London :Barcelona forward Lionel Messi said his side were superior to every team in the league after he scored a hat-trick in Sunday’s 4-2 win at Deportivo which clinched the club’s 25th Spanish title with four games left in the season.
Barca had thrown away a two-goal advantage against Deportivo but Messi, who scored their second goal, struck again in the 82nd minute to restore the lead before completing his treble.
“I’m very happy, we feel so much joy after winning this league. We know how complicated it is to win the league, which is why we have to cherish this and celebrate it as we should with all our fans,” the Argentine told Barcelona’s television channel.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have 86 points after 34 games, 11 more than second-placed Atletico Madrid and 15 more than arch- rivals Real Madrid who are third in the standings.
La Liga’s top scorer praised his side for remaining unbeaten in the league although he lamented the one black mark of their campaign, their shock elimination from the Champions League after losing a quarter-final second leg 3-0 to AS Roma.
“We were superior to all our rivals and we haven’t lost a single game. We only lost once in the Cup (against Espanyol) and in Roma where we had a very unexpected result,” Messi added.
“You always deserve a lot of credit when you win a league and to do so without losing a game is very difficult.”
“It was a very special league win because we didn’t lose a game. We had some tough moments and we overcame them without losing and that’s incredible.”
Defender Jordi Alba praised coach Valverde for guiding Barca back to the title in his first season in charge and hit out at the people who had fiercely criticised the manager after the defeat by Roma.
“It’s a disgrace (the criticism) and the players need to stand up and admit that we all make mistakes. Valverde deserves this more than anyone. He has managed the dressing-room perfectly,” Alba told reporters.
“The Roma defeat annoyed us a lot but we’ve had a very good season, we have won the double. Roma was a difficult moment, but it should not erase what we have achieved in the last week.”
Salah wants the Muslim world to treat its women better
London : Salah is joined by fellow Arab and Muslim celebrities such as Rami Malek and Mahershala Ali, as well as Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Mo Salah is a titan, there’s no denying that. The Liverpool forward has been named as one of Time magazine’s most influential people for 2019 and rightly so. Salah has had one hell of a year. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and was also named English football’s Player of the Year in 2017-2018 along with a whole host of other accolades.
He was listed within the “Titans” section of the list — which includes a record 48 women — and was championed by British comedian and US TV host John Oliver.
Salah however didn’t make waves for being a part of the illustrious 100 but for his statements championing women rights.
“We need to change the way we treat women in our culture,” he told Time.
“That has to be, it’s not optional.”
He added: “I support the woman more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now at the moment.”
Oliver, a Liverpool fan, wrote an article on Salah for the magazine: “Mo is an iconic figure for Egyptians, Scousers and Muslims the world over, and yet he always comes across as a humble, thoughtful, funny man who isn’t taking any of this too seriously.”
Kerala Blasters rope in young goalkeeper Lovepreet Singh
Mumbai : India Super League side Kerala Blasters have roped in young goalkeeper Lovepreet Singh on a free transfer from Indian Arrows with effect from June 1, 2019.
Lovepreet Singh was picked up by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) from the Rurka Kalan Grounds in Punjab during a scouting programme in May 2018 by the National Association. Lovepreet Singh, who was outside of the age bracket, was not eligible for the trials, but he stuck around the trial premises to ultimately be spotted by the scouts and was given a chance.
At 195-cm tall, only Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who is 198-cm tall, has a height advantage over Lovepreet in the entire country as far as Indian Football’s top tier is concerned. He impressed Floyd Pinto in Goa and was given an Arrows contract prior to the I-League 2018-19.
He featured in a single game in the recently concluded I-League against Real Kashmir where he conceded twice as the game ended 2-2.
Lovepreet Singh is an exciting prospect for the Blasters and is one for the future. With his height and physique, Singh surely does have the goods to make it to the big stage as a goal-keeper.
“I’m very excited to join Kerala Blasters. Have heard a lot about the ever-supporting fans in Kerala. I’m looking forward to playing in front of them”, says the very energetic, young member of the team, Lovepreet Singh.
“Lovepreet is a rare find for an Indian goalkeeper, not only is he technically gifted but he also possesses great physical attributes! With Kerala Blasters success of promoting and improving young players, next season should be very exciting”, says Rory Grand, Head Goalkeeping coach, Kerala Blasters FC.
Kerala Blasters now have four goalkeepers in their side with the likes of Dheeraj Singh, Lalthuammawia Ralte and Bilal Khan on the roster alongside Lovepreet Singh. They loaned out Naveen Kumar to FC Goa in 2018 and is unlikely to return.
Kerala Blasters now have a number of Arrows players in their side. Jeakson Singh, Rahul KP, Nongdamba Naorem and Mohammad Rakip feature in the list along with the mentioned goalkeepers in Dheeraj and Lovepreet.
With more and more clubs coming to the fore courtesy the Parallel League action, it is indeed a sensible decision to have a young and lanky goalkeeper in the squad who can provide backup in case of shortage of shot-stoppers in the near future.
However, it needs to be seen whether Blasters do give him ISL game time or demote him to their reserve side for Kerala Premier League and I-League 2nd Division games.
Super Cup may return as season opener this year
New Delhi: The recently concluded Super Cup in Bhubaneswar was hardly a super show in the absence of seven I-League teams, but the tournament may return as the season opener (2019-2020) in September-October this year. In the general council meeting of the Indian Super League (ISL) last month, the franchises have been handed out the calendar for the next two seasons indicating Super Cup as the opening tournament.
No I-League club is officially aware of the development. Introduced in 2018, the Super Cup is India’s only knock-out tournament which is played as the season closer involving both I-League clubs and ISL franchises. The format of the tournament is strictly based on the final standings of the two leagues. When contacted, a senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) official said: “They (ISL) have only chalked out a provisional calendar. There is no reason to take it as the final roster.”
I-League clubs have called the Super Cup a meaningless affair which does not offer any prize money. The winners of Super Cup are also not given a berth in the Asian tournaments. The two spots in the AFC Cup and the Asian Champions League are reserved for the winners of ISL and I-League, respectively.