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Kamis, 31 Maret 2011

Plot to blow up Borussia Dortmund's Stadium

A scary story came out of Dortmund yesterday. Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) informed the public that it had thwarted a possible bomb attack against Bundesliga league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Three suspicious objects containing explosive substances were found around the clubs stadium, the Signal Iduna Park. They were subsequently made safe by the authorities.

The police announcement came following the arrest on Tuesday of a 25-year-old man of German nationality at a hotel in Cologne, which is about 100 kilometres south of Dortmund. The suspect told investigators he had planted the devices near the club's stadium.

A police spokesman said, "We can confirm that investigations relating to suspect explosive devices are under way in North-Rhine Westphalia. During a search around the Signal Iduna Park, three suspect explosive devices were discovered and diffused or made safe."

"Investigations into their functionality as well as the potential use of the discovered chemicals are continuing. Preliminary indications, however, do not point towards an acute threat to the public," the spokesman added.

On Saturday Borussia Dortmund are hosting third placed Hannover 96 in a top league clash with the 80,720 capacity stadium already sold out. The head of board of Borussia Dortmund Hans-Joachim Watzke has said security would be enhanced at Saturday's game. If the game itself was the target of a possible attack or if the suspect only wanted to blackmail the security forces is unknown at the moment.

Little is known about the suspect at the moment, but there is said to be no links to terrorism of any kind, which is the security forces biggest worry.

Me writing about Cricket

Those of you who follow not only my blog, but also my updates on Facebook & Twitter will have seen that I have written a number of articles about Cricket over the last few days, actually it has been weeks now since the start of the Cricket World Cup.

I have written and reported about many different topics and issues over the years, but it has been mainly football centric. So the last few weeks have been a new world for someone born and brought-up in Germany as here you don't really follow cricket in continental Europe. And as a journalist you have to have enough background information to be able to write about a topic, at least this is the way we were thought journalism but isn't always followed these days...

Plus I have been learning more and more about cricket which has also meant that I can now better understand the Indian psyche when it comes to the love for cricket. In my opinion it has a lot to do with media coverage, which often over the last few weeks has been close to overkill but also peer/public pressure to follow the topic of the moment.

The Cricket World Cup has been on for nearly six weeks, but only in the last 10 days there has been a real interest and the absolute climax was yesterday's India vs Pakistan match. And the positives from this match are for all to see as sports was at the centre of everything, which could help reduce tensions between these two neighbours. But I question if the interest is as big and real as all these reactions make us all think. If India had been eliminated earlier would all this interest be there? As example in 2007 at the World Cup exit many said, I'm no longer interested in cricket.

More topics for write-ups about cricket, which will go on over the weekend. But no worries football will remain my first love and the topic about which I will keep on writing...


Here some links to my write-ups

- FAZ article: Kricket-WM: Das Duell der Duelle (in German language)

- DW article: South Asian teams dominate 2011 Cricket World Cup

- DW article: 2011 Cricket World Cup – group stage


To follow my thoughts, write-ups & journey's

Follow me on Facebook: Arunava Chaudhuri Fanpage

Follow me on Twitter: @Arunfoot

Rabu, 30 Maret 2011

I-League Division 2: Who will get into the final round?

The second Division of the I-League is set to kick-off tomorrow Thursday, March 31 with matches in Group A and C, while Group B would kick-off on Saturday, April 2. 21 teams will be seen in action in the preliminary stage with two teams from each group making it to the final round where Sporting Clube de Goa and Shillong Lajong FC will be waiting to find the two sides who will get promoted to the I-League proper.

It has been difficult over the last few days to gather information on all participating sides, but still lets have a look at the three groups and the seven teams set to face each other.


Group A - Guwahati (Assam)
NISA (Manipur), United Sikkim FC (Sikkim), Langsning FC (Meghalaya), Guwahati Town Club (Assam), Southern Samity (West Bengal), Golden Threads FC (Kerala), Simla Youngs FC (Delhi)

Group A matches will be played at the Nehru Stadium and SAI ground in the Assamese capital Guwahati which looks even though Kolkata's Southern Samity and Baichung Bhutia's side United Sikkim FC being my favourites to go through with teams like Simla Youngs, Golden Threads and Guwahati Town Club potential threats but Langsning and NISA are there just to make up numbers.

I recently saw the Kolkata side in action. Southern Samity have seasoned foreigners in Edmilson, Majek Bolaji and Michael Tayo besides other players like Chandan Das, P.T. Somy, Gurpreet Singh, Amit Singha Roy who all have I-League experience besides talented youngsters like Francis Xavier. They look a settled sides under Brazilian coach Carlos Pereira da Silva and have shown in the Calcutta Premier League as well as the ongoing IFA Shield that they are a team with potential.

I have been following United Sikkim's training for weeks and see the team slowly settle down after the new professional USFC was started in early-February. Baichung has used his links to bring in seasoned players like Manju, M. Suresh, Kalia Kulothungan and Bijen Singh besides making his friend Renedy Singh the captain, but he will miss the qualifiers due to an injury. The team also has good foreigners in Mituski Ichihara and John D. Menyongar with Baichung even maybe playing if he has regained a basic level of fitness.

The other five teams are difficult to judge with little infos available on them. Guwahati Town Club could use the home advantage to their favour, while Simla Youngs FC where a late entrant into the league due to a late clearance.


Group B - Jamshedpur (Jharkhand)
Mohammedan Sporting Club (West Bengal), Denzong Boyz (Sikkim), Josco FC (Kerala), Kenkre FC (Maharashtra), Sesa Football Academy (Goa), Malabar United FC (Kerala), Ar-Hima FC (Meghalaya)

There was a late venue change from the state capital Ranchi to the industrial city of Jamshedpur with the JRD Tata Sports complex now hosting the Group B qualifiers. On paper this is the strongest of all groups with Mohammedan Sporting, Sesa Football Academy and Malabar United all having played in last years 2nd Division. Mohammedan Sporting are my top favourites after I have seen them play under their new coach Tope Fuja, who has won three trophies with the team and installed confidence in the boys. Besides Sesa Football Academy and Malabar United, Mumbai's Kenkre FC could be a top two candidate but the lack of experience at this level might be a problem with Josco FC rather unknown and the Northeastern sides of Ar-Hima FC and Denzong Boyz unlikely to play a role in this group.


Group C - Madurai (Tamil Nadu)
Techno Aryan Club (West Bengal), Vasco SC (Goa), Chandni FC (Kerala), Royal Wahingdoh SC (Meghalaya), Eagles FC (Kerala), PIFA Colaba FC (Maharashtra), BEML (EM) (Karnataka)

Group C could be the most unpredictable if Aryan Club and Vasco SC aren't able to stamp their authority on the Group C which will be played in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Vasco will try to get back into the I-league while Aryan's are a club with big history, but it is their first attempt in the second Division. Vasco have been having problems for the last few years, but the people's club from the port town in Goa remain a team with a lot of potential, but their best years seem behind them.

After the convincing campaign in the Calcutta Premier League in which they remained unbeaten and defeated all the cities top sides they have developed as a squad under seasoned coach Raghu Nandy. It is mainly a young team with good foreigners and some players who have played for the big Kolkata sides.

2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India face the UAE

The draw for the first and second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was carried out today at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Unlike last time India has been given a first round bye, but in Round 2 they will have to face the United Arab Emirates first away in the UAE on July 23 and then at home on July 28.

A tough fixture for India to take on the UAE, who are currently 111th in the FIFA World rankings. In their last friendly in November 2010 the UAE had trashed India 5-0, but there are good memories for India as they had beaten the UAE on April 8, 2001 in Bangalore 1-0 in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier, but draws against Yemen halted India's progress.

One will have to see if Bob Houghton will be still India coach in July, but if he is then Bob will bring back some of the senior players that he rested in last weeks 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers plus keep some of the younger players.

Coming to the qualifiers, the 16 lowest ranked teams – based on their record at the qualification campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – were paired off to play home and away matches with the winners advancing to Round 2. Then the eight winners from Round 1 will join 22 higher ranked teams where the teams were paired off for home-and-away matches on July 23 and 28.

Before the 15 winners from the second round will join the top five direct entrants (Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, Bahrain) in the third round where they will be divided into five groups of four teams each.


2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – Asian Qualifiers

Round 1
Malaysia vs. Chinese Taipei
Bangladesh vs. Pakistan
Cambodia vs. Laos
Sri Lanka vs. Philippines
Afghanistan vs. Palestine
Vietnam vs. Macau
Nepal vs. Timor Leste
Mongolia vs. Myanmar

First leg, June 29
Second leg, July 3

Round 2
Thailand vs. Afghanistan/Palestine
Lebanon vs. Bangladesh/Pakistan
China vs. Cambodia/Laos
Turkmenistan vs. Indonesia
Kuwait vs. Sri Lanka/Philippines
Oman vs. Mongolia/Myanmar
Saudi Arabia vs. Hong Kong
Iran vs. Maldives
Syria vs. Tajikistan
Qatar vs. Vietnam/Macau
Iraq vs. Yemen
Singapore vs. Malaysia/Chinese Taipei
Uzbekistan vs. Kyrgyzstan
UAE vs. India
Jordan s. Nepal/Timor Leste

First leg, July 23
Second leg, July 28

Round 3
September 2, September 6, October 11, November 11, November 15, 2011; February 29, 2012

Round 4
June 3, June 8, June 12, September 11, October 16, November 14, 2012; March 26, June 4, June 11, June 18, 2013

Round 5 (AFC playoff)
September 6 and September 10, 2013

Round 6 (Inter-continental playoff)
October 15 and November 19, 2013

2012 Olympics Qualifiers: India face Qatar in Round 2

The draw for the second Round of Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympic men's football tournament was held today at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. And India have been given a tough draw as our side will have to face Gulf nation Qatar home-and-away on June 19 and June 23.

