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Rabu, 29 Februari 2012

Germany beaten by resurgent France

One of the Euro2012 favourites Germany suffered a 1-2 home defeat at the hands of a resurgent France in an international friendly at the Weserstadion, Bremen. While a weakened Germany had their coordination problems between defence and attack, the new Equipe Tricolore used two of their counter-attacks to shock their neighbours.

France looked well prepared for the match against Germany, had two early chances and it didn't come as a big surprise that they went ahead in the 21st minute through a Olivier Giroud goal after right-back Mathieu Debuchy had used the gap offered to him before playing the ball into the centre for an in-form Giroud to simply push in.

The make-shift German side reacted after going down by a goal with some nice combinations and threatened the goal of new France captain Hugo Lloris, but Klose, Özil and others were either denied by Lloris or hit wide of the target. Just before the break Germany's André Schürrle had to go off after Debuchy's elbow hit him in the face. Luckily for the Leverkusen winger the first diagnosis of a broken nose did not come true. It remained 1-0 for France at the break.

If one thought that after the breather Germany would regroup and continue to threathen the France goal was to be disappointed then suddenly France had more of the ball and the game. The second French goal seemed to be coming when substitute Florent Malouda scored of a rebound in the 69th minute following a Giroud attempt.

Once more Germany seemed to wake-up only after conceding a goal and they pressed for a consolation goal late in the match and were rewarded in the first-minute of injury time through substitutes combining, Benedikt Höwedes found a free Thomas Müller on the right, who played the ball into the middle with Cacau tapping the ball in from the far corner.

In the end it was a deserving 2-1 win for France, who remain unbeaten in 18 matches; while for Germany a 10 match unbeaten run came to an end. Coach Joachim Loew said after the match that a lot of work remains before Euro2012 starts in June, while his counterpart Laurent Blanc said his team played well but it remains to be seen if they would be amongst the favourites.


MATCH STATS

Germany 0-1 (1-2) France - Goals: 0-1 Olivier Giroud (21'), 0-2 Florent Malouda (69'), 1-2 Cacau (90+1')

Germany
12-Tim Wiese; 20-Jérôme Boateng, 5-Mats Hummels, 14-Holger Badstuber (46' 3-Benedikt Höwedes), 4-Dennis Aogo; 6-Sami Khedira (70' 24-Lars Bender), 18-Toni Kroos; 21-Marco Reus (70' 19-Cacau), 8-Mesut Özil, 9-André Schürrle (44' 13-Thomas Müller); 11-Miroslav Klose (46' 23-Mario Gomez)
Unused Substitutes: 1-Manuel Neuer; Marcel Schmelzer, Christian Träsch, Simon Rolfes

France
1-Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Eric Abidal; Yann M'Vila (62' Florent Malouda), Yohan Cabaye (62' Alou Diarra); Samir Nasri, Mathieu Valbuena (68' Morgan Amalfitano), Franck Ribery (46' Jeremy Menez); Olivier Giroud (76' Louis Saha)
Unused Substitutes: Cedric Carrasso, Steve Mandanda, Patrice Evra, Anthony Reveillere, Mamadou Sakho, Marvin Martin, Kevin Gameiro

Referee
Tagliavento (Italy)

FPAI to host the FIFPro Asia Congress in Goa

The Football Players Association of India will this year be the hosts for the FIFPro Asia Congress, which will be held on May 10/11 at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa at Miramar Beach in Panjim with FPAI president Baichung Bhutia representing the Indian players at the Asian level meet.

One of the key topics which the Asian FIFPro members will be discussing is the development opportunities for professional footballers in India.

Another topic which will come-up for discussions will be the implementation of a Standard Contract for all players signed with I-League clubs which other countries within FIFPro Asia have already enforced like Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

FIFPro will also be using the Congress to evaluate if a future FIFPro World Congress could be held in India with all the countries from across the globe attending. FPAI GM Anuj Kichlu will be travelling to the FIFPro Headquarters in the Netherlands in the first week of March 2012 to finalise all details after which a detailed itenary will be published by the FPAI and FIFPro.

Amongst the attendees will be the New Zealand international Tim Brown, who had captained his nation at the 2009 FIFA Confederation Cup; while FIFPro worldwide would be represented by Frederique Winia.

Selasa, 28 Februari 2012

4th FPAI Awards 2012 on Saturday, May 12

The 4th edition of the Indian Football Awards organised by the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) will be held on Saturday, May 12 at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa at Miramar Beach in Panjim. It will be the first time that the FPAI awards will be held in Goa after the first and third editions were held in Kolkata and in-between New Delhi played hosts to the awards.

This years FPAI Awards would have five different categories - best Young Player, best Foreign Player, best Indian Player, best Coach and Fans Player of the Year. The players of I-League clubs will be asked to cast their vote on performances in the I-League and Federation Cup with votes to be collected from April 1 onwards. The last category will be chosen by the fans through an online voting on the FPAI website which will be held from April 1 to 30.

The last few editions has seen Bollywood stars like John Abraham, Neha Dhupia and Rahul Bose grace the occasion likewise Tennis legend Leander Paes. And with Goa not too far away from Mumbai the organising FPAI hopes that the glamour factor will be also there at this years event.

The FPAI has already gotten support from the V.M. Salgaocar Group and Churchill Brothers SC Pvt. Ltd, who both have agreed to partially sponsor the official awards dinner on May 12, which the FPAI is thankful but the FPAI are still on the lookout for further sponsorship to host another great evening for the Indian footballers.

Besides the players the FPAI expects the owners and management of the I-League clubs from Goa as well from across India to attend the awards evening besides attendees of the FIFPro Asia Congress will be held prior to the awards on May 10/11 in Goa.

Emmanuel Petit joins the Homeless World Cup team

The former Arsenal, Barcelona and France international player, Emmanuel Petit, has become a Homeless World Cup Global Ambassador supporting the vision of football changing homeless people's lives.

Emmanuel Petit was one of the main supporters of the 2011 Homeless World Cup football tournament held in Paris last summer. He has traditionally been involved with social projects in France and fell in love with the Homeless World Cup and its worldwide impact during the Paris event.

Petit said: "Football is a powerful influence. When you take someone from the street, put them in a square football pitch, in a team where there are rules, referees and team mates – that's life too, that’s society. The players have to respect themselves, each other and the referees."

"I truly believe that sport and football is very important for the human being and that is why I decided to be an Ambassador for the Homeless World Cup."

The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona footballer played 63 times for his country and scored the third goal, one of them in France's 3-0 victory in the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final against Brazil at home.

Follow this link to see a recent interview to Emmanuel Petit during the Paris 2011 event.

More information about the Homeless World Cup at www.homelessworldcup.org | facebook.com/homelessworldcup | @homelesswrldcup

IMG-R replies to I-League clubs, they remain unhappy

As promised IMG-Reliance, the marketing partners of the All India Football Federation, has gotten back to the 12 I-League clubs whom they had met last week at Football House in New Delhi to discuss the way forward for the I-League.

But unlike as the I-League clubs assumed and somewhat expected it wasn't any detailed plan or roadmap on how to move forward, but rather a brief note that IMG-Reliance is working on plans over the next eight weeks which it would then present to the clubs around April 20.

But the clubs main demand of making the I-League a separate commercial entity was not addressed, which is a key issue regarding the future of the league then the clubs want to be part of the entity which runs the I-League rather then decisions taken in their name by the AIFF Executive Committee.

The clubs remain unhappy about the situation and have fixed their next meeting for March 10 with Mumbai once more to be the location. There they are likely to decide their next course of action, then without a separate I-League entity they will not sign the AFC Club Licensing criteria for the 2012/13 season.

IMG-Reliance is now under pressure to get things going, sort out the entity issue and show the clubs a viable commercial option for the future, then at the moment only the AIFF is getting money from IMG-R with the clubs receiving nothing at all.

VIDEO: Sailen Manna - the Legend

The Late Sailen Manna died at the age of 87 yesterday in Kolkata. Here a lovely video feature by Star Ananda (sadly in Bengali, but worth a watch).



Senin, 27 Februari 2012

Legendary Sailen Manna no more

Former India captain Sailendra Nath Manna, better known as Sailen Manna and fondly called Mannada by the fraternity, died at 1.55 am earlier today at the AMRI hospital in Saltlake, Kolkata after a prolonged illness. He was 87 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

Sailen Manna was part of the golden era of Indian football when India used to represent Asia in the Olympics regularly. He captained India in the 1950s and was chosen as the AIFF Player-of-the-Milennium in 2000 and many years back in 1953 he had earned the destinction of being the sole Asian to be named among the 10 best Captains in the World by the English FA in 1953.

Known for his simple lifestyle, honesty and dedication to the game, Sailen Manna till a few years before his death remained an enthusiastic participant in social and charity programmes. Promoting football amongst the younger generation was one of the things he simply loved to do


As a mark of respect, the AIFF Flag flew at half mast at the AIFF Headquarters - Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi. The Indian National Football Team also wore a black armband in their international friendly against Azerbaijan with the match also starting with a minute of silence.

AIFF president Praful Patel in his message said, "It's sad to hear that Sailen Manna, one of the greatest footballers is no more. His contribution to Indian football will never be forgotten. I share the grief."

