Friday, May 27, 2016

Interview with Indian International Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Interview with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's exclusive interview
This is Debraj Banerjee from ABCDFootball and today we bring to you an exclusive interview with Indian International Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who is playing his trade on foreign soil of Norway in Stabaek which plays in the Norwegian top division. Blessed with a giant physique which is quite rare to see in Indian Football circuit, Gurpreet, is still just 24 and has already established himself as an integral part of the Indian National Team set up having secured the first choice goalkeeper slot. Also he has become the first Indian to captain an European side when he skippered Stabaek FC reserves. We spoke to Gurpreet on various important topics including his European venture, his time in Norway, growth of Indian football in general and much more. I hope you would find the conversation interesting.

ABCDFootball: We will start off with your inspiration, your role model in football.
Gurpreet: My Parents were very supportive. My dad is a huge sports enthusiast and he loves cricket. I am blessed to have got such supportive parents.

I remember watching Edwin Van Der Sar play for Manchester United and I could imagine myself in him with similar physique, height.

ABCDFootball: Tell us how does it feel to stay under the stick for the entire 90 minutes? You need to be on alert whenever called upon in action.
Gurpreet: Yes, as a goalkeeper you need to be on your toes whenever called upon action. There are games when you would not be called into action for once and there are games like against Iran when you will be at the centre of everything. Goalkeeper needs to be focused everytime and most certainly need to communicate well with the players especially the defenders.

ABCDFootball: Do you perform any special exercises to have your full concentration in the game?
Gurpreet: Yes, I try to picture the entire game infront of me even before the kick-off. That helps me leaps and bounds in focusing and keeping my concentration level to the peak.

ABCDFootball: Since you belong to Punjab, what is the general opinion in Punjab regarding football? Are the parents supporting of choosing Football as a profession for their child?
Gurpreet: From what I understand and have witnessed, in Punjab mostly parents are leaned towards cricket rather than football, especially when its more aout choosing it as a profession.

ABCDFootball: Your views on JCT and its disbanding.
Gurpreet: JCT was a huge chapter in Indian Football and more so for Punjab football. But unfortunately it did not get the proper backing which led to it being dissolved.

ABCDFootball: How is life in Norway and Stabaek, and how are your team mates? Your friends.
Gurpreet: The transition initially was really tough when I came here with the climate and the food. I had to learn cooking.

Now life is far smoother. Everyone in the team are really good and supportive.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Interview
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has featured for Stabaek have impressed

ABCDFootball: What about your training schedule?
Gurpreet: During the pre-season we train twice a day, else its once in the morning.

ABCDFootball: Stabaek qualified for Europa League Qualifiers next season. Your thoughts?
Gurpreet: It was a very big step for us. Playing the Europa League is itself an achievement. At a personal level, I hope that I can give my best whenever the opportunity arrives.

ABCDFootball: What are your short-term and long term goals with Stabaek?
Gurpreet: I can feel that I am improving on a regular basis and I believe that I could very well be the regular first choice goalkeeper for the main team in the time to come.

ABCDFootball: From your point of view what are the basic difference in leagues in India and Norway – skill wise, attitude wise and professionalism wise.
Gurpreet: The difference is huge and this is in every aspect. The players here are far more professional, technically sound, physically fitter. The key difference could be understood in critical aspects like decision making.

The gulf in class is because of the training the players are given from childhood. I see young kids playing football from the age of 6-7. The clubs have dedicated junior age group teams (U-13 and so on).

Also, one more important point is the kick-off time. The climate plays a huge role in the overall quality of the gameplay.

ABCDFootball: When you look back at the World Cup Qualifiers, what positives and negatives you can chalk out?
Gurpreet: I believe its too early to jump into any conclusion from the performances in the World Cup Qualifiers. It’s a brand new team and things don’t happen overnight. There are a lot of changes coming into the side and things can only get better.

I myself am delighted to get to play for the National Team on a regular basis. The win against Guam in the Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru was the best game for us in the qualifiers.

I am lucky to have got a chance to work under both the coaches. I believe Bob Houghton got more time to spend with the players than our current coach is getting at the moment.

ABCDFootball: Did you get any offers to play in the Indian Super League(ISL)?
Gurpreet: I had few offers from few Indian Super League(ISL) sides but my goal is to keep playing abroad as I believe it gives me a better opportunity to grow.

ABCDFootball: What is your take on the affect of Indian Super League(ISL) on Indian Football?
Gurpreet: Indian Super League(ISL) has undoubtedly done some good work for Indian Football as it has been able to attract the mass towards the game.  They have done a tremendous job in advertising and packaging the game. But in terms of the gameplay, there is a lot more to offer.

ABCDFootball: Did you get a chance to witness our U-16 team in action, which will form the core of the U-17 FIFA World Cup 2017 India?
Gurpreet: Yes, I did. I watched a few games of the U-16 side in the AIFF Youth Cup 2016 and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The boys were fantastic and all credits to them to play such an attractive brand of football.

I could see that most of the players were very sound technically and the credit shall go to their coaches for training them from an early stage. They seem to be very good with the ball on their feet and that’s rare to see at such a young age.

ABCDFootball would like to thank Gurpreet for taking his valuable time out for the wonderful conversation and we wish him best of luck for his career ahead.

India to face Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE in AFC U-16 Championship 2016

India grouped with Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia
AFC U-16 Championship Draw: India drawn alongside Asian powerhouses Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE,
Picture Courtesy: AIFF Media
Nicolai Adam's team got Asian powerhouse Iran alongside Saudi Arabia and UAE in their group after the draw for the AFC U-16 Championship 2016 took place at the Taj Vivanta, Panjim, Goa. A total of 16 teams have been drawn in 4 groups. The matches will be played at the Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda and Bambolim Stadium. There will be 6 other training grounds which are to be used during the tournament.

India U-16 Coach Nicolai Adam sounded positive when asked about the draw. "I like the draw, when you look at the groups it's pretty even. We see this as a stepping stone to the World Cup; so the more difficult the opposition the better. We still have a long way to go though. All I want is good competition to prepare the World Cup, the motive is still to reach the semi-finals of the AFC championships," said the gaffer.

The final Group divisions
Group A: India (hosts), UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran  
Group B: Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Japan, Australia
Group C: Iraq, Oman, Malaysia, Korea Republic 
Group D: Yemen, Thailand, Uzbekistan, DPR Korea

India's fixtures

September 15, 2016: India vs UAE – September (7pm).
September 18, 2016: Saudi Arabia vs India (7pm).
September 21, 2016: India vs Iran (7pm)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

South Korea beat USA to win AIFF Youth Cup 2016 title

South Korea win AIFF Youth Cup 2016
South Korea win the AIFF Youth Cup 2016 defeating USA in the finals
AIFF Youth Cup 2016 Final
Tilak Maidan, Goa
South Korea 1-1(2-1 After Extra Time) USA
SK: Lee Hakseon(14th), Jeon Seungmin(114th)
USA: Andrew James(31st)

South Korea defeated USA in the finals to win the AIFF Youth Cup 2016. Lee Hakseon scored the opener for South Korea in the 14th minute before Andrew James found the equalizer in the 31st minute. Jeon Seungmin found the winner in the 114th minute from a free-kick after both teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time.

Bengaluru FC upset Kitchee SC to progress to AFC Cup 2016 Quarter Finals

AFC Cup 2016: Bengaluru FC progress to quarter finals
Bengaluru FC stun Kitchee SC in the AFC Cup to progress to QF, Picture Courtesy:
AFC Cup 2016 - Round of 16
Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong
Kitchee SC 1-2 Bengaluru FC
KSC: Rufino(6th), Jordi Tarres(42nd)
BFC: Sunil Chhetri(31st, 33rd), Daniel Lalhlimpuia(51st)

Bengaluru FC progressed to the Quarter Finals of the AFC Cup 2016 after upsetting Kitchee SC away from home played at the Mong Kok Stadium on Wednesday, 25th May 2016. In an thrilling encounter the Indian Champions came out on top against a side which was unbeaten for five straight games in all competitions. Sunil Chhetri scored a brace with Daniel Lalhlimpuia scoring once which turned out to be the winner. Bengaluru FC could have scored a few more in the late stages with goalscorers Chhetri and Daniel missing some sitters. Rufino was the star man for Kitchee SC and he was the one who opened the scoring as his header found the back of the net in the 6th minute. The first half saw three more goals as Jordi Tarres made it 2-2 for the home side after the Bengaluru FC and Indian International skipper Sunil Chhetri scored a quickfire double.  It was a great performance from The Blues as they march on to the last eight of the tournament.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AFC Cup 2016 Live Streaming: Kitchee SC vs Bengaluru FC

AFC Cup 2016 Live Streaming: Kitchee SC vs Bengaluru FC
Watch the Live Streaming of AFC Cup 2016 - Round of 16 match between Kitchee SC vs Bengaluru FC which is scheduled to be played at the Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong on 25th May 2016.

Live Streaming Link: Click Here

Mohun Bagan knocked out of AFC Cup 2016 by Tampines Rovers

Mohun Bagan exit from AFC Cup 2016
Mohun Bagan bowed out of the AFC Cup 2016 after suffering a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Tampines Rovers at home,
Picture Courtesy:
AFC Cup 2016 - Round of 16
Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
Mohun Bagan(India) 1-2 Tampines Rovers(Singapore) (AET)
MB: Bikramjit Singh(72nd)
TR: Jordan Webb(63rd), Afiq Yunos(117th)

Mohun Bagan lost a great opportunity to progress to the quarter finals of the AFC Cup 2016, after suffering a narrow defeat to Singapore's Tampines Rovers in the pre-quarter finals played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati on Tuesday, 24th May 2016. Without the services of their star foreigner duo - Katsumi Yusa and Sony Norde, Mohun Bagan's attack seemed weak. Even the defense looked vulnerable with Arnab Das Sharma placed under the sticks instead of Debjit Majumder.

Tampines Rovers were the better of the two teams in the first half but Mohun Bagan held their own in the defense. Cornell Glen's injury in the first half further added concern to Sanjoy Sen as he was forced to bring in Subhash Singh.

Though Mohun Bagan had very little to offer in the attacking front, they were given a major boost when Tampines Rovers went a man down after Shakhir Hamza was given his second yellow card in the 53rd minute. There after the tempo was controlled by The Mariners as they started piling the pressure against The Stags. Much against the run of play, the visitors went ahead when Jordan Webb's looping attempt from the right flank left Arnab in the dust as the Bagan goalie misjudged the flight. Headers from Raju Gaikwad and Dhanachandra tested the Tampines Rovers goalie but he dealt with them quite well. It was Bikramjit Singh who came to rescue for Bagan with a thumping strike from around 35 yards which rifled into the net in the 72nd minute. The game moved into extra-time as the scoreline remained 1-1 after 90 minutes.

The story continued in similar fashion with Mohun Bagan attacking in numbers but failing to find a clear attempt on goal. Subhash Singh in particular was lively but the Tampines Rovers defense were on their toes. Mohun Bagan having all three substitutions exhausted, were also reduced to ten men as Bikramjit Singh went off the field in the 112th minute with what looked like an hamstring injury. Shortly after Tampines Rovers found the winner as former Liverpool and Arsenal midfielder Jermaine Pennant found Afiq Yunos from a free kick and Afiq's effort found the back of the net as a tired looking Mohun Bagan defense went to sleep.

With the victory Tampines Rovers go to the quarter finals while Federation Cup 2016 champions Mohun Bagan's season comes to a disappointing end.

Anantapur Sports Academy celebrate AFC Grassroots Football Day

ASA - AFC Grassroots Day
Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) celebrated the AFC Grassroots Day
Author of the Post: Maxon Sequeira

The Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) constantly strives for the improvement of grassroots level sports. They primarily concentrate on the inclusion of young children in all of its sports programs. Its vision is to encourage the youth from rural areas to inculcate in themselves a culture of sports, with young children being at the helm of this vision.

ASA looked forward to the Asian Football Confederation Grassroots Football Day (AFC-GFD) 2016 as a great occasion to encourage young children to participate in sport through football. It has organised grassroots football events with young children before as well. Their last initiative to reach out to young children was during their U13 Football Academy selection trials when they had Indian Super League, FC Goa midfielder Jofre Mateu to help them in their selection process.

Anantapur celebrated AFC Grassroots Day
A total of 207 children attended the program organized by ASA
ASA was always conscious that All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) had plans to develop grassroots level football in India by reaching out to much younger children. Hence it decided to organise the AFC-GFD 2016. It looked to reach out to at least 200 children between the ages of 6-12 years. With this it would not only achieve its aim to involve younger children in sport, but also promote the growth of Indian football, and subsequently also the popularity of the sport.

 ASA’s 25 mandal (village-level) football clubs were invited to send children between the ages of six and twelve to be involved in the AFC-GFD, which was held at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV). The AFC-GFD saw a total of 207 children come over for the program, and for the activities, they divided into ten groups. A total of 27 coaches ran the show during the AFC-GFD. Each group had at least one female and one male coach. “Most of these children have never seen a football in their life, let alone playing with it. The idea is to introduce these children to football in a fun manner. Only when they like the game will they come forward to play it,” said ASA Football Academy Assistant Head Coach, P. Vijayabhaskar.

The program commenced at the ASV on the afternoon of the 14th of May 2016, when each child was registered for the AFC-GFD 2016, as per schedule. The children were encouraged to play several fun games during two sessions of main program on the 15th of May. The focus was to let every single child spend the most possible time with a football. Small sided games on ten pitches around the size of a futsal ground were planned at the ASV football and cricket grounds for each group. The children were involved in games like caterpillar, monkey in the middle, tennis with a football, cricket with a football, etc.

The ASA looked at the AFC-GFD program as an opportunity to be an initiative which went beyond just football. For this it planned a series of ice breakers and fun activities to engage the children after the children arrived at the ASV on the 14th. They also planned similar activities after the main program activities on the 15th evening as well.

“We closely followed the AIFF and AFC guidelines and came up with our own drills to subconsciously teach the children the basics of football, while showing them the physical and psychological benefits of the game. We kept in mind that if done well, these children would come back wanting more, eventually growing our grassroots structure while adding to the popularity of the sport, which is what the AIFF and AFC have been looking to achieve through this nationwide program,” said Shaikh Moulali, a senior ASA football academy player and AFC-GFD mentoring coach.
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