INTERNATIONAL & NATIONAL FOOTBALL: Bhutia to leave for Portugal on Wednesday

INTERNATIONAL & NATIONAL FOOTBALL: Bhutia to leave for Portugal on Wednesday – good news for the dashing duo from the hills and for India ?!!

Sunil Chhetri, Bhaichung Bhutia & Steven Dias - the captain's welcome for good luck ?!! (Sulekha)

From Times of India

KOLKATA, Aug 2, 2010, 05.13pm IST (PTI): India captain Bhaichung Bhutia will leave for Portugal on Wednesday where his teammates are preparing for next year’s Asian Cup.

Bhutia, who has recovered from a thyroid-related illness said on Monday, “I am absolutely fine now and have recovered fully. I am looking forward to the camp in Portugal.”

Striker Sunil Chhetri, who has returned from the US after he was released for national duty by his Major League club Kansas City Wizards, would also leave on the same day, giving a boost to coach Bob Houghton.

Bhutia and Chhetri would be available for India’s international friendlies scheduled in September.

India has so far two wins under their belt — against Desportivo das Caldas and Desportivo Monsanto — in their preparatory practice matches.

SANTOSH TROPHY: Delhi’s hopes hang in balance – fingers crossed & toes ?!!

The coveted Santosh Trophy - well worth its publicity, needs a lot more razz-ma-tazz ?!!

From Indian Express
By Siddhartha Sharma

New Delhi, Tue, Aug 3, 2010, 01:54 hrs: A draw against 29-times champions Bengal in their opening encounter of the quarter-final league in the 64th Santosh Trophy may have left the Delhi team relieved but another draw on Monday against Tamil Nadu means the team remains in the knock-out zone.

With just two points from as many games, Delhi lie at the third position in Group B, with Bengal and Tamil Nadu inching closer to qualify for the semi-finals. The top two teams from each group qualify for the last four. “Now it is a 50-50 situation for us. We did not want a draw against Tamil Nadu. It is tough for us now as both the teams are comfortably placed,” admitted coach Ranjeet Thapa from Kolkata.

Expressing disappointment over his team’s performance, Thapa said Delhi ought to have won this game. Despite taking the lead, Delhi could not hold on to it and succumbed to last-minute pressure, conceding a goal in the dying moments.

Earlier too, Delhi had gone ahead, only to lose it in the closing minutes against West Bengal. Despite not having a great defence, Delhi’s complacency in letting down their guard after taking lead proved their undoing. “It is always about taking the lead. We missed quite a few easy chances that could have finished the job for us. But now our chances of progressing look dim,” Thapa said.

With a match left against Mizoram, Thapa is still hoping his squad can pull off a semi-final spot. He spoke of the need to tighten the defence to ensure the team does not get pushed on the defensive from a winning position. “There is no problem with the strategy or the way we are heading in the tournament. The attack is good and even the defence is playing its part but I think fatigue sets in in the last minutes which makes us concede a goal, “ said Thapa.

Still hopeful

About the next game against Mizoram, the coach said, “We have to attack as it is a do-or-die match for us. Now we are least concerned about the defence because our main need right now is to win with a big margin.”

Meanwhile, Delhi goalkeeper Pranoy Roy, who made a brilliant save in the first half to give his team the edge over Tamil Nadu, said it was a scorcher of a goal in the 89th minute by the TN side that had him frozen onto the spot. “I would only say that luck wasn’t on our side. Having dominated the whole game, I have no idea how they scored, but the goal was worth appreciating,” said Roy.

Tuishim Mashangava, the highest scorer for Delhi in this year’s Santosh Trophy, was a shadow of himself. Thapa stressed the fact that his lead striker was looking lethargic and had to be rested. Mashangava was replaced by David Ngaihte who did not disappoint, scoring the lead in the 81st minute.

Though the team still hopes for a miracle, even if they are knocked out, Thapa said they would not return disappointed, satisfied with the fact that they remained unbeaten throughout the competition.

MEANWHILE

Bagan coach on camp recce – no high altitude practice yet ?!!

The Mohan Bagan group meet the press - putting forward the right impression ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 2: Calcutta soccer giant Mohun Bagan will hold a conditioning camp here from August 12, if the club’s chief coach is allowed to have his way.

“The condition of the ground and the stadium is very nice. I found the climate also similar to Calcutta, which will help the players get into good condition before the season starts,” Stanley Rozario told reporters after visiting at Kanchenjungha Stadium and the adjacent swimming pool.

The coach said he would ask the club management to allow him to hold the camp here.

The Mohun Bagan coach who arrived here this afternoon to inspect the stadium drove straight to the ground accompanied by Nantu Pal, the deputy mayor of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. “I have a plan to start the camp here by August 12 which will continue for the next 12-13 days. Most of the players will attend the camp on a full-fledged training schedule,” he said.

According to him, Mohun Bagan has got the best forward line in the country, comprising Brazilian Barreto and two Nigerians Muritala and Chidi.

“We have also managed to get some young talent, which will definitely help us get good results in the coming season,” Rozario said.

Pal agreed to extend cooperation to Mohun Bagan for its proposed camp.

“I will request the club authorities to play an exhibition match at the stadium with the players from north Bengal after the conditioning camp,” Pal said.

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