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The Hat-trick | Bengaluru FC Suffer Third Straight Loss; AIFF Creates New Post, Appoints Abhishek Yadav as Deputy General Secretary; Premier League Reels Under Record Covid-19 Cases

The Hat-trick (Top Football News of the Day): Mumbai City FC stamped their class, beating Bengaluru FC 3-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) | The All India Football Federation (AIFF) appoints former India striker and national team director Abhishek Yadav as its deputy General Secretary, a new post in its administrative hierarchy | 40 Covid-19 cases recorded in the Premier League in a week.
Mumbai City players against Bengaluru FC

Mumbai City FC players celebrate after scoring against Bengaluru FC in their Indian Premier League match on Tuesday (Pic: Twitter, MCFC).

Carlos Cuadrat spent much of last night looking like a Wall Street hedge fund manager down on his luck, which is probably what he felt like on the inside too. Unruly white shirt slowly coming untucked from his trousers, collar unbuttoned, black tie askew, hair on edge. If you saw him on the streets of New York, you’d (depending on your bent) either offer him a drink to console him or laugh on his face for failing capitalism. 

When the camera cut to him midway through the first half, Bengaluru FC were already two goals down — the first a scrambled header by Mourtada Fall and the second, a goal of the season contender by Bipin Singh, slotting in Mandar Rao’s perfect cross. But his pained expression this time wasn’t because they were losing, it was because Mumbai were making this prime time Indian Super League (ISL) fixture look like a glorified training session. In that period of play, Mumbai City made 32 passes in a row, before Ahmed Jahouh tried a through ball that was a trick too many to see it cleared away by Bengaluru.

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By the end of the game they had made almost a hundred more passes than Bengaluru, been more accurate, taken more shots on goal and beat them 3-1. In every metric of the game (cards, fouls conceded, offsides!) this team in yellow had been better than the men in blue. 

This is the first time this club has lost three games in a row in the ISL. The first time they have been manhandled so dismissively by any team in the country. Sure, Sunil Chhetri halved the deficit in the 79th via a penalty that should’ve never been one, but all game Mumbai held them at arm’s distance, big brother playing with little brother. So much so that by the end even their more reliable player, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was making errors that should never air on national television, spilling a routine header across the line to restore Mumbai’s cushion.

It was Lobera ball’s finest moment on Indian shores, and as hard as it may have been for Bengaluru fans (and players) to digest, the truth is, this may well be the end of the league for them. An era even. Cuadrat conceded as much at the end, saying something that till a few years ago would have been hearsay at the club.

“As a club, we have to understand that our role is to try and play for the play-offs because ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai are going to fight for the Champions League slot."

Too early to call that yet, but Bengaluru’s own race seems to be run. Unless they can change things up, quickly forget December and January and become the club they used to be. Fighting if not winning and kicking if not screaming.

Abhishek Yadav appointed Deputy general secretary at AIFF

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) appointed former India player Abhishek Yadav as its deputy general secretary, a newly minted post yesterday. Yadav, who post retirement shifted focus to administration, had been involved with the AIFF in various capacities in the past few years, including the role as National Team Director. 

Yadav’s role as the team director and as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the India Under-17 team which played in the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup at home, has been pretty straightforward. It remains to be seen what his role would be as deputy to Kushal Das. In any case the two -- Das and Yadav -- have more-or-less been working as a team doing whatever work they have been doing in Indian football. So, this happens to be a designation change at best, while the work more-or-less remains the same.

Yadav, as per reports, seems to possess a larger understanding of the game’s ecosystem and structure in the country. He has, in fact, worked for the development of the national teams and players across all age groups for both men and women. Yadav was also the Head of Scouting and initiated the Sports Authority of India (SAI) – AIFF international scouting project. 

While COO of the U-17 national side, he negotiated contacts for the players when the AIFF decided to keep the squad together for the Indian Arrows project.

“Abhishek has done a commendable job so far and I have personally observed Abhishek grow in stature as an administrator,” AIFF President Praful Patel was quoted saying by PTI. Patel has indeed observed Yadav closely. After all he is a Western India Football Association product — Patel’s home state unit.

Yadav, in his capacity, thanked AIFF secretary Kushal Das for his guidance through his career. “I must thank AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das who has guided and given me valuable inputs throughout my time I have been involved in the AIFF set up. I also have to thank the President (Praful Patel) for supporting me in various football development initiatives,” he said.

During his playing career, Abhishek played for Mahindra United, winning a host of domestic titles, including Durand and the National Football League. He made 33 appearances for the senior national squad, scoring four goals.

Premier League Reels Under Covid-19 Surge

The Premier League announced 40 cases of Covid-19 among players and club support staff. It was the highest number recorded in a single week in sports, ever since action began in empty stadiums. The previous high was 18.

The Premier League, however, seems not ready to panic either. In a release, the league said it was confident about the protocols, and that the games should continue since the players are tested twice a week. England, triggered by the new super spreader strain of the Covid-19, is under a national lockdown. However, professional sport has been allowed to carry on.

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Last week, three games were postponed due to coronavirus infections. Fulham’s games against Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley were both called off, along with Manchester City's tie at Everton.

Man City were, however, able to play their match against Chelsea days after their game against Everton was postponed.

Fulham, meanwhile, are scheduled to play QPR on Saturday in the FA Cup and will be hoping to avoid a third consecutive postponement. 

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