Kamis, 30 Juni 2011

The Brasil Futebol Academia in Goa

The Brasil Futebol Academia in Goa is the brainchild of Roberto Mendes Silva, better known as Beto in Indian football circles. The Brazilian who started his Indian career in Kolkata with Mohun Bagan before moving to Dempo SC in Goa is now making the switch to Churchill Brothers SC this summer. But Beto already has created his own legacy in India along with friend and fellow Brazilian football Jose Ramirez Barreto.

The duo in 2009 set-up the Brasil Futebol Academia (BFA) in Goa to give the children the opportunity to learn football in India the Brazilian way. The BFA is run by trained Brazilian coaches at the Chowgule Sports & Fitness Centre/Agassaim grounds and works with talented kids from the neighbourhood. As a way of giving back to Indian football, the Academy provides all of its services free of cost. The BFA has become one of Goa's best talent factories.

With the launch young Goans and coaches were introduced to Futebol de Salão, a smaller, heavier ball that is used in Brazil, along with a radically different approach to teaching football. With the local coaches' drive and enthusiasm and the Brazilian's knowledge and experience of South American coaching techniques, the first Brazilian Academy was born in Goa. Now, a couple of years on, Beto has a lot of children enrolled in his soccer academy.

Basic football skills are practiced by the children and good sporting behaviour is actively encouraged on and off the pitch. Qualities such as teamwork, motivation, leadership, discipline and friendship lie at the heart of playing soccer at BFA. The project BFA - Brasil Futebol Academia, has been created having in mind the social aspect, well-being, development of children and adolescents believing that in the fight against social marginality and war against drug addiction, the sports activities will always be excellent allies. The BFA will have as an objective of teaching the basic principles of football to all athletes lying in the age group from eight to 16 years, by helping them in the process of integration as citizens and transforming them into professionals in the field of sports. Besides looking after the formation of future athletes, the BFA will provide the students learning at BFA, a more dignified and healthy life. The BFA gives an unique opportunity for the footballers in India to receive structured and world class training from BFA which is one of the best and only academy is Goa that trains players to play football the samba way.

BFA courses have been structured to appeal to young athletes of all abilities. The central aim of BFA training program is to encourage children to spend longer time working with the ball practising and developing their skills.

BFA believes that children in India do not spend enough time training and working on their skills. Keeping this in mind, it has custom designed a syllabus for children in the age group of 5 to 18.

Strong emphasis is placed on developing technical skills of every child. Skills from basic to complex are broken down into easily learnable phases. These moves are then taught and repeated many times until the children become proficient at performing them individually, then gradually against other children and eventually in games. Repetition of skills such as passing the ball in a straight line and juggling are stressed throughout the program. Every player who comes to the academy is closely monitored by the coaches. Every week players are given points based on the performances in soccer skills youth soccer training, fun soccer drills, passing, shooting, position, attacking and defending, dribbling and crossing agility, ball control, soccer drills, soccer tips, new soccer techniques and Samba Magic (Tricks, Flicks and Step-overs).

A player that earns the maximum number of points in a particular month is judged the player of the month and is featured on the BFA Website. As a way of rewarding those that have shown the most improvement or have developed their skills to a high level, Brasil Futebol Academia has a selection of skills competitions. The overall winner of each competition receives a medal and gifts in recognition of their achievement.

More in further write-ups on the Brasil Futebol Academia...

Thorsten Frings joins MLS side Toronto FC

Former German international Thorsten Frings was officially introduced yesterday by North American MLS side Toronto FC as a new signing along with Dutch striker Danny Koevermans. Both players come to Canada on free transfers and have signed 'designated player' deals - meaning their contracts fall outside the constrictions of the club's salary cap.

The 34 year old midfielder joins Toronto on recommendation from his former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann, who is a strategic advisor to the Canadian club. Frings, who made 79 appearances for Germany, had said earlier this year that he would end his career this summer after Bundesliga side SV Werder Bremen did not renew his contract, but in recent weeks it became clear that Frings wanted to continue playing football for a little longer before he retires.

Frings has offers from other Bundesliga sides, his former club Alemannia Aachen who play 2.Bundesliga, clubs from across Europe, the United Arab Emirates and the North American MLS.

"It wasn't a difficult decision for me," Frings said and added, "the first contact came through Juergen Klinsmann and he said a lot of good things about the club. It was clear to be quickly that I want to come here and help the club to improve."

For Toronto FC coach Aron Winter, a former Dutch international, the arrival of Frings and Koevermans adds much needed experience for a team which has only won two matches in the MLS so far and are last in the Eastern Division, but they can still reach the playoffs.

Both Frings and Koevermans are not eligible to play for their new club until July 15. Their MLS debuts are therefore likely to come against FC Dallas on July 20.

Blackburn Rovers want to play in India, but against whom

On their way to the Barclays Asia Cup in Hongkong, which starts on July 27 and where they face FC Chelsea and Aston Villa, English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers are set to visit Pune, the home town of their Indian owners the Venky's.

There the Venky's not only want to get their team to make an appearance in Pune, but they would also like them to play a friendly match against the national team or an Indian club side which would be the first-ever game of an EPL side on Indian soil. The Venky's approached the AIFF for a game against India and the United Breweries Group about playing a friendly against one of their teams - East Bengal Club or Mohun Bagan AC.

The AIFF is said to have declined the offer then the potential dates of July 22 to 24 would not be possible as India play their away tie in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates on July 23.

The reply from the UB Group was clear that at the moment East Bengal are better equipped to face EPL opposition though the final decision lies with the clubs management if they would want to play the game or not. The proposed date is July 22 with either Pune's Balewadi Sports Complex or the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai potential venues.

The offer has put East Bengal in a spot then currently their team is out of training due to the season break with coach Trevor Morgan and the foreigners away on holiday, while numerous red-and-gold players are in the India camp ahead of the World Cup qualifiers. It is clear that the red-and-gold would like to play such a high profile friendly, but they also understand what it means to take on an EPL side with an understrength squad. Therefore it looks unlikely that East Bengal would play the match, but a final decision has not been taken yet.

The Venky's might have to lookout for other opposition to take on in India or maybe plan such trips a little more in advance...

2011 FIFA Women's World Cup: Are you watching?

I guess many of you will not even know but currently the sixth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup is being held in Germany which runs from June 26 to July 17 across the country. The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup kicked-off last Sunday in Berlin infront of a record sellout crowd of 73,680 spectators with the hosts and defending champions Germany beating Canada 2-1.

TV ratings showed that Germany's first match peaked at more than 18 Millions viewers on television, a new alltime record for women's football in Germany. And it seems the 2006 FIFA World Cup fever is back again five years after the men's tournament had been held here.

Later today Germany take on Nigeria at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt with another sellout crowd of 48,837 and it will be shown on prime time television with a 20.45 CET kick-off.

Women's football has come a long way in Germany and with a title hattrick possible the interest level in women's football has reached unprecidented levels. But even if one feels, sees and reads the craze about the tournament here in Germany one asks if it is the same elsewhere.

e.g. did Mexico realise that their women holding England to a one-all draw in their opening match was a major surprise, while the Under-17 FIFA World Cup is being held in the Latin American nation. Or will South America really bother about their women's football with the Copa America set to kick-off tomorrow?

Sadly all these tournaments have to be organised parallel in the summer break with the CONCACAF Gold Cup having only ended last week, which does take the limelight away from the women's game, who get limited coverage during a football season. The women deserve the attention and publicity then women's football at the World Cup is surely something to watch.

Rabu, 29 Juni 2011

INDIA drop to 147th in FIFA World Rankings

The world football governing body released the latest FIFA World Rankings earlier today in which India dropped two places to be now 147th amongst the 208 ranked nations and territories. Within Asia India also dropped a place to be now ranked 26th amongst 46 nations in the rankings.

In the latest rankings India lost two points to now have 137 points, while they are sandwiched amongst Hongkong (146) and Nepal (148) in the rankings. With India not having played any 'A' international match since the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March 2011 in Malaysia the team was bound to lose spots as teams around us played qualifiers and friendlies.

India's ranking next month will be influenced by upcoming matches to be played in the coming weeks, be it the two friendlies against the Maldives and Qatar before we face the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup qualifiers. The UAE gained a spot to be 110th in the rankings, while they stay 15th in Asia.

There has been a change amongst the top five of the FIFA World Rankings. World champions Spain remain on top ahead of the Netherlands, but now Germany are third ahead of England in fourth as Brazil dropped two places to be now fifth.

UAE prepare for India matches in Austria

The United Arab Emirates are preparing for their 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 home-and-away qualifier against India in the Austrian Alps in Europe. The UAE are in Austria for over two weeks to prepare themselves in the best possible way for the qualifiers.

For the UAE coach Srecko Katanec from Slovenia the weather in the two matches is a major issue, be it the heat in the UAE and the monsoons in India. On his insistence the home game has been shifted from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain's Khalifa Stadium on July 23 as in Al Ain the weather is cooler then in the capital. The return-leg will be played on July 28 but the AIFF still has to finalise a venue for the game.

"Yes we are the favourites, but only on paper. India are not one of the tougher sides in Asia, but football is such a game that you cannot underestimate anybody. You have to play a match on the field and until you win you can never say," said Katanec to UAE's Sport360.

The UAE are in a rebuilding process after a weak 2011 AFC Asian Cup in which they where eliminated in the group stage, but their Under-23s are a strong side as they reached last years Guangzhou Asian Games final and last week they qualified for the next round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics.

Talking about his 24 probables Katanec said, "This team has a good mix of youth and experience, and some of the Olympic team players have shown they are good enough to play for the senior team. We have to prepare well for the matches with India and it's a matter of staying focused and working hard to get the right kind of results and make the next round."

While in Austria the UAE will play three friendly matches against club sides. They first face Austrian second division side SV Groedig on July 2, then Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest and then Russian Premier League side Dynamo Moscow on July 10. The UAE return home on July 14 and face Lebanon in their final friendly game on July 17 at the Khalifa Stadium in Al Ain.


Majed Nasser, Saeed Al Kas (both Al Wasl); Ali Khaseif, Khaled Sabeel, Abdullah Mousa, Subait Khater (all Al Jazira); Yousuf Jaber, Zeyab Awana, Amer Abdulrahman, Mohammed Fawzi (all Baniyas); Waleed Abbas, Mohammed Ahmed (both Al Shabab); Fares Jumaa, Mosallam Fayez, Ali Al Weihibi, Omer Abdulrahman (all Al Ain); Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Ismail Matar, Salem Saleh, Adel Al Hosani, Hamdan Al Kamali (all Al Wahda); Ismail Al Hammadi, Ahmed Khalil (both Al Ahli)

Chirag Computers buys 60% Viva Kerala stake

Viva Kerala and Chirag Computer have come to an agreement that the Kolkata based company will buy a 60 percent controlling stake in Viva Kerala for an undisclosed fee while the other 40 perfect stake stays with the club directors. This means football fans in Kerala can sleep again as Viva Kerala will not be following in the footsteps of Mahindra United and JCT to close down their team.

Last season Viva Kerala had been sponsored by Kunnath Pharmaceuticals through their brand Musli Power, who earlier had sponsored Churchill Brothers SC. There had been talks about Kunnath Pharmaceuticals picking-up a stake in the club, but that didn't happen for unknown reasons.

The RP Group of Companies owned Chirag Computers had been the sponsors of United Sports Club since 2006 and under the name of Chirag United SC the team from Kolkata came up from the 2nd Division into the top tier. But in the last few weeks there has been a dispute over ownership and control of the club, which the management of United SC ended by terminating the sponsorship deal.

Thereafter Chirag Computers owner Kaustav Roy has been on the lookout for an alternative club to not only sponsor, but also own. Clubs in Kolkata turned down the opportunity after which Mr. Roy was considering of launching a new club under the name of Chirag Athletic Club, but as the club would have to play the lowest division in Kolkata football that option fell through.

Contact was established with Viva Kerala only a few days ago, who where on the lookout for a new sponsor and they where willing to give that new partner a stake in the club. There have been reports that German car major Volkswagen was interested to sponsor Viva Kerala, but that has been denied by the Germans.

The deal between Viva Kerala and Chirag Computers was finalised last night in Mumbai and the club will from now on be known as Chirag Kerala instead of Viva Kerala. The club has already lost some of their key players in Bello Razaq, N.P. Pradeep and P.K. Anil Kumar; but Chirag is said to be willing to spend for the club to bring in quality players though many have already signed for other clubs.

For the moment Viva Kerala will stay in the south Indian state, but knowing Kaustav Roy he might be thinking to bring 'his club' closer to his home in the future. In the new season Chirag Kerala hope to play their home games in Kochi again, but that has not been decided yet.

Selasa, 28 Juni 2011

India Seniors beat U-23s through a penalty

It was a test of sorts for interim coach Armando Colaco to see where his wards stand after two weeks of training. The Indian senior national team faced the India Under-23 national side in a test match at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi and the seniors prevailed 1-0 through a Debabrata Roy penalty.

The match was split into three sessions of 30 minutes each to allow Armando Colaco to see all his players in match action, while also rotating positions amongst players which didn't allow a first team to emerge.

The seniors had more from the match but missed chances galore with left back Debabrata Roy scoring the winner from the spot. The players did try to play Armando's passing football but they did have their difficulties and often the ball was played back into defence rather then looking at options upfront.

What should worry Armando is the fact that Jewel Raja, Shilton D'Silva and Jibon Singh gave the seniors a tough time in midfield while in the two matches against the Qatar Under-23s they were one of the weak links in Desmond Bulpin's playing side.

After the game Armando told the media, "We still have a long way to go and we don't have much time in our hand. The boys are slowly getting into the mode. We had tested them (seniors) after watching the juniors against Qatar, I felt that having a match between both the teams would be a great idea."

ETV Hamburg: A whole team leaves the club

It is a sad state of affairs at seventh division amateur side ETV Hamburg then the coaching staff and all players have resigned from the club ahead of one of the biggest matches in the history of the club.

ETV Hamburg is an unknown side in their own city compared to Hamburger SV and FC St. Pauli, but now they are getting some national coverage as they qualified for the German Cup (DFB Pokal) by winning the local Hamburg Cup. In the first round of the German Cup they will face 2.Bundesliga side SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

This game will bring the club 110,000 Euros in income, an incredible amount of money for a lower division side. The club management had worked out a formula with the team that 50% of the money would go to the players, while the other 50% would be used to finance a new artificial turf at the ETV Sports Complex.

But the coaches and players demanded as much as 75% of the money as they say we got the club into the German Cup so they deserve more of the money, while the clubs management stand is clear that they need the money for infrastructure development.

"We feel betrayed and blackmailed," coach Dennis Mitteregger had said. Mitteregger and the players withdrew their names as of June 30 from the roaster of the club, now ETV Hamburg is in search for new players not only to play the German Cup game but also the whole season.

The club president Frank Fechner says, "The club sees no opportunity to work together with this coach and these players any more."

A solution in this impasse looks unlikely.

Indian Football: Transfer Season 2011 - Version 3

Since I started publishing a list of transfers for the new 2011/12 season more players have extended their contracts, confirmed their signing for new clubs, etc.

Here an updated list of known/confirmed Transfers 2011
(the list is far from complete, so any updates please let me know that I can incorporate them in the next update)

RETAINED: Luciano Sabrosa, Ryuji Sueoka,
NEW: Chidi Edeh, Ishfaq Ahmed, Biswajit Saha (all Mohun Bagan AC), Rahul Kumar, Randeep Singh, Balwant Singh (all JCT), Nicolau Colaco, Augostinho Fernandes, Gagandeep Singh (all Sesa Football Academy), Mehrajuddin Wadoo (East Bengal Club), Mohammad Dada Nabeel (Air India), Karthik Kisku (Mohammedan Sporting Club)
LEFT: Baldeep Singh, Singam Subash Singh (both Pune FC), Govin Moirangthem Singh, Khangembam Thoi Singh (both United Sikkim FC), Yakubu Yusif, Eneke Ikenwa

RETAINED: Sandip Nandy, Abhra Mondal, Jayanta Pal, Thokchom Naoba Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Ravinder Singh, Beingaichho Beokhokhai, Budhiram Tudu, Tolgay Ozbey, Robin Singh
NEW: Robert Lalthalma, Charan Rai, Khanthang Paite (all Churchill Brothers SC), Branco Vincent Cardozo (United SC), Debjit Majumdar (United Sikkim FC)
LEFT: Mehrajuddin Wadoo (Salgaocar SC), Syed Rahim Nabi (Mohun Bagan AC), Sushil Kumar Singh (United Sikkim FC), Naseem Akhtar (Mohammedan Sporting Club), Alexandro da Silva Santos

