India Jump Two Places For Best Annual FIFA Ranking In Six Years
- NEW DELHI : India jumped two places to finish 2016 at 135, their best in the last six years, in the FIFA rankings published on Thursday. This is India's six-year highest annual ranking after 2009 when India finished at 134. National coach Stephen Constantine attributed the upsurge to all his players and the staff. "It can't be achieved without the help of the players. We have an exceptional batch of players as we are in the process of building the team for the future," Constantine said. But Constantine wasn't willing to go overboard with the new rankings. "One of my priorities was to improve the national team ranking when I took over.
- The results do state that we have improved but there's still a lot more to achieve," he added. "Football results are always determined by the support which one receives off the field. I am grateful both to Mr. Patel (AIFF President Praful Patel) and Mr. Das (AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das) for allowing me to do the things in the manner I wanted to do. Both of them envisage a long-term plan for Indian football and it's a total team effort," he maintained. "There have been so many positives for us in 2016. Right from the National Team winning the SAFF Championship to the Women's Team winning the SAG Gold to the National Team beating a team as high as Puerto Rico 4-1 (ranked 114 at that time) in an International Friendly, things are looking bright," he said.
- "The developments off the field saw us win the 2016 AFC Award for the Best Developing Member Association and we also had Uvena Fernandes, the first even Indian referee to officiate a World Cup final match. And off course we need to remember that we had an Indian Club in the AFC Cup final for the first time ever and one of our youth development product becoming the first Indian player to play in the Europa League," he added. The draw for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2017 will be held on January 23, 2017 and India would be playing their first match in the Qualifiers on March 28.
Indian Eves Clinch Bronze In U-18 Hockey Asia Cup
- BANGKOK : Sangita Kumari scored twice as India blanked Korea 3-0 to clinch a bronze medal in the 4th Women's Under-18 Asia Cup hockey tournament on Thursday. Sangita scored in the 55th and 58th minutes after Ritu had put India ahead in the 45th minute in the bronze-medal play-off. The two teams played out a goal-less first half, with India content with dropping deep and relying on the counter to create opportunities. Korea earned several penalty corners but failed to convert from any, as India's defence closed them down perfectly. The best chance of the half, however, fell to India as a defensive mistake in Korea's circle saw the ball came to Sangita Kumari who took a shot across the goal with Mahima also waiting for an opportunity.
- The weight on the pass was too much though as the chance went wide. India took the lead minutes after the break as Ritu scored the opener off a penalty corner. A few minutes later, some brilliant interplay between Lalremsiami and Sangita saw the latter's shot stopped on the line illegally as India won a stroke. Manpreet Kaur's attempt from the spot was, however, denied by Korean goalkeeper Lee Da Bom. The Indian eves kept applying pressure and in the 55th minute, Lalremsiami showed great vision to send an inch perfect pass to Sangita, who cut past two defenders to slot the ball into the goal and extend India's lead.
- The third goal came off a similar route, Sangita scoring her second of the game in the 58th minute. From there on, India took firm control of the game, and despite a late Korean penalty corner, they held strong to march to a 3-0 win and secure a bronze medal. For their creditable bronze-winning performance, Hockey India announced cash rewards of Rs 1 lakh for each player and Rs 50,000 for each of the support staff.
Air India Gives Measly Cash Awards To Harendra, Armaan
- NEW DELHI : A struggling Air India on Thursday announced cash awards of meagre Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 for two of its employees - coach Harendra Singh and striker Armaan Qureshi - who were part of the historic Indian hockey team that won the Junior World Cup last week after a gap of 15 years. Harendra, who is working as a senior manager in Air India, was the head coach of the Indian colts who defeated Belgium 2-1 in the final to lift the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow last Sunday.
