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2009 - DECEMBER NEWS         

Barcelona win FIFA Club World Cup 2009....

19.12.2009 ::Spanish Giant FC Barcelona have won the FIFA Club World Cup for their first time in history following a 2-1 victory over Argentinian side Estudiantes in extra time.This is their 6th title in a row in the 2009 - 2010 season.

In Zayed Sports City Stadium of Abu Dhabi, a strong 43,000 spectators watched the match. Argentina side Estudiantes scored first in 37th minute .Mauro Boselli beats Barca Defender Abidal in the air to head home a pinpoint cross from the left by Enzo Perez.(1 - 0 ).To reach in the Final Estudiantes had beaten Korean outfit Pohang Steelers while Barcelona beat Mexican Atlanta 3 - 1.

Estudiantes got a Big chance to score in 79th minute when the ball fell to Mauro Boselli as gaps opened up in the Barcelona defence, but he was too slow in reacting to playing Clement Rodriguez in who had an acre of unmarked space in which to maneouvre. Argentenian side was leading in the first half.

In the 89th minute of the match Barcelona equalised through Pedro.Xavi's chipped ball into the box from left and Pedro well received the ball and lobbed over the on-rushing Keeper Albil ( 1 - 1 ).

In Extra Time ,Barcelona dominated the match and their winning goal came after 110 minutes, through UEFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi.Estudiantes Star Juan Veron looks on disconsolate, as Alves Chips the ball deep into the Estudiantes box and Messi, with all his talents, chested the ball into the back of the net after ghosting in-between Rodriguez and Cellay.

Barcelona lost both of their previous intercontinental finals. In 2006, Internacional of Porto Alegre - Brazil lifted the trophy and Sao Paulo were the better side in the 1992 Toyota Cup.

In the Earlier match of the day South Korea's Pohang Steelers beat Mexican club Atlante 4-3 on penalties to clinch third place of FIFA club World CUp at the Zayed Sports City.

PRIZE MONEY

Total Prize : USD 16.5 Million
Winners : USD 5 Million
Runners-up : USD 4 Million
Third Place : USD 2.5 Million
Foutrth Place : USD 2 Million
Fifth Place : USD 1.5 Million
Sixth Place : USD 1 Million
Seventh Pace : USD 500,000

Estudiantes: Damian ALBIL (GK),Leandro DESABATO, Christian CELLAY, Enzo PEREZ (Maxi Nunez 79'), Juan VERON (C), Juan Manuel DIAZ, German RE (F. Rojo 91'), Mauro BOSELLI, Rodrigo BRANA, Leandro BENITEZ ( M. Santez 76'), Clemente RODRIGUEZ,

FC Barcelona : Victor VALDES (GK), DANI ALVES, Gerard PIQUE, Carles PUYOL (C), XAVI, Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC, Lionel MESSI, Thierry HENRY (Jeffren 83'), Seydou KEITA ( Pedro 46'), Sergio BUSQUETS (Y. Toure 79'), Eric ABIDAL ,

Target-14 : Mohun Bagan is ready in Fed Cup ....

19.12.2009 :: :: M.Mohun Bagan, the maximum winner of Federation Cup ( 13 Times)will live upto the expectation of of millions of fans this year also,when Federation Cup kicks off on 21st December,2009,Just one day ahead.

Much has been said about the group of Mohun Bagan,as many experts have termed it as Group of Death(Mohammedan S.C, chirag United, Mahindra United).A champion crushes all his opponents that comes on his way & steadily cruises to its goal.

Karim Bencharifa,the most successful club coach of India is optimistic about the chances of Mohun Bagan.The supporters are eagerly waiting for the deadly combination of Chiddi,Barreto & Sueoka..After the introduction of Japanese midfielder in the team,new dimensions have opened up.Chiddi already has proved his worth and at present is rated as the best foreign striker on Indian soil.

Barreto is back after an injury and hopefully he will weave magic on the field.Add to the more misery of the opponents,James & Snehasish will be operating from the flanks.Deepak,the stalwart of our Bagan defence,will be assissted by Surkumar,Mohonraj,Massi,Mohanraj and others...

The top teams of the four groups reach the Semi-Final,and East Bengal,if win the group league,will take on Mohun Bagan and the supporters can expect some new records.

The red alarm has also been generated for Odafa & Co. and Armando Colaco"s team will also face the sweet chin music if they bother to come on our way.....

If there is a will
There is a way
When it is Mohun Bagan
There is no other way.

Courtesy :Samik Dutta Gupta : Member : (Mariners on the Move) Mohun Bagan Fans Club,Kolkata

UPtO DATE WINNERS

Mohun Bagan A.C.   13 Times   1978,1980(Jt.),1981,1982,1986,1987,1992,1993,1994,1998,2001,2006,2008

East Bengal   5   Times   1978,1980(Jt.),1985,1996,2007

Salgaocar S.C.   3   Times   1988,1989,1997

Mohammedan S.C.   2   Times   1983,1984

Mahindra United   2   Times   2003,2005

JCT Mills F.C.   2   Times   1995,1996

Kerala Police   2   Times   1990,1991

Dempo S.C   1   Time   2004

BSF   1   Time   1979

ITI   1   Time   1977

Mohun Bagan announced their FED Cup Team today .

17.12.2009 :: M.Mohun Bagan Team will left for Gwahati, Assam tomorrow mornning towards to participate in AIFF Federationa Cup Final Round Tournament from 21st December.

In a practice match todaty at Mohun bagan Ground Karim's Boys beat Premier League Team Cal. Port Trust 2 - 0 . Barreto scored througha Penalty and Japanese Seuoka scored the other.

Coach Karim told that between Suraj Mondol and Branco Cordozo on will be included later in the team squad. The team for FED Cup is

Mohun Bagan Squad

Sangram Mukherjee, Shilton Paul,Surkumar Singh,Zenith Mashangva ,Deepak Mondal, Sagram Mandi , Seikh Azim , Biswajit Saha , Rakesh Masih , Subho Kumar , Souvik Chakraborty , Micky Fernandez , Ryuji Seuoka, Snehasish Chakraborty , Ishfaq Ahmed, Lukram James Singh , Tomba Singh , Jose Ramirez Barreto , Chidi Edeh , Suraj Mandal .

Mohun Bagan Matches (GROUP B - GUWAHATI )

M.Mohun Bagan | Mahindra United | Chirag United SC | Mohammedan S.C/J&K Bank

21.12.09 M. Mohun Bagan AC V/s Mohammedan S.C/J&K Bank
21.12.09 Mahindra United V/s Chirag United SC
23.12.09 Chirag United SC V/s M. Mohun Bagan AC
23.12.09 Mohammedan S.C/J&K Bank V/s Mahindra United
26.12.09 Chirag |United SC V/s Mohammedan S.C/J&K Bank
26.12.09 Mahindra United V/s M. Mohun Bagan AC

READ IT ::

Prospect of the Clubs in FEDERATION CUP 2009


FC Barcelona one step from history .

17.12.2009 : : Spanish Giant FC Barcelona is the second finalist of the FIFA Club World Cup 2009 being held in Abu Dhabi,UAE. After beating Mexican Atlante, 3 - 1 ,Barcelona will face Estudiantes of Argentina, in the grand final on 19th Dec.

The stunning goal from midfielder Guillermo Rojas of Atlante sored first in 5th minutes but the Catalan club has assimilated well the initial shock, kept his style of play and ended with the hope of the Mexican team to be a possible surprise of the championship. Barca equalised in 35 minutes after a corner kick by Xavi. Yaya Toure turned upside and midfielder Sergio Busquets sent first to the back of the net the Mexican side goalkeeper Vilar.

In the second half, Barca coach Guardiola replaced 'UEFA Golden Ball 2009 winner Lionel Messi, in place of Yaya Toure. Ten minutes later he had scored for Barca after receiving a perfect pass frm Ibrahimovic, beat the goalkeeper and rolled into the goal leaving a Mexican defender sitting on the road.

In 67th minute of the 2nd half Iniesta made beautiful move by the left, invaded the area and played for the young striker Pedro who mark the third for Barca and go down in history . The victory left Barcelona one step closer to winning the only title missing in your gallery.

Barcelona, in 2009, alredy win Spanish League, Champions League, Copa del Rey, European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup (both are played in two games) and If they win the final by beating Estudantes de la Plata from Argentina, it will be their sixth title in a year.

But Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta may miss Saturday's Club World Cup final against Estudiantes after damaging a thigh muscle when match aganst Atlante.He was then replaced by Bojan Krkic in the 75th minute of the semi-final against the CONCACAF champions and preliminary tests showed he had injured his left thigh.

I-League (9 - 13th Round ) Probable Fixtures of Kolkata Team .

: 17.12.2009

7/8 Jan 2010 :  MOHUN  BAGAN VS Churchill Brothers (Kolkata)
17th Jan 2010 : Air India (Mumbai) VS  MOHUN  BAGAN
21st Jan 2010 : Mahindra United (Mumbai) VS  MOHUN  BAGAN
28th Jan 2010 : Salgaocar (Goa) VS  MOHUN  BAGAN
2nd Feb 2010 : Dempo S.C (Goa) VS  MOHUN  BAGAN


7/8th Jan 2010 :  EAST  BENGAL VS Chirag united(Kolkata)
16th Jan 2010 :  EAST  BENGAL VS Mumbai F.C (Kolkata)
23rd Jan 2010 :  EAST  BENGAL VS Churchill Brothers(Kolkata)
29th Jan 2010 : Dempo S.C(Goa) VS  EAST  BENGAL
3rd Feb 2010 : Sporting Goa (Goa) VS  EAST  BENGAL

7/8th Jan 2010 :  CHIRAG UNITED VS  EAST  BENGAL
17th Jan 2010 :  CHIRAG UNITED VS Dempo S.C (Kolkata)
24th Jan 2010 :  CHIRAG UNITED VS JCT (Kolkata)
28th Jan 2010 : Pune F.C (Pune) VS  CHIRAG UNITED
3rd Feb 2010 :  CHIRAG UNITEDVS Lajong F.C (Kolkata)

Let us bring the kids back to football
in Bengal’s perspective .

17.12.2009 :: RANA BOSE :: With the increasing popularity of the game of cricket in Bengal, football has been steadily losing the requisite amount of patronage amongst the very young Bengali populace. It has failed to enthuse the colts in increasing number from taking up this beautiful game considered to be the most popular sport in the world. Consequently, the big clubs of Kolkata are now heavily dependent on imports from other states, especially from the North East and Goa, whereas, till the mid-1980s Bengal provided 6-7 players to the national side.

The powers-to-be in Bengal football, namely, the IFA and the various District Football Associations need to focus their efforts in the right direction. Lack of facilities and infrastructure deficiencies have prompted parents to take their wards to the cricket coaching camps in increasing number that have mushroomed throughout the state. These coaching camps have cashed in on the boom and are reaping big money with a promise to pitchfork the trainees as they mature to the larger arena, i.e., a place in the national or the state side. Ex-India or Ranji trophy players mostly run these cricket-coaching camps and sometimes do indulge in giving false lop-sided assurances to the parents about their ward’s “phenomenal progress in the right direction”.

For ages, football has been the major sport of Bengal. What has exactly happened to the game, resulting in the shrinkage of budding talents from making a mark at the higher level? Cynics will of course cite lack of money in this sport vis-à-vis cricket where a mediocre State-level cricketer can earn well over Rs. 10 lac a season playing in all the Ranji Trophy matches for Bengal. A Bengali footballer with exceptional football talent playing for any of the two big clubs of Kolkata can command an annual price tag of maybe Rs. 20 lac to Rs. 30 lac but he has to sweat out more on the football turf as compared to a cricket pitch where the exertion is far less on any given day. Added to that is the injury factor. A football player is more prone to injuries than a cricketer.

This treatise of course is not about comparing the merits and demerits of the two games per se nor is it an effort to criticize the State’s apex body, the IFA. Instead it is an attempt to cajole IFA to soul-search and find out exactly what is wrong with football in Bengal, resulting in a gradual reduction in the supply line to a trickle and the correct means of bringing it back on-course.

The faulty coaching style adopted by the coaches is perhaps the main reason for the disenchantment of the aspiring students of the game. The controlling body (i.e., the IFA) needs to popularize the 8-a-side football game at the grass root level, that is, the U-12 and U-15 levels. Undue emphasis is still continuously being laid on playing matches with the full 11 players. The game could be made more interesting and acceptable amongst the children and the spectators alike, if the team strength is limited to the 8 x 8 pattern.

Countries all over the world, especially, England, the Netherlands and even South Africa have accepted this shorter version of the game and adopted it in their coaching regimen. The football experts of these countries rightly believe that it is absolutely essential that young players must have 100 touches of the ball per game, rather than five. On bigger pitches, physical players stand out and the temptation is always to use the extra space to hit long balls much to the detriment of the technical player. A 8 x 8 game makes it a better experience for children. More the touches on the ball, the more a player will develop his skills, having more opportunity to be actively involved in the game. Energetic workouts occur due to players playing both defensive and offensive roles.

Unfortunately most coaches who happen to be ex-players of Bengal and the Kolkata teams and now entrusted with the task of nurturing grass-root talents have not shown much ingenuity and improvisation and have perhaps stuck to the archaic coaching styles they had been subjected to in their formative years. The style of play has changed over the years and successful coaches need to adapt themselves to the current trends while imparting training. Young players are forced to play the 11 x 11 version before their bodies are physically developed to play the adult version of the game. Any notion that players will be less prepared to play 11 vs. 11 is unfounded.

The U-12 or the U-15 soccer (8 x 8) game format provides the best environment for youth players to develop soccer skills and techniques. When coaching or officiating the coaches must remember to keep the game simple. Over complicating things can loose the flow of the game in turn inhibiting a player's development. The coach must encourage the players to discover the love of the game through the game. In addition a small-sided game is a great teacher. The teaching and the organization of the practices will require time for everyone to familiarize himself with the game. After a week or two, however, there should be no difficulties. The rewards will be in the children's enjoyment of playing and their positive development.

Aspiring players wishing to be considered to play in this program should be identified through pre-season small-sided games. Wherever possible it is recommended that independent, qualified coaches should record their playing abilities. Teams could then be formed to compete in a league. By implementing this program the difficulty with lack of proper fields is reduced (one full field can now be divided into two smaller fields) while the number of players on one full field is increased from twenty-two (22) to thirty two (32). In addition the program can act as a good development opportunity for the districts youth players and referees.

The 11 x 11 format is the adult version of the game. It makes little sense for U-12 or U-15 players to play on a full size field with full size goals, as they do not have the strength and size to play such a game. The players at this age have difficulty taking a goal kick that will reach out side of the goal area or a corner kick that reach the opponents goal mouth. The game will be mostly played in a small area of the field for a longer duration, as players do not have the strength to get the ball up the field. This would not help them develop their soccer skills.

The football coaches must therefore endeavor to adopt various means of bringing out the potential in child and junior football through varied coaching techniques. There are 5 (five) very important stages in youth and child football development that can be used by the coaches in training sessions helping the squad graduate into promising footballers.

Stage One :: Unopposed Practice

For building the right technical skills of the youngsters, focus needs to be given to master the body shape, body alignment, movement related to the football and mastering the ball, i.e. feel, touch and controlling it. Coaches must ensure to frequently demonstrate the right techniques as also voicing clear-cut instructions, initially avoiding technical jargons so as to be easily understood by the players. For example, instead of using the term “kick with the instep”, the coach can bark out his instruction as, “kick with the laces of your boot”.

As far as is practicable, coaches should initially concentrate on developing skills and the very basics. Accordingly, the coach should avoid introducing opposition at the initial stage. If these budding players are presented with an opposition too soon, they will not have developed the basics of a procedure and will be focusing on the opponent, hindering their skill development. During this stage, the only decision making required from the player is which part of the foot is needed for correct ball control and trapping, how they need to move forward and laterally, shielding the ball with the body and the path and speed of the ball.

Stage Two ::Passive Opposition

Once the players have learned to master the ball, the coach can think of introducing a passive opposition, which is, increasing the pressure slightly on the players by giving them something else to focus on.

After a player passes the ball to the receiver, he must follow it, as if he is going to close off his partner. The receiver must show adequate ball control, letting it move no further than a foot from his body.

As an alternative, it would be ideal for the coach to set out two cones at a distance of three yards away on either side of both players. The instruction should be to ensure that the pass is kept within the cones. This helps develop accuracy in passing but also works on the control element. The receiver controls the ball, manoeuvres it round a cone and passes the ball accurately to the partner, ensuring the ball keeps inside the partner's cones.

Stage Three :: Positive Opposition

As a part of building the players learning experience, it is essential to increase the opposition gradually. More opposition would mean that the ball possessing player will need to think, make decisions and react, therefore developing techniques into honed skills.

At this stage, coaches must instill situational practice by trying to place the player in situations they will face during the course of a game. An ideal way out at this stage would be to reduce the space and the amount of time spent on the ball so as to allow the player to make decisions quickly whilst keeping possession.

Stage Four :: Small-Sided Games

Small-sided games are a great way for football development. The coaches must act out some situations and utilise more free playing areas as this will really build the players football skills and sharpen their decision-making skills. Practical play will have a big effect on the players' development during these small-sided sessions.

Stage Five :: Team Play and Full Game Practice

This is a bigger version of a small-sided game and is the real deal, in a real playing environment, using real opponents and real game situations. Responsibilities, positional play, tactics, moves, formations, support, defense, attack, all blend together here, and make the players work together as a team.

Developing players in specific areas or responsibility can be achieved in small-sided games but with full game practice sessions, everything integrates into a real match situation.

Summary

Coaches must prepare their coaching program using all of these five stages that will really improve the techniques and skills of the players. Also, the IFA and the District Football Associations must direct the coaches to impart training to the boys on the above schedule and ensure to hold more number of 8 x 8 tournaments which will be of great help in spotting and nurturing budding talents.

In addition, districts can host football festivals, as these provide a popular format for districts and clubs who come together at a central venue with teams playing a small number of games on a friendly basis. Results are neither kept nor trophies given to the winners, instead the importance is placed on fun and enjoying the next game without the pressure of league tables and standings. In all U-12 or the U-15 development soccer, emphasis should be placed on enjoyment, sportsmanship (fair play), education, skill development, and respect for teammates, opponents and referees.

Once the controlling body religiously implements the above, the results will be forthcoming within a short span of five years. We will again have a continuous flow of football talent who will be well prepared and conditioned to step into the big league.

AFC Assures to Help AIFF in Complete
Professionalization of the I-League .

16.12.2009 :: All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Alberto Colaco declared that the national football federation decided to completely professionalize the I-league within 2011 because only then the champion team of the I-League can participate in the Champion’s League which is the elite club level tournament of the continent.

Whereas Praful Patel; the AIFF President confirmed the assurance of AFC President Mohammed bin Hammam to receive the support and assistance of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) in this regard. AFC wanted to appoint the former director of competition of AFC Carlos Nohra as the advisor to the I-League but Colaco informed that presently Nohra is engaged in another project in Dubai. Nohra is not the only one option and AFC deals with the matter very seriously as Colaco informed in Wednesday.

In the meeting AIFF also took some other vital decisions for the rapid development of Indian football. Colaco also stated that draft draw for last five rounds of the league have also been made in Tuesday’s meeting in presence of AIFF President Praful Patel. Newly appointed I-League Chief Executive Sunando Dhar was also present in the meeting.

SAFF Cup Hero Arindam Returns to his Home.

16.12.2009 :: Debashis Majumder ::India U-23 team goalkeeper and the best player of 2009 SAFF Cup Arindam Bhattacharya yesterday returned to his home. His brilliant performance in the SAFF Cup had a significant role behind India’s victory in the tournament. Arindam rises as one of the most prominent youngsters of Indian football.

Arindam also has some similarities with India’s present no. 1 goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Like Subrata Arindam is also a resident of Sodpur. Quite surprisingly both Subrata and Arindam are now playing in I-league for the non-Kolkata clubs. Subrata is now playing for Pune F.C. whereas Arindam is the regular keeper of Churchill Brothers (Goa). If Subrata’s fantastic performance in the Nehru Cup made India winner of the trophy in this year then the brilliant performance of Arindam lead India U-23 team to become the champions of this edition of the SAFF Cup. Both Subrata and Arindam saved crucial penalty shots in tie-breaker in the finals of Nehru Cup and SAFF Cup respectively.

Arindam continued his excellent performance in all the SAFF Cup matches of India. In the very first match Arindam made couple of close saves against Afghanistan. In fact in spite of India’s 0-2 loss against Maldives in the last match of Group league Arindam did not give up hopes and he delivered a dream performance in the final against the same opponent to confirm the title for his team. Arindam not just only saves two penalties in the tie-breaker but during the usual and extra times of the final Arindam made brilliant saves to deny Maldives from scoring in various occasions. Otherwise India could face more danger in the final.

Arindam also continues his good form also in the domestic level. Last season his club Churchill Brothers became the I-League champion where Arindam had his considerable contribution. In this year Churchill is also now at the top position in the League table and Arindam enjoy his good time under the Churchill goal.

Arindam is a shy person in nature but very much reliable for his mates and a good person indeed. As a footballer he is very much dedicated to his game. Like Subrata and Arindam the other Bengali goalkeepers of different I-League teams also shows their talents and skills in the game. In fact 9 Bengali keepers are playing in regular way among the 14 I-League teams. Bengal becomes the production house of Indian goalkeepers. Like Subrata Arindam also becomes inspiration for the upcoming young goalkeepers. But he has a long way to go.

Kolkatafootball.com wishes best of luck to this future of Indian football in his journey to honour and glory.

New Delhi Heroes FC to open the Delhi League 2009-10.

16.12.2009 ::Former Delhi League Champions New Delhi Heroes Football Club shall open the campaign in DLF – SAIL- ONGC DSA Annual Senior Division League Championship- 2009 against Shastri Football Club on 20th December, 2009 at Dr. Ambedkar Stadium, Delhi.

The team which is being backed by IOS Pvt. Ltd., a professional sports management group has reshaped its squad for the campaign ahead. The new draft has eminent key players like Harvinder Singh, former National Player, Amjad Ali, Jiten Rai, Rashid Mehdi, Manish Khatri and Bhuvan Chander Joshi to name a few.

RC Deswal (GM, ND Heroes FC) said, “The team looks a lot more balanced side and the squad has depth. We have players challenging for every position and that is really important. The new players have added strength to the team. We hope to do well in this championship”.

The league matches will also be played at Air Force Football ground, situated at Race Course, New Delhi. Top 14 clubs of Delhi will be battling it out for the top honor. The league will be played on a round robin format and the ranking of each team will be decided on the basis of points earned in the round robin league. The two bottom teams will be relegated to ‘A’ division next year.

DLF Group, India’s largest real estate company is supporting the DSA Senior Division League Championship as a title sponsor. COSCO being the official partner will bring forward the official match ball

The other participating clubs this season are - Hindustan FC, Indian Nationals FC, Tarun Sangha FC, Ahbbab FC, Garhwal Heroes, Simla Youngs , Shahdra FC, City FC, Shastri FC, Moghuls SC, Royal Rangers, Youngmen SC, Gorkha Heroes F.C

Lionel Messi vs. C.Ronaldo : A Rivalry for the Ages.

16.12.2009 :: Mohun Bagan won against West Bengal Police in a practice encounter with huge 6 - 0 margin. The match was divided into 3 half of 30 minutes each. Suraj Modal’s hattrick in the last half gave Bagan a victory with huge margin.

It is the end of the year and almost all the major award ceremonies have been held already. The Ballon D'Or was not suprisingly awarded to FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi . The diminutive winger and his teammates almost won it all, the FIFA Club World Club yet to be played.

Not only did Messi win the coveted prize, he won the award by a record margin ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo who won the Ballon D'Or in the previous year.

Little Lionel should also pick up the FIFA World Player of the Year which due later this month. Again Messi replaces Ronaldo as the recipient.

Since 2007 both Messi and Ronaldo have been mainstays in the top three for both awards. Which in itself is a remarkable achievement. Messi's former teammate Ronaldinho for instance quickly faded away after the 2005/2006 season and has since not been seen again on either shortlist, let alone the top three.

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid

Being a player for either of each teams automatically makes those two natural "enemies." There isn't a rivalry more heated and more intense than between the Blaugrana and Los Blancos.

Like their mega popular employees they battle each other for the top spot. Both of these teams starve for domestic and international dominance. Real Madrids much publicized acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo just added more dimension to this eternal rivalry.

Before Ronaldo joined Los Merengues his competition with Lionel Messi was limited to the Champions League and Award Ceremonies. Now that CR9 is a Real Madrid player he will directly compete with Messi in La Liga: Week in and week out. Not one week passes by where one of them isn't gracing the front page of a football magazine.

Remember the 2008/2009 Champions League Final? The media hyped the encounter to a clash between Messi and Ronaldo. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for FC Barcelona but if you had paid attention to the news afterwards you would've thought it was a boxing fight where Messi won by a Knock Out.

The Future

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are bound to rivals for years to come. They both play for arguably biggest teams in the world, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Their teams provide them the platform to compete on the domestic and international level. FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid isn't just about footballing philosophies: Canteranos Vs. Galacticos. It has also become Messi Vs. Ronaldo.

What is frightening though is that they are both very young and might've not reached their peak yet.

Messi and Ronaldo play for the biggest football clubs in the world. Whose rivalry is well documented and already the most intense in world football. They are playing in the same league and compete for the same trophies and accloades and what is more important are about the same age.

Pele vs. Maradona was good but the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo could down as the biggest rivalry in football. Expect both Messi and Ronaldo to pick up a multitude of titles and awards in the forthcoming years.

Courtesy:bleacherreport.com

Mohun Bagan Win against W.B.Police in a Practice Match.

15.12.2009 :: Mohun Bagan won against West Bengal Police in a practice encounter with huge 6-0 margin. The match was divided into 3 half of 30 minutes each. Suraj Modal’s hattrick in the last half gave Bagan a victory with huge margin.

In the first half no goal has been scored. Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa justifies that in the first half he tried the players who just returned to the field either from injury or from the Indian National team camp.

In the second half the Mariners played much better game and as soon as Chidi was brought down by the West Bengal Police defence Bagan got the first golden opportunity to open the score line and Bareto made no mistake to put his team in the lead by converting the spot kick into a goal. As a result of the fantastic move created by James and Sueoka Mohun Bagan got their second goal finally executed by Sueoka. While from another fine cross of James Singh Chidi scores the third goal.

In the third half it was the Maroon and Greens completely dominating the game and Suraj Mondal scored his hattrick in this half to take the score to 6-0.

Karim is satisfied with his teams today’s performance and he hopes that the team will progress better in the Federation Cup. Mohun Bagan will play their next practice match on Thursday and the team will leave for Guwahati on Friday.

LIVE THE DAVID BECKHAM DREAM QUIZ CONTEST

15.12.2009 :: Steadfast Sports and Adventure Academy (SSAA) in its never ending endeavour to promote Sports Development and its Popularity is launching Sports Quiz Contest, starting 12 Dec 2009. Through this contest Steadfast aims to educated sports fan and budding players in updating knowledge concerning their favorite sport and wins Prizes too.

There was no hesitation on deciding the quiz questions for the very 1st Contest - "LIVE THE DAVID BECKHAM DREAM CONTEST", David Beckham one of the most popular footballers of our time was the unanimous choice. His popularity not just confined to the football arena, from the accurate free kicks to his hairstyle or be it campaigning for the Olympic Bid of his country to being the coveted member to pick the draw for FIFA 2010 world Cup, David Beckham tops the popularity chart.

SSAA thanks Triumph Sports (India) official agents for Anglophiles / The David Beckham Academy for extending their support in sponsoring the Contest. The initiative not just limited to quiz contest will also provide Sports Trivia.

The contest link

AIFF Incentives for India U-23 Footballers as reward

14.12.2009 :: The All India Football Federation today praised the national Under 23 boys for winning the SAFF Championships and said they would be rewarded for bringing laurel to the country.

AIFF President Praful Patel announced today a special incentive to be given to the India U-23 Footballers as a reward for winning the SAFF Cup tournament for 5th time.

Mr. Patel has congratulated the players, Coaches and all other supporting staffs on India U-23 team who beat Maldives (3 - 1 in Tie breaker) in the final at Bangbandhu National Stadium, Dhaka .

It has learnt that AIFF had already announced Rs 10,000 to each of the players for winning every group match and Rs 25,000 for the semifinal victory.

AIFF disciplinary committee has recommended a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Dempo SC because not releasing Mahesh Gawli and Samir Naik for the national camp at Goa.But in the mean time, Mahesh Gawli and Samir Naik both finally joined the India camp on 9th December after being declared fit by their club doctor.

A priceless initiative by Mariners on the Move

14.12.2009 ::In presence of a jubilant crowd consisting of Mohun Bagan fans, Coach Mr. Karim Bencherifa and Mohun Bagan players, Mariners on the Move, an organization formed by die hard Mohun Bagan fans today organized a ceremony to felicitate the ground staff by giving them blankets at club lawn. In this occasion a greeting card with photos of Mohun Bagan’s memorable 5-3 victory over arch rival East Bengal was launched by them.

They have previously launched a five goal special jersey to make the victory over East Bengal memorable. Shortly they are planning to launch a coffee mug and a five goal special cap .They also felicitated Club secretary Mr. Anjan Mitra with a five goal special photo frame. Coach Mr.

Karim Bencherifa was presented with a photo with his son. Coach and secretary expressed their gratitude to the fans in this occasion.

2010 Homeless World Cup World Rankings Announced

14.12.2009 :: Ukraine, Portugal and Brazil take the top 3 positions in rankings of 66 nations as preparations for Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup commence.

Today the Homeless World Cup, the world-class, international, football tournament changing the lives of homeless people, has announced the official world rankings for 2010 as preparations get underway for the Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup. Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil is the setting that will unite 64 national teams of homeless players in mid September next year.

