August 4, 2001: The Indian national football team flew back home to India from London-Heathrow.

August 3, 2001: Walsall FC won their match against India 2-0 and ended India's tour of England with a loss.

August 2, 2001: The good news a day ahead of the India vs Walsall FC match, is that the India captain Baichung Bhutia will be available for the last match of the Indian national football teams England Tour. Bhutia, who in the last week had to remain with Bury for their pre-season training and matches, will be joining the Indian squad for the match.

July 31, 2001: India had their first taste of some success tonight. India drew Leyton Orient 1-1 and in the process scored their first goal of the tour. IM Vijayan scored a gem of a goal, the first goal by an Indian player against a professional English side.

July 30, 2001: The Indian team is once again back in training for their next match. Leyton Orient might be the most physical match of the tour but with the skills that the team has, it should be possible to beat Orient.

July 28, 2001: India lost their second match of their England Tour. Nottingham Forest won 2-0 against India on a hot summer afternoon at the City Ground, Nottingham.

July 27, 2001: Before tomorrow's match against Nottingham Forest, India lost leftback Daljit Singh to knee problems. Daljit had missed a long part of the last season for his club JCT due to the reoccuring knee problem.

July 26, 2001: The Indian team is training hard at its camp in the West Midlands for the Saturday match against Nottingham Forest.
It will be a difficult match but a lot is expected from them...

July 24, 2001: India's tour of England started on a negative note with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Brentford FC.
Brentford scored the goals in the space of just four minutes and the match was lost.

July 22, 2001: I saw the Indian team training today in the morning. It was interesting to watch and I compared some of the boys with their performances at the World Cup qualifiers I saw personally in Bangalore and National League matches. The teams fitness level seems to be surprising good, as the preparatory camp didn't work out as wanted by the coaching staff. The team was also happy to train on a green carpet like ground and with pleasent temperatures of around 20 Degrees.
Like myself, the players are awaiting the matches...

July 21, 2001: Reports in the Indian press came out today stating that the Indian national football team captain for the tour of England, Baichung Bhutia, will not be playing for the Indian team during the tour. According to the reports, Bhutia will not be released by his club Bury FC. This information is not correct.
Before the India team arrived Bury FC, their chairman Terry Robinson and the team management, had given Baichung Bhutia the okay to play for India during the England tour.

July 20, 2001: The India team has arrived in England for their 15 day tour, where the team will be playing four matches against english professional clubs.

July 17, 2001: The India team has arrived in New Delhi, en route to England from the NIS Patiala, where the team has been having a 10-day preparatory camp. While Deepak Mondal joined the team today and even practiced with the others, IM Vijayan as the last player is suppoed to join the squad tomorrow. The team leaves for England on Thursday, July 19.

July 15, 2001: India's best player in the World Cup qualifiers and captain of the Merdeka Cup team Jo Paul Ancheri and Mohun Bagan playmaker Basudeb Mondal will miss the England tour. While Ancheri has an groin injury, Basudeb Mondal will have to miss the tour due to illness of his father.

July 12, 2001: The six players from Mahindra United called to the preparatory camp in Patiala have arrived after the club decided to release the players.
East Bengal's Sangram Mukherjee and Dipankar Roy are expected to join tomorrow, while IM Vijayan and Deepak Mondal will join the squad in Delhi on July 18, a day prior to their departure for London Heathrow.

July 11, 2001: Jaydeep Basu reports in the Hindustan Times about the preparatory camp stand-off:
The Indian team's preparations for their tour of England was thrown off gear today with the AIFF succumbing to the pressure of their Bengal unit in allowing some key footballers to skip the camp.
These footballers, according to AIFF sources, will not attend the ongoing camp at Patiala. Instead, they will join the squad straightaway in Delhi on July 18.
The AIFF, initially, released a list of 25 footballers for the 10-day camp, which started at NIS, Patiala last Sunday. But till date, according to chief coach Sukhwinder Singh, only 12 players have reported for the camp. "I have no idea about when the rest of the players will join", Sukhwinder admitted. The problems started immediately after the AIFF bosses released the names of campers and left for Argentina to attend the FIFA Congress. IFA, the parent body of Bengal football and Mumbai's Mahindra United, who have 16 players together in the camp, raised a banner of revolt against the federation. Accusing the AIFF of trying to sabotage the local leagues at Kolkata and Mumbai, both demanded that not more than three players from Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mahindra should be called for the camp.
While Mahindra finally relented and released their players, who might reach Patiala tomorrow, IFA stuck to their gun and even threatened to bring a court injunction against the AIFF. Backed by East Bengal, who have directed their six campers not to join the national camp, IFA has managed to extract their pound of flesh.
Under the new agreement reached between the IFA joint secretary Ranjit Gupta and AIFF president PR DasMunshi, only two East Bengak youngsters, Sangram Mukherjee and Dipankar Roy will join the camp on Tuesday.
While Jo Paul Ancheri, India's skipper in Merdeka, has pulled out because of a groin injury, the two regulars, Deepak Mondal and IM Vijayan will be selected without attending the camp.
"If Bhaichung Bhutia can join the team in England, then why not Vijayan or Mondal? After all, they are also established players of the national team", said a triumphant Ranjit Gupta. "Why should my local league which has a huge sponsorship, get depleted every year for the sake of an exhibition tour", Gupta said.
As if this is not enough, East Bengal have placed their striker Bijen Singh under suspension for defying their directive of not joining the camp. With IFA supporting the club's stand, it remains to be seen how the federation tackles this ticklish issue.
While soccer officials continue to play politics, the preparations for the tour has been spoiled. Sukhwinder said, "it is impossible to practice properly with just 12 players and with no one around to tell me when the rest will arrive.
"Last time we performed well in England and fans this time will expect us to repeat the same. But that may not be possible under the current circumstances", he rued.

July 9, 2001: The selection of India team players is again and again questioned by the clubs. This time, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mahindra United have shown reluctance to release players for the preparatory camp for the England tour.
In an unbelievable move, the Indian Football Association (Bengal) has appealed to its parent body, the AIFF, to pick only two players from the two Calcutta giants. In a letter addressed to the AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco the IFA has argued that with key players moving out from the two big clubs, the Calcutta Super Division League will lose much of its glamour as the teams will be contesting at half the strength. The IFA joint secretary, Ranjit Gupta said that both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have appealed to the IFA to take up the matter with the AIFF. East Bengal has six players, while Mohun Bagan has three among the 25 probables for the national camp.
In an unbelievable statement, the IFA, citing the example of Baichung Bhutia, who will be joining the team straight from his English club Bury FC, the IFA has argued that similar condition can apply to other players also.
"What is the harm if the players from Mohun Bagan and East Bengal join the team directly. Playing for their respective clubs in Super Division League, these players too will be match-ready as is the case for Bhutia," Mr Gupta said.
The IFA said that the trip to England was just an 'exposure tour' and the AIFF can thus afford to be lenient in its approach.
One has to fear that Ranjit Gupta and others in the IFA have not learned the differences of professional European pre-season training and the monsoon-hit matches at the Calcutta Maidan.
Taking the same approach as their Calcutta counterparts, Mumbai's Mahindra United too is planning a similar appeal to the AIFF. The Mumbai team has six players in the list of 25 probables and the team management, it is learnt, has sought to go IFA's way for the sake of the Mumbai Harwood League.
Reacting sharply to a suggestion that the team was not going to take part in a tournament and was just on an exposure trip, Sukhwinder said that the team that will take part in the Afro-Asian Games will be selected keeping in view the players performances in England.
The national camp had been scheduled to be held in Patiala from today until July 17 under chief coach Sukhwinder Singh but so far only 11 players have joined the camp. Among them Renedy Singh & RP Singh (both Mohun Bagan) and Virender Singh (Mahindra United).
In the case of Bijen Singh and East Bengal things seem to go out of control...
East Bengal have decided to suspend last season's captain Bijen Singh till the striker explains his continued absence from practice. The club's general-secretary Dipak Chakrabarty said a notice would be sent to the player's Calcutta residence but that would be useless as >Bijen has reported in Patiala at the preparatory camp for the national team's tour of England.
For the players sake, East Bengal Club should recheck with the AIFF and the national team staff at Patiala.

July 9, 2001: The Gujarat State Football Association secretary, Hardev Jadeja, has been appointed as the chef-de-mission and leader of the Indian football team delegation to England. He was appointed by the president of AIFF, PR Das Munshi. Mr Jadeja is leading a team of 22 players and seven officials.

July 2, 2001: 25 football players have been selected for the selection-cum-coaching camp to select the India team which will be touring England and play four friendly matches. The camp will be held at Patiala from July 9-17. India leave for England on July 20.
Surprisingly Bijen Singh has been included in the probables list while RC Prakash is the notable omission along with other players from the World Cup qualifying squad: Noel Wilson, Venkatesh and Ratan Singh.
PROBABLES: Virender Singh (Mahindra United), Sangram Mukherjee (East Bengal), Narshiman Balaji (Indian Telephone Industries). Defenders: KV Dhanesh (ITI), Mahesh Gawli (Churchill Brothers), Deepak Mondal (East Bengal), Roberto Fernandes (Salgaocar), M Suresh (Mahindra), Surkumar Singh (Mahindra), Daljit Singh (JCT Mills). Midfielders: Jules Alberto (Mahindra), Jo Paul Ancheri (East Bengal), Hardeep Sangha (JCT), Basudeb Mondal (Mohun Bagan), Khalid Jamil (Mahindra), Dipankar Roy (East Bengal), Renedy Singh (Mohun Bagan), RP Singh (Mohun Bagan). Strikers: Abdul Hakeem (SBT), IM Vijayan (East Bengal), Alvito D'Cunha (Salgaocar), Hardeep Gill (JCT), Mohammed Najeeb (Mahindra), Bijen Singh (East Bengal), Baichung Bhutia (Bury FC, ENGLAND).
Chief coach: Sukhwinder Singh. Assistant coach-cum-goalkeepers' coach: Brahmanand Shankwalkar. Manager: Krishnaji Rao.

© 2001