Dhaka, Sept 14 (UNB) – The 7th times champions, India, will play former champions the Maldives in the much-awaited prestigious final of the seven-nation SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at country’s premier sports venue Bangabandhu National Stadium under floodlight on Saturday.
The match will kick off at 7 pm Bangladesh time.
Holders India are the only unbeaten team in the ongoing SAFF meet to make their 11th final berths in 12th version, except in 2003, with an inspiring 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2nd semifinal to play the final with 2008 edition champions the Maldives, who made the final berth shocking Nepal 3-0 in first semifinal on Wednesday.
In a pre-match press conference at the BFF House on Friday, coaches and captains of both the teams expressed their determination to play their best to win the match.
India coach Stefen Constantine and Captain Subashish Bose said their team are studded with youth players and will play for win.
Maldives coach Peter Segert and Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee said they will try their best to play an entertaining match, saying the need support from local fans.
In the previous four finals in the South Asian Football, the Maldives clinched the crown once in 2008 beating India 1-0 in the final as co-host with Sri Lanka.
The Maldives lost two finals against India in 1997 and 2009 and lost final to hosts Bangladesh in 2003.
India enjoyed upper hand in the both the South Asian and International Football against the Maldives.
In the 11 South Asian Football encounters, India won eight, lost two and one match ended in draw against the Maldives.
In total 18 international encounters, India won 13, lost three and the rest two matches ended in draw.
After a barren first half in the 2nd semifinal on Wednesday, Manvir Singh struck twice and Sumeet Passi netted one for the India while Hassan Bashir netted the lone goal for Pakistan.
Stephen Constantine's India smartly won both of their group matches by 2-0 goals each, first against Sri Lanka and the 2nd against the Maldives.
However, there was a little concern shown by Constantine as the Indian team were not convincing in their wins and should have easily managed to score a lot more goals in these two matches.
Maldives, on the other hand, also had an eventful semifinal as they defeated Nepal 3-0. The Maldivian players looked in great knick as Nepal is no easy team to defeat and to do it with such a margin is commendable. The upcoming final of the SAFF Championship promises to be a nail-biter. The Maldivian side played with tremendous grit and determination to reach the final.
Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scored a brace for the Maldives in the semifinal and he is one player Indian defenders will need to mark closely as he is lethal when given space.
India defeated the Maldives 2-0 in the group stage game but playing in the final is a different ball game all together so it will be interesting to see if the young Indian players -- being led by Subhashish Bose -- can handle the pressure to clinch the trophy.
Barcelona, Sep 14 (AP/UNB) — After patiently waiting his turn, Saul Niguez is doing more than just making the most of it. The 23-year-old Atletico Madrid player is revolutionizing what it means to be a Spanish midfielder.
Saul didn't play a single minute for Spain at the World Cup. Instead, he watched his country manage only one win in three group matches before losing to host Russia in the round of 16.
But the arrival of Luis Enrique as Spain coach, combined with the retirement from international soccer by Andres Iniesta and David Silva, has given Saul his chance.
Saul started and scored goals in both of Spain's UEFA Nations League matches. He netted the equalizer in the 2-1 win over England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, and three days later he scored the opening goal in a 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia.
"I have been working very hard on my team to have this chance, and for two years on the national team," Saul said after the win in London.
After the victory over Croatia in Saul's hometown of Elche in southern Spain, the midfielder admitted it had been frustrating not getting off the bench at the World Cup.
"I spent a lot of time thinking during the summer, but now is not the time to talk about the past because it doesn't matter," Saul said. "Even though I didn't play, I had an unforgettable experience at my first World Cup."
Saul made his international debut under coach Julen Lopetegui in September 2016 after he had not been called up Vicente del Bosque for that year's European Championship. He has made 12 national appearances in total.
Before his strong performances over the past week, Saul started his season in August by scoring a spectacular volley in extra time for Atletico's third goal in a 4-2 win over Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Saul will now hope his scoring run with Spain will carry back over to Atletico when it hosts Eibar on Saturday. Atletico, which finished second in the league behind Barcelona last year, has only one win in three matches and is already five points adrift the defending champions and Real Madrid.
Spain won the 2010 World Cup in between European titles in 2008 and 2012 by deploying its unique "tiki-taka" style, which prioritized keeping possession and picking teams apart with precise passers like Iniesta, Silva and former Spain players Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas.