RETAINED: Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Godwin Diego Franco, Debabrata Roy
NEW: Savio Fernandes, Koko Sakibo, Joy Ferrao (all Vasco SC), Rowilson Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers SC), P.K. Anil Kumar (Viva Kerala)
LEFT: Roberto Mendes Silva (Churchill Brothers SC), Rouhollah Samieinia, Ogba Kalu Nnanna, Ranty Martins Soleye

RETAINED: Arindam Bhattacharya, Mundampara P. Sakeer
NEW: Jerry Zirsanga, Melwyn Rodrigues (both United SC), Y. Jaikumar, Xavier Vijayakumar (both HAL, Bangalore), Thangjam Saran Singh, Jagpreet Singh (both JCT), Roberto Mendes Silva (Dempo SC), N.D. Opara (ONGC), Basileo Rego (Vasco SC), Henry Antchouet (Moreirense FC, PORTUGAL)
LEFT: Robert Lalthalma, Charan Rai, Khanthang Paite (all East Bengal Club), Rowilson Rodrigues (Dempo SC), Odafe Onyeka Okolie (Mohun Bagan AC), Warundeep Singh (Sporting Clube de Goa)

RETAINED: Subrata Pal, Soram Poirei Anganba, Othallo Tabia, Caitano Costa, Kamardeep Singh, Gurjinder Kumar Singh, Rollingson Hungyo, Shanmugam Venkatesh, J. Prasad, Asim Hassan, Lester Mark Fernandez, Paresh Shivalkar, Izumi Arata, Mandjou Keita,
NEW: Baldeep Singh, Singam Subash Singh (both Salgaocar SC), Anes Edathodika (Mumbai FC), R. Srikanth (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited SC), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Indian Arrows, returns from a one year loan)
LEFT: Krishnan Nair Ajayan (Josco FC), Narshiman Balaji, Sunil Kumar, Lamine Tamba, Gunashekar Vignesh, A. Sherin, Sandesh Gadhkari, Edmar Figueira

RETAINED: Sangram Mukherjee, Ashim Biswas, Jose Ramirez Barreto
NEW: Syed Rahim Nabi (East Bengal Club), Odafe Onyeka Okolie (Churchill Brothers SC), N.P. Pradeep (Viva Kerala), J. Muralidharan (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited SC)
LEFT: Chidi Edeh, Ishfaq Ahmed, Biswajit Saha (all Salgaocar SC), Karan Atwal (United Sikkim FC), Sagram Mandi, Subair Muritala Ali, Owky Diamondstar

NEW: -
LEFT: Anes Edathodika (Pune FC), Hiralal Chetri (United Sikkim FC)

RETAINED: Lal Kamal Bhowmick, Josimar da Silva Martins
NEW: Bello Razaq (Viva Kerala)
LEFT: Jerry Zirsanga, Melwyn Rodrigues (both Churchill Brothers SC), Branco Vincent Cardozo (East Bengal Club), Anupam Sarkar

NEW: -
LEFT: P.K. Anil Kumar (Dempo SC), N.P. Pradeep (Mohun Bagan AC), Bello Razaq (United SC)

NEW: -
LEFT: Mohammad Dada Nabeel (Salgaocar SC), Eduardo Chacon Coelho Lacerda (Southern Samity)

NEW: -
LEFT: Y. Jaikumar, Xavier Vijayakumar (both Churchill Brothers SC), R. Srikanth (Pune FC), J. Muralidharan (Mohun Bagan AC)

LEFT: Rahul Kumar, Randeep Singh, Balwant Singh (all Salgaocar SC), Thangjam Saran Singh, Jagpreet Singh (both Churchill Brothers SC), Baldeep Singh, Harish Sharma (both United Sikkim FC), Prasanta Dora, Pawan Kumar, Daljit Singh, Lalchhuanmawia, Parveen Kumar, Rakinderjit Singh, Sehij Pal Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Amandeep Singh, R. Sriram, Abhishek Yadav, Naveen Kumar, Mandeep Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Ajay Singh, Maninder Singh, Balraj Singh, Amarwant Singh, Badru Keke Ibrahim, Omolaja Nurain Kareem

NEW: -
LEFT: N.D. Opara (Churchill Brothers SC), K.V. Lalu (Josco FC)

RETAINED: James Giblee
NEW: John D. Menyongar (United Sikkim FC), Christopher (Kalighat Milan Sangha/Mohammedan Sporting Club)

RETAINED: Gerald D'Mello, Elvino Fernandes, Fulganco Cardozo, Angelo D'Souza, Agnel Colaco
NEW: Milagrio Medeira, Prajot Naik (both Vasco SC), Warundeep Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Charanjit Singh (Kenkre FC), Gabriel Fernandes (Sesa Football Academy), Mohammed Ali (Calangute Association), Vitorino Fernandes (Cavelosim)
LEFT: Ayeni Bidemi Daniel (United Sikkim FC), Joshua Maguire

NEW: -
LEFT: Savio Fernandes, Koko Sakibo, Joy Ferrao (all Dempo SC), Milagrio Medeira, Prajot Naik (both Sporting Clube de Goa), Basileo Rego (Churchill Brothers SC)

RETAINED: Quinton Jacobs, Baichung Bhutia
NEW: Govin Moirangthem Singh, Khangembam Thoi Singh (both Salgaocar SC), Baldeep Singh, Harish Sharma (both JCT), Sushil Kumar Singh (East Bengal Club), Karan Atwal (Mohun Bagan AC), Hiralal Chetri (Mumbai FC), Ayeni Bidemi Daniel (Sporting Clube de Goa/Shillong Lajong FC), Mumtaz Akhtar (Mohammedan Sporting Club); Babatunde (Techno Aryan Club)
LEFT: Debjit Majumdar (East Bengal Club), Nanjangud Shivananju Manju, John D. Menyongar (Shillong Lajong FC), Joseph Lapira

RETAINED: Gautam Kujur
NEW: Naseem Akhtar (East Bengal Club)
LEFT: Habibur Rehman Mondal, Nilendra Dewan (both Southern Samity), Dipendu Biswas, Satyajit Bose (both Bhawanipore Club, Kolkata), Karthik Kisku (Salgaocar SC), Mumtaz Akhtar (United Sikkim FC)

RETAINED: Rajib Ahmed, Gurpreet Singh, Chandan Das, Jamir Ali Mandal
NEW: Eduardo Chacon Coelho Lacerda (Air India), Habibur Rehman Mondal, Nilendra Dewan (both Mohammedan Sporting Club)
LEFT: P.T. Somy (Josco FC), Marcos Alexandro de Carvalho Pereira (Bhawanipore Club, Kolkata), Edmilson Marques Pardal

LEFT: Nicolau Colaco, Augostinho Fernandes, Gagandeep Singh (all Salgaocar SC), Gabriel Fernandes (Sporting Clube de Goa)

Senin, 27 Juni 2011

Bayern Munich sign Japanese teenager Usami

German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich have ventured into new territory by signing Japanese teenager Takashi Usami on a season long loan from J-League side Gamba Osaka. Usami is seen as one of Asia's brightest young talent and if successful an asset in Bayern Munich's marketing strategy in the Far East.

"Bayern Munich is one of the world's top clubs," Usami said at a press conference on Monday. "I know it will be tough to get into the team, but I'm sure I can learn a lot by playing with those in the club."

Bayern Munich are looking at the young Japanese as a potential long-term replacement for the attacking wing duo of Franck Ribery from France and Dutchman Arjen Robben, while a confident Usami said, "I want to improve myself to one day be able to take their place."

But the club will not rush him into anything, but let Usami adjust to the new environment as Bayern Munich's Director of Sports Christian Nerlinger said, "We have been watching him. He is very talented and has great attacking skills. We will give him the time to get used to life at Bayern."

The 19 year old is set to arrive in Munich in mid-July and has come through the system at Gamba Osaka and made his debut for the club in 2009, while he made his full international debut for Japan in the Kirin Cup earlier this year.

Takashi Usami is the fourth new player at Bayern Munich following the signing of German international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04), Brazilian right back Rafinha (FC Genoa 93, Italy) and young Danish striker Nils Petersen (FC Energie Cottbus).

Who is at fault for JCT closing down?

Last Monday was a sad day for Indian football when the management of JCT Mills Limited announced that they would disband their senior football team after the side from Punjab were relegated a few weeks earlier at the end of the 4th season of the I-League.

The question which comes up again and again is who is at fault for JCT closing down?

And there isn't a simple answer to this question, then numerous issues have come together which culminated in Phagwara-based JCT closing down their senior football team 40 years after it had been started.

