Sabtu, 30 Juni 2012

Früh Kölsch SportTalk: Tomorrow - A look back at Euro2012

On Monday evening, July 2 I will be moderating my SportTalk show here in Germany - the Früh Kölsch SportTalk from the Bergische Sportarena in Wermelskirchen will be once more coming from a pub within a sports indoor complex.

The topic tomorrow night will be the just concluded 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine with guests on the show being long-time friend and fellow journalist Chris Punnakkattu Daniel, former German international and now Wuppertaler SV coach Hans-Günter Bruns, FC Remscheid manager Mike Zintner and journalist colleague Peter Kuhlendahl from our local newspaper Remscheider General-Anzeiger.

It will be live on the Internet (in German) as a livestream from 19.30 CET (18.30 GMT / 23.00 IST) onwards at www.livestream.com/rs1tv


Here the details in German about the talkshow:

Am Montag, den 2.Juli 2012 gibt es den Früh Kölsch SportTalk auf rs1.tv!

An diesem Abend ab 19.30 Uhr wird der 'Früh Kölsch SportTalk' aus der Bergischen Sportarena in Wermelskirchen als Livestream auf rs1.tv übertragen. Es wird 90 Minuten lang vor Live Publikum ( Eintrittskarten auf Anfrage bei der Bergischen Sportarena ) um den Sport aus und um Remscheid herum mit Gästen aus dem lokalen Sport, Journalisten und Sportstars. Aber es wird nicht nur über lokales gesprochen sondern auch um nationalen und internationalen Sport.

In unserer nächsten Sendung am 2.Juli wird die Fußball-Euroameisterschaft 2012 das Thema sein.

Die Gäste der Sendung sind: Hans-Günter Bruns (Trainer, Wuppertaler SV), Mike Zintner (Manager, FC Remscheid), Peter Kuhlendahl (Remscheider General-Anzeiger) und Chris Punnakkattu Daniel (Journalist)


Hier nochmals die wichtigsten Informationen zusammengefasst:


LIVE aus der Bergischen Sportarena in Wermelskirchen
Der Früh Kölsch SportTalk
präsentiert von rs1.tv
Sendungsbeginn: 19.30 Uhr jeweils Montags alle zwei/drei Wochen

Tischreservierung oder zu anderen Fragen, Bitte bei der Bergischen Sportarena melden!

Die nächste Sendung findet am 9.Juli statt. Thema dann Tennis (Wimbledon & die Herren-40 von SC Rot-Weiss Remscheid).

Die darauffolgende Sendung findet Ende-August/Anfang-September statt!

My Euro2012 TV TalkShow: Before the Grand Finale & a first Review

Earlier today I hosted a Euro2012 TV show special in the Allee Center, Remscheid ahead of tomorrows final Spain vs Italy, looking back at the tournament and the disappointment regarding our own German team.

My talk guests were Mike Zintner (Manager, FC Remscheid), Lothar Steinhauer (Youth Coordinator, FC Remscheid), journalist colleague Andreas Dach (Remscheider General-Anzeiger) and the event manager Lars Nöker (Fanmeile Remscheid), who organised the public viewing arena in our city.

rs1tv on livestream.com.

AFC U-22 Qualifiers: India trash Turkmenistan 4-1

The India Under-22s won 4-1 against Turkmenistan in their fourth match at the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, Oman to keep their chances to qualify for the finals alive with their final match against the hosts Oman on July 3.

Coach Arthur Papas made five changes to his starting eleven keeping with his style of using as many players as possible from his squad and it worked once more for him and his team in an emphatic victory.

India started on a cautious note. They stayed content in building from the back and switched flanks on a regular basis. There were passes being stitched, positions being interchanged. India had the regulator with them – they controlled the match and the goal stayed inevitable but they to wait a while. Sometimes one became impatient as opening the rival goalmouth at times, looked like improbable -- simply because Turkmenistan were not willing to push forward. By the 15th minute itself, they had 10 men defending.

The deadlock eventually broke in the 36th minute. Romeo Fernandes, India's super-sub against the United Arab Emirates made justice of Arthur Papas fielding him in the Starting XI. As he broke through inside the penalty box, rival defender Komekov Hemayat, beaten by Romeo’s sudden burst, found it best to bring him down. Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte slotted the penalty past Turkmen goalkeeper Garayev to put India in the lead.

Barely four minutes after Dika's penalty conversion, Alwyn George, still then, a bit suffocated in between a horde of Turkmenistan players, got past two but his prompt left-footer hit the post.

Changing over, Turkmenistan started-off with more purpose. The first five minutes had the Indians suddenly defending. The organisation stayed good but despite it, captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had to stretch back to palm over a deflection. On the counter, a Romeo placement off a Vishak Kumar throw-in hit the upright in the 51st minute and then in the 55th minute, Manandeep Singh's long-ranger sailed over. And then Turkmenistan struck in the 59th minute – Farhad Italmazov's prompt right-footer beating a diving Gurpreet.

But the young Indians regrouped quickly – Alwyn George capitalising on a defensive lapse, chipped it over an onrushing Garayev in the 68th minute. Alwyn could have settled the issue in the 71st minute when he ran in between the entire defence and entered the rival box only for Garayev's legs to deprive him. But luckily it didn't matter as Romeo got his name on the scoring sheet for the second consecutive match in the 76th minute. This time, Alwyn provided the perfect supplier for him and Romeo made no mistake.

The second penalty for India on the day came in the 85th minute when substitute striker Jeje Lalpekhlua was pushed inside the box and Jeje gleefully converted from the spot.

For the rest of the match, the Indians maintained their shape. Turkmenistan did try to press hard but it came a bit too late and it ended 4-1 for India, who now have seven points from four matches and are in with a chance to qualify for the finals.


INDIA Under-22s

1-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu [Captain]; 26-Vishal Kumar, 4-Deepak Devrani, 14-Souvik Ghosh, 5-Narayan Das; 7-Ganeshan (63' 32-Tirthankar Sarkar), 17-Ongnam Milan Singh, 8-Lalrindika Ralte, 31-Romeo Fernandes (82' 3-Abhishek Das), 12-Alwyn George, 35-Manandeep Singh (69' 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua)

Mizoram's Dinthar FC strengthen team for new season

Dinthar FC from Aizawl, last seasons Mizoram Football League champions, have named their 26 players squad for the new 2012/13 season. Only founded in 1994, the Club name 'Dinthar' literally mean 'revive' in Mizo and also a locality in West Aizawl is named Dinthar which is the Mecca of Mizo football.

The club will participate in the new Mizoram Premier League besides being the representatives of Mizoram in the new to be launched North-East Premier League. Thereafter they would hope to get a spot in the I-League Division 2s preliminary round.


DINTHAR FC - Aizawl

Goalkeepers
Lalnunenga (Saitual, Mizoram), Zothanmawia (Chandigarh Football Academy), Joseph-a (1st MAP FC, Mizoram)

Defence
B.Lalchhanchhuaha (Faria Strikers, Goa), C. Lalduhawma (Durtlang, Mizoram), Vincent Lalrindika, Ronald Zothanzama (Shillong Lajong FC), Ramnunsanga(Faria Strikers, Goa), Ramfangzauva (Vanchengpui, Mizoram), Lalramsanga (Lengpui, Mizoram), Ronald Lalzikpuia (Ramhlun South, Mizoram), Chhuanzika (Baktawng, Mizoram)

Midfielders
Lalrinkima/Kimkima (Dinthar Veng, Mizoram), K.C. Lalchhuanmawia (Simla Youngs FC), Lalmuansanga (West Phaileng, Mizoram), Malsawma (Luangmual FC, Mizoram), Vanlalmawia (Prayag United FC), Lalrempuia (Lengpui, Mizoram)

Forwards
Samuel Laltlanthanga (Langsning FC, Shillong), Zico Zoremsanga (Southern Samity), R. Laldanmawia (1st MAP Academy, Mizoram), Lalnunmawia (Shillong Lajong FC), Lalthlamuana (Shillong Lajong Juniors), M.C. Malsawmzuala (East Bengal Academy), Zosangliana (Armed Veng, Mizoram), Lalliansanga (Lengpui, Mizoram)

Officials
H.C. Zarzoliana (Coach), Lalnuntluanga (Manager)

My Euro2012 TV TalkShow: Before the Grand Finale & a first Review

At 11.00 CET (10.00 GMT / 14.30 IST) today I will be hosting a special Euro2012 TV show in the Allee Center, Remscheid ahead of tomorrows final Spain vs Italy, looking back at the tournament and the disappointment regarding our own German team.

My talk guests will be Mike Zintner (Manager, FC Remscheid), Lothar Steinhauer (Youth Coordinator, FC Remscheid), journalist colleague Andreas Dach (Remscheider General-Anzeiger) and the event manager Lars Nöker (Fanmeile Remscheid), who organised the public viewing arena in our city.


