National team not a factory to produce players: India head coach Igor Stimac
Kolkata, Jun 18 India head coach Igor Stimac on Friday expressed concern at the lack of quality footballers at the national level and urged the top tier Indian Super League and I-League to play proactive roles to produce players like Sunil Chhetri.
Lack of a quality striker was once again evident in India's recent World Cup qualifiers in Qatar as India relied heavily on the ageing Chhetri who struck a brace in their 2-0 win over Bangladesh, the lone win of the campaign.
In a virtual media conference after India made it to the final qualifying round of the 2023 Asian Cup, the 53-year-old Croat took questions on the range of issues, ranging from his future to the drawbacks of the Indian Super League.
Stimac was asked about the next Chhetri and he shot back: "Who do you see in India who can replace Chhetri? Do you see anyone in a striking position to play as centre forward? "The national team should exploit players coming out from the clubs. National team is not an academy, we are not a factory to produce players." He said the national team suffered from "all the weakness that is apparent in the country’s top league, the ISL".
"We can just use what we get from ISL and I-League or other lower leagues in India. National team door is open to everyone. But where to find someone like that (like Chhetri)?" Stimac asked.
"To be honest there are not many players with the technical ability.
"Most of foreign players occupy the most important positions in the team. So our base for selection of the players is very small. And it's not easy. This definitely limits the choice when we go to select the Indian players," he said.
Stimac, whose term as head coach was recently extended till September, also criticised the lack of relegation system in the ISL so far.
"Don't get me wrong but the ISL is not bringing pressure, there is no relegation. It's far different from playing top level International football." Stressing that the latest rule of allowing just four foreigners in the ISL will help the Indian players, he said: "Once we open the positions for Indian players, the time will come for us to go forward as the national team." He said while implementing the four-foreigner rule, the clubs should use Indian players as a backup to the players from abroad.
"Teams should not have two players of the same kind. Another foreigner should not replace an offensive foreign player; teams should open the doors for Indian players.
"If they are properly chosen they can bring quality. Foreigners are needed because if they are properly chosen they bring quality to our side. The clubs also need them for AFC competitions." He also suggested that the I-League -- the second tier of Indian domestic football structure -- should be played without any foreign strikers.
"We can also think about starting I-League without foreign players because that will open doors for Indian strikers, midfielders and centre back that will help national team enormously in three-four years time, believe me." Asked about his future beyond September, he said: "I am honoured to be working with AIFF. I appreciate the support given. We have a good platform for the future.
"It is now on the AIFF technical committee, AIFF, and President to decide my future. If they are not happy with my performance I am ready to accept that." Talking about the coming months, the head coach wants to start the national camp in August and make them play some friendly games till the ISL begins.
“We have to exploit the FIFA calendar and start the camp in August. We would like to play two friendlies in September and if the ISL starts late we can continue playing friendlies in October and November," he said.
"Once the ISL starts, the players will have enough competitive matches before the February qualifiers." Stimac said the team's mission was accomplished with India's qualification for the Asian Cup final qualifying round.
"It's mission accomplished in a few words," Stimac said in his opening remark.
"It was difficult, we lost 500 days with the pandemic around us. But we accomplished the aim. Is that good enough? We are not happy. We expected more points from the group. But we need to be happy where we got and improve on the platform." News source PTI
Indian Super League striker Aaren D’Silva inks deal with Hyderabad FC
Hyderabad, Jun 18 Indian Super League side Hyderabad FC have signed young striker Aaren D'Silva on a three-year deal ahead of the new season, the club announced on Friday.
The deal will see the 23-year-old attacker stay at the club till the end of 2023-24 season.
Hailing from a sporting family, Goa-born Aaren has been involved in professional football since a young age. He spent over four years learning his trade at the SESA Football Academy.
The youngster also featured for Dempo SC in the under-19 I-League and Santa Cruz club of Cavellosim in 2016-17 season of the Goa Pro League.
"I am really excited to be a part of Hyderabad FC. I have already spoken to the coaches and that makes me even more excited. I want to be a part of the squad, and work hard to make a name for myself at HFC," Aaren was quoted as saying in a media release.
Aaren joined FC Goa in 2017 and spent three seasons with the developmental team before being promoted to the first team for the 2020-21 season.
During his time with the Gaurs, he featured in the Goa Pro League as well as the 2nd Division League.
He was one of the top scorers for his side in the 2nd Division, netting 10 goals in 19 appearances across three seasons, while also finding the back of the net 25 times in the Goa Pro League over four seasons.
A talented and hard-working striker, Aaren has also represented his state in the Santosh Trophy, including leading the line with them to a Runners Up in 2017, and will be an exciting addition to the squad under Manolo Marquez. News source PTI
Indian footballer Rahim Ali extends stay at Chennaiyin FC till 2023
Chennai, Jun 18 Forward Rahim Ali has extended his contract with former Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC by two years and will stay with the side till 2023, the club said on Friday.
The talented 21-year old Bengal forward will be aiming to build on the solid performance in the 2020-21 ISL season for the two-time winners.
"I am really excited to continue my journey and learning with Chennaiyin FC. I feel really good, having extended my stay at the club. I am looking forward to getting back on the pitch in CFC colours," Rahim was quoted as saying in a press release.
"The last season in Goa was one of immense experience and exposure. I am really grateful for the opportunities I have received; that I got a chance to prove myself," he added.
A product of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Elite Academy, Rahim joined CFC from their developmental side Indian Arrows in 2018, having featured in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2017.
The India youth international spent the following season on loan back at Indian Arrows, before being handed his Chennaiyin debut during the memorable 2019-20 campaign that saw the club reach a third ISL final in six years.
Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said "We are immensely delighted to have Rahim (Ali) continuing his journey and development with us. Last season he showcased the potential he possesses, and we are excited to see him go from strength to strength in the coming campaigns." News source PTI
Selection in Bayern's world squad (U-19) is a dream-come-true moment: Indian footballer Shubho Paul
Chennai, Jun 17 Young Indian footballer Shubho Paul on Thursday said being selected in FC Bayern's world squad (Under-19) is a dream-come-true moment for him and he is keen to learn the popular club's style of play.
"I am at a loss for words. I had never thought about it. It was my dream to be associated with a team like Bayern Munich. A dream come true for me...," he said at a virtual media interaction on his official selection in FC Bayern World Squad.
"I like the FC Bayern Munich way of playing. I want to learn the aspects of that style of play from the club's coaches," he added.
However, Paul who was to travel to Mexico where the squad of 15 was to train for some time before flying to Germany, would not be doing so now owing to the COVID-19 pandemic induced restrictions.
According to Bayern Munich officials, including Klaus Augenthaler, head coach of the FC Bayern World Squad (Under-19), Paul won't be able to travel to Mexico but would remain in touch with the club's coaches.
"He can't travel to Mexico because of the COVID situation. We will stay in touch with him. In August, we hope he can travel to Munich. We hope we can see him face to face and train with him. The club will support him," Augenthaler, a FC Bayern legend and World Cup winner, said.
He praised the 17-year old Indian. Asked what they saw in Paul which made the club rope him in, Augenthaler said "Definitely, we saw the quality he has. He is talented. The thing is he should not put himself under pressure. He has to learn a lot." Paul, who is the captain of I-League team Sudeva FC, was picked by the German giants after a process wherein players from around the world were selected and the list was narrowed down to 64, to 35 and finally to 15.
The world squad (U-19) will play matches against local teams, including the FC Bayern Under-19 side.
Meanwhile, Matthias Brosamer, head of sports in China, Japan and Korea of FC Bayern, said the club was making efforts to develop football in India and the selection of Paul in the Under-19 world squad was a step in that direction.
"We are aiming to find the right partner to develop football in India. Of course, Shubho (Paul) is the first step. We are looking forward to developing talents here. We are also here to learn from every country... every country is different in football," he added.
