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November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:Sep' 2017


Debatable opinion

Stephen Constantine Not all will agree with India's national football coach Stephen C o n s t a n t i n e ' s opinion rating the current Indian team, captained by Sunil Chhetri, as the country's best ever, if not the best. Constantine has a right to his opinion. But there will be many who will hold a different view.
Chhetri's team last month qualified for the AFC Asian Cup, after Constantine came out with his judgment, rather hurriedly.
Take a look at the team India fielded in the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. It included stalwarts like Peter Thangaraj, Jarnail Singh, P.K.Banerjee and Chuni Goswami among the stars. The legendary centre back Jarnail, playing the role of striker after suffering a head injury in the first half, scored the decider in the famous 2-1 victory over South Korea in the final.

Sunil Chhetri Making comparisons is a risky business. But many a discerning student of Indian football of an older generation will rate that team, led by Chuni Goswami and coached by Syed Abdul Rahim, at least two/three goals superior than the one now led by Chhetri.
The 1962 gold medal triumph made was achieved in front of a hostile crowd of over a hundred thousand spectators who packed Jakarta's Senajan Stadium. "It was a triumph as much for our footballers as for all those who had stood up to that hooting, churlish mob," wrote KN Prabhu of the The Times of India.
The Indonesian crowd turned hostile to express their anger at the then Asian Games Federation chief Guru Datt Sondhi holding the view that the Games be deprived of the "Asian Games" tag because the Indonesian government had refused to admit Israel and Taiwan athletes to the event.
Constantine also better be reminded of the Sailen Manna-led team which won the gold medal in the 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi. It had stars like Ahmed Khan, Chandan Singh and Mewalal, the pint-sized centre-forward who scored the deciding goal in the final against Iran.

Well done !

Iceland Even as they focused their attention on last month's under-17 World Cup, India's football fans took time off to applaud the sensational achievement of Iceland who became the smallest country to reach a World Cup proper. Iceland, with a population of a mere of 335,000, defeated Kosovo in Reykyavik to top their qualifying European group 1, proving that their stunning performance in the last Euro edition was no flash in the pan. A lot of credit goes to part-time dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson who has coached the team against all odds and chose not to quit when the experienced co-coach Swede Lars Lagerback moved on after Euro 2016 to become the Norway team's manager.
Having drawn with Portugal and packing off England in Euro 2016 to reach the quarterfinals, the Iceland team is raring to have another go at them in the Russia World Cup 2018. But the other teams better watch out too.
The previous smallest country to play a World Cup proper was Trinidad and Tobago with a population of 1.3 million (2006), followed by Northern Ireland (1.85m), Slovenia (2.08m), Jamaica (2.89m) and Wales (3.1m).

Fresh flavour to Indian football

Even if India's under-17 team failed to advance to the knock-out last-16 stage of the FIFA World Cup, they were far from disgraced. Their appearance in the tournament was a privilege accorded by virtue being hosts of the event. For all the enthusiasm the tournament generated, few expected captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam's boys, eight of them, like himself, from the small northeastern state of Manipur with a population of 28 lakhs, to do anything better than to put up a good fight in the three preliminary group stage matches they took part in.

Jeakson Thounaojam The Indian boys lost to the USA, Colombia and Ghana, all undoubtedly superior teams in both skill and build, but even in defeat they endeared themselves to the crowds which turned up at the cavernous Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi by the way they pluckily fought.
The only time they managed to score a goal in their three outings the feat was described as historic. No Indian had scored a goal in a FIFA World Cup before Jeakson Thounaojam did in the 82nd minute of the match against Colombia to pull the country level at 1-1. But the very next minute the South Americans caught the Indian defence napping to snatch the winning goal for Colombia.
Watching proudly from the stands was Jeakson's mother, whose visit to New Delhi from far-off Manipur, like those of the parents some other players was thoughtfully sponsored by the Tatas. It is common knowledge that talented footballers like the Jeaksons come from humble backgrounds.
The crores of rupees spent on training the Indian under-17s have not gone to waste. It was an investment in future. A new crop of young footballers have shown promise to serve Indian football in the years to come while build their own future. Talent scouts from abroad are said to have been impressed with a few of our boys, all 21 of whom have already contracts by the All India Football Federation.

Dheeraj Adampur, or rather the close-by village Khatkar Kalan, you may trace on the map. But the mention of two footballers from this place in Punjab's Jalandhar district surely will. A coincidence that they have the same name, Anwar Ali. In the U-17 World Cup Anwar Ali gave an outstanding performance in the Indian team. In all the three group stage matches for the country he caught the eye by the way fought, never mind if it was in a losing cause.
Young Anwar Ali holds promise of gaining the same level of eminence his senior namesake did a decade or so ago, donning the colours of Mohun Bagan, Kolkata, whose costliest player he then was. The new rising star from Adampur was as prominent as the hero under the Indian bar, Dheeraj.
The climate created by the u-17 World Cup is a welcome phenomenon. Indian football has received a new push. But if the new trend set during Diwali time last month is there to last is to be seen.

Not at the cost of studies

The under-17 footballers put up a good show in last month's world cup in the country. The lads from all continents impressed with their talent on the field while ensuring that their studies didn't suffer. The world of sports is cruel – not everybody in the junior level makes it to the senior level. and there's the danger of injuries ruining your career as well.
No wonder, countries such as Germany, France and Spain made it a point to include in their squads teachers who impart regular classes almost every day. Even on match days. No excuses for not doing their home work and taking their tests just because you're playing the World Cup! Even in England, the Football Association is emphasising on education to tackle the problem of the high percentage of dropouts amongst kids trying to get into the world of professional football.