Md. Sp. eyeing revival
Tajikistan, India in crunch tie
Rich haul by Indian paddlers
In The City
Calcutta Racing/ The Archer set to win Day I feature event
Calcutta Racing/ Track trials

July 11: 
The World Cup hangover is gone and it’s time to make do with soccer of a lesser kind. Calcutta Super Division League is the one to begin with and the top teams are fighting lethargy to get ready and have a go at it. Over the years, this tournament had effectively been reduced to a two-horse race between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, but with the rejuvenation of Mohammedan Sporting, there may be a change in the equation.

From the academic point of view, there are ten teams in fray, but practically, seven of them stand no chance of lifting the title. Their worth lies in snatching the odd point or two from the big ones, which helps the other title-contender. It’s no different this year and apart from East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and now Mohammedan Sporting, the only other team boasting some pedigree is Tollygunge Agragami.

The League has already got underway, but the teams just talked about are yet to kick off. The following is a quick look through the shape they are in, the gains and losses, and their advantages and disadvantages.

MOHUN BAGAN: The defending champions have lost some vital players in the transfer market and coach Subrata Bhattacharya is the first one to admit that. The pillar of team in its glorious run last season, however, is very much there and there is no doubt that Mohun Bagan fans are pinning hopes on Jose Ramirez Barreto once again.

“We have suffered most in defence and midfield. The strength of the first XI is still the same, but the reserve bench is weak, we don’t have strong substitutes this time,” said Subrata. “No doubt the local league has degenerated into a minor tournament, but for big teams, the pressure to perform stays. Still, barring the East Bengal match, we’ll try to carry out certain experiments.”

Subrata, the only coach in the country to have won all major titles, is looking forward more to the inaugural edition of the Asian Champions League, where his team will meet a Sri Lankan team in the first round. “That’s foremost in my mind, it’s a higher tournament after all.”

Mohun Bagan’s defence, vastly criticised despite winning almost everything last season, is still an area of concern. “Some have left, but Nigerian recruit Yakubu looks good. I would also like a foreigner as central midfielder, but that’s up to the officials,” Subrata said.

NEW RECRUITS: Satish Bharti (Tollygunge), Sheikh Sanjib (ITI), Yakubu (BMFC), Amit Sinha Roy (Tolly).

DISCARDED/LEFT: Abdulateef Seriki, Amauri Da Silva, James Singh, R.P. Singh, R.C. Prakash, Rishi Kapoor, Bungo Singh, Hussain Mustafi.

EAST BENGAL: The previous season was dismal for the red-gold brigade and apart from the still disputed IFA Shield, they didn’t win anything. They fared better in the second half of the National League, when they were virtually out of contention for the title. Things are looking better this time with a clutch of new recruits, though coach Subhas Bhowmick doesn’t want to talk about it. “I won’t comment on my team at the moment.”

On paper, East Bengal did have a formidable team last season and after this year’s additions and omissions, things look even better this time. There is a clutch of outstation recruits apart from some fresh talents from TFA. However, they know it matters little if the desired results are not achieved and perhaps that is why the coach is keeping quiet, expecting his team’s performance to do all the talking.

East Bengal, however, are unhappy that eight of their players have been called to the national camp and will not be available for at least a few league matches.

NEW RECRUITS: S. Venkatesh, M. Suresh (Mahindra), Alvito D’Cunha (Salgaocar), Arun Malhotra (Bhratri Sangha), Mike Okoro (ITI), Sasthi Duley (Tollygunge).

DISCARDED/ LEFT: Joe Paul Ancheri, I.M. Vijayan, Dipendu Biswas, Ranjan Dey, Srikanta Dutta, Isiaka Awoyemi.

MD. SPORTING: Undoubtedly, the team most eager to perform and high on motivation. The performance graph, in the last ten years or so, pushed decades of pride and glory to the brink of collapse, but following a change of guard in management, things are looking better. The club spent generously and some of their catches, like Dipendu or Seriki, surprised everybody.

“The groundwork has been done, it’s time to deliver,” said coach Mohammed Habeeb. “The problem with this team over the years was of confidence. The current crop of players is different. They have big-team experience and should be able live up to expectations. I want to play 4-3-3 but may change it accordingly when we meet the big ones.

“It’s too early to say, but we can dream and our aim is to make it to the top tier of the National League,” declared the coach. His team, even with three players doing duty for the national junior team, looks strong by local standards. The most important thing, however, is the urge to do well. “The club lost glory, but not the hoards of supporters. This will inspire us when we take the field,” said Dipendu.

NEW RECRUITS: Reaz-ul Mus-tafa, Khemtang Paite, Nazim-ul Haq, Biswanath Mondal (Tollygunge), Dipendu (East Bengal), Hu-ssain Mustafi, Seriki, Prasanta Dora (Mo-hun Bagan), Habib Aden-kule (Mah-indra), Emil Bartazarian (from Iran).


TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Clearly the team to have suffered most in the transfer market. Following a slash of nearly 30 per cent in the budget, almost all of their key players have moved out and according to club secretary Mantoo Ghosh, the team is built mainly around youngsters.

Coach Aloke Mukherjee is assisting new India coach Stephen Constantine in the camp in Jamshedpur and Ghosh is looking after training. “Things don’t look good, but I feel we have got a few good youngsters. I hope they will be able shoulder the load.”

NEW RECRUITS: Isiaka, Srikanta Dutta (East Bengal).

DISCARDED/LEFT: Sasthi Duley, Satish Bharti, Biswanath Mondal, Amit Sinha Roy, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.


Calcutta, July 11: 
The opener against Bhutan didn’t cause much trouble Wednesday, but India are anticipating a different ball game as they run into Tajikistan in Friday’s Asian under-20 qualifying competition match.

Not that the visitors are just superior in health and physique, they are well versed with the tactical and technical aspects of the game as well, as was evident in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Kyrgyzstan.

The India coach, on the other hand, has hardly been amused by his wards’ performance against Bhutan, inspite of a handsome 4-1 scoreline. “Our boys were trying to be unnecessarily flamboyant, which is not the right recipe for success,” pointed out India coach Islam Akhmedov.

“Also, our defence remains a concern. Tajikistan made good use of the flanks in the first match and we have to prevent that if we are to advance from the group,” said the Uzbek.

“Tajikistan come from a strong football tradition and we have to play to potential.” Just one team from the group of four will make it to the final round to be held in Qatar.

Tajikistan, however, also have a fair amount of respect for India. They have been impressed by the ball control of the Indians and their ability to keep the ball in possession.

With both teams having posted a win in their opening games, the winner of Friday’s contest would take a big step towards the second stage.

Kyrgyzstan, despite losing to Tajikistan, also have a chance and will look for a big win against Bhutan in Friday’s second game to bolster their chances.


Calcutta, July 11: 
Indians returned rich in medals from the International World Railways table tennis championship held in Ponzan, Poland, recently.

The men’s team finished second after Hungary, while the women beat Bulgaria to the top spot.

The city-based Sourav Chakraborty (Eastern Railway), Ranabir Das (Southern) apart from Sharat Kamal (Southern) and Bhushan Thakur (Central) formed the men’s team. Members of the women’s team — Anindita Chakraborty (South Eastern), Mousumi Pal and Sushmita Roy (both Eastern) — were all from Bengal.

Sourav, Kamal and Ranabir claimed the top three spots in the men’s individual section, while Mousumi, Anindita and Sushmita completed the Indian 1-2-3 in the women’s competiton. India swept the medals in mixed doubles too. In men’s doubles, India claimed the second and third spots. In women’s doubles, India finished second.

Tapan Chandra was coach of the men’s team with Ashoke Chakraborty was in charge of the women’s contingent. S.R. Thakur was chef-de-mission.


July 11: 

IFA’s ground move

With a number of Calcutta League matches already being cancelled due to bad ground conditions, the IFA is trying to wake up to the reality. The IFA’s grounds committee, after a meeting Thursday, decided against allotting matches to several grounds including B.G. Press, Town, Police, Customs, Rajasthan and Rangers for an indefinite period.

Informing this, a senior IFA official said the decision was arrived at after reviewing the reports of IFA observers. He explained this would not affect the League as some new grounds like two in Salt Lake, one in Beleghata, have been marked.

Insurance plan

The IFA is trying to bring its registered players under insurance cover. If the plan materialises, all players getting injured while playing in competitions conducted by the IFA, stand to benefit. A meeting with insurance companies is expected soon.

