Abu Dhabi: India will be a difficult team to beat in the Asian Cup football tournament starting Saturday, especially after their recent draws against more fancied China and Oman, said talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri.
The Asian Cup, the continent’s showpiece event, will be played in four cities of the United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1.
India have been clubbed in Group A along side Thailand, Bahrain and hosts UAE. They play their first match on Sunday against Thailand here, followed by games against UAE (Abu Dhabi) and Bahrain (Sharjah) on January 10 and 14 respectively.
Ranked 15th in Asia, India played against three quality sides — China, Oman and Jordan — in their build-up to the Asian Cup. The Stephen Constantine-coached side drew goal-less against China and Oman and lost to Jordan 1-2.
China (76th) and Oman (82nd) are ranked higher than India (97th) while Jordan are below a few rungs down at 109th.
“I can assure you that it won’t be an easy job for other teams to face us. We are a team who hate to lose, and we have proven it in recent times. We are working as per the plan,” Chhetri was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website.
“All of us are super excited and thrilled right now. Apart from me and Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu), it’s a first-time experience for all else. Everyone is ready to grab this opportunity (of playing in the Asian Cup),” said the skipper, who is set to become the only Indian to feature in two Asian Cup tournaments.
The 34-year-old Chhetri was part of the Indian team that featured in the 2011 edition in Doha where the country lost all their group matches — against Australia, South Korea and Bahrain. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was in the 2011 squad but did not play any match.
Chhetri, the highest Indian scorer in international football with 65 goals, said his team was focussing solely on the match against Thailand and not looking beyond that.
“At the moment, our sole focus is on our opening fixture — the game against Thailand. We are not looking anything beyond that. Yeah, there are matches against UAE and Bahrain lined up but we will think about them only when they come.
“At the moment we know that Thailand will be a very tough opponent and we are concentrating only on them,” he said.
Chhetri is set to equal former captain Bhaichung Bhutia’s record of all time India appearances during the Asia Cup. He has played 104 international matches so far, only three shy of his ‘mentor’ Bhutia’s record of 107 games.
But, Chhetri said he had never played for records.
“It feels good when I get a record under my name. But I don’t keep track of records. After 10 seconds, I just forget it. I never take any pressure of chasing any record,” he said.
“I never ever dreamt that I would play more than 100 games for India or score 60-odd goals,” Chhetri said.
Talking about Bhutia, Chhetri said, “I have always been a big fan of Bhaichung bhai. Tell me who isn’t? I have learnt so many things from him. He has always been a huge support.”
Yadav, Dhawan help India beat Kiwis by 8 wickets
Napier:After Kuldeep Yadav bagged a four-wicket haul, opener Shikhar Dhawan struck a blistering unbeaten knock of 75 runs as India thrashed New Zealand by eight wickets in the first ODI of the five-match series at the McLean Park in Napier.
Chasing a lowly target of revised target of 156 runs to win after sun outrage delayed the play, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made a positive start to India chase as th duo shared a crucial 41-run stand for the first wicket before the former was dismissed for 24 runs.
Dhawan then joined forces with Indian skipper Virat Kohli and the Indian opener not only struck his 26th ODI fifty off 69 balls but also shared a good 91-run partnership to bring India on verge of victory.
After Kohli (45) fell just five runs short of his half-century, Dhawan and Rayudu helped India cross the mark in 34.5 overs.
Earlier, New Zealand had won the toss and opted to bat first.
Kuldeep Yadav tore apart the hosts’ batting order, finishing with brilliant figures of four for 39. Mohammed Shami also took three wickets while Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedar Jadhav chipped in with two and a wicket, respectively as India bundled out New Zealand for 157 runs.
India, who have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, will now play their second ODI against New Zealand on January 26 at Bay Oval.
On-field taunt could land Sarfraz Ahmed in the dock
London: Sarfraz Ahmed could be in serious trouble after he was caught on the broadcast stump mics making what seemed to be a racist comment against Andile Phehlukwayo.
Halfway through the 37th over of South Africa’s tense chase in the second ODI in Durban, Phehlukwayo inside-edged a Shaheen Afridi delivery to deep fine leg for a single. He was on 50 at the time and as he ran off to the non-striker’s end, Sarfraz was caught clearly on the stump mics saying, in Urdu: “Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?”.
Translated literally that is: “Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What [prayer] have you got her to say for you today?”
On commentary, Mike Haysman asked Ramiz Raja, “What’s he saying there Ramiz?”
“Difficult really to translate that,” Ramiz replied. “It’s a big long sentence.”
Phehlukwayo had enjoyed considerable fortune through the innings, not least when successfully reviewing an on-field lbw dismissal and a dropped catch in the over before this incident. Pakistan’s players had come hard at him early on, though in the post-match presentation he said, “it was good chat”.
Any disciplinary action can be instigated by the match officials. Potentially, if action is to be taken, it will be up to the match officials to decide whether they view Sarfraz’s comments under the ICC code of conduct for player behaviour or the ICC’s anti-racism code. Article 2.13 of the regular code covers the use of insulting or obscene and offensive language used by players against another in the regular code of conduct. But it says: “This offence is not intended to cover any use of language that is likely to offend another person on the basis of their race, religion, gender, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin.
“Such conduct is prohibited under the ICC’s Anti-Racism Code and must be dealt with according to the procedures set out therein.”
In the Anti-Racism code, in place since October 2012, an offence is described as “any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise) which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire, Match Referee, Umpire Support Personnel or any other person (including a spectator) on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin.”
Phehlukwayo had a memorable day in any case, his unbeaten 69 part of an unbroken 127-run stand that steered South Africa home after they had wobbled to 80 for 5. And earlier in the day his 4 for 22, including the crucial wicket of Sarfraz, helped bowl Pakistan out for 203.
I told East Bengal they will not win the league: Aucho
Mumbai:Churchill Brothers midfielder Khalid Aucho had spent two months with East Bengal in a short stint last season. However, he feels that his former side does not have a squad that has the capability to win the I-League.
“I told East Bengal they will not win the league because you (they) change the team every time. To win a league, you must build a team with 11 to 15 players in the same team for at least two years,” he expressed in a chat with Goal.
The Ugandan, who earned himself a fair bit of recognition among the Red and Golds’ faithful, was roped in as a late signing by East Bengal ahead of the 2018 Super Cup and only played four matches in the competition with the team failing at the final hurdle against Bengaluru FC.
He had fared well in defensive midfield, which was a troublesome position for the Kolkata giants last season. But he did not sign for the Red and Golds this season and explained why.
“They (East Bengal) were offering me the same salary. So I said ‘No, I am not the same person if you want to give me that money.’ I told them that I will play somewhere else because I believe in my ability,” Aucho revealed as East Bengal turned towards Kassim Aidara.
The 25-year-old has since joined Churchill Brothers in the current season wherein he has clocked 990 minutes in the I-League from his 11 starts and scored twice.
“(This season) we (Churchill Brothers) want to win the league, Chennai City wants to win the league, Real Kashmir wants to win the league. If they (East Bengal) win, congrats to them, but I don’t think they can win this league. They must first start keeping the players. If they have that team, they have to continue with it for next season,” Aucho stated.
EVM row: Not going back to ballot papers, says CEC Sunil Arora
New Delhi, January 24: Amid renewed demands against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora...
Govt gunman-turned-soldier Lance Naik Nazir Wani to be conferred with Ashok Chakra
New Delhi: Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who was killed during a gunfight with the militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian...
Lolab Avalanche: Bodies of two hunters found
Srinagar: Bodies of two hunters who were swept away by a snow avalanche in Lolab forests of north Kashmir’s Kupwara...
Body of Rajouri Man Killed In Saudi Arabia reaches home, family thanks MEA
Rajouri: Nearly a month after he was murdered in Saudi Arabia, the body of Rajouri man, Mohammad Khalil Mirza, was...
SC refuses to stay amendment in SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the amendment in Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)...
Jammu-Srinagar highway closed for fourth consecutive day
Jammu: The Jammu-Srinagar highway will remain closed on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day following fresh snowfall in Bannihal sector,...
Two hunters go missing as avalanche hits Lolab forests
Srinagar: Two hunters have gone missing a snow avalanche swept them along in Lolab forests of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district...
BJP is family, democracy runs in party: PM’s dig at Priyanka’s political debut
New Delhi: Addressing party workers, PM Modi says for BJP “the party is family” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that...
Nawaz Sharif’s condition very serious, says doctor
Lahore: Pakistan’s jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s condition is “very serious” after heart complications and he should be shifted...