But that once-successful formula had lost its unbeatable status before proving completely outdated at the World Cup in Russia. The nadir came when the team, coached by Fernando Hierro at the time, completed more than 1,000 passes — a large portion of them completely harmless — before succumbing to a far-less talented Russia in a penalty shootout.
Luis Enrique has shaken up the team since, putting a new focus on speed, youth and fitness — all qualities embodied in Saul.
All three of Saul's goals this season were first touches from crosses and culminated quick attacks. He used his left foot to score Atletico's winner in the Super Cup, his right foot against England, and a powerful header against Croatia.
As Saul defined himself, he is a "player that works hard for the team, and above all a player who arrives to the area looking to score."
That type of muscular midfielder charging into the box in a second wave behind the forwards is the opposite of the compact, lightweight playmakers that defined Spanish soccer for more than a decade.
While acknowledging that Spain is changing, Saul said the foundations of a team built around a strong midfield — regardless of its strengths — still remains.
"I don't know what will happen in the future, but Xavi and Iniesta made history with our national team and made us the best team in the world," Saul said. "What we have coming up now is another type of player, but our playing philosophy is what they and (coach) Luis Aragones established at the start of this run.
"It will be difficult to repeat what they did, but we will try to win a title."
Manchester, Sep 14 (AP/UNB) — Manchester City generated a club-record 500.5 million pounds ($655 million) as it won the Premier League by amassing an unprecedented 100 points.
The annual report for the 2017-18 financial year was released Thursday showing the Abu Dhabi-owned club made a profit of 10.4 million pounds.
City's revenue has increased 44 percent in five years, fueled by the rise in value of television rights, progress in the Champions League and more lucrative sponsorship deals.
Commercial deals are the biggest source of revenue, generating 232.3 million pounds in the year to June 30.
Four of City's nine global sponsors are Abu Dhabi companies. Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family and deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, bought City 10 years ago.
Dhaka, Sept 13 (UNB) – Former famed national footballer and coach Wazed Gazi died of old-age complications on Thursday morning. He was 87.
He breathed his last at his Jashore residence around 9 am.
He left behind two sons, one daughter and a host of admirers to mourn his death.
He was buried at Karbala graveyard in the district town of Jashore following a Namaz-e-Janaja at the Jashore Eidgah after Zohr players.
Wazed Gazi played football for Dhaka Mohammedan SC, Dhaka Wanderers Club and EPIDC in the 60’s.
He was a successful coach of Dhaka Premier League Club Arambagh KS in its golden time.
Apart from Arambagh KS, he served as the head coach of Premier League Football clubs Sheikh Russel KC, Brothers Union Club, Muktijoddha Sangsad KC, Team BJMC and Rahmatganj MFS with good reputations.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA), Arambagh KS and Bangladesh Sports Journalists Association (BSJA) condoled the death of Wazed Gazi.
In separate messages, they prayed for salvation of the departed soul and conveyed their sympathy to the bereaved family members.
Dhaka, Sept 13 (UNB) – Bangladesh will play the Maldives in the inaugural match of the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu on October 25.
This was finalised at a ceremonial draw of the SAFF U-15 Championship held at the BFF House in Motijheel on Thursday.
Defending Champions India and hosts Nepal have been put in two separate pots as the top seeds. The final match will be held on November 3.
Meanwhile, the ceremonial draw of the SAFF Women’s Championship scheduled for December 17-26 was also held on the day after that of the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship.
Defending champions India and Bangladesh have been pitted in Group B and Group A respectively.
However, the host of the tournament is yet to be finalised.
“Sri Lanka is the potential host and they are in the top of the list while Nepal is in the second option. We’ll finalise the venue within this month,” said Anwarul Huq Helal, general secretary of South Asian Football Federation (SAFF).
BFF general secretary Abu Naeem Shohag, chairman of the BFF Media Committee Amirul Islam Babu, and Mindu Dorji, deputy general secretary of Bhutan Football Federation, were also present on the occasion.
Groupings of the SAFF U-15 Championships
Group A- Nepal, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Pakistan
Group- B- India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka
SAFF Women’s Championship 2018
Group A- Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan
Group B- India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka