Author: India Footy

Minerva Punjab awarded for Grassroots football development at FICCI GOAL 2019

NEW DELHI: The FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) along with the AIFF (All India Football Federation) on 26th March 2019 organised GOAL 2019, the 6th International Convention on Business of Football in Federation House, Tansen Marg, New Delhi. Mr. Subrata Dutta (Senior Vice President); Smt. Sara Pilot (Chairperson, Women’s Football Committee) and Mr. Sunando Dhar (CEO of Hero I-League) represented AIFF at the convention, while Mr. Rohit Bharadwaj, Director of Sports of Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports from Government of India was also present.

Minerva Punjab FC were awarded for “Contribution for Developing Football at the Grassroots Level” at the opening ceremony. 

Minerva Punjab FC were chosen for the award ahead of all other clubs and academies in the country, due to Minerva’s laudable efforts to develop football at a regional and grassroots level. Minerva Punjab FC have been Champions of the AIFF U-15 I-League for the last three consecutive years. Minerva also won the inaugural AIFF U-13 League held last year and this season have already claimed the AIFF U-18 League trophy. 

Apart from the impressive win record of Minerva Punjab FC, Minerva also has the unique contribution of having supplied more than 50 players in various age group National teams directly from its residential football academy in Mohali.

Mr. Robert Klein, the CEO of Bundesliga awarded Minerva Punjab FC for their Valuable Contribution for Developing Football at the Grassroots Level. Mr. Ranjit Bajaj, the Owner of the club received the award on club’s behalf. “I am really happy that Minerva Punjab FC is being recognised for all the work we are doing to develop football at a regional level. We are devoted towards fulfilling our mission to produce players for the National Teams and this award comes as a great encouragement to us to carry on despite the obstacles.”

After the Awards ceremony the convention kicked off with a session on regional and national impact of the leagues (ISL and I-League) in the development of Indian Football. Mr. Ranjit Bajaj represented the only I-League club on the panel, Minerva Punjab FC and shared his perspective from the point of view of an I-League club owner. Mr. Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League; Mr. Mandar Tamhane, CTO, Bengaluru FC; Mr. Indranil Das Blah, CEO, Mumbai City FC and Mr. Viren D’Silva, CEO, Kerala Blasters FC were also on the panel for the session. The discussion progressed from India’s 2026 World Cup hopes, the impact of the leagues in creating talent pool for the future and how the leagues have benefited the football ecosystem in the country. 

Early advantage for Indian women as they land in Myanmar

NEW DELHI: Riding on the success of their fifth consecutive SAFF Championship triumph, the Indian Senior Women’s National Team landed in Maldalay, Myanmar today (March 26, 2019) for the forthcoming AFC Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 which kicks-off from April 3, 2019.

The Indian women have been clubbed with hosts Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia in Group B.

“Arriving 8 days in advance for the Olympic Qualifiers will help us to acclimatize faster. It’s an early advantage which we need to cash upon, Head Coach Maymol Rocky stressed. “If you look at bigger tournaments, teams always arrive early.”

“It usually takes two to three days for a player to fully acclimatize to a new set-up. We are confident that we shall be cent percent ready for the first match, despite the hot, and humid weather,” Maymol maintained.

Maymol added: “The temperatures in Biratnagar during the SAFF Championship served as a warm-up in this regard as well. The girls responded well to the conditions, and I am sure they will adapt in Myanmar too.”

The Indian women are currently unbeaten in the last 23 matches at the SAFF Championship, and have headed to the AFC Qualifiers with an experience of 14 International matches since January 2019.

“In fact, International Football is not just about the weather,” Maymol stated. “Arriving early will help us to get a feel of the training pitches, and also the venues. Along with the physical part, it is important getready mentally. After all, switching to new surroundings can sometimes take time.”

India kick-off their campaign against Indonesia on April 3. The last time the two teams played in Jakarta in January, India had won both the matches.