Paul has been at Sudeva FC since he was 12 and the club officials including Anuj Gupta, president and co-founder and Vijay Hakari, vice-president and co-founder, praised the youngster and his single-minded focus which had brought him to this level. News source PTI
Indian Super League team Kerala Blasters FC appoint Ivan Vukomanovic as new Head Coach
Kochi: In latest football news, the Indian Super League Club, Kerala Blasters FC has today announced the appointment of Ivan Vukomanovic as the club’s new Head Coach ahead of the 2021/22 ISL season. Ivan has a wide experience of coaching in the top divisions of Belgium, Slovakia and Cyprus and will be the first Serbian to manage KBFC.
The 43-year-old Vukomanovic started his coaching career at Belgian club Standard Liege in the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach, before his promotion in the subsequent term. Under his mentorship, the team secured qualification in the UEFA Europa league group stages two years successively.
During this term, Vukomanovic played a major role in molding Belgian internationals like Mitchy Batshuayi and Laurent Cimon, amongst many others. He has since managed SK Slovan Bratislava in the Slovak Super Liga and won the Slovakia National Cup with them. He was last in charge of Apollon Limassol in the Cypriot First Division.
Ivan had a long and successful 15 years of career as a professional football player before his coaching career. A former defender who could also play in defensive midfield, Vukomanovic enjoyed stints with major French club FC Bordeaux , FC Koln in Germany, Royal Antwerp in Belgium, Dynamo Moscow in Russia as well as Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.
Karolis Skinkys, Sporting Director, said: “I would like to congratulate Ivan on joining Kerala Blasters FC. It was a long process to choose the right candidate for the important head coach position. I think Ivan is the right fit for this big challenge and responsibility, someone who can handle the pressure here. I see his passion for the game, deep football knowledge and clear principles about football. I like his way of thinking and I believe that Ivan will be able to implement his football ideas in Kerala Blasters. We are looking forward to working in the same direction to help Kerala Blasters grow “
Commenting on his appointment, Ivan Vukomanovic added: “From my first contact with the club’s directors, the feeling was positive. They have a professional approach about their vision, which gave me a very good feeling. After seeing the army of fans and support KBFC has, I didn’t hesitate a second. Immediately I knew that I wanted to become a member of the KBFC family, and I am very glad it happened. I hope we will all work together to make everyone who loves this beautiful club happy and proud. Yennum Yellow!”
Ivan’s coaching team will also feature Belgian assistant coach Patrik Van Kets, who has 18 years of experience as a professional footballing coach. Having been associated as an assistant coach at multiple clubs in France and Belgium, Patrick has a keen eye and ability to nurture and grow young talent. With the Blasters having roped in multiple young talents ahead of ISL 8, the club will be hoping to bank on the experience and knowledge of Patrick to guide these young guns.
KBFC conducted an individual training camp after the conclusion of last season to help its players improve their fitness and skills during the off-season. As the preseason planning and preparations are already underway, the training camp is also expected to start soon with Ivan expected to land in India in the coming weeks.
Sony Pictures Networks India gains broadcast rights for MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE 2021
In latest sports news, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) today announced that it has acquired the exclusive television & digital rights for the twenty-ninth season of Japan Professional Football League - MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE till December 2021.The broadcast territories will include countries like India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The games will be aired LIVE on SONY TEN 2 channels in India and livestreamed on SonyLIV, SPN’s OTT streaming platform.
Football is the second most widely followed sport in Japan and that can be seen through the lens of the Japan Professional Football Association who manages their professional football league - MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE. The 29th edition began in the month of February with 20 clubs taking part in the event. The league has evolved in competitiveness through events such as the Fuji Xerox Super Cup and YBC Levain Cup which facilitated the country in nurturing great football talents like Shinji Kagawa, Takumi Minamino, Yuto Nagatomo and many more. These athletes can now be seen playing for some of the biggest sides across Europe.
MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE is the top division of MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE and is also one of the most accomplished leagues in Asian club football. The tournament has been home to some of the most exciting players from across Europe like Diego Forlan, Lukas Podolski, Hulk, Jorginho and Andreas Iniesta among others.
Indian footballer Amey Ranawade inks fresh four-year deal with Mumbai City FC
Mumbai, Jun 17 Indian Super League champions Mumbai City FC on Thursday has signed a four-year contract extension with Amey Ranawade until May 2025.
Amey first represented 'DSK Shivajians' and Mohun Bagan in the I League along with two stints at FC Goa in the Indian Super League.
After turning out for Bengaluru United in the I League 2nd Division, the 23-year-old signed for Mumbai City FC ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
The right-sided fullback broke into Sergio Lobera’s side and went on to make 20 appearances in the last season, where they bagged both the ISL League Winners’ Shield and the ISL trophy.
"Joining Mumbai City last year was one of the best decisions, I've taken in my career. Over the last year, this club has not only given me the confidence to show what I can do on the pitch but has been like my family and like any family, they have stood by me in good times and bad," Amey was quoted as saying in a media statement issued here by the club.
Head Coach, Sergio Lobera, on his part, said that Amey possesses a great amount of quality and has the right temperament for a young professional.
"Amey is a true fighter and he has proven it time and again. We’re glad Amey has decided to commit his future to Mumbai City and that only reaffirms our faith in him and shows that he can go on and be an important part of his home city and this club for a long time to come," Lobera added. News source PTI
Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri one goal off entering all-time top-10 as India meet Afghanistan
Doha, Jun 14 Goal-machine Sunil Chhetri will look to add to his tally and enter the all-time top 10 scorers' list as a buoyant India meet Afghanistan in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers here on Tuesday.
While the Indian team needs just a draw from their final game against Afghanistan to secure a place in the third round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after Oman defeated Afghanistan 2-1 on Friday, a hat-trick for Chhetri will see him equal the iconic Pele in terms of numbers of goals scored in the international arena.
Chhetri is also just one goal off entering the all-time top-10 list of goal-scorers, something he can easily achieve against Afghanistan, if not a hat-trick.
A Chhetri-inspired India ended their winless run in international football when the captain struck a brace against Bangladesh in their previous outing.
The talk since then mostly centered around the Indian talisman surpassing the legendary Lionel Messi as international football's second highest scorer among active players.
A veteran in top-flight at 36, Chhetri played down the comparisons with the Argentine global superstar, but he will certainly look to put his best foot forward come the next match and add to his tally of 74 goals.
If the Blue Tigers can avoid defeat in the upcoming match, they will finish third in their group, an improvement over the fifth-place result during the last campaign.
India are already out of contention to progress further in the World Cup qualifying campaign, and is now looking to secure a berth in 2023 Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in China.
India will enter the game as clear favourites despite Afghanistan's ability to fight it out.
Igor Stimac's men will be high on confidence after thoroughly dominating Bangladesh, against whom they enjoyed nearly 75% possession while completing more than 600 passes.
If they are to repeat that kind of impressive stats, India will need the duo of Chhetri and Manvir Singh to fire upfront, with Brandon Fernandes marshalling the midfield and keeping the supply chain flowing.
With Stimac reposing immense faith in him, Brandon has established himself as one of the country's top players playmakers. He has provided three assists out of the five goals India has scored in the qualifying campaign so far and he would be more than eager to continue in the same vein.
Form and past record both favour India and anything less than a victory for the Blue Tigers will be seen as an upset.
As far as Afghanistan are concerned, they will take heart from their spirited performance in their previous outing against India, who were held to a stalemate at home by their lower-ranked opponents in 2019.
But the recent defeat against Oman means Afghanistan are not among the top fourth-placed teams in the World Cup qualifiers and a failure to win against India would send them to the playoffs just to get into the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
Match starts at 7:30PM IST. New source PTI
Indian Super League Club Odisha FC launches Digital Grassroots Academy
In the latest football news, Odisha FC, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) club on Sunday introduced the 'Odisha FC Digital Grassroots Academy' - a unique program that will help young footballers improve their skills and educate them on the fundamentals of the game.
Odisha FC has a vision regarding the development and promotion of talented youngsters from Odisha and across India and wants to make the program accessible to every player in the state with the help of OFC's digital platforms. The program is scheduled to commence from 20th June and the link to the registration form is available on the Club's digital platforms.
Explaining further about the program, OFC's Grassroots Manager Mr. Suvam Das said, "This program is to make the best of the situation we are in. It's a well-structured series of weekly webinars which will be followed by simple drills by Odisha FC stars to challenge the participants. And our youth coaches Mr. Sandeep Alhan and Mr. Kirti Kashyap will monitor these skills to help them improve."
Club President Mr. Raj Athwal stated, "I am delighted that 'Odisha FC Digital Grassroots Academy' is starting this month. It will be a unique way to impart knowledge and teach footballing skills to young footballers of the State. I am hopeful that more and more kids will join this program and can improve their skills through this program."
OFC CEO Mr. Rohan Sharma mentioned, "Grassroots and youth development has always been a priority at Odisha FC. We firmly believe in developing the next generation into footballers and it has been painful not to be able to do so for the past year. This is our small way of getting back to normal and help those who want to chase their dreams in Odisha to be footballers."
I was surprised to get selected in Bayern U-19 world squad: Sudeva FC captain Shubho Paul
New Delhi, Jun 13 Selected in FC Bayern's world squad (U-19), Sudeva FC captain Shubho Paul was a bit surprised but the young Indian footballer is determined to make the country proud when he goes to Germany for training.
The 17-year-old forward was selected from U-19 players from around the world through video footage analysis by FC Bayern legend and 1990 World Cup winner Klaus Augenthaler.
"I was surprised to see my name there. But it's really an amazing feeling. I need to make my nation proud, once I go there (in Germany)," Paul told the official AIFF website.
"I want to play in such a manner that they should look at my game and think that a good player has come out of India. Ultimately, I would love to make it to both the Bayern and India senior teams." Paul will now travel to Mexico, where the squad of 15 will train for 13 days, before flying off to Germany. The world squad (U-19) will play matches against local teams, including the FC Bayern U-19 side.
Paul said the German giants had insisted on full match footages in order to get a better analysis. At first, 100 players from around the world were selected and the list was narrowed down to 64, to 35 and finally to 15.
"Once I was selected in the 100s list, we had different kinds of assessment over video calls with the coaches from the club. Then finally, when they announced the list of 15 players that will train and play in Germany," the player from Bengal said.
Paul, a product of Sudeva FC academy since he was 12, was handed the captain's armband when the club made it to the 2020-21 I-League season.
While being nurtured in the club's academy, he also played for the junior national sides, where he won the SAFF U-15 Championship in 2019, scoring three goals.
He followed that up with a stellar performance in India's AFC U-16 Championship Qualification campaign, netting two goals in three matches.
"Sudeva helped me a lot. I've been at the academy since I was 12, and have learnt all the basics from there. I also learnt a lot from Bibiano Fernandes sir (former national U-16 team coach)," he signed off. New source PTI
Naushad Moosa inks new three-year deal with Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru, Jun 12 Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC on Saturday announced that Naushad Moosa has penned a fresh three-year deal as assistant coach that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2023-24 season.
Moosa, an AFC Pro-Licensed coach who has been at the helm of the Blues' Youth Development Programme along with being part of the coaching staff with the senior team, will be working alongside chief coach Marco Pezzaiuoli.
"In the time I have spent here, we have seen many young players come through the ranks, and in the last year especially, many of them have knocked on the doors of the senior team.
"I am looking forward to now seeing them cement their place, and hopefully represent the national team as well," said Moosa, who joined Bengaluru FC in 2017.
