Uttam Rai is another striker from Sikkim, and like someone else he was also discovered at the Subroto Cup. The comparison will be obvious but there are some two decades between that Uttam needs to run and survive if he is to be mentioned in the same breath as Sikkim’s favourite son, Bhaichung Bhutia.
Uttam smiles. “I have met him. He is a Great Player.”
Team India’s striker in the AFC U-16 Qualifiers in Tashkent -- the boy who scored five in India’s match against Krygyzstan, like any other guy of his age dreams of playing abroad. “If I get a chance, I want to play outside my country,” he quips. The very next moment, his wall-pass will catch you a bit on the wrong foot. “But how will I get a chance? There are not many Agents in India and Agents who are based elsewhere do not come to India to watch us play?” he stares at me.
At the IMG Academy in Florida, Uttam was declared the ‘Player of the Year,’ among all categories earlier this year. Coach Bitan Singh, who was based in Florida along with Uttam and others informs, “He scored more than 100 goals in the last Calendar Year. His mastery is never in doubt.”
You turn to Uttam. He’s Praying at the moment – a long Prayer prior to having his lunch. The others in the table wait for him. And when they discover, they are being watched, they too start praying – but only till Uttam has finished.
“My mother taught me to Pray to the Almighty. I Thank Him for the Food that he is providing me. There are so many poor people who don’t get to eat two meals in a day,” Uttam confesses.
His team-mates wait for a chance to tease him. “No 9 from India – very Good Player,” and it goes on in chorus. The story goes that Players from FK Lokomotiv’s first team congratulated the Indian contingent after their 7-0 win against Krygyzstan and had uttered the same line. Uttam’s team-mates have been carrying on from there.
‘You wear No. 9 at the moment. But don’t you dream of wearing the No. 10 someday?’ I enquire.
“Jersey numbers don’t matter as long as I score goals; as long as Daniel (Lalhlimpuia) scores goals (Daniel wears the No. 10); as long as we score goals. Give me any Jersey Number – I am comfortable. Numbers don’t create a player; goals create a player,” the Fernando Torres fan completes at one breath. His maturity is bound to strike you.
Uttam has started to juggle the ball by then. And he went on and on, that too seated on the ground. And as I look in amazement, his team-mates begin in chorus – ‘No. 9 from India – very good player.’ Uttam stops; gets up and runs after them – and the chase goes on.
Uttam will have to run for long – after all he is chasing a Big Name in Indian Football. Bhaichung will be the happiest if Uttam lasts the distance. -AIFF.
Two fans died in a stampede at the 26th SEA Games football final final in Jakarta on Monday, overshadowing a win on penalties for defending champions Malaysia against hosts Indonesia.
The two men, wearing Indonesian red-and-white football team T-shirts were taken to hospital at 8:30 pm, around 90 minutes after the stampede broke out, according to a report by the Detik.com news portal, which cited a paramedic.
Local media reported that several other spectators had been taken to hospital, including a nine-year-old boy who had fallen into a coma, as tens of thousands of fans swarmed to the Gelora Bung Karno stadium for Monday night's final.
Hundreds of people were packed tight against ticket barriers as police closed the gates shortly before kick-off, with many fans inside forced to crouch in aisles and walkways, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
"As we were entering the stadium, the crowd of people pushed each other to make their way forward," Helmi, a relative of one of the victims,said.
He said that his relative "was pushed away from me and we were separated. I then heard that some people had fallen and that people had died."
Helmi added that he "rushed to check" and found his relative dead.
Those in the stands endured a nerve-shredding night and eventual heartbreak as Malaysia won 4-3 on penalties with the game deadlocked at 1-1 after extra-time.
Captain Baddrol Bakhtiar stroked home the winning spot kick to give the visitors gold with a 3-4 penalties victory, sparking jubilant scenes on the pitch and silencing the crowd who had hoped to see Indonesia claim its first Games football gold for two decades.
In a game lacking quality but packed with incident, the hosts took a deserved lead after five minutes when centre-back Gunawan Dwi Cahyo popped up unmarked at the back post to head in a corner.
But Malaysia regrouped, despite the deafening roar of the home fans, to equalise in the 33rd minute with a diving header by Omar Muhammad Asraruddin after some suspect defending by the hosts.
Indonesia missed two penalties, allowing Bakhtiar -- who was the game's standout player -- to steal the headlines with a ice cool spot kick into the bottom corner.
Indonesia topped the Games medal tally with 171 golds and a total medal haul of 454 putting them well ahead of second-placed Thailand on 105 first places, but the win most wanted by fans was in the under-23 football event.
Fears the atmosphere could sour were stoked Sunday after fans angered by a shortage of tickets, burnt down a ticket booth inside the ground and besieged the media centre.
"I really hope our supporters behave themselves and support their team in a good way," Rita Subowo head of Games' organisers Inasoc said before the game. Inasoc officials had taken to radio and television to call for calm ahead of the match.
The two nations share a long and bitter enmity driven by political and cultural rows and an fierce sporting rivalry, intensified at this Games by the relentless barracking of Malaysian athletes by local fans.
Malaysia's eight-year-old Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah created waves at the Jakabaring Lake here when she grabbed gold in the women's tricks category at the 26th SEA Games today (17/11/11), becoming the youngest athlete to ever win a gold medal in the history of the games.
She skiied confidently through her first round routine, scoring 2,810 points, and nailed a one-leg trick in the second round to earn 2,960 points.
Being much shorter and smaller than the other contestants, her appearance at the lake had drawn attention from spectators and the media.
Aaliyah said she felt excited to win the gold medal for Malaysia.
"I was confident all the way. I almost lost my balance in the first round but luckily I didn't," she sheepishly told reporters.
Thailand's Sareeya Promsuntisit won silver with 2,410 points in the first round and 2,570 in the second, while another Malaysian, Phillipa Yoong-Barly, netted bronze with 1,890 (first round) and 1860 points (second round).
Aaliyah's father, Hanifah Yoong, said his daughter had been water skiing since she was five.
"We don't want to push her too hard because she's still a child . We don't want her to be pressured. But she enjoys training very much, it's like she's addicted to the sport," he said.
He said Aaliyah underwent training five days a week and still had time to play with her friends. -- BERNAMA.
Arthur Irawan is on course to become the first Indonesian to compete in the Spanish top flight after signing with La Liga club Espanyol.
Espanyol announced the signing of the 18-year-old striker this week on their web site without giving details other than stating that Arthur would play for the youth team.
“In an increasingly competitive football world, the search for young talent has crossed borders and training young players to become elite players of the future has become a key factor in the future of football development,” the club said in a statement.
“The latest addition to RCD Espanyol is Arthur Irawan, a young pearl of Indonesian football, a country to be discovered on a football level. The challenge now is to see how the player will adapt to the needs and style of European elite football.”
Espanyol, a Barcelona-based club currently seventh in La Liga, said Arthur had also attracted the attention of English Premier League giant Manchester United. However, the youngster’s parents insisted that he complete his high-school education first.
Arthur, who was born in Jakarta, had a brief spell last year with English amateur club Lytham Town, which plays in the West Lancashire Football League.
He was part of the selection process for the Under-23 national team during former coach Alfred Riedl’s time in charge. Despite impressing during try outs, though, Riedl said Arthur was too young to play for the country at the SEA Games.
Instead, he returned to England and went on trial with League One club Preston North End, which is also based in Lancashire.
Arthur is not the only Indonesian plying his trade for a European club. In July, three youngsters — defenders Yericho Christiantoko and Alfin Tuasalamony, and striker Yandi Sofyan Munawar — signed contracts to play for Belgian second-division club Cercle Sportif Vise.
Those three were members of Indonesia’s Under-19 squad that had been playing in Uruguay’s youth league since 2008. However, they had an in with the club after it was purchased by the Indonesian conglomerate Bakrie Group, which also owns local club Pelita Jaya, Uruguayan side Indonesia S.A.D. and the defending Australian A-League champion Brisbane Roar.
The first Indonesian to play for a European club was striker Kurniawan Dwi Julianto, who spent one season with Swiss side FC Lucerne.
India will seek to achieve a favourable result having gained confidence from a 1-1 draw it had forced against the visiting Malaysian team in the first of the two FIFA international football friendly matches in Guwahati on Sunday.
The second match of the tour will be played under lights at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.
The theory of playing more international friendlies against better sides, as professed by former Indian coach Bob Houghton, is being carried forward by Savio Medeira, who has now assumed the mantle of coaching the national side.
And as India prepares to defend its SAFF Cup title early in December, Medeira said the friendlies would provide the side with vital practice.
Medeira proved a point about his ascension as the chief coach with a creditable draw in the first encounter. If Malaysia, ranked nine places above India at 151, was in better form, the momentum is now with India which will seek to make the most of home advantage.
While injuries keep out a couple of his starting options, including the hardworking midfielder Mehtab Hussain, Medeira will be relieved by the availability of Samir Naik, who was rested for the last match, to strengthen his backline.
There is also likely to be a new skipper in Sunil Chhetri, who may take the captain's armband from defender Mahesh Gawli. Having a robust forward-line to choose from, India will definitely be getting more aggressive to snatch a win from the visitor.
Malaysia, which arrived in the country with a favourable 2-1 record in the last three international friendlies, would be looking to add another win to the tally with coach Datuk K. Rajagopal preparing his wards for upcoming assignments.
Malaysia will be fielding in-form striker Safee Sali, who missed the Guwahati encounter having arrived a few hours before the match. Rajagopal sounded a bit apprehensive about how his boys would adjust to the artificial turf of the Salt Lake Stadium.
Malaysia:G. Jeevanathan, Sharbinee Allawee, Farizal Marlias, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, M. Nasriq Baharom, Mohd. Faizal Muhammad, Mazlizam Mohammad, Abdul Aziz Ismail, Mohd Rizal Fahmi, Azmi Muslim, Amirizwan Tajuddin, Amar Rohidan, S. Chanturu, Yong Kuong Yuong, Safiq Rahim, Bunyamin Umar, S. Kunanlan, Shahurain Abu Samah, Ashaari Shamsuddin, Joseph Kallang Tie, Shahrizal Saad, Abdul Hadi Yahya, Abdul Manaf Mamat, Safee Sali, Izzaq Faris Ramlan.
Vietnamese runners will receive a VND 100 million (US$5,000) prize money if they qualify for the 2012 London Olympics during the athletics competition at the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia from 12-16 November.
The Vietnam Athletics Federation (VAF) made the announcement last week. The country is represented by a 41 member team which includes middle distance runner Truong Thanh Hang, sprinter Vu Thi Huong and deathlete, Vu Van Huyen.
Hang won the gold medals at the SEA Games from 2005 to 2009 and is once again Vietnam's golden hope.
Meanwhile top sprinter, Va Thi Huong has recovered from an unjury and will compete in the women's 100 and 200m in Indonesia. She clocked 11.50s at the Mekong Delta Athletics Championship last month.
In Vietnam, we discovered, there is spirit that is causing this nation to grow at a fast rate. I would like to call it the Forward Spirit. After a few days in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), I began to notice that the people here are preparing for a great future.
They just move forward in every thing that they do. Even when you cross the road, you just walk forward and the coming vehicles will automatically adjust to avoid you. But if you hesitate and move backwards, you are asking for trouble.
The people in Saigon are veri disciplined and proud with what they do. If they are office workers they can be seen walking togather in some kind of uniform dressings to their offices. The students seem to be happy that they have a good future ahead of them.
But mostly, I was impressed with their commitment towards sports. In one section of Saigon, there is a large play ground wich is transfrormed to dozens of badminton courts in the morning and you can see people of different age groups playing, some as young as 10 year olds.
After the session, the nets, poles and lines (mostly ropes) are taken of and the park becomes a resting place for the people around the area.
This is just one playg ground in one part of Saigon. If this is the tradition all over the contry, soon we will see Vietnam producing many badminton players.
In football, one can feel the commitment of the authorities who continue to organize and host many international meets to give their teams the exposure they need.
This forward spirit will make Vietnam a sports power in time to come.