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AIFF U-17 Youth League offers both players, coaches growth opportunities, says Football 4 change coach

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Football 4 Change Academy head coach Lam Lun Mang believes that AIFF U-17 Youth League offers both players, coaches growth opportunities.

The Football 4 Change Academy have come a long way from competing locally, to reaching the semi-finals of the AIFF U-17 Youth League, in what was only their second participation in the national level league.

The side hailing from Manipur have played 13 matches in the league, and head coach Lam Lun Mang believes that these have allowed his boys to learn and improve.

“We participated in this league for the first time last year and only played till the zonals. This time, the AIFF launched this tournament on a home and away basis in the Group Stage, and I feel that was a very good initiative,” said Mang to AIFF.

“We’re dealing with kids here, so when they start playing at this level, they don’t immediately perform. But this format allowed us to play, learn and improve over time, and that helped our boys,” he said. “The more games we play, the better we perform.”

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Football 4 Change finished top of Group C in the Group Stage, overcoming opponents like Shillong Lajong, NorthEast United, Aizawl FC, and Harisinga Town Club. They followed that up with a second-placed finish in Group C of the Final Rounds, behind Zinc Football Academy, and a victory over Kerala Blasters (2-0) in the quarter-finals. However, their campaign came to an end in the semi-finals with a 0-4 defeat at the hands of defending champions Classic Football Academy.

“The Group Stage was quite difficult for us, as we faced some very good teams, but our boys did well, and that prepared us better for the final rounds,” said Mang. “The teams in the finals were also very good, of course, but I felt that our side was much more prepared as a unite when we played them, than when we played in the Group Stage.”

The Football 4 Change Academy coach believes that the current format of the league is one that provides the academies to develop their players across various age groups.“This system is very good for academies like us, who are working towards long-term development across the U-13, U-15, and U-17 levels. The development is not only for the players, but also for the young coaches,” he said.

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–IANS

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LPL 2024: ‘Consistency’ is key, says Falcons' captain Hasaranga ahead of Qualifier 2 against Kings

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LPL 2024: ‘Consistency’ is key, says Falcons' captain Hasaranga ahead of Qualifier 2 against Kings

LPL 2024: ‘Consistency’ is key, says Falcons' captain Hasaranga ahead of Qualifier 2 against Kings

Colombo, July 20 (IANS) Kandy Falcons’ captain Wanindu Hasaranga has spoken about the friendly atmosphere within the team as his side prepares to take on Jaffna Kings in Qualifier 2 of the Lanka Premier League 2024. Last year, Kandy Falcons won three successive playoff games — Eliminator, Qualifier 2, and Final — to seal the LPL trophy. This year, they have made a winning start to the Playoffs again, beating Colombo Strikers in the Eliminator.

Ahead of Qualifier 2, skipper Hasaranga asked for consistency from his players. “As players and as a team, we have to be consistent. We need to have consistency to win the tournament. Anyone can win matches, but to win tournaments, you need experience, confidence, and consistency. That is the main thing,” Hasaranga said.

Hasaranga said that having won three Playoff games on the trot in LPL 2023, the Kandy Falcons had confidence in the ranks that they could do it again. In fact, this season, defending champions Kandy Falcons needed to win their last league game by a big margin to give themselves a chance of making the Playoffs on a better net run rate. They did exactly that, with a 54-run win over Dambulla Sixers.

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In the Eliminator, Hasaranga praised his bowlers for keeping the target to a manageable 160 a performance that Hasaranga credited to his bowling attack, “Credit goes to the bowlers, they took the wickets and restricted them.”

“We have a great bunch of players. Our overseas players are very friendly. Some of them have been with us for two years, so they are very friendly with the staff and the local players are also getting experience from them. Some of our local players are also experienced and they pass on that to the younger players. So it is a great team,” Hasaranga said after taking 2-21 in the Eliminator victory.

Kandy Falcons will take on Jaffna Kings in Qualifier 2 at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

–IANS

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Paris Olympics: 'The mood is certainly upbeat', Gagan Narang on Indian contingent

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Paris Olympics: 'The mood is certainly upbeat', Gagan Narang on Indian contingent

Paris Olympics: 'The mood is certainly upbeat', Gagan Narang on Indian contingent

Paris, July 20 (IANS) As the first teams arrived in the Olympic Village, India’s Chef-De-Mission Gagan Narang expressed that the contingent is upbeat and eager to begin their campaign.

“I arrived here in Paris on Thursday night and have taken stock of the arrangements inside the Games Village for the Indian contingent. Archery and Rowing were the first Indian teams to arrive on Friday and have comfortably checked-in. The athletes are slowing settling in and are exploring the Village,” stated the 2012 London Olympics Bronze Medallist.

