Category Archives: Indian Super League

Excerpts from FB live with Chennaiyin FC player Mohan Raj

Mohan Raj, Football, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Indian Super League, Facebook Live, Fans, The Super MachansChennaiyinFC’s fan club- The Supermachans conducted facebook live chat with their player Mohan Raj. Here is an excerpt from interaction with the Tamil Nadu born player.

 1) Ronaldo or Messi?

Both are equally good but I’m a big fan of Ronaldo because he has performed well in 3 different countries-England, Spain and Portugal. He performs well wherever he goes

2) Who is your best friend in CFC?

I’m very close to all the foreign players, especially Eder because we spend a lot of time together in the gym. He’s a very sincere person. Mulder is also a very good friend of mine. In the Indian players, it’s Abishek Das.

3)Who is your role model?

My mother, because she has struggled a lot, and she is a hard worker

4)Who is the funniest person in CFC?

It’s Mendy Bernard. He is very friendly. He has played in bigger leagues and is now playing with us and having fun, I’m very happy for it

5) Will you prove yourself in next season?

(Gethu kaatuveengala) No one can say that but I’m getting prepared for it

6)Tell us about dhoni

I’m not saying this because he is my owner, but because he is one my two favorite sportsmen from whom I wished I could get an autograph, the other one being Ronaldo. The main reason I like him is because he came from a very poor background and proved himself to the world. I’m very happy to have met him and get his autograph on my jersey and frame it, that’s one of my dream come true.

7) What is your mindset in your difficult times? Life is all about ups and downs, it depends on the situation, we should be ready to face it, we need to be stable always, mind is what matters, when you are in a difficult situation, just think positive

8) We are waiting to see you in cfc this season!

Hopefully

9)Buffon or Neuer, who is no 1?

For me its Buffon, Neuer is like his son!! We cannot compare son and father, Buffon is no 1

10) What is your view on merging ISL and I league, is it good for Indian football?

Very good question, nothing is going to happen depending on what I say, but my opinion is that if it’s merged there are chances for many players

11) Difference between Chennai club and Kolkata?

There are so many differences, there everyone will be under pressure every single day to play, to perform in every single match. They are very passionate. Our state has just got a team, we have to create the passion in Chennai, you all should come and support Chennai, it’s our city, so we have to take it forward.

12) Your favourite and most comfortable position?

I have tried many positions from childhood, in 3-5-2, left side defending and attacking, I have got many chances in ATK under Habbas coach, I will play in any position in the left side, be it defending or attacking!!

13) Which is your favorite football club?

I’m little different, I like a club in each country, but Chelsea & Real Madrid are my first love

14) Who is your strength?

My strength is God, I believe in God’s grace, I read Bible regularly. In difficult times, those words motivate me a lot

15) Can we see many TN players in next ISL?

Hopefully! Few players are doing good, we can definitely see many players this season

16) Your football inspiration and the obstacles you had faced before becoming a player?

I chose this career aaccidentally . I lost my father when I was a kid and I had two elder sisters. I understood the situation and joined in sports school and stayed in hostel for free education, now it has brought me here. I had faced so many struggles and problems, God was with me and he has brought me here.

17) What do you think about Jerry Lalrinzuala and his future?

He is a young left back who plays for CFC. He plays really good. Watching Jerry reminds me of myself when I was 17 , 18 years old! He is a very good friend and a very nice guy. No can predict future, let’s wait and see.

18) Are you ready to face ISL 4?

I’m working hard for it, I hope I will have a good season

19) Can we expect retired players this season from Europe?

This question is not for me, it depends on whoever comes.

20)what is your advice to the young players rising across India?

Football’s future is very good compared to 10 years ago. We have so many facilities now which we didn’t have 10 years ago, so young generation put your heart ,mind and soul , and train hard and you will have a very good future. Keep motivating yourself, take the sport as a profession, every single day try to work hard to reach higher levels . Do not think about playing only in Indian clubs, I want many footballer to go abroad and play.

21) Your View on how to develop Indian football?

It’s my personal view- we have to concentrate on grassroots, now we have a recognized leagues, so we can train young players and make them play in recognized leagues, for that not only players we also need educated coaches, because training grown up players is different. Coaching them at a younger age is very important.

22) Are you happy to be a Tamizhan?

I’m super happy and super proud to be a Tamizhan

23) Are you happy on seeing Star sports in Tamil?

Yeah, of course, because there will be a huge reach in villages. It’s hard to understand Hindi & English, I know the struggle to learn these languages.Tamil is our language and is easy to understand.

24) What advice would you give football talents in Tamil Nadu?

I want more academies  to open in Tamil Nadu, and they should have educated coaches to train small kids. They have to give all facilities to them at an younger age, develop and motivate them and set a target to make them play for the country.

25) Can Tamil Nadu be a force? Does it have good coaches?

There are a few good coaches in Tamil Nadu. Soundar anna, Robin Anna, Ranjith Anna, Sabir Anna are all good coaches but unfortunately we have very less professional clubs to take them. I wish them good luck and wish they go and shine at a bigger level.

26) Who is your favourite team mate?

Everyone

27) What is your life’s motto?

Get up and do something for football until you die.

28) Few words on Robin Charles Coach

He is the man who recognised me during my struggling days. I still remember Soundar Rajan and Robin Charles were the ones who selected me to play in the Santhosh Trophy in 2006 which happened in Delhi. I have a huge respect for Robin and his family that will remain forever.

29) Your SAI experience?

SAI was life changing, thanks to Unni Coach and Subramaniam Coach. They were amongst the best coaches I had in my early ages. And then had met Manoharan Coach in Madurai. I have a huge respect for Unni Coach who used to wake up at 3:30 am and travel from Tambaram to coach us, although we went late at 6:15 am. He was very dedicated and must be happy now to see many SAI players playing in India. Also, I’d like to mention Kamali bhai and Lakshmanan from Madurai who helped me a lot in my early ages.

30) Any dream vacation spot?

Izbia, Spain

31) What are your objectives for the upcoming season?

To keep myself fit and free from injury. I’m working hard and want to play as much as possible in the coming season

32) How important do you think it is for players to interact with fans like this?

Without fans there will not be any football club. Fans come first under any circumstance, so I’m happy to interact with you guys. In fact, this is my first ever live session, personally and professionally.

33) Your views on TN training facilities and stadiums? Are they improving?

200% improved. ChennaiyinFC’s training ground is the best training ground at the moment. I have trained at the same ground as a SAI student and ChennaiyinFC has really improved the ground a lot. The facilities at both the training ground and stadium have been improved to a great extent by ChennaiyinFC.

34) Your comments on Dhanpal Ganesh?

I’m very very very very happy for him right now. He recovered from a very serious injury, played in I league and scored goals, and is now with the National team. I wish he continues this way and shines more. Namma ooru, namma payyan, he should definitely do well.

35) Few points to Supermachans to improve the experience for players

Come and support the team irrespective of whether they play good or bad. You have to stand by them during their tough times. Show the love you have for the city to the city’s club. It doesn’t matter who plays for the club and who doesn’t. The name is Chennaiyin and that’s where your support should lie.

36) Who’s the most humble person in ChennaiyinFC?

Everyone in the team is very humble. There’s no one who shows attitude and everyone’s very nice, but the most humble and cutest person is Raphael Augusto.

37) Before 3 years, did you expect two clubs from our city, one in ISL and the other in I league?

We always had talents, but we never had teams, so from the time I heard about ChennaiyinFC, I’ve been their number 1 fan.

38) Who has been your motivator about from your family members?

James, a friend from Chennai. He gives me right advices. I also read the Bible, the words from the Bible keep me motivated.

39) Has your family cheered you from the stadium?

No, because my mother is very sensitive. She cried after seeing Postiga being taken in a stretcher during the inauguration match in Chennai. I’m also her only son, and she’d be hurt if she ever sees me injured on the pitch. So I never bring her to the stadium when I play.

40) Which player mostly takes command of the team? Mendy Bernard

41) Your opinion on fans of CFC?

Our city, our fans, the best Thank you all for interacting with me. There’s Chennai coastal cleanup happening on June 18th which is a Sunday. Please go and participate to make our city clean. We have to do our little part to make our city better. I really appreciate Supermachans for taking up this initiative. You’re doing a great job apart from football. Thank you all!

You can watch the interaction with Mohan Raj here

I-league 2017 – Fixtures and broadcast details

ileague, indianfootball, soccer, league, Aizawl FC, Bengaluru FC, Churchill Brothers, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Chennai City FC, Minerva Punjab FC, DSK Shivajians, Lajong FCI-league 2017 will kickoff on January 7. Here is the fixture list for the first nine rounds and the broadcast details. Ten teams from nine cities will participate in the league this season.

