Connect with us

latest news

Does the Indian football team need an OCI spine? | Football News

Published

on


On Tuesday, the men’s national team hit a low it hadn’t since away losses to Pakistan in 2005 (0-3) and Guam (0-1) in 2015. Threading three defeats, the one in Guwahati included, in three decades is Sunil Chhetri. Football is game where 11 play 11 but he is possibly the most important reason why “the kid in Andaman or Uttar Pradesh” still follow the Blue Tigers ignoring results that have been largely underwhelming.

Sunil Chhetri fights for the ball with Afghanistan's Rahmat Akbari during the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (PTI)
Sunil Chhetri fights for the ball with Afghanistan’s Rahmat Akbari during the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (PTI)

No matter how many what-if moments you glean from the games against Afghanistan – Manvir Singh’s misses in both, Vikram Partap Singh’s header in Abha, the late penalty because the defenders were poorly positioned and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu too deep in his box (a gut-wrencher that, it could be the reason for another second-round exit) – it is difficult to mask how insipid India were.

Hindustan Times – your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

Lacking creative spark

Missing was the creative spark that fetched goals on way to three tournament wins in 2023. When not corralled into corners, India played poor crosses, which may also be a pointer to better full-backs in international football; opponents who can stop wide players from using their stronger foot. There was little play through the middle and India had two shots on target in over 180 minutes of football against opponents 41 slots below them in FIFA rankings. Igor Stimac pointed out India going to the front third and playing a back-pass after the 1-2 loss in Guwahati.

What happens in one area of the pitch affects another and contributed to Afghanistan’s smash-and-grab win. With a bit of luck they could have won at home too. Afghanistan and Palestine, who beat Bangladesh 1-0, were the flavour of this round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in Asia. As were Ukraine in successfully sealing an Euro 2024 berth. Like Iraq in 2007, these teams have shown that while football is not matter of life and death, and certainly not more important, it can provide battle-scarred countries moments of succour.

“Why not” said Afghanistan coach Ashley Westwood when asked if they could qualify for the third round. They have a whoppingly negative goal difference to contend with but it is now a three-way battle for the second spot in Group A. In his moment of glory, Westwood also showed grace saying Stimac has done a “fantastic” job.

India coach Igor Stimac reacts (REUTERS)
India coach Igor Stimac reacts (REUTERS)

Pressure on Stimac

Till last November, when India beat Kuwait for their first away World Cup qualifier win in 22 years, Stimac was the fans’ favourite. On Tuesday, he was booed and abused by a section of the fans. Stimac radiates positivity, it is how he is. After apologising for the inert performance, the India head coach said a never-before third round in the World Cup qualifiers is possible; it is, beat Kuwait on June 6 and history will be made.

Assuming All India Football Federation (AIFF) don’t add to the mess by removing him, Stimac is likely to prepare a longlist of probables and get the players to work like he did before last year’s Inter-continental Cup. He said he was confident that the India squad that will show up in June will look different even though most of the players will be the same. Twice in two years, through an Asian Cup qualification and two tournament wins, Stimac has shown that long preparatory camps have got players fitter and stronger. That, in turn, have translated into more energy on the pitch.

Dip in form

Whether Stimac is getting the most out of the squad though is a valid question. From Gurpreet Singh Sandhu through Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Nikhil Poojary, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Mahesh Naorem, there has been a dip in form across the pitch. Lack of time means national team head coaches’ focus on creating the right environment becomes as important as deciding on formations. Former India defender Gouramangi Singh is not sure if Stimac has the change room. “I am unsure about the players’ relationship with Stimac,” he told PTI clarifying that he is “not privy” to locker-room talk.

A team staff dismissed the claim. “They (the players) got ready for these games as best as they could, cutting off social media, training hard and resting well. The inability to create and take chances in international football is down to a lack of confidence. Confidence comes when you score early or when you have the energy and strength to make things difficult for the opponent,” he said.

Under Stimac, and his predecessors, it has been shown that the only way that happens is when players train together. But there has been little from AIFF to suggest that adequate breaks will be provided for international windows. With the outfield spine of ISL teams comprising foreign players, how can the national team get better then?

Well, how about the spine comprising footballers who are Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders? It is impossible now because the government of India does not permit it but isn’t AIFF run by a president who is a politician with the ruling party and a former player? An AIFF task force on this was created last August and Kalyan Chaubey has spoken of reaching out to 24 such players. From “Oriundos” (Italians of Argentine origin) in 1934 World Cup through Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland sides to Brazilians Fernandinho and Elkeson playing for China this week, players representing countries they were not born in is common practice. It can be a short-term boost for India.

Mahmoud Dahoud being welcomed to the Syrian national team (Syrian FA )
Mahmoud Dahoud being welcomed to the Syrian national team (Syrian FA )

Such players jetting in can lead to adjustment problems – Mahmoud Dahoud leaving the Syria set-up hours before they played Myanmar on Tuesday is a case in point. Dahoud, a German who has taken Syrian citizenship, is on loan to Brighton from VfB Stuttgart. He has said the facilities need to be better. “When… the promises made are not fulfilled, you need to step back. If you’re not allowed to be a solution, at least you don’t have to be part of the problem,” he said.

But ISL hasn’t helped the national team improve and neither has I-League, National Football League or the tournament-studded calendar that preceded it. So what have India got to lose by trying? Maybe, it will also save India’s overpaid footballers – not their fault that the pool is small and some clubs are rich enough to make offers they can’t refuse – from complacency.

The following article is an excerpt from this week’s edition of HT Kick Off. Subscribe here.





Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

latest news

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say

Published

on

By


The runaway daughter of Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield is believed to be “at risk” because of a “previous threat of suicide,” police have said. 16-year-old Mint Butterfield was reported missing earlier this week. The teen, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, reportedly fled their mother’s home in Bolinas, California.

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff's Office)
Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff’s Office)

Flickr founder Caterina Fake, Mint’s mom, alerted authorities after finding a letter they had left behind. It is believed Mint could have been on her way to San Francisco’s very dangerous Tenderloin District neighbourhood.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

“At this time, we have no information to believe that Mint was taken against their will. The Sheriff’s Office is considering Mint a voluntary-missing juvenile, who is “At- Risk” due to a reported previous threat of suicide,” a statement by the Marin’s County Sheriff’s office read.

How did Mint Butterfield leave the area?

Mint fled the house with a suitcase “during the night or early morning,” according to authorities. “Fake and Mint also share a home in San Francisco, and it is believed, based on statements from Fake, that Mint may have left for the Tenderloin District of San Francisco,” the statement says.

The sheriff’s office also noted that Mint did not have access to a phone or any kind of vehicle, so it is unclear how they left the area. The San Francisco Standard reported that Mint has a history of substance abuse. They had been living with their mother before they went missing. Mint was enrolled at a private school in the Napa area.

Mint was known for having frequently visited the Tenderloin area. The area is notorious for open-air drug markets, homelessness, and violent crimes.

“Marin County Deputies entered Mint into the Missing and Unidentified Persons System (MUPS) and sent out All Points Bulletin flyers to surrounding law enforcement agencies with a description and photograph of Mint,” the sheriff’s office said.

It added, “In collaboration with San Francisco Police Department, detectives from both agencies have attempted to find Mint, but have been unable to locate them.”

Mint’s father, Stewart, co-founded Slack back in 2013. He left the company after it was acquired by Salesforce for $28 billion in 2021.

The sheriff’s office has urged people with information on the incident or Mint’s whereabouts to contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Office at (415) 479-2311 or email tips@marinsheriff.org.

Discussing suicides can be triggering for some. However, suicides are preventable. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).



Source link

Continue Reading

latest news

KKR vs PBKS, IPL 2024: Catch all the action in images

Published

on

By


Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

  • PBKS defeated KKR by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, on Friday at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

/

Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)
expand-icon
View Photos in a new improved layout

Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)

/

Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)
expand-icon
View Photos in a new improved layout

Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)

/

For KKR's bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)
expand-icon
View Photos in a new improved layout

Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For KKR’s bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)

/

Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)
expand-icon
View Photos in a new improved layout

Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)

/

For PBKS' bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)
expand-icon
View Photos in a new improved layout

Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For PBKS’ bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)



Source link

Continue Reading

latest news

UWW threatens to suspend WFI and India’s wrestlers too

Published

on

By


Ten days after sports ministry told the Delhi High Court that it will neither recognise nor provide any support to Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), United World Wrestling (UWW) has warned that government interference could lead to WFI being suspended again. This time, the suspension could extend to the wrestlers as well.

Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)
Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)

In a strongly-worded letter signed by UWW president Nenad Lalovic, wrestling’s global governing body has reiterated its determination to uphold WFI’s independence and autonomy.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

“We have been informed that the Wrestling Federation of India is once again threatened by your Ministry of Sports with the imposition of an ad hoc committee to oversee its affairs,” UWW wrote.

“In case any decision or order should be made against your federation, and a third party be designated to run the daily affairs of our sport in India in violation of the UWW Statutes, UWW would have no other option than to re-impose a temporary suspension of your federation until further notice, and which, this time, could maybe include your athletes.

This suspension would apply to the final Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in May, and will certainly attract the attention of the IOC on this matter, who may also consider further action,” UWW noted.

On Wednesday, a day before UWW’s letter, WFI appointed the Athletes Commission in accordance with the world body’s demand. Former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Narsingh Yadav was elected chairman of the commission.

Ban lifted in February

UWW had placed the WFI under provisional suspension in August 2023 after WFI’s continued delay in holding elections. The ban was lifted this February. A month later, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) reinstated WFI and dissolved the three-member ad hoc committee constituted to run the sport.

WFI, however, continues to remain under suspension since last December by the ministry. Earlier this month, the ministry told the Delhi High Court that it might review the suspension only after there is visible improvement in WFI’s governance.

The ministry, in the affidavit filed through standing counsel Anil Soni, added that it would treat any national championships or competitions organised by WFI as unsanctioned and unrecognised. The Sanjay Singh-led WFI has held national championships as well as selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers.

“It is further submitted that the Ministry is continuously monitoring the governance of the WFI and at present does not deem it appropriate at this stage to review its decision dated 24/12/2023. Any review will be undertaken only after marked and visible improvement its governance, demonstration of compliance of UWW’s order and IOA’s order dated 18.03.2024 and steps taken Expiry Date 15/03/2025 WFI with regard to its democratic functioning, adherence to the Government guidelines aiming towards good governance practices including grievance redressal mechanism and safety of wrestlers,” the ministry had told the court.

In an earlier hearing this month, the court had considered setting up an ad hoc committee for running WFI.

“UWW’s letter must be taken very seriously. WFI is an autonomous body and there is no need for ministry’s suspension or interference,” Sanjay Singh said.

“The fact that UWW’s ban may extend to the wrestlers is a first in our history. The government must allow us to function independently,” a senior WFI official said.

While WFI continues to grapple with the government, Indian wrestlers’ performance has been a major cause of concern. At the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek last week, Indian bagged quotas through Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Anshu Malik, (57kg) and Reetika (76kg), adding to Antim Panghal’s 53kg berth. The male wrestlers, both freestyle and Greco Roman, drew a blank.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending