Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 16 (ANI): Much like the I-League table, the top scorers’ chart is as close as ever as we near the end of the first phase of the competition. The latest player to join the fray in the frantic race for the prestigious award is Real Kashmir’s Nigerian striker Lukman Adefemi.
The 26-year-old announced his intent with a hat-trick in his side’s thrilling 4-3 victory over NEROCA FC, earlier this week. Lukman is currently joint-second with four goals, alongside Komron Tursunov of TRAU FC, and Chencho Gyeltshen of RoundGlass Punjab FC, just one behind Clayvin Zuniga of Churchill Brothers FC Goa.
Looking back upon his stellar performance in the match against NEROCA FC, Lukman stated that the fans of Real Kashmir motivate him to go out there every match and score the goals.
“It was a great moment for me to score a hat-trick in the last game. I feel really happy with this team, as everyone put in a shift in their own areas, and that allowed me to score the goals. All of us derive our motivation from the people of Kashmir. I absolutely love the fans back in Kashmir, because every time we step out onto the pitch, we know that they will be by our side, no matter what,” stated Lukman.
“Even during the pandemic, when we can’t have fans inside the stadium, we feel the love from the fans on social media, and that really motivates us to give our 100 per cent in the matches,” he said.
While Lukman had previously plied his trade in countries like Nigeria, Serbia, Mozambique, and Oman, the 26-year-old was already aware of Kashmir and its love for football.
“I like Kashmir. I knew some players who have played in Kashmir, and I spoke to them. They motivated me to play here. I also had a teammate in Oman, who sang praises about Kashmir – about this place, about the weather and then I made my mind up and signed for this club,” stated Lukman.
While the Nigerian forward does not believe in keeping personal targets, he aims to score as many goals as possible to help his side clinch its maiden I-League title.
“I have not made any personal target, as the team comes first. I will try my best to score for my team in each game that I play. With the squad we have, I am sure Real Kashmir can win the tournament,” he stated.
Hailing from Abeokuta, Nigeria, Lukman started with the ball at his feet from an early age. While he managed to balance his studies and sports in his younger years, the budding striker soon made the choice to pursue a career in the beautiful game.
“After finishing my schooling, I started to concentrate on the sport and became a professional footballer. I have always had a passion for football. I guess it comes from my father, who used to play locally back home. I used to go to training with him at times. I followed in his steps and choose to play football,” recalled Lukman.
Now at Real Kashmir, the 26-year-old is learning from the experience of gaffer David Robertson, who himself has the experience of playing in big clubs like Glasgow Rangers and Leeds United.
“The coach (David Robertson) and I have a good relationship. He is a good coach, with tons of experience. He is helping me to better my game, which in turns helps the team to perform better. We have a good squad of players — both foreigners and local talent, with which we are going to fight hard for the title,” said Lukman. (ANI)
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Legacy activities for FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 restarts on International Women’s Day
New Delhi [India], March 8 (ANI): On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Local Organising Committee of FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 with support from FIFA, kicked off its Coach Education Scholarship Programme at Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai to further develop women’s football.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), in a statement, said that 21 aspiring coaches from different parts of the city took part in the E-license course and were trained in both theoretical and practical elements of the game with all safety practices in place.
“This event signifies the start of the Coach Education Programme that will be carried forward to other districts of Maharashtra, including Pune, Thane, Nagpur and Kolhapur with Government of Maharashtra and the Western India Football Association (WIFA),” AIFF said.
Speaking at the event, Tournament Director of the LOC of FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 and AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, Roma Khanna said, “We’re extremely pleased to restart activities for the U-17 Women’s World Cup. It is important to us that the community benefits from hosting the tournament and today’s event signifies a new start. Having more female coaches at grassroot level is vital to having more young girls and women taking up the sport.”
“It is really encouraging to see so many female coaches in each category now, more so than the previous years. I am sure this will only increase in the future,” said Maymol Rocky, head coach of the Indian women’s national team.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said: “Starting the Coach Education Programme in Maharashtra with FIFA’s support is a wonderful milestone for us. Having increased capacity building courses will help women’s football and broaden its base.”
Chairperson of the Women’s Committee for WIFA, Madhurima Raje was also present at the event. FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will take place in India in 2022. (ANI)
Man City win shows what a great team we are: Lindelof
Manchester [UK], March 8 (ANI): Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof said the victory over Manchester City shows “what a great team we are” and wants his side to keep working hard.
Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw gave Manchester United a 2-0 victory against Manchester City on Sunday which ended the leaders’ 15-match winning run in the Premier League.
“We are always confident going into every game. We know we can beat every team. It’s a very tough away game to play against a really good team. It shows what a great team we are and what we can do on the pitch. We need to keep working hard and hopefully, we can get some more wins,” the club’s official website quoted Lindelof as saying.
During the match, Manchester United got off to a flying start and took the lead thanks to a second-minute penalty from Fernandes, awarded after Gabriel Jesus had fouled Anthony Martial. Manchester City threatened after the break but Manchester United defended well to maintain their lead.
Shaw doubled Manchester United’s lead in the 50th minute and with this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side sealed a 2-0 win in the match.
Praising the team’s performance, Lindelof said it was a “deserved” win for the team.
“Yeah obviously we are so pleased with the performance. We defended really well as a team, not just the back four. I think we defended well, right down from Anto [Anthony Martial] to Deano [Dean Henderson]. Everyone put in the effort that was needed and we got a clean sheet and three points, so everyone was happy,” he said.
“They didn’t create a lot of chances. We defended really good and you always have to stay focused because you know they can create chances from anything. Like I said, I’m very happy and it’s a very deserved win for us,” Lindelof added.
Manchester City remains at the top of the Premier League table with 65 points while Manchester United are now second on the table with 54 points. (ANI)
Australia pacer Billy Stanlake keen to develop red-ball game after signing for Derbyshire
Derbyshire [UK], March 8 (ANI): Australia pacer Billy Stanlake is keen on honing his skills in the longest format of the game after being roped in by Derbyshire.
Derbyshire on Monday announced the signing of Stanlake for the entire 2021 season, subject to final approvals.
Stanlake, who has represented Australia 26 times, will link up with Dave Houghton’s side between April and September, with the 26-year-old available for all formats, having been a long-term target for the club.
The Australian fast bowler wants to work on his red-ball game, having featured in only eight first-class games since his first match in 2015.
“I can’t wait to get started with Derbyshire and show the supporters what I’m all about, it’s a really exciting time for me,” the Derbyshire CCC website quoted Stanlake as saying.
“I’m keen to develop my red ball game, and this move gives me the opportunity to hopefully help Derbyshire to build on their form across the competitions. The club is ambitious, they want to win trophies and hopefully I can be a part of that success,” he added.
Since making his debut for Queensland in 2015, Stanlake has taken 136 wickets in 113 games across all formats, with his List A and Big Bash performances earning him international recognition.
The fast bowler has seen most of his success come in T20 cricket, where he has taken 81 wickets at an average of 26.53, including best figures of 4-8 for Australia against Pakistan in 2018, while he took 13 wickets for Melbourne Stars during their Big Bash campaign, the second-most for the side.
Head of Cricket, Dave Houghton, said: “Billy is a player we’ve been watching for some time, there’s not too many players of his quality available for all formats, so it’s really pleasing to get him in. He’s tall and he bowls at a high pace with a good level of bounce and variation.
“He’s someone who has made his name with the white ball, but he’s determined to show what he can do in first-class cricket as well. That hunger will be huge for us, and he’s a great addition to our bowling attack.” (ANI)
Harmanpreet Kaur turns 32, cricket fraternity extends wishes
New Delhi [India], March 8 (ANI): Harmanpreet Kaur on Monday turned 32 and the cricket fraternity extended their birthday wishes for the ace batswoman.
Kaur on Sunday became the fifth Indian women cricketer to play 100 ODIs for India. She achieved the feat against South Africa in the first ODI which the hosts lost by eight wickets in Lucknow.
The vice-captain joined Mithali Raj (210), Jhulan Goswami (183), Anjum Chopra (127) and Amita Sharma (116) in the elite list of players who have played 100 or more ODIs.
