Category: Indian Super League

AFC Competitions Committee’s decision published regarding ISL and I-League

Following a recommendation from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Competitions Committee gave special dispensation for the Indian Super League (ISL) which will be played simultaneously with the I-League for six or seven months in 2017 and 2018 as a temporary short-term ‘bridging solution’.

AIFF’s recommendation to the AFC was that the ISL will replace the Federation Cup, whose winner is currently allocated an AFC Champions League Play-Off place AFC  Cup preliminary stage place.

Therefore, the Committee approved that the I-League champions will play in the AFC Champions League Play-off round and the ISL Champions will play in the AFC Cup preliminary stage – as long as all clubs adhere to the AFC rules and regulations, particularly club licensing, from 2018.

The situation will be reviewed on a yearly basis with conditions which, in addition to adherence to club licensing regulations, include promotion, production, a player allocation system and the following of the Road Map agreed between the AFC and Indian football stakeholders at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on June 7, 2017.

Bengaluru FC to train in Spain ahead of AFC Cup clash

Bengaluru: A new-look Bengaluru FC side will kick off their pre-season training this week in the city before heading to Spain early next month for a 10-day training camp. The Blues will train at the state-of-the-art facilities at Pinatar Arena in Murcia during their stay in the Mediterranean region. Having finalized their squad on Sunday at the ISL Draft, Bengaluru FC Head Coach Albert Roca will now have an eye on the crucial AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semifinal against North Korean side April 25 SC as he prepares his squad for the first leg at home onAugust 23.

“The facilities at Pinatar Arena are top-class and I thank the management for providing us with this opportunity. The arena will provide us with everything we need to get up and running as fast as possible. Among all the other ISL teams, we’ll be in action first in the AFC Cup and it’s important that we utilize this time well so that our team settles in quickly. While we have managed to retain the core of our team, there are a lot of new signings which means that we need to put in that extra effort in pre-season to gel as a unit,” explained Roca.

During their stay, the Blues are set to face Spanish Segunda-B Division side UCAM Murcia CF (August 9) and 2016-17 UAE Pro League side Baniyas S&R(August 15) in friendly games.

The Blues base – the Pinatar Arena – boasts of six natural grass (Bermuda and ray grass) floodlit football pitches at FIFA standards with special areas designated for goalkeepers and a stadium with a capacity of 3,500 spectators that hosts friendlies and tournaments. The Arena also has top-class fitness centers with all the latest equipment from health and fitness innovators.

While the facility recently hosted an U21 tournament between national teams of Australia, Austria, Finland and Netherlands, they have regularly hosted training camps of top-flight clubs from all over Europe. A few of them include, German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund and FC Kaiserslautern, Spanish sides Levante UD and UD Almeria, Russian powerhouses CSKA Moscow and FC Zenit apart from Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea), FC Twente (Netherlands), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine).

This will be the second time the Blues travel abroad for a pre-season training camp having earlier visited China at the start of the 2014-15 season. Back then, the Blues faced off against Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Guangzhou R&F FC (0-3) from the Chinese Super League and Hong Kong Premier League’s Eastern AA (0-2).

The 23-man team departs from India on August 5th and is scheduled to return on August 16th.

Blues retain five, sign eight new players at ISL Draft

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC went about their business smartly at their first ever Hero Indian Super League draft retaining five players from last season while strengthening their squad further by adding eight more Indian players, in Mumbai on Sunday.

First pick and fan-favourite goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte was joined by Harmanjot Khabra, Lenny Rodrigues, Alwyn George and local-boy Calvin Abhishek among the players who will continue to be part of the squad. These players, along with the existing retentions in Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, John Johnson, Juanan, Nishu Kumar, Malsawmzuala and Daniel Lalhlimpuia, will boost the squad ahead of the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semifinal against North Korean side April 4.25 SC in a month’s time from now.

