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.

FIH World Cups: Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain bidding to host next edition

Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has received bidding dossiers from Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain to host the next edition of FIH’s flagship event for Men or Women. Bidding countries had to indicate until the deadline of 31 January 2019 also their preferred time window, either 1-17 July 2022 or 13-29 January 2023.

The following bids have been received:

For the preferred time window 1-17 July 2022:
– Germany: Men’s or Women’s World Cup
– Malaysia: Men’s World Cup
– Spain: Men’s World Cup

For the preferred time window 13-29 January 2023:
– Australia: Women’s World Cup
– India: Men’s or Women’s World Cup
– New Zealand: Women’s World Cup

FIH will now start the evaluation process of the bids. The Executive Board will make the final decision on both hosts in June 2019.

FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “FIH is glad to have received such strong bids. This confirms how appealing our events are. We’re looking forward to two great FIH World Cups, both Men’s and Women’s, and a lot of excitement for players and fans!”

Spirited Indian Women’s Hockey Team beat 2018 Women’s World Cup Bronze Medalist Spain 5-2

Murcia (Spain), 29 January 2019: An improved attack and tactical defending saw the Indian Women’s Hockey Team convincingly beat World Cup Bronze Medalists Spain 5-2 in their third match of the tour here today. Young striker from Mizoram Lalremsiami (17′, 58′) starred in the match by scoring twice while Neha Goyal (21′), Navneet Kaur (32′), Rani (51′) ensure India remained in the lead after an initial setback in the first quarter.

It was Spain who scored the first goal in the seventh minute of the match through Berta Bonastre putting India on the back foot right at the start. But a determined India made a quick recovery with striker Lalremsiami’s fine goal in the 17th minute and then further improvised their attack to score in the 21st minute via Neha Goyal to take a strong 2-1 lead.

Navneet Kaur struck a splendid third goal for the team in the 32nd minute that took India’s lead to 3-1. Though Berta Bonastre scored her second goal of the match in the 35th minute that narrowed India’s lead to 3-2, India worked on a powerful finish in the fourth quarter with Skipper Rani scoring in the 51st minute followed by young striker Lalremsiami scoring again for India in the 58th minute which helped India seal the match 5-2.

Having lost the opening match 2-3 and drawn the second match 1-1, India showed a zealous performance with fewer unforced errors to dominate the match. “I am pleased with today’s performance. We are working to be more steady in our performance and we are improving match-by-match. This is a process and we need to keep repeating such performances to grow further. I am giving constant feedback on individual performance and behaviour and some are learn fast while some need a little bit more time. But overall, we are progressing well and beating World Cup Medal winners in their home ground is a big confidence boost for this young team,” expressed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.

On 31 January, India will play their fourth match against Spain at 17.30 hours IST.

Indian Women’s Hockey Team lose 2-3 to Spain

Murcia (Spain), 27 January 2019: Indian Women’s Hockey Team put up a spirited fightback yet lost to Spain 2-3 in their opening match against hosts Spain here on Saturday.

India used strong attacking strategy to begin the first quarter on a positive note. The team made the first breakthrough when they managed to earn a penalty corner in the 8th minute but could not convert the shot, however, in the following minutes the forwardline worked together to support experienced Vandana who created a splendid opportunity for compatriot Udita to score in the 12th minute. A reverse pass by Vandana was picked up well by Udita who made no mistake in sending it past the Spanish goalkeeper Maria Ruiz to take a 1-0 lead.

In the second quarter, hosts Spain stepped up their game after the initial setback to score an equaliser in the 23rd minute through Maria Tost. While the second half saw both teams defend well to contain eachother from taking a lead, the third quarter completely belonged to Spain as they struck two goals in the 39th and 40th minute through Lola Reira and Begona Garcia respectively.

The fourth quarter remained tense for India as they fought back to make amends to their defensive lapses in the previous quarter. A tactical approach to their attack saw them win a crucial PC which was brilliantly converted by dragflicker Gurjit Kaur in the 48th minute. The following minutes was evenly fought battle by both teams but Spain ensured they upped their defence to deny India an equaliser.