Lets try and list the problems which led to this decision

1. The AIFF
The national federation has not helped their top clubs to generate revenues to fund the rising budgets. All money received from sponsors, marketing partners and TV rights go to the AIFF themselves, nothing is distributed amongst participating I-League clubs. The AIFF sell their national team, I-League and other tournament rights together as a package; where no one really knows the value of the different properties, but one thing is clear that the I-League which runs for month's is the most lucrative of all these rights.

2. I-League
The I-League since its start in 2007 has been professionalized on paper with AFC Club Licensing criteria asking for own companies running the football teams rather then public clubs and corporates, but again with no view on how to generate revenues for the clubs to fund their teams. This way the I-League clubs have no way to become self-sustaining.

3. Commercialization of Indian football
The so-called commercialization of the game in India has done more damage then good if one looks at the current scenario. Mahindra United closed down last year, last week JCT closed down. The future of ONGC, Air India and Viva Kerala is unclear while last year Mumbai FC looked to follow Mahindra's path.
Clubs have not looked at ways on how to generate revenues with the exception of Pune FC and some other clubs to a small extend.

4. Salaries
The salaries of players have explored, but at no fault of theirs. With no growing players base the best in the business in India are getting salaries which are four to six times of what salaries where before the start of the I-League, but clubs have not been able to generate more then those days which does not make any business sense.

5. JCT management
Last but not least it is the JCT management themselves. They have one of the best Academies in Indian football, no competitors in the whole of North India and have people working for the club attached to the company club for decades.
But the football team has been run like a division within JCT with no vision to create a fan base, to try and generate revenues outside of JCT then the company has bankrolled the club since its inception. That has now come back to haunt them.

What do you think, Who is at fault for JCT closing down?

Minggu, 26 Juni 2011

Argentina's River Plate are relegated

One of Argentina's most famous clubs in Club Atlético River Plate from Buenos Aires has been relegated to the Nacional B division after a 1-1 draw at home at the El Monumental against Club Atlético Belgrano de Córdoba in their relegation playoff second-leg. Belgrano had won the first-leg 2-0 and the tie over two legs 3–1 on aggregate.

In the 110th year of their existence River Plate are relegated for the first time in the long history of the club. The club needed at least a 2-0 win to stay in the top tier and things started off well as the home team took a first half lead, but Belgrano came back to equalise after the break. It was heartbreak for River Plate later on as Mariano Pavone missed a penalty and the match ended one-all with the referee blowing the whistle without allowing any injury time as things where heating up at the El Monumental.

There had been trouble surrounding River Plate games in recent weeks, so as a precaution more than 2,000 policemen were in and around the stadium. Before the end of the game police had to use water cannons to keep angry fans away from the pitch and the players needed extra security cover to reach the inflatable tunnel to their dressing rooms.

Buenos Aires is bracing for a night of heavy violence as the Los Millonarios (The Millionaires) archrivals of Boca Juniors are relegated following years of mismanagement. 1978 FIFA World Cup winning captain Daniel Pasarella had taken over as president of the club in December 2009, but he along with others could not avoid the drop with the club said to have close to 20 Million US Dollar in debt.

A Video on what happened at the ground after the game (Those of you who understand Spanish will understand what the commentators say)

Is Bayern Munich eyeing EPL talent?

Bundesliga record champions FC Bayern Munich are working on an overhaul of their team ahead of the 2011/12 season. While three signings have been made so far the management and new coach Jupp Heynckes are looking at further options to strengthening the team. The big aim and dream is of reaching the final of the 2012 UEFA Champions League which will be held at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Now the focus of Bayern scouts seems to have shifted to the English Premier League while looking at players to bring to the club. The Bavarians interest in German international Jerome Boateng from Manchester City is well known, but the two clubs haven't been able to come to a conclusion regarding the transfer fee. Bayern Munich are saying Manchester City is demanding an inflated fee as the English club is also paying too high transfer fees while signing new players.

Now the focus seems to have spread to other English Premier League players as well. The names of Manchester United's Portuguese winger Nani and FC Chelsea's Ghanian midfield strategist Michael Essien are being mentioned as potential buys for Bayern Munich, but they aren't the kind of players that Bayern Munich is looking for. Someone Bayern is considering if they can't sign Boateng is Chelsea's Brazilian central defender Alex.

So far Bayern Munich have signed Germany international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from FC Schalke 04, Brazilian right back Rafinha from FC Genoa 93 and young Danish striker Nils Petersen from FC Energie Cottbus.

India could Tour the Caribbean in September

The All India Football Federation has received an offer from a US based company for a three to five match Tour of the Caribbean in September 2011. The AIFF is said to be considering the proposal as it would give the senior national team much needed international exposure outside of Asia.

As per infos available at the moment the tour organisers original plan was to play three matches between India and Trinidad&Tobago, but now they are said to be considering to make it a real tour of the Caribbean. A match against the 2006 FIFA World Cup finalists Trinidad&Tobago is a certainly if the tour takes place, but matches could also be played against the national sides of Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and Bahamas.

The tour looks likely to be a 15 to 20 day trip to beautiful locations across the Caribbean with some of the countries even having a substantial Indian origin population.

The Caribbean know a lot about Indian Cricket, who are currently touring the region, would get to know more about our football. While for our Team India it would be a useful experience to play a different kind of football and in a different kind of football atmosphere.

The tour wouldn't be the first interaction between India and the Caribbean in football. In August/September 2002 India faced Jamaica in two friendly matches in England. After losing the first game 0-3 at the Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, India drew Jamaica goalless at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton.

Sabtu, 25 Juni 2011

FIFA unhappy with Brazil progress for 2014

World football governing body FIFA will have learned one key lesson from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa that they have to be on their toes and once in a while criticize the organising nation to force them to work even harder and not become complacent to be ready for the month long football extravaganza.

FIFA insiders think they have a tougher job on hand with Brazil then South Africa. Why? Simply because South Africa wanted to prove to the world that the African continent can organise large scale sporting events, while Brazil sees itself as 'the football nation' and is more focused on winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup then delivering a great tournament.

And there lies a great danger which FIFA has realised and one understands from statements made by FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke on Friday at the Inside World Football Forum in Moscow, the first event towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Jérôme Valcke said, "There is a lot of work to deliver. We don't have stadiums, we don't have airports, we don't have a national transportation system in place and we are one month away from the preliminary draw."

"The Maracanã is definitely not currently a World Cup stadium and that's why it's closed. It will be ready at the last minute, a few months maybe, even a few weeks before the tournament if they don't speed up the process. In São Paulo they will not even be able to play the Confederations Cup in 2013 because the stadium will not be ready," Valcke added.

Have the Brazilians themselves realised the problems? A Brazilian friend who works in football simply said no and explained that Brazil is growing fast, but the lack of necessary infrastructure like roads, railways and airports could be a major drawback in the development of the country and that could also have effects on the country hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

It is still three years to go until the FIFA World Cup, but nothing is ready so far or close to completion. Seems like some in Zurich are getting nervous.

Who will be the new 'Paul' the octopus?

One of the things which we remember from last years 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was Paul the octopus and his predictions about Germany matches from an Aquarium in Oberhausen. But Paul died late last year, so now the search is on for the new Paul for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany which kicks-off tomorrow.

Interesting Sealife, who housed Paul in their aquarium in Oberhausen, have started a contest amongst their octopus' in different Sealife Aquariums across Germany. Eight Octopus are now taking part in predicting the games of the German Women's national team.

But can Paul be really replaced? We will only know in a few weeks time, but with Germany being the two time defending champions and having not conceded a goal in China four years ago it wouldn't that difficult to pick a winner. And the uniqueness of Paul's achievement is lost in such a competition, but maybe I am proved wrong and we have another phenomenon as Paul in this tournament.

Here a report my colleague Ragini Kumar and I did last year about Paul the octopus for Times Now

JCT are Under-19 I-League champions!

There is good news for JCT after they disbanded their senior as the JCT Football Academy won the title of Under-19 I-League champions after drawing goalless their final league match against the juniors of East Bengal Club.

Both teams went into the game with two wins out of two and their last league game was a de-facto final with JCT having the advantage of a better goal difference against their Kolkata rivals, while East Bengal had the advantage of playing at home at their Maidan ground.

In difficult conditions due to heavy rains in Kolkata over the last few days JCT took a defensive approach, while East Bengal didn't press as much as they needed to win the game through they did have numerous good chances, but where wasteful infront of goal.

Giving credit to the boys, JCT Football Academy coach Jagir Singh said they have proved a point in times of adversity.

"I will request (JCT boss) Samir Thapar to at least look after the boys as they have shown that they are capable to go further. JCT can still win despite the shocking news of the seniors side. We are really happy," he said.