Joining them will be seasoned professionals in goalkeeper Abhra Mondal, midfielder Boithang Haokip and defenders Rahul Bheke and Zohmingliana Ralte, along with exciting youngsters Joyner Lourenco, Collin Abranches, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Subhasish Bose.

Albert Roca, Bengaluru FC Head Coach, was content with the draft and the luck factor that goes with it, “We cannot have all the players we want. Eugeneson, Rino and Chhuantea have been important players for the club, but we knew it was impossible for us to get all our choices. However, we are happy with our picks and who we’ve signed so far. The circumstances of a draft mean that some players have to go and we’ve tried to keep as many players as possible. We looked at players who are compatible with our team, because we have important games in the AFC Cup coming up fast.”

While new signings Abhra Mondal and Boithang Haokip bring in loads of experience, the likes of Rahul Bheke and Zohmingliana Ralte were few of the stand-out performers in Indian football over the last few seasons. Rahul has created a name for himself on the domestic circuit with consistent performances for Air India, Mumbai FC, East Bengal, Kerala Blasters and FC Pune City over the last six seasons. Meanwhile, Zohmingliana, an ex-Pune FC and DSK Shivajians player, was an ever-present figure in Aizawl FC’s fairy-tale run to the I-League title. In fact, Aizawl were second only to Mohun Bagan when it came to conceding goals as they romped to the title with Zohmingliana scoring a decisive goal against the Kolkata club in the penultimate game of the season.

Bengaluru FC continued their tradition of keeping faith in youth by snapping up striker Thongkhosiem Haokip and left-back Subhasish Bose. Twenty-four-year-old Haokip was the highest scoring Indian player in the 2014-15 I-League netting seven goals throughout the season while at Pune FC. He then had stints with Salgaocar FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters and East Bengal.

Twenty-one-year-old Subhasish, on the other hand, had a breakthrough season at Churchill Brothers, before becoming a defensive mainstay for Sporting Goa in 2016 which prompted Mohun Bagan to sign the talented youngster. His impressive performances with the Kolkata-side even caught the eye of National Team Coach Stephen Constantine who called him up to the National Team camp, while also being part of the Indian U-23 team for the AFC Championship Qualifiers 2017.

BFC Full Squad: http://www.sportsindialive.com/football/indian-super-league-2017-18-players/

 

Bengaluru FC retain Nishu, Zuala for ISL; Daniel for AFC Cup

Bengaluru: Continuing the rebuild of their squad for the upcoming season, Bengaluru FC have retained two of the most promising youngsters in Indian football in midfielder Malsawmzuala and defender Nishu Kumar, keeping them at the club till the end of the 2017-18 season. The duo make grade for the ‘under-21 uncapped players’ slot for the Indian Super League.

Meanwhile, Indian International striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia continues to remain part of the squad and will feature in the Blues’ AFC Cup campaign. While the Inter-Zonal semifinal against North Korean side 4.25 SC is up next in the 2017 AFC Cup for runners-up Bengaluru FC, they will also be playing in the 2018 edition of the competition having sealed qualification courtesy the Federation Cup triumph in May.

The trio who signed for Bengaluru FC from AIFF’s Elite Academy in November 2015 have gone on play crucial roles over the last two seasons as the Blues increased their focus on youth. They combined for a total of 30 appearances in the last edition of the I-League.

Muzzafarnagar-born Nishu Kumar had a breakthrough season with the highlight being a goal against Bangladeshi-side Abahani Dhaka in the AFC Cup. The youngster’s impressive performances also caught the eye of the Indian Coach Stephen Constantine who called him up to the national team as he was voted the Blues’ Most Improved Player of 2016-17 season.

“I’m very happy to continue with Bengaluru FC. It was an easy decision for me. The amount of trust the management and the coaching staff has shown in me means a lot. The last two years were fantastic as we achieved some incredible things and we would like to do something similar as we enter a new phase in our club’s history,” said a delighted Nishu after completing the formalities.

