Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Start Preparing For the Asian Cup Now, Chhetri Urges Women’s Team; Chennai City to Play Remaining AFC Cup Matches in Maldives and More

Sunil Chhetri urges Indian women's football team to start preparations for the AFC Asian Cup 2022 | Chennai City FC to play remaining AFC Cup group stage matches in Maldives | Battle for automatic promotion to light up final round of Championship fixtures | Gareth Bale's agent says player will not leave Real Madrid | Mohun Bagan and Sukhdev Singh close to reaching a settlement
Indian women's national football team for 2022 AFC Asian Cup

India will host the 2022 edition of the Women’s AFC Asian Cup and the national side is expected to make a good account of themselves at home.

Sunil Chhetri has appealed to the women’s team to start their preparation for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. 

"It is an amazing opportunity that they have — to play in such a high-level tournament. These are the levels where you want to be, playing the best in the continent," Chhetri said. “I'd like to urge all of them to start preparing for the tournament from now on itself. The last thing you want to do is feel regret once you start playing the tournament.”

Also Read | Ben Stokes and the Other Factors in England’s Win Over West Indies at Old Trafford

"Look into every small aspect of your game and try to improve it - your touch, speed, saving ability, shooting, burning those extra body fats - the process needs to start from right now," added the captain, the only Indian player in two different editions of an Asian Cup.”

India won the rights to host the continental competition in June this year. It will become the next significant tournament to be hosted in the country after the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2021. 

Chennai City’s AFC Cup Matches

2018-19 I-League champions, Chennai City are set to resume their remaining AFC Cup group stage matches in the Maldives after the island was granted the hosting rights for the tournament. 

Also Read | The Selling of a Car and the Irrationality of Those Who Criticise It | Outside Edge

The last match played by the club was on March 14. Chennai City resume their campaign on October 23, when they play TC Sports in a group stage game. Chennai are in the same group as Maldivian clubs TC Sports, Maziya and Bangladesh’s  Bashundhara Kings. Bashundhara Kings are top of the table currently. All the matches will be played at a single venue.

Maldives Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof took to Twitter to congratulate the country’s federation on being awarded the rights to host the centralised Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Group E games.

“Congratulations @MaldivesFA on being awarded to host the centralized @AFCCup group E matches. In this crucial stage of the reopening of our borders, we can show that Maldives is a safe destination through this. Expenses will be covered by AFC & FAM.”

Meanwhile, Chennai City owner expressed concerns about how his team will prepare for the games, with the situation as it is in the country. Talking to Sportstar, Rohit Ramesh  said: "Having a pre-season camp looks difficult as of now. Our first task will be to see how we can assemble the squad and bring all the players together. We also have to see how we can bring our coach, Akbar Nawas, here from Singapore, within the next two months."

Race for Premier League Spot

With Leeds having been confirmed as champions and guaranteed promotion, one spot remains open for a team to seal the automatic spot in the Premier League next season. West Bromwich Albion, Brentford and Fulham are currently the front runners when it comes to grabbing the spot and the prize money.

The final promotion place will be decided by a four-team playoff. 

Also Read | Case of the Missing Coach: Indian Football Should Encourage Merit But Also Provide Avenues to Judge It

The permutation suggests that if West Brom and Brentford fail to get three points from their final fixture, Fulham will lock up a return to the Premier League -- provided they win their fixture against Wigan Athletic. The trio are separated by two points. 

The two teams lower, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City -- need to win their fixtures to guarantee themselves a place in the play off semi finals. Any slip up will see Swansea City pip them to the post -- although to move ahead of Forest they will have to overcome a considerable goal difference. Two-times European Cup winners Forest have not made it to the Premier League since 1999.

It is not just promotion where the action resides. All three relegation places have yet to be confirmed with Hull City at the bottom of the table. Three points separate them from safety though with Charlton currently in the safe zone and Barnsley and Luton Town slotted between them.

Bale to Stay at Real

Gareth Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has clearly outlined his client’s ambitions to not leave the club despite  him having clearly fallen out with the management and not featuring for the team in recent weeks. 

Bale’s current stand off with Madrid kicked off when the club rehired Zinedine Zidane last year. Despite having won four Champions League titles and scoring over a 100 goals for the club, the player has never really been part of Zidane’s long term plans. Questions about his commitment and his injury record have also led to him being dropped regularly. In the summer transfer window, Madrid had seemed to have secured a move away for the Welshman, offering him a no fee transfer to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning. The move eventually fell through, when Madrid had a change of heart and demanded a transfer fee from Jiangsu Suning at the end moment.

Bale has not helped matters, often posting pictures on Instagram of him golfing -- a hobby that the Madrid press has heckled him for -- or pretending to golf on the training pitch with Madrid. Recently he also enraged fans and onlookers with a picture of him pretending to be asleep with a protective face mask around his eyes while in the dugout for Madrid’s 2-0 win over Alaves. Bale’s current contract runs till 2022 and makes him the highest paid member of the Madrid squad.

“Gareth’s fine. He has two years left on his contract. He likes living in Madrid and he’s going nowhere,” Barnett told the BBC. “He is still as good as anyone else in the team,” Barnett said, before pointedly adding that the Welshman’s place in the team was up to manager Zinedine Zidane.

Bagan-Sukhdev Settlement

The salary dispute Sukhdev Singh and Mohun Bagan is on the verge of reaching a settlement. Much before ATK and Mohun Bagan officially merged, Sukhdev had taken the matter of his unpaid dues to the Player Status Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Singh had a two-year contract with Mohun Bagan from the 2018-19 season that was cancelled in January 2020 after the club failed to pay multiple installments of Singh's remuneration.

Also Read | Ballon d'Or 2020 Scrapped

The club and the footballer tried to arrive at a mutual settlement but failed to do so peacefully till last week. Singh insisted he be paid 85 percent of his salary (Rs. 25 lakhs) whereas Bagan only wanted to pay him 70 percent (Rs. 20 lakhs). reported that both parties reached a settlement with Bagan agreeing to pay Rs. 22 lakhs to the player, minus the amount against a loan that Singh had taken from the club.

Sukhdevs’ transfer was the source of huge drama in 2018, when Bagan and east Bengal fighting to secure the signature of the defender from Minerva Punjab (now Punjab FC). Bagan even paid out the transfer fee of Rs. 16 lakhs to secure his services, but the player was banned for six months for contract malpractice by the AIFF, after East Bengal attempted to sign him without talking to Minerva first. Sukhdev had bypassed standard practice of negotiations between the clubs and instead negotiated with East Bengal directly via his agent. East Bengal were also hit with a transfer ban.

Despite moving to Bagan, the defender never featured for them in the I-League.

Read more sports stories from Newsclick

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram