Friday, September 15, 2017

Zeven India Football Tour - F5WC World Final India qualifiers kicks off in Bangalore

Last Saturday witnessed the official kick-off of Zeven India Football Tour today. The India Football Tour is the official Indian qualifiers tournament for F5WC world finals. F5WC is the world's largest amateur 5-a-side football tournament. This is an annual event which will be held in Shanghai, China. 

This is the second edition of the India Football Tour organized by Addrush Sports, a sports management company specializing in events and technology and Zeven, a sportswear brand, began with the unveiling of the official jersey, the match trophy. 

The Zeven-India Football Tour is an amateur football tournament played on a small, 5-a-side field with a few differences from the regular game - no offside, kick-ins instead of throw-ins, and so on. 

The India Football Tour will be conducted in 6 cities that include Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kochi to select the best team that will represent India internationally. The winners of each city qualifiers will travel to Bengaluru to compete at the National Finals. 

Later in the event, an exhibition football match was played between a team of sports journalists and the team of Humble Politician Nograj, political satire film in Kannada language, which will hit cinemas shortly. Danish Sait, Hemanth Rao and many other celebrities played the game. 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bengaluru move to AFC Inter-Zone Final

Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC kept their calm to hold on to a three-goal lead from the first leg to seal an aggregate win (3-0) after a goalless draw against 4.25 SC, at the May Day Stadium, in Pyongyang, on Wednesday. The result secures a place for the Blues in the Inter-zone final of the 2017 AFC Cup, where they are set to face Tajik side FC Istiklol in a two-legged affair. 

While the game lacked goals, it was custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who impressed with some brilliant work under the bar for the Blues. The Punjabi-lad pulled off a crucial second half penalty save, as Albert Roca’s side extended their clean-sheet streak to three games in the competition, the longest in four years.

Going into the second leg, Roca opted to field an unchanged XI from the first leg with skipper Sunil Chhetri, Antonio Dovale and Udanta Singh leading the front line while Spaniard Dimas Delgado marshalled midfield.

The game, played on the artificial turf of the massive May Day Stadium, was a contrast to the first leg, where the Blues had dominated proceedings for majority of the night. In Pyongyang, Bengaluru were edged out in terms of possession and chances, but made up for with a stubborn defense as Gurpreet, Juanan Gonzalez, Rahul Bheke, Harmanjot Khabra and Nishu Kumar, who was later replaced by Subhasish Bose kept the 4.25 SC attack at bay.   

While the first half saw Bengaluru create a few half chances, most notably through Toni Dovale, the hosts managed to control the game. With a sizeable turnout egging for the home side to attack, the Blues did well to arrive at the break with the scores unchanged.

Bengaluru were forced to sit deep and defend in the second half as tournament top-scorer Kim Yu Song almost gave 4.25 SC the lead in the 57th minute with a header, but it was Gurpreet once again who denied the striker. As the game progressed, Hwang Yong Song’s side continued to attack and substitute An Il-Bom who came on in the 61st minute, forced the Blues custodian into another brilliant diving save in the 70th.

The hosts continued to mount persistent attacks on the Blues' back-line, passing the ball well while switching play efficiently to keep the pressure on. For Bengaluru, it was Man-of-the-Match Gurpreet who did well to command his defenders and the rest of the team, who dropped deep to help thwart the Korean side’s attack.

Into the final quarter of the game, 4.25 had the best chance to break the deadlock as Rahul Bheke brought down Bom inside the box in the 77th minute, prompting referee Wang Di to point to the spot. However, Gurpreet dived to his right denying midfielder Ri Hyong Jin's effort from 12 yards.

The pressure culminated into another chance in the dying moments of the game, as midfielder Won Song hit the crossbar with an effort from 20-yards out but it wasn't to be for the home side.

"They dominated majority of the game and deserved to win. But at the same time, we defended very well as a team and managed to hold on to our lead from the first leg. We are happy to have made it through and now look to get back to Bengaluru and prepare for the big game against FC Istiklol," Roca said, speaking at the post-match press conference.

For their part, the Blues had to overcome numerous hurdles to get through - some on field, some off of it. While their travel plans were initially delayed due to Foundation Day Celebrations in DPR Korea, part of the luggage went missing in transit when they finally made it through to Pyongyang on Monday. With 15 bags of kits and equipment arriving just a day before the game, the Blues had to train in makeshift gear on the eve of the clash.

Up next in the Inter-zone final for Bengaluru FC will be Dushanbe-based Tajikistan side FC Istiklol who overcame Philippines’ Ceres Negros FC 5-1 (agg.) in the other two-legged Inter-zone semifinal. The first leg will be played away on September 27th, while the return leg at the Kanteerava Stadium is scheduled for October 18th.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bengaluru FC target Inter-zonal Final as 4.25 SC challenge awaits

Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC will be hoping to finish off the job at hand when they take on Korea DPR side 4.25 SC in the second leg of the 2017 AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semifinal at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, on Wednesday. Taking a three-goal lead into the game, thanks to a dominant win at the Kanteerava a little over two weeks ago, the Blues will be eager to book their place in the Inter-Zonal final. 

