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ISL 2018-19: The contenders, the squads, their strengths and weaknesses

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ATK had a terrible time in the previous season, finishing 9th in the league stage. The team has spent big money to sign up Balwant Singh, Pronay Halder, Cavin Lobo and Arnab Mondal. They have good players for every position, though they seem to lack height in attack, which could cost them in aerial battles
Squad
Goalkeepers Debjit Majumder, Arindam Bhattacharya, Avilash Paul
Defenders Aiborlang Khongjee, Gerson Vieira, John Johnson, Arnab Mondal, Ricky Lallawmawma, Sena Ralte, André Bikey, Prabir Das
Midfielders Hitesh Sharma, Pronay Halder, Sheikh Faiaz, Malsawmzuala, Yumnam Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Komal Thatal, Manuel Lanzarote, Cavin Lobo, Noussair El Maimouni
Forwards Kalu Uche, Balwant Singh, Everton Santos, Jayesh Rane

Coach Steve Coppell
Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC were runners-up last season, and have a team to finish strong this time too. The strike force is strong, comprising the likes of Miku, Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh, Chencho, Thongkhosiem. The team, though, does not have a good backup for goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Squad
goalkeepers Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Soram Anganba, Aditya Patra
Defenders Rahul Bheke, Albert Serran, Sairuat Kima, J Gonzalez, Harmanjot Khabra, Rino Anto, Nishu Kumar, Asheer Akhtar, Gursimrat Gill
Midfielders Hitesh Sharma, Pronay Paartalu, Kean Francis Lewis, Dimas Delgado, Bidyananda Singh, Boithang Haokip, Francisco Hernandez, Ajay Chhetri, Altamash Sayed
Forwards Nicolas Fedor, Sunil Chhetri, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Udanta Singh, Chencho Gyeltshen
Coach Carles Cuadrat
Chennaiyin FC
Chennaiyin, the defending champions, have retained the core of last season’s team. The team has exciting young players in Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh and Jerry Lalrinzuala. However, in attack, only Jeje Lalpekhlua seems effective, and Mohammed Rafi and Baoringdao Bodo will have to raise their games
Squad
goalkeepers Karanjit Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Bernard
Defenders Eli Sabia, Hendry Antolay, Inigo Calderon, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Laldinliana Renthlei, Mailson Alves, Tondonba Singh and Zohmingliana Ralte
Midfielders Sinivasan Pandiyan, Anirudh Thapa, Raphael Augusto, Andrea Orlandi, Francis Fernandes, Thoi Singh, Isaac V, Gregory Nelson, Germanpreet Singh, Zonunmawia, Bedashwor Singh
Forwards Carlos Salom, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Baoringdao Bodo and M Rafi
Coach John Gregory
Delhi Dynamos
Delhi finished 8th last year and have made several changes as they seek their first title. The team has signed up is India international defender Narayan Das. Their midfield has been strengthened by the joining of Pradeep Mohanraj, Marcos Tebar and Bikramjit Singh. But team seems to lack height to win aerial battles
Squad
goalkeepers Albino Gomes, Francisco Dorronsoro, Shayan Roy
Defenders Amit Tudu, Gianni Zuiverloon, Jayananda Moirangthem, Marti Crespi, Mohammad Sajid Dhot, Narayan Das, Pritam Kotal, Rana Gharami
Midfielders Adria Carmona, Nanda Kumar, Marcos Tébar, Romeo Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Siam Hanghal, Pradeep Mohanraj, Bikramjeet Singh, Vinit Rai, Rene Mihelic, Shubham Sarangi
Forwards Andrija Kaluderovic, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Seiminmang Manchong
Coach Josep Gombau
FC Goa
FC Goa have been consistent, making the playoffs three times in last four years. The team has last season’s golden boot winner Ferran Corominas, who will be backed by Manvir Singh and Miguel Palanca. The defence has been boosted by two new defenders, Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena
Squad
goalkeepers Lalthuammawia Ralte, Laxmikant Kattimani, M Nawaz
Defenders Carlos Pena, Chinglensana Singh, Lalhmangaisanga, Mohamed Ali, Nirmal Chettri, Saviour Gama, Mourtada Fall, Seriton Fernandes
Midfielders Miguel Palanca, Brandon Fernandes, Ahmed Jahouh, Edu Bedia, Hugo Boumous, Lenny Rodrigues, Mandar Dessai, Imran Khan, Princeton Rebello, Jackichand Singh, Pratesh Shirodkar
