Sports Shorts: Historic title win for Advani in Egypt
Pankaj Advani created history by becoming the first player to win world titles in the long and shorter formats of both billiards and snooker after pocketing the IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday.
India's poster boy of cue sports defeated Kacper Flilpiak of Poland in the final, which lasted barely an hour, to win his maiden 6-Red World title and ninth overall.
The 28-year-old, who has won seven World titles in billiards and one in snooker, added a new World title to his overflowing cabinet of trophies.
Both the snooker titles -- the IBSF World Snooker Championship, China, in 2003, and this IBSF 6-Red World Snooker Championship -- were won on debut.
This victory gives the Bangalore cueist the highest tally of world titles by an Indian in the Open men's category.
"This is a dream. I actually wasn't expecting anything from this championship. For the last two months I've been playing quite a bit of billiards, so to come into a world snooker championship and win it is simply unreal," an elated Advani said after his triumph.
"The IBSF as well as the organisers here in Egypt have done a splendid job in conducting such a massive event. A big thank you to the Indian governing body, BSFI, and my employer, ONGC, for their unstinting support."
Asked how it felt to be the most successful cueist India has produced, a humble Advani replied: "I'm only 28 and I have a lot more billiards and snooker in me before I start paying attention to such heavy labels.
"At this point, I'm just thrilled to be able to play quality snooker. And without the love from my mom and the never-ending wisdom of my mind coach -- my brother Shree -- this would not have been possible.
"My coach, Arvind Savur, has always been there for me and till date helps me with my game. I'm blessed to have this magical team by my side."
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Image: Pankaj Advani
Photographs: Getty Images
World Cup, but no-one's talking football in Mumbai?
Laxmi Negi laments the dwindling interest for the 'Beautiful game' in Mumbai.
The FIFA World Cup fever has reached its pinnacle now and I am itching to discuss the favourites going into the knock-out stage, but have few options.
The pre-quarter- finals are upon us, and, apart from a few friends and very few colleagues at office, it is difficult to feel the buzz about the ongoing tournament in Brazil.
In India, or Mumbai to be more precise, football is like an inactive Whatsapp group, last seen months ago.
After reading the newspapers in the morning and getting my fair share of dope on the teams and their injury list updated I am bubbling with energy. I am dying to discuss football, but the rickshaw driver or lady standing next to me in the Mumbai local train is unaware about what’s happening in Brazil, or pretending to be unaffected by it.
Maybe, that’s because the only sport that binds the fabric of society in India is cricket.
In Mumbai, the Cooperage ground is the Mecca of football, but ask a taxi driver or layman directions to the venue that hosts the senior domestic league and national level tournaments, they will not know or be able to guide you.
Perhaps, that’s because of the lack of interest for the game in the city.
A few weeks before the World Cup kicked off one felt better days were ahead for football in Mumbai when Mizoram fans thronged the Cooperage on a weekday for an exhibition match featuring their state team. After all, Mizoram were recently crowned National champions and the match against a Western India Football Association eleven, comprising mainly Maharashtra players, offered the Mumbai Mizo Association members a chance to get a glimpse of their local stars.
Though it was an exhibition match, Mizos turned up in large number and cheered their team’s every move. The vociferous fans not only egged the players on but even scared the docile Mumbai referees as they shouted hoarse demanding goals from their players.
While one of them quipped that Mizos are born with football in their DNA, another supporter added that a Mizo baby learns football from his mother’s womb.
With a generally somber Cooperage ground turned to life, one’s attention was turned to a wildly-cheering stunning young lady.
Donning the Mizo red jersey, Maliani Varte, a housewife, excused herself about her lack of knowledge of football. But the moment you thought you had the upper hand and could get the better of her, this mother of one threw a jab.
“I know enough football to come to the ground and support my team,” she declared.
Mumbai needs as passionate football fans to get the crowds back at the Cooperage, which now has a newly-laid turf.
Until then, I will be confined to the four walls of my home enjoying the game on television.
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Image: Mizoram supporters at the Cooperage
I wasn't ready for top job at Man United, says Giggs
Ryan Giggs, who briefly took over when Manchester United sacked David Moyes towards the end of last season, says he is "not quite ready" to become a manager.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal will take over at Old Trafford when his side's involvement in the World Cup in Brazil is over and Giggs will work as his assistant.
"There were a lot of things I was quite happy with but there was the odd thing where I thought 'I'm not quite ready for this'," the former Wales winger told the FA's website, referring to his brief stint in charge.
"I thought I could do with a little bit more experience."
The 40-year-old retired as a player at the end of last season and is now looking forward to picking the brains of the much-travelled Van Gaal.
"This year I can put everything into it and learn from someone who has managed at the top in so many other countries," said Giggs who made 963 appearances for United in 24 seasons as a player.
"It has been a good thing that I have been with Alex Ferguson for so long but I am now getting to see how other people work as well."
Moyes left Everton to take over at United when Ferguson retired a year ago.
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Image: Ryan Giggs
Photographs: Manchester United on Twitter
French club Clermont bring in another woman as coach
Ligue 2 club Clermont Foot have appointed another female as coach following Helena Costa's decision to resign earlier this week.
Corinne Diacre, 39, former captain of the France women's team, has signed a two-year deal to take over.
"Corinne Diacre has accepted the position of coach of Clermont Foot ... and will take up the post early next week," the club said on their website on Saturday.
Costa, who last month became the first female to be appointed coach of a men's team in the top two divisions of European football, quit before taking charge of Clermont.
The 36-year-old had previously coached the Iran women's team and scouted for Scottish Premier League club Celtic.
Portuguese Costa resigned because she said she found out players were being hired at Clermont without her consent.
No woman had come as close as Costa to coaching a top men's professional team in Europe but that task now falls to Diacre.
Carolina Morace was appointed coach of Serie C1 (third division) club Viterbese in Italy in 1999. She resigned after two matches, citing media pressure.
AS Roma have had two women chairpersons, Rosella Sensi and Flora Viola, and Gisela Oeri was president of Swiss club Basel for five years from 2006.
Maria Jose Claramunt is the director of Spain's national team, responsible more for marketing than sporting issues, while Karren Brady is vice-chairman of English Premier League West Ham United.
Image: French women's national football team coach Corinne Diacre, left
Photographs: Getty Images