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December 2005 / January 2006

AIFF pull out referee
January 31, 2006: Vikramjeet Singh from Delhi, who officiated in the controversial Fransa-Pax FC vs Mahindra United yesterday, has been called back by the AIFF from his duties in Goa. Vikramjeet was supposed to stay 10 more days in Goa and officiate in further matches, but now he has been called back to be out of the firing line.
In Goa this was seen as a first step in the right direction as the referee was seen to have made decisive mistakes in the match. Fransa-Pax FC have lodged an official complaint with the AIFF over the match and have threathened to pull out of the NFL, if the match is not replayed or the points shared. But officials within the AIFF are not taking the Fransa-Pax threat too seriously as Fransa-Pax president Mickky Pacheco has made such threats in the past.

Crowd trouble after Fransa-Pax vs Mahindra match
January 30, 2006 - by Armstrong Vaz: "If there is no re-match we are going to withdraw from the ongoing national football league," stated Fransa-Pax boss Francisco (Micky) Pachecho.
In fact the state minister has dashed a letter to the AIFF threatening to do such a move if the controversial match is not replayed in full.
Violence raised its ugly head yet again at Fatorda stadium. Referee Bikramjit P from Delhi played the spoil sport on the proceedings on the football field. The echoes, which found its way in the crowd. The crowd wenting its anger breaking chairs and breaking a few stones in the lower tier of the west stand. The targets were the dressing rooms and the referee's room.
The upper tier glass in the west stand which house the offices of the stadium manager and other officials were not spared.
An inadequate police force was left a helpless spectator. Surprisingly with the crowd waiting in wait for the Referees to come out of the referees room for more than hour the police did not fit to call in more reinforcements.
Incidentally Margao Town Police in charge Police inspector Santosh Dessai who was in civilian dress for the match tried to control things along with PSI Kapil Naik as match officials surrounded the Fransa coaching staff trying to reason out on the decision.
The spectators were angry over the decision and flung water bottles in the direction of the police and Zee Sports staff. One such missile hit Nimbus production staff Priyadarsani, who was seen writhing in pain.
One such spectator jumped the fence and pulled the corner flag and was running menacingly towards the referee. Fransa's Brazilian player Ivan saw sense and quickly grapped him and more Fransa players Cresson Antao and Rocky Barreto joined to send the spectator back to his place.
PI Santosh Dessai retuned to the trouble spot in his dress seeing that the police were having difficult in having control over the proceedings. Incidentaly PI Kapil Naik tried to chase a handful of spectators who were threatening to break into the lower west stand tier, chasing them single handily with his lathi in tow. The chase led to a few spectoators having a few false but Kapil did not hit the lathi.
At these Agriculture minister Francisco Pacheco came to the scene of action and warned that police should not do any body harm to any of the fans present at the venue.
GFA secretary Savio Messias too was heckled and pushed by the angry mob as he tried to ring in control over the angry crowd outside the referees room.
Outstation and local journalists too were not spared by the angry mob who passed nasty comments directed at both national and local media journalists.

Mike Okoro hurriedly leaves for Poland
January 30, 2006: East Bengal's Nigerian recruit Mike Okoro left for Poland late last night after his clubs NFL match against Air-India. Okoro, who used to play in Poland, before he came the first time to India a few years ago, has been trying to get Polish citizenship for quite some time. Now his application seems to have run into some problem, so Okoro had to go to Poland as early as possible. East Bengal requested him to stay until February 6 for the clubs last match before the NFL break, but was now allowed to travel to Poland on humanitarian grounds. Okoro's salary would be deducted depending on how long he stays in Poland.
Meanwhile some people at the club are angry with Okoro that he did not inform the coach Philippe de Ridder that he had picked-up a hamstring injury before yesterday's match. Okoro took to the field and aggrevated the injury.

Rodrigue chances to play for Md Sporting diminish
January 30, 2006: Will Togolese striker Gley Yao Rodrigue be allowed to play for Mohammedan Sporting Club in the ongoing 10th National League? There have to be doubts about the strikers chances to play for Sporting due to the international transfer laws and the necessary "International Transfer Clearance". FIFA replied to the AIFF and the IFA that the Togolese FA would have to issue the ITC, if the player had sought a transfer back to Togo after leaving Mohun Bagan. And due to having then taken a transfer in the season already, Rodrigue could only return to Mohun Bagan and then be loaned to Mohammedan Sporting. But there are doubts, if Rodrigue actually did sign for a club back home in Togo, which has complicated matters even more.