In the first round India had beaten neighbours Myanmar 3-2 on aggregate in a home-and-away tie. After a convincing 2-1 home win in Pune, India drew away to Myanmar in Yangoon one-all through a 90th minute strike from forward C.S. Sabeeth. But now a stronger opponent awaits the India Under-23 team. One hopes that the Indian Arrows boys with the exposure in international games and the I-League plus addition to the squad of some older boys will enable us to challenge Qatar. A win and moving into the group stage would be a big boast for Indian football.

Overall Asia has been allotted 3,5 slots for the 2012 London Olympics. The 12 winners from Round 2 will be divided into three groups of four teams each in the third round. Again, a home-and-away format from September 21, 2011, to March 14, 2012, will determine the winners who will represent the continent in the Olympics.

The three second-placed teams from the third round will clash in a playoff at a centralised venue from March 25 to 29, 2012, and the winners of this group will meet an African representatives for a berth at the Olympics.


2nd ROUND MATCH-UPS

Qatar vs. India
Iraq vs. Iran
Bahrain vs. Thailand
Australia vs. Yemen
Japan vs. Kuwait
Syria vs. Turkmenistan
North Korea vs. United Arab Emirates
South Korea vs. Jordan
Uzbekistan vs. Hong Kong
Saudi Arabia vs. Vietnam
China vs. Oman
Lebanon vs. Malaysia

India drawn in tough Asian U-19 & U-16 qualifiers

The Asian Football Confederation today held the draws for the Under-19 and Under-16 categories of their AFC Junior & Sub-Junior Championships 2012 at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. India have been given tough qualifiers in both age groups.

In the Under-19 category India have been drawn in Group C alongside Asian heavyweights Uzbekistan and Iran plus Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. In total 39 teams have been divided into two zones and separated in seven groups of six or five teams each. Each group will play one round league at a centralised venue and top two teams from each group will make it to the tournament proper, while the third best teams from each West and East zones will complete the 16-team line up of the 2012 finals.

The Group C in the Under-16 category into which India has been drawn into is also a difficult one with our boys having to face Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan. 40 teams were divided into two zones and separated in seven groups of six or five teams each. Each group will play one round league at a centralised venue and top two teams from each group will make it to the tournament proper, while the third best teams from each West and East zones will complete the 16-team line up of the 2012 finals.

Not easy for our Under-19 and Under-16 teams, but if you want to play in the Asian finals amongst the best you have to prove yourself against tough opposition. And with the youth development system being put in place by Bob Houghton and technical director Colin Toal the results will hopefully prove that we are developing our young talent.


AFC Under-19 Championship Qualifiers Groupings

Group A: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives
Group B: Bahrain, Jordan, Tajikistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bhutan
Group C: Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan
Group D: UAE, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon
Group E: South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Guam, Chinese Taipei
Group F: North Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos
Group G: Australia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Macau


AFC Under-16 Championship Qualifiers Groupings

Group A: Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Qatar, Palestine, Sri Lanka
Group B: UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives
Group C: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, India
Group D: Syria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Lebanon
Group E: North Korea, China, Timor Leste, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau
Group F: Japan, Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, Laos, South Korea, Cambodia
Group G: Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Guam

Selasa, 29 Maret 2011

Japan stars play for disaster victims

All of us have seen the terrible pictures of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan on March 11. This has also affected Japan's football as the J-league was stopped while international friendlies got cancelled. The idea came about to organise a charity match between the Japanese national team and a J-League Allstars XI which was played yesterday.

Through the match and other activities around the game the Japanese Football Association has been able to raise close to 15 Million Yen (around US$ 185,000). A sell-out crowd of 47,000 came to the Nagai Stadium in Osaka in support of the victims of the terrible natural disaster.

Japan had only a couple of month's back won a record fourth Asian Cup and their captain Makoto Hasebe said, "It was your support that gave us strength on the pitch. Now it is our turn to support you together with the rest of the world. Believing in the power of football, we will play our heart out."

Not only the Wolfsburg midfielder but numerous Japanese stars who now ply their trade in Europe like CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda came to Osaka in support of their countrymen amongst them also defender Yasuyuki Konno, a native of Miyagi prefecture, one of the badly hit areas on the Northeast coast.

Japan beat the J-League 'Team As One' 2-1, but that wasn't the prime reason for the game to take place. Before the game there a minute of silence and prayers in honour of those killed and injured.

In the game Yasuhito Endo gave Japan a 15th minute lead through a free kick and their lead was doubled by Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki only five minutes later for the Blue Samurai. They continued to control affairs in the second session, but former 44 year old superstar Kazuyoshi Miura, who still plays in the J-League, reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute.

But on this day it wasn't about the football, but about the support the beautiful game can give the people of Japan.

PIFA Colaba FC to play 2nd Division I-League

PIFA Colaba FC's senior team is getting ready to kick off its first season in the 2nd Division I-League later this week. PIFA Colaba FC has been placed in Group C which will play in Madurai to face the likes of Techno Aryan Club (West Bengal), Vasco SC (Goa), Chandni FC (Kerala), Royal Wahingdoh SC (Meghalaya), Eagles FC (Kerala), and BEML (EM) (Karnataka).

The PIFA management has decided to send a 21 player squad to Madurai with PIFA director Nirvan Shah as the teams coach and Sudhakar Rane as manager. But for PIFA their group is a tough one with Aryan Club and Vasco the favourites to go through.

PIFA Colaba FC was formed in the year 2006. It started in the MDFA Senior Division 2006/07. The team achieved promotion in their first year from 'Senior' to 'Super' in 2007/08. In the following season 2008/09 the team was promoted to the 'Elite' Division, which made it two consecutive promotions in 2 years. The team has successfully plied its trade in the 'Elite' Division ever since. In the 2010/11 season PIFA Colaba FC finished in the top 3 of the Maharashtra League, which gave them the rights for a place in the 2nd Division I-League.

PIFA Colaba FC also has an Under-19 team playing in the 'MDFA' 1st Division. The Under-19 team is currently sitting on top of the table in their group, while their Under-17 team enjoyed a fruitful season in the 'MDFA' 2nd Division as they remained unbeaten in their group.


PIFA Colaba FC

Goalkeepers
H. Meher, K. Sulegai, G. Kanojia

Defenders
C. Garrett, V. Asuquo, D. D'Souza, A. Mathew, S. Shinde, D. Meher, S. Kawde

Midfielders
C. Godspower, A. Bhoir, D. Kachru, G. Kamath, K. Chandra, M.Saha, N. Munde

Forwards
N. Swamy, S. Cruz, G. Udo, P. Khati

Senin, 28 Maret 2011

IFA Shield: Churchill Bros, Mohun Bagan win; now in final

The semifinals of the 115th IFA Shield were played yesterday at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata with Churchill Brother SC taking on Shillong Lajong FC; while Mohun Bagan AC took on local rivals Southern Samity. Churchill Brothers beat the Northeastern side, while Mohun Bagan on the centenary of their first IFA Shield triumph have also made it to the final, which also happens to be a rematch of last years finale which the Goans had won 2-0. The final will be played on March 31.


1st Semifinal
Churchill Brothers SC 2-0 (1-0) Shillong Lajong FC - Goals: 1-0,2-0 Israil Gurung (9',90+').
Young Israil Gurung was the hero for Churchill Brothers SC as the former Sesa Football Academy player scored both the goals for his side in their 2-0 win against Shillong Lajong FC. The Goans where the better of the two sides on display with Israil Gurung giving them an early 9th minute lead and he ensured the win with his teams second in injury time.

2nd Semifinal
Mohun Bagan AC 2-1 (1-1) Southern Samity - Goals: 0-1 Edmilson Marques Pardal (8'), 1-1 Chidi Edeh (43'), 2-1 Ashim Biswas (80').
Mohun Bagan AC overcame a fighting Southern Samity 2-1 to make it to the finals of the 115th IFA Shield. But early on Brazilian Edmilson gave newcomers Southern Samity a shock eighth minute lead still Mohun Bagan found the equaliser before the break through a Chidi Edeh header. The green-and-maroon kept up the pressure on Southern Samity and their goalkeeper Amit Singha Roy fumbled in the 80th minute allowing Ashim Biswas to slot home.

VIDEO: Keeper Rogério Ceni scores 100th goal!

The 38 year old Rogério Ceni scored his 100th goal off a free kick for his club FC Sao Paolo against archrivals Corinthians in a 2-1 win. The former Brazil international Ceni scored the winner and became the first-ever goalkeeper to score a 100 goals - 56 of which came from free kicks and other 44 of penalties.

"It was beautiful," said Ceni, who was Brazil's third goalkeeper when they won the 2002 FIFA World Cup. "As a goalkeeper you don't enter the match thinking about scoring a goal, but it happened just as I wanted: with a free kick, deciding an important match. For me, it doesn't matter that it was against Corinthians, but for the fans it must have been important."


Here the free kick goal & celebrations afterwards:



Minggu, 27 Maret 2011

4-0? Still German fans unhappy

Germany yesterday won their 2012 European Championship Group A qualifier against lowly Kazakhstan 4-0 at the Fritz-Walter Stadium, now have 15 points from five matches and moved closer to qualification for the finals, but the German fans weren't happy with the teams performance in the second session which led to booing and signs of dissent.

Before the match coach Joachim Loew had called on his team to entertain the crowds against their opponents from the former central Soviet republic, who are 132nd in the latest FIFA world rankings. Loew didn't worry about the strengths of the Kazakhs, but asked his team to concentrate on their own game and play football.

And his team did just that in the first session. Miroslav Klose scored in only the 3rd minute with Thomas Mueller adding two more in the 25th minute and just before half time both off passes from Mesut Oezil, and the team could have scored a few more.

But after the break Germany became complacent with Kazakhstan even having a couple of good chances which had to be stopped by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. The longer the half lasted the more German fans showed their frustration against their own team. Still Klose added a fourth just before the end to score his 61st goal for Germany, but the fans booed at the end of the game.

This wasn't to the liking of Loew and his team, who all when asked by the media about the fan discontent said; Germany lead their group comfortably - 15 points, 17-1 goals, a 4-0 win against a lowly opponent - they asked, what do they want more?

This shows that after a great 2010 FIFA World Cup and comfortable wins in the qualifiers so far the expectations have grown. German fans expect more from their team then just simple wins...

Sabtu, 26 Maret 2011

AIFF show cause Bob Houghton

It was a good week for Indian football when the newly formed Indian national team qualified without any real problems for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, but now it could become sour as it has become public that the AIFF yesterday mailed their coach Bob Houghton a show cause notice, which Bob would get in person once he returns to Goa later today.

Three key points have been mentioned in the letter due to which the show cause notice has been send out. The first one is alleged racial abuse against Indian referee Dinesh Nair, who was the fourth official in the India vs Yemen international friendly last October in Pune. After the game Nair alleged that Houghton had referred him as a 'Bastard Indian Referee' and therefore lodged an official complaint with the match commissioner. In the meanwhile the national team has send in a signed letter to the AIFF in support of Bob and against the allegations of Dinesh Nair.

Point two is India's poor performance in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and in earlier international friendlies in September/October 2010. India conceded 13 goals against Australia, Bahrain and South Korea in Qatar; which according to the AIFF Technical & Executive Committees isn't acceptable especially due to the high cost involved in the teams preparations.

The third point mentioned is the open criticism by Bob Houghton against the AIFF in the national and especially international media before and during the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. The lack of infrastructure and professionalism in administration where the main points mentioned by Bob why Indian football hasn't developed over the years. And it seems the AIFF isn't happy about its deficiencies being exposed openly around the world.

Now Bob Houghton has been asked to appear infront of an four member AIFF committee on April 11 to present his own case and depending on the answers the federation would take a decision to dismiss or retain him until the end of his contract in 2013.

The writing is on the wall, the AIFF is taking the next step to try and dismiss their coach just after a successful qualification campaign. Surely one can discuss the third point of open criticism, but when you get a coach like Bob you should know that he is open, direct and honest in his views, while the first two points normally hold no ground.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming two/three weeks...

Jumat, 25 Maret 2011

Kenkre's 'Coach the Coaches' course

Mumbai's Kenkre Football Club will organise a 'Coach the Coaches' course with renowned youth coaches instructor Horst Wein from April 22 to 24 at their Goans Sports Ground facility in Churchgate. The course is open to youth coaches from across India, who would have to pay a course fee of Rs. 4,000 which includes coaching material, books, CD's and more. The participants would get a course certificate at the end and as there are limited number of seats, the course is on a first come, first serve basis.

The main theme of the course will be 'Game Intelligence' something which Horst Wein has been preaching around the world as he says developing game intelligence in children is crucial to make them better football players. A key element in modern day football with the game getting more and more complex.

German Horst Wein, now based in Barcelona, has been involved in recycling the knowledge of football coaches in over 54 countries around the world. He has been involved in working with some of the world's biggest clubs including FC Barcelona, FC Arsenal, Inter Milan, Club de America (Mexico), FC Schalke 04, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Villarreal, etc.

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.

This would be Horst's second visit to India after visiting the Kenkre Football Academy in November last year, where Horst got a first hand feel of youth football in India and Kenkre got to see what Horst's methods are all about. It is surely a useful course for coaches willing to learn more on how to train kids!

65th Santosh Trophy in Assam in May 2011

The 65th edition of the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy will be held across Assam from May 6 to 30. Record champions West Bengal are the defending champions, who had won last years title at home against Punjab.

A total of 35 teams will be taking part in the championships this year. Last year's semifinals - West Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Goa - have been given a bye into the Quarterfinal League stage, while the other 31 sides would have to play the preliminary round cluster stage with only the top team moving on.

The Cluster round matches would be played from May 6 to 16 with the quarterfinal round games scheduled from May 17 to 24. The semifinals would be played on May 26/27, while the final has been slated for May 30.

The preliminary round clusters would be played across as the state as Assam FA secretary Ankur Datta had told me about a month back. The AFA plan was to use the Santosh Trophy to spread football awareness across the state and also allow football fans across the state watch the Santosh Trophy.

Cluster I and V matches would be played in Guwahati, Cluster II in Mangaldoi, Cluster III in Shiv Sagar, Cluster IV in Tinsukia, while Cluster VI in Nagaon, VIII in Bongaigaon and VIII in Kokrajhar.

With the I-League and the final round of the 2nd Division I-League running at the time of the Santosh Trophy no top level players will be seen in action, which could give the chance for new talent to showcase themselves.


Preliminary Round Clusters

Cluster 1: Assam, Pondicherry, Rajasthan
Cluster 2: Chhattisgarh, Daman&Diu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh
Cluster 3: Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Andaman&Nicobar
Cluster 4: Kerala, Jammu&Kashmir, Jharkhand, Chandigarh
Cluster 5: Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Services, Arunachal Pradesh
Cluster 6: Delhi, Nagaland, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh
Cluster 7: Mizoram, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura
Cluster 8: Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Railways, Sikkim

Experts from Wolverhampton visiting JCT

Two members of the Academy staff of English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers will be spending a week in India with the Wolves Community partner club, JCT FC in Punjab. The community-led relationship between I-League side JCT FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers was established in 2008 as part of the 'Wolverhampton-India' partnership with the help of the 'Punjabi Wolves' fanclub of the Wanderers. Since the partnership began between the two clubs, a number of exchange visits have been arranged.

In the latest the Wolves Academy head sports scientist John Iga and Academy physiotherapist Jaswant Sodhi have arrived in India to start special training programme, in which they will view JCT FC's facilities, share best practices and hold coaching sessions with the team and coaching staff.

In May 2008 JCT president Samir Thapar received Wolves CEO Jez Moxey; the First Team Coach Terry Connor, and Member of Parliament for Wolverhampthon, Pat McFadden. They toured JCT FC's then new training complex and football ground at Hoshiarpur before a specially arranged youth team training session was conducted by Terry Connor.

In 2009 a high-level delegation led by Samir Thapar went to Wolverhampton to work on the further plans of the partnership.

Similarly, in July 2010, five young players and a coach from JCT FC visited Wolverhampton and spent a week there for training with the Wolves Academy at the Compton Training Ground.

JCT President Samir Thapar expressing happiness said, "I am satisfied with the development of relationship between our two clubs. The annual visits from both sides have taken place in the spirit of planned community led partnership and knowledge sharing, making the relationship stronger with each interaction."

John Iga said, "I am really looking forward to the visit. It will be really interesting to see the differences in facilities and working practices between JCT and our own." He further added that, "Youth development is just as important to JCT as it is to us, and so we will be helping each other to improve the process as best as we can."

JCT coach Parminder Singh said, "It was really nice to work closely with experts when we visited Wolves Academy in Wolverhampton. With Wolves experts coming to India it would be a great learning experience for JCT team when they take practice sessions in our training ground."

AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: India draw, top the group

India held Turkmenistan to a one-all draw in their last Group B qualifier for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup at the MBJP Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. With today's draw both India and Turkmenistan finish on seven points, both have a goal difference of +5, but India scored a goal more so finish on top of the group; but both sides qualify for next years final.

As promised yesterday by Bob Houghton he made numerous changes to the starting eleven, bringing in seven new players with only Subrata Pal, Anwar, Syed Rahim Nabi and Jeje Lalpekhulua making a start from the team which faced Pakistan. Subrata led the team onto the field as captain for the first time, while for a number of youngsters it was the first-ever start for the senior national team.

The new formed Indian side needed time to settle down in a first half which both sides played cautiously with Turkmenistan having the better of the chances while Nabi had India's only real chance of the half. It remained goalless at the break.

The match heated up after the break as Turkmenistan were awarded a controversial penalty in the 50th minute. Raju Gaikwad brought down Begli Annageldiyev, but there was confusion if it was inside or outside the box with the assistant referee waving his flag immediately for a penalty with the India players protesting. It didn't help and Begli Annageldiyev himself took the spot kick and beat Subrata in goal. Again India were behind and once more the young side showed character as on the hour mark they equalised. And once more it was Jeje Lalpekhulua, who played a double pass with Joaquim Abranches before slotting home. It was the youngsters fourth goal in three matches, surely he was a key architect of India's passage to the AFC Challenge Cup finals. Towards the end both sides looked happy with the point as nothing except topping the group was at stake.

