Selasa, 31 Mei 2011

I-League - Round 26: Salgaocar win title, Dempo score 14!

The twenty-sixth and last Round of matches of the I-League 2010/11 were played from May 28 to 31 across India. Salgaocar confirmed their I-league with a 2-0 away win in Ludhiana, while Dempo scored a record 14-0 win against Air India in Goa.


Round 26 Match by Match Short Review
28-May-2011: HAL, Bangalore 1-1 (0-0) East Bengal Club (in Bangalore)
Relegation threatened HAL drew one-all against East Bengal Club at the new artificial turf at the Bangalore Football Stadium to end the Kolkata giants dream of winning the I-League title. HAL remain bottom of the league with 21 points from 25 matches, while East Bengal now have 48 points with one match to go.
East Bengal looked the better of the two sides in the first session, but HAL held their ground with especially their goalkeeper P Pramod having a good game. After the break HAL looked the better side, but this time around East Bengal's seasoned keeper Sandip Nandy was in the way. Against the run of play East Bengal took a 76th minute lead through substitute Ravinder Singh, but HAL captain Xavier Vijayakumar would equalise to deny the red-and-gold the much needed three points.

29-May-2011: Chirag United SC 1-1 (0-1) Viva Kerala (in Kolkata)
Chirag United SC and Viva Kerala played out a one-all draw in Kolkata. The men in purple now have 29 points from 25 matches, while Viva Kerala ensured their I-League status after finishing with 27 points from 26 matches.
The story of the match is quickly told as two Indian internationals would score after the break. Viva Kerala would take a 47th minute lead through N.P. Pradeep, while striker Sunil Chhetri would equalise for Chirag United in the 81st minute.

31-May-2011: Churchill Brother SC 2-3 (1-1) Pune FC (in Goa)
Churchill Brother SC ended their I-League campaign on a low with a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Pune FC at home in Goa. Meanwhile Pune FC ended their season as fifth with 36 points from 26 matches, while Churchill Brothers SC are currently third with 50 points from the same number of games.
With nothing much to play for the two sides played an open, attacking match. FC took a fifth minute lead through a Mandjou Keita shot, but as one would expect Odafe Onyeka Okolie was the danger man for the Goans in the first session though he would only get the equaliser in injury time. After the break Churchill Brothers kept up the pressure and went ahead through Odafe in the 75th minute and only two minutes later Othallo Tabia was send off, it seemed PFC were beaten. But they pressed on with Kamaljeet Kumar heading in a free-kick four minutes from time and again Mandjou Keita would seal a memorable 3-2 victory for Pune.

30-May-2011: ONGC 2-2 (2-0) Mumbai FC (in Kolhapur)ONGC were held to a two-all draw by Mumbai FC in a local derby away from Mumbai at the Sahu Maharaj Ground in Kolhapur. With this draw ONGC end their campaign on 24 points from 26 matches, while Mumbai FC finish on 34 points.
The Oilmen made a quick start into the game with N.D. Opara giving them a 7th minute lead from a penalty. His team mate Badmus Babatunde would make it 2-0 in the 36th minute and NGC seemed to be heading for a crucial win in their final league match. But after the break Mumbai FC would get back into the game with Sampath Kumar Kuttymani scoring in the 65th minute, while international striker Abhishek Yadav equalised in the 75th minute. And it remained two-all until the very end.

30-May-2011: Dempo SC 14-0 (4-0) Air India (in Goa)
Dempo SC scored the biggest ever win in the history of the I-League/National Football League by trashing Air India 14-0! But still the win didn't help Dempo to defend their I-League title as they moved to 50 points from 25 matches, while Air India finished their 26 match campaign on 24 points.
The fans at the Nehru Stadium in Margao watched a match where numerous new records were set, but at half-time it didn't look like it could head where it finally did as Dempo where only leading 4-0 and went on to score 10 goals in the second session. Nigerian striker Ranty Martins Soleye was the stand-out with seven goals as he scored in the 35th, 43rd, 48th, 61st, 67th, 78th and 84th minutes. The other goal scorers were Roberto Mendes Silva (54th, 68th, 90+3), Peter Carvalho (41st, 59th), Climax Lawrence (45th) and Clifton Gonsalves (90th)

29-May-2011: Indian Arrows 5-4 (4-1) Mohun Bagan AC (in Gurgaon)
The Indian Arrows won a nine goal thriller against Mohun Bagan AC 5-4 at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Gurgaon. The Indian Arrows ended their inaugural I-League season on 29 points and in 9th place, while Mohun Bagan ended their disappointing campaign as sixth and with 34 points from 26 matches.
The Arrows had a great first half with Jeje Lalpekhlua scoring the opening goal in the 9th minute before Shilton D'Silva added a brace in the 18th and 23rd minute while Jeje made it 4-0 in only the 25th minute. A big defeat seemed on hands for Mohun Bagan, but the green-and-maroon scored their first goal through striker Chidi Edeh in the 42nd minute. After the break Subair Muritala Ali would get twice onto the score-sheet in the 57th and 78th minute to reduce the deficit to 3-4 and it seemed as if Mohun Bagan could score a remarkable comeback, but Jeje would win the match in the 87th minute making the 5-3 but Muritala would reduce the deficit in the last minute of the match to complete hattricks for both Jeje and Muritala.

30-May-2011: JCT 0-2 (0-1) Salgaocar SC (in Ludhiana)
Salgaocar SC won their final match of the season 2-0 against JCT to seal their first I-League title. For the Goans it is their second overall national league title as they finished the season on 56 points from 26 matches, while JCT finished on disappointing 24 points from the same number of matches.
JCT needed the points themselves in the relegation battle so they wanted to keep the points in Ludhiana, but Salgaocar took a 13th minute lead through a Francis Fernandes goal. And seasoned Yakubu Yusif sealed the win and the title with an 85th minute goal.


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

16 Indian boys for Arsenal Soccer Festival

16 boys have been named to represent India at the 21st Arsenal International Soccer Festival in London in July 2011. Earlier 30 boys had been short-listed for a two week camp from May 16 to 30 from whom these 16 boys have been picked by coaches from English giants FC Arsenal.

The 'Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars' is a national school football tournament which is organised by Tata Tea in association with English Premier League club FC Arsenal London for children aged between 10 - 15 years. The tournament kicked-off on December 14, 2010 and was held across 15 cities - Mumbai, Akola, Bhubaneswar, Indore, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Varanasi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Kozikode, Lucknow, Goa, Gangtok and Shillong with each city having its own elimination rounds, culminating in national finals in Shillong in April 2011.

From the cities legs and the national final 30 boys were chosen for the final camp. The current season is the fourth edition of the 'Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars' and has witnessed a record participation of more than 7,000 budding players from 1,000+ schools from across India. Season 4 of 'Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars' saw its first foray into the Northeastern states like Sikkim and Meghalaya.

Sumit Handa, Marketing Manager Tata Global Beverages, announced the 16 shortlisted players who will be participating in the 21st Arsenal International Soccer Festival yesterday at the end of the two week camp. Three boys each come from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shillong and Gangtok; while two from Bangalore plus one each from Kozhikode and Bhubaneswar. Gur Simrat Singh has been named captain of the squad.

Speaking on the occasion Sumit Handa said, "There is a need for greater visibility of opportunities and options available in Soccer so that young people can respond to their inner calling for this sport. Tata Global Beverages in association with Arsenal FC has worked to create the right environment for players with talent and passion for progress. With Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars we seek to encourage a coordinated approach to Soccer at national and international level."

Andrew Douglous, the Head of the Arsenal Soccer School, said "We are glad to be associated with such an initiative started by Tata Global Beverages to promote soccer talent in India. This tournament is an incredible platform for the kids who aspire to take the world of sports by storm. It is imperative to build and provide an infrastructure that is able to respond to the individual needs of young people interested in the game of Soccer. This competition is proving instrumental towards identifying and nurturing the talent for the game of soccer. Youngsters should make use of this opportunity to build their future in the game of soccer."


The Final Indian 16 for the 21st Arsenal International Soccer Festival

Lalruat Puia (New Delhi), Zotham Mawia (Chandigarh), Jamborki Lokai (Shillong), Mani Maran (Bangalore), Nim Dorjee Tamang (New Delhi), Gur Simrat Singh (Chandigarh), Santosh Kumar (Bangalore), Khusen Mangar (Gangtok), Jamshed M.P. (Kozhikode), Sushil Maithie (Shillong), Bibek Bhutia (Gangtok), Abhiraj Vikram Singh (New Delhi), Anuj Yadav (Chandigarh), Tshering Zangpo Tamang (Gangtok), Chester Paul Lyngdoh (Shillong), Niranjan Sardar (Bhubaneswar)

Senin, 30 Mei 2011

Bengal defend their Santosh Trophy title!