Forwards Ferran Corominas, Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco
Coach Sergio Lobera
Jamshedpur FC
Jamshedpur FC were quite good on debut last season, finishing fifth. They’ve signed up experienced Spanish coach Cesar Ferrando, and also roped in Australian international Tim Cahill. The midfield is not very strong, and they’ve lost strength in defence too after losing Anas Edathodika and Andre Bikey
Squad
goalkeepers Subrata Pal, Rafique Ali Sardar, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
Defenders Sanjay Balmuchu, Raju Gaikwad, Tiri, Pratik Chaudhari, Robin Gurung, Dhanachandra Singh, Yumnam Raju, Karan Amin
Midfielders Mario Arques, Pablo Morgado, Vishal Das, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Memo, Mobashir Rahman, Carlos Calvo, Bikash Jairu
Forwards Tim Cahill, Gourav Mukhi, Sergio Cidoncha, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary
Coach Cesar Ferrando
Kerala Blasters
Two-time runners-up Kerala Blasters were 6th last season, unable to make playoffs. They have brought in four new foreign players, in defence (Cyril Kali), midfield (Nikola Krcmarevic) and attack (Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic). Their defence was good last year, but they need to improve in the midfield
Squad
goalkeepers Dheeraj Singh, Naveen Kumar, Sujith Sasikumar
Defenders Anas Edathodika, Cyril Kali, Lalruatthara, M Rakip,
N Lakic-Pesic, Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Singh
Midfielders Loken Meitei, Sahal Abdul Samad, Kizito Keziron, Deependra Negi, Zakeer Mundampara, Nikola Krcmarevic, Hrishi Dhath, Courage Pekuson, Halicharan Narzary, Prasanth K, Suraj Rawat, Seiminlen Doungel
Forwards CK Vineeth, Matej Poplatnik, Slavisa Stojanovic
Coach David James
Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City finished 7th last season, but are contenders for a playoff spot this year. The team has a strong midfield this season, which includes two new foreign players, Matias Mirabaje and Paulo Machado. They have good local players such as Raynier Fernandes, Sehnaj Singh, Mohammed Rafique too
Squad
goalkeepers Amrinder Singh, Kunal Sawant, Ravi Kumar
Defenders Anwar Ali, Bikramjeet Singh, Davinder Singh, Lucian Goian, Marko Klisura, Souvik Chakraborty, Shouvik Ghosh, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders Raynier Fernandes, Matías Mirabaje, Milan Singh, Arnold Issoko, Sehnaj Singh, Vignesh Dakshinamurthi, Paulo Machado, Mohammed Rafique, Bipin Singh, Milan Singh, Sanju Pradhan
Forwards Modou Sougou, Alen Deory, Pranjal Bhumij and Rafael Bastos
Coach Jorge Costa
NorthEast United
NorthEast Utd is the only team that hasn’t qualified for ISL playoffs yet, and they’d want to change that this year. The team is strong in the midfield, with three new foreign signings in Jose David Leudo, Federico Galego and Augustine Okrah. But the goalkeeping department seems a bit weak, as also the Indian contingent
Squad
goalkeepers Gurmeet, Avilash Paul, TP Rehenesh
Defenders Gurwinder Singh, Keegan Pereira, Reagan Singh, Mato Grgic, Mislav Komorski, Pawan Kumar, Provat Lakra, Robert Lalthlamuana, Simranjeet Singh
Midfielders Augustine Okrah, Rupert Nongrum, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Redeem Tlang, Nikhil Kadam, Fanai Lalrempuia, Seityasen Singh, Rowllin Borges, Federico Gallego
Forwards Kivi Zhimomi, Girik Khosla, Juan Cruz Mascia, Bartholomew Ogbeche
Coach Eelco Schattorie
Pune City
Pune City had made the playoffs last season, now they aim to go one better. The team has a top-class attack comprising Marcelinho, Emiliano Alfaro, Ashique Kuruniyan, Diego Carlos, Iain Hume and Robin Singh. They’re good in the wings, but in defence, they do look somewhat weak
Squad
goalkeepers Anuj Kumar, Kamaljit Singh, Vishal Kaith
Defenders Ashutosh Mehta, Gurtej Singh, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Martin Diaz, Matt Mills, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Sahil Panwar, Sarthak Golui,
Midfielders Marko Stankovic, Alwyn George, Rohit Kumar, Adil Khan, Shankar Sampingiraj, Jonathan Vila
Forwards Marcelinho, Emiliano Alfaro, Ashique Kuruniyan, Robin Singh, Gabriel Fernandes, Jakob Vanlalhimpuia, Diego Carlos, Nikhil Poojari
Coach Miguel Portugal

 
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Most football associations support 48-team WC in Qatar:FIFA

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London: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said, “Most soccer associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries.”

Infantino told in a news conference that the Qataris were open to the larger format.

“FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over,” he added.

 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

Speaking on it, Infantino said, “We are doing football not politics.”

FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.

“Most football associations across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.

“If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great,” he further said.

Infantino also quoted that it was “premature” to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.

“I welcome all bids. The more the better,” he said.

Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.

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Ready to bat anywhere:Dhoni

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Mumbai: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, expressed his willingness to bat at any position in the Indian batting order, following a match-winning knock in the series-decider against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The veteran, who was named as the man of the series following consistent performances in the ODI clashes, stepped up with a quality knock yet again following an early dismissal for the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.

The 37-year-old cricketer scored 87 runs in 114 deliveries, stitching an unbeaten 121 run stand off 115 balls with Kedar Jadhav, as India chased down a target of 231 with four balls to spare.

 

“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni.

“Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he added.

The cricketer was full of praise for Kedar Jadhav, who he credited for providing valuable support at the other end, on a slow wicket.

“It was a slow wicket, so it was difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well, so we wanted to take it deep and that was the plan,” said Dhoni.

“Of course supported brilliantly by Kedar, who plays unorthodox shots. He did a great job in executing,” concluded the cricketer.

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Pakistan seek first win on SA tour as ODI battle begins

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PORT ELIZABETH: Pakistan will be looking to chalk up the first win of their South African tour when they face the Proteas in the first of five One-day Internationals in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s team, swept 3-0 in the preceding Test series, enjoy playing at St George’s Park, winning two of their three ODIs at the venue, with the other washed out.

Pakistan beat South Africa by 182 runs in 2002 when Abdul Razzaq and Saleem Elahi hit hundreds, and then by one run in 2013 in a game reduced to 45-overs-a-side due to rain.

 

South Africa hold an edge over Pakistan in ODIs as far as their head-to-head record is concerned.

So far, the Proteas have faced Pakistan in 73 ODIs, winning 47, losing 25 while one match ended in no result. Pakistan do not hold an impressive record (matches 29, wins 10, losses 18, one no result) in their matches staged against South Africa at the latter’s home venues).

Interestingly however, Pakistan on their last tour to the African country in 2013 when Misbah-ul-Haq the led tourists, clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1, the country’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil.

The tourists currently playing in South Africa have been dealt a boost with the news that Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two ODIs in the series — Saturday’s fixture and Tuesday’s match in Durban.

However, they will have to contend with fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who bagged 24 wickets at 14.70 during South Africa’s win in the Test series and now looks nailed to make his ODI debut.

Rassie van der Dussen should also make his ODI bow having finished as top-run scorer in the recently-concluded Mzansi Super League, South Africa’s new T20 competition.

The 28-year-old hit 469 runs in 11 innings, including four fifties, for champions Jozi Stars and should join Heinrich Klaasen — De Kock’s deputy as wicketkeeper-batsman — in South Africa’s middle order.

Left-handed Shan Masood could open the batting for Pakistan having impressed in the Tests while pacer Mohammad Amir is back in the visitors’ ODI squad for the first time since the Asia Cup staged in the UAE last September.

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