Three Indians to officiate
Bridge qualifiers identified
Dutch, French in two-horse race
Sky Court may be hard to toss

Calcutta, June 20 
Three match supervisors from India will be officiating in matches of two qualifying groups in the Asian Football Confederation’s 32nd Asian Youth under-19 soccer meet.

Acccording to information received here, Srinivasan Suresh will be referee in group IV matches in Rajsahi, Bangladesh, in the early part of July. Chauhan Krishnan Avatar will be officiating as assistant referee.

Walter Pereira will be officiating as assistant referee in group III (Saudi Arabia) in August. India are in group V of this meet, to be played from July 26 to 30 at the Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo. Other teams in this group are Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

Eastern Coalfields beat Behala Youth 2-1 in their IFA League first division group A match at the East Bengal ground today. Balak De and P. Mondal scored for the winners, while Ganesh Saha reduced the margin.

The Aryan-Wari AC match at the SAI ground fell through.

In group B Barisha beat Bowbazar YMU 2-0, while Sporting Union got the better of Aikya Sammelani 1-0.

Inter-school regatta

Holders Modern High School A girls entered the semi-final of the 27th Servo inter-school regatta over the Lake Club course today. In the senior girls’ category, they beat G.D. Birla School today.


Senior girls: Carmel HS bt Jogesh Chandra, Modern HS A bt GD Birla, South Point bt Modern HS B, Lake View bt St Xavier’s. Junior girls: Carmel HS bt GD Birla, Desh Bandhu bt Carmel, Mahadevi Birla bt Birla HS. Senior boys: Don Bosco Park Circus bt Saifee Hall, Heramba Chandra bt Jogesh Chandra, Khalsa English High bt St James, Shyama Prasad bt Bangabasi, National HS bt Jodhpur Park Boys’, Birla HS bt ESHO Academy. Junior boys: La Martiniere bt Andrews (1½ l), St Thomas bt Modern Collegiate School, MP Birla bt Kalidhan Institution (1½ l), Khalsa English HS bt South Point (dead finish, and then won by former), St Lawrence bt Cathedral Mission.    

Calcutta, June 20 
Swarnendu Banerjee and Bipradas Banerjee topped the pairs qualifying round of the Shree Cement Open bridge championship. They scored 701 MPs (64.19%) out of a maximum possible 1,092 in the CD section.

They were followed by Badal Das-Shibnath De Sarkar with 675 (61.81%) and Kamal Roy-Bivas Todi with 623 (57.05%).

In AB section top honours went to Pritish Kushari-Debashis Roy with 688 (63.05%). A total of 34 pairs will play the final July 2.

The pairs that qualified are: Section AB: 1. Pritish Kushari-Debashis Roy; 2. Snehasis Roy-Ashim Mukherjee; 3. Kamal Mukherjee-Santanu Ghose; 4. Pranab Ghosh-H Hasan; 5. Mrinal Mukherjee-Kingshuk Bhattacharya; 6. Basudeb Bhattacharya-Sanat Saha; 7. Biman Chatterjee-Sahadeb Neogi; 8. Samirtosh Banerjee-P R Das; 9. Kalyan Nandi-Tapas Mukherjee; 10. Diana Banerjee-S R Karmakar; 11. DC Bagchi-Biswajit Sen; 12. Parimal Das-K K Roy Chowdhury; 13. Niranjan Banerjee-R G Saha; 14. Sudhir Ganguly-S P Ghosh; 15. Sukomal Das-Manas Mukherjee; 16. Goutam Roy-Dipankar Bhattacharya.

Section CD: 1. Bipradas Banerjee-Swarnendu Banerjee; 2.Badal Das-Shib Nath De; 3. Kamal Roy-Bivas Todi; 4. D Santra-C S Majumder; 5. A Bhattacharya-P S Mukherjee; 6. Subir Majumder-Sumit Mukherjee; 7. Gouranga Das-Souren Datta; 8. Ashis & Baneet Malhotra; 9. S Roy Barman-P Chatterjee; 10. D Pal-A Chakraborty; 11. M K Saha-Gopi Sinha; 12. M K Ghosh-Ajoy Kar; 13. A K Mukherjee-Asim Mukherjee; 14. S Dey-S Sur; 15. S Sadhak-S Majumdar; 16. Tushar Nag-Alok Daga; 17. Swapan Som-S R Bhattacharya; 18. Rajan Malhotra-Ravi Sabherwal.    

The negligible difference between the teams makes picking favourites in the European Championships a tricky task. It’s not very wise to do as there is not much to pick between the top four or five teams. Certainly, it makes watching all the more interesting and places this event on a rung of its own which is very close to the World Cup.

Even then, going by the early signs, this year’s European Championships appears to be a two-horse race between Holland and France. Italy, Portugal and England take the following spots, not necessarily in that order though.

The Czech Republic could have emerged a major contender had they not been grouped together with France and Holland and their early elimination was unfortunate. The most important aspect of the Dutch and French teams is their allround ability. They are not dependent on individuals and are very organised in defence and midfield. Though they do not have strikers of the class of Marco van Basten or Jean Piere Papin any more; their tendency to stretch the wings and some speedy forays by the side-backs, especially in case of France, give them the edge.

France look high on confidence after their World Cup triumph and the presence of Zinedine Zidane lends a creative touch to their midfield where Didier Deschamps plays a silent but extremely effective role. The former’s touch and the captain’s ability to release the ball at the right moment make France’s midfield most impressive. They are supported by stopper backs Marcel Desailly and Laurent Blanc who have an excellent understanding with goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

Wing-backs Bixente Lizarazu and Lilian Thuram make the medios’ job easier by their presence along the sidelines whenever a move is being orchestrated. Up front, Thierry Henry’s pace down the wings is clearly their biggest asset which is complemented by Nicolas Anelka’s striking prowess. They also have an exciting option in the temperamental Christophe Dugarry.

Holland’s strengths are similar. A cool goalkeeper in Edwin van der Sar and the rock-solid Jaap Stam give their defence a solid look which is boosted by the presence of Frank de Boer. The Dutch captain’s ability to essay long and accurate passes reduces pressure on the midfield where the menacing pace of Edgar Davids is a major plus.

The shrewd Dennis Bergkamp, who prefers to operate from a little deep, and Pattrick Kluivert form a dangerous striking pair which is kept busy by centres from the speedy Mark Overmars. The winger is comfortable on both flanks and frequently changes position which makes him even more dangerous. Though Kluivert’s ball skills are not as impressive, his heading ability makes him dangerous.

The most crucial trait of the French and Dutch sides are their ability to use the wings. Be it wingers like Henry and Overmars, medios Davids and Zidane or side-backs Lizarazu and Thuram, these two teams can always keep the flanks busy.

It is significant as this is the best way to get the defenders caught on one line. Defenders often forget to notice where exactly they are standing while trying to pluck out crosses and it is also the right time for somebody from the deep to steal in to the danger zone.

Italy, Portugal and England are powerful in some departments but Holland and France look superior because of their allround team game. Holland may just strike it rich because of playing at home.

France took full advantage of that in the World Cup two years back and Holland were unlucky to face two home teams in the two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. Germany and Argentina took the crown on those occasions though pundits put their money on the all-conquering Dutchmen.

This could be their chance as they are likely to play all their matches at home and who knows, home support and familiar conditions may just help Frank de Boer’s men lift the trophy.

Amid the joy of watching some high quality football, what left a taste of anguish was the mediocre showing by the German team. This could be the end of an incomparable legacy. Though their all-pervasive, forthright football is sure to be remembered for ever, the complete lack of fresh talent is deeply disturbing.

The hallmark of German football, right from 1954 when they won the World Cup for the first time, has been their clinically professional, calculative and no-nonsense approach. Culturally, they are workaholics and that helped them overcome the lack of flair possessed by some other superpowers and placed them at a height that will perhaps never be surpassed.

They never had the suppleness which produces beautiful football but had their own mechanical way of going about things which sometimes assumed majestic proportions.

The fierce pride they took in wearing the national colours made them dreaded opponents — a team that came back from the dead on numerous occasions. Their World Cup record, till date, is difficult to match.

But barring Matthias Sammer and Oliver Bierhoff to an extent, they rarely unearthed any talent that could rule the world after winning the 1990 World Cup. Sammer’s injury was the biggest blow from which they never really recovered. They looked a pale shadow of their golden era in the last World Cup but the Euro 2000 has confirmed the end of the legacy. They will have to induct fresh blood to begin another.    

Mysore, June 20 
Working attractively and on his Mysore winter form, the Monsoor Hasan-trained Spy Court looks the best bet in tomorrow’s race-card featuring the 1,400m J. K. Van Ingen Memorial Gold Cup, a terms affair for three-year-olds.

To be partnered by Shakti Singh, the Fact Finder-Heavenly Breeze gelding will have to ward off the challenge of Random Hearts who finished third to Radical on the opening day.


3 pm: Western Ghats 1. Cosmic Creation 2. Selected Princess 3.

3.30 pm: Cyclades 1. Enthralling Parade 2. Great Tycoon 3.

4 pm: Spy Court 1. Random Hearts 2. London Beauty 3.

4.30 pm: Extnor 1. Sensational News 2. Arnica 3.

5 pm: Our Paradise 1. One Step Ahead 2. Persian Sky 3.

5.30 pm: Austin Jennings 1. Liberty Hall 2. Seadiver 3.

Day’s Best: Spy Court Double: Western Ghats & Extnor.    


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