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Minggu, 31 Oktober 2010

Venue voes for I-League

The fourth edition of the I-league, India's Professional Football League, is set to kick-off on November 26 across India with 14 clubs taking part, but some venues will not be available for the start of the league. The Bangalore Football Stadium as well as the Cooperage Ground in Mumbai will be dug-up at the time for laying of artificial pitches under the "Win in India with India" project of world football governing body FIFA.

The two I-League venues besides Shillong and Manipur were selected as the first four cities to get an artificial turf as part of infrastructure development in Indian football sponsored by FIFA. In the second phase four to six further artificial turfs would be allotted to cities and states.

But during the time of redevelopment of these grounds and training pitches, which usually takes around three to four month's, they are off limits and that is harming the scheduling of the I-League this season.

As Mumbai has no other suitable venue to host I-League matches, the Western Indian Football Association has decided to shift matches of the three city based I-League sides to Kolhapur, which is about 400 kilometres southeast of Mumbai. Kolhapur is said to be a football crazy city with local matches drawing up to 35,000 spectators. The Chhatrapati Sahu Stadium in Kolhapur has hosted second division I-League matches in the past.

In Bangalore it is the same problem, but the Karnataka State Football Association can fall back on the much bigger Sree Kanteerava Stadium if need be, but still the KSFA has asked the AIFF and I-League committee to switch the home advantage of the four affected matches of promoted Hindustan Aeronautics Limited SC. The opening game between HAL and JCT has already been switched to Ludhiana in Punjab; while about the three other matches no decision has been made. The I-League organisers would like to want as little change of venues and dates as possible.

Meanwhile Viva Kerala themselves have decided to shift their homes matches from Calicut to Kannur. No longer will the Municipal Corporation Stadium in Calicut play home to Kerala's only I-League side, but from now on Kannur's Municipal Jawahar Floodlit Stadium. Viva Kerala has shifted its team base from Kochi to Kannur too, which in the last few years has successfully hosted the E.K. Nayanar Memorial Gold Cup.

Schalke: Has Magath lost his magic touch?

Felix Magath over the last decade has build a reputation about himself of being a magician as a football coach. Be it at VfB Stuttgart, FC Bayern Munich and especially with VfL Wolfsburg he was able to transform the team into winning units, successful teams, but who all suffered after he left. And why? Simply said the system Magath is laid out for short term, meaning 18 to 24 month success and whatever happens thereafter doesn't really bother him.

Ask in Stuttgart or Wolfsburg, even at Bayern Munich; who needed time to readjust and regroup after Magath left as their coach. Felix Magath joined FC Schalke 04 in summer 2009 with a four year contract and a promise that the Ruhr valley club under him would win their first-ever Bundesliga title, their last German title had been won in 1958. Magath had a sensational first season with the club in which Schake finished second behind Bayern Munich and with this finish expectations have also risen.

But the club is facing financial problems with debts of up to 250 Million Euros and for Schalke under Magath in year two things aren't working out the way he would have hoped and maybe even expected with the club second from last in the Bundesliga with only six points from 10 matches.

Before the season started Magath said, he needs to rebuild his squad ahead of tougher assignments in the UEFA Champions League, while also having to cut down on wage bills. Sounds an interesting, but tough ask. Magath sold most of his defence in Heiko Westermann, Marcelo Bordon and Rafinha; which was last years best defence in the German Bundesliga plus dependable striker Kevin Kurayni, who will assure you 12 to 15 goals per season.

Now on the other side Magath said he needed to bring in players who would fit into his plans and could strengthen the team. But Schalke were late in the transfer market as they aren't able to pay high transfer fees as one thought, so a number of players where brought towards the end of the transfer period, some even after the Bundesliga had started in mid-August. In the end Schalke earned 17 Million Euros from transfers, but paid more then 36 Million Euros for new players amongst them Raul, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and José Manuel Jurado.

After last the successful season the believe of the Schalke management and fans in Magath were massive that this season he could once more pull off some of his magic with the new set of players. Some even dreamt of the championship, but so far the club has done well in the UEFA Champions League, okay in the German Cup to stay in the competition, but they are 17th in the Bundesliga after yesterday's loss against Bayer 04 Leverkusen with only six points from 10 matches.

Yesterday I live watched the Schalke vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen match at the Arena auf Schalke and it was a real tragedy. Schalke didn't seem to have a team on the pitch, while a far from convincing Leverkusen were just a little better to win by a lone goal to worsen the crisis at Schalke. What looked worrying was the fact that there were no positives from the game which could give the club faithfuls any hope that things could change before the winter break. Also the club fans off the field were as lifeless as the team on the field as many left early and there was no real protest against the team and coach. Insiders say a worrying sign for a club which is close to their fans.

Magath also seemed to have no clue what was happening. He even made blunders on the field, e.g. after the break attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic was put into the left back position in place of the injured Lukas Schmitz and he looked totally out of sorts. For Magath and Schalke it will be a steep mountain to climb as relegation could put the clubs existence at stake and last seasons relegation of Hertha BSC Berlin should be a warning.

Kushal Das joins AIFF on Monday

In the end it took a little longer, but now Kushal Das has formally been appointed as the new General Secretary of our national football federation. Kushal will officially join the All India Football Federation tomorrow on Monday, November 1 and run the operations of the federation from now on at Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi. Kushal Das replaces Alberto Colaco, who had been the AIFF General Secretary for the last 10 years.

The first major task for the new General Secretary will be sorting out the TV and marketing deal along with the special committee formed by the executive committee consisting of Subrata Dutta, Larsing Ming and Hardev Jadeja, and the AIFF president Praful Patel. The I-League will kick-off in less then four weeks and at the moment nothing is sure on who will own the TV & marketing rights then, who will be showing the matches on television and who are the league's sponsors.

Kushal Das until recently was the Chief Financial Officer of the International Cricket Council (cricket's global governing body) at their headquarters in Dubai. Before that he was for 12 years with IMG in India and South Korea. Prior to that he was with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Vegepro Foods (GlaxoSmithKline) and Bharat Shell.

As I have stated in the past and can only repeat again, the task on hand for the new General Secretary is multiple as he would have to work to develop Indian football on different fronts - professional & amateur, seniors & juniors, men's & women's. A task to take our football forward and continue to professionalize the running of the federation, which will also have to grow further. And it is surely not an easy task for Kushal. I wish him all the best! And he surely has my full support...

Sabtu, 30 Oktober 2010

Robin Dutt: An Indo-German success story

Have you heard of Robin Dutt the chief coach of German Bundesliga club SC Freiburg? Sounds a little Indian doesn't he? Actually Robin is half-Indian and half-German, and as the surname would suggest his father is of Indian origin, from Bengal to be precise.

Robin was born in 1965 in Cologne and was mainly brought-up in the southwest of Germany, in the Stuttgart region. As a football player he never made it big, playing amateur football in the fifth, sixth, seventh divisions; but as a coach he is working at the highest possible level - in the Bundesliga, the premier division of German football. But it was a long way to get to the top tier and the journey isn't over yet then at the age of 45 Robin Dutt is still young and could go on to coach for another two decades or even more.

Robin's coaching career started with the TSG Leonberg whom he coached until 1999, while he was winding down his playing career and they gained promotion to the next higher division in the last year. He then joined TSF Ditzingen, first as their second team coach and then coaching the first team. This brought him for the first time into the limelight locally and he then went on to join former Bundesliga side Stuttgarter Kickers as their second team coach in summer 2002. Doing good work at the club, the Kickers gave Robin a chance as their first team coach on Oktober 28, 2003 and he would guide the club well with a young team in the Regionalliga (third division) in difficult times as the club didn't have necessary funds. The highlight came in the 2006/07 season when the Kickers beat Bundesliga side Hamburger SV 4-3 in extra time in the German Cup.

The name Robin Dutt was suddenly known across Germany. And the first offers from Bundesliga clubs came in. But Robin decided to take up the job at 2.Bundesliga club SC Freiburg in summer 2007. It was the end of an era as previous coach Volker Finke had coached Freiburg for 16 years, a record in German professional football. The going initially wasn't easy for Robin, but in year two he was able to win the 2.Bundesliga title and Freiburg was back in the Bundesliga after four years. Last season they survived the relegation battle and so far they have had a good solid start to their 2010/11 season.

Robin is realistic with what he can achieve with Freiburg, he knows it is a club which develops talent and he has proven at the clubs he has worked so far that he is able to handle youngsters.

Would Robin ever coach in India? We have had this conversation and he once told me, unlikely a club but coaching Team India one day would surely be a highlight of his coaching career. But Robin is still in his early days in professional football in Germany, so India might not become a topic for him in the next decade or so.

Goa FA's search on for paid General Secretary

The new Executive Committee of the Goa Football Association met for the first time yesterday with president Srinivas Dempo chairing the meeting. One of the pressing issues which the new committee couldn't solve is the appointment of the first full-time, paid General Secretary of the GFA. The GFA had published the vacancy in Goan newspapers with an advertisement, but the replies don't seem to have been up to the level needed to run football in the coastal state. The executive committee has decided to give the search for a new General Secretary three month as per the new constitution of the GFA while complies with the AIFF, AFC and FIFA.

The potential candidates would be interviewed by an independent panel which would consist of the GFA president himself Srinivas Dempo (Dempo SC), Shivanand Salgaocar (Salgaocar SC), Peter Vaz (Sporting Clube de Goa), a representative of Churchill Brothers SC (either Churchill Alemao or his brother Joaquim Alemao) and representatives of other major clubs.

In the meantime Alvarinho Pinho will continue to be the acting Secretary of the GFA until the new paid General Secretary can take over. But insiders say the search is turning out to be much more difficult then expected. Maybe the Goa FA should consider looking outside the state for suitable candidates who could run and professionalize the working of the GFA.

In other good news for Goan football, the GFA Executive Committee gave its clearance for installation of artificial turf at the Duler Ground in Mapusa. This means that the GFA can sign an MoU with the AIFF and FIFA to get the artificial turf installed at the venue.

Jumat, 29 Oktober 2010

Ronaldinho to return for Brazil

Brazil coach Mano Menezes has recalled AC Milan star Ronaldinho for the prestigious friendly against Argentina in Doha, Qatar next month. The 30 year old makes a return to the Selecao after an 18 month absence, which also saw him miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup as former national coach Dunga did not consider Ronaldinho as needed.

The performances of Ronaldinho for the Rossoneri have not gone unnoticed, but one will have to see if Ronaldinho can recreate the magic that made him one of the stars in the Selecao many years back. And Menezes said, "He is a player in good form in a position we need. We want to see the Ronaldinho who was admired as one of the best in the world."

Mano Menezes has once more called-up a young squad which does include a number of experienced players. Mano Menezes has also recalled talented teenager Neymar after dropping him for the October friendlies against Iran and Ukraine for disciplinary reasons.


Brazil

Goalkeepers
Victor (Gremio) Jeferson (Botafogo), Neto (Atletico Paranaense)

Defenders
Daniel Alves (FC Barcelona), Rafael (Manchester United), Adriano Correa (FC Barcelona), Andre Santos (Fenerbahce Istanbul), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), David Luiz (Benfica Lisbon), Alex Costa (FC Chelsea), Rever (Atletico Mineiro)

Midfielders
Lucas (FC Liverpool), Ramires (FC Chelsea), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspurs), Jucilei (Corinthians), Douglas (Gremio), Philippe Coutinho (Internationale Milan), Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Elias (Corinthians)

Forwards
Robinho (AC Milan), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Andre (Dynamo Kiev), Neymar (FC Santos)

Coach
Mano Menezes

Meghalaya Invitation Football Tournament

The Shillong Sports Association will once more organise the Meghalaya Invitation Football Tournament. The 21st edition of the tournament will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong from November 10 to 27, 2010.

The tournament would see 13 teams in action. Amongst them are the defending champions Nigeria XI from Delhi, a team of Nigerian players playing and living in India; and top local Shillong Premier League sides like Shillong Lajong FC. Other participating teams are Kolkata sides Southern Samity and Howrah Union; Kenkre FC from Mumbai; Chennai Customs; Manipur State League champions NISA and Mizoram Police. The tournament would also have an international flavour with Bhutan XI and a club side from Nepal set to take part.

The organisers have decided to divide teams into two groups for the preliminary round; while thereafter the pre-quarterfinals, quarterfinals, semifinals and final would be played on a knockout basis.

According to the organisers the overall cost of the tournament is around Rs 1,5 Million (15 lakhs). The champions would received Rs 150,000; while from the semifinal onwards there would be "Man of the Match" awards.

From Football Star to the Olympic Ice Skating Ring?

Our own Baichung Bhutia wasn't the only footballer to take part in a reality dancing show. Besides the international acclaimed "Dancing with the Stars" there is another show called "Dancing on Ice" where stars have to do ice skating with former professionals. One such star was footballer Ilhan Mansiz in the Turkish version of the show. And now Mansiz, who started ice figure skating only a couple of years back, wants to go to the 2014 Sotchi Winter Olympics with his partner Olga Bestandigova.

If you think about it, it sounds like a crazy idea, but for Mansiz it has developed over a period of time. Ilhan Mansiz and his Slovak partner in the show Olga Bestandigova got to compete, then know and love each other through "Dancing on Ice". And Bestandigova, who took part in the 2002 Saltlake City Winter Olympics, wanted to once more participate in the Olympics. Her partner off the ice Mansiz liked the idea and the duo are now practicing in Obersdorf, Germany to get to compete in tournament ahead of the games.

In Turkey Ilhan Mansiz is not just another footballer. Mansiz was a national hero after scoring three of Turkey's goals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup which took Turkey as far as the semifinals. The season thereafter he was top scorer of the Turkish Süper League for Besiktas Istanbul. But Mansiz is born in the southern German state of Bavaria, so he knew from a young age was snow and ice was. And now he is back in Bavaria to prepare for what would be a dream come true if the duo can participate in the 2014 Sotchi Winter Olympics.

Talking about how it all happened Mansiz said, "We had so much fun and trained for between six and eight hours a day. We came on in leaps and bounds so we decided to train for the Olympics."

"I started playing football very late too. I didn't start playing for a club until I was 14. If you're really determined to achieve something and you believe you can do it or you work hard at it, it's possible no matter how old you are," Mansiz added.

But the duo could face one major problem. Mansiz is a Turkish national, while Bestandigova is still Slovak; but the pair want to represent Mansiz's home country Turkey. The issue of nationality would have to be resolved and then the duo could be seen on the ice of Sotchi at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

And that would really be a fairy tale story, from a reality show to the Olympics...

Germany's Horst Wein to visit Kenkre Football Academy

The 'Araldite' Kenkre Football Academy from Mumbai has invited world renowned football coach Horst Wein to train for a change 'Coaches' at the Academy. Adib Kenkre founder of the Kenkre Football Academy has always emphasized the lack of quality coaches in India to train its budding talent in a professional manner. So this Diwali vacation all the coaches at Kenkre Football Academy have sacrificed their time and will be utilizing it to learn the latest techniques of training kids.

Adib Kenkre said, "We have a group of 25-30 coaches who will be under the guidance of Horst Wein for a period of 10 days. He will impart wealth of knowledge to them."

Germany-based Indian football expert Arunava Chaudhuri, a friend of the Kenkre Football Academy, has been instrumental in convincing Horst Wein to take time off from his busy schedule to visit India.

German Horst Wein, now based in Barcelona, has been involved in recycling the knowledge of football coaches in over 53 countries around the world. He has been involved in working with some of the biggest clubs including FC Barcelona, FC Arsenal, Inter Milan and FC Villarreal.

Horst Wein has authored over 34 football books and works closely in developing football in many of the top European countries besides often visiting south and central America for coaches education.

Horst Wein will also train talented children and the youth squads of Kenkre Football Academy, as he looks to give them a glimpse of modern training techniques in youth football.

Kamis, 28 Oktober 2010

Could Schweinsteiger leave Bayern?

FC Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal is worried that further strong performances from German international midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger could draw even more interest from Europe's biggest clubs. If the Germans can keep their star midfielder will have to be seen as Schweinsteiger's contract ends in June 2012 and he has not extended it so far. And if Bayern want to cash in on him then they would have to sell him in January or latest in the summer 2011, but it is known that the Germans would like to extend the contract further.

Bayern sports director Christian Nerlinger said, "Bastian is a key figure and not for sale. We'd prefer to keep him for the rest of his career."

In recent weeks Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has shown renewed interest to bring Schweinsteiger to Old Trafford, while other clubs like Manchester City, FC Chelsea, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Internationale Milan are also said to be interested. And if Schweinsteiger does not renew his contract then the possible transfer fee is also set to go down.

Van Gaal believes that if Schweinsteiger plans any move to Spain, then Real Madrid could be a more interesting destination then Barcelona. Why so? The Barca midfield is well set with Iniesta and Xavi, but at Real Madrid Schweinsteiger could play together with Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil as in the German national team plus coach Jose Mourinho is said to be a big fan of Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger's rise as a midfield strategist is closely linked with the arrival of Dutchman Louis van Gaal as coach at Bayern Munich. Before van Gaal Schweinsteiger was used more often on the wings and was often termed as talented, but not someone who can perform regularly. This has changed and Schweinsteiger seems to have grown up over the last season and has turned from the young Schweini to Mr. Schweinsteiger. And that has not gone unnoticed across Europe as his value has gone up to 35 Million Euros.

And Schweinsteiger proved on Tuesday how important he is for Bayern Munich. Two goals from Schweinsteiger earned Bayern Munich a 2-1 win against Werder Bremen in the German Cup. And the second goal, a long range effort, showed what a fine footballer Schweinsteiger is.

Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools launch on Saturday

Indian football icon Baichung Bhutia has done a number of first's for his country as a footballer on and off the field. Baichung has been looking at ways to help football in India and on Saturday Bhai will be doing another first by launching the first centre of the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools in New Delhi. Baichung is starting his football schools in partnership with "Football by Carlos Queiroz".

Carlos Queiroz, a renowned coach from Portugal, will give technical inputs on coaching for the boys who come and train at the football school. Queiroz will depute two coaches to come to India to train the children all year through. Queiroz is best known to have been the national coach of Portugal, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates besides coaching Real Madrid and being the understudy of Alex Ferguson twice at Manchester United; but also being the coach to develop the golden generation of Portuguese talent with the likes of Luis Figo and Rui Costa.

The idea of starting such a football school came to Baichung as there is a lack of proper training opportunities for children interested in football, especially for those would might be interested to take up the sport seriously and try to become professionals. But initially the football school is intended to enable kids to play football and have fun.

New Delhi is only the start and Baichung hopes to spread the Bhaichung Bhutia Football School in the coming years across the country. Baichung hopes to spread the football school to Noida, Mumbai and Bangalore in a first wave of expansion, but it all depends if he can get the necessary land or a property on long term lease to use and develop for the coaching sessions.

Talking to the media ahead of the launch Baichung said, "It will be a non-residential school and I will get a ground in Delhi on lease. 30 per cent of children will be from underprivileged section and the other 70 per cent will have to pay fee. There will be tie-ups with some schools and NGOs to get the children. For the underprivileged ones, NGOs like Magic Bus will provide them."

"It will not be a school which will be run to provide professional football but one which will encourage children to take up football and enjoy it. They will also learn the basics of football. The talented ones will be drafted into the professional academy, which I am opening in Kolkata and Sikkim with (Bollywood actor) John Abraham," Baichung added.

Nike, for whom Baichung is a brand ambassador, has come on board as kit sponsor to provide footballs and playing kits to the children. Initially Baichung is set to fund some portion of the football school himself, but he hopes that sponsors will come forward to make the football schools self-funded along with the fees collected from the paying children.

German Cup: Full of surprises

The second round of the German Cup (DFB Pokal) was once more full of surprises. The matches were played over the last couple of evenings and it was once more the cup of surprises with lower division teams able to beat top division sides, while others stretched them to the limit. It was interesting to see that current Bundesliga form counts little as top duo Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund where thrown out of the competition.

Amongst the biggest upsets on Wednesday night was that second division Alemannia Aachen brought high flying FSV Mainz 05 crashing down to earth with a 2-1 victory at home at the New Tivoli Stadium. Mainz, top of the Bundesliga, could never show their attacking game against a highly charged-up Alemannia whose players seemed to fight for their lives.

Second in the Bundesliga table Borussia Dortmund had the tricky task of having to face 3.Liga league leaders Kickers Offenbach at the Bieberer Berg. It was a high voltage game, but low on quality which had to end in a penalty shootout. There experienced Offenbach keeper Robert Wulnikowski turned to be the hero blocking to penalties from Dortmund to give the third division club a memorable 4-2 win.

Fourth Division Chemnitzer FC, the home club of Michael Ballack, were able to hold VfB Stuttgart to a one-all draw after 90 minutes, but in extra time the East Germans suffered a red card expulsion to captain Andreas Richter and substitute Martin Harnik completed his hattrick for Stuttgart to save the Bundesliga club the blushes. In round one Chemnitz had beaten another Bundesliga club in FC St. Pauli.

2.Bundesliga Energie Cottbus are known as a side which can cause upsets in the German Cup and in 1997 they had actually reached the cup final. And they proved that they are a cup side once more on Tuesday night when they beat high flying SC Freiburg 2-1 in an interesting encounter.

Mid-table third division side Tus Koblenz scored an upset win against 2.Bundesliga league leaders Hertha BSC Berlin, who have had a strong season so far. But the club from Berlin could never show on Tuesday evening what they are capable of, while Koblenz played a solid game. The 1-0 lead was a once in a lifetime goal from Michael Stahl, who until last season played seventh division football. Stahl wanted to clear the ball in his own half, but the ball travelled all the way into the Hertha goal, 61 metres in total. And in the end Koblenz were deservingly 2-1 winners.

The pick of the matches was the replay of last seasons final FC Bayern Munich against SV Werder Bremen. This meant that for one of the teams round two would be the end of this seasons cup campaign. Would it be record champions Bayern or Werder, who in the last couple of years had played the club final. And German international Bastian Schweinsteiger would decide the game with two goals for Bayern in a close 2-1 win for the Bavarians. Bremen took an early second minute lead through Claudio Pizarro. Bayern would score a bizarre equaliser as Toni Kroos would not properly connect to a shot, but Schweinsteiger infront of goal and not offside would tap in. But in the second half Schweinsteiger would seal the match with a lovely long distance effort to win it for Bayern and end Werder's cup campaign 2010/11.

Rabu, 27 Oktober 2010

TFA felicitates Deepak Mondal

Jamshedpur's Tata Football Academy earlier today felicitated international defender Deepak Kumar Mondal for being the first former cadet of the Academy to receive an Arjuna Award. The info came as a surprise to me that no TFA cadet had earlier been awarded an Arjuna Award, but then how often do footballers get the Arjuna Award...

Present on the occasion were members of TFA management board and the Chief of corporate social services of Tata Steel, Satish Pillai. Others from Tata Steel and the Tata Football Academy also graced the occasion.

Deepak said that he was fortunate to be the first TFA cadet to have received an Arjuna Award. Deepak had graduated from the Tata Football Academy in 1998 in a batch along with others like Naseem Akhtar, Mahesh Gawli, James Lukram Singh, Noel Anthony Wilson, Roque Barreto, Dipankar Roy and Sheikh Sanjeeb. In his club career Deepak has played for JCT, East Bengal, Mahindra United and Mohun Bagan.

To recap. Deepak was the first footballer in eight years to receive the Arjuna Award a couple of months back. Deepak has been a player with the Indian national team for over a decade, a dependable no-nonsense kind of guy on and off the field, who is liked by one and all. The Arjuna award for Deepak comes as much-needed recognition for the national football team which has won the Nehru Cup 2007 & 2009 plus the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

AIFF TV & Marketing Rights: Transfer fee needed to end impasse?

It's a final outcome that Indian football fans have been waiting to hear now for weeks, even months. But till date no solution has been found in the impasse between the AIFF and the Zee Group about ending their relationship in regard to the national federations TV and marketing rights, while a potential new partner in IMG-Reliance is waiting in the wings to take over.

After no real updates over the last four/five weeks reports have now surfaced that the Zee Group is not willing to walk away silently and is asking for compensation to terminate their 10 year contract with the AIFF. And that compensation is said to be in the region of a whopping Rs. 700 Million (Rs. 70 crores).

An unnamed high ranking AIFF official speaking on condition of anonymity told PTI, "Yes, it (Zee) has asked for Rs 70 crore as compensation from the AIFF but, as far as the deal with IMG is concerned, it is still in the negotiation stage and nothing has been finalised yet. The AIFF is reviewing IMG's proposal but nothing is official as yet."

It's interesting to see where things stand now as the 10 year deal between the AIFF and the Zee Group had a review clause after finishing the first five years of the contract. This has come and both sides have realised that as things are being run and organised jointly it has no real value to any side.

The criticism from the AIFF against the Zee Group has been on three main points. First the Group has not been paying the federation their installments of the Rs 2,73 Billion (Rs 273 crore) properly over the last couple of years due to which the AIFF has faced financial problems. Then there has been the issue of coverage and reach of Zee Sports (now Ten Action) with the coverage level going down dramatically over the years and the channel not easy to catch on cable or DTH platforms. And then there is the issue of the Zee Group not being able to market AIFF properties properly, the AIFF president recently cited the example of the Santosh Trophy for which the Zee Group couldn't find a sponsor.

If the AIFF and IMG-Reliance can work out a formula to pay off the Zee Group and then start a fresh venture to market and show Indian football will have to be seen. In football we would say a figure for the transfer fee is on the market and the two sides now have to agree on a fee which both sides can live with or maybe someone else comes late into the bidding game.

Selasa, 26 Oktober 2010

FIFA Ballon d'Or awards candidates

The the list of candidates of the first-ever FIFA Ballon d'Or awards were released earlier today. For the new award FIFA have joined hands with France Football. The Ballon d'Or award was earlier on handed our by the French magazine, while FIFA had their own World Player of the Year award. Now these two have been merged into one and the first-ever FIFA Ballon d'Or awards will be handed out on January 10, 2011 in Zurich.

Last year Argentinian Lionel Messi had won the title, but it highly unlikely he will be able to defend it though it could go to one of his FC Barcelona team mates. In total seven Spanish World Cup winners are amongst the candidates, even five players from Germany made it. If you look club wise then FC Barcalona has the highest number of nominees with six followed by UEFA Champions League finalists International Milan and FC Bayern Munich with five.

Now national coaches and captains from around the world plus selected journalists can vote for their top candidates. The top three in each category would be announced at a press conference in Paris on December 6 ahead of the awards a month later.