“Important to do our home-work and produce a strong performance,” says Delhi Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer

New Delhi, 25 March 2019: After starting their IPL 2019 season with an exhilarating victory against the Mumbai Indians, JSW and GMR co-owned franchise, Delhi Capitals will look to start their home leg of fixtures with an another win when they take on defending champions Chennai Super Kings at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Tuesday, 26th March 2019.

Delhi Capitals’ middle-order batsman, Colin Ingram, who scored a blistering 47 off 32 balls against the Mumbai side, believes that the victory in their opening match will only further help in boosting the confidence levels of his team. He said, “It was a fantastic game for us. I feel we were up to the mark in all the three departments. There are obviously areas where we will need to work on and losing early wickets is definitely one of them. However, we did have good partnerships also and I am glad that the boys down the order could also join the party after Shikhar (Dhawan) and I set up the innings.”

Speaking about Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten innings of 78 off just 27 balls, Ingram said that it is great sign for the Delhi Capitals that the young Indian wicketkeeper-batsman is in good form. “It was a special knock by him against the Mumbai Indians. Last year I watched him from back home and he was in good form then as well. It’s a great sign for us that he is in good form, he is a match-winner on his day and it’s going to help in the coming matches,” said the South African.

Captain Shreyas Iyer could only manage 16 runs off 10 balls but looked in good nick during his short innings. However, the 24-year-old is pleased with the way his team performed and wants to repeat the performance on Tuesday against CSK. “I feel it was a great match against Mumbai but we are looking forward to Tuesday where we will have another chance to build some confidence as we play the defending champions. It will obviously be a competitive match, but we need to make sure that we rest well, and prepare in the best way possible. CSK has a lot of experienced players in their side, and we saw how they beat RCB in their first match, so we will be doing our home-work and looking to produce a great performance in front of our fans at the Kotla,” said Iyer.

Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings have previously faced each-other 18 times in the IPL and it is CSK who lead with 12 wins, while the Capitals have only won 6 matches. With CSK having won their opening match convincingly against RCB by 7 wickets, Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium is expected to host a fierce battle between the two teams on Tuesday.

India bow out of AFC U-23 Championships qualifiers

TASHKENT: The Indian U-23 National Team ended their AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers campaign with a 2-0 loss to Tajikistan in their second match of the group stage at the Pakhtakor stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan today (March 24, 2019).

Daler Yodgorov’s 30th minute strike and Solehov’s 85th minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides as India succumbed to their second defeat of the qualifying campaign ending without a point out of a maximum six.

The opponents had mounted a barrage of attacks in the early minutes of the match, trying to unsettle the Indian defence but some astute goalkeeping by Dheeraj Singh kept them at bay. In the 10th minute, the custodian made a fine save to deny the opponents an early breakthrough.

India could have surged ahead into lead in the 12th minute but Sarthak Golui’s header off a Komal Thatal free-kick failed to find the net, leaving the Tajik goalkeeper to scramble to clear his lines; courtesy of an onrushing Anwar Ali in pursuit of the rebound.

After a nervy start, the Indian team found themselves some bright spots and in the 27th minute, Rahim Ali found Komal Thatal inside the box. With defenders closing in, Komal could only launch the ball over the woodwork in an attempt to give India the lead.

India’s attacking momentum was short-lived as Tajikistan took the lead in the 30th minute with Daler finding the back of the India net from inside the box.

Attempting to find the equalizer before half-time, Rahim Ali went on a run down the middle and found Anirudh Thapa, whose shot was blocked by the Tajik defence line.

The urgency for the equalizer for India kept them on their toes and soon after the second half re-started, India cajoled an opportunity in the 48th minute. Rahim Ali brought the ball down inside the box and passed it to an onrushing Abdul Sahal, who failed to hit the target from outside the box.