Match
No
Date Time Home   Away Round TV
1 7-Jan- 17 7.00 PM BFC LAJ 1 Ten 2
2 7-Jan-17 4.30 PM KEB AFC 1 Ten 2
3 8-Jan-17 MUM DSK 1
4 8-Jan-17 7.00 PM MB CB 1 Ten 2
5 8-Jan-17 4.30 PM CCFC MPFC 1 Ten 2
6 13-Jan- 17 1.30 PM AFC MPFC 2 Ten 2
7 13-Jan- 17 7.00 PM MB LAJ 2 Ten 2
8 14-Jan- 17 DSK KEB 2
9 14-Jan- 17 7.00 PM BFC CCFC 2 Ten 2
10 15-Jan- 17 4.30 PM CB MUM 2
11 17-Jan- 17 1.30 PM AFC LAJ 3 Ten 2
12 17-Jan- 17 4.30 PM MB MPFC 3 Ten 2
13 17-Jan- 17 7.00 PM DSK CCFC 3 Ten 2
14 18-Jan- 17 7.00 PM BFC MUM 3 Ten 2
15 18-Jan- 17 4.30 PM CB KEB 3 Ten 2
16 21-Jan- 17 LAJ MPFC 4
17 21-Jan- 17 7.00 PM CCFC MB 4 Ten 2
18 21-Jan- 17 4.30 PM DSK CB 4 Ten 2
19 22-Jan- 17 MUM AFC 4
20 22-Jan- 17 KEB BFC 4
21 24-Jan- 17 DSK MB 5
22 27-Jan- 17 CB BFC 5
23 28-Jan- 17 CCFC AFC 5
24 28-Jan- 17 LAJ MUM 5
25 29-Jan- 17 MPFC KEB 5
AFC CUP 31-Jan- 17 COL MB PS
ACL 31-Jan- 17 AL WEHDAT BFC PS
26 1-Feb-17 AFC DSK 6
27 31-Jan-17 LAJ CCFC 6
28 MB BFC 6
29 1-Feb-17 KEB MUM 6
30 1-Feb-17 MPFC CB 6
31 4-Feb-17 MB AFC 7
32 5-Feb-17 DSK BFC 7
33 5-Feb- 17 KEB CCFC 7
34 5-Feb- 17 LAJ CB 7
35 4-Feb- 17 MPFC MUM 7
AFC CUP 7-Feb- 17 MOHUN BAGAN COL
36 10-Feb- 17 AFC CB 8
37 11-Feb- 17 CCFC MUM 8
38 11-Feb- 17 LAJ DSK 8
39 11-Feb- 17 BFC MPFC 8
40 12-Feb- 17 KEB MB 8
41 14-Feb- 17 CCFC CB 9
42 15-Feb- 17 AFC BFC 9
43 15-Feb- 17 MUM MB 9
44 15-Feb- 17 KEB LAJ 9
45 15-Feb- 17 MPFC DSK 9

Legend : BFC : Bengaluru FC, MPFC : Minerva Punjab FC, DSK : DSK Shivajians, KEB : Kingfisher East Bengal, MUM : Mumbai FC, LAJ : Shillong Lajong, AFC : Aizawl FC, CCFC : Chennai City FC, CB : Churchill Brothers, MB : Mohun Bagan

The Merger Rant

I-league, ISL, Indian Super League, HeroISL, Merger, One league, Goa, Clubs, Exit, Leave, League, FIFA, AFC

Who wouldn’t get frustrated and who wouldn’t want to rant about the mess that is Indian football. A visibly frustrated Nevin Thomas decided to have a go at it.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

The mess that is Indian football

‘A merged league is good for Indian football’, said a very important All India Football Federation official recently. The Indian football players echoed it (because it’s really not in our culture to voice concerns even if there were any). Foreign stars, with very little idea of how football works in India, were saying the same things too. After all, it was just common sense.

BECAUSE:

  1. Longer league means stability for players. They don’t have to keep jumping clubs every three months.
  2. Proper rest. They aren’t playing 3 games (2 of which went all the way to penalties) in 7 days.

READ: Steve Coppell’s take on ISL finals

  1. Going in sync with international leagues will allow smooth transfers of players (IN and OUT).
  2. We wouldn’t have to call it 2016-17 I-League when it’s actually held only in 2017 (OCD nightmares, you see).

The list, I’m sure, goes on and on. And as for the cons, I can’t think of anything apart from a few marquees (oldies) turning down ISL due to the longer duration of the league. Ok, so a few T-shirts won’t be sold. Who cares?

What is actually bewildering is how the AIFF has thought about all these ONLY after kick-starting a league. See, there was this football league, which in 2007 was rebranded as ‘I-League’, running in the country. Why didn’t AIFF try improving the league instead of starting a new one? Ok, it wasn’t doing so well, with teams pulling out faster than Sunil Chhetri could score goals. But, to be fair to them, they had valid reasons. How do you survive (financially) in a league that gets ZERO promotion? Blimey, I can’t for the life of me remember the last time when I saw ISL-like efforts being put in for what is still India’s gateway to the Asian club championships.

Which is why it was quite exciting (regardless of the ‘seize the means of production’ T-shirts I wear) to see money-minded IMG-Reliance (International Management Group-Reliance Industries Limited) buying out AIFF’s commercial rights in 2010.

But things didn’t exactly as some of us had hoped. The new-comer continued the trend of not giving a duck about I-League and then launched a completely different league — a shorter, IPL-style (thankfully, with no cheerleader nonsense) Indian Super League.

I know it has been three seasons now, but I am yet to figure out why there was a need to split Indian football into two, when there was already an existing league that complied to all the AFC rules.  If you had the money and the PR machinery to start a new league with a BANG, why wasn’t it utilised to boost the existing model?

So I decided to ask around through a poll on Twitter and here are some of the reasons I got:

1) Better packaging: A lot of people said the ISL made football in India way more ‘watchable’. In other words, it was better packaged for the Indian audience. 7 pm kick-off was ideal for office-goers as compared to the 4pm matches of I-League. Star Sports was doing a better job than Ten Sports in broadcast – better commentary, better camera angles, better pundits… basically better everything.

2) I-League’s failure: Years of lacklustre performances and mismanagement had given I-League such a bad name that it made more sense to start something fresh. If I was a sponsor, I would want to invest in something new (especially with the financial backing of IMG-Reliance) than a stale I-Leauge.

3) Moving away from family set-up: Indian football clubs have been traditionally run by wealthy families. With no self-sustaining mechanism in place for these clubs, AIFF thought it was better to encourage more corporate-sponsored teams. In short, ISL was an attempt to kill the likes of Salgaocar FC and encourage more Bengaluru FCs.

Barring point number two, all the other reasons I was told on my poll in Twitter, did not involve the need to start a new league though. Add eight new corporate sponsored (with solid financial backing) clubs to I-League and the pressure would have pushed family-run clubs to either pull out OR up their game, right? And, how difficult would it have been to have late kick-offs to make I-League more TV friendly?

We surely have enough stadiums.

READ Joy Battacharjya’s piece on stadium utilisation

And I’m sure TV guys would have been more than OK with broadcasting the game at 7 pm instead of 4 pm.

ESPN senior assistant editor Debayan Sen’s tweet sums the Indian football scenes the best up. IMG-Reliance wanted something completely in its control and AIFF happily gave a thumbs-up signal. Which would have been OK, had all stakeholders been consulted.  But were they?

 

Ever since the takeover, though, the agenda of AIFF seems to be somehow move away from the existing football big-guns. More corporate backed teams, less family-run clubs. The idea, as told to me by AIFF VP Subrata Dutta in an interview, is to ensure all clubs have a sustainable model for revenue generation. The baffling fact is how AIFF decided that family-run clubs cannot find a model but corporate-run teams can. Apart from BFC, no corporate-run club has scaled the zenith of Indian football. It is fair to say, ISL was a big nail in the coffin for all the I-League clubs which were already in scarcity of funds. The sponsors had something better to invest in and the likes of Royal Wahingdoh (exciting team from Shillong), and the Goan clubs, including Dempo SC (one of the most successful team in history of Indian football league), cut their ties with the I-League. Another theory is that a new league was always in the plans for IMG-R but Bengaluru FC’s phenomenal success caused the sudden plunge. BFC showed there is a clear way of succeeding in Indian football, a model other clubs soon tried to emulate, and the rising popularity of the I-League created concerns for the team at IMG-R plotting a new league.

Now, three seasons into the so-called football revolution, AIFF wants a League merger — for the better of football, it claims. But, like the idea of ISL, was this merger idea fast-forwarded due to BFC’s success in the Asian arena? It would look funny to the outside world that the league with the likes for Forlan and Malouda playing is not the one representing India in Asia. And I’m sure, BFC’s success has got the think-tanks at IMG-R and ISL teams licking their lips at the idea of more lucrative sponsorship deals.

But there are some problems with the merger plans. AIFF has agreed a deal with these ISL clubs that guarantees them no relegation for around eight seasons. So the top league, after the merger, will have teams playing without any relegation. The second tier league, which will be today’s I-League, what AFC recognises as India’s football league, will have no scope of promotion into the new top league, though, relegation still remains.

Basically, all the clubs who have traditionally existed, including big guns such as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, now face the threat of not playing in the top league. While they can still compete in the second tier league, it remains highly unlikely that they will, considering the difficulty it will face in attracting potential sponsors with no titles to win or AFC competitions to take part.

Is it even fair to these teams who have done so much for Indian football? “We haven’t made any decision on which teams get to play top league and which don’t,” said an AIFF big shot when I asked.  “After Under-17 world cup, the new league will start,” said another AIFF biggie, recently in a press conference. So when will we ever get a confirmation on who will play where? Less than a year to go before the big shake-up and teams do not even know where they will be playing. So how can they sign a good quality player for a long term deal?

I-league, ISL, Indian Super League, HeroISL, Merger, One league, Goa, Clubs, Exit, Leave, League, FIFA

The Goan clubs have already left due to the proposed new roadmap for Indian football. Last year the likes of Royal Wahindoh and Pune FC cited the very same reasons for their exit, though AIFF stuck to its stance that these clubs failed to reach the financial criteria required to play in the top division.

Yet, barring BFC, the corporates have struggled to make the cut too. If Bharat FC had done enough to fulfill the criteria, then why did they pull out after a brief period?

Story made short — IMG-R walked into Indian football and did whatever it wanted to.

Nobody knows how many teams from the I-League will make it to the top-division. Nobody knows what the criteria will be. Will Kolkata have Bagan, East Bengal and ATK when many states won’t even have one team?

There hasn’t been a shortage of excuses though. One phrase given by most AIFF officials in their twisted justification is — ‘many clubs don’t fulfill the AFC requirements’. Apparently many Indian clubs do not have (financially and infrastructure-wise, I assume) to have an AFC club license. So why were they given the rights in the first place? And are we to assume every club that started atleast in the I-League era will fulfill these criteria?

In a way, AIFF is suggesting that only clubs fulfilling the set of rules will have a chance of making it to the top league after the proposed merger.

So I downloaded the 70-page-long AFC club licensing criteria for 2016 and went through it to find out what these possible reasons could be (the OCD kicked in)

I-league, ISL, Indian Super League, HeroISL, Merger, One league, Goa, Clubs, Exit, Leave, League, FIFA, AFCTo be honest, while the I-League clubs seem to be safe on the infrastructure demands, the financial part is slightly murky, with AFC wanting historic and future information. Clubs such has Salgaocar, which has relied on family wealth, might struggle to produce the required financial documents. Or so I think (I would love to be wrong).

Scroll reported that Salgaocar had failed to participate in the licensing process.

But one is to assume most clubs will be able to produce the required documents, considering how the likes of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play in the AFC tournaments most seasons.

And mind you, while AIFF will not openly admit it, it’s the ISL clubs who will struggle a lot more to match the AFC criteria. For example the foreign player rule:

I-league, ISL, Indian Super League, HeroISL, Merger, One league, Goa, Clubs, Exit, Leave, League, FIFA, AFC

It doesnt mean the ISL clubs can’t take part. But they will have a lot of foreign players who won’t be allowed to play, which is an unnecessary burden on team wages. Will the foreign stars in the team be OK with missing out on Asia’s top league? Also, barring Goa, which other team has player with 3 foreign players or lesser, and succeeded in ISL?

The great Indian football league merger, at least according to me, should be delayed till ISL teams have more Indians playing. And once that is achieved, it can merge into I-League as one big, fat league (with around 16 teams) and we can thereafter replicate the 9-month league format that most countries have. Rather than rush to a merger, push ISL teams to  field more Indians, allow I-league to grow simultaneously, at least organically, if you do not want to promote it (AIFF has admitted that I-League TV viewership and stadium turn-out has increased every year), and in two years time, come up with a structure that benefits all stakeholders of Indian football. (Unified league in India likely after U-17 World Cup – Kushal Das)

But, my brain tells me AIFF and IMG-R won’t wait that long. Actually, AIFF Gen. Sec said it too.

If Oxford dictionary’s definition of ‘stockholm syndrome’ as “Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor” is something to go by, then it perfectly describes the relationship between AIFF and IMG-Reliance. The Indian football federation seems to have completely lost the plot, and now, in its bid to survive, has developed an unjustifiable affection for IMG-R.

One can only be an Andy Dufresne (that’s your cue to watch Shawshank Redemption if you haven’t yet) and HOPE the merger will not mark the end of a legacy in Indian football.

This blog post is just a rant and it has nothing to do with my employers. In fact, I have a feeling they won’t like me so much after this. But, blah! As usual, I’m likely to make mistakes. I urge you to correct me wherever you think I’ve gone wrong..

Downloads:

You can download the AFC club licensing criteria here (page 33 infrastructure, page 55 financial): http://www.the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/AFC_CLR_Booklet_2016.pdf

AFC Champions League competition regulations: http://www.the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/acl_2015_competition_regulations_final.pdf

Indian Super League Season 3 Preview : Chennaiyin FC

Here we go with the 2nd preview on Chennayin FC.

Chennaiyin FC coached by Marco Materazzi is the current champions of Indian Super league. Starting from the 1st season, Chennayin FC has a great record in the ISL. In the 1st season, they finished top in the league table and qualified for the playoffs. Materazzi will be hoping to replicate the same feat even this season. However, things will be quite different for Chennayin this season as they will miss out on two crucial players they had for the last two seasons. Marquee player Elano who scored 12 goals for the team in the last two seasons and was pulling strings in the midfield with his deft touches and freekicks will be sorely missed by the team. Same with Stiven Mendoza, the Colombian liver wire who has scored 17 goals for the franchise in the last two seasons has joined Newyork City FC in the MLS. It will have to be seen how the team copes up with these departures.

Another notable thing Chennayin has done prior to this season is that they signed on 5 AIFF academy graduates  – Anirudh Thapa, Prosenjit Chakraborty, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Baoringdao Bodo and Bedashwor Singh. We will have to see if any of these players will find a regular place in the line-up since they are quite young to be blooded in a league where there is so much at stake. However, this is a great gesture from the franchise and the boys  are bound to learn a lot training under Marco and the other senior players in the team.

Now, let’s go ahead and analyze the different departments of the team.

GK: Duwayne Kerr, Karanjith Singh, Pawan Kumar

Duwayne Kerr is a Jamaican goalkeeper, who has played in Norway and Iceland. He is a very dominating big figure in the box. If Marco decides o play an Indian GK, Karanjith with his immense experience will be the choice. Pawan Kumar who has played for Bengaluru FC earlier and was part of Mumbai FC will be definitely an able back up!

Defenders : Abhishek Das (RB),  Bernard Mendy(RB), Dhanachandra Singh (LB), Eder (CD), Elie Sabia (CB), Riise, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Nallapan Mohanraj (RB).

We will mostly see Mendy being partnered with Riise in the middle of the defense, other central defending options are the new signings Eli Sabia, and Eder, who had a stint with Salgaocar in the I-league. Wadoo had a great season for Chennaiyin last time around and he will most probably the pick for RB.  Dhanachandra Singh who was a mainstay for the team in the last season will be the pick for LB.

Mid : Zakker Mundampara, Baljit Sahni, Dhanpal Ganesh, Manuel Blassi, Hans Mulder, Raphael Augusto, Siam Hangal and Thoi Singh

Hans Mulder, the Dutch footballer who gave a good account of himself in the last two editions of ISL for Delhi Dynamos is the new foreign recruit in the mid-field line up. Manuel Blassi and Raphael Augusto were a constant presence in Chennaiyin’s lineup last year, and this year I expect one of them to sit out and Hans Mulder taking that place. The Indian line up with Zakkeer, Dhanpal, Siam Hangal and Thoi Singh looks quite formidable too. However, i feel the midfield line-up esepcially the Indian contigent lacks in creativity and this could pose a serious threat for CFC.

Forwards : Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Davide Succi, Jayesh Rane, Jeje, Dudu, Maurizio Peluso, Uttam Rai.

Now, this is going to be a real problem area for Chennaiyin. As we mentioned earlier, MENDOZA WILL BE MISSED. Instead of him Materazzi has decided to bring in two Italian attackers.  Davide Succi and Maurizio Peloso. Succi is a 34 year old forward who has played for teams like Chievo, Palermo and Bologna, with pretty good conversion rate as well. Maurizio Peluso seems to be an attacker who plays mainly on the wings and has played in the lower divisions of the Italian league. Dudu is the other forward and he doesn’t need any introduction. He has been playing in India for a long time now and is pretty prolific as well. It will have to be seen if these new recruits can fill Mendoza’s shoes. Coming to the Indian contingent, Jeje is the standout name here. He had a very good season with Chennayin FC last year and would be hoping to replicate the same kind of form this season as well. Daniel is a highly rated forward who plays for BFC but he is going to miss some action due to BFC’s AFC Cup commitments. Jayesh Rane who plays for Mumbai FC had a good season with Chennaiyin last time around will be hoping to pitch in with some goals this season. Uttam Rai is a highly rated forward who plays for Dempo Sports Club. When he burst onto the scene, he was quite a sensation and but he did not live up to that hype after that.

On the whole, this team looks pretty decent but as we said, it will have to be really seen if they can replicate the same form they managed in the first two seasons. And I feel, Chennaiyin will miss out on the playoffs this season! Yes, you heard it right! :)

Listen to this preview on Youtube :

Indian Super League Season 3 Preview : Atlético de Kolkata

Indian Super League season 3 is about to start and here we preview the Atlético de Kolkata team for the season! Have a listen and let us know your thoughts!

Aston Villa to open academy in India

Aston Villa, Football, Soccer, India, Government, artificial turf, academy, grass roots, indian super league, Vijay Goel, Prakesh JavedekarAston Villa’s new owner Tony Xia was in India, meeting government officials to discuss the possibility of setting up an academy and engage with Indian Super League clubs.

Yesterday, the club announced their plans to set up an academy and seek opportunities to tie-up with Indian Super league clubs. The club website said after meeting with Minister of Sports Vijay Goel and the Minister of Education Prakesh Javedekar, Aston Villa will be appointed as an advisor on football. The sport is a part of the national curriculum for Indian state schools.

Villa’s new academy will come up in New Delhi on a property provided by the Municipal Council. The new academy will have state-of-the-art facilities, including an artificial turf.

The report also mentions about a possible tie-up with an Indian Super League side.

Aston Villa Chairman Tony Xia was quoted as saying :

“Aston Villa Football Club, one of the most successful football clubs in the history of English football, plans to expand globally and India is one of the countries where Aston Villa not only wants to have an Indian Super League club but also open football academies all over India!”

Chennai – Schools Premier League returns with ISL champions Chennaiyin FC as the partners

Chennai, Schools Premier League, ISL, Chennayin FC, Football, GrassrootsRated one of the best grassroots initiatives, Schools Premier League which was launched in the city in 2014, is back again. After being a massive hit with schools in the first season, the second edition of the league returns with Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC as the partners.

It kicked off today at MCC schools. Radiance Sports are title sponsors this season and the league will be called ‘ Radiance Sports – Schools Premier League ‘, whileArtemis Cars have agreed to be associate sponsors.Vidya Mandir won the first edition of the Schools Premier League, beating Velammal School in a nail biting encounter under lights at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The league will see 16 schools from the city compete in the under-14 age category. The 16 teams will be split into two groups with the top two from each group qualifying for the semi-finals. There are plans to expand the league next year to target more age-group categories and also increase the number of participants.

Chennaiyin FC will provide complete match kits for all the schools in the league. The top performing kids in this league will have a chance to be selected for Chennaiyin FC’s Centre of Excellence program. Newly-appointed Chennaiyin FC assistant coach and technical directorof grassroots Syed Sabir Pasha and the club’s development officers will be closely following the tournament to identify the best talents.

Chennai, Schools Premier League, ISL, Chennayin FC, Football, GrassrootsVarun Tripuraneni, Chennaiyin FC Chief Operating Officer and Founder of Schools Premier League commented, “The league was a massive hit in season one and schools were constantly behind us to organise the second edition of the league. We are now happy to return with Chennaiyin FC as the partners.

“We had terrific participation from schools in the first season where we had players, parents, school principals glued to the website for constant updates on matches, statistics, points table and we believe that this season, the league will be even bigger. The introduction of the schools league was something we felt was paramount for the development of football in local schools and this was the motive behind us starting such an initiative.

“The Radiance Sports – Schools Premier League, in partnership with Chennaiyin FC, is an opportunity to provide these hopeful youngsters a platform to showcase and refine their football talents. The response from the schools has been extremely positive from the first season and it was extremely tough shortliting the 16 school teams this season. I would like to thank Radiance Sports, for buying into our vision and supporting us in what will be a first of its kind league in the country.

“Having Chennaiyin FC as the partners will also give the participants extra motivation as our club will closely monitor the matches and select the best performers for our Centre of Excellence.”

Chennaiyin FC assistant coach and technical director of grassroots Syed Sabir Pasha said, “We at Chennaiyin FC are always looking to develop the best talent of the state and partnering with this league gives us an opportunity to see more talented young footballers in action. I encourage all the schools, kids, coaches, teachers and parents to give their very best in this tournament.”

Mr Varun Manian, Managing Director – Radiance Developers Pct Ltd commented, “We are very proud to associate with Schools Premier League as principal sponsor. We were associated with this initiative in the first season as well and we believe that this initiative will go a long way in developing the young talent in the country. We wish all the participating teams the best of luck.  “

 

SportsMechanics – Schools Premier League : Strategic Partnership

Schools Premier league along with SportsMechanics India a leader in Sports Analytics, Consulting, technology services today announced a strategic partnership with the schools premier league to leverage the latest technological advances, fan engagement and analytics to transform the experience of local football fans in the city, teams and players in the grassroots segment.

As part of this Deal, Sports Mechanics will become the Fan Engagement Partner and Technology Sponsor of the Schools Premier league for the next two years.

Varun Tripuraneni, Founder, Schools Premier League said, “ we welcome an industry leader in SportsMechanics to this league and take an important step towards exploring new opportunities in this area “.

‘’ Our partnership with Sports Mechanics will focus on fan engagement across various digital mediums.An important part of developing players is ensuring they are prepared in the best possible way. The players can watch highlights of the goals scored, look at the other important statistics like shots on target, minutes played and also analyse the opposition by knowing their performance in the previous games which will all be available on the website,” added Varun.

C.K.M.Dhananjai, One of the Founding Members and Vice President, SportsMechanics, said, “ We are looking forward to create a unique digital platform and think about how we can discover and execute differential and engaging experiences for fans for a unique tournament like this.

Playing sports in school is something we would have all cherished and enjoyed. SportsMechanics would like to re invent and bring these memories using our Platforms to give schools, players, coaches and fans with an immersive experience across the schools premier league’s digital channel.

This will also mean that the information available can be used by coaches, players and teams to analyse their own performances too.