West Bengal, the undisputed Santosh Trophy champions have won the title once more. Bengal now have won the national football championships 31 times. Tonight at Guwahati's Nehru Stadium West Bengal defeated Manipur 2-1 to defend their title.

It was initially an open game with young Manipuris the more active side as Bengal took a wait and watch approach as they slowly got into the match, but then striker Branco Cardozo gave them a 21st minute lead with a good effort off a pass from Francis Xavier. It remained 1-0 for Bengal until the break.

Just three minutes into the second session Bengal doubled the lead when youngster Budhiram Tudu scored to give the defending champions a 2-0 lead. But it wasn't over yet as Manipur went all out in the last 20 minutes. The Northeastern state reduced the deficit in the 75th minute through a Nabachandra Singh goal, but they couldn't get onto the scoresheet anymore in the last quarter of the match as the game ended 2-1 in favour of Bengal.

After the final whistle it was celebration time for West Bengal. Coach Shabbir Ali had defended last years title with a totally different set of players with youngsters Branco Cardozo and Bidhuram Tudu the heros with their numerous goals through the campaign though once more for Bengal it was a team effort which won them the title.


MATCH STATS

Manipur 1-2 West Bengal

Goals
0-1 Branco Cardozo (21'), 0-2 Budhiram Tudu (48'), 1-2 Nabachandra Singh (75')

West Bengal
Naseem Akhtar; Gurpreet Singh, Anupam Sarkar, Safar Sardar, Suman Dey; Francis Xavier (63' Surabuddin Mallick), Gautam Kujur, Santosh Oraon, Snehasish Datta; Branco Cardozo (89' Avinaba Bag), Budhiram Tudu (83' Bikash Narzary)

Manipur
Prem Singh, Ratan Singh (55' Thomas Singh), Hemanta Singh, K. Naoba Singh, Reagan Singh, Santosh Singh, Ajit Singh, Tiken Singh, Nabachandra Singh, Nilakumar Singh, Meihingai Kamei

Referee
Ratheesh Kumar

Goa's Salgaocar SC are I-League champions!

Goa's Salgaocar Sports Club are the new champions of the I-League, India's Professional Football League! They won their final Round 26 league match 2-0 away to JCT in Ludhiana to move to 56 points from 26 matches and at least three points clear of their closest rivals Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers SC.

It is the first I-League title for Salgaocar's, but their second overall national league title as they had been champions of the old National Football League in the 1998/99 season under coach Shabbir Ali with players like Juje Siddi Roberto Fernandes, Derrick Pereira, Shanmugam Venkatesh, Jules Alberto, Alvito D'Cunha and the legendary Bruno Coutinho.

Now a new generation in green-and-white has created history led by their Moroccan coach Karim Bencharifa, his coaching staff, the club management and a young team led by the seasoned Yakubu Yusif from Ghana and Japanese recruit Ryuji Sueoka from the front. Salgaocar's strength has been the team with Karim able get the best out of his boys with players like Gilbert Oliveira, Cajetan Fernandes and other youngsters making their breakthrough as the team also had an able goalkeeper in Karanjit Singh at the back.

After East Bengal Club had been the initial pace setters in the 2010/11 I-League season, Salgaocar took over and until a few weeks before the end of the league it looked as if they could seal the title before the last match day; but losses to Air India, Dempo SC and Mumbai FC did make the title race interesting again, but they won their key match 3-2 against title contenders East Bengal Club after being 0-2 down and that match will have instilled enough confidence in the team to ensure that they do not allow the title to get out of their hands.

After the match Karim Bencharifa said, "We are officially the Champions. I knew we had almost won it. But with this victory, the Championship is officially ours!"

"I need to salute my players; I need to salute the support staff; I need to salute the management for their support. The team-spirit has been excellent," Karim added.

Minggu, 29 Mei 2011

Bin Hammam & Warner suspended by FIFA

The much awaited hearing of top FIFA officials by the FIFA Ethics Committee was held yesterday in Zurich. And after the hearing the committee announced that executive committee members Mohammed bin Hammam and Jack Warner have been provisionally suspended, while its president Joseph S. Blatter has been cleared of any wrong doing.

After the suspension the football governing body will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union by Mr. bin Hammam on advice from Jack Warner at a meeting organised by Jack Warner in Trinidad on May 10/11. Mr. bin Hammam had confessed that he had taken care of the costs involved (flights, accommodation) for the CFU members, but had not done anything else wrong.

Now the issue which has hit FIFA is that Jack Warner is said to have advised Mr. bin Hammam to pay incentives to CFU members to vote for him. Depending on importance and size these football associations was offered between 10,000 to 40,000 USD. Mr. bin Hamman is said to have arrived with 1 Million USD in cash stacked in bundles of 10,000 USD and what was supposed to happen to the rest of the cash is unknown, but likely an incentive for Jack Warner to have organised the meeting.

Jack Warner had told everyone to keep the payment a secret, but there have been whistle blowers amongst the CFU members who passed on the information to executive member Chuck Blazer from the United States who in turn informed FIFA headquarters.

Interestingly Mr. bin Hammam claimed that Sepp Blatter knew about what was going on Trinidad, but didn't step in while it isn't clear if Jack Warner had spoken about the incentive with Sepp Blatter.


For the Asian Football Confederation president and until yesterday FIFA presidency contestant Mohammed bin Hammam the whole verdict is not unstandable as he fails to understand how despite him not being found guilty, he has been suspended.

"I have been referred to the Ethics Committee based on evidence which was strong enough in the views of the FIFA General Secretary for such procedure. However, the Ethics Committee in it's meeting did not find this evidence sufficient to convict me. Consequently, I should have been given the benefit of doubt but instead, I have been banned from all football activities."

And it seems FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke is the man whom Mr. bin Hammam is blaming for the whole situation as he added, "I have been given the impression that the Ethics Committee is absolutely an independent committee, but in the press conference we have seen today, the General Secretary made clear that he is the one who has the influence in this Committee."

"I'm very disappointed about the way the status of the proceeding has been presented at the media conference. I am expecting that this will continue. This is not how I understand fair play. I’m reserving all my rights," added Mr. bin Hammam.

The other accused Jack Warner claimed that, at the CONCACAF Congress on May 3 in Miami, Blatter gave "a gift of 1 million USD to CONCACAF to spend as it deems fit" despite the "annoyance" of UEFA president Michel Platini.

Warner alleged that Valcke silenced Platini's protestations by insisting he would "find the money for Mr Blatter" although the payment was not authorized by the Finance Committee. Warner further alleged that Blatter gave the CFU "gifts of laptops and projectors" on May 10.

Further Warner has said that in private conversations Jerome Valcke has suggested that Qatar had bought the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said at the FIFA organised press conference that the FIFA presidential election would go ahead as planned on June 1, with incumbent Sepp Blatter now running unopposed. And when asked by journalists Jerome Valcke added only the FIFA Congress could postpone the presidential elections.

Is seems we will have three interesting days ahead of us...

Santosh Trophy - Final: Manipur take on Bengal

Tomorrow in the final of the 65th National Football Championships for the Santosh Trophy former champions Manipur will be facing defending and 30 time record champions West Bengal at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati.

The two states had met in the quarterfinal group stage where the match had ended 2-2 and Manipur went on to top the group as Bengal lost their final group game against Tamil Nadu with nothing at stake. In the semifinals then both sides won their matches with an identical 1-0 margin, Manipur against Services while Bengal got the better of Railways.

And going into the final Bengal are favourites simply due to the fact that they have numerous players who have played at the top level and have played finals, while the Manipuris without any of their top players have come with a young and rather inexperienced team, but so far they have been up to the task.

Bengal coach Shabbir Ali said before the final, "There is no substitute to success. We need to get our act right. This is the final and we are here to win it."

And talking about his opponents Shabbir said, "Manipur are a good side with a perfect mix of youth and experience and will be a tough nut to crack. But a final is all about temperament."

Meanwhile Manipur coach Ekendra Singh knows the tough task ahead, "We have gelled well as a team and I am proud of the boys. But this is the big battle. The boys need to focus."

