Tag: Balwant Singh

Intercontinental Cup 2018: Blue Tigers focusing on getting the job done

MUMBAI: Two back to back victories in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup seem to have made the Indian National Team more determined to “keep the ball rolling.”

“We have started off in an exquisite manner but now the challenge is to get the job done in the same fashion. The momentum needs to be sustained and we have to overcome New Zealand next, and then the final,” defender Subhashish Bose utters,

India who sit pretty on 6 points from 2 matches play New Zealand in their next league of the tournament tomorrow at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Striker Balwant Singh, who has been a revelation in the National Team since his return to the squad last year at the tri-nation tournament also at the Mumbai Football Arena also stays aware the “fresh challenge.”

“We have pulled off back-to-back wins but a fresh challenge lies ahead. We have to keep our head down and continue working. We are a confident bunch of lads and we hope we continue the job,” he maintains. Singh came off the bench the other night to lay it for Chhetri to score India’s third goal against Kenya in the last match.

Speaking at a media interaction prior the team’s practice session, winger Halicharan Narzary said, “Obviously we will be playing for a win against New Zealand, but it will not be easy. It will be remarkable if we win all of our three matches going ahead into the finals of the Cup and keep the winning momentum alive till the finals”

Post the two back to back victories, the team was involved in a recovery session at the pool and team meetings. The squad also went through a practice session at the Mumbai Football arena this evening.

“We are working as a unit and I, personally, feel confident to score more. As a striker, utilising opportunities and scoring goals is of paramount importance and I won’t compromise with that,” Balwant informs.

Subhashish feels the AFC Asian Cup will be a “huge platform” for the team.

“The AFC Asian Cup is going to be a huge platform for us where we have to be absolutely at the top of our game. This tournament has been going well so far and hopefully, we’ll leave Mumbai with some extra baggage,” he smiles.

Narzary adds: “The Intercontinental Cup is a very important tournament for us and before the AFC Asian Cup it will be a good platform to test ourselves against some of the teams of different playing styles of the elite level, that we don’t come across often”

Barely a veteran of two International matches, Subhashish is happy to having contributed for the team’s cause. “It’s so satisfying to have played my heart out to help us register back-to-back clean-sheets. But it was the defence line led by Sandesh-bhai and Anas-bhai who made it possible. Not to forget that had not Gurpreet-paaji not pulled off those marvellous saves, clean-sheets wouldn’t have been possible at all,” he quips.

Halicharan lauded skipper Sunil Chhetri as a motivation for every young football in the nation and said, “Sunil bhai is an inspiration in himself and he has been a role model for every young player in India. It is a joyous moment for Indian football that a legend has played 100 matches and I wish he will play even more in the coming years”

“We wanted to give Sunil-bhai a gift on his 100th International Cap and that gift was qualifying to play in the final of the Intercontinental Cup and defeat Kenya. Now we will take one match at a time and aim to win the Cup”, he further added.

ATK announce two new foreign signings

Kolkata, June 6, 2018: Two-time ISL champions, ATK have signed English defender John James Johnson in an effort to strengthen their defense. ATK has also signed attacking Spanish midfielder Manuel Lanzarote Bruno this season.

Nigerian forward Kalu Uche has also joined the squad. Apart from retaining some of the local talents from last season like Debjit Majumder, Prabir Das, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Hitesh Sharma, Jayesh Rane and Komal Thatal, ATK has also signed several new Indian players. Defender Arnab Mondal, national team midfielder Pronay Halder and forward Balwant Singh, Cavin Lobo, Shaikh Faiaz, among others will be seen in the red and white jersey in the fifth season of Indian Super League.

“We are very excited with the team that we have formed. It is a good combination of Indian and foreign players, youth and experience. We have tried to form an all-round and compact squad. I am happy to welcome several new members to the ATK family and hope that together we can put up some great football this season” said Sanjiv Goenka, Principal Owner, ATK

One of the latest recruit, John Johnson began his career at the Middlesbrough Academy where he went on to make his first-team debut in 2008 against Chelsea. Later on, he played at Tranmere Rovers and Northampton Town before he joined Bengaluru FC in 2013. Previously voted the ‘Best Defender of the I-League’ by the All India Football Federation, Johnson will now be donning ATK colours in the upcoming season of ISL.

“Really excited to join ATK. Such a massive club in India, certainly looking forward to creating memorable times and winning some trophies. Thank you ATK for having me in the family.” Johnson said.

Manuel Lanzarote Bruno was in fiery form in the last season of ISL, where he scored 13 goals and provided six assists for FC Goa. Lanzarote played with the C and B teams of FC Barcelona. In 2005, he joined neighbouring UE Lleida in Segunda División, but later moved to Atlético Madrid B. Apart from this, he has also played for clubs such as Real Oviedo and UE Sant Andreu from Tercera División.

Lanzarote scored 14 goals in the 2012–13 campaign with the Arlequinats, and in 2013 he signed a deal with La Liga side RCD Espanyol.

After playing abroad with Asteras Tripoli F.C. in Greece, Lanzarote signed for the Indian Super League franchise FC Goa in 2017.

“I have enjoyed playing in India and cannot wait to begin afresh with the double champions, ATK. I hope to be able to continue with my form from the past season and help ATK win anotherchampionship.” Lanzarote said.

ISL 4: Mumbai, Bengaluru desperate to get back to winning ways

Mumbai: After a disappointing 0-1 loss against Kerala Blasters FC in their previous game, and that too at home, Mumbai City FC are desperate for a win to keep up the pressure on other teams fighting for the top four slots in the Indian Super League.

Having said that, their opponents, Bengaluru FC, too are looking to overcome their unexpected loss to laggards Delhi Dynamos in an away game not too long ago.

There is a lot at stake for both teams when they meet at Mumbai Sports Arena on Thursday. A win for BFC will see them go back to the top of the points table. On the other hand, Mumbai City FC, which have seen some good results in patches this season, can’t afford any slip up with Kerala Blasters and ATK hot on their heels to make it to the play-offs. And MCFC’s Costa Rican coach Alexandre Guimarães is well aware of that.

“In terms of team performance, I see the team developing. Sometimes this progress doesn’t match the results. And now we have a situation where we have to stand again and we’ll do it. The team which just lay down, will be finished. We’ll not do that. We’ll fight with all our resources to be in the top four,” Guimarães told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Mumbai were humbled 0-2 by Bengaluru but Guimarães believes his side has improved since.

“The first game, we had too many situations that didn’t allow us to make a good game. They deserved that win for sure. But from that game, we have been building. Our style of play, which has us in this package of eight teams, everybody has a chance to make it to the top four. ISL is like that. You have to be alert, anything can happen. You have to work on how to improve your team and we have been doing that,” the coach added.

If Mumbai have to have any chance of out-gunning Bengaluru, they will have to push their game to another level. BFC, under Albert Roca, are enjoying an incredible debut season in the ISL, and not surprisingly, expectations have grown on them. Bengaluru FC lost their last game against Delhi Dynamos, but their coach feels it’s nothing to worry about.

“It happens. It’s a short season. And see when you have quality behind it’s easy to get back,” he said.

At the same time Roca also feels that there has been an added pressure on his team due to the “favourite tag” that they have been carrying since the start of the tournament.

“We need a balance in our results. We have two wins and then we lose, that’s not good enough. That favourite tag is not good. It puts added pressure on the players when people say ‘oh, you will win everything’. But, though there is pressure, I can tell you that we have the quality to do well,” added Roca

Talking about the game he said, “It’s a tough game and we’ll have to do our best to get the result.”

ISL 4: Thiago rescues Mumbai as Jamshedpur remain winless at home

Jamshedpur: Thiago Santos rescued a point for Mumbai City FC with a 71st minute strike against hosts Jamshedpur FC as the two teams settled for an entertaining 2-2 draw in Indian Super League at JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Friday.

Thiago put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute while Nigerian striker Izu Azuka scored two late goals in the first-half to give the hosts a 2-1 lead going into the break. It was Thiago again, who struck midway in the second half and helped them leave the Steel city with a point but there was no denying the class of his first goal.

Thiago scored what can be best described as a stunning goal for Mumbai City FC in the 24th minute. After a throw in, Balwant Singh found Everton Santos who simply rolled the ball into the path of Thiago. The Brazilian was surrounded by Jamshedpur players all around, but he was still determined to push his way through. He cut past one player, then second, and another one. To top it all, he finished the move with a sensational flick that found the top corner of the net.

It was a stunning effort from Thiago and the hosts were momentarily stunned. Their famous defence had crumbled, thanks to a moment of brilliance, but they fought back in style with two quick goals in the 43rd and 45th minute to take a 2-1 lead at the breather.

Jamshedpur had not scored from open play this season and they finally got that goal in the 43rd minute. Jerry Mawhmingthanga found himself some space near the rival danger zone and drilled in a low cross in the path of Kervens Belfort. His attempt was blocked by a Mumbai defender but the rebound fell nicely for Izu Azuka who didn’t miss from such close range.

Two minutes later, Jamshedpur struck again. It was Azuka, this time though with a much difficult goal. It was Jerry who moved dangerously on the right and essayed a cross inside the box where the Nigerian finished with a classy effort.

In the second half, Jamshedpur were comfortable even though Mumbai City were asking questions but the hosts couldn’t hold on to their lead. Their citadel crumbled for the second time as Thiago was on target in the 71st minute, thanks to an inch-perfect pass from Everton.

The draw took Mumbai City to the top four with 14 points from nine matches while Jamshedpur FC are placed sixth on the table with 10 points from eight matches.

ISL 4: Battle of the defences as Jamshedpur host Mumbai

Jamshedpur: Two of the stingiest defences of the Indian Super League’s fourth season will clash in what is expected to be a tactical battle between wily coaches Alexandre Guimarães and Steve Coppell at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur, on Friday.

Home side Jamshedpur FC have let in just two goals in seven encounters, with Subrata Pal keeping five cleansheets in the process. As for Mumbai City, they’ve conceded seven goals – five of these have been away from home. The two teams are separated by just four points, but Jamshedpur have played a game less. If they win, they will make significant ground towards the top four from their current sixth place.

But here’s where the teams can really be separated; Jamshedpur have scored just twice in the entire league so far, and Mumbai City have hammered 11 goals. And Coppell is rightfully worried about the statistic.

“I hope (that we can score goals). I am exactly like every supporter who comes to games and am desperate to see the team score goals. It hasn’t happened so far but I am confident that we will score. The sooner the better, and it is a big priority for us. But again, you have to appreciate that defensively, we are strong. We have to find balance – be more potent going forward without losing defensively. The intent is there and the players are giving everything,” he said.

Coppell also said he wasn’t worried about the playing conditions. There have been complaints about the uneven pitch in Jamshedpur, but the Englishman said that “the pitch is the pitch, it is not going to suddenly transform.” He added that his side will “play on anything.”

Guimarães said that there was immense respect for the way Jamshedpur were organised.

“The team fights very hard to recover the ball and fill spaces in defence. We have to understand that we have to work the game in a way to find gaps – it is difficult but I am glad that we did that in the last game, when we took profit of certain situations. That is important in these type of games,” he said.

Guimarães is also aware that Jamshedpur will try and shut down their creative force Achille Emana. The Cameroonian has scored one goal and provided four assists in eight matches. He is also Mumbai City’s passer-in-chief with 304 passes and 406 touches.

Emana and Mumbai’s top-scorer Balwant Singh (5 goals) will have to be at their best against a resilient side which defends confidently and will try to hit the away side on the break.

ISL 4: Emana provides and Balwant obliges as Mumbai City enter top four

Guwahati: A brace from Balwant Singh, both goals set up by Achille Emana, propelled Mumbai City FC to a 2-0 win over NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on Wednesday. The win took Mumbai into the top four of the Indian Super League (ISL) table, and banished the memories of a disappointing 0-1 loss against ATK at home.

The first goal was a howler as NorthEast’s goalkeeper, Ravi Kumar, ran out of his area to challenge Balwant, with the Indian simply having to arrange it past him into a gaping goal from outside the box. The Indian looked as surprised as did all the fans, but it was his precision that eventually counted.

Mumbai City put the result out of doubt with a second goal in the 68th minute. A lapse in concentration from Rowllin Borges allowed Emana into a dangerous area from where he squared the ball for Balwant. With an open goal awaiting him for the second time in the match, he made no mistake whatsoever.

The goal came minutes after Balwant had missed a chance from close range. Emana was the man at it again, but his cross was headed over from yards away in an inexplicable miss.

But while Balwant took credit for the goals, it was Emana who caused the most trouble for NorthEast. The attacking midfielder created room for himself brilliantly on the hour mark, but this time Ravi Kumar got down sharply to make a stop.

NorthEast piled on the pressure and sent fizzing crosses into the box at will, but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal meant those chances went abegging.

It was the story of the match, so to speak: NorthEast’s failure in front of goal. They saw Marcinho smack the post with an attempt and Seiminlen Doungel miss from point-blank range before Mumbai’s goals. This profligacy in front of goal will certainly be a problem in their quest to qualify for the business end of ISL.