Restricting the opponents in the half for much of the second half, India had a chance in the 60th minute and once again it fell to Sarthak Golui, who this time headed wide from a Vinit Rai free-kick.

India tried to keep Tajikistan on the defence and score the equalizer but could not find the decisive goal. Tajikistan held on to their slender lead and committed bodies in defence. The opponents scored through Solehov in the 85th minute and saw out the match as the full-time scoreline read 2-0 in their favour. 

Indian women’s football team better than men’s, says Sunil Chhetr

NEW DELHI: All India Football Federation General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das congratulated the Indian Senior Women’s National Team in a meet and greet session at the Capital on Saturday evening (March 23, 2019) after the Indian women beat Nepal 3-1 in the final to retain the SAFF Championship for the 5thconsecutive time.

Ms. Swati Kothari, General Manager, AIFF was also present on the occasion.

“Congratulations to all of you. Well done,” Mr. Das said. “There has been a definite improvement in the manner the women’s team has been playing. Good luck for the Olympic qualifiers (round 2). We feel, that you can achieve it, and move to the next round,” he stated.

The girls were also in for a major surprise when Padma Shri Sunil Chhetri was live with them via a video conference.

“Extremely proud of all of you,” Chhetri declared. “I have always maintained that the women’s team is much better than the men,” Chhetri expressed, much to the applause of the entire squad.

“Go there, and give your best in Myanmar. I have been keeping a track of all of you playing. Keep up the good work,” Chhetri, who had scored India’s match-winner against Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in Yangon, wished.

AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel also congratulated the women’s team on the success.

Congratulations to our women’s football team for winning the #SAFF Championship. You have once again proved that you are the true champions. Keep up the good work and add many feathers of success to your crown. Best wishes!’ he tweeted from his personal account @praful_patel.

The girls came back recently from Nepal winning the SAFF Senior Women’s Championship for the fifth consecutive time, and in the process stay unbeaten in 23 matches in the Championship.

“Great job. Extremely proud,” Chhetri gave a thumbs up.

Mr. Das reiterated that “qualifying from Round 2 of the Olympic qualifiers will be a big thing for Indian Football.”

“We are on the right track. The AIFF will continue to support and help. We intend to be a force to reckon with in Asian Football soon. The journey has just started,” Mr. Das expressed.

Head Coach Maymol Rocky thanked all for the “exposure tours.”

“We are heading into the round 2 of the Olympic qualifiers with an experience of 14 International matches. I never doubted the quality and commitment of my players. We are a young team, and all credit goes to the girls,” she stated.

Dalima Chibber who scored off a free-kick in the final, and was adjudged as the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in the SAFF Championship, explained that she has “improved as a player in the last 4 months.”

“I feel everyone in the team will agree that we have improved as players since the time we assembled in December in Odisha. The exposure tour in Turkey helped us immensely,” Dalima informed.

India have been clubbed with hosts Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia in the round 2 of the Olympic qualifiers which kick-off in Mandalay. The first match against Indonesia is slated for April 3.

Indian womens beat Nepal to clinch fifth straight SAFF title

BIRATNAGAR (NEPAL): India continued its dominance at the SAFF Women’s Championship with the team lifting its fifth straight title on Friday (March 22, 2019) in Biratnagar, Nepal with a 3-1 win over the hosts in the final.

The win extends India’s unbeaten run in the tournament’s history to 23 games as goals from Dalima Chhibber, Grace Dangmei and substitute Anju Tamang saw India lift the trophy in front of a partisan crowd at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium.

The pace of the match was intense from the word go, with both sides pressing hard from the first whistle. Grace Dangmei fashioned a couple of early chances down the right wing for India while Nepal registered a couple of shots from distance, with Manjali Kumar testing Indian custodian Aditi Chauhan in the 14th minute.

Just three minutes later, after some excellent build-up play down the right, Sandhiya laid off a ball for Sanju to shoot from the top of the box. The winger’s effort was a powerful one but was saved by the opposition keeper. On the other end, Sabitra Bhandari posed a threat for India inside the penalty area but her curling effort was off target.