"The disbanding news was shocking. But I just hope that the success by the boys open a new vista for revival of the senior side of JCT," added Singh.

The Final Four of the Under-19 tournament for I-League sides was played from June 21 to 25 in Kolkata. The preliminary group stage saw 15 Under-19 teams in action amongst them 13 I-League sides and last years relegated Sporting Clube de Goa and Shillong Lajong FC with the Indian Arrows going unrepresented.

Final Round Standings & Results

#- Team ------------------ P W-D-L GF-GA DIF PTS
1. JCT Football Academy -- 3 2-1-0 06-01 +05 07
2. East Bengal Club ------ 3 2-1-0 06-03 +03 07
3. Mumbai FC ------------- 3 1-0-2 05-07 -02 03
4. Churchill Brothers SC - 3 0-0-3 04-10 -06 00

21-Jun-2011: East Bengal Club 2-0 Mumbai FC
21-Jun-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 0-2 JCT
23-Jun-2011: East Bengal Club 4-3 Churchill Brothers SC
23-Jun-2011: Mumbai FC 1-4 JCT
25-Jun-2011: East Bengal Club 0-0 JCT
25-Jun-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 1-4 Mumbai FC

Jumat, 24 Juni 2011

VfL Wolfsburg and Brazilian Diego part ways

German Bundesliga champions of 2009 VfL Wolfsburg and Brazilian playmaker Diego are set to go separate ways after the player met coach Felix Magath to discuss his future.

Diego, whose full name is Diego Ribas da Cunha, had left the team hotel ahead of the final match of last season against 1899 Hoffenheim after Magath named his first eleven and Diego saw his name missing. Diego actually left his team on the day when Wolfsburg were fighting against relegation, an unacceptable incidence.

There have been speculation that the club fined Diego a record 500,000 Euros for his departure though it hasn't been confirmed by the club or player. Since that day there has been speculation what would happen with Diego - would he stay, be forced to play for the second team or allowed to leave.

Coach Magath said in a statement on the Wolfsburg website, "After the conversation it was clear that further co-operation will be difficult and that it is better if we go our separate ways."

Diego had only been signed in August 2010 as the big midfield hope for 15 million Euros from Juventus Torino. Wolfsburg wanted to build a successful team around him, but after the incidence the club, coach and most likely also team mates will have lost trust in him.

Diego had said before the meeting, "I have always felt comfortable in Wolfsburg, but I made a mistake. Now it's up to the club and myself to find the best solution."

The only solution was departure, but until Diego finds a new club he will be allowed to train with the team. Wolfsburg will be looking to recoup as much of their money as possible.

VIDEO: INDIA U23 vs Qatar U23 highlights

The Indian Under-23 national team last night drew 1-1 against Qatar in their second-leg of 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune. It wasn't enough to go through as India had lost the first-leg 1-3 in Doha on Sunday.

Here the highlights of the two Goals from Qatari sports channel Al Kass

Will the Punjab Government help to save JCT?

On Monday former National Football League champions JCT from the small Punjab town of Phagwara announced that they would disband their senior team and not participate in the 2nd Division I-League while focusing on their JCT Football Academy and grassroot projects in the state. But all hope might not be lost just yet.

Football insiders weren't surprised at the step taken, but many people across Punjab and northern India plus the general sports fraternity have been shocked that the lone torch-bearers of North Indian football on the national scene would suddenly disappear into oblivion.

There has been calls on the Punjab government to intervene and offer JCT the necessary help to keep the senior team running, while some have asked about the corporate responsibility on JCT's side.

And the Director of Sports in the Punjab government Pargat Singh, a former hockey international himself, has stated that he thinks that in certain pockets of the state football is the biggest sport especially in and around Phagwara, where JCT are based.

While a state intervention looks likely there has also been calls on Non-Resident Punjabis around the world to help the club sustain themselves in the Indian football system. Examples are the contributions to Sports in Punjab in general or the way Kabaddi is being supported by rich Punjabis and their businesses from North American and Europe.

VIDEO: Canada U-17 Goalkeeper scores!

England's goalkeeper woes at big tournaments continue and this time around it was Jordan Pickford at the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. England where leading 2-1 against Canada with three minutes to go and then Pickford allowed a long range attempt from his Canadian counterpart Quillan Roberts from their half fly over him into the goal.

Quillan Roberts' thumping kick from well inside his own half was enough for a 2-2 draw and gives the Canadians their first-ever point in the history of the tournament. It is also the first-ever goal scored by a goalkeeper in any 11-A-Side FIFA competition from the action of play.

Here a link to the Video of the goal

Kamis, 23 Juni 2011

VIDEO: PK Banerjee celebrates his 75th birthday!

Former international and India coach & manager Pradeep Kumar Banerjee celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday. PK da as he is known to friends has always been vocal about his opinions regarding Indian football and tried to do what he thought was best for the sport in India.

A belated happy birthday to PK da!!!

Here a video tribute to him by news channel CNN-IBN:

Link to the CNN-IBN article P.K. Banerjee & his football life

Olympic Qualifiers: India draw Qatar, but are now out

The Indian Under-23 national team drew one-all against Qatar in their second-leg of 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune. The draw meant that Qatar move into the next round of the Asian qualifiers with a 4-2 aggregate win after they had won 3-1 at home in Doha on Sunday.

It was an even match throughout though once more Qatar showed that they are technically a better equipped side then the Indians, who played their hearts out but it wasn't enough to move on.

The match started on a slow note unlike in Doha where it had started at a blistering pace. India's first chance came of a Raju Gaekwad throw-in in the 19th minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua's shot went to the Qatari goalkeeper Saad Abdulla Al-Sheeb. In the 19th minute India earned a penalty when Murad Naji handled the ball of a Jeje shot with referee Valentin Kovalenko pointing to the dreaded spot, but Laldinrika Ralte's weak shot to the right of keeper Al-Sheeb was cleared by him for a corner.

Qatar remained dangerous on the counter or when they build-ups were led by captain Hassan Al Haidous, who was heavily marked by Shilton and Jewel. The last chance of the first session came once more of a Raju throw-in when a Jewel Raja shot touched Shilton D'Silva but went into the hands of Al-Sheeb. It remained goalless at the break which left chances to India, but like in Doha the midfield was losing the ball too easily and wasn't able to put the strikers in good scoring positions, which also led to the defenders playing the long ball.

After the break Qatar had the first chance within the first minute itself with Laxmikant Kattimani making an important clearance against Al Ansari. But it was India who took a 53rd minute lead through an curious own goal from Qatar. Wing back Khaled Muftah played the ball back to Al-Sheeb, the ball went into the goal under the foot of keeper as he was put under pressure from Jibon Singh. Now the game opened up as Qatar knew another Indian goal and they would be out, which also allowed Jeje and Sabeeth to get more space upfront.

India's best chance came in the 71st minute to the teams star striker Jeje when he finally received a through ball on the left, but his shot was not placed enough to beat Al-Sheeb. And then only a couple of minutes later on the other side Mohamed El-Neel would volley in the equaliser for Qatar. India now needed two goals to at least get into extra-time, but it wouldn't come as India was unable to create chances towards the end of the game.

"We were distinctly unlucky not to win," coach Desmond Bulpin uttered. Team India coach Armando Colaco who had come all the way from Delhi, besides lauding Bulpin and his boys said, "The future of Indian football stays in safe hands."

But in the end India wasn't able to upset the Qataris who move into the Asian Round 3 Group Stage qualifiers of the 2012 London Olympics.


INDIA U23 1-1 (0-0) Qatar U23 - Goals: 1-0 Khaled Muftah (53', own goal), 1-1 Mohamed El Neel (73')

INDIA: 1-Laxmikant Kattimani; 2-Abhishek Das (90' 16-Jagtar Singh), 4-Raju Eknath Gaekwad [C], 3-Arnab Mondal, 5-Gurjinder Kumar; 6-Lalrindika Ralte, 8-Jewel Raja Sheikh (75' 15-Ongnam Milan Singh), 7-Shilton D'Silva, 9-Kh. Jibon Singh; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-C.S. Sabeeth (69' 17-Manandeep Singh)
Substitutes: 18-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 12-Deepak Devrani, 13-Shahbas Shaleel, 14-Anthony Barbosa

Are today's Footballers in India overpaid?

A few days ago interim national coach Armando Colaco's statement on high players salaries in the Indian leagues has started a discussion on the topic and then JCT closed down their senior team due to high costs this week following what Mahindra United did last year.

