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Old 20-09-2010, 20:02   #41
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Default Indian Football Season Kicks-off With 32nd Federation Cup

Indian Football Season Kicks-off With 32nd Federation Cup

Monday, September 20th, 2010 | Posted by Somnath Sengupta

Started in 1977, Federation Cup was an effort by AIFF to include all Indian clubs in a single competition. Over the years it gradually evolved to be the primary competition for national supremacy. Fed Cup champions were usually termed as Indian Champions. After the launch of National Football League (now i-League) in the late 90s, Fed Cup has lost some of its old glitter. But it is still one of the most important tournaments of the Indian Football Calendar. The winner of Fed Cup qualifies for AFC Cup.
Indian Telephone Industries were the inaugural champions in 1977. Till date, it has been the Kolkata clubs who have dominated this tournament. Mohun Bagan leads the way with 17 titles and 30 appearances in the final. Their arch-rivals, East Bengal have 13 titles and 19 finals. Each of the last four editions has been won by Kolkata clubs. While Bagan has won in 2008 and 2006, East Bengal did the honours in 2007 and 2009.
Can defending Champion East Bengal retain the title?
-
This year’s competition starts from 21st September. 16 teams have been divided into four groups.
-
Group A
Teams – East Bengal, Pune FC, HAL SC, Air India
Venue – Barabati Stadium (Cuttack, Orissa)

Group A is one of the toughest groups in the tournament, can be termed as the Group of Death.
East Bengal’s domestic campaign is off to a spectacular start. British coach Trevor Morgan has deployed an attacking 4-3-3, goals have come at a frightening ease. The Red and Golds have so far scored 19 goals in 5 games in Kolkata Football League, while conceding just one. Even though they will miss some experienced campaigners like Baichung, Renedy, Nabi and Mehrajuddin, who are busy with national camp; Harmanjyot Khabra, Budiram and Robin Singh have been in great form in domestic league. Foreign recruits Penn Orji and Okpara have both settled in quickly, making East Bengal a firm favourite to retain their title.
Pune FC finished a creditable 4th in their first ever i-League campaign in 2009-10. They had the best defensive record. A big part of the credit goes to custodian Subrata Paul, India’s finest goalkeeper in recent times. Paul is busy with Indian National Team camp. Pune will have to depend on veterans Venkatesh, Paresh Shivalkar and Ajayan for inspiration. They have retained their squad of last season, which is a big boost. Coach Derek Perreira has experience of winning Fed Cup as Mahindar United coach.

-
Air India, one of India’s finest Office teams may not win trophies regularly but they have often caused upsets. They have been a regular fixture in i-League since 1999, which is not mean feat. Former India goalkeeper Yousuf Ansari recently took up the coaching mantle from long serving Bimal Ghosh.
HAL SC achieved promotion to i-League last season. They will be keen to make a good start to their season.
.
Group B
Teams – Churchill Brothers, Viva Kerala, Chirag United SC, SESA
Venue – Tilak Maidan (Vasco, Goa)

Churchill Brothers, i-League winners two seasons ago have never won Federation Cup. It will be an uphill task for them to clinch this one as they miss a clutch of first teamers. Arindam Bhattacharya, Gourmangi, Mohammad Rafi and Steven Dias are in Indian Camp. However, they still boast of Odafa Okalie, perhaps the most lethal finisher in Indian football. Odafa’s unstoppable form saw him score dozens of goals over last 3 years. On his day Odafa has the ability to finish off any team.
Subrata Bhattacharya, one of the best match readers among Indian coaches, boasts of a unique record. He has won the Federation Cup with both the Kolkata giants. In his recent interviews he has suggested that his club would take Fed Cup more seriously than KFL. Chirag did admirably well last season, they led i-League chart for a period and almost clinched Kolkata League. Till now they have blown hot and cold in the domestic league. With Subrata at helm and a bunch of success hungry players, Chirag can upstage the big boys.
Viva Kerala have tided over a difficult financial scenario. With a new sponsor the club has been given a fresh lease of life. Experienced coach Sreedharan will have his task cut after losing some of his better players to other clubs. MP Sakeer, who was one of their most crucial players last season left for Churchill. They might struggle against the stronger teams.
SESA Football Academy will be making their maiden appearance in the tournament. They are coached by former Sporting Clube de Goa coach Clifford Chukuwama. They upset both Vasco and Sporting Clube in qualification round. Chukuwama enjoyed some degree of success in knockout tournaments with Sporting. SESA may be new to this dance, but they may prove to be a plucky outfit.

Group C
Teams – Dempo, ONGC, JCT, AIFF XI
Venue – Guru Nanak Stadium (Ludhiana, Punjab)

Dempo is unarguably the strongest team in India right now. They have captured i-League title three times in last four seasons. The squad boasts of some of the best Indian players as well as quality foreigners. And they are coached by Alberto Colasco, often called “India’s Mourinho”.
Dempo’s association with Fed Cup is not very pleasant; they have been inconsistent in this tournament. The last time they won the trophy it was marred by the tragic death of Brazilian striker Junior. Junior’s last game was against Bagan in the semi-final. Dempo are without stars like Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence, Anwar Ali and John Dias. But they still are strong with their foreign recruits Beto, Kalou and Ranty Martins.
JCT, winners in 1995 and 1996, have always been strong when playing in Punjab. They will have home advantage. The Phagwara based club has focused on youth talent in recent times. Their most notable acquisition in transfer market was Nigerian Daniel Bedemi. Wily coach Sukhwinder Singh may spring a surprise or two with his young team.
Sponsored by Public Sector Unit – ONGC, ONGC FC is all set to make its first appearance in i-League. They have Baba Tunde, top scorer in i-League Division-2, in their ranks. Experience foreign recruit Peter Odafe adds strength to the team. However, with the presence of Dempo and local outfit JCT, they might find progression pretty tough.
AIFF XI is an initiative by AIFF to boost Indian football. It doesn’t have a single foreign player and is mostly made up of young players with good potential. The group of players is expected to mature in time for 2018 world cup campaign. The same group of boys will represent India at the Asian Games instead of the U-23 side which won the SAFF Cup under Sukhwinder Singh. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the formation of the team. They are coached by Desmond Bulpin. Anything more than gaining experience will be a bonus.

Group D
Teams – Mohun Bagan, Mumbai FC, Shillong Lajong, Salgaocar
Venue – Barabati Stadium (Cuttack, Orissa)

Mohun Bagan’s team for this season looks a bit like some of Real Madrid’s failed attempts of recent times. Too many forwards, but weak in defence. The Green and Maroon brigade splashed cash to rope in Muritala Ali, who scored freely for Mahindra last season. Along with Barreto and Edeh Chidi he forms one of the most fearsome striker forces in India. However, the lack of good defensive midfielder and defensive fragilities has led to Bagan’s inconsistent form in KFL so far. While they have won two games handsomely, they have also drawn against Chirag and lost, shockingly to Aryans FC. Pressure is already mounting on coach Stanley Rosario from the ever critical Kolkata crowd. New foreign recruit, defender, Diamondstar has been ordinary so far. Stanley created a mini-miracle last season by taking Shillong Lajong to the final; his task will be tougher this time around. Bagan’s wonderful record in this tournament will be an added pressure.
Mohun Bagan faithful will be looking for an inspirational
performance from the veteran striker.
-
Can lightening striker twice? Tiny Shillong Lajong shocked the nation by making it to the final of Fed Cup last season. Despite getting relegated from i-League Shillong attracted good crowds for their home games. This season, they have lost their coach as well as some players. They qualified from Eastern zone after scoring 7 goals in 2 games. Watch out for 21 year old, pocket dynamite Seikhohau Tuboi.
Salgaocar’s glory days seem to have been left far behind. In 1997, a brace from talismanic Bruno Coutinho led them to a memorable Fed Cup win. A year later, they became the first Goan club to win National League. In recent times, they have fallen behind the likes of Dempo or Churchill. Former Bagan coach, Karim Bencharifa took over Salgaocar in the middle of i-League last season. He took over a club under the clutches of relegation and led them to a respectable 6th place finish. The squad has been bolstered with Ryuji Sueoka and veteran Yusif Yakubu. A progression to next round can be achieved if they play to their potential.
Mumbai FC narrowly escaped relegation in i-League last season. They haven’t strengthened their squad to a large extent and will be without the service of Abhishek Yadav. They might find themselves out of depth in the group.
Federation Cup usually throws up a few shocking results. In the end only one team will capture the Cup but football fans can look forward to a series of exciting encounters.


original link- http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...ederation-cup/
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Old 20-09-2010, 20:05   #42
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Default Tie Ups – The Way Forward for Indian Football ?

Tie Ups – The Way Forward for Indian Football ?

Monday, September 20th, 2010 | Posted by Somnath Sengupta

Similar to many other countries, the landscape of Indian football was shaped by the British. Early Indian clubs stuck mostly to the archaic 2-3-5 system and followed the English style of play. A lot of things changed after independence. The English style of play was slowly phased out of Indian club football. A recent trend shows Indian football looking past the English Channel again, with several top Indian clubs tieing-up with English clubs and football academies.
It all started with East Bengal. Back in 2004, the Red and Gold entered into an agreement with Leicester City FC. Nicknamed the “Foxes”, Leicester are 3 times winner of League Cup and have won several other titles in England. The club aimed to diversify their fan base and rope in Asians living in Leicestershire. Club official Paul Mace, said in a press meet in Kolkata – “These agreements will open the doors to a wide range of footballing and commercial benefits for all parties and promote the name of Leicester City throughout Asian subcontinent”. A three year deal was signed. The deal focused on a multitude of activities. One of which was youth development program.
East Bengal went on a mini-tour to England in November 2004 and played a pre-season game against Leicester City.


