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Sabtu, 31 Desember 2011

Happy New Year 2012!!!

I wish you, all my readers and well-wishers, a very happy New Year 2012!!!

Most importantly I wish good health to you all and your families, achieve your personal goals and lets hope for a great year in football.


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My Indian football Highlights in 2011

2011 ends later today and I wanted to take a look back at the year gone by in Indian football. It was another year which promised a lot, but did it keep up to its promise or let us down? A difficult question, which does not have a definite answer. Read and make your own opinion...


2011 AFC Asian Cup

The year started with India playing at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, 27 years after its last appearance at the continental champions. India coached by Bob Houghton were drawn in the Group of Death along with Australia, South Korea and Bahrain. We lost 0-4 against Australia, 2-5 against Bahrain and 1-4 against South Korea. 3-13 goals speak a clear language, but if one knows the gulf in standard between the best in Asia and a developing football nation like ours then it was an overall a good show by Team India.

The tournament also marked the career highlight for a generation of Indian footballers led by striker Baichung Bhutia, who was mostly injured and so could only play the final 15 minutes against South Korea. The others were Mahesh Gawli, Deepak Kumar Mondal, Samir Naik, Climax Lawrence, Renedy Singh and Abhishek Yadav; who all have done their bit for Indian football.

But one should not forget the fans. India had the best crowd support in Doha! It was like a home tournament for us...


The Sacking of Bob Houghton

Englishman Bob Houghton did a credible job to qualify India to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and thereafter at the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March 2011 in Kuala Lumpur he started to rebuild his team for the years ahead. But that was cut short by the All India Football Federation as the national body was not happy with the fact that Bob openly criticised the infrastructure and administration as the reason of India's non-development in football. Especially at the Asian Cup in Doha Bob was vocal about the problems that Indian football faces.

The end of the story is a complete disgrace. The AIFF labelled false charges of racism against Bob Houghton for statements he is said to have made against Indian fourth official Dinesh Nair in a international friendly match last year in Pune.

In the end Bob looked fed-up and left the country in haste after the AIFF dropped the charges in April 2011. After nearly five years of being India coach Bob certainly didn't deserve a send-off like this.


I-League: Salgaocar SC champions

The surprise champions of the 2010/11 I-League with 56 points were Salgaocar SC under the able guidance of Moroccan coach Karim Bencharifa. The Goans surprised everyone with their football and after snatching the lead from early leaders East Bengal Club, they never really looked back as they won the championship in style. Their foreigners in Luciano Sabrosa, Ryuji Suoeka and Yakubu Yusif were top besides young Indian talent in Gilbert Oliveira, Francis Fernandes and Anthony Barbosa emerging plus seasoned Karanjit Singh, Jaspal Singh Parmar, Khelemba Singh and Rocus Lamare playing their part.


I-League: JCT relegated, close down

Punjabi side JCT, who have been fighting relegation for the last few seasons, finally went down at the end of last season as they finished 13th amongst 14 teams. It not only ended their stay in the NFL/I-League since the launch of the league, but their management decided to close down the football club overall to concentrate on the Academy and youth development.

It marks the end of an era, leaving Punjab and North India without I-League representation. JCT not only were the flagbearers of the North but also a club to develop talent through the JCT Academy. The players often moved from the Academy to the senior team and there made a name for themselves.

The closure of JCT follows a season after Mahindra United had decided to take the same drastic measure as the clubs say that they cannot sustain themselves without earning revenues. Still things don't seem to change with the clubs unable to generate revenues and other clubs could go this way.


2014 FIFA World Cup: India out at first hurdle

The qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil were over before they had really started for India. This time around seeded into the second Round of Asian qualifiers India had to face the mighty United Arab Emirates and progress would have meant a real upset.

But only 23 minutes into the match in Al Ain it looked all over for India after having goalkeeper Subrata Pal and defender Debabrata Roy send-off for two separate incidents with the team down to nine men and 0-2 behind. It ended 0-3 for the UAE, a credible result for India under the given circumstances, and India earned a hard-fought 2-2 comeback draw at a monsoon flooded Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi, but the overall aggregate of 5-2 speaks a clear language.


Indian Arrows become Pailan Arrows

Over the summer it looked like the Indian Arrows could be shutting shop due to the high costs involved in running the India developmental side in the I-League. But then Kolkata-based Pailan Group came forward and adopted the Arrows, the AIFF rebranded the team as Pailan Arrows and as such they will now play in the I-League in the coming seasons.

The good thing about the Arrows is the fact that their future for the next few years is secure and the youngsters will get a continued chance to play in the I-League with the team not to be relegated. This exposure is necessary and will do Indian football a great service in the future.


Baichung Bhutia retirement

Striker Baichung Bhutia was an upset man that he couldn't help his beloved Team India more at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in January in Qatar due to an injury. He tried a comeback ahead of the India vs Pakistan Series in the UK, but he had to pull out due to a never-ending injury and then Baichung decided and announced his retirement from international football in August 2011 in New Delhi.

Later on in October 2011 the India vs FC Bayern Munich match came around and it will give Indian fotoball the chance to give Baichung a fitting farewell on January 10, 2012 in New Delhi at the Audi Football Summit.


SAFF Cup: India triumph!

The year ended as it started with an international assignment for Team India. But this time around India wasn't the underdog, but rather the overwhelming favourite besides defending champions. And though the team had their problems in the tournament and faced some tough competition India did trash Afghanistan 4-0 in the SAFF Cup final though the result does not really reflect the match with the Afghans the positive surprise of the tournament.


International interest in Indian football

FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation continue to say that Indian football has huge potential and international interest in the Indian market continues to grow, but the necessary development isn't seen as in my opinion a lot of effort goes in vain or is commercially driven rather then by the game.

Surely we have now tons of camps from European top clubs for big city children, but development needs to be taken to the smaller cities and the rural areas where talent lies uptapped.


These are my Indian football highlights from 2011...

Jumat, 30 Desember 2011

Ancelotti named new FC Paris Saint-Germain coach

As had been expected over the last few days Italian Carlo Ancelotti has been named as the new head coach of French Ligue 1 leaders FC Paris Saint-Germain following the sacking of Antoine Kombouare. The ambitious new owners of PSG - Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) did not think that Kombouare was the man to push their big European ambitions.

Ancelotti, who successfully has coached at AC Milan and FC Chelsea, comes to to the French capital knowing that here is a club which has aspirations as his two former clubs in Milan and Chelsea also have. While he won the UEFA Champions League twice at Milan, he somewhat failed in London though winning the league and cup double.

Though on top of the French Ligue 1 Kombouare's downfall has been the fact that PSG were eliminated from the group stage of this seasons UEFA Europa League with the Ligue 1 title not big enough for the ambitious Qataris though it would be only PSG's third national title, while Kombouare wasn't also a big enough name as a coach.

Ancelotti knows about the task on hand and said at the press conference, "We have huge ambitions, naturally we want to win the title, we want to play in the Champions League and do the best possible in that."

"The discussion is not: '1st is good, 2nd is not good', the project is bigger than that. The objective is to grow, that the club is both competitive in France and especially in Europe."

"I have a huge responsibility, because the team is first," Ancelotti added.

Former PSG captain Claude Makélélé has been appointed assistant coach with the club looking to bring in more talent over the winter transfer window. The name of Englishman David Beckham is making the rounds, but if he will sign at PSG will have to be seen. Likewise other names in Chelsea's Florent Malouda, Milan's Alexandre Pato or Real Madrid's ex-Milan out of favour playmaker Kaka are being linked to PSG.

Coaching Camp for Indian Women's Team

In a very positive step for Women's football in India the All India Football Federation is organising a camp for the Indian Senior Women's national football team at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

The camp does not conclude with any assignments, but chief coach Shahid Jabbar has called 30 women footballers to work on the finer aspects of the game and prepare for future assignments. The camp will continue until January 30, 2012.


INDIA Women's Camp

Goalkeepers
Anjana Saikia, Usharani Das, Swarnamayee Samal, Rashmi Kumari

Defenders
Romi Devi, Radharani Devi, Rebika Devi, Rashmita Patra, Ashalata Devi, Bijay Laxmi Sahu, Suprava Samal, Tuli Goon, Ansha, Bijaya Devi

Midfielders
O. Bembem Devi, Manisha Panna, Kamala Devi, Supriya Routray, Amoolya, Premi Devi, Montessori Chanu

Forwards
Parmeshwari Devi, Nima Lamhu Bhutia, Michel Margaret Castanha, Swati Rawat, Pinky Bompal Magar, Sasmita Malik, Naobi Chanu, Rina Roy, R. Suganya

Officials
Shahid Jabbar (Chief Coach); Shukla Dutta (Assistant Coach), Pratima Biswas (Assistant Coach), Surmala Chanu (Assistant Coach), Minati Roy (Assistant Coach); Ranjita Mohanty (Goalkeeping Coach); Kruti Marolia (Physiotherapist); Poulami Ghosh (Trainer)

FCBEscola camp kicked-off in Delhi today

The much awaited FCBarcelona football training camp has started in Delhi. The FCBEscola, the FC Barcelona football school, in association with Conscient Football; began the first of the two camps at The British School, Chanakyapuri in New Delhi today, while the second camp will take place at The Heritage School in Gurgaon.

With 180 participants, the camp has been divided in two batches of 90 children each. The first phase of the camp is being held from today up to January 4, 2012 with January 1, 2012 being an day off. All participants received an official FCB Camp kit to wear during their 15 hours of FCBEscola training.

Ex-Barcelona player and now coach at FCBEscola Josep 'Pep' Moratalla is leading the training assisted by two other Spanish coaches, six coaches from Conscient Football and six further assistants. The participants are in the following age groups - Under-8, Under-10, Under-12, Under-14 and Under-17.

The camp is open to both boys and girls of all football playing abilities. During the intense sessions, participants will be trained in the same manner as the FC Barcelona players back in Spain.

Anupama Jain,Conscient Football Director, said, "This has been a great start as we have received phenomenal interest from players in Delhi as well as from other cities around the country. The participants represent over 80 schools and we have a number of girls who have registered for the camp which reflects the growth of football in India."

Kamis, 29 Desember 2011

Al Kass International Cup Under-17 2012 in Doha, Qatar

Some of the biggest clubs in world football will be sending their youth teams to the Qatari capital Doha to compete in the first edition of a new international football tournament to be named as the Al Kass International Cup Under-17. The annual event will be held from January 8 to 17, 2012 at the outdoor football pitches at Aspire Zone in Doha.

The competition is being organized by Al Dawri & Al Kass Sports Channel (Al Kass), together with the Qatar Football Association (QFA) and Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF).

"This is going to be the first edition of an annual event that is set to further contribute to building on the foundations of a proud footballing nation up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 and beyond," said Issa Bin Abdulla Al-Hitmi, general manager of Al Kass.

The initiative is expected to benefit the global youth football movement as emerging junior teams from top clubs such as FC Paris Saint-Germain (France), Vasco da Gama (Brazil), Juventus (Italy), AFC Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands), FC Barcelona (Spain), Kashima Antlers (Japan), Al Jazira (UAE) and Al Ahly (Egypt) discover new frontiers, build partnerships and make lifelong friendships.

The teams will be competing to win the the trophy for first place along with a 200,000 USD cash prize to be allocated to the winning club. There will also be awards given to the most valuable player of each match. The local Aspire Academy will also have two teams participating in the Cup, Aspire Qatar and Aspire International.

"Aspire Zone is honoured to be hosting such an innovative tournament to support youth development in football. The Aspire Academy has a strong history of hosting visiting youth football teams for friendly matches against our Aspire teams and the Al Kass International Cup U-17 will give our boys valuable experience. The players on display could be the future stars of world football so we just may see them returning to Qatar in 2022 to play in the FIFA World Cup," observed Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.

"Through the friendships forged during the annual Al Kass International Cup U-17, clubs will build a lasting relationship and intimacy with Qatar and its beautiful football stadiums leading all the way up to World Cup 2022," said Hamad Al-Mannai, director of the Al Kass International Cup U-17.

"We already know that Qatar is investing in the future of football and Doha is propelling itself as one of the leading sports capitals of the world, and we look forward to having a world class level of sportsmanship at the tournament," added Al-Mannai.

Officials said that all three stakeholders behind the initiative stand to gain from each other's expertise and contribute collectively to the growth of a footballing culture in Qatar and around the region.

With the tournament being held during football's winter break and located in a part of the world that truly bridges the East and the West, Ward Abdallah, head of the tournament's media committee, asserted that Al Kass U-17 has the tools required to communicate with the world's football community, "We will be launching a new website and using social media tools to ensure that we can reach and communicate directly with our Al Kass U-17 football community."

A number of key sponsors have already signed up to become part of a tournament of Al Kass International U-17's standing. These include Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, Qatar National Bank, Fifty One East, Qatar Stars League, Q.media, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Mannai Air Travel, QVision, Qatar Airways, The Look Company, and Swiss Open Air.

FC Bayern Munich to come with whole squad of stars to New Delhi

German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich will come with their full 24 player squad to New Delhi to face Team India in the Audi Football Summit on January 10, 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The Bavarians will be led by captain Philipp Lahm, who also captains the German national team, in the exhibition match which is a farewell for the Indian football icon Bhaichung Bhutia from the Indian national football team.

FC Bayern Munich boasts of some of the best talent in the world. Captain Lahm is a class apart as a defensive wing-back, their attack is led bz star striker Mario Gomez, while the club has one of the strongest midfield in the business, led by Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger which also includes
the 'Golden Boot' winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Thomas Mueller.

FC Bayern Munich are using the match against India as part of their mid-season preparations after the mid-season break in the Bundesliga following their week-long training camp in Qatar.

The AIFF had earlier released the Team India squad list for the match .


FC Bayern München

Goalkeepers
1-Manuel Neuer, 22-Hans-Joerg Butt, 24-Maximilian Riedmueller, 32-Rouven Sattelmaier

Defenders
2-Breno, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 13-Rafinha, 17-Jérôme Boateng, 21-Philipp Lahm, 26-Diego Contento, 28-Holger Badstuber

Midfielders
7-Franck Ribéry, 10-Arjen Robben, 14-Takashi Usami, 23-Danijel Pranjic, 27-David Alaba, 30-Luiz Gustavo, 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 39-Toni Kroos, 44-Anatoliy Tymoshchuk

Forwards
9-Nils Petersen, 11-Ivica Olic, 13-Thomas Mueller, 33-Mario Gomez

Officials
Jupp Heynckes (coach), Peter Hermann (Assistant Coach), Hermann Gerland (Assistant Coach), Toni Tapalovic (Goalkeeper Coach)



More information about the match and where to buy tickets online are available at www.audifootballsummit.in

The official Twitter account of the Audi Football Summit can be found under www.twitter.com/AudiFS2012 .

Rabu, 28 Desember 2011

VIDEO: Odafe scores a brilliant goal!

Mohun Bagan's Odafe Onyeka Okolie scored a briliant goal against Air India yesterday. The Nigerian as only he can do simply beat four defenders and then the Airmen goalkeeper Pawan Kumar to score his clubs third goal of the day to seal the match.

The video clip shows all all four goals in the 3-1 Mohun Bagan win, but wait and watch the final one from Odafe. It is worth it!







Courtesy of Sabuj Maroon Swapno, who have uploaded the video

Medeira names 23 players squad for Bayern Munich match

India national football team head coach Savio Medeira has named his 23 players squad for the Audi Football Summit in which his side will face German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich on January 10, 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

The match also marks the official farewell from Team India of long-time captain Baichung Bhutia, who will lead the national side for one last time.

The players have been asked to report in Delhi on January 7, 2012; but there could be controversy waiting then on that day East Bengal take on Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Premier League and the Indian Football Association (West Bengal) along with the two clubs has asked for the release of their players on that day. If granted then the players would join the camp a day later.

Team India will be missing recent SAFF Cup hero Sunil Chhetri due to injury, while players in Adil Khan, Gurjinder Singh and Reisangmi Vashum have gotten their first senior India call-up.