And the spiralling costs of running a top level football team in India has something to do with the salaries of players, which have literary exploded over the last few years. In 2007 when the I-League was launched salaries of 5 to 10 lakh Rupees were a lot of money, these days players are demanding and getting salaries of 40 to 70 lakhs Rupees with top players getting even more while top foreigners getting 1 crore of Rupees and more.

Take e.g. Mohun Bagan's new prize signing Odafe Onyeka Okolie, who signed for the green-and-maroon for an alleged salary of Rs. 1,6 Crores plus a high end flat and luxurious car. This means the Kolkata side are spending as much on one player as other clubs on their whole team.

But I have a question here. Why blame the players? If clubs are offering them so much, shouldn't they take the money on offer? Wouldn't we do the same in our jobs and take the money? Most often we would, so blaming the players wouldn't be right.

It is a free market economy, a question of demand and supply. With Indian football still not professional, but clubs forking out money like pro sides we have a problem here. Then there aren't enough quality players around for clubs to register 25 to 35 players per team, so they fight it out for the best talent and the players these days know what their value is.

Will a salary cap or a gentlemen's agreement help? I fear with our pro league structure still developing, the problems of television and marketing, it would be too early to impose such a salary cap if no steady income is generated by clubs. And knowing how clubs operate they would try to work around any such move as clubs do around the world in any sport where there is a salary cap.

Maybe something to write about next time...

Rabu, 22 Juni 2011

Bendtner on the way to Dortmund?

FC Arsenal's Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner is no longer happy in London and is looking at alternative options to the Gunners. The latest rumour links the tall striker with German Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.

The rumour has been confirmed by Thomas Bendtner, father and agent of the 23 year old striker, to Danish media; while certain papers in England and Germany have stated that Borussia Dortmund have made an official bid for the striker, but it is lower then the 13 Million Euros plus figure that Arsenal rate the striker is worth. Dortmund meanwhile did not wish to comment on the issue.

Bendtner has had a bad season with Arsenal where he only played in 17 Premier League games and scored two goals. He has been linked with numerous clubs within the EPL and also across Europe, but especially German clubs seem to be in the hunt for the striker. Clubs like FC Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV and VfL Wolfsburg have been named in connection with Bendtner; but Dortmund seem to be the most serious bidder so far.

BVB won the Bundesliga title for the first time in nine years and will be playing UEFA Champions League after many years, so experienced players could be useful to the young squad who lost their leader in Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid. The club has so far bought Ivan Perisic (FC Brugge, Belgium), Ilkay Gündogan (1.FC Nuremberg), Chris Löwe (Chemnitzer FC) and young Marvin Bakalorz (Borussia Dortmund II).

But the club have a striker upfront in Lucas Barrios, but the Paraguayan will play in the Copa America next month and if he stars there then other clubs could offer around 20 Million Euros for him, which might tempt Dortmund to sell and then Bendtner could be a perfect replacement.

Olympic Qualifiers: India face uphill task

The Indian Under-23 national team go into their second-leg encounter against Qatar in the 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier needing a victory with at least two goals, then they were beaten 3-1 by Qatar at the Al-Sadd Stadium in Doha on Sunday.

India will need at least a 2-0 win to progress from the tie, but it won't be an easy task for Desmond Bulpin's boys. The weather in Pune is in favour of India as the wet conditions could cause problems to the Qataris who are more used to dry desert conditions.

The India Juniors know that they have a tough task on had and they need to focus on the task on hand. Jeje Lalpekhlua said, "A footballer ought to forget the past fast. We need to look ahead. That's football."

The youngsters know they didn't play a good match in Doha. "We need to admit they are a technically better side," Shilton D'Silva quipped. "But we know what we are capable of. We need to play our best; we couldn't do that at the Al Sadd," Jewel Raja adds.

Qatar didn't have the best of journey's across from Doha to Pune. They landed at the Pune Airport as late as 4am in the morning today and looked visibly tired. The squad waited for almost eight hours at the Doha International Airport, waiting for a landing permission from the Pune Airport.

Coach Simondi Bernard stressed the 3-1 lead looks good but could have been better. "Bulpin utilised his boys well. It’s India’s Home-Match and we will be careful."

In training over the last couple of days Bulpin has been focusing on set-plays and captain Raju Gaekwad's throw-in's are surely part of the Indian armoury which could upset the Qataris as the seventh minute goal in Doha. And Raju said, "We will play for a win. We have to go all out. There aren't many other options left."

"If we go all out, we need to be careful when they counter-attack. They are very good in passing the ball," Bulpin tried to draw a balance.

Coach Desmond Bulpin has made two changes to his 18 player squad. Ongnam Milan Singh replaces Zakir Mundampara while Jagtar Singh comes in for Snehashis Chakraborty. If he would make any changes to the starting line-up isn't known yet.

The match will kick-off at the Balewadi Sports Complex and it will be telecast live on TenAction+ and 24 Ghanta from 19.00 IST onwards.


Laxmikant Kattimani (Dempo SC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Indian Arrows)

Raju Eknath Gaekwad (Captain, Indian Arrows), Abhishek Das (Indian Arrows), Deepak Devrani (Indian Arrows), Gurjinder Kumar (Pune FC), Arnab Mondal (Chirag United), Shahbas Shaleel (ONGC)

Kh. Jibon Singh (Indian Arrows), Shilton D'Silva (Indian Arrows), Jewel Raja Sheikh (Indian Arrows), Lalrindika Ralte (Indian Arrows), Ongnam Milan Singh (Indian Arrows), Anthony Barbosa (Salgaocar SC)

Jeje Lalpekhlua (Indian Arrows), C.S. Sabeeth (Viva Kerala), Manandeep Singh (Indian Arrows), Jagtar Singh (Indian Arrows)

Desmond Bulpin (Coach)

India's Jeje Lalpekhlua amongst Sports Illustrated Asian talent list

Sports Illustrated has published a list of 10 Asian footballers who could make it in the future in Europe like the illustrious names like Ji-Sung Park (Manchester United), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) and Chung-Yong Lee (Bolton Wanderers).

The list has been put together by Asian football insider John Duerden and he has chosen only one player per country, so the list is an interesting pot-pourri of Asian talent which also features our very own Jeje Lalpekhlua. And it shows that not we, but also the outside world is taking notice of Jeje's exploits for the Indian national teams and at the Indian Arrows in the I-League.

About Jeje Lalpekhlua the writer John Duerden says:

Bhaichung Bhutia has been the main man in India for too long and while the 20-year-old Lalpekhlua is not be the first to be labeled as Bhutia's successor, he may be the one that can actually manage to do it.

"It always feels good to be compared with one whom you have always idolized or look up to," said Lalpekhlua. "But Bhaichung has reached his prime and has done so much for the country. As for me, I have just started off my career and still have a long way to go. So comparing with Bhaichung at this point is not done. It's too early. I will have to prove myself at the highest level."

Four goals in three internationals is a great start and he has also been enjoying himself for the Indian Arrows, a club set up by the federation for promising young players to get regular I-League football. This team is supposed to be the way into the 2018 World Cup. That still remains doubtful but by then Jeje, not the biggest of forwards but with the ability to find space inside the area, could easily be rubbing shoulders with the stars.

"As of now I am happy with where I am. I need to mature more as a player. I need to learn many things more. However I would like to play for a big European club one day."

Here the link to the SI.Com article

Selasa, 21 Juni 2011

VIDEO: Gouramangi organises Football Awareness Camp!

2011 Indian Footballer of the Year Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh is not the average footballer. The defender from Manipur has been one of India's key players over the last few years and off the field he tries to do whatever he can for society.

In his short summer break from club and country commitments Mangi organised a three day football awareness program in his home town of Awang Sekmai, which is outside of Imphal. It was a huge success with the kids really enjoying the camp and also for getting a chance to train with their local hero, Gouramangi Singh.

Now Mangi is back training with Team India to prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 qualifier against the United Arab Emirates, while the kids have their memories of the camp and maybe someone will also make it as a footballer.

Here a video on the Football Awareness Campaign

Spain's La Liga on ESPN-Star Sports from 2012 onwards

ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) has bought the rights for La Liga, the Spanish Football League, for a three year period from 2012 to 2015 to broadcast it across 18 Asian countries amongst them India.

ESS Asia Managing Director Manu Sawhney said in a statement, "This acquisition underlines our commitment to football fans in the region as we continue providing the most compelling content to our viewers, and an excellent promotional platform for our business partners. We have established a strong tradition in building and strengthening top-class football properties on our networks with the reach of our networks, multiple media platforms, world-class match presentation and our continued focus towards original, localized football programming and innovative marketing campaigns."