Ukraine is ranked number one in the world after their win at the Milan 2009 Homeless World Cup in September coincides with consistently high performances at previous tournaments. Ukraine is now the team to beat in Brazil, closely followed by Portugal and Brazil, who will be dangerous in Rio in front of their home crowd, in second and third.

Despite falling 4 rankings Scotland in 6 still outranks England in 10 with the third home nation, Wales, coming in at 36. The biggest climbers are Kyrgyzstan rising 23 places to 35 and Chile rising 19 places to 20 after they picked up the Dignitary Cup at the Milan 2009 Homeless World Cup and have stepped up year on year.

Mel Young, President, Homeless World Cup said: “After seven Homeless World Cup tournaments nations are settling down into the street soccer format and a pattern is emerging with a number of nations consistently in the top ten. Ukraine has always performed and is now the nation to beat in Brazil in September.

“It is not all about rankings. It is also about participation of the world’s nations to create powerful change to end homelessness and enjoy some good fun. The tremendous spirit brought by teams like Philippines, Spain, Belgium and Japan is what makes the Homeless World Cup beautiful and unlike any other football tournament in the world. “

Every year the Homeless World Cup unites teams of homeless players from all 5 continents of the world. The Homeless World Cup has grown from 18 nations at the first Graz 2003 Homeless World Cup to 64 at the Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup in September next year, which includes a Women’s Cup. Nearly 100,000 homeless men and women, have benefited since the begining and there are now grass roots football programmes working with homeless people all year round in over 70 nations

Research demonstrates over 70% of players experience a significant life change – they come off drugs, alcohol, improve their health and self esteem, repair relationships, get jobs, homes, education, training, become football players, coaches and social entrepreneurs.

The full Homeless World Cup World Rankings are available here.

1-Ukraine, 2-Portugal, 3-Brazil, 4-Poland, 5-Nigeria, 6-Scotland, 7-Ghana, 8-Ireland, 9-Russia, 10-England, 11-France, 12-Mexico, 13-Lithuania, 14-Netherlands, 15-South Africa, 16-Italy, 17-Germany, 18-Austria, 19-Hungary, 20-Chile, 21-USA, 22-Argentina, 23-Romania, 24-Greece, 25-Kenya, 26-Liberia, 27-Malawi, 28-Afghanistan, 29-Denmark, 30-Cameroon, 31-Norway, 32-Czech Republic, 33-Canada , 34-Phillipines, 35-Kyrgyzstan, 36-Wales, 37-Australia, 38-Namibia, 39-Sweden, 40-Zimbabwe, 41-Luxembourg, 42-Kazakhstan, 43 - India , 44-Liberia, 45-Switzerland, 46-Cameroon, 47-Hong Kong, 48-Ethiopia, 49-Spain, 50-Zambia, 51-Rwanda, 52-Cambodia, 53-Belgium , 54-Serbia, 55-Timor Leste, 56-Slovakia, 57-Burundi, 58-Sierra Leone, 59-Japan , 60-Croatia, 61-Uganda, 62-New Zealand, 63-Slovenia, 64-Estonia 65-Paraguay 66-Ivory Coast

SURPRISING WINNERS IN FPAI AWARD CEREMONY

13.12.2009 :: FPAI (Football player association of India) organized an award ceremony today in Taj Bengal Hotel, Kolkata. The winners in various categories are as follows:

Best Coach: David Booth(Mahindra United), he received the award from Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty & Vece Paes (Ex-Olympian Hockey Star).

Best Player (Fans Choice): Sunil Chhetri (Dempo S.C), he received the award from ExNigerian Star in KolataFootball Cheema Okorie and Subhash Bhowmick.

Best Foreign Player - Odafe Okolie (Churchill Brothers), he received the award from Badru Banerjee and P. K. Banerjee.

Best Indian player - Sunil Chhetri (Dempo S.C), Sailen Manna gave him the award.

Best Young Player - Baljit Singh Sahni(JCT), Biswajit Bhattacharya gave him the award.

The idea of giving awards by FPAI in various categories was very good, the concept really needs an applause, but the way the whole thing was handled and after seeing the name of the winners, a lot of questions can be raised. Mohun Bagan and Churchill were the most successful team last year with Mohun Bagan winning 3 and Churchill 2 trophies but in the winner list, we saw no Mohun Bagan player and only 1 Churchill player.

In the best coach category, the nomination list had 3 names, Karim, Booth and Zoran and Devid Booth of Mahindra United got the award. for the last 18 months, Karim Bencharifa has been the most consistent coach of India when Mohun Bagan finished amongst top 2 teams in 6 tournaments, being Champion in 3 and finishing runners up in 3. Many players of the current Indian Senior team and Indian U-23 team has been nurtured by him like Robert, Gourmangi, Rakesh Masih, Manish etc. David Booth won no tournament last year when he was coach of Mumbai FC. Ex-Churchill coach Zoran won I league and Goa league whereas Karim won Federation Cup, Kolkata league and Super Cup. Last year Mohun Bagan met Churchill thrice where Mohun Bagan won twice and Churchill once. So, we feel Karim is the first choice with Zoran being the second, but nowhere David Booth comes in the picture to be the best coach.

In the best player by fans choice, the nominees were Barreto, Odafe, Sunil Chettri, Rakesh Masih and Anthony Perreira and there was another surprise decision when Sunil Chettri got the award. It was most shocking to see Barreto or Odafe not getting the award. It is almost impossible to believe Jose Ramirez Barreto who is so popular among fans (even among fans of other clubs also) not getting this award. Not only for his popularity, but last year Jose Barreto was instrumental in Mohun Bagan's winning 3 trophies along with runners - up in I - League.

In the best foreign player category, there were only 3 nominations, Barreto, Odafe and Junior, though we feel Ranty Martin (12 Goals in I-League)and Beto's name should have been there in the final nomination list. Remember, they performed really well for Dempo who did well in AFC Cup last year. But Odafe perhaps is the deserving winner as best foreign player though Barreto should come as a close second. Odafe consistently scored goals for Churchill and helped them win I league as well as Goa league.

In the best Indian player category, the nomination list had Sunil Chetry, Manju and Anthony Pereira and the winner was Sunil Chettri.The names like Dipak Mandal, Robert Lalthalma, Gourmangi Singh, Rahim Nabi ( Scored 5 goals in I- League last year for East Bengal ) should have been there in the nomination list. Again the same question can be raised, that how come this award does not go to a player of Mohun Bagan or Churchill, who were the two most successful teams of India. Out of the 3 final nominees, N.S. Manju definitely was the most deserving as he played really well and helped Mohun Bagan come back strongly in I league and also win Super Cup.

In the best young player category, the nominees were Baljit Sahni, Subhash Singh (scored 7 goals in I-League) and Rakesh Masih. Again names like Robert and Rowilson of Churchill were missing from the list who were consistent performers last year. None other than Robert deserve this award. Last year Baljit Sahni's team JCT did not perform well in any tournament(Scored 4 goals in I-League). He is scoring goals and performing well only in this year's edition of I league. Subhash Singh was also deserving for this award.

However, we should not forget that this ceremony was indeed an unique one with footballers selecting the winners. FPAI has done few good works in the past and will surely do lot of positive work for footballers and Indian football in general in future. In today's program, from veteran footballers like Sailen Manna, Badru Banerjee, P. K. Banerjee to young players like Sunil Chetry was present.

There was another great announcement made by Baichung Bhutia that FPAI will arrange for insurance for all players. They should be congratulated for this decision.