Round 5 - Day 3: Mahindra win late
January 30, 2006: Fransa-Pax FC 1-2 Mahindra United
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Fransa-Pax - Mahindra Utd to be shown live tomorrow
January 29, 2006: As Zee Sports informed us at IndianFootball.Com today, tomorrow's rescheduled Round 5 match Fransa-Pax FC vs Mahindra United will be shown live by Zee Sports from 19.00 IST. The pre-match coverage will start at 18.30 IST.

Round 5 - Day 2: Airmen hold Red-and-Gold goalless
January 29, 2006: East Bengal Club 0-0 Air-India
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 5 - Day 2: Dempo out of relegation zone
January 29, 2006: Dempo SC 1-1 Mohun Bagan AC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 5 - Day 1: Sporting wins Goa derby
January 28, 2006: Sporting Clube de Goa 1-0 Salgaocar SC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 5 - Day 1: Mohammedan new leaders
January 28, 2006: Mohammedan Sporting Club 2-1 JCT Mills
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Mahindra Utd - Fransa-Pax to be held in Goa on Monday
January 27, 2006: Due to the state of disrepair of the Cooperage ground field in Mumbai, the Mahindra United vs Fransa-Pax FC has been shifted to Goa. WIFA, GFA and AIFF officials have been able to negotiate to host the game originally scheduled for January 29 in Mumbai on the 30th in Goa. It will now be a home fixture for Fransa-Pax FC, and the return fixture will be played at a later date.

Round 3 - Day 4: East Bengal move to the top of the table
January 25, 2006: East Bengal Club 2-0 Fransa-Pax FC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 3 - Day 4: JCT score their first win
January 25, 2006: Mohun Bagan AC 2-0 JCT Mills
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 4 - Day 4: Next draw in NFL
January 24, 2006: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-1 Sporting Clube de Goa
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 4 - Day 3: Calcutta derby ends in draw
January 22, 2006: Mohun Bagan AC 0-0 East Bengal Club
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Bhutia doubtful for big derby
January 21, 2006: East Bengal is facing several injury worries ahead of the big Calcutta-derby against Mohun Bagan tomorrow. Coach Philipe de Ridder has to wait for last tests before kick-off to decide, if Mike Okoro, Alvito D'Cunha, Kalia Kulothungan and RC Prakash are able to take part in the encounter.
Further star striker and India captain Baichung Bhutia is a doubtful starter due to a strain in his left thigh. The chances of his taking the field are 50-50, and a decision on his being in the starting-eleven will be taken just two hours before the match.
Baichung Bhutia: "It would be risky to play in this condition. But since it is a Mohun Bagan match, I would like to play."

Round 3 - Day 3: Mohammedan moves into second place
January 21, 2006: Mohammedan Sporting Club 1-0 Salgaocar SC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 4 - Day 2: Air-India records first win
January 21, 2006: Dempo SC 0-2 Air-India
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 4 - Day 1: Barreto wins it late for Jeepmen
January 20, 2006: Mahindra United 2-1 JCT Mills
Match report and statistics | Pictures

AIFF reschedules further matches
January 19, 2006: Further matches in the 10th National League have been rescheduled. Some dates of matches in Round 4 to 7 have been changed by the AIFF following requests from the clubs and broadcasting Zee Sports. And as reported earlier the Round 8 matches have been postponed to after the Asian Cup 2007 qualifiers on February 22 and March 1.

AIFF show causes GFA
January 19, 2006: The AIFF has issued a show cause notice to the Goa FA over security lapses during the NFL match between Sporting Clube de Goa vs JCT Mills on January 15 at the Nehru Stadium, Margao. The Match Commissioner Gulab Chauhan reported that a spectator had managed to enter the referees' room after the match which ended in a 1-1 draw and hurled abuse at the referees. Further another spectator had reportedly entered the referee's room after the 10th NFL inauguration Goa match on January 10. The GFA have been given until January 23 to send an answer.

Round 3 - Day 2: Sporting Clube score first win
January 18, 2006: Sporting Clube de Goa 3-1 Air-India
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 3 - Day 1: Mahindra win a seven goal thriller
January 17, 2006: Dempo SC 3-4 Mahindra United
Match report and statistics | Pictures

AIFF reschedules three matches
January 15, 2006: The AIFF has rescheduled the three postponed matches from Round 3 to be played in Calcutta. The Mohammedan Sporting Club vs Salgaocar SC match scheduled for January 20 has been postponed by a day. January 25 will see a double-header in the Saltlake Stadium with East Bengal Club vs Fransa-Pax FC at 17.00 h (originally January 18) and Mohun Bagan AC vs JCT Mills at 19.00 h (originally January 19).
Four Round 4 matches have received new dates and/or kickoff times. Mahindra United take on JCT Mills on January 20 in Goa instead of January 23 in Mumbai. Due to the bad state of the Cooperage ground in Mumbai the decision had to be taken. Meanwhile Dempo SC take on Air-India at 17.00 h on January 21 now; the Calcutta derby between Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal Club a day later now takes place at 19.00 h. Mohammedan Sporting Club take on Sporting Clube de Goa a day later than planned on January 24.
Round 8 scheduled for February 8/9 has been postponed completely to allow the national team camp to begin on time ahead of the Asian Cup 2007 qualifiers on February 22 against Japan and on March 1 against Yemen.

Round 2 - Day 2: One-all in Calcutta
January 15, 2006: East Bengal 1-1 Salgaocar SC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 2 - Day 2: Next draw in NFL encounter
January 15, 2006: Sporting Clube 1-1 JCT Mills
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 2 - Day 1: Goalless draw in Goa
January 14, 2006: Dempo SC 0-0 Fransa-Pax FC
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 2 - Day 1: Bagan suffers surprise defeat
January 14, 2006: Mohun Bagan 0-1 Mohammedan Sporting Club
Match report and statistics | Pictures

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Climax out injured
January 11, 2006: Indian "Footballer of the Year" Climax Lawrence will be out for upto two month's due to a ligament tear. This is the result of Climax meeting Dr. Anand Joshi, India's No.1 sports medicine expert. For Dempo SC this is a further severe blow to their title defence campaign. Earlier injuries to Jose Colaco and Riston Rodrigues had already depleted the Dempo midfield, so coach Armando Colaco is forced to think about alternatives within the team.
Climax had injured himself in a Goa Professional League match against Churchill Brothers SC on December 29, 2005.

Light go out at Nehru Stadium
January 11, 2006: That lights go off during a football in India does seem to happen once in a while. The most famous one was the September 8, 2004 power failure in the 2006 World Cup qualifier between India and Japan. Thereafter the Saltlake Stadium lights went off once more during the 110th IFA Shield. This time the power failure happened at the Nehru Stadium, Margao in Goa.
With 13 minutes of play left in the 10th National League Goan-leg opener between champions Dempo SC and runners-up Sporting Clube de Goa yesterday, the lights went off in the tower over the West Stand. It took the engineer's over 20 minutes to get the lights on again before the match could be resumed. With many NFL matches to be held under lights in Goa, the GFA will try to ensure that such events do not reoccur, therefore they will hire a generator to keep on stand-by at the ground.

Round 1 - Day 2: Salgaocar score comeback win
January 11, 2006: Salgaocar SC 3-1 Air-India
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 1 - Day 2: Fransa hold former champions
January 11, 2006: Fransa-Pax FC 0-0 JCT Mills
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 1 - Day 2: Bagan hold Jeepmen goalless
January 11, 2006: Mohun Bagan AC 0-0 Mahindra United
Match report and statistics | Pictures

NFL matches postponed
January 10, 2006: The AIFF president Das Munshi informed the media at the Saltlake Stadium today that the matches scheduled for the Saltlake Stadium, Calcutta on January 18, 19 and 20 have been postponed indefinitely. The matches had to be postponed due to the West Bengal government unable to make police arrangements due to a CII Partnership Summit at the Saltlake Stadium complex. The concerned matches are East Bengal Club vs Fransa-Pax FC on January 18, Mohun Bagan AC vs JCT Mills on January 19, and Mohammedan Sporting Club vs Salgaocar SC on January 20.

Round 1 - Day 1: Sporting Clube hold Dempo to a opening draw
January 10, 2006: Dempo SC 0-0 Sporting Clube de Goa
Match report and statistics | Pictures

Round 1 - Day 1: Baichung gives Red-and-Gold win in opener
January 10, 2006: East Bengal Club 1-0 Mohammedan Sporting Club
Match report and statistics | Pictures

10th National League preview
January 9, 2006: India's top league is set to kickoff tomorrow for it's 10th season. A historic milestone for the NFL, which kicked-off under much fanfare in 1996 and had run through some difficult times and now it seems one can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With ONGC staying on as title sponsor and with Zee Sports coming in to cover the NFL extensively with at least 45 matches to be shown live, one can hope for better times ahead for Indian football and the NFL is the competition between India's top clubs which will hopefully work towards that goal. But if one sees the problems in the scheduling one would doubt if things are really looking better. One can only hope and pray for better times.
So who are the favourites to win the title? Who could get relegated?
For the first time in the NFLs history the Calcutta Maidan giants aren't amongst the top title contenders. This year all eyes will be on Mumbai giants Mahindra United, who have won the Federation Cup, India's version of the FA-Cup, earlier in the season. The Jeepmen are favourites to finally put their name on the NFL title roaster list. The club has the highest budget in India, it is professionally run with a solid management, a good and qualified coach in Derrick Pereira, and the best talent available is in the squad. Only Mahindra will have to prove that they can win a marathon league which runs over four month's. Mahindra's likely rivals are set to be Goan sides Dempo SC and Sporting Clube de Goa. The defending champions Dempo SC will want to prove that the title last year wasn't fluke, while Sporting Clube want to get rid of the chokers tag after loosing out on three possible titles at the last moment.
Who else could trouble those top sides is difficult to say. East Bengal would normally belong to the creme of Indian club football, but a not set team and then a new foreign coach cast a lot of doubts about their campaign. Archrivals Mohun Bagan are no better with foreign players coming, and going and things not really going right after an impressive start to the season with the Calcutta Premier League title. Punjab's lone entrant JCT Mills has strengthened their squad compared to last season, but the lack of competitive match practice and playing five away matches initially could make it tough. Salgaocar SC and Fransa-Pax FC are in somewhat similar situation as their Calcutta rivals. A team with potential, but unimpressive performances in the Goa Pro League have cast doubts about what they can achieve in this NFL. The one or the other of the above mentioned teams could have to fit relegation.
On the other side of the table promoted Mohammedan Sporting Club and Air-India are likely to fight for survival from the start of the league. Mohammedan Sporting sadly once more is embroiled in problems between management, coaching staff and players with unwanted interference from club officials. Air-India have a young, balanced side still they will need to pull up their socks, if they are going to stay in the NFL, but maybe they could be the surprise package of this league.
The 10th edition kicks-off with a match at the Saltlake Stadium between former champions East Bengal Club and promoted Mohammedan Sporting Club. The league will be inaugurated by the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya with a cultural programme to follow before the ball starts rolling. Later in the day, the top two sides from the last NFL edition, champions Dempo SC and runners-up Sporting Clube de Goa face-off at the Nehru Stadium, Margao in Goa.
The AIFF meanwhile was prepared to carry out random dope tests during the 10th NFL with the samples going to be send to Malaysia for testing. Which matches and players would be asked to come to the test was kept secret as otherwise it wouldn't be a random test.

Mohun Bagan name their squad
January 9, 2006: Mohun Bagan AC after their preparatory camp in Durgapur announced a 24 member squad for the upcoming 10th National League. The club registered two new foreigners in Coffe Edem Agbessi from Benin and Ghanian Ibrahim from Abahani Krika Chakra in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bagan coach Jahar Das also included Mohun Bagan-SAIL Academy player Abhiraj Singh in his 24 member squad.
Meanwhile Chirag Computer has been signed by Mohun Bagan as co-sponsor for the rest of the 2005/06 season.
Squad: Imran Khan, Subrata Pal, Prasanta Dora, Eduardo Chacon Coelho Lacerda, Anbalath Suliman Firoze, Sanjeev Kumar Maria, Abhiraj Singh, Manas Das, Subashish Roy Chowdhury, Dulal Biswas, Rajib Ahmed, Tomba Singh, Noel Wilson, Mehraj Din Wadoo, Mehtab Hussain, Dharamjit Singh, Chinmoy Sarkar, Manjit Singh, Basudeb Mondal, Dipendu Biswas, Jerry Jirsanga, Sushil Kumar Singh, Coffe Edem Agbessi, Ibrahim.

Air-India sign Musah & Soccor Velho
January 9, 2006: Air-India coach Bimal Ghosh has strengthened his team ahead of the 10th National League opening match on July 11 in Goa against Salgaocar SC with two interesting signings. Ghanian utility man Suley Musah, who can play in defence and midfield, has signed for the Airmen after having been released by Mohammedan Sporting and not found good enough at his former club East Bengal. Also Air-India have been able to sign talented striker Soccor Velho on loan from Mumbai league rivals Golden Gunners.

Vijayan missing in EB squad
January 8, 2006: The start of the 10th National League is a couple of days away. Three time former champions East Bengal Club face local rivals Mohammedan Sporting Club in the inaugural match at the Saltlake Stadium, Calcutta. The red-and-gold named their 20 member initial NFL squad including Anupam Sarkar, who has come on loan from EverReady SA; while seasoned IM Vijayan is missing and coach Philippe de Ridder left two foreigner spots open. Only Nigerian Mike Okoro is part of the NFL squad at the moment.
Squad: Naseem Akhtar, Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, Soumik Dey, Covan Lawrence, Debjit Ghosh, Anupam Sarkar, Debabrata Roy, Habibur Rehman Mondal, Sasthi Duley, Bernard Pires, Alvito D'Cunha, Kalia Kulothungan, Jayanta Sen, Gauranga Dutta, Dipankar Roy, Mike Okoro, Shylo Malswam Tulunga, Baichung Bhutia, Syed Rahim Nabi, RC Prakash.

Mohammedan announces squad
January 8, 2006: Promoted Mohammedan Sporting face an acid test when they face city rivals East Bengal in the 10th National League opener. Sporting today also nominated their 20 member squad including Zimbabwean defender David Mkandawire and Nigerian striker Okonji Onyelo Patrick.
Squad: Gopal Das, Arindam Ghosh, Kabijit Khotel, Bijay Basfore, Wajid Ali, David Mkandawire, Madhab Das, Madhusudan Majumdar, Mir Farooq Hyder, Mohammed Mukhtar, Palash Karmakar, Satyajit Bose, Bijen Singh, Anit Ghosh, Suman Dutta, Jiten Rai, Okonji Onyelo Patrick, Raman Vijayan, KP Zubair, Nitin Pradhan.

Mahindra United appointes a Team Analyst
January 6, 2006: Today, Mahindra United appointed a Team Analyst for their upcoming campaign in the 10th National League, informed us their Manager Henry Menezes. Mumbai-based Sujay Sharma, who is also an IndianFootball.Com editor, will be executing this role for the Jeepmen. "This should help us to assess and improve our own performances, and at the same time get more insights into our opponents," said Mr. Menezes.

