and their home country of India.

Interestingly earlier the Rao's are said to have offered India captain Baichung Bhutia a contract for the second half of the Premier League, but our seasoned captain had turned down the offer knowing that the Premiership would be a stage too big for him at this age. The Rao's are looking at options on how to create a connect between Blackburn Rovers and India, and they see the need of an Indian player or a British player of Indian origin coming in to make it possible.

And currently there is no one better option then the former England Under-20 captain Michael Chopra. But Chopra hasn't been having his best of seasons for Cardiff City as he has dropped down the pecking order behind Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd, but he still has an impressive record for the Bluebirds scoring 26 goals in 56 appearances. When last season Cardiff signed Chopra on a permanent deal they had to pay 4 Million Pounds to Sunderland for the boy from Newcastle, so they would surely look to recoup most of that fee if they let him go for a Premiership club.

The Rao's want to rebuild Blackburn Rovers after the departure of manager Sam Allardyce, they are looking to be a top five club in the near future, but I know it is a very tough ask without the necessary multi-million pound investment in the squad which could go into the hundreds of millions and on the other side they don't want to lose their focus on India. It will be interesting to see how they achieve both.

European Football effected by winter weather

Over the last few weeks the winter weather has been effecting everyday life across Europe with especially western and central parts hit unusually hard so early in the winter season. And football is now being more and more effected across the continent with matches being called-off and postponed.

This weekend especially the English Premier League has been hit hard with yesterday's matches FC Arsenal vs. Stoke City, FC Liverpool vs. FC Fulham, Wigan Athletic vs. Aston Villa and Birmingham City vs. Newcastle United all called-off. Also today's much anticipated clash between defending champions FC Chelsea and league leaders Manchester United as we as the game between FC Blackpool and Tottenham Hotspur had to be postponed.

And more EPL matches could be effected in the coming weeks with the Premier League having no winter break like other European leagues plus between Boxing Day and the New Year the Premier League clubs have three matches to play. And with further postponements looks likely it could mean numerous additional match dates in the spring.

Germany has also been hit hard by the winter weather, but unlike in England so far no matches in the top division of the Bundesliga have been cancelled. This is due to the fact that the DFL (parent body of the Bundesliga) has tough criteria for clubs in regard to stadium infrastructure, approach roads and public transport access. E.g. a club can only play in the Bundesliga if their stadium has underground soil heating to keep the pitch playable in such snowy conditions. And such measures have helped in keeping the fixtures and schedules intact. Also the Bundesliga has a winter break with this weekend being the last round ahead of a month long break.

Also effected by the winter weather has been the Scottish leagues, but especially the amateur game across the continent has been hit hard. Many match venues are closed as are training grounds and if you are lucky then you have an indoor training facility closeby which you can use otherwise no matches or training.

But due to their usual harsh winters Russia and Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland) play their leagues from March to November to avoid matches being effected by snow and the big freeze. The other example is that of the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Austria who last weekend played their last match of the year and will only play again in February with a number of clubs having artificial turf grounds due to the winter weather in those countries, which makes it very difficult to main their grounds.

Maybe there is something here for the English Premier League to learn to avoid such washouts in future...

Sabtu, 18 Desember 2010

I-League - Round 4: Salgaocar & East Bengal top

The fourth Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played on December 16, 17 & 18 across India. Salgaocar SC and East Bengal Club remain the only clubs with a 100% record, but Salgaocar went top again with their big 5-0 win against the AIFF XI with East Bengal second on goal difference. The AIFF XI remain bottom of the league.

Round 4 Match by Match Short Review
16-Dec-2010: Mohun Bagan AC 2-2 (1-1) Dempo SC (in Kolkata)
Subhas Bhowmick's start as Mohun Bagan coach ended with a two-all draw against defending champions Dempo SC at the Saltlake Stadium. It looked like a perfect start for the new coach as Subair Muritala Ali gave Bagan an early lead and Jose Ramirez Barreto had the chance to double his teams lead, but his penalty was saved by Dempo keeper Laxmikant Kattimani and then on the other side Dempo's Clifton Gonsalves equalised against the run of play. But after the break the Goans were in charge and Nigerian Ranty Martins Soleye gave them a 2-1 lead, but Barreto would equalise to earn Mohun Bagan a deserving point against the champions.

17-Dec-2010: JCT 0-1 (0-1) East Bengal Club (in Ludhiana)
East Bengal Club's winning run continued with a 1-0 away win against JCT at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana. Their third 1-0 win in four league games. This time around defender Uga Okpara scored the winner for the red-and-gold in the 36th minute, who are still to concede a goal in four matches.

17-Dec-2010: Air India 0-0 ONGC (in Kolhapur)
The Mumbai derby between Air India and ONGC away from home in Kolhapur ended a goalless stalemate. The Oilmen were the better of the two sides in the first session, while the Airmen have more of the chances in the second half; but none of the to could break the deadlock.

18-Dec-2010: Salgaocar SC 5-0 (3-0) AIFF XI (in Goa)
Salgaocar's impressive run continued with an convincing 5-0 win against the young AIFF XI boys in Goa. This means that the Karim Bencharifa coached team go top again of the I-League. Their foreign attacking trio of Yakubu Yusif, Ryuji Sueoka and Eneke Ikenwa scored the goals for the Goans. Yakubu scored the opening goal in the 7th minute with Ryuji Sueoka doubling the lead in the 12th minute and Yakubu adding a third in only the 18th minute. But the Ghanian failed to complete his hattrick when he failed to score of a penalty, but Ryuji Sueoka was there to make it four in the 34th minute. The youngsters from the AIFF XI did put up a better display in the second session, but Eneke Ikenwa would finish the rout with Salgaocar's fifth late in the game.

18-Dec-2010: Mumbai FC 1-5 (1-3) Churchill Brothers SC (in Kolhapur)
Four goals from Odafe Onyeka Okolie gave Churchill Brothers SC a crushing 5-1 away win against Mumbai FC in Kolhapur. This result ended Mumbai FC's 100% record in this seasons I-League while Churchill Brothers with their second win in a row moved them closer to the top. It all started well for Mumbai FC as Noel Anthony Wilson gave them the lead in the 12th minute, but thereafter the Goans took charge of the match. And one more Odafe was the dangerman for his side. He first equalised off a penalty in the 18th minute and then gave his side the lead in the 28th minute before young Bineesh Balan made it three for Churchill Brothers. After the break Odafe would add two more in the 66th minute and then in injury time to take his tally to eight goals from only four matches.

18-Dec-2010: Pune FC 1-1 (0-1) Chirag United SC (in Pune)
Pune FC remain winless in the 4th I-League after a one-all draw at home against Chirag United SC. The Kolkata side would take the lead on the stroke of halftime through Elijah Obagbemiro Junior, while Izumi Arata would equalise for the hosts in the 58th minute.

18-Dec-2010: Viva Kerala 1-1 (0-0) HAL, Bangalore (in Kannur)
Viva Kerala once more could not win at home as they were held to a one-all draw by promoted HAL in Kannur. The guests from Bangalore took the lead in the 48th minute through a J. Muralidharan penalty, but only two minutes later Viva Kerala would equalise through striker P.K. Anil Kumar off a cross from Felix Chimaokwu. It would stay this way until the end.

Click here for the 4th I-League 2010/11 - League Table & Fixtures .