India U-23 beat Maldives to win SAFF CUP

13.12.2009 :: It was a fine show by the Indians, under Sukhwinder Singh's coaching, India U-23 beat Maldives 3-1 in tie-breaker to win the sixth SAFF Championships at the Bangabandhu stadium in Bangladesh for 5th time.

The victory of India was also a revenge for last years final which Indian senior team lost 0 - 1 in Colombo against Maldives.India won the title of this regional tournament in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2005 also pocketed $50,000 as this year's winner.

Both the teams failed to score any goal in the regulation and extra times,then the match was decided in the penalty shoot out.Jibon Singh, Denzil Frnco and Subodh Kumar converted their respective spot kicks for Idia while Nirmal fired wide.

On theother hand Only Fazeel Ibrahim of Maldives found the target and Ahmed Thoriq, Makhuthar Naseer and star striker Ali Ashfaq failed to score.Indian goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharyya continued his splendid performance in the tournament and saved two spot kicks to help India win.

Both the teams entered the final of SAAF championship for a second consecutive year after India beat Bangladesh 1-0 and Maldives defeated Sri Lanka 5-1 in the semi finals.

It was also the second time in the year, a goalkeeper starred for India in a final. If it was Subrata Paul who shone in the Nehru Cup triumph earlier in the year, Sunday it was Churchill Brothers’ goalkeeper Arindam’s chance to announce his arrival in the international stage.

ON LINE UPDATES
FINAL : Dec 13 (FT..): Maldives 0 - 0, 1 - 3 (Pen)   India

INDIA:Arindam, Denzil, Ravanan, Rowilson,Robert, Abranches, Baldeep Jr.(Nirmal Chhetri 115'), Jewel Raja(Subodh Kumar 65'), Jivan Singh, Balwant(Jeje Lalpekhula 100'), Sushil..

Congratulations from kolkatafootball.com team..Hero Arindam Bhattacharyya..Goal Keeper of India U-23.India U-23 Win SAFF Cup Via Tie-Breaker ( 3 - 1 ) Against Maldives National Team..It's a great Day for Indian Football and it seems they have a bright future.

Shot4 :(Maldives): Asfaq - Went out ( 3 - 1)

Shot4 :(India): Subodh Kumar - Gooooalllll ( 3 - 1 )

Shot3 :(Maldives):Naseer Mukhtar - Saved by Arindam ( 2 - 1 )

Shot3 :(India): Nirmal Chhetri- Missed the target ( 2 - 1 )

Shot2 :(Maldives): Ahmed Thorik - Saved by Arindam ( 2 - 1)

Shot2 :(India): Denzil Franco - Gooooalllll ( 2 - 1)

Shot1 :(Maldives): Ibrahim Fazeel - Goal (1 - 1)

Shot1 :(India): Jibon Singh - Gooooalllll ..( 1 - 0 )

EXTRA TIME 30' : End of 2nd half of Extra Time.. Now the winner will be decided by Penalty shoot out.Who will Win? stay.. India U-23 Team fought well against Maldives National Team through out 120 Minutes.

EXTRA TIME 30' :What a miss? It could have been an own goal from India Defence as Asfaq shot hit Indian defender's leg and just goes out side the bar..

EXTRA TIME 29' :Going to be Tie-breaker? Still no score..

EXTRA TIME 28' :Jeevan Singh Corner. Goal line save off Sushil Singh's header.

EXTRA TIME 25' :India player Cnanging.Nirmal Chhetri Came in place of Baldeep Jr.

EXTRA TIME 23' :Brilliant Play by Asfaq of Maldives. Gets past two players but his left footer just goes over the cross bar.

EXTRA TIME 21' :Sushil misses an open net.Cross from left side.. Maldives Keeper fails to collect the ball.. Sushil can't push the ball to the goal..

EXTRA TIME 17' : Jeevan Singh of India missed an opportunity to score.
EXTRA TIME 16' :Arindam excellent saved a powerful close ranger of Maldives player in India Box..Sure goal If he missed it .

EXTRA TIME 15' :End of 1st half of Extra Time.

EXTRA TIME 13' : 2 minutes more to end of Extra Time's first half. Still no score..

EXTRA TIME 9' : Player Change for India.. Jeje came in place of Balwant Singh.India in defensive mode. No pressure from Indian Strikers in Maldive defence.

EXTRA TIME 6' : Corner for Maldives. cleared by Indian Defence

EXTRA TIME 4' : Well saved again by Arindam..

EXTRA TIME 2': Extra time starts..Indian attack well saved by Maldives Keeper.

FT: Full time end.. India 0 - 0 Maldives.Extra time will start soon

91': Arindam again saved a good attack of Maldives.

89': Few minutes to end of full time..

86': Great defending by India. Maldives piling a pressure.

84': Arindam again save an attack of Maldives.

79': Arindiam continues in his good from saved two well attack of Maldives.

76':India get a good Chance.. Sushil Miss the chance.. His header went out..

74':Jeevan Singh slightly injured. now fit .Still no score..

71': Good save by Arindam.

68': corner for India. Cleared by Maldeves defence. Balwant shot from out side box over the bar.

65': Match starts..Throw - in for India.. Subodh Kumar come in place of Jewel Raja.

60':Match stopped.. Two players jumps for a high ball and gets injured after clashing heads,Jewell of India seriously injured after his head hits the ground.. Jewel is being taken in Ambulance towards hospital..Subodh Kumar may came in his place..

55':India well attack.Jeevan header from a right side cross just went away..

54': Long ranger of Baldeep went out.
51': Maldives putting pressure in Indian defence..

47':Free kick for Maldives.cleared by India defence.

HT: It's now time for lemon break.. No score.

45': Referee added one Minute for injury time..

44': Few minutes left to end first half. Still no score.

42': Asfaq brough down by Jeevan Sing.. Free kick of Maldives cleared by Indian defence.

40' : Maldives low cross from right side, Arindam dives left side to collect the ball.

39': Denzil cross from right side but Balwant header lacks space.

37': Long ball to India box. Arindam collects it easily.

35': weak shot of Maldives. goes out.

33' : India defence blocks an left sided attack of Maldives.

30': U-23 Team of India is playing well.

29' : Poor corner of Maldives clears by India defence.

27': Long free-kick by Denzil but referee gives foul against Sushil in Maldives Box..

25': Baldeep Singh is playing with stitch in his forehead..

24' : India gets a corner.. Jeevan Singh corner cleared by defence.

23': Long shot of Gassim, goes over the cross bar.

21' : Another attack by Maldives, Arindam dives to his left and collects the ball

20': Brilliant clearance by Arindam,he comes out of the box and the clear the ball well.

18': Jewel Raja shot from Sushil's pass sails over cross bar.

16': Robert takes free-kick from mid field headed by Balwant goes out.

13':Ball in Maldives area.. Sushil Singh tries to snatch the ball but fails. Baldeep Singh slightly injured.

11':Asfaq of Maldives direct Free-Kick hits wall.

10': Ravanan gets yellow card to foul Maldives player.

7': Maldives attack from right side.. headed out by Ravanan.

4':brilliant pass from midfield to Sushil who dribbles past one player but givs miss pass

3':India get free kick in middle but cleared by Maldives defence..

2': India earns first corner..Abranches takes the corner..no impact.

1': Match starts..

