Mumbai: Indian football coach Igor Stimac has accused India’s club football system of not helping its players at a time when AIFF is in a full-on war with I-League clubs, trying to demote them into second-tier. He also stated that the team would suffer until the new system is adopted by players properly.
After an encouraging end to the King’s Cup where India finished at the third place by beating Thailand, an air of optimism had taken over the fans ahead of the Intercontinental Cup. However, the Blue Tigers succumbed to a 2-4 defeat against Tajikistan on Sunday to highlight the fact that they were far from a ready team.
And while Stimac didn’t hesitate to point out the mistakes that his boys did, he also went onto blame the Indian Super League and I-League for not helping out the players as the system needed a big overhaul. He pointed out the lack of games the players have in a year, which has been a huge problem.
“We are suffering because most our Indian strikers are not playing regularly in the ISL or the I-League as they spend most of the time on bench. Most of them do not have open place to play and that is not good for me (as the national coach) because there is only Sunil (Chhetri) who is scoring goals,” said the Croatian, reported Sportstar.
“That is a big problem for us and we need to think of ways to sort out the situation as we cannot always expect Sunil to decide a game. We need more strikers playing in the ISL or I-League. I cannot create a centre-forward from a full-back in the national team. They need to play more in the country’s leagues to make a strong national side,” Stimac added.
While the above problem would be a slow and long-term process to get solved, Stimac would need to implement his approach on players fast with the World Cup qualifiers scheduled in September and October.
“The results will suffer as we are taking a new approach to the game and playing a totally different football from what we did before. We have a lot of young talents who make mistakes but I need to back them to make sure that India enjoys its football in future,” Stimac said.
I-League clubs need not worry about future: AIFF chief
Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) chief Praful Patel hinted that there could be a merger of the I-League and the Indian Super League following a three-year transition period.
“AFC (Asian Football Confederation) won’t accept a closed league for long. It is the reason why I have proposed a three-year status quo for both leagues to run simultaneously despite AFC not willing to allow it,” Patel told Times of India.
“I would request the I-League clubs to strengthen themselves financially and otherwise in this period. So when the merging and integration happens according to AFC regulations, they would be in a better position. In three years, I-League will be in a position to thrive and be in a good shape with televised matches. Right now the I-League clubs needn’t worry about their future. Ideal state would be when a second division club plays in ISL.”
Last week, the AIFF threw its weight behind a popular franchise-based league by calling on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to award its champions a slot in the continent’s elite club competition.
Currently, the winners of the traditional I-League are awarded the AFC Champions League slot, while the champions of the upstart Indian Super League (ISL) gain entry to the secondary AFC Cup competition.
Patel said he is “fighting” to give I-League clubs a similar platform as the ISL.
“The AIFF has proposed to show all I-League matches in high definition like ISL with proper timings,” he said. “Half of the production cost would be borne by marketing partners [IMG-Reliance/FSDL] while the rest will be equally divided by AIFF and clubs.”
The AIFF had said last week that its backing of ISL for an AFC spot was based on the Master Rights Agreement, owned by Reliance, it signed in 2010 with its commercial partners Football Sports Development Limited.
It said in a statement “… in the last five years the entire Indian National squad are mostly being signed/playing for the … Indian Super League clubs.
“TV viewership and in-stadia audience having grown far more substantially vis a vis the … I-League,” it added.
Last Monday six I-League clubs wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set up an inquiry commission to “probe the AIFF’s functioning’’ fearing that the league could be demoted to the second tier.
No one lost the final, says Williamson
London: “No one lost the final,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said on Tuesday as his team tried coming to terms with the gut-wrenching defeat against England in the World Cup’s greatest summit clash.
Cricketers, current and former, shared New Zealand’s pain on losing the title on boundary count with many of them asking for a “serious look” into the rule, slammed as “absurd”.
“At the end of the day nothing separated us, no one lost the final, but there was a crowned winner and there it is,” Williamson told Newstalk ZB.
Widely praised for the grace with which he and his side accepted the defeat, Williamson said they had signed up to the rules that governed the tournament.
New Zealand lost to England at the Lord’s due to inferior boundary count (16 in 50 overs to hosts’ 24) after both the regulation 50 overs and the Super Over ended in ties.
“I suppose you never thought you would have to ask that question and I never thought I would have to answer it (smiling),” was Williamson’s first reaction when asked about the rule.
“While the emotions are raw, it is pretty hard to swallow when two teams have worked really, really hard to get to this moment in time.
“When sort of two attempts to separate them with a winner and a loser it still doesn’t perhaps sort of shine with one side coming through, you know,” Williamson, one of the finest gentleman playing the sport, said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised the Black Caps for putting their all on the line and then accepting the gut-wrenching defeat with grace.
“That was undeniably an incredible game. I think as a nation we all aged a year in that super over. Congratulations to England. And to the Black Caps, I feel nothing but pride. What a team,” wrote Ardern on Instagram.
Opting to bat, New Zealand had put up a modest 241 for eight. In reply, England ended at the same score leading to the one-over eliminator.
In the Super Over, England batted first and the duo of Ben Stokes, who kept the hosts in the game with a brilliant 84 off 98 balls, and Jos Buttler made 15.
New Zealand also ended at the same score but for the loss of one wicket, paving the way for an English victory on boundary count.
British PM hosts World Cup champs
London: British Prime Minister Theresa May hosted the World Cup-winning England cricket team in the garden of her Downing Street residence, describing their win as “one of the great sporting spectacles of our time”.
England ended their 44-year wait for a first 50 overs world title by beating New Zealand in a nailbiting final Super Over on Sunday.
England’s Eoin Morgan and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May with the trophy as they pose with the team outside number 10
May, a keen cricket fan, was at the match and, after the win, posted a video clip on Twitter of herself dancing.
The prime minister, who is due to stand down next week, greeted the players in front of her home and posed for pictures with the team and the trophy.
Members of the England Cricket Team including Liam Plunkett (2nd from left), Jason Roy (extreme right), Moeen Ali (2nd from right), Jos Buttler (3rd from right) share a laugh with Prime Minister Theresa May during a reception at 10 Downing Street on Monday
“When the odds were against you in the biggest game of your lives, you simply and stubbornly refused to lose. It is that determination, that character, that has made you world champions. But, more than that, you have made history,” May told the players during the drinks reception, according to remarks released by her office.
“You have helped the nation fall in love with cricket once again,” she said, adding that the match was “a final for the ages”.
England’s Eoin Morgan and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May lift the trophy as they pose with the team outside number 10
“The final was not just cricket at its best but sport at its best — courage, character, sportsmanship, drama, incredible skill and even the odd slice of luck — all combining to create a real thriller, one of the great sporting spectacles of our time,” she added.
May added, “It was a fitting end to what has been a great tournament — and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in once again making our country a sporting showcase for the world.”
Since being unceremoniously dumped out of the 2015 World Cup in Australia, the England side have reinvented themselves as one-day cricket specialists and headed into the World Cup as overwhelming favourites.
The match, which England won by the thinnest of margins after a tie-break Super Over, was watched by more than 8 million people in Britain.