Their coach, Joao de Deus, was vociferously discussing tactics with his players and they seemed to benefit from it with some excellent dominance. However, these spells counted for nothing. The head coach will be pleased with their performance and how they made Mumbai City work hard for a win, but he will also know that it counts for nothing if his team can’t score.

NorthEast now sit in lowly ninth position and have scored just two goals in six matches. NorthEast play promising football and Mumbai dish out a style that is result-oriented. In the end, it was the latter that mattered.

Our sole focus is to qualify to the Asian Cup: Sunil Chhetri


BENGALURU: “We can’t let the opportunity slip. We have to win tomorrow’s game and there’s no alternative from working harder and harder,” Captain Marvel Sunil Chhetri said in the pre-match press conference before taking on Macau in the fourth match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru tomorrow (October 11, 2017).

“We are going through a good run but we can’t afford to take tomorrow’s game lightly. We have to get it going and make it count. We need three points,” Chhetri stated.

Coach Stephen Constantine also preferred to speak in the same tone referring to the match against Macau as a “crucial one.”

“We’re very close to qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup but we’re still not there. We can’t think about anything but getting a positive result. We respect every opponent and our philosophy won’t change against Macau too,” Constantine stated.

“We have refurbished the team. The average age of the National Team is around 24. The World Cup qualification stage was a learning curve for us and now we’re just one breath away from the AFC Asian Cup. That’s what we have achieved and I believe, we have built a team for next 4-5 years at least,” Stephen Constantine maintained.

On being asked what Sunil Chhetri undergoes to keep the fitness level at par with the younger bunch of players, Chhetri quipped: “I don’t do anything special, trust me. Playing for my country is the biggest motivation for me and it keeps driving me always. I won’t let anyone take my place just for the sake of it. I will keep working hard day in and day out and fight for my place in the team.”

In the away fixture the men in Blue had to toil really hard to breach the resilient Macau defense until Balwant Singh hit the target twice. Chhetri referred to that and stated that ‘Macau is not to be taken lightly anytime.’

“We have worked on our strategies. Yes, we struggled there. We had to work hard to penetrate them. In no way, we can take them lightly. We did work on our mistakes and I hope we’ll implement them on the pitch tomorrow.”

“The AFC Asian Cup is massive. It’s the biggest tournament which an Asian team can play. But, as gaffer said, it’s not done yet. In my playing career of 14 years, I have been in this situation before. We are taking the game with the same philosophy. Now, our only focus is to qualify. Once we do, we will surely cherish the memory.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Constantine informed that he has no injury worries and his full squad is ready to give it a shot tomorrow.

Macau Head coach Chan Hiu Ming rated the Stephen Constantine-coached side very highly at the pre-match press conference. “India are the better team undoubtedly. We’re trying to close the gaps. They have quite a few great players, like 11 (Sunil Chhetri) and others. We’ll give our best and it’s going to be a great experience for my boys.”

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 7.30pm.

We are satisfied with the win says Constantine

MACAU, September 5th 2017: On a day when Indian National Team accomplished their Mission Macau with a 2-0 victory over the hosts, coach Stephen Constantine was satisfied and happy with the win.

“Congratulations on the victory. It was very difficult to break down their defense. It is a very valuable win for us. And we stay on top of Group A with 9 points,” he said.

“It was very hard to break them down as they were defending with 8 or 9 men. So we are happy with the 2-0 victory.” Constantine mentioned.

Constantine’s boys have now remained unbeaten in eleven games on the trot since the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Playoff Round 1 match against Laos on June 2, 2016.

Stephen was also happy with Balwant’s effectiveness after he came on as a substitute to score the winning goals.

“Balwant scored two goals tonight. He did what he was asked to do. He could have scored four but I will take two,” stated Constantine.

India are scheduled to face the same opponents on October 10 in the return fixture in India.

India accomplish mission Macau by 2-0

MACAU: India took a giant step towards qualification for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 when they registered a 0 – 2 win over Macau in an away match at the Olympic Stadium in Macau tonight (September 5, 2017).

In what was a totally one-sided contest, substitute Balwant Singh scored a brace with a header in the 57th minute and poacher’s goal in the 81st minute after a mix-up by the Macau back line.

This was India’s third successive victory and they sit pretty on top of Group A with 9 points. India are scheduled to face the same opponents on October 10 in the return fixture in India.

