Stimac has helped transform many players into 'proper machines', says Sandhu - The Daily Guardian
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Stimac has helped transform many players into ‘proper machines’, says Sandhu

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New Delhi [India], March 19 (ANI): After not playing an international match for almost 15 months, the Blue Tigers will finally be taking the field in the upcoming international friendlies against Oman and UAE. While the match against Oman is scheduled for March 25, the match against the UAE is slated for March 29. Both the matches will be held in Dubai.
In an interaction with ANI, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu opened up about the upcoming matches, the role of coach Igor Stimac and how he sees his role as a senior member in the side. The 29-year-old also said that the team would be in good mental space as all members played in the recently-concluded Indian Super League (ISL).
“I think to get an opportunity together again after 14 months itself is a very exciting opportunity for us as players. We love getting involved and getting called up by the national team. The environment and the atmosphere is different to come over here and wear the Indian colours and do training together and prepare for one single goal together because we may be opponents in domestic tournaments but here we have one aim,” said Sandhu.
The Blue Tigers last played at the international level in November 2019 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
“I think it’s very important to use these two games as a catapult towards you know those qualifiers because we haven’t played together for 14 months. We need to do the process again play as a team, test ourselves out against the good teams in Asia, and make sure that by the time the qualifiers come up we are ready as a team. We know what we have to do on the pitch because in those qualifiers mistakes can’t happen and these are the games to test everything out and make sure that we as a team are ready for those qualifiers,” he added.
From being the youngest player in the Indian setup in 2010, the goalkeeper has come a long way and now he finds himself in the role where he can shape up budding youngsters and help in grooming and channeling the talent.
Speaking on his role, Sandhu said: “It’s amazing to realise that I am getting an opportunity to be a senior player in the national team. There was a time when I was the youngest player in the team — that was about 11 years ago in 2010. I know how it feels to be a young player in the team so I am very excited about the young faces that we have in the team. It’s very important for senior players to help them and tell them to express themselves, help them in any way shape, or form.”
“It is very important to give that support to them and also guide them in a way where they don’t feel that we are telling too much because they are professionals and they have played some good football in the last six months. I would tell them to take responsibility and not be afraid of making mistakes because football is a game of mistakes as well. It is very important that they help us with the talent and hard work. It is always good to have young blood in the team,” he added.
Coach Igor Stimac has already managed to create an identity within this team and Sandhu also accepts the role the coach has played in giving confidence to each member of the Blue Tigers setup.
“I think coach Igor with his limited amount of time as coach of the national team has helped so many of us already. You know the kind of confidence that he gives you, the kind of physically demanding competition that he creates in the team is phenomenal. We have seen so many players transform from the old self and turn into proper machines,” said Sandhu.
“One good example that I can give you is Manvir — the kind of guidance and the system that we have in the team to take care of ourselves and to be physically very very strong. Also to be tactically prepared is one of the plus points of having the coach and his staff. Even when we were not together as a team, it was one of the things which was being discussed as a group. Messages to take care of ourselves and to keep building ourselves was always there and he has a big part in helping me to reach my best potential self. He assured me that physically I can be much better and that has helped me to not only perform better, but also understand the game very well tactically,” he added.
When asked how the team will shape up after playing a competitive ISL season 7, Sandhu said: “Definitely having the ISL behind us in our arsenal will help us play these two games because momentum is very important. Everyone in the camp has played games. It’s not like you know you can pinpoint one player who hasn’t participated in the league — they have all participated in some way. It is great for us because everyone is available and raring to go. We just need to make sure that we are mentally and physically prepared for these two games.” (ANI)

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Have potential to win AFC Cup, ISL: ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Amrinder

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ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Amrinder Singh feels his team is eyeing a strong show in the tournament and has potential to win 2021 AFC Cup and 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL).

The Mariners are playing FC Nasaf in Uzbekistan in their AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final on September 22 and their ISL campaign starts against Kerala Blasters FC on November 19 at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda. The custodian, who won the ISL trophy with Mumbai City FC last season, is eyeing a strong show in both competitions. “I want to give my best in every game and keep clean sheets. If we keep clean sheets, then we won’t lose games and that will help us win the ISL and AFC Cup. We have a great squad that is capable of winning the AFC Cup and I would do my best,” Amrinder was quoted as saying by official website of ISL ahead of the FC Nasaf tie.

Amrinder is not unduly worried over facing FC Nasaf, one of the strongest teams in the prestigious continental club competition in Asia. “No matter who the opponent is, we always train hard and give our best. In the game against Nasaf, we will do the same. Every game is equally important for me,” he said.

The 28-year-old is quite pleased with the Mariners’ ongoing training in Dubai. “The facilities which we have in Dubai are really good. It’s going to be a tough game in Uzbekistan but these training sessions are quite useful for us,” he said.

“I’ve already played in the AFC Cup final for Bengaluru but unfortunately, we couldn’t win in 2016. it. This time with ATK Mohun Bagan, I am determined to go all the way and win the cup. This is one of my goals for the season,” he said.

When asked to draw comparisons between the defences of ATK Mohun Bagan and current Hero ISL champions Mumbai City FC, Amrinder, who had 10 clean sheets to his name last season, said: “Both the clubs are top clubs in Indian football.

In Mumbai, we had players like Mourtada Fall and Hernan Santana [now with NorthEast United FC]. And now, in ATKMB, we have Tiri, Carl McHugh and many Indian players. I feel confident with these players as they have already proved themselves in [Hero] ISL. We are trying to establish good coordination among us so that we can keep more clean sheets.”

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ENGLAND, TOTTENHAM LEGEND JIMMY GREAVES DIES AGED 81

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Tottenham Hotspur and England’s legendary footballer Jimmy Greaves passed away at home in the early hours of Sunday morning, aged 81.

Throughout his wonderful playing career, Jimmy’s strike rate was phenomenal. His Spurs return was 266 goals in 379 appearances between 1961 and 1970 – 220 goals in 321 league games, 32 goals in 36 FA Cup ties and five in just eight League Cup ties and nine in 14 European matches. He’s also Spurs’ highest scorer and the highest-scoring player in the top flight of English football, with 357 goals to his name. The 37 league goals that he netted in the 1962/63 season remains to this day Spurs record by any player in a single season.

A member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, Jimmy also scored 44 goals in his 57 senior international appearances, with 42 of those caps – and 28 goals – won while a Spurs player.

Born in East Ham on February 20, 1940, Jimmy’s career started in the junior ranks at Chelsea where he turned professional in May 1957. He scored on his Blues debut – something which would become a familiar trait throughout his playing days – ironically against Spurs at White Hart Lane on August 24, 1957, in a 1-1 draw.

He remained at Stamford Bridge until June 1961, when he moved to AC Milan, and his 41-goal haul in the First Division in 1960/61 still stands as Chelsea’s record for a single season.

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HAFEEZ, MCCLENAGHAN ENGAGE IN TWITTER WAR OVER NEW ZEALAND ABANDONING THE PAKISTAN TOUR

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Cricketer Mohammad Hafeez on Saturday took a dig at New Zealand Cricket (NZC) for postponing their tour of Pakistan citing security threats.

“Thanks to the secutity of pakistan forces to make arrangements to @BLACKCAPS to reach at airport Safe & Sound. Wonder same route & same security but no threat today???” tweeted Hafeez. The Blackcaps abandoned their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed on Friday. New Zealand was slated to play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003. The side was to play hosts on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern before Blackcaps announced they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan. Khan assured Ardern that Pakistan has one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still decided to return home after the NZ government security alert.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed NZC chief executive David White’s sentiments. “We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they’re safe — and everyone’s acting in their best interests,” he said.

In response, New Zealand pacer Mitchell McClenaghan has told Pakistan batsman Mohammed Hafeez that the BlackCaps should not be blamed for abandoning the tour of Pakistan, rather if there is someone to blame then it is the New Zealand government.

“Come now bro. This has a bad taste to it… Don’t blame the players or the organisation… blame our government. They have only acted on the advice they have received. I’m absolutely certain these young men – all wanting to prove themselves wanted to play. they had no choice,” tweeted McClenaghan.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive David White on Sunday said that he is grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for helping organise the safe departure of the New Zealand team.