He further stated the mood is that of excitement and anticipation. “The mood is certainly upbeat. We have the Indian Men’s Hockey Team arriving on Saturday. Surely, I am reminded of my hay days at the Olympics as an athlete. While there is a lot of excitement, athletes will also want to get some game time on the competition arenas. We want to make sure the athletes’ have everything they need ahead of the start of their respective events,” added Narang.

The decorated Indian shooter who is also the recipient of the prestigious Khel Ratna Award and the Padma Shri award expressed gratitude to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for appointing him as the Chef-de-Mission for the Paris Olympics.

“It is a matter of great honour for me to travel with the Indian contingent as the Chef-de-Mission for Paris Olympics. I express my heartfelt gratitude for considering me for the role, and giving me a chance to once again serve my country on the sports’ biggest stage,” he said.

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The four-time Olympian vouched to serve the best interests of the Indian contingent, as the spokesperson, mentor, supporter, and cheerleader, before and during the Paris Olympics. Narang further added that he understands the responsibilities on his shoulders and will hope to motivate the athletes.

“As an athlete myself, I fully understand the requirements of elite athletes at the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza. I will work strenuously to motivate and inspire the Indian contingent, while also safeguarding their priorities to perform their optimum. I am delighted to have the opportunity to play the role of the primary liaison between our athletes, the organizing committees, and other relevant stakeholders during the Games and will ensure a smooth and efficient process,” he said.

A total of 117 athletes will be competing from India across 20 disciplines at the Paris Olympics. Narang praised the strong Indian contingent and expressed delight in having several medal contenders in each sport.

“It is a matter of great pride for me to see the growing number of medal contenders in the Indian contingent. Each and every athlete in our contingent is capable of not only being on-par against the best athletes of the world, but can also surpass them and bring laurels to the nation. Having a strong contingent puts India on the hot seat as we gear up for Paris,” he said.

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Narang also highlighted the support from various stakeholders to ensure Indian athletes have the best facilities to perform to their potential.

“There has been unprecedented coordination between all the stakeholders particularly Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), Sports Authority of India (SAI), the National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the IOA. Everyone is synced up with the personal coaches and the various support staff traveling with the athletes to ensure everything is aligned and there are no last-minute shortcomings. Efforts have been made to accommodate requests from federations and players put in time before the deadlines to accommodate necessary personal coaches and support staff,” emphasised Narang.

He further acknowledged the fully-equipped medical team that is part of the Indian contingent who will be working round-the-clock during the Games and Narang also congratulated the efforts behind the India House.

“The India House is truly home away from home. I commend the efforts of Reliance Foundation and IOA to reflect India’s culture and legacy of commemorating 100 years of the country’s participation in the Olympics. I also thank the sponsors for supporting the endeavours of IOA.”

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“I would also like to express my gratitude to the medical team traveling with the contingent. They play a very crucial role in India’s campaign and I am happy to note that they are full-equipped to handle any kind of medical emergency,” he added.

Narang further expressed hopes that the Indian athletes have a good time at the Paris Olympics, and offered his best wishes to the contingent. “I feel elated to see all corners of our nation joining hands to support Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi sir’s vision of developing our country into a sporting powerhouse.”

“Having competed at the Olympics in the past, I am aware of the pressure that an athlete faces on such a big platform. I hope all athletes are able to also enjoy their time in Paris as competing at the Olympics is the biggest honour for a sportsperson, and it is important create memories. I wish them the best for the upcoming Games and I am confident we will surpass our record from Tokyo Olympics,” he signed off.

–IANS

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Ten Hag confirms Man Utd interest in De Ligt despite Lenny Yoro signing

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Ten Hag confirms Man Utd interest in De Ligt despite Lenny Yoro signing

Ten Hag confirms Man Utd interest in De Ligt despite Lenny Yoro signing

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Manchester United’s 2023/24 season was one of the worst the club has had in the Premier League era. The side’s inability to score goals whilst injuries stretching their defenders out seeing them concede far too often but all that might change next season.

Just months ago Ten Hag seemed to be on his way out of the club but an amazing performance in the 2024 FA Cup Final against Manchester City saw him regain the trust of the club and the fans. The trust can be seen in the way the Red Devils have moved so far this window having already confirmed the signings of young sensations Joshu Zirkzee and Lenny Yoro and showing no signs of slowing down with the head coach confirming the side’s interest in the Bayern Munich defender.

“It remains to be seen whether De Ligt will come. I know Matthijs well and I will not deny that. I wanted to sign him two years ago but at that time he was already very far along to join Bayern Munich but believe it or not, his name did not come from me in the process [at United],” Ten Hag told Dutch AD outlet Sportwereld.