NFL fixtures until Round 8 announced
January 5, 2006: At a press conference in the capital New Delhi today the AIFF president Das Munshi informed the media about the upcoming 10th National League. Oil major ONGC will continue to be the title sponsor of the 10 team NFL with the sponsorship amount being around Rs 50 million. The league will be played under the name "ONGC Cup National Football League" with the total prize money remaining at Rs 11 million (approximately USD 250,000) for the top six teams. The champions would take home Rs 4 million, the runners-up would get Rs 2,2 million, while the third place team would receive Rs 1,6 million. Further the fourth placed team would get Rs 900,000, the fifth-placed team Rs 600,000 and the sixth-placed team Rs 300,000. Further each league win would bring the participating teams Rs 30,000 with the Fair Play Trophy worth Rs 100,000. The highest goal scorer would get the golden boot award and Rs 50,000.
With the NFL reduced to 10 teams this season only 90 matches would be played in two phases. In the first phase from January 10 to February 9 the Rounds 1 to 8 would be played, 40 matches in total; while the second phase would be held from March 12 to May 14 with the remaining 50 matches of the Rounds 9 to 18 played in the two month period. The five week break was necessary due to international commitments of the national team and the AFC Cup matches of Dempo SC and Mahindra United.
The opening day fixtures have two local derbies in Calcutta and Goa on the cards. In the inaugural match of the league on January 10 East Bengal Club take on Mohammedan Sporting Club infront of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Calcutta, while defending champions Dempo SC face runners-up Sporting Clube de Goa in Goa.
At per current plans matches would be played in Calcutta, Goa, Mumbai and Ludhiana; but if matches cannot be held, then matches would be held at the neutral/alternative venues Delhi, Bangalore and Calicut. Mumbai seems to be a major problem due to the state of the Cooperage ground and the AIFF president said he was talking to the Cricket Club of India president Raj Singh Dungarpur to allow football matches to be held at the Brabourne Stadium, where normally Cricket is held.
After having covered the Federation Cup and Santosh Trophy live, Zee Sports will continue to show Indian football matches live. The channel plans to show at least 45 of the 90 matches live with the high quality it has shown so far. But the AIFF president Das Munshi added that he hoped that Doordarshan would show some of the matches as well.
We at IndianFootball.Com have also been able to get our hands on the fixtures of the Rounds 1 to 8 of the 10th NFL released by the AIFF. A heavy schedule of eight matches in about a month's time for all 10 participating clubs.
There are slight chances to the fixtures in Mumbai due to the state of the Cooperage ground.
Air-India vs Salgaocar SC match on January 11 scheduled for Mumbai will now take place in Goa (i.e. it's now Salgaocar SC vs Air-India)
Air-India vs Mahindra United match on January 15 scheduled for Mumbai has been postponed until further notice
Mahindra United vs Dempo SC match on January 17 scheduled for Mumbai will take place in Goa (i.e. it's now Dempo SC vs Mahindra United)
Mahindra United vs JCT Mills on January 23 will be the first NFL match to be played at the Cooperage ground, Mumbai this year.
The above modifications to the schedule were arrived upon after intense discussions today amongst the Mumbai club representatives (Alan Durante and Henry Menezes of Mahindra United among them), Mumbai's Local Organising Committee representative (Cdr. Kehar Singh of WIFA) and the AIFF secretary and NFL chairman Alberto Colaco.

IFA secretary reacts on Mahindra United issue
January 4, 2006: Mahindra United playing at home in Calcutta? Well thats what the IFA honorary secretary Subrata Dutta would like to see. Talking to IndianFootball.Com Subrata Dutta said, "Mahindra United's participation in the Premier Division of the Calcutta Football League would be a Win-Win situation for both Mahindra United and Bengal football on which the progress of Indian football depends a lot. Mahindra United shall be able to build up a supporter base here (Calcutta) as there is no dearth of football lovers in our State where the game is their religion and opium. They would get better infrastructural facilities also would be able to participate in quality competitions like Calcutta Football League and IFA Shield alongwith formidable sides like Kingfisher East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan SC."
He further added, "Moreover they would get the desired mileage through football not only by riding on the passion for the game which exists here but also due to the tremendous media attention and coverage football gets here which is unparalleled to the rest of the country."

Mahindra to swift to Calcutta?!
January 2, 2006: Might Mumbai giants Mahindra United, who have won the Federation Cup this season and are once more trying to win their first National League title, shift base from Mumbai to Calcutta? This speculation came out today through a letter send by IFA secretary Subrata Dutta to Mahindra United chairman Alan Durante.
The Indian Football Association (West Bengal body) is trying to convince the Mahindra&Mahindra management to shift their base from Mumbai to Calcutta, where they could play in the Calcutta Premier League, the IFA-Shield plus other IFA organised tournaments without facing any such venue problems as they have been and are currently facing in Mumbai.
Mahindra United, one of two NFL sides based in Mumbai, are currently facing a problem with the only real football venue in Mumbai, the Cooperage ground (which is not upto even Indian standards), being in a very bad shape due to it being rented out for weddings. And not only for the NFL but even worse is the situation with the continental AFC Cup, where Mahindra hoped to once more play home matches in Goa, but sadly in Goa their only venue is blocked due to Cricket and with Dempo SC, India's other representative also being from Goa it looks difficult that Mahindra can look at Goa as their home base for the AFC Cup.
The IFA meanwhile hopes to strengthen their Premier League as with the addition of the Mahindra United to the league, the East Bengal-Mohun Bagan-Mohammedan Sporting rivalry might get a new big opponent, which smaller clubs in the city haven't been able to do like Tollygunge Agragami or EverReady SA. But if Mahindra could and would draw bigger crowds in Calcutta, if they shift East is difficult to say as football fans in Calcutta and across Bengal are rather tri-polar.
Mumbai surely has seen a football renaisance in the last couple of years, but as long as the financial capital of India does not have a proper football stadium, people will not flock to watch games and also make it difficult for teams to sustain themselves. Maybe this whole episode makes Mahindra United to think about building a small football specific stadium for maybe 15,000 to 20,000 in Mumbai.
But if Mahindra consider the switch, then it would be a matter between the Western Indian Football Association (Maharashtra body) and the IFA with no involvement of the AIFF. And it would be the biggest shift in Indian football's history. Mumbai's loss would surely be Calcutta's gain. Mahindra has not said anything on the matter yet.

Cameroon-born defender joins EB
January 2, 2006: East Bengal's new coach Philippe de Ridder is back in Calcutta after a short christmas break back home in Belgium and brought with him the Cameroon-born defender Edoa, who last played in the Belgian Division II. Also on trial with the red-and-gold is veteran Brazilian striker Robson Pereira da Silveira, who if able to impress de Ridder will be signed.

Fixtures to be redrawn
December 28, 2006: The 10th National League tentative fixtures are set to be redrawn as clubs have responded to the AIFF that the schedule is too cramped and the gap between matches is too short for the regeneration of players. The NFLs opening matchday scheduled for January 7 might also be pushed back by a few days.

Zimbabwean defender for Mohammedan?!
December 27, 2006: According to information we received from Africa Zimbabwean defender David Mkandawire is set to join Mohammedan Sporting Club ahead of the National League on a six month contract. Mkandawire had nearly joined Mohun Bagan about two years ago after a strong performance in the 2003 Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad, but the deal failed due to Mkandawire's club then Amazulu demanding too much as transfer fee.

Gley Yao Rodrigue might join Mohammedan
December 26, 2006: Striker Gley Yao Rodrigue from Togo has send in a written complaint to world governing body FIFA about his release by Mohun Bagan AC which he claims was forced on him by the club. Copies of the three page letter have been send to the Asian Football Confederation, the AIFF, IFA and Mohun Bagan. Hailed a new hero after Gley helped Bagan beat archrivals East Bengal twice in the Calcutta Premier League, Yao's performance dipped the longer he stayed with the club with the Federation Cup and IFA-Shield performances forcing the club to act. Meanwhile rumours in Calcutta say that Gley might return to Calcutta for the 10th National League and play for Bagan rivals Mohammedan Sporting, who are looking to strengthen their squad of the tough league.

Alternative venues announced
December 22, 2006: We had speculated about the possibility of alternative venues yesterday in the news and today the AIFF decided that the named venues Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium, Calicut's Municipal Corporation Stadium or Bangalore's Sree Kanteerava or Football Stadium's could host National League matches, if Calcutta, Goa, Mumbai or Ludhiana are unable to do so.
This was one of the results of the AIFF meeting in New Delhi today with the 10 teams in taking part in the upcoming National league and the local state FAs of the participating teams present. Also the clubs and state FAs have been given a tentative schedule to go through and get back to the AIFF, if the schedule is okay to them or not and then make suggestions and corrections where they feel necessary.

