Seeking more golds, Cojuangco balances archery and family

first_imgCatriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses “But he’s into football. That’s where his friends are,” said the 31-year-old Paz-Cojuangco said of her eight-year-old son who is now a third-grader at La Salle Greenhills.Motherhood has changed her outlook, but according to her, it hasn’t diminished her passion for archery.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It’s very, very different compared to when I was single,” Paz-Cojuangco told the Inquirer. “Now I have to compartmentalise. It’s not just 100 percent for training because I have to spend time for my family.”Paz-Cojuangco said that as much as possible, she doesn’t bring the family to her training and competition. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next Amaya Paz-Cojuangco. INQUIRER/Marc Anthony ReyesKUALA LUMPUR — Quadruple Southeast Asian Games archery champion Amaya Paz-Cojuangco would like for her son Alfonso to follow her footsteps. But no luck so far.The double gold winner in the 2005 and 2007 SEA Games bought him a bow and arrow just in case it piques his interest some day.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ LATEST STORIES UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chiefcenter_img Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics PLAY LIST 00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Strength in numbers: Thousands of Filipinos in Lebanon rally behind Gilas Flags of SEA Games countries raised at Athletes Village Man sworn in as lawyer by judge who sentenced him to prison as a teen 20 years ago “It kind of distracts me because I would be thinking of them,” she said. “But I guess it’s working because they serve as my motivation and I have become more well-rounded. It’s no longer just archery for me.”Paz-Cojuangco will see action in women’s compound, individual, mixed and team events.She has arrived here Monday along with 16-member Philippine archery team that will start competing Wednesday at Merdeka Square.“We are one big, solid group,” said Paz-Cojuangco of the archery contingent.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

Sports groups hold own rallies

first_imgE.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Navarro catches fire late as San Sebastian forces three-way tie for 4th View comments Read Next Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City MOST READ BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LATEST STORIES “What will follow will be worth watching,” said former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Perry Mequi, who led a small group that assembled at Rizal Memorial Coliseum for the Manila rally.In Cebu City, PSC commissioner Mon Fernandez led a bigger group that gathered at Fuente Osmeña circle and exhorted the athletes to distance themselves from the politicking and focus on their training.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“Just keep practicing and let us do the fight for you,” Fernandez told the athletes.Cojuangco, who arrived from Turkmenistan, where he watched the campaign of the Philippine delegation in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, could not be reached for comment but sources say he will not give in to calls for his resignation. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC A group composed of concerned sports officials, coaches, athletes and sports aficionados held separate peace rallies in Manila and Cebu Thursday in an effort to pressure the Philippine Olympic Committee into a change of leadership.And with the target of the rallies, POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco reportedly unmoved by calls for his resignation, it looks like things are just getting started.ADVERTISEMENT PSC Commissioner Mon Fernandez leads demonstrators in Cebu for the ouster of POC president Peping Cojuangco. Contributed photo. LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary And the group seeking his ouster is bracing itself for a tough fight.“We will now shift gear and pressure the government to file charges against Peping and those who are found to be guilty in mismanaging people’s money,” Mequi said.Aside from calling for Cojuangco’s resignation, Fernandez said the rally in Cebu was also to call for a more equitable means for provincial athletes to make the national team.“What we are doing here is for the athletes, especially the ones from the provinces,” said Fernandez.“We feel like we are always victims of favoritism and prejudice,” added the PBA legend, who cited the problems of Mary Joy Tabal with the athletics association.ADVERTISEMENT Hundreds showed up in the Cebu rally, which was a bit larger than the one that gathered at Rizal Memorial. But Mequi said the important thing was to get the call for change going.“The presence of the old and the children, and a very apparent absence of those in-between, reflects the state of Philippine sports,” Mequi said. “The in-between who were not there constitute those who are involved in sports as leaders or managers of sports who tolerate the current practice of [not caring], who are satisfied with mediocrity.”last_img read more

Laimbeer excited for chance to build Las Vegas franchise

first_imgQC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Manny Pacquiao trains in LA for last time before Keith Thurman fight PLAY LIST 01:06Manny Pacquiao trains in LA for last time before Keith Thurman fight01:46Pacquiao ready to go with week left before Thurman fight02:40Pacquiao ready to go with week left before Thurman fight01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LATEST STORIES CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA The 60-year-old Laimbeer could stay with New York as the team’s general manager or find employment elsewhere.His decision was made a bit easier when his phone rang a few weeks ago. An executive at MGM Resorts International asked him to be the coach and president of the new WNBA team that was moving from San Antonio to Las Vegas.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I said I’d talk to my wife,” Laimbeer said. “At the end of the day, I like challenge and I think this would be a great experience.”Laimbeer accepted the new position, which he will start Nov. 1. Read Next Kiefer Ravena ‘very excited’ to play for Guiao at NLEX Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH View comments “I’m looking at a huge task in front of me,” Laimbeer said. “First I have to build a staff from everything from video coordinator and interns to my assistants to basketball ops people. I’ve been making lists and lists and lists.”His task is a little easier than other startup franchises because MGM has been in the entertainment business for years.“I think it’s new to them. They understand arenas, they understand all that goes into the logistics and selling tickets,” Laimbeer said. “The basketball part they are into, but it’s not something they’ve really done before. I have the experience that I can navigate and explain what this is and how it works and what the opportunities are. I know all the infrastructure and the how-to. My job is to set everything up.”Finding those people won’t be so hard, as Laimbeer said his phone has been ringing nonstop since it was announced that he took the job.MGM will not be the first company with casino holdings to own a WNBA team. The Mohegan Sun owns the team in Connecticut. The blueprint for Nevada is somewhat similar.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Kin of Misamis Oriental hero cop to get death benefits, award — PNP Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC In this Aug. 29, 2015, file photo, New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer watches during the team’s WNBA basketball game against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn. AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)NEW YORK — Bill Laimbeer found himself at a crossroad.His contract with the New York Liberty was up and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to stay or move on. He had spent the last few years grooming Katie Smith to be the team’s next head coach and felt the time was right for her to take over the team, which lost in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.ADVERTISEMENT “While other teams are restocking their cupboards, we have to order things from scratch like basketballs, athletic tape, nearly everything,” Laimbeer said.This will be the first professional basketball team in Las Vegas, which has become a coveted target for sports franchises over the past few years.The expansion Vegas Golden Knights began their first NHL season this month. In March, the NFL formally approved the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas by the 2020 season to occupy a proposed new stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, although the deal wasn’t approved until casino mogul Sheldon Adelson pulled out of the financing plan.The Golden Knights play at MGM’s T-Mobile Arena, but the casino doesn’t own the team.“This is the first pro sports team that MGM resorts owns and it’s a great alignment frankly with the DNA of our company,” said Lilian Tomovich, MGM’s chief experience and marketing officer.Laimbeer inherits a team that finished last for the second straight year. San Antonio has a talented young nucleus with Kayla McBride, Moriah Jefferson and Kelsey Plum. The team also has the top chance to get the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.“They need a change of culture,” Laimbeer said. “Any time you get a team that’s beat down record-wise, you have to have a catalyst for a change. This is a tremendous catalyst. Going to an exciting venue and situation where there’s resources. I have been successful creating a team that can compete. We can break out of this thing.”Laimbeer also thinks being in Las Vegas will be attractive to free agents.“Players will want to come here,” he said. “All the signs point to a great opportunity. We have to pick up the pieces and make it happen.”This is the second move for the franchise. It came to San Antonio from Utah in 2003. Led by Becky Hammon, the Stars reached the WNBA Finals in 2008. The team has finished with the league’s worst record each of the past three seasons. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. last_img read more

NCAA: Letran scrapes past EAC for first win

first_imgRey Nambatac. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netLetran dug deep and pulled off a come-from-behind 83-80 squeaker over Emilio Aguinaldo College to gain its first victory in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.Jerrick Balanza delivered the game-saving block on Jethro Mendoza’s attempt in the waning seconds of the game to halt the Generals’ late-game rally and secure the Knights’ breakthrough win for the season.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant LETRAN 83 – Ambohot 15, Nambatac 14, Quinto 14, Taladua 14, Calvo 9, Balanza 8, Pamulaklakin 4, Balagasay 3, Vacaro 2, Gedaria 0, Bernabe 0.EAC 80 – Munsayac 22, Onwubere 20, Garcia 13, Bautista 11, Laminou 7, J. Mendoza 3, Pascua 2, Guzman 2, Diego 0, I. Mendoza 0, Corilla 0, Neri 0.Quarters: 12-28, 41-43, 58-54, 83-80. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ No passing fancy: Lonzo Ball seems like ideal fit for Lakers FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next The Knights, though, would turn the ball over in the ensuing possession to give the Generals one last chance, but Francis Munsayac failed to find the scorching Garcia and handed the ball to Mendoza for the failed game-tying trey.Down 26-9 to start the game, Letran straightened up its act to close the gap in the second period, before Nambatac finally handed his side its first lead with a three, 54-52, at the 2:54 mark of the third quarter.“Everyone was so overeager, but when we reminded them, we regrouped and I’m happy that we’re able to adjust in the second quarter and we got back because of our defense,” said Napa.Munsayac paced EAC (1-1) with 22 points, three steals, and two assists, while Sidney Onwubere had 20 markers, 17 boards, two assists, and two rejections.The Scores:ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress MOST READ Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes Jeo Ambohot topped Letran with 15 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, while Rey Nambatac chipped in 14 markers, nine boards, five assists, and three steals.Bong Quinto also added 14 points, seven rebounds, and five dimes, Jeremiah Taladua got 14 markers and six boards, and Balanza drained all of his eight points in the payoff period for the Knights.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“What happened to us in the first game almost happened again,” noted Letran coach Jeff Napa. “Luckily, the boys woke up in our last huddle and committed to do the right thing.”The win was already Letran’s for the taking, leading 74-65 with 2:38 to play, but EAC refused to sink, with Jerome Garcia drilling back-to-back treys in the final minute to cut the deficit to just three, 83-80, with 6.5 seconds left to play. LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

NBA: Lakers seeking veteran point guard to mentor Lonzo Ball

first_imgNational Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Extra! Extra! Red Sox once again playing a lot of innings Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant MOST READ Currently, combo-guard Jordan Clarkson is expected to relieve Ball at point guard, while the Lakers also signed Summer League standout Alex Caruso.  Khristian Ibarrola /raSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games In a bid to fully maximize the potential of the team’s prized recruit, Lonzo Ball, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka expressed their desire to sign a veteran point guard to mentor the recently awarded NBA Summer League MVP.In separate appearances for ESPN, the executive duo confirmed that they’ll be using one of the team’s two available roster spots to fill in the void of back-up point guard.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsAlthough the top free agent names have already been snagged by other teams, several serviceable guards are still available, including Ian Clark and Ramon Sessions, as well as former All-Stars Derrick Rose and Deron Williams.The team initially had their sights set on acquiring the services of NBA Champion Rajon Rondo, before he elected to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans. View comments Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball  APIt’s certainly been a busy off-season for the upstart Los Angeles Lakers squad, selecting multiple promising players in this year’s draft and picking several veterans as well.With the regular season still more than three months away, it seems that the immensely decorated franchise is not done making moves.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