INDIA

Goalkeepers
Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar SC), Subhasish Roy Chowdhury (Dempo SC), Felix D'Souza (Churchill Brothers SC)

Defenders
Jaspal Singh Parmar (Salgaocar SC), Samir Naik (Dempo SC), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Govin Moirangthem Singh (United Sikkim FC), Nirmal Chetri (East Bengal Club), Syed Rahim Nabi (Mohun Bagan AC), Adil Khan (Sporting Clube de Goa), Gurjinder Singh (Pune FC)

Midfielders
Reisangmi Vashum (East Bengal Club), Jewel Raja Sheikh (Mohun Bagan AC), Climax Lawrence (Dempo SC), Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan AC), Baldeep Singh (Pune FC), Clifford Miranda (Dempo SC), Lalrindika Ralte (Churchill Brothers SC), Rocus Lamare (Salgaocar SC)

Forwards
Jeje Lalpekhlua (Pune FC), Baichung Bhutia (United Sikkim FC), Sushil Kumar Singh (United Sikkim FC), C.S. Sabeeth (Pailan Arrows)



More information about the match and where to buy tickets online are available at www.audifootballsummit.in

The official Twitter account of the Audi Football Summit can be found under www.twitter.com/AudiFS2012 .

Selasa, 27 Desember 2011

Could Berbatov be set for a Leverkusen return?

Yesterday Dimitar Berbatov got one of his rare starts at Manchester United this season and the Bulgarian scored three goals in the 'Boxing Day ' fixture against Wigan Athletic in his clubs 5-0 win. But it could be one of the last few matches for the Red Devils as United might not renew his contract which ends next summer.

Berbatov has dropped down manager Alex Ferguson's strikers pecking order to number four, which isn't the best for a striker of his class who scored 21 goals for Manchester United last season in the English Premier League.

Now reports say that Berbatov's former club Bayer 04 Leverkusen are interested to bring the seasoned striker back to the German Bundesliga. If the striker would be available on a free transfer, then Leverkusen could be tempted to bring Berbatov back as he was a sensation from 2001 to 2006 in the Bundesliga with 69 goals in 154 matches before he moved to Tottenham Hotspurs.

A winter transfer looks out of the question due to the possible transfer fee which Manchester United c(w)ould demand, but if available then Leverkusen could be tempted to make a move.

Internally Berbatov's return would open a fight for places on the Bayer 04 strike department roaster between former Germany striker Stefan Kießling and Swiss international Eren Derdiyok, who haven't scored too many goals this season and the club has ambitions for which it needs a top striker who scores regularly. Berbatov would surely fit that bill especially as he has been at the club.

Schweinsteiger: I aim for four titles!

German international and FC Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has big plans for 2012. He wants to win all possible titles with club (UEFA Champions League, German Bundesliga, German Cup) and country (2012 European Championships) in the coming six months.

"If I could chose, then I would pick Champions League and Euro2012," says a recovering Schweinsteiger to German media, "but I would also like to win the Bundesliga and German Cup as well."

Typical Schweinsteiger it comes out cooly, but the 27 year old midfielder is much more mature then in the years gone by. He has the conviction that all this is achieveable.

Schweinsteiger had hoped to make a surprise comeback before the Bundesliga winter break, but coach Jupp Heynckes had vetoed any such move as he see's Schweinsteiger crucial to the clubs plans for the second half of the season.

But Schweinsteiger knows that winning the UEFA Champions League title would be tough with FC Barcelona currently the best football club side in the world, so he see's winning the Euro2012 title as a more realistic aim.

Mourinho eyes an EPL return

The 'Special One' as Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho likes to be called is eyeing a return to the English Premier League. But the current coach of Spanish giants Real Madrid is not eyeing an imminent return to the EPL, but Mourinho rather wants his next assignment to be with an EPL club. The if and when Mourinho hasn't put a date to it then his contract with Real Madrid runs until summer 2014.

It is an open secret that Jose Mourinho is a big fan of English club football after he coached FC Chelsea there from 2004 to 2007. He won the EPL title twice along with the FA Cup and League Cup before being fired by the west-London club. Something which Chelsea has not overcome as managers have come and gone over the last few years since Mourinho's forced departure.

Surely Mourinho is not an easy character, many do not like him, but he is a man who does everything for success without looking back. Be it as a translator for Bobby Robson at FC Barcelona, then at Union Leiria, FC Porto, FC Chelsea, Inter Milan and now Real Madrid as head coach. He was successful in his work everywhere.

Mourinho has said a few times that he did not want to lose out on the chance to coach at Real Madrid in 2010 after winning the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan, but his heart lies with England football and there he would like to return one day.

One of the possibilities is that Mourinho replaces Sir Alex Ferguson once he does retire at Manchester United. This is a rumour which has been making rounds for years, while Chelsea could look at him as a possible replacement if his former assistant Andres Villas-Boas fails at the Blues. Though the question of the equation between owner Roman Abramovich and Mourinho could decide any such move.

Senin, 26 Desember 2011

Mahesh Gawli retires from International Football

32 year old Mahesh Gawli has decided to end his international career for India just weeks after winning the 2011 South Asian Football Federation Championships in New Delhi. The defender informed the All India Football Federation of his decision through a letter in which he thanked the AIFF, his coaches and team mates, his clubs and fans for their support throughout his international career.

In the letter Mahesh Gawli wrote, "It is delightful and so appropriate to have a perfect farewell to my International career on winning the SAFF Championship 2012 which is more heartening." Gawli, currently playing for Dempo SC, added that he will continue to play club football for some 'more years'.

Mahesh is best known for being a top central defending pair with Deepak Kumar Mondal at club and country. The duo had a blind understanding in their haydays with Mahesh having won the LG Cup (Vietnam), Nehru Cups, SAFF Cups and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

Mahesh Gawli is a product of the Tata Football Academy ho has played in the club career for FC Kochin, Churchill Brothers SC, East Bengal Club, Mahindra United and Dempo SC until now.

Thanks Mahesh for everything!!!

Minggu, 25 Desember 2011

Could Thierry Henry make a short return to FC Arsenal?

French coach Arsene Wenger of English Premier League side FC Arsenal is considering to bring back countryman Thierry Henry on a two-month loan deal from Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls as reinforcement for strikers Gervinho (Ivory Coast) and Marouane Chamakh (Morocco) who both would be at next months 2012 Africa Cup of Nations for their respective national teams.

Henry is a living legend at Arsenal, the record goal scorer at the North London club with an impressive 226 goals in 370 matches from 1999 to 2007. And recently that status was cemented when a statue of the French striker was unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger has stated in the press that he is thinking about Henry with whom he had a very successful time at the club. During his eight years at the club Henry won two English Premier League and three FA Cup titles besides reaching the finals of the 2006 UEFA Champions League.

Now the former FIFA World Cup and European Championship winner Henry would be the ideal short-term replacement for the to African strikers and he could also bring in some much needed inspiration at Arsenal to save them this season. And the fans surely would love to see their favourite striker back at the club, even if it is only for two months.

Is Spain's Del Bosque considering a Raúl comeback?

The severe injury to FC Barcelona striker David Villa has upset the plans of Spain coach Vicente del Bosque for the upcoming 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine next summer. And if Villa doesn't make it in time, then del Bosque will have to find a suitable alternative, then Spain will go into the tournament with the aim to defend their title won four years back in Austria and Switzerland.

A few days ago I had written about the speculation if Villa will make it in time in: Will David Villa be fit again for Euro2012?

A difficult question to answer then one never knows how an injury will heal. The name which seems to ignite old love and passion in Spain is that of 34 year old striker Raúl González Blanco, currently playing the German Bundesliga for FC Schalke 04.

The former Real Madrid star is a legend in his home country. He has played 102 international matches scoring 44 goals for Spain between 1996 and 2006. Many see him still as a top striker which he is proving at Schalke with 10 goals so far this season and especially the three goals against Werder Bremen on the last match day before the mid-season break has caught the attention of the Spanish.

It will be interesting to see if Raul can make an international comeback for Spain.

Jumat, 23 Desember 2011

2012 Audi Football Summit - India's best vs Germany's finest

The Audi Football Summit will be played on January 10, 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi with the Indian national football team taking on German football giants FC Bayern Munich. The match also marks the farewell game for long-time India captain Baichung Bhutia and proceeds from the game will go to the victims of the Sikkim earthquake.


FC Bayern Munich are the most successful club in the history of the Bundesliga, the top tier of German football. They have won 21 Bundesliga titles since the inception of the league in 1963 along with 15 German Cup (DFB Pokal) trophies. The club has also four UEFA Champions League wins to their name besides the 1967 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the 1996 UEFA Cup (now UEFA Europa League) titles. The Bavarians are financially the most stable and profitable club in Europe with a state-of-the-art stadium in the Allianz Arena, a 69,000 capacity venue.

Currently Bayern Munich are coached by seasoned Jupp Heynckes, who is with the club since the start of the season for a third stint. The club is captained by Philipp Lahm, who also happens to be the Germany captain. Other star players at the club include Frenchman Franck Ribéry, Dutchman Arjen Robben besides German internationals Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer and Mario Gomez to name a few. The club has players from nine nations as part of their 24 player professional squad.


Team India is in a transitional phase. The generation of the Baichung Bhutia's, Renedy Singh's, Mahesh Gawli's, Deepak Mondal's, Climax Lawrence's and co had their last big hurrah at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in January in Qatar. It was the first time in 27 years that India qualified for Asia's showpiece football event, but now after the tournament new, young players have come into the national team with the aim to push Indian football to new unknown heights in international football.

The star players of Team India are striker Sunil Chhetri, goalkeeper Subrata Pal, defender Gouramangi Singh and utility player Syed Rahim Nabi with 20 year old Jeje Lalpekhlua the brightest young prodigy. A lot will be expected from these players against Bayern Munich. The match also marks the end of an era as Baichung Bhutia is set to don the India jersey for one last time, nearly 17 years after his first match for India and over 100 internationals later.


On the sidelines of the big match there will also be the India finals of the FC Bayern Youth Cup. The preliminary rounds with close to a 1,000 children participating were held in Delhi (October 2011) and Mumbai (December 2011) with the scouted boys facing each other at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The best will be chosen by FCB scouts to represent India at the international FC Bayern Youth Cup in Munich in May 2012.


German carmaker Audi AG, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen AG, has a long-standing relationship with sports, especially with the game of association football. Though motorsports does come more naturally for a carmaker, football has been something which has grown in importance for the company in recent years.

Audi has its best known tie-up in football with German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich, where Audi is not only a sponsor but also a 10% stakeholder in the Bavarian club. Audi further is sponsor/partner of European football giants FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia) besides Bundesliga sides Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hamburger SV, 1.FC Nürnberg, 1899 Hoffenheim and Hertha BSC Berlin. Audi sponsors its local home town team FC Ingolstadt 04, who currently play in the 2.Bundesliga (second tier).


More information about the match and where to buy tickets online are available at www.audifootballsummit.in . Tickets are priced between Rs. 100 and 3,000.

The official Twitter account of the Audi Football Summit can be found under www.twitter.com/AudiFS2012 .

2011/12 I-League: A really close affair

11 Rounds of the I-League season 2011/12 have been played so far with the league as close as never before with the top seven clubs separated by six points. Dempo SC are back on top of the league with 24 points ahead of East Bengal Club and Churchill Brothers SC both on 23 points ahead of Mohun Bagan AC on 21 points with Air India completing the top five on 19 points.

Results from Round 11
21-Dec-2011: Churchill Brothers SC 0-2 Pune FC
21-Dec-2011: Prayag United SC 1-1 Shillong Lajong FC
22-Dec-2011: Dempo SC 3-2 Sporting Clube de Goa
23-Dec-2011: Chirag United Kerala 0-2 East Bengal Club
22-Dec-2011: Mohun Bagan AC 0-0 Salgaocar SC
22-Dec-2011: Mumbai FC 4-0 HAL SC
23-Dec-2011: Air India 2-0 Pailan Arrows


Dempo started off with seven wins, but then came three losses in a row, now Dempo SC returned to winning ways with a hard earned 3-2 victory against local rivals Sporting Clube de Goa to go back top of the I-League. This was only possible due to the fact that Churchill Brothers SC were beaten 2-0 at home by Pune FC, while East Bengal Club closed in on the top sides with a 2-0 away win against Chirag United Kerala.

Besides Pune FC the team of the hour are Air India, who have moved into the top five with another impressive performance, this time a 2-0 win against Pailan Arrows. The disappointment of the season so far are HAL SC, who suffered another heavy loss, this time a 0-4 against Mumbai FC. They remain on only one point.


-# TEAM ------------------- -M - -W--D--L - GF-GA -GD PTS
01. Dempo Sports Club ----- 11 - 08-00-03 - 28-10 +18 24
02. East Bengal Club ------ 11 - 07-02-02 - 23-07 +16 23
03. Churchill Brothers SC - 11 - 07-02-02 - 17-09 +08 23
04. Mohun Bagan AC -------- 11 - 06-03-02 - 21-14 +07 21
05. Air India ------------- 11 - 06-01-04 - 17-16 +01 19
06. Prayag United SC ------ 11 - 04-06-01 - 19-10 +09 18
07. Pune FC --------------- 11 - 05-03-03 - 18-16 +02 18
08. Sporting Clube de Goa - 11 - 03-04-04 - 19-19 +-0 13
09. Salgaocar Sports Club - 11 - 03-04-04 - 12-13 -01 13
10. Shillong Lajong FC ---- 11 - 03-04-04 - 08-19 -11 13
11. Mumbai FC ------------- 11 - 03-02-06 - 14-20 -06 11
12. Chirag United Kerala -- 11 - 02-02-07 - 10-18 -08 08
13. Pailan Arrows --------- 11 - 00-06-05 - 04-16 -12 06
14. HAL SC ---------------- 11 - 00-01-10 - 07-30 -23 01

2011/12 German Cup: Quarterfinal draw out

The draw for the quarterfinals of the 2011/12 German Cup (DFB Pokal) were held Wednesday evening as part of the ARD Sportschau. German women's national team midfielder Melanie Behringer did the honour of pulling out the fixtures. And she did pull out some really mouth watering clashes.

The top match of the round will be the south Germany derby between VfB Stuttgart and record cup winners FC Bayern Munich. In another Bundesliga match-up Hertha BSC Berlin will host Borussia Mönchengladbach as Hertha continue to aim to reach the finals in their home stadium for the first time, while it marks the return of former Hertha coach Lucien Favre with his current club Gladbach.

1899 Hoffenheim host 2.Bundesliga SpVgg Greuther Fürth in a tricky fixture, while the only amateurs left in the competition fourth division side Holstein Kiel who host Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.

The matches will be played on February 7/8.


QUARTERFINALS

1899 Hoffenheim - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Hertha BSC Berlin - Borussia Mönchengladbach
VfB Stuttgart - FC Bayern München
Holstein Kiel - Borussia Dortmund

VIDEO: Prayag Utd's Josimar's great goal vs Lajong

Brazilian striker Josimar da Silva Martins of Prayag United SC scored a lovely goal on Wednesday in his teams I-League match against Shillong Lajong FC.

Here it is for you all to watch


Kamis, 22 Desember 2011

Baichung & Team India look forward to Bayern Munich match

Baichung Bhutia will don the India jersey and lead his team onto the pitch for one last time on January 10, 2012 in the Audi Football Summit against FC Bayern Munich at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

Speaking about his career Baichung said, "My career has been a great learning for me, a wonderful experience. My 16 year international football career has made me richer in experience and I have grown as a person. Playing my final India match against Bayern Munich is a great honour, but also a tough finale for me. Bayern are one of the best teams in the world and I rate them currently as better than Germany."

"Indian football is moving in a positive direction with the Indian team qualifying for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup after a gap of 27 years. In addition to this, the junior and developmental teams are making good progress on the Asian front. I believe that it will not be long before we see Indian players plying their trade on the international club circuit," added Baichung.

Also for India coach Savio Medeira it is a big match after the SAFF Cup triumph earlier this month. Savio said, "It's not every day that you get a chance to play against the best in the world. It would be a learning experience for us."

Sunil Chhetri, the SAFF Cup's Player of the Tournament and AIFF Players of the Year, is set to miss the match due to an injury. But talking about the match Chhetri said, "With the phase which Indian football is going through, the more we play stronger opponents, the better for us. You get to play Bayern Munich possibly once in a lifetime. We ought to make the most of it."

Striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is India's brightest young talent and he will get a chance to play alongside the legendary Baichung Bhutia for the first-time in the national team. Jeje said about the upcoming match, "The opportunity to play with one of the top clubs would be an experience indeed. It gives us the opportunity to improve ourselves."

India's dependable defender Gouramangi Singh said, "It will be a great opportunity to be playing on the same field that too against such star players. It's also an honour to be a part of Baichung Bhutia's farewell match. I'm looking forward to it."

For young midfielder Jewel Raja Sheikh it is an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world's greatest midfielders as he said, "The match gives us an opportunity to learn from international stars. You don't let go of such an opportunity for sure."

Playing FC Bayern Munich will be a tough assignment for Team India, but it is also about giving Baichung Bhutia a fitting farewell after 16 years of service for the Indian national football team. And it isn't only about the players, but also the fans who hopefully will make it a fitting farewell in New Delhi on January 10.


More information about the match and where to buy tickets online are available at www.audifootballsummit.in

The official Twitter account of the Audi Football Summit can be found under www.twitter.com/AudiFS2012 .

Premier League Soccer look to bring former stars to Bengal

An IPL-style football league is set to be launched in West Bengal under the name of Premier League Soccer by the local football body Indian Football Association (West Bengal) along with event organisers Celebrity Management Group. This was announced this afternoon at the Stadel in Kolkata at an official press conference attended by CMG's Bhaswar Goswami, Dharamdutt Pandey and IFA Honorary Secretary Utpal Ganguli.

The press conference was intended to name potential former stars who would come to the state to be part of the league as icon players to give the PLS the necessary profile to establish itself as a new competitive seven week league within Indian football. The league is set for a late-February launch.

Amongst those who have been confirmed are Robert Pires (France); Jay Jay Okocha (Nigeria) and Portuguese duo Maniche and Sérgio Conceição with former Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin also said to have confirmed his participation.

The six franchises are set to be coached by foreign coaches of repute in Englishmen Peter Reid, John Barnes and Tony Adams besides Samson Sia Sia (Nigeria), Marco Etcheverry (Bolivia) and Teitur Thodarson (Iceland).

The coaches will have between 25 to 30 players to chose from. There can be upto four foreigners, six Under-21 players, six catchment players and 10 to 14 Indian players.

"The tournament will give excellent opportunity to the youngsters to play with the big names in the six-eight weeks under highly experienced coaches," Indian Football Association (IFA) Secretary Utpal Ganguli said.

Asked about its limited presence in the six towns of Bengal, Ganguli said, "We are starting off with these six towns. But the aim is to have a pan-India presence. "There will be television telecast through which we will get a national presence. We are targeting at the youth segment who are hooked to the English Premier League," CMG's Bhaswar Goswami said.

The PLS' inaugural season would initially see six franchises in action, who would be based in Kolkata, Barasat, Howrah, Haldia, Durgapur and Siliguri. The six franchises will be chosen through competitive bidding with the base price set to be fixed at Rs 5 to 10 Million (50 lakh to 1 crore).

The organisers have understood that costs have to be kept under check. The franchises will be allowed to spend upto 2 Million USD per season, while the icon player can cost between 400,000 to 600,000 USD, the other foreigners upto 200,000 USD and the young foreigner upto 100,000 USD.

A lot still needs to be done and organised before the league can get into action in two months time with more information to be released by the organisers in the weeks to come.

Rabu, 21 Desember 2011

Will David Villa be fit again for Euro2012?

Spain and FC Barcelona striker David Villa is out for five to six months, which means the 30 year old all-time highest goal scorer for Spain could miss the 2012 European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine for the defending champions.

Villa fractured his shin bone in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinal against Al Sadd from Qatar last week and the striker has said his aim would be to be back latest by May 29, 2012; the day of the final of the UEFA Champions League. If he achieves this then we could also play at Euro2012.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has been quiet about the issue so far. He has time on his side, but the media in Spain is already discussing possible replacements for David Villa, then FC Chelsea striker Fernando Torres remains off colour at his club.

The names mentioned are those of FC Valencia striker Roberto Soldado and FC Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo. Some are even calling for a comeback of former Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez, who is having a good season at German Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04.

INDIA stay 162nd in latest FIFA World Rankings

The world football governing body released the latest FIFA World Rankings earlier today in which India remain 162nd amongst the 208 ranked nations and territories, while within Asia India remain 29th amongst 46 nations in the rankings.

India is 162nd behind Fiji and ahead of Guinea-Bissau with 131 points, 12 more then last month. The points came from the title defence of the SAFF Cup but due to the loss of earlier points India couldn't make any progress in the rankings.

India's next assignment will be the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal from March 8 to 19, 2012. There India could get some useful points to move-up the FIFA World Rankings.

Meanwhile there has been no change amongst the top five of the FIFA World Rankings. World champions Spain (1,564 points) stay at the top with the Netherlands (1,365), Germany (1,345), Uruguay (1,308) and England (1,173) behind them.

Selasa, 20 Desember 2011

VIDEO: One of the best Own Goals ever!

A scene from a league match in Hongkong. Festus Baise of Sun Hei vs Citizen AA back heels the ball into his own goal in such beautiful fashion that he would make every striker proud of such a goal. Maybe the best own goal I have seen in my life. A must watch!



Sunil Chhetri is 'AIFF Player of the Year 2011'

The All India Football Federation has declared Sunil Chhetri as the AIFF Player of the Year 2011. Sunil was chosen as the winner by coaches from I-League club, who voted amongst a list of five players shortlisted for the Award. The criteria for selection was on field performance primarily in India's international matches and general conduct, both on and off the field.

Sunil who has played a total of 17 international matches in the calendar year 2011, scoring an impressive 13 goals in the process, the highest by any Indian footballer in 2011. Besides this he also scored 11 goals in 20 Club matches for Chirag United SC (now Prayag United SC) and Mohun Bagan AC in 2011. He also received the Arjuna Award in 2011 and won the Man of the Championship in the recently concluded 2011 SAFF Championship in New Delhi.

Sunil Chhetri as the AIFF Player of the Year 2011 will receive a cash award of Rs. 200,000 (2 lakh) plus a silver plaque.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das congratulated Sunil on his achievement. "I congratulate Sunil for being the AIFF Player-of-the-Year. He has had an outstanding year winning many accolades and I'm sure he will continue his good form in the New Year both for the country and his club," Kushal Das said.

When I spoke to Sunil today, he was overjoyed to receive the award and he hopes to continue to deliver for club and country in the years to come.

Bayern Munich stars look forward to playing in Delhi

German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich return to India for a fifth visit of a team from the Bavarian side. This time around it will be the full first team squad who will be coming to New Delhi next month for the Audi Football Summit with the club officials and players looking forward to the visit.

FC Bayern Munich AG CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also happens to be the chairman of the European Club Association, said, "I have heard about the great experiences from our players and coaches when they traveled for Oliver Kahn's farewell match (to Kolkata in May 2008). We are now delighted to bring the full first team to India. Many of us are excited about the country, the city of Delhi, the people and their enthusiasm for football."

For winger Thomas Mueller the trip to Delhi will be his second visit to India. Thomas said, "I am happy to come back after the visit to Kolkata and Siliguri in January 2009." Mueller, the top scorer and 'Best Young Player' at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, sought to motivate young Indian footballers by saying, “Football is the best team sport in the world," and added by saying that he's 'happy that more and more kids are playing the game in India'.

Mueller’s Bayern and Germany team-mate Mario Gomez said that the entire team was looking forward to play against India at the Audi Football Summit. Gomez about whom former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld had recently said that he was as important to Bayern Munich as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona, had joined the German champion for a record transfer fee from Stuttgart in 2009. The star striker, who has 16 goals from 16 matches in the Bundesliga, said, "The trip to India will be a big experience for us, as most of us have not been to India."

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes said, he would like to utilize the opportunity to the hilt at the Audi Football Summit. "We are coming to India after a week long training camp in Qatar. We will want to show quality football and want to present ourselves in the best possible manner. Naturally, I would like to utilize the opportunity to learn more about Indian football. I really look forward to it," said Heynckes, a member of the West German side which won the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 FIFA World Cup.

More information about the match and where to buy tickets online are available at www.audifootballsummit.in

The official Twitter account of the Audi Football Summit can be found under www.twitter.com/AudiFS2012 .

Senin, 19 Desember 2011

VIDEO: Barca's goals against Santos in Club World Cup final!

FC Barcelona put on Sunday night four goals into FC Santos' net in the final of the 2011 Club World Cup in Yokohama, Japan. Here the goals, which all are great to watch. Enjoy!




VIDEO: Ball bursts in Bayern Munich vs FC Cologne match

In a rare incidence in a professional football match on Friday evening in the German Bundesliga the match ball burst following a free-kick from Bayern's Belgian defender Daniel van Buyten. And the other players have a laugh...



Club World Cup: FC Barcelona demolish FC Santos

UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona demolished their South America counterparts the Copa Libertadores champions FC Santos from Brazil 4-0 to win their second Club World Cup title in Yokohama, Japan in three years. In 2009 the Catalans had beaten Argentinian side Estudiantes.