Bayern Munich’s trip to Kolkata for Oliver Kahn’s farewell match in 2008 seemed to open up the pipeline again. Bayern wanted to open a football Academy in Bengal but were pegged back due to lack of available lands. But their arrival ushered in a flurry of tie-up deals.
First on the bandwagon was JCT. The Phagwara club, former Indian Champions, tied up with former Champions of England, Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2008. First team coach Terry Connor, travelled to JCT’s training ground in Hoshiarpur. The agreement was a gradual extension of Wolverhampton – India partnership. Exchange of Academy staff was one of items in the agenda. Considering the fact that JCT has one of the best youth systems in India, this was a welcome move.
Tata Football Academy, India’s foremost youth Academy entered into an agreement with Sheffield United in 2010. The Blades agreed to undertake a 12-month programme on coaching, fitness and professional development of coaches and cadets. A designated coach will deliver lessons on technical aspects; a fitness coach will advise the TFA team on sports science, strength, conditioning work and dietary requirements.
Dempo, India’s finest football team over last half a decade recently disclosed that they are in the process of entering into a partnership with an English club. Till date they haven’t publicized the name of the English club.
Other than tie-ups between clubs, several major European clubs have begun talent hunts in India. In August 2010, seven boys went to Munich to be a part of Bayern’s training camp. These boys were handpicked by Gerd Muller, Bayern youth coach from Siliguri. The selected group attended Bayern’s first Bundesliga match and met Thomas Muller, Robben and others. They also attended Bayern’s pre-season camp for U-17. A team of 16 school kids were sent to London to take part in “Arsenal International Soccer Festival”. The team included players from all parts of India. English powerhouse Chelsea have recently expressed interest to enter into a financial tie-up with a Indian corporate partner. However it is still unclear whether they have any intention to contribute to Indian football or not.
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The crucial question – How effective are these tie-ups really?
Bob Houghton, a man who knows a thing or two about English football, reckons this to be harmful. In an interview given in 2008, he said this – “Do you really believe these clubs are hunting for talent in India? They are actually hunting India and are a menace for Indian football. They are doing nothing for the sport, all this is a money-making racket, nothing more than a marketing gimmick”.

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He might have a point there. The East Bengal – Leicester deal sunk without any long term impact. I have tried contacting both set of fans and no one really knows what happened in the end. Leicester has had its share of financial upheavals in recent times. So there’s a chance that the deal fell through between changing managements.
The Wolves – JCT deal is part of a larger project. The large concentration of North Indian population in Wolverhampton surroundings may be a possible reason behind this tie-up. However, so far the tie-up seems to have gone better than the EB-LCFC one. In July, 2010, two years after the deal was signed, a small team of JCT players went to Wolverhampton. The team contained five young players and a coach. They took part in a “tactical and technical” training program.
It is quite clear that the clubs, that are a part of the tie-up, has clear plans about conquering the ever increasing Indian population in their backyard. Despite this fact, Indian football does stand to gain some positives from these deals. English clubs have some of the best facilities in the world, any tactical exchanges or actual player exchanges might benefit Indian clubs in the long run. However, care has to be taken that the agreements that are signed provide enough leverage to Indian interests and not just the marketing interest of English clubs.
What do the Indian football fans think ?


original link- http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...dian-football/
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Old 27-09-2010, 13:27   #43
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Default 32nd Federation Cup: It’s Kolkata vs Goa@THT

The review of the group stages of the FA cup equivalent of Indian football

32nd Federation Cup: It’s Kolkata vs Goa
Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Posted by Sachin Madaan
The group stage of the 32nd Federation Cup which kicked off on 21st September finally concluded yesterday after an exciting week of football. The group round ended without any major hiccups with East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, I-league champions Dempo SC and Mohan Bagan topping their respective groups and thereby qualifying for the last four. Here, we look back upon the group stage to see how the line-up to the semi finals got completed.

Group A – East Bengal

The defending champions who were clubbed together with Pune FC, HAL Bangalore and Air India made it to the semi finals with ease after securing three wins in the same number of matches. Ozbey, with a brace, starred for the Kolkata based club in their opening day 3-1 victory over Air India whereas HAL Bangalore also picked up three points after a narrow 1-0 win over Pune FC. After picking up their 2nd win against HAL, the red and gold brigade almost secured a birth for themselves in the semi finals. Heading into the last day of the group league matches, the club from Bangalore still had a mathematical chance of making it to the last four but East Bengal made sure that no such situation arises when they picked up their 3rd consecutive win and advanced into the semis with a perfect record.

Group B- Churchill Brothers

This group went down to the wire as the last day saw Churchill Brothers and Chirag United taking on each other. Both of them were tied at the top with four points each after their first two matches, the winner finally sailing through to the knockout-stage. The I-league runners up held a slight advantage heading into the final match day and needed just a draw to go through as they enjoyed a better goal difference. The Goan club managed to play a goalless draw against the Kolkata based club and reached the last four of the Federation Cup after Chirag United were denied couple of close penalty appeals much to the dismay of their fans. Before their final showdown both the clubs had made a solid start to their campaign with the Salcette based Goan club handing a 4-0 drubbing to Viva Kerala and Chirag United winning 1-0 against Sesa football academy. Day 2 saw all the four Group B teams sharing a point a piece, with both the matches ending in tame draws.

Group C- Dempo SC

The I-league defending champions Dempo qualified for the knockout stages of the Federation Cup after finishing the group stage with seven points from three games. In second place were ONGC, who, despite of ended on a winning note against the newly formed AIFF XI, failed to qualify for the next round chiefly due to the humiliating 2-5 defeat which they suffered on match day one in the hands of Dempo. The young boys of Delhi based AIFF XI finished on 3rd spot with four points. The biggest disappointment of the group were JCT, who in spite of playing on their home ground failed to secure a single win under their belt and ended at the bottom of the group with two defeats and a draw, the last one coming in their final group match against Dempo, the latter needing only a single point from the encounter to make it to the semis.

Group D- Mohan Bagan

Seventeen time finalists Mohan Bagan demolished Salgaocar 6-1 on the final day of the group matches and wrote their name in the final spot of the semi finals . It was a must win game for Mohan Bagan who were trailing Salgaocar on goal difference before the final day, but Bagan who have shown in their glorious past that they are more than accustomed to handle such pressure situations, took Karim Bencherifa’s side to the cleaners with the help of hat-tricks from both Barreto and Muritala Ali respectively. The Green and Maroons put the match beyond the reach of their opponents in the first half itself after taking a 5-0 lead at the stroke of first forty five minutes. Salgoacar scored a consolation goal in the 83rd minute but Bagan restored their five goal advantage when Ali completed his hat trick in the 90th minute. Shillong and Mumbai FC, who had failed to muster up a win in their previous two matches played a stalemate and ended up with 2 points each at the bottom of the table.

Sparks and tempers are bound to fly when, arguably the four most popular football clubs from the two craziest footballing regions of India collide. Two legendary clubs from Bengal and I-league top two finishers line up in the semi finals for the Federation Cup- it certainly doesn’t get better than this.

Semi Final 1: East Bengal vs. Churchill Brothers

Semi Final 2: Dempo SC vs. Mohan Bagan


original link- http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...olkata-vs-goa/

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Old 28-09-2010, 07:51   #44
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Federation Cup 2010 : Red & Gold Brigade takes on Churchill In The 1st Semi Final

EAST BENGAL
vs
CHURCHILL BROTHERS

Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
Live on Zee Sports: 29.09.2010

The first semi-final of Fed Cup 2010 pits two of the most exciting teams in the tournament. East Bengal takes on Churchill Brothers in what promises to be a clash of attacking prowess.

Foreign coaches have a dodgy record in Indian football. The likes of Danny MacLean, Karim Bencharifa, David Booth or Clifford Chukuwama have often gone empty handed in terms of trophies. East Bengal’s new coach, former development coach of English Premier League side Hull City, Trevor Morgan will look to change that track record. His team has promised a lot till date. The Red and Golds, who have gone through a couple of indifferent seasons, look like a rejuvenated force.

Much credit of their sparkling display will go to Morgan. His ploy of fielding an attacking 4-3-3 with incessant forward movement has bore rich fruit. East Bengal have not relied on aimless long balls, their preference has been playing sweet ground passes and deliciously floated crosses from the wings. They have focused on elaborate build-ups before releasing a striker with a sudden through-ball. They won all 3 games in group stages – the only team to do so in this year’s tournament.

Tolgay is ably supported by Penn Orji upfront – who has been trusted by the British coach to play the roaming midfielder role just behind the strickers. Penn has been in prime form in both Kolkata league as well as Fed Cup. He has scored 2 goals till now, including the winning strike against HAL. The third striker in EB’s trident is Robin Singh. Singh, one of the stars in West Bengal’s Santosh Trophy win, is not the most versatile or technically gifted player. His limitations are perfectly covered up by his tremendous work-rate and a lethal left foot. Budiram Tudu can act as a super-sub.

Ever reliable Sandip Nandi will guard East Bengal’s goal. The defensive line will be marshaled by Nirmal Chhetri and Nigerian Uga Okpara. Full-backs Nouba Singh on right and Soumik Dey on left will offer width to a narrow midfield.

Churchill Brothers haven’t done that well till now. They drew two of their group games, qualifying ahead of Chirag United by goal difference. They failed to beat newcomers SESA Academy. The 4-0 thumping of hapless Viva Kerala in the opening game ultimately paved their way to the last four.

Their main strength, like always will be the star striker Odafa Okalie. Odafa, the highest paid foreigner in Indian football has been one of the most lethal finishers in recent times. His amazing strike rate enabled him to get the top scorer award in i-League on three consecutive occasions. He also led Churchill to their maiden i-League title in 2008-09. Odafa has started scoring goals from the word “go” in Fed Cup. He bagged a brace against Viva Kerala, while scoring another goal in the 1-1 draw with SESA. Odafa is a striker who can score from half-chances and he is extremely prolific.

East Bengal’s defence has not been tested till date. Most teams have been washed away by the deluge of attacking moves. Odafa will fancy his chances against this defensive line. He is also a big match player and often delivers in crucial encounter. Odafa’s heroics in final of IFA Shield and Durand Cup in 2009 (both against Mohun Bagan) earned the Goan club two trophies last season.

Churchill has been considerably weakened after losing players to Indian National Team Camp. Arindam Bhattacharya, Steven Dias, Gourmangi Singh as well as Mohammad Rafi are missing. In their absence, the onus is on MP Shakeer and Khemtang Paite to provide able support to Odafa.

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Possible starting XI

East Bengal : Sandip Nandi, Naoba Singh, Nirmal Chhetri, Uga Okpara, Soumik Dey, Reisangmi Vasum, Mehtab Hossain, Penn Ikechukwu Orji, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Robin Singh, Tolgay Ozbey

Churchill Brothers : Lalit Thapa, Rowilson Rodrigues, Denzil Franco, Robert Lalthalma, Dharmaraj Ravanan, MP Shakeer, Khemtang Paite, Dan Ito, Koko Sakibo, Charan Rai, Odafe Onyeke Okolie


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TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Tolgay Ozbey (East Bengal):


East Bengal’s Australian recruit was the golden boot winner in New South Wales Premier League last season. He has adjusted really quickly to Indian football. Tolgay has been one of the main architects behind East Bengal’s wonderful attacking play. He links up well with Penn and Robin Singh while scoring goals when he gets a chance. East Bengal has an enviable history when it comes to foreign players, Tolgay can very well be a welcome addition to the list.

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TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past

East Bengal 3-2 Churchill [I-League 2009-10]


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TheHardTackle’s Prediction

East Bengal 3-2 Churchill


Expect a goal scoring thriller here. Both the teams possess lethal attacking prowess. Churchill’s defense is inexperienced, while their East Bengal counterparts are largely untested. It may possibly go down as a fight which would be decided in favor of the team conceding less number of goals. East Bengal have a upper hand here because of former India no.1 goalkeeper Sandip Nandy. In the absence of regular keeper Arindam Bhattacharya, Churchill might struggle with stop-gap replacement Lalit Thapa, who has been unconvincing so far.

[PS: TheHardTackle's Live Interactive Updates for the 1st Semi Final will be available from 5:45 PM onwards on Wednesday 29th Sep]


ORIGINAL LINK-
http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...st-semi-final/

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Old 29-09-2010, 09:24   #45
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Default Federation Cup 2010 – Can Mariners Overcome The All Whites ? @THT

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Posted by Somnath Sengupta
Federation Cup 2010 – Can Mariners Overcome The All Whites ?

MOHUN BAGAN
v
DEMPO

Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
Live on Zee Sports – 6:00 OM – 30.09.2010
-

The 2nd semi-final of Federation Cup 2010 sees Mohun Bagan take on I-League Champions Dempo. These two clubs have locked horns in the final in recent past. In 2008, Bagan won Fed Cup for 13th time defeating Dempo in penalty shootout. In 2004, Dempo won their first Fed Cup title, defeating Bagan by 2-0 margin. But the final match was marred by the tragic death of Brazilian footballer Junior. Junior died after a fatal clash with the then Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Paul.

Mohun Bagan started the tournament on a shaky note. They defeated Shillong Lajong by a solitary goal but were thankful to a flawless performance from ‘keeper Shilton Paul. Their second match resulted in an insipid draw with Mumbai FC. Bagan created numerous chances but were unable to kill the game off. The final group match against Salgaocar was a virtual knockout, as the Green and Maroon brigade had to win to qualify for the semis. And did they win in style! Bagan faced a team coached by their former coach Karim Bencharifa. “Karim Chacha” had started to play mind-games with his press statements before the game.


The Moroccan coach could do very little in the game as Bagan romped to a 6-1 win. The evergreen Jose Barreto scored a hattrick while his strike partner Muritala Ali also bagged 3 goals. This was Bagan’s biggest win in an all-India tournament since 1997. That year, boosted by Amal Dutta’s “Diamond System” Bagan had blanked Churchill Brothers 6-0.

The comprehensive win over Salgaocar is sure to ease the pressure on the players as well as coach Stanley Rosario. The latter will now aim to reach Fed Cup finals with different teams in back to back seasons.

Edeh Chidi’s lack of fitness means that Jose Ramires Barreto will start with Muritala Ali in a two pronged attack. Barreto will play a slightly withdrawn role connecting Muritala with the midfield. As it has been for last decade or so, the Brazilian’s form will decide how well Bagan plays.

Shilton Paul will start in goal. Paul will have to be on his toes throughout the game as Bagan’s defence has been very, very shaky till now. Sheikh Azim and Sangram Mandi have not been solid in the heart of the defence. They did show some signs of improvement when they came up against veteran Yakubu in the last game. Kingshuk Debnath, harshly dismissed against Lajong will play as right back while Dhanrajan will partner him on opposite flank. Bagan’s full-backs have often been caught out of position and they can’t afford that against a team like Dempo.

Centre-back Diamndstar may start in the midfield ahead of Jayanta Sen. Diamondstar’s big physical play will be utilized to hamper the flow of Dempo midfield. Club captain Isfaq Ahmed played a good game against Salgaocar and will start on the right wing. Gouranga Dutta will be the other winger in a 4-4-2. Youngster Manish Mathani, who has shown immense promise, will partner Diamondstar in the central midfield.

Bagan’s opponent, defending I-League champion Dempo is possibly the finest football team in India right now. They not only have seasoned Indian players, but also boast of some of the best foreign players. Dempo’s well oiled machine has won 4 I-League titles in last 6 seasons – a record.

They have lost a big bunch of players to Indian Camp. However, they are still strong enough to compete with the best in Indian football.

In the absence of the first choice defenders, Creston Antao, Valeriano Rebello and Debrata Roy will have to shoulder the responsibilities to keep out the Bagan strikers. They will have the experience of former India international Samir Naik.

Brazilian Beto had a short and insignificant stint in Bagan a few years ago. In Dempo he has transformed into one of the finest play-makers in Indian football. His partnership with greenhorn Joachim Abranches was one of the main reasons behind Dempo’s comprehensive I-League triumph. Beto can also score goals and is a big threat from set-pieces.

Football Fans Know Better

-
Nigerian pair of Ranty Martins and Ogba Kalu will take up the attacking duties. Kalu excelled in Churchill Brothers last season. He was promptly snapped up by Dempo this season. Martins is now a veteran in Indian football. Still just 24, he has already played 6 seasons in India. He didn’t take long to find form in Fed Cup as he scored a hattrick in the first game. His hattrick inspired Dempo to come back from 2-1 down to thump ONGC 5-2. He scored a brace against AIFF XI taking his tally to 5 goals for this edition.

Armando Colaco is one of the finest coaches in India with a wealth of experience. His teams have always played well balanced football, focusing on getting the job done. Bagan coach Stanley Rosario will have his task cut out with a wobbly defence.

-
Possible Starting XI

Dempo: Laxmikant Kattimani, Creson Antao, Debabrata Roy, Sameer Naik, John Dias, Beto, Ogba Kalu, Godwin Franco, Micky Fernandez, Joachim Abranches, Ranty Martins

Mohun Bagan:
Shilton Paul, Kingshuk Debnath, Seikh Azim, Sagaram Mandi, R. Dhanarajan, Manish Maithani, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gouranga Dutta, Okwy Diamondstar, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Muritala Ali.


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TheHardTackle’s Player to watch out for
Jose Ramirez Barreto (Mohun Bagan):

It has been over a decade in Indian football for Barreto, yet he shows no signs of slowing down. He became the first foreigner to score 200 goals in Indian football history. The “Green Parrot” enjoys god like status among the Green and Maroon faithful. Whenever the team is in distress, Barreto comes to the rescue – both as a player and as a leader. His fine hattrick against Salgaocar showed he hasn’t lost his touch with age. How well he plays might end up deciding the fate of this tie.

-

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Mohun Bagan 1-2 Dempo


Bagan’s defensive weakness will be exposed by Dempo. Ranty, Kalu and Beto are all good finishers and can kill off the game when they get the slightest chance. Stanley Rosario has not yet formulated a plan to keep out opposition strikers and his tactical acumen may prove to be out of depth against a shrewd tactician like Colasco.


original link-http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/federation-cup-2010-can-mariners-overcome-the-all-whites/


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Old 29-09-2010, 12:38   #46
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Fed Cup 2010 – Semi Final 1 : East Bengal vs Churchill Brothers LIVE

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EAST BENGAL
vs
CHURCHILL BROTHERS

Federation Cup Semi Final – 1

Barabati Stadium, Cuttack


-

TheHardTackle’s LIVE Updates will follow on this page 15 mins prior to the start of the match.

It will be an interactive session. You can comment and provide updates too as the match progresses.


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Old 30-09-2010, 10:35   #47
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Default Live commentary @indian football- Federation Cup semi final 2

Fed Cup 2010 – Semi Final 2 : Mohun Bagan vs Dempo LIVE

MOHUN BAGAN
v
DEMPO

Federation Cup Semi Final – 2

Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
TheHardTackle’s LIVE Updates will follow on this page 15 mins prior to the start of the match.

It will be an interactive session. You can comment and provide updates too as the match progresses.


original link-http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/fed-cup-2010-%E2%80%93-semi-final-2-mohun-bagan-vs-dempo-live/


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Old 04-10-2010, 10:24   #48
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Default India v Honk Kong @4th oct

Monday, October 4th, 2010 | Posted by Debapriya Deb
India vs Hong Kong : The Bhangra Boys Face Hong Kong…

INDIA
V
HONG KONG

Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune
4th Oct, 2010 – 18:00 IST
-

The Indian national team faces Hong Kong in an international friendly to be played at Pune’s Balewadi Sports Complex in a bid to prepare itself for the upcoming Asia Cup.

India is yet to register a win against Hong Kong, who are currently ranked 136th in the latest FIFA world rankings. In the previous two meetings, the ‘Men in Blue’ were held to a 2-2 draw by their Asian counterparts in the year 2006, while they succumbed to a 1-2 defeat in the game played in January’09.

Hong Kong has a pretty rich football history at the Asian level. As the host nation, they had finished 2nd runners-up in the 1956 Asian Cup. They were fourth in the 1964 Asia Cup and finished a place lower in the next edition. From 1970 onwards, Hong Kong football slumped to a steady decline and the nation could not qualify for any of the later editions of the Asian Cup, including the tournament to be played next year in Qatar.



Fit enough for Hong Kong?

-
Hong Kong’s last internation friendly resulted in a goalless draw against Yemen. Coach Tsang Wai Chung believes it will be an exciting affair against India and he is hopeful of a victory even though Hong Kong is set to miss few of the key players due to injury. The World Cup qualifiers being their prime objective, they are focusing on gaining valuable experience for the young players. The Hong Kong coach revealed that he prefers the 4-4-2 formation and the team is expected to deploy similar tactics in this match as well.

Chan Wai Ho is the most recognized player in the opposition camp, who currently plays for Rangers as a central defender. Li Haiqiang, the skipper of the team, is an exceptional ball player and known for his brilliant dead ball speciality. He ashtonishing free kick in Barclays Asia Trophy 2007 tournament for South China against Liverpool, when he scored a terrific goal from approximately 40-yards out, made its way into Hong Kong folklore. The goal embarrassed Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson and brought back the memories of Ronaldinho’s wonder goal against David Seaman in the 2002 World Cup. Chan Siu-Ki is the most prolific goalscorer for his country scoring 26 international goals in just 32 matches. Indian defenders should remain cautious against this 6′2” striker’s brilliant aeriel skills.

Bob Houghton has similar injury woes in his own squad to deal with. Bhaichung Bhutia, Samir Naik, Mahesh Gawli, Steven Dias, N.P.Pradeep and Mohammed Rafi – all are nursing injuries. In the absence of regular starters, it will be a huge opportunity for the fringe players to make a mark in this match.

Subrata Pal is a certainty in goal, while Anwar and Gourmangi will be guarding the central defense. Surkumar is expected to start on the right back position and in the absence of Mahesh Gawli, N.S. Manju will shoulder the resonsibility of marshaling the left side of Indian defense.

Steven Dias fitness will be assessed before the start of the match and if he is not up to mark yet, Anthony Perreira will take over the right wing; in that case Clifford Miranda will play on the left wing. Veteran Climax Lawrence and Renedy Singh will play as the central midfielders in the absence of regular starter N.P. Pradeep.

Captain Baichung Bhutia sustained a hamstring pull in a late substitute appearance against Namibia in the last match, while Mohammed Rafi is also nursing similar injuries. The situation in hand is exactly like the match against Namibia. Sunil Chhetri and Abhishek Yadav remain the two fully-fit strikers for India and Bob Houghton will expect another good display from this young combo.
-

Probable Starting Line-up (India):

Subrata, Surkumar, Gaurmangi, Anwar, Manju, Anthony, Renedy, Climax, Miranda, Abhishek, Sunil.


Last Five Internationls Friendly Results:

India:
29/8/2009 India vs Syria 0-1
31/08/2009 India vs Syria 6-5
4/9/2010 Thailand vs India 1-0
8/9/2010 India vs Thailand 1-2
15/9/2010 India vs Namibia 2-0

Hong Kong:

6/1/2010 Bahrain vs Hong Kong 4-0
7/2/2010 Korea Republic vs Hong Kong 5-0
11/2/2010 Japan vs Hong Kong 3-0
14/2/2010 China vs Hong Kong 2-0
3/32010 Hong Kong vs Yemen 0-0

-

TheHardTackle’s Player to watch out for:

Subrata Paul (India):


The Pune FC goalkeeper had brilliant outings for India in the recent past. He was the only saving grace for the Bhangra Boys in the defeats against the Thai national team. He continued his amazing performace against Namibia as well and earned a clean sheet in that 2-0 victory. Paul has been the protagonist in almost all major victories for India in the last couple of years. Expect another solid performance from the India no. 1.

The Flying Machine – Subrata Pal -

-
TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

India 1- 0 Hong Kong


original link-
http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p.../#comment-5583


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Default hong kong gets the better of team india

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 | Posted by Debapriya Deb
India 0-1 Hong Kong: Another Defeat For The Houghton Army

INDIA 0-1 HONG KONG
Scorer – Li Haiqiang (76′)


-
Team India suffered another home defeat against Hong Kong in the international friendly match played here at Pune’s Balewadi Complex this evening. The solitary goal of the match was scored by Hong Kong captain Li Haiqiang in the 76th minute.

Bob Houghton missed the services of some important players due to injury and that forced him to field a relatively inexperienced starting XI. In the absence of Mahesh Gawli, Rahim Nabi got the nod ahead of N.S. Manju to start as the left back. Unavailability of regular central midfielder N.P. Pradeep was a big blow and Mehrajuddin Wadoo shared the responsibility with captain of the day Climax Lawrence. Clifford Miranda and Anthony Pereira featured in the wings for the home team. As expected, Sunil Chhetri and Abhishek Yadav were leading the forward line.


Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai Chung also deployed a 4-4-1-1 formation, with skipper Li Haiqiang playing as an attacking midfielder, behind the lone striker. Star striker Chun Sui Kei was left out on the substitute bench as the Hong Kong coach decided to give youngster Ye Jia some valuable international exposure.

Hong Kong started the match brightly and created a wave of attacks with in the first 10 minutes. However it was Team India that got the first real goal scoring opportunity of the match in the sixth minute. Sunil Chhetri stepped up to take the free kick just outside the Hong Kong box, but his shot went well wide and over the goal post. At the other end, Li Haiqiang and Kwan Yee combined well to create a nice opportunity, but Gourmangi Singh was alert and intercepted brilliantly to deny the Hong Kong skipper a clear shot at the goal.

India then started to see more ball possession and in the sixteenth minute Abhishek Yadav made a good run down the right wing to find Sunil Chhetri outside the Hong Kong box. Sunil laid the ball for Anthony Pereira who unleashed a powerful volley straight to the Hong Kong goalkeeper Tak Him Tse and thus the chance to go one up was wasted. Midway through the first half, Clifford Miranda got an opportunity to punish the visitors for a casual clearance, but he took one touch too many and the centre-back Lee Chu Ho was spot on with a late tackle.

By that time, Indian midfielders had started controlling the midfield play and were dominating the proceedings. Around the half hour mark, Rahim Nabi made a daunting run through the left wing before cutting in to find Mehrajuddin unmarked on the edge of the box, but the East Bengal midfielder’s precise placement was parried away by the Hong Kong ‘keeper for a corner. A couple of minutes later, Anthony tried his luck from long range, but the shot lacked power to trouble the visiting custodian.

A few minutes before the half time whistle, Hong Kong set up a nice attack against the run of play. But, the ever reliable Indian ‘keeper rushed off his line to intercept Li Haiqiang’s defense splitting through ball for Lee Hong Lim. India went for the lemon break looking the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock in the second half.

In the second half, Hong Kong came out with a determined mindset and kept on threatening the Indian defense time and again. Five minutes into the second half, Subrata made a good safe off a Ye Jia strike from close range. Three minutes later Abhishek Yadav combined well with Sunil Chhetri and opened the goal mouth, but Sunil made a mess of the ball and Hong Kong defense recovered well to avert the danger.

Just after the hour mark, India got a great opportunity to go ahead as Climax Lawrence pounced on a defensive error by Hong Kong, but the midfielder’s shot got deflected off defender Leung Cun Pong and resulted in another corner for the home team.

Hong Kong coach made his intentions clear when he introduced star striker Chun Sui Kei for an off-colour Yee Lo. The move paid off immediately as the striker played a nice one-two with the skipper Haiqiang and the latter’s perfect placement from 18 yards out found the back of net after exposing a helpless Subrata Pal.

In search of the equalizer, Houghton made double substitution – Shushill Kumar Singh came in for Abhishek Yadav while Steven Dias replaced Clifford Miranda. But by that time Hong Kong midfielders were dominating the midfield battle and India failed to produce even a single goal scoring opportunity. This prompted Houghton to change the central midfield combo of Climax-Mehraj and Renedy-Baldeep pair took the field to shoulder the midfield duty.

Even though India created a couple of half chances a few minutes before the final whistle, Hong Kong defended resolutely for the remaining duration of the game to emerge as the deserved winner.

Team India next faces Yemen on the same ground after a three day gap and Bob Houghton’s men will have to make drastic improvements to pose any threat against a much stronger opposition.


original link-
http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...houghton-army/


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Old 08-10-2010, 10:07   #50
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Default India v Vietnam: Preview And Pre-Match Press Conference

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 | Posted by TheHardTackle
India v Vietnam: Preview And Pre-Match Press Conference

INDIA
v
VIETNAM

Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune
8.10.2010, 19:00 IST

India National Football Team is all set to face a strong and resurgent Vietnam in an International Friendly here in Pune’s magnificent Balewadi Sports Complex come Friday. The second of the triplets, promises to be a tough affair for India, as Vietnam have had a decent show in their last three Internationals.