Joining him will be Mizo duo of Malsawmzuala, who was voted the Blues’ Most Improved Player of 2015-16 season, and Daniel Lalhlimpuia who has been capped at the senior level for India. The latter who has featured frequently in the starting line-up this season will play an important part in the club’s campaign in Asia.

“We are at a very crucial junction in the AFC Cup and I am looking forward to playing my part. I’ve spent two years here learning and the coach has shown faith in me and I’m looking to continue doing that,” said Daniel, who has been retained for the AFC Cup.

“These boys have been an important part of our team for the last two seasons and we’re delighted to have them with us as we head into a new chapter in our Club’s history. Considering the rules of the ISL, we could only retain Nishu and Malsawmzuala for the league, given that Daniel has become a full India International. But we don’t want to lose him out as he forms a vital part of our plans. His contribution will be immense in not just this year’s AFC Cup campaign, but the one in the following year as well,” said Albert Roca, Bengaluru FC Head Coach.

Daniel and Nishu are currently in Qatar after being named in India’s Under-23 team for the AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers.

NEUFC launches own Residential Youth Academy to tap talent in the eight states of the region

Superstar John Abraham’s popular football club, the NorthEast United FC (NEUFC), took its first major step towards nurturing footballing talent across the eight states of North-East India by launching its own Residential Youth Academy.

The Centre of Excellence (CoE), as it has been baptized, will operate out of Shillong and offer the handpicked kids the best in terms of training, education and competition throughout the year.

“This is a dream come true,” John Abraham said while making the announcement. “When I bid for the team three years ago my first goal was to start a residential academy for the talented kids out there. We will all do everything in our power to provide every talented child the opportunity to learn and eventually play for the NEUFC first team,” he added.

The ambitious plan fell into place after NEUFC joined hands with Shillong United FC, formerly known as Royal Wahingdoh FC, to develop the region into a footballing power centre.

“We are delighted to start this developmental project with NEUFC,” Dominic Tariang, owner of Shillong United and Partner-Youth Development, stated. 

“We have already charted a well-defined and competitive pathway for the fantastic talent pool of the North-East. We want to showcase all this on the biggest footballing stage in India,” John added.

Dominic Tariang thanked John Abraham and the NEUFC for being such strong believers in the football potential of the North-East. “Our partnership creates synergies that will benefit the footballing environment of not just Shillong but all other parts of the region,” he added.

“We have found a great partner in Dominic and Shillong United and we share our passion and love for football in the North-East,” John supplemented. 

The two clubs will diligently pick the best students for the CoE and not only provide them training and education but also competition throughout the year. Shillong United already has a solid base in the capital and will give the chosen ones opportunities to play and enhance their skills in the Shillong State League and other competitions.

The CoE will create teams in the Under-13, the Under-15 and Under-18 categories so that the NEUFC has an abundance of young talent to choose from in the near future.

FC Goa confirms the signing of Ferran Corominas

Panaji, 18th July 2017: FC Goa has confirmed the signing of Spanish forward, Ferran Corominas on a free transfer. Popularly called ‘Coro’, the 34-year-old has raked up over 250 appearances in La Liga and has a wealth of experience behind him having turned out for the likes of Elche, Osasuna, Mallorca and at Espanyol where he spent the best part of 10 years.

Coro started out at Espanyol in the B Team before being promoted to the first team in the summer of 2003. After saving the club from relegation with a last minute goal in the 05/06 season, Coro went on to win Copa Del Rey and was also instrumental in the club’s run to the UEFA Cup final in the 06/07 season where they finished runners up to Juande Ramos’ Sevilla.

Coro then moved to Elche via Girona where he once again was a vital cog in the team and donned the captain’s armband on various occasions where he helped the club maintain its status in La Liga over several seasons.

A diminutive forward, Coro largely operates as a second striker and is excellent at linking up play and occupying spaces between the opposition’s defence and midfield. Boasting a quick turn of pace, Coro is known to favour the odd spectacular goal or two.