Watch live streaming video from rs1tv at livestream.com

Jumat, 29 Juni 2012

Mohun Bagan present new coach Santosh Kashyap

Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC today at a press conference at their club tent presented their new head coach for the 2012/13 season in Santosh Kashyap. The press conference was attended by Anjan Mitra (General Secretary), Debasish Dutta (Finance Secretary), Uttam Saha (Football Secretary) and Alokesh Banerjee (Director of McDowell Mohun Bagan).

Santosh Kashyap, an AFC 'A' licence holder, last season coached Mumbai's Air India and seems to have impressed the Mohun Bagan management in the way he coached a young and inexperienced team in the I-League. Before joining Air India Kashyap had been coach of the Mahindra United Under-19 team.

Not only the head coach but the complete coaching staff was announced today. Kashyap will have Bernard Oparanozie as his assistant Coach, the goalkeeper Coach will be Hemanta Dora, while Jonathan Corner will be the Physiotherapist cum Rehab Specialist. The club is currently in search of a suitable physical trainer and they hope to announce a name by July 11, the day of the first training session.

The club is planning a pre-season training camp in Durgapur at the Mohun Bagan-SAIL Football Academy, but before confirming the camp Kashyap and Oparanozie will have a look at the facilities and accommodation.

A confident Kashyap said that he knew about the pressure to coach a club of the stature and especially after two seasons without a trophy. His aim was to win as many matches as possible and aim for the I-League title.

Wim Koevermans: Some elements have been promising indeed

The new India senior national team coach Wim Koevermans, Technical Director Rob Baan and AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das were all at yesterday's India U-22 vs UAE U-22 match in the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers. At a training session in Muscat there was a chance for Koevermans to met India's U-22 boys for the first time and it was a special moment for them. A day later, Koevermans and Baan spoke at length about India's performance against United Arab Emirates, the coaching philosophy, discipline and a lot more.


You watched India take on United Arab Emirates in the AFC U-22 Championship qualifiers. What was been your impression?

Koevermans: I am quite pleased with the manner things were conducted on the pitch. Obviously, there are areas of improvement. But one needs to remember that the performance came against a strong side as United Arab Emirates. We had our moments on the field and could have won it. There were some elements which are very promising indeed.

Rob Baan, sitting next, nodded & added: It was heartening to see that boys were focused all throughout. They were passionate to play for their country, though I must admit that the passion at times, was disturbing the tactics a bit. Baan smiled, so did Wim.


What was your perception of Indian football prior to taking over?

There were some similarities in the style of play with Ireland, the last Nation I worked in. But at the International level, the game has changed vastly and we need to implement the same to keep ourselves updated. We need to get accustomed fast and try to develop with a young set of boys.


It was only 16 days of practice that the Under-22 squad had under Arthur Papas prior to coming over to Oman. Are you impressed the manner the boys have settled down to the new style of play?

The new style and discipline will take time. There will have to be changes and it always takes time. So we just can't afford to hurry at the moment. Let's be patient and the difference will be evident.


You will be officially taking charge from July 1 and the 2012 Nehru Cup will be your first assignment. What will your plans stay for the Nehru Cup?

It's too early to comment on that at the moment. I have some meeting lined up in the first week of July and only after that will I be in a position to dish it out.


With Rob Baan having seen earlier Indian teams from close, it stayed imperative we got his view on the discipline within the squad. Hence he was asked

In such a Championship, how much of a role does discipline play off the field?

It's an unbreakable part. There can be no success without discipline. Look at the Dutch squad as an example. The players need to listen, take proper rest, sleep and at the right time and have common goal. Only then can you think of success. If you don’t have the discipline, the results will be damaging.

rs1.tv VIDEO: Public Viewing - Germany vs Italy, Italian celebrations

Yesterday Germany took on Italy in the second Euro2012 semifinal match and the Italians surprised them as the highly rated Germans lost the match in Warsaw, Poland. Here in Germany there were public viewings across the country with Italians celebrating after the match.

Here my reports for rs1.tv from the public viewing in Remscheid of the Germany vs Italy match and Italians celebrating in the city



Debanjan Sen Memorial Cup 2012

A Calcutta Cricket & Football Club (CCFC) XI held the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) XI to a one-all draw in the Debanjan Sen Memorial Cup 2012 held at the CC&FC ground yesterday evening.

For the FPAI XI seasoned striker Dipendu Biswas opened the scoring in the 20th minute with Jahan Mehta (who is FPAI General Secretary but plays for CC&FC) equalizing just a minute later.

Former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia played for CC&FC while the FPAI XI was represented by Indian national team players Gouramangi Singh, Syed Rahim Nabi, Mehtab Hossain, Subrata Pal, Arindam Bhattacharya and ex-internationals Dipendu Biswas and Basudeb Mondal plus many others.

The FPAI were also fortunate enough to have two World Cuppers in Steven Bryce and Carlos Hernandez from Costa Rica to play for them as both of them were in Kolkata and are big supporters of FIFPro and the Costa Rica Football Players Association.

Arthur Papas: Much like the Aussies, Indians are fighters

"I had my doubts before coming here. But within three weeks I have been proved wrong. Much like the Australians, the Indians are a fighting lot," commented India U-22 coach Arthur Papas. "I'm happy to be proved wrong. India is a land of fighters. It's in the culture. I salute my boys the manner they keep fighting till the final whistle," Papas paid his tribute. This Papas said on Thursday evening after India's 1-1 draw against the United Arab Emirates.

Friday's morning sun shines bright in Muscat. The plan stays to look forward or rather, as Papas puts it, "to sustain the momentum." There's no messing around. The support staff takes care of the bruises and the players have already started to believe. The training sessions are no more dull, the team meetings, no more yawning. There's no waste of time – the Team Hotel looks a different Universe. Co-ordinated movement on and off the field has sunk early talks of a 'fluke' result. The thrill of a triumph in Footballing Philosophy – making stronger Nations cornered and getting them fearful, adds to the thrill of Papas' boys. But therein lies the danger.

"Turkmenistan stay a danger game for us," Papas tells you. "Basking in past results is what good teams can't afford. If we are starting to rebuild ourselves, we too need to walk the path."

National Coach Wim Koevermans and Technical Director Rob Baan come over and both encourage the boys for their fighting spirit. For a bunch where the average age stays around 20, earning a headline stays a dream for all. And for them, Wim stays the key to a headline – earning a spot in the National Team Camp by impressing him.

Alwyn George makes a comeback for the Turkmenistan match while Pranay Halder sits out, courtesy a double booking. "Alwyn's availability will give us more options. We need to plan carefully," Papas maintains, even as almost everyone in the Camp may have overheard him whispering notes about the Turkmenistan match to himself, almost immediately after the UAE match final whistle.

Papas is an honest guy. Not to deny there's certain bit of childishness about him. He jumps in joy when his team scores and when the dressing room is small, he prefers to climb a chair for everyone to see him clear. But he teaches well and makes his wards think big.

His philosophy has sort of re-invented Lalrindika Ralte. Papas insists, and Ralte goes beyond. Manandeep Singh stays a different flavour under Papas; Souvik Ghosh and Prathamaesh Maulingkar, a different mountain. Papas is not a stereotype; instead he stays someone who is willing to put all to test and fight against the pain to achieve.

With four points from three matches so far, most would be tempted to field Jeje Lalpekhlua upfront. But this is Papas. "I need to use him intelligently."

Jeje stays willing to wait. "I will do what my Coach tells me to do. He has a plan for everyone and I am also a part of it. He has explained what my role is and I know it," the Mizo striker proclaims, even as there are frantic calls from local Mizo fans to speak to Jeje and Dika.

Souvik and Prathamesh, the two central defenders who drew appreciation from all against Iraq and UAE, seem to watch, copy and learn from each other. The lanky Prathamesh has been invincible in the air and the nimble-footed Souvik, assured.

In between, General Secretary Kushal Das encourages all. "It's heartening to see the squad working as a cohesive unit. There's so much discipline all around," he said, prior to boarding his afternoon flight back home.

We prefer to roam around. In one of the rooms, you find Abhishek Das deep in meditation. You don't disturb him and move next. A rhythmic tone greets you in Shaiju Mon's room – he is sleeping. Jeje and Dika, the 'Tom and Jerry,' queue up for the ice-bath. A room ahead, Gurpreet is leading Manandeep in the Playstation.

"You have earned respect from all," Papas says in the meeting. "But respect for a footballer is fickle. We need to work harder to stay there," the boys listen. "Sip, sip and sip," Papas goes on. "Water intake has to be high." It's a must for everyone to carry a bottle with him whenever out.

In less than three weeks of training, this bunch has changed a lot. The style of play is interesting, discipline noteworthy and the fightback, in Papas' words, "much like the Aussies."

This team shows what potential Indian football has at international level, now it needs to nurtured further, also sustained and not lost.

The kick-off against Turkmenistan at Sultan Qaboos Stadium on Saturday, June 30 is at 17.00 local time (18.30 IST).

Kamis, 28 Juni 2012

Euro2012: Italy upset Germany to reach finals

The 2012 European Championships is now in the semifinals with Germany taking on Italy at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. Germany were impressive in their 4-2 win against Greece, while Italy needed a penalty shootout to win against England.


SEMIFINAL #2

Germany 1-2 (0-2) Italy
Goals: 0-1,0-2 Mario Balotelli (20',36'), 1-2 Mesut Özil (90+1')

A first half double strike from Mario Balotelli was enough for Italy to upset title contenders Germany 2-1 for themselves to reach the finals of the 2012 European Championships, where they now face defending champions Spain. In the process history did repeat itself as Italy continue to be unbeaten against Germany in official competitions.

Germany coach Joachim Löw made three changes to his starting eleven bringing on Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Toni Kroos for Miroslav Klose, André Schürrle and Marco Reus. Especially the induction of Kroos surprised many and the intention was to blokc Andrea Pirlo's area of operation, but for the first time Löw used a counter-strategy instead of relying on the strength of his own team.

Germany made a good start into the match with Hummel's chance following a corner cleared off the line by Pirlo, before a Barzagli/Buffon misunderstanding didn't give Germany the lead. Thereafter Italy slowly settled into the match and twice tested Manuel Neuer in the German goal before a Cassano cross was headed in by Balotelli in the 20th minute. But Germany weren't shocked and played on like before in search for a goal, but conceded a second in the 36th minute off a counter-attack with the strike of the tournament so far by Balotelli.

Germany were two goals down, but not beaten yet as Löw made two changes at the break bringing in Klose and Reus. And initially they created intense pressure on the Italians, who once more weathered the storm with the best effort coming from Reus and Lahm, but on both occasions they missed the target before a Reus free-kick was directed by Buffon against the crossbar. Germany had more of the ball, but they simply couldn't get their game together as they more and more relied on long-balls and crossed, which often didn't bother the Italians, who could have scored more through di Natale and Diamanti off counter-attacks.

In the 90th minute Germany got a penalty when Balzaretti handled in his own area and Mesut Özil took the penalty to give Germany their goal of the night a minute into extra-time, but it simply wasn't enough as Italy won 2-1.

AFC U-22 Qualifiers: India hold mighty UAE to a draw

The India Under-22s drew one-all against the United Arab Emirates in their third match at the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers at the Royal Oman Police Stadium in Muscat, Oman to keep their chances to qualify for the finals alive.

Indian coach Arthur Papas made three changes to his starting line-up as Vishal Kumar, Alwyn George and Jeje Lalpekhlua were benched, while they were replaced by Abhishek Das, Saiju Mon Muthappan and Tirthankar Sarkar in a more defensive starting line-up to counter the UAE.

The UAE's Jamal Ibrahim gave his side a 9th minute lead with India only getting the equaliser late in the game through substitute Romeo Fernandes just two minutes from time.

The early UAE goal was an initial setback but it didn't un-nerve India. Rather, they stayed content in building up from back. In the midfield, it was all about the workload. Be it a robust Manandeep Singh upfront, an intelligent Lalrindika Ralte, an irrepressible Milan Singh or a tireless Pranay Halder, the Indians pressed hard all throughout. The first half yielded seven corners and a handball shout was ruled out in the 40th minute inside the UAE penalty box.

Changing over, the UAE defended all throughout – not a strategy but were forced back. They tried to change the combination a number of times, but it failed. Romeo's fresh legs on the right stretched them and in the 51st minute, Tirthankar Sarkar missed heading into an empty second post, the ball agonisingly missing. Jeje replaced Tirthankar in the 69th minute and within two minutes, his free header off a Milan Singh corner just sailed over. UAE were just about surviving dangerously.

Eventually Romeo headed home in the 88th minute following a Vishal Kumar throw-in down the right. A minute later, Romeo had the best chance of the day when he sneaked in between the wall on the left, ran all the way into the 6-yard box but the rival goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Hosani's legs came in between.

National Coach Wim Koevermans and Technical Director Rob Baan congratulated the team on their splendid fightback. "I told you, you will find some good boys in this batch," India U-22 coach Arthur Papas told senior coach Wim Koevermans.

"The boys fought well. It was heartening to fight with such a spirit against such a quality side," AIFF general Secretary Kushal Das, who had dropped in to watch the match, commented. The match ended 1-1 and India could have easily gone back home with three points.

India next play Turkmenistan on June 30 and would need the three points to stay in contention for a place in the final round.


INDIA Under-22s

1-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu [Captain]; 3-Abhishek Das, 14-Souvik Ghosh, 6-Prathamesh Maulingkar, 5-Narayan Das; 34-Pronay Halder (76' 26-Vishal Kumar), 17-Ongnam Milan Singh, 28-Saiju Mon Muthappan (48' 31-Romeo Fernandes), 32-Tirthankar Sarkar (69' 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua), 8-Lalrindika Ralte, 35-Manandeep Singh

Euro2012: Germany want to overcome Italian trauma

The 2012 European Championships is now in the semifinal stage with Germany taking on Italy at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland tonight to reach the finals. Though Germany have won all their four matches in this competition so far, they now face an opponent in Italy whom they have never beaten in official competitions; but Joachim Löw and his team are confident that they can change the record books for once and all.

In the seven Germany vs Italy matches at Euros and World Cups so far, Italy have won three and the other four matches were drawn. Interestingly the four draws were all in group stage matches at European Championships and World Cups, while the losses were in semifinals and the final of FIFA World Cups. Surely an interesting piece of statistics, but Germany will want to overcome this tonight and create history.

The four draws were a goalless draw at the 1962 FIFA World Cup, another goalless draw at the 1978 FIFA World Cup, at Euro1988 there was a one-all draw and another goalless draw came at Euro1996.

But especially the three defeats have been of historic dimensions. The first defeat was in the 1970 FIFA World Cup semifinal, a 4-3 win for Italy against West Germany in extra-time after a 1-1 draw in regulation time. The match is said to have been one of the best matches in football history and has been termed as the 'match of the century'. Then came the 1982 FIFA World Cup final which a strong Italy won 3-1 against West Germany. The Italians were far superior that night in Madrid to win their third World Cup trophy

And there was the 2006 FIFA World Cup semifinal in Dortmund on July 4, 2006. I personally was there at the stadium to cover the match and it was supposed to be the night that Germany changed history and won their first official match against Italy. But late in extra-time Fabio Grosso and Alessandro del Piero scored for the Azzuri and they went on to win their fourth World Cup title, while Germany's summer fairytale had a harsh end. And a lot of people remember this match and have revenge on the football field in their mind.

The last friendly international between these two sides was on February 9, 2011 which had ended in a one-all draw with Germany being the better side, but Italy getting an equaliser to deny the Germans a win.

Tonight the match starts at 0-0 and the young Germans know that they have it in them to change the history books for once and for all. But Italy will be hoping to keep their track record intact. Spain awaits the winner...

Prayag United sign Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez

Kolkata I-League side Prayag United SC yesterday signed and unveiled the 30 year old Costa Rican World Cupper Carlos Hernández Valverde as their latest signing. The midfielder comes to India on a one year contract and joins Prayag United from Australian A-League side Melbourne Victory.

Hernandez was given the no. 16 jersey and said, "I am really happy to be associated with Prayag United Sports Club. I am looking forward to this new opportunity and challenges."

Hernandez is one of the most high profile signings by Prayag United SC ever, who had earlier sealed deals with India no.1 goalkeeper Subrata Pal, India centre-back Gouramangi Singh and last season highest I-League goalscorer Ranty Martins Soleye.

Hernandez has 30 international matches to his name for Costa Rica having played for the country's under-20 and under-23 teams. He had played his last international against France in which he scored a cracker of a goal.

Hernandez played for LD Alajuelense in the Costa Rican league before shifting to Melbourne in 2007, first on loan and then permanently and he has been one of the A-League stars during his time in Australia having scored 36 goals in 121 matches.

By signing Carlos Hernandez, Prayag United SC show even more their ambitions to challenge for the I-League title this season after the signings made earlier.

VIDEO - Euro 2012: Germany - an animated history (the Guardian)

Ahead of tonight's semifinal against Italy here the Guardian's animated potted histories with a rather more turbulent than simply being animated, Germany's numerous ups and downs are remembered here by James Richardson.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

VIDEO - Euro 2012: Italy - an animated history (the Guardian)

Ahead of tonight's semifinal against Germany here the Guardian's animated potted by James Richardson looks at Italy, the team who missed the first World Cup finals, but made up for it by winning the next two.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Rabu, 27 Juni 2012

Euro2012: Spain just about beat Portugal on penalties

The 2012 European Championships is now in the semifinals with Portugal taking on defending champions Spain at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine. Portugal scored a lone goal win against the Czech Republic, while Spain won unconvincingly 2-0 against a weak France.


SEMIFINAL #1

Portugal 0-0,2-4 Spain [on penalties]
Goals: none

In the end Cesc Fàbregas converted the winning spot kick as defending champions Spain beat Iberian neighbours Portugal 4-2 on penalties after 120 goalless minutes in the first semifinal in Donetsk, Ukraine at the 2012 European Championships.

It was often an intense and tension-ridden match, but not of the high quality that many hoped for or even expected as Portugal often was able to deny Spain their needed space while Portugal's attack was dependant on Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on the wings.

Spain had the first chance of the match through an Álvaro Arbeloa attempt over the goal in the 9th minute. Thereafter the match was mainly played in midfield before Andres Iniesta and Ronaldo had chances on both sides in the first session. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque changed things in the second session with Jesus Navas and Pedro coming for the wings and the tiring Portuguese had especially their problems in extra-time with Spain pressing for a winner, but the match went into penalty shootouts.

The first set of penalties from Xabi Alonso for Spain and Joao Moutinho for Portugal was saved by the two goalkeepers. Thereafter all scored before Portugal's Bruno Alves missed the fourth penalty and then a shaky Cesc Fabregas scored the final penalty for Spain to secure a 4-2 win.

Bayern Munich sign Croatian striker Mandzukic

German giants FC Bayern Munich have signed Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic from Bundesliga rivals VfL Wolfsburg for an unconfirmed fee of around 13 Million Euros. Mandzukic will sign a four year contract once his medical is done.

"We're pleased we've been able to bring in Mario Mandzukic, one of the best forwards in the Bundesliga, who also demonstrated his special goalscoring ability at EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. He'll make our squad even stronger," stated FCB Director of Sport Christian Nerlinger.

The 26 year old Mandzukic is seen as competition to German international Mario Gomez with seasoned Claudio Pizarro a third competitor for a position upfront, which last season was seen as a weakness at the Bavarians. Bayern Munich get a striker, who has played two years in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg, with international experience who could be able to put some pressure on Mario Gomez.

Mandzukic is Bayern Munich's sixth confirmed new signing for the 2012/13 campaign. The club had earlier signed goalkeeper Tom Starke, defender Dante, midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Mitchell Weiser plus striker Claudio Pizarro.

AFC Under-22 Qualifiers: India U-22s await confident UAE in decisive match

After their good performance against Iraq, but with no points to their name the India Under-22s know that against the United Arab Emirates only points will count or otherwise their AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifying campaign could be close to over.

Ranked 119 in the FIFA World rankings and more importantly, a team which has qualified for the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics, the United Arab Emirates are a tough challenge and with wins against Oman and Turkmenistan they look a tough hurdle to cross.

UAE Coach Baler Sadih says, "We have quite a few options up our sleeve. We look forward to the match." The UAE had been unstoppable so far. In the first match, they beat hosts Oman 2-0 while in the second they accounted for Turkmenistan 1-0.

Ask Arthur Papas and he admits, "This is a defining match in the tournament. We need to maintain our consistency. We have had two very good games so far. Though the results have been different, there are so many positives which have emerged."

"The boys have shown character and at this level you have to play with the same intensity every day," he adds. "UAE are a very tough opposition. I reiterate one shouldn't be expecting miracles. Everyone needs to be patient."

Early morning, the buzz is back. There's an intense Core Training Session in the gym. After breakfast, players line up for their treatment and massage. In between the Hotel staff, most of them Indians come over to inform the ice is waiting. The ice-bath will happen after the evening training session.

Someone who scored against the UAE Senior Team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers - captain Jeje Lalpekhlua is ready to go. "I still remember Dika's (Lalrindika Ralte) cross which was inch perfect. I just had to nod it in," Jeje says. Dika, smiles. "The turf was slushy was maintaining balance was difficult. There's a sort of telepathy between Jeje and me," he quips.

You just can't keep Manandeep Singh quiet. Sitting next, he plays his one-two. "So on a lush field in Muscat, you will provide us five such centres!" a mischievous Manandeep presses. Jeje adds in a tone of surprise, "Five? We wait for 10 such crosses." The laughter goes all around. Dika stands up, walks to his boots, touches them, comes back and sits down.

"In International Matches, more often than not, the details decide the fate," Papas comments. "Minute details such as set pieces, corners, etc. We need to be perfect."

In the meantime, the phone just doesn't stop ringing. Indians, all based in Muscat, want to meet the team -- Diplomats, Bankers, Executives, Journalists. Requests for tickets flow in.

An UAE supporter, here in Muscat for official work, stayed confident, "Against India we will score minimum five goals," he says and laughs loud. None from the Indian Camp retaliates. They want to give a fitting reply on the field.

If Arthur Papas will send the same team as against Iraq onto the pitch is unknown. Changes look possible.

The kick-off at the Royal Oman Police Stadium is at 19.45 local time (21.15 IST) tomorrow - Thursday, June 28.

VIDEO - Euro 2012: Spain - an animated history (the Guardian)

Ahead of tonight's semifinal against Portugal here the Guardian's animated potted histories James Richardson talks you through the varied history of the Spanish national side, from their refusal to play in the first 1930 World Cup to glory at last in 2010 and Euro2008, via penalty misery in England and plenty of political interference.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Selasa, 26 Juni 2012

Royal Wahingdoh FC visited Germany in May 2012

Shillong-based I-League Division 2 side Royal Wahingdoh FC last month underwent a three week intensive training in Windeck-Dattenfeld, Germany under the watchful eyes of coach Volker Hofferbert, who has been appointed as the club coach a few days ago. The training of Hofferbert impressed the RWFC management, now he is in Shillong to coach the team.

The 18 member RWFC contingent were in Germany from 4 to 25 May and during this time played three friendly games against Germania Windeck (1st & 2nd team) and SV Eitorf. The RWFC players comprised a mix of juniors and seniors players as part of the clubs aim of exposure for their players.

RWFC also visited the fan project of Bundesliga side 1.FC Köln (FC Cologne) and shared in the excitement with fans during FC Cologne's final home match versus FC Bayern Munich. Sadly though for FC Cologne, the 1-4 loss meant a double blow as they failed to avoid relegation apart from already having to lose Lukas Podolski to FC Arsenal.

The team visited the Bodelschwingh Gymnasium in Windeck-Herchen where they interacted with the school students and also had a training demonstration apart from a lovely music concert at the same venue. The Mayor of Windeck also paid a visit to the team and wished them success in the training as well in their future.

Sightseeing tours to Cologne and Bonn also permitted the footballers from India to see a different world and interact with the as they termed 'friendly Germans'.

Chhetri: First focus on Asia, then think World Cup

Sunil Chhetri, Indian national team captain and the AIFF Player of the Year 2011, spoke in Delhi today on the sidelines of an event about a topic which is important when it comes to Team India and the expectations from fans who always which we would play in the FIFA World Cup without knowing that we have to build a reputation in and across Asia first.

"World Cup is a distant thing. Right now our focus should be on doing something good in Asia. If we set high goals at the moment we are going to get frustrated. So we should first look to do something in our continent. As they say you should take small steps and not rush to the goal," Sunil Chhetri said.

A very valid point from Sunil then many forget when they dream about playing in the World Cup that India has to ideally establish itself amongst the Top 10 in Asia before even dreaming to play a World Cup, then North Korea causing an upset and getting through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa happens rarely in Asian football then normally the biggies like Japan, South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the top candidates to go through with sides from the Middle East like Bahrain and Qatar aiming to qualify, but having failed so far.

We need to play over the next decade the AFC Asian Cup regularly, 2011 with the comeback after 27 years was a good comeback. Now it should become normal for India to play at the highest level in Asia.

Also present at the event in Delhi was former Manchester United star and Trinidad&Tobago captain Dwight Yorke who said, "To see India playing in the World Cup one day, that is going to be the dream and with the support from the AIFF and the government we will see Indian players playing at the top level."

India U-22 coach Papas 'proud of his boys'

"Come here boys. I need to talk to you," 32 year old Australian Arthur Papas, coach of India's Under-22s, waved five minutes after the final whistle against Iraq.

Drenched, fatigued and obviously disappointed by then due to the 1-2 loss, the boys didn't want to move. After running all over for 90 minutes in over 40 degrees, lying on the soft lush green was pure bliss. But they had to.

"Listen! I am very proud to be your Coach. You make me proud. The manner you fought against a top quality side for 90 minutes, I'm pleased. I told you I'm not concerned about the result. You should have had a result but you were unlucky. I am proud that I am your Coach," Papas complimented.

The clapping from the boys, was impulsive. It had to be. The boys got up, re-energised.

Iraq's Coach Hakeem Shakir crossed over the centre-line and walked towards Papas. "I've seen many an Indian team in the past across all age-groups. But I admit this is the best Indian team I've ever played against. I mean it," he shook hands for one more time and walked off. What a compliment.

Papas stood still. That his confidence at just 32 is infectious, indications stay clear. In just 16 days of practice prior to coming to Muscat, he's instilled a sense of self belief in the team - a self belief which has been foreign for India. "We should have got a result in the match," he reiterates later.

You dig deep into his heart. In a sport whose roots in the history go deep, India are still chasing football in the modern age. And here is the man, entrusted to move the ball forward from knee-deep. With the towers at the picturesque Royal Oman Police Stadium surrounded by the brown mountains, which from a distance seem like chocolate energy bars being switched off one by one, you dig further back.

A Nation ranked 74th on the FIFA ladder, many a time in the last 20 minutes, took the ball to the corner flag to kill time. They were cornered. The final whistle brought them relief. Did ever India have such an authority over Iraq? The mind couldn't dig anymore.

"Australia couldn’t score against Iraq. We have," Papas stayed spot on. "But this is just the beginning. One bad day, you can have a bad result. It can happen to any team. So we all need to patient – the fans need to be patient, we need to be patient too," Papas comments.

UAE Coach Baler Sadih had come over more to watch Iraq; instead he jotted India more. "Your team can change the formation so fast. From 4-3-2-1 it becomes 4-3-1-2 and within ten minutes, you are 4-3-3. This is so flexible. Such teams are very dangerous," he appreciated.

Again, you need to go back to Papas. His team meetings are dissective enough to make you understand what needs to be done to get to the next level. Good Coaches always exhale positivity. Papas, possesses the quality – his intensity never fades.

The boys were rewarded for their effort. At the dining table, Papas declares, "Today you can have your dessert. I allow you." The grin just broadened. Desserts have been a strict no-no since Papas took over. The hard taskmaster that he is, sometimes you ought to wonder about the toughness about the man. But this man has a heart too, that too, a soft one.

Half an hour past midnight with most other rooms having the DND flashed on their doors, Papas walks the corridor and walks into a room to oversee. Stopper Prathamesh Maulinkar was having his ice-bath then; Milan Singh waited in queue. He taps both gently on their shoulders, enquires about the others, smiles, and walks off towards his room.

"It's 12.40am. But he hasn't gone to his bed as yet. And here he is enquiring whether we are fine," Milan looks into your eye. "I'm proud of my Coach. I'm proud to be playing under him," he became sentimental.

The next morning, the players who haven't played so far in the qualifiers, hit the gym early. At the breakfast table, Papas goes to each and talks. The boys listen.

You watch from a distance – a 'Proud' Coach with his 'Proud' boys. The next moment you overhear, "Today is a rest day. The bus will take you out. But you need to be in the Hotel by 5pm."

It seems Indian football has entered a new era.

Airtel Rising Stars: Young Indian Footballers chance to train at Manchester United

India's Bharti Airtel, a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, today announced the kick-off of 'Airtel Rising Stars' – India's largest under-16 soccer talent hunt. Launched in association with Manchester United, 'Airtel Rising Stars' is a rigorous scouting program that will cover 16 cities across India and choose 12 talented footballers who will get the chance-of-a-lifetime to attend a week long training camp with Manchester United in Old Trafford, England.

This announcement was made in a press conference held in the presence of Manchester United football legend Dwight Yorke, Sanjay Kapoor (CEO – India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel) as well as India captain and ARS brand ambassador Sunil Chhetri. This 3-months long talent hunt, which starts in mid-July 2012, will be conducted in 16 cities (including Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Kolkata, Bangalore, Calicut, Chandigarh and Jaipur) with the support of the respective State and District Football Associations.

"Followed by over 1.6 billion fans worldwide, soccer is a cult sport amongst youngsters across the globe. In fact, millions in the Indian subcontinent closely follow the game and aspire to play alongside professional soccer players. Given the mass appeal of football and a large youth population, we are uniquely positioned to tap and nurture young soccer talent. Aimed at recognizing and training such talent, we are today excited to launch 'Airtel Rising Stars' as a hunt for the best under-16 soccer players across India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. As a game, soccer represents the principles of team-play and 'friendship' - thus making it a perfect fit for brand Airtel. We see 'Airtel Rising Stars' as an exciting strategic step towards strengthening our brand positioning and appeal to the youth," said Sanjay Kapoor of Airtel.

Manchester United's Commercial Director, Richard Arnold said, "We are very pleased to associate with the 'Airtel Rising Stars' programme in India and look forward to working closely with a number of extremely talented players. With 35 million Manchester United followers India is one of our fastest growing fan bases and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals in this country too. The programme is one of the largest of its kind in India and it is a great opportunity for us to work with these talented players in order to coach them on how to play the Manchester United way."

The unique format of 'Airtel Rising Stars' program will ensure that every player gets an equal opportunity to showcase his skills and playing acumen through a series of selection criteria, overseen by renowned and officially certified coaches in each centre. The best three players from each of the 16 cities will then be picked to attend a final six-day camp-cum-selection trial conducted by coaches from Manchester United. The 48 players will be divided into four teams of 12 each and will be tested on parameters which include physical attributes, individual skills, match situations and their performances in actual matches before 12 of the best players are chosen to travel to Manchester for a week and to train alongside the Manchester United Academy team.

The on-ground execution of 'Airtel Rising Stars' has been entrusted to Mumbai-based Procam International.

For participation in ARS and more information, visit www.facebook.come/airtelsoccer .

In 2009, Bharti Airtel had announced its tie-up with Manchester United to bring a variety of benefits for Airtel's football loving customers in India. As part of this association, Airtel customers across India have been enjoying exclusive access to Manchester United football content as well as money-can't-buy match experiences. The 'Airtel Rising Stars' programme is an extension of this long term association between brand Airtel and Manchester United.

Pailan Arrows: I-League home matches across India?

I have been thinking about an idea for weeks, now I wanted to pen it down and maybe it is something for the All India Football Federation to consider which could help to spread awareness about Indian football, its future talent and the I-League.

The Pailan Arrows, the AIFF's Developmental Team, shifted their base last season from the National Capital Region to Kolkata after a sponsor was finally found in the Pailan Group and with the Pailan Group having suitable facilities for training and accommodation the whole set-up is now based in Joka, on the South West fringes of Kolkata.

With the shift to Kolkata the Pailan Arrows now play their home matches at the giant Saltlake Stadium, but mostly infront of empty stands with crowds only coming for their matches against Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Even Kolkata clubs like Tollygunge Agragami in the old NFL and currently Prayag United in the I-League face this problem due to the Kolkata fans being attached to the big three - East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting.

Even the Pailan Arrows, the future talent of Indian football is a hard sell in a football crazy city like Kolkata. But don't these boys, who we hope will go on to represent the senior Indian national team one day deserve better?

Maybe the AIFF needs to think out of the box on this issue. It is about exposure and experience for the Arrows and maybe they should play their home matches across India in football centres where there is no I-League action or cities which have the necessary stadiums. This way the team could also spread awareness about the I-League.

Maybe some people are reading this idea...

Senin, 25 Juni 2012

Royal Wahingdoh appoint German Volker Hofferbert as new coach

I-League Divison 2 side Royal Wahingdoh FC based in Shillong a few days ago appointed 63 year old German Volker Hofferbert as their new head coach, who will guide them through the 2012/13 season with Carlton Chapman continuing in his role as assistant coach while Maipuri L. Nandakumar Singh has also joined the teams coaching staff.

While the aim for the season remains promotion to the I-League, under the new coach Hofferbert Royal Wahingdoh FC made a successful start into the 2012 Shillong Premier League which kicked-off today with a 1-0 victory against Nangkiew Irat. Jackichand Singh scored the winner a minute from time off a penalty.

63 year old Volker Hofferbert brings a wealth of experience from around the world to Shillong having coached in Brazil, Iceland, Indonesia, Laos, Mexico, Romania and Yemen besides having been a professor at the Cologne Sports University in Germany.

The signing of Hofferbert follows a visit by Royal Wahingdoh FC in May 2012 to Germany in which the clubs team had trained for the first time on European soil.

AFC U-22 Qualifiers: Impressive India lose 1-2 against Iraq

The India Under-22s faced tougher opposition in the second match in Iraq at the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers against whom the team lost 1-2 at the Royal Oman Police Stadium in Muscat, Oman.

It was an open game with chances on both sides with India impressing with their flexible play and formations, Arthur Papas has in weeks made a tough unit out of the boys. But Iraq used their chances better and their captain Ali Mohammed Alialah headed in a Jawad Kadhim cross in the 35th minute after Jawad got past Vishal Kumar and had sneaked into the box. Only a few minutes later captain Jeje Lalpekhlua limped off and substitute Holicharan Narzary almost scored off his first touch with the ball with his header just off the target. His partner Manandeep Singh in the 42nd minute almost scored but Alialah was able to deflect it the last moment for a corner.

After the break Iraq doubled the lead in the 49th minute through Ammar Abdul Hussein and it seemed all over. But despite down by two goals, India didn't panic. Rather, they regrouped. After a string of passes in the 69th minute, Lalrindika Ralte’s long-ranger almost beat the diving rival goalkeeper Yaseen Yas but he managed to palm it away for a corner. In the very next minute, Dika's free-kick hit the wall.

India were now putting Iraq under pressure with Dika and Allwyn's one-twos had the Iraqis guessing. In the 75th minute, Manandeep tried to tap in between the two stoppers but Yaseen Yas was quick to react.

The Iraqis tried to slow the game down in the last quarter but Alwyn was too good for them. He shrugged off three defenders and tap it over an onrushing Yaseen in the 82nd minute to reduce the deficit.

The rest of the match, India went all out but Iraq managed to hold on. A handball shout was even ruled out. The books may suggest the score for future but the spirit and camaraderie will never be reflected in that. This is a resurgent India who plays till the final whistle and this generation fights until the end.