India started on a positive note as Macau seemed to be happy sitting back. Udanta and Narayan Das found ample space on the wings but the hosts managed to keep the crosses out.

Both Sunil and Jeje were heavily marked with their efforts finding the legs of the opposition defense.

Indian midfielders were dictating the game as they found acres of space near the box. Jeje cut in from the left but Sunil’s powerful shot was blocked out. Narzary showed some deft footwork as he twisted and turned but his shot was kept out by the keeper.

A flurry in the 36th minute saw Nazary and Rowllin combining well but the clearance made its way to Eugeneson whose long ranger hit the crossbar. Rowllin latched on to the rebound but his shot too was saved by the goalkeeper.

A couple more chances came India’s way with Jeje’s header landing on the roof of the net while Narzary’s perfect cross was met by Sunil only to be blocked out by the desperate Macauan defense.

India did have their chances and poor finishing robbed them of an early lead. Macau were also lucky when the crosspiece came to their rescue in the first half as the boys went into the break goal-less.

Constantine opted to introduce Balwant Singh after the break having withdrawn Eugenson Lyngdoh who saw his effort strike the crossbar in the 36th minute of the first-half.

Balwant’s introduction was just what the doctor ordered as he made an impact straightaway troubling the Macau backline. Pritam Kotal’s cross to him was headed just wide.

Also in the second half, a Sunil Chhetri header off a Pritam Kotal cross bounced off the crosspiece and then dropped on the goal line only to be collected by the rival goalkeeper.

A goal seemed ominous and it did arrive in the 57th minute when Balwant found the back of the net with a rising header as he met Narayan Das’ perfect ball into the box.

Balwant scoring his second goal for the national team after having scored his first against Mauritius in the recently concluded Tri-Nation series.

Sunil Chhetri came close on few occasions but it just wasn’t his night when he saw another of his efforts being saved. Balwant could have had his second minutes later, but his effort found the side-netting.

The misery for the host side was compounded when a terrible error by a defender led to Balwant capitalising on the goof-up and thus double the lead for India in the 81st minute.

Thus scoring his third goal in as many games since his reintroduction to the national team.

The men at the back too kept things tidy, although they didn’t have much to do with Macau adopting an ultra-defensive strategy all throughout and were never willing to open up.

India beat Mauritius 2-1 in Tri-Nation Football series

MUMBAI: India came back from behind to register their eighth official win in International Football when they made short work of Mauritius 2-1 in the opening match of the Tri-nation International Football series at Mumbai Football Arena tonight.

The victory set a record in Indian Football as this is the first time ever that an Indian National Team have won eight official matches on the trot.

Meanwhile, it was India’s 14th win in their last 16 matches in the International Arena when local lad Nikhil Poojary, Amrinder Singh and Manvir Singh were handed their international debuts for the Senior National Team marking a red-letter day in their football career.

The visitors stunned the Indian defenders in the 15th minute when Jocelyn volleyed it from the inside of the box to breach the Indian defence line.

Indians, in an effort to make a comeback, restored parity in the 37th minute when Robin Singh converted a terrific defence-scathing pass from Rowllin Borges. Robin collected the ball inside the box and calmly slotted in to cancel the visitors’ early lead, as both teams went into the changing room with level pegging.

National Coach Stephen Constantine made three changes at the half-time, two of which were debuts — Nikhil Poojary and Amrinder Singh coming in to replace Jackichand Singh and Subrata Paul respectively. Balwant Singh also came in for goalscorer Robin Singh and felt best to take his name into the score sheet.

The Almighty had written a different script for the Punjab-born striker who went onto score his first goal in the National Color just after the hour-mark in his second outing for the Senior National Team.

Eugeneson Lyngdoh lofted a juicy delivery to Jeje Lalpekhula who flicked it wisely to Balwant who took all his time to tap it home to snatch a late lead in the 62nd minute.

Rafique, who replaced Eugenson who created another gullible opportunity for scoring but Halicharan Narzary blasted it onto the perimeter boards.

Another debut was handed by the gaffer as U-23 striker Manvir Singh replaced AIFF Player of the Year Jeje Lalpekhlua three minutes to the end of the regulation time.

On his first touch itself, the lanky youngster could have found the target but his looping delivery landed over the net to leave the crowd aghast. But it didn’t matter much.

Mauritius are scheduled to lock their horns with St. Kitts & Nevis at the same venue on August 22, 2017 while India will clash against St. Kitts & Nevis two days later.