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Mubarar,Mabkhout strike as India go down 0-2 to UAE

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Abu Dhabi: India left their scoring boots and luck behind while hosts United Arab Emirates found both after a subdued opener to record a 2-0 win in the AFC Asian Cup at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabhi.

Khalfan Mubarak (41′) and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout (88′) scored for the home team, entering the game in some desperation after a 1-1 stalemate with Bahrain in the tournament opener.

UAE moved top of the table in Group A with four points from two matches while second-placed India still remained in the hunt for a knockout berth with three points from two outings.

 

India had drubbed Thailand 4-1 in their opening encounter Sunday but the Thais got their campaign back on a track with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in the evening fixture.

India made a positive start in both the halves and created many chances, but paid dearly for lacking the finishing touch.

The Blue Tigers missed three big chances in the first half and while they created opportunities after the break too, India were denied on two occasions by the framework.

On expected lines, the United Arab Emirates enjoyed possession initially but, to the surprise of many, India had more shots at goal and dominated proceedings by keeping the opposition defence busy.

Sandesh Jhingan’s free header off a corner by Anirudh Thapa, which was won by Pritam Kotal, went off target. India could have been 1-0 up as early as the seventh minute at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Then, unmarked at the far post, Sunil Chhetri’s header after Thapa squared it for the second highest active goal-scorer in international football, was brilliantly saved by UAE custodian Khalid Eisa.

If those misses in the eighth and 23rd minute gave India the belief that they will be able to fight their fancied opponents, in coach Stephen Constantine’s words, toe-to-toe, they also may have made the Blue Tigers a bit restless.

And UAE, positioned 18 places above the 97th ranked India in the FIFA chart, used that to their advantage when Mubarak charged forward and latched on to a ball by Ali Ahmed Mabkhout, who ran in from the right.

It was not that the Indian defence was in disarray but they would have done well to clear the ball at first instance. Thapa, the team’s youngest member at 20, could not get there in time while Anas Edathodika and Jhingan also could not come in the way of Mubarak, who scored his first international goal.


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Women’s football team better than men’s, says Chhetri

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New Delhi: The FIFA ranking says so and India football captain Sunil Chhetri too has no qualms in conceding that the national women’s team is better than the men’s side. The men’s team is currently ranked 103rd out of 211 countries, after being in the top-100 last year. The women’s side is currently 62nd out of 152 nations.

Chhetri, the poster boy of Indian football with second-most goals among active international players, praised the national women’s team for its fifth consecutive SAFF title win. “Extremely proud of all of you. I have always maintained that the women’s team is much better than the men,” Chhetri said.

The women’s team will feature in Round 2 of the Olympics qualifiers, which kick off in Mandalay in Myanmar on April 3.

 
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I will be first one to hang my boots when time comes: Yuvraj on retirement

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Mumbai: Yuvraj Singh’s cricketing future has been a topic of discussion for some years now but the player said he would be the first one to bid adieu when he felt that his time is up.

Out of national team’s scheme of things for good, Yuvraj has had a poor track record in the IPL but started on a bright note with a half-century for his latest franchise Mumbai Indians.

“When the time comes, I will be the first one to hang my boots,” Yuvraj told the media after MI’s 37-run defeat against Delhi Capitals in the IPL opener.

 

However, India’s 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup hero did admit that at times he felt indecisive about carrying on.

“The last two years, have been up and down (for me). And I could not decide on what to do,” said the 37-year-old.

Yuvraj said when on introspection, he found that he is still enjoying the game just as he did as an U-16 cricketer not thinking about national team selection.

“The main thing for me was why I played the game when I started off. I played the game because I enjoyed playing cricket. When I enjoyed playing cricket, I was not playing for India. I was playing for U-14s and U-16s. So till the time, I enjoy playing cricket, I am going to play.”

The veteran left-hander spoke to Sachin Tendulkar, who could relate with his situation as to how he felt when he was at the business end of his career.

“I have been speaking to Sachin (Tendulkar) as well and he has gone through that time when he was 37-38-39 (and how he felt). Talking to him makes things easier for me. And I am just playing because I enjoy playing cricket pretty much,” he signed off.

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Zidane is the right man for the Real Madrid job : Mourinho

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London: Jose Mourinho has said that he believes Zinedine Zidane is the right man for the Real Madrid managerial position.

Zidane was re-appointed as Madrid’s head coach earlier this month, just 10 months after he had resigned from the same position.

After Solari’s dismissal, many tipped Mourinho to return to the Santiago Bernabeu after he had been sacked as Manchester United boss in December.

 

Mourinho was Madrid’s manager from 2010 to 2013, but the Blancos instead opted to bring back three-time Champions League winner Zidane.

And Mourinho himself has now said that the Blancos made the right call, adding that the Frenchman is just getting started in his managerial career despite what he has already achieved.

“I do not think we can talk about a career for him yet,” Mourinho said of Zidane on Canal Plus.

“But in a very short time, he did what no one had done before, that is winning three consecutive Champions Leagues”.

“Now he is starting a new step in his career. He has to build a team, he has to make choices, buy players, sell them. He has to train them, give them his philosophy of play.

“I think he’s probably the best person for this club.”

Mourinho has not been shy about his desire to return to club management, and said this week he has already turned down a number of job offers.

The Portuguese said that he’s growing more eager to return every day.

“Day after day, I miss training. I’m not going to hide it,” Mourinho said.

“There’s something going on in my head, winning a fifth league and a new Champions League with a third club.”

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