In the semifinal against Bangladesh, it was Dalima who opened the scoring for India and this time around too, it was the right-back who gave India the advantage. In the 26th minute, she smashed the ball the past the keeper from a free-kick from 30 yards with a powerful drive and put the defending champions into a 1-0 lead.

Ratanbala Devi could have added a second goal six minutes later but her shot from distance from saved by the Nepal goalie. In the 34th minute though, Sabitra equalized for the hosts as she rose high above her marker and headed the ball into the back of the net.

The break saw both sides go locked at a goal apiece but it could have easily been either team with the lead. Grace failed to connect well with a cross from Sanju down the left in the 41st minute and Aditi made a brilliant double save to deny Sabitra in first half stoppage time.

The second half began with India creating the majority of the opportunities, with Sanju and Ratanbala putting their respective efforts just over the bar. Nepal were under the cosh and India’s pressure paid off in the 63th minute after Sanju put Grace through on goal with a delightful through ball.

The winger swiftly broke through and showing great composure, she rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home to restore India’s advantage. It proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as the away side continued to keep the Nepal side at bay and almost added another as Ratanbala’s shot wasspilled by the keeper.

Coach Maymol Rocky brought on Anju Tamang in place of Sandhiya midway through the second half at the top of the pitch and in the 78th minute, the move paid rich dividends as she slammed the ball on the volley for India’s third after a crafty first-time assist from Indumathi Kathiresan.

Towards the end, Nepal threw the kitchen sink at the Indian defence but they refused to bow down and stood firm. Sabitra and Renuka Nagarkote threatened to halve the deficit but could not get past Aditi in goal as India romped to a fifth SAFF trophy in a row. 

India Starting XI: Aditi Chauhan (GK); Jabamani Tudu, Sweety Devi (Ranjana Chanu 90′), Ashalata Devi, Dalima Chhibber; Indumathi Kathiresan, Sangita Basfore, Ratanbala Devi; Sanju, Dangmei Grace, Sandhiya Ranganathan (Anju Tamang 64′).

India lose to Uzbekistan in AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers opener

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN: India suffered a 0-3 loss at the hands of defending champions Uzbekistan in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Friday, March 22. 

Uzbek captain Islomjon Kobilov put the home team in front via a first-half penalty, before second-halfsubstitute Bobir Abdixolikov netted twice in the last 10 minutes to take the game away from the Blue Tigers. 

India started creating chances early on, as Rahul KP was played through on the flank by Anwar Ali. The Keralite attacker put in a cross, but Daniel could not connect with it in time. 

However, Uzbekistan started pressing high up the pitch after the initial exchanges, and they got a good chance around the half-hour mark when Alijanov Ilkhomjon was played through inside the six-yard-box by Amonov Azizbek, but Vinit Rai stepped in with the crucial block. 

Uzbekistan laid the proverbial siege on the Indian third ahead of the half time break, but the Indian defence held on for dear life, with Anwar Ali making some brave interceptions deep inside the penalty area. 

Their efforts finally paid off in injury time of the first half, when Uzbekistan were awarded a penalty. Uzbek captain Islomjon Kobilov made no mistake, as he slotted it into the bottom corner to put the home side in the lead. 

That game wind in the Uzbek sails and the home side came out with more attacking intent in the second half. Chances were at a premium for India, and Daniel had another opportunity to score, when substitute Komal Thatal, who had come on for Rahul KP, crossed it towards him. However, Daniel could not get onto the end of the cross, and the chance went begging. 

India centreback Gaurav Bora dug out a couple of important interceptions in the second half, helping out goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, who was caught off his line, but Bobir Abdixolikov eventually doubled the lead with a little over 10 minutes of regulation time left. 

