Sabtu, 30 April 2011

Indicast Podcast: The Bob Houghton Saga Ends...

Nani and myself cover a lot of topics related to Indian football in the latest the Sportsbench Podcast.
Finally with the 'resignation' of Bob Houghton as Indian national football team coach, a saga that was increasingly turning distasteful has ended. Discussed are possible replacements and the importance of setting up of or following the system that Houghton set up over the last five years, because India is struggling from the development perspective as well. Meanwhile, the I-league is in a very interesting phase & 2nd Division I-League has also surprisingly emerged as a fiercely contested competition. This podcast covers a bit on the teams in these two groups.

Listen Online (64 kbps) : ~ 27 mins

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

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Delhi name Women's squad for Nationals

Defender Usha B. will lead a 20-member Delhi Senior Women's football team at the 19th Senior Women's National Football Championship 2010/11 which is being currently held from April 25 to May 17 at Bhilai in Chhattisgarh. A total of 26 states are taking part in this edition of the women's nationals.

Forward L. Naobi Chanu of Janaki Devi College has been named as vice-captain of the team by the Delhi Soccer Association selection committee. The 20 players were selected from a 15 day open selection trials-cum-coaching camp held at the Janaki Devi Memorial College in Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi.

Delhi have been drawn into Cluster 6 along with former champions West Bengal and Pondicherry. They play their first match on May 4 against Pondicherry and then face West Bengal on May 6.

DELHI Women's Team

Aditi Chauhan, Ayesha Mahur

Anju Gosain, Usha B (captain), Shabnam, Seema Bisht, Neha Yadav, Poonam Chauhan, Sucheta Bisht

Akansha Chhibber, Vinita Baloni, Deepika, Yangzee Lepcha, N. Montessori Chanu

L. Naobi Chanu (Vice-Captain), Jyoti Ann Burrett, Manisha Jha, Sonia Gaur, Kanchan, Sanchi Singh

Priyam Rawat, Sanjana, Shweta, Pinki, Tanya Minocha,, Ekambara Subramaniam

Om Prakash Chhibber (Coach), Vikrant Singh (Assistant Coach), Vinita Baloni (Manager)

Jumat, 29 April 2011

German FA extends Sammer contract

The German Football Association (DFB) has extended the existing contract with their Director of Sports Matthias Sammer by another three years until 2016. Sammer since being in office in 2006 has been successful in streamlining the youth system of the federation.

In 2009 Germany was the first ever UEFA member nation to be European champions in the Under-17, U-19 and U-21 categories at the same time. And the current wave of young players not only in the German senior national team, but through the youth teams is down to the work of Sammer and the coaches, who have been able to reform German football to be amongst the best in youth development around the world.

"I am delighted that, after extending the contract of the national team coach Joachim Low and his team, we can also plan in the long term with our director of sport. Matthias Sammer is one of the most important figures in our association, who has done excellent work in the field of youth development," said DFB president Dr. Theo Zwanziger.

Sammer, who has been controversial in the past due to his honest and direct approach, has been a sought after figure as he was linked a few months ago to coach Hamburger SV and even FC Bayern Munich were considering him an alternative to Louis van Gaal, but he has now decided to stay with the DFB and further develops its youth development system.

"I am delighted that the president Dr. Theo Zwanziger, general secretary Wolfgang Niersbach and treasurer Horst R. Schmidt are supporting our philosophy in youth development," Sammer said.

And added, "This work is the key to establishing German football at the summit of world football."

It seems Sammer still has some work to be done to position Germany as the best in the world, but the foundations have been laid and it is a very good path.

I-League 2 - Round 2: Round of derbies

The second Round of matches of the 2nd Division I-League 2010/11 were played on April 28/29 in Shillong. It was the round of derbies with Shillong, Kolkata, Goan and Northeastern sides facing on each other. Lajong FC and Vasco SC are on top as they maintain their 100% record.

Round 2 Match by Match Short Review
28-Apr-2011: Shillong Lajong FC 1-0 (1-0) Ar-Hima FC
Relegated Shillong Lajong FC won their second game in as many matches in the 2nd Division final round against local rivals Ar-Hima FC. The goal of the day in the much expected derby came from striker James Giblee in the 22nd minute to settle it in favour of Lajong.

28-Apr-2011: Southern Samity 0-1 (0-0) Mohammedan Sporting Club
Mohammedan Sporting Club scored a vital lone goal victory against Kolkata rivals Southern Samity to stay in the race for promotion, while for Southern Samity after their second defeat in as many matches see their chances diminishing. The winner came for the black-and-white from striker Nilendra Dewan in the 55th minute.

29-Apr-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC 0-0 United Sikkim FC
Newcomers Royal Wahingdoh FC and United Sikkim FC played out a goalless draw with both sides remaining win less in the final round.

29-Apr-2011: Vasco SC 3-0 (2-0) Sporting Clube de Goa
Vasco SC scored an upset of sorts by winning rather easily 3-0 against Sporting Clube de Goa to join Shillong Lajong FC at the top with two wins out of two. The Goan derby was rather one-sided with midfielder Joel Sequeira giving the port town team a 30th minute lead before Basileo Rego doubled the lead in the 41st minute. The match was decided in Vasco's favour when African striker Koko Sakibo scored their third in the 79th minute.

Queen Park Rangers: Is their EPL Promotion in danger?

English Championship league leaders Queens Park Rangers FC are six points ahead of Cardiff City FC in third with two matches to play and a 13 goal better goal difference. The promotion to the Premier League seems only a mere formality for the Hoops, who would return to the Premiership after 15 years of absence.

QPR, have since 2007 Indian stake holders in the Mittal family, but unlike other investors in football they have kept a rather low profile about their investment. The Mittal's co-own QPR along with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and after difficulties over the last few years things seem to finally falling in place for the club and their owners as off the field Ecclestone bought the shares of former Renault F1 head Flavio Briatore, while this season they have been a revelation in the Championship.

But an old players transfer of 24 year old Argentinian Alejandro Damián Faurlín from summer 2009 could haunt the club and their promotion dreams. Only earlier this year it emerged that the transfer fee for Faurlín was paid not only to Instituto de Córdoba and Inter Milan, who had a first-option clause for the player but also to a third party; which after the Carlos Tevez and West Ham United saga in 2007 has been forbidden by the Football Association.

Now British tabloid the Sun reports that QPR could be facing a deduction of up to 15 points as penalty, which in the current league table would mean that Norwich City and Cardiff City would get automatically promoted, while QPR would have to play the playoffs. Sportingly unfair on coach Neil Warnock and his boys, who have been top of the Championship all season.

The hearing into the signing of Faurlín will take place next week from Tuesday onwards with a verdict expected by Friday. The panel will consist of an independent QC, two members of the FA's disciplinary panel and a football expert whose a former player or boss.

And there seems to be a feeling that even QPR know that a mistake has been committed by its then management, knowingly or unknowingly. A punishment then seems inevitable, but would the panel be so fair to allow a team to go up who have dominated their respective league and put a heftier fine out against them.

One will have to wait and see, in a weeks time we should know more...

Kamis, 28 April 2011

Team India: What kind of coach should replace Bob Houghton?

The All India Football Federation is on the lookout for a new national coach following Bob Houghton's departure after nearly five years in charge. The search is on for the next coach and it needs to be a properly thought through decision as whoever comes in will have to work to take Indian football to the next level and also look at strengthening the national team system from under-14 upwards until the senior national team.

The AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das has been quoted by the media as saying that whoever comes in would have to be able to let his team play 'possession football'. I think it would be nice to have a coach who knows about possession football and allows his teams to play so, but more important once again will be the results he will be able to produce. You bring in a coach who plays lovely football but we lose 10-0, he's gone sooner then we know.

Also the coach should not only have to have a good profile and pedigree, but also a concept on what he would like to do in the coming years with the national team, the ultimate aim being the qualification for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia. That also needs to be the duration of the contract with possibilities of terminating it after a certain periods.

Is the new coaches nationality an issue? If I was asked I would say yes, then I would like to see someone from Europe continue after Bob Houghton though it looks unlikely to be another Englishman. I know the AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das has said he would like someone Spanish or from South America, but there is a major issue here in the coach speaking perfect English, so our players can all understand him and he is able to get across what he is trying to teach and coach them.

There I would surely say someone from Germany, the Netherlands, France or Spain would be good; but knowing the changes that have happened here in Germany over the last decade and what changes it has meant in coaching and the approach to the game, I'd love to see a German coach for Team India.

But we might also have some I-League coaches as options, but it looks unlikely that an Indian coach will get the job, so Dempo's Armando Colaco or any other Indian coach seems out of the race; but we have quality foreign coaches like Karim Bencharifa or Trevor Morgan, who might be in the running for the job top.

But the process has only started, the AIFF needs to decide first if they are looking for a coach quickly ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates in July or maybe appoint someone interim and get the new coach in later this year.