However, the game won’t be an easy one with 4.25 SC banking on home advantage and support to spur them on to a fightback. Speaking on the eve of the crucial game, Head Coach Albert Roca adopted a cautious approach. The Spaniard expects his team to stay focused and avoid any slip ups. 

“It’s going to be a tough match for us, given the conditions. Even though we have a three-goal advantage, we can’t be complacent. We have to stay focused on our game plan and get the job done on Wednesday,” he said.

While the team’s initial plan was to travel to Pyongyang on Friday, DPR Korea’s Foundation Day Celebrations on Saturday, September 9th meant the Blues had to postpone their departure to Sunday night and landed in the capital city late on Monday after transiting through China. Speaking on the lack of time to acclimatize to the conditions, Roca said, “It would have been ideal to arrive a little earlier which would have given our boys enough time to get used to the conditions. But it is what it is. We want to hit the ground running and I hope it turns out to be a good experience.”

On the team news front, Roca has almost an entire squad to choose from with no suspensions or injuries to worry about. However, Dimas Delgado, Lenny Rodrigues and Harmanjot Khabra who all picked up bookings during the first leg will have to be careful as another booking will find them suspended from the Inter-zonal final should the Blues make it through.

The game kicks off at 5 PM local time (2 PM IST) in Pyongyang on Wednesday.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Fulfilling family’s wishes through football: SANJEEV STALIN

AIFF Media

Not many football players score their first goal from the half-line, in fact, it is rather a rarity when a goal is scored from the half-line in football. But when Sanjeev Stalin struck the ball from the half-way line little did he know that he was articulating one of the rarest forms of scoring goals in football.

In that moment, all Sanjeev could think about was how his father would have been feeling seeing him score a stunner. “My first goal was from the half-way line in a local football tournament and it was an amazing feeling. All I could think about was how happy would my father be at that moment”

“My father played football, but he never played it professionally, in fact, he introduced me to the sport and my father had a dream of seeing me play football for the nation”, Stalin says. Hence when one asks Stalin who is favourite footballer is, the defender thinks little about Messi or Ronaldo and quips “My father Stalin senior”.

“I am what I am because of him. He made everything possible for me in life. We have clothes' shop on the footpath and my father has been my biggest inspiration to never give up in life”

But that is not it. “I started playing football barefoot and the first time I wore cleats, it felt uneasy”, quips Sanjeev.

“But after a while, I grew used to them. I was 10 when I first joined the Chandigarh Football Academy and my life changed from there”

Sanjeev Stalin has been a vital clog in the Indian U-17s defence line and has been, “fulfilling his family’s wishes”

“My family always wanted me to play football and represent the nation. I am thankful to god that I have a family which supports me through thick and thin. Everything I do is for them.”



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bengaluru FC sign fifth Spaniard in Edu Garcia

Bengaluru FC Media

Bengaluru FC completed their quota of foreign signings and finalized their squad for the upcoming season with the addition of Spanish winger Eduardo 'Edu' Garcia Martin, the club announced on Saturday. Having penned a one-year deal, Edu becomes the eighth overseas player and the fifth Spaniard in the squad for the Blues’ maiden season in the Indian Super League.

Head Coach Albert Roca welcomed his fellow countryman to the Blues’ fold and said, “Edu is an exciting young winger. His versatility down the flank will provide us with great options in terms of personnel as well as our game plan. He will be a great addition to our squad and fits in well with our philosophy.”

Twenty-seven-year-old Edu, who joins the Blues from Spanish side Real Zaragoza, shared his excitement ahead of his first overseas stint, “I'm very excited for joining the club. From the first time, I liked the idea of playing for Bengaluru's team in the Indian Super League. Football in India is growing a lot and it's an important challenge for me. I hope I can help the club to reach the objectives for the season. I can't wait to start!”

Born in Zaragoza, Edu joined his home side Real Zaragoza's youth setup in 2002, aged 12. He progressed through the ranks at the club before making his debut with the reserves during the 2009–10 campaign, in Tercera Division.

In 2012, Edu joined CD Ebro before moving to fellow league team SD Ejea the following season. In July 2014, he returned to Ebro and scored career-best 16 goals during his first season, helping his team gain promotion to Segunda Division B, before adding a further eight in his second season.

The winger then sealed a return to Real Zaragoza in at the start of the 2016-17 season and made 27 appearances for the Los MaƱos helping them finish 16th with 50 points in the Segunda Division.