Give Sukhwinder a long contract
National HS to meet South Point for title
Behala SA lift Kaivan Cup
Bharat Raut rout Tata Steel B
EB felicitation
Lal puts EB in final with Bagan
Ootacamund Races/ The Royals likely to strike

Calcutta, May 8: 
India�s chances of making it to the second stage of the Asian World Cup qualifiers look slim, but the team deserves to be congratulated for bringing Indian football out of the intensive care unit and showing they can match rivals rated above them if they get the chance to express themselves.

Of course, it�s just been the first step towards what seems to be a marathon journey, but it�s good to see that Bhaichung, Vijayan and Co. have brought things back on track after a severe derailment.

It couldn�t have been better timed as things were looking gloomy like never before following a dismal Millennium Cup campaign under Uzbek coach Islam Akhmedov. The elimination of the under-16 and under-19 teams from the preliminary stages of the respective Asian Championships was also an indication that Indian football was not moving in the right direction.

That�s why coach Sukhwinder Singh deserves praise and an extension. Sukhi has been around for some time now, but the federation has never given him a proper, long contract. He has been asked to take charge 15 or 20 days before each tournament, which is anything but desirable.

The Punjab man has succeeded as far as defensive organisation is concerned and also made midfielders strike the right combination and understanding with the deep defence. This was essential to do well in away matches and full marks to him for doing a tight job in this department. His task now should be to create a more potent attacking combination.

Despite having Bhaichung and I. M. Vijayan upfront, the team has not threatened enough on the counterattack and lack of thrust from the wings could be a reason behind this apart from inaccurate passing in the penultimate zone. Also, the speed and precision required to make counterattacks more effective has been lacking. This is an area Sukhi can think of working on after he gets a long-term contract.

Ideally, he should be appointed for two to three years with proper pay and a strong support team consisting of doctors, physiotherapists, physical trainers and scientists. Sukhi has shown there is no need for foreign coaches for the senior Indian team, and if the federation is too keen to hire one, it should get somebody who must ensure that Indian junior teams do not lose against teams like Bangladesh and Pakistan!

If a foreign coach has to be hired, he must belong to the top bracket and should be given charge of the under-16 team.

Along with kudos, there is a word of caution for Bhaichung as well. No doubt he has been a key figure in the remarkable change in attitude shown by the Indian team, but he can�t just go on criticising the referee. True, he must feel dejected if he gets a bad decision, but such prolonged outburst is uncalled for. Even players like Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Ariel Ortega have been thrown out of key World Cup matches and the decisions have not always been above suspicion.

The Indian skipper must realise that Fifa is going to stand by the referees in case of a controversy and he may face unexpected consequences if his sustained outburst comes to the Fifa or the AFC�s notice.

After a long time, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has done something praiseworthy by keeping the Indian team in a good hotel in UAE between the matches against the Gulf state and Yemen instead of flying back to India. Such facilities could not be imagined during our days and I can remember our plight on our way back from the Seoul Asian Games when we were stranded in Hong Kong for nearly three days. In this case, Sukhi and the players have been able to concentrate on the job and train without unnecessary pressure.

The AIFF men could have done better had they followed my advice of grooming players of the national junior team which finished fifth in the 1996 Asian junior championship. My suggestion was to give some kind of contract to those players so that they stayed within the AIFF fold rather than joining clubs and send them to as many tournaments as possible.

It�s not that the AIFF didn�t try, but the effort was not enough. Even now, the AIFF should look for promising boys and keep the bunch for training and exposure.

This is important considering the problems those surfaced during picking the pre-World Cup team as the clubs refused to release more than three players.

With all attention on the Indian team, the IFA has quietly introduced a lien policy for the Calcutta league whereby teams can borrow players from states that don�t have a full-fledged league. There can be few bad news than this for local players and smaller clubs.

If such a system starts functioning, only the bigger clubs (read East Bengal and Mohun Bagan) are going to avail of it. As it is, other clubs suffer at the hands of the foreigners these clubs hire but now, things will turn worse for them.

Such a system will further diminish the competitive aspect of the Calcutta league, which is in any case not famous for it. Also, the promotional aspect of the smaller clubs and local players will decrease. If the lien system has to be implemented, there should be some restriction, like two-three players per club.


Calcutta, May 8: 
National High School will meet South Point in the final of the Pepsi CAB under-19 inter-school meet.

In the semi-finals today, National High School defeated Shyambazar AV by 36 runs while South Point overcame Scottish Church by five wickets.

Shyambazar AV�s Arpan Hazra�s 91 went in vain as his teammates failed to match his efforts at Rajdanga ground. Abhirup Banerjee did the star turn for National High School with 56.

At Deshbandhu Park, South Point rode Sambit Dey�s unbeaten 45 to the five-wicket victory.


At Rajdanga: National HS 269/8 in 40 ovs (Aloke Khettry 48, Abhirup Banerjee 56, Mayukh Chatterjee 31, Vikas Singh 31). Shyambazar AV 233 in 39.5 (Arpan Hazra 91, Stabak Bhowmick 23; Soumya Pal 2/40). National HS won by 36 runs.

At Deshbandhu Park: Scottish Church 158 in 38.2 (Soumyadeep Sarkar 45; Subhankar Roy Chowdhury 3/32). South Point 159/5 in 29 (Sambit Dey 45 n.o., Satyabrata Gupta 35). South Point won by 5 wkts.


Calcutta, May 8: 
Behala SA lifted the Kaivan Cup beating Khalsa Model Senior Secondary School 2-0 today.

Bappu Koyal and Subhraj Majhi scored apiece in each half for the winners at East Bengal ground.