The following 23 men (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2010

Xabi Alonso (Spain/Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Brazil/FC Barcelona), Iker Casillas (Spain/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast/FC Chelsea), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon/Internationale Milan), Cesc Fabregas (Spain/FC Arsenal), Diego Forlan (Uruguay/Atletico Madrid), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana/FC Stade Rennes-AFC Sunderland), Andres Iniesta (Spain/FC Barcelona), Julio Cesar (Brazil/Internationale Milan), Miroslav Klose (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Maicon (Brazil/Internationale Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Germany/SV Werder Bremen-Real Madrid), Carlos Puyol (Spain/FC Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands/FC Bayern Munich), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Holland/Internationale Milan), David Villa (Spain/FC Valencia-FC Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (Spain/FC Barcelona).


The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football 2010

Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/FC Chelsea), Vicente del Bosque (Spain), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Barcelona), Joachim Loew (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Internationale Milan-Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay), Louis Van Gaal (Netherlands/Bayern Munich), Bert van Marwijk (Netherlands), Arsene Wenger (France/FC Arsenal)


The following ten women (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the title of FIFA Women's World Player 2010

Camille Abily (France), Fatmire Bajramaj (Germany), So Yun Ji (Korea Republic), Marta (Brazil), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Caroline Seger (Sweden), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Kelly Smith (England), Hope Solo (USA) and Abby Wambach (USA).


The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football 2010

Bruno Bini (France), In Cheul Choi (South Korea, South Korea Under-20), Maren Meinert (Germany Under-20), Albertin Montoya (USA/ FC Gold Pride), Silvia Neid (Germany), Hope Powell (England), Norio Sasaki (Japan), Bernd Schröder (Germany/FFC Turbine Potsdam), Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Team USA), Béatrice von Siebenthal (Switzerland)

Paul the Octopus no more

Paul the psychic octopus died overnight at the Sea Life in Oberhausen, western Germany. And as if the story would continue to haunt me even after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I actually got a call around lunch time from India telling me that Paul the psychic octopus had died. At that time I had no clue about Paul's death, but it wasn't to be the last call from India about the topic as people remembered me reporting live for Times Now from the aquarium ahead of Paul's final day pick for the third place playoff and final.

Paul had received global media attention after predicting all of Germany's seven matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup correctly plus also picking Spain as the new world champions. An precidented eight out eight, which made Paul an instant celebrity; but he also had enemies who wanted to kill and eat him. It sometimes became a bizarre media story.

"Management and staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre were devastated to discover that oracle octopus Paul, who achieved global renown during the recent World Cup, had passed away overnight," the aquarium said in a statement.

"He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes," said Sea Life manager Stefan Porwoll.

Paul was born in English waters, but brought early in life to Oberhausen. He made predictions of the Germany matches at the 2008 European Championships, getting four out of five results right, but no one would really follow the story. His breakthrough came after the Ghana game after he had predicted three matches correctly and the media hype grew with each passing game, reaching a never before seen climax on the Friday before the final weekend. Over the last few weeks it had become quiet about Paul and he died last night aged three of natural causes.


Here two of my own blog posts on Paul the Octopus during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup:

July 9: The craze around Octopus Paul

July 16: Octopus Paul still a craze in India




Senin, 25 Oktober 2010

Bob Houghton a racist? No way.

No way. That was my first reaction; but the allegations against Bob Houghton by Indian referee Dinesh Nair, who was the fourth official in the India vs Yemen match in Pune recently, are quite severe.

According to the Telegraph newspaper out of Kolkata Dinesh Nair wrote in his post match report:

... Houghton was upset with the referee's decision to add two minutes of add-on time with the first half’s play. He came out of the technical area and started arguing with the fourth official.

"I tried to make him (Houghton) understand that it is purely (the) referee’s decision... and asked him to behave... but he started abusing me badly and told me 'you b****** Indian referees'," Nair has said in his report to the match commissioner.



I have now known the chief coach of the Indian national football team for over four years, but I got to know Bob Houghton much better over the last year in Barcelona and New Delhi. We have had loads of chats and discussions on Indian and international football. Initially there was only sheer professional respect for each other, which has turned into a trusted relationship, maybe even friendship, where we can openly tell each other things which others need not know. And I think Bob now even values my feedback and ideas. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but as some will know Bob is critical of the media and journalists in general.

Did I ever consider Bob Houghton as a racist? No, never ever and I guess the players and team management would say the same. How could he have worked around the world as a coach if he was a racist, it just wouldn't have worked and he could have only ended up somewhere in England and not work around the world for over three decades.

But yes. Bob is very much into the game when a match is on, does shout a lot onto the field, argues and sometimes has discussions with the match officials. Surely referees aren't the best friends of football coaches, so sometimes in the thick of action things are said which shouldn't be said. If afterwards a sorry follows with a hand shake then things should be forgotten. If Bob did that that night I do not know. Maybe he wasn't even aware of it...

My assumption is that whatever statement Bob made went against the match officials, which I also have to say isn't right but happens on a football ground. What would the game be without emotions. That is one of the reasons why we love the game. Isn't it?

Match commissioner Anthony John D'Costa had confirmed to the media that a report has been submitted to the AIFF on the complaint of fourth official Dinesh Nair. The issue is now lying with the AIFF with the executive committee likely to discuss it in its next meeting.

And if found guilty Bob could face tough punishment & sanctions under article 56 of the AFC Disciplinary Code:

Anyone who publicly disparages, discriminates against or denigrates someone in a defamatory manner on account of race, colour, language, religion or ethnic origin will be subjected to match suspension for at least five matches at every level. The body will also impose a ban on his/her entering the confines of any stadium and a fine of at least US $5,000. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine will be at least US $10,000.


But with India preparing for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup tough punishment could harm Indian footballs fortunes more then actually the accused.

123rd Durand Cup: The tournament proper starts

The qualifiers of the 123rd Durand Cup ended today with Garhwal Heroes beating AOC, Secunderabad 3-0 to secure the last and final place in the quarterfinal league stage. The third qualifier spot became free after I-League champions Dempo SC pulled out at the last moment. Earlier MEG, Banglore had won 1-0 against AOC, Secunderabad; while Indian Air Force had won 5-3 on penalties against Garhwal Heroes to get their place in the tournament proper.

The quarterfinal league stage will be played with 12 teams split into four groups of three teams each starting on Wednesday, October 27. Besides Dempo SC Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC, finalists last year, are also giving the tournament a miss ahead of the I-League. The final is slated for Sunday, November 7 and all matches will be played at the Ambedkar Stadium.

It will be another good test for the I-League sides ahead of the start of the league in a month's time. Can Churchill Brothers SC defend their or will East Bengal continue their winning run. Questions over questions, which will be answered in the next couple of weeks.


COMPLETE FIXTURES

Group 1
Churchill Brothers SC; Army Red; MEG, Bangalore (Qualifier A)

27-Oct-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - MEG, Bangalore (17.00 IST)
29-Oct-2010: Army Red - MEG, Bangalore (13.00 IST)
31-Oct-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - Army Red (13.00 IST)

Group 2
Chirag United SC; Pune FC; Indian Air Force (Qualifier B)

29-Oct-2010: Pune FC - Indian Air Force (15.00 IST)
31-Oct-2010: Pune FC - Chirag United SC (15.00 IST)
02-Nov-2010: Chirag United SC - Indian Air Force (13.00 IST)

Group 3
JCT; Sporting Clube de Goa; Garhwal Heroes, Delhi (Qualifier C)

28-Oct-2010: Sporting Clube de Goa - Garhwal Heroes (13.00 IST)
30-Oct-2010: Sporting Clube de Goa - JCT (13.00 IST)
01-Nov-2010: Garhwal Heroes - JCT (13.00 IST)

Group 4
Salgaocar SC; East Bengal Club; Air India

28-Oct-2010: Air India - Salgaocar SC (15.00 IST)
30-Oct-2010: East Bengal Club - Air India (15.00 IST)
01-Nov-2010: East Bengal Club - Salgaocar SC (15.00 IST)

Semifinals
03-Nov-2010: Winner Group 1 - Winner Group 3 (17.15 IST)
04-Nov-2010: Winner Group 2 - Winner Group 4 (17.15 IST)

Final
07-Nov-2010: Winner SF 1 - Winner SF 2 (17.00 IST)

Srinivas Dempo new Goa FA president

Dempo Group of Companies chairman, Srinivas Dempo, was yesterday elected as the new president of the Goa Football Association. In the vote for president Mr. Dempo won 85 to 75 against Peter Vaz, the president of Sporting Clube de Goa, after a long and hard fought election campaign, unseen in Goan football. Mr. Dempo has been elected as president for four years under the new constitution of the Goa FA, which complies with the statues of the All India Football Federation and the Asian Football Confederation.

The general elections held at Hotel Mandovi in Panaji with all 160 GFA registered clubs attending and casting their votes, a first in the history of Goan football. It was a high voltage affair, but in the end Mr. Dempo prevailed with a margin of only 10 votes. But the elections did throw-up some surprises as not all persons were elected who were favoured by the winning presidents faction plus new faces have made the governing body to hopefully infuse some fresh blood into the GFA.

Lavinio Rebello was elected vice-president from North Goa, while Elvis Gomes won the elections of vice-president from South Goa. The 14 member executive committee will be made-up of winners from the four zones. They are Schubert Furtado, Benjamin Silva, Anthony Pango, Benedicto Bishut Temudo (all Salcete); Lawrence Gomes, Prakash Naik, Savio Messias (all Mormugao); Babli Mandrekar, Alirio Lobo, Uday Lingudkar, Gajanand Kerkar (all Bardez); and Welwyn Menezes, Sanjiv Nagvekar, Anju Albuquerque (all Ilhas).

For Mr. Dempo and the whole new executive body there is loads of work ahead to take Goan football forward. And amongst the key issues will be the need address the infrastructure situation at the professional and amateur level, the reorganisation of inter-village football in the state and the further development of youth football. So be it the further development of Duler ground, the floodlights at the Nehru Stadium in Margao and the rebuilding of the Campal Stadium or the other issues, there is loads to be done.

And as one of the first steps a new paid General Secretary would have to be appointed to run football in the state. Outgoing honorary secretary Savio Messias is now an executive committee member.




Minggu, 24 Oktober 2010

First-ever SAFF Women's Cup in December

There is some very good news for women's football in South Asia. The first-ever South Asian Football Federation organised SAFF Women's Championships will be held from December 3 to 10, 2010 in the Bangladeshi city of Cox's Bazar. But the number of participating countries is unclear at the moment.

In the 11th South Asian Games held earlier this year in Dhaka only five of the eight SAFF member countries send their women's football teams to participate. The women's football competition in the SA Games was held for the first time and expectedly India won the gold medal; but the Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan did not send their teams. If they will do so for the SAFF Women's Championships will have to be seen and accordingly the schedule of the tournament will be put together, be it as a round robin tournament or a league format.

Some in SAFF have raised questions if it would be right to organise the first SAFF Women's Championships in a Muslim nation as there has been criticism and protest against women's football in Bangladesh, but the federation things it would be the right step and a good sign for South Asia's women.

The South Asian Football Federation is made up of eight nations - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And since 1993 the SAFF Cup for Men is being held. Originally it was called SAARC Gold Cup when launched at Lahore's Railway Stadium in 1993, but the name was changed to the current name of SAFF Cup. India are the record and defending champions.

And the SAFF Women's Championships is one of five tournaments to be launched the South Asian Football Federation in the coming year. Since its existence SAFF had only organised the men's championship; but now the women's tournament, youth Under-19 & Under-16 tournament plus a SAFF Champions League are set to be organised to push the development of South Asian football with support from the Asian Football Confederation.

Feyenoord's demise: 0-10 trashing against PSV

I normally don't follow Dutch club football a lot, except their clubs taking part in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, but this news came as a shocker. Feyenoord Rotterdam are one of the three Dutch football giants besides Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven. But earlier today they suffered their worst ever defeat at the hands of one of their rivals PSV Eindhoven. The league leaders PSV trashed their traditional rivals 10-0 at home at the Philips Arena in Eindhoven to stay top of the league.

It is a new low for Feyenoord, who have been struggling financially over the last few years, as they are now fourth from bottom. The club from the port city of Rotterdam have not been able to challenge their traditional rivals in the Dutch Eredivisie over the last few years, while smaller sides like AZ Alkmaar and Twente Enschede have also moved past them in the pecking order. And now this new low, a tragedy for their proud fans.

Feyenoord's previous heaviest defeat was a 8-2 loss at the hands of their other rivals Ajax Amsterdam way back in September 1983. For PSV the 10-0 win wasn't a first. It was their third such 10-0 win, the first came in 1973 against Go Ahead Eagles and the second in 1998 against Volendam.

The goals for PSV were scored by six different players. Brazilian Jonathan Reis scored three of those goals with Jeremain Lens and Balazs Dzsudzsak scoring two goals each. The other goals came from captain Ibrahim Afellay, striker Ola Toivonen and midfielder Orlando Engelaar. The task was made easier for PSV due to a double yellow card booking for Kelvin Leerdam just after 34 minutes.

The 1908 founded club have a rich history. Feyenoord has won 14 Dutch Championships, 11 Dutch Cups and two Dutch Super Cup's. The club has also had continental success as winners of 1970 European Cup Winners' Cup besides two UEFA Cup titles in 1974 and 2002.

Feyenoord coach Mario Been told the official Feyenoord website that it was a "dark day in the club's history." And it is now about a fight for survival in the Eredivisie as anything else seems unrealistic at the moment. From now on I will surely follow the Eredivisie table a little closer to see what Feyenoord are doing.

East Bengal Club: 15 wins and counting

The way Kolkata giants East Bengal Club have played and won their matches this season has been a revelation. So far the club has played 15 official league and cup matches (10 matches in the Calcutta Premier Division & five in the Federation Cup) and the red-and-gold have won all their games so far. A rare feat for any football club and often their wins have been in style scoring 44 goals and only conceding six in those 15 matches.

The club is clearly leading the Calcutta Football League and has the Federation Cup title to their name. If it had been four, five wins in a row then we could have termed it as a fluke or luck or whatever, but when you start the season with 15 wins in a row, then there is something more to it. So what has been behind the revival of East Bengal Club, who have been struggling over the last few years.

First of all the appointment of Englishman Trevor James Morgan as the clubs chief coach. The 54 year old former Hull City Development Coach has worked wonders at the Maidan giants, who many after last season thought are untrainable with former successful coaches Subhas Bhowmick and Philippe de Ridder both failing. But Morgan has been working hard, focusing on strengths and weaknesses of his team, looking at the players available and has moulded the team in his style.

Then there is the good selection of players. The recruiters at the club have done an excellent job in having looked at positions rather then names while signing players, a mistake done over the last few years as the club rather signed names, sometimes having four/five players to a position and none for others. Now even without the India players the team has a reliable bench strength which can cover for injuries and suspensions. Be it Churchill Brothers duo Thokchom Naoba Singh and Reisangmi Vashum, Susanth Mathew from Mahindra United plus youngsters Robin Singh from the Tata Football Academy, Ravinder Singh from Air India or Bikash Narzary from Eastern Railway SC. They have all played their part in this young season so far.

And then the bringing in of quality foreigners. This has also been an issue at East Bengal over the last few years as the foreigners often flopped. Only reliable defender Uga Okpara had been retained plus midfielder Penn Ikechukwu Orji brought in from JCT and striker Eneke Ikenwa from Salgaocar SC, who last season proved their worth in Indian football. These signings have paid off and the club on top of it signed under the Asian quota Tolgay Ozbey from Blacktown City FC, Australia who has also been an instant success.

It seems whatever the club has been doing wrong over the last few years, they seem to be doing right this season. They seem to also have learned from their own mistakes and have finally taken a professional approach. It is about the team and the club and not individual talent.

But the big task remains ahead of the team with the I-League set to kick-off on November 26. East Bengal last time won the old National Football League title in 2003-04 and if they can bring back the coveted I-League title to Kolkata after seven long years, when Goan clubs have been dominating the league, will have to be seen. Still the signs are good, but the I-League is a different ball game altogether and the six month league with cris-crossing the country will be the real test.

Sabtu, 23 Oktober 2010

Indicast Podcast: All in Wane and I-League fixtures are out

On Thursday I once more was part of the Indicast Podcast's Sportsbench and we discussed international and Indian football. The focus was on Wayne Rooney and his problems at Manchester United, but at that time Rooney hadn't signed a contract extention at Man Utd. We also discussed the Indian football calendar, especially the upcoming I-League.

The podcast was moderated by Vikram Nanivadekar and myself the guest with Adwait Patil joining us late in the programme teling us of his experiences of watching India live in Pune earlier this month in the international friendlies.



Listen Online (64 kbps) : ~ 25 mins











Here the direct link to the Indicast Podcast page: Sportsbench Podcast


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Jumat, 22 Oktober 2010

Blackburn Rovers takeover: The third Indian attempt

English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers have been in the market for a potential takeover for months and they have been linked over the summer to potential investors, interestingly both where Indian. And since yesterday the latest rumour out of England says that another Indian family run group is interested to take over the club. This time around it is the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group, a company which is big in the poultry business and has made its money there.

A good friend with inside knowledge of these club takeover talks in the UK has said that the deal could be done as quickly as the weekend as the Venkateshwara family is willing to buy out the current owners, the Trustees of the late Jack Walker. The family would have to pay around £25 million for the club and could wipe out the £16 million debt in one go plus give manager Sam Allardyce substantial funds to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window.

And whats the reason why the VH Group would want to buy Blackburn Rovers? The VH Group is working on plans to expand their operations to Europe plus strengthen their position across Asia, so they see owning a Premier League club would help them in their endeavour. If the family has any football fans or are football fans in general isn't known at this moment.

But the examples of Saurin Shah from Mumbai and Indian born Bahrain based investor Ahsan Ali Syed have shown that interest and even due diligence doesn't mean that a club would be sold. Still I find it interesting that for the third time in three/four month's Blackburn Rovers are being linked to new owners and once again the interested party is said to be Indian.

Lets see if this time Blackburn Rovers is sold to India...

Ji Le Campaign - Support Team India at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup

Through the 'Ji Le' campaign a friend Mahesh Reddy is trying to gather support for Team India ahead of their 2011 AFC Asian Cup appearance in the Qatari capital Doha in which our boys face tough competition from Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.

Under the tagline "Ji le - Living India's football dream" the campaigners are trying to create India's largest fan support football campaign. It is an interactive community driven exercise to garner support for Team India and messages of support can be left on the website or through Emails be it videos, photos or just test messages.

The campaign hopes to visit schools and colleges in the coming weeks to gather support for our boys ahead of their journey to Qatar. Even stars and former footballers will be approached for their messages of support.

Trying to explain the intention behind the campaign Mahesh Reddy said, "We just love football and our aim was to contribute to the overall development of the sport in India. This has brought in the urge amongst me and my team members to come up with this campaign. We wanted to start somewhere and we will only move ahead from here, as a matter of fact, we are also contemplating on being there in Qatar to cheer team India in January."

So be a part of the campaign! Support Team India!


Go to the Ji Le campaign website to leave your message of support for Team India under: www.jileindia.com

And also join the Facebook fan page .

Kamis, 21 Oktober 2010

Not all is well in Munich football

FC Bayern Munich is Germany's biggest football club, but their city rivals are facing difficult times which could force them into administration and could be threatened with forced relegation. We are talking about second division Bundesliga side TSV 1860 Munich and 3.Liga side SpVgg Unterhaching, who both in the past have played in the top tier Bundesliga. And their big brother is the potential life line for both the clubs, who are known to be very social in such situations.


1860 Munich

1860 Munich have been facing problems over the last few years due to mismanagement, overspending and big thinking like financing half of the Allianz Arena project along with bigger and financially healther city rivals Bayern Munich.

Earlier this week 1860 Munich has been docked two points for providing inadequate information to the German Bundesliga (DFL) while obtaining its operating licence. The club didn't appeal against the ruling as the clubs business manager Robert Niemann described the punishment as "moderate."

Under the management of Niemann, who joined recently from the DFL, the club is trying to stabilize ship and reorganize itself. A matter of worry had been a dispute with Bayern Munich about the catering at the Allianz Arena. And if Bayern had stood by its legitimate demands, then 1860 as a club would have surely gone into administration or even worse might have closed down. But the relationship has become workable again over the last few weeks and the two clubs are working to sort out the issues in the interest of both sides. For 1860 it means clarity that in the hour need their bigger rivals are there with them.

But there are more pressing issues which 1860 will have to clear. They pay a huge amount as rent for the Allianz Arena after having to sell the stadium a few years ago to Bayern to stay alive as a club. Their attendency average is actually too low for the running costs of the arena, but the alternatives in Munich are all non-starters. Their old home the Grünwalder Stadium would need renovation which the club couldn't finance, while the old Olympic Stadium is off limits for football as per agreements with the new Allianz Arena.


SpVgg Unterhaching

The situation at third division SpVgg Unterhaching is much more precarious at the moment. Due to the fact that a sponsor, who was to pay them a seven digit figure as part of a sponsorship package, has not paid their dues as left a gap of up to 2,3 Million Euros in the budget of the club which it needs to close by the end of the month. This could actually force Unterhaching into administration as the club management is unsure on how to pay the salaries and running expenses in the coming weeks and months.

Here Bayern Munich come in, who have offered to play a charity match against Unterhaching in the Allianz Arena with all proceeds of the match going to the troubled club. Analysts believe up to 2 Million Euros could be raised from such a game and it could keep the club in business.

Sikkim Governor's Gold Cup kicked-off today

The 32nd edition of the Sikkim Governor's Gold Cup kicked-off today at the Paljor Stadium in the state capital Gangtok. In total 14 teams will be taking part, but due to the Durand Cup being held at the same time, not many I-League sides can take part still the field of participating teams is strong. The tournament happens to be the only tournament to have been held uninterruptedly for the last 31 years.

Besides defending champions Bengal-Nagpur Railway from Kolkata, the tournament will see two I-League sides in Pune FC and ONGC from Mumbai take part. Also participating are Northeastern biggies Shillong Lajong FC and Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting Club. Other participants are former champions Punjab Police, Bengal Mumbai FC and Techno Aryan Club from Kolkata. The foreign flavour will be added through Bhutan XI plus Nepalese sides Three Star and Manang Mashangdi; while the local sides will be United Sikkim Sporting Club, Denzong Boyz and Sikkim Police.

The opening match today was between local side United Sikkim Sporting Club and Bhutan XI. And the local side, who have India captain Baichung Bhutia as their patron and financier, defeated their Himalayan rivals 1-0. United Sikkim Sporting Club will now face Manang Mashangdi from Nepal on October 23 in a pre-quarterfinal match. The other Nepali club, Three Star, has been given a pre-quarterfinal berth and will take on Pune FC on October 25. Teams from Nepal are widely popular in Sikkim and attract huge crowds.

Shillong Lajong FC has also been given a pre-quarterfinal berth and on October 26 it will lock horns with the winners of the local derby between Sikkim Police and Denzong Boyz. Defending champions BNR, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Techno Aryan Club and Bengal Mumbai FC have all been given quarterfinal berths as the Sikkim FA considers them to be the higher ranking clubs among the other participants. The final will be played on November 2.

The Sikkim FA secretary Menla Ethanpa said before the start of the tournament, "We are expecting tough contest during the tournament as the teams are evenly poised."

Rabu, 20 Oktober 2010

2012 Olympics Qualifiers: India open against Myanmar

The draw for the first round of Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics football tournament was held earlier today at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur. 22 out of 35 nations taking part in the Asian qualifiers will have to enter the competition in Round 1 itself with India having to face neighbours Myanmar over a home-and-away fixture to move into the second round. The 11 qualifiers and 13 seeded sides would face each other in June 2011.

Actually the fixture is a replay of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening round Asian qualifiers, when India had beaten Myanmar 4-1 at home in Kolkata and then drawn one-all in Yangoon in February 2007 to move on. Now it will be a replay four years on with a younger bunch of players.

The Olympic football tournament is an Under-23 event, so the qualifiers are also an U-23 tournament. With the AFC Asian Cup through at the time the Olympic qualifiers start, India could be fielding its strongest Under-23 team in the qualifiers. But some players who are set to represent India at the Asian Games won't be playing the qualifiers as they will be too old by the time the qualifiers start.


DRAW & FIXTURES

First leg: February 23, 2011
Second leg: March 9, 2011

Thailand vs Palestine
Jordan vs Chinese Taipei
Yemen vs Singapore
Kuwait vs Bangladesh
Malaysia vs Pakistan
United Arab Emirates vs Sri Lanka
India vs Myanmar
Oman vs Tajikistan
Indonesia vs Turkmenistan
Iran vs Kyrgyzstan
Hong Kong vs Maldives

Trouble in Wayne's World

Things haven't been going right for Wayne Rooney over the last six/seven month's. The England strikers on field problems started with an injury in a UEFA Champions League match against Bayern Munich, a terrible 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign followed before the problems also reached his private life when an affair with a prostitute made tabloid front pages, and now Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson revealed ahead of a UEFA Champions League match yesterday that the striker wants to leave the club and Sir Alex just cannot understand why Rooney wants to do so.

It seems a number of issues are coming together. The number one issue is that Rooney seems to be no longer happy at Manchester United for an unknown reason as Sir Alex revealed that he first got to know of Rooney's interest to leave the club in pre-season in August. With two years to go on his contract there was no issue of selling one of their best players, but now with Rooney out of form and often injured, the club might want to cash in on him while it is still possible to have funds ready to spend on bringing in fresh talent as the Red Devils face financial problems. Also it seems that Rooney and his agents want a substantial pay rise for him which Manchester United isn't willing to offer, maybe just not yet. And then there are the problems in Rooney's private life, so a move away from England could allow him a quieter life of the field.

Some even say that the relationship between Sir Alex and Wayne Rooney has gone sour over the last few weeks due to the revelations about Rooney's off the field antics. Ferguson, who had bought Rooney as a teenager from FC Everton in 2004, has always been a father like figure for the boy from Liverpool, even advising him on off field matters. But now that relationship seems damaged and if it can be repaired has to be seen.

Then there is the question of where could Wayne Rooney go? In the English Premier League only local rivals Manchester City and FC Chelsea have the deep pockets to make such a transfer a reality. Abroad first candidate would be Real Madrid with Italian giants Internationale Milan and AC Milan also potential new clubs. If FC Barcelona, after the revelations of their huge debts, could still be in the running to sign Rooney would have to be seen. But of all the potential options, the Blue one within Manchester would be financially the most lucrative option, but would Sir Alex want a player of the calibre of Wayne Rooney to stay in England and play for United's city rivals on the other side of town? I would doubt that...

A new saga in football has emerged and lets see what happens in the coming weeks until the winter transfer window opens on January 1, 2011. Or can in the end Sir Alex convince Wayne Rooney to stay at Old Trafford.

FIFA World Rankings: India rise to 144th

FIFA today released the latest FIFA world rankings and there is positive news for Indian football as India gained 69 points to take 151 points in the rankings to now be 144th amongst 208 ranked nations. Within Asia India ranked nine places to be now 24th amongst 46 nations in the rankings.