Five minutes later, Abdixolikov made it 3-0 for the home side, ending Indian hopes of a comeback. KomalThatal lit up the eyes of the Indian fans with a jinking run from the left wing, as he cut inside and let one rip, but his shot thudded off the woodwork. 

India are set to play their final qualifier against Tajikistan on Sunday, March 24.

I-League 2018/19: Mohun Bagan steam past Shillong Lajong

Kolkata, December 23, 2018 :  Kolkata giants and former champions Mohun Bagan, displayed a thoroughly professional performance at home to notch up a victory against bottom placed Shillong Lajong, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday. Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki opened the scoring for the home-team just two minutes into the second half and Ugandan front man Henry Kisekka added a second in the 60th minute to seal three points for the ‘Green and Maroon’ brigade.

With this first home win of the 12th Hero I-League season, Bagan move up to fifth on the table, level on points with third and fourth placed Quess East Bengal and Neroca FC respectively, two behind second placed Real Kashmir and three behind league leaders Chennai City FC.

Shillong remain in last position after suffering their seventh loss in nine games.

Mohun Bagan made one change in their lineup as Eze Kingsley came back in defence after serving his suspension, in place of Gurjinder Kumar. While Alison Kharsyntiew, the Shillong gaffer, made three changes to his previous starting eleven. Key among them being Purbha Lachempa back under the Shillong bar in place of Neithovilie Chalieu.

Mohun Bagan dominated the first half and had around nine shots at goal to two for the visitors but could not get the breakthrough.

Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka got the first clear cut chance of the half in the 16th minute, when he chested down a cross from the left and shot for goal but Purbha Lachempa in the Shillong goal brought about a brilliant save.

Apart from Dicka, Kiseeka and Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny were also guilty of missing gilt-edged opportunities in the half.

Bagan took the lead immediately on commencement of the second half.

Two minutes into the half, Kisekka it was who started the build up from the left, passing to an overlapping Abhishek Ambekar further wide.

The diminutive left wing-back’s cross was cleared by the Shillong defence but only till the path of a lurking Yuta Kinowaki outside the box.  The Japanese curled in a right-footer first time and it crashed into the back of the Lajong net, beating Lachempa all ends up this time.

It was a classy strike and Yuta’s first of the campaign.

Sankar Roy, the Bagan keeper, then brought about the save of the game six minutes late when a Samuel Lyngdoh effort from inside the box with the goalkeeper out of position and an empty net in front of him, was miraculously kept out by the Bagan keeper.

Bagan doubled their lead in the 60th minute through Henry Kisekka’s third of the campaign.

It was veteran midfielder Mehtab Hussain, who had come on in the first half for an injured Sourav Das, with the long ball into the box this time which was cleared by Lachempa.

Faiaz was first to the second ball and chested it down towards the path of Dicka on the left. Dicka took a goal bound strike but it deflected multiple times of the Shillong defence and eventually Kisekka muscled it into the Lajong net with his boot.

I-League 2018/19: East Bengal claim Kolkata Derby bragging rights

Kolkata, December 16, 2018: A brace by Hero of the Match Laldanmawia Ralte and striker Jobby Justin’s fifth goal in the 12th Hero I-League campaign helped Quess East Bengal (QEB) halt Mohun Bagan’s seven-game unbeaten run in the famous ‘Kolkata Derby played between the two Kolkata giants at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday.

Mohun Bagan scored twice through Azharuddin Mallick and Dipanda Dicka, but it was not enough in an exhilarating Derby which lived up to its high standards in front of 64,867 fans.

The win takes QEB up to fifth on the table with 12 points from seven games, while Mohun Bagan remain on eighth with nine points from as many games.

Red and Golds coach Alejandro Garcia made two changes to his starting line-up from the last game, one of them forced. Mexican Enrique Esqueda missed out due to injury and was replaced by Colombian recruit Jaime Santos Colado, while Costa Rican Jhonny Acosta regained his place in the eleven in place of Salam Ranjan Singh.

Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty made the exact same number of changes and ironically also was forced into replacing an injured Sony Norde with youngster Azharduddin Mallick, while Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka was back to lead the attack with Pintu Mahata also out injured.

QEB tried to dominate proceedings from the get-go with Jaimie Colado and Jobby Justin pleasing with their movements.

However, Mohun Bagan struck first on the 13th minute, when Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny took out QEB right back Lalram Chullova with a neat body fient and cut inside the box from the left to unleash a pinpoint cross for Azhar to slot home.

QEB struck back within four minutes as left-back Manoj Mohammad sent a perfectly engineered cross towards Jobby, who beautifully played it through to Danmawia, who beat the offside trap and goalkeeper Shankar Roy in the Bagan goal.

Just before half-time, QEB took the lead, this time through a clinical back-volley finish by Jobby himself, with the same two teammates involved, only this time, Manoj’s cross from the left flank was laid off to Jobby’s path by Ralte.

Sankarlal had brought on Faiaz in place of Azhar, just before the break and Mohun Bagan began on the offensive in the second half looking for an equaliser, mainly through his runs down the right.

Then, around the 60-minute mark, Eze Kingsley, the Bagan centre-back, was sent off due to a second yellow card offence. From the resultant Lalrindika Ralte free-kick, Laldanmawia connected with his head and the ball came back to him off the Bagan defence. He made no mistake in the second attempt, this time his foot exactly in the right place to bulge the roof of the Bagan net. The Red and Golds were 3-1 up and Bagan a man down.

Credit needs to be given to Bagan for the way they mounted a fightback with 10 men after that, with most of the attacks being initiated by Arijit Bagui and Faiaz from the right flank.

In between, Jobby missed a sitter on a counter attack, but Bagan did manage a consolation goal for their efforts, when a Bagui cross in the 75th minute was cleared by Borja, but it only found its way till Dika on top of the box.

The Cameroonian striker unleashed a powerful half-volley which thundered into the QEB net, beating Rakshit Dagar all ends up.

Mohun Bagan continued to step up efforts to draw level, but East Bengal managed to hold on to their lead to pull off the victory.

Ethiopians Legese, Kuma sweep TSK 25Ks fifth edition; Sable, Surya defend titles in Indian elites

Kolkata, Dec 16: In what emerged as a double for Ethiopia, Birhanu Legese and Dibaba Kuma braced glory in the Elite 25K men’s and women’s categories respectively, even as Avinash Sable and L Surya kept the Indian flag fluttering in the fifth edition of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K. The race also witnessed 14,734 people run on a nippy winter morning as TSK 25K celebrated Vijay Diwas today.

It was a riot of sight, sound and colours at the TSK 25K with people across the board came to the starting line to make the celebration of Vijay Diwas truly meaningful. In each step there was pride, in each leap a faith of beaching a distance and every spring a promise of a healthy tomorrow.

And in their mix the elite athletes were playing an intriguing move on the chess board spread across the iconic locales of the city, as they ran a game of check and balance. Legese, Bayelign, Kiptanui and Kipruto kept a tight pack till the last hair pin at 20 Km mark.

Without pacemakers, a large group that included several of the Indian elite runners went through 5km in a relatively sedate 15:37 with Uganda’s Robert Chemonges and Tanzania’s Augustino Sulle doing most of the work at the front in the early stages of the race. The pace increased slightly over the next five kms but a group of nine were still together as 10Km was reached in 30:35; and then slowed again as 15km was passed 45:57, allowing the leading group to increase to 11.

The next five kms saw just three men shaken off with the 20km split reading 1:01:04. However, if the winning time was now never going to match Kenenisa Bekele’s course record of 1:13:48 from 12 months ago, it did ensure a thrilling finish and that’s what the thousands lining the route of the world’s only IAAF Label Road Race over 25km were able to witness.