India next play the United Arab Emirates on July 28 in a crucial tie which could decide, if India retain a chance to reach the final round or not.


INDIA Under-22s

1-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; 26-Vishal Kumar, 14-Souvik Ghosh, 6-Prathamesh Maulingkar, 5-Narayan Das; 34-Pronay Halder (58' 7-Ganeshan), 17-Ongnam Milan Singh (83' 31-Romeo Fernandes), 8-Lalrindika Ralte; 12-Alwyn George, 35-Manandeep Singh, 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua [Captain] (38' 19-Holicharan Harzary)

Rangnick & Houllier join Red Bull Football operations

Austrian energy drink maker Red Bull is best known for their Formula 1 team and their activities in adventure sports, but they are also active in football with their worldwide football operations spread across the globe in Austria, Germany, the United States, Brazil and Ghana.

But in football Red Bull, owned by the Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, have not been as successful as in other sports and now a new management is supposed to bring success to them but especially Red Bull Salzburg with German Roger Schmidt as the new coach, another German in Ralf Rangnick as the Director of Sports and Frenchman Gérard Houllier as Global Sports Director Red Bull Soccer to complete the new leadership structure within their football operations.

Roger Schmidt, who last season coached SC Paderborn to a sensational fifth place finish in 2.Bundesliga, is the new head coach of the Salzburg team; Ralf Rangnick as Director of Sports will have to look after Salzburg and German fourth division side RB Leipzig; while Gérard Houllier will have to look after Salzburg, Leipzig, MLS franchise New York Red Bulls besides the developmental academies in Brazil and Ghana.

Especially Rangnick was a much sought after coach across Europe with clubs like Tottenham Hotspurs, West Bromwich Albion, etc; but he in the end decided to join Red Bull as Director of Sports in a more management role rather then a day to day coaching job. The reason might be that Rangnick had last season left FC Schalke 04 due to a burnout syndrome and now returns to active football.

VIDEO - Euro2012: Andrea Pirlo's Chip Penalty

Italy beat England on penalties last night at the Euro2012 quarterfinals with midfielder Andrea Pirlo the best performer for Italy. The highlight was really the chip penalty from Andrea Pirlo, which some called arrogant others said it was simple brilliance.

Carlos Hernandez to play Debanjan Sen Memorial Cup match!

Costa Rica international midfielder Carlos Hernández Valverde is set to be in Kolkata this week for talks with I-League side Prayag United SC to possibly sign and play for them. While in Kolkata Hernández is set to play for the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) XI in a charity match, the Debanjan Sen Memorial Cup, against a football team of the Calcutta Cricket & Football Club (CCFC) at the latters home in Ballygunge, Kolkata on Thursday, June 28 evening.

Besides Hernández, former Costa Rica international Steven Bryce Valerio will also be in Kolkata with him and will also play for the FPAI XI in the match.

The FPAI will once more organise the memorial match in the name of their former employee the late Debanjan Sen, who died in an motorbike accident last year. Debanjan, who was very much liked in football circles, was only 22 years old.

The FPAI XI will also see some of India's best football talent especially those who were close to Debanjan Sen and they include Mehtab Hossain (FPAI Player of the Year 2011), Syed Rahim Nabi (FPAI Player of the Year 2012), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, Deepak Kumar Mondal, Subrata Pal, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Anit Kumar Ghosh, Arindam Bhattacharya (who will play as a centre forward), Dipendu Biswas and many more.

FPAI president Baichung Bhutia is highly sought after by both teamsand it looks likely that he will be strengthening the CC&FC defence rather than playing for his own FPAI team.

Last year the match was held and had ended in a 0-0 draw. The match will kick-off at 7 pm on Thursday, June 28.

Minggu, 24 Juni 2012

Euro 2012: Italy beat England on penalties

The 2012 European Championships is now in the quarterfinals with Group D winners England taking on Group C runners-up Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv. England caused a surprise by topping Group D, while Italy once more proved that they are a tournament team to come through a tricky Group C.


QUARTERFINAL #4

England 2-4 (0-0) Italy (on penalties)
Goals: none

Italy needed a penalty shootout to beat England 4-2 after goalless 120 minutes to reach the semifinals at Euro2012 where Germany will be their next opponent on Thursday. It was a deserving victory for Italy, who played football throughout the match while what England was upto is only known to them.

The match made a great start with Italy's Daniele De Rossi hitting the post just three minutes in and on the other side right-back Glen Johnson should have scored when he got the ball infront of goal, but his weak shot was somehow cleared by Gianluigi Buffon. Thereafter Wayne Rooney could have headed England into the lead, but from then on it was mainly Italy with England taking a very defensive approach and relying on counter-attacks or the class of their strikers, which rarely showed. Italy's best chance before the break fell for Mario Balotelli after a beautiful Andrea Pirlo pass over the English defence but John Terry just about blocked Balotelli's shot.

In the second session Italy remained the better of the two sides and though they controlled the ball for most of the time the English defence stood their ground and it was always either Balotelli himself or Pirlo releasing someone for Italy to get chances. Towards the end substitute Antonio Nocerino had a shot, but Glen Johnson's timely block denied the Azzuri the winner; while England had a last chance in regulation time with Rooney's bicycle kick going over.

In extra-time it was once more only Italy in attack. Why England played such negative football is unknown, but Italy continued to press for the winner until the end, but it stayed goalless and penalties had to decide.

It started well for England then Riccardo Montolivo's shot went wide and it seemed their negative strategy would pay-off, but then first Ashley Young fired the ball onto the crossbar and then Ashley Cole's shot was saved by Buffon before Alessandro Diamanti scored of Italy's fifth penalty to seal a 4-2 win.

Manandeep Singh: I'm more mentally strong now!

Young striker Manandeep Singh had a breakthrough season at Air India in the I-League, he will play for East Bengal Club next season. But currently his focus is on the India Under-22s with which he is playing in the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers. But Manandeep Singh who lost his grandfather some days back still he preferred to stay back with the team and played a stellar role in India's victory against Lebanon. In the interview Manandeep spoke at length about his personal loss, his graduation into mainstream Indian football, Arthur Papas' new style of play and much more.


Do you feel you have graduated into the mainstream?

It's not for me to say. My Coaches will be able to tell you that. My job is to perform. A striker will be reaching goal-scoring situations in every match. The more the conversion rate, the better the striker. I am trying to improve upon that.


How much important is it for a striker to play regularly?

Leave aside a striker, any player sitting on the bench will start to lose his confidence. But at the same time, a team only comprises of 11 players. It's a healthy competition among all teammates to get into that (starting) XI. Once you are in, you need to improve to maintain your spot otherwise someone else will snatch it from you.


How much did your stint with Indian Arrows help you?

A lot! The Indian Arrows are a platform for youngsters to get a chance to play regularly. Looking back at the Arrows, almost 13 boys have already represented India at the Senior level. And most are around 22. Though injury intervened in between, Arrows helped me to establish myself in Indian football. And when next season I got a regular chance with Air India, I grabbed it.


You lost your grandfather some days back and were supposed to go back home for the rituals.

My dad called-up and passed on the news. I was devastated. I was very close to him. I had to take a call – continue playing for my country or go back. My grandfather always supported me as a footballer and wanted me to become a top-notch striker. My conscience told me to stay back and play for my team.


Is concentrating in such a situation tough?

You seem lost at that moment. I wanted to take solace in what I do best – play football. The ball and the game took away my pain. I told to myself, if I get to start in the first match, I will come across an opportunity to score. I am much more mentally strong now.


What did Arthur Papas tell you?

I was given a responsibility and I tried my best. He (Arthur Papas) had some specific instructions for me and my job was to stick to it and possibly do more value addition for the team.


What's your take on India's next match against Iraq?

It will be a difficult match for us. My job is to give my 100 percent on the field and never escape. In fact, it's the job of all the eleven players. Iraq are a very strong side. We need play together as a unit.


Tell us something about India's new style of play?

The style requires a lot of discipline. To be honest, when we were told about this new style of play, we had our doubts. It doesn't mean we have grasped all of it. We are still learning and will continue to learn. There are certain duties entrusted upon all of us. We need to perform individually and help each other as a team. The mind frame is much more positive now.

Himachal Pradesh to organise Under-18 Football League

The Himachal Pradesh Football Association is working towards spreading the game across the North India state. The state capital Shimla used to be a major football hub with the Durand Cup, India's oldest football tournament, started there in 1888 and even the All India Football Federation founded there 75 years ago, yesterday to the day.

Today Himachal Pradesh is a small football state with the Himachal Pradesh FA fighting to organise and run football in the state. Funds like in other smaller football states is often a problem.

Now the HPFA is set to once more organise the Sub-Division Under-18 Football League from July 12 to August 14, 2012. More then 600 teams with over 8000 players are set to take part across the states 12 districts.

The HPFA hopes to organise the tournament in a big way, but is on the lookout for sponsorship and support then otherwise it is very difficult for the state football association to organise such a mammoth league across all districts of the state.

If interested to help the Himachal Pradesh Football Association, then either get in touch with them directly or contact me and I will put you through to them.

AFC U-22 Qualifiers: India face tough Iraq test

After their opening 5-2 win against Lebanon, the India Under-22s have come in for a lot of praise for the way they won the match under new coach Arthur Papas against the west Asian side. Now they face tougher opposition in Iraq, who won their opening match 4-0 against Turkmenistan.

Arthur Papas is just loved by his boy. Within a span of three weeks, Papas has been able to turn around a batch to try to play a different style; a style unheard and unseen of in India. Most had felt the style never suited India. And mind you, Papas knew none of the boys prior to taking up the assignment.

Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte certifies, "We stayed a bit skeptical about the style at the outset. But we are enjoying it at the moment." Captain Jeje Lalpekhlua adds, "We are a confident lot now but we need to be a more complete lot." And Deepak Devrani feels, "Earlier by instinct we were different. Now, the instinct stays different."

The Australian Coach, smiles. "We need to be cautious. Iraq are one of the strongest teams in Asia. It's true we will take a lot of confidence from our match against Lebanon. But against Iraq, it will be a different match altogether," he maintains. For the record, Iraq are currently 74th in the FIFA Rankings while India are 164th.

Iraq were very much clinical in their display when they brushed aside Turmkenistan 4-0 in their first match of the Championship. "We will fight and try for a positive result. So far, the boys have shown excellent character," Papas adds.

The beauty of this squad stays everyone stays willing to back each other. Against Lebanon, there were three who made their International Debut -- Shaiju Mon, Ganeshan and Alwyn George. Alwyn went on to score a brace while Shaiju and Ganeshan played with attitude in midfield.

There's someone else who just can't stop beaming – Jeje Lalpekhlua. It was his debut match after almost six months as an injury had kept him out. The last 30 minutes he was on the field and he seemed to be omnipresent. He stayed willing to come down to help his teammates, opened the space for Alwyn and Lalrindika in the midfield and significantly, converted the two chances he got.

"We are friends – all from the same age group. It helps. The Coach has had a specific plan for me and my responsibility is to execute it," Jeje opines.

The years of international experience of many of the boys for India junior teams does help now.

The morning after the win, the support staff run all around. Players leave their playstations as the intercom rings. The massage table waits, so does the ice bath. All take it one by one. Papas keeps track of every minute detail.

Even as the team bus pierces the blur of brown rocks which form the rocky desert in the City, dessert stays taboo for all. "Relish your dessert and you won’t be able to relish yourself on the field," has been Papas' instruction. At the Dining Hall, the players pass by ignoring the sumptuous spread of desserts.

The kick-off against Iraq is at 19.45 local time (21.15 IST).

VIDEO: England v Italy preview with Tancredi Palmeri & Chris Elder

Here comes a funny England v Italy preview of tonights Euro2012 clash with Italian sports journalist Tancredi Palmeri and TV producer Chris Elder on Sports Tonight's! Watch & enjoy...

2012/13 German Cup: Draw out for Opening Round

Euro2012 is still on, but the draw for the first round of the 2012/13 German Cup (DFB Pokal) was held yesterday at the Media Centre of the German national football team in Gdansk, Poland. German women's national teams Viola Odebrecht and men's manager Oliver Bierhoff did the honour of pulling out the fixtures. And there are some really interesting clashes to look forward to.

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund have to travel to fourth division side FC Oberneuland, while record champions FC Bayern Munich travel to promoted 2.Bundesliga club Jahn Regensburg for a Bavarian derby. The sixth division SV Falkensee/Finkenkrug, the lowest side in this seasons competition, host VfB Stuttgart.

There also a number of regional derbies with Borussia Mönchengladbach having to travel to Alemannia Aachen, while SC Paderborn travel to Arminia Bielefeld while Chemnitzer FC host old rivals Dynamo Dresden.

The matches will be played between August 17 to 21, 2012.


ROUND 1

SG Sonnenhof Großaspach - FSV Frankfurt
Hallescher FC - MSV Duisburg
FC Nöttingen - Hannover 96
Wormatia Worms - Hertha BSC Berlin
FC Oberneuland - Borussia Dortmund
1. FC Heidenheim - VfL Bochum
Victoria Hamburg - SC Freiburg
SpVgg Unterhaching - 1. FC Köln
SV Falkensee/Finkenkrug - VfB Stuttgart
Karlsruher SC - Hamburger SV
VfR Aalen - FC Ingolstadt 04
Offenburger FV - FC St. Pauli
Arminia Bielefeld - SC Paderborn 07
FC Schönberg 95 - VfL Wolfsburg
Jahn Regensburg - FC Bayern München
Carl Zeiss Jena - Bayer 04 Leverkusen
SV Roßbach/Verscheid - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Berliner AK 07 - 1899 Hoffenheim
Preußen Münster - Werder Bremen
Kickers Offenbach - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Erzgebirge Aue - Eintracht Frankfurt
Wacker Burghausen - Fortuna Düsseldorf
Chemnitzer FC - Dynamo Dresden
Alemannia Aachen - Borussia Mönchengladbach
SV Wilhelmshaven - FC Augsburg
Rot-Weiss Essen - 1. FC Union Berlin
TSV Havelse - 1. FC Nürnberg
SV Sandhausen - Energie Cottbus
VfB Lübeck - Eintracht Braunschweig
FC Hennef 05 - 1860 München
1. FC Saarbrücken - FC Schalke 04
Hansa Rostock - 1. FC Kaiserslautern

Sabtu, 23 Juni 2012

Euro 2012: Spain beat France to reach semifinals

The 2012 European Championships is now in the quarterfinals with Group C winners Spain taking on Group D runners-up France at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine. Defending champions Spain won Group C without really being convicning and now face France, who disappointed but still came second in their group.


QUARTERFINAL #3

Spain 2-0 (1-0) France
Goals: 1-0,2-0 Xabi Alonso (19',90+1')

Defending champions Spain didn't shine in their 2-0 victory against a hapless France with defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso scoring both goals in his 100th match for La Furia Roja. Spain will now take on Iberian neighbours Portugal in the first semifinal on Wednesday, June 27.

Spain went into the match knowing that they have never beaten France in a competition and interestingly the French were also the last side to beat Spain in a tournament, then at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

France coach Laurent Blanc send a defensive side onto the field to try and block the Spaniards and it initially seemed to work, but upfront there was no French presence. One mistake by Mathieu Debuchy and Andres Iniesta found Jordi Alba free on the left, he crosses the ball across the face of the goal for Xabi Alonso to head in Spain's lead in the 19th minute. France did recover from this setback, but they were only once really dangerous infront of goal through a Cabaye freekick. Otherwise Spain played their tiki-taka football and the French were running after them.

Things looked to change after the break as France became a little better, had more believe but Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema often were on their own upfront as Spain cleverly kept the French often away from their goal but they themselves also didn't exert too much pressure on the French goal of Hugo Lloris. In the end the match was heading for another typical 1-0 for Spain when substitute Pedro was brought down by Anthony Réveillère and Xabi Alonso sealed the victory for Spain.

But Spain were far from their best, the French didn't really challenge them but most likely Portugal will be a tougher opponent in the semifinals in what could be a mouth-watering clash amongst the neighbours.

AIFF launches Platinum Jubilee (75th anniversary) celebrations

The All India Football Federation turned 75 today on Saturday, June 23. It was on this day in Shimla in 1937 that the All India Football Federation was founded. The Football Federation commemorated the occasion by launching the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations at the AIFF Headquarters, the Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi. The celebrations continue till June 22, 2013.

Former India Captain and legendary footballer Chuni Goswami unfurled the flag to mark the beginning of the celebrations besides also unveiling the AIFF's Platinum Jubilee logo. The AIFF Senior Vice-Presidents A.R. Khaleel and Subrata Dutta were also present as were Hardev Jadeja, Ankur Dutta, Tempo Bhutia and Sunil Bharadwaj besides General Secretary Kushal Das, but the AIFF president Praful Patel was not present on the occasion.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das looked back the path travelled so far. "It is a momentous day for all football lovers. The AIFF which was launched in 1937 is now 75 years old. We stay proud of our history," he said.

He also stressed on the future plans ahead. "AIFF has big plans for the development of football specially the launch of Youth Academies which will go a long way in improving and developing the game in India," he added.

AIFF President Praful Patel in his message said, "It is indeed a great occasion that we are 75 years old. I am sure that with the programme undertaken in the Platinum Jubilee year we will go a long way in creating the right impetus to take Indian football to the next level in due course."

Chuni Goswami also lauded the AIFF over the recent appointment of foreign coaches. "I need to mention that AIFF has brought in quality coaching staff in all age groups. It's up to the Indian Coaches who work with them to learn the finer points of the trade," he commented.

On the occasion a short documentary film 'Glory of Indian Football’ was screened at the Football House.

Besides, Chuni Goswami was presented a bouquet of flowers by A.R. Khaleel, Subrata Dutta, Ankur Datta and Hardev Jadeja. Kushal Das presented Chuni Goswami a memento and Subrata Dutta presented him with a shawl.

The Military Pipe Band of Rajputana Rifles performed on the occasion with 'Saare Jahan se Accha' played in honour of the guests. The AIFF staff were also present on the occasion besides the media.

AFC U-22 Qualifiers: India trash Lebanon 5-2!

The India Under-22s started their campaign in the AFC Under-22 Asian Championship qualifiers with a resounding 5-2 victory against Lebanon at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, Oman.

Striker Manandeep Singh paid the perfect tribute to his deceased grandfather heading in a scorching header off a Lalrindika cross in the 15th minute to put India in the lead while Alwyn George slotted in past an advancing rival goalkeeper Nazih Hassan in the 38th minute. He added one more in the 54th minute while Jeje Lalpekhlua scored his first goal in the 70th minute and completed the rout in injury time. Lebanon had pulled goals back through substitute Omar Kurdi in the 48th minute while Abdul Fattah scored his teams other goal in the 69th minute.

Under the new coach Arthur Papas the new style was about possession. The boys stayed as protective of the ball, they roamed around it all over, sometimes at a leisurely place, the next moment with a sudden run. Lebanon chased.

In the first half, India were more prepared; more organised. The practice sessions in Delhi and Dubai helped the team to acclimatise faster then the Lebanese. Muscat, despite being hotter, was more homely for them than Lebanon. It showed as Manandeep Singh gave India a 15th minute lead before Alwyn George doubled the lead in the 38th minute.

But just three minutes into the second session Lebanon reduced the margin through Omar Kurdi sneaking in between the two stoppers Souvik Ghosh and Deepak Devrani to slot it home. Suddenly it seemed, India were losing the plot and Arthur Papas, not much pleased in the momentum being lost, wanted to bring on captain Jeje Lalpekhlua, who is still not 100% fit. But before Jeje replaced Manandeep, Alwyn George made it 3-1. Receiving the ball midway into the rival half, Alwyn sneaked past three Lebanese players and placed it in the corner for his second goal of the match. Lebanon once more reduced the deficit through Abdul Fattah's tap in off a melee in the 69th minute but the very next minute Jeje announced his arrival scoring into the right corner of the inner box.

With no option left, Lebanon went all out. India stayed content in slowing down the pace for the rest of the match. Lebanon did try to press hard but it came too late. On the contrary, Dika hit the post which should have been India's fifth goal, but his room mate Jeje made it 5-2 off a counter in injury time.

The India Under-22s made a successful start under new 32-year Australian coach Arthur Papas with the team playing with more intent for a deserving victory.

In the dressing room, Manandeep couldn't hold himself back. His heart was too wet by then and tears overflowed into his eyes. His team mates consoled him. Tears of pain? Or Tears of Joy?

"I wanted to pay my respect to my Grandfather. He loved me like anything," Manandeep said. Alwyn came over put his arm around his shoulder and the duo walked towards the team bus. The rest followed.

It ended an emotional, but successful afternoon in Muscat. No tougher assignments will be waiting for the Indians in the coming days.



INDIA Under-22s

1-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Captain); 3-Abhishek Das, 14-Souvik Ghosh, 4-Deepak Devrani, 5-Narayan Das; 7-Ganeshan (67' 34- Pronay Halder), 17-Ongnam Milan Singh, 28-Shaiju Mon Muthappan (86' 32-Tirthankar Sarkar), 8-Lalrindika Ralte; 12-Alwyn George, 35-Manandeep Singh (55' 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua)

Joachim Löw's gamble & Germany's young talent

When the information was coming through yesterday afternoon that Joachim Löw is set to make three changes upfront in his attack against Greece in the Euro2012 quarterfinal, it took many by surprise but I said to colleagues and friends, this is what Löw needs to do to break down the Greek defence. And in the end it paid off.

Germany coach Joachim Löw surprised many with the four changes to his starting eleven. Jerome Boateng as expected returned into his right-back position for Lars Bender, but Löw changed three of his four attacking players with only Mesut Özil retaining his place. Marco Reus started for Thomas Müller on the right, André Schürrle started for Lukas Podolski on the left and Miroslav Klose upfront for Mario Gomez. The gamble would pay-off then these players would create a lot of problems for the Greek defence.

Post-match Joachim Löw said, "I had a feeling after three wins that we had to make some changes to breathe some fresh life into the team. The time was ripe to do something different."

It showed that Löw has trust on his bench players to deliver when called into action and the depth in talent that Germany currently has, then many around the world will have seen little of André Schürrle and Marco Reus except if they follow the German Bundesliga closely.

If a young talent to impress at Euro2012 from Germany was named before the tournament, then it always was about Borussia Dortmund teenager Mario Götze, but Germany these days has numerous youngsters in the team who can deliver when needed. Not only the first eleven are strong, but in theory all 23 players can spring into action when needed.

Especially Marco Reus showed last night what a talent he is as Reus has done all season at Borussia Mönchengladbach, which has earned him a dream transfer to his home town club Borussia Dortmund for over 17 Million Euros.

One can only hope that more will be seen from the highly talented German team at Euro2012...

Keventer Cup: A Foundation revives school football tournament in Kolkata!

The Keventer Cup, an inter-school football tournament in Kolkata, is being revived by the Debanjan Sen Foundation. This was announced at a press conference at the Calcutta Sports Journalists Club yesterday afternoon with international footballers like Gouramangi Singh present.

The Keventer Cup will be played amongst the top 24 English medium schools in Kolkata. The tournament will be held across four different venues - La Martiniere, St James, St Lawrence and The Heritage School - simultaneously.

The tournament will kick-off on July 2 and the final is slated for July 21 with both these matches planed to be held at the La Martiniere for Boys School with Baichung Bhutia likely to inaugurate the tournament.

The Debanjan Sen Foundation was formed in memory of Late Debanjan Sen with the primary focus in developing sports, primarily football, in the school level and among the underprivileged. The Foundation takes its first step towards promoting School Football by organizing an Inter School Football Tournament in the Keventer Cup with the help and support of the Football Players Association of India.

rs1.tv VIDEO: Germany celebrating their Euro2012 victory against Greece!

Yesterday Germany took on Greece in their Euro2012 quarterfinal match and what a performance by the German team, the fans loved every bit of it. As now has become tradition in Germany people watch matches together in public viewing in big arena's, on the streets and in public areas where giant screens are installed. Thereafter it is onto the roads to celebrate the victories and what a party it was last night in Remscheid.

Here a report by me for rs1.tv from the festivities in Remscheid during and after the Germany vs Greece match.


Jumat, 22 Juni 2012

Euro 2012: Germany overpower the Greeks!

The 2012 European Championships is now in the quarterfinals with Group B winners Germany taking on Group A runners-up Greece at the PGE Arena in Gdansk, Poland. Germany convincingly won the Group of Death with three wins, while Greece surprised everyone by making it into the knockout stages.


QUARTERFINAL #2

Germany 4-2 (1-0) Greece
Goals: 1-0 Philipp Lahm (39'), 1-1 Giorgos Samaras (55'), 2-1 Sami Khedira (61'), 3-1 Miroslav Klose (68'), 4-1 Marco Reus (74'), 4-2 Dimitris Salpingidis (89', pen)

There was a lot on tension ahead of this tie due to the Euro crisis, but Germany showed their class and potential in a 4-2 victory against the 2004 champions Greece, who surprisingly were outplayed by a very potent German attack in Gdansk, Poland.

Germany coach Joachim Löw surprised many with numerous changes to his starting eleven. Jerome Boateng as expected returned into his right-back position for Lars Bender, but Löw changed three of his four attacking players with only Mesut Özil retaining his place. Marco Reus started for Thomas Müller on the right, André Schürrle started for Lukas Podolski on the left and Miroslav Klose upfront for Mario Gomez. The gamble would pay-off then these players would create a lot of problems for the Greek defence.

Germany started the match with the intention to seal matters as early as possible, not allowing the Greeks to think about an upset. But an early Klose goal was disallowed due to an alleged offside. Germany kept possession and tried to outplay the Greeks and it worked except for scoring goals and they had to wait until the 39th minute for captain Philipp Lahm to curl one in, another of his rare but important goals in a big tournament like 2006 and 2008.

After the break Germany seemed to lose the plot a little and allowed a regrouped Greece too much space and the equalised through Giorgos Samaras off a counter-attack in the 55th minute was the result. But this didn't shock Germany as they reorganised themselves and again went out into attack and scored three goals in just 13 minutes. First it was midfielder Sami Khedira who gave the Germans their lead back in the 61st minute of a rocket under the bar, then Miroslav Klose scored his 64th international goal off a header in the 68th minute before Marco Reus got a deserving fourth in the 74th minute off a rebound.

Greece was beaten by now and they got an undeserving handball from an unintentional handball from Jerome Boateng a minute from time, which Dimitris Salpingidis would put in to reduce the deficit.

It ended 4-2 for Germany, who won their fourth match at Euro2012 and their 15 competitive match in a row which is a new world record. Their opponents will surely know the Mannschaft is ready for all opponents and the title with their coach Joachim Löw willing and able to change formations according to his plans and the opponent.