This means our roller coaster ride in the rankings continue. After being 138th in August and then crashing down to 160th last month, India is now 144th in October, up 16 places compared to last month.

The positive jump upwards was made possible due to the fact that over the last month India has played four international friendlies. The series of international friendlies included two wins against higher ranked teams in Namibia (2-0) and Vietnam (3-1) plus losses against Hongkong (0-1) and Yemen (3-6).

No more friendlies are planned for this month as the team has been given off for a couple of weeks. The team will regroup in November with the next friendly planned for November 14 against Kuwait, who are currently ranked 103rd.

In the global rankings world champions Spain remain top ahead of runners-up the Netherlands with Brazil now third swapping places with Germany who are now fourth, ahead of fifth placed Argentina.

2012 AFC Challenge Cup: Qualifiers draw out

The draw for the qualifiers of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup was held earlier today at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur. And 2008 champions India have been drawn in Group B alongside Turkmenistan, neighbours Pakistan plus the winner of the playoff tie Chinese Taipei and Laos.

It looks an interesting but tricky group for India. Turkmenistan surely are a tough opponent currently ranked 142 in the FIFA world rankings, just two places ahead of India. Our neighbours Pakistan are ranked 169th, normally an opponent we should beat, but depending on venue it could be an interesting derby; while Chinese Taipei as 156th and Laos as 175th should be teams to beat.

The eight lowest-ranked teams out of 20 participating nations will face each other in a play off on a home-and-away basis and the four winners will qualify for the 16-team group phase. The group phase will see four groups of four teams each with the top two teams qualifying for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup proper.

The group stage matches will be played between March 20 to 31, 2011; and the hosts of each group will be announced later. Only after the eight finalists are decided the venue for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup will be decided.


THE DRAW

Playoffs (February 9 and 16, 2011)

Playoff 1: Bhutan vs Afghanistan
Playoff 2: Philippines vs Mongolia
Playoff 3: Chinese Taipei vs Laos
Playoff 4: Cambodia vs Macau


GROUP STAGE (March 20-31, 2011)

Group A: Myanmar, Palestine, Bangladesh, Winner of Playoff 2
Group B: Turkmenistan, India, Winner of Playoff 3, Pakistan
Group C: Tajikistan, Maldives, Winner of Playoff 4, Kyrgyzstan
Group D: North Korea, Winner of Playoff 1, Nepal, Sri Lanka

Selasa, 19 Oktober 2010

VIDEO of the Charity Golf Tournament 2010

On September 24, 2010 a charity golf tournament was held at the Golf & Landclub Coesfeld e.V. for the charity "Kinder sind unsere Nr.1". The charity golf saw a number of former German footballers, amongst them Andreas Koepke and Lutz Pfannenstiel, taking part besides local golf players.

The event was able to raise some funds and those who took part had an enjoyable day out in the rain!



I-League fixtures out early

The AIFF on Friday, October 15 released the 26 Round fixtures of the 14 team I-League. And such an early release of the complete fixtures was a first for the AIFF in the 14 year history of the National Football League/I-League and a sign that things are moving in the right direction in Indian club football. A little to slow for my own liking, but at least things are moving in the right direction which is good as the I-League is now an own entity within the framework of the AIFF under its own CEO Sunando Dhar. And I know that Sunando and his team are working overtime to take the I-League forward with all the hurdles which are in its way.

The 4th edition of the I-League will see defending champions Dempo SC face the challenge of local Goan rivals Churchill Brothers SC and Salgaocar SC; the Kolkata trio of Mohun Bagan AC, East Bengal Club and Chirag United SC; Mumbai trio of Air India, Mumbai FC and promoted ONGC; Pune FC; Punjab's JCT; Viva Kerala from the south; promoted HAL from Bangalore; and new entrants the AIFF XI (India Under-20) who have replaced disbanded Mahindra United.

The I-League is set to kick-off on November 26 with the league set to finish in May 2011. The league is set to have only a two week break in March 2011 for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. The league start had to be delayed for a couple of months due to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the India vs Australia cricket series which blocked the Nehru Stadium in Goa and the 2010 Asian Games in November.


FIXTURES

Round 1
26-Nov-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - Dempo SC
26-Nov-2010: East Bengal Club - ONGC
26-Nov-2010: HAL, Bangalore - JCT
26-Nov-2010: Mumbai FC - Air India
26-Nov-2010: Viva Kerala - Salgaocar SC
27-Nov-2010: Pune FC - Mohun Bagan AC
27-Nov-2010: Chirag United SC - AIFF XI

Round 2
30-Nov-2010: Dempo SC - East Bengal Club
30-Nov-2010: JCT - Churchill Brothers SC
01-Dec-2010: Mohun Bagan AC - HAL, Bangalore
01-Dec-2010: Air India - Viva Kerala
01-Dec-2010: AIFF XI - ONGC
01-Dec-2010: Salgaocar SC - Chirag United SC
01-Dec-2010: Mumbai FC - Pune FC

Round 3
04-Dec-2010: East Bengal Club - AIFF XI
04-Dec-2010: Dempo SC - JCT
05-Dec-2010: ONGC - Salgaocar SC
05-Dec-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - Mohun Bagan
05-Dec-2010: Chirag United SC - Air India
05-Dec-2010: HAL, Bangalore - Mumbai FC
05-Dec-2010: Viva Kerala - Pune FC

Round 4
10-Dec-2010: JCT - East Bengal Club
10-Dec-2010: Air India - ONGC
10-Dec-2010: Mohun Bagan AC - Dempo SC
11-Dec-2010: Salgaocar SC - AIFF XI
11-Dec-2010: Mumbai FC - Churchill Brothers SC
11-Dec-2010: Pune FC - Chirag United SC
11-Dec-2010: Viva Kerala - HAL, Bangalore

Round 5
14-Dec-2010: East Bengal Club - Salgaocar SC
14-Dec-2010: AIFF XI - Air India
14-Dec-2010: Dempo SC - Mumbai FC
15-Dec-2010: JCT - Mohun Bagan AC
15-Dec-2010: ONGC - Pune FC
15-Dec-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - Viva Kerala
15-Dec-2010: Chirag United SC - HAL, Bangalore

Round 6
18-Dec-2010: Viva Kerala - East Bengal Club
18-Dec-2010: ONGC - Mohun Bagan AC
18-Dec-2010: Chirag United SC - Mumbai FC
19-Dec-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - Air India
19-Dec-2010: HAL, Bangalore - Pune FC
19-Dec-2010: Dempo SC - Salgaocar SC
19-Dec-2010: AIFF XI - JCT

Round 7
23-Dec-2010: East Bengal Club - Air India
23-Dec-2010: Salgaocar SC - Pune FC
23-Dec-2010: ONGC - Churchill Brothers SC
23-Dec-2010: JCT - Viva Kerala
23-Dec-2010: AIFF XI - HAL, Bangalore
24-Dec-2010: Dempo SC - Chirag United SC
24-Dec-2010: Mohun Bagan AC - Mumbai FC

Round 8
29-Dec-2010: Pune FC - Air India
29-Dec-2010: HAL, Bangalore - Salgaocar SC
29-Dec-2010: Chirag United SC - JCT
29-Dec-2010: Churchill Brothers SC - AIFF XI
30-Dec-2010: Dempo SC - ONGC
30-Dec-2010: Mumbai FC - East Bengal Club
30-Dec-2010: Viva Kerala - Mohun Bagan AC

Round 9
03-Jan-2011: East Bengal Club - Pune FC
03-Jan-2011: Mumbai FC - Viva Kerala
03-Jan-2011: Salgaocar SC - Churchill Brothers SC
04-Jan-2011: Air India - Dempo SC
04-Jan-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Chirag United SC
04-Jan-2011: JCT - ONGC
04-Jan-2011: Air India - HAL, Bangalore

Round 10
08-Jan-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - HAL, Bangalore
08-Jan-2011: Chirag United SC - East Bengal Club
08-Jan-2011: ONGC - Viva Kerala
08-Jan-2011: Dempo SC - Pune FC
09-Jan-2011: AIFF XI - Mumbai FC
09-Jan-2011: JCT - Air India
09-Jan-2011: Salgaocar SC - Mohun Bagan AC

Round 11
14-Jan-2011: East Bengal Club - HAL, Bangalore
15-Jan-2011: Viva Kerala - Chirag United SC
15-Jan-2011: Pune FC - Churchill Brothers SC
15-Jan-2011: Mumbai FC - ONGC
16-Jan-2011: Air India - Dempo SC
16-Jan-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - AIFF XI
16-Jan-2011: Salgaocar SC - JCT

Round 12
22-Jan-2011: East Bengal Club - Churchill Brothers SC
22-Jan-2011: Viva Kerala - AIFF XI
22-Jan-2011: Pune FC - JCT
22-Jan-2011: Air India - Mohun Bagan AC
23-Jan-2011: Chirag United SC - ONGC
23-Jan-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Dempo SC
23-Jan-2011: Mumbai FC - Salgaocar SC