The 70,000 spectators in Yokohama were treated to a one-sided game in which Barca showed all their class. The match was billed as the match-up of Lionel Messi vs Neymar, but the seasoned Messi proved that currently he is the best player in the world while teenager Neymar still has a long, long way to go...

Messi gave his side a 17th minute lead through a beautiful chip over Rafael Cabral after a nice Barca combination, while Xavi Hernandez made it 2-0 only seven minutes later with a nice placed shot. On the verge of half-time Barca made it 3-0 after chaos in the Santos defence and a couple of good saves by Rafael Cabral it was Cesc Fabregas who put the ball finally in.

After the break Neymar did have a chance to reduce the deficit, but that was the difference between him and Messi on this night. Messi would score his second and his teams fourth in the 82nd minute. It ended 40 for FC Barcelona and no one doubted the win in the end.

After the match Barca coach Pep Guardiola said, "The reason for our success is the effort of the players. We have very high-quality players and were able to display quality football."

Minggu, 18 Desember 2011

Hertha Berlin fire coach Markus Babbel

German Bundesliga side Hertha BSC Berlin have fired their 39 year old coach Markus Babbel in one of the most bizarre incidence of a club firing their coach. Babbel has been linked to a number of coaching jobs in German football in recent weeks and the coach had said that he had informed the club a few weeks back that he would not extend his contract beyond summer 2012. The club officials say Babbel only made that announcement to them earlier in the week.

This matter got totally out of control over this weekend and it led to Babbel being fired by the capital club as both sides blamed each other of lies.

"After the developments of the last two days, culminating in the fact that I was called a liar more than once, both the club and I are left with no choice," said Hertha's Director of Sports Michael Preetz when he announced the sacking.

"The relationship of trust is no longer there," he added.

The whole episode leaves all involved scared and damaged, generally in a bad light with Hertha BSC now in search for a new coach as the club aims to stay in the Bundesliga after their return from division two.

Jumat, 16 Desember 2011

2011/12 UEFA Europa League: Round of 32/16 draw out

The draw for the Round of 32 and pre-quarterfinals (Round of 16) for the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League was carried out yesterday in Nyon, Switzerland. And there are some mouth watering clashes coming early next year.

Defending champions FC Porto take on English Premier League leaders Manchester City, while their city rivals Manchester United face Ajax Amsterdam. The other English entrant left Stoke City have to take on the mighty FC Valencia, while Lazio Roma have been paired with Atletico Madrid. In a low country derby AZ Alkmaar take on Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht.

The Round of 32 matches will be played on February 16 and 23, while the Round of 16 games are scheduled to take place on March 8 and 15.


The Fixtures

Round of 32
FC Porto - Manchester City
AFC Ajax Amsterdam - Manchester United
FC Lokomotiv Moscow - Athletic Bilbao
RedBulls Salzburg - Metalist Kharkiv
Stoke City - FC Valencia
Rubin Kasan - Olympiacos Piräus
AZ Alkmaar - RSC Anderlecht
SS Lazio Roma - Atletico Madrid
Steaua Bucharest - FC Twente Enschede
Viktoria Plzen - FC Schalke 04
Wisla Krakau - Standard Liege
Sporting Braga - Besiktas Istanbul
Udinese Calcio - PAOK Saloniki
Trabzonspor AS - PSV Eindhoven
Hannover 96 - FC Brugge
Legia Warsaw - Sporting Lisboa

Round of 16
Salzburg/Metalist - Rubin/Olympiacos
Legia/Sporting - Porto/Manchester City
Steaua/Twente - Plzen/Schalke
Wisla/Standard - Hannover/Club Brugge
Stoke/Valencia - Trabzonspor/PSV
AZ/Anderlecht - Udinese/PAOK
Lazio/Atlético - Braga/Besiktas
Ajax/Manchester United - Lokomotiv/Athletic

2011/12 UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 draw out

The draw for the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 was held today in Nyon, Switzerland. And all the remaining clubs in the competition aim to reach the final to be played on May 19, 2012 at the Allianz Arena in Munich. In the draw were 16 clubs from across the continent for Europe's premier club competition.

The first leg would be played on February 14/15 and 21/22, while the return leg would be played on March 6/7 and 13/14. The winners of the group stage first travel away and then host their opponents at home. Once more we have some very interesting fixtures to look forward to with the pick of the matches being the Italy vs London matches - AC Milan vs Arsenal and Napoli vs Chelsea.

Defending champions FC Barcelona have to travel to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in an interesting tie-up. Barca are big favourites to go throughh, but interestingly Leverkusen had beaten Barca on both occasions when they reached European Cup finals - UEFA Cup in 1988 and UEFA Champions League in 2002.

2010 champions Inter Milan face French side Olympique Marseille, record champions Real Madrid have to travel across the continent to face CSKA Moscow in Russia, while Bayern Munich face Manchester United beaters FC Basel.


The PQF Fixtures

Olympique Lyonnais - APOEL Nicosia
SSC Napoli - FC Chelsea
AC Milan - FC Arsenal
FC Basel - FC Bayern Munich
Bayer 04 Leverkusen - FC Barcelona
ZSKA Moscow - Real Madrid
Zenit St. Petersburg - Benfica Lisboa
Olympique Marseille - Inter Milan

Schweinsteiger only back in 2012

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will only make his return from injury in January 2012 with his club FC Bayern Munich not pushing him to return onto the field to play the final Bundesliga game of the year against 1.FC Cologne at home tonight.

Schweinsteiger had broken his collarbone in a UEFA Champions League match against SSC Napoli on November 2, when he had gone up in a one-to-one against Gökhan Inler and fell awkwardly. He was operated that night, but it needed weeks to heal. Schweinsteiger had hoped to make a comeback before christmas, but that hope has now been dashed by the club doctors.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has been back in training for the last few days, but he will only return to full team training in January at the Bavarians mid-season training camp in Qatar.

Fans of the midfielder in India hope that Schweinsteiger will be fit enough to play for Bayern Munich against Team India at the Audi Football Summit on January 10, 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

Kamis, 15 Desember 2011

Tickets go live for Audi Football Summit: India vs FC Bayern Munich

The tickets for the Audi Football Summit India vs FC Bayern Munich match on January 10, 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi went live today on Bookmyshow.com! The tickets have been priced between Rs 100 to 3,000 to be affordable for as many fans as possible.

The match is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Indian football fans to see the world's best footballers such as Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben on Indian soil, while is also marks the farewell game of Indian football icon Baichung Bhutia from the Indian national football team.

For the Audi Football Summit ticketing Audi India has tied-up with Bookmyshow.com to make the tickets easily available through the Internet. The proceeds from the match will go to support the quake-affected people of Sikkim.

Clemens Ollmert, Head of Marketing - Audi India, said; "We, at Audi, believe that football is a perfect fit to our brand values and products. The Audi Football Summit in Delhi is a very prestigious event for us; it is the biggest football game in India. We hope to attract millions of Indians to enjoy the game and inspire thousands of children to play football. It is going to be one of the high points for Indian football fan to see the world's best footballers such as Thomas Mueller, Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben in India. We are very happy to partner with BookMyShow.com, the leading entertainment ticketing website in India. With our partners, we want to deliver world class experience to sports lovers and match the expectations of football fans in India and abroad."

On the exclusive association Ashish Hemrajani, Founder and CEO of Bookmyshow.com said, "We at Bookmyshow.com are in constant pursuit to keep our customers updated with the latest happenings in the country. Our main focus is to deliver superior experience to the customer and to make the entire ticket buying process extremely user friendly and simple. Bookmyshow.com has been proudly associated with a variety of major sporting events that are being held in the country. Such vast events require the best experience including hassle free ticketing and this is where the true strength of BookMyShow lies".


Tickets for the match range from Rs. 100 to Rs. 3,000 exclusively on www.Bookmyshow.com .

Rene Adler: Stay or leave Leverkusen?

Bayer 04 Leverkusen goalkeeper Rene Adler has been having a tough time for a while due to numerous injuries. It started ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Adler on the verge of going into the tournament as Germany's number one goalkeeper, but it would be the tournament that Manuel Neuer would establish himself as Germany's number one amongst the new generation of goalkeepers.

Then before the start into this season 26 year old Rene Adler once more got injured and Leverkusen signed teenager Bernd Leno on loan from VfB Stuttgart as a stop gap shot stopper. A gamble, but one which paid off as Leno did well and Adler wasn't recovering fast enough from his injury that Leverkusen signed Leno on a long-term contract from Stuttgart, which has put Adler in a spot.

As Adler continues to be injury prone Leverkusen will likely bet their future success on the younger, healthier Leno; while Adler who is said to have had interest from Manchester United and other European top clubs last season is left on the bench and now has to look for alternative options.

Bundesliga rivals Hamburger SV are said to be interested in the German international, but HSV will surely not make any move in the winter transfer window as their Director of Sports Frank Arnesen has said. The risk in Hamburg like in Leverkusen could be for Adler that the current number one Jaroslav Drobny would be also there as competition.

Rabu, 14 Desember 2011

Kalyani could become one of the four Regional Academies

The All India Football Federation with the help of world football governing body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation is setting-up four Regional Football Academies for Under-14 and U-17 boys which will work as feeders to the to be set-up National Academy.

On that a decision has been made by the AIFF with the campus of the Pailan Group in Joka, Kolkata set to house the National Academy in connection with the Indian Junior team (Pailan Arrows) playing in the I-League.

Meanwhile the AIFF and their new technical director Robert Baan on their scouting visit through India seem to have found the ideal location for their Eastern Regional Academy. It is set to be the Kalyani Sports Complex, in Nadia district just north of Kolkata, which not only has a stadium but other facilities available as well.

After the visit Baan said, "I have been roaming in India since last two months to visit good football ground and infrastructure to establish football academies and the ground of Kalyani stadium is the best in India."

The southern centre is set to come-up at the Bangalore Football Stadium, while the AIFF is yet to decide where to locate the two other regional centres.

Are Blackburn Rovers in serious financial trouble?

This is what English media has reported over the weekend and that has caused a major stir at the club and around it, then besides fighting relegation the ownership of the Venky's has been criticised severely since the takeover in November 2010.

Venky's many say have done a lot wrong with criticism from fans, pundits and even sponsors; which has put the club in trouble. Now the troubles seem to have reached a new level with the club having to pay back a 10 Million Pound loan without which salaries from February onwards cannot be guaranteed.

But in a statement the club has vehemently denied this. The statement from Finance Director Karen Silk says
There was a report in "Mail Online" and the Mail on Sunday newspaper last weekend that Blackburn Rovers is heading for a financial crisis and facing a financial meltdown - and that the players and staff wages are in danger.

We strongly refute this story. There is no financial crisis, and, there is absolutely no danger to the players' and staff wages.

Amongst all professional football clubs, finances are regularly assessed and reassessed during the season based on performance, income and costs, and at Blackburn Rovers this is no different.

Barclays Bank and Blackburn Rovers have enjoyed a long relationship over many years and are currently in constructive dialogue about how the bank, along with the owners, can support the club for many years to come.

FC Bayern Youth Cup - Mumbai

The second India-leg of the 2011/12 FC Bayern Youth Cup was held over the weekend in Mumbai after the first-leg in Delhi in October 2011. The national finals will be held on January 10 in a match ahead of the India vs FC Bayern Munich friendly.

Close to 400 children showed themselves at the Western Railway Sports Association grounds on Saturday and Sunday with Bayern legend Paul Breitner and Under-15 coach Harald Cerny as the scouts along with local Mumbai scouts who included former India international Naushad Moosa.

Children not only from Mumbai, but from other parts of Maharashtra and India came to the Western Railway Sports Association ground to show themselves and their skills with some very talented youngsters amongst them.

A total of 14 children were scouted with four children chosen as back-up to travel to New Delhi in early-January 2012 to train under FCB coaches ahead of the FC Bayern Youth Cup national final. The best children will be chosen to represent Team India at the international FC Bayern Youth Cup in May 2012 with other countries participating in China, Italy, Austria and the hosts Germany.

Selasa, 13 Desember 2011

VIDEO: Edgar Prib's incredible miss

Striker Edgar Prib from SpVgg Greuther Fürth had an incredible miss infront of an empty goal last night against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2.Bundesliga in Germany.

Here the link to the video:


Senin, 12 Desember 2011

Nicolas Anelka signs a contract in China

English Premier League side FC Chelsea have accepted the transfer request of their French striker Nicolas Sébastien Anelka as the 32 year old has signed a two year contract with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua which starts in January 2012.

The London club are allowing the striker to leave on a free transfer after Anelka has not been able to get regular first team football under new manager Andre Villas-Boas.

In China they have high hopes of Nicolas Anelka, where they see him as a role model for young, aspiring footballers. China wants to create positive news after all the scandals in recent years with Shenhua owner Zhu Jun willing to spend big to push his team to the top of the league. Anelka team mate Didier Drogba is said to be another transfer market.

Some in the Chinese media have written that Anelka's signing is a milestone for Chinese football and fans look forward to see Anelka in action in their league.

Interestingly Anelka has been a controversial player all his football career. He had left FC Paris Saint-Germain as a teenager to sign for FC Arsenal. He went to play for Real Madrid, FC Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Bolton Wanderers and then FC Chelsea.

VIDEO: Match Highlights India vs Afghanistan

India yesterday confirmed their status as the number one team in South Asia by beating Afghanistan 4-0 in the finals to win their sixth SAFF Cup title. But the match wasn't as easy as the result might sound.

Here are the match highlights


Minggu, 11 Desember 2011

2011 SAFF Cup: India retain title against Afghanistan

Team India has defended the title of South Asian champions by winning the 2011 SAFF Cup with a 4-0 win against Afghanistan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

But the result does not reflect the match as India had their problems with a spirited Afghanistan, who had the better chances in the first session; but after the break India regrouped and got better and better.

Things changed for India when Afghanistan goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousufzari brought down Jeje Lalpekhlua with the Afghan captain getting his marching orders which Sunil Chhetri scored from the penalty after it took minutes for the referee to restart the game.

But after losing a man Afghanistan were no match for India as Clifford Miranda made it 2-0 in the 77th minute of a right-footer with Jeje making it three only a couple of minutes later to seal the match with three goals in nine minutes. Substitute Sushil Kumar Singh scored of a spectacular long-ranger in injury time to make it 4-0, a result too harch on the Afghans.

After a shaky start into the tournament India did find its form with especially Sunil Chhetri being instrumental with seven goals to his name with Syed Rahim Nabi also having a great tournament.


INDIA
1-Karanjit Singh; 4-Nirmal Chetri, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 12-Anthony Pereira (70' 23-Steven Benedic Dias), 8-Climax Lawrence [C], 21-Rocus Lamare, 15-Clifford Miranda (20-Lalrindika Ralte); 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-Sunil Chhetri (81' 18-Sushil Kumar Singh)

Sabtu, 10 Desember 2011

2011 SAFF Cup: Afghanistan final hurdle for India

Surprise finalists Afghanistan will be the final hurdle for defending champions India in the 2011 SAFF Championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium tonight. And if India win, then it will be mission accomplished amongst difficult circumstances.

Once more India will depend on the good goal scoring form of Sunil Chhetri, who has scored six goals in the tournament so far and the Delhi boy will hope to win another trophy with India on home soil after two Nehru Cups and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

"It is still not over as yet. We have just won a semifinal; nothing more than that. The Big Match awaits us. We are yet to win it," a realistic Chhetri said.

But aren't India the favourites in the final? Chhetri shook his head again. "I told you, we haven't won anything as yet. All the good work can go in vain in the next 90 minutes. We shouldn't be so elated," he quipped as he signed autographs after the semifinal win against he Maldives.

You walk away trying to reflect on the final. On paper, India should have it easy. But on the field, Afghanistan threaten to steal a leaf out of India's book. For a country torn by strife and where the sound of gun-shots are common even to a six-month old, this bunch of Men from Afghanistan need to be appreciated too. In fact, more.

Football stays their solace as was evident in their celebrations after reaching the final. No football pundit would have ever advocated such wild celebrations after a semifinal victory - that too after a solitary goal win in extra-time against a vastly improved Nepal. It drains out the players further, they would argue.

Far away from being at their best in their opening encounter against Afghanistan, the Indians have improved with every match. "That was a different match; this will be a different match," echoed Syed Rahim Nabi who tapped in India's opening goal against Maldives in the semifinal. "But we cannot take anything for granted."

For India the SAFF Cup win would be another south Asian trophy to their name, for Afghanistan much more is at stake then they can create football history which would surely lift the spirits back home.