After confirming the signing the club president, Akshay Tandon said: “We are pleased to have got Coro on board. Coro is exactly the sort of profile we have been after. We feel with his level of experience that he brings to table, he will be real asset to the team and a handful to the opposition.”

Bengaluru FC add winger Antonio Dovale

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC have added more Spanish flavour to the side, signing winger Antonio Rodriguez Dovale for the 2017-18 campaign. Twenty-seven-year-old ‘Toni’, as he is widely known, joins Bengaluru FC from Spanish Segunda Division side Rayo Vallecano with whom he spent the 2016-17 season. He also becomes the third Spanish player in the side alongside Juanan Gonzalez and Dimas Delgado.

 

Born in A Coruña in Northern Spain, Toni spent his formative years at Obradoiro and FC Barcelona before joining Celta de Vigo in 2005 as a youth player. Two years later he was promoted to the reserve side before making his first team debut in the Segunda Divsion in 2009.

 

A brief loan spell at fellow Segunda Division side SD Huesca in 2010-11 was followed by a return to Celta, where he made 30 appearances helping the side achieve promotion to the La Liga at the end of the 2011-12 season. Over the next two years, Toni played an important role for Celta in the top-flight with the highlight being an impressive 9th place finish in the 2013-14 season.

 

Toni crossed the Atlantic in the year 2014 as he signed for Sporting Kansas City in the Major League Soccer (USA) where he helped the team reach the post-season play-offs. But he returned back to Spain with CD Lugo in 2014-15 before once again achieving promotion to the La Liga in the following season while playing for CD Leganes.

 

Having penned a one-year deal, Toni was eager to begin his journey at Bengaluru FC as soon as possible. “I am very excited about this new challenge in my career. I know I am coming to a big club and just can’t wait to start training to achieve our objectives this season. I have a good experience as a professional player, and I think that this is a step forward in my career which will be very important,” he said.

 

Toni was also excited with the prospect of playing in front of the Blues’ faithful, which he regards as a vital part of the club. “The fans are very important for us and I know that they are always supporting the club. I want to assure them that I will do my best to help the club achieve our goals for the season. I am feeling the good vibes and hope that this season will be a successful one,” he added.

 

Albert Roca, Bengaluru FC Head Coach, welcomed Toni into the Blues’ fold. “Antonio is a good young player and a crafty winger. Having played at the highest level in Spain, he brings in vital experience which will help us in the season ahead. He still wants to continue improving and his desire to learn will help him settle in quickly,” said Roca.

FC GOA signs Spanish midfielder Manuel Arana

Panaji, 12th July 2017: FC Goa have confirmed the signing of winger Manuel Arana on a one year contract. Arana, who largely operates from the right wing last played for Brisbane Roar in the A-League & Asian Champions League last season where he racked up 5 assists and made 24 appearances.

The Spaniard comes with plenty of experience in the top two divisions of Spain where he has turned out for a host of clubs with a combined total of over 230 appearances and 40 goals to his name.

The Seville native was product of the Betis youth system before moving to Castellon where his impressive performances in the second tier of Spanish football led to a move to Racing Santander. He spent 3 seasons in the top division as a regular starter where he played 78 games. Following spells at Recreativo Huelva, RCD Mallorca and Rayo Vallecano, Arana moved to Brisbane Roar last year.

Speaking of the prospect of coming to India, the 32-year-old midfielder said: “I’m pleased to have signed for FC Goa. The league in India is getting a lot of attention and I cant wait to come and experience it for myself. I have heard a lot of good things about FC Goa and with Sergio Lobera as the head coach, I’m sure we can mount a very strong challenge for the top honours. I thank the club for placing their faith in me and will do my utmost to ensure we can achieve the desired results.”

Bengaluru FC sign Spanish midfielder Dimas Delgado

Bengaluru: Strengthening their squad ahead of the 2017-18 season, Bengaluru FC have completed the signing of experienced Spanish midfielder Dimas Delgado, the club announced on Tuesday. The 34-year-old Catalan joins the Blues after skippering Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian A-League and the AFC Champions League.

