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India Women Set To Hit The Pitch: Maymol Rocky

Maymol Rocky, head coach of Indian women’s football team, is excited as the team begins its preparation for the forthcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers.

Thirty women footballers have been called up for a national camp that will start from Tuesday in Goa. This is the first senior national women’s camp after coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“The girls have not played football for almost nine months. They are all excited to join the camp. We haven’t seen the women’s team playing for a long time. As of now joining the camp and running on the lush green pitch is what everyone is waiting for,” Maymol said while speaking to the-aiff.com.

“We have been in touch over online sessions and phone calls. But physical interactions always value more, at least in terms of guiding and coaching players. The girls have been following the diet regime and strength and conditioning routine since the start of this unprecedented scenario but the need of the hour is getting used to ball once again,” she added.

The head coach said the initial target of the team would be to get the coordination back.

Maymol Rocky

“Football is a team game and the purpose doesn’t get served until everyone is in sync. We’re looking forward to starting from scratch and get in the grooves quickly.”

In June this year, AFC granted India the right to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2022.

Talking about the tournament, she said: “The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is the biggest tournament that India women’s senior national team will be playing in years. We competed in Olympic qualifiers but the AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a different ball game altogether.”

“We all are excited about that but there lies a huge responsibility in terms of delivering on the pitch. We’ve to be at the top of our preparations so that we can compete from the get-go. Although we still have a year or more, the preparation is a long-term process and competing with the likes of Asian’s superpowers will be a massive task,” Maymol added.

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

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Football Sport

Senegal Football Legend Papa Dies

Legendary Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has passed away at the age of 42.

Diop, who won 63 caps for Senegal, scored the goal which secured a historic 1-0 win over France in their opening FIFA World Cup match in 2002, a tournament where Senegal made it to the quarterfinals.

“FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop. Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero,” FIFA confirmed the news on Sunday evening on their official Twitter handle.

“Among Diop’s many accomplishments, he will always be remembered for scoring the opening goal of the 2002 World Cup. RIP, Papa Bouba Diop,” a tweet from FIFA read.

Senegal president Macky Sall also paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “The death of Pape Bouba Diop is a great loss for Senegal.”

“I pay tribute to a good footballer, respected by all for his courtesy and his talent, proudly reminding us of the Lions saga in 2002. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and to the football world,” he added.

The midfielder joined Fulham from Lens two years later and excelled as a powerful defensive midfield enforcer and was affectionately known as the ‘Wardrobe’ due to his stature.

“We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42. Rest well, Wardrobe,” tweeted Fulham FC.

Current Senegal international Sadio Mane wrote on Instagram: “Pape Bouba, it was with a broken heart that we learned of your (death). Know that you will forever remain in our hearts even if you left without saying goodbye to us.”

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

Also Read: Australia seeks apology over ‘repugnant’ Tweet by China

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Football India News Sport

The ‘King of Football’ will be missed: Igor Stimac

Igor Stimac, head coach of the Indian men’s football team, has paid a rich tribute to Diego Maradona, saying the Argentine was the “king of football”.

Maradona, who enthralled fans across the world with his skills, passed away on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires.

“Diego Maradona – the “King of Football”, the legend. How can someone describe him with one word or just an adjective? After representing my country for so many years and playing for so many clubs over the course of my career, I am still in awe of this maestro,” Stimac was quoted as saying by the-aiff.com.

Stimac played against Maradona on two occasions. Before the FIFA World Cup in 1994, when Argentina played an international friendly against Croatia, Stimac had a chance to play against the legendary footballer.

“His balance and acceleration were things that every defender was scared of. You could barely knock him down while he was running with the ball. His no-look passes were intimidating. We played a friendly match played in Zagreb, Croatia before they would travel to the USA to participate in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Very often, he was dropping deep to receive the ball, and his long deliveries to (Gabriel) Batistuta and (Caludio) Caniggia were absolutely perfect,” said the former Croatia defender.

India head coach Igor Stimac

“He was everywhere on the pitch. Sometimes, he was running past the defender through the right-flank. Next, he was seen playing a quick one-two with the forwards to work an attacking move. It was a menacing task to contain with the deadly attackers, obviously led by none but Diego and as a central defender, it was a real test for me. Thankfully, we came out with a stalemate in front of 38,000-strong Croat supporters at the Maksimir Stadium that night. But, Diego’s performance was very, very special that night and we were really fortunate to have shared the pitch with him,” he added.

Before that, in the 1992-93 La Liga season, both had faced each other when Maradona represented Sevilla, while Stimac was donning the Cadiz CF shirt.

“During 1992-93 La Liga campaign, I had another opportunity to play against him when he was with Sevilla. He was the biggest star among the stars including Davor Suker, my then national teammate, Diego Simeone, and their FIFA World Cup-winning coach Carlos Bilardo,” said Stimac.

Maradona led Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was particularly well-known for the two goals he scored against England in the quarter-final clash. One was later voted “Goal of the Century”, while the other is generally referred to as the “Hand of God”, a reference to the fact that the goal should have been disallowed for handball.

Diego Maradona

“El Diego had a heart of pure gold. He didn’t think twice before expressing himself. He never thought about how people would judge him. He lived on his own terms, left on his terms, rendering us shell-shocked. You will be missed, Diego,” Stimac said.

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

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Football Sport

‘We were trying to avoid injuries with substitutions’

The short pre-season that preceded the season meant that Bengaluru FC were forced to make substitutions on Sunday in their Indian Super League (ISL) match against FC Goa despite them needing one more goal to win the match, according to coach Carles Cuadrat.

Cuadrat said that he was tempted to not make any changes, which included taking off talismanic forward Sunil Chhetri and goal scorer Cleiton Silva while the score was 2-2, but had to do it so as to avoid injuries.

“We were trying to avoid injuries. You don’t want to touch anything when you are winning but we have to make substitutions to give some break to the players. Unfortunately, in just three minutes they got two goals so there was no time to make more changes. But the guys did well and I feel it was a fair result,” Cuadrat said on Star Sports after the match.

Bengaluru were leading 2-0 despite not having much of the ball untill 66th minute after which Goa scored twice in three minutes to draw level.

“We were working for the three points but Goa are a great team, they can play some wonderful passes. We were doing our best considering that the players had a short pre-season and tend to get tired quickly,” said Cuadrat.

“It was the match plan, to hit them on the counter attack knowing that they are going to have more possession. We took advantage of things that we are good at like set pieces. I think we were good until the last pass. We did well everywhere but only in the last pass we were lacking. We will keep working on that.”

FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando also said that he is happy with the result considering the fact that the players are not yet ready to play the full 90 minutes. “In the press conference before this season I said that we need time. It’s not just our players but also players of all teams had short pre-seasons and so the players are not 100 per cent ready to play 90 minutes,” said Ferrando.

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Football Sport

Pep Guardiola To Stay With City Till 2023

Head coach Pep Guardiola has extended his stay as Manchester City after signing a new contract which will see him at the club until the end of the 2022-2023 season.

“Ever since I arrived at Manchester City I have been made to feel so welcome in the club and in the city itself, by the players, the staff, the supporters, the people of Manchester and the chairman and owner. Since then we have achieved a great deal together, scored goals, won games and trophies and we are all very proud of that success,” Guardiola said in a statement.

“The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited and about helping Manchester City do that,” he added.

Pep Guardiola (C) signing the agreement to extend his stay as Manchester City’s Manager

Guardiola’s current deal was due to end at the end of the current campaign but the new deal gives him the chance to improve on the two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and the two League Cups he has won with Manchester City since joining from Bayern Munich in 2016, with the Champions League the club’s main target.

Since joining Manchester City, the 49-year-old has had a transformational effect on the Club’s playing style and has guided the team to eight major trophies, setting a series of significant records along the way. In total, the team has won 181 of the 245 matches under his in charge – a win rate of 73.87 per cent – winning a piece of silverware every 31 games he has overseen.

His current five-year stay is already the longest commitment he has made to a football club since becoming a manager in 2008 – and this extension will see him overtake Joe Mercer and put him second on the club’s list of longest-serving post-war managers.

“Pep’s contract extension is the natural next step in a journey which has evolved over many years. It is a product of the mutual trust and respect that exists between him and the entire club,” City chairman Khaldoon Mubarak said.

“It also goes to the stability and creativity at the heart of our football operations. Importantly it is a validation of the football structure and philosophy that has been built over more than a decade and to which he has contributed so much,” he added.

Also Read: Barca extends player contracts

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Bala Devi’s journey inspiration for all players: Gurpreet

Arjuna awardee Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels Bala Devi’s “path-breaking” journey can inspire not only the women footballers but also their men counterparts in the country as well.

“It (Bala’s maiden start for Rangers Women FC) is a proud moment for the country. She is a true example of hard work and dedication. Her path-breaking journey is not only a proud moment for women’s football in India — men footballers also can take a leaf out of her book to achieve their target,” the-aiff.com quoted Gurpreet as saying after Bala made her first start for Rangers against Spartans in Scottish Women’s Premier League on Sunday.

Bala Devi

Bala joined Rangers Women FC in January this year before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Although she had already made appearances in friendly games earlier, the elusive league start came against their narrow victory against Spartans. Rangers won the match 1-0 to take their tally to a maximum of six points from two outings so far.

Gurpreet, the only Indian footballer to have played in the Europa League so far, joined Stabaek — a Norwegian top division club — in 2014 and two years later, he appeared in a Europa League qualifier match on June 30, 2016.

In hindsight, Gurpreet feels Bala’s exemplary journey would create more “awareness” around women’s football in India and it will “inspire more girls to play the Beautiful Game with a target to achieve”.

“The most important thing for Indian football is a moment like this will create more awareness around women’s football. More girls will look to play football with a purpose and zeal to achieve something. Bala’s journey should bring lights to these aspects,” Gurpreet said.

Also Read: Improved infra helping Indian football: Adil Khan

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Football Sport World News

Legendary Diego Maradona turns 60

Argentina football legend Diego Maradona turned 60 on Friday. Widely rated as one of the greatest football players of all time, Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups and was captain of the Argentine team that won the 1986 tournament.

In an interview with French weekly French Football, Maradona joked that that he dreams of scoring another ‘Hand of God’, but this time with his right hand. “I dream of scoring another goal against England but with my right hand,” he said.

Maradona’s performance in Argentina’s quarter-final match against heated rivals England immortalised him in his country’s culture. He scored twice in Argentina’s 2-1 win in that match. The first goal was scored with his hand and his explanation in the immediate aftermath that he had made contact with the ball “a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God”, led to the goal being known as “The Hand of God”.

Four minutes later, Maradona went on a 60-yard run with the ball from midfield, dribbling past six English players, and ended the move with a feint that left goalkeeper Peter Shilton on the ground, and scored what has since been called “The Goal of the Century”.

Diego Maradona with the 1986 FIFA world cup

Maradona’s excesses and struggles with drug addiction was just as famous as his ability with the ball. This was testified by the fact that he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after a failed drug test. He played only two matches in the tournament, the second of which was also the last of his illustrious international career.

Born in a slum area in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Maradona made his senior debut for Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors in 1976. He went on to a play for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the 1981-82 season. He then shifted to Europe where he spent two tumultous seasons with Spanish giants Barcelona. His tenure with the Catalan club ended with a nasty brawl that triggered crowd trouble in the 1984 Copa del Rey final.

Maradona then went to Italian club Napoli, where he had arguably the most productive period of his career. He won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup in his seven seasons with the club, leaving as their all-time highest goalscorer, a record that stood until Marek Hamsik overtook his tally in 2017. He went on to spend a season each at Spanish club Sevilla and Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys before ending his career at Boca Juniors.

As a coach, Maradona notably managed Argentina between 2008 and 2010. He currently manages Argentine club Gimnasia.

Also Read: Messi adds 36th Champions League team to his scorecard

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Football India News Sport

ISL to begin with ATK Mohun Bagan – Kerala Blasters match

ATK Mohun Bagan will face Kerala Blasters in the opening match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) on November 20, organisers Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) announced on Friday.