With two km remaining, the two-time Airtel Delhi Half Marathon winner Legese put in a surge which splintered the leading group. His teenage compatriot Bayelign Yegsaw was the only man to follow closely as the rest struggled to stay with the leading pair.

One-by-one the remaining runners dropped away before Legese found another gear over the final 400 metres to fend off Yegsaw, who doesn’t turn 19 until next February and will possibly start as the favourite for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships U20 title next March.

Legese finished first with a timing of 1:15:48, while fellow countrymen Bayelign Yegsaw finished with a timing of 1:15:49. In the third position was Kenyian Amos Kipruto clocking 1:15:52.    

Of course the run fell way short of the world’s best set by Dennis Kimetto (1:11:18) in 2012 and course record set here last year by Keninisa Bekele of 1:13:48.

Legese Birhanu said: “The race was very good. I am very happy as the weather was good and place to run was also good. I decided to change gears in the last one kilometer, in the last 500 mts I increased my pace and sealed the affair.”

Second spot winner Amos said: “Thank you for welcoming me in Tata Steel Kolkata 25K and I am so happy. The weather was good, the race was good. I had a feeling I will have a podium finish. I have used myself well to be on top three. This race success is giving me moral for Tokyo Marathon 2019. This race was my training before going to Tokyo.”

The women’s race was pretty even Stevens till the last lap with the Indian elites running toe to toe with their International competitors. In fact at the 10K mark Surya led the pack while in the 15K mark she was just behind the eventual winner Kuma. However, in the last five kilometers the African runners showed their pedigree as distance runners switching gears and taking the pole position with relative ease.  

In the elite women it was a shock surprise with defending champion Degitu Azimeraw coming a distant fourth. The race was won by Ethiopean Dibaba Kuma with a timing of 1:27:34, followed by her country mate Ftaw Zeray 1:27:38 and Failuna Matanga of Tanzania clocking 1:27:45.  Actually Degitu clocked a timing of 1:26:01 last year to set a course record, but was 1:50 min slower this time round.

Dibaba said: “I am very happy with this win. After running a marathon in October I took rest for one week and then I practiced, came here and won this race.”

The Elite International athletes go home richer by USD 7,500 each, while the elite Indian winners pocket a purse of Rs 2,75,000 each.   

In the Indian segment the top three spots were taken by Avinash Sable (1:17:11), steeplechaser Srinu Bugatha (1;17:18) and Abhishek Pal (1:18:26), with Sable easily defending his title without breaking much sweat. In the women’s segment L Suryia defended her title with a timing of 1:28:29, followed by Sudha Singh 1:29:11 and Parul Chaudhury 1:30:18. The three Indian women also hogged the top 10 positions.  

Sable later said: “I am feeling very happy. I won the race last year and was determined to do good this year also. This year I practiced well and the organisation was very good. The international runners are very good. Their technique, the way they change their pace is very good. If we get more chance like this to run with international runners, our standard will go up.”

“I practiced well and ran the first 19 km with the international runners. They were running slow and my pace was fast. I decided not to follow them. I wanted to clock time and come overall third,” Surya said after defending her title.

Event Brand Ambassador Sourav Ganguly said; “I am associated with TSK 25K for four years. I absolutely  loved to see around 15000 people run. It has grown every year and now in its international avatar it’s one of the best run at this distance. I am a big advocate for running. It has been a way of my life. I am really proud to see the city embrace running to this extent.”

Talking about his experience, International Brand Ambassador Greg Louganis said: “My experience in Kolkata has been so incredible. There are so much incredible dishes eat, such a milieu of colours sight and sound. I don’t want to miss anything. If I can stay here for few more days that would have been great. The people here are very generous and kind. To be here in the TSK 25K, my focus is to help others. Its wonderful to see whole community coming together and it does not matter race, gender anything.”

TSK 25K only in its second year in international avatar has already become a destination for the distance runners from world over. But the icing on the cake is the way the city has opened up its arms to the race and become a brand ambassador for running in the East.

Following are the final results:

Overall Athlete Men

Birhanu Legese (ETH) 1:15:48; Bayelign Yegsaw (ETH) 1:15:49; Amos Kipruto (KEN) 1:15:52; Eric Kiptanui (KEN) 1:15:52; Robert Chemonges (UGANDA) 1:16:01.

Overall Athlete Women

Dibaba Kuma (ETH) 1:27:34; Ftaw Zeray (ETH) 1:27:38; Failuna Matanga (TAN) 1:27:45; Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 1:27:51; Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 1:27:57.

Overall Indian Athlete Men

Avinash Sable (IND) 1:17:11; Srinu Bugatha (IND) 1:17:18; Abhishek Pal (IND) 1:18:26; Durga Bahadur (IND) 1:18:28; Shankar Man Thapa (IND) 1:19:34.

Overall Indian Athlete Women

L. Suriya L (IND) 1:28:29; Sudha Singh (IND) 1:29:11; Parul Chaudhary (IND) 1:30:18; Manju Yadav (IND) 1:39:26; Kiran Sahdev (IND) 1:39:29.

Run in Costume

Group Winners:

Little Big Help India Trust (Safe Drive Save Life); Srimad Rajchandra Mission (Transforming the world through Love & Care).

Individual Winners:

Zeenat Khatoon (Beti Bachao); Moumita Mali (Save Earth).

Vijay Diwas Trophy

Indian Army Team 1 (Mohit Rathore, Mukesh Bandhari, Deepak Singh Rawat) 4:06:35; Indian Army Team 3 (Jagdish Mahar, Sandeep Singh Chouhan, Vikash Kumar) 4:15:37; Indian Army Team 2 (K H Roshan Singh, Bhupendra Singh Rawat, Neeraj Singh Kunwar) 4:16:53.

Police Cup

Team 1(Manas Das, Laxman Chandra Roy, Bachhu Durlav) 1:54:49; Team 12 (Joydev Dey; Panchanan Datta; Panchananda Ghosh) 1:56:14); Team 11 (Wazed Ali, Sandip Dutta, Achong Abel Rongong Lepcha) 2:02:00.

Open 10k-Age Categories Winners:

Male:

15 to 24 years: Santosh Yadav (0:32:19), Manish Yadav (0:33:11), Vijay Prakash (0:33:38)

25 to 34 years: Murali M (0:34:04), Gaurav Singh (0:36:06), Naresh Kumar (0:36:14)

35 to 44 years: Uday Das (0:39:07), Dipak Sinha (0:43:46), Sagar Mukhia (0:44:45)

45 to 54 years: Samrat Gupta (0:40:51), Surajit Biswas (0:41:23), Sukram Laguri (0:44:45)

55 to 64 years: Anil Mahata (0:43:19), Aswini Kumar Panja (0:47:15), Manikumar Sarkar (0:48:12)

65 years and above: Bir Bahadur Limbu (0:52:44), Arun Singh (0:56:47), Dulal Ahiri (0:57:19)

Female:

15 to 24 years: Puja Mandal (0:37:15), Tashi Ladol (0:40:45), Devika Srikanth (0:43:45)

25 to 34 years: Rakhi Majumdar (0:54:05), Lalita Kumari (0:54:37), Sujata Palit (0:57:32)

35 to 44 years female: Sonal Paul (0:51:37), Vani Acharya (0:53:38), Debdatta Chowdhury (0:55:12)

45 to 54 years: Vaishali Kasture (0:46:41), Sunmbul Rahman (0:49: 48), Shruti Kothari Vadera (1:00:47)

55 to 64 years: Kajal Rai (1:06:33), Rebecca Burkholder (1:10:54), Vandana Roy (1:19:46)

65 years and above: Jonaki Mitra (1:33:20)