The midfielder becomes the Blues’ fourth foreigner and joins fellow countryman Juanan Gonzalez, along with John Johnson and recently signed Erik Paartalu in the side.

Santa Coloma-born Dimas, who began his career at Catalonia-based Spanish lower league side Gramenet in 2002, made the move to FC Barcelona in 2006. He represented FC Barcelona Reserves for two seasons, before joining newly promoted La Liga side Numancia in 2008. He was a mainstay in his side’s midfield, racking up 20 top-flight appearances in the club’s third La Liga stint post-2000.

A three-year stint at Numancia was followed by spells at Cartagena (2011-12) and Recreativo Huelva (2012-15) in the Segunda Division. Having played over 400 games in Spanish football, Dimas made his first overseas move joining Western Sydney Wanderers.

His experience proved vital for the team as they finished runners-up in the 2015-16 season after being placed ninth in the previous campaign. The following year, Dimas was named captain of the side and led them to the finals series as well as in the AFC Champions League. Over two seasons, Dimas made a total of 59 appearances, while netting six goals in all competitions for the Sydney-side.

“I’m very excited to join Bengaluru FC and it will be a fantastic experience for me and my family in India. I can’t wait to start and get to know everyone at the club along with my teammates and staff,” said Dimas having put pen to paper on a one-year deal.

 

“I will give my best every single day to help my team and all the players, and hope to take the club to even bigger heights,” he added.

Coach Albert Roca, who was assistant at Barcelona when Delgado was with the B side, said he was aware of the quality that the midfielder will bring to Bengaluru. “I’ve seen Dimas from close quarters and have no doubt about his quality and experience. He is a hardworking and good professional and we’re confident this stint will be a successful one.”

Bengaluru FC sign Aussie midfielder Paartalu

Bengaluru: Less than a week after retaining Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh, Bengaluru FC have added to their arsenal in signing Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu on a season-long deal. The Blues have also retained defender Juanan Gonzalez who will join John Johnson for another season at the heart of Bengaluru’s defence.

Towering at 6’4″, Sydney-born Paartalu began his career in the National Soccer League, now the A-League, with Northern Spirit. His stints in Australia included three seasons with Brisbane Roar when they played AFC Champions League football. At Brisbane, Paartalu won two Championships and one Premiership and played 85 consecutive matches while setting an Australian record of any sporting code with an unbeaten streak of 36 games.

Paartalu moved to Chinese side Tianjin TEDA FC in 2013 before a switch to Thailand with Muangthong United the following year. He was also part of South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai for a brief period in the season that side went on to win the AFC Champions League.

The midfielder earned his first senior national team cap in 2012, playing in a World Cup Qualifier for the ‘Socceroos’ against Saudi Arabia.

“I was really excited by the Bengaluru FC project because it is a club that’s doing really well for itself in an expanding market. Indian football is getting bigger and bigger. It felt like the right project to get involved with. I spoke with Cameron Watson and he sold it to me in terms of where the club is. They’ve been very successful in the last four years and are looking to make major steps in the Indian Super League,” said Paartalu.

The 31-year-old was confident that his experience in AFC competition will prove handy for the Blues who are gearing up for their inter-zone semifinal in the AFC Cup against North Korean side 4.25 SC onAugust 23.

“I’ve played in a lot of countries in Asia so that experience is invaluable when it comes to playing games on different continents with short turnarounds. Being 31, I’ve experienced football for a long time and playing in the AFC Cup will definitely suit me. I look forward to playing in the ISL and I know I can do well in the League with a good team around me.”

Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca said he was confident of Paartalu bringing his experience to the table as the club attempts to rebuild the squad this season. “A lot of things change for us this season and experience is what will play a key role during this phase. Erik brings that kind of experience with him and I’m certain he will be a vital figure at Bengaluru FC,” said Roca.