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Mani backs Sarfraz as skipper, says changes in PCB inevitable

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KARACHI: Sarfraz Ahmed received a major boost on Wednesday when PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani reiterated his support for the doughty wicket-keeper-batsman as Pakistan captain with the World Cup barely eight months away.

Addressing his maiden media conference here in the city since being appointed the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) nearly two months ago, Mani voiced his support for Sarfraz as the national team leader.

“I think this (captaincy) issue has been unnecessarily raised for a while now. As the PCB chairman, I feel Sarfraz is doing a great job as the Pakistan captain across all formats. He was first appointed (as the T20 skipper) by Shaharyar M. Khan and then became captain of one-day and Test sides with the passage of time,” Mani told reporters at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in the vicinity of the National Stadium.

 

“Our team has been performing very well in recent times and there is tremendous camaraderie in the ranks. The credit for this definitely goes to Sarfraz and Mickey Arthur. The results speak for themselves and Sarfraz’s own form is extremely good now.”

“There is no doubt in my mind over Sarfraz being the Pakistan captain. We have full trust in his leadership qualities. So the question of who is going to lead at the (2019) World Cup is meaningless.”

He went on to add: “Under his captaincy, Pakistan won the Champions Trophy and we are the top-ranked T20 team in the world.”

Mani, who was accompanied by PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad and National Cricket Academy’s director Mudassar Nazar, said that his visit to the city was brief because he wanted to monitor the progress of renovation work at the National Stadium. He stressed that the main priority for him was the overall betterment of Pakistan cricket.

“I am delighted to be amongst you because it was long overdue (for me) to be visiting the nursery of Pakistan cricket since becoming the board chairman,” he remarked. “I had always viewed Karachi as the backbone of Pakistan cricket and strategically it remains the most important centre of the country. The list of great cricketers coming from here is endless.

“When Karachi cricket is strong, so is Pakistan cricket. It was imperative for me to come and see myself the pace of renovation work and overall infrastructure of the National Stadium. This is a very short trip but I promise to come again during the emerging (ACC) tournament in December and meet you individually.”


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Salah wants the Muslim world to treat its women better

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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.”

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Kerala Blasters rope in young goalkeeper Lovepreet Singh

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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.

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Super Cup may return as season opener this year

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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.

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