Saturday, September 22, 2018

Manuel Lanzarote announced ATK captain for ISL 2018-19

Unveiling of the official team jersey

Kolkata: Manuel Lanzarote was announced as the captain of the two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK at the jersey unveiling of the team, here, on Thursday

The 34-year-old Spanish midfielder has 13 goals and six assists to his name for FC Goa in the last season of ISL. Manuel along with Kalu Uche and Everton Santos are set to be the attacking trio lined up for ATK this season.

ATK has been the champions twice but suffered a torrid season laden mostly by injuries in the last edition. This season, however, looks to be promising for one of the league’s most successful teams.

“I am eagerly waiting for the start of the tournament. have had a fruitful preseason in Spain where we got our chance to test all our players and now it is time to prove our mettle on the stage that matters,” Steve Coppell, the head coach of ATK, on the sidelines of the jersey unveiling.

The pre-season had started late August in Spain and ended on 13th of September. The team faced 1 loss and 2 wins out of the three practice matches in the Pinatar Arena Football Center.

Kalu Uche, a former Delhi Dynamos center forward was in fine form for the Dynamos last season and will be burdened with scoring the goals for the Kolkata outfit this season.

Andre Bikey once again reunites with coach Coppell in the Indian circuit. Bikey has played under Coppell in Jamshedpur FC previously and should be very familiar with the style Steve wants his men to play in this season of ISL.

Coppell, who guided Kerala Blasters to a runners-up finish in his first season, and took debutants Jamshedpur FC to a creditable fifth place finish in 2017 has a promising attitude to bring back the two-time champions into their winning form. ATK, finishing 9th in the last season are clear of their winning intention by roping in players like Uche, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, and Bikey among others.

“We are happy to unveil the team’s new jersey for the upcoming fifth season of Indian Super League. The jersey is the symbol of the strength and the passion the club carries with it. We are quite excited after the preseason and the players are raring to go.” Says Mr. Sanjiv Goenka, principal owner of the franchise.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharya, Avilash Paul, and Debjit Majumder.

Defenders: Aiborlang Khongjee, Andre Bikey, Arnab Mondal, Gerson Vieira, John Johnson, Lalhmangaihsanga ‘Sena’ Ralte, Prabir Das, Ricky Lallawmawma, and Ankit Mukherjee.

Midfielders: Cavin Lobo, El Maimouni Noussair, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Hitesh Sharma, Jayesh Rane, Komal Thatal, Malsawmzuala, Manuel Lanzarote Bruno, Pronay Halder, and Sheikh Faiaz.

Forwards: Balwant Singh, Everton Santos, and Kalu Uche.

Asian Games 2018: Eager to win Gold, says Rupinder Pal Singh

Star drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh is all set and rearing to take his goal scoring spree to 18th Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang where the defending champions will gun for glory again.

Speaking about it, the drag-flicker said, “Personally for me, playing against a quality team like New Zealand who won the Silver Medal at the Commonwealth Games was very important. Since I had missed out all the action during the FIH Champions Trophy, I had to find my rhythm ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta.” He scored a maximum of four goals for India in the three-match Series against New Zealand over the weekend in Bengaluru.

A hamstring injury stopped his appearance at the hockey field after the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April and he had to be rested for the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda where the team won a Silver Medal. While the team was vying against top teams in the world, Rupinder had to work his way back to the team in the National Camp and work on his fitness.

“It is frustrating for any player to be watching the team play on TV but it was critical for me to undergo rehab in order to be match-fit and available for the Asian Games selections,” expressed Rupinder Pal Singh after the 3-0 Series win.

To work on his return, Rupinder appeared in four practice matches against Bangladesh early this month where he scored 10 goals through PCs and played two practice matches against South Korea where he scored one goal from PCs. “I think having Bangladesh, South Korea and New Zealand visit us for matches ahead of major tournaments this season was a blessing in disguise. During these matches, the team tried out different combinations and tested different variations in converting PC. We also tried new methods of creating PCs where I think the team did well. Our main criteria was to improve goal scoring,” stated the six-footer from Punjab.

The Indian team, after the successful Series against New Zealand, have returned home for a week-long break and will re-join the National Camp on August 1 to get going with their strategies and preparations for the Asian Games where they are grouped in Pool A with Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Hong Kong China.

Eager to get the team to the Asian Games’ best podium, Rupinder said the team will further work on the specific areas to ensure they have left no stone unturned in their preparations for the Asian Games. “The one-week break will help us rejuvenate as some of us have been in the National Camp continuously since April 28. When we return to camp, the team will sit together, watch videos from our matches against New Zealand and try and find out ways to improve further. We are eager to defend the Gold Medal at Asian Games in Jakarta,” he concluded.