“We appreciate this has been a terribly difficult time for the PCB and wish to pass on our sincere thanks to chief executive Wasim Khan and his team for their professionalism and care,” said White in an official statement. White also said NZC and the BlackCaps had been very much looking forward to the Pakistan series but were faced with no option but to abandon the tour after receiving, on Friday, advice from the New Zealand government of a specific, credible threat. This advice was supported by NZC’s security consultants – who were on the ground in Pakistan, and by other independent sources.

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SOUTHAMPTON DRAW SHOWS MAN CITY HAS A PROBLEM

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16 goals in 3 matches. That’s a statistic of a World-Class attacking team and Manchester City had been flawless in their matches against Norwich, Arsenal and RB Leipzig with 12 different goalscorers in these 3 competitive games.

But the draw against Southampton proves that Manchester City might need a prolific striker in their side if they are to defend their Premier League title and challenge for their first-ever UCL trophy.

The Champions were held 0-0 at home against Southampton, even lucky to get away from an overturned red card decision which would have otherwise led to a Southampton penalty. Manchester City had 8 shots on target in the game and even had a late Sterling winner termed offside to deny them the 3 points.

Such matches are no surprise in the premier league where teams tend to defend deep against the big guns, fighting hard to salvage a point. Southampton succeeded in doing that. The difference-maker in such instances often is that prolific No. 9 who needs one opportunity to hit the net. Manchester City evidently has no one.

Since Aguero departed from the club and ended his 10-year stint as the Manchester City striker, it was expected that the club would announce a big-name replacement. And, not like they did not try to do that. When Harry Kane expressed his intentions to leave the club last season, the destination was almost certain. Manchester City was clearly interested in bringing him to the club alongside Aston Villa winger Jack Grealish and even reportedly made a whopping 150 million bid to do so. If this transfer window— that has seen the entire complexion of the footballing world being moved— missed something, it was this dream transfer. Tottenham managed to hold on to Harry Kane.

A recent example of a No. 9 making difference was Chelsea’s game in their match against Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League. The match was headed for a draw when, BANG! Their 97m Euros worth striker Romelu Lukaku scored out of nowhere ensuring a hard-fought 1-0 win.

Manchester City needs a proper No. 9 in their team, with forward Gabriel Jesus failing to maintain the form required and Torres not really belonging to that position. The Challenge too has increased. Chelsea looks solid with the signing of Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool are back after Van Dijk’s return from injury and well, arguable the best goalscorer of all time, Ronaldo having returned to rivals Manchester United.

The City’s pursuit will now resume in January, where they have the option to either go all out or make a signing in the interim. What will be exciting to see is if they decide to do the former, where strikers Erling Haaland and Mbappe could be possible transfers, looking at the value City might be able to spend and these players expected to move on from their respective clubs sooner than later.

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Gaikwad, Jadeja help Chennai become Super Kings against Mumbai

Gaikwad and Jadeja starred with the bat as CSK posted a score of 156/6 in 20 overs against Mumbai Indians. Later CSK’s flamboyant bowling performance restricted Mumbai to mere 136 for 8 in the allotted overs.

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Ruturaj Gaikwad’s masterful 88-run knock was followed by a spirited bowling performance as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) defeated Mumbai Indians (MI) by 20 runs in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

For CSK, Dwayne Bravo scalped three wickets and Deepak Chahar took two. For Mumbai Indians, Saurabh Tiwary was the highest scorer after playing a knock of 50 runs. With this win, Chennai Super Kings went to the top of the IPL table while Mumbai is now in danger of falling outside the top 4 if they get on a losing streak. Chasing 156, Mumbai Indians got off to a shaky start after Deepak Chahar trapped Quinton de Kock in front of wickets for LBW in the 3rd over. Chahar struck again in his next over to send Anmolpreet Singh (16) back to the pavilion. MI debutant was completely deceived by the superb knuckleball of Chahar.

Suryakumar Yadav had a short stay at pitch after Shardul Thakur sent him back in his first over. SKY was caught at cover by Faf. Saurabh Tiwary and Ishan Kishan tried to reverse the momentum towards the side of defending champions. The duo steadied the ship for MI while CSK did well to keep the boundaries out of the equation.

Bravo came clutch for the team in yellow in his first over as he broke the partnership and took the wicket of Kishan (16). MI stand-in captain Kieron Pollard (15) was then trapped by Josh Hazlewood in 13.1 over. Soon Krunal Pandya followed his skipper as he was run out in the next over.

Saurabh Tiwary scored fifty, but with no big partnership with a fellow batter in the middle and death, Mumbai Indians suffered a crushing defeat on the resumption of IPL. Adam Milne and Rahul Chahar got out in the last over of Dwayne Bravo.

Earlier, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ravindra Jadeja starred with the bat as Chennai Super Kings posted a score of 156/6 in the allotted twenty overs against Mumbai Indians. Gaikwad and Jadeja played innings of 88 and 26 respectively for the Super Kings. Dwayne Bravo also played a useful cameo of 23 runs from just eight balls. For Mumbai Indians, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah and Adam Milne scalped two wickets each.

Opting to bat first, Chennai had the worst possible start when Boult sent Faf du Plessis packing for zero in the very first over of the innings. In the very next over, Adam Milne sent back Moeen Ali to the pavilion after a superb diving catch from Tiwary. Milne also retired-hurt Ambati Rayudu with a nasty short ball that nipped back at him and got the Indian on the forearm.

Soon, the situation for Chennai went from bad to worse as Suresh Raina visit at the pitch was ended by Boult in the 3rd over of the innings. In the last over of the powerplay, Adam Milne struck again after Boult caught Chennai skipper MS Dhoni’s low pull shot attempt. Mumbai Indians bowlers enjoyed a brilliant 1st powerplay as they restricted Chennai at 24/4 after 6 overs.

Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ravindra Jadeja were the next two batters and the duo successfully provided much-needed normalcy for the team in yellow. The pair battled through the immense pressure by Mumbai bowlers and stabilised the Super Kings’ innings.

Ruturaj Gaikwad reached his half-century in the 16th over of the innings. Playing in his 100th IPL match, Japrit Bumrah scalped his first wicket of the match in 16.4 over as he broke the very important partnership of Jadeja and Gaikwad. Jadeja got out after scoring an important 26.

Dwayne Bravo then partnered Gaikwad on the pitch and hammered towering sixes at the death before getting out by Bumarh in the last over. Bravo scored a quickfire 23 in just 8 balls. Ruturaj Gaikwad finished the innings with an unbeaten 88 of 58 balls.

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WILL TREAT EVERY GAME AS FINAL AND GIVE MY 100%, SAYS SUNRISERS SPINNER RASHID KHAN

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Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) spinner Rashid Khan has said the side will be treating every game in the UAE-leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 as their final match. SRH is languishing at the bottom of the points table and the side will have to battle it out to make it to the top four.

Rashid is also working on his batting skills to give SRH an edge lower down the order. “From one and a half years, I have been working on my batting as last 15-25 runs are very crucial for the side. So just trying my best to do different things, haven’t practised a lot of shots in the nets but I’m just focusing on having the right mindset,” said Rashid in the video. “Definitely looking forward to the rest of the season, yeah we didn’t have the ideal start in the first half of the tournament but looking forward to finish up well and treat every game as a final and give my 100 per cent,” he added.

Wickets in the UAE are said to assist the spinner, speaking about the same, Rashid said, “We have played enough games in UAE’s conditions and just need to find out the good areas on the wicket.”

All-rounder Jason Holder and the side’s new signing Sherfane Rutherford on Friday arrived in UAE ahead of the resumption of the 14th edition of the IPL.The 14th season, which was postponed in May this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume on Sunday in Dubai with a blockbuster clash between Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians.After the CSK-MI clash, the action will then shift to Abu Dhabi where KKR will square off against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Sharjah will host its first game on September 24 when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Chennai Super Kings. In all, 13 matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah, and 8 in Abu Dhabi.

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