"The players are in good rhythm. But this is a different ball game. Against Bengal, you can't afford to make mistakes," Ekendra added.

One can hope for a good final with the focus on the strikers on both sides - Branco Cardozo and Budhiram Tudu for Bengal, while for Manipur Nilakumar Singh and Tiken Singh.

The final will be shown live on Doordarshan Sports from 17.30 IST onwards.

Sabtu, 28 Mei 2011

Mohammed Bin Hamman withdraws from FIFA presidential race

The president of the Asian Football Confederation Mohammed bin Hammam about an hour ago at around midnight GMT officially withdrew his candidature for the presidency of world football governing body FIFA. The rumours have been making rounds since yesterday afternoon that Mr. bin Hammam could be on the verge of pulling out.

In an official press release Mr. bin Hammam stated that he was pulling out not to damage the reputation of FIFA and his own any further though it still isn't clear what happened in the background to justify such a drastic step.


Here the full STATEMENT from Mohammed bin Hamman

I made the decision to run for the FIFA presidency because I was and remain committed to change within FIFA.

I set out my goals and ambitions clearly - to further the cause of democracy within FIFA - through a commitment to transparency and accountability; through a commitment to expand the number of officials and nations involved in decision-making processes.
In addition to this, I wanted to spark a debate about change in FIFA. For the good of football, I wanted the future to be bright for our world’s governing body and for it to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in today.
However, recent events have left me hurt and disappointed - on a professional and personal level.
It saddens me that standing up for the causes that I believed in has come at a great price – the degradation of FIFA’s reputation. This is not what I had in mind for FIFA and this is unacceptable.
I cannot allow the name that I loved to be dragged more and more in the mud because of competition between two individuals.

The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first.
It is for this reason that I announce my withdrawal from the presidential election.
I will not put my personal ambition ahead of FIFA's dignity and integrity.

Besides, I believe my candidacy has been a catalyst for debate within FIFA and has brought change to the top of the agenda.
I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the FIFA Ethics Committee as I will appear before the Ethics Committee to clear my name from the baseless allegations that have been made against me.

I promise those who stood by me that I will walk with my head held high and will continue to fight for the good of the game.
I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to all Member Associations and individuals who supported me. I hope that they will not receive my decision with disappointment and frustration.

I have a special thank you to my friend and colleague Jack Warner for his unlimited support. I am sorry to see that he has to suffer because of me, but I am promising him that I will be with him all the way through thick and thin.
I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to restore FIFA’s reputation to what it should be - a protector of the game that has credibility through honesty, transparency and accountability.

FC Barcelona are Champions of Europe!!!

Spanish giants FC Barcelona have won their fourth UEFA Champions League title with a 3-1 win against Manchester United at London's Wembley Stadium. Manchester United were in the game initially, but the longer the match latest the more Barca were able to dictate the match. It will be a Catalan party in London tonight.

The match got off to a quick start with a surprisingly aggressive Manchester United seeming to surprise FC Barcelona initially. But this initial burst only lasted for about 10 minutes as thereafter Barca took over with their typical short passing game and forced United to run after them. Still it took a while before they had their first chance of the game, but then in quick succession Pedro, David Villa and Lionel Messi all couldn't score before Xavi Hernandez send the ball through on the right to a free Pedro who opens the scoring in the 27th minute. Barca looked to be cruising then, but an easily given away ball following a throw-in, a one-two between Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, the England striker nice places the ball in for the equaliser in the 34th minute, but the goal should have not been given then Giggs was offside.

If one thought things would chance again, one was wrong as Barca continued to control matters in midfield and they created some more half chances before the break. The teams left the field with the scoreline reading one-all leaving chances to both sides.

But after the break Barca came back onto the field with more intent. Coach Pep Guardiola seemed to have found the right words with his team looking to deliver, while Manchester United were pushed even further back into their own half. The imminent happened in the 54th minute when Andres Iniesta found Messi, whose strong and placed shot beat Edwin van der Var in the United goal. Thereafter it never looked like that United could once more get back into the match.

After taking the 2-1 lead Barca keep the pressure on United and it would be Spanish striker David Villa who would make it 3-1 in the 70th minute. Pedro would take the ball from substitute Nani, pass it to Villa, who has the time on the edge of the box to stop the ball and shot it standing with the ball going into the far corner past the outstretched hands of Edwin van der Var. United are beaten as Barca continue to control things, the only real chance comes from a Nani shot in the 85th minute.

In between Luis Antonio Valencia picked up a yellow card and he should thank referee Viktor Kassai for having the chance to finish the game as he begged to be send off throughout.

After three minutes of injury time the game was over and FC Barcelona worthy champions. It was party time for the Catalans thereafter and the team finished off the evening with a great gesture by allowing Eric Abidal to wear the captains armband and collect the European Cup from UEFA president Michel Platini. Abidal only a few weeks ago had undergone surgery for a liver tumour, but came back quicker then even the doctors predicted to play 90 minutes in the final tonight.


UEFA Champions League - Final

FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

Goals: 1-0 Pedro Rodrigues (27'), 1-1 Wayne Rooney (34'), 2-1 Lionel Messi (54'), 3-1 David Villa (70')

Paljor Stadium's new artificial turf inaugurated

In Gangtok, the capital of the Sikkim, they inaugurated their first artificial football turf in the state at the iconic Paljor Stadium today. The new ground was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Sikkim Dr. Pawan Chamling this afternoon.

The turf is said to be the biggest in the South Asian region covering more than 93,000 square feet, which is 3,000 sq.ft. larger than the turf at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata. The artificial turf was installed by the US company FieldTurf Tarkett.

The Sikkim Football Association had requested their state government to install the all weather turf to enable football throughout the year at the Paljor Stadium. The Sikkim government obliged and has footed the bill of Rs 37,7 Million (3,77 crores) to install the artificial turf.

The inaugural match was played between the Baichung Bhutia co-owned United Sikkim FC and a Sikkim Minister's XI. The match ended in a 2-2 draw with Baichung Bhutia himself and his friend Renedy Singh also playing in the friendly match.

Interesting to note is today another artificial turf ground, the Bangalore Football Stadium had its first competitive match with the I-League game between HAL and East Bengal Club. India now has three stadiums - Saltlake Stadium, Bangalore Football Stadium, Paljor Stadium - and a practice ground in Chowgule College in Goa with artificial turfs operational. Mumbai's Cooperage Ground is currently being turned into an artificial turf while Shillong and Imphal are also set to get artificial turfs under the FIFA program 'Win in India with India'.

Day of Finals: UEFA Champions League vs IPL4

Today is Saturday, May 28 - a big day in sports, then it is the day of two big finals. Early on it will be the final of the fourth edition of Cricket's Indian Premier League in Chennai, then in the evening it will be the final of Football's UEFA Champions League in London. While in the IPL final defending champions Chennai Super Kings will face the Bangalore Royal Challengers, it will be a clash between FC Barcelona against Manchester United at Wembley later.

I have read a number interesting articles from around the world which have stated that while the world can't await the Barca vs Man Utd clash to happen only India was awaiting the winners of IPL4. But is that really true??? Are Indians only following the IPL and its outcome???

I have spoken to friends and contacts to find out more about this issue. The feedback is rather mixed as I did not only speak to football friends, then otherwise one could call this unofficial questioning biased. And I didn't want it to be like that...

I got some really interesting feedback, so I thought of sharing it with you.

A lot of people are looking forward to a Super Saturday in Sports, meaning they will be watching both the finals and often they said on a stretch, while others as one would expect would either watch the IPL or Champions League final.

The most interesting answer came from someone who said that the IPL final was the Indian version of the Super Bowl in American Football, but that the UEFA Champions League final was bigger then it is a global sporting event. And that really sums up the scenario then though the IPL final will have millions watching, the final of the UEFA Champions League will be the most watched football match of the season, especially with sides like Barca and Man Utd facing each other.

But then there are others who say they will be more glued to the television during the qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in Formula 1 or watch the Tennis from Roland Garros in Paris. Plenty of sporting options this Saturday...


In India the UEFA Champions League final will be shown live on Ten Action+ from 10.30 IST onwards.


What will you be watching both finals? Only the UEFA Champions League finals? Or only the IPL Final? Maybe even none???

Jumat, 27 Mei 2011

J&K Footballers get state award

Two footballers - Arun Malhotra and Mehrajuddin Wadoo - were amongst the recipients of the Jammu&Kashmir State awards which where presented on May 14 to 71 people from all walks of life for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The awards were handed over by the Governor N. N. Vohra, while the J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was Chief Guest and his Deputy Tara Chand the Guest of Honour on the occasion.

It is a big honour for Indian international midfielder Mehrajuddin Wadoo and former international defender Arun Malhotra, who both where present for the occasion.

Arun Malhotra said about receiving the award, "This is the highest honour of Jammu&Kashmir and when you get recognition from your state it is always appreciated. I am honoured and it means a lot to me."

But the former East Bengal and Mahindra United player, "Sadly our state government is lacking to recognise outstanding sports personalities who have have done our state proud. There is a lot of work which we put into our sport and therefore I especially would like to thank all those people, who have helped and supported me in my career."

The same can be said about Mehrajuddin Wadoo, who not only plays football but tries to give back to the society and to the beautiful game.

A belated congratulation from me to Arun & Mehraj!!!

VIDEO: Prelude to the FPAI Indian Football Awards 2011

The third edition of the FPAI Indian Football Awards is set to be held in mid-September 2011. After Kolkata and New Delhi it looks that Mumbai is likely to be hosting the gala evening this year.

The voting amongst the players has already started while the Fans Player of the Year is set to happen very soon.

Last year striker Mohammed Rafi had been named as the Best Indian Player of the Year while goalkeeper Subrata Pal won the Fans player of the Year. I-League champions Dempo SC had two winners amongst them in Joaquim Abranches as the Best Young Player of the Year while Armando Colaco won the Coach of the Year, while for a second time Odafe Onyeka Okolie was also chosen as the Best Foreigner of the Year.

Here the promotional video for the FPAI Indian Football Awards 2011






Here the report from last years FPAI Awards Nite 2010 .

Players Status Committee: Tuboi was eligible for Lajong

The AIFF's Player's Status Committee met today at Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi to decide on a number of pending issues with the big issue being the status of Shillong Lajong FC striker Saikhohao Tuboi.


The AIFF decided the following on Tuboi:

It was held that player Saikhohao Tuboi was eligible to play for Shillong Lajong FC during the 2010/11 season. He was not eligible to play for Army XI in the IFA League (Calcutta Football League) during the 2010/11 season. Tuboi has been suspended by the AIFF on the PSC's preliminary findings on 06.05.2011. Therefore he is not eligible to play for any team w.e.f 06.05.2011. The period of his suspension to be finalised by the AIFF Executive Committee.

Other PSC decisions were:

- It was also held that the players who played for East Bengal Under-19 team were eligible to play as they were cleared by IFA on the basis of the directives from the AIFF.

- The Committee further made the following recommendations to the Executive Committee in relation to Players playing for any Services or Railways team(s):
"The PSC recommends to the Executive Committee of the AIFF to alert all State Associations to obtain a declaration from any player registering with it for Services or Railway team(s) that he/she is not registered with any other State Association. Where such declaration is not made the normal procedure of inter-state transfer should be followed. And such Services or Railway team(s) shall thereafter be deemed on par with other clubs within the State Associations."

Kamis, 26 Mei 2011

Turmoil at QPR after Amit Bhatia resigns

Promoted Queens Park Rangers FC were looking to establish themselves in the Premier League following their return back to the top tier after 15 long years. But boardroom troubles could hamper the clubs future with even manager Neil Warnock's job not safe anymore.

The clubs chairman and CEO Ishan Saksena was fired by the board as they weren't happy the way he handled the clubs affairs in the FA constituted panel on Alejandro Damián Faurlín though the club was only given a fine of £875,000 after two of seven charges were proven, but no points penalty given which ensured the clubs promotion.

Then the club also decided to hike ticket prices by 40% on average which has meant that some tickets prices have been doubled. All this happened in opposition to the wishes of the Mittal family for whom Mittal's son-in-law Amit Bhatia was a member of the board, but he has resigned following these events.

It has been Ishan Saksena and Amit Bhatia who have ensured that the club returned to the Premiership under manager Warnock, while the other co-owners in Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Italian Flavio Briatore let them get about their work. Now they want to be more involved with the running of the club as they are back amongst the big boys. The Mittal's actually offered Ecclestone £50 Million earlier this week for his shares in the club, but that offer was turned down.

Bhatia could not hide his frustration at the latest developments in a statement. Amit said, "It is clear from recent board meetings that my vision, strategy and direction for the club is very different from that of the other shareholders and board members. The recent decisions to sack club CEO and chairman Ishan Saksena and significantly increase season ticket prices are just two of the decisions I disagree with. While it saddens me to leave QPR, I do not wish to be associated with decisions made by the board and with which I disagree so strongly."

"The Mittal family had been in discussions concerning the possible acquisition of the club. However, we have been unable to reach agreement on this matter and therefore those discussions have now come to an end."

"Although no longer a decision-maker at QPR, I shall continue to be a 33 per cent owner and a fan of the club. In due course, we will appoint a board representative to monitor my family's investment in the club," Amit ended.

Manager Warnock has had his biggest supporters in Saksena and Bhatia, both are currently gone with Saksena a possible replacement for Amit Bhatia on the board. But Briatore will once more push for an Italian manager to come and coach the club. The names of Claudio Ranieri and Marcello Lippi have been linked with QPR over the last few weeks with Saksena and Bhatia denying again and again that Warnock would be replaced by a high profile manager. Now that is possible again.

QPR fans aren't happy as Briatore has done more damage to QPR while he has been in control at the club then anyone else and now his vision is to turn QPR into a 'Boutique' west London club. Sometimes the Italian influence in football isn't automatically better then the Indian, here it is actually much worse...

Anil Patel: I'd like to coach in India!

British Indian Anil Patel is one of the highest qualified coaches, then he is one of very few Indian origin coaches in Europe with a UEFA 'A' licence. After having coached in the UK over the years he's now looking at chances in India.

I spoke with Anil Patel about his background, coaching qualifications and ambitions.

Which clubs did you play football for?

I was a player/coach for BAPS FC (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Football Club) and before that I played in local English clubs as the only Indian player, then in those days Indians didn't play within English clubs, so I moved to BAPS FC who played in the Asian Football League.


How many years and courses did it take you to get you the UEFA 'A' Licence?

It has been a long road to get to where I am now as a UEFA 'A' Licence Coach. In the beginning I didn't take coaching too seriously as I was still interested in playing. An English Coach approached me after one of our games, he was impressed by the way our team played and asked me if I had any coaching qualifications, so he inspired me to get into football coaching and also to coach an English team, which I first did in 2005.

I did my coaching badges while working full time, so that's one reason why it has taken me this long to get my UEFA 'A' Licence. And I'm proud to be one of the very few Indians to hold a UEFA 'A' Licence in the United Kingdom (the UEFA 'A' Licence is a 2 year course) .


Which clubs have your worked for? And in what capacity?

From 2006 to 2008 I worked part time for Queens Park Rangers FC as a Community Football Coach/Kicks Project, which involved Planning and delivering training sessions.

From 2007 to 2010 I worked as an Assistant Manager with Kingsbury London Tigers FC, a semi-professional team playing in the South Midlands Spartan League Premier Division which is Step 7 in the English football structure.

From 2008 to 2010 I also worked for London Tigers Organisation as a Sports Development Officer which involved creating, planning and delivering coaching sessions; while also organising a variety of sports tournaments, supervising, monitoring and evaluating all sports programme; while also representing the London Tigers organisation in strategic meetings and workshops.


How well do you know Indian football?

I have been following Indian Football for over 15 years now. I gained a lot of my knowledge of Indian Football from your old site IndianFootball.Com. And I remember we had first met when India toured England in July 2000 at the game against Fulham FC.

There is a lot of passion for the beautiful game in India but the lack of infrastructure, development of youth football and most of all the lack of football coaches, has hindered the progression, however since the formation of the I-League, the appointment of former coach Bob Houghton the Indian national team has progressed with the support of FIFA and the AFC. But more needs to be done by the AIFF.

With the AFC directive that all I-League clubs should be run professionally making sure that I-League players don't play in the state leagues is a welcome step as this has given other players the chance to shine for their clubs.

For over five years India has seen the emergence of football academies run by private clubs bringing in foreign coaches to run International Soccer schools as well as setting a standard structure of football coaching. That is a very positive step.


Why do you want to coach in India? What could you offer as a coach to Indian football?

