Uzbeks in fight to stay afloat
Shrinking of the show
‘Beingfavouritesan advantage’
Dhillon in semis
Aussies’ allround strength gives opponents very little chance
Fazaluddin, Tomashevic in title round
Bangalore Races/ Golden Goal may be hard to toss
Mumbai Races/ Wild Eagle wins
Calcutta Races/ Seven for Saturday’s main event
Altimara won on her own terms

 
 
UZBEKS IN FIGHT TO STAY AFLOAT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
Grumbling over the last-minute changes in schedule, Bahrain and Uzbekistan come up against each other in the second Group 4 match of the Sahara Cup here tomorrow.

Uzbekistan’s existence in the tournament hinges on the outcome of this match following yesterday’s 0-2 loss to Japan. Still, it was matters beyond football that played on their minds more prominently on the match-eve.

Yesterday’s first revised schedule pitted them against Bahrain, but following yet another change, the match was brought forward by a day.

Already digusted for not receiving any daily allowance since landing here Sunday, the Uzbeks today sent a letter to the working chairman of the local organising committee, saying they will go by the first revised schedule and not play tomorrow.

The event managers, fortunately, stepped in and things were finally sorted out.

The Bahrain camp had similar complaints, only, they were not up in arms. “The changes not only make it difficult for us settle down, it also affects our training schedule and rhythm,” said their German coach Woflgang Sidka.

“Yesterday, we trained hard, assuming we’ll play today. Certainly, it’s difficult for us to prepare if things keep changing like this. I think we’ve been very polite about the whole thing,” Sidka told The Telegraph.

The match is vital for Bahrain to, and a win is necessary to stay in contention for a quarter final berth. Assuming Chile win all their matches, it will then come down to a shoot-out between Bahrain and Japan.

The Uzbeksiatn team doesn’t look to be in very good shape, as they lost 0-2 in a practice match against Tollygunge Agragami at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium today. Sashthi Duley and Sandip Das scored the goals.

“Their (Uzbekistan’s) defenders were caught in one line quite often in yesterday’s match and their side-backs weren’t very impressive,” noted Sidka, and added his team will try to take advantage of that.

He, however, didn’t rule out Uzbekistan’s chances, saying that the first scoring opportunity in yesterday’s match was created by them and the result could have been different had that been converted.

This will be Bahrain’s first match since Sidka took charge in October and the former Bundesliga player said, it is combination that he is trying to achieve now.

“I want perfect understanding between all the players and they must come good as a team,” was all he would say about strategy.

   

 
 
SHRINKING OF THE SHOW 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
When it all began, as the Millennium Cup, 16 teams from four continents were to fight for it. There were to be 32 matches. Now, there is more than just a change in name, to the Sahara Cup.

The number of teams has shrunk to 13, from three continents, and there will be just 23 matches.

Following the withdrawal of Iraq, disqualification of Indonesia, it was today confirmed that there will be no team from Africa after Cameroon’s decision to skip the ‘greatest soccer show in India’. The AIFF had yesterday announced it had lodged an official complaint to the Fifa against the Africa and Olympic champions.

The event managers, not expected to be in great mood, today said Cameroon had actually confirmed participation well in advance and their latest demand of reaching them in Togo by January 27 was also accepted.

“Really, we didn’t have much to do,” said K.S. Juneja of Studio 2100, the event managers who are also the sponsors. The company may have to incur a huge financial loss if crowd response for the first match here, between Japan and Uzbekistan yesterday, is any indication.

Asked about the AIFF in the light of the many changes in the schedule, Juneja said: “Its president is quite professional, maybe, his counterparts here are not as good.”

   

 
 
‘BEINGFAVOURITESAN ADVANTAGE’ 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
Winning the Sahara Cup will not increase Nelson Acosta’s popularity one bit back in Chile. But the World Cup coach is looking at this tournament from a different perspective — to prepare his team for the pre-World Cup and Copa America campaigns.

His team’s missing baggage arrived from Johannesburg this morning, and the coach said the resheduling did his team a world of good as the players got some more time to rest and prepare.

Baffled by the heavy traffic after taking the team through a shopping stint in the city this evening, Acosta said being tipped favourites to beat the not-so-hot field here does not put his players under extra pressure.

“Starting favourites can be a plus as well. It makes the players feel a lot more confident. They are under no pressure,” said the veteran coach.

He, though, is under some pressure back home, following Chile’s dismal run in the pre-World Cup, informed some journalists accompanying the team.

This tournament, thus, is crucial for him as he wants to try out the ones he plans to field in the forthcoming more important fixtures.

The squad for such matches will be picked from those playing here besides the ones who took part in the Sydney Olympics. Experienced men like Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano will also be accomodated.

In the Copa America to be played later this year, Chile are in the pre-quarter final group. It includes Colombia, Ecuador and Venezulea, besides Chile. With the top two advancing, Acosta considers it to be an easy one.

About Japan, Chile’s opponents in the first match, Acosta said he was impressed by the speed of the young Asians. He picked striker Masaki Fukai and the two midfielders, who operated down the flanks, for special praise.

   

 
 
DHILLON IN SEMIS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
Bengal’s Karan Dhillon shocked second seed Bharat K. Mohan of TN 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) to reach the semi-finals along with top seed Rupesh Roy, M. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Farid Alam in the boys’ under-14 singles in the AITA-ranking ITA Open junior tennis meet today.

RESULTS

(U-14 singles quarter finals)

BOYS — Rupesh Roy bt J. Shravan Kumar 6-0, 6-1; Karan Dhillon bt Bharat K. Mohan 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); M.Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Nithyaesh Natraj 2-6, 6-2, 6-1; Farid Alam bt Nikhil Kumar 6-0, 6-3.

GIRLS — S. Punam Reddy bt Gayatri Krishnan 6-0, 6-1; D. Tejaswini bt P. V. Raja Rajeswari 6-0, 6-0; Varsha Datta bt Kamalpreet Bhullar 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2; Shilpa Dalmiya bt Sanjana Kapur 6-2, 6-3.

   

 
 
AUSSIES’ ALLROUND STRENGTH GIVES OPPONENTS VERY LITTLE CHANCE 
 
 
BY SUNIL GAVASKAR
 
Mumbai, Jan. 11: 
The year 2000 was truly annus horribilis for cricket and especially for Indian cricket. The match-fixing scandal took its toll not only on the players but also the followers, many of whom have simply given up watching the game.

For Indian cricket it was a horrible year on the field too. They lost to Australia in Australia and then to South Africa at home in Tests. They did win the one-day series that followed against South Africa but there are plenty of doubters about the authenticity of that win.

When the new season started after an off-season full of scandals by the day, some genuine, some media made, the team did well to get to the finals of the ICC Knockout. After a fiasco of a final in Sharjah, they took it out on a hopeless Zimbabwe team who looked as if they would struggle to beat the top state sides in the country.

The real new millennium has started on a good note with all the top stars participating for their state teams in the Ranji Trophy championship. This is indeed great news for Indian cricket because only when we take our domestic cricket seriously will we be able to produce players who will find that big step from first class cricket to international cricket that much easier to take.

The most crucial thing is for the Board’s units to co-ordinate, for to have matches rescheduled after the season has started is not a good sign. There must be proper co-ordination between the Programme and Fixtures committee, the Technical committee and those who arrange the zonal first class fixtures.

The aim must be to ensure that Test and international stars are there to play domestic cricket and raise the standard of the competition.

Sure after a long tour overseas some of the players especially those who have done well would want to rest up a bit and that should not be a problem but even that rest should not be for all the domestic fixtures.

Unfortunately a lot of Test stars first look at the venue of the domestic first class fixture and then decide to rest. If the venue does not have four or five star hotels and facilities the star decides to stay away though, of course, if there is a Test or one-dayer there he will be available.

Though the current stars may feel that there is no sense of team spirit or team feeling in the squads of the different zones that play in the Duleep Trophy it is not something new and perhaps has been the case for a long long time.

Still to be able to see the best in the land play against each other will not only uplift the competitiveness but also the other upcoming players who will get to see from real close, how the top stars prepare and face up to different challenges and pressures.

This is an invaluable lesson, which no amount of coaching can accomplish for temperament is inbuilt and a young player can improve his by watching the Test star tackle different situations not only on the field but those off it too.

By the time you read this the Australians may well have completed a truly brilliant 5-0 victory over their former tormentors the West Indies. The whitewash would be sweet revenge for the Australians, who have been at the receiving end of the West Indians in the late 70s and 80s.

The Australians today are the unquestioned kings of cricket, being superior to other teams in both versions of the game. Though they can be occasionally ambushed in the one-dayers, their all-round strength in Tests does not give the opponents a chance. In the 15 consecutive victories they will have notched up after this one, there have been only the odd day or perhaps a few sessions of play where they have been in some trouble. But their determination and a remarkable never-say-die spirit sees them conquer all and come out on top.

The beauty of cricket is that even the newcomers to their side seem to fit in quickly and fill any gap that may temporarily arise due to an injury. Damien Martyn is a perfect example of a player coming in to replace the injured captain and going on to play crucial innings in the Test to see his side through. As soon as Waugh was fit Martyn was promptly dropped and sent to play domestic cricket.

Steve Waugh, of course, justified his return with yet another century and with his brother Mark Waugh also finding form they do have a formidable batting line up. The one weak link, the opening pair also seems to have stabilised and though Slater and Hayden have had the odd running-between-the-wickets problem, they seem to have come to stay as a pair.

Shane Warne’s absence was barely felt as Colin Miller came on to bowl splendidly and when McGrath, the destroyer in the first couple of Tests struggled in the last two, it was Gillespie who provided fiery spells to put the Windies in trouble.

Collin Miller nicknamed ‘Funky’ might well be the man to watch out for, for the Indian batsmen. He is not a big flighter of the ball but gets it to turn quite sharply and so is difficult to charge down the wicket to. His different hair colours and style will make him popular with the Indian crowds when the Aussies come down next month to do the one thing they have not been able to do, and that is beat India in India, since 1969-70 under Bill Lawry.

   

 
 
FAZALUDDIN, TOMASHEVIC IN TITLE ROUND 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Jorhat, Jan. 11: 
Top seed Dmitri Tomashevic of Uzbekistan and Calcutta boy Syed Fazaluddin entered the doubles final of the ITF Futures here today.

After losing the first set 5-7 to the Indonesian duo of S. Wibowo and B. Wiryawan, Fazal and Tomashevic stormed back to win the next two sets 6-2, 7-5.

In the other semi-final, the British duo of Oliver Freelove and James Nelson defeated Rik Devoest of Russia and Hendri-Susilo Pramono of Indonesia 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.

Earlier, Tomashevic went down tamely in his singles quarter final to sixth-seeded Frenchman Vincent Allegre 1-6, 2-6.

In other quarter final matches, Fabio Maggi of Italy defeated Croatian Ivan Cerovic 6-4, 6-2, Andrea Fasching of Austria won 7-5, 6-4 over James Nelson and German Denis Gremelmayr got the better of Dutchman Fred Hemmes 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

   

 
 
BANGALORE RACES/ GOLDEN GOAL MAY BE HARD TO TOSS 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, Jan. 11: 
Maintaining excellent form following his last impressive victory, the Madhu Mangalorkar-trained Golden Goal may be hard to toss in the 2,000m Stayers Trial Stakes tomorrow. Mark Gallagher partners the five-year-old gelding.