VIDEO: Messi's goals from last night

The FC Barcelona take a 2-0 advantage home after the second UEFA Champions League semifinal against archrivals Real Madrid. Two quality goals from little Argentinian Lionel Messi sealed the game and maybe even the time for the Catalans.

Here a video of both the goals

Rabu, 27 April 2011

Manuel Neuer impresses once more

German international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer last night chose the biggest of all club football stages, the UEFA Champions League, to show what he is capable off. The FC Schalke 04 keeper made seven/eight exceptional saves in a one-sided game which Schalke went on to lose 0-2 as Manchester United were mainly in control.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was quite impressed by Neuer's goalkeeping and told journalists after the game, "I think in my time at United this was the finest display of goalkeeping against us. I'm sure there were other feats but tonight we saw a very good one."

Followers of the beautiful game who didn't know what makes Manuel Neuer currently the best goalkeeper in the world had a chance to see it for themselves. The Schalke captain was the only player of the royal blues who was world class and who could match the Manchester United players.

And one now would also understand why German giants FC Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been after signing Neuer though it seems done and dusted that Neuer will be moving south to the Bavarian giants for the next season. Even Sir Alex hinted at the post-match press conference that he couldn't put a bid in with Schalke as the player was already been sold.

Neuer is stepping into the footsteps of continuing a great German tradition of exceptional goalkeeping talent which was started by Sepp Maier in the 1970s and continued through the decades with Harald 'Toni' Schumacher, Bodo Illgner, Andreas Koepke, Oliver Kahn, Jens Lehmann at the top level.

Kerala announce Santosh Trophy squad

The Kerala Football Association president K.M.I. Mather and secretary K.P. Sunny today announced the state's 20 member squad for the upcoming 65th Santosh Trophy in Assam. Seasoned midfielder Bijesh Ben has been named the state teams captain, which will be coached by M. Rajeev Kumar.

Kerala will go into the Santosh Trophy with a rather inexperienced side with no player from Viva Kerala, while there are also young district players in the squad.

The 65th edition of the Santosh Trophy will be held from May 6 to 30 across Assam in the seven cities of Guwahati, Nagaon, Mangaldoi, Tinsukia, Shivsagar, Kokrajhar and Bongalgaon. In this years edition Kerala have been placed in Cluster 4 along with Jammu&Kashmir, Jharkhand, Chandigarh in the preliminary stage.


Joby Joseph (Travancore Titanium), Shabeer P.M. (Josco FC), Noufal (Kozhikode)

Johnson N. (State Bank of Travancore), Nawaz (Josco FC), Sajith T. (Josco FC), B.T. Sarath (State Bank of Travancore), Satheesh (Kollam), Surjith V.V. (Kerala State Electricity Board)

Bijesh Ben (Central Excise), Martin John (State Bank of Travancore), Rahul P. (Kerala Police), Muhammed Rasi (Kerala State Electricity Board), Sumesh N. (State Bank of Travancore), Vinod (Travancore Titanium)

Firoz K. (Kerala Police), Rakesh K. (Kerala State Electricity Board), Kannan R. (AGS), Sumesh A.M. (Eagles FC), Usman (Malabar United FC)

M. Rajeev Kumar (Coach), Solly Xavier (Assistant Coach), Fazil (Physio)

What Bob Houghton has done for our football

I have been surprised at the amount of criticism our now former coach Bob Houghton has received from the media and fans. Because I think one thing is for sure, Bob has done a lot of things which were and are important for the development of Indian football, but some facts are often forgotten or maybe not even known, while others just seem to criticise for the sake of doing so.

The nearly five year reign of Bob Houghton as coach of the Indian national team ended on Saturday, so lets focus on what Bob has done or tried to do for Indian football outside of Team India.

But lets first look at how it all started. In June 2006 while the whole planet was looking at Germany during the 2006 FIFA World Cup India appointed a new coach in Bob Houghton, who came with a pedigree of over 30 years of coaching experience from around the world. At the time Bob came to India, England under Sven Goran Eriksson took on his native Sweden at the FIFA World Cup in Cologne. Eriksson is one of the numerous Swedish coaches who where heavily influenced by Bob Houghton and Roy Hodgson, who coached in Scandinavia in the 1970s and we actually had a nice conversations about Bob's appointment and Sven had said it was a wise decision by the federation in India.

From those days it is known that Bob Houghton prefers to play a classic 4-4-2, which some would call old fashioned in modern day football though it is result oriented football and in the end results count the most plus it's also known in football circles that Bob mainly relies on a set group of players, he isn't a manager who makes too many changes to his squads. You go with it or leave it.

And when Bob arrived Team India was in a mess. Some players had resigned others like Baichung Bhutia where thinking about resigning and ending their international career, so Bob first had to convince key players to return or stay with Team India.

Some say Bob hasn't developed any talent. Then I simply ask them who where Subrata Pal, Gouramangi Singh or Sunil Chhetri when Bob came to India? None of these boys were anywhere near being key players in the national team. And the next crop of players would have been developed now after the Asian Cup, if given chance as the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers showed.

Bob also ensured extended foreign camps, the best available facilities and that the interest of the players were taken care off, so nobody would have to worry about anything. Things which weren't done in the past and therefore it isn't surprising that Bob was popular amongst his players, though he kept a distance but was there whenever needed and he treated the players like his own sons.

Bob also has been working on getting a youth development system in place. He got Colin Toal as technical director and Desmond Bulpin as coach of the Indian Arrows & Under-23 national side. Along with them he first created and then streamlined Indian football's youth development system. Against opposition from the federation who often said what's the use of spending money on such projects they got long duration camps, foreign exposure trips and better accommodation in place besides fighting for the Arrows to be integrated into the I-League.

The results of youth development work doesn't come overnight it will take time, but to end on an example most of the players in the Indian Arrows are a product of this development work of the last four years and maybe in another four/five years we can judge that work if it is allowed to continue.

You might not like it, but I believe that Bob deserves credit for all the work and whoever comes next has a tough job on hand.

Selasa, 26 April 2011

Baichung Bhutia as a defender!

Baichung Bhutia has donned many roles over the years on and off the field, but he did a first today when he played as a central defender for his own club United Sikkim FC in their opening 2nd Division I-League final round match against Sporting Clube de Goa.

But this idea didn't come out of the blue as Baichung had been playing as centre-back in training for a few weeks while the team was preparing itself for the 2nd Division. Upfront USFC have options, but at the back they looked a little weak especially at the heart of defence, so the star striker took on the task himself to stuff that hole and did quite well.

After playing for about 80 minutes Baichung was quite happy and said, "I'm comfortable in my new role – as a defender, but I need to reach peak fitness at the earliest. And I didn't do badly either. I was able to keep the two rival foreign strikers quiet."

And Baichung did play with someone with whom he has played at club and country before in N.S. Manju who praised his new partner, "It's quite exciting to play with Baichung and mind you, he has a great sense of anticipation."

While coach Stanley Rozario was a happy man after having discovered a new defensive talent, "He needs to be applauded. After playing as a striker for more than 17 years in the top tier, the manner in which he played like a matured defender deserves praise."

I-League 2 - Round 1: Lajong FC start on top

The first Round of matches of the 2nd Division I-League 2010/11 were played on April 25/26 in Shillong. And local side Shillong Lajong FC are on top after Round one following a 3-0 opening round win with Ar-Hima FC and Vasco SC the sides starting their campaign on three points.

Round 1 Match by Match Short Review
25-Apr-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC 2-3 (0-2) Ar-Hima FC
The 2nd Division's opening match was a five goal thriller in which Ar-Hima FC scored a late injury time winner to beat local Shillong rivals Royal Wahingdoh FC 3-2. In an open game Ar-Hima look a 22nd minute lead through Zico Zoremsanga which was enhanced by Timmy Rynskhlem in the first half injury time. But the game was far from over as Royal Wahingdoh came back into the game in the second session with a double strike from Bijendra Rai in the 55th and 71st minute to draw level. Just when it looked like the match could end in a draw Ar-Hima would score the winner late into injury time through Thounaojam Sangkar Singh.

25-Apr-2011: Southern Samity 0-3 (0-2) Shillong Lajong FC
Shillong Lajong FC made a perfect start into their 2nd Division campaign by beating Kolkata side Southern Samity 3-0 at home. The local side delt the 2nd Division newcomers a double blow when Boithang Haokip and Mashangva Genius Zenith scored twice within 13 minutes and Lajong kept on creating changes, but they were way too wasteful with these and could only add a third in the 47th minute through striker Saikhohao Tuboi. Southern Samity did try thereafter to get onto the score-sheet but it wasn't to be on this day.

26-Apr-2011: Sporting Clube de Goa 1-1 (1-1) United Sikkim FC
In their first match Sporting Clube de Goa were held to a one-all draw by newcomers United Sikkim FC. The Flaming Orange went into the lead through a Ayeni Bidemi Daniel strike in the 27th minute which was equalised through Beingaichho Beokhokhai only seven minutes later. And though the end result could be seen as a surprise; the real story of the match was Baichung Bhutia making a starting comeback, not as a striker, but as a central defender for USFC.