In 100 ODIs, she has scored 2,412 runs with the help of three hundreds and 11 half-centuries. In the shortest format of the game, Kaur has represented India in 114 matches, scoring 2,186 runs.
Highlighting the player’s achievements, the Board of Control for Cricket in India extended wishes to Kaur.
“216 intl. games. 4,624 intl. runs & 61 wickets. Highest score by an Indian batter in Women’s ODI World Cup. Wishing #TeamIndia T20I skipper @ImHarmanpreet a very happy birthday,” BCCI Women tweeted.
Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh tweeted: “Oh kudi jedi lambey-lambey shikhey mardi hai. here’s wishing a very Happy Birthday to @ImHarmanpreet. May you continue to scale new heights of success! My best wishes.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and England cricketer Kate Cross also wished Kaur on her birthday.
The second ODI of the five-match series between India and South Africa will be played on Tuesday. (ANI)
Hope Axar, Ashwin have left some wickets for IPL: Ponting
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 8 (ANI): Former Australian skipper and Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting on Monday teased all-rounder Axar Patel and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who starred for India in the recent Test series against England.
Axar and Ashwin together picked 59 wickets against England in the four-match Test series which India won 3-1. While Axar became the joint highest wicket-taker in a debut Test series for India, Ashwin finished with 32 scalps, the most by any bowlers in the series.
Ponting is hoping that the spin duo has some wickets left to take in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
If Axar and Ashwin — who both play for the Delhi Capitals — starred with the ball, wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant smashed a match-winning hundred in the fourth and final Test against England which India won on Saturday in Ahmedabad.
The Delhi Capitals head coach wishes to see Pant replicating his heroics in the cash-rich league slated to begin from April 9.
“Can’t wait to get over to @delhicapitals and get to work. Hope @akshar2026 and @ashwinravi99 have some wickets left after taking all of them in the last month, and @rishabhpant17 has more runs to make!” Ponting tweeted.
The IPL Governing Council on Sunday announced the schedule for IPL 14 to be held in India across six venues from April 9.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Chennai in the tournament opener.
Each team is set to play at four venues during the league stage. Out of the 56 league matches, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru will host 10 matches each while Ahmedabad and Delhi will host 8 matches each.
One of the highlights of this edition of the IPL will be the fact that all matches will be played at neutral venues, no team will play at their home venue. All teams will play at four out of six venues during the league stage. (ANI)
Tokyo 2020 will be first ‘gender-balanced’ Olympics in history: IOC
Lausanne [Switzerland], March 8 (ANI): On International Women’s Day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Government of Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) are reiterating their commitment to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer a landmark in gender equality on and off the field of play, paving the way for a more equal and inclusive society.
“At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Almost 49 per cent of the athletes participating will be women, according to the IOC quota allocation. These will be the first gender-balanced Games in history. There will be a ground-breaking competition schedule ensuring equal visibility between women’s and men’s events and featuring nine more mixed events than at Rio 2016, raising the overall number to 18,” IOC said in a release.
For the first time ever, all 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) should have at least one female and one male athlete in their respective Olympic teams. All 206 NOCs and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will be encouraged to have their flag carried by one female and one male athlete at the Opening Ceremony.
At the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020: At least 40.5 per cent of all the athletes will be women, according to the IPC Qualification Criteria. This equates to 1,782 athletes, an increase on the 1,671 women who competed at Rio 2016 (38.6 per cent).
At the Opening Ceremony, all the competing National Paralympic Committees will also be encouraged to have their flag carried by one female and one male athlete.
Following the appointment of its new President, Hashimoto Seiko, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has increased the size of its Executive Board, bringing the percentage of women to 42 per cent. It has also created a Gender Equality Promotion Team under the leadership of its Sports Director, Kotani Mikako, in order to further promote gender and inclusion initiatives during the Games.
“The IOC is committed to gender equality in all areas, from the athletes competing on and off the field of play to leadership roles in sports organisations. With only four months to go until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Movement is getting ready for a new milestone in its efforts to create a gender-equal sporting world — the first gender-balanced Olympic Games in history,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
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