Yugoslavs survive Japan, in final
Chile have cheated us: AIFF chief
Different Strokes/ BCCI should foot Kumble’s bills
Sourav stars in Barisha win
Invitation golf
Aussies will be tough: Dravid
Mumbai Races/ Pleasures wins Rajpipla Trophy

Calcutta, Jan. 23: 

Alas, it was time for the final bow. But as Japan took the ‘curtain call’ at the Sahara Cup this evening, the standing ovation from the stands will have told them that they may have lost a match but won the hearts of those that saw them. Here to “learn and to grow”, the university boys have presented a lot more than that.

Today, at the Salt Lake Stadium, they threatened to cause the tournament’s biggest shock. Yugoslavia, favourites to lift the title, survived to set up a summit showdown with breakaway Balkan neighbours Bosnia.

Yugoslavia rode the early goal, scored by Igor Duljaj just four minutes into the match, but it turned out to be a pretty rough ride as the Japanese youngsters turned the heat on and prised open the defence time and again.

Masaki Fukai, back after a one-match break, could have scored on several occasions — once even wriggling into a one-to-one situation with the Yugoslav goalkeeper. Hanyu had earlier seen his push hooked back from the goalline by a Yugoslav defender.

The Yugoslavs did get their chance, a Vladimir Ivic header even coming back from the left post, but they will be blessing their stars for coming through today.

On a pitch whose first feel they got only during warm-up before the match, and up against the tournament’s most dangerous ‘floaters’, Yugoslavia had to somewhat grope their way in the match. They were content, for the better part of the early exchanges, to cut down on the frills and play a solid no-nonsense game.

Japan, on their part, were showing great discipline and determination to have their well-drilled game take root. There was good organisation in defence and great mobility in midfield. It ensured that their bigger and stronger opponents never enjoyed the numerical advantage when the came out on the attack.

Towering striker Ota was sitting out, thanks to two bookings, and the Japanese ‘thinktank’ opted for the extra pace of their two diminutive front-runners Fukai and Hanyu. Both were able to stretch and keep the three-man Yugoslav deep defence busy with some strong diagonal runs.

But the early goal had set the Japanese back. A goal that shouldn’t have happened.

Goalkeeper Takahara must take most of the blame for loitering way out of his goalline. The lob, always easier to execute than the chip when it comes to accuracy, was a real threat when the ball was bouncing in front of Duljaj but Takahara seemed to take no heed — till the ball was on its way, and it was too late.

He backtracked and made one desperate leap, the ball brushing his palm, but it was always going to be an effort in vain.

Duljaj, of course, must be praised for the opportunism he showed and for a lob perfectly weighted.

Tanasejevic’s curling cross was headed into the post by Ivic in the 17th minute, but by then the signs of a Japanese fightback were already evident. Hanyu could have got the equaliser in the 20th, when he had the charging goalkeeper stranded in no-man’s land with a very intelligent receiving in the Yugoslav box, but ‘libero’ Petkovic, darting back, hooked the ball away from the goalline.

If Japan gave glimpses of their spirit in the opening half, their lent it full expression after the breather.

Nine minutes into the second session, Fukai shrugged off Ilic and Petkovic in one brilliant turn on top of the box. It left the goalkeeper at his mercy, but Fukai’s push hit Zarko Lucic on the shoulder and slipped out.

After skipper Hirakawa could quite get hold of his shot four minutes later, Fukai was to again work himself into scoring position, but the ball sailed over as he helped along a deep pass with an intelligent header. Then, with minutes to go for the final whistle, Fukai saw his left-footer graze the bar. It just wasn’t their day.


YUGOSLAVIA: Zarko Lucic; Vuk Rasovic, Igor Duljaj, Ivan Ilic, Goran Irobok; Sasa Ilic (Vladan Kostic, 79th), Vladimir Ivic (Boris Vaskovic, 40th), Dusan Petkovic, Jovan Tanasijevic; Igor Bogdanovic, Dragoliub Jeremic.

JAPAN: Takahara; Kobayashi, Chiyotanda (Fujikura, 73rd), Hirakawa, Mikami; Horinouchi, Hanyu, Fujita (Sakai, 57th), Fukais, Yamane, Yoshimura (Sekine, 46th).

Referee: S. Salerajan (Malaysia)


Calcutta, Jan. 23: 
AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said at a crowded press conference today that the Chileans at the ongoing Sahara Cup are “cheats”. He was speaking in the context of the tug-of-war between the federation and the Chileans from the start.

He said that the Chileans “have cheated the AIFF and the organising committee of the ongoing Sahara Cup in not presenting a true picture of the strength of the team.”

He said: “At a meeting with the Chilean delegation this morning, I told them it was their fault that they did not load their kit at the Johannesburg airport. I also told them that the federation, the sponsors (Studio 2100) and the organisers have had to bear the consequences of that.”

Das Munshi said: “They insisted that it was pretty right for them to do anything, because they were Chile.”

He said the AIFF has complained about this to the Fifa and to AFC and circulated to the Press copies of these letters which talked about how “in spite of ... signed agreement of sending their national A team...” Chile did not.

The carrying over of bookings incident has been solved, but Chile wanted to play the third place match which the AIFF scrapped. Das Munshi was rather sheepish in conceding today that the third place match would not be held “because we do not have the money”.

The Chilean federation has taken up the issue and clearer picture will be available tomorrow.

The AIFF chief also said that the Income Tax department has send reminders to the federation regarding payments to foreign teams. “We have been reminded that under no circumstances can we exceed RBI guidelines.” He was referring to “extra money” that the Chileans had reportedly asked for in this meet.

Das Munshi said he was “shedding tears” for the sponsors who have had to “sell all personal assets except their residence in Mumbai to meet the commitments of this meet. You don’t find the main man of Studio 2100 here today because he is busy selling his property.”

Such statements in the Media by the president of a national federation adds little value to the federation’s credibility. With the overall AIFF scenario in a mess, this could only end in prospective sponsors actually shunning the AIFF.

And even amid this fiasco, the AIFF president announced that he will be going ahead with the plans for a national football academy. He said, without elaborating, that he had funds for this project.

Das Munshi also said that he has scrapped his plans of an elaborate closing ceremony. He also admitted that Fifa president Sepp Blatter and FC Bayern Munich president and former German superstar Franz Beckenbauer have both turned down invitations to be present for the ceremony.

Instead, one can expect on that day Mohammed Bin Hamam, technical committee chairman of Fifa. There will be more ‘celebrities’ present in state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty and possibly Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee. After a meaningful pause, Das Munshi added: “There will also be that great footballer of yesteryears, Sailen Manna.”

Das Munshi said: “We have learned a lot from these shortcomings and we will in future be careful not to repeat the mistakes that have happened.”

As a sort of backup measure — too little too late, albeit — the federation has decided to issue 10,000 free tickets to school students for the final. The tickets will be available at the usual selling points and after students produce their school identity cards.

There will also be a sale of priced tickets tomorrow from the stadium. These are the last-ditch efforts of the federation to make at least the ending of the meet a little more respectable.


Mumbai, Jan. 23: 
The news that Anil Kumble’s shoulder has been operated on and that he will take several months to recover means India will take on world champion Australia without a bowler who has been a real matchwinner, specially in India. The news is depressing not only because Kumble will be unavailable, but also because it took whoever was to take the decision on the surgery such a long time to decide to go for the operation.

Kumble’s problem started during the Sharjah tournament in October and that two months were allowed to lapse during which his services were not available for the Zimbabwe series makes one wonder at the reasons for this delay. Of course, it is never easy to take a decision to go under the knife, specially if it is a decision that can affect one’s career. Still, a two-month delay has deprived Indian cricket of the services of a genuine matchwinner for the whole season, when he could have been available at least towards the end of it.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should pick up the tab for Kumble’s expenses of travel, operation etc, considering the contribution Kumble has made towards Indian cricket. India need him fully fit soon, for as we saw in the series against Zimbabwe, the other bowlers were not able to trouble the batsmen too much.

The expense towards Kumble should not matter for God knows we are spending a packet on a consultant for ideas that are hardly revolutionary. According to most of those who attended the presentation, the ideas were nothing new and the BCCI is already aware of the need to do most of the things that the presentation suggested.

The BCCI president may well have a hard time trying to justify the expense of the consultant to the other members. Ever since a Public Interest Litigation was filed which suggested that the BCCI spent only a few lakhs on coaching and development of the game at the grassroots level and more on meetings, the board has been galvanised into spending money and perhaps unnecessarily.

Geoff Marsh was ruled out as coach of the Indian team because of his terms and now, with hardly any change in those terms, he is a special consultant, earning more than the coach John Wright. No wonder he resigned as an Australian selector to take up this lucrative consultancy.

Still, it’s only fair to give him a chance to justify the expenses and if it works for Indian cricket, then it will be money well spent. So let us be patient and not expect instant results.

Wright’s request that the quicker bowlers be rotated in the Duleep trophy so that they are not exhausted makes sense. However, what we are seeing is not just the quicker bowlers, but even the batsmen taking a break. Now, not having played Ranji matches, if the cream of Indian cricket is not going to play even Duleep Trophy, then why pray have domestic cricket at all? Let’s just have international cricket and to heck with domestic cricket.

By all means give a rest to international cricketers, but how much rest? Out of four Duleep Trophy games, if the batsmen are going to play just one match, then they should not be even doing that for they will be blocking the place of some aspiring player who would have got the opportunity to display his skills.

Like the quicker bowlers, they should also play in at least two out of the four matches. In any case, they are going to miss most of the Ranji Trophy knock out games as they will be playing the Australians. So, the least they can do is play some Duleep Trophy games.

Our domestic cricket really needs a shot in the arm and it can only come when the Test stars participate in it regularly. It appears that the stars want to play just one match since it is mandatory for them to play domestic cricket to be eligible for international selection. Hopefully, when the Australians arrive, the stars will not find themselves short of match practice and runs in the middle. For, as we all know, you can train as much as you want and practice as long as you want but eventually it is tough matches that prepare you for the difficult challenges. Make no mistake, against the Australians the Indians will need all the match practice and luck that they can garner.

The Australians are playing like a steamroller out to flatten anything that comes their way. They may not have the frightening pace battery that the West Indies had in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, but the allround strength that they have make them a complete team.

The competition for places is so fierce that even someone like Shane Warne cannot take his place for granted and has to prove himself in their domestic cricket before being considered for the national team. Though Stuart MacGill did not have much success against the West Indies, his huge wickets haul in the last Test will make it difficult to drop him in favour of Warne.

Still, the bowler to watch may well be Colin Miller for with his ability to get turn from a flattish trajectory, he will be difficult to go down the pitch to and that may well make the difference. Of course, McGrath, Lee and Gillespie will be more than a handful and without Kumble it will be a daunting task to restrict the Australian batsmen.

But cricket is a funny old game and even the best teams have their off days. Let us hope that those days will be in India!


Calcutta, Jan. 23: 
Sourav Ganguly blasted 48 off 18 balls to power Barisha SC to a five-wicket win against Dakshin Kalikata Sansad (DKS) in a CAB senior division knock-out match today.

Barisha thus reached the pre-quarter final where they will meet Wari AC.

Batting first at Oxford Mission ground, DKS were all out for 199. Sourav, batting at No. 5, reduced the match to a no-contest by belting four sixes and as many fours. The Indian skipper had taken a wicket earlier.

Mohammedan Sporting beat Shyambazar by 25 runs in another match.


DKS 199. Barisha 200/5 (Sourav Ganguly 48). Barisha won by 5 wkts.

Md. Sporting 297/8 (Mohammed Ariz 137 n.o., Sib Shankar Pal 3/41). Shyambazar 272 (D. Majumdar 91, Nazar Khan 3/49). Md. Sporting won by 25 runs.

Women’s cricket

Veterans and MCC recorded wins in the Central Calcutta Women’s Sports Club-organised meet at Vivekananda Park today.


Patha Chakra 94/3 in 22 ovs (Sharmila Chakraborty 2/18). Veterans 95/1 in 19 ovs (Purnima Chowdhury 41 n.o.). Veterans won by 9 wkts.

MCC 160/2 in 20 ovs (Seema Bhowmick 65 n.o.). Central Calcutta 72 in 18.4 ovs. MCC won by 88 runs.