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Manchester United were the frontrunners for De Ligt’s signature early in the transfer window with reports suggesting that the Dutch defender had agreed to joining Ten Hag’s side. All that may have changed when a late attempt by the Old Trafford based side saw them snatch Lenny Yoro from Real Madrid’s grasp.

Current reports indicate that although United are interested in signing another fullback to team up with Lautaro Martinez, a move for De Ligt may be complicated given they want to sell before bringing anyone else on board to create space. Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah and Everton talent Jarrad Branthwaite are also being considered as options.

–IANS

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My family has been my pillar of strength during challenging phase: Arshdeep Singh

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My family has been my pillar of strength during challenging phase: Arshdeep Singh

My family has been my pillar of strength during challenging phase: Arshdeep Singh

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) World Cup winner Arshdeep Singh is no stranger to adversity and criticism. Many critics and fans alike had questioned his ability to prove vital at big occasions ahead of the T20 World Cup. The 25-year-old had consistently been a joy to watch in the IPL but had yet to make his mark on the international stage.

In an exclusive conversation with IANS, T20 World Cup winner Arshdeep Singh talked about how criticism taught him ‘resilience’ and how family support is ‘invaluable’ during one’s journey.

“Family support during tough times is invaluable. My family has always been my pillar of strength, providing unwavering support and encouragement through all the ups and downs. Their belief in me keeps me grounded and motivated, especially when things get challenging. Knowing that they are always there, cheering me on, gives me the confidence to keep pushing forward. At the end of the day, nothing comes above the family bond and their love. Family is definitely all that you’ve got,” told Singh.

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Arshdeep Singh was fantastic throughout the course of the T20 World Cup winning campaign. The 25-year old managed to take 17 scalps during the tournament, a feat which saw him finish as the joint-highest wicket taker alongside Afghanistan’s Fazhal Farooqi.

Perhaps his greatest contribution came during the final when India were in a sticky position having to defend 20 runs off the final two overs. Singh’s penultimate over saw only four runs being leaked giving Vice captain Hardik the perfect platform in the final over.

“During those times, I leaned on my support system, my family, coaches, and teammates, who helped me stay grounded and motivated. Maintaining a calm and focused mindset is crucial. It is about learning from setbacks, staying positive, and giving my best in every opportunity that comes my way,” added the left arm pacer.

Arshdeep has 79 wickets at an average of 18.40 in 52 Twenty20 Internationals, with the best figures being 5/37. He is all set to travel with the Indian squad to play three Twenty20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals in Sri Lanka for a white balls eries scheduled to begin on July 27.

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–IANS

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Harbhajan questions Chahal, Abhishek's snub for Sri Lanka tour

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Harbhajan questions Chahal, Abhishek's snub for Sri Lanka tour

Harbhajan questions Chahal, Abhishek's snub for Sri Lanka tour

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has questioned spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Abhishek Sharma’s exclusion from Men in Blue’s squad for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour.

Under new head coach Gautam Gambhir, India are scheduled to play three T20Is and three ODIs in Sri Lanka, starting on July 27. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday named the squad for both formats and named Suryakumar Yadav as the new T20 skipper after Rohit Sharma’s retirement from the format.

In the T20I squad, Abhishek Sharma’s exclusion was the biggest talking point, he recently made his debut against Zimbabwe and also scored a ton in his second match. He didn’t find any place in either squad while Chahal, who was part of the T20 World Cup, was also dropped for the Sri Lanka tour.

On the other hand, wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson was only named in the T20I squad and was not included in ODIs as Rishabh Pant earned a recall after making his comeback in India colours in the T20 World Cup last month.

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“Hard to understand why Yuzvendra Chahal, Sanju Samson and Abhishek Sharma are not a part of the Indian team for Sri Lanka,” Harbhajan wrote on X.

Also, India’s main players returned to T20Is after being rested for the Zimbabwe tour. Harshit Rana’s addition to the ODI squad was one of the notable additions in the announcement. The 22-year-old Delhi pacer earned a maiden call-up and will join his former Kolkata Knight Riders mentor Gambhir in Sri Lanka. In IPL 2024, he bagged 19 scalps in 13 matches for KKR and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker for the franchise after Varun Chakaravarthy’s 21 dismissals.

India’s T20I Squad: Suryakumar Yadav (C), Ꮪhubman Gill (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rinku Singh, Riyan Parag, Rishabh Pant (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohd. Siraj.

India’s ODI Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Ꮪhubman Gill (VC), Virat Kohli, KL Rahul (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Washington Sundar, Arshdeep Singh, Riyan Parag, Axar Patel, Khaleel Ahmed, Harshit Rana.

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The first T20I between India and Sri Lanka will be played in Pallekele on July 27.

–IANS

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