New gallery

A new look members’ gallery at the Mohammedan Sporting ground will be inaugurated before the club’s Super Division-opener against FCI Friday. The gallery will be named after the revered R trio of the 30s and 40s — Rahmat, Rashid and Rahim.

However, the new gallery will accommodate about 20 per cent less than the original capacity of around 3000, informed club secretary Sultan Ahmed He said this has been advised by the PWD.

Mondal’s four

Himarjit Mondal scored all four in Aurora AA’s 4-0 win over Kali Memorial in a fifth division match of the Calcutta Football League.


SOCCER: Asian under-20 qualifiers — India vs Tajikistan (4 pm); Bhutan vs Kyrgyzstan (6 pm). Matches at Salt Lake Stadium.

SOCCER: Calcutta League — Super Division: Mohammedan Sporting vs FCI (Md. Sporting); Tollygunge Agragami vs SAIL (East Bengal). 1st division group A: Wari vs City (Shyamnagar); Howrah Union vs Kalighat Club (Rabindra Sarobar); Police AC vs George Telegraph (Howrah Stadium); BCLSA vs CFC (Mohun Bagan). 1st division group B: Muslim Institute vs Calcutta Police (SAP I). Matches from 3.30 pm. 2nd division: Kumartuli vs Southern Samity (YMCA); Calcutta Gymkhana vs Chandney SC (University). Matches from 4 pm.


Calcutta, July 11: 
The monsoon racing season is set to start, from Friday, after a minor hiccup that prompted the RCTC stewards to cancel the July 5 card. The cancellation came because of the delayed payment of dearness allowance by trainers to their stable hands who resorted to cessation of work for five days. However, the delayed start has helped the race-track get into a perfect shape, thanks to the last weeks’ heavy rain in the city.

The season offers stake money of Rs 1,28,85,000 which is nearly 24 per cent increase on stakes paid out during the last monsoon season.

Trainers Daniel David and Vijay Singh are, however, going to be notable absentees during the early part of the season as the two champions are serving the drug related suspensions.

The day one promises healthy competition, though hot-favourites like The Archer, Star Selection, Alamito and Mahika’s Pet are expected to triumph.

The Archer, a John Stephens-trainee, is heavily favoured at the weights and the colt may not be find the 1,200m Gamble For Love Cup sprint to his disadvantage. Mark Reuben partners the four-year-old.

Read as: Horse nos, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 2.00 pm

Amberdue Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; Rt 00-28)
1 0000 Crowned Prince [Rodrigues] B. Gurang 60.0 3
2 0111 Blessed Spirit [Jaiswal] V. Jaiswal 59.5 4
3 0030 Impressive Prince [Rodrigues] Yacoob. 58.5 5
4 0201 Darth Vader [R. Alford] Brij S. 58.0 1
5 0002 Mahika’s Pet [R. Alford] Rutherford 52.5 6
6 0000 Scenic Song [Mujeeb] Haroon K. 47.0 2

1. Mahika’s Pet (5) 2. Scenic Song (6) 3. Blessed Spirit (2)

Mahika’s Pet: Youngest of the lot and has also performed decently last winter. Scenic Song: Well in at the weights. Blessed Spirit: May place.

2nd Race at 2.40 pm

Desiree Cup 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) — Indian jockeys only
1 3112 Lucifer [Rodrigues] Upadhya 60.5 1
2 0411 Sencai [Javed] R. Gowli 60.5 5
3 4000 Ace of Spades [Rodrigues] R. Ahmed 56.0 7
4 4423 Leading Conquest [Jaiswal] V. Jaiswal 55.5 8
5 ---0Prince of Fashion [R. Alford] Rutherford 55.5 6
6 0000 Yukon [Rodrigues] A. P. Singh 54.5 4
7 1233 Star Selection [Rodrigues] Merchant 52.5 2
8 0004 Midas Touch [Rodrigues] Yasin 49.5 3

1. Star Selection (7) 2. Yukon (6) 3. Prince of Fashion (5)

Star Selection: A good third in the ‘Million’ after easily winning the Alokananda Stakes . Yukon: Has come on a lot since last winter. Prince of Fashion: May place.

3rd Race at 3.10 pm

Zelda Handicap 1,400m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72)
1 2100 Illustrious Reign [Jaiswal] Rutherford 61.0 4
2 2320 Soviet Port [Rodrigues] A. P. Singh 60.5 6
3 1130 Discomatic [Rodrigues] Asghar 58.0 7
4 0023 Alamito [Bharath] C. Alford 55.0 5
5 2120 Rescue Act [Bharath] S. Rabani 52.5 1
6 2300 Peace Envoy [Rodrigues] Merchant 52.0 2
7 0413 Tajik [R. Alford] M. Reuben 52.0 3

1. Alamito (4) 2. Rescue Act (5) 3. Illustrious Reign (1)

Alamito: Winner of the St. Leger and the Monsoon Derby, too. Maintains form. Rescue Act: May find stable-mate a hard nut to crack. Illustrious Reign: May place.

4th Race at 3.40 pm

Gamble For Love Cup 1,200m (Cl I; Rt. 88 & over)
1 0120 Beneficent [Rodrigues] Merchant 60.0 1
2 1110 Alcalde [Bharath] C. Alford 55.0 3
3 3040 Acute [Bharath] S. Rabani 52.0 2
4 1224 The Archer [Stephens] M. Reuben 51.5 4

1.The Archer (4) 2. Alcalde (2) 3. Beneficent (1)

The Archer: The slated sprint notwithstanding, his favourable weight may help him strike. Alcalde: May fight the issue out. Beneficent: May place.

5th Race at 4.15 pm

Scarlet Prince Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) — Indian jockeys only
1 1121 Brave Show [Bharath] Md Islam 61.0 11
2 4100 Declarationoflove [R. Alford] Tamang 60.5 6
3 0003 On The Bit [Stephens] F. Khan 60.5 12
4 0300 Ardon [Rodrigues] Merchant 58.0 8
5 2340 Mr. Bombshell [Bharath] M. Maseyk 58.0 13
6 0141 Software [Stephens] Som S. 58.0 5
7 1100 Rare Gold [Mujeeb] Md Amil 57.5 9
8 0200 Giorgio [Rodrigues] Upadhya 56.0 1
9 0004 Starina [R. Alford] Rutherford 54.5 3
10 0030 Simply Monarch [Rodrigues] S. Salam 53.5 10
11 3233 Tequila Shot [Bath] S. Shanker. 53.5 4
12 0024 Storm Centre [Rodrigues] Surender 52.0 7
13 1030 Finders Keepers [Jaiswal] Brij S. 48.0 2

1. Rare Gold (7) 2. Software (6) 3. Starina (9)

Rare Gold: Back to the striking mark after reeling off four wins in a row last year. Software: Maintains his winter form. May upset. Starina: Upset, if any.

6th Race at 4.45 pm

Woolver Valley Handicap 1,000m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) — Indian jockeys only
1 0000 Thunder Struck [Rodrigues] V. Jaiswal 60.5 5
2 1000 Scarlet Raider [Rodrigues] Upadhya 60.0 7
3 4040 Sky Command [Mujeeb] S. Rabani 58.0 1
4 3421 Secret Adversary [Rodrigues] Merchant 52.5 3
5 3302 Queen’s Logic [Bharath] M. Maseyk 52.0 2
6 2420 Winning Hand [Javed] M. Reuben 51.0 6
7 0440 Kargil Soldier [Stephens] F. Khan 50.0 8
8 -2040 Sovereign Bullet [Rodrigues] Surender 48.5 4

1. Secret Adversary (4) 2. Winning Hand (6) 3. Sky Command (3)

Secret Adversary: In a forward condition. May make a winning start. Winning Hand: Working well. May go close to the winner. Sky Command: May place.

Day’s Best: The Archer

Double: Star Selection & Alamito

Calcutta, July 11: 
The following horses were seen exercising on Thursday morning:

Outer sand track

800m: Cupola (F. Khan) in 58s; (600m) 43s; (400m) 31s. Went easy.

400m: Flinders (Jaiswal) in 28s. Coming on well.

Sand track

800m: Dancing Dreams (Rutherford) in 57s; (600m) 42s; (400m) 27s. Unextended.

600m: Wandering Warrior (Jaiswal) in 43s; (400m) 27s. May need an outing.

400m: Tiger Talk (Som S.) in 30s. Unextended. Bay Dragon (Upadhya) and Smart Ruler (Asghar) in 31s. Former was 2 ls better. Latter went easy.


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