"The presence of the La Liga on our networks positions us as a leader in football content in Asia, and this programming is undoubtedly a tremendous value to our affiliate partners, advertisers and viewers," added Sawhney.

ESS has acquired the rights from Mediapro, the global broadcasting rights holders for the Spanish La Liga. Commenting on the development Mediapro Managing Director Gerard Romy said, "We are pleased with their commitment to showcase La Liga across new media platforms in order to extend the profile of this great football league."

ESS will broadcast La Liga from the 2012-13 to the 2014-15 season in 18 countries across the continent which includes India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Philippines.

ESS has bought the rights on multiple distribution platforms - television, mobile and online for these countries as they will not only focus on the TV market but over forms of media too.

ESS also happens to be the rights holders of the English Premier League and from 2012 onwards they will be showing over 600 matches from two of Europe's top football leagues. This means that ESS will be showing matches involving iconic clubs like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The next 2011/12 season the rights stay with Ten Sports, who will be showing La Liga until it returns to ESPN-Star Sports.

Churchill Bros sign contract with coach & striker in Lisbon

The president of Churchill Brothers SC Joaquim Alemao has been in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to complete the signing of the clubs new chief coach Manuel Goncalves Gomes, also popularly known as Professor Neca, and top Gabonese striker Henri Antchouet. Accompanying Mr. Alemao on the trip was Raul Fernandes, who was representing the coach and player.

The contract signing was done at the Tiara Park Atlantic Hotel in Lisbon as both Manuel and Henri are based in the Portuguese city of Porto before shifting their base to India in the coming weeks.

Last season Gomes was on the verge of signing as coach of East Bengal Club, but due to some problems it did not happen and the red-and-gold would go on to sign successful English coach Trevor Morgan.

The experienced Gomes has worked as assistant coach of the Portuguese national team besides having the same role with Benfica Lisbon, while he has coached the national sides of Angola and the Maldives plus teams in Mozambique, Kuwait and elsewhere. He has also coached Portuguese second division club Estoril-Praia Sad.

Manuel Gomes stated that he was very happy to sign for Churchill Brothers who are the only family run team in India. "I know the passion that the Alemao family have for football especially Mr Churchill and Mr Joaquim Alemao. I will do my utmost to ensure that the team gains laurels in the coming season and with the trust given to me by the Alemao family I shall do my best. I know that several good players have been recruited and that the team has already experienced players in the team and signing Henri was a wise decision as he will add to the strength of the attack force," stated Manuel Gomes.

In Henri Antchouet Churchill Brothers seem to have also found a suitable replacement for Odafe Onyeka Okolie. The Gabon international is joining the Goans from Portuguese second division side Moreirense FC. Antchouet, who has 46 internationals to his name, has played in Europe for clubs in Spain and Greece besides numerous sides in Portugal.

Henri Antchouet stated that he was very excited about playing for Churchill Brothers in India. "I have heard so much about Indian football and more so about this great Family run Team Churchill Brothers. When my manager Raul Fernandes asked me to play for Churchill Brothers I readily agreed," stated Antchouet.

The clubs president Joaquim Alemao, who also is a Vice-President of the AIFF, stated that he was very happy to sign a coach and a player of such high calibres.

"To get two experienced persons in one go is a great achievement and I would like to thank the coach and player for signing for Churchill Brothers. We have put our trust in the coach and the player and we are sure that they together with our entire team will put up a good performance in the coming season," said Joaquim Alemao at the signing ceremony in Lisbon.

Senin, 20 Juni 2011

The DFB/Joachim Loew vs Michael Ballack spat

The DFB/Joachim Loew vs Michael Ballack spat is like an old married couple who suddenly get divorced and have stored recent events in their minds in totally different ways. While Loew maintains that he was all this while fair to Ballack and made him understand from March 2011 onwards that he will most likely have no future in the national team, Ballack says it was the other way around and he was looking forward to making a return for Germany at some stage after getting over his injuries.

Ballack went to the extend to accuse Loew of being a hypocrite and the offer of a farewell match being a farce. He therefore turned down the offer to lead Germany for one last time against Brazil in an international friendly on August 10 in Stuttgart.

The German FA (DFB) shot back through its General Secretary Wolfgang Niersbach in saying that Loew had kept Ballack informed throughout these months and it was up to the player to call it quits on his international career, but when the DFB was unable to communicate with Ballack via mobile phone as he was on holiday, the DFB had enough and released the statement from Loew last Thursday ending all speculation.

This Ballack called lack of trust and hit back on Friday with a statement through his lawyers and then Niersbach made his statements on Saturday. By then the whole issue had blown out of proportion then many in Germany believe the era Ballack in Team Germany is over, only he should have gotten a fitting farewell.

Leverkusen's Director of Sports Rudi Voeller, himself a former Germany coach, said that he would like to mediate while DFB president Theo Zwanziger has reiterated that he would like to see Ballack play one last time for Germany, but he would have to excuse himself for the statements made.

If this will happen after all that has been said is doubtful, but a player like Ballack deserves such a testimonial game, only he should also understand when his time is over and not hit back like a small brat. Everyone comes out of this as a loser...

VIDEO: Eric Cantona lends his voice to the 2011 Homeless World Cup

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is a Homeless World Cup Ambassador and his renowned vocals feature in the video to promote the annual football tournament happening in Paris next August.

Using animation and street art, the Paris 2011 Homeless World Cup promo "Homeless to hero" highlights the power of football to transform lives and features four ex-Homeless World Cup players leading extraordinary lives.

Patrick Mbeu, formerly of Team France is now coaching with Paris St Germain FC; Michele da Silva, Team Brazil became a member of Brazil's U20's national women's squad; David Duke, Team Scotland is the founder of Street Soccer Scotland using football with over 500 homeless people; and Nathan Bowen, Team England is a Health Coach Coordinator a Brighton and Hove Albion FC.

Created in collaboration with Promax UK, Beautiful TV and Nike the promo features music from the Mercury Music Prize Nominated Brighton based sextet 'The Go! Team' with a superb track called 'The Running Range' from their new album 'Rolling Blackouts'.

The Paris 2011 Homeless World Cup will take place at the Champs de Mars, Paris, France from 21-28 August 2011.

Here the promo video with Eric Cantona

JCT disband senior team, to focus on Academy & grassroots

The rumour has been making rounds for a while now and today came the confirmation from JCT themselves, the Punjab-based side from Phagwara has disbanded their professional senior team citing lack of public interest in the game in the country. It comes a year after another corporate club in Mahindra United from Mumbai had taken the same step.

JCT, the first champions of the National Football League in 1996/97 (now running under the name of I-League), had been relegated last month from the top tier of Indian club football and they simply do not see a sustainable financial future for their club in the second Division besides JCT has been running the club on a small budget over the last few years mainly relying on young talent coming out of the JCT Football Academy as they weren't willing to pay the high salary demands of the players.

JCT in a press release said

JCT Limited has taken a strategic decision to pull out for the time being till football in India shows some possibility of generating value for corporates and their brands, besides bringing up popularity of football among youngsters.

JCT Limited being a corporate, needs to justify to its stakeholders the effort vs visibility of the football team. Today, football teams worldwide have become self-sustaining enterprises for which high exposure is needed to build viewership and spectators in the stadium.

JCT won the inaugural Football League in 1996, where there was high quality TV exposure and widespread public interest. But since then the League has had negligible exposure and the teams have been going almost unnoticed-

JCT's football team was formed in 1971 and since then JCT has worked hard and invested in working at grass-root level in Punjab and building a top class team.

Mr. Samir Thapar, as president of Punjab Football Association, will continue to work with passion for strengthening the sport of football at grass-root level in Punjab and also through JCT Football Academy continue to find and train youngsters for tomorrow as the academy has been grooming champions for JCT and almost all football clubs of Indian football.

There is one good thing, which is that JCT will continue to run their JCT Football Academy and support the grassroots program in Punjab, while Samir Thapar remains president of the Punjab FA.

Baichung Bhutia said about the development, "In 1996, when we won the inaugural National Football League and that was the golden period of JCT football. Myself, Vijayan, Jo-Paul (Anchery), Carlton Chapman, Tejinder Kumar formed the core. All the stars wanted to play for JCT. But you have got to understand their sentiments. Year after year, they have been spending crores of rupees with minimal returns. After a certain point of time, you feel frustrated and this is what happens. I am sad but not surprised."

The question is what's next? This is what the AIFF, the I-League and their commercial partners IMG-Reliance need to ask themselves and answer to the fans of Indian football. Then at the moment running a football club in India is not a commercial viable entity and that needs to change asap otherwise others could follow this drastic step taken by Mahindra&Mahindra and JCT, who both had been involved in Indian football for many decades and weren't any of the new investors into the game, who came and left again.

North India will now go unrepresented in the NFL/I-League for the first time in its 15 year history and at the moment there doesn't look to be an alternative clubs who could make it through from the 2nd Division in place of JCT.

A look back at the I-League season 2010/11

The I-League ended about three weeks ago, but still it is worth a look back on how the last season went...

The 4th fourth edition of the I-League came to an end on June 1 after one of the most interesting seasons in Indian football ever. In the end Salgaocar SC from Goa became the surprise champions while former National Football League winners JCT from Phagwara and Mumbai's ONGC went down to the second Division.

The I-League lasted for nearly six months, but the first couple of months were played without the 30 India players amongst coach Bob Houghton's probables for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. This had effect on some teams who had numerous players at the camp.

Kolkata's East Bengal Club were the league's early pace setters as they won their first six matches and looked to be the team to beat as they came into the I-League having won the Calcutta Premier Division and Federation Cup titles. But a mid-season slump by the red-and-gold initially with numerous draws and then also defeats allowed Salgaocar SC to close in and then grab the top spot. Suddenly the Goans, who no one really considered as title contenders, where in the lead 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 rival 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.

Salgaocar won their final game of the 2010/11 season against JCT in Ludhiana on May 30 to ensure that none of the other contenders could catch them. 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.

"This triumph means a lot to me, my players, staff and management. I would also like to dedicate this triumph to the Salgaocar fans. They were really behind us, especially at home and that helped us a lot," said an overjoyed Karim.

For Karim the title came in year five of his coaching stint in India. After two years with Churchill Brothers SC (2006-08), close to two years at Mohun Bagan (2008-10) and over a year at Salgaocar SC (2010 - ...), he has finally won the title on the third attempt. At all three clubs he has build teams from scratch and he did it around strong foreigners, seasoned locals and give young Indians a chance to launch their career.

While the young Salgaocar team was the positive surprise of the season there was also a negative highlight too, Dempo SC's 14-0 victory against Air India on the last match day. It is the biggest victory in the history of the league and as one would expect rumours of match fixing and other wrong doings did the rounds, but nothing was proven and the All India Football Federation did not order a probe.

What remains from the 2010/11 season is that it was a transition year towards the full professionalization of the I-League. It won't happen next season, but we are getting closer to see a fully professional league in India in the years to come.

Minggu, 19 Juni 2011

Robin Dutt starts work at Bayer Leverkusen

Last seasons Bundesliga runners-up Bayer 04 Leverkusen yesterday introduced their new coach Robin Dutt at a press conference to the media before Robin Dutt held his first coaching session at his new club infront of 500 interested fans.

The Coach of Indian origin had joined the Rhineland club this summer from SC Freiburg, where he had coached successfully the last few years. Leverkusen is the biggest coaching assignment of his career so far and Robin pointed that out. When asked about his ambitions with the club he said he would like to fulfil the long cherished dream of Bayer 04 Leverkusen to finally win the Bundesliga title.

A confident Robin Dutt explained, "At Freiburg finishing ninth was a big achievement last season. Here in Leverkusen finishing outside the international spots would be a disaster, Europa League would be average, Champions League would be good and winning a title would be outstanding. That is what I would like to achieve here."

The 46 year old was born in Cologne, which is on the other side of the Rhine from Leverkusen, though he spend most of his life around the Stuttgart area before moving to Freiburg.

Robin Dutt belongs to the new generation of coaches. When asked about his style of football Robin said, "We should not be predictable in our game. There is no tactical system which remains the same for 60 matches."

It is clear Robin wants to be flexible in the way his team plays and prepare his side for different situations throughout the season. Other key aspects of his approach are respect and discipline.

One can only wish him all the best at Bayer 04 Leverkusen!

Olympic Qualifier: Qatar defeat India 3-1

The Indian Under-23 national team was beaten 3-1 by Qatar in a 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier at the Al-Sadd Stadium in Doha. After a strong first session in which India held Qatar to a one-all draw they just couldn't sustain their game with Qatar getting stronger to score two goals in the second half to seal the first-leg tie.

Only 3,518 spectators had come to the Al-Sadd Stadium, but they were treated to some exiting opening minutes with action at both ends. To the surprise of the local fans India looked the more dangerous of the two sides especially through the long throw-in's from captain Raju Eknath Gaekwad. In the seventh minute one such throw-in reached Jeje Lalpekhlua and C.S. Sabeeth in the box, and while the Qatari defenders were trying to get the ball away Jeje banged the ball in for the lead with all the Indians at the ground celebrating.

But only three minutes later Qatar earned a penalty when Abdulaziz Hatem was brought down inside the area by defender Arnab Mondal, but if it was a penalty can be debated. Captain Hassan Al Haidous went up to take the penalty but his weak shot was cleared by India keeper Laxmikant Kattimani. It seemed things were going India's way early on. But Qatar didn't look shocked as they pressed on and got the equalised through Al Khalfan in the 14th minute, who reached a perfect through ball, beat keeper Kattimani and nicely pushed in.

After the first quarter the Qataris had more of the ball, but India did look dangerous on counter attacks with especially Jeje a constant worry for the Qatari defence whenever the ball came through. It was one-all at the break after a first session which was played at a high pace in hot conditions in Doha.

After the break things didn't look good for India as they didn't pressure against the ball, allowed the Qataris to combine and the attack looked toothless with no balls reaching the strikers as often the long ball was used as the midfield and defence got less time to combine and clear the ball from danger.

Right from the restart Qatar put pressure on the Indian defence and it was a lovely strike from Hassan Al Haidous in the 54th minute which gave Qatar the lead beating the outstretched arms of Kattimani. India somehow didn't look like a side which could get back into the game and Qatar sealed the game in the 69th minute through a strike from substitute Mohammed Saleh El Neel, who scored from close-range as India once more couldn't clear the ball.

India did try and get a second, but their efforts didn't even reach the target, Raju's throw-in's weren't a threat either towards the end as the Qatari goalkeeper Abdulla Al Sheeb had adjusted to the danger. Kattimani made a late save in injury time to deflect the ball onto the crossbar to deny Qatar a fourth. It ended 3-1 in favour of Qatar.

The second-leg will be played in Pune on Thursday, June 23. India need at least a 2-0 win to advance to the next round and hopefully the monsoon conditions in Pune will be helpful against the Qataris.


Qatar U23 3-1 (1-1) INDIA U23 - Goals: 0-1 Jeje Lalpekhlua (7'), 1-1 Ahmed Al Khalfan (14'), 2-1 Hassan Al Haidous (54'), 3-1 Mohammed Saleh El Neel (68').

INDIA: 1-Laxmikant Kattimani; 2-Abhishek Das, 4-Raju Eknath Gaekwad [C], 3-Arnab Mondal, 5-Gurjinder Kumar; 6-Lalrindika Ralte, 8-Jewel Raja Sheikh, 7-Shilton D'Silva (74' 15-Zakir Mundampara), 9-Kh. Jibon Singh; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-C.S. Sabeeth
Substitutes: 18-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 12-Deepak Devrani, 13-Shahbas Shaleel, 14-Anthony Barbosa, 16-Snehashis Chakroborty, 17-Manandeep Singh

Special VIP enclosure at Frankfurt Stadium for Blatter denied

It is one of the weirdest stories I have heard in recent times. According to German media reports there had been a request from FIFA to the German FA (DFB) to rebuild the VIP enclosure at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt as the FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter would like to sit on the middle line at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup final on July 17.

This is not possible at the Frankfurt ground due to a staircase going through down the middle, which would have split the VIP enclosure into two halves and that is not wanted. The FIFA requested the DFB to change this, which would only be possible at a cost of 18,000 Euros which FIFA wasn't willing to pay.

The so-called 'Blatter-Block' affair was stopped on Friday by DFB president Dr. Theo Zwanziger once he got to know about these crazy plans. He sorted it out in a conversation with FIFA Women's head Tatjana Haenni.

Zwanziger said, "When I heard about the plans it was immediately clear to me that these plans would not be implemented. With all due respect to structural measures, which we the DFB also carry out for the German Cup and international matches, at some point a limit is reached. We will present ourselves in Frankfurt as suitable hosts though a staircase will go through the middle of the VIP enclosure."

FIFA withdrew its request, while the criticism against FIFA and its president grows further with such weird requests.