Robin Singh ruled out for at least 6 months!

Robin Singh, Football, SAFF Suzuki Cup, Sri Lanka, Bengaluru FC, I-league, AFC CupRobin Singh suffered knee injury while playing the group stage match against Sri Lanka in SAFF cup. He suffered the injury while scoring his second goal against Lanka and was seen writhing in pain. Afterwards, he was immediately taken to the hospital.

National team coach had confirmed the next day that injury was not serious and Robin will be available for selection for the match against Nepal. However he did not make it to the squad versus Nepal and later news emerged that Robin was ruled from the rest of the SAFF cup.

He flew to Bangalore later for further assessment of his injury. Bengaluru FC owner Parth Jindal has taken to twitter to confirm that Robin will be ruled for an extended period.

Looks like Robin will be out for at least 6 months and this going to be a big blow for Bengaluru FC. BFC will miss his service for I-league and AFC Cup.

 

Agents of Tomorrow

football, soccer, india, sonu lamba, ranti martins, sunil chhetri, agent, top, Dudu Omagbemi, Shankar, Rino Anto, Vineeth, Eugeneson, Israil Gurung

Mariadon Pathaw writes about football agents working in India.

The manager runs the game, players deliver the score, and the fans – they are the team’s 12th man, overwhelming the team with all their backing. During a transfer window, we hear about players, the management, and the board who takes a call on the transfers, and the manager who decides on the options available and so on, but seldom do we hear about the “agents” who are trying to get these transfers possible. They are a shadow presence in the whole scheme of things, and they represent the player at all times.

A football agent is someone who lightens the burden of players in matters relating to club transfers, salary and contract negotiations. A player appoints an agent and the agent takes care of everything related to his footballing side thus enabling the player to deliver maximum on the ground and stay focused on his trade of playing the game.

We are well aware of the famous agents of the west. Jorge Mendes, who represents Cristiano Ronaldo, Falcao, and Jose Mourinho. Pere Guardiola who was responsible for the $130 million transfer of Suarez to Barcelona FC and so on. But little do we know about the player agents in India, who work with our footballers.

Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lyngdoh – these are the names synonymous to football in India. But who is responsible for their transfers? The man behind is Sonu Lamba, a top football player agent who deals with the country’s best football talent. In a conversation with Sonu Lamba, he shared how his great love and passion for Indian football brought him to his current career, moving away from his engineering and Merchant Navy stint. In 2013, when his daughter was born, he decided not to return to the sea and decided to pursue his passion and do his bit to develop football in India, and there began his stint as a football player agent. Sonu represents Sunil Chhetri, Rino Anto, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, CK Vineeth, Balwant Singh, Udanta Singh, Anwar Ali, Shankar Sampingiraj, Ashutosh Mehta, Keegan Pereira and Sehnaj Singh.

When asked about the biggest challenge in his job, he said, “it is gaining the player’s trust.” Player agents not only secure the best deal for a player, but also double up as a guiding force for the player, helping him in his professional life. He added, “Getting a deal is not the main job for an agent. His job is to make sure that the deal is in the best interest of the player. The agent is like the go-to man for the player for any problems he may have; I am here to solve it.”

Adewale Seriki, who hails from Nigeria and is currently in Goa, is no stranger to Indian football. This former JCT player is the man behind the contracts of various African players plying their trade in India. He represents a host of players including Friday GbenemeEbi SukorePenn OrjiObiora AnorueEkenne Ekenwa, and the attacking duo of Dudu Omagbemi and Ranti Martins. Apart from foreign players, Adewale also works with many local players who have the potential and the determination to work hard on field. Israil Gurung, currently playing for the FC Pune City is one among them. Coach Abdulaziz Bola, who won Durand Cup with Mohammedan Sporting in 2013, is also a client of Adewale. His enthusiasm to spend time on observing and studying local players has made him one of the few foreign agents in India, who deals with local as well as foreign talent.

Football in India is yet to make a mark. For the development of Indian football, it is imperative that agents play a role in ensuring that the players have the right remuneration, and are able to secure their rights during contracts. The work is yet to begin, and for Indian football, these are baby steps towards making a mark in the global football scene. Agents are here to help build that tomorrow, and the future definitely looks bright!

 

Editorial support from Sreedhanya

Who is best Indian Player in ISL so far?

indian super league 2015, ISL, Football, India, HeroISL, IMG, IMG-Reliance, Ambani, Reliance, Domestic Players, I-league, Free Agent, Bengaluru FCIndian Super league season two has seen impressive performances from our country men. Some players who did not get a chance to appear in the first season has come and put in strong performances, while some continued their great streak of form from last season. Here is a chance to vote for your favorite players in ISL so far! If your favorite player is not listed in the poll, Select other and comment your favorite players names in the comments section!

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