26-Apr-2011: Vasco SC 2-1 (2-0) Mohammedan Sporting Club
In a match-up of former premier division clubs Vasco SC had the early initiative over Mohammedan Sporting Club and were up 2-0 quickly with goals scored through Prajot Naik in the 5th minute and then in the 11th minute through Sachin Gawas. But Mohammedan Sporting wasn't beaten just yet as Nigerian Christopher reduced the deficit for the Kolkata side on the hour mark, but it remained 2-1 for Vasco until the end.

Pradeep & Abranches now also face trouble

First it was Sunil Chhetri for his tweets in support of Bob Houghton, now other internationals in N.P. Pradeep and Joaquim Abranches are set to get in trouble with the AIFF after voicing their disagreement in the sacking of Bob Houghton.

After the AIFF said it would discuss at its next Executive Committee meeting Chhetri's anti-federation tweets, which factually can't be proven; they now they have a bigger issue to deal with as many players who have played under Bob Houghton have come out in support of their former coach and voiced their displeasure at his removal.

It starts with captain Baichung Bhutia, goes on with Arjuna Awardee Deepak Mondal, 'AIFF Player of the Year' Gouramangi Singh, goalkeeper Subrata Pal, winger Syed Rahim Nabi and so on....

But two players could be in real trouble as they openly criticized the federation fr their decision regarding Bob Houghton. While Dempo midfielder Joaquim Abranches did so in a newspaper interview, N.P. Pradeep did it on Facebook. And the Viva Kerala midfielder did go over the top as he used in his Facebook post the f-word against the federation and its officials.

All this highlights that the federation and their players are currently not on the best of terms with new media being something where freedom of speech/expression is easier said then done these days. If a Code of Conduct for the players will change things will have to be seen, then the federation needs to sit down with the players and discuss with them their thought and feelings, then both sides need to work together in the interest of Indian football.

Senin, 25 April 2011

Bengal to get IPL-style football league

At a press conference at the Bengal Club in Kolkata yesterday it was announced that the Indian Football Association (West Bengal) with its partner Celebrity Management Group and TV rights holders Mahua TV would launch an IPL-style football league in West Bengal under the name of Premier League Soccer which would be played over a seven week period from January to March each year. The aim behind the league would be to develop the sport and infrastructure in the state.

Like cricket's successful IPL the PLS would have its own franchises and what is a big step for Bengal football all would be private entities, so there will be no East Bengal, Mohun Bagan or Mohammedan Sporting.

The PLS would initially start with six franchises, who would be based in Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Asansol, Midnapore and Siliguri. The six franchises will be chosen through competitive bidding for 10 years with successful bidders paying a yearly franchise fee. Only limited companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 100 Million (10 crores) could bid for a franchisee license.

The press statement said, "The USP will be each team will have one icon player and three quality overseas layers. The icon players will be an overseas player with great repute, preferably someone who has represented his country in International matches. Each team can sign a maximum of 25 players."

The squads would all have a size of 25 players - three players from anywhere in the world, one Asian player, minimum five catchment players, minimum six Under-21 players, and maximum 10 players from anywhere in India. Also the coach should be a foreign coach with a FIFA/UEFA 'A' Licence.

The organisers have spoken to former World Cuppers like Edgar Davids from the Netherlands and Junichi Inamoto from Japan about joining the PLS and being amongst the leagues icon players.

The PLS will be working as an autonomous and professional body under the license of the IFA (W.B.) and will be headed by an own Board of Governors.

It isn't known at this point of time what the AIFF and IMG-Reliance think about this plan as it could hurt its I-League (or India's Pro League under new name) though no current Indian I-League player would be allowed to participate in the PLS.

I-League - Round 23: Title/Relegation race wide open

The twenty-third Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played on April 22 to 25 across India. With Dempo SC beating rivals Salgaocar SC and East Bengal winning these three sides are now only two points apart in the title race, while Churchill Brothers having played two matches more are out of the title race. Elsewhere the relegation race is hotting up by the day with the bottom teams gaining more valuable points. HAL are now bottom of the league.

Round 23 Match by Match Short Review
22-Apr-2011: East Bengal Club 3-0 (3-0) Viva Kerala (in Kolkata)
East Bengal Club returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win against Viva Kerala at the Saltlake Stadium. With this win the red-and-gold are now on 44 points from 21 matches and are back in the title race, while Viva Kerala remain on 22 points from 23 matches and in danger of relegation.
The Kolkata side after initially having problems with their guests scored two quick goals to take control of the match. First a Syed Rahim Nabi solo in the 17th minute was followed by a Penn Ikechukwu Orji strike only a couple of minutes later. India striker Sushil Kumar Singh made it three in the 41st minute of a header, his first goal for East Bengal. It remained this way not only at the break, but after 90 minute too.

24-Apr-2011: HAL, Bangalore 1-2 (0-1) Pune FC (in Bangalore)
A downbeat Hindustan Aeronautics Limited who have to cope with the dead of their reserve goalkeeper Arun Kumar suffered another setback by losing 1-2 against Pune FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Pune FC moved into fifth place with now 29 points from 22 matches, while HAL dropped to the bottom of the table with only 20 points from 23 matches.
HAL have only themselves to blame as the Airmen wasted numerous chances throughout the match. PFC took a 42nd minute lead through a well placed shot from Lester Fernandes, while Mandjou Keita would double the lead in the 52nd minute with both goals coming of passes from seasoned Shanmugam Venkatesh. HAL did reduce the deficit through R.C. Prakash in the 63rd minute, but thereafter they couldn't get on the score-sheet anymore.

23-Apr-2011: Air India 2-2 (1-1) Churchill Brothers SC (in Kolhapur)
A late equaliser for Air India earned them a hard fought 2-2 against Churchill Brothers SC in Kolhapur. The Airmen moves to 21 points from 23 matches, while the draw has evaporated the little title chance that Churchill Brothers had going into the match as the Goans now have 44 points from 23 matches with the other title contenders having played two matches less.
Air India took the lead through Okorogor Nnabuike Praise in the 15th minute with Odafe Onyeka Okolie equalising only a couple of minutes later. It stayed one-all at the break, but only three minutes into the second session T. Bineesh Balan gave the Goans the lead and they were denied all three points through another O.N. Praise goal in injury time while Air India were happy about the point in their fight against relegation.

24-Apr-2011: JCT 2-0 (0-0) Indian Arrows (in Ludhiana)
JCT scored a vital 2-0 win against the Indian Arrows in Ludhiana to keep their fight for survival alive. The Phagwara Millmen moved to 20 points from 21 matches, while the Arrows remain on 23 points from 22 games.
After an action packed goalless first session JCT took the lead in the 70th minute through a Badru Keke Ibrahim strike and substitute Sakatar Singh would ensure victory with a second a minute from time.

24-Apr-2011: Mohun Bagan AC 1-2 (1-0) ONGC (in Kolkata)
Debutants ONGC scored a 2-1 comeback win against seasoned Mohun Bagan AC at the Saltlake Stadium, Kolkata. The Oilmen moved out of the relegation spots with 21 points from 23 matches, while Mohun Bagan stay on 27 points from 22 matches.
Mohun Bagan took an early fourth minute lead through a typical Surkumar Singh long-ranger, but that was nearly all that the green-and-maroon put together as ONGC didn't look to bother them in the first session. After the break things changed, but it needed goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee not being able to clear a back pass which allowed substitute Kailash Patel to equalise in the 79th minute and only five minutes later Kailash Patel scored again with a placed shot to shock the Kolkata giants and earn three vital points for ONGC.

23-Apr-2011: Salgaocar SC 1-3 (1-2) Dempo SC (in Goa)
League leaders Salgaocar SC suffered a 1-3 loss against defending champions Dempo SC in a Goan I-League derby which has opened up the title race. Salgaocar remain on 46 points from 21 matches, while Dempo move to 44 points from the same number of games.
Dempo took an early fourth minute lead through a deflected Ogba Kalu Nnanna shot following a corner. Salgaocar got back into the game and equalised through seasoned Yakubu Yusif in the 31st minute, but two minutes before the break Roberto Mendes Silva and Ranty Martins Soleye would combine with Ranty giving Dempo a 2-1 half-time lead. After the break Salgaocar attacked the Dempo in search of the equaliser, but Dempo would seal the game in the 85th minute through a placed Roberto Mendes Silva shot passed Karanjit Singh in goal.

25-Apr-2011: Mumbai FC 0-0 Chirag United SC (in Kolhapur)
Mumbai FC and Chirag United SC played out a goalless draw in Kolhapur. Mumbai FC move to 29 points from 21 matches, while Chirag United now have 26 points from 22 matches.
Both sides had their chances, but their strikers simply couldn't score on this day and with both teams rather secure in the middle of nowhere there wasn't an urge to score and win.

