20 APRIL

International Seminar on Cultures of Football, starts at Kolkata.

Mr. Rupak Saha (Left) & Mr. Novy Kapadia (Right)

Today a three-day International Seminar on Cultures of Football, organized by School of Media, Communication and Cultures, Jadavpur University and Valerian Soccer Foundation has been inaugurated at Prof. Anita Banerjee Memorial Hall, Jadavpur University.

Padmashree Sailen Manna, Prof. P.N.Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Prof. Nilanjana Gupta, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Jadavpur University, Prof. Ipsita Chanda, Coordinator, Center for African Literatures and Cultures and the eminent football historian Prof. Novy Kapadia were present during the inaugural session. The session was followed by a keynote address by Prof Novy Kapadia on “Impact of globalization on football playing styles and fan culture”.

After the tea break, Amitabh Chatterjee, Lecturer in History of Panchakot Mahavidyalaya, Purulia delivered a lecture on “Football culture and popular enthusiasm: Twentieth century Bengal” followed by a nice presentation by Former Sports Editor of Anandabazar Patrika, Mr. Rupak Saha on “Ekadashe surjodoy: Prak shatabarshe ek gourabgatha” –this lecture was entirely on the glorious victory of Mohun Bagan on East Yorkshire in 1911 IFA Shield final.

During the lunch break, the delegates attended the exhibition stalls- the stall of Sabuj Maroon Swapno, the registered Premium Fans Club of Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, where they represented the products they have launched on various occasions and also the pictures of the different events performed by them in their three and half years run. Another stall the attracted the mass was of Valerian Soccer Foundation where they have represented their homage to the “Immortal XI” of 1911 IFA Shield winning team of Mohun Bagan.

Stall at the Seminar by Mohun Bagan Fan Club : Sabuj Maroon Swapno

After the lunch break, Mr. Som Sankar Roy, Lecturer in History of Vidyasagar College delivered the lecture on “1911: Myth and reality” followed by another fastidious lecture by Snehasish Bhadra on “ouponibeshik juge Mohun Bagan Mohammedan pratidandwita: Samakalin rajnaitik abastha o footballer rajniti”.

Sidetracked from theme of the previous topics, three excellent rare topics were discussed by Samrat Mukherjee on “Chhesotti bachharer nirabata ebong tar par” (he mainly tried to hit the era between 1911 to 1977 when no such initiative was taken to represent football in the theater), Somali Panda on “Diaspora, music and football and Suddhasatya Ghosh on “I, we and the probable road for present football-based Bengali cinema”.

Today’s programme was concluded with two more lectures, one “Aadhunik cinemar gaan ebong bangle basic gaane football: ekti parjalochona” by Kunal Das Gupta Assistant Editor, Kick Off ( A Football Magazine of IFA ) and another one by Paramita Roy on “Bangla sahitye natun prekkhit: Moti Nandy”.

20 APRIL

East Bengal lost all matches in Gr. D of AFC Cup.

Al Ittihad withstood a nervy final few minutes to secure a 2-1 victory over East Bengal at Aleppo International Stadium and strengthen their place in Group H of the AFC Cup.

The hosts took the lead after 14 minutes through Ahmmad Kalasi before Tamer Rasheed made it 2-0 just before hour mark. Beingaichho Beikhokhei reduced the deficit with seven minutes remaining but Al Ittihad held firm to secure the win. The result means the Syrians have 10 points having won three of their last five games.

Al Ittihad started strongly and produced the first chance of the game after seven minutes when Abdulfatah Al Agha made his way down the right before smashing an effort against the left upright. They continued to pressure the visitor’s defence and it was no surprise that they opened the scoring with 14 minutes gone when Rasheed’s free-kick was cleared by an East Bengal defender but only as far as Kalasi, who hit a first-time volley that sailed beyond keeper Abhra Mondal and into the back of the net.

East Bengal were struggling to get into the game and Al Ittihad almost added a second after 25 minutes but Rasheed’s rasping drive was cleared for a corner by Mondal. The visitors finally managed a foray into their opponents half and produced their only effort of note in the opening 45 minutes just before the break when Sanju Pradhan’s shot from outside the area flew just beyond the wrong side of the post.

Al Ittihad continued where they had left off after the break and again came close in the 52nd minute as Rasheed cross-shot slammed the woodwork. But the lively Rasheed was not to be denied in the 59th minute when Kalasi ran down the right before crossing into the area for the forward to head home.