India’s recent form has been very ordinary. The build-up towards the all important Asian Cup couldn’t have been worse. Twin defeats to Thailand & a home defeat to Hong Kong has dented the confidence considerably. A comprehensive win over under-strength Namibia was the only bright spot.

To be fair to Bob Houghton, team India has been severely weakened by injuries. His tactics focuses heavily on wing-play combined with well aimed crosses towards the penalty box. Steven Dias, one of the best crossers in the Indian team, has been out injured for a while now. He did come on as a substitute in the last match but didn’t look fully fit. Injury to NS Manju further weakened the team as Rahim Nabi had play as a makeshift left-back. Houghton’s side was often exploited by the Hong Kong attackers.

Centre-halves Mehrajuddin & Climax Lawrence had an ordinary game. They didn’t provide enough openings to the front two. Most of India’s chances were created by right-winger Anthony Perreira. The forwards didn’t make use of whatever service that came their way. Chhetri lamented the loss of Bhaichung Bhutia after the match. Both Abhishek Yadav & Sunil are capable strikers but their partnership is yet to blossom.


India’s opponents in this game have made improvement by leaps & bounds in last 2 years. Under coach Henrique Calisto, the “Golden Stars” captured ASEAN Cup in 2008. This was Vietnam’s first major trophy and they defeated higher ranked Thailand in the final. A week ago they finished runner-up in Thai Long-Hanoi football Cup, finishing behind world-cuppers North Korea.

With the 2010 version of ASEAN Cup coming up in December, the Vietnam players would like to impress . For this edition of ASEAN Cup Vietnam will both be host as well as defending champions, increasing the importance of the tournament. Vietnam U-16 team recently won AFF Under-16 Championship. They also reached quarter finals of Asian Cup 2007, losing to eventual champion Iraq.



India is most likely to retain the 4-4-2 formation for this match. Gourmangi Singh will combine with Anwar in the heart of the defence. If Manju is still unavailable Nabi will marshal the left back position. Surkumar will start as right-back. Clifford Miranda performed pretty well in last game and is likely to retain his position in left wing with Anthony Perreira on the opposite flank. Climax Lawrence will partner Baldeep Singh in the heart of midfield.

Sunil Chhetri & Abhishek Yadav look all set to start this game. Both Bhaichung & Rafi are unavailable. Steven Dias & N Pradeep may make cameo appearances.

Pre-Match Press Conference

TheHardTackle’s guest correspondent Amod Kulkarni was present at the pre-match press conference. Some excerpts from the conference are as follows.

Bob Houghton

- Their famous Victory Celebrations at Home in Hanoi are fabulous.

- Have managed to beat their ASEAN counterparts Thailand twice in the recent past.

- Currently we have a squad of 30 and can only have 23 for Qatar.

- Have to try out players revolving around the nucleus of the team to arrive at a conclusion.

- JCT midfielder Baldeep Singh would make his India Debut tomorrow!

- Good opportunity for the young lad and others to make a mark.

Calisto, the man behind Vietnam’s resurgence

Henrique Calisto

- Its a pleasure to visit India for the first time for an International Friendly.

- This match would be treated as a preparation for the upcoming Suzuki Cup.

- Have had a good show against Korea in our last match and we would continue with the momentum.

- Indian team has developed over last few years into a tough and fighting opposition.

- Results are not important. Playing good football is important.

- Consistency in game is the key for us.

- We will be concentrating hard on last 20 minutes of our play as one of our targets for tomorrow.

Starting XI

India : Subrata Paul; Surkumar, Gourmangi, Anwar Ali, Rahim Nabi; Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence, Baldeep Singh, Anthony Perreira; Abhishek Yadav, Sunil Chhetri

Results in last 5 matches

India
31/08/2009 India vs Syria 6-5
4/9/2010 Thailand vs India 1-0
8/9/2010 India vs Thailand 1-2
15/9/2010 India vs Namibia 2-0
4/10/2010 India vs Hong Kong 0-1

Vietnam
7/01/2010 Vietnam vs China 1-2
6/5/2010 Vietnam vs Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2
8/9/2010 Vietnam vs Kuwait U23 3-0
15/9/2010 Vietnam vs Australia U23 0-2
4/10/2010 Vietnam vs Korea DPR 0-0

THT Player to watch out for


Anthony Perreira – The Dempo winger has been one of the few bright spots in last few games. He has terrified opponent full-backs with his dazzling pace. While he plays decently as a conventional touchline hogging winger, he is also effective when cutting back from the wings. His efforts were rewarded with a goal against Namibia. Keep an eye out for this trailblazer!

India would for sure make full use of such quality opposition. Pune’s football fanatics will be all set to witness their own Team India in action on Friday again, as the 7 PM evening starts are at an ideal time for The Beautiful Game!

- Somnath Sengupta and Amod Kulkarni


original link-
http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...ss-conference/


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Old 08-10-2010, 19:55   #51
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We won 3-1 against Vietnam today but still a long way to go to make any kinda impact at AFC Asian Cup next year in January.
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Old 08-10-2010, 22:13   #52
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we r grouped with oz, baha n SK.. how soweet :P


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Old 11-10-2010, 11:21   #53
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Super Chhetri goal against Vietnam

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Old 13-10-2010, 11:40   #54
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Default India vs Yemen : Bob’s Boys Look To Continue Winning Streak

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 | Posted by Somnath Sengupta
India vs Yemen : Bob’s Boys Look To Continue Winning Streak

INDIA
vs
YEMEN

Balewandi Stadium, Pune
13.10.2010, 19:00

India came back to form with a thumping 3-1 win over Vietnam. It was a welcome victory, with India dominating most of the game. Ace striker Sunil Chhetri fired on all cylinders, scoring a hattrick.

Bob Houghton would be bolstered by the performance of debutant Baldip Singh, who did a solid if unspectacular job in the midfield, winning possession when needed. Centre-backs Gourmangi and Anwar Ali continue to improve in the heart of the defence.

India’s opponent for this match is Yemen. Yemen is not a traditional powerhouse in Asia. However, under Croatian coach Srecko Juricic, they have made improvements in recent matches. In the 2010 edition of West Asian Football Championship, they finished third; it was a respectable showing considering that it was their debut in the tournament. They defeated Palestine 3-1, but lost narrowly to Asian Champions Iraq. In the semi-final they fought bravely against eventual champions Kuwait, before losing 4-3 in tie-breaker. Star striker and captain Ali Al-Nono topped the goal-scoring charts in the tournament, scoring four times in three games.

Yemen also has an exceptionally good record against India. The last time India managed to win was way back in 1984 in Kolkata. In last 24 years, these two teams have played seven times, with Yemen winning five. Houghton’s boys would love to change this record against Yemen. India’s previous encounter against Yemen saw the game end in a 2-1 win for the latter. Over the last twelve months, Yemen has taken a huge leap in the FIFA rankings, jumping from 132 in November 2009 to 107 in September 2010. The West Asians will host the 20th Edition of Gulf Cup next month. Expect them to take this match as a build-up to the prestigious tournament.

Houghton will start with his tried and tested 4-4-2. Subrata Paul will start in goal. He is undeniably the most important player for Team India now, pulling off world class saves in every single game. Surkumar Singh and Rahim Nabi will start as right and left back respectively. Nabi’s darting runs as wing-back created chaos in Vietnam’s defence; he linked well with the wingers and Chhetri. Anwar Ali and Gourmangi would start as centre-backs.

The ever improving Anthony Perriera assisted Sunil’s second goal; he will again take up the responsibilities of right winger. Clifford Miranda was another crucial player on the opposite flank. Two of his crosses were turned into goals against Vietnam, though Nabi’s goal was canceled. In the absence of Pradeep, Baldip will start again. His physical approach to winning balls might prove invaluable against the Yemenis. Veteran Climax Lawrence will partner him as mideo in central midfield.

Baichung and Rafi are still not fit fully. In their absence, Abhishek Yadav and Chhetri will start. Yadav’s aerial ability will be important against tall Yemen defenders, and Chhetri, with his pace, is a perfect foil for Yadav. His return to form, with three goals in the last game, will be music to the ears of Indian fans. India has been plagued by poor finishing in recent game; with Chhetri roaring back into form, scoring goals may not be a problem anymore.

West Asian teams and East Asian teams have a distinct difference in their style of play. East Asian teams rely on pace and supreme fitness, while West Asians have more skills and have a more physical approach. The last time India played a West Asian nation was almost a year ago – Syria. Under Houghton, India has followed conventional English style of playing – using wings and launching crosses into the penalty box. Against Yemeni players, who are physically better developed, this style may not be fully successful. India has mostly played Eastern Asian teams in recent games, so they need to make adjustments against Yemen.

Last 5 matches

India
4/9/2010 Thailand vs India 1-0
8/9/2010 India vs Thailand 1-2
15/9/2010 India vs Namibia 2-0
4/10/2010 India vs Hong Kong 0-1
8/10/2010 India vs Vietnam 3-1

Yemen
7/09/2010 Yemen vs Syria 2-1
18/9/2010 Yemen vs Zambia 0-1
25/9/2010 Yemen vs Iraq 1-2
27/09/2010 Yemen vs Palestine 3-1
1/10/2010 Yemen vs Kuwait 1(3)-1(4)

India Starting XI

Subrata Paul; Surkumar Singh, Anwar Ali, Gourmangi Singh, Rahim Nabi; Anthony Perriera, Climax Lawrence, Baldip Singh, Clifford Miranda; Abhishek Yadav, Sunil Chhetri

THT Player to watch out for

Sunil Chhetri
The Kansas City Wizards striker rose to the occasion against Vietnam. His fine hattrick ensured that India grabbed a moral boosting win. His pace and poacher’s instinct has made him the most feared Indian striker currently. India will look to Sunil again if they are to win this encounter.


original link-http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/india-vs-yemen-bobs-boys-look-to-continue-winning-streak/


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Old 14-10-2010, 06:32   #55
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Default Ind 3-6 Yemen , Hosts Embarassed at Pune

Thursday, October 14th, 2010 | Posted by Sachin Madaan
India 3-6 Yemen: Hosts Embarrassed In Pune

It was goals galore at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, where India suffered yet another home defeat, this time at the hands of their Western Asian opponents Yemen. Subrata Paul, who has been phenomenal for India for quite some time now, had a day he would quickly like to forget – as many as half a dozen goals went past him tonight.

It took only a few minutes for the visitors to settle into the game and they scored their first goal through an unmarked Haithm Thabit in the ninth minute when he pounced on Nabi’s clearance which had landed in front of him. The midfielder did not hesitate to finish from a close range.

Shortly after conceding, India suffered another blow when Clifford Miranda picked up an injury in only the 13th minute and had to be substituted. Steven Dias took his place on the field.

The defensive line of both the teams looked far from settled and an own goal by Yemen’s defender Aref Dali, who goofed up on Anthony Pereirra’s cross in the 20th minute, brought the game back in the balance. Yemen’s midfield was controlling the pace of the match; Indians on the other hand, except Chhetri and Pereirra, were struggling against the visitors. The hosts were rattled once again before the half-hour mark when Khaled Balied scored from outside the box after Climax and Baldeep had failed to close him down from taking the shot.

The first forty five minutes ended with a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the visiting team.

The men in blue went on the offensive right from the beginning of the second half, and their persistence paid dividends when Abhishek Yadav levelled the score for the home team, scoring off a brilliant cross by Dias just four minutes into the second period.


Juricic was forced to make a change after Basel Aqel got injured in a collision and Hezzam was brought on in his place. Bob Houghton rolled the dice for the last time when he made the remaining substitutions for the hosts in the 58th minute with Baldeep and Lawrence making way for Pradeep and Renedy.

All hell broke lose as the game crossed the hour mark and Yemen again broke the deadlock when Akram Wrafi scored from a brilliant strike to the corner of the net from outside the box.

India tried their best to equalize for the third time but luck was certainly not on their side when Chhetri’s powerful shot from a Dias’ cross hit the crossbar much to the agony of the Indian spectators. India almost scored from Surkumar’s strike but Yemen’s goalkeeper Ayash came to the rescue of his team. It was all India for nearly fifteen minutes after they went behind in the 61st minute, but in trying to do so they lost the focus at the back and went two goals down with a little less then a quarter of an hour left on the clock. Ala Sasi scored for 107th ranked visitors leaving no way back for Houghton’s boys. Sasi was not done for the night as he scored his second goal just couple of minutes before the end of stipulated time to rub some salt into the wounds of the Indian team.



Goals continued to come for both the sides in the injury time as Surkumar bagged a consolation goal in the 92nd minute but Yaser Ba Haj made sure that the visitors had the last laugh when he scored the sixth goal for his team and the 9th of the match.

Pratap Singh blew the final whistle in the 95th minute to bring an end to Indian team’s misery and had it not been for the own goal scored by Yemen in the 20th minute, the score line would have looked even more ominous.

Considering the fact that Indian national team will be playing the likes of Australia and South Korea in little less than three months, a scoreline of 3-6 against a team ranked in three digits paints a sorry picture.

TheHardTackle Player of the Match

Ala Sasi (Yemen)


His twin strikes late into the second half sank the Indian team and helped Yemen to stamp its authority over the match. His brace came against the run of play and knocked the breath out of the Indian team that had looked like scoring each time it launched an attack, after going down 2-3 at the hour mark.

Match Statistics

India Starting Line-Up: Subrata Paul, Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi, Anwar Ali, Syed Nabi, Anthony PereirRa, Climax Lawrence, Baldeep Singh, Clifford Miranda, Abhishek Yadav, Sunil Chhetri

Subs: NP Pradeep, Renedy Singh, Steven Dias

Score: (OG) Dali 20′, Abhishek 49′, Surkumar 90+2′.

Yemen Starting Line Up: Mohammed Ebrahim Ayash, Basem Al Aqel, Mohammed Al Ammari, Haithm Thabit, Ali Al Nono (capt.), Munasser Ba Haj, Aref Thabit Al Dali, Akram Al Wrafi, Khaled Baled, Ala Al Sasi, Awsam Al Sayed

Subs: Hezzam, Abidi, Yaser Ba Haj

Score: Thabit 9′, Baleid 28′, Wrafi 61′, Sasi (77′, 88′), Yaser Ba Haj 90+3′


original link-:
http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...assed-in-pune/


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India to play Myanmar in a home and an away fixture in the first quarter of next year in the 2012 Olympic qualification round 1.


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Default biggest match in over a quarter of a century for india v Aus tonight

Asian Cup Preview: India vs Australia


India

v

Australia

Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha

10th January, 2011, 18:45 IST


India will be playing their first match in Asian Cup in over twenty seven years when they take the field against Australia on Monday. The minnows of Asian football didn’t get an ideal draw to begin with as it saw them pitted against three out of the top six Asian teams. Bob Houghton’s men have got their work cut out as Aussies, who are ranked number twenty six in the world and number one in Asia are considered to be among one of the favourites to lift this cup.

A tough group should not deter the Indians as this is the biggest international tournament they have been a part of in more than quarter of a century and they should go all out against their opponents since they have nothing to lose here.

Team News and Strategy:

India


The biggest story coming out of the Indian camp is that their inspirational captain Bhaichung Bhutia has failed to recover from the injury he sustained to his right calf muscle and is most likely to sit out of India’s opening fixture against the Socceroos. This is bound to cause some distress to the Indian coach Houghton who received quite some flak from both media and fans for leaving behind Rafi and Robin Singh as the replacements strikers when the squad for Doha was announced in late December.

Strong back line is the biggest strength of the Aussies and skipper Bhutia’s vision will be dearly missed. What makes matter worse for Indians is that one of their reserve strikers, Sushil Kumar is unavailable for two matches due to the suspension he picked up against DPR Korea. What is even more shocking is that AIFF knew about this and still he was kept in the squad at the expense of Rafi and Robin.

India is most likely to field a 4-4-2 formation with Abhishek Yadav most likely to take the place of Bhutia with Chhetri up front. Steven Dias will be in charge of providing the crosses to his forwards, a job he has performed exceptionally in the past.

Subrata Pal, possibly the only world class player in the ranks of the Indians can surely expectt himself to be kept busy in front of the goal and his shot stopping skills will be tested to the fullest on Monday when he will have to take care of the headers of Everton striker Tim Cahill.


Team News and Strategy:

Australia


The Asian number one outfit would be hoping for a winning start to their campaign against the 142nd ranked Indian team. Although, Australian skipper Lucas Neill doesn’t want his team to be complacent, he said that they won’t be taking India lightly. “We’re not taking them (India) for granted. We’re going to respect everybody and make sure that hard work gets us through.” said the Aussie captain.

Socceroos have a big physical advantage over the Indians and they would like to use that to its fullest in this opening encounter. Australia is a strong defensive unit and expect their manager Holger Osieck to carry forward the same defensive style to play which they have been playing in their recent international friendlies as a build up to the Asian Cup.

Offensive department is one area where the team from down under might face some problems as most of their strikers are nearing their expiry date, but the kangaroos will have no problem in sailing through against an Indian defensive unit which is relatively inexperienced at this level.

TheHardtackle’s Prediction:

India 0 -5 Australia


India, scoring a goal against the mighty Australians looks more difficult than climbing the Everest and now with their most prolific striker ruled out of the match it seems even more further from reality. Australia possesses in their kitty a host of talented players who earn their bread and butter in EPL and are expected to run riot on Monday. The best the Men in Blue can do is walk after ninety minutes with their heads held high, but considering their dismal performances against the likes of Kuwait and UAE it doesn’t look like a possibility.

TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out For:

Tim Cahill (Australia)


With attack being their weakest link, in Cahill the Aussies possess a match winner who can turn the match on his head in no time. He is known for his finishing capabilities and has at his disposal, probably the most deadly headers in the world of football today.

source: http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...#comment-12795


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Default India In AFC Asian Cup: Why These Exclusions Bob?

In less than a week’s time the Indian national football team will be playing what could easily be called their biggest test in recent times when they travel to Doha, Qatar to for the AFC 2011 Asian Cup.

The last Monday in the year 2010, saw the AIFF announce the 23-man squad for the tournament. The exclusions of Dempo’s left back Samir Naik and winger Anthony Pereira along with that of Churchill Brothers’ goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya was to be expected as they had failed to recover from the injuries suffered during team India’s two month long camp in Dubai. Losing key players to injury is part and parcel of sports and that’s something fans can understand but the decision of Indian coach Bob Houghton to leave behind last season’s I league’s top scorer Mohammed Rafi, along with the likes of players such as Snehashish, and East Bengal’s duo of Mehtab and Robin Singh has certainly not gone down well with Indian supporters.

The curious case of Mohammed Rafi

What makes Rafi’s omission even more startling is the fact that Indian skipper Bhaichung Bhutia has still not fully recovered from the injury he sustained to his right leg calf muscle and in these circumstances not taking the Churchill brothers striker to Doha, who was also adjudged the best player in the domestic league in 2009-10 can dearly hurt the performance of the Indian national football team in the testing Middle East conditions.