India will start their Asian Games campaign on August 20, 2018 against Indonesia.

Football U16: India lose 0-3 against Malaysia

(Image: AIFF)

The Indian colts conceded two late goals at just before the scheduled end of the game to earn another heart-breaking loss for the team who ended up at the receiving end of a 0-3 loss to the Malaysian U-16 Team in Kuala Lumpur today (July 23, 2018).

The Indian boys, who came to Malaysia at the back of a heart-wrenching loss to Thailand last week, started showing their intent right from the kick-off, but it was Malaysia in the end who made inroads to the scoreboard. Ridge blasted from inside the box in as early as the fourth minute but the Malaysian keeper foiled the attempt.

Malaysia, however, gave the Indians a tough run for the money in their own box and kept pushing constantly but Biaka and the sturdy Indian defenders averted the danger.

Givson and Ridge were looking forward to hurl the opening goal from the counter-attacking opportunities but they could hardly find any hole to hit the back of Malaysian goalpost.

Finally, Muhd Najmudin slotted their opening goal in the 26th minute to hand Malaysia an advantage against the Indians.

Bibiano Fernandes opted for a couple of change in quick succession and introduced Sailo and Manish for Givson and Gurkirat respectively before the boys headed to the half time with a one-goal deficit to the Malaysians.

Coming back after the break, Bibiano’s boys started with great intensity and Ridge, on the turn of the game, hit the side-netting two minutes into the game.

India failed two attempts in the 55th & 58th minute when Bekey failed to keep it within the frame.

In the last quarter, India created quite a few chances, but failed to convert each one of these. Sailo swivelled a long ball to Vikram but the skipper failed to connect it on time whereas two minutes later, Vikram’s cross was collected safely by the Malaysian goalkeeper before Ravi could convert it.

But they kept the Malaysian defense on check throughout. Five minutes to the whistle, India earned back-to-back three corners but Bekey’s tries could have been dealt in a better way by the Indian attackers inside the box.

As Bibiano Fernandes opted to push more legs inside the opposition half, Malaysian attackers took the advantage and scored a peach of a goal to double their lead in the 88th minute.

Four minutes later, They hurled another attacking move from the left flank which resulted in their third goal to leave the Indian team flabbergasted.

India U-16 Team will face Malaysia again on Thursday (July 26, 2018).

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Ticket sales to commence this month

(Image: Facebook)

In a press release sent by AFC today, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Local Organising Committee have confirmed that tickets for Asia’s most prestigious tournament will go on sale on Monday, July 30, 2018.

As the excitement builds to the most eagerly-anticipated spectacle for football fans in the Continent, AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John was joined by H.E. Aref Hamed Al Awani, AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee at the AFC House in the Malaysian capital, where they held a giant replica ticket to showcase the biggest sporting event ever hosted in the UAE.

Speaking about the development, the AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The UAE has a proven track record of delivering world class sporting events to the highest level and we have been impressed with the progress made by the UAE Local Organising Committee as we enter the final preparations for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.

Further, he added, “The AFC, along with the LOC are fully committed towards providing the ultimate stage to showcase the undeniable talent in Asia. I am confident that by Bringing Asia Together, our teams, players and ultimately our passionate fans will experience a tournament of a lifetime.”

The LOC officials were in Kuala Lumpur to discuss and update the AFC on the preparations and operational readiness of the tournament as the UAE gets set to welcome fans from across Asia and the rest of the world in January 2019.

Beyond ticketing, special attention was dedicated to highlight the exceptional efforts undertaken by the LOC, ranging from upgrades and refurbishments to all eight venues, to welcome Asia’s best national teams and fans from 24 countries – the largest-ever in the tournament’s proud history – from January 5 to February 1, 2019.

The LOC has significantly enhanced their fan engagement efforts and earlier this month, embarked on a campaign aimed at nurturing budding talents by offering a plethora of unique experiences to get involved in the most thrilling football tournament in Asia.

Working with schools, colleges, universities and football academies, the Playmakers programme and Home Team project have been well-received and continue to gain strong momentum. Meanwhile, the upcoming mobile roadshow, schools programme and extensive volunteer initiative will further strengthen the LOC’s efforts to excite and engage with communities across the UAE and the rest of Asia.

His Excellency Aref Hamed Al Awani, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee said: “Today starts the 7-day countdown to the much-anticipated release of tickets for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. This tournament will be open, safe, accessible, affordable and welcoming to all, from travelling fans to multi-cultural communities and families living in the UAE.”

(Image: AFC)

Football U16: India lose 1-2 against Thailand

(Image: Facebook)

India went down 1-2 against the U-16 National Team today, currently on an exposure tour in Thailand.

India drew early blood in the match when Vikram Pratap Singh beat the off-side trap to slot home in the 18th minute. But the hosts scored two in the second half, the match-winner coming as late as the 89th minute.

The result, in fact, is reminiscent of the last match played between the two teams in China earlier this month when the Indian colts had conceded two in the last three minutes to go down 1-3.

It was however, the Indians attacked from the opening minutes and as early as the second minute, they pressed on to the opposition goal, only to be denied by the defence line. In the 9th minute, an Indian free-kick was saved by the Thai custodian.

In the 18th minute, the Indian Colts surged ahead into the lead when Vikram Pratap Singh capitalized on a through ball by Givson and slotted it past the Thai custodian with ease to give India the lead.

After stunning the Thai opponents the Indian colts enjoyed a healthy share of possession but despite getting into favourable positions, they failed to capitalise on the lead.

In the 28thminute Vikram’s shot off a Shabas cross was easily saved by the Thai goalkeeper.

Although Thailand attacked and threatened the Indian defence line, the colts stood firm and saw out rare shots from distance. The half-time score-line read 1-0 in India’s favour.

The second half started on a slow note but Thailand had better of the exchanges and almost found the net in the 51st minute but were denied by the Biaka, the Indian custodian.

In the 68th minute, the Thai opponents restored parity, heading it in off a corner.

In the 80th minute, the Indian colts upped the ante. Givson’s shot earned a save from the Thai custodian and shortly after Gurkirat shot wide of goal as the Indians pressed to regain the lead. In the 82nd minute, substitute Rohit Danu shot over the bar from inside the box.

But Thailand, much against the run of play managed to score the winner in the 89th minute.

The Indian U-16 National Team next travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to play the Malaysian U-16 National Team in two friendly matches, the first of which is slated for July 23, 2018.

India to play International Friendly against China

(Image: AIFF)

India will travel to Beijing to play against China during the October 8-16, 2018 FIFA window. The Indian National Team is currently ranked 97th, as per June FIFA Rankings while China is ranked 75th.

The exact date for the Friendly will be decided in coming days, AIFF has proposed Saturday, October 13, 2018, as the match day. All India Football Federation confirms its senior National team’s participation in the scheduled FIFA October 2018 window for an International Friendly against China.

India and China historically have each other faced 17 times, all on Indian soil — the last being 21 years ago for the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997. However, recently, the India U-16 National team visited China for an invitational four-nation tournament which also included U-16 Thailand and U-16 DPR Korea.

The match will have huge importance as it will set the pace for India’s preparatory process for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup (January 2019) in UAE.

Terming the occasion as ‘historic,’ All India Football Federation General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das commented: “China and India are today being seen as the two fastest emerging football markets, globally. We are happy to have come to the conclusion of our month-long discussion with the Chinese FA, and I thank our marketing partners FSDL for their involvement and cooperation.”

“The opportunity presents us with an opportunity not just break the two-decade deadlock, but also provides us with a chance to revive the neighbouring rivalry,” he added.

For the record, India are yet to win a match against China. Off the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while rest 5 were drawn. However, the Indian National Team has been on an upsurge over the last couple of years, maintaining an unbeaten run of 12 official matches for a span which extended from June 2016 to November 2017.

National Coach Stephen Constantine expressed satisfaction over AIFF’s efforts in scheduling the away tie against China and stated that the team needs to prepare in the best possible fashion for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

“With an eye on the preparation for the Asian Cup, as a coach, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than an opponent like China. I am sure the boys will make the best of the opportunity presented to us and look forward to test ourselves ahead of the AFC competition.”

BRICS U-17 Football: India lose 1-3 to Russia

(Image: AIFF)

The Indian U-17 Women’s National Team lost 1-3 to Russia in the BRICS U-17 Football Tournament today (July 19, 2018) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Coming on the back of a 1-5 loss against the hosts South Africa, the Indian eves took an early lead through Soumya Guguloth in the 6th minute but Russia came back strong and ran out eventual winners scoring three goals in the remaining time.

After Soumya had put India ahead in the 6th minute as she slotted home from a cross, the opponents did little wait and in the 9th minute equalized proceedings.

Samiksha’s effort in the 17th minute earned a decent save from the opposition goalkeeper but Russia doubled their lead in the 28th minute as the scoreline read 1-2. The opponents led at half-time.

Changing over, the Indian eves showed vigour in attacking but the momentum was cut short once again when Russia found the net in the 62nd minute to double their lead as the scoreline read 1-3.

In the 77th minute, Samiksha rattled the woodwork after her fierce free-kick left the opposition custodian bewildered. The Indian eves pressed to minimize their deficit but could only hit the woodwork in the dying embers of the match. The full-time scoreline read 1-3 in Russia’s favour.

The Indian U-17 Women’s National Team faces Brazil next on July 21, 2018.