Round 13
29-Jan-2011: Air India - Salgaocar SC
29-Jan-2011: Pune FC - AIFF XI
29-Jan-2011: Chirag United SC - Churchill Brothers SC
30-Jan-2011: Mumbai FC - JCT
30-Jan-2011: Viva Kerala - Dempo SC
30-Jan-2011: HAL, Bangalore - ONGC
30-Jan-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - East Bengal Club

Round 14
05-Feb-2011: ONGC - East Bengal Club
05-Feb-2011: Dempo SC - Churchill Brothers SC
05-Feb-2011: AIFF XI - Chirag United SC
06-Feb-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Pune FC
06-Feb-2011: Salgaocar SC - Viva Kerala
06-Feb-2011: JCT - HAL, Bangalore
06-Feb-2011: Air India - Mumbai FC

Round 15
12-Feb-2011: East Bengal Club - Dempo SC
12-Feb-2011: Pune FC - Mumbai FC
12-Feb-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - JCT
12-Feb-2011: Chirag United SC - Salgaocar SC
13-Feb-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Mohun Bagan AC
13-Feb-2011: Viva Kerala - Air India
13-Feb-2011: ONGC - AIFF XI

Round 16
19-Feb-2011: AIFF XI - East Bengal Club
19-Feb-2011: Air India - Chirag United SC
19-Feb-2011: Pune FC - Viva Kerala
19-Feb-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Churchill Brothers
20-Feb-2011: JCT - Dempo SC
20-Feb-2011: Mumbai FC - HAL, Bangalore
20-Feb-2011: Salgaocar SC - ONGC

Round 17
26-Feb-2011: East Bengal Club - JCT
26-Feb-2011: AIFF XI - Salgaocar SC
26-Feb-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Viva Kerala
27-Feb-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - Mumbai FC
27-Feb-2011: Dempo SC - Mohun Bagan AC
27-Feb-2011: ONGC - Air India
27-Feb-2011: Chirag United SC - Pune FC

Round 18
04-Mar-2011: ONGC - HAL, Bangalore
04-Mar-2011: Dempo SC - Viva Kerala
04-Mar-2011: JCT - Mumbai FC
04-Mar-2011: AIFF XI - Pune FC
05-Mar-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - Chirag United SC
05-Mar-2011: East Bengal Club - Mohun Bagan AC
06-Mar-2011: Salgaocar SC - Air India

Round 19
08-Mar-2011: Pune FC - ONGC
08-Mar-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - JCT
09-Mar-2011: Air India - AIFF XI
09-Mar-2011: Mumbai FC - Dempo SC
09-Mar-2011: Salgaocar SC - East Bengal
09-Mar-2011: Viva Kerala - Churchill Brothers SC
09-Mar-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Chirag United SC

Round 20
12-Mar-2011: Air India - East Bengal Club
13-Mar-2011: HAL, Bangalore - AIFF XI
13-Mar-2011: Pune FC - Salgaocar S.C
13-Mar-2011: Viva Kerala - JCT
13-Mar-2011: Mumbai FC - Mohun Bagan AC
13-Mar-2011: Chirag United SC - Dempo SC
13-Mar-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - ONGC

Round 21
02-Apr-2011: East Bengal Club - Mumbai FC
02-Apr-2011: Air India - Pune FC
02-Apr-2011: Salgaocar SC - HAL, Bangalore
02-Apr-2011: AIFF XI - Churchill Brothers SC
03-Apr-2011: JCT - Chirag United SC
03-Apr-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Viva Kerala
03-Apr-2011: ONGC - Dempo SC

Round 22
09-Apr-2011: Dempo SC - AIFF XI
09-Apr-2011: Pune FC - East Bengal Club
09-Apr-2011: Viva Kerala - Mumbai FC
09-Apr-2011: Chirag United SC - Mohun Bagan AC
10-Apr-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - Salgaocar SC
10-Apr-2011: ONGC - JCT
10-Apr-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Air India

Round 23
15-Apr-2011: East Bengal Club - Viva Kerala
16-Apr-2011: Pune FC - HAL, Bangalore
16-Apr-2011: Mumbai FC - Chirag United SC
16-Apr-2011: JCT - AIFF XI
17-Apr-2011: Air India - Churchill Brothers SC
17-Apr-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - ONGC
17-Apr-2011: Salgaocar SC - Dempo SC

Round 24
23-Apr-2011: Dempo SC - HAL, Bangalore
23-Apr-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - East Bengal Club
23-Apr-2011: AIFF XI - Viva Kerala
24-Apr-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - AIFF XI
24-Apr-2011: JCT - Pune FC
24-Apr-2011: Salgaocar SC - Mumbai FC
24-Apr-2011: ONGC - Chirag United SC

Round 25
30-Apr-2011: East Bengal Club - Chirag United
30-Apr-2011: Mumbai FC - AIFF XI
30-Apr-2011: Viva Kerala - ONGC
01-May-2011: Pune FC - Dempo SC
01-May-2011: HAL, Bangalore - Churchill Brothers
01-May-2011: Air India - JCT
01-May-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Salgaocar SC

Round 26
to be finalised later...

Senin, 18 Oktober 2010

Mario Gomez & his lucky number 3

Footballers are a superstitious lot and often believe in things which cannot be explained, but it somehow seems to work for them. Just remember "Paul the Octopus" during the 2010 FIFA World Cup or footballer who take with them their good luck charm onto the field or wear their socks and shoes in a certain ritual. Now we have the story of striker Mario Gomez.

For FC Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez the number three was his own lucky number over the weekend. The German international, who wears the number 33 jersey at his club, scored all the three goals for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 Bundesliga win against Hanover 96 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. And Gomez scored a goal for his club in the Bundesliga after more then six month's.

You think there are too many number three's in there already? It actually isn't the end of the story, which gets even more superstitious as Gomez after the match talking to the media said he was motivated by the rescued Chilean miners, who also believed in the number three! How? There were 33 miners stuck underground and the final rescue mission started three days before the match on Saturday after 69 days and there was a miner with the exact name of Mario Gomez, also saved amongst those 33 miners. 'Mario Gomez', the miner, was brought out as the ninth miner from the shaft and nine can only be calculated as three times three.

I know it sounds somehow funny and peculiar, but often we hear of these kind of stories which just cannot be explained and they seem to happen again and again...

Patrick Sisupalan: A Foreigners point of view

British citizen Raman Patrick Sisupalan last season played for Viva Kerala in the I-League under the Players of Indian Origin quota. He has written down his views on things he saw and experienced last year in Indian football, especially on the issue of foreigners and PIO's.

I have enjoyed reading several articles recently and of course the discussion about the value of foreigners in Indian football. Such debates are not exclusive to India as many people here in England blame the poor performance in the world cup on the foreigner situation in the Premier league. Arsenal have notoriously few English players and have played Premier league matches without English players. England coach Fabio Capello claims there are not enough English players to chose from but Arsenal Coach Wenger claims English players improve by playing with better players.

In India the AIFF seems unable to make up its mind as to what restrictions on foreigners should be imposed. My point of view is in line with Wenger's thinking, that raising the standard in the I-League is important for the development of Indian players and encourages spectators too.

The argument that foreigners are restricting opportunities for Indians is weak for several reasons. Firstly, the I-League was due to have 16 teams this year which would have meant many more Indian players at the top level and further expansion to 18 teams would have increased this effect. Teams outside the I-League have little to play for. The talented young Shillong Lajong FC players will spend this season playing in local tournaments against weak opposition, waiting for the AIFF to announce the limited game 2nd division that will probably not commence till the mercury hits 40. So the AIFF needs to think about improving the second division and state leagues if they are genuinely worried about Indian players not playing enough games, before restricting foreigners.

The top foreigners earn huge amounts of money that if invested in youth football would be of far greater benefit to Indian football in the long term. I suggest a foreigner tax, say 20% of all salary spent on foreigners should be spent on a clubs youth academy. This may also make clubs more cautious when signing foreigners and hopefully we will see less of the average foreign players that seem to play only due to the fact they are foreign and earning a higher wage rather than their ability.

What is the point of having PIO's (Players of Indian Origin)?
Most I-League clubs did not recruit PIO players so restricting them makes very little difference to the league. We are not foreign mercenaries sending our cash home with no interest in the development of the game in India. I took a massive pay cut to play for Viva Kerala in India and found in Kerala, a thriving football culture that desperately needs some outside influences to take it to the next level.

Had Bob Houghton expressed any interest, I would have instantly applied for Indian nationality and I'm sure better and younger PIO's in the future would do the same and hopefully improve the national team.
I also received some media attention in England that has contributed to an increased awareness of the I-League back in the UK.

With regard to India's fascination with all things foreign, I offer no explanation except that such diffidence will evaporate as India's economic might grows. When foreign players arrived at Viva Kerala, there were always reporters and a TV camera but if an Indian arrived there was little interest. I can only commend Dempo coach Armando Colaco for not signing a third foreigner unnecessarily last season.

Finally, some highly paid foreigners have fallen in love with India and given something back. As reported in the media, Brazilians Jose Ramirez Barreto and Roberto Mendes Silva, better known as Beto, launched their own football Academy in Goa so the AIFF should think carefully when making decisions on foreigners.