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said, "Sailen Manna will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been the inspiration of so many generations. May he rest in Peace."

Former India captain and coach P.K. Banerjee said "Mannada, who played in 1948 Olympics beside leading the country in the next one in 1952, was a colossus in the soccer field of the country. I had an opportunity to play with him. He was a father figure to all of us."

Current Mohun Bagan Technical Director Subrata Bhattacharya said, "Mannada was not only a great player, he was also our teacher. As a football player he was our idol."


His CAREER in FOOTBALL

SAILENDRA NATH MANNA (Date of Birth: 01.09.1924; Date of Death: 27.02.2012)

- International Debut: July 31 vs France (London Olympics)

- International Caps: Represented India in 14 internationals

- International Tournaments: Olympics - 1948, 1952 (Captain); Asian Games - 1951, 1954 (Captained both); Quadrangular (Colombo Cup): 1952, 1953, 1954 (Captained all)

- International Laurels: Gold Medal (1951 Asian Games); Champion in Quadrangular Cup (1952, 1953, 1954)

- State-level: Represented Bengal from 1944 to 1954 (No tournament in 1948); Bengal Captain from 1949-54; Won the Santosh Trophy in 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953

- Club-level: Howrah Union (1940-42); Mohun Bagan AC (1942-60; captain 1950-55)

- Trophies Won: Calcutta Football League (1943, 1944, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960); IFA Shield (1947, 1954, 1956, 1960); Durand Cup (1953); Rovers Cup (1955)

- Awards: 1971 Padmashri; 2000 AIFF Player-of-the-Milennium; 2001 Mohun Bagan Ratna

Azerbaijan win 3-0 against India

India lost 0-3 against Azerbaijan in the first-ever international friendly between the two sides at The Rugby Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

After the 5-1 trashing at the hands of Oman last Thursday in Muscat, India coach Savio Medeira made seven changes to his starting line-up. Savio had said before the match that he would once more experiment with Manish Maithani, Adil Khan and Francis Fernandes getting their first India starts with Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad and Reisangmi Vashum returning to the starting eleven.

Defender Gouramangi Singh had the honour of leading India onto the field as the captain for the first-time. The match kicked-off with a minute's silence for former India captain Sailendra Nath Manna, who died at the age of 87 in the early hours of today in Kolkata. As a mark of respect Team India wore black armbands in the match.

Like against Oman India conceded an early goal. In the third minute Vugar Nadirov gave Azerbaijan a 1-0 lead after goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury's goal-kick only reached an Azerbaijan midfielder, who played the ball through for Nadirov to slot home. Thereafter Azerbaijan had more of the ball and the match with India often forced to chase the faster and physically better build team from the Caucasus. Three minutes from the interval young Raju Gaikwad unnecessarily brought down Mahir Shukurov to gift Azerbaijan a penalty just like he had done in similar fashion against Darryl Roberts from Trinidad&Tobago last August. Shukurov himself took the spot-kick and send Subhashish the wrong way. It ended 0-2 at half-time.

Like against Oman India started off better in the second session as they showed more presence and purpose. The best chance came in the 51st minute when a Francis Fernandes cross from the right was headed goalwards by Joaquim Abranches, but it was cleared by keeper Kamran Agayev. The game slowed down in the second session allowing India more possession of the ball, but rarely was the midfield or the wingers able to create something for the striker as Sushil Singh would often drop back to simply touch the ball.

Towards the end of the game the Berti Vogts coached Azerbaijan once more upped the tempo and it was substitute Nizami Hajiyev to finish any hopes of an India comeback with Azerbaijan's third goal in the 84th minute of a Vugar Nadirov pass. The match ended India zero, Azerbaijan three.

It was India's last match as part of the preparatory camp in Dubai ahead of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal. India did lose both their matches against superior opposition, but hopefully this match experience will help the team in the 'Group of Death' against North Korea, the Philippines and Tajikistan.

India return back to New Delhi from their preparatory-cum-selection camp in Dubai on March 3 and will proceed to the Nepali capital Kathmandu the very next day.


MATCH STATS

India 0-3 (0-2) Azerbaijan - Goals: 0-1 Vugar Nadirov (3'), 0-2 Mohir Shukurov (43' pen), 0-3 Nizami Hajiyev (84')

INDIA
25-Subhasish Roy Chowdhury; 22-Syed Rahim Nabi, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh [C], 3-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 27-Gurjinder Kumar Singh; 32-Reisangmi Vashum (81' 20-Lalrindika Ralte), 45-Manish Maithani (70' 28-Jewel Raja Sheikh), 17-Adil Ahmed Khan (90' 47-Lenny Rodrigues), 26-Francis Fernandes (90+2' 10-Lester Mark Fernandez); 18-Sushil Kumar Singh, 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches (85' 50-Manandeep Singh)
Substitutes: 1-Karanjit Singh, ??-Arindam Bhattacharya, 5-Anwar, 7-Baldeep Singh, 12-Anthony Pereira, 16-Samir Naik

WATCH LIVE: The INDIA vs Azerbaijan friendly

WATCH LIVE the INDIA vs Azerbaijan friendly from 17.30 local time (19.00 IST // 14.30 CET) onwards here on my blog as a Livestream from The Sevens Stadium in Dubai!





Livestream courtesy Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan!

VIDEO: Incredible back-heel by Cristiano Ronaldo

It was Cristiano Ronaldo's 29th goal of the season for Real Madrid, but most probably the best strike of the season by the Portuguese! An incredible back-heel by CR7 within the box only a few yards away from the goal after a Mesut Özil corner, which left the Rayo Vallecano defenders baffled.




Minggu, 26 Februari 2012

Nagaland Premier League kicks-off March 2

The Northeastern state of Nagaland will from next month onwards have its own Nagaland Premier League. The NPL will kick-off on March 2 with an exhibition match between a Nagaland XI and I-League side Shillong Lajong FC at the Kohima football ground from 2 pm onwards. The chief guest on the occasion will be the Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio with other state ministers to grace the occasion.

The NPL is being organised by the Nagaland Football Association together with the local Dimapur-based sports management agency Four Four Two Management with the aim of the league being to develop the game of football and footballers in the state. With an enormous amount of untapped talent, the NPL will groom players from a young age and give them a platform to grow and later move on to bigger arenas.

In total 10 teams from across the state would be seen in action - Barak Flamingos FC (Peren), Dimapur United FC, Doyang FC (Wokha), Dynamic FC (Dimapur), FC Naga Tornadoes (Zunheboto), Kohima Komets, Life Sports FC (Kohima), New Market FC (Kohima), Sangpang FC (Mokokchung), Zopipang FC (Mokokchung). Some clubs have given themselves new creative names and designed new logos for their teams.

The NPL has been able to get Shillong Lajong FC as a partner with its manager-cum-owner Larsing Ming as a league patron, while former India captain Baichung Bhutia is also a patron of the league.

Baichung Bhutia said in his message of support, "I believe the Nagaland Premier League will provide the right opportunity and platform for footballers from the state to compete and showcase their talent. We have to have young players involved and the youth to bring in the right spirit to the game, not just on the field but off it as well. There's no dearth of talent in Nagaland, we just have to see the right players with the talent and the discipline to come out of Nagaland and play not just here but for the country. I whole heartedly support this movement and the NPL Management."

The leagues aim is not only to improve football in Nagaland, but also professionalize the club football scene in the state to such a level that it can generate jobs and maybe enable the state's top club(s) to play in the second tier of the I-League.

VIDEO: FootCoop 2012 in Oulu, Finland

My friends from Topspot in Finland organised the first-ever football conference in the Arctic north with FootCoop 2012 in Oulu, Finland. The FootCoop 2012 seminar took place on Friday, February 17 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Oulu. The event brought together many people around the world from both fields of sports and business, e.g. professional football coaches Martti Kuusela and Tom Saintfiet, the English Premier League's first-ever goalscorer Brian Deane.

Here an event photo video from Finland's north!


Weakened India take on Azerbaijan in friendly tomorrow

A weakened Indian national football team take on Azerbaijan in the first-ever international friendly match between the two sides at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai at 17.30 local time (19.00 IST).

India coach Savio Medeira hasn't decided on his starting eleven for tomorrow with some players still carrying some niggles here and there with Savio saying, "The intention stays to try as many players as possible," which has earned Savio a lot of criticism back home from the media and fans then after winning the 2011 SAFF Cup in December and the good second half performance against FC Bayern Munich in January 2012, the expectations back home have risen.

Against Oman the new look Team India did look out of sorts for a great part of the match as they suffered a 1-5 defeat. Speaking about it Savio said, "This is what football is all about. We need to be patient. The new boys will settle down," only to repeat, "But we need to be patient."

Azerbaijan are ranked 109th in the FIFA world rankings against the 95th rank of Oman, but they play their qualifiers in the much tougher Europe so their ranking might have little to say. This is India's last qualifier before the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup next month in Nepal and ideally Savio would play his starting eleven for the upcoming tournament in this match. But with certain players still unfit an experimental Indian side is once more to take the field with hopefully some more experience in there through players like Syed Rahim Nabi and Rocus Lamare on the field.

Azerbaijan are currently in Dubai like India for a training camp preparating for their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers later in the year. They played Singapore on Friday and were held to a late two-all draw by the Southeast Asian nation, while they play India tomorrow and then Palestine on Wednesday.

Speaking about Azerbaijan Savio said, "They are a strong side and we know they will come hard at us."

Azerbaijan are coached by seasoned German Berti Vogts, who with Germany won the 1996 European Championships; and thereafter went on to coach Bayer 04 Leverkusen and then the national sides of Kuwait, Scotland and Nigeria before taking over Azerbaijan in April 2008.

There will be no live telecast on Television from the match, but those interested can watch the game live on www.affatv.az (the official website of the Azerbaijan FF).

I-League Division 2: Final Round Fixtures out

The Final Round of the I-League Division 2 will be played from March 5 to April 17 in two phases in Siliguri (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim). This means for the first time in the 2nd Division's history all sides will be facing each other twice to decide which two sides get promoted to the I-League 2012/13.

Besides last seasons relegated ONGC from Mumbai the six teams who have qualified from the 23 team preliminary round are United Sikkim FC, Aizawl FC, Royal Wahingdoh FC, Kalighat Milan Sangha, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Vasco SC.


FIXTURES

Siliguri Phase - 1st-leg
05-Mar-2012: ONGC, Mumbai - Aizawl FC
05-Mar-2012: United Sikkim FC - Vasco SC
06-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Kalighat Milan Sangha

10-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - ONGC, Mumbai
08-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Aizawl FC
08-Mar-2012: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Vasco SC

12-Mar-2012: United Sikkim FC - ONGC, Mumbai
12-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Royal Wahingdoh FC
13-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Vasco SC

15-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - United Sikkim FC
15-Mar-2012: Vasco SC - Aizawl FC
16-Mar-2012: Royal Wahingdoh FC - ONGC, Mumbai

18-Mar-2012: Vasco SC - ONGC, Mumbai
18-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Aizawl FC
19-Mar-2012: Royal Wahingdoh FC - United Sikkim FC

21-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - ONGC, Mumbai
21-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - Royal Wahingdoh FC
22-Mar-2012: Aizawl FC - United Sikkim FC

24-Mar-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - United Sikkim FC
24-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Vasco SC
25-Mar-2012: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Aizawl FC


Gangtok Phase - 2nd-leg
29-Mar-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - ONGC, Mumbai
29-Mar-2012: Vasco SC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
30-Mar-2012: United Sikkim FC - Royal Wahingdoh FC

01-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - Royal Wahingdoh FC
01-Apr-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Mohammedan Sporting Club
02-Apr-2012: United Sikkim FC - Vasco SC

04-Apr-2012: ONGC, Mumbai - Royal Wahingdoh FC
04-Apr-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - United Sikkim FC
05-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - Vasco SC

07-Apr-2012: Royal Wahingdoh FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
07-Apr-2012: ONGC, Mumbai - Vasco SC
08-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - Kalighat Milan Sangha

10-Apr-2012: Vasco SC - Royal Wahingdoh FC
10-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club
11-Apr-2012: United Sikkim FC - ONGC, Mumbai

13-Apr-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Royal Wahingdoh FC
13-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - United Sikkim FC
14-Apr-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club - ONGC, Mumbai

16-Apr-2012: Aizawl FC - ONGC, Mumbai
16-Apr-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha - Vasco SC
17-Apr-2012: United Sikkim FC - Mohammedan Sporting Club

Sabtu, 25 Februari 2012

The UEFA EURO 2012™ Trophy lands in India

Danish brewery Carlsberg, who are one of the tournament sponsors, has brought the UEFA EURO 2012™ Trophy on a three city tour to India. The trophy was unveiled at the residence of Ambassador of Denmark to India, Freddy Svane; and then taken to the Select City Walk Mall at Saket, New Delhi for a public dislay and chance for fans to click a photo with the trophy.

The UEFA EURO 2012™ Trophy was unveiled in a grand way by Carlsberg in the presence of former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia, who himself a big fan of European football, got a first-hand chance to view the trophy from close range.

The Carlsberg India's Marketing Director Subodh Marwah speaking on the occasion said, "It is a proud moment for Carlsberg India to bring the official UEFA EURO 2012™ Trophy and offer an exceptional experience to football enthusiasts across the nation."

"We are extremely pleased and encouraged by the positive response received from the football fans. We are keen to engage with them more through exciting activities planned for the coming months. Through these stimulating initiatives, we will grow the enthusiasm around football and EURO 2012 in India," Subodh Marwah added.

In an interesting way of deciding where to display the trophy Carlsberg India carried out an online poll amongst the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Goa, Kochi and Pune with the three cities with the maximum number of votes getting the chance to host the Trophy. In the end the three cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai topped the poll, though the order is unknown.

Carlsberg India announced another exciting contest through its Facebook page with the winner getting the chance to present the 'Man of the Match' award after one of the semifinals this summer.

This year, the UEFA EURO 2012™ will be held for the first time in Eastern Europe – in the exciting growth markets of Poland and the Ukraine - from June 8 to July 1, 2012.

ECA not to join international calendar talks

The European Club Association will not be joining a meeting on March 5 at FIFA House in Zurich on the international match calendar from 2015 onwards up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. FIFA has invited all stakeholders involved in world football to discuss issues related to the calendar which includes the release of players by their respective clubs for international tournaments, qualifiers and friendlies.

The relationship between the European Club Association and world football governing body FIFA hasn't been the best and the ECA believes that FIFA along with the national FA's pack the yearly schedule with too many dates for qualifiers and friendlies, currently 12 to 13 a year plus World Cup's and continental championships.

Over 200 European football clubs are part of the ECA and they say their chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and general secretary Michele Centenaro declined invitations from FIFA to attend the meeting on March 5.

THE ECA has an own meeting set for February 27/28 in Warsaw, Poland where they will be presenting their own proposal for an international calendar after getting inputs from their member clubs.

Now with the ECA to go unrepresented at the FIFA meeting a week later, one will have to see if their proposal will come-up for discussions or not.

4th Assam State Premier League to be held next month

The fourth edition of the 'Airtel' Assam State Premier League will be organised by the Assam Football Association simultaneously in the capital Guwahati and in Diphu from March 3 to 20.

The top 10 teams of the Northeastern state have been divided into two groups of five teams each with Guwahati and Diphu both hosting a group before the semifinals are played on March 17/18 and the final is slated for March 20.

In Diphu the following teams will be seen in action - Assam Rifles SC (Tezpur), Gauhati Town Club, Morning Star FC (Diphu), Assam Police Blues (Guwahati), Public Health & Engineering Recreational Centre SC (Silchar).

In Guwahati defending champions Sports Authority of India (Kokrajhar) will face Oil India Limited FC (Duliajan), Assam State Electricity Board FC (Guwahati), Green Valley SC (Guwahati) and Food Corporation of India (Guwahati).

Jumat, 24 Februari 2012

PLS Season One not in danger of cancellation

The inaugural season of the Premier League Soccer in West Bengal is not in danger of being cancelled and postponed to 2013. That is one of the rumours that has been making the rounds since the IFA (WB) and CMG had to announce that the start of the league was postponed for a second time due to unavoidable circumstances.

The stakes are high. A massive hype has been created around the PLS not only in India but across the world with extensive international coverage on Indian football, which is rather unknown. All this is so due to the fact that stars like Cannavaro, Crespo, Fowler, etc are part of the new start-up league which has been dubbed the football-IPL. And the IPL is even known in non-Cricket nations - not for its results, but what the league has achieved having been started from scratch.

The PLS was postponed for a second time due to venue issues which the organisers are currently sorting out with the Government of West Bengal as are other logistical issues, so the league can run smoothly without any issues once it starts.

The IFA Honorary Secretary Utpal Kumar Ganguli has given his assurances that all will be sorted soon and the revised dates of the inaugural season of the PLS will be held, like third week of April until first week of June.

Meanwhile Robbie Fowler seems to be back amongst the PLS players as his latest tweet said:
Breaking news.. India not cancelled, just postponed, still on the cards.. We'll see

So all isn't bad, but as is typical in Indian sports postponement are part-and-parcel of it. In that sense PLS is no different...

VIDEO: Oman 5-1 India (TV report)

Oman yesterday beat India 5-1 in an international friendly. Here the Indian goal from Joaquim Abranches and four of the five Omani goals in a television report from a Keralite news program!



Del Bosque leaves out Torres of Spain squad

The Spanish national coach Vicente del Bosque has dropped out of form Chelsea FC striker Fernando Torres from his squad for an international friendly next Wednesday, February 29 against Venezuela in Malaga. Torres so far has only scored four goals in 29 appearances for Chelsea FC.

With main striker David Villa still out injured and the omission of Fernando Torres it seems like del Bosque is looking to test other strikers who are doing well in the Spanish La Liga ahead of the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine this summer.

Explaining his decision del Bosque said, "He is a lad we appreciate a lot and it pains me to leave him out but I wanted to be fair."

But del Bosque also added that this isn't his final squad and not only Torres and Villa, but also other players have the chance to make it for the Euro2012 squad.


SPAIN

Goalkeepers
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), José Manuel Reina (FC Liverpool), Victor Valdes (FC Barcelona)

Defenders
Jordi Alba (FC Valencia), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Midfielders
Thiago Alcantara (FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergi Busquets (FC Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (FC Malaga), Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona), Xavi Hernandez (FC Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Juan Mata (FC Chelsea), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Jesús Navas (FC Sevilla), David Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards
Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Negredo (FC Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (FC Valencia)

Sikkim to host Dr. T. Ao NorthEast Football Trophy

Sikkim is set to host the next edition of the Dr. T. Ao NorthEast "DONER" Football Trophy will be played at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok from March 2 to 9, 2012. The tournament will be organised in the state by the Sikkim Sports and Youth Affairs Department (S&YA) with financial support from the North Eastern Council (NEC) and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER).

The aim of the Dr. T. Ao NorthEast Football Trophy is to promote football in the Northeastern region. The tournament would see all the eight Northeastern states take part besides hosts Sikkim there would be Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura in action.

The champions would received Rs 200,000 (2 lakhs), the losing finalists Rs 100,000 (1 lakh) and the semifinalists would get Rs 50,000 each. Besides these there would be a Fair Play Trophy with a cash reward of Rs 50,000, Player of the Tournament (Rs 25,000) plus Highest Goalscorer and Best Goalkeeper (Rs 10,000 each) of the tournament. The coach and manager of the champions will be given Rs 20,000 each, while the coach and manager from the runners-up team would get Rs 10,000.

The tournament was first held in May 2003 in the Assamese capital Guwahati with the hosts winning 4-1 on penalties against Manipur. The first edition had been organised by the Sport Authority of India, Guwahati then, while the last edition had been played in Manipur.

Kamis, 23 Februari 2012

FC Bayern Munich in crisis?

Are German Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich in crisis? That is the question which not only the German media, fans and experts are asking themselves after last nights disappointing 0-1 first-leg loss against Swiss side FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League. Since the winter break FC Bayern have not been themselves and the streak of bad results seems to be currently never-ending.

Juts before Christmas when the Bundesliga took its usual winter break FC Bayern Munich were top of the league ahead of Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Schalke 04; still in the UEFA Champions League and the German Cup. All seemed fine though performances and results in November and December hadn't been as convincing as earlier in the season.

The team had a great mid-season training camp in Qatar and convincingly won 4-0 against India in a friendly in New Delhi. It seemed all was fine, but then came the opening day 1-3 loss in Mönchengladbach followed by draws away in Hamburg and Freiburg; suddenly FC Bayern were only third in the Bundesliga behind the Borussia's from Dortmund and Mönchengladbach.

Only in the German Cup (DFB Pokal) Bayern Munich were successful as they beat south German rivals VfB Stuttgart, but in the match lost Bastian Schweinsteiger due to another injury.

The pressure has started to build within the club then FCB has one dream for the season - to play the UEFA Champions League final on May 19 at home at the Allianz Arena. After last night that is in danger then Basel could throw out the Bavarians and suddenly coach Jupp Heynckes is in danger of losing job, just weeks after everyone said that Heynckes is the perfect coach for the club.

How things can change within a few weeks, but all is not lost and if FC Bayern can start winning matches convincingly again then things could turn out to be fine.

Blanc names France squad for Germany friendly

France coach Laurent Blanc has named his squad for the first friendly of the year 2012, an important test against Germany next Wednesday, February 29 in Bremen ahead of the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine this summer.

Laurent Blanc has called-up 23 players of which nine earn their money abroad in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A.

France will be without their star-striker Karim Benzema from Real Madrid, who injured himself on Tuesday evening while playing for his club against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League, which gives a chance to Louis Saha for a comeback, while Philipp Mexes and Patrice Evra have also been recalled into the squad. Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano has been called-up for the first time to the France squad.


FRANCE

Goalkeepers
Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyonnais), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille)

Defenders
Eric Abidal (FC Barcelona), Mathieu Debuchy (OSC Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Philippe Mexes (AC Milan), Adil Rami (FC Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyonnais), Mamadou Sakho (FC Paris Saint-Germain)

Midfielders
Morgan Amalfitano (Olympique Marseille), Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United), Alou Diarra (Olympique Marseille), Florent Malouda (FC Chelsea), Marvin Martin (FC Sochaux), Jeremy Menez (FC Paris Saint-Germain), Yann Mvila (Stade Rennes), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Franck Ribery (FC Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille)

Forwards
Kevin Gameiro (FC Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (HSC Montpellier), Louis Saha (Tottenham Hotspur)

Oman win 5-1 against experimental Team India

Oman scored a comprehensive 5-1 victory against India in an international friendly at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat. The match kicked-off very early at 13.30 local time, but on a sunny, windy afternoon the weather cannot be blamed for India's heavy defeat.

India coach Savio Medeira send out an experimental side against an experienced Oman. Due to niggles Sunil Chhetri, Lalrindika Ralte and Nirmal Chetri were rested along with livewire Syed Rahim Nabi to give the youngsters in the squad a chance to show themselves in an international friendly ahead of the team selection.

Samir Naik led India for the first time onto the field, but it was Oman who started with a bang as they were two-nil up just within seven minutes. First Mohammed Al-Ghassani headed home in the fifth minute and only two minutes later Ismail Al Ajmi doubled the lead with Oman all over India in the initial period. It seemed India could be heading for a heavy defeat, but the young Indian side slowly found their way into the match with Sushil Kumar Singh making the first attempt goalwards on the quarter hour mark.

Thereafter Oman remained the better side, but India made their forays into the Oman half with Jewel Raja playing a key role in midfield and it was him who had the best chance for India in the first session. It remained 2-0 for Oman at the break.

There were no substitutions at the break. Oman remained dangerous with India often averting danger at the last moment or Karanjit Singh there in goal. But it was once more Ismail Al Ajmi who made it 3-0 for Oman in the 59th minute and it looked all over for India. Still India did not give-up and were rewarded in the 64th minute when lively striker Joaquim Abranches scored of a pass from substitute Syed Rahim Nabi. Thereafter it was an open game with chances on both sides, but late in the game Oman did score a couple of more goals. First it was Hasan Rabie, who scored from header after missing a couple of simple chances, in the 88th minute and the final nail in the coffin came from substitute Abdullah Thuwaini a minute into injury time.

The 5-1 scoreline is a little too harsh on India, but on the other hand Oman could have easily scored a few more goals. A lot of work remains for Savio Medeira and his men, who next play Azerbaijan on Monday, February 27 in their last preparatory match ahead of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.


MATCH STATS

Oman 5-1 (2-0) India - Goals: 1-0 Mohammed Al-Ghassani (5'), 2-0,3-0 Ismail Al Ajmi (7',59'), 3-1 Joaquim Abranches (65'), 4-1 Hasan Rabie (88'), 5-1 Abdullah Thuwaini (90+1')

INDIA
1-Karanjit Singh; 16-Samir Naik [C], 5-Anwar, 19-Gouramangi Singh, 27-Gurjinder Singh; 12-Anthony Pereira (61' 22-Syed Rahim Nabi), 7-Baldeep Singh (50' 47-Lenny Rodrigues), 28-Jewel Raja Sheikh, 10-Lester Mark Fernandez (57' 26-Francis Fernandes); 18-Sushil Kumar Singh (81' 50-Manandeep Singh), 9-Joaquim Abranches

Jaago Re 2012: Don Bosco Matunga win Mumbai-leg

The fifth season of the all-India Tata Tea Jaago Re Inter Milan Soccer Stars was held in Mumbai yesterday. More than 66 schools and over 660 children participated in the tournament, which was won by Don Bosco school from Matunga.

The Mumbai winners will go on to compete in the national finals in Shillong with 14 other teams from different cities and states from across the country. The under-15 talent hunt is an initiative by Tata Tea in partnership with Italian side FC Internazionale Milano (Inter Milan).

With participation from over 5,300 students and over 520 schools from 11 cities so far, the Tata Tea Jaago Re Inter Milan Soccer Stars initiative will cover four more cities across the country before the national finals. This initiative was started in 2007, with an aim to identify and nurture grassroot level football talent in India and put them on a global platform. Until last season EPL side Arsenal FC were partners, since this edition Inter Milan has joined hands with Tata Tea.

Ritwik Punja from Don Bosco (Matunga) and Mohammed Kashif Ansari from Antonio D'Souza High School were selected from Mumbai for the All-India Camp in Kolkata in May 2012.

Individual Awards distributed at the Mumbai Leg
- Best Goalkeeper: Jimit Shah (St Joseph High School, Wadala)
- Most Valuable Player: Tanishq Shetty (St Lawrence, Borivali)
- Highest Goalscorer: Mohammed Kashif Ansari (Antonio D'Souza High School)
- Skills Contest: Prem Sagar (St Teresa's, Bandra)

Rabu, 22 Februari 2012

Robbie Fowler opts out of PLS through Twitter

Former Liverpool FC striker Robbie Fowler has decided not wait for the launch of the Premier League Soccer in West Bengal as he doubts the professionalism of the organisers. That is at least what the 35 year old Robert Bernard Fowler made public through his official Twitter account.

Robbie Fowler tweeted in the afternoon
Ah well.. India looks like its cancelled, boots are clean and looking for a new place to play.. #professionalnotamateur

Earlier Fowler had tweeted a reply to a Liverpool fan
India still on cards but gone very quiet.... So , who knows


This surely isn't a positive sign for the IFA (West Bengal) and CMG in organising the PLS, if one of the stars of the league opts out due to the delay which is not special in Indian football, but it won't be accepted by ageing international football stars.

Fowler, who has played 26 times for England, had been signed by Kolkata Camelians in the auction for USD 530,000. Now it will be interesting to see what organisers and franchise do to replace Fowler, who through his Tweets has made it clear that he won't play in the PLS.

Savio Medeira to rest injured players, to test others against Oman

Team India will be taking on a strong Oman national team in an international friendly at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat at 13.30 local time (15.00 IST) tomorrow.

For the hosts Oman it is part of their preparations for their final 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Thailand on February 29, while India is using the match as part of its ongoing preparatory camp in Dubai for the upcoming 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal. India have another international friendly lined-up against Azerbaijan on February 27 in Dubai.

India coach Savio Medeira isn't willing to risk fielding a full-strength side. Keeping in mind the future challenges ahead he has decided to rest AIFF Player-of-the-Year Sunil Chhetri, winger Lalrindika Ralte and stopper Nirmal Chetri. "All of them have some niggles. We are here to prepare for the AFC Challenge Cup. I don't want to risk them in an international friendly against Oman. The more time they get, the more will they recover," said Savio.

In fact Savio plans to experimenting a bit in this match. "We have plenty of young talented players who are eager to perform at the big stage. Our emphasis would be to find the right mix of players keeping our future endeavors in mind," Savio maintained.

In the FIFA world rankings Oman are currently ranked 95 and were winners of the 2009 Gulf Cup at home. "They are a superior side. They are much more technically equipped. We need to keep in mind they would be playing on their home ground and would have a home support," Savio added.

The Omani's are being coached by former French international Paul le Guen since June 2011, who coached at Stade Renne, Olympique Lyonnais, Glasgow Rangers, FC Paris Saint-Germain before going on to coach Cameroon at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The biggest name in Omani football is in goal in their goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who currently plays for Wigan Athletic and has years of English Premier League experience.

The match will kick-off at 13.30 local time (15.00 IST) and there will be shown a live telecast on TenAction+.

Loew names Germany squad for France friendly

Germany coach Joachim Loew has named his squad for the first friendly of the year 2012, an important friendly against France next Wednesday, February 29 in Bremen ahead of the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine this summer.

As expected there were no surprises in the 22 players squad with Loew only picking two goalkeepers in Neuer and Wiese as Germany will only be playing one friendly with number three Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96) dropped for this game, while missing will be defender Per Mertesacker plus midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Mario Götze all due to injury.

There has been discussions in Germany if an off-colour Cacau should be dropped and an inform Mike Hanke recalled to the squad, but Loew as per his principles continues to trust a player who has delivered in a Germany shirt.


GERMANY

Goalkeepers
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen)

Defenders
Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV), Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern München), Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München), Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Christian Träsch (VfL Wolfsburg)

Midfielders
Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München), Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid) (1. FC Köln), Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Simon Rolfes (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Forwards
Mario Gomez (FC Bayern München), Miroslav Klose (Lazio Rom), Cacau (VfB Stuttgart)

Baan to conduct U-22 selection trials at Pailan World School

The All India Football Federation will be conducting selection trials for the inaugural Under-22 Asian Cup 2013, the qualifiers of which kick-off on June 23, 2012. India have been drawn in a tough Group A along with the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman, Turkmenistan and Lebanon.

In total 68 players would be attending the selection trials which would be conducted by AIFF Technical Director Rob Baan and Head Coach of Youth Development Colm Toal.

The trials which would kick-off on March 3 and end on March 8. They would be held at Pailan World School in Kolkata, where AIFF's Developmental Junior Team Pailan Arrows are based. The shortlisted players would be called for a preparatory camp later ahead of the qualifiers.

Players who would be on National Duty for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup won't be able to attend trials.


INDIA U-23 Selection Trialists

Goalkeepers
Soram Poirei Angamba (Shillong Lajong FC), Ishan Debnath (Mumbai FC), Ravi Kumar (Pailan Arrows), Jayanta Paul (East Bengal Club), Sayan Roy (Pailan Arrows), Jagroop Singh (Prayag United SC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (East Bengal Club)

Defenders
Collin Abranches (Air India), Sonu Beniwal (Pailan Arrows), Sourav Chakraborty (Mohun Bagan AC), Abhishek Das (East Bengal Club), Narayan Das (Tata Football Academy), Deepak Devrani (Pailan Arrows), Jayabrata Dhar (Pailan Arrows), Lalrozama Fanai (Pailan Arrows), Souvik Ghosh (Pailan Arrows), Rollingson Hungyo (Pune FC), Mohammed Irfan Khan (Pailan Arrows), Joy Mrong Kharraswai (Shillong Lajong FC), Pritam Kotal (Pailan Arrows), Vishal Kumar (Pailan Arrows), Joyner Monte Lourenco (Sporting Clube de Goa), Manpreet (Tata Football Academy), Prathmesh Maulingkar (Pailan Arrows), Saikat Saha Roy (East Bengal Club), Akashdeep Singh (Pailan Arrows), Arijeet Singh (Pailan Arrows), Bikramjit Singh (Pailan Arrows), Ravinder Singh (Pailan Arrows), Chingkhei Meetei Yumnam (Pailan Arrows), Ronaldo Zothanzama (Shillong Lajong FC)

Midfielders
Usman Ashik (Chirag United Kerala), Stephen Barreto (Sporting Clube de Goa), Manish Bhargav (Mohun Bagan AC), Rowllin Borges (Sporting Clube de Goa), Souvik Chakraborty (Mohun Bagan AC), Prabir Das (Pailan Arrows), Snehashish Datta (Prayag United SC), Clifton Dias (Salgaocar SC), Romeo Fernandes (Dempo SC), Ganeshan (Pune FC), Pronoy Haldar (Pailan Arrows), S. Siam Hanghal (Pailan Arrows), P. Niroshan Mani (Sporting Clube de Goa), Brian Mascarenhas (Dempo SC), Kshetrimayum Malamnganba Meitei (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), Yaikhom Randhan Meetei (Pailan Arrows), Deepak Prakash (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), Lalrindika Ralte (Churchill Brothers SC), Tirthankar Sarkar (Pailan Arrows), Shahir S. (Chirag United Kerala), Shankar S. (Pailan Arrows), Bikramjit Singh (Sr) (Pailan Arrows), Jonychand Singh (Sesa Football Academy), Ongnam Milan Singh (Pailan Arrows), Sehnaj Singh (Pailan Arrows), Simranjeet Singh (Pailan Arrows)

Forwards
Alwin George (Pailan Arrows), Rajinder Kumar (Pailan Arrows), Vinod Kumar (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Pune FC), Malswamfela (Pailan Arrows), Holicharan Narzary (Pailan Arrows), Sumit Passi (Pailan Arrows), Bijendra Rai (Pailan Arrows), Manandeep Singh (Air India), Ningthounjam Pritam Singh (Sporting Clube de Goa), Pankaj Sona (Pailan Arrows)

Selasa, 21 Februari 2012

AIFF/IMG-R meet I-League clubs discuss league future

The All India Football Federation and its marketing partners IMG-Reliance today met 12 of the 14 I-League clubs (missing where Pailan Arrows & HAL SC) at Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi after the clubs had sought a meeting to discuss the future of the I-League.

Amongst those attending where AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar and Jefferson Slack from IMG Football, who had come down for the meeting from London.

The clubs wanted to make their voice heard with the AIFF and IMG-R about their unhappiness in the way the I-League is currently being run with the clubs not getting any revenue from the Rs 7 Billion (700 crore) deal that the AIFF struck in December 2010 with IMG-R. Currently the AIFF gets around Rs 300 Million (30 crore) a year with half of the money spend on organising the I-League.

IMG-R did concede that they haven't communicated properly with the I-league clubs since coming on board and they would work on plans over this week about the future of the league. And that future thinking would be open with an MLS format not really decided upon.

Mohun Bagan's Debasish Dutta told IANS afterwards, "We have demanded a separate entity for the I-League as per the AFC criteria. Clubs are spending close to Rs 150 crore every season to raise their teams and they should have a say in running the league."

And this is a point through which the clubs are putting pressure on the AIFF and IMG-R. The clubs say that as long as the I-League is not a separate entity as per the Asian Football Confederation guidelines, they would not follow the AFC Club Licensing criteria for the 2012/13 season. Another reason is that India lost their AFC Champions League qualifying spot for which the criteria are actually intended and no one has openly said why India has lost its spot.

PLS faces further problems & delay

The Premier League Soccer in West Bengal is facing further problems. This time around they are infrastructure problems forcing the organisers Indian Football Association (West Bengal) and Celebrity Management Group to postpone the launch of the inaugural season indefinitely. The PLS season one was supposed to be played from March 24 to May 6, which was already a delay by about a month from the original dates.

Now the PLS organisers are facing a problem with the West Bengal Department of Sports regarding the six stadiums in Kolkata, Barasat, Howrah, Siliguri, Durgapur and Haldia. The West Bengal government has indicated that some of the venues are booked for other events during those dates, while the department also doubts that the venues would be ready in a few weeks to host such a high profile event.

