| Dipak Mondal
New Delhi: East Bengal’s reliable stopper Dipak Mondal has been chosen Indian Footballer of the Year 2002. This was decided at the All India Football Federation (AIFF) AGM here Monday.
The meeting also discussed a possible change in dates for inter-state transfers and a changed format for the second division National Football League. It was also decided to only recommend I. M. Vijayan for the Arjuna Award next year. This is being done to ensure that the Kerala born striker, in the twilight of his career, gets duly honoured.
Mondal will be honoured with Rs 25,000 by the AIFF at a ceremony to be held in Delhi, when Asian football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hamman visits India in mid-February. Previous winners Jo Paul Ancheri and Vijayan will also get their cash awards at this function.
AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco said Mondal’s consistent performance in international tournaments like the Asian Games and LG Cup in Vietnam, and for his club led to his selection. Colaco added that national coach Stephen Constantine was also consulted and he endorsed the decision to choose Mondal.
Forty three teams will take part in the second divsion of the NFL, starting at five different venues from Feburary 15. The championship will be held in two phases: the preliminary zonal, and a final phase of 12 teams. The teams demoted last year — F.C. Kochin and Punjab Police —will qualify directly to the final phase.
In the preliminary phase, the 41 participants have been divided into five zones.
There will be ten teams in the North East Zone, six in East, including two from Calcutta, nine in North and eight each in West and South. The top two teams from each zone will progress to the final round and link up with Punjab Police and F.C. Kochin.
The Oil PSU NFL resumes after the winter break January 24. There could be a further halt in March-April when the dates for India’s pre-Olympic and Asia Cup matches are released. In case that happens then the inter-state transfers will be shifted to June 1 to 15.
The AIFF has also drawn up a plan to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The current under-17 team will be the nucleus in the attempt. A group of technical experts will visit China, Japan, South Korea and Iran to study development of football in those countries and then implement a plan in India.
Md. Sp. reach Delhi
Meanwhile, Calcutta Super Division runners-up Mohammedan Sporting, with coach Mohammed Habeeb, arrived here Monday to take part in the Durand Cup.
Habeeb said that the team is mostly without injury worries and at full strength. Only striker Abdul Latif Seriki has a slight knee injury after a knock in practice, but should recover in time before their first match January 2 vs Tata Football Academy (TFA).
Habeeb also said Mohammedan Sporting intend to sign a third foreigner, roving forward Eugene Grey. He has played for FC Kochin and Salgaocar.