AIFF meeting on NFL
December 21, 2006: The AIFF, likely to be represented by it's president Das Munshi and secretary Alberto Colaco; representatives of the 10 participating National League clubs; and officials from the IFA (West Bengal), Goa FA, WIFA (Maharashtra) and Punjab FA will sit down tomorrow in New Delhi to work out the fixtures and discuss possible venues for the 10th National League, which is set to kick-off in early-January 2006.
Venues could be a major stumbling block with problems in Goa, Calcutta and Mumbai.
In Goa the problem is that the Nehru Stadium in Margao is set to be used for a One-Day International Cricket match between India and England in early-April 2006. For that the Goa Cricket Association needs time to prepare the pitch and outfield. In Goa the GFA is trying to work out a solution that it can use the ground until early-February so that a number of matches can be held by then as four of the 10 NFL sides come from Goa. Goa has no alternative venues available which meet security standards and are acceptable for Zee Sports for the TV coverage.
In Calcutta the Saltlake Stadium pitch is set to be relaid. The turf is in a bad state and needs urgent repair as well as the underground drainage system. For this cause the West Bengal government needs three to four month's to relay the pipelines and a lay a new pitch. The work is set to start in February/March 2006. The IFA luckily has named two, maybe even three alternative venues. It has named the Kanchanjunga Stadium in Siliguri and the Barasat Stadium as potential venues besides maybe the Howrah Stadium (an excellent ground, used by FC Bayern II for training) and the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.
In Mumbai the Cooperage ground is in bad shape. The ground has few patches of grass on it left and the ground is not suitable for TV coverage of matches. Officials are trying to get the Brabourne Road Stadium as an alternative venue.
The only venue likely to get a nod without any problems is the Guru Gobind Singh Stadium, Ludhiana which continues to be the home venue of JCT Mills.
In it's efforts to spread football across India, the AIFF might have to look at options of playing NFL matches in other parts of the country. e.g. Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium, Calicut's Municipal Corporation Stadium or Bangalore's Sree Kanteerava or Football Stadium's would surely welcome some NFL action.

NFL to kick-off with ten teams
December 18, 2006: After the end of the AIFFs Annual General Meeting in New Delhi, the AIFF informed the media about the results.
The 10th National League which is set to begin in early-January will be a 10 team affair. The AIFF did not bow down to pressure from relegated National League sides who wanted to the retained in the league after good performances in the Federation Cup this season. The relegated NFL sides will have to fight it out in the 2.Division to remain promotion to the National League
A third Division would also be finally launched but the formalities were being worked out so nothing much could be said about it.
A new tournament, the President's Cup, would be held on an experimental basis from next year onwards. The tournament would be an eight team event with relegated NFL sides plus new rising sides, who have done well in the Durand Cup, IFA Shield and other zonal tournaments.
The AIFF has decided to set up a Players Welfare Fund of Rs 10 Million.
On the Santosh Trophy quarterfinal league match between Manipur and Goa the AIFF has decided that things will stay the way they are, meaning Goa remain Santosh Trophy champions. Also no action would be taken against the Manipuri players who had been named in the match report, while the AIFF requested the All-Manipur FA to rejoin in national football activities.

Mohun Bagan looking for new players
December 17, 2006: After releasing striker Yao Gley Rodrigue from Togo and Nigerian Akeem Abul Alem Mohun Bagan AC are on the lookout for strikers to strengthen the squad ahead of the upcoming 10th National League. The clubs president Swapan Sadhan Basu today informed the media that a new 20 year old striker named Coffi Edem Agbessi from Benin would join the team likely next week. The youngster according to his CV that the club received has played for the Benin national team and at the 2005 Youth World Cup in the Netherlands.

Philippe de Ridder new East Bengal coach
December 15, 2006: Belgian coach Philippe "Indi" de Ridder has been appointed as the new East Bengal Club coach. In a historic first, the red-and-gold, have appointed a foreign coach for the first time for a Calcutta Maidan club. Philippe has been given a two year contract and will try to improve the performance of his team to be successful on the national level with the first asignment being the upcoming 10th National League. Philippe, a coach who uses new ideas in his training, will try to implement his "Creative Football Training" methods. Interestingly Philippe was introduced to Indian football by the IndianFootball.Com team. As part of his 360 Degrees World Tour we helped Philippe on his India-leg. We got him in touch with the IFA to train the IFA-CSF Academy boys in Haldia, West Bengal and he also interacted with the football franity in Calcutta.
We wish our friend Indi all the best!!!