"Last season I had the opportunity of leading the senior team as interim head coach and I don't think I've learned as much in five years as I have in those five months.
"I've also spent the last few months working very closely with Marco and it has been an education that I am looking to further build upon with this role," he added.
A former footballer himself, Moosa has turned out for Air India, Churchill Brothers, East Bengal FC, Mahindra United and Mohammed Sporting in a career that spanned over 12 years.
As head coach of the Bengaluru FC reserve team, he guided the Blue Colts to back-to-back BDFA Super Division League title wins in 2019 and 2020.
The 49-year-old said he was also eager to continue the good work of the club's youth development programme.
"At Bengaluru FC, we have a systematic player pathway and a winning mentality across our teams. This is something that drew me to the club when I joined, and one of the biggest factors in my decision to extend my stay.
"I want to see our youth teams do well, and for as many players as possible to climb the ladder and help the senior team achieve its goals," Moosa added.
Moosa, who took charge of the Blues on an interim basis during the 2020-21 ISL campaign, worked alongside Pezzaiuoli during the club's most recent AFC Cup qualifying campaign.
"We've all been able to see Moosa's growth as a coach in the four years that he's been here. We have achieved a lot that we set out to initially, in terms of player development and progression.
"A lot of our players are graduating into the first team, and it was an easy decision for us to hand him this extension," said club CEO Mandar Tamhane.
"We believe in Moosa's capabilities, and while player development is paramount to us, we also want to ensure that our coaches are given adequate opportunities.
"We are positive that he can develop into one of the best Indian coaches and in the brief spell that he has worked alongside Marco, we have been really impressed with their relationship and handling of the players," he added. New source PTI
When I am sad, I watch Messi's videos and it makes me happy: Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri
Doha, Jun 12 Lionel Messi's mesmerizing runs on a football pitch can make a sad Sunil Chhetri happy, the talismanic India captain said on Saturday, and made it clear that comparing him with the Argentine virtuoso is akin to living in a "stupid cocoon".
The 36-year-old Chhetri has more than once brushed aside any comparison with Messi whom he has overtaken to be the second highest international goal-scorer among active players.
"When I am sad, I watch Messi's videos and it makes me happy, so when I meet him, I will tell him I am a fan (of him), give him a nice handshake, and that is about it," Chhetri said in an AIFF interview to mark his 16 years of international career.
"I would say 'Hi, I am Sunil Chhetri and I am a big fan'. I will not trouble him. If I meet him, I will be happy, if I don't, I am still good," he said when asked what he would do if he meets Messi.
Chhetri overtook Messi (72 goals) with his second goal -- and 74th overall -- in India's 2-0 win over Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifying round match on June 7 here.
"Along with everyone else in the world, I am also a huge fan of Messi. There is no comparison whatsoever. I am just happy that I get an opportunity to score for my country and I feel proud.
"(But) I don't get into the stupid cocoon of comparing myself with all those great players. There are thousands of players who are better than me, and all of them are also fans of Lionel Messi. That’s the gap." It was on this day 16 years ago that Chhetri donned the India jersey for the first time, in a match against Pakistan in Quetta under then head coach Sukhwinder Singh.
Since then, he has gone on to play 117 matches for India, scoring 74 goals -- the second-most for an active international player. He is just three goals shy of the great Pele's tally.
"It has been a wonderful and amazing journey. To play for the number of years for the national team, to represent the country the number of times I have, it's been outstanding. It is beyond a dream." When Chhetri came to the scene in the national team, there were stalwarts like Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh and Mahesh Gawli. Now, at 36, he is the senior-most player and he sometimes feels lonely among the "kids".
"... (it feels like) just yesterday, that these two kids came in - Sandesh (Jhingan) and Gurpreet (Singh). And now those two are the main players here, that’s how time flies.
"There are so many kids who are now calling them 'Sandesh bhai', 'Gurpreet bhai'. The gap is huge now. I don't have anyone even close to my age or era.