Therefore Team India Coach Savio Medeira stayed cautious as ever. "We know they are dangerous. They have some very good players," he maintained.

Immediately after India had booked their ticket to the final, Sunil Chhetri's gesture to Nabi sums up the spirit in the Indian camp. As the two posed for photographers at the team bench, Chhetri, who had just received his fourth consecutive Man-of-the-match medal, wrapped the medal around Nabi’s neck. "It's a team game," stayed the sentiment. Standing near you could hear all what the players said as they congratulated each other. "Beware, we haven't won the Championship as yet."

The final will kick-off at 18.00 IST with TenAction+ showing the match live.

FCBEscola to start India Camps from December 30

FCBEscola, the FC Barcelona football school, in association with Conscient Football will start its first Indian football training camps in Delhi and Gurgaon from December 30, 2011 onwards.

Around 300 participants from across the the capital will be trained at two centres – The British School, Delhi and The Heritage School, Gurgaon. The camp at the British School will be held from December 30, 2011 to January 4, 2012 and at The Heritage School it will be held from January 6 - January 10, 2012. These will be five days intensive coaching camps with 15 hours of training given to each participant.

Scientifically developed, the training program is divided into three segments – Introduction, Pre-Training, and Training for youth in the age groups of 6–17 with the objective to provide world-class training under the same successful methodology that has produced leading football stars like Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. The five day camp will take place on the pitch and in the classroom and will focus on the technical, tactical and off-the-pitch tools necessary to succeed in football and in life.

Ex-Barcelona player and now coach at FCBEscola Joseph Moratalla will be the head coach at the camps. He will be assisted by two Spanish coaches, six coaches from Conscient Football and six further assistants. The participants will be divided in following groups: Under-8, Under-10, Under-12, Under-14 and Under-17.

Announcing the Camp schedule, Anupama Jain, Director of Conscient Football, said, "The initial two camps will be held under the guidance of Joseph Moratalla and we hope that they will be a great start to the project and we will be able to grow them pan India very soon. We have already received interest from many other cities which clearly shows the popularity of football in India."

Jumat, 09 Desember 2011

VIDEO: Match Highlights Maldives vs India

India played their best match of the 2011 SAFF Cup so far to reach the finals. In the end it was a 3-1 win against the Maldives. Match the video highlights of yesterdays match!



FC Bayern Munich to face Team India on January 10

German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich announced at an official press conference in New Delhi that they will take on the Indian national football team in a charity match on January 10, 2012 which will also mark the farewell of now former India captain Baichung Bhutia. The match will be played under the title of Audi Football Summit with the German carmaker being not only the sponsors, but also the organisers of the match along with the AIFF.

The press conference at the Leela Palace in New Delhi was attended by Bayern Munich advisor and club legend Paul Breitner, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das along with Audi India's MD Michael Perschke and Head of Marketing Clemens Ollmert. Baichung Bhutia sadly could not attend as he could not fly into Delhi on Friday, but he was live at the press conference through a telephone link.

The date of the match was known since mid-Otober when the game was first announced, but now more information has been revealed by the organisers. The match will be shown on TenAction+ with the Hindustan Times as the official media partner of the game. A ticketing partner would be revealed by the coming week with the organisers hoping for a packet Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on January 10, 2012.

Paul Breitner announced that Bayern Munich would come with all their first team stars like Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller, Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez. Further the 1974 World Cup winner said that Bayern would come to India to win the game and it would be highly beneficial for Indian football to learn from the big and developed football nations and clubs.

The proceeds of the match will go to the victims of the devastating earthquake that rocked Sikkim in September 2011.

More to come in the coming days...

2011 SAFF Cup: Chhetri goals give India the Final!

India needed something special from Sunil Chhetri to overcome the Maldives 3-1 in the semifinals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi to qualify for Sunday's final of the 2011 SAFF Cup.

It wasn't the best of weather in the capital with winter fog making the big Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium a bit gloomy, but a better attendence then in the group stage did seem to lift the Indian spirits. Jeje Lalpekhlua had an early chances, but it was upto an inform Syed Rahim Nabi to give India a 25th minute lead following a Clifford Miranda free-kick. India continued to attack, but they didn't find the necessary second goal.

After the break India continued their attacking game, but it was the Maldives who equalised through a Shamweel Qasim shot in the 59th minute. But India were a composed lot today as Sunil Chhetri was brought down inside the box by Asad Ghani and he himself scored of the resultant penalty in the 68th minute. The match remained tense for the remainder of the game with Chhetri make India's passage to final safe with an injury time strike. It was Chhetri's sixth goal of the tournament.

For India it was an important win which gives the team the chance to defend their title on Sunday, December 11. And like in the opening game India will have to face Afghanistan, who overcame a solid Nepal in extra-time of the second semifinal.


INDIA
1-Karanjit Singh; 4-Nirmal Chetri, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 12-Anthony Pereira (69' 23-Steven Benedic Dias), 8-Climax Lawrence [C] (83' 28-Jewel Raja Sheikh), 21-Rocus Lamare, 15-Clifford Miranda; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua (90+' 18-Sushil Kumar Singh), 11-Sunil Chhetri

Kamis, 08 Desember 2011

2011 SAFF Cup: Maldives in India's way to Finals

Defending champions India take on last time finalists Maldives in the first semifinal of the 2011 South Asian Football Federation Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi today. And one can expect a high voltage affair with both sides knowing each other quite well.

Only in July 2011 the two sides last faced each other an international friendly in which the Maldives held India to a one-all draw. But today there will be a result and in the recent past India has often edged out the island nation, who have improved considerably over the last few years.

India coach Savio Medeira knows that very well and said before the game, "Maldives are a good team. They have some good players."

India go into the match with a nice dilemma to have. The youngsters in Lalrindika Ralte and Jewel Raja Sheikh are pushing for places in the starting eleven, while on the right flank Anthony Pereira and Steven Dias are hoping to get a start as are Samir Naik and Nirmal Chetri in the right back position. Savio did allow the team to play against Sri Lanka which beat Bhutan earlier, so he might continue to stick with the same eleven.

India have been far from their best, but expectations are high then anything else then winning the SAFF Cup is a disappointment and not reaching the finals would be a disaster for Indian football, then the powerhouse of South Asian football have a name and reputation to defend.

Meanwhile the Maldives Hungarian Coach Istvan Bela Urbanyi had said after his team had qualified for the semifinals, "We just don't care as to who we will be playing in the semis. We are ready for any team."

It goes as per Urbanyi's saying that his team would have to beat any opponent in the tournament to lift the trophy. He will once more depend on winger Ali Ashfaq, who had a strong game against Bangladesh.

Later on in the day in the second semifinal surprise side Afghanistan take on Nepal to find the second finalist.

The match will kick-off at 15.00 IST and will be shown live on TenAction+.

2011 SAFF Cup: The Group Stage is over

The SAFF Cup (South Asian Football Federation Championships) is being played from December 2 to 11, 2011 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. The group stage ended yesterday with the semifinals to be played tomorrow.

The tournament has had its surprises with Afghanistan topping Group A ahead of India being the biggest one so far with Bhutan a major disappointment again as they conceded 16 goals in three matches.

Group B was much more even with the Maldives topping the group ahead of Nepal, both on five points with Pakistan drawing all their matches while last hosts Bangladesh finishing a disappointing last.


2011 SAFF CUP - New Delhi

Group A: India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan

03-Dec-2011: India 1-1 Afghanistan
03-Dec-2011: Sri Lanka 3-1 Bhutan
05-Dec-2011: Sri Lanka 1-3 Afghanistan
05-Dec-2011: Bhutan 0-5 India
07-Dec-2011: Bhutan 1-8 Afghanistan
07-Dec-2011: India 3-0 Sri Lanka

Group B: Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan

02-Dec-2011: Bangladesh 0-0 Pakistan
02-Dec-2011: Maldives 1-1 Nepal
04-Dec-2011: Nepal 1-0 Bangladesh
04-Dec-2011: Pakistan 0-0 Maldives
06-Dec-2011: Pakistan 1-1 Nepal
06-Dec-2011: Maldives 3-1 Bangladesh


Semifinals
09-Dec-2011: Maldives - India (15.00 IST)
09-Dec-2011: Afghanistan - Nepal (18.00 IST)

Final
11-Dec-2011: Winner SF 1 - Winner SF 2 (18.00 IST)