- Armaan is a contractual employee and plays for Air India in the domestic circuit. Announcing the cash awards, Air India Chairman and Managing Director, Ashwani Lohani said if the national carrier was in a good position financially, he would have rewarded the duo more for their accomplishments. Promising to get the national carrier out of troubled waters, Lohani said he wants Air India to promote sports as it used to do in the past. "I would like to congratulate both Harendra and Armaan for what they have achieved. It is a matter of pride for the Air India family. I would like to announce a small cash award of Rs 25,000 for Harendra and Rs 10,000 for Armaan from Air India's behalf," Lohani said during a felicitation ceremony here today. "I would have liked to reward them more if not for our current position. But we pledge to work as a family and get Air India back on track," he added.
- Asked if Air India is planning to regularize Armaan's job or considering a promotion for Harendra, Lohani gave a diplomatic reply. "We have a policy o promote sports but we have to look at the matter. But definitely the matter will be under our active consideration," said Lohani, who is also the President of Air India Sports Promotion Board. Air India also felicitated all-rounder Jayant Yadav, who impressed in his debut Test series against England recently. Jayant is not directly associated with the Air India family but his father is a regular employee of the national carrier.
Pariya Takes Day 1 Lead At McLeod Russel Golf Tourney
- KOLKATA : Thailand's Pariya Junhasavasdikul seized the round one lead at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship golf, courtesy a masterly six-under-66 here on Thursday. Pariya, playing on a sponsor invite and making his debut at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), was one shot ahead of second-placed Khalin Joshi of Bengaluru who is a major contender for the ranking title. Amardip Sinh Malik of Noida, playing through pain due to a dislocated finger, fired a hole-in-one on the second that propelled him to tied third place at four-under-68 along with Chandigarh's Ranjit Singh. Veteran Jeev Milkha Singh, playing in the marquee group of the day alongside the other two biggest names in the field, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa, was also off to a solid start as he posted a three-under-69 to be tied fifth.
- Two-time Asian Tour winner Pariya enjoyed himself in his very first competitive round. The 32-year-old from Bangkok, who began the tournament with a birdie on the first, was aided by a hot putter as he made an eagle and three birdie conversions from a range of 10 to 15 feet. The Thai conceded his only shot of the day after missing out on an up and down from the bunker on the 13th. He finally closed the day on a positive note by picking up a stroke on the 18th after landing his approach within a foot. "I'm quite happy with this start as I'm playing on this course for the first time.
- I found most fairways and my short-game bailed me out whenever I missed the greens." "One needs to capitalise on the two par-5s here as they provide scoring opportunities. I eagled one of them but had to be content with a par on the other. One requires a good game-plan on this course and the key is to place the ball well for the approach shot. You have to create maximum birdie opportunities," Pariya, the leading foreign player in the field, said after his round. Khalin ignited his ranking title campaign once again with a bogey-free 67 in round one. The highlight of his round was the recovery from the rough on the ninth where his approach landed within three feet of the pin to set up a birdie. Khalin is currently in third place in the contest for the ranking title and trails leader Shubhankar Sharma by less than Rs.5 lakh in prize money.
- Ranjit Singh joined Amardip in third place. He produced an eagle on the 15th hole from 25 feet. Jeev fared the best among India's international stars with six birdies and three bogeys. "I'm happy with the first round. I sank just one long putt today, a 15-footer on the eighth. The rest were all within 10 feet. I didn't hit the driver well and as a result switched to the 3-wood which got me better results. I was disappointed with the bogey on the last hole where I couldn't pull off a low cut shot. "I had great fun playing with my good friends Arjun (Atwal) and Jyoti (Randhawa). We were joking, laughing and encouraging each other throughout," Jeev said. Delhi's Honey Baisoya, currently fifth in the ranking, shared fifth place with Jeev on day one.
- The eight golfers bunched together in tied seventh at two-under-70 were Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia, Shamim Khan, Shubhankar, Rashid Khan, Mukesh Kumar, Bangladesh's Md Zamal Hossain Mollah and Sanjeev Kumar. Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur were a further shot back in tied 15th while Arjun Atwal was tied 26th at one-over-73. Defending champion Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru was in tied 33rd place after his opening round of 74.