"But it's good to be around kids. They teach me a lot of stuff with their excitement and fearlessness. I try to grasp whatever I can from this lot." Chhetri still takes advice from former captain Bhutia who has a huge influence on him.
"Just two days back, I was having a chat with Bhaichung da. I was telling him how I miss the old camp, purely because now I don't hang out with anyone. I'm in my room only.
"I learnt a lot from him. He was relentless in the way he approached a game. His mentality was bulletproof. He was at it, every game. The first challenge, the first tackle was always Bhaichung da.
"The one to fight for lost causes was always Bhaichung da. And when as a senior you saw that our captain, the most senior guy was working so hard, it rubbed on us. There's nobody better than Bhaichung da." Chhetri said his competitive spirit came mostly from his mother, a former Nepal international footballer, who would play with him many indoor and outdoor games during his childhood.
"I remember I always wanted to beat my mum, but till the time I was 13, I could not beat her. And she never wanted to lose either. I think the fact that I don't like losing, a big part of that comes from my mum.
"One day, I was complaining that I had nobody to play with, and my mum came to play with me in the heat of Delhi summer. There would be loo blowing outside. For the whole 10-15 days of summer vacation, I used to play foot tennis with my mum, and that was amazing." New source PTI
Real Kashmir FC coach David Alexander Robertson honoured with British Empire Medal for his football work in valley
New Delhi, Jun 12 David Alexander Robertson, coach of Kashmir's famous football club Real Kashmir FC, has been honoured with British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the community in the valley and strengthening UK-India relations, a feat he dedicated to the people of Kashmir and the team he has been engaged with.
According to the list released on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's birthday on Friday evening, "Manager, Real Kashmir Football Club, India, receives a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community in Kashmir and UK-India relations." The awards were announced on Saturday by the British government to mark the monarch's official birthday.
The 52-year-old Robertson, who has been coach of Real Kashmir Football Club, has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to the local community.
"The award recognises Mr Robertson's outstanding contribution to the sport and the community as head coach of RKFC since January 2017. This included guiding the football team into the I-League – the first time the team has competed at this level," the official list read.
"The last season of the I-League saw RKFC attain the highest number of home ground match attendees, averaging 25,000 people per match." Robertson said he was "absolutely delighted" and honoured to have been recognised and awarded this honour for his work in Kashmir.
"I have enjoyed every minute spent in Kashmir. It has been a real pleasure to have worked and met so many wonderful people. I think of Kashmir as my second home," he said.
The BEM is a British and Commonwealth award for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.
When contacted, Robertson told PTI from his home in Scotland that it has been an amazing journey of almost five years of working with the people of Kashmir and the club.
"I remember the initial days when barely a few dozen turned up for a match of RKFC to a crowd watching from even trees and nearby building tops and cheering the team," Robertson said.
"I dedicate this to my club especially my owner Sandeep Chattoo and people of Kashmir." The story of RKFC is all about determination to achieve the best in football and win millions of hearts across the globe, he said.
Talking about his owner, David said Chattoo is unlike other club owners and added, "He treats everyone in the club as his own family member. This definitely makes a difference." "I thank him for all the support extended to the club because his aim is to win hearts of the people in the Valley through the game of football." Chattoo congratulated Robertson for being awarded the medal by the British government and said this would help in further boosting the morale of people as well as the team.
"David Robertson has been associated with the team since 2017 and once I made it clear to him about my dreams of RKFC, there was no looking back.
"A minute observer of the game, he used to mark every move of his team and later tell the players about the shortcoming irrespective of whether we won or lost," Chattoo told PTI from Srinagar.
He said the last season was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and hoped that the forthcoming one would bring the game back to the home crowd.
The club, which came into existence in 2016, shot to limelight by winning the second division I-league in May 2018. They stood third in the main I-league in their maiden season.
Popularly known as 'Snow leopards', the team won last year's IFA Shield tournament, the club's first major victory since its inception.
The club has received attention the world over and BBC Scotland made a documentary named "Return to Real Kashmir FC" that followed the team and their Scottish manager Robertson.
The documentary won the 'Single Documentary' category award at the British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). New source PTI
Goan footballer Anil Gaonkar signed by Kerala Blastars FC
Panaji, Jun 11 Vasco SC player Anil Gaonkar has signed a two-year deal with Kerala Blasters FC and will soon join Indian Super League side for pre-season matches.
Living in the rural most areas of the coastal state, Gaonkar shot to fame with his performance for Vasco SC during the Goa Premier League.
"I was very happy and surprised when my coach Micky Fernandes informed me that Kerala Blastars FC want to sign me for the upcoming season of ISL," Gaonkar told PTI.
The winger, who hails from Kotharlim in Sanguem taluka, said it was a dream come true as he always wanted to play in the popular League.
Gaonkar has been with the Vasco FC for the last four years and has represented the state in U-20 tournaments.
"I have to prove my mettle now. If they consider me as an asset for them, I have to prove them right," said Gaonkar, who lives with his joint family in the village, where his mother does odd jobs. New source PTI
India need to sustain momentum against Afghanistan: Indian footballer Manvir Singh
Doha, Jun 10 Forward Manvir Singh says the Indian football team needs to sustain the momentum in the upcoming 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifier against Afghanistan, having beaten Bangladesh in the previous outing.
India rode on a Sunil Chhetri brace to down Bangladesh 2-0 here on Monday for their first away win in a World Cup qualifier in 20 years.
"We need to sustain the momentum gathered in the match against Bangladesh and even in the 0-1 loss against Qatar. But everyone is aware that all of that is past," Manvir said.
"The match on 15th is a fresh canvas. We need to paint it the right manner. The coach has been constantly working with us. We need to pay him back," he said.
Manvir says he is always trying to learn from national team captain Sunil Chhetri and his ISL club ATK Mohun Bagan teammate Roy Krishna.
Manvir, who made it to the national team after a successful domestic season, feels nothing is constant as a striker.
"My job becomes easier when I play alongside top strikers. I just watch Sunil-bhai and try to imitate his calm in front of the goal. At the end of the day, that ice-cool head makes all the difference. That's education for me. In a match a striker won't get a million chances," Manvir told AIFF.
"There will be days when you will get just one chance, or maybe a half chance. If you are able to make it count, you have done your job. I also need to mention that I look up to Roy Krishna's calm in front of the goal. They are my heroes." He also spoke about his progress as a striker since the beginning of his journey in competitive football.
"A striker is all about the confidence and that only comes though the game time he gets. The more you get to play, the more mature you become.
"It's all about your intuition, the movements inside the box, sniffing it, and eventually the finishing. I reiterate, you can only get all of that when you get to play. Otherwise, your talent and determination will always be on the bench." The 2022 FIFA World Cup first-leg match against Qatar in 2019 changed the international career of Manvir.
Before that match, the 25-year-old was never a regular starter for India, but the performance against Qatar made him a permanent feature in Igor Stimac's team.
Asked how he describe himself as a player -- a winger or a striker -- and he said, "At the outset, I was an out and out striker. But a player needs to be flexible." "Modern-day football is not just about sticking to one position and role. I have been playing on the wings -- both on the right wing and left wing in recent times.
"I feel that has helped me understand the dynamics of a team's attacking philosophy. It is a plus point for any player." Manvir said his father played against Chhetri and advised to always learn from the Indian talisman.
"My dad Kuldip Singh who played for PSEB as a striker and scored quite a few goals in the Federation Cup, Durand Cup and the IFA Shield besides a host of other tournaments always mentions to me to learn from Sunil-bhai the art of longevity.
"In fact, he had played against him, and always tells me 'when you are seeing him from close, learn as much as you can. Sunil's speciality is that he has been there for so long. And that is extremely hard work'." New source PTI