After the game a proud Bob Houghton said, "It was good tournament for us, I am very much pleased with the performance of the team. It was very nice to win the matches with youngster in the side. And today down by a goal, the boys once again showed a fighting spirit and came back in the match."


MATCH STATS

INDIA 1-1 (0-0) Turkmenistan - Goals: 0-1 Begli Annageldiyev (50', penalty), 1-1 Jeje Lalpekhulua (60')

INDIA: 1-Subrata Pal; 7-Denzil Michael Franco, 14-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 5-Anwar, 17-Nalappan Mohanraj; 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches, 15-Jewel Shaikh Raja, 16-Shilton Sydney D'Silva, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 10-C.S. Sabeeth, 12-Jeje Lalpekhulua
Substitutes: 13-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 31-Jagroop Singh, 2-Govin Moirangthem Singh, 3-Nanjangud Shivananju Manju, 4-Rakesh Masih, 6-Baldeep Singh, 8-Nirmal Chetri, 11-Sunil Chhetri, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 23-Steven Benedic Dias, 29-Jagpreet Singh
Not in Squad: 18-Chongtham Sushil Kumar Singh



Referee: Mohammed Nafeez Bin Abdul Wahab (Malaysia)
Asst Referees: Jakhongir Saidov (Uzbekistan), Mohammed Hanif Abdul Bin Rahman (Malaysia)
Fourth official: Viktor Serazitdinov (Uzbekistan)
Match Commissioner: Manirul Islam (Bangladesh)
Referee Assessor: Yazbeck Yazbeck (Lebanon)

Neuer doesn't want to move abroad

Germany's Manuel Neuer is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the world and surrounding his name there is a lot of speculation where he will play next season. Will he stay with FC Schalke 04, make a local German move to FC Bayern Munich or join English giants Manchester United? Loads of questions remain about his future.

Last Sunday Bayer 04 Leverkusen faced FC Schalke 04 which was also billed as the match-up of Germany goalkeepers Rene Adler vs Manuel Neuer. Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele was present to have a personal look at both keepers, who could be potential replacements for retiring Edwin van der Sar. Adler wasn't much tested, while Neuer once more had to show his class for his club in the Bundesliga.

But Neuer himself seems to favour to stay in Germany. He told German media yesterday, "I definitely want to win the Bundesliga once in my career! I can go abroad twice a year, once for a summer holiday and once for a winter holiday, but whether I need to go abroad to play football - some players say you do, but I see things differently."

This doesn't sound good for Manchester United, but it leaves the door open for Bayern Munich as Neuer isn't sure what development his home town club Schalke 04 will take in the future. Bayern Munich over the years surely will guarantee titles and regular UEFA Champions League football, but a number of Bayern fans are against the signing of Neuer, so Neuer is not sure if he should make the move south.

Meanwhile new Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has already said that Neuer is a key part of his plans at the royal blues. Rangnick told local magazine Reviersport, "One of the main tasks for the club will be to keep him (Neuer) at the club beyond the end of his current contract in June 2012."

We will track where Manuel Neuer plays next season...

Kamis, 24 Maret 2011

Klose achieves another milestone

Germany striker Miroslav Klose on this day 10 years ago made his international debut for Germany in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier as a substitute against Albania in Leverkusen. It was the start of a great international carrier with Klose even scoring the 2-1 winner to enable Germany to go on to qualify for Japan and South Korea.

Klose told German tabloid Bild this week about his debut then, "First cap, first goal, it was like a dream!"

Now it all comes a full cycle on Saturday as Klose will play his 107th international match against Kazakhstan in Kaiserslautern, the city for whose club 1.FC Kaiserslautern he started his professional career over a decade back. Later on he left for SV Werder Bremen and then for FC Bayern Munich to further his career.

And ten years later Miroslav Klose is not only one of Germany's best-ever strikers, but one of the countries top internationals. So far he has played 106 caps, scored 59 goals; only nine goals short of the all-time record of legendary Gerd Mueller. Klose also is now third in Germany's all-time international list behind Lothar Matthaeus (150 caps) and Juergen Klinsmann (108 caps).

But before retiring Klose has one aim left to overtake Gerd Mueller's record though he has said that he shouldn't be compared to someone like Gerd Mueller. He said today about his ambition, "Maybe it will work out at Euro (2012) next year. That is my aim." And the 2012 European Championships in Poland & Ukraine would be a very special tournament for Klose who happens to be of Polish origin.

But maybe Euro2012 might not be his final tournament after all as he might continue to play international football until the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Klose has scored 14 goals over three World Cups, joint second with Gerd Mueller only behind Brazilian Ronaldo who has a goal more. Maybe it is another milestone that Klose would like to achieve if he can break Gerd Mueller's record.

AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: A fight for top spot

India face Turkmenistan tomorrow in their final Group B match of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers at the MBJP Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. Both sides have won their two opening matches and have ensured passage to next years finals, but this match will be about who will top the group.

It has a been a good tournament for India so far. After a fluent 3-0 win against Chinese Taipei they were made to work hard by Pakistan in their 3-1 victory and the new Team India has been up to the task with especially young Jeje Lalpekhulua catching a lot of the attention scoring three goals in his first two internationals.

But Turkmenistan will be of a different calibre. Central Asian sides have a touch of Russian flair in their game and are physically strong, so this will be a different test for our boys. In the tournament so far Turkmenistan beat Pakistan 3-0 and Chinese Taipei 2-0.

India in the evening today held a training session at the University grounds in Kuala Lumpur to prepare for the game. Coach Bob Houghton is set to give some of his bench players a start in tomorrow's game. Bob confirmed that Subrata Pal, Anwar and Jeje Lalpekhulua will start while the other eight starting players from last game will be benched, so it will be a chance for the other players to show themselves in a match against a tough opponent.

Coming to speak about the last game Bob Houghton said, "It's good to have already qualified and it was always high on our agenda. We came here with the motive to mark a place in the final round."

"It does gives us the opportunity to play the younger boys tomorrow, which surely is exciting as they will probably be playing the best team of the three we played. It will be a real test for the young ones and it's always important to give them the right exposure and that’s why we brought them here. Also the fact that senior team has already won the two games allow us to make these changes tomorrow," he added.

Jeje came in for special praise from Bob Houghton, "We should congratulate Jeje for his performance here for scoring three goals in two matches on his debut for the National team. It's indeed a remarkable performance and to add to this, his four goals he scored in the last round match of the I-League, it makes seven goals in three games, which shows his superb goal scoring form."

Rabu, 23 Maret 2011

Artificial Clouds at Qatar World Cup?

The weirdest and craziest of idea's have been mentioned in connection with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, if the tournament is held in the hot Arabian summer. The latest idea to make headlines are artificial clouds which could give footballers and fans alike a cover from direct rays of the sun during matches.

The head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Qatar University, Dr. Saud Abdul Ghani, a few days ago unveiled a first design of the construction of an artificial cloud to shade and cool a football stadium during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If the project sees the day of light then it would be executed in collaboration with the Qatar Science and Technology Park.

Talking about the artificial cloud it would be made of 100 percent light carbonic materials, fuelled by four solar-powered engines and it would fly above venues to protect them from direct and indirect sun rays to reduce and control temperatures. Such an eco-friendly artificial cloud would be controlled by a remote.

Coming to talk about the price Dr. Saud Abdul Ghani said initially such an artificial cloud would cost US$ 500,000; but the price could come down with industrial production as such a product could be used in desert areas, beaches or car parks.

When I first read the story I was thinking, another one of those crazy ideas but if you think about it seriously forgetting the football aspect then it could be something which could help populations in regions with high intensity sun impact. But still I would continue to hope for a winter World Cup in Qatar.

AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: India score comeback win!

India scored a late 3-1 comeback win against neighbours Pakistan in a Group B qualifier for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup at the MBJP Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. India now have six points from two matches and have sealed their place in next years final, while Pakistan remain pointless.

An India vs Pakistan match-up in any sport promises to be an interesting game and this was too the case in today's football match though surely many will say it wouldn't be of the quality of a cricket or hockey match.

India coach Bob Houghton made one change in his line-up from the teams 3-0 win against Chinese Taipei on Monday. He replaced young Raju Gaikwad with experienced Anwar in defence, which meant Anwar came in as a central defender while Govin Singh moved into the right back position.

It was mainly India in the initial stages of the game as the Bhangra Boys were looking for an early breakthrough. But it didn't come rather on the contrary Pakistan took a surprise lead after the half hour mark through Arif Mehmood after an error by the Indian defence. It remained 0-1 for Pakistan at the break.

Pakistan was now fighting to hold onto this lead with India captain Sunil Chhetri having the first couple of chances after the break. The pressure was growing and young Jeje Lalpekhulua got a deserving equaliser in the 67th minute off a Syed Rahim Nabi pass from the left. But it wasn't over yet as India continued to press for the winner, while Pakistan did try the odd counter attack. India took the lead on the stroke of full time through a curled freekick from winger Steven Benedic Dias, while a second from Jeje Lalpekhulua deep into injury time sealed the game in favour of India.

Bob Houghton's boys showed character today by coming back from a goal down against a tricky opponent, who defensively stood very well. But India had the momentum from their win against Chinese Taipei on their side and these boys have all matured in various national teams over the years.

After the game Bob Houghton said, "The result tells that we dominated the match. The team has always shown great character to come back and always carry the fighting spirit. But we missed easy chances today, also we hit the woodwork on couple of occasions. We should also have two penalties through handballs on the goalline."

Man of the moment young striker Jeje Lalpekhulua said, "It is an amazing experience to play in the senior national team. It was good to win and everyone contributed equally. The goals came because of everyone's hard work and effort. It would be unfair to single any one person out. It is also an amazing feeling to play with Sunil Chhetri! He really gives me confidence."

In the days other match Turkmenistan beat Chinese Taipei 2-0, which means that India and Turkmenistan are through to next years finals of the AFC Challenge Cup. These two sides would now meet on Friday to decide the group winner.


MATCH STATS

INDIA 3-1 (0-1) Pakistan - Goals: 0-1 Arif Mehmood (34'), 1-1,3-1 Jeje Lalpekhulua (67',90+4'), 2-1 Steven Benedic Dias (90')

INDIA: 1-Subrata Pal; 2-Govin Moirangthem Singh (46' 7-Denzil Michael Franco), 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 5-Anwar, 3-Nanjangud Shivananju Manju; 23-Steven Benedic Dias (90+3' 14-Raju Eknath Gaikwad), 4-Rakesh Masih, 29-Jagpreet Singh (66' 16-Shilton Sydney D'Silva), 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 11-Sunil Chhetri [C], 12-Jeje Lalpekhulua
Substitutes: 13-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 6-Baldeep Singh, 8-Nirmal Chetri, 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches, 10-C.S. Sabeeth, 15-Jewel Shaikh Raja, 17-Nalappan Mohanraj
Not in Squad: 31-Jagroop Singh, 18-Chongtham Sushil Kumar Singh


PAKISTAN: 13-Faisal Iqbal; 2-Zeshan Rehman, 5-Samar Ishaq, 3-Manzoor Ahmad, 16-Muhammad Adil, 22-Syed Arif Hussain, 6-Adnan Farooq Ahmed, 4-Atif Bashir Qureshi, 10-Arif Mehmood, 7-Muhammad Qasim
Substitutes: 1-Muhammad Umer, 8-Nasrullah Khan, 9-Muhammad Rizwan Asif, 11- Abdul Aziz, 12-Imran Niazi, 14-Alamgir Khan, 17-Mahmood Khan, 19-Kashif Mumtaz Siddiqi, 20-Pathan Jadeed Khan, 21-Kaleemullah


Referee: Mohammed Salem Abdullah Alrshaidat (Jordan)
Asst Referees: Mohammed Hanif Abdul Bin Rahman (Malaysia), Waleed A.R.A. Abhushish (Jordan)
Fourth official: Mohammed Nafeez Bin Abdul Wahab (Malaysia)
Match Commissioner: Manirul Islam (Bangladesh)
Referee Assessor: Yazbeck Yazbeck (Lebanon)

United Sikkim FC launched in new avatar

United Sikkim Football Club (formerly United Sikkim Sporting Club) was relaunched yesterday at Kolkata's Taj Bengal hotel announcing the squad for the 2nd Division I-League along with the launch of the new club logo which has been designed by Philippe de Ridder.

"As a national player for over a decade (more than 15 years), I had a dream to own a football club. I see it fulfilled today. It's a historic day. I wish to make United Sikkim a big name in India," said Indian football icon Baichung Bhutia yesterday.

A strong team has been put together for the 2nd Division I-League with internationals like Renedy Singh and N.S. Manju in the squad plus seasoned pros on the Indian circuit like M. Suresh, Kalia Kulothungan, Bijen Singh and Jiten Rai, young talents and some good foreigners in Japanese defender Mituski Ichihara and Liberian attacking player John D. Menyongar.

The owners of the now professional club were also named. The majority stakeholder is Dubai-based FidelisWorld, while Baichung Bhutia and musical maestro Shankar Mahadevan are other joint owners of the club. Baichung also tried to bring Bollywood star John Abraham on board, but that hasn't worked out.

Mahadevan of the Shankar-Ehsan-Loy musical fame, who composed the popular World Cup theme song 'De Ghuma Ke' said he wanted to compose something different for the club. Mahadevan said, "I am composing a song for the team. I hope it will be as popular as my previous songs."


The Facebook fanpage of United Sikkim FC .


UNITED SIKKIM FC

Goalkeepers
Debjit Majumdar, Sukhdeb Ghosh, Tashi Tseten Bhutia

Defenders
Nanjangud Shivananju Manju, Mituski Ichihara, Muttath Suresh, Bijoy Das, V. Prem Kumar, Tanmoy Ghosh, Sumit Thapa, Pranesh Dewan, Sagar Rai

Midfielders
Potsangbam Renedy Singh, John D. Menyongar, APD Carvalho (Beto), Kalia Kulothungan, Beikhokhei Beingaichho, Lalrinfela, Martin Louis Joseph Daniel, Jiten Rai, Nim Tshering Lepcha, Pradip Hembrom, Mayal Dok Lepcha

Forwards
Baichung Bhutia, Joseph Lapira, Mutum Bijen Singh, Budhiram Tudu, Tenzing Tsephel Bhutia

Officials
Stanley Rozario (Chief Coach), Satyabrata Bhowmick (Assistant Coach), Arjun Rai (Manager)

Selasa, 22 Maret 2011

Coach Roulette in the Bundesliga

German football is experiencing something which it has never ever seen before. The clubs are in a hire-and-fire mode with even established clubs joining the mayhem which is resulting in coaches being exchanged like never before likewise the news is out this month on coaches leaving or forced to leave at the end of the season.

Veteran coach Jupp Heynckes had said before the weekends matches, "At the moment, the Bundesliga is a madhouse. The average football fan has trouble understanding it."

Now yesterday Heynckes himself became part of this carousel for coaches by announcing that he would not extend his contract with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. This meant Bayer 04 where now searching for a replacement and they found that in Freiburg in Robin Dutt, who is leaving them with a year still left on his contract and the reserve team coach Marcus Sorg will replace him. In Leverkusen Heynckes left it open if he would retire or return to his former club FC Bayern Munich.

At Bayern Munich things looked fine with coach Louis van Gaal after the club won the double and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League last season, but this term things weren't working out with the club having problems in league. For Bayern reaching the Champions League is a must and once it became clear that this aim was in danger the club was on the verge of firing van Gaal. They in the end didn't but decided it was time to part ways at the end of the season. And Bayern wanted former coach Heynckes as the replacement though rumours have said that the club has also shown interest in Germany coach Joachim Loew before he signed an extension, German technical director Matthias Sammer, Turkey coach Guus Hiddink, while in England the rumour has made rounds about former Bayern player and current Fulham boss Mark Hughes coming to the Saebener Strasse.

Elsewhere at FC Schalke 04 things looked similar in the summer. The Ruhr club finished second, Champions League football guaranteed, all looked fine for the royal blues. But Magath like he has done at earlier clubs started to rebuild the squad by buying and selling numerous players. But one of the main strengths of Schalke is the identification of the fans with the club. That was getting lost with Magath even on the board of the club. The club had reached the German Cup final and the last eight of the Champions League, but in the Bundesliga the results weren't good. The club was looking for reasons, so the many transfers and discrepencies there seemed to be the route out. A board meeting was conviened and out was Magath.

But not even 48 hours later Magath was back in the Bundesliga. His former club VfL Wolfsburg are fighting against relegation with a squad which cost owners Volkswagen tens of millions. The experiment with the first English coach in the Bundesliga in Steve McClaren failed and his assistant Pierre Littbarski also couldn't turn things around, so in a desparate attempt the VW bosses got in touch with Magath and suddenly he was back with most of the powers he had when he left the club in 2009 as Bundesliga champions.

Schalke 04 have since named former coach Ralf Rangnick as the new coach, who had left the club due to differences with the board in 2005 and the same people are still in charge. Rangnick meanwhile had left 1899 Hoffenheim in the first few days of the year in mutual consent. Hoffenheim supremo Dietmar Hopp and manager Ernst Tanner had sold a player without the okay from the coach, then his assistant Marco Pezzaiuoli took over.

The same happened at Hamburger SV about 10 days back when Armin Veh was fired after a 0-6 trashing against Bayern Munich. It had been decided that Veh would leave the club at the end of the season, but events on the field forced the club to act swiftly and they promoted Veh's assistant Michael Oenning to the top job. Oenning has until the end of the season to prove himself, if he can convince the management then he might get an extension. But in all this turmoil the club also lost their managing director Bernd Hoffmann, who had to leave the club too; while the search for a director of sports had been a topic for close to 20 months but there the club found an answer in Frank Arnesen.

And today the mayhem continued with Eintracht Frankfurt firing their coach Michael Skibbe and seasoned Christoph Daum is set to take over. What makes this firing even more bizarre is the fact that Frankfurt won their match against FC St. Pauli over the weekend. While over a month back bottom of the table Borussia Moenchengladbach had already fired Michael Frontzeck and brought in Swiss coach Lucien Favre, but still they are bottom of the league.

Luckily this week there is an international break, so the fans can check who is actually coaching which club. And one never knows more might be in store for us...

AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: India face Pakistan tomorrow

After their opening day 3-0 win against Chinese Taipei, India will be facing neighbours Pakistan tomorrow in their second Group B match of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers at the MBJP Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia.

In any sport an India vs Pakistan contest is an interesting match-up, but if the young Indian team can maintain their level of commitment, their game and scoring then the match against Pakistan should pave the way for qualification for the final round of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. Surely Pakistan can fall back on their English born players still overall as a team India is much more mature these days with the senior players showing the way and they should avoid of making the match a contest. Then a derby as we all know could go either way.

India held a training session at the University grounds in Kuala Lumpur today to prepare for the game. Coach Bob Houghton is set to field the same eleven who started against Chinese Taipei, so he would hope for a repeat of what happened yesterday.

Coach Bob Houghton is in a positive frame of mind about the next game saying, "The boys are in good spirit after winning the first game. It is always good to start with a win. The second game is equally important for us and we will need to win against Pakistan tomorrow."

And he added, "A win will virtually guarantee a place in the finals of the championship which remains high on the agenda for us. A win tomorrow will put us in a better position and there wouldn't be pressure on us in the third game as well as it will give a chance to try out some of our younger players."

Striker Sunil Chhetri, who made a successful start as India's new captain, said, "The Pakistan match is indeed important for us. We are taking it like any other match and will hope to garner three points to secure ourselves."

A Pakistan Football Federation official meanwhile told Pakistani news agency APP, "We have idea about India's strengths. They were among top 16 teams of Asia during Qatar's event last January. A big win is required for Pakistan football and the players are motivated to do that. All the boys are fit for the crucial showdown against arch rivals."


INDIA (likely Starting XI)

1-Subrata Pal; 14-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 2-Govin Moirangthem Singh, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 3-Nanjangud Shivananju Manju; 23-Steven Benedic Dias, 4-Rakesh Masih, 29-Jagpreet Singh, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 11-Sunil Chhetri [C], 12-Jeje Lalpekhulua

VIDEO: Trans World Sport feature on Indian Arrows

I wanted to share with you all a feature that has been shot by Trans World Sport (IMG Media) about the Indian Arrows (formerly AIFF XI, the India Under-20 team).

A really interesting piece to watch with some nice insights!




I-League Division 2: Group A fixtures revised

The AIFF has released the revised fixtures of the preliminary Group A. The Group A matches were supposed to be played from March 27 to April 9 in Guwahati, but they have now been changed to March 31 to April 12.

The original match dates had kept the state elections in Assam on April 4 & 11 in mind, but with elections in the state capital Guwahati only on April 11 the qualifiers where supposed to be finished before that day. Now the dates have been changed with the elections sandwiched between two match days. One of the reasons could be the chance of Southern Samity to make it to the semifinals and final of the IFA Shield which will be played on March 28 and 31.


I-League Division 2 - Groups A fixtures

Group A - Guwahati (Assam)
NISA (Manipur), United Sikkim FC (Sikkim), Langsning FC (Meghalaya), Guwahati Town Club (Assam), Southern Samity (West Bengal), Golden Threads FC (Kerala), Simla Youngs FC (Delhi)

Round I
31/03/11: NISA - Golden Threads FC
31/03/11: Simla Youngs FC - Guwahati Town Club
31/03/11: Langsning FC - United Sikkim FC

Round II
02/04/11: Golden Threads FC - Langsning FC
02/04/11: Guwahati Town Club - NISA
02/04/11: Southern Samilty - Simla Youngs FC

Round III
04/04/11: United Sikkim FC - NISA
04/04/11: Golden Threads FC - Simla Youngs FC
04/04/11: Guwahati Town Club - Southern Samity

Round IV
06/04/11: Langsning FC - Simla Youngs FC
06/04/11: United Sikkim FC - Southern Samity
06/04/11: Golden Threads FC - Guwahati Town Club

Round V
08/04/11: NISA - Southern Samity
08/04/11: Langsning FC - Guwahati Town Club
08/04/11: United Sikkim FC - Golden Threads FC

Round VI
10/04/11: Guwahati Town Club - United Sikkim FC
10/04/11: Southern Samity - Langsning FC
10/04/11: Simla Youngs FC - NISA

Round VII
12/04/11: Southern Samity - Golden Threads FC
12/04/11: Simla Youngs FC - United Sikkim FC
12/04/11: NISA - Langsning FC

Senin, 21 Maret 2011

AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: India start in style!

The Bob Houghton coached newly formed Indian senior national team started their AFC Challenge Cup Group B qualification campaign on a winning note. The Bhangra Boys beat Chinese Taipei 3-0 at the MBPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya outside of Kuala Lumpur with goals from Jeje Lalpekhulua, captain Sunil Chhetri and substitute Shaikh Jewel Raja to earn their first three points of the competition.

There were fears if the newly put together squad could perform after an only five day camp, but the young experimental side delivered. The pressure was on experienced Subrata Pal, Gouramangi Singh, N.S. Manju, Steven Dias, Syed Rahim Nabi and captain Sunil Chhetri to lead a young team; while Govin Singh, Rakesh Masih and Jagpreet Singh had to prove what they have learned under Bob over the last few years while debutants Raju Eknath Gaikwad and Jeje Lalpekhulua have been showing for the Indian Arrows in the I-League that they are talents to look forward to.

India started off the game with a positive frame of mind against a Chinese Taipei, who had problems especially with our wingers Nabi and Steven Dias, while Rakesh Masih and Jagpreet where more content in holding the ball in midfield and blocking the opponents.

India where the dominant side in the first session, but only had one goal to their name. Jeje Lalpekhulua took his Indian Arrows and Under-23 national team form into his debut for the senior side as he gave his side a 32nd minute lead off a Steven Dias cross which Sunil Chhetri headed on.

It initally looked a more even game after the break, but India once again had more of the exchanges and doubled their lead in the 76th minute through a strike from new captain Sunil Chhetri off a pass from Jeje. The third and final goal came from a long range effort by substitute Shaikh Jewel Raja off a pass from Sunil Chhetri in the 86th minute.

After the match coach Bob Houghton said, "It was good game for us. Some young boys made their debut and fared pretty well. Jagpreet and Rakesh had a good game in the midfield and did very well. Chhetri too had a great game and playing his first game as captain scored a goal. He also paved the way for other goals."

In the groups other match of the day Turkmenistan won 3-0 against Pakistan. This means after match day one India and Turkmenistan lead the group with three points each.


MATCH STATS

INDIA 3-0 (1-0) Chinese Taipei - Goals: 1-0 Jeje Lalpekhulua (32'), 2-0 Sunil Chhetri (76'), 3-0 Shaikh Jewel Raja (88')

INDIA: 1-Subrata Pal; 2-Govin Moirangthem Singh, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 14-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 3-Nanjangud Shivananju Manju (70' 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches); 23-Steven Benedic Dias (72' 15-Jewel Shaikh Raja), 4-Rakesh Masih (85' 16-Shilton Sydney D'Silva), 29-Jagpreet Singh, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 11-Sunil Chhetri [C], 12-Jeje Lalpekhulua
Substitutes: 13-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 5-Anwar, 7-Denzil Michael Franco, 8-Nirmal Chetri, 10-C.S. Sabeeth, 17-Nalappan Mohanraj
Not in Squad: 31-Jagroop Singh, 6-Baldeep Singh, 18-Chongtham Sushil Kumar Singh


Referee: Mohammed Nafeez Bin Abdul Wahab (Malaysia)
Asst Referees: Waleed A.R.A. Abhushish (Jordan), Mohammed Hanif Abdul Bin Rahman (Malaysia)
Fourth official: Mohammed Salem Abdullah Alrshaidat (Jordan)
Match Commissioner: Manirul Islam (Bangladesh)
Referee Assessor: Yazbeck Yazbeck (Lebanon)

Leverkusen: Robin Dutt to replace Heynckes

Following a meeting in the morning between Jupp Heynckes, the clubs general manager Wolfgang Holzhauser and director of sports Rudi Voeller Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen officially confirmed what had been making headlines over the weekend that their 65 year old coach Jupp Heynckes would leave the club at the end of the season and that 46 year old Robin Dutt, who happens to be of Indian origin, would take over from him.

The club had offered Heynckes a one year extension, while Heynckes wanted to extend his contract by a couple of years and then there is also an offer from his former club FC Bayern Munich on the table. But at the moment it is not clear if Heynckes will take the Bayern Munich offer or retire from active coaching.

Jupp Heynckes commented on his decision, "Bayer 04 Leverkusen are a well led club with a great team. It was hard for me to make this decision. I will put all of my power into securing the second rank and qualifying for the Champions League directly."

Knowing that Heynckes could be leaving at the end of the season Bayer 04's management had been working in the background to secure a suitable replacement. And the decision was taken to bring in Robin Dutt, who is currently successfully coaching SC Freiburg. Dutt has been given a two year contract and with his contract at Freiburg running until 2012, Leverkusen will have to pay the southwest German side some compensation.

Robin Dutt meanwhile said about his new upcoming assignment, "I'm very much looking forward to my new challenge in Leverkusen. I will work with a team that has been coached outstandingly by Jupp Heynckes. I agree with the football philosophy shared by Wolfgang Holzhäuser and Rudi Völler."