The main reason is to see India play in the FIFA World Cup and win the AFC Asian Cup and become a force in Asia. Japan were in the same stage as were we are now 10 years ago and look at them now.

I want to help in the development of youth football, then there is the lack of technical, tactical, mental, physical knowledge which should help the players become more focused about their game as is the way throughout the world.

Players are becoming professional in their field, the same applies to coaches who have to become professional by constantly learning and developing new ideas to help the players.

Rabu, 25 Mei 2011

Moenchengladbach retain Bundesliga spot

VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach drew tonight one-all against VfL Bochum at the Ruhrstadion to maintain their spot in the German Bundesliga after a 2-1 aggregate win in the Relegation Playoffs after Gladbach had won their home tie 1-0 at the Borussia Park last Thursday.

The Relegation Playoffs in the German Bundesliga are the most important set of matches in the season, then the team which finishes 16th in the Bundesliga face the team which finished third in the 2.Bundesliga to play out if the teams remain in their respective leagues or gets promoted/relegated. For the clubs being in the Bundesliga means a guaranteed additional revenues of 10 to 20 Million Euros depending on the size of the club.

And the two west derbies over the last six days were action packed and only small differences decided that Moenchengladbach stay in the premier tier, while Bochum remain in 2.Bundesliga. In the first leg Gladbach's Igor de Camargo had scored the winner late in injury time.

It meant Bochum had to score at least once to take the match into extra-time. Bochum seemed up to the task then after an initial period of a wait and watch they took charge of the game. After a mistake in midfield by Gladbach's Martin Stranzl a Christoph Dambrowski ball was put into his own goal by Norwegian Havard Nordtveit in the 24th minute. Bochum had more of the game, but not the chances to double the lead.

After the break Gladbach did more for their attack and they were rewarded with a 72nd minute equaliser from Marco Reus off a Igor de Camargo through ball. Bochum now needed two goals to gain promotion, but the Ruhr valley side lost their composure and became hectic in their approach with no real chance to get another goal towards the end of the game.

After the final whistle it was party time for Gladbach - the players, management and fans. And it marked one of the most remarkable comebacks in German football, then Gladbach had spend most of the season in last or the relegation zone and survived due to an excellent late rally in the season.

Salgaocar are U-15 MUPC India champions!

The under-15 boys team of Salgaocar SC are the champions of the Indian leg of the Manchester United Premier Cup for youth teams. The Goans beat Mumbai FC 5-4 on penalties after the match had ended in a one-all draw yesterday in Pune.

Mumbai FC took a 17th minute lead through a N. Roger goal and Salgaocar were only able to equalise in the last minute of the match through Myron Borges. In the penalty shootout their players scored of all their shoots, while Salgaocar's keeper blocked one of the MFC shoots.

Present at the final where India striker Sunil Chhetri, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, WIFA CEO Henry Menezes, Vishwajeet Kadam from the Bharati Vidyapeeth University and Nike India MD Sanjay Gangopadhyay.

This year Under-15 teams/organisations from across India took part with 18 teams making it to the national finals. The finals was held from May 16 until yesterday at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Education Complex, Satara Road in Dhankawadi, Pune.

Salgaocar as the winners of the MUPC India leg have earned a spot in the regional Southeast Asia Finals to be held in Si Racha, Thailand from June 7 to 9 where the Indian champions would face their counterparts from Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Unlike in previous years the Indian champions are not getting an automatic place in the world finals as they have been clubbed with Southeast Asian rivals.

AFC Football Festival: India U-13 boys do well

The India Under-13 boys have returned from a good exposure at the South Asian leg of the AFC Football Festival in Yazd City in Iran.

The AFC Football Festival has been created by the AFC as the name says as a festival rather then a tournament where it isn't about winning and trophies, but rather international exposure for the young footballers.

India did impress the AFC experts who declared striker Lalremruata and midfielders Lalmuanzova and Sandip Bhattacherjee amongst the 'Best Players' in the Football Festival in Iran, while midfielder Lazim Ali was declared the 'Most Skilful Player' as he excelled in the skill tests.

Over the duration of the Football Festival the Indis Under-13s used their whole squad. The team won five of their matches, drew two and only lost their final game against Iran.

Manager Satheevan Balan was pleased with the performance of the boys. "It was the first time the kids played at such a big platform. But they stayed composed."

Assistant Coach Tarun Roy added, "There was a healthy turn-out in all the matches and our performance was appreciated by all."


Results

First round results

India 8-0 Bhutan
India 1-1 Pakistan
India 3-0 Yazd City
India 8-0 Bhutan (Return-leg)
India 1-1 Iran

Second-round results

India 7-0 Bhutan
India 8-0 Sri Lanka
India 0-2 Iran

65th Santosh Trophy: Semifinalists finalised

The quarterfinal league in the 65th Santosh Trophy finished yesterday with the four teams - Manipur, Railways, West Bengal, Services - now known who have qualified for the semifinals which will be played over the next couple of days.

The 65th edition of the Santosh Trophy is being held from May 6 to 30 across Assam in the seven cities of Guwahati, Nagaon, Mangaldoi, Tinsukia, Shivsagar, Kokrajhar and Bongalgaon, but since the quarterfinal league the tournament is being held only in the capital Guwahati.

Group A saw former champions Manipur topping the group with two wins and a draw, while defending champions West Bengal came through with four points, but Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh were eliminated with only three points.

Group B was a much more interesting affair, then Railways went through with an all win record, but the three other sides Services, Punjab and Goa all finished with two points from two draws and a loss. But Services were the lucky side as they had the same goal difference with Punjab, but had scored a couple of more goals.

But there isn't much of a buzz surrounding this edition of the Santosh Trophy with the I-League and the second Division I-League keeping the best players away from the tournament. And this seems to have hit the traditional power houses of Indian football hard, while Railways and Services could draw on the players on their payroll and build strong teams to challenge the best states in the country.

For the semifinals and final the AIFF has been able to rope in DD Sports, who will be showing the matches live from 17.30 IST onwards.


Quarterfinal League

Group A

#- Team-------- P W-D-L GF-GA GDF PTS
1. Manipur----- 3 2-1-0 06-02 +04 07
2. West Bengal- 3 1-1-1 07-05 +02 04
3. Tamil Nadu-- 3 1-0-2 05-06 -01 03
4. Chhattisgarh 3 1-0-2 04-09 -05 03

17-May-2011: West Bengal 4-1 Chhattisgarh
17-May-2011: Tamil Nadu 1-2 Manipur
19-May-2011: Chhattisgarh 3-2 Tamil Nadu
19-May-2011: Manipur 2-2 West Bengal
21-May-2011: Chhattisgarh 0-3 Manipur
21-May-2011: West Bengal 1-2 Tamil Nadu

Group B

#- Team-------- P W-D-L GF-GA GDF PTS
1. Railways---- 3 3-0-0 07-02 +05 09
2. Services---- 3 0-2-1 06-07 -01 02
3. Punjab------ 3 0-2-1 04-05 -01 02
4. Goa--------- 3 0-2-1 04-07 -03 02

20-May-2011: Punjab 2-2 Services
20-May-2011: Goa 0-3 Railways
22-May-2011: Services 3-3 Goa
22-May-2011: Railways 2-1 Punjab
24-May-2011: Services 1-2 Railways
24-May-2011: Punjab 1-1 Goa


Semifinals

26-May-2011: Manipur - Services (17.30 IST)
27-May-2011: Railways - West Bengal (17.30 IST)

Final

30-May-2011: Winner SF1 - Winner SF2

Selasa, 24 Mei 2011

AFC Cup: Dempo lose to Duhok, are now out

I-League champions Dempo SC are out of the 2011 AFC Cup after they 0-1 loss in their one-off pre-quarterfinal match against Duhok SC in Iraq earlier today. With Dempo out it ends Indian participation in the continental competition following East Bengal not surviving the group stage.

It was a rather boring encounter between the two sides with tons of aimless football, the ball going wide and the defences able to intercept. Such a match was due the fact that both sides knew very little about each other, so both sides took a rather defensive approach.

Dempo were the more defensive of the two sides and allowed Duhok to build-up on a number of occasions. One such build-up was stopped by Valeriano Rebello by a foul just outside the box which resulted in a free-kick. Duhok's Khaled Musher Ismail would score the only goal of the match in the 19th minute with a nicely placed shot into the far corner of the net.

Dempo thereafter did try to create chances, but it just wasn't their day as they once had one shot close to target of Joaquim Abranches while goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani had to come to Dempo's rescue a few times.

