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Rohit Sharma: MS Dhoni Is The Number One Footballer In Indian Team

On Thursday (13th December), the Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma became the first-ever La Liga brand ambassador in India. La Liga is a famous Spanish football league which has appointed a non-football player as their ambassador for the first time.

Football in India has recently gained some support with the introduction of football leagues, such as the Indian Super League (ISL). The right-handed batsman believes that ISL has provided a base for the world-famous game and has helped to grow the richness of the game in the streets of India.

Referring to ISL, Rohit said that ISL is just like IPL, the two events have provided the players with a platform to enhance and showcase their talent worldwide.

“I think it has become competitive. The infrastructure has grown immensely. ISL, in particular, has provided a great platform to all these younger Indian players to come out and display the skills just like IPL has done for Indian cricket I can only see the Indian football grow from here,” Rohit said.

Rohit names MS Dhoni as the number one footballer in the Indian team

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The aggressive opener of India is the first non-footballer to be chosen as the face of the Spanish football league – La Liga. Rohit expressed his gratitude and happiness after becoming the La Liga brand ambassador, saying that he is honoured to be a part of such a high-profile league.

During the event, he named former Indian skipper and wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni as the number one footballer in India team.

“MS Dhoni is the number one football player. There are few guys like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya they follow football and they do watch all these footballers,” Rohit said during the media briefing.

Renowned as HITMAN, Rohit said that football in Spain is like cricket in India. It is celebrated and lived just as cricket is played in India. He also claimed that although cricket was his first love, football was very close to his heart. He named Zinedine Zidane as his favourite footballer while his favourite club is Real Madrid. Rohit called Spain as his support in the FIFA World Cup.

“I always used to watch football when I was growing up. In India cricket is how football is in Spain. Everybody wants to pick up the bat and play cricket in India,” he added.

In the meantime, the Indian team will be girding up their loins for the first ODI clash against West Indies. The ‘Men in Blue’ already won the T20I series after defeating the visitors by 65 runs in the decider on last Wednesday night. The first ODI will be played on 15 December at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

ISL: FC Goa thrash NorthEast United 5-1

ISL: FC Goa thrash NorthEast United 5-1

Fatorda, Dec 15: FC Goa turned on the style in the second session as they drubbed NorthEast United FC 5-1 in an entertaining Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

Ferran Corominas grabbed a brace (59th minute, 84′) to equal Iain Hume’s tally of 28 goals and pull level with him as the all-time highest scorer in the ISL. Edu Bedia (69′), Hugo Bumous (71′) and Miguel Palanca (90+1′) also got on the scoresheet for Goa, while Bartholomew Ogbeche (90) scored a consolation for the visitors.

The win sees Goa climb to the third spot on the table with 20 points from 11 games, a place above NorthEast United.

FC Goa started the game well, keeping hold of the ball well and looking to get in behind the NorthEast United defence. They had a chance in the very first minute when a poor touch from Gurwinder Singh allowed Jackichand Singh to get a shot away which hit the side-netting.

Boumous, who was finding a lot of space to operate, then saw Coro and Mourtada Fall fail to get a touch to his inviting cross into the box.

Despite sustained intent from the Gaurs, NorthEast hung on and slowly grew into the game. Though they did create a couple of half-chances towards the end of the first half, nothing concrete came off them.

However, they improved after the break and should have taken the lead in the 54th minute when Federico Gallego played Redeem Tlang through on goal.

The winger eased past Mandar Rao Dessai and reached the byline. But he could not control the ball and ended up rolling it towards goalkeeper Mohammed Nawaz, who cleared it for a corner.

Goa were fortunate to escape an appeal for a handball inside the box.

Jackichand was afforded space down the right wing and his cross was acrobatically turned in by Coro to end his goal drought.

That strike opened the floodgates as Goa found their free scoring ways again. Edu Bedia slipped past Gurwinder Singh in the 69th minute before executing a delightful chip to make it 2-0.

Brandon Fernandes’ low cross was expertly steered home by Boumous two minutes later as NorthEast United looked stunned.

With confidence seeping through them, Goa had the time to get another goal. This time, Boumous was the provider with a good ball across the box and Coro tapped in his 10th goal of the campaign.

ISL: Cahill, Choudhary fire Jamshedpur back into top 4

ISL: Cahill, Choudhary fire Jamshedpur back into top 4

Jamshedpur, Dec 12: Jamshedpur FC got their chase for the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs back on track with an excellent 2-1 comeback win against Delhi Dynamos at the Tata Sports Complex here on Wednesday.

Lallianzuala Chhangte opened the scoring in the 24th minute but Tim Cahill restored parity in the 29th minute with a trademark header. Jamshedpur completed the comeback after the break with a 61st minute match-winner from Farukh Choudhary.

Delhi started with a bang and almost scored within seconds from kick-off. Adria Carmona played a neat one-two with Rene Mihelic outside the box and thumped a powerful shot that rattled the crossbar and went out.

The visitors’ desire to take an early lead denied Jamshedpur time and space on the pitch. In the 7th minute, Marcos Tebar played a delightful ball over the top for Lallianzuala Chhangte who beat Tiri for pace but hit the ball off target.

Delhi kept knocking on the doors and took the lead in the 24th minute. Narayan Das’ cross from the left flank was met by Mihelic inside the box who squared the ball for Chhangte. The pass took a deflection off Tiri and fell perfectly for Chhangte who slotted home.

Jamshedpur hit back with an equaliser five minutes later. Carlos Calvo took a short corner and exchanged passes with Memo before delivering into the box for Tim Cahill who headed into the net.

The hosts tried to put pressure on the Delhi defence after the break. In the 50th minute, Choudhary delivered a low cross from the right flank and with the defenders focused on Cahill’s movement inside the box, Mario Arques timed an excellent run towards the near post but failed to head the ball on target.

The creator then turned scorer in the 61st minute. Delhi failed to deal with a Carlos Calvo corner that caused panic inside the box. Marcos Tebar tried to head the air-borne ball clear but it fell to Choudhary who slammed a terrific strike into the top left corner of the net from the edge of the box.

In the 70th minute, Nandhakumar Sekar failed to get the better of Robin Gurung inside the box as the ball hit the full-back’s hand. The visitors’ appeals for a penalty were waved away as the loose ball fell to Andrija Kaludjerovic whose snapshot was kept out by Subrata Paul.

Kaludjerovic tried to single-handedly rescue a point for Delhi with a mazy run from the left flank. The striker skipped past a couple of challenges, entered the box and sent a forceful strike at Paul who parried the ball away and thereby, sealed a vital victory for Jamshedpur.


ISL: Pune get another win, and revenge on Goa

Pune, Dec 11: FC Pune City continued with their resurgence as they produced a spirited display to register a 2-0 win over FC Goa in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium here on Tuesday.

A terrific striker from Marcelinho in the 74th minute and a late penalty from Marko Stankovic (90+4′) separated the two sides as Pune kept consecutive clean sheets.

With only one point from three previous games, FC Goa’s struggles after the international break in November continued and they find themselves in the fourth spot with 17 points.

Pune, meanwhile, have climbed to the seventh spot with their second consecutive win, and more importantly avenged their 2-4 hammering in Goa when interim coach Pradyum Reddy had just taken charge.

Goa dominated possession in the early stages of the game as Pune willingly dropped deep and set themselves up for quick counters. Hugo Boumous initiated a good move in the 12th minute as he picked out Seriton Fernandes’ run on the right flank.

The full-back returned the favour with a cross into the centre but Boumous, who got on the end of it, sent his effort wide.

Pune had an excellent chance to take the lead in the 17th minute when Iain Hume’s long diagonal over the top for Marcelinho caught Goa’s defence off-guard. Seriton tracked back and nicked the ball off the Brazilian with a last-ditch tackle.

With the match turning out to be an end-to-end affair, Goa threatened again in the 22nd minute. Edu Bedia’s lob allowed Brandon Fernandes to dribble into the box and force a good save from Kamaljit Singh.

With three minutes left for the end of the first half, Mandar Rao Dessai’s cut-back from the left found Ferran Corominas in the centre of the box and the forward laid the ball off for Edu to send a powerful effort that hit the crossbar.

Goa pulled the strings again after the break but Pune had no plans to sit back despite Goa’s dominance. In the 55th minute, Ashique Kuruniyan sneaked towards the byline and chipped a good cross for Nim Dorjee Tamang whose close-range header was parried away by Mohammad Nawaz.

Ahmed Jahouh took it upon himself to take the Pune defence out of the equation with a swerving strike from outside the box in the 70th minute but Kamaljit produced an exceptional save to tip the ball away.

A minute later, Mourtada Fall’s failure to clear the ball allowed Marcelinho to dribble into the box at the other end but the Brazilian forward’s shot was brilliantly saved by Nawaz.

The Brazilian worked his magic to give Pune the lead in the 74th minute. Sarthak Golui’s pass found Marcelinho in space outside the box and the latter unleashed a beautiful curling strike that kissed the back of the net.

Jahouh hit the post with a similarly outstanding effort at the other end two minutes later as Goa sought an equaliser.

Despite Goa pouring forward in attack, Pune held them off well and won a penalty late on when Marko Stankovic was held by Mohammed Ali. The midfielder stepped up and converted from 12 yards to seal a hard-fought victory for Pune City.


ISL: NorthEast, ATK in goalless stalemate

Guwahati, Dec 8: NorthEast United FC and ATK fought to a goalles draw in their Indian Super League (ISL) encounter here on Sunday.

This is the third consecutive draw for NorthEast United in this year’s edition. After draws against Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC, where they led till the closing stages of the game, NorthEast United were forced to share the spoils again.

NorthEast United have scored only one goal in their last three games but the point gained saw them reclaim the second spot with 20 points from 11 games. ATK are still sixth with 16 points from 11 matches.

The match got off to a sedate start as neither team found any sort of rhythm in attack. Though the home side saw more of the ball in the opening exchanges, they were unable to trouble the ATK defence which looked compact.

The first attempt on goal came in the 21st minute when Redeem Tlang showed good change of pace to work some space to shoot. However, his grounder was collected by an alert Arindam Bhattacharya in the ATK goal.

After a period of midfield slugfest, ATK forced their first chance when Everton Santos played in Balwant Singh with a shrewd lob but the Indian striker hit it straight at NorthEast goalkeeper Pawan Kumar.

The sloppy nature of the match continued for the rest of the half but the hosts were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time when defender Mislav Komorski was stretchered off injured. Coach Eelco Schattorie was forced to send in Gurwinder Singh instead.

Just before the end of the half, ATK captain Manuel Lanzarote’s freekick looked set to be headed in by Hitesh Sharma but Keegan Perera made a crucial intervention to keep the scoreline intact.
The slow-paced nature of the game continued in the second half as well with clear cut chances coming at a premium.

Even the substitutions made in the second half failed to provide the spark and the next real chance came in the 75th minute when Bartholomew Ogbeche unleashed a powerful effort from the edge of the box which went straight into the waiting hands of the ATK goalkeeper.

ATK, however, did have a couple of good chances towards the end. Everton’s shot from close-range after a freekick from Noussair El Maimouni was blocked late in the game, and with a minute left to be played, Andre Bikey saw a header from a Maimouni corner cleared off the line by Gurwinder as the match wound to a draw.


ISL: Kerala’s hopes hanging by a thread after Pune defeat

Kochi, Dec 8: Kerala Blasters FC’s dry run at home in the Indian Super League (ISL) continued but this time it got worse as they were handed a 1-0 defeat by FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

Kerala have been winless at home this season and have not picked up full points since their opening round win against ATK.

Fans have been hoping there would be a turnaround but instead it were Pune City who registered only their second win of the campaign.

The only goal of the match came in the 20th minute from Marcelinho. The win takes Pune to eighth spot and are now only a point off Kerala who remain a spot above. Blasters are winless in 10 games now.

After a nervy start, the match sprang to life in the seventh minute when Robin Singh placed the ball on a platter for Marcelinho off Nim Dorjee Tamang’s forward pass.

With Anas Edathodika dragged out of position, the Brazilian forward charged into space and had just the goalkeeper to beat from inside the box. Dheeraj Singh closed down the angle and pulled off a terrific reflex save to deny Pune an early lead.

Kerala threatened at the other end a minute later. After a crisp interchange of passes between Sahal Samad and Courage Pekuson on the edge of the box, the latter picked out Slavisa Stojanovic’s run behind the defence with a delightful lob which the striker failed to connect with his outstretched right leg.

The visitors opened the scoring in the 20th minute through a deflected effort from Marcelinho. Ashique Kuruniyan cut inside from the left flank and fed the forward with a through-ball into the box.

Marcelinho’s shot took a wicked deflection off Anas’ legs and found the bottom right corner.

Kerala saw a lot of the ball for the rest of the half as they battled to find an equaliser. However, Pune’s defence looked unusually solid as they kept the home side at bay.

The home side upped the ante after the restart and restricted the visitors to efforts from outside the box. One such shot by Marko Stankovic, however, flew inches wide of the post in the 59th minute.

The ever-present Sahal went close from Zakeer’s corner-kick a few minutes later. The delivery was headed just wide at the near post by the Kerala-born youngster.

Kerala had made a habit of getting equalisers late in the game but this time, it was not to be as Kamaljit Singh came up with a splendid save off a Jhingan header, while Vineeth hit the post to cap off a frustrating night for David James’ side.


ISL: Brilliant Chencho preserves Bengaluru’s unbeaten run

Guwahati, Dec 5: Bengaluru FCs unbeaten start to the Indian Super League (ISL) remained intact after a dramatic 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Wednesday.

After a tightly-contested first half, Eelco Schattorie’s side took the lead through Federico Gallego (64th minute). However, a late acrobatic effort from Bhutanese striker Chencho Gyeltshen ensured a point for Bengaluru.

The result sees Bengaluru FC preserve their four-point advantage over NorthEast United at the top of the table.

The first chance fell for the home side when Lalthathanga Khawlring threaded a through ball for Redeem Tlang but the latter’s shot was just about kept out by an onrushing goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

From the ensuing corner, Bartholomew Ogbeche, who was under pressure from Xisco Hernandez, managed to head it straight at the Bengaluru custodian.

It was a scrappy game with both teams struggling to dominate the midfield. While Pawan Kumar in goal looked shaky each time the ball was played to his feet, the visitors survived a couple of close offside calls against Ogbeche at the other end.

The first half saw two shots on target from the home side and just one for the away team.

Carles Cuadrat changed the way his side lined-up after the break with Harmanjot Khabra moving to the right-back position with Rahul Bheke on the opposite flank.

But it was NorthEast who had a chance when Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges combined with the former sending a cross into the box which was cleared by Eric Paartalu straight into the hands of the Bengaluru custodian.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 64th minute as Federico Gallego found a way past the Bengaluru defence. Ogbeche played a ball to the left when Gallego was left in a lot of space. He sidestepped Albert Serran to slot it home as the ball took a deflection off Gurpreet to find its way in.

In the 66th minute, Bengaluru couldn’t clear their lines and Gurpreet had to come off his to clear the ball. However, he fouled Ogbeche in the process and earned a yellow card. From the ensuing free-kick, Ogbeche’s effort was blocked as Bengaluru survived yet another scare.

Cuadrat immediately substituted Serran and brought in Chencho in order to bolster their attack. However, it was Schattorie’s team who looked threatening every time they ventured into the opposition half.

Bengaluru came close in the 88th minute when Khabra’s cross was chested down by Xisco for Chencho and the Bhutanese striker’s shot sailed over.

However, Chencho wasn’t going to be denied for the second time as his acrobatic kick after getting on the end of a Chhetri header helped his side find the equaliser.

ISL: NorthEast United FC defeat FC Pune City 2-0

ISL: NorthEast United FC defeat FC Pune City 2-0

Pune, Nov 27: NorthEast United FC got the better of FC Pune City 2-0 in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Tuesday.

Bartholomew Ogbeche and Juan Mascia scored a goal each to seal three points for the visitors, who have continued their unbeaten run away from home and climbed to the second spot on the league table with 17 points from eight matches.

Meanwhile, Ogbeche has equalled Ferran Corominas’ tally of eight goals in the race for the Golden Boot.

FC Pune City, who started the match with four foreign players, created plenty of chances to score but failed to beat NorthEast United custodian Pawan Kumar.

NorthEast United broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute when Federico Gallego’s flat corner-kick reached Ogbeche at the far post. The striker chested it down and placed the ball into the net to score his eighth goal of the season.

Pune soon stepped up their efforts and were almost rewarded in the 41st minute when Marcelinho’s free-kick from the left found Matt Mills inside the box. The defender rose highest and was denied by Pawan, who pulled off an outstanding save.

Pune started the second half just like they ended the first. They pressed for an equaliser but a resilient NorthEast United backline stood firm to keep the scores level.

Juan Mascia dribbled into the box from the right and was brought down by Sahil Panwar in the 90th minute. The forward stepped up and converted from 12 yards to seal the win for NorthEast United.


ISL: Udanta’s goal guides Bengaluru FC to win over Delhi Dynamos

Bengaluru, Nov 26: Udanta Singh paid a perfect tribute to his idol Sunil Chhetri on the occasion of his captains 150th game for the club, as the young Manipuri lad scripted Bengaluru FCs solitary goal win over Delhi Dynamos in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Monday.

After surviving an onslaught from Delhi Dynamos, Udanta Singh notched the winner (87th minute) to win it for captain Chhetri.

Playing their seventh game of the season, Bengaluru FC are now on the top of the ISL table with 19 points, while it seems all but over for the Dynamos as they remain rooted at the bottom after 9 games, yet to register a clear win to their account.

Bengaluru FC started with four foreigners in the absence of the injured Miku and suspended Dimas Delgado. Erik Paartalu recovered in time to be named on the bench.

The first opportunity fell for the home team when Chhetri latched onto a long ball, however, Pritam Kotal recovered well to cover him off with the advancing Albino Gomes clearing the ball.

Gurpreet Sandhu was called into action in the 15th minute when he parried a shot from Adria Carmona after Lallianzuala Chhangte foxed Rino Anto to set up the chance.

In the 27th minute, Nandhakumar went on a great run down the right after some good build-up play. However, the final pass to Andrija Kaluderovic saw the striker slam the shot wide.

Just after the half-hour mark, Chhangte broke the offside trap and was in a one-on-one situation. However, Gurpreet came off his line and blocked the effort.

Rino Anto once again played Delhi onside and this time the ball fell for Nandhakumar whose shot was deflected for a corner by Juanan.

Nandhakumar was once again through on goal and his left-footed shot was just about kept out by Gurpreet.

After Delhi had the better of the chances in the first half, Bengaluru fashioned the first chance of the second. Udanta was set free on the right wing and the winger squared the ball for Chhetri inside the box. But the 34-year-old scuffed his attempted shot wide.

Delhi strove hard to get an equaliser. However lack of cutting edge in the attacking third meant their moves broke down. Bengaluru brought on Erik Paartalu as they searched for some solidity in midfield.

The Blues had a great chance to score in the 70th minute when Udanta took advantage of a confusion in the Delhi defence to play Xisco Hernandez through on goal with a good lob. But the Spaniard’s first-time shot was straight at Albino.

Three minutes later, Delhi’s finishing woes were on show as Kaluderovic headed over from close range after getting on the end of a corner from Rene Mihelic.

With four minutes of regulation time left, Bengaluru found themselves in the lead after a mix-up in the Delhi defence. A loose ball after a Bengaluru move broke down wasn’t cleared properly.

It finally fell to Udanta, who saw a stinging grounder go in off the post after taking a deflection off Marti Crespi.

The Blues would see out the game with ease and notch their sixth win in seven games.

ISL: Mumbai, ATK play a goalless draw

ISL: Mumbai, ATK play a goalless draw

Mumbai, Nov 24: Mumbai City FC and Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) played out a goalless stalemate in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Saturday.

In what turned out to be a lukewarm battle, neither team fashioned enough chances to deserve all three points and played out only the second goalless draw this season. The point gained sees Mumbai City and ATK remain at their respective positions at fourth and sixth spot respectively.

The first chance of the match fell for the visitors when Everton Santos got behind the Mumbai defence and pulled it back for Komal Thatal inside the box. However, the youngster miscued his shot altogether with only Amrinder Singh to beat in goal.

The home side saw a lot of the ball but struggled to create any openings. For ATK, Santos looked threatening each time he was on the ball. However, Mumbai did well defensively to thwart ATK from making inroads.

For ATK, Ricky Lallawmawma ensured that the dangerous Arnold Issoko was kept under check as the Congolese hardly had any impact in the first half.

It was a half where both teams were ineffective in the final third as neither goalkeeper was tested.

Mumbai City did come out with intent at the start of the second half and forced a couple of chances. In the 49th minute, Rafael Bastos found Paulo Machado after getting on the end of a cross from Issoko. But Machado’s effort was blocked away.

Bastos then shot over from a promising position before Machado miscued his effort following a quick counter-attack.

The pace of the game slowed down as the half wore on as clear-cut chances came at a premium. In the 78th minute, Amrinder Singh was forced into action to keep out Manuel Lanzarote’s on-target free-kick.

Subhasish Bose then called Arindam Bhattacharya into action with a belter from distance that the ATK goalkeeper had to parry over the bar.

Lanzarote was then left frustrated three minutes later after his appeals for a penalty after being taken down inside the box by Sehnaj Singh fell on deaf ears.

But that was about it as far as chances went as the teams settled for a point.

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