Our Sports ReporterGUWAHATI: The Indian Football team started preparations in Guwahati for their third World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh. Kolkata will host the game on October 15. In a conversation with the local media on Saturday, the head coach of the team, Igor Stimac, shares his views on the opponent of the forthcoming match and some other areas. Here is the excerpt. Tell us about the preparations of your team for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh.Stimac: Everything is going fine. We’ve started our preparations in Guwahati on Friday. Apart from the training session we will also play a warm-up game against the North East United FC in Guwahati on October 9.Q: Is there any specific reason to return to Guwahati for the preparations of forthcoming game?Stimac: We’re happy to be back here where we got fantastic support during the match against Oman. We wanted to return to appreciate the local fans. The training ground and the main turf are also fantastic in Guwahati.Q: After the heart-breaking result against Oman India made brilliant performance in their away game against Qatar. How it was possible?Stimac: Look if your moral is high you can give tough fight and that too even against the much stronger opponent. After the match was over in Guwahati I returned into the dressing room and told my boys to forget about the result of this game and just focus on the next match against Qatar.Q: The job was tough as you didn’t get the service of talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri in the game.Stimac: Yes. Sunil is integral part of the team. His presence even at the dressing room works a lot to boost the morale of the team. At Doha it was a challenge for us to survive without Sunil and my boys did a good job.Q: How will you describe the performance of Gurpreet during the previous two games of World Cup qualifier?Stimac: It’s amazing. Absolutely brilliant! Our goalkeeper coach is doing a good job. The fitness and agility of Gurpreet and other goalkeepers of our team has improved a lot.Q: Let’s back to next World Cup Qualifier against Bangladesh. This time you have little easy opponent. Isn’t it?Stimac: We respect Bangladesh as a team. We are aware of the difficulties that my team is going to face, and we have been working on them. We need to attack for 90 minutes to break two defensive blocks of Bangladesh. They are a good side who try to cover, and close the midfield.Q: Robert Jarni, the head coach of NEUFC, was once your teammate. Have both of you faced each other as a coach of opponent team.Stimac: (With laugh) In Croatia we meet almost every day. But we have never faced each other as coaches of rival teams. However, it will happen in Guwahati. Also Read: Guwahati to Host All India LIC Game at Sarusajai Athletic stadiumAlso Watch:Durga Puja 2019: Durga Puja Celebrations from Assam Bhawan in Navi Mumbai
The USC men’s tennis squad will head into the NCAA tournament as conference champions. The team took down UCLA and Stanford last week in Ojai en route to its first Pac-12 Championship since 2012.USC automatically advanced directly to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Championship thanks to its No. 2 seed and Stanford, as the No. 1 seed, advanced directly to the semifinals as well. UCLA and California, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds respectively, didn’t have to play until the quarterfinals. The first two matchups of the tournament were No. 5 Oregon against No. 8 Arizona and No. 6 Washington against No. 7 Utah.During the first round on Wednesday, both of the higher seeds won their matchups. Oregon defeated Arizona by a score of 4-1 and Washington shut out Utah 4-0. The next day, both Oregon and Washington were knocked out of the tournament by their fellow opponents. California squeezed by Oregon 4-3 while UCLA swept Washington 4-0.With the win on Thursday, UCLA was set to play USC on Friday in the semifinals. The Trojans made quick work of the Bruins, eliminating them from the tournament with a 4-1 victory. The match began strong for the Trojans when seniors Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz, who are ranked No. 3 by the ITA in doubles play, completely shut down the Bruin pairing of Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki with a score of 8-0. The Trojans secured the double point soon after when the pairing of junior Max de Vroome and senior Eric Johnson defeated Joseph Di Giulio and Karue Sell by a score of 8-2.The Trojans carried their momentum into singles play, capturing the first singles point when sophomore Nick Crystal defeated Di Giulio 6-2, 6-1. Then, McDonald defeated No. 11-ranked Hanfmann 6-3, 6-4 to give UCLA what would turn out to be its lone match point. Senior Jonny Wang put the Trojans back in the win column when he took down Sell by a score of 6-4, 7-6 (1). De Vroome punched the ticket to the final for the Trojans after coming back from a first set loss to win his match against Austin Rapp in three sets with a score of 6-7, 6-1, 6-3. Quiroz’s match against Redlicki and Johnson’s battle with Dennis Mkrtchian were suspended following De Vroome’s victory.Stanford ended Cal’s tournament by beating them 4-1 in the semifinals, so the stage was set for a showdown final between No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 USC. A few weeks earlier, Stanford had taken down USC 4-3. USC also had beaten Stanford earlier in the year during a non-conference match-up by a score of 6-1, however.The Trojans struck first in doubles play, with Crystal and freshman Thibault Forget claiming an 8-2 victory over Nolan Paige and David Wilczynski. Stanford fought back, tying the doubles score 1-1 when the No. 13-ranked pairing of John Morrissey and Robert Stineman bested Hanfmann and Quiroz 8-6. The deciding match went to Stanford when Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz took down de Vroome and Johnson by a score of 8-5.With Stanford winning the doubles point, the Trojans knew that they had to win at least four of their six singles matches to win the Pac-12 Championship. Wang was the first Trojan to help contribute to those four wins, beating Paige by a score of 6-2 two sets in a row to give the Trojans their first match point. Quiroz then put the Trojans on top 2-1 with a two set (6-4, 6-4) victory over Wilczynski. The Trojans wouldn’t enjoy that lead for long as Stanford’s David Hsu knotted the score at 2-2 shortly after when he took down De Vroome 7-5, 6-4. Fawcett then gave Stanford a 3-2 lead when he came back from a first set loss to defeat Hanfmann by a score of 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.With the pressure on them, both Johnson and Crystal needed to win their matches for a Trojans victory while Stanford only needed one of their two remaining players, Romanowicz and Morrissey, to win their match to clinch the Pac-12 Championship. Crystal kept the Trojans alive by defeating Romanowicz in two sets by a score of 7-6, 6-4. Thus, the Pac-12 Championship came down to Johnson’s match with Morrissey. The match went to three sets, and it was Johnson who had the stronger final set, ultimately winning the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. The victory gave the Trojans both a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Stanford and the Trojans the title of 2015 Pac-12 Champions.With the victory, the No. 8-ranked Trojans also earned the automatic qualifier from the Pac-12 into the NCAA Tournament, where the Trojans will try to reach the final goal of winning their sixth national championship in seven years. The Trojans will begin their journey during the NCAA First and Second Rounds, which will be held May 8 and 9.
Head coach of the Cameroon U-23 team, Rigobert Song, has revealed that his team’s overarching aim of playing in this year’s U-23 AFCON is to grab a place in the 2020 Olympic football tournament.They open their campaign in Egypt against Ghana on November 8 and they will hope to make it to the very end if a trip to Japan will materialise.The Indomitable Lions are the continent’s most recent winners of the Olympic tournament after winning gold in 2000 in Sydney, Australia and according to Song, they are very determined to get back to the tournament.“In every competition, the most important thing is to get positive results and to go as far as possible and so, I know that it will be a huge challenge.However, I think that all the 8 nations that have made it to the tournament deserve to be here.Now, there is the responsibility on us in terms of winning this competition.It is one that Cameroon has not won in a long time but at the same time, our priority is to finish among the top three countries and make it to the 2020 Olympics.I believe that these objectives pump us up because the overall aim is to qualify for the Olympic Games.”Song is expected to have the full compliment of his team by November 5 but he, like most of the other coaches in the competition, will not have some players as the U-23 AFCON is not on the FIFA calendar and so, clubs are not obliged to release players for the competition.