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Argentina to be ‘Messi’s team’ at the WC: Sampaoli

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New Delhi: Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has the talent and maturity to carry Argentinas hopes of a successful World Cup campaign this year, the national teams manager Jorge Sampaoli has said.
Five-time Ballon dOr winner Messi has led Barcelona to 30 domestic and European trophies during a stellar career but is yet to win a major trophy with the national team, apart from a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Argentina finished runners-up to Germany at the 2014 World Cup and to Chile at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments, and Sampaoli believes that Messi can help the team go one step further and end their trophy drought in Russia.
"This is going to be his team," Sampaoli told a news conference on Thursday. "He is the best of all and is in a stage of maturity that can he can carry the team on his shoulders. This is going to be his team."
Messi, who is the all-time top goal-scorer for both club and country, initially announced his retirement from international football after the loss to Chile in 2016 but the 30-year-old has since reversed his decision.
Meanwhile, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of Argentina
s friendly against Italy at the Etihad Stadium on Friday due to a knee injury but could return for next weeks trip to Spain.
"We
ve been talking to the doctors here at Manchester City and trying to evaluate his situation to see if he can play any part. It looks like hell be sitting out the first one and well see about the second one,” Sampaoli added.
The former Chile boss believes the friendlies against Italy, who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals, and Spain present an opportunity for Argentina to send out a warning to their opponents in Russia.
“Everyone gives us a leading role in the World Cup and my obligation is to increase that, to try to make the rivals fear us even more, today Argentina is very respected,” he added.
Two-time winners Argentina open their World Cup campaign with a Group D encounter against Iceland on June 16, and will also face Croatia and Nigeria in the pool stage.


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Kapil Dev-led panel to pick India coach

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New Delhi: The Committee of Administrators (COA) running Indian cricket has tasked the Kapil Dev-led ad-hoc committee to pick the next national coach, a move that could again divide the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

The ad-hoc body comprising former India captain Kapil, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy had earlier appointed W. V. Raman as the Indian women’s team coach in December.

One of the members confirmed that the BCCI has approached them to pick the men’s head coach as well.

 

Back then, the COA was a two-member panel — comprising chairman Vinod Rai and former India captain Diana Edulji, who had called the women’s coach selection process unconstitutional.

She had asserted that only the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) was empowered to do so. COA is now a three-member body with the appointment of Lt General Ravi Thodge in February.

But with serious doubts over the future of CAC — comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman — the COA thought it was prudent to hand the responsibility to the ad-hoc panel.

While Tendulkar has been cleared of conflict of interest charges, Ganguly and Laxman have been asked to choose one out of their multiple cricketing roles as per the BCCI constitution.

The COA, however, is yet to take a call on the matter.

Kapil Dev and Ranagsawamy too fall in the ambit of conflict of interest as they are also responsible for the formation of the players’ association as per the new BCCI constitution.

The BCCI on Tuesday invited applications for the men’s team support staff, including head coach who will need to be less than 60 years of age with a minimum international experience of two years.

The application deadline for all the roles is July 30.

The current support staff comprising incumbent head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, batting coach Sanjay Bangar and fielding coach R. Sridhar were given a 45-day extension following the World Cup, covering the West Indies tour from August 3 to September 3.

All of them will get an automatic entry in the recruitment process, the BCCI had said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Durand Cup back with a bang: ISL, I-League clubs in fray

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Mumbai: Heavyweights Mohun Bagan will kick off the historic Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium here on August 2 after the third oldest competition football tournament of the world has been shifted out its traditional venue, New Delhi for the first time.

Returning after a three-year hiatus, the 129th edition of the tournament will feature six I-League and five Indian Super League teams, including reigning champions of the respective tournaments – Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC.

“We took a three-year gap to make it more attractive. Kolkata is the mecca of Indian football. So, it’s an effort to revamp the tournament and make it a pan-India affair,” Lt Gen RP Kalita, Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command told reporters here.

 

Former I-League champions Minerva Punjab, however, will be missed from the 16-team tournament which will also feature second division I-League team Mohammedan Sporting.

“I spoke to (Minerva) owner Ranjit Bajaj. They were 10th in the I-League table. We were initially planning to get top six teams from the I-League,” he said.

From ISL, Kerala Blasters too will not be taking part and the Indian Army, the organisers of the meet, said they have roped in Gokulam Kerala FC as a replacement.

“They said they were unavailable, so we got in touch with Gokulam as we wanted a club from Kerala to come,” he said.

The ISL franchises may not send full strength teams for the tournament.

“We spoke to the teams as well as with (All India Football Federation president) Praful Patel. There are some issues with the transfer window. The teams assemble the team by August end or September,” Kalita said.

“We couldn’t further delay the tournament as it would have clashed with the Calcutta Football League. So we are happy that the teams are coming and the tournament will happen,” he added.

The Indian Army will feature two teams — Army Red and Green. Besides, there will be a team each from Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

16 teams will be divided into four groups in the league stage and all the group winners will qualify for the semifinals which will be held in Saltlake Stadium on August 20.

The summit clash will be held on August 24. The champions will get a prize purse of Rs 40 lakh, while the runners-up team will get richer by Rs 20 lakh. The losing semifinalists will be awarded Rs 5 lakh each.

The tournament will be played across five venues of the state — three in Kolkata and two each in Kalyani and Siliguri.

Teams:

Group A: East Bengal, Army Red, Jamshedpur FC, Bengaluru FC;

Group B: Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Soprting, ATK, Indian Navy;

Group C: Chennai City FC, Real Kashmir, FC Goa, Army Green;

Group D: Chennaiyin FC, Gokulam Kerala, TRAU, Indian Air Force.

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Neesham’s coach died during WC final Super Over

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London: When New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham was trying to get his team over the line in the Super Over of the World Cup final against England, his high school teacher and formative coach David Gordon breathed his last back home.

Neesham and Martin Guptill were in the thick of things at Lord’s on Sunday when Gordon passed away due to a heart ailment.

Needing 16 to win the title in that Super Over, New Zealand scored one less to tie the match in the Super Over in what was arguably the greatest World Cup final. New Zealand lost the final on boundary count.

 

Gordon’s daughter Leonie said that her father, who was lying on a hospital bed, wanted to depart the way he did.

“One of the nurses came in for the final over, the Super Over, and she said his breathing is changing. You know, I think Jimmy Neesham had just hit that six and he took his last breath,” she was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz.

“He has a quirky sense of humour and he was a real character and he would have loved the fact that he did that,” said Leonie.

Neesham paid tribute to his Auckland Grammar teacher and coach on social media.

“Dave Gordon, my High School teacher, coach and friend. Your love of this game was infectious, especially for those of us lucky enough to play under you. How appropriate you held on until just after such a match. Hope you were proud. Thanks for everything. RIP,” he tweeted on Thursday.

Gordon’s daughter felt it was a touching gesture from the Black Caps player.

“It was lovely, you know, he’s kept in touch with Jimmy and he is friends with Jimmy’s father. He always had a soft spot for Jimmy Neesham, he was very proud of him. He would definitely be following his career,” she said.

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