India wary of Korea in Kabaddi Masters Dubai

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first_imgDubai, Jun 21 (PTI) With Iran sending a second-string side, India today picked Korea as one of the strong challengers in the six-nation Kabaddi Masters Dubai, which gets underway here tomorrow. The 2016 World Cup finalists Iran will not get the services of their two star defenders, Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba) and Abozar Mighani (Telugu Titans), who were sold for Rs 1 crore and Rs 76 lakh respectively in the Pro Kabaddi League auctions this year. 2017 Asian Championships runners-up Pakistan, on the other hand, are mired in visa hurdles and they will arrive tomorrow morning, about 12 hours before their clash against India in the tournament opener at the Al Wasl Sports Club. India’s experienced defender Manjeet Chillar today said Korea would pose a tough challenge. “They have a strong set of players and are coming here with a full-strength side. Iran have not sent their full strength side. It will be a tough battle against Korea,” Chillar told reporters at the team hotel here. Asked how big a threat is Pakistan, he said: “I don’t remember when they defeated us. At least not during my playing days.” The six-nation tournament feature India, Iran, Pakistan and Korea along with newcomers Kenya and Argentina and this tournament will give the four continental teams a perfect dress rehearsal for the Asian Games in August in Indonesia. Coach Srinivas Reddy indirectly criticised Iran’s decision of not sending their full strength side. “If you don’t sit in the exams how would you know your strengths and weaknesses. They (Iran) want to hide their strengths before the Asian Games but we have come here with full strength,” Reddy, who will coach the senior team for the first time said.advertisement “We want to assess our strengths and weaknesses so that we know what should be our strategy for the Asian Games,” he said. Reddy, however, said they are not taking any team for granted. “Any team can match anyone on a given day. All the teams will pose tough challenges.” Ajay Thakur will lead Indian challenge after the exclusion of former Indian captain Anup Kumar, one of the biggest names in Kabaddi. Talking about the decision, the 40-year-old from Telangana said, “In cricket, Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from the team did not bring the sport in India to a standstill. You had someone like Virat Kohli taking over the responsibility. The sport is always more important than the players. It’s like the flow of water,” the coach signed off with a smile. PTI TAP AHAHlast_img

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World Cup 2014: Brazil must play in samba style, says Chima Okorie

first_imgChima OkorieThe greatest sporting spectacle on earth is back to its spiritual home, and sitting in India, I can only imagine the excitement level of the millions of fans who have descended on Brazil to witness the biggest celebration of the ‘beautiful game’.TeamworkBy the time you read this, the World Cup would already be underway with the home side having played Croatia in the opening match. And boy, what an opportunity it is for the ‘Selecao’ to put a smile on the faces of its citizens, who have seen some torrid times in the form of nationwide protests in the build up to the World Cup. I firmly believe if the South Americans can light up the big stage, it would not take much time for their countrymen to start supporting the World Cup. I also feel that it will need a team effort to affect this turnaround and not over-dependence on one person. Everybody is talking about Neymar; no doubt the kid is a special talent but this is the World Cup. A team wins it and not an individual.Most importantly, Brazil need to believe in themselves and their famous style, which has won them five World Cups, more than any other country. Apart from Brazil, my favourites for the title would be Spain and Germany. Both these countries have been very consistent and possess the talent as well as the attitude needed to be champion.Many would wonder why I am not keeping Argentina in this list, and this despite my favourite player being the Argentine striker Mario Kempes, whose long-haired looks were as elegant as his playing style.advertisementThe reason is that I firmly believe they are a one-man team, despite the plethora of big names on the team sheet. If Lionel Messi is off-colour, then Argentina are offcolour. No doubt they will be one of the top contenders, but I have my inhibitions about if they can go all the way.Nobody questions Messi’s abilities and I am a big admirer too, but I have always believed in team play rather than individual brilliance. Let me remind you, this is the World Cup and nobody is a mere pretender here. Everybody has the ability to upset the strongest rivals on their day.Coming from Nigeria, I know how the small teams feel when it comes to facing their big brothers in the football world. It’s a chance for them to show the world what they are capable of. My country will also be competing in this edition but if anyone asks which African nation has the chance to succeed the most, I would go for Ghana.They have young and energetic players and again, they play as a team. I believe they have the ability to reach the semifinals, a feat which has never been achieved by an African country. From Asia, my pick would be Japan. They have progressed gradually over the years and their rise as Asian giants has a lot to do with the focused planning of their football administrators.YoungstersObviously, the traditional powerhouses will have an upper hand but football is a celebration of life. And what’s life without surprises?It’s for this same reason that I would rather watch the young guns than superstars. Everybody knows Messi or Ronaldo or Sergio Aguero are the top contenders for the Golden Boot. But why look at the established stars? I would rather not sleep at night this whole month to see new players making waves at the grandest stage. Let me tell you, any youngster who shows the gumption to fight against the strongest opponents will be a star for the future.MadnessPersonally, I would like to see how Belgium’s Adnan Januzaj performs. He has been a special talent for Manchester United and now is the right time for him to perform for his country. As a player, whatever may be your record for the club, performing with the national jersey on gives you real pleasure.The first World Cup I remember is the 1978 edition where my hero Kempes was the top-scorer and his Argentine side won the title. As I see football now, it has become a lot faster and more exciting than in the seventies or eighties. Obviously, it’s much more commercialised now but it is also a lot more professional.And it makes things better for the fans – the ultimate reason why the players take the field. I sincerely hope this World Cup too gives the supporters moments which they will cherish for their whole lives. Brazil is a colourful country and it will no doubt embrace the world in its very own way. There’s music, there’s joy and most importantly there’s football in every corner of that country. And trust me, even the most dispassionate of the lot won’t be able to escape this madness.advertisementSo, fans get ready for a month-long celebration of love, life and of course ‘Jogo bonito’ or the beautiful game. It’s going to be one hell of a ride. Cheers! Okorie is a Nigerian footballer who has played for many Indian clubs and stays in India. He spoke to Abhishek Paullast_img

ICC World T20: Nothing controversial in Afridi’s remarks, says Waqar Younis

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