After the break Armando Colaco changed his strategy by pulling Kalu back into defence while Micky Fernandes took his place in midfield, but though Dempo looked better they simply didn't look like they wanted to score and win the game. Ranty Martins Soleye did have a couple of chances but they were wide, while Duhok also weren't that threatening though they continued to have more from the game.

One can only hope Dempo SC was resting itself for the hectic week ahead in the I-League with three matches in six days, then they can still win the I-League title.


DEMPO SC

33-Laxmikant Kattimani; 18-Valeriano Rebello, 3-John Charles Dias (46' 20-Micky Fernandes), 24-Samieinia Rouhollah, 16-Samir Naik; 17-Joaquim Abranches, 6-Peter Carvalho, 8-Climax Lawrence, 12-Ogba Kalu Nnanna, 15-Clifford Miranda; 9-Ranty Martins Soleye

Euro2016: France announce nine host cities

The 2012 European Championships have still to be played next year in Poland and the Ukraine, but the preparations have already begun for the next champions in 2016. The hosts will be France, who have now finalised the nine stadia which will host the 2016 edition of the UEFA European Championships.

The French Football Federation has decided to hold the tournament across nine stadiums. The tournament will be played in Paris' Par des Prince, the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of St. Denis plus Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nancy and Nice.

Surprisingly the cities of Toulouse and Saint-Etienne didn't make the list of host cites and have been named as reserve host cities should one of the above not be ready for the tournament.

The 2016 edition would be the first European Championships to feature 24 teams instead of 16 which has been usual over the last few editions and this means more venues are needed to host the bigger tournament with more matches to be played.

FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy said, "All the bids were of a very, very high standard, but the choice was very clear and decided at the first round of voting."

2012 AFC Challenge Cup: Three countries bid to host

Three out of the eight finalists of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup have shown interest to host the bi-annual event and India isn't amongst the nations who have bid to host the tournament. The bidding nations are the Maldives, Nepal and Palestine.

Now the AFC has requested the football associations of Maldives, Nepal, and Palestine to sign the Organising Association Agreement (OAA) and the List of Requirements (LOR) after the three expressed their interest.

The AFC has created the AFC Challenge Cup as a second-tier national team competition for developing footballing nations across the continent. The 2006 edition was held in Bangladesh and won by Tajikistan, in 2008 hosts India won the tournament, while the 2010 edition held in Sri Lanka which was won by North Korea. Also since 2008 the champions of the AFC Challenge Cup earn a place in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup, an added impetus for nations to field their best sides and win the title.

The 2012 edition will see Palestine, the Philippines, India, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Tajikistan, North Korea and Nepal in action with a place in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia up for grabs.

The host for the 2012 edition is likely to be decided by the AFC Organising Committee for President's Cup and Challenge Cup during its meeting at the AFC headquarters on June 14, 2011.

Aloke Mukherjee to coach Md Sporting

Kolkata's Mohammedan Sporting Club have named former Indian international left back Aloke Mukherjee as their new coach for the 2011/12 season. The new coach hopes to build a strong team to challenge their rivals in the Calcutta Premier Division.

Aloke Mukherjee wants to take it step by step, build a team, get the fans behind the team and if things go by plan then the club would challenge for an I-League place towards the end of season.

The club has had an up and down 2010/11 season. They started the season with Syed Nayeemuddin as their coach, but he didn't last too long with Nigerian Tope Fuja taking over. After a mixed Calcutta Premier Division campaign which ended on a high as the club in the end finished fourth behind East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Aryan Club; they won three tournaments across eastern India amongst them the Airlines Gold Cup in Kolkata.

The 2nd Division I-League also started on a bright note as the club topped their preliminary group in Jamshedpur, but the club couldn't sustain itself and finished a lowly seventh with only four points from seven matches in Guwahati. The dream of a return to the I-league was once more not fulfilled.

Senin, 23 Mei 2011

AFC Cup: Dempo face Duhok test in Iraq

Armando Colaco will be taking over the reigns as interim coach of Team India in a few weeks time, but up to then he is still the chief coach of Dempo SC and tomorrow he has a big assignment in Iraq when his boys take on Duhok SC at their home ground in the AFC Cup pre-quarterfinals.

Unlike the quarterfinals and semifinals the pre-quarterfinals is a one-off match in which the group stage winners host the runners-up of another group. So the Iraqis have the home advantage against Dempo SC who will be missing their dependable defender Mahesh Gawli.

Armando said about the game, "I have told the boys that they need not worry about the result. The idea is to enjoy the game."

"Duhok are an unknown entity to us. I have not managed to have a look at their videos but I have heard that they are extremely tough opponents, especially when playing at home. We are going into the match with an open mind and that should be advantageous to us."

"My team has hardly had any rest but despite the hectic schedule they have always put their best foot forward. We have the I-League to take care of back home and I don't want them to be under any pressure," Armando added.

Some would say Dempo are more focused on retaining their I-League title rather then making it to the quarterfinals of the AFC Cup, but Duhok SC coach Akram Salman isn't taking Dempo lightly.

"They are a good side and can cause us real problems," said the coach of the Group C winners.

"We have prepared ourselves for all eventualities, including this possibility that the match could eventually head into extra time."

"Dempo are no weaklings. They have been playing in the AFC Cup regularly for the past four years and that experience should give them an edge. They know what it takes to progress in this competition and we should not underestimate their abilities."

Akram Salman finished off by saying, "This match is even. We both have a 50-50 chance. I don’t think there are any favourites."

Ballack has no future in Team Germany

Ahead of the friendly against Uruguay on May 29 in Hoffenheim and the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Austria on June 3 and Azerbaijan on June 7, Germany coach Joachim Loew faces a problem at the heart of midfield with FC Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger out with a broken toe, while Real Madrid's Sami Khedira still has to recovered from an injury suffered against FC Barcelona in the Spanish Cup final last month.

And even though Loew has these injury worries he is not calling on his former captain as a replacement and is looking at options within the squad which he sees in Ballack's club team mate Simon Rolfes and Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich as possible options.

Talking to the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag Loew had said, "Michael and I have agreed to talk again after the international matches. We've shared a lot (of opinions), he knows what I think, that is why it will be a final (formal) meeting."

It looks clear that in the coming two/three weeks the future of Michael Ballack in the German national team will be disclosed or rather the end of his international career will be. It looks likely that Ballack, who has played 98 times for Germany, will get a last and final call-up for the friendly against Brazil on August 10 in Stuttgart.

It would be an end to an international career in which Ballack was never able to win a big trophy - FIFA World Cup, European Championship, UEFA Champions League - always finishing runners-up though winning numerous national titles.

He will continue to play for Bayer 04 Leverkusen and they will be playing UEFA Champions League next season, but it looks rather unlikely that Leverkusen would win the Champions League.

Did East Bengal lose title within a week?

What a week of I-League football it has been for Kolkata's East Bengal Club. The red-and-gold faced the three top Goan clubs - Dempo SC, Salgaocar SC, Churchill Brothers SC - within seven days and saw their fortunes in the title race fluctuate with all their opponents also having a chance to win the title.

It all started with a bang against Dempo, but the title hopes went up in smoke thereafter with losses against Salgaocar and Churchill Brothers. This once more showed how fast things can change and it was small nuances which will now decide the title race.

East Bengal were one goal down against Dempo SC at home before winning the game 3-2 and after the recent losses of Salgaocar they looked to be the title favourites last Sunday. Then came the match against Salgaocar in Margao in which East Bengal took a 2-0 within 16 minutes and they looked in a strong position, but Salgaocar made a great comeback to win the tie 3-2 which left East Bengal devastated, but nothing had been lost.

Yesterday the match against Churchill Brothers SC was lost 1-2 due to a double strike from Odafe Onyeka Okolie; which seems to have ended all hopes for a first I-League title for the red-and-gold, who had won the National Football League title thrice but their last title was way back in 2003/04.

In theory all is not lost, then if Salgaocar lose their last match and East Bengal win both their games with good margins then it is still possible; but that would be asking a lot. Still it has been a good season for the Kolkata giants who won the Federation Cup and the Calcutta Premier Division.


The results

15-May-2011: East Bengal Club 3-2 Dempo SC (in Kolkata)

19-May-2011: Salgaocar SC 3-2 East Bengal Club (in Goa)

22-May-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 2-1 East Bengal Club (in Goa)

Minggu, 22 Mei 2011

State FA elections in Delhi & Maharashtra

The state football associations of Delhi and Maharashtra have held elections for their office bearers for a new four year term. The presidents in both state football associations were re-elected, while they both got new honorary secretaries.