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

Man Utd's negative German UCL past

Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 host English giants Manchester United in the first-leg of their semifinal at the 'Arena auf Schalke' tomorrow night. It will be the biggest match ever for the Gelsenkirchen club, while for Manchester United this stage of the Champions League is much more routine.

But there is an interesting piece of statistic which could give Schalke some hope of making it to their first ever Champions League final, while it could play on the mind of Sir Alex Ferguson and his boys. Manchester United have met German opposition four times in the two-legged semifinals and quarterfinals of the Champions League and never would they come out of those ties as winners.

The only knockout round exception was the 1999 final in Barcelona where the Red Devils would score a sensational 2-1 injury time comeback win against FC Bayern Munich. But that was different as it was a one-off match and at a neutral venue.

So against whom did Manchester United all play and lose over the years?

- 1997 - Semifinals: vs Borussia Dortmund (0-1,0-1)
- 2001 - Quarterfinal: vs FC Bayern Munich (0-1,1-2)
- 2002 - Semifinal: vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2-2,1-1)
- 2010 - Quarterfinal: vs FC Bayern Munich (1-2,3-2)

Interesting to note is that on the first two occasions Dortmund and Bayern Munich would win the tie on aggregate and go on to win the Champions League title, while Leverkusen and last year Bayern Munich would only draw the tie on aggregate and go on to lose the final.

Schalke surely isn't a star studded side as the other three clubs had in their encounters with United, but Schalke have had an incredible run in the Champions League this season led by Raul upfront and some brilliant goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer at the back.

And after beating defending champions Inter Milan the royal blues are ready for another upset to make a surprising run into the final. And surely Raul would like to play his former club Real Madrid, while Mesut Oezil is old boys at Schalke. But before that can happen there is at least 180 minutes of football left.

Minggu, 24 April 2011

Mahindra Youth Football Challenge finals

The inter-city leg of the first-ever Mahindra Youth Football Challenge will kick-off later today at the Bala Gangadharanatha Swamy International Residential School in Bangalore. Six schools will play for the title of the national Mahindra Youth Football Challenge under-14 champions.

The champions would receive the champions trophy and prize money of Rs 50,000, while the runners-up would also get a trophy and prize money of Rs 30,000. Exceptional players will be honoured with awards for Star Performer of the Game, Best Striker, Best Midfielder, Best Defender and Best Goalkeeper.

The six participating schools - Government Sports High School (Bangalore), CRPF School (Delhi), Infant Jesus High School (Goa), Sukantanagar Vidyaniketan (Kolkata), St Joseph High School (Kozhikode), Don Bosco High School (Mumbai) - will play each other in a round robin league and the top two sides would meet again on Saturday, April 30 in the finals at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

The Mahindra Youth Football Challenge has a tie-up with Scottish giants Celtic Glasgow FC and 20 children will be selected from the national finals for a weeks clinic in India and then the two most talented kids will get a chance to visit Glasgow for a week to see Celtic in action, their facilities and more.

For this Celtic's Senior Football Development Officer Mark Reid along with Academy coaches Chris Hendry and Robert Glen are in Bangalore to have a look at the tournament to select the best players and give the schools and their coaches inputs on modern day youth football training.

Bundesliga: Heading for an interesting finish

The 2010/11 German Bundesliga season is heading for an interesting finale at the top and bottom with three rounds to go. Match day 31 had some interesting surprises in store, which has opened up the table even more and things seem to be changing week by week.

A couple of weeks back Borussia Dortmund seemed to be losing the plot and Bayer 04 Leverkusen closing in to snatch the title away from them, then last week Leverkusen got trashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich and it seemed all over. This is how fast things can change in football.

Now this Saturday Dortmund lost the battles of the Borussia's against bottom placed Moenchengladbach to stay on 69 points and Leverkusen meanwhile had to work their way through to a 2-1 win against 1899 Hoffenheim to move to 64 points. And suddenly the gap has come down to only five points with nine points still to be played for. And some see the young Dortmund side feeling the pressure, while Leverkusen who are known as Vize-kusen (always finish second, but never first) could be in with a late chance.

The race for the third and final UEFA Champions League spot is even tighter. Last week FC Bayern Munich after the win against Leverkusen were a point ahead of Hannover 96 on 55 points, but a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday after Hannover had won 3-1 at SC Freiburg on Thursday left the Bavarian giants one point behind their northern rivals.

There is also a fight for the fifth spot which would guarantee Europa League next season. And the two clubs fighting over the spot met earlier today in Nuremberg with 1.FC Nuremberg playing a goalless draw against FSV Mainz 05. Mainz now on 49 points stay two points clear of Nuremberg.

Down in the relegation zone things are slower getting clearer. It is now a matter of five and not eight/nine clubs who could get relegated. Currently FC St. Pauli and Borussia Moenchengladbach are at the back of the pack with 29 points, while VfL Wolfsburg with their first win under old-and-new coach Felix Magath by beating FC Cologne 4-1 are now on 32 points in the 16th playoff spot. Above them are Eintracht Frankfurt on 34 points, while FC Cologne are on 35 points.

All this guarantees an interesting three weeks until the Bundesliga season ends on May 14, but it will be interesting to see who wins the title, qualifies for Europe and gets relegated.

I-League 2 - Final Round: A Preview

The final round of the 2nd Division I-League will be held from April 25 to May 14 in Shillong. Eight clubs will be fighting it out for the two promotion spots with two teams seeded into the final round while six teams came through the qualifiers.

And it could be one of the most interesting final rounds in the 2nd Division I-League ever then all the eight participating teams have a chance to go through and the first two/three matches could decide who will get promoted to the I-League.

Sporting Clube de Goa and Shillong Lajong FC were relegated last year from the I-League, so they were given a bye into the final round; but this might be a drawback now as these sides have not had much competitive match action recently. Sporting Clube did beat Shillong Lajong 4-0 in the final of the Abhijit Kadam Memorial Tournament in Pune and Lajong reached the semifinals of the IFA Shield both last month, but otherwise it was friendly matches for these two sides.

The danger is also that three local Shillong sides will be taking part in the final round. Lajong do not have a monopoly this time around as Royal Wahingdoh SC and Ar-Hima FC are also looking to make it to the I-League, while Baichung Bhutia co-owned United Sikkim FC will also have its Northeast support. And the organisers are a little tense if everything will as per plans, so they have issued warnings of no incidences at the grounds or otherwise the AIFF could change the venue of the final round.

Four teams have premier division experience in Sporting Clube, Lajong, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Vasco SC; while United Sikkim FC, Southern Samity, Royal Wahingdoh SC and Ar-Hima FC are newcomers to the 2nd Division altogether. And such crucial, often close matches could be won on experience and there some sides have an advantage. Another factor could be the seven matches in a three/four day rhythm which could test the bench strengths of the eight teams.

Especially Royal Wahingdoh FC and Ar-Hima FC have shown that being young and inexperienced, but talented does not have to be a draw back. The question is if these sides will be able to perform at home or if the pressure will get to them which wasn't there in the qualifiers.

Picking favourites to get promoted is really difficult but I would still mention Sporting Clube, Lajong FC and Mohammedan Sporting are my top three contenders with real chances to the rest of the five teams. I look forward to an interesting three weeks of 2nd Division football.

2nd Division I-League - Final Round:

- Sporting Clube de Goa (last year I-League)
- Shillong Lajong FC (last year I-League)
- United Sikkim FC (Winners Group A)
- Southern Samity, Kolkata (Runners-up Group A)
- Mohammedan Sporting Club, Kolkata (Winners Group B)
- Ar-Hima FC, Shillong (Runners-up Group B)
- Royal Wahingdoh FC, Shillong (Winners Group C)
- Vasco SC, Goa (Runners-up Group C)

Sabtu, 23 April 2011

VIDEO: Baichung reacts on Houghton resignation

My colleagues at the news channel Times Now did a news report on Bob Houghton's resignation and spoke over the phone to India captain Baichung Bhutia about Bob leaving India.

Here the video report

Houghton resigns, AIFF drops racism charge

After the AIFF dropped their racism charges against Bob Houghton the Englishman resigned as national coach of India. The end came faster then one would have expected, but the end result wasn't a surprise anymore as Bob's departure looked the only option left after the AIFF and Bob could not work together anymore.

The federation bosses and Bob Houghton held a meeting in New Delhi today and finalised the exit of the Englishman after the federation made it known to the coach that there was no definitive and concrete evidence in the racism allegations against him, which cannot be sustained and therefore the AIFF agreed to withdraw all charges and allegations made against him.

Thereafter Bob Houghton tendered his resignation . It seems he finally was fed up with the AIFF and its ways of working after being in the hot seat for nearly five years. Bob Houghton had come to India in June 2006 during the then summer FIFA World Cup and has had done some really good work with India winning the Nehru Cup twice in 2007 & 2009 besides the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which led to India playing in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

There at the Asian Cup in Qatar India had to face Australia, Bahrain and South Korea which resulted in three defeats with a goal difference of 3:13, something which the federation and its bosses thought was not a good result and account of Indian football. Also Bob openly criticised the infrastructure and administration as the reason of India's non-development in football.

This led to the federation digging up an old case of fake racism charges against Bob by fourth official Dinesh Nair in an international friendly last year. Interestingly this charge had been denied by Bob Houghton and then manager Pradeep Chowdhury, while no action was taken against Bob then. If any action will now be taken against the concerned match official will have to be seen.

While the AIFF has had its way of getting rid of Bob Houghton, the players surely won't as they have often openly supported their coach over the last few years.

And Bob not only has been working on the senior national team, but he has over the years been forcing the AIFF to develop a youth development system and strategy. The Indian Arrows was one of those ideas and long foreign training camps not only for the senior national team but juniors as well to prepare them better for tougher continental competitions are amongst those ideas.

Thanks Bob for all you have done for our football! And all the best with your future coaching assignments.

Getafe not sold to Dubai Group just yet

In an interesting turn of events Getafe CF president Angel Torres denied yesterday after his return from Dubai that his club had already been sold to the Dubai based Royal Emirates Group.

"I was in Dubai looking for sponsors. We signed a series of agreements and protocols. No one should doubt Angel Torres. Getafe has not yet been sold," he told reporters on his return from Dubai at Madrid airport.

"First I have to inform the board of all the things that were done, then I will give a news conference," added Torres.

It sounds little different then what was said on Thursday in a press conference in Dubai where the Royal Emirates Group chairman Sheikh Butti bin Suhail al-Maktoum and his Managing Director announced the takeover of the club by the investment company.

The deal isn't off, but some follow-up negotiations might have to be done until the deal is 100% confirmed.

Jumat, 22 April 2011

HAL Goalkeeper Arun Kumar no more

I-League side Hindustan Aeronautics Limited SC suffered a major blow yesterday when their 23 year old reserve goalkeeper Arun Kumar died of a cardiac arrest. On Wednesday Arun Kumar had suffered a cracked shin-bone after colliding with team mate Ankit Sharma during a practice session. He got immediate treatment at the HAL hospital, but left hospital late on Thursday on his own will. On Friday morning he was complaining of chest pain, so he was brought as quickly as possible back to the HAL hospital where he died as doctors tried to revive him.

The talented goalkeeper from Kolar in Karnataka who first played in Bangalore for SAI Southern Centre had spend the last couple of seasons with Viva Kerala before signing for HAL last summer.

His team mates are in a state of shock, but have an important I-League match on Sunday against Pune FC in their fight against relegation at home. If the AIFF will consider to postpone the match in the interest of the HAL players will have to be seen.

HAL captain J. Muralidharan told the Deccan Herald newspaper, "This is just so tragic, we cannot believe it. He had got an injury (cracked shin-bone) a couple of days earlier during practice. So he was out for a few days. Then suddenly when I heard about this, I just could not believe it."

And once more after such an incidence the question is asked, why a footballers had to die so early. Hopefully his club HAL, the Karnataka State Football Association and the AIFF will investigate Arun's death and if a mistake or fault is found in the system of tracking the health of players or in the recovery from injury, then it will be rectified.

A real tragedy and nothing much one can say. My heartiest condolences to the family, friends, well-wishers and team mates of Arun Kumar. May his soul rest in piece.

VIDEO: Incredible 83 metre goal

This is one of the most incredible goals I have ever seen. Goalkeeper Wilson Quiñónez of second division Paraguayan side Sport Colombia takes a free-kick from 83 metres out and the ball travels all the way into the opponents goal over the outstretched hands of the rival keeper.

Wilson Quiñónez gets a yellow card for his celebrations after the goal, but he saves his team a point as the match against Cerro Porteño de Presidente Franco ends in a one-all draw.

Santosh Trophy: Goa selection trials

The Goa Football Association will have to enter the 65th Santosh Trophy with a weaker squad this year due to the I-League and 2nd Division I-League in action when the national championships will be held. But this also gives a chance to talented youngsters and fringe players to show themselves.

The 65th edition of the Santosh Trophy will be held from May 6 to 30 across Assam in the seven cities of Guwahati, Nagaon, Mangaldoi, Tinsukia, Shivsagar, Kokrajhar and Bongalgaon. In this years edition Goa have been given a bye into the Quarterfinal Group stage as they last year were amongst the last four.

The Goan FA has drawn up a list of probables and they will not be having any open selection trials. The below listed players are all asked to report to Peter Vales at 08.00 IST on April 25 at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco.

Goa Probables

Bruno Colaco, Nicolau Colaco, Augustino Fernandes, Vivek Kaira, Pratesh Shirodkar, Inacio Colaco, Lezly Fernandes, Gabriel Fernandes, Jayganesh Goltekar, Gagandeep Singh (all Sesa Football Academy); Lionel Rodrigues, Brian Mascarenhas, Ashley Fernandes, Brian Sabino Rodrigues, Savio Diego Carneiro, Joshua Rebello (all Churchill Brothers); Agnelo Gomes, Clemente Joseph, Rowllin Borges, Jaison Pereira, Perryson Rebello, Gammy Costa (all Margao SC); Standly Fernandes, Daniel Fernandes, Daniel Vales, Joseph Dias, Rosario Mendes (all Salgaocar SC); Joe Colaco, Rekson Fernandes, Reliston Fernandes, Caitania Fernandes, Hayson Velho (all Mormugao Port Sports Council); Tyson Caiado, Samson Fernandes, Cavin Lobo, Myron Fernandes (all Dempo SC); Joston Pereira, Michael Faleiro, Valzino Fernandes, Premson Fernandes (all Sporting Clube de Goa); Agnelo Noronha, Gary D'Mello, Nelson Fernandes, Joston Lourenco (all Goa Velha SC); Felix Baretto, Manesh Oliveira, Agnelo Quadros (all Faria Sports Management); Francis Andrade, Joshua Vaz, Presley Mascarenhas (all Salcete FC); Victorino Fernandes, Lavino Fernandes (both Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim); Shadabe Shaikh (Calangute Association)

Kamis, 21 April 2011

Getafe CF bought by Royal Emirates Group

Dubai based Royal Emirates Group were scouting the European club market for a while and in the end they decided to buy Getafe Club de Fútbol, a small club in the Madrid metropolitan area. It is now the third Spanish Primera Division club in foreign ownership after FC Malaga last year was sold to Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family for about 25 Million Euros; while Racing Santander was bought by Indian businessman Ali Ahsan Syed earlier this year for up to 40 Million Euros.

"We are very happy to sign this agreement with Getafe, which will be called Getafe Team Dubai," the group's chairman, Sheikh Butti bin Suhail al-Maktoum told reporters in Dubai.

While Getafe CF president, Angel Torres, said he hopes the agreement "will push Getafe to the highest level in domestic and European competition."

The 100 percent stake in Getafe CF is worth between 70 to 90 Million Euros with the exact figure not disclosed. The Royal Emirates Group is an investment firm chaired by Sheikh Butti Bin Suhail Al Maktoum, a member of the royal family of Dubai and they have ambitions with the club to compete in the UEFA Champions League in the coming seasons.

Currently Getafe are 14th in the Primera Division standings, but only four points away from the relegation spots though last season they finished sixth and that would be the aim of the new owners to finish amongst the top six to play either Champions League or Europa League next season and a year later they would like to see the club qualify for the Champions League.

Very high expectations for the club to deliver and if officials from the Royal Emirates Group are to be believed then they are willing to spend in the transfer market to bring in the right players to compete with clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Valencia, FC Villarreal, etc.

Dallas Cup: INDIA U-15 reach quarterfinals

The India Under-15 boys team has made it to the quarterfinals of the Under-15 age group category of the 32nd Dallas Cup in the US state of Texas. They topped Group G ahead of local US competitors and now face FC Golden State (California) later today for a spot in the semifinals.

It wasn't the best of starts as India U-15 lost their opening game 1-2 against Santa Clara Sporting from California, but the boys recovered to win 5-2 against TSF Academy Grey and then scored a crucial 1-0 win against Sockers U15 Cup yesterday through a Mohanna goal to confirm that they stay in the tournament.

In the end India would go on to top Group G with six points ahead of Santa Clara Sporting (California) with five, while Sockers U15 Cup (Illinois) are out with four points and TSF Academy Grey (New Jersey) finished last with only one point to their name.

The India Under-15 team has now been based in Florida since September 2010 and have been training at the IMG Academy. Their friendly results in the US and on a trip to Brazil have been very encouraging.

VIDEO: Sergio Ramos damages Copa del Rey

Real Madrid last night won the Spanish Kings Cup (Copa del Rey) against archrivals FC Barcelona 1-0 in extra-time through a Cristiano Ronaldo goal. Their first Copa del Rey in 18 years.

And close to 50,000 Real fans turned up at 04.00 CET at the Plaza de Cibeles (the Cibeles fountain) to greet the team. And on an open doubledecker bus the accident. Spanish defender Sergio Ramos is showing off the cup to the fans, but suddenly he drops it and it falls under the wheel of the bus where it gets crushed.

The Copa del Rey, which weighs 15 kgs, is said to have been broken into 10 pieces or maybe even more. It is can be put together or has to be replaced by a new cup will have to be seen.

Here footage from the celebration & the fall of the cup

Rabu, 20 April 2011

Neuer not to renew Schalke contract

Manuel Neuer is one of the world's best goalkeepers and a sought after property by some of Europe's biggest clubs with especially FC Bayern Munich and Manchester United have shown serious interest in Germany's No.1 .

At a press conference in Gelsenkirchen earlier today Manuel Neuer under tears announced that he will not be renewing his current contract which runs until 2012 to try out something new in his career.

"I made my decision without any influence from the outside," said Neuer on the club website. "The decision had nothing to do with a coaching change or a person at some other club. I want to keep the possibility of change open after 20 years of being true to one club."

"The club have now informed me of the interest of Bayern, so it's possible that I could leave earlier, but that is a question for the club and I will not decide that alone.

"I want to make the next big step. I want to play regularly at the highest level. That's the Champions League."

Though Schalke is having a difficult domestic Bundesliga season, they are in the German Cup (DFB Pokal) final and face Manchester United in their first-ever appearance in the UEFA Champions League semifinal. They are a top Bundesliga side, but aren't amongst the best in Europe

"We accepted this decision with a heavy heart and we must respect it," said Schalke Director of Sports Horst Heldt and added, "What will happen now with Manuel will be decided in the coming weeks or months."

Meanwhile in Munich FC Bayern will have watched with interest. FC Bayern club president Uli Hoeness said, "We hope that he comes this year and if he doesn't come this year, he'll come next year."

And went on to say, "Where there's a will, there's a way. I think we're willing to make it happen, and if Schalke gets no transfer fee next year, then they will manoeuvre so that we can agree."

Chhetri surprised, upset by AIFF reaction

When Sunil Chhetri send out those tweets a couple of days ago, the India and Chirag United SC striker wouldn't have imagined what steer he would have created. Normally one would say a message of support and a public thank you is something worth a credit. But here things have gone totally wrong.

Could the AIFF have handled the issue in a better way? Surely! They could have simply contacted the concerned player, told him about their dislike of such tweets and asked him not to do it again; rather then make it public and make matters much worse.

These were the Twitter reactions from Sunil after the release was made public by the AIFF

press kaling me regarding my earlier tweet abt bob..alright I have nthing against the AIfF,n havnt said a single word against it whatso ever

Being a member of AIFF,y wud I say or do anything against it,

I just don't want any controversy.I just want peace,have received 200 kals in the last 6 hours!I didn't wanted to hurt any1

I ll bro,just sad with everythin

These latest tweets say it all. Chhetri as a player is not part of Team India but is also of the AIFF! And hopefully this issue can be sorted without much fuss...

The Twitter account of Sunil Chhetri is @chetri_sunil11 .

AIFF vs Sunil Chhetri: Indian football's first Twittergate

Twitter has become an international craze were people tweet about their ideas, what they do, etc. It has also caught-up with players of the Indian national team. One of them is striker Sunil Chhetri, who now might be in serious trouble for two of his tweets.

And there might be another problem arising between the AIFF and its international players after the federation send out a release which stated the 'AIFF may act tough on Sunil' after the striker wrote on Twitter two messages thanking what Bob has done the players and that it would be a great loss to Indian football.

The AIFF has interpreted the tweets as criticism of its stand against their own national federation, the release said, "The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has taken strong exception to Sunil Chhetri's remarks against the National Federation on the issue of National team coach Bob Houghton on twitter."

On Tuesday, April 19 Sunil Chhetri send these two tweets out into the world

thinking and analysing everyt. that bob has done for us,infact football in india, can't thank him enough!it ll be a shame if he has to leave

N even worse,we charge him for racism, havnt seen a gentleman like him,leave behind d world class coaching n vast knowledge...sorry bob!

The AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das reacted by saying, "The AIFF is extremely perturbed and concerned that National Team players are making such unnecessary comments relating to AIFF's functioning and on the issue of coach Bob Houghton as well."

"The matter will certainly be discussed at AIFF's next Executive Committee meeting and action may be taken, if necessary," Kushal Das added.

According to the AIFF Sunil Chhetri was one of seven players who had signed a memorandum accusing former Team India manager Pradip Chowdhury, and was then issued a warning by the AIFF prior to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Sunil Chhetri was also a signatory of a letter by players and coaching staff in support of Bob Houghton a few weeks ago.

Das stressed, "The AIFF is also in the process of strengthening the Code of Conduct for the players as well as the officials and it would be implemented very soon."

But the real question is what wrong has Sunil Chhetri done? He just thanked his coach for all the coach has done for him. And expressed his views on Bob leaving. Is freedom of speech no longer wanted???

Selasa, 19 April 2011

AIFF postpones second Bob Houghton hearing

Today was earmarked as the second date for the hearing of Bob Houghton on the show cause notice send to him by the AIFF, but the federation postponed the hearing as the AIFF constituted panel hasn't been able to go through all the concerned documents.

On April 11 the first hearing had been held where Bob Houghton had appeared with his lawyer Anish Dayal. There the India coach presented his side of the three points mentioned in the show cause notice and handed in a document of 75 to 80 pages about the concerned allegations in detail.

The three points where: 1. Allegations of Racism by an Indian fourth official, 2. Under-performance by the national team at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, 3. Open criticism by Bob Houghton against the AIFF in the international media.

The AIFF will finalise the date for a second hearing once the panel has gone through all the documents and has their necessary answers in place. The AIFF hopes that that new hearing date would still be in April.

Here the blog entry: Houghton presents his case, final hearing likely next week .

124th Durand Cup in October

The 124th edition of the Durand Cup, will be played from October 1 to 15 at the Ambedkar Stadium, Delhi. The Durand Cup is India's oldest football tournament, which also happens to be the worlds third oldest tournament after the English & Scottish FA Cup's.

"It is intimated that AIFF has allotted the date for 124th edition of Durand Football Tournament 2011 with effect from 01 Oct - 15 Oct 2011," Mahesh Gill, Honorary Secretary General of the Durand Football Tournament Society said in a press release.

The Durand Football Tournament was started by Sir Mortimer Durand in 1888 at Shimla with the venue shifted to New Delhi in 1940. Since Independence East Bengal Club and Mohun Bagan AC have won 16 titles each and are joint record champions.

Last years tournament had been won for the first time by Kolkata side Chirag United, a 1-0 win against five time winners JCT from Punjab.

Santosh Trophy: Delhi selection trials

The Delhi Soccer Association will be holding an open selection trial-cum-coaching camp for its Delhi state senior team from Thursday, April 20 onwards at the Ambedkar Stadium. The trials will kick-off at 15.00 IST that day.

The 65th edition of the Santosh Trophy will be held from May 6 to 30 across Assam in the seven cities of Guwahati, Nagaon, Mangaldoi, Tinsukia, Shivsagar, Kokrajhar and Bongalgaon. In this years edition Delhi have been placed in Cluster 6 along with Nagaland, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh in the preliminary stage.

Interested players from the capital registered with the DSA or playing football in the states of West Bengal, Goa, Mumbai, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Orissa, Karnataka, Tripura, Kerala, etc can take part in the trials. Non-registered players cannot be accommodated in the squad due to registration issues.

The players interested can report to selection committee chairman O.P. Malhotra, Convenor Syed Shaheen besides Bhola Nath Karmakar, Anadi Barua, Ravi Rana and Manoj Newa for registration to participate in the trials.

Here for the complete 64th Santosh Trophy groupings .

I-League 2: Final Round fixtures out

The final round of the 2nd Division I-League will be held from April 25 to May 14 in Shillong. Last years relegated Sporting Clube de Goa and Shillong Lajong FC will be joined by the six qualifiers in a eight team qualifying group where each team will face each other. At the end the top two sides qualify for next seasons I-League, if they do not fulfil the AFC Club Licensing criteria then the relegated sides will stay in the league.

Coming to speak about the qualifiers. From Group A in Guwahati United Sikkim FC and Southern Samity qualified, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Ar-Hima FC topped Group B in Jamshedpur, while Madurai played host to Group C where Royal Wahingdoh SC and Vasco SC came through.

Not all teams where expected to be here at this stage. The big surprises are the two Shillong sides Ar-Hima FC and Royal Wahingdoh SC. This means that for three out of the eight clubs it will be a tournament on home turf, while in United Sikkim FC there is another Northeastern team in the fray.

2nd Division I-League - Final Round Fixtures

Round 1
25-Apr-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Ar-Hima FC
25-Apr-2011: Southern Samity - Shillong Lajong FC
26-Apr-2011: Sporting Clube de Goa - United Sikkim FC
26-Apr-2011: Vasco SC - Mohammedan Sporting Club

Round 2
28-Apr-2011: Shillong Lajong FC - Ar-Hima FC
28-Apr-2011: Southern Samity - Mohammedan Sporting Club
29-Apr-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - United Sikkim FC
29-Apr-2011: Vasco SC - Sporting Clube de Goa

Round 3
01-May-2011: Ar-Hima Club - Mohammedan Sporting Club
01-May-2011: Shillong Lajong FC - United Sikkim FC
02-May-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Vasco Sports Club
02-May-2011: Southern Samity - Sporting Clube de Goa

Round 4
04-May-2011: Mohammedan Sporting Club - United Sikkim FC
04-May-2011: Ar-Hima FC - Sporting Clube de Goa
05-May-2011: Shillong Lajong FC - Vasco SC
05-May-2011: Southern Samity - Royal Wahingdoh FC

Round 5
07-May-2011: Sporting Clube de Goa - Mohammedan Sporting Club
07-May-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Shillong Lajong FC
08-May-2011: Southern Samity - United Sikkim FC
08-May-2011: Vasco SC - Ar-Hima FC

Round 6
10-May-2011: Southern Samity - Vasco SC
10-May-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
11-May-2011: Sporting Clube de Goa - Shillong Lajong FC
11-May-2011: United Sikkim FC - Ar-Hima FC

Round 7
13-May-2011: Southern Samity - Ar-Hima FC
13-May-2011: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Sporting Clube de Goa
14-May-2011: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Shillong Lajong FC
14-May-2011: Vasco SC - United Sikkim FC

Senin, 18 April 2011

SAFF to organise more tournaments

The South Asian Football Federation was formed in 1997 with six founding members (Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) while Bhutan in 2000 and Afghanistan in 2005 joined later. Now SAFF is eight nations strong and the organisation last year finally decided to expand its footballing activities from just organising the South Asian Football Federation Championships for Men.

The first seminar for South Asian Football Federation Member Associations was held last week in New Delhi and there it was decided to launch three new tournaments this year - the SAFF Club Championships, an Under-16 Youth Tournament for Boys, an Under-13 Football Festival for Boys - following the launch of the SAFF Women's Cup last year.

The inaugural SAFF Club Championship would be hosted by Bangladesh from September 1 to 15. Two club each from the host country Bangladesh and India plus one club each from the other six nations would take part in the biannual event. The exact format would be decided in consultation with the organising Bangladesh Football Federation.

The first ever SAFF Under-16 Championships would be hosted by Nepal in July/August 2011. So far hosts Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have confirmed their participation, while replies from Afghanistan, Maldives and Bhutan are still awaited.

The AIFF also proposed to organise an Under-13 Football Festival for Boys, which was accepted by the other SAFF members. When and where the Under-13 festival will be held has still to be finalised though India looks the most likely host.

The upcoming SAFF Cup will be hosted by defending champions India from December 1 to 15. And from now on the SAFF Championships would be hosted every alternate year during the first half of December. Finally the SAFF Cup has a fixed slot in the calendar.

Last year the inaugural SAFF Women's Cup was successfully hosted by Bangladesh. The next edition would be held in 2012 with Sri Lanka volunteering to host the tournament if no other nation comes forward to organise it.

Under-19 I-League starts next week

The Under-19 tournament for I-League sides will kick-off on April 26 with the preliminary phase to be held until May 6 with 15 teams split into four groups to be played across the country.

Group A will be an all Goan affair with Dempo SC, Salgaocar SC, Churchill Brothers SC and Sporting Clube de Goa. Kolkata host Group B where East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan AC, Chirag United SC and Shillong Lajong FC would face each other, while Mumbai host Group C where ONGC, Mumbai FC, Pune FC and Air India are clubbed together. Group D would be played in Punjab with JCT facing Viva Kerala and HAL, Bangalore.

Group A - Goa
26-Apr-2011: Dempo SC - Churchill Brothers SC
26-Apr-2011: Salgaocar SC - Sporting Clube de Goa
28-Apr-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - Salgaocar SC
28-Apr-2011: Sporting Clube de Goa - Dempo SC
30-Apr-2011: Churchill Brothers SC - Sporting Clube de Goa
30-Apr-2011: Dempo SC - Salgaocar SC

Group B - Kolkata
02-May-2011: East Bengal Club - Chirag United SC
02-May-2011: Mohun Bagan AC - Shillong Lajong FC
04-May-2011: Chirag United SC - Mohun Bagan AC
04-May-2011: Shillong Lajong FC - East Bengal Club
06-May-2011: Chirag United SC - Shillong Lajong FC
06-May-2011: East Bengal Club - Mohun Bagan AC

Group C - Mumbai
26-Apr-2011: ONGC - Air India
26-Apr-2011: Mumbai FC - Pune FC
28-Apr-2011: Air India - Mumbai FC
28-Apr-2011: Pune FC - ONGC
30-Apr-2011: Mumbai FC - ONGC
30-Apr-2011: Pune FC - Air India

Group D - Punjab
26-Apr-2011: JCT FC - Viva Kerala
28-Apr-2011: Viva Kerala - HAL, Bangalore
30-Apr-2011: HAL, Bangalore - JCT FC

I-League - Round 22: Salgaocar win, while EB & Churchill lose

The twenty-second Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played on April 16, 17 & 18 across India. Salgaocar SC won a crucial derby against Churchill Brothers SC to close in on the I-League title, while closest rivals East Bengal lost to Pune FC.

Round 22 Match by Match Short Review
16-Apr-2011: Dempo SC 5-2 (3-1) Indian Arrows (in Goa)
Dempo SC scored a 5-2 win against the Indian Arrows in Goa to maintain their slim I-League title chances. The defending champions moved now to 41 points from 20 matches while the Arrows remain on 23 points from 21 matches. The Goans took a fifth minute lead through Iranian Rouhollah Samienia but only a couple of minutes later Shilton D'Silva would equalise for the Arrows. But Dempo's would hit back with strikes from Roberto Mendes Silva in the 27th and then Ranty Martins Soleye in the 44th minute. And was Rant again who would score Dempo's fourth on the hour mark, while an in-form Jeje Lalpekhlua would reduce the deficit for Arrows in the 72th minute. But Roberto Mendes Silva would seal the match in the 83rd minute through a penalty.

18-Apr-2011: Pune FC 2-1 (1-1) East Bengal Club (in Pune)
East Bengal Club suffered a major setback in their quest for the I-League title when they suffered a 1-2 loss away to Pune FC. East Bengal stay on 41 points from 20 matches, five behind league leaders Salgaocar; while Pune FC move to 26 points from 21 matches.
PFC put the Kolkata side under pressure from the start, but the red-and-gold went ahead in the 17th minute through an Uga Okpara goal after a corner, but in the 31st minute PFC equalised through a Mandjou Keita strike. After the break East Bengal had more of the ball, but former India captain Shanmugam Venkatesh would score the winner in the 63rd minute to win the game for PFC and dent East Bengal's title hopes.

16-Apr-2011: Viva Kerala 1-0 (1-0) Mumbai FC (in Kannur)
Viva Kerala continued their climb up the I-League table away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 win against Mumbai FC at home in Kannur. Viva Kerala now have 22 points from 22 matches, while Mumbai FC stay fifth with 28 points from 20 matches.
Viva Kerala was the dominant side in the game and won the match through a deserving strike from Nigerian Felix Chimaokwu.

16-Apr-2011: Chirag United SC 1-1 (1-0) Mohun Bagan AC (in Kolkata)
The small Kolkata derby between Chirag United SC and Mohun Bagan AC ended in a one-all stalemate at the Saltlake Stadium. Both sides have played 21 matches with Mohun Bagan ahead on 27 points, while Chirag United now have 25 points.
Chirag United SC took a first half lead through India striker Sunil Chhetri, who scored from the spot and it was Sunil's third goal in as many matches; while Subair Muritala Ali equalised for Mohun Bagan in the 80th minute. It wasn't the best of matches and to make matters worse the referee send three players off - Bapi Saha and Josimar da Silva Martins of Chirag United plus Mohun Bagan's Chidi Edeh.

17-Apr-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 1-2 (1-2) Salgaocar SC (in Goa)
I-League leaders Salgaocar SC took a giant step towards the title by beating Goan rivals Churchill Brothers SC 2-1 in the latter's home match, while for Churchill Brothers their title chase looks all but over. Salgaocar now have 46 points from 20 matches, while Churchill Brothers stay on 43 points but from 22 matches.
It was mostly Salgaocar in the first session, but the Churchill Brothers defence mostly stood their ground. The men in green-white took the lead in the 37th minute through a long ranger from Francis Fernandes, but only three minutes later Odafe Onyeka Okolie was brought down by Khelemba Singh in the box and Odafe went on to score from the penalty. But at the stroke of half-time Japanese 'Man of the Match' Ryuji Sueoka would score the winner of Yakubu Yusif for Salgaocar's.
But after the break the match lacked the pace and intensity of the first session and it stayed 2-1 for Salgaocar.

17-Apr-2011: ONGC 2-1 (0-1) JCT (in Kolhapur)
Promoted ONGC scored a late 2-1 comeback win against JCT in Kolhapur to further intensify the relegation battle. ONGC moved away from the bottom to be now on 18 points from 22 matches, while JCT dropped to the last place with 17 points but having played only 20 matches. Ajay Singh gave the Punjab Millmen a first half lead, but Nigerian striker Badmus Babatunde got the Oilmen a 54th minute equaliser before he would score the vital winner in injury time to give ONGC a boasting victory, while for JCT it was a late shock.

17-Apr-2011: HAL, Bangalore 1-3 (0-1) Air India (in Bangalore)
HAL suffered a 1-3 home defeat at the hands of Air India to place them just above the relegation zone. Both sides are now on 20 points from 22 matches, but the Airmen have a three goal better goal difference and suddenly HAL are in the relegation battle which they themselves would have not thought about two/three rounds ago.
The Airmen took a 39th minute lead through Nigerian striker Okorogor Nnabuike Praise. After the break Soccor Velho would score in the 63rd minute and O.N. Praise again in the 69th minute to give Air India a comfortable 3-0 lead. HAL could only reduce the deficit in injury time through a R.C. Prakash penalty after the seasoned striker was brought down.

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

I-League 2 - Group B: Md Sporting & Ar-Hima qualify

Mohammedan Sporting Club and Ar-Hima FC have topped the preliminary Group B in the 2nd Division I-League to qualify for the final round of the league to be played in Shillong.

The matches were played in Jamshedpur at the JRD Tata sports complex and the Keenan Stadium. Former I-League side Mohammedan Sporting didn't face too many problems in topping the group, but behind them four teams still had a chance to go through ahead of the last round of matches. In the end Ar-Hima FC from Shillong had a better goal difference then Kenkre FC and Josco FC to go through as all three sides finished on 10 points.

The surprise of the preliminary round is that Sesa Football Academy did not make it from this group or rather that they were out of contention before the final round of matches and they finished a lowly sixth, while Malabar United FC only finished fifth, both sides who last year played in the final round of the 2.Division.

I-League Division 2 - Table & Results:

Group B - Jamshedpur (Jharkhand)
#- Team----------------------------- P W-D-L GF-GA GDF PTS
1. Md. Sporting Club (West Bengal) - 6 4-2-0 11-04 + 7 12
2. Ar-Hima FC (Meghalaya) ---------- 6 3-1-2 15-10 + 5 10
3. Kenkre FC (Maharashtra) --------- 6 3-1-2 15-12 + 3 10
4. Josco FC (Kerala) --------------- 6 3-1-2 12-11 + 1 10
5. Malabar United FC (Kerala) ------ 6 1-4-1 08-06 + 2 07
6. Sesa Football Academy (Goa) ----- 6 1-1-4 08-13 - 5 04
7. Denzong Boyz (Sikkim) ----------- 6 0-2-4 08-21 -13 02

Round I
02/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-0 Sesa Football Academy
02/04/11: Denzong Boyz 3-3 Josco FC
03/04/11: Ar-Hima FC 1-1 Malabar United FC

Round II
04/04/11: Kenkre FC 3-0 Josco FC
05/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club 2-2 Malabar United FC
05/04/11: Denzong Boyz 2-4 Ar-Hima FC

Round III
07/04/11: Sesa Football Academy 0-0 Malabar United FC
07/04/11: Kenkre FC 1-4 Ar-Hima FC
08/04/11: Mohammedan Sporting Club 0-0 Denzong Boyz

Round IV
09/04/11: Josco FC 2-1 Ar-Hima FC
10/04/11: Sesa Football Academy 3-0 Denzong Boyz
10/04/11: Kenkre FC 1-4 Mohammedan Sporting Club

Round V
12/04/11: Malabar United FC 4-1 Denzong Boyz
12/04/11: Josco FC 1-2 Mohammedan Sporting Club
13/04/11: Sesa Football Academy 2-3 Kenkre FC

Round VI
14/04/11: Ar-Hima FC 0-2 Mohammedan Sporting Club
15/04/11: Malabar United FC 0-0 Kenkre FC
15/04/11: Josco FC 4-1 Sesa Football Academy

Round VII
17/04/11: Denzong Boyz 2-7 Kenkre FC
17/04/11: Ar-Hima FC 5-2 Sesa Football Academy
18/04/11: Malabar United FC 1-2 Josco FC

Minggu, 17 April 2011

FIFA elections: Bin Hammam banks on AIFF vote

June 1, 2011 will see the election for the post of the most power man in world football, the FIFA president. Current FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter from Switzerland will be facing competition from Qatari Mohammed bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation.

The 61 year old Mohammed bin Hammam in his capacity as AFC president was in New Delhi last week to update himself on the latest in Indian football as well as speak to the heads of the South Asian Football Federation which represents the eight nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

But Mr. bin Hammam also made a stopover in India to discuss his election campaign to replace Sepp Blatter and try to secure the eight south Asian votes, which all are crucial if he is to become FIFA president as every FIFA member has only one vote. So if Brazil or Bhutan does not make a difference.

"I have always had a good relationship with the All India Football Federation and Praful Patel is like a brother to me," Mr. bin Hammam told the media while in New Delhi as he seemed sure of the Indian vote.

What FIFA president Sepp Blatter thinks about such a bin Hammam statement and what the views of the AIFF are on this issue isn't known, then not only bin Hamman as AFC president but also Sepp Blatter as FIFA president have both shown their interest in Indian football and have been pushing for years for its development. If Sepp Blatter winning would have a negative effect on such development projects would have to be seen.

And Mr. bin Hammam reiterated by saying, "This will be an Asian Project. I'm representing all of you in this continent. I wish that everyone of you pray that Asia will succeed in giving a FIFA president this time. This will be for Asia."

I-League 2 - Group C: Royal Wahingdoh & Vasco move on

Surprise group toppers Royal Wahingdoh FC and second placed Vasco SC have moved on from the preliminary Group C in the 2nd Division I-League to the final round of the league to be played in Shillong.

The Carlton Chapman coached Royal Wahingdoh from Shillong maintained an all win record even beating the groups favourites Vasco SC and Techno Aryan Club, while Vasco went through as they won their crucial penultimate encounter against Aryan Club with all these three clubs beating the other participating sides in the group.

There were five matches in which one side scored five goals or more and these results show that overall this was the group with the biggest differences between the seven participating teams.

The local Group C organisers in Tamil Nadu's Madurai have come in for a lot of praise from the participating clubs. The matches at the Race Course Stadium where held at 17.00 and 19.00 IST with the second half of the first game and the whole second match under floodlights. Which reduced the burden of heat on the players and all were very appreciate of this fact.

I-League Division 2 - Table & Results:

Group C - Madurai (Tamil Nadu)
#- Team----------------------------- P W-D-L GF-GA GDF PTS
1. Royal Wahingdoh FC (Meghalaya) -- 6 6-0-0 17-07 +10 18
2. Vasco Sports Club (Goa) --------- 6 5-0-1 26-06 +20 15
3. Techno Aryan Club (West Bengal) - 6 4-0-2 20-06 +14 12
4. Eagles FC (Kerala) -------------- 6 2-1-3 10-13 - 3 07
5. PIFA Colaba Youngstars (Mumbai) - 6 2-0-4 07-14 - 8 06
6. BEML (EM) (Karnataka) ----------- 6 1-0-5 04-20 -16 03
7. Chandni FC (Kerala) ------------- 6 0-1-5 02-20 -18 01

Round I
31/03/11: Eagles FC 0-1 Techno Aryan Club
31/03/11: Chandni FC 0-6 Vasco SC
01/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh FC 3-1 PIFA

Round II
02/04/11: BEML 0-8 Vasco SC
03/04/11: Eagles FC 2-1 PIFA
03/04/11: Chandni FC 0-3 Royal Wahingdoh FC

Round III
05/04/11: Techno Aryan Club 5-0 PIFA
05/04/11: BEML 1-2 Royal Wahingdoh FC
06/04/11: Eagles FC 1-1 Chandni FC

Round IV
07/04/11: Vasco SC 1-3 Royal Wahingdoh FC
08/04/11: Techno Aryan Club 6-0 Chandni FC
08/04/11: BEML 2-4 Eagles FC

Round V
10/04/11: PIFA 3-1 Chandni FC
11/04/11: Vasco SC 5-1 Eagles FC
11/04/11: Techno Aryan Club 4-0 BEML

Round VI
14/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh FC 3-2 Eagles FC
14/04/11: PIFA 2-0 BEML
15/04/11: Vasco SC 3-2 Techno Aryan Club

Round VII
16/04/11: Chandni FC 0-1 BEML
17/04/11: Royal Wahingdoh FC 3-2 Techno Aryan Club
17/04/11: PIFA 0-3 Vasco SC