For Robin Dutt, who has a Bengali father, his new coaching assignment will be the biggest of his coaching career so far and it will bring him back to the Rhineland, where he was born on the other side of the Rhine in Cologne.


Here a link to an older blog post of mine: Robin Dutt: An Indo-German success story .

Minggu, 20 Maret 2011

Indicast Podcast: A little bit of Everything

This podcast covers a little bit of everything. Nani and myself are pleasantly surprised that a few kids in Mumbai are running around in football jerseys during the Cricket World Cup season. In other news, Italy considers an under-21 side in Serie B after an uneventful (read: disastrous) 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign. The Indian National team is preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Nani probes Arunava on the team and the management view on the Indian coach Bob Houghton who was accused of racism.



Listen Online (64 kbps) : ~ 28 mins











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



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AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers: Chhetri to lead India!

Bob Houghton has named Sunil Chhetri as India's new captain for the qualifiers of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup to be played next week in Kuala Lumpur. In the Malaysian capital India will face Chinese Taipei (March 21), Pakistan (March 23) and Turkmenistan (March 25) in the Group B qualifiers. The top two teams from the group would move into the AFC Challenge Cup proper.

Senior players are being rested by Bob Houghton, so players like Sunil Chhetri, Gouramnagi Singh, Subrata Pal and Steven Dias will have to prove that they are ready to carry the Indian national team. Bob Houghton will also get a chance to test youngsters with talented players like Raju Gaekwad and Jeje Lalpekhulua set for their first international start tomorrow and they will have to prove that they are ready for senior competition.

For India the qualifiers are crucial as they would have to be amongst the top two teams to qualify for the final round, which India could host next year and then try to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup to be played in Australia.


INDIA

Goalkeepers
Subroto Pal (Pune FC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Indian Arrows), Jagroop Singh (Indian Arrows)

Defenders
Anwar (Mohun Bagan AC), Nirmal Chetri (East Bengal Club), Denzil Franco (Churchill Brothers SC), Raju Gaekwad (Indian Arrows), N.S. Manju (United Sikkim FC), Nalappan Mohanraj (Mohun Bagan AC), Syed Rahim Nabi (East Bengal Club), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Govin Moirangthem Singh (Salgaocar SC)

Midfielders
Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC), Shilton D'Silva (Indian Arrows), Steven Benedic Dias (Churchill Brothers SC), Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan AC), Jewel Sheikh Raja (Indian Arrows), Baldeep Singh (Salgaocar SC), Jagpreet Singh (JCT)

Forwards
Sunil Chhetri (Chirag United SC, Captain), Jeje Lalpekhulua (Indian Arrows), C.S. Sabeeth (Viva Kerala), Sushil Kumar Singh (East Bengal Club)

Officials
Chief Coach: Robert Douglas Houghton; Assistant Coach: Savio Medeira; Goalkeeping Coach: Marcos Anthony Pacheco; Physical Trainer: Suresh Babu Kavuluri; Doctor: Dr. Kiran Kumar Kulkarni; Physiotherapist: Gigy George; Masseur: Liyaqat Ali; Media Officer: Brij Mohan Mehta; Manager: Mandhar Tamhane

Japan stars to play charity match

Due to the earthquake and tsunami the Japan Football Association had to call off two international friendlies against Montenegro and New Zealand later this month besides suspending regular season matches of the J-League.

Therefore the idea came about to organise a charity match between the national team 'Blue Samurai' and a J-League select squad at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka on March 29 in support of the earthquake and tsunami victims.

Yesterday the JFA had been received confirmation that eight Europe based players in goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (Lierse SK, Belgium); defenders Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan, Italy), Tomoaki Makino (1.FC Cologne, Germany) and Maya Yoshida (VVV Venlo, Netherlands); midfielders Yuki Abe (Leicester City, England) and Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany); and forwards Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble Foot, France) and Akihiro Ienaga (Real Mallorca, Spain) would come to Japan to play the charity match.

Today the JFA got the confirmation for four further of their international players including CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda, the Asian Cup's MVP; besides the Germany based trio of FC Schalke 04 defender Atsuto Uchida, VfB Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki and FC Augsburg midfielder Hajime Hosogai.

Missing from the game will be Borussia Dortmund star midfielder Shinji Kagawa due to an injury as he broke his foot on duty for Japan against hosts Qatar at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals in January.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni in an earlier message had said he hoped that the all-star match will "help the whole of Japan take the first step toward its reconstruction."

"This match may be held in an unusual setting but we will fight all-out as always by keeping our motivation high," added the Italian Zaccheroni.

Sabtu, 19 Maret 2011

Germany names squad for qualifier & friendly

German national team coach Joachim Loew has called on a squad of 23 players to face Kazakhstan in a 2012 European Championship qualifier on March 26 in Kaiserslautern and the friendly against 2011 AFC Asian Cup runners-up Australia on March 29 in Moenchengladbach.

These two matches come days after Joachim Loew extended his contract until the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Loew has made some changes to his squad recalling goalkeeper Tim Wiese, midfielders André Schuerrle and Toni Kroos plus striker Mario Gomez into the team; while defender Heiko Westermann and midfielder Kevin Großkreutz didn't find a place in the squad. Dortmund's Sven Bender is the only uncapped player.


GERMANY

Goalkeepers
Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04), Rene Adler (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Tim Wiese (SV Werder Bremen)

Defenders
Arne Friedrich (VfL Wolfsburg), Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV), Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Manchester City), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (SV Werder Bremen), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)

Midfielders
Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Mesut Oezil (Real Madrid), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern Munich), Christian Traesch (VfB Stuttgart), Toni Kroos (FC Bayern Munich), André Schuerrle (FSV Mainz 05), Lukas Podolski (1.FC Cologne)

Forwards
Mario Gomez (FC Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (FC Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (FC Bayern Munich)

Officials
Joachim Loew (Coach), Hansi Flick (Assistant Coach), Andreas Koepke (Goalkeeping Coach), Oliver Bierhoff (Manager)

Italy's Under-21 in Serie B?

Italian national team coach Cesare Prandelli has suggested this week that his nations Under-21 side should play in Serie B, the second tier of Italian football. Prandelli's idea comes on out of lack of young players coming through the Italian football system which is harming the senior national team.

Former international and Milan star Demetrio Albertini, now Italian football federation vice-president, told Italian news agency ANSA, "Now we'll take the project to the relevant bodies, for instance the federal council."

One thing is clear, Italian football will have to change and evolve for the national team to be successful again. The Azzuri's failure at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the Serie A clubs continued failure in European competitions has forced the federation to become pro-active and think about new ideas.

But numerous questions surrounding such a project remain unanswered. Can the team be promoted or relegated, would the IFF ensure funding for the side and in which city would the Under-21 side be based to make it its home.

Surely an interesting proposition and something which is already happening in India. If a four time World Cup winning nation is thinking about doing something like this then the idea developed to allow our Under-20 team to play in the I-League as originally the AIFF XI and now renamed as Indian Arrows is a chance to allow young players to develop in tough league competition. And this process hopefully would help the national team in the mid- and long-term.

Jumat, 18 Maret 2011

Bin Hammam to contest FIFA top job elections

The president of the Asian Football Confederation Mohamed bin Hammam today officially announced his candidature for the post of FIFA president. Bin Hammam held at the headquarters of the AFC in Kuala Lumpur a press conference to end weeks of speculation if the AFC president would challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential elections on June 1, 2011 in Zurich.

The 61 year old Qataris administrative career stated early at the age of 24 as the president of local Qatari club Al Rayyan, he went on to become the Qatar Football Association president in 1992 before becoming a member of the FIFA Executive Committee in 1996 and has been president of the Asian Football Confederation since August 2002. Bin Hammam has also headed the volleyball and tennis federations of his country.

Bin Hammam has brought about a lot of change within Asian football over the last decade. When he took over the charge at the AFC in 2002 it was an amateur body with a base in Kuala Lumpur. Now the AFC Champions League is a thriving continental club championship just like the AFC Asian Cup, creating competitions for nations who developing and with Vision Asia has started a program to overlook the overall development of football and its professionalisation across the continent.

He wants to take all this to FIFA if he is made the president as he is seeing the game drifting away from its roots and its base - the footballer and the fans.


Outlining his election manifesto bin Hammam said, "I will always put in mind and consider among other things the diversity of the interests and the views of different football stake holders; member associations, clubs, leagues, players and officials; the demands from the public to keep FIFA and football organisations above accusations and suspicion of negative practice; the demands of the public to create an absolute, ethical, democratic and transparent environment within FIFA; the necessity for strong unity and solidarity among member associations; the need for fair distribution of World Cup revenues between the different stake holders, taking into consideration that FIFA must build sufficient reserves to help it through difficult times and the principal of solidarity must pervade for all of our stakeholders. I will always put into consideration the need and the requirement of economically underprivileged member associations to have more technical and financial support to enable them to close the gap between their nations and those of the advanced football nations."

He also proposed the formation of a FIFA Board in place of the existing FIFA Executive Committee, if elected, and increase the number of seats for all the confederations.

"I propose UEFA gets four more seats, CAF four more seats, Asia four more seats, CONCACAF three more seats, CONMEBOL one more seat and OFC one more seat. A new executive committee will be coming, 40 members plus the president is 41 and it will avoid as much as possible for the privilege of the casting vote going to the president," he said.