FPAI Annual Award Function 2009

13.12.2009 :: Debashis Majumder :On 13th of August 2006 FPAI was officially inaugurated in front of Press and Media, members of FPAI, including Bhaichung Bhutia, Dipak Mandal, Jo Paul Ancheri, N.S. Manju, Mehrajudddin Wadoo, Jose Ramairez Barreto, Dipankar Roy, Manjit Singh, Rennedy Singh, Alvito D'Cunha, Samir Naik, Steven Dias and others, ware present in a five star hotel at Kolkata along with Indian coach Bob Houghton. In this way the journey of FPAI was started.Players' unanimously decided that Mr. Bhaichung Bhutia will be the first President; Dipak Mandal will be the General Secretary and Raman Vigayanan will be the Treasurer

In Association with McDowell’s No. 1 celebration the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) declared the event of organizing an award function on December 13 at Hotel Taj Bengal at Kolkata.

Bhaichung Bhutia; the President of FPAI announced in a press conference that the awards will be given in four categories. The categories are-Best Young Player, Best Indian Player, Best Foreign Player and Best Coach in regard of their performance in the previous season. As the President of the association and a member of decision making body Bhutia keeps himself out of this nomination.

The nominees for the Best Young Players are-Subhas Singh, Rakesh Masih, and Baljit Sahni where as Sunil Chhetri, N.S. Manju and Anthony Pereira get their nominations in Best Indian Player category . Onyeka Okolie Odafe, Jose Ramirez Bareto and Junior Elijah Obagbemiro are selected for the nominees of Best Foreign Player category while three foreigner coaches Karim Bencharifa, David Booth and Zoran Djordjevic are nominated for the award of Best Coach .

All the nominations were chosen by an elite panel of some senior players and the final winners will be decided by the 40 players who will be in Goa for the senior and U-23 probable camps.

Prospects of the Clubs in the Federation Cup 2009

13.12.2009 ::RANA BOSE ::The main competition of the Federation Cup 2009 gets underway from 21st November, 2009. This year the tournament will be held in two cities of the State of Assam, Guwahati and Silchar. This year the tournament will have 16 teams split in 4 groups playing amongst themselves and the winner of each group advancing to the semifinal stage.

The composition of each group is as follows

Group A (Silchar) – Kingfisher East Bengal, JCT, Salgaoncar SC and Viva Kerala

Group B (Guwahati) – McDowell Mohun Bagan, Mahindra United; Chirag United and the winner from the qualifying matches underway in Assam

Group C (Silchar) – Churchill Brothers, Sporting Clube de Goa, Mumbai FC and the winner from the qualifying matches underway in Mumbai

Group D (Guwahati) – Dempo Sports Club, Air India, Shillong FC and Pune FC

Looking at the composition of the groups it is quite evident that the AIFF has cut out any scope of the final being an all-Kolkata or an all-Goa affair. The two powerhouses of Kolkata, McDowell Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal (assuming both end up as respective group winner) will have to battle it out at the semifinal stage and the victorious team will advance to the final to cross sword with a Goan team. Likewise, Churchill Brothers and Dempo Sports Club (assuming they end up as winner of their respective groups) will battle it out in the semifinal and await the winner of the two Kolkata teams.

Last year’s winner and title defender McDowell Mohun Bagan have been pitted in a tough group along with Mahindra United, Chirag United and perhaps Mohammedan Sporting or Cammelia George Telegraph joining in as the qualifier. All first named three teams are equally capable of ending up as group champion considering their performance in the I-League. Many football pundits have termed this as the “Group of Death”. McDowell Mohun Bagan’s coach Karim Bencherifa is quite accustomed to assimilate such pressures and will use all his guiles to see his side through.

Kingfisher East Bengal, running through an unexpected bad patch, national duty call-up and injuries find themselves in a relatively easier group and if the new coach, the Belgian, Philip de Rider and his boys maintain their calm and composure and refrain from doing anything silly should easily top the group. Also, the players of this club must have the required self-belief to do something creditable. The local population of Silchar, mostly migrant Bengalis from erstwhile East Pakistan should be rooting for Kingfisher East Bengal vociferously. However, JCT, Salgaoncar and Viva Kerala have enough strength to upset KEB’s applecart.

Before jumping to any conclusion as to which team will win the title this year it will be prudent to assess the potential of the teams who can make it to the semi-final stage from the four groups. Also, it is to be borne in mind that AIFF has capped the number of foreigners to two. Consequently, each team will be able to field two foreigners, a PIO and an Asian -

1. Churchill Brothers, Goa – Perhaps the most noticeable and successful football club in the country. The side has started the new season with a bang, having one two prestigious knockout tournaments, the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup. Although, they are currently the table-topper in the I-League their game style this year has not been as fluid and charming as it was last year. A side that boasts of Odafa Okolie, Ogba Kalu, Felix Chimawuku, Gouramangi Singh, Robert Lalthalma, Reishangmi Vashum and a few others should surely stand out as clear favorite. Team think tank and their coach Carlos Pahira will have to decide which one of the three foreigners he will bench. Going by their recent success in the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup in all probability it will be Felix Chimawuku who will sit out.

2. McDowell Mohun Bagan, Kolkata – Last year’s Federation Cup winner and the most number of wins in their showcase (13 times) are a much stronger side this year. Having held on to the nucleus they have inducted Edeh Chiddi, the prolific Nigerian from Mahindra United as a replacement for Bhaichung Bhutia who has switched allegiance to Kingfisher East Bengal under acrimonious circumstances. Chiddi has been scoring goals at random and is now the side’s goal machine as is Odafa for Churchill. Mohun Bagan reached the finals of the two knockout tournaments, the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup but eventually lost out to Churchill Brothers. Coach Karim will be in a dilemma to compose his starting line-up as the team has some very competent players in each of the zones, with the ex-India goalie, Sangram Mukherjee and Shilton Pal as his understudy to man the citadel.

In defense, the side boasts of the ever dependable, N. S. Manju, Dipak Mondal, Surkumar Singh, Sheikh Azim, Biswajit Saha and N. Mohanraj. A star-studded midfield comprising of L. James Singh, Manish Mathani, Snehasish Chakraborty, Kalia Kulothungan, Micky Fernandes, Ishfaq Ahmed, Rakesh Masih and the Japanese Seuoka with the striking line of Barreto and Chiddi. Jose Ramirez Barreto joins the side after an injury lay-off and consequently Marcos Periera sits out for this tournament. Unless they perform miserably and exhibit below par performance there is no reason to discount their chances of reaching the final and winning the Federation Cup.

3. Mahindra United – A very strong side this year, boasting of players of the likes of Sushant Mathews, D. Ravanan, Kali Alaudeen, Debabrata Roy, K. Aseem, N. P. Pradeep, K. N. Ajayan, Steven Dias and Mohammad Rafi. The side has two excellent foreigners in Svetozar Mijin and Muritala Ali and a shrewd coach in David Booth. Should be quite a handful for the other teams in their group and it will be a toss-up between them, McDowell Mohun Bagan and Chirag United.

4. Chirag United - Subrata Bhattacharjee, their coach is gifted with excellent game reading ability and has a side that is quite capable of giving a fight to the opposition. Composed mostly of discards from the two big Clubs of Kolkata and a few from other parts of the country, Bhattacharya has groomed the side and has seen them performing creditably thus far. Currently they are second placed in the I-League, a point behind Churchill Brothers. The side boasts of three good Brazilians in Edmilson Pardel, Eduardu Chacon and Joshimar da Silva who can fire up and play consistently well. Subrata Bhattacharjee will be hard pressed to decide which one of the three foreigners he will exclude. In all probability it could be Edmilson Pardel. Also, home grown players of the likes of Sandip Nandy, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Jayanta Sen, Malsamtulunga and Denson Debdas need to play to their full potential. The side is quite capable of giving a run for their money to the other two heavyweights, McDowell Mohun Bagan and Mahindra United.

5. Dempo Sports Club, Goa – This side finished runners-up last year losing to McDowell Mohun Bagan in the final. The team has prolific goal scorers in Ranty Martins, Roberto Silva (Beto), their two foreigners. Besides, Clifford Miranda, Anthony Periera and Joaquim Abranches are excellent play makers. The upfront is also bolstered with the induction of Sunil Chetri from Kingfisher East Bengal and Nascimento Silviera from Churchill Brothers. The midfield has dependable players in Climax Lawrence, Jerry Zirsanga and Nicolau Borges. Also boasting of some very dependable players in the back-four, Dharamjit Singh (from MMB), Anwar Ali (from JCT), John Dias, Peter Carvalho, Samir Naik and Mahesh Gawli. The last two may not be available for the Federation Cup as the duo stand suspended by AIFF for not reporting for national duty on the pretext of being injured. This side is capable of winning the Cup.

6. Kingfisher East Bengal Club, Kolkata – The side, thanks to a big goof-up by their former coach, Subhas Bhowmick are an unsure lot. The Club recruited a few foreigners with much fanfare at the start of the season and tested them out in both the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup. The inglorious exit in the group stage prompted the Club management to discard all of them and Bhowmick without much hesitation.

As such, the side started off the I-League campaign disastrously and dropped points at random. They have a side playing much below par except for their Ghanaian forward, Yusif Yakubu and to a certain extent, the Mumbai FC discard, Abel Hammond. Quite a few of their players, including Bhaichung Bhutia, Rahim Nabi and Renedy Singh are currently in the India camp. Bhutia and Yakubu should be teaming up upfront to add some semblance of strength to the side. The team has a very mediocre back four and midfield and this could cause problems for their new coach like his predecessor. However, the supporters of the club will be looking forward eagerly to see the players make a major turnaround and giving a good account of themselves.

Not much is expected from the other teams of the four groups, such as, JCT, Salgaoncar SC, Viva Kerala, Sporting Clube de Goa, Mumbai FC, Air India, Shillong FC and Pune FC. Their recent performance in the I-League and their strength on paper do not warrant serious consideration. Also they lack the requisite firepower in them to make much headway beyond the group stage. However, football is a very fascinating game where there are days when the underdogs have come out victors.

Malady in Chinese football
a lesson for Indian football administrators

13.12.2009 :: RANA BOSE :: Chinese soccer is back in the headlines and again for the wrong reasons. In spite of having conquered every sport played the world over, China's performance in football has been a source of shame for its fans for years, with the national team dangling between Cuba and Albania to be currently ranked 97th in the world. There are large-scale reports of corruption, match fixing and illegal betting which has poisoned their professional league and Chinese football overwhelmingly. As a result fans and players at every level of the game have abandoned it in disgust.

The authorities are so perturbed about the situation of the game in China that the Chinese President Hu Jintao had to step into the fray and allow their Politburo member Liu Yan Dong to say publicly that China's top leader is very concerned about the state of the game in the country. Following the response, the police have arrested 16 players, coaches, and minor officials accused of match-fixing and betting scams. However, knowledgeable sports columnists are sceptical about the efforts. To solve the soccer problem in China there has to be the rule of law and an independent judiciary. Chinese leaders seem quite serious about fixing this, but there is no way they can under the present regime and constitutional limitations.

Consequent to the malady, China failed to book a berth in the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, and they are not even one of the top ten teams in Asia. The latest scourge to afflict the country's scandal-ridden game is soccer betting, a furtive activity that has stalked the sport for long before it was put under the spotlight.

In a bid to cleanse football of this chronic malady, China's Ministry of Public Security is spearheading a nationwide campaign against illegal soccer gambling. So far this crusade has yielded a few victories of sorts, with several suspects being held and interrogated for their alleged roles in the racket. But as the probe widens and more disturbing information comes to light, a question looms large - is Chinese soccer rotten to the point where a shock therapy is what it takes to pluck it from the cesspool of corruption and depravity? The answer may prove to be mixed. A series of sweeping initiatives have been waged in the past to eradicate soccer betting. But enforcement was somehow lax.

The reason that some players resort to match fixing is basically two-fold. Firstly, offenders are often from cash-strapped families and underdog squads. Having no other recourse, they are coerced into making Faustian pacts where they sell their souls to the devil (sleaze money). After they indulge and dabble in this activity for a continued period of time, the initial fear and sense of guilt gradually evaporate as the insatiable appetite for more "windfall" profits gets the upper hand in their conscience.

Secondly, the problem is also rooted in the country's flawed soccer system. As the sport's governing body, the Chinese Football Association has done little more than paying lip service to encourage fair play. Clubs have also failed in this regard. While European clubs give much importance to the footballers' ethical cultivation, their Chinese counterparts emphasize the perfecting of skills rather than sportsmanship. This time around, the authorities seem at last to demonstrate some resolve in tackling the problem.

The arrest in the city of Qingdao of veteran player Leng Bo, who was once a celebrated mid-fielder in a top-flight Shandong team, came as a bombshell that sent shockwaves throughout the Chinese football fraternity. Leng retired as assistant coach from a second-division Qingdao club in 2006 and became a fervent soccer punter and well-informed tipster. Under his influence, younger players were enticed into signing murky deals in exchange for easy money, the newspaper reported.

While Leng's likes are not rare in Chinese football, the most ignominious title of soccer scoundrel unmistakably belongs to a man named Wang Po. Former general manager of Shaanxi Guoli Football Club, Wang was seen as a white knight who was expected to guide the club through its financial difficulty when he took over in 2003. However, Wang was better at pulling shenanigans than shrewd management. After he edged out the team's Brazilian coach, he allegedly forced his players to execute his plan, the sports news portal Titan reported on November 16. Now Wang has also been detained, his modus operandi and that of his tribe in manipulating matches has become widely known to all.

As Titan revealed, the usual way for them was to rig a game by buying off two pivotal players, the goalkeeper and one of the forward players and have them carry out a premeditated plan. But sometimes plans did go sour. For instance, if defenders and goalkeeper get paid for unfair play and the forward is withheld his share of the bounty, the forward might try to score as many goals as he can to undo the "efforts" made by his scheming teammates. Admittedly, soccer betting is not only endemic in China. It is a by-product of worldwide passion for a sport that is affectionately nicknamed the "beautiful game." But it is here that the problem has generated a worrisome number of headlines.

The above highlights a Chinese malady. Indian football is also to a certain extent affected by a problem of a different kind. Here, scheming club and association officials sometime vie with each other to play connived matches to retain their stranglehold with the Clubs and the various Associations. Another malice, which is seriously affecting Indian football, is the large-scale irregularity in “age-group” football where scheming officials of various state associations indulge in including over-age players in their line-up, win by unfair means and thereby regain their clout in the Associations or Clubs.

The All India Football Federation has now understood the seriousness of this deep-rooted menace and has decided to take strict action against over-age players and associations. The AIFF has written to all the state teams and associations that henceforth for any age-group tournaments they will have to strictly adhere to the prescribed age limit. Also, the AIFF will carry out random MRI checks on players suspected to be overage by their accredited doctors. This should serve as a deterrent to large-scale malpractices often resorted to by a section of officials in Indian football.

Unfortunately, in India football is not as popular in this country as it is in China and therefore the can of worms still remains unopened. The day Indian football becomes as popular as the game of cricket there could be a large-scale exposure of the malady in football administration and management in this country. There is immense football talent hidden in this vast country waiting to be tapped. The problem is that the ministers and officials so far have not done much to improve sports, including football. Whatever success and accolade a sports person has earned at the international level has been through his or her individual talent and perseverance. The ministers and officials have only attended the post-success photo sessions and felicitations.