Calcutta, Jan. 23: 
Rachpal Singh and teammate Soma Ray carded the day’s best score of 47 points in the Royal Challenge Invitation Golf Cup at RCGC today. Their team A-20 is in contention for the top spot now.

Four teams occupy the top spot with 84 points each at the half-way stage. Two others have 83 with four more at 82. The day’s other notable score of 44 was recorded by team B-16 (P.R. Bagri, Lalit Singh) and A-30 (V. Ramaswamy, M. Khattry).


Calcutta, Jan. 23: 
Rahul Dravid today sat through a couple of interactive sessions with dealers/stockists and their families of Colgate Palmolive products that he endorses, before conceding to the media that while promoting the same brand as Kapil Dev, he was way behind the great allrounder as far as cricket goes.

“I have a long long, way to go for that,” he said.

Issues “discussed” with the media were pretty predictable and mundane. It Involved “if” the Indian team would miss the services of Anil Kumble versus the Aussies, whether India have a “really tough” series ahead, vis-a-vis the Aussies, on whether pitches here can be made better (less turners).

No prizes for guessing the answers.


Mumbai, Jan. 23: 
The Bezan Chenoy-trained Pleasures recorded a comfortable victory in the Rajpipla Trophy at the Mumbai races on Tuesday. N. McCullagh partnered the winner.


(With inter-state dividends)
1. Air Dash Plate 1,600m: (1-2-5) Running Royal (Shroff) 1; Flamebird 2; Silver Rock 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-41.9). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 19; 14; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 292. Fav: Flamebird (2).
2. Rajpipla Trophy 1,600m: (4-3-5) Pleasures (McCullagh) 1; Placid 2; Leit Motif 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 1; (1-39.6). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 19; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 100. Fav: Pleasures (4).
3. Winged Beauty Plate 1,000m: (4-5-3) Fleurissimo (Rajendra) 1; Fluency 2; Criterion 3. Won by: 4; 6; (1-1.6). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 11; 27; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 75. Fav: Fleurissimo (4).
4. Air Ace Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (2-8-6) Dios Mio (Ikram K.) 1; Doctor No 2; Twinkling Star 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-9.9). Tote: Win Rs 727; Place: 118; 26; 16; Quinella: 2,796; Tanala: 86,157. Fav: Seventh Fleet (1).
5. Maharashtra and Gujarat Area Trophy 2,000m: (6-8-7) Essesspe-mess (Belose) 1; Silverita 2; Ever So Loyal 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 3-1/2; (2-8.8). Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 17; 30; 21; Quinella: 298; Tanala: 3,255. Fav: Code Of Courage (4).
6. Billionaire Plate 1,100m: (2-1-7) Cozumel (Ruzaan) 1; Wings Of Fire 2; Remus 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 3; (1-9.1). Tote: Win Rs 54; Place: 20; 17; 66; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 2,516. Fav: Wings Of Fire (1).
7. Indian Air Force Trophy 1,600m: (8-5-13) Winnington (McCullagh) 1; San Vitale 2; Josh King 3. Won by: SH; 1-1/4; (1-40.1). Tote: Win Rs 51; Place: 18; 26; 75; Quinella: 177; Tanala: 11,769. Fav: Soviet Run (3). (Note: Winnington won on a successful objection).
8. Air Ace Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (1-2-5) Henki (Aaron) 1; Piece Of Art 2; Rustling Leaves 3. Not run: Ghost Who Walks (3). Won by: 1-1/4; 3; (1-8.9). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 16; 12; 19; Quinella: 30; Tanala: 225. Fav: Piece Of Art (2).
9. A. Geddis Plate 1,800m: (6-4-5) Stardotcom (Chauhan) 1; Runaway Queen 2; Rigged Of Revenge 3. Won by: 1; Nk; (1-57.2). Tote: Win Rs 116; Place: 33; 14; 24; Quinella: 140; Tanala: 1,486. Fav: Runaway Queen (4).
Jackpot: Rs 45,193; (C) Rs 616.
Treble: (i) Rs 1,262; (ii) Rs 20,462; (iii) Rs 2,377.

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