The schedule was announced of only the first 11 rounds. The first 11 rounds feature six double-headers which will all be held on Sundays.

The matches will be played behind closed doors across three venues in Goa — JL Nehru Stadium (Fatorda), GMC Stadium (Bambolim), and Tilak Maidan (Vasco).

East Bengal will face arch rivals Mohun Bagan on their ISL debut on November 27 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium. Jamshedpur FC and Odisha FC play the first match of the double headers at 5 pm on November 29 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium. The rest of the matches will kick off at 7.30 pm.


“The schedule for the remaining 55 league matches will be published in December post clarity on calendar dates of Asian Football Confederation competitions matches,” said the FSDL in a statement.

The last match of the first 11 rounds of fixtures will be between Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City on January 11.


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Football Sport

Improved infra helping Indian football: Adil Khan

Defender Adil Khan feels that Indian football is moving forward and growing on “the right path”.

“Indian football is growing in a good way and through the correct path. I just wish (Indian football) keeps growing the way it has been and tries to maintain the quality,” the 32-year-old defender expressed during an AIFF TV interview, a year after he faced off with neighbours Bangladesh at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.

Following an aggravated injury that had halted his footballing career, Adil came back strongly to appear for the Indian team after a seven-year hiatus. The sturdy central defender lauded the changes that have been brought into Indian football to move things ahead, as players can now avail better infrastructure.

“During my initial days, there was a dearth of quality grounds. Infrastructures, facilities have improved immensely since then. These things always help a player perform to their true potential. That has helped Indian players perform in a better way,” stated Adil.

“Earlier, teams used to depend heavily on foreigners to churn out results. But, the scenario has changed of late. Indians have been taking responsibilities and proving their worth. They are scoring goals, providing assists, taking guards in the defensive half, tackling with more conviction – only to take Indian football forward,” he added.

Adil praised the authorities for resuming football actions in the country in the aftermath of the lockdown that was enforced owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is great! After more than seven months without any football activity, we’re back to the pitch once again. I followed the I-League Qualifiers closely and have noticed the positive buzz around it – that’s fantastic,” he said.

“It was difficult for everyone who is connected to football – supporters, owners, players and every single stakeholder. Our pre-season has also started. I am very excited and hopefully, everyone is,” Adil added.

Also Read: Bundesliga willing to help Delhi Football

Also Read: FIFA plans $1.5 bn support to football world

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Football Sport

Barcelona Board set for major rejig as chief, members resign

Barcelona FC has confirmed that president Josep Maria Bartomeu has stepped down from his post. The abrupt ending of Bartomeu’s 6 year stint along with the stepping down of other board members pave way for a major reshuffle in the club’s governing board.

Bartomeu, who had replaced Sandro Rosell as Barca president in 2014, resigned on Tuesday rather than await a fans’ vote of confidence on his future at the club. The rest of the board of directors stepped down alongside him and an election will be held to appoint a new president within 90 days.

“This is a well-considered, calm, consensual and collective decision by my fellow directors who have accompanied me over recent years in a loyal and committed fashion with regards to the project and the club, and who have made so many sacrifices thinking always of Barca,” Bartomeu said in a statement.

He also rallied against the Catalan government, who he felt should have allowed the club to delay the referendum on his future due to new COVID-19 restrictions in Spain.

Bartomeu further informed that Barcelona have agreed to join a new European Super League.

He added that joining the venture would guarantee the club’s financial sustainability moving forward after it announced earlier this month that their debt had more than doubled to €488 million.

The 57-year-old, however, did not reveal any details of the proposed Super League nor what it would mean for domestic competitions like Spain’s LaLiga.

The announcement, however, alarmed the LaLiga head Javier Tebas, who criticised Bartomeu and the plans for the new competition.

“Unfortunate Josep Bartomeu announcing on his last day the participation in a phantom competition that would ruin (Barcelona) and reiterating his ignorance about the football industry,” Tebas tweeted. “A sad end for a president who did many things right but that lately made many mistakes.”

Also Read: Barca extends player contracts