SELECTIONS

1.30 pm: Seat Of The Master 1. Fighter’s World 2. Speedy Idea 3.
2 pm: Star Beauty 1. Discuss 2. Old Meldrum 3.
2.30 pm: Reach Excellence 1. Suhasini 2. Silver Falcon 3.
3 pm: Bold Connection 1. Coral Bird 2. Sheer Blossoms 3.
3.30 pm: Psychedelic 1. Ornate Crown 2. Dior 3.
4 pm: Golden Goal 1. Alameda 2. Pas de Memories 3.
4.30 pm: Secret Halo 1. Clyde Barrow 2. Major Attraction 3.
5 pm: Whattagirt 1. Cap Fear 2. Free World 3.
5.30 pm: X-Pac 1. Altdorfer 2. Tina’s Turn 3.
Day’s Best: Golden Goal
Double: Star Beauty & Secret Halo
   

 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ WILD EAGLE WINS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, Jan. 11: 
Trained by Arti Doctor, Wild Eagle lifted the Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Million in Mumbai on Thursday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)
1. J. Robinson Plate 2,000m: (2-5-9) Foolish Pursuit (Suraj) 1; Runaway Queen 2; That’s Momentum 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 3-1/4; (2-10.2). Tote: Win Rs 151; Place: 32; 15; 22; Quinella: 114; Tanala: 1,195. Fav: Runaway Queen (5).
2. Indictment Trophy 2,000m: (7-3-2) Zephyr Bay (Rajendra) 1; Super Sunrise 2; Dominant Force 3. Won by: Dist; 1; (2-7.3). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 15; 38; 14; Quinella: 136; Tanala: 1,265. Fav: Zephyr Bay (7).
3. Orion Plate 1,100m: (6-10-4) Laktara (Rajendra) 1; Vengeance 2; Eka 3. Won by: Nk; 1-3/4; (1-8.8). Tote: Win Rs 64; Place: 22; 20; 98; Quinella: 159; Tanala: 6,612. Fav: Thunder Clap (7).
4. Better See Plate 1,100m: (11-8-2) Bound By Honour (Prakash) 1; Mein Kampf 2; Forever Sparky 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 1/2; (1-8.1). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 12; 15; 183; Quinella: 26; Tanala: 1,474. Fav: Bound By Honour (11).
5. Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Million 1,400m: (6-11-5-10) Wild Eagle (Chauhan) 1; Queenscliff (Prakash) 2; Star Wish (Rajendra) 3; Over The Ocean (Hughes) 4. Won by: 3-1/4; 2-1/2; 2-1/4; (1-26). Tote: Win Rs 53; Place: 18; 16; 13; Quinella: 170; Tanala: 710. Fav: Star Wish (5).
6. Dr. A. H. Sayed Plate 1,600m: (5-7-12) Picasso (Bajrang) 1; Knoxville 2; Infuriate 3. Won by: 3; 3-1/4; (1-40.5). Tote: Win Rs 123; Place: 34; 17; 53; Quinella: 196; Tanala: 9,670. Fav: Momentous Mover (1).
7. Rose Royal Trophy 1,600m: (10-9-7) Desert Pride (Aaron) 1; Daring Don 2; Among Men 3.Won by: 3; 1-3/4; (1-39.3). Tote: Win Rs 56; Place: 21; 15; 43; Quinella: 104; Tanala: 2,482. Fav: Daring Don (9). (Note: The winner survived objection.
8. Cornelian Plate 1,100m: (10-13-3) Feel The Force (Prakash) 1; Zaka 2; Reap The Bounty 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 3/4; (1-7.6). Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 11; 79; 83; Quinella: 488; Tanala: 8,335. Fav: Feel The Force (10).

Jackpot: Rs 30,125; (C) Rs 3,766.

Treble: (i) Rs 332; (ii) Rs 2,048.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ SEVEN FOR SATURDAY’S MAIN EVENT 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
The seven-horse strong field of the Police Commissioner’s Cup features in Saturday’s race-card. First race starts at 1.10 pm.

ACCEPTANCES

1. Baqlava Cup 2,000m (Cl III;Cl IV eligibleRt. 22-72) 1.10 pm: Beau Bruno 60; Charlene 60; Ammeter 55; Actress 51; Alterezza 49.
2. Galstaun Cup 1,100m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 1.50 pm: Automatic 58.5; Aiberni 55; Mac The Knife 55; Regency Times 55; Rich Dominion 55; Alvernia 53.5; Lively Project 53.5.
3. Theogundi Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 2.25 pm: Just Kidding 60; On The Bit 57.5; Chivalrous 57; All Jade 55; Orbital Star 54.5; Work Order 53; Flying Scot 52.5 Magnifico 52.5; Diplomatic Gesture 52; Double Dancer 51.5; Hoyo Hoyo 50.5.
4. Police Commissioner’s Cup 1,400m (Cl I; Rt 88 & over) 2-55 pm: Allodium 60.5; Stately Don 56.5; Mystic Hill 54.5; Alyssum 54.5; Annatto 53.5; Tanganyika 51; Clarice Cliff 47.5.
5. Sheridan Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 3.35 pm: Googy Gangster 61; Nash Tiger 60.5; Storm Centre 60.5; Stately Honour 60.5; Bul Bul 59; Ashbury 58.5; Bold Apparel 58.5; Super Smile 58; Glass Slipper 55; Royal Ruler 54.5; Pneumatic Power 53; Scavenger’s Son 52.5; Himalyan Prince 51; Airs Image 49.5.
6. Birthday Book Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, 5-y-o & over Rt. 00-28) 4.10 pm: Flying Power 60.5; Aflicker 60.5; Altruism 58.5; Neelanjana 58.5; Aliqa 57.5; Piece Of Cake 56.5; Consul’s Secret 55; Go With The Wind 54; Pistol Star 53; Breezealla 53; Armila 53; Art Smart 50.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.

   

 
 
ALTIMARA WON ON HER OWN TERMS 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 11: 
Following a week of festivities, the Alvarada stabbing incident. It was one of a kind in the history of RCTC, and the turf club is yet to recover from the shock, though all possible avenues are being explored to get to the bottom of the matter.

What Alvarada could have done had she made the Derby line-up remains debatable but one thing is for sure: Altimara was in her elements when she raced away with the Kingfisher Calcutta Derby Stakes. The Razeen-Treasure’s Nest daughter won the premičre event the way she liked.

Aslam Kader, in fact, made his task far too easy when he took a long lead passing the 800m marker. The champion jockey had found the pace too slow for the Rashid Byramji-trainee.

If Altimara revealed her true potential after her 2,000 Guineas’ under-par performance, Kader, too, displayed his old hand. The jockey seems to have broken the jinx associated with his favourites who have been letting him down in recent weeks until he took a fresh guard with an easy victory of Ansbach on New Year’s Day. The Derby day saw him booting home three winners from as many rides.

Kader started the day with the Wiseman Cup which he claimed on Highland Flame. An easy third in his last start, the six-year-old had no problem beating a friendless Tsavo and Mystic Hills, while the second-favourite and his ownermate, Anolini, was nowhere near the brilliant form he had been showing in the past months.

The Aphroze Handicap, too, was lapped up by Kader’s Endless Surprise as the stablemate and the second-fancy Santillana, surprisingly, found the top-weight assigned to the filly a burden after her facile victory with an identical impost only a fortnight ago. Winning Hand proved a shade better in the end.

The outcome of all events but the last was welcomed by punters, because favourites were in the driver’s seat. The hottest-order of the day, Calorescence, too, in the juvenile race, the Alokananda Stakes, delivered the good but the Vijay Singh-trainee had to sweat it out as Andrada in the hands of Shanker — Rajesh’s replacement, owing to delayed Bangalore flight — threatened to win the race from the start. The Metal Precieux-Pot Of Gold daughter just about managed to overtake the leader inside the final half-a-furlong.

Lockers Park is no mean a fighter and the H. S. Bath-trainee displayed his mettle when he shared the Rising Bell Handicap with a well-backed No Regrets. Rabani tried to steal a march mid-way through the seven-furlong trip but Robert Gowli’s late challenge on the favourite denied the Batzushka-Fusion four-year-old of full honour.

Abashed was the friendless winner of the Glasgow Courser Handicap. The Vijay Singh-trained ward was right at his task from the word ‘go.’ The five-year-old could win again.

   
 

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