Monthly Archives: November 2019

Gotti: ‘I don’t want Udinese job’

first_img Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: Udinese fired Igor Tudor this week and caretaker manager Luca Gotti assures he has “no ambitions” to keep the job beyond today’s game with Genoa. It kicks off at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview. Tudor was dismissed after back-to-back embarrassing defeats, 7-1 to Atalanta and 4-0 at home to 10-man Roma. There are several candidates for the role, with Walter Zenga as the current favourite, but Gotti will be at the helm this afternoon. “We have to leave everything else to one side and focus only on one game that is important for our position in the standings,” said Gotti in his press conference. “They were humiliating defeats, but my focus has to be on the next match. A lot of pressure swept up these players and we need to shake all of that off, think only about the football. “What happened over the last 10 days is not normality. We thought that we were on the right track, but it all fell apart simultaneously. “I want to see people who play football, who want the ball at their feet and want to make the difference. We can’t just be passive and let the game happen to us. “We’ve got to be prepared for difficulties and opportunities, because a match is rarely linear, there are moments of depression mixed with explosions of joy and we need to be ready for anything.” Genoa have been themselves transformed by the dismissal of Aurelio Andreazzoli and arrival of new coach Thiago Motta. “They recharged the batteries of their enthusiasm over the last two games. You could tell in the first half of his debut against Brescia that everything was weighing on them, but a moment changed everything and that can happen in football.” If Gotti does well as a caretaker manager, does he think that it might be a more permanent appointment? “I will remain because I am an assistant manager, but I am quite an unusual one, in that I have no ambitions of being a Serie A coach. I did it for a dozen or so years and had such an unpleasant experience that I decided I just didn’t want to do that anymore. “It’s a different type of job and I will work very hard over these days with enthusiasm, but I have no illusions of anything else.”last_img read more

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Perisic optimistic over Bayern stay

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Immobile: ‘Not a simple game’

first_imgLazio striker Ciro Immobile insists the 4-2 victory over Lecce was hard-earned, as the newly-promoted side “made it difficult.” Immobile was on the scoresheet for the seventh consecutive game in the league, and is leading the Capocannoniere charts with 14 goals in only 12 games. “It was not a simple game, the Giallorossi played well. It was not easy to beat them. They put us in great difficulty at times. We were good for the victory, even though we always give our fans a little panic,” he smiled on Sky Sport Italia. “We have to continue to grow as a team, but first lets enjoy the three points.” Immobile was then asked about his relationship with Torino striker Andrea Belotti, who is fighting to be Roberto Mancini’s Italy No 9 for Euro 2020. “The national team? I have always said that the duel with Belotti is right. It is a positive battle. We are friends, and the competition is welcome.” Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: read more

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Kouame was set for Crystal Palace

first_imgChristian Kouame’s serious knee injury isn’t just bad for Genoa, but also for Crystal Palace, as he was reportedly due to join for €25m plus bonuses in January. The forward was on international duty with the Ivory Coast in the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations when suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear. He turns 22 next month and was having a strong season with Genoa, scoring five goals with three assists in 11 Serie A appearances. According to Sportitalia transfer expert Alfredo Pedullà, this is also very bad news for Crystal Palace, because it’s claimed Kouame and Genoa already had a deal to make the transfer in January. It was going to be a move worth €25m plus performance-related bonuses. Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: read more