Wael Ayan headed wide from Otobong Ene Edet’s cross just after the hour but Al Ittihad took their foot off the gas in the final 20 minutes and East Bengal took advantage in the 83rd minute as Pradhan fed a pass for Beikhokhei, whose turn-and-shot found the back of the net. That set-up a nervous final few minutes for Al Ittihad but they held firm to secure the three points.

COURTESY: www.the-afc.com

KF East Bengal : Abhra, Nirmal, Okpara, Khabra, Alvito ( Budhiram 82'), Mumtaz ( Kima 65') Yakubu, Bekhokhei, Sanju, Saikat, Govin.

19 APRIL

AIFF has been released 2nd Divn. I-League Final Round Fixture..

AIFF has been released the Final round of ONGC I-League 2nd Division Fixtures which will be started at Bangalore April 30 to May 25. In the Final Round there will no separate Groups and the team will have to play seven matches each and two two top teams who will secure highest points will enter in the next edition of the ONGC I-League - 1st Division.

The Teams of Final Round : Mohammedan S.C (Kolkata), Vasco SC (Goa), NISA (Manipur), ONGC (Mumbai), Oil India (Assam), Malabar United (Kerala), Sesa F.A (Goa),& HAL (Bangalore).

FIXTURES

30 .04.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS   Sesa FA

30 .04.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS   Malabar United

01 .05.  :   Mohammedan SC   VS   ONGC

01 .05.  :   NISA, Manipur   VS   Oil India

04 .05.  :   Malabar United   VS   Sesa FA

04 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS   Oil India

05 .05.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS   ONGC

05 .05.  :   NISA, Manipur   VS   Mohammedan SC

08 .05.  :   Sesa FA   VS   Oil India

08 .05.  :   Malabar United   VS   ONGC

09 .05.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS   NISA, Manipur

09 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS   Mohammedan SC

12 .05.  :   Oil India   VS   ONGC

12 .05  :   Sesa FA   VS   Mohammedan SC

13 .05.  :   Malabar United   VS   NISA, Manipur

13 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS   Vasco Sports Club

16 .05.  :   Mohammedan SC   VS  Oil India

16 .05.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS  Malabar United

17 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS  ONGC

17 .05.  :   NISA, Manipur   VS  sSesa FA

20 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS  NISA, Manipur

20 .05.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS  Oil India

21 .05.  :   Mohammedan SC   VS  Malabar United

21 .05.  :   ONGC   VS  Sesa FA

24 .05.  :   HAL Bangalore   VS  Sesa FA

24 .05.  :   Vasco Sports Club   VS  Mohammedan SC

25 .05.  :   Oil India   VS  Malabar United

25 .05.  :   NISA, Manipur   VS ONGC

19 APRIL

Battle ‘Special’! Inter Vs Barca, tomorrow at San Siro (Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan) ..

Battle ‘Special’!

Lionel Messi, the Special player. Jose Mourinho, the special coach. And they are engaged in a very very special battles, twice in eight days.

Truly a special battle. Between a “special” footballer and a “special” coach. Lionel Messi versus Jose Mourinho. Mouth-watering prospect, indeed!Inter Milan will be hosting FC Barcelona on Tuesday night at San Siro in the first semifinal of the UEFA Champions’ League 2000-10. The return leg will be at the Camp Nou on April 28. Over these 180-minutes – if required 210 minutes, too – it will be one of the most sought after football-battles of the world. Inter Milan, under Mourinho, thrives on destruction while Barcelona, on the other hand, preaches the philosophy of free-flowing football. Best components of two contrasting ‘gharanas’ will be vying against each other for a berth in the final on May 22, at the Santiago Bernabeau stadium in Madrid where either Bayern Munich or Olympic Lyon will be waiting for them.

Speaking Tactics

It will not be as exciting to behold as it was during the Barcelona-Arsenal showdown. There, both the teams believed in the same philosophy of playing ‘good’ football. Neither Pep Guardiola, the coach of Barcelona, nor Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal-coach, believed in suffocating the opponent, denying every inch of space. Both sides wanted to play good football, stressing on the attacking aspect, keeping in mind the paying public’s interest, too.

Mourinho, dubbed as “the special one” in the English media during his stint at Chelsea because of his theatrics on the sideline as well as the impetus on 1-0 wins, match after match. The Portugese manager had a simple philosophy. “Don’t let the opponent play. Destruct their every move. And try to squeeze a goal in between. Shutters down”.

That is why, his two important recruitments in Chelsea were Claude McCelele and Michael Essien in the mid-field. The history of football, probably, had never seen a better destroyer than the French McCelele. Essien, the Ghanaian, quickly learnt to be the second one. Mourinho was happy instructing a laborious mid-field.

Having joined Inter, his first job was to make the defence rock-solid. He bought Lucio from Bayern. Knew the Brazillian will have a special role in the central defence with Walter Samuel. At the fag end of the season, he is successful in creating an intimidating defence comprising two footballers each from Brazil and Argentina – Lucio and Maicon from Brazil, Samuel and Zavier Zanetti from Argentina. And, all of them are big-body defenders, too tough to dislodge.

His midfield, too, lacks the necessary finesse, but strong on snatching. Suley Muntari was bought with the same intention that he had during buying Essien. Wesley Snejider is a wonderful set-piece specialist. Mourinho had him from Real Madrid. Cambiasso will be holding while Pandev, the Macedonian will go for attack more. With Samuel Eto’o and Gaby Milito in attack, it is one of the most dangerous pair of strikers in the world of club football. Mourinho has built his team.

But, how to stop Messi?

The Argentine is in ominous form this season, with already 40 goals from 43 outings for Barcelona. His 8-strikes has given him the honour of being the highest scorer in the UEFA Champions’ League, too. Comparisons with football-legends like Pele and Maradona are on the card. If he is on the pitch, definitely the coaches had spent sleepless nights before! But for Mourinho, tackling a talented footballer has never been such a big problem. His Chelsea did not give any space to either Ronaldinho or Messi in those 2004-05, 2005-06 battles with Barcelona. It took a masterpiece from Ronaldinho from the edge of the box to shot with his toes to surprise a bunch of defenders and the goalkeeper Petr Cech once. Otherwise, he was suffocated at the left corner.

Messi, too, was treated badly by Asier Del Horno. Now the same responsibility will be of Zanetti’s, his captain. But before reaching Zanetti, Messi had to go past Suley Muntari and the task is not that easier one. Messi loves running at top speed on the right sideline and cutting back suddenly to go to the middle. Here, either Muntary or Messi’s compatriot Cambiasso will accompany him at his left while Zanetti will be coming face-to-face. This way, they will leave only one option for Messi, to lose the possession of the ball, or try to get a throw-in, maximum. And If, by any chance, Messi gets past these two, be assured, Walter Samuel will be waiting just on the top of the right side of the box.

Guus Hiddink arranged for the same treatment for Messi during last year’s semifinal at the Stamford Bridge. English media termed it as “Parking the bus at the top of the box”. The Fifa footballer of the year could not penetrate the triangle formed by Essien, Ashley Cole and Ricardo Carvalho. Barcelona, too, were only 45 seconds away from being knocked out of the semifinal when a dream goal from Andres Iniesta took them to the final at Rome. So, don’t be surprised when Mourinho applies the same medicine to Messi on Tuesday night.

Messi’s relatively poor form against big-body defenders

Despite being so successful otherwise, Messi has never performed at his best against English clubs, especially when there are big-body defenders against him. Before scoring against Manchester United in the Champions’ League Final in 2008-09, he went ten matches without scoring once against an English opponent.

Having seen Messi suffocated in the side lines, Pep Guardiola went for his masterstroke in Rome against Alex Ferguson, by bringing Messi inside. It was beyond Sir Alex’s acumen and Man U defence was shockingly pathetic against this new-found problem. However, Mourinho is hard to be tactically surprised. Another such move from Guardiola might find Messi into a triple-trapping of Muntary-Cambiasso/Thiago Motta-Lucio/Samuel. The only way for Messi would be then to go behind and try to find space for Xavi Hernandez.

But there will be another big problem for Barcelona since they will not be getting the services of Iniesta in these two matches. Guardiola, too, has to play Keita, Busquets, Yaya Toure along with Xavi to counter the muscle power of Inter- midfield. Xavi is a wonderful ball-distributor, but he needs the services of Messi and Iniesta to create more chances. If he is the lone midfielder, responsible for creating goal-scoring chances, the prospect does not augur well for Barcelona. In that case, the free-flowing movement of Barca players will be affected and the match will reduce to be a dull affair. Barca footballers will get frustrated and make mistakes more often.

Mourinho will just be looking at that opportunity. His players know how to frustrate the opponent and strike at the most vulnerable moment. A long through from Wesley or Lucio, even a long shot from Julio Ceaser, the Brazillian goalkeeper, could find either Milito or Eto’o at the perfect time when Gerrard Pique and Carlos Puyol will not be at their positional best.

Problem-area of Inter

The tendency of making professional fouls. As many as four of the Inter footballers are on a booking. Maicon, Thiago Motta, Zanetti and Stankovich. Another yellow card for at least two of them would be a disaster for Mourinho since he will not get as solid defensive triangles to dominate Messi in the return leg then. In 37 matches this season, Messi had been fouled by opponent footballers, no fewer than 94 times. 27-times an opponent footballer was shown yellow cards for a foul on Messi in those 37 matches. So, that cannot be a good option even for Mourinho.

These two sides were in the same group in the group league. Barca played out a 0-0 draw at the San Siro in the first leg (September 16) and went for the kill on their home turf (on Nov 24) with strikes from Pedro and Pique. Guardiola would be delighted with a repeat of that. But with Mourinho in charge, you cannot expect Inter to repeat the same mistakes again. More so, since Inter has reached the semis first time in last seven years and did not win the coveted trophy since 1965. No wonder, Guardiola remarked that if he was given a choice, he would have wanted to avoid Inter Milan at this stage of the tournament!

Returning home

So many of them. Mourinho was at the Camp Nou during 1996-2000 as an assistant to the late Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal. Samuel Eto’o was a part of the all-conquering Barcelona last season. Thiago Motta played for Barcelona with distinction during the Frank Rijkaard-jamana, especially against Mourinho’s Chelsea, while Ibrahimovich was part of the Serie A winning Inter Milan last year. Eto’o and Ibra were swapped at the beginning of the season since Guardiola was not keen to retain the 30-goal scorer Cameroon striker. Eto’o will have to prove a point or two to Camp Nou, too.

However, these can only be attributed as small ‘fights’, cannot even be considered as ‘battles’.The ultimate battle is between the most beautiful footballer of the universe versus the most astute coach of the football-world.On Tuesday might, the world will be glued to the television set or stay connected to the internet, to follow them eagerly!

Last 6 results of Inter Milan

Inter Milan VS Juventus  : 2 - 0
Fiorentina VS Inter Milan  : 0 - 1
Fiorentina VS Inter Milan  : 2 - 2
CSKA Moscow VS Inter Milan  : 0 - 1
Inter Milan VS Bologna  : 3 - 0
Inter Milan VS CSKA Moscow  : 1 - 0

Last 6 results of Barcelona

0 - 0  : Espanyol VS Barcelona
3 - 0  : Barcelona VS Deportivo La Coruna
0 - 2  : Real Madrid VS Barcelona
4 - 1  : Barcelona VS Arsenal
4 - 1  : Barcelona VS Athletic Bilbao
2 - 2  : Arsenal VS Barcelona

FC Barcelona will leave for Milan on Tuesday night by road as ash from the Icelandic volcano continues to disrupt air travel. The road trip to Milan is about 600 miles (970 kilometers).

18 APRIL

Cultures of Football : Seminar at Jadavpur University from 20-22 April ..

The School of Media, Communication and Culture, Centre for Studies in African Literatures and Cultures, Jadavpur University, and Valerian Soccer Foundation, India is going to organize a three day International Seminar on ‘Cultures of Football’ on April 20, 21 and 22, 2010 at Jadavpur University.

Within the broad arena of ‘Sports Studies’, football has drawn a particularly large academic interest in recent years, globally and in India. One of the reasons for scholarly attention to the game of soccer in India has been the emergent interest of ‘Cultural Studies’ in the cultures around football.

Subhransu Roy, President Valerian Soccer Foundation said “We believe that our continuing endeavor to understand the nuances of Indian popular culture remains unfulfilled if we don't strive to study cultures around the game of soccer in India. Calcutta, being the Mecca of Indian football and Jadavpur University, being a pioneer in Film, Media and Popular Culture Studies in India, would provide the ideal location for what is probably going to be the first major national conference on football in India”. Novy Kapadia noted football columnist and historian will deliver the key note address of the seminar while legendary football player Sailen Manna will grace the opening ceremony.

The seminar will be inaugurated by Prof. P.N. Ghosh, the Vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University at Prof.Anita Banerjee Memorial, The other damnatory who will grace the occasion are Prof. Nilanjana Gupta, Dean of Arts, Jadavpur University, Abany Roy, Member of Parliament and chief patron of Valerian Soccer Foundation. Among the other speakers will be eminent football scholars and journalists, along with a good number of representation from players, coaches, ex-players, govt. representatives, club officials and even fans. Some of the foreign scholars invited have also confirmed their participation.

The organisers also intend to host exhibitions and film screenings on the occasion. According to Dr.Abhijit Roy, Joint Director The School of Media, Communication and Culture, this seminar, which would have a far-reaching impact, is going to be the stepping stone for creating a forum in near future where soccer scholars, practitioners and fans can freely dialogue with a view to meaningfully contribute towards the betterment of Indian football.