Deborah Wins Gold, Betters Own Record On Borrowed Cycle
- Deborah Herold of Andaman and Nicobar Islands stole the limelight from hosts Kezia Varghese in the elite women's 500m individual time trial event by improving own one-year-old record on the second day of the 69th Senior National Track Cycling Championship at LNCPE velodrome, Kariyavattom in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. The day also saw another four records been rewritten but in junior and sub-junior categories which are also held simultaneously. The much-touted duel between the best bet two - Deborah and Kezia - in the country ended in anti-climax. Kezia was half-fit as she was yet to recover from neck injury suffered while lifting weights in the gym during national camp in New Delhi recently.
- Meanwhile, Deboarah who went through the motions without much fuss blamed on the cycle she borrowed for the event despite improving own record of 36.470 seconds to 36.377s. "The cycle I rode here was the one I borrowed from SAI centre back home in Car Nicobar. In New Delhi, where I train, I use different one. Actually, I'm focussing on Asian meet, so this performance is not to my liking," said Deborah who was the first Indian rider to break the 37-second barrier. Deborah who like Kezia returned from training at UCI, world governing body's training centre at Incheon in South Korea early this year, wanted to prove her mettle here. Kezia managed to bag the silver medal while Anu Chutia of Assam went home with bronze clocking 39.567s.
- Kezia's neck injury will be a serious setback to India's campaign in Asian Track Championship to be held at New Delhi in February 6-10. The duo - Deborah and Kezia - has been touted as the best in the country in team sprint event too. Kezia told TOI she will take time to recover from the neck injury. "My hope to represent the country in the Asian meet is near to hopeless. I competed here because I was restless for the past two days and this (national meet) is held at home but Asian meet is a huge, I cannot rush on my fitness. Doctors said it (being neck) will take time to heal," Kezia added. Meanwhile, Kerala's Aleena Reji made up for Kezia's loss. In junior girls U-18 500m individual time trial event, Aleena and P Nayana Rajesh made it 1-2 for the hosts.
- Aleena also set new national record in the process when she completed the event in new time of 37.803s. The old record of 37.908s was set by Deborah in 2013. Nayana (38.903s) and Anu Chutia (39.522s) of Assam took silver and bronze. Deborah's state-mate Essaw, who is touted as brightest prospect, set a national record in boys under-14 500m individual time trials when he improved own record set in 2015. Essaw won a gold in scratch event on first day but in boys U-16 category.
- On first day on Wednesday, two national records were set in sub-junior 500 m individual time trial by Manipur's Y Rojit Singh (35.297s old record 36.014s by Essaw in 2015) and Daina Devi (47.749s, old record 42.164s by Jashanjit Kaur in 2012). Sudheesh Kumar SS, organising secretary, told TOI on Thursday that the national anti-doping agency (NADA) are yet to confirm their presence. "Despite several reminders to NADA, there is no news," Sudheesh said. the NADA testing on riders for enhance performance drugs is mandatory in national meets.
I-T Department Requisitions Central Forces For Search Operations In Kolkata
- KOLKATA : The income tax department is all set to take the help of Central forces while conducting search operations in the city. The request for deployment of central forces has received nod from the Union Home Ministry, senior I-T officials in Kolkata confirmed. The normal practice for the I-T department is to requisition Kolkata or Bengal Police personnel during raids. According to the I-T officials, recently they faced resistance from locals while conducting raids in the city, particularly in Burrabazar.
- "As a practice we would continue to ask for help from the state police. But the additional force can be utilized when we do not get enough support," said a top I-T official. Significantly, the I-T department took the help of CRPF personnel during the raid on the residence of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao in Chennai on Wednesday. However, neither the Tamil Nadu government not the state DGP was aware of any requisition for deployment of the central forces.