The 28 year old forward from Kerala earned a call into the national team after putting across a string of impressive performances during team India’s Portugal tour last year where he formed a good partnership with Delhi lad Sunil Chhetri after Bhutia was forced to fly back mid way through the tour due to injury.

It is a known fact that Rafi has failed to live up to his expectations in the handful of international friendlies he has played since then but the selection of Sushil Kumar and Abhishek Yadav over him is baffling. After fairing so well in the I league and considering his footballing skills are far superior to the players preferred to him, most football gurus certainly believe that the South Indian striker deserved to be a part of the squad.

Mehtab Hossain misses the bus

Kingfisher East Bengal’s deep lying-midfielder didn’t get a call from the Englishman either. A dead ball specialist, his creativity will be dearly missed by the squad in Doha. He could have formed a formidable partnership with Steven Dias at the center of the field. Called “double-cylinder” for his work rate and stamina he should have been on the flight to Qatar instead of Climax Lawrence who is way past his prime. Along with excellent vision he is known to score some scorchers from long range which could have come in handy for the team during the campaign in Doha as India is pitted against Asian powerhouses.


Snehashish too?

The fact that he has been compared to Steven Dias speaks volumes about the talent this winger has at his disposal. Chakraborty comes across as a hard but clean tackler - a rarity these days. Providing crosses with pin point accuracy is his specialty. He possess one of the best free–kicks in Indian football at the moment. This Mohan Bagan mid fielder is a fitness freak and rarely gets injured, something which would have allowed him to play the entire ninety minutes had he been in Houghton’s scheme of things.

Where’s Robin, Bob?

Absence of this 20 year old, who is tipped by many to be the next big thing in Indian football, caused a stir among a large chunk of Indian fans. A product of the Tata Football Academy (TFA), he has been playing exceptional football since he landed up at East Bengal and played a pivotal role in the Red and Gold brigade’s triumphs at Federation Cup, Kolkata League and Jubilee Cup. He emerged as the top scorer at Jubilee Cup for his club.


Although just out of his teens, he has proven that he has the appetite for the big games and should have been considered for the tournament. He was instrumental in the historic victory of TFA over giants East Bengal during the 2009 IFA shield group stage and later playing for East Bengal scored a brace against arch rivals Mohan Bagan to clinch the final of the KFL 2010. With teammate Sushil Kumar and Abhishek Yadav turning out to be duds in most of the international friendlies during 2010, the boy from Noida should not have been overlooked.

What could have made the difference at the back

If you have been on the receiving end of a 1-9 and a 0-5 thumping in two back to back matches then it doesn’t take an expert to realize that some serious reinforcements are required at the back. After seeing the way Indian defense leaked goals against the likes of Western Asian powerhouses Kuwait and UAE the selection of Dharmaraj Ravanan who was probably the best Indian defender of the I league season gone by should have only been a formality. Well apparently not, if you happen to be the current coach of the Indian national team.

Why this defender from the south state of Tamil Nadu didn’t make it to the team is difficult to fathom. His calmness, consistency and ability to read the minds of his opponents made him the heart of Mahindra United’s defense. Along with Alaudeen he formed what can arguably be termed the best defensive partnership in I league. He was the part of the India’s squad which lifted the 2009 SAFF cup and his exclusion comes as a puzzler.

Shocking selections

What has created even more outrage amongst football fans is seeing the names of Abhishek Yadav and Sushil Kumar in the Indian squad who have consistently flopped on the international circuit this season.

Yadav began his international career on a golden note, when he came off the bench to score the winner in his debut game against Vietnam and in the course helped India to lift LG Cup in 2002. His performances have fizzled out ever since and especially after the arrival of Chhetri he has rarely been chosen in the starting line up as a partner up front to the Sikkimese Sniper. He is by far the tallest striker the men in blue possess but has never really capitalized on his height advantage.

On the other hand naming Sushil Kumar Singh in the squad was even more baffling. The Indian U-23 captain has failed to score in all the international friendlies that he has been a part of this year. Moreover, Sushil played second fiddle to Rafi during their time together at Mahindra United. How he was chosen over Rafi by Houghton is a question only he can and should answer.

If either Chhetri or Bhutia (presuming he returns to fitness) were to suffer an injury during the tournament, their replacements don’t look promising at all.

There’s still a ray of hope

Along with Rafi and the injured trio, young East Bengal striker Baljit Singh Sahni has also failed to make it to the final 23 but thanks to a guideline issued by the AFC all these players, if fit, can still make it to the team as a replacement of any of the 23 named players, 6 hours prior to their team’s first encounter.

“Once the final registration of a minimum of eighteen (18) players and a maximum of twenty-three (23) players have been submitted and received by AFC, Participating Member Associations can still replace any of these players on any grounds, up until six (6) hours before their first Match of the Competition,” stated the AFC issued guideline for the tournament.

Indian football fanatics would seriously be hoping that a certain Mr. Bob Houghton is aware of this guideline and can manage Rafi and the others a much deserved flight ticket to Doha before the 10th of January.

source:http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...xclusions-bob/


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Default Qatar 3-1 India (1st Leg) – Post Mortem: Yet Another Poor Result For India In Doha

Qatar 3-1 India (1st Leg) – Post Mortem: Yet Another Poor Result For India In Doha


A tactically and physically superior Qatar contingent got the better of Bulpin’s boys, as the Indian colts went down rather meekly in the first leg of their pre-Olympic qualifier at Doha. It was India’s third trip to the Al-Sadd stadium this year, and unfortunately they ended up on a losing note, again.

The match started at a frantic pace with end-to-end football being played by both the teams. India shocked the handful of supporters present at the venue by getting ahead in the 7th minute. Jeje scored from inside the box due to the inability of Qatar’s backline to clear the long throw-in from Indian skipper Raju Gaikwad; a major weapon for India.

The home team pressed on after going down a goal and were awarded with a rather dubious penalty kick in the tenth minute. Qatar’s captain Hassan al Haidous stepped up to take the kick but much to the horror of the crowd, his weak effort was saved by the Indian keeper Laxmikant Kattimani.

Quarter of an hour into the match, Haidous made up for his missed penalty as he provided a majestic through ball to Al Khalfan, which split the Indian defence wide open. He calmly rounded the Indian keeper to bring Qatar back into the game.

Qatar stepped on the throttle after the equaliser which pegged back the Indian midfield; a midfield that was absent for the best part of ninety minutes. Coached by Frenchman Simondi Bernard, Qatar played a game of short passes whereas Indians were attempting to play long passes. Unfortunately, both the teams lacked composure. Haidous, who started on the right flank switched over to the left and this tactical change sent the Indian back four into a tizzy. Bulpin’s boys looked completely rattled and were not able to match up to the pace of their opponents from the Middle East.

Viva Kerela’s striker Sabeeth had a golden opportunity at the half-an-hour mark but his inability to control the ball at the edge of the box helped Qatar to muster up a scrappy clearance – which became the order of the day. Qatar was going forward but much to the dismay of their supporters most of their crosses were of poor quality.

The game started to open up at the 35th minute with players getting tired after their initial burst of energy. Seven of the starting eleven for India were from Indian Arrows, but looking at the co-ordination (or lack of it) between the team on the pitch, it would be hard to say that most of these boys have played an entire season in the i-league together.

While Qatar was enjoying the lion’s share of possession, attacks arriving from the Indian side were few and far between. The fact that the closest the Indian colts came to scoring a second was from an uncomfortable collection of Gaikwad’s long throw by Qatar’s shot stopper Saad Al Sheeb speaks volumes about the lack of communication between the Indian midfield and forwards.

Both the sides went into the half-time with the score line of a goal a piece. The half-time break seemed to have worked wonders only for the home team as they started off with a new found intent and aggression. Al Ansari had the first chance for the hosts in the second half as he sold a dummy to Gaikwad only to shoot over the crossbar as he was leaning back while taking the shot.

Haidous proved yet again why he was considered by the Indians as their biggest threat as he took a shot from 35 yards which swirled into the back of the Indian goal to give Qatar the lead in the 54th minute. The shot came out of the blue but the Indian keeper should have done better as there was not much power behind the shot.

Indian goal was getting bombarded with shots and a couple of minutes later Ansari took a long ranger from 25 yards which, luckily for India, went straight into the gloves of Kattimani. The Qatar striker was set up again at the hour mark by their captain, but much to the relief of the visitors, his left foot shot went well wide of the Indian goal.

Meanwhile, at the other end, India was only able to threaten their opponents from long throws which were pelted in by their captain Gaikwad, which was the only offensive weapon India had up their sleeves.

In the 67th minute, Indian dead ball specialist Ralte made way into the referee’s book after his studs up challenge on Haidous.

Ansari should have made it three goals for Qatar in the 69th minute, but it was not his day as his attempt for an easy tap-in from close range only managed to find the crossbar. The Indian defence was at sixes and sevens as the ball continued to hover around their box. Another chance presented itself for Bernard’s men and this time around substitute Mohamed Elnee did not fail to score from 8 yards as he tapped in the third goal for the hosts which all but sealed their victory.



The Englishman has a lot on his plate for the return leg

It was getting obvious from the body language of the visitors that they were content with just a single away goal as they showed no intent to score in the second period. Although they did come close to snatching a goal back ten minutes from time, when Mondal headed a set play taken by Ralte but his weak attempt did not cause any concern to Qatar’s keeper, who was playing with much more confidence in the second half.

The Dempo SC keeper kept Indians alive in the tie as he made a remarkable reflex save from point blank range in the last minute of injury time. This meant that the match ended 3-1 in favour of the hosts as Qatar showed a lot of character by winning the first leg of the Olympic qualifier after suffering an early setback.

India will feel that all is not lost as they walked away with a precious away goal and would have all to play for, during the return leg in Pune on Thursday. How the midfield of India will shape up will ultimately decide the return leg at the Balewadi stadium and after looking at the team India’s display at the centre of the pitch, it can be said with an ease that Mr. Desmond Bulpin has his task cut out for the second leg of the qualifier.

Player of the Match: Hassan al Haidous (Qatar)

Qatar’s skipper was the difference between the two teams as India’s attempts to contain the twenty year-old turned futile. The match did not start on a bright note for Haidous as he missed a penalty in the 10th minute which would have brought Qatar on level terms after India had taken the lead through Jeje Lalpekhlua. The midfielder switched flanks immediately after his missed opportunity and looked like an altogether different player. After just five minutes, he picked up an assist when he provided a cutting pass to Al Khalfan which helped Qatar to restore parity in the match.

He was one of the three players who had featured for Qatar in January at the 2011 Asian Cup and fully utilised his experience of playing at the highest level. He was labelled as the “go-to” man for Qatar, a role which he justified completely during the first leg.

Haidous was always able to find acres of space amongst the non-existent Indian midfield and was either shooting or providing assists at will. He was rewarded for his hard work early in the second half as his scorcher of a kick from 35 yards gave Qatar a much deserved lead. The hosts continued to press on, riding on his sublime form and were able to go up by two goals with twenty minutes left on the clock. Haidous, by far, looked the most comfortable player with the ball at his feet and had it not been for some poor finishing by the forwards in front of him, the scoreline would have been even more embarrassing for the Indians.

India needs to find a way to shackle Qatar’s majestic skipper in Pune, or else, they can kiss their chances goodbye.

Goal scorers: Jeje Lalpekhlua (India)7′ , Al Khalfan (Qatar) 15′, Hassan Al Haidous (Qatar) 54′, Mohammed El Neel (Qatar) 70′

original link- http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...india-in-doha/


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Default 2010-2011 Season Review: Indian Arrows – Bright Future Ahead

Saturday, June 11th, 2011 | Posted by Sachin Madaan
2010-2011 Season Review: Indian Arrows – Bright Future Ahead

With an eye on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, AIFF launched an ambitious bid in 2010 which ultimately resulted in the creation of Indian Arrows club (formerly AIFF XI). It was decided that the squad would only consist of India U-21 players and the foreign players were barred from joining the club. Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi was chosen as their home ground.
The onus of managing this young Indian brigade was handed over to Desmond Bulpin, who in the past has had successful stints with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City (with Bob Houghton). The appointment of the former Philippines national coach was a well thought out decision made by the AIFF, as the Scotsman has had a history of identifying young talent. Some of his major finds include Peter Crouch and Ledley King.
Here TheHardTackle takes a look at how the 2010-11 season panned out for the young Indian Arrows outfit.

Federation Cup
Before beginning their maiden journey in I-league, the Indian colts took part in the Federation cup where they were grouped together with JCT, Dempo and ONGC FC.
Although their inaugural Federation cup campaign ended at the group stage itself, the boys did manage to make an auspicious start to their club career with a solitary goal win over JCT FC in their first ever outing. They met the mighty Dempo SC in their penultimate match, where a brace from the Nigerian striker Ranti Martins was enough to keep Bulpin’s boys at bay from picking up back to back wins. In their must win final group encounter against ONGC, Jeje scored for Bulpin’s boys in the second half but his solitary strike was not enough to overcome Kailash Patil’s first half twin strikes.
Two successive defeats ultimately knocked them out of the competition but the young squad won over the hearts of the fans as they bowed out after putting on respectful performances against the big boys of Indian football.
I-League
With the disbanding of Mahindra United at the end of 2009-10 season, Indian Arrows got a direct entry into the top flight of I-league, much to the dismay of a number of state football Federations throughout the nation.
The season of I–league kicked off in the first week of December but the campaign for Indian Arrows began on a losing note as Chirag United handed them a 2-1 away loss. A string of spineless performances followed which saw them suffer a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of East Bengal and then against the eventual champions Salgoacar (0-5). As a result of these humiliating losses more fuel was added to the criticism surrounding the formation of Indian Arrows which was already doing the rounds in the national football-ing circuit from the day the club was born.
Although, the year ended on a bright note as they picked up victories in two successive home games against Air India and HAL with a identical scoreline of two goals to one. However their woeful away form continued in the New Year as well and they were humbled 6-0 by Churchill Brothers in Goa. While they had conceded 17 goals away from home in their first four away fixtures, Bulpin’s boys continued to impress at their home ground at Gurgaon.
They showed a lot of character after receiving knockout punches from the heavyweights of Indian football to salvage three draws at the Ambedkar Stadium, which kept their unbeaten home record intact till Viva Kerela snatched a win over them in round 23 of the competition.
With just three wins under their belt in the first three months, Indian Arrows were starring down the barrel of the gun. The turnaround happened in the month of March when the team traveled to Mumbai to take on the struggling Air India. Arrows came from a goal down to pick up their first away win of the season with an astonishing scoreline of five goals to two. Former Pune FC striker Jeje Lalpekhlua showcased exactly why he is considered the future of Indian football, as the Mizo striker went on to score four times in the match.
They continued on with their winning ways and managed to pick up another sensational 4-0 away victory over HAL SC with all four goals coming from different players.
Mid way through April the club had suffered three consecutive defeats, including an embarrassing 5-2 loss against the defending champions Dempo but got their campaign back on track with a close victory over Mumbai FC. Eventually they ended their first year in the top flight at 9th position after playing arguably their best game of the season against Mohun Bagan.
Best Match: India Arrows 5 – 4 Mohun Bagan
Indian Arrows hosted the mighty Mohun Bagan in the last round of the season, in a match which was considered as the David v/s Goliath encounter of Indian football. The Mariners were considered the outright favourites for the match. But no sane soul could have predicted what actually transpired during the ninety minutes. A nine goal fest which saw Bulpin’s team pick up a four goal advantage - thanks to a hattrick by Jeje and another goal by Shilton, within the first half an hour, knocked the wind out of the fans of Asia’s oldest club. Chidi scored a goal for the Bagan before the half time whistle blew, but the havoc created by the young strikers of Arrows had already sent Mohun Bagan in a tizzy.
Muritala Ali tried to script a comeback on the other side of the halftime and his brace brought them within touching distance of the U-21 team with the score reading 4-3 in favour of the hosts, with only 12 minutes of stipulated time left. But the young lads had other ideas as Jeje went on to score his fourth goal of the match just four minutes from time to tilt the match in the favour of his team. Muritala went on to complete his hat trick as well in the injury time but could not prevent Mohun Bagan from losing on the last day of the league campaign in a goal-scoring thriller.
Best Player: Jeje Lalpekhlua
There were some exceptional performances being put on display by these young lads through the course of the season, but without any shadow of a doubt Jeje Lalpekhlua walks away with the title of the best player of the squad.
He was instrumental in scripting the win over Air India, HAL and Bagan and also picked up two hat tricks - the most by any Indian in the league.
The twenty year old, also finished as the top scorer among Indians in the league and got a call from the national team for 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification tournament and scored 4 goals in three matches.
The other vital performers for Arrows were captain Raju Gaekwad, Deepak Devrani in defense, Shilton D’Silva, Lalrindika Ralte at midfield and Jagroop Singh under the woodwork.

Best Goal: Jeje Lalpekhlua

Worst Performance: Indian Arrows 0 – 6 Churchill Brothers

Odafa Onyeka single handedly demolished the entire backline of Indian Arrows as Churchill brothers mauled the Indian u-21 squad by an emphatic scoreline of 6-0. He literally toyed with the defense of Indian Arrows and netted as many as five goals on his way to become the second highest goal scorer in the history of I-league with a century of goals.
The midfield and the backline could only stand in awe of the Nigerian as he went on a rampage. Nothing went in the way of the Bulpin’s boys, as they were left as the mere spectators on the field while the veteran striker went on a goal scoring spree. After scoring a brace in the first half the Nigerian went berserk twenty minutes from time and picked up a second half hat trick, leaving the young squad and its management shell shocked.

The Conclusion

In their inaugural year the biggest task in front of the club was to prevent relegation, which many believed was a forgone conclusion due to the absence of foreign players in their ranks. In spite of facing criticism since the very beginning from almost every corner, even from within the AIFF and losing as many as eight players mid way through the season to injuries, chicken pox and exams, this club with an average age of only nineteen surprised everyone as they concluded their campaign by finishing at a creditable ninth place in the league.
With 13 goals Jeje Lalpekhlua finished the season as the highest Indian goal scorer in the league and 7th highest overall, which must have sent shockwaves among their detractors. Their performance this season has gone a long way in questioning the myth which had prevailed for a long time that I-league is meant only for men and not for boys.

The Path Ahead

Whether AIFF will be able to keep the project Indian Arrows intact and whether they will be able to see the light of the second season still remains in doubt. Till now AIFF has not been able to find a sponsor for the next season, for which they have time till September. Quite a few parties from Pune and Kolkata have shown their interest in Arrows, who will most likely be relocated if any of these two deals goes through, but how will AIFF convince other clubs to let their youngsters stay with the Arrows, who were loaned out last year before the start of the season is the biggest hurdle in their way.
It is tough to say whether AIFF would be able to fulfill the dream of over a billion people in 2018, but it is pretty imminent that with the establishment of Indian Arrows they have definitely made a step in the right direction.
Still at a nascent stage, this Gurgaon based club is beginning to show early signs of progress. The experience of playing at the pinnacle of Indian club football is bound to do wonders for these upcoming stars of the future. The fact that seven of their squad players have already received a call up from the national team is a testimony to the strides the club has made in their very first year of existence.


original link: http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.p...-future-ahead/


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