This means that the PLS could be postponed by another three to four weeks to get things sorted and organised, which means a potential start in the third week of April and finish in the first week of June. Surely the PLS would have to finish before Euro2012 which starts on June 8.

If the PLS organisers are not able to get the wanted dates, then they will consider shifting the tournament to another state. Maharashtra and Kerala have shown interest to host the tournament, but it is the last option for the organisers to get the league off the ground.

All these problems follow the uncertainly if the star-studded PLS would be cleared by the All India Football Federation a few days ago.

I-League Division 2: Complete Preliminary Round Results

The preliminary Group Stage of the I-League Division 2 ended earlier today. Six teams - United Sikkim FC, Aizawl FC, Royal Wahingdoh SC, Kalighat Milan Sangha, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Vasco SC - have made it into the final round where last seasons relegated ONGC from Mumbai will be waiting for them.

These seven sides will now play the two-legged final round to decide who gets promoted to the I-League 2012/13.


Group 1 - Silchar
Green Valley SC (Guwahati), Eagles FC (Kochi), Southern Samity (Kolkata), Bhowanipore Club (Kolkata), United Sikkim FC (Gangtok), Ar-Hima FC (Shillong), Aizawl FC (Mizoram)

Fixtures
01-Feb-2012: Ar-Hima FC 3-1 Aizawl FC
01-Feb-2012: Southern Samity 3-0 Eagles FC
02-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 3-2 Bhowanipore Club
04-Feb-2012: Southern Samity 1-1 Green Valley SC
04-Feb-2012: Bhowanipore Club 1-2 Aizawl FC
05-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 7-2 Eagles FC
07-Feb-2012: Bhowanipore Club 3-3 Ar-Hima FC
07-Feb-2012: Eagles FC 0-4 Aizawl FC
08-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 3-3 Green Valley SC
10-Feb-2012: Eagles FC 0-4 Ar-Hima FC
10-Feb-2012: Green Valley SC 0-0 Aizawl FC
11-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 3-1 Southern Samity
13-Feb-2012: Eagles FC 1-0 Bhowanipore Club
13-Feb-2012: Green Valley SC 4-4 Ar-Hima FC
14-Feb-2012: Southern Samity 0-1 Aizawl FC
16-Feb-2012: Green Valley SC 2-1 Eagles FC
16-Feb-2012: Southern Samity 1-1 Bhowanipore Club
17-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 2-0 Ar-Hima FC
19-Feb-2012: Green Valley SC 1-1 Bhowanipore Club
19-Feb-2012: Southern Samity 2-4 Ar-Hima FC
20-Feb-2012: United Sikkim FC 0-3 Aizawl FC


Group 2 - Cuttack
Royal Wahingdoh SC (Shillong), Sesa Football Academy (Goa), Quartz SC (Kozhikode), Kalighat Milan Sangha (Kolkata), Techno Aryan Club (Kolkata), Guwahati Town Club (Assam), Kenkre FC (Mumbai), Samaleshwari FC (Orissa)

Fixtures
01-Feb-2012: Royal Wahingdoh SC 2-0 Samaleshwari FC
01-Feb-2012: Sesa Football Academy 1-0 Kenkre FC
02-Feb-2012: Quartz SC 0-4 Guwahati Town Club
02-Feb-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha 2-1 Techno Aryan Club
04-Feb-2012: Samaleshwari FC 1-1 Techno Aryan Club
04-Feb-2012: Guwahati Town Club 0-1 Kalighat Milan Sangha
05-Feb-2012: Kenkre FC 4-1 Quartz SC
05-Feb-2012: Royal Wahingdoh SC 2-2 Sesa Football Academy
07-Feb-2012: Sesa Football Academy 6-2 Samaleshwari FC
07-Feb-2012: Quartz SC 2-6 Royal Wahingdoh SC
08-Feb-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha 3-1 Kenkre FC
19-Feb-2012: Techno Aryan Club 3-1 Guwahati Town Club
10-Feb-2012: Samaleshwari FC 3-1 Guwahati Town Club
11-Feb-2012: Kenkre FC 0-5 Techno Aryan Club
10-Feb-2012: Royal Wahingdoh SC 1-1 Kalighat Milan Sangha
11-Feb-2012: Sesa Football Academy 1-0 Quartz SC
13-Feb-2012: Techno Aryan Club 1-2 Royal Wahingdoh SC
13-Feb-2012: Guwahati Town Club 2-3 Kenkre FC
14-Feb-2012: Quartz SC 0-4 Samaleshwari FC
14-Feb-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha 1-2 Sesa Football Academy
16-Feb-2012: Samaleshwari FC 1-1 Kenkre FC
16-Feb-2012: Royal Wahingdoh SC 2-0 Guwahati Town Club
17-Feb-2012: Sesa Football Academy 1-1 Techno Aryan Club
17-Feb-2012: Quartz SC 0-9 Kalighat Milan Sangha
20-Feb-2012: Kenkre FC 1-3 Royal Wahingdoh SC
20-Feb-2012: Kalighat Milan Sangha 4-2 Samaleshwari FC
21-Feb-2012: Techno Aryan Club 1-1 Quartz SC
21-Feb-2012: Guwahati Town Club 3-2 Sesa Football Academy


Group 3 - Delhi
Mohammedan Sporting Club (Kolkata), Vasco SC (Goa), Golden Threads FC (Kerala), Luangmual FC (Mizoram), Simla Youngs FC (Delhi), Langsning FC (Shillong), PIFA-Colaba FC (Mumbai), KGF Academy (Bangalore)

Fixtures
01-Feb-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club 4-1 KGF Academy
01-Feb-2012: Vasco SC 1-1 PIFA-Colaba FC
02-Feb-2012: Golden Threads FC 1-3 Langsning FC
02-Feb-2012: Luangmual FC 0-0 Simla Youngs FC
04-Feb-2012: KGF Academy 0-1 Simla Youngs FC
04-Feb-2012: Langsning FC 1-1 Luangmual FC
05-Feb-2012: PIFA-Colaba FC 0-2 Golden Threads FC
05-Feb-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-0 Vasco SC
07-Feb-2012: Vasco SC 3-0 KGF Academy
07-Feb-2012: Golden Threads FC 1-2 Mohammedan Sporting Club
08-Feb-2012: Luangmual FC 2-1 PIFA-Colaba FC
08-Feb-2012: Simla Youngs FC 2-3 Langsning FC
10-Feb-2012: KGF Academy 0-1 Langsning FC
10-Feb-2012: PIFA-Colaba FC 1-1 Simla Youngs FC
11-Feb-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-0 Luangmual FC
11-Feb-2012: Vasco SC 5-1 Golden Threads FC
13-Feb-2012: Golden Threads FC 2-4 KGF Academy
13-Feb-2012: Luangmual FC 1-3 Vasco SC
14-Feb-2012: Simla Youngs FC 2-2 Mohammedan Sporting Club
14-Feb-2012: Langsning FC 2-1 PIFA-Colaba FC
16-Feb-2012: KGF Academy 3-1 PIFA-Colaba FC
16-Feb-2012: Mohammedan Sporting Club 2-0 Langsning FC
17-Feb-2012: Vasco SC 2-1 Simla Youngs FC
17-Feb-2012: Golden Threads FC 4-3 Luangmual FC
19-Feb-2012: Luangmual FC 1-7 KGF Academy
19-Feb-2012: Simla Youngs FC 1-1 Golden Threads FC
20-Feb-2012: Langsning FC 1-2 Vasco SC
20-Feb-2012: PIFA-Colaba FC 0-3 Mohammedan Sporting Club

Team India arrive in Omani capital Muscat

The Indian national football team arrived in the Omani capital Muscat today for an international friendly against Oman to be played on February 23. The 30-member probables squad have been camping in Dubai as part of their preparation for the forthcoming 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.

Meanwhile the hosts Oman have made some changes to the match kick-off timing and venue to prepare for their upcoming final 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Thailand. As the qualifier would be played at 1.30 pm at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on February 29, the India friendly would also be played at the same time and venue on February 23.

India Coach Savio Medeira, feels the friendly would help India gear up for the upcoming tournament in a major way. "The match against Oman forms an integral part of our preparation for the forthcoming AFC Challenge Cup. This apart, we have another international friendly lined up against Azerbaijan on February 27."

"Both the matches would help us gauge our progress," Savio added.

The Middle Eastern side Oman are presently ranked 95 in the FIFA World rankings while India are in the 154th spot. A tough match looks to be ahead for a new look India squad.

Since February 16 India has been going through various training sessions in Dubai, under the watchful eyes of coach Savio Medeira and physical trainer Pradip Dutta.

Medeira sounded pleased when asked about the practice facilities in Dubai. "The team went through rigorous exercises and stay in good shape. They have responded well," he informed. "We have a tough task ahead. This is a young bunch and many would be playing their first International Match. We need to stay focused."

Senin, 20 Februari 2012

I-League: Why 2/3 pm kick-offs? & who to blame?

The All India Football Federation and its marketing partners IMG-Reliance have to take the blame for a lot of things which currently aren't going right about the I-League, but when it comes to kick-off timings they aren't solely to be blamed on this then none of the stadiums are owned by the federation or the participating clubs. They are dependant on the city, district or state governments; who own the properties.

This means that the AIFF, state/district Football Associations and the clubs have to work out schedules with the respective authorities to get the grounds for matches and the issue persists with practice grounds too.

Now take the example for Kolkata. The Saltlake Stadium has been having a floodlight issue since September 2004, when the lights went off for the first time during an India vs Japan qualifier for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Since then the lights have gone off numerous times, but the West Bengal government has not done the necessary to ensure working floodlights. Now after the first I-League Kolkata derby late-last year with the lights going off once more and people getting injured the West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra banned any evening floodlight matches until the lights and power lines are repaired. When will this happen, no one really knows. Until then matches need to be played before it gets dark in Kolkata meaning 2 pm kick-offs.

In Goa a different problem with the same result. The floodlights at the Nehru Stadium in Margao have been off for years with the Goa Government claiming that they will be installed, even having open bidding for the project but it has been delayed over and over again. The new floodlights are supposed to be operational next month, until then the matches need to start at 3.30 or 4 pm latest to avoid it getting to dark.

Mumbai's Cooperage ground didn't even have floodlight in the past, so evening matches were out of the question. Now even Pune has had its floodlight problems in the recent past with certain towers going off during live evening broadcast.

Until these problems with floodlights, power supply and cost for the power is sorted these 2/3 pm kick-offs will continue in Indian football. And that surely is hampering the development of the I-League, then who likes to come and watch football in the afternoon heat? And I haven't even spoken about the players yet...

Could I-League be turned into MLS?

The All India Football Federation and its marketing partners IMG-Reliance are considering of changing the format of the I-League, the Indian Professional Football League. Under consideration is a plan to move away from the European way of running a home-and-away league format and change it into a North American Major League Soccer format of two conferences with playoffs to determine the champions.

As per the ideas the I-League would be a 16 team affair with a Western and Eastern Conference. The only issue here would be that currently you have four teams in the East/Northeast in Kolkata (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Prayag United, Pailan Arrows) and Shillong Lajong FC; while the rest of the clubs are situation in Goa, Maharashtra plus Chirag United Kerala and HAL from Bangalore.

The motive behind such a move isn't clear though the federation is selling the idea of a more vibrant and attractive league though a key element would be also to cut cost of running the I-League, which is growing each season due to the amount of travel involved.

The AIFF and IMG-Reliance are set to meet the I-League clubs tomorrow after those had sought a meeting with them following an own meeting earlier this month. Here the report: I-League clubs get together, seek meeting with AIFF/IMG-R . The AIFF and IMG-Reliance will present their plans and await feedback from the clubs.

One though has to question if the MLS format is the way forward for the I-League. Then I have major doubts if this is the best way to further develop the league, then the decision of winning leagues through playoffs is something which I wouldn't like, then a proper league should finish with the league table and not a one-off match. The whole exercise becomes a league-cum-cup competition.

Minggu, 19 Februari 2012

I-League Division 2: Final Round spots are up for grabs

The preliminary Group Stage of the I-League Division 2 ends in a couple of days. Then we will know who all have qualified for the final round and join Mumbai's ONGC though some teams like United Sikkim FC and Mohammedan Sporting Club are already through.

In Group A in Silchar United Sikkim FC are already through with one match to play, but they face Aizawl FC in the final game of the group which will decide who will join them in the final round. Currently Ar-Hima FC are in second spot with 11 points, while Aizawl FC are in third just a point behind. But the team from Mizoram would need a win against USFC to leapfrog the Shillong side and progress.

In Group B in Cuttack it is a three-way race for the two spots. Currently Royal Wahingdoh SC and Sesa Football Academy are top of the league with 14 points, while Kalighat Milan Sangha are close behind on 13 points. Only if Royal Wahingdoh SC or Sesa Football Academy drop points then Kalighat MS have a chance to move into the final round.

In Group C at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi tomorrow it a real final when Langsning FC from Shillong take on Goan side Vasco SC. Both teams are on 13 points with four wins, a draw and a loss. Only one of the sides will join Mohammedan Sporting Club from the group in the final round. The Goans have a superior goal difference and would go through on that in chance of a draw, otherwise the winner moves on.

PIO Luciano Narsingh gets Oranje call-up!

Player of Indian Origin winger Luciano Narsingh (21), who is of Indian-Surinamese origin, has gotten his first-ever call-up to the Dutch national team by head coach Bert van Marwijk for the match against England on February 29.

But the attacking winger, who can also play as a striker, will have to fight for a place against star players like Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt.

Luciano started his career like his elder brother Furdjel Narsingh at the AFC Ajax Amsterdam Youth Academy, but he was released in the summer of 2008 as he was found not good enough by the Ajax management to succeed in the first team.

Luciano moved on to Eredivisie rivals SC Heerenveen and struggled there for the first couple of seasons before making his breakthrough last season, where he was the joint top assist alongside Christian Eriksen of Ajax Amsterdam.

This season Luciano has continued with his good performances and that has earned him a call-up to the Oranjes after having represented the Dutch in their youth teams.

Luciano won't be the first player of Indian-Surinamese origin to play for the Dutch. Aron Winter was the first to represent the Netherlands in the 1980s and there have been numerous players in the Ajax Youth system of Indian origin over the years.

It is another success story for PIOs! Another one is set to play for an European national team after the likes of Vikash Dhorasoo (France), Thomas Pereira (Norway), Oscar Sonejee (Andorra) and recently discovered Neil Taylor (Wales).

PS: Thanks Johann for the info!!!

VIDEO: Ultimate Tazer Ball

I have seen a lot of sports or so-called sports over the years, but Ultimate Tazer Ball is really unbelievable. That people could try and play a sport using Tazers, which hurts each other simply doesn't make sense for me. But make-up your own mind...



Sabtu, 18 Februari 2012

Hertha Berlin appoint veteran Otto Rehhagel as coach

In a surprise move struggling German Bundesliga side Hertha BSC Berlin have appointed 73 year old Otto Rehhagel as their new head coach until the end of this season. Rehhagel's appointment follows the firing of Michael Skibbe last Sunday after only five matches in-charge. Under Skibbe the team from the capital had lost all their five matches and his signing had come after successful promotion coach Markus Babbel had been fired in December 2011 just before Christmas following differences with the club management.

It is the coaching appointment of the season then many had seen Rehhagel as a retired former coach, who now comes out of retirement to try and save his former club, then between 1963-66 Rehhagel had played 78 matches for Hertha. And just yesterday the Berlin side played their 1000th Bundesliga match and though playing a good game they lost 0-1 to champions Borussia Dortmund.

Rehhagel's appointment was confirmed by Director of Sports Michael Preetz before the Dortmund game on Saturday afternoon. Otto Rehhagel will be introduced to the media later today. Rehhagel returns to the Bundesliga after 11 years.

The respected Otto Rehhagel used to be called 'König Otto von Bremen' (King Otto of Bremen) and then nicknamed Rehakles during his tenure as national team coach of Greece.

Initially in his career at 1.FC Saarbrücken, Kickers Offenbach, Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, Arminia Bielefeld and Fortuna Düsseldorf Rehhagel was a short-term coach, who wouldn't last too long. That changed in his second stint with Werder Bremen, where he would go on to coach the North Germans for 14 years before going to archrivals FC Bayern Munich, where he would only last about 10 months. Thereafter he would join 2.Bundesliga side 1.FC Kaiserlautern and go on to win the Bundesliga title the next season as the first-ever promoted club. After leaving Lautern, Rehhagel would go on to coach Greece. The biggest success of his nine year tenure would be winning Euro2004 as underdogs.

I-League: Dempo SC heading for another title?

The fifth edition of the I-League, the Indian Professional Football League, it most likely the most closely fought season of the NFL/I-League since its foundation in late-1996 though at the top and bottom things are quite clear. Goans Dempo SC seem to be heading to regain their title from Salgaocar SC with a six point gap at the top with six matches to go. The reason is simple then Dempo have been the most consistent team in this I-League campaign with the other top clubs needlessly dropping points or taking points of each other.

At the other end of the table HAL from Bangalore are only on 7 points - 10 points adrift of Mumbai FC, who occupy the first non-relegation spot. From the start of the season HAL have looked like the top candidate to go down never really putting up a fight like last season. The newly put together Pailan Arrows are second from bottom, but the AIFF's Developmental team cannot go down so 12th placed Chirag United Kerala on 14 points are fighting for survival along with Mumbai FC in 11th position.

But otherwise it is a close affair. Take league leaders Dempo on 43 points out of the equation, from second placed Mohun Bagan on 37 points to Shillong Lajong FC in 10th position on 27 points there is only a gap of 10 points. A team like defending champions Salgaocar SC, who were in the bottom half of the I-League early on through an impressive series of wins have climbed upto third spot and are now one of the challenger for Dempo's, if the former champions drop enough points.

But there also a big worry. The general interest in the I-League is lower then in the past. Surely more matches are being covered by television, there is extensive coverage on the Internet, but the newspapers seem to be covering less and the general public not too much into football doesn't seem to be bothered. They are more fascinated by the upcoming PLS then the I-League. This should be an alarming sign to the AIFF and their marketing partners IMG-Reliance.

Currently the league is having a six week break for the preparatory camp and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal with the I-League resuming on March 24 for the final six matches of the league.


Current I-League Table
#-- Team ------------------ P- W- D- L- GF-GA GD- PTS
01. Dempo SC -------------- 20 14-01-05 43-16 +27 43
02. Mohun Bagan AC -------- 20 11-04-05 38-26 +12 37
03. Salgaocar SC ---------- 20 10-06-04 29-15 +14 36
04. East Bengal Club ------ 20 10-05-05 34-18 +16 35
05. Pune FC --------------- 20 09-07-04 32-26 +06 34
06. Churchill Brothers SC - 19 10-04-05 30-19 +11 34
07. Prayag United SC ------ 20 08-08-04 29-20 +09 32
08. Sporting Clube de Goa - 20 08-06-06 41-35 +06 30
09. Air India ------------- 20 08-03-09 26-31 -05 27
10. Shillong Lajong FC ---- 20 07-06-07 17-27 -10 27
11. Mumbai FC ------------- 20 05-02-13 20-37 -17 17
12. Chirag United Kerala -- 19 04-02-13 17-31 -14 14
13. Pailan Arrows --------- 18 00-08-10 08-30 -22 08
14. HAL SC ---------------- 20 01-04-15 13-45 -32 07

VIDEO: Football getting re-invented in India

This is a feature story from news channel CNN-IBN on the growth of football in India, especially the following of the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga in major cities besides children also having ambitions to represent India while they start to play football.



Jumat, 17 Februari 2012

Germany: Loew has growing injury worries ahead of Euro2012

Germany are set to be one of the favourites going into the 2012 European Championships this summer in Poland and the Ukraine. But coach Joachim Loew's list of injured players seems to be growing by the day with currently defender Per Mertesacker plus midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Mario Goetze all injured.

Loew seems to be not worried at the moment as he told the German media, "There is no panic when we hear of a new injury. The clubs need to worry more than I do, at the moment. For us, we can still cope."

Loew would be more worried if the players were injured in late-April or May going into the final weeks of preparations for Euro2012. But injuries now Loew thinks could be a blessing in disguise as all these players are getting some rest and recovery time from a hectic start into 2012 as none of the injuries are too serious.

Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker seems to have the most serious injury with an ankle injury, where the doctors cannot say when he will return to match fitness as the original assessment was six weeks, but now the doctors think it will take more time to heal.

FC Bayern Munich Bastian Schweinsteiger's case is the most tragic as he just returned from a collar-bone injury late last year and now picked-up an ankle injury, while Lukas Podolski is out with a foot injury and Mario Goetze has groin problems, which forced the teenager of the playing field.

But the 2010 FIFA World Cup showed that Germany can cover in case of injuries. The big leader then Michael Ballack was out before the tournament, Germany had the worst fears going into the World Cup but then the young guns showed the new way Germany plays its football.

Homeless World Cup team goes to India to deliver Football Coach Program

#FootballFirst will be developed with our National Partner in India Slum Soccer in association with the English Premier League's International Small Grants Fund.

Homeless World Cup works through an International network of 73 Partners and has developed #FootballFirst as a unique, modular coach education programme with flexible entry points to best suit the needs of our global network. It builds national partner's capacity to grow their programmes and gives players a step up into the world of organised football and onto the pathway out of homelessness.

Over a 16 day period 75 coaches and six coach educators will be trained to deliver high quality, regular coaching sessions, create teams, and run leagues and tournaments. Coaches use their own life experiences alongside the core coaching skills to deliver a strong social message to vulnerable and peer groups on how to avoid or deal with the difficulties they face - and skills gained in planning, organisation, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation are ultimately transferable to other areas of life, such as home and job acquisition or development of locally determined social enterprise activities.

The courses will be run in Nagpur (Slum Soccer’s HQ) and Chennai, with participants drawn from eight different cities across the country – extending the opportunity to play football to an extra 4.000 homeless players in the coming months. By creating a pool of coach educators to replicate the training wherever/whenever required the course will enable Slum Soccer to extend its programme and ensure sustainability in the coming years.

Homeless World Cup Foundation Director of International Development Deborah Ball said, "It is a great opportunity to contribute to the development of Slum Soccer's programme and offer opportunities to homeless players in India. By working in partnership with the English Premier League, UK Sport and Tottenham Hotspur FC we have been able to create a sustainable and lasting contribution to the development of grassroots football with Slum Soccer in India."

Homeless World Cup Foundation Director of Football Andy Hook said, "Helping to develop coaches and players at this level provide a strong base for the long term development of football in India which is very exciting, it has been great to see the organisation grow over the past four years with the development of a strong group of coaches and the introduction of the women's programme."

This is the third visit of the Homeless World Cup team to India.

Kamis, 16 Februari 2012

PLS - A chance for Indian Football

There has been much talk about the newly created Premier League Soccer in recent weeks. I personally see the franchise-based league in West Bengal as a chance for Indian football to test a new format and learn from it - positives and negatives.

Lets be honest, an IPL-style football league has been on the cards for quite a while now. There has been so much talk about it that such a league was bound to come-up somewhere. The only thing is few would have expected a local state league like the PLS in West Bengal, but rather a revamped national league combining old I-League clubs and new franchises would be turned into such a football-IPL. The only thing people often forget is that a proper football league has to run to eight to 10 months, there are international transfer rules to follow plus many other small and large issues.

And there lies the problem. The Cricket-IPL format is a league of short duration just like the game of T20 cricket - a six to eight week league. Now that is difficult to test on the national stage in football. Only a strong and robust football market could be used for such a test. And there the only real option lies with West Bengal, then where else would companies spend crores on football in India?

Now we have the IPL-style football league in the PLS and though it is facing problems and hiccups, I hope it succeeds. Then I feel the PLS and I-League can co-exist, and could together strengthen the football system in India. A possible scenario for the future is that we could have further PLS' in three/four more states, which even the AIFF president Praful Patel has hinted at.

But I repeat one thing. We need a top tier league like the I-League for the professional game, then otherwise we would have our own entertainment product like the IPL, but we would detach ourselves from the global football system. And that is sure not what we will want to happen.

India have arrived in Dubai for their camp

The Indian national football team arrived in Dubai overnight for a preparatory selection camp for the forthcoming 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal next month. Dubai-based Gulf International Promotions has once again organised a camp for an Indian national team in the Emirate.

Team India will be in Dubai until March 3, will stay at the Akas Inn Hotel in Barsha and will be training every evening at the The Sevens Stadium in Dubai before heading for Nepal.

Gulf International Promotions MD Raul Fernandes stated that his company was honoured to be once again involved with organizing the visit of Team Indian to Dubai and are doing their best to make the teams stay comfortable. This is the sixth time that Gulf International Promotions are making arrangements for the Indian National Team and has previously also hosted the under-19s and under-16s.

Fernandes went on to thank Emirates Sevens, UAE Football Federation, Embassy of India in Dubai, Sportswater, Haryard Tours, Akas Inn Hotel and Challet Grill Plus restaurant in Dubai for all the assistance granted to the team.

The team arrived last night from New Delhi and will leave for Oman on February 21 where they will play against the Oman National Team in a friendly on February 23. The team will return to Dubai on February 24 and will train until in Dubai until March 3.

A friendly game against Azerbaijan has also been arranged in Dubai on February 27 at the The Sevens Stadium. Kickoff is at 1730 hrs local time.


India Probables

Goalkeepers
Arindam Bhattacharya (Churchill Brothers SC), Subhasish Roy Chowdhury (Dempo SC), Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar SC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (East Bengal Club)

Defenders
Anwar (Mohun Bagan AC), Nirmal Chetri (East Bengal Club), Kingshuk Debnath (Mohun Bagan AC), Raju Eknath Gaikwad (East Bengal Club), Arnab Mondal (Prayag United SC), Syed Rahim Nabi (Mohun Bagan AC), Sameer Subash Naik (Dempo SC), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Gurjinder Singh (Pune FC)

Midfielders
Francis Fernandes (Salgaocar SC), Lester Mark Fernandez (Pune FC), Adil Ahmed Khan (Sporting Clube de Goa), Rocus Lamare (Salgaocar SC), Manish Mathani (Mohun Bagan AC), Clifford Miranda (Dempo SC), Anthony Pereira (Dempo SC), Jewel Raja Sheikh (Mohun Bagan AC), Lalrindika Ralte (Churchill Brothers SC), Lenny Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers SC), Baldeep Singh (Pune FC), Reisangmi Vashum (East Bengal Club)

Forwards
Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC), Sunil Chhetri (Mohun Bagan AC), C.S. Sabeeth (Pailan Arrows), Manandeep Singh (Air India), Sushil Kumar Singh (Shillong Lajong FC)

Officials
Savio Medeira (Chief Coach), Mariano Dias (Assistant Coach), Marcus Pacheco (Goalkeeping Coach), Pradip Datta (Physical Trainer), Sandeep Kumar (Doctor), Gigy George (Physio), Liaqat Ali (Masseur), Mandar Tamhane (Manager)