Khalsa Model wrested the early initiatives, raiding the rival box with a number of sorties. But it was against the run of the play, Behala took the lead in 10 minutes. Off a counter-attack, Koyal received a pass from the left end and forged ahead with one Khalsa Model player following him and another coming up to charge him. He evaded the challenge of his advancing rival and also the goalkeeper through his deft stickwork before sounding the boards.

After the breather Behala SA looked more organised and positive in attack. This resulted in the second and final goal for them in nine minutes into second session. Off a goalmouth melee, Majhi struck the ball in from close even though three Khalsa players were shielding the goalline.

BSF South beat CLW

BSF South Bengal rode a S. Lakra strike to 1-0 victory over Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) in the final engagement of the BHA first division group A league at Mohun Bagan ground today. Lakra scored the matchwinner on the cusp of halftime.

In the Lagden Memorial Shield, Aurora AA routed CISF 4-0 at Mohammedan Sporting ground. Amid scored twice and Adil and Mehdi apiece for the winners.

Julien Day in final

St. James� School thrashed Julien Day (Elgin Road) 6-0 while Julien Day, Ganganagore edged past La Martinieres 2-1 in the inter-school Anglo Indian Association hockey meet at St. James� School ground today. Both winners will meet in the final tomorrow.


Calcutta, May 8: 
Bharat Raut & Co. Ltd routed Tata Steel B 8-0 in the The Telegraph Merchants� Cup invitational five-a-side football tournament at CC&FC ground today.

RESULTS: Microwave Communications bt India Aluminium Co. Ltd 3-0; Carrit Moran bt McNally Bharat 3-1; Transworld Group drew Appejay Group 0-0; Tata Tea bt Skytech Solutions 1-0; Selvel bt Smithkline Beecham 2-1; Bharat Raut bt Tata Steel B 8-0; TCT Technical Training India bt Accel ICIM Systems 2-0; Transways bt Usha Martin Telecom Ltd 2-0; Taj Bengal bt TIL Ltd 4-0; Norinco bt Bayview Technology Systems 2-0; ICICI Blue bt Aptech 2-1; India Foils bt Xerox Modi Corp. 4-2.


Calcutta, May 8: 
East Bengal club will felicitate its players for winning the National Football League on May 19.

Announcing this, club secretary Dipak Chakraborty said today that a cultural programme will also be held that day to mark the ceremony. He however said players will be given no cash awards for their feat.

East Bengal lifted the coveted trophy for the first time.

The club has decided to keep the squad which gave it the title for the next season as well. �We have been quite successful with the present squad this season and want to keep it for next season as well,� Chakraborty said.


Calcutta, May 8: 
It was a lesson none of the trainees of the BCCI�s East Zone Academy were around to pick up. Chief coach Arun Lal�s solid 78 took East Bengal into the final of the P. Sen Trophy at the Eden Gardens today. Their 90-run victory over Wari in the semi-final set up a title-clash with arch rivals Mohun Bagan Saturday.

East Bengal�s decision to take first strike did not look justified until Lal and Ajay Verma (36) added 77 runs for the third wicket. Lal was his useful self, never missing an opportunity to score. His 78 came off 73 balls and included eight fours and a six off Kanchan Maity.

That the veteran is still capable of calling the shots is another reminder of the state of affairs in local cricket. There is hardly any youngster who can match the technique and temperament of the Lals, the Goutam Shomes and the Srikant Kalyanis.

After Verma�s departure, Lal found an able ally in Kalyani and added 51 for the fourth wicket. Kalyani, who has played a major role in East Bengal clinching the senior division League and A. N. Ghosh Trophy this season, took them past the 250-mark.

Chasing 271, Wari never managed to gain a foothold in the face of some tight bowling and fielding. As the top-order floundered, it was left to Saikat Mukherjee (63 off 68 balls, 4x4, 1x6) to lend some respectability to their reply.

Dharmendra Singh started the slide and spinners Sourashish Lahiri and Subir Dey took over. Lahiri was the most successful, picking up five for 29. Wicketkeeper Rahul Dev provided good support taking four catches and effecting a stumping. Lal, too, did his bit with the ball, dismissing Asif Murtaza.

BRIEF SCORES: East Bengal 270/9 in 50 ovs (Ajay Verma 36, Arun Lal 78, Srikant Kalyani 63; Saikat Mukherjee 3/56). Wari 180 in 43.1 (Avishek Jhunjhunwala 26, Saikat Mukherjee 63; Dharmendra Singh 3/34, Sourashish Lahiri 5/29). East Bengal won by 90 runs.


Ootacamund, May 8: 
The Robert Foley-trained five-year-old The Royals is taken to win the Gudalore Plate at the

Ootacamund (Udhagamandalam) races on Wednesday. M. Raji partners the Placerville-Shocking son.


11.15 pm: Royal Blue 1. Impressive Prince 2. City Of Stars 3.
11.40 pm: Phraoje 1. Mountain Memory 2. Belezian 3.
12.10 pm: The Royals 1. Cut Ahead 2. Fairy Prince 3.
12.40 pm: Cherokee Rose 1. Bold Connection 2. Beauchamp King 3.
1.10 pm: Royal Delight 1. Gold Mist 2. Common Spirit 3.
1.35 pm: Green Bench 1. Arabian King 2 Calypso Reef 3.
2 pm: Supreme Excellence 1. Express Lane 2. Apache Len 3.
2.30 pm: Fashion Delight 1. Sanctified Star 2. Touchin Heights 3.
Day�s Best: Supreme Excellence
Double: The Royals & Fashion Delight.

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