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First all-women sky-diving team to debut on IAF day

first_imgWhile other women break the glass ceiling, they smashed through it – dropping from a height of 8,000ft.Meet the first all-women team of skydivers of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which will make its official debut on Air Force Day on October 8 by jumping from an An-32 transport aircraft at the Hindon airbase on the outskirts of Delhi.All of them IAF officers, a psychologist, an accounts officer and engineers make up the six-member team led by Wing Commander Asha Jyotirmoy, a mother of two.Asha, an accounts officer, is a skydiving ace, carrying on her back loads of experience apart from the parachute bag. She was led to the sport by her husband, Wing Commander EKN Swaroop, also an IAF skydiver.Her athlete background helped. Asha had competed in heptathlon at the national level before joining the IAF.Thirteen years after her first jump, she still talks about the sport with a child-like enthusiasm. “It’s something that cannot be explained. You are flying like a bird,” she said, after a practice jump with her team at the Hindan airbase on Thursday.She joined the IAF in 1997 and set her eyes on skydiving two years later. Though she met with an accident when her parachute was entangled in high-tension cables in 2001 at Tambaram in Tamil Nadu, it did not faze her. Soon, husband and wife became the first skydiving couple in the air force. In the last 11 years, she has made 560 jumps.When the IAF decided to form the first women’s team of skydivers, Asha was the obvious choice. In 2009, the team was picked and flown to scenic Car Nicobar for training. Asha missed the initial days as she was carrying her second child.advertisementFlight Lieutenant Priyanka Shedangi wanted to become a pilot but ended up being a skydiver. She is happy she did. A proud member of the women skydiving team, she now enjoys flying – outside the aircraft – much more than a pilot probably does sitting inside the cockpit.An engineer by training, Priyanka left her cushy job in a multi-national firm to join the IAF as a technical officer. For Flight Lieutenant Sangeeta Paulraj, an education branch officer, the experience was clearly out of the world as it was where the blue sky, the ocean and green coconut trees on the ground merged.Sangeeta is also the team photographer, who films the jumps with her helmetmounted camera. The Bangalorean has already completed 200 jumps.From Car Nicobar, the team shifted to Arizona, US, for a 45-day specialised training.Flight Lieutenant Priyanka Hooda, from Hissar, took to skydiving inspired by television shows on the adventure sport. The other skydivers in the team, Nisha Govardhan, an electronic and computer engineer, and Rupal Thakur are equally thrilled to be in the spotlight.last_img read more

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BCCI Working Committee meets on Monday

first_imgResolving payment-related issues with broadcast rights holder for India’s home matches, Nimbus, and revamp of various cricket academies will top the agenda when the BCCI’s Working Committee meets here on Monday.The meeting was to originally take place on December 3 but was postponed due to unavailability of some members.At Monday’s meeting, the working committee will deliberate on whether Nimbus’ request for a delay in payment should be accepted with the exact amount reported to be around Rs 100 crore.Apart from the current payment, the BCCI and Nimbus also have a long-pending ‘issue’ over radio rights. Nimbus is not happy with the All India Radio’s offer and has asked the BCCI to deal with them directly.Nimbus renewed the rights of Indian cricket in 2009 for a fee of Rs 31.5 crore per international fixture.Also likely to be on the agenda is a revamp of the various cricket academies – both regional and state.It has been suggested to the Cricket Board to remove overlapping of some functions by the BCCI’s Specialised Academies Committee headed by M P Pandove.The suggestion of the Pandove-headed committee is expected be among the items that would come up for discussion at the meeting.At the previous Working Committee meeting, the new player gradation for annual contracts was decided along with the appointment of Evan Speechly as the physiotherapist of the national team and approval of the institution of two new annual awards in memory of former captain Lala Amarnath.last_img read more

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Tennis: In-form Nicolas Almagro keen to extend run

first_imgSpanish tennis star Nicolas Almagro is looking to carry forward this year’s spectacular form into the new season which begins with the Aircel Chennai Open on Jan 2 in Chennai.The 26-year-old Almagro, who will be making his maiden appearance in Chennai, made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2010 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 in May before bagging his third title of the season.”Many people told me that Chennai Open is really good tournament and I will have a great experience in the city,” said the world No. 10. “I hope it will be a great week for me.”Almagro said the low point of the 2011 season was his first round defeat at Rolland Garros in a marathon near-four-hour match against Polish Lukasz Kubot.Almagro will compete against an impressive line-up of Indian and global stars including Serbian world No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, Swiss world No. 17 and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka, former champion Xavier Malisse of Belgium and ATP World Tour’s Newcomer of the Year award winner Milos Raonic of Canada.”I just want to try to play my best tennis and if possible remain in the top 10, but I need to work very hard,” said Almagro, who had an impressive clay court run with titles at Costa do Sauipe and Buenos Aires and a third successive final in Acapulco this year.”I need to work on my physical and my mental strength. I need to improve my volley and try to be regular all the season,” added Almagro, who draws a lot of inspiration from compatriot and former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal. “Rafa has had a lot of influence on all the Spanish players. He is a hero and all of us want to be like him.”advertisementDoubles wild cards for two Indian pairsThe young Indian doubles pair Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N Sriram Balaji along with Ramkumar Ramanathan and Mohit Mayur have been given wild cards for the main draw.Left-handed Nedunchezhiyan, with a singles ranking of 556, is the highest-ranked among the four players, all of whom are well-established in the national circuit.The organisers preferred to give chance to youngsters and not go with tried and tested names.The four are part of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association’s (TNTA) Advanced Players Program.”It’s heartening to know that four young players from Tamil Nadu will get an opportunity to showcase their talent on a truly international stage. These opportunities go a long way in developing the confidence of young players and I wish the boys the very best,” said TNTA president MA Alagappan.Tournament director Fernando Soler said the move would promote homegrown talent and ensure spectator interest.last_img read more

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Don’t deprive hockey teams of fan support

first_imgIndian hockey’s Olympic dream, for both men’s and women’s teams, will begin next Saturday in New Delhi. It will carry on beyond the nine-day tournament if they finish on top as only the title winners will advance to the London Games beginning in July.India’s prestige is at stake, particularly in the men’s competition, as the country which won eight Olympic gold medals in the previous century would not be able to bear the setback of missing a second successive Olympics. The men’s team faltered at the last hurdle in 2008 and failed to qualify for the Beijing Games.Of course, the fate of the two teams would largely depend on the players’ performance. It remains to be seen how they would perform with the huge sword of expectations hanging over their heads. Booking a berth at the Olympics is not impossible, but it won’t be a cakewalk either, despite the home advantage.The hockey players would do well to motivate themselves by rewinding to the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led cricket team’s remarkable World Cup triumph under intense scrutiny and expectations last year at home.However, after all, hockey is a game and players too are human beings. They too can fumble, though one fervently hopes that they play their best hockey in that crucial nine-day period.But just in case the Indian dream is shattered, a portion of the blame would go to Hockey India (HI) – for having instituted tickets for the qualifying tournament. Knowing the mind-set of Indian sports fans, particularly those in Delhi – of trying to secure passes rather than buying tickets – the decision to have ‘gates’ is likely to discourage die-hard hockey fans from going to the stadium.advertisementLesser support could possibly mean a dip in the players’ performance. Ask any player and he/ she would say that they love to play in front of packed galleries as vocal support and the fluttering national flag pumps up their adrenaline and raises their game. It was entirely up to HI to have ‘gates’; the international hockey federation (FIH) puts no such condition, a source said.HI surprisingly feels that revenue is more important than attracting spectators to cheer the team in a crucial tournament. “If we don’t generate revenues, how will we meet our expenditure? Moreover, neither does the FIH pay a penny for staging the qualifiers nor the sports ministry,” she added. “In fact, all FIH-related payments to umpires/ officials, air fare for its officials and visa fees are borne by HI. So, we have to generate funds to meet all these expenditures. The government will only pay for the Indian teams’ accommodation.”The question is: what is the guarantee that people would definitely buy tickets when the matches are also going to be televised live? “There’s no guarantee, but there’s something called hope, and we expect people to buy tickets,” she put up a weak defence. Delhi’s fans have largely ignored hockey, and even cricket, as we witnessed during the India-England ODI last year when many seats at the Ferozeshah Kotla remained empty.During the hockey World Cup and the CWG in 2010, people thronged the 17,000-plus stadium but only for India’s matches. During the World Cup, when fans ignored non-India matches, complimentary passes were distributed to entities like the BSF, CRPF, ONGC, and Railways etc. to fill up the stands. And when the men’s and women’s Test matches were played recently, only a few hundred fans turned up at the National Stadium.HI should have learnt from those experiences and thrown open the gates to fans to support the team for the Olympic qualifiers. Of course, security can be cited as a reason, but there’s no guarantee that those who would buy tickets won’t make mischief. Imagine the plight of HI if fans keep away, the stands remain empty and the teams fail to qualify.===He seems to have changed his mind Skipper MS Dhoni emphasises that the rotation policy does not work with the Indian team.To rotate or not to rotate is the question in the mind of Indian skipper MS Dhoni. Dhoni, who had said last week that players would be rotated during the on-going triangular ODI series in Australia, had earlier emphasised several times that the rotation policy doesn’t work with the Indian team.Apparently the main reason, which he didn’t outline, is that we aren’t good at handling defeat. We are scared of giving opportunities to youngsters for the fear of losing and want to win each time with the same set of experienced players. Dhoni too maintains this belief, but one wonders what triggered this sudden change in thinking.advertisementOne reason could be that the team is away from the maddening home crowds and there would be less criticism if it loses while experimenting with youngsters. Otherwise, it’s difficult to comprehend that the selectors have made rotation of players a stated policy and the BCCI has agreed to it too.===Football suffers as AIFF refuses to mend its ways The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is headed by Praful Patel.The All India Football Federation (AIFF) functions in a bizarre manner. And the age-old narrow mind-set of administrators doesn’t seem to be changing.Irrespective of who is at the helm, AIFF seems to focus on petty issues, conveniently ignoring its larger responsibility of promoting the game around the country. And this, to a large extent, is responsible for the game not having grown to its true potential.Take, for instance, the issue of foreign players’ participation in the upcoming IPL-style Premier League Soccer (PLS). The Praful Patel-headed AIFF first allowed the Indian Football Association (IFA), the quaintlynamed governing body of West Bengal, to go ahead with the lucrative tournament. Then, apparently on second thoughts, it decided to find faults with the PLS.In reality, it’s a tale of insecurity on the part of the AIFF and ego clashes between officials of the IFA, AIFF and the promoters, say those who are in the know. “They will have to realise that no state has a copyright on football; it’s a national game and all AIFF decisions have to be taken in the national interest,” observed an official. “Unfortunately, the AIFF is effectively a spineless body as it can neither take decisions nor implement them without the approval of certain administrators in the IFA.===Awaiting sports act Mukul Mudgal, retired chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.Even as he keeps his fingers crossed over the fate of the National Sports Bill that he helped draft, Mukul Mudgal, retired chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, says that he would be “delighted” if Parliament passes it. The revised draft is presently with the Union Cabinet.”If it comes into force within a year, I’d be delighted that I’ve done something for Indian sport,” Mudgal told Mail Today.He emphasised that the bill is not aimed at taking away independence of the national sports federations (NSFs), as some people fear.When Sports Minister Ajay Maken first presented the bill to the Cabinet, it was rejected. It was then re-drafted.”We’ve taken care to see that if anything arbitrary is done, there’s a sports ombudsman to look at it,” points out the sports-loving judge.last_img read more

