Category: Domestic

Tickets for Durand Cup to cost Rs 20

Kolkata: The tickets of Durand Cup, which is making a comeback after three years, are priced between Rs 20 and Rs 100 and are available for Kolkata and Siliguri matches.

“Tickets for the 2019 edition of The Durand Cup matches are priced between INR 20-100 and will be available exclusively across BookMyShow’s web and mobile platforms. Fans can book their tickets to the games in Kolkata and Kalyani starting Thursday,” a media statement said.

Mohun Bagan will take on Mohammedan Sporting to kick off the competition on August 2 at the Saltlake Stadium, which will also host the semifinals (August 20) and final (August 24).

Asia’s oldest cup competition will see 16 teams, including six each from I-League and Indian Super League, battle it out across six venues — Saltlake Stadium, Mohun Bagan Ground, East Bengal Ground, Kalyani and Siliguri.

Army Green are the defending champions, having won their maiden title beating NEROCA FC on penalties in the last edition in 2016.

Durand Cup started in 1888 as an Army Cup but was later opened for other clubs as Mohammedan Sporting were the first team from Kolkata to win the title in 1940.

The Big Two of the Maidan, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, are the most successful teams of the competition, winning 16 times each.

129th Durand Cup To Kick Off In Kolkata Bigger and Better

KOLKATA: The Durand Cup, World’s third oldest and Asia’s oldest football tournament , returns after a short gap of three years to entertain the football lovers of the Nation. The prestigious tournament was first held in 1888, at Dagshai (Himachal Pradesh) and is named after Mortimer Durand, who was the then Foreign Secretary in charge of India.

The tournament that began as an Army Cup, was a conscious way to maintain health and fitness initially among the British troops but later opened to civilians and currently is one of the leading sporting event. Royal Scouts Fusiliers won the inaugural edition of the Durand Cup way back in 1888. Mohammedan Sporting Club was the first Indian club to win the cup, in 1940, when the tournament shifted to Delhi. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the most successful teams in the history of the Durand Cup, winning it on sixteen occasions each. The “Army Greens” are the current defending champions, winning the last tournament played in 2016.

The winning team is presented with three trophies i.e. The President’s Cup (first presented by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India), the Durand Cup (the original challenge prize, which is a rolling trophy) and the Shimla Trophy (first presented by citizens of Shimla in 1904 and since 1965, a rolling trophy).

Under the patronage of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and the three service Chiefs from Army, Navy and Air Force, dynamic support of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms Mamta Banerjee and able guidance of Lt Gen MM Naravane, PVSM,AVSM,SM,VSM, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, the 129th edition of the cup is being organized. Department of Youth Services and Sports, Government of West Bengal under stewardship of Hon’ble Minister Shri Aroop Biswas, AIFF (All India Football Federation) and IFA (West Bengal) are extending extensive support to make this tournament a success.

The tournament has been shifted from its homeland Delhi to Kolkata, the “Mecca of Football”, for this edition. The “City of Joy” will host the three week long tournament, scheduled between 02 to 24 Aug 2019, with matches being played at various venues in and around Kolkata. Sixteen participating teams from across the country, including four teams from the Services, are set to bring out the competitive and true sportsman spirit to win the coveted trophies.

Bengaluru FC sign Spanish forward Manuel Onwu

Bengaluru: Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC have completed the signing of Spanish striker Manuel Onwu Villafranca ahead of the 2019-20 season, the club announced on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old striker who becomes the 13th Spaniard to sign for the Blues, has put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the club having an option to extend it for another year.

“Having spent a fair bit of time playing in Spain, I was looking for a different experience. However, I wanted to join a strong project where we fight for ambitious goals. That’s the reason I’m very excited to join Bengaluru FC. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club from many Spanish players in the league, and that helped me make a decision about coming here. I look forward to meeting my new teammates and hope to help the club build on their success from last season,” said Manuel after putting to paper.   

Welcoming him to the Blues fold, Coach Carles Cuadrat said, “Manuel comes in after a long playing career in Spain that includes playing at the very top. He will provide us with some good options in attack and we expect him to settle in easily. Of course, he isn’t a direct replacement for Miku, because we’re talking about two very different types of players. Manuel is a great professional, and his experiences will definitely make him a great addition to our squad.”

Born in Tudela, Manuel had youth spells with Club Atlético Valtierrano and CD Tudelano, making his senior debut with the latter in 2006. In 2007, Onwu signed with Osasuna B and had a couple of loan spells at CD Iruña (2007-08) and UD Alzira (2008) before returning to the reserve team of the La Liga side. While Manuel featured and netted regularly for Osasuna B in the Segunda B Division, he was called up to the first team and made his La Liga debut in March 2012.

Having played three seasons in the Spanish top flight and another one in the Segunda Division for Osasuna, Manuel had a brief spell in Georgia with FC Dinamo Tbilisi where he was part of the side that won the 2015 Georgian Cup. He returned to Spain the following season and featured for Lleida Esportiu (2015-16) and Lorca FC (2016-18) helping the latter to a promotion to Segunda Division in his first season. In January 2018, he moved to UCAM Murcia CF and featured regularly and in fact, was the top-scorer for theUniversitarios with 11 league goals in the 2018-19 season.

At Bengaluru, Manuel becomes the fourth Spaniard in the current squad joining Juanan Gonzalez, Dimas Delgado, and Albert Serran.

We Sweat More In Practice So We Bleed Less In Battle, Says Subrata Bhattacharya

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club coach Subrata Bhattacharya says each day his players are growing stronger as a team during their pre-season.

The former defender has been overwhelmed with players’ commitment to training since taking the helm of the team last month.

“I think the boys are really working hard. Each day we grow stronger and are more united as a team,” he said.

There are few new faces in the current Black Panthers roster alongside some experienced players such as Kamran Farooque, Priyant Singh, Prosenjit Paul, Satyam Sharma, Balwinder Singh, Arthur Kouassi, Kareem Omolaja Nurain and Tirthankar Sarkar.

Bhattacharya stressed how well the new inclusions are doing in training and their strong bond with the rest of the squad.

“Players are interacting more with each other building more chemistry and the new group of players has adapted well to our training philosophy,” he added.

This year’s Calcutta Football League is likely to be the most competitive in years as Southern Samity, Bhawanipore Club and Peerless Club have been able to put together a squad, strong enough to challenge for the title alongside East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

“I have no doubts that this will be by far, the toughest Calcutta Football League campaign in years and that is why we are preparing like never before,” said Bhattacharya.

“What we have been doing in the training sessions in a competitive environment so we can assess what is working and what is not so we can make improvements for the next session to try and minimize the mistakes we make. We know the challenges ahead of us and each day we sweat more in practice so we bleed less in battle,” he added.

Gokulam Kerala to begin Durand Cup campaign against Chennaiyin

KOCHI: Gokulam Kerala FC play Chennayin FC in their opening fixture of the 129 th edition of Durand Cup to be held in West Bengal. Gokulam are placed in Group ‘D’ along with Indian Super League club Chennayin FC, I League club TRAU FC, and Air Force.

Gokulam play all its matches in Siliguri from August 8 onward. The preparatory camp for the tournament will kick-start soon in Kozhikode in the coming week.

Gokulam has also been busy in transfer market, completing the transfer of four players so far for the upcoming season. Winger Malemnganba Meitei, goalkeeper Lalit Thapa, wing-back Ashok Singh have penned their deals with Gokulam Kerala FC. All the players have proved their mettle with I-League club NEROCA FC.

The other player whose transfer has been completed is midfielder Lalromawia from second division team Chhinga Veng FC in Mizoram.

“We are going to announce more players, including foreigners in the coming week. There is also a strong contingent of Kerala players as we have promoted several of our reserve players, who have helped us to finish runner-up in the Kerala Premier League, to our squad,” said Gokulam Kerala FC president VC Praveen.

“Durand Cup will be a perfect opportunity to all of the players to hone their skills before I-League. Several of the major clubs in the country are participating in the tournament and everyone covets the historical trophy. It would be an honour to play in the tournament,” he said.

TRAU FC win 2nd Division League, qualify for I-League

NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) lauded Manipur club TRAU FC for winning the 2nd Division League 2018-19, and qualifying to the next edition of I-League.

They are the second club from the state after NEROCA FC, to have qualified for the I-League from the second tier in three years.

TRAU FC defeated Ozone FC 2-1 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal today (May 19, 2019) to clinch the championship with one match left. TRAU FC have amassed 15 points from 5 matches (so far), whereas second-placed Chhinga Veng FC are on 10 points having played an equal number of matches.

Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League said: “Congratulations TRAU FC for the achievement. I’m sure the I-League will be more competitive and challenging next season with their inclusion. I wish them all the best for the next endeavour.”

Keegan Pereira signs for Jamshedpur Football Club

Jamshedpur, April 24, 2019: Jamshedpur FC have completed the signing of Indian defender Keegan Pereira on a one-year deal. Born in Mumbai, Keegan has a pedigree of representing top tier clubs in Indian football.

Keegan primarily a left back, started his footballing journey with Mumbai FC in the I-League and is remembered for his famous winning goal against Salgaocar in Cooperage stadium. He then went on to play for Salgaocar, DSK Shivajians and Bengaluru FC with whom he went on to win the I-League twice 2013-14 and 2015-16 season and the Federation Cup twice in 2014-15 and 2016-17 season.

He started his stint in the Indian Super League with Mumbai City FC (2015) and then went on to win the coveted trophy with ATK in 2016. His last stint was with NorthEast United where he played an important role in their first ever playoffs qualification last season. Keegan has represented the national team 4 times and made his debut against Laos in 2016.

On signing with Jamshedpur FC, Keegan added, “I am looking forward to my new home Jamshedpur FC. I enjoyed playing in front of such a massive crowd at JRD Stadium last season and I hope this upcoming season they will continue to support the team and me so that together we can win silverware for the club. The facilities in Jamshedpur are excellent and I am really looking forward to visiting the city soon.

Personally, have been following Jamshedpur FC since their inception and their progress over the last two seasons have been heartening.” Jamshedpur FC, CEO, Mukul Choudhari added “Keegan is a proven talent and we are very pleased to call him a Jamshedpur FC player. He has been a key individual for all the teams he has represented throughout his career and is well accustomed to Indian Football. We are sure he will be a fantastic signing and will add great value to the team. We welcome him to Jamshedpur FC.”

Bikash Thapa scores the winner as Services clinch sixth Santosh Trophy title

LUDHIANA: Services won their sixth Hero Santosh Trophy title with a slender 1-0 victory over home side Punjab, thanks to a second-half strike by Bikash Thapa at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, on Sunday (April 21, 2019). With this victory, the side has now gone the stretch of the final rounds without losing a single match.

Incidentally, the last time Services played in the Santosh Trophy Final was in 2015, at the same venue and against the same opposition, a match that they won 5-4 on penalties after it ended 0-0 post extra time.

It was a somewhat slow start to the game as both the sides looked to measure each other up before committing themselves. Home side Punjab had more initiative during the opening exchanges, managing to get a few shots on goal.

However, as the match wore on, Services started to gain more composure and built their own articulate attacks down the flanks. This wing-play almost resulted in a goal right at the end of the first half.

Bikash Thapa was played through on the right as he entered the box, sold a dummy to a Punjab defender and crossed to Harikrishna AU who scuffed his shot.

After the changeover, Services came out with a clear intent to go ahead in the game. Again, it was their wing-play that helped them in their endeavours. Lallawmkima found himself on the edge of the Punjab area with the ball. He squared it to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration meant that Thapa had to go into the referee’s books.

That goal gave Punjab the initiative to go looking for the equaliser, and striker Vikrant Singh came oh-so-close with around 15 minutes of regulation time to go. Turning in the centre-circle, he spotted that the Services keeper Vishnu VK was off his line, and chipped the ball towards goal. The ball eventually plonked on the cross-bar and went out of play.

Punjab looking to carry on Santosh Trophy legacy through coach Harjinder Singh

LUDHIANA: Apart from the Goa, West Bengal, Kerala and the North East, the state of Punjab has always been a hotbed for talented footballers. The likes of Sandesh Jhingan, Gurpreet Singh, and Balwant Singh are some of the players that are lighting up Indian football at the international level.

The Hero Santosh Trophy, that has acted as the National Championship played between different states has also seen a number of great performances by Punjab over the years. While Bengal have won the trophy an overwhelming number of times (32), Punjab are second on that list with eight titles.

Under the coaching of Harjinder Singh, Punjab have made it to the Final of the Santosh Trophy for the second time in five years and face Services in the championship game at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Sunday, April 21.

Incidentally, the same two opponents squared off against each other in 2015 at the same venue, an occasion when Services came out champions, winning 5-4 on penalties. Harjinder Singh, who was the Punjab Head Coach in 2015 as well, however, does not believe in going for revenge in this crunch match.

“It’s not about avenging a defeat. Both our teams were on equal terms that day, and they kept their nerves during the penalties,” he said. “We have to make sure that we play better in the match and win the trophy. I believe the side that makes fewer mistakes will win. My lads are all ready to fight and give their 100 per cent in the final.”

FROM A FOOTBALLING DYNASTY

Harjinder Singh, who is also the Honorary Secretary of the Punjab Football Association, along with being the Head Coach, hails from a family that is all to well known to Indian football fans, being the son of the great Inder Singh. The former India striker had etched his name in history books when he became the joint-top scorer of the 1964 AFC Asian Cup, along with Mordechai Spiegler of Israel. Later, Inder Singh also went on to win the Santosh Trophy with Punjab, the most famous of his exploits coming in 1974, when the North Indian state beat the then mighty Bengal team by a whopping 6-0 margin.

Inder Singh himself had netted 23 goals in the tournament, a feat that has never been matched in 45 years.

“We have always had great players coming through from Punjab,” said Harjinder. “It was not just my father. You look at the JCT Academy; it has given us so many top-flight footballers over the decades.”

A RESURGENCE OF SORTS

While Punjab has won the Hero Santosh Trophy eight times, the state is currently going through an 11-year drought; their last victory came in 2008, when they beat Services 1-0 in Srinagar. Since then they have made it to the final only on one other occasion, making a victory against Services on Sunday imperative.

“The result of the final will purely depend on what strategy the two coaches apply, and how the players respond to the instructions that are given to them,” said Harjinder. “At the end of the day, I, as a coach, can only get satisfaction if my players grow and enjoy the game themselves.

“I would like to urge all the fans, especially the youngsters in Ludhiana and Punjab to come and support the team. But most of all, I would urge them to appreciate good football, even if it comes from the opponents,” Harjinder signed off.

Punjab bank on home support in Santosh Trophy final against Services

LUDHIANA: After 12 rigorous days of the final phase, Ludhiana is all set to witness the Hero Santosh Trophy 2018-19 final at the Guru Nanak Stadium where home side Punjab face off against Services at 3.30pm on Sunday (April 21, 2019).

Being the home side, Punjab have enjoyed the rapturous support of the local fans, something that propelled them to gain the last-gasp win in their last two games – against Karnataka in Group B and against Goa in the semi-final.

“Of course, playing in our home ground brings its own advantages. We will have the support of the local people behind us which gives a lot of motivation to the players”, said Punjab assistant coach Bikramjit Singh on the eve of the match.

Services Head Coach Parshuram Salwadi echoed Bikramjit’s feelings, saying that having a packed stadium behind them would be a key advantage for Punjab.

“Playing a team like Punjab will be very tough in the Final, especially with the home support. We faced them in 2015, but it will be different this time as they are the home team. This is their biggest strength,” said Salwadi.

The two teams had previously faced off in the final four years back in the 2014-15 season, a match that also incidentally took place at the same venue. While the match itself remained goalless, Services triumphed in penalties by a 5-4 margin.

“We have more flair than them. We’ve already beaten them on a few occasions before. But we need to be careful. They have also beaten us in the 2014-15 Santosh Trophy Final, so we cannot take them lightly”, said Bikramjit.

“They have very good coordination in attack. We brought the whole team to the stadium to watch their semifinal against Karnataka and explained to them how they generate their attacks. So we have made our plans for them accordingly,” he continued.

Services have been one of the most consistent sides in the Final Round of the 2018-19 Hero Santosh Trophy so far; they have been unbeaten in their five matches thus far, netting 11 while conceding just three.

“Definitely, our defence has done really well. We have seen that our team can score at any time. But if we stay strong defensively, it will give our attackers that platform to go on and do well,” added Salwadi, “Having said that, we have also scored 11 goals so far, so we will definitely not hold back. So, you can’t say that we are a defensive side.”

Punjab will be at a slight disadvantage with regards to player availability as their young right-back Chetan Kumar has been ruled out due to a knee injury which he suffered while going for a tackle in their semi-final against Goa.

However, with the home advantage behind Punjab’s back, anything could be possible in the high-intensity final.