Delhi Soccer Association

MLA Subhash Chopra has been re-elected as president of the Delhi Soccer Association for a second four year term in New Delhi. Out of the 78 governing council members, 74 participated in the elections. These were conducted by the returning officer Rajesh Mishra, member Bar Council of Delhi and in presence of AIFF Observer Anil Kamat.

Associate Professor of Physical Education Zakir Hussain College Syed Shaheen was elected as the new Honorary Secretary by defeating D.K. Bose by 60-14 votes. Shaheen was the Honorary Treasurer in the outgoing body.

The six Vice President, three Joint Secretaries and a Treasurer were also elected unopposed. They are Sharafatullah, O.P. Malhotra, H.V. Chavan, N.K. Bhatia, Nagendra Singh and Kamaluddin Qureshi. The three joint-Secretaries are Magan Singh Patwal, Rajeev Gupta and Rizwan Ul-Haq. Hem Chand was elected as Honorary Treasurer.

Nine members of managing committee elected are Bikramjit Purkayastha, Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Benny Joseph, Dalip Kumar Ghosh, Hafiz Shahid, Jagdish Malhotra, Liaquat Ali, Ashok Kumar and Bhola Nath Kamarkar.


Western Indian Football Association (Maharashtra)

In the elections of the Western Indian Football Association, the Union Minister for Heavy Industries and All India Football Federation president Praful Patel has been re-elected as WIFA president.

At the recently held 62nd Annual General Meeting of WIFA in Gondia, Sauter Vaz from the Mumbai District FA was elected as the new Honorary Secretary of the state.

Pyarelel Choudhary from the Pune District FA was chosen as the treasurer, while five vice-presidents Atal Bahadur Singh (Nagpur), Vishwajeet Kadam (Pune), Maloji Raje Chhatrapati (Kolhapur), Sunil Dhande (Beed), Liaquat Hussain (Aurangabad), three joint-secretaries (Wali Mohammed (Raigad), Manik Mandlik (Kolhapur), Deepak Dixit (Chanda) and 13 executive committee members were also chosen according to a WIFA press release.

Postponed I-League Games: Churchill Bros help themselves & Salgaocar

May 22 was an I-League match day for postponed matches from Round 19 & 24. The matches had been postponed due to different reasons by the AIFF.
On this May 22 the title hopes of East Bengal Club could have ended after a second successive loss against Churchill Brother SC following the loss in the earlier match against Salgaocar SC on Thursday.


Match by Match Short Review
Round 19
22-May-2011: Mohun Bagan AC 2-0 (0-0) JCT (in Kolkata)
Mohun Bagan AC beat JCT in an I-League at the floodlit Saltlake Stadium, Kolkata. The Kolkata giants jumped into fifth place with now 34 points from 25 matches, while JCT stay on 24 points from 25 matches.
After a goalless first session the green-and-maroon took the lead on the hour mark through youngster Satish Kumar while seasoned Ashim Biswas doubled the lead in the 69th minute to seal the win.

Here all I-League Round 19 match reports

Round 24
22-May-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 2-1 (1-0) East Bengal Club (in Goa)
Churchill Brothers SC kept their slim title chances alive with a 2-1 win against East Bengal Club in Goa. Churchill Brothers moved to 50 points from 25 matches, while East Bengal stay on 47 points from 24 matches after their second loss in a row. Both sides will have to win their remaining matches, while Salgaocar SC need to lose their final encounter against JCT to have a chance to win the I-League title.
In an open game Churchill Brothers sharp-shooter Odafe Onyeka Okolie gave his side a 1-0 lead on the half hour mark and doubled it through a penalty in the 58th minute against the outstretched hands of East Bengal keeper Jayanta Paul. East Bengal was able to reduce the deficit in the 79th minute through a Baljit Singh Sahni goal, but they wouldn't score any more goals.

Here all I-League Round 24 match reports


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

Schalke 04 trash Duisburg, win German Cup

FC Schalke 04 ended their mixed season on a high with a 5-0 win against Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr area/district) rivals MSV Duisburg in the German Cup - DFB Pokal. The second division side were never really an opponent for their local Bundesliga rivals who won their fifth German Cup title.

Infront of a sellout 75,708 spectators at Berlin's Olympic Stadium it initially was an open game, but Schalke teenager Julian Draxler gave the royal blues an 18th minute lead with a lovely left-footer and four minutes later Dutch international striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would double the lead with a nice strike off a brilliant Jefferson Farfan pass.

Thereafter Duisburg came into the game, but the second division side couldn't utilise their few chances through Sahan and Schaeffler with Schalke sealing the game in their favour in the 42nd minute when defender Benedikt Hoewedes headed in a corner.

After the break Schalke mainly controlled the game and added two more goals to finish 5-0. In the 55th minute Jose Manuel Jurado placed the ball nicely past MSV keeper David Yelldell off a pass from Huntelaar, while Huntelaar himself scored his teams fifth in the 70th minute after a defensive error.

"We played with great concentration and in the end it was, thank God, a clear result," said Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick. "It's great to end the season with the title. We're proud of the club."

For former Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez led the celebrations with a Spanish flag and his trademark bullfighting routine and the 33-year-old said after the game, "I had to come to Germany to win the cup. I'm very proud and happy to have won it. This must be celebrated. We're back in Europe."

Sabtu, 21 Mei 2011

Ten Sports retain UEFA club football rights for India!

UEFA have confirmed that that the Taj TV/Essel Group owned Ten Sports channels will continue to show continental European club football on their channels from 2012 to 2015. The rights for three seasons of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League are said to have been sold by UEFA for 3,5 Million US-Dollars, nearly a three fold increase from the last cycle.

Ten Sports channel competitors ESPN-Star Sports and Neo Sports had also bid for the rights, which have become very lucrative in India though match kick-off timings in Europe are often well past midnight.

Ten Sports CEO Atul Pande said, "We are committed to bringing the best sports action to our viewers, and with this long-term renewal of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League we have reinforced our leadership further."

"With the best football line up on Ten Channels it reaffirms the belief of our viewers and our associates in us. We are committed to bringing the best football action to our viewers and we will continue delivering to our promise," Mr. Pande added.

Ten Sports channels (Ten Sports & Zee Sports in the past, now Ten Sports & Ten Action+) have been airing the top club football from UEFA for a couple of years and showcase more than 55 UEFA Champions League and 60 Europa League matches from September to May every year. Ten Sports offers the most comprehensive coverage of the UEFA Champions League & UEFA Europa League in India, with a choice of live matches and a full round up of all the match day action throughout the week.

The rights are not only for television but across all broadcast platforms and besides India Ten Sports channels will be showing the matches across south Asia in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

rs1.tv VIDEO: Me interviewing Rudi Voeller

I got the chance to speak with Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Director of Sports Rudi Voeller in the half-time break of the FC Remscheid vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen. He did tell me before the interview that he knew about the India job story with the confusion of names with Ruud Krol, which he found really funny.


Here the interview from the local TV station rs1.tv (it is in German).


Armando's own ideas for Team India

Armando Colaco will try and play positive football with Team India. This is what the Dempo SC coach and secretary has promised to try and do while he is in-charge of Team India as there will be pressure on India's most successful club coach of the last few years to deliver.

Armando's last commitment with Dempo SC is on June 1 in the I-League and then he is set to give the India probables a 10 to 14 day rest before he assembles the players for the first time. But Armando would travel to Denmark to visit FC Midtjylland, Dempo's new technical/youth development partner before he returns to India in the second week of June. When the probables will be named isn't clear yet.

With the AIFF deciding to host India's home match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, which was refurbished for the 2010 Commonwealth Games; it looks likely that it would hold its local preparatory camp in the capital.

Armando is also set to make some changes to the players he is set to call-up for the probables camp. Rumours say that captain Baichung Bhutia, defender Surkumar Singh, Anwar and N.S.Manju besides striker Abhishek Yadav could be left out of the camp besides some other seasoned players.

Armando has seen nearly all players in the I-League this year and could be calling up own Dempo players in Valeriano Rebello, Debabrata Roy and Peter Carvalho; East Bengal's Naoba Singh, Mehtab Hussain and Harmanjot Singh Khabra; Salgaocar SC's Francis Fernandes, Cajetan Fernandes and Gilbert Oliveira; and Viva Kerala's P.K. Anil Kumar.

The trio from the Indian Arrows Raju Gaikwad, Jewel Sheikh Raja and Jeje Lalpekhlua are set for another call-up after their strong performances in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.

VIDEO: Sean Stewart's miss of the season

Irish leagues St Patrick Athletic's Sean Stewart might be remembered for the miss of the season. The striker just needs to tap in the ball into an empty net with the goalkeeper and defenders out of position, still he puts the ball wide. But luckily for him his team won 3-0 and he also scored a goal, so he didn't cause any major damage with his miss.


Here the link to the video:



Jumat, 20 Mei 2011

VIDEOs: Bayer Leverkusen finish season in Remscheid

Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen played their last match of the season here in Remscheid and won the game in the end 6-2 against FC Remscheid infront of 4,500 spectators.

Things weren't as clear cut as the result would suggest as Leverkusen took the lead, Remscheid turned things around to have a 2-1 lead just after the break, but as would have expected the longer the match lasted the more the pros took control with Michael Ballack and Stefan Kießling scoring a brace each with Lars Bender and Simon Rolfes adding another.



Here reports from the local TV station rs1.tv (the reports are in German).


FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Match report



FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Pre-match Interview with the two coaches Jupp Heynckes & Stefan Brandt


FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Background report

AIFF ExCo appoints Armando Colaco as interim coach, other decisions

The Executive Committee of the All India Football Federation met at Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi today with its president Praful Patel presiding over the meeting. Also in attendence where General Secretary Kushal Das, the vice-presidents Subrata Dutta, Joaquim Alemao, Ankur Dutta and other members of the ExCo.

The Committee unanimously decided on the following topics:

1. Armando Colaco has been appointed as Team India's interim coach for four months. He will be in charge of the team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian qualifiers and the international Friendlies that have already been fixed up.

2. It has been decided to host India's 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian qualifier against the UAE at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. The match is slated for July 28.

3. The Committee ratified the decision to stick to the 3+1 format as far as foreign recruits in the I-League are concerned.

4. Furthermore, the Committee has referred the case of suspended Shillong Lajong FC player -- Saikhohao Tuboi -- to the Players Status Committee which is slated to meet on May 27.

5. The Committee gave its consent to Team India's Friendly matches (Olympic Under-23 Team) against Pakistan subject to clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

6. The Committee agreed that it is critical to appoint a Technical Director at the earliest to assist in the Development Programme and appointment of Coaches.

7. The President also congratulated Shillong Lajong FC and Sporting Clube de Goa for qualifying for next season's I-League. Both the teams, however, would have to meet the AFC Club Licensing criteria. The AFC Inspection Team is due to visit the two clubs on June 11/12.

8. The Committee also took the decision that efforts should be intensified to find a sponsor for the Indian Arrows team by May 31. In case no sponsor is found, a decision will be taken by the Emergency Committee about the future of the Arrows.

9. The Asian Football Confederation will conduct a workshop for I-League representatives in August and organise educational trips if necessary.

10. The proposal to hold the final phase of the 2nd Division League on a Home-and-Away basis has been referred to the Advisory Group on Competitions. The Advisory Group would also take a final decision on the participation of I-League Players in the local leagues.

11. The Committee also decided that National Team midfielder N.P. Pradeep should publish an advertisement in a National Daily (all editions -- at his own cost) making a disclaimer that he has not posted any derogatory comments on any Social Networking Website and also apologise for any disregard caused to the AIFF and its officials.

12. The Committee will request Doordarshan for the live telecast of the semifinal and the final of the 65th Santosh Trophy currently being played in Assam.

Kamis, 19 Mei 2011

Postponed I-League Games: Salgaocar score big point

May 19 was an I-League match day for postponed Round 19 matches which had not been held earlier due to commitments of East Bengal Club and Dempo SC in the 2011 AFC Cup. Salgaocar won the crucial encounter against East Bengal to brighten their chances of an I-League title, while Dempo stay in the hunt with their win and even for East Bengal not all is lost.


Match by Match Short Review
Round 19
19-May-2011: Mumbai FC 0-1 (0-0) Dempo SC (in Kolhapur)
Dempo SC kept their title defence alive with a 1-0 away win against Mumbai FC in Kolhapur. MFC stay on 33 points from 25 matches, while Dempo SC move to 47 points from 23 games but to win the title they will have to win all their three remaining matches and with good margins as their goal difference is the worth amongst the title contenders.
After a goalless first half the golden Goal came from Nigerian sharp shooter Ranty Martins Soleye in the 72nd minute to win the game for the Goans.

Round 19
19-May-2011: Salgaocar SC 3-2 (1-2) East Bengal Club (in Goa)
Salgaocar SC scored a crucial 3-2 comeback win against rivals East Bengal Club in Goa. After the match Salgaocar SC now have 53 points from 25 matches, while East Bengal remain on 47 points from 23 games; which leaves the chance to both sides still win the title.
East Bengal made a swift start into the game as the red-and-gold were up by two goals within 16 minutes. First Tolgay Ozbey was brought down by Khelemba Singh and Tolgay himself scored of the resultant penalty in the 10th minute. Then only six minutes later Baljit Singh Sahni would double the lead and it looked good for the Kolkata giants. But things changed when in the 33rd minute a Rino Anto shot went in. After the break Salgaocar put East Bengal under a lot of pressure and got the equaliser in the 79th minute through a Cajetan Fernandes shot. But it wasn't over yet as former East Bengal striker Yakubu Yusif headed in the winner in the 84th minute to the disbelieve of the red-and-gold as Salgaocar celebrated a memorable comeback.

Here all I-League Round 19 match reports


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

Armando Colaco set to be named interim India coach

The AIFF search for a successor to Bob Houghton continues, but if the Executive Committee on Friday give their go-ahead and the same comes from the Dempo Group management, then Armando Colaco will be named interim coach of the senior Indian national football team for a three month period from June to August.

This step has become necessary as the I-League season is set to end in less then two weeks, while the second Round Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup against the United Arab Emirates are to be played on July 23 and 28.

In Bangalore the AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das yesterday said, "There are still some things that need to be sorted out, but we are in advanced talks with Colaco to take over the reins."

Colaco would take a break from his club Dempo SC to manage Team India, but return to coach his club once those three months are over ahead of the next I-League. Also if made national coach then Armando would retain Savio Medeira as assistant coach and Marcus Pacheco as goalkeeping coach.

In taking this decision it would give the AIFF more time to find a suitable successor for Bob Houghton plus allow the new foreign coach, who is likely to have little to no knowledge about the Indian footballers, to come in and get to know the players whom he could call-up for the national team thereafter.

Rabu, 18 Mei 2011

VIDEOs: Bayer 04 Leverkusen to visit Remscheid

The 2010/11 Bundesliga season is over, but tomorrow the leagues runners-up Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be visiting my home town of Remscheid to face our local top team FC Remscheid for a post-season friendly match. A few thousand fans are expected to be at the game at our Roentgen Stadion in Lennep.

Our FC Remscheid is a former 2.Bundesliga club, but currently they are in the seventh division; so the game against Leverkusen is the season ending highlight though FCR still has a couple of league games left to play.


Here reports from the local TV station (the reports are in German).


FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen Preview no.3


FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen Preview no.2


Interview with FC Remscheid coach Stefan Brandt


FC Remscheid - Bayer 04 Leverkusen Preview no.1

I-League: Suspensions to hit East Bengal & Dempo hard

Tomorrow title chasing East Bengal Club and Dempo SC will be playing their postponed Round 19 matches. While Dempo SC travel to Kolhapur to face Mumbai FC, East Bengal Club visit league leaders Salgaocar SC in a crucial title clash in Goa.

But both sides will feel the numerous cards they received from referee Dinesh Nair in their last match at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday which East Bengal Club had won 3-2 against Dempo SC.

East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan will be hard hit in defence with Gurwinder Singh and Nirmal Chetri suspended due to red cards received in the Dempo match, while dependable Nigerian Uga Okpara got his second yellow card in the game and will have to also sit out.

Talking about the situation East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan said, "We will be missing key players for tomorrow's match, but then have to beat with it."

Dempo SC meanwhile will miss winger Clifford Miranda due to a red card received against East Bengal; while defenders John Charles Dias, Debabrata Roy and Samir Naik all received their second yellow cards and will have to watch the match from the stands.