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All well insists Team India media manager

first_imgThe Indian team needs to be told that the national bird is the peacock and not the ostrich. At the slightest hint of trouble, members of the Indian team have developed the nasty habit of burying their head in the sand and stuffing their ears shut, somehow believing that if they can’t see it or hear it, then it must be gone.On Friday, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virender Sehwag were said to be contemplating clearing the air around their supposed frosty relationship by addressing the media here. But as the practice session wore down, it became clear that neither was in the mood to answer some uncomfortable questions regarding the comments both made during the week in Brisbane.Instead, media manager GS Walia fielded the questions, failing to give a single logical explanation as to how such a situation arose where players are not even bothering to explain what and why they said certain things in the post-match press conferences.”There is no communication gap. But whatsoever is being shown in the media or is being written, the team is certainly concerned about it. I am not blaming the media, but they (players) are concerned. The players want to play the next two matches in a positive way, and to their real potential. Let’s not analyse the situation, why this was generated, how it came to this. Let us forget it and be positive in the future,” he pleaded.When pressed further, the manager became even more non-committal, ending every sentence with a ‘let’s not analyse this any further’.advertisementThe only statement that Walia made was regarding a reported special meeting between the four players – skipper Dhoni, Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir over the captain’s remarks on the lack of the fielding prowess of the three and Sehwag’s rebuttal of the same.”Immediately when we came back along with Sehwag (after the Tuesday match in Brisbane), I told everybody… because this is not a small thing. So I conveyed this (discordant comments from Dhoni and Sehwag) to them immediately, in exactly the same terms. Everybody was there. All 17 members. They said, ‘Sir, there is no difference, but we will be vigilant in future. If somebody has seen there is a communication gap, we will try to avoid that situation in future’.”In two blockbuster press conferences, Dhoni first said the seniors leaked runs and can’t be fielded together and Sehwag later said Dhoni had told the seniors that they are being rotated not because of their fielding but because the team wants to give chance to youngsters. The BCCI back home blamed the touring media of misquoting the players, but how one can misquote during a live press conference is beyond comprehension.The think tank has deemed the scenario either too flimsy or too volatile and thought it best to avoid the entire situation and leave it to Dhoni for his mandatory press conference, which will surely pop up some day or the other.Till that day, the team has a lot of time on its hand to stay ‘positive’ and the captain to prepare his answers.last_img read more

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BCCI sends strong message to Sehwag, Gambhir after rift in Australia

first_imgJust a week ago Delhi cricketers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir seemed to be leading a revolt against their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on their ongoing tour of Australia. Now, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seems to have told them clearly to toe the line or face the music.On Wednesday, while Sehwag was ousted from the team on “medical grounds”, Virat Kohli’s elevation as vice captain ahead of Gambhir was being viewed as a strong message by the BCCI. The board’s message seems to repose its faith on Dhoni being the undisputed ringmaster in Team India.”I don’t want to talk about speculation.You have seen them play games. From time to time, physios take physical test of players on tour and the physio has given his report that Sehwag and Zaheer have been rested purely on injury grounds,” chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth said in Mumbai while announcing the team for Asia Cup on Wednesday.Srikkanth went all out to dismiss talks that the under-performing Sehwag was handed the axe from the Asia Cup. He clarified that the struggling opener’s appalling form down under had no role in his missing the flight to Dhaka.Quite recently, on February 21, dismissing Dhoni’s rotation policy Sehwag had said in Brisbane that he was “fit and available for all matches”. Now, Sehwag’s exclusion on grounds of fitness does raise doubts over the real reasons behind his ouster.Earlier, Gambhir had also raised a controversy saying he would have liked to finish a match against Australia earlier than Dhoni did. He had made the observation after the team’s narrow victory against Australia on February 12.advertisement”We shouldn’t have taken the game to the 50th over. That’s my personal observation. I know it’s always easier to talk when you are in the dressing room and it’s always tough in the middle, but my personal observation is we shouldn’t have let this game go into the last over,” Gambhir had said.Sehwag and Gambhir’s open challenge to Dhoni had exposed the split in the Indian camp out in the open. But it seems the selectors have now cracked the whip. By keeping Sehwag out of the mix for Bangladesh tour and ignoring Gambhir from vice captaincy responsibilities, a hard message has been sent to the warring seniors.- With inputs from Mumbailast_img read more

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