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Sindhu makes winning start to World Tour Finals

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Guangzhou : Olympic silver medallist shuttler PV Sindhu eked out a hard-fought win over world number two and defending champion Akane Yamaguchi in the opening women’s singles group A match of the World Tour Finals.

Sindhu, who had finished runner-up at the last edition in Dubai, dished out a superb game, mixed with patience and aggression, to defeat the Japanese 24-22, 21-15.

Making her third successive appearance at the tournament, Sindhu, who had a 9-4 head-to-head record against Yamaguchi, produced a controlled game in the slow conditions, never letting go despite lagging behind many times in the match.

 

The first game clocked 27 minutes as both the shuttlers fought tooth and nail for supremacy. Sindhu was trailing 6-11 at the first internal but she fought back to catch up with the Japanese at 19-19 with a smash on her rival’s back hand.

A battle of mind and body ensued as leads changed hands but it was Sindhu who showed better mental fortitude to claim the opening game after a stretched Yamaguchi sent her forehand return at the net.

In the second game, Yamaguchi tried to put pressure on the Indian’s backhand but Sindhu was up to the challenge as she made some superb retrieves to lead 3-1 initially.

Persistent pressure worked as Yamaguchi levelled par and went to a 4-3 lead when Sindhu made a judgement-error and soon moved to 6-3.

Sindhu however soon grabbed the lead at 8-7 after her rival went wide and then hit the net. A fantastic rally ended with Sindhu on her knees at the forecourt. She then went long but the Japanese too erred as it was 9-9.

At the break, Yamaguchi held a slender 11-10 lead after Sindhu could not properly connect at the forecourt. Sindhu took a 14-11 lead after the break, following two mistakes from the Japanese and a superb disguised flick at the back court. Sindhu dominated the proceedings after the break, grabbing a six-point cushion at 18-11.

Yamaguchi took two points before another long shot gave Sindhu another point. The Indian grabbed six match points when Yamaguchi hit the net again. The Japanese saved one before faltering at the net to hand over the match to Sindhu. The top two players from each group will qualify for the semifinals, after which a knockout draw will be conducted.


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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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