"I will rename the Executive Committee the FIFA Board and will transfer all the duties and the responsibilities of the Executive Committee as it is today to the FIFA Board. I will establish an Executive Office. The President of FIFA will be the Chairman and the six presidents of the six confederations will be the members of this office. This office will be responsible to execute the decision of the Board. Collectively and jointly, the President of FIFA and the Presidents of the confederations will be responsible for executing the decisions of the FIFA Board."

"Secondly, I will decentralise the activities of the FIFA administration. The legal matters, like the statutes and international transfers, and statutory issues can be handled directly by the confederations under the supervision of their executive bodies."

"I will establish a Transparency Committee. FIFA has an Ethical Committee checking acts after they happen. The Transparency Committee is going to be sure that all the acts of FIFA are sufficiently transparent to the public before they take place."

"I also propose to increase the financial assistance to the member associations from US$250,000 to US$500,000 per year and I also propose that the budget of the Goal Project, for each project, to be increased up to US$1 million per project."


Ambitious aims if bin Hammam becomes FIFA president, but now the interesting phase begins on who can garner as many votes possible from the 208 member nations and territories.


Here a link to the video of:
the complete Mohamed bin Hamman press conference .

Magath returns to Wolfsburg

The coaches merry-go round in the German Bundesliga reached a new climax after rumours came out last night that Felix Magath could make a shock return to former club VfL Wolfsburg. And today that rumour was confirmed by the north German club who are funded and supported by car giants Volkswagen, but are fighting against relegation this season.

The club in a simple statement said, "VfL Wolfsburg has hired Felix Magath as director of sport and coach. The official presentation will take place on Friday at midday."

Struggling Wolfsburg could never recover from their 2008/09 Bundesliga championship season under Magath. Thereafter coaches Armin Veh, Steve McClaren and stand-in Pierre Littbarski all failed and the Wolves are now second from bottom in a very tight relegation battle.

With the surprise appointment of 57 year old Magath the club will hope that the champion coach can steady the ship before rebuilding the club and squad next season. Magath has signed a contract until 2013 and sports manager Dieter Hoeness would also have to leave the club with all powers back to Magath, who only had been sacked at Schalke on Wednesday after differences with the board.

Kamis, 17 Maret 2011

Chopra out for the remainder of the season

Promotion chasing English Championship side Cardiff City FC will miss the services of their striker Michael Chopra for the rest of the season after Chopra suffered a hamstring tear over the weekend in the match against FC Barnsley.

An official club statement said, "Scan results have confirmed the worst. Michael has suffered a grade three hamstring tear and will be out for a period expected to be between 10 to 12 weeks, effectively ending any chance of his involvement in the 2010/11 Championship season run-in."

It actually started as a good day against Barnsley for Chopra as he completed 200 matches in the English leagues, but his injury hit season continued as he had to be taken off after only 25 minutes. So far it has been about ankle injuries, but this time it was a hamstring tear. And it ends Chops season in which he scored 11 goals in all competitions for the Bluebirds.

Chopra said via Twitter, "Totally devastated my season is over out for 10/12 weeks with grade 3 tear in my hamstring all about getting fit for next season."

For Cardiff City the loss of Chopra in the crucial season end is a big blow. And one will have to see in which division Cardiff play next season, which might also decide Chopra's future. Stay with Cardiff or move on to another side.

Schalke 04 dismiss Magath

The supervisory board of German Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 met early yesterday and decided to relieve Felix Magath of his positions as coach, director of sports and management board member within the club. Originally it had been planned that Magath would meet the supervisory board, but Magath called off his attendence as he seemed to know what was in store for him.

And the timing does surprise many as Schalke have reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, the German Cup final, but are only tenth in the Bundesliga. But off field matters were behind the sacking.

Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies said after the meeting there were "very good reasons" for the move, but he did not specify what they were. And added, "We will not make these public as a legal battle is now ahead of us. But we are very relaxed about this process. What we have decided is a good result for Schalke."

And now the whole story could get murky with the club trying to frame their coach in such a way that they will not have to make the necessary pay-off as Magath had a contract running until 2013 with the Ruhr valley team. Magath meanwhile has resigned from the club citing differences of opinion, while he is said to have a clause in his contract that he can resign and still get paid compensation in the region of 12 million Euros.

The club has meanwhile named a new coach in former Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick, who'll join the club on Monday and will sign a contract until summer 2014. Rangnick had earlier coached Schalke from September 2004 to December 2005 and many thought at the time that this was a wrong decision.

Selasa, 15 Maret 2011

I-League Division 2: Fixtures released

The AIFF has released the fixtures of the three preliminary groups of the I-League Division 2. 21 teams will be seen in action, if BEML (EM) from Bangalore are cleared to take part.

The Group A matches will be played from March 27 to April 9 in Guwahati, while Group B games will be held from April 2 to April 18 in Ranchi, and Group C matches will be played from March 31 to April 17 in Madurai.


I-League Division 2 - Groups/Fixtures

Group A - Guwahati (Assam)
NISA (Manipur), United Sikkim FC (Sikkim), Langsning FC (Meghalaya), Guwahati Town Club (Assam), Southern Samity (West Bengal), Golden Threads FC (Kerala), Simla Youngs FC (Delhi)

Round I
27/3/11: NISA - Golden Threads FC
27/3/11: Simla Youngs FC - Guwahati Town Club
27/3/11: Langsning FC - United Sikkim FC

Round II
29/3/11: Golden Threads FC - Langsning FC
29/3/11: Guwahati Town Club - NISA
29/3/11: Southern Samilty - Simla Youngs FC

Round III
31/3/11: United Sikkim FC - NISA
31/3/11: Golden Threads FC - Simla Youngs FC
31/3/11: Guwahati Town Club - Southern Samity

Round IV
02/04/11: Langsning FC - Simla Youngs FC
02/04/11: United Sikkim FC - Southern Samity
02/04/11: Golden Threads FC - Guwahati Town Club

Round V
04/04/11: NISA - Southern Samity
04/04/11: Langsning FC - Guwahati Town Club
04/04/11: United Sikkim FC - Golden Threads FC

Round VI
06/04/11: Guwahati Town Club - United Sikkim FC
06/04/11: Southern Samity - Langsning FC
06/04/11: Simla Youngs FC - NISA

Round VII
09/04/11: Southern Samity - Golden Threads FC
09/04/11: Simla Youngs FC - United Sikkim FC
09/04/11: NISA - Langsning FC


Group B - Ranchi (Jharkhand)
Mohammedan Sporting Club (West Bengal), Denzong Boyz (Sikkim), Josco FC (Kerala), Kenkre FC (Maharashtra), Sesa Football Academy (Goa), Malabar United FC (Kerala), Ar-Hima FC (Meghalaya)

Round I
02/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Sesa Football Academy
02/04/11: Denzong Boyz - Josco FC
03/04/11: Ar-Hima FC - Malabar United FC

Round II
04/04/11: Kenkre FC - Josco FC
05/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Malabar United FC
05/04/11: Denzong Boyz - Ar-Hima FC

Round III
07/04/11: Sesa Football Academy - Malabar United FC
07/04/11: Kenkre FC - Ar-Hima FC
08/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Denzong Boyz

Round IV
09/04/11: Josco FC - Ar-Hima FC
10/04/11: Sesa Football Academy - Denzong Boyz
10/04/11: Kenkre FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club

Round V
12/04/11: Malabar United FC - Denzong Boyz
12/04/11: Josco FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
13/04/11: Sesa Football Academy - Kenkre FC

Round VI
14/04/11: Ar-Hima FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
15/04/11: Malabar United FC - Kenkre FC
15/04/11: Josco FC - Sesa Football Academy

Round VII
17/04/11: Denzong Boyz - Kenkre FC
17/04/11: Ar-Hima FC - Sesa Football Academy
18/04/11: Malabar United FC - Josco FC


Group C - Madurai (Tamil Nadu)
Techno Aryan Club (West Bengal), Vasco SC (Goa), Chandni FC (Kerala), Royal Wahingdoh SC (Meghalaya), Eagles FC (Kerala), PIFA Colaba Youngstars (Maharashtra), BEML (EM) (Karnataka) *subject to clearance

Round I
31/03/11: Eagles FC - Techno Aryan Club
31/03/11: Chandni FC - Vasco SC
01/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh SC - PIFA

Round II
02/04/11: BEML - Vasco SC
03/04/11: Eagles FC - PIFA
03/04/11: Chandni FC - Royal Wahingdoh SC

Round III
05/04/11: Techno Aryan Club - PIFA
05/04/11: BEML - Royal Wahingdoh SC
06/04/11: Eagles FC - Chandni FC

Round IV
07/04/11: Vasco SC - Royal Wahingdoh SC
08/04/11: Techno Aryan Club - Chandni FC
08/04/11: BEML - Eagles FC

Round V
10/04/11: PIFA - Chandni FC
11/04/11: Vasco SC - Eagles FC
11/04/11: Techno Aryan Club - BEML

Round VI
14/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh SC - Eagles FC
14/04/11: PIFA - BEML
15/04/11: Vasco SC - Techno Aryan Club

Round VII
16/04/11: Chandni FC - BEML
17/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh SC - Techno Aryan Club
17/04/11: PIFA - Vasco SC