A genius and a gentleman

first_imgTendulkar celebrates his century during the fourth test match against Australia at the SCG in January 2004 in Sydney.If around 1990, I’d been asked how long this 16-year-old Indian touring New Zealand would survive in international cricket, I wouldn’t have come close. No matter how good the kid looked, you,Tendulkar celebrates his century during the fourth test match against Australia at the SCG in January 2004 in Sydney.If around 1990, I’d been asked how long this 16-year-old Indian touring New Zealand would survive in international cricket, I wouldn’t have come close. No matter how good the kid looked, you didn’t think in terms of a 20 years.When Sachin came to New Zealand in 1990 we had heard about this bright, young batsman. When we saw him, his talent and approach were obvious. He looked younger than he was, but he walked to the wicket like he meant it, meant the business. There was, even then, nothing excess in his game. When you can see someone’s game and it will tell you about what they can do. A brilliant bat tells you he can reel off the flashy strokes but he doesn’t tell you immediately if he is going to be an opponent, a real competitor.Longevity in cricket is a hard thing to predict and it’s an even harder thing to achieve. You need be physically resilient and have a love for the game. It sounds simple but it is very hard work and it is what Sachin has done.By 1990, I’d played a lot of cricket and he was just starting out. Sachin had a quiet first Test in Christchurch but in Napier, gave us a long good look at himself and in terms of his skill, he was the real deal. Every time some young talent came through you wanted to see what they were all about. To see maybe what the future looked like. With Sachin, there were two things that caught your eye.Tendulkar signs bats in Auckland during team India’s New Zealand tour in 1998.He had great balance and had the time to play his shots. You saw one shot of brilliance, that for normal batsmen would not be their first shot of selection. His late cut comes to mind, and it was like something rang in your head like being woken by your alarm and you knew you were watching someone special. He played these lovely shots and but there were no frills in his cricket.I remember the innings of 88 he played in Napier, not because I took a catch but about one I dropped. A sitter from Azharuddin, that my grandmother would have caught while knitting. Azza was then given not out to one I thought he’d gloved to leg gully and I was angry with myself. In the middle of all this the16-year-old was knocking us around, and I went up to umpire Steve Woodward and told him that he’d given Azza an extra round. To which, Woodward said, “John, yourswas easier than mine!”advertisement”I wish a lot of lesser players could learn from Sachin’s thoughtfulness and the respect he showed, not just for me as the coach but for his cricket.”Wright is a former New Zealand captain who coached the Indian team between 2000 and 2005 In action during the fourth Test against Australia at the SCG in January 2004 in Sydney.Sachin wouldn’t remember all that, I don’t think. The only thing about thatmatch he would remember is falling 12 short of being the youngest Test centurion. He was shy then and we didn’t get a chance to exchange much other than handshakes. But in 1998-99 when he toured New Zealand, he had become something of a star and I was struck by his humility when he signed an autograph for my young son Harry. He carried himself with a lot of grace and dignity. Just how much I realised only later when coaching with India. We went to an Adidas store in Chennai and a huge crowd of what looked a thousand people gathered outside in no time at all because Sachin was there. We had to actually escape from a back entrance.Apart from things like that-which happened often, and they threw me off but he always managed to stay calm-coaching Sachin was about watching closely and asking questions.With cricket legend Don Bradman at his Adelaide home on his 90th birthday on August 27, 1998He has the best balance of any player I have ever seen. I got enjoyment out of watching him play a forward defensive shot of complete poise and control. He makes batting, which can be quite tough to master and improve, look simple. On times when I thought maybe his head wasn’t quite as still as it could be, Iwould ask him howhe felt about his batting. If he said he felt great, you just left your observation alone for a while. If however he said, ‘oh I don’t feel that good’, then you’d ask, do you think you were really balanced out there, how’s the head you think? He was in many ways his own coach, and he had his brother who knew his game inside out.For the rest of it, he was just a young man with an enormous love of his game and gave it complete respect both in preparation and in practice. He worked at it, not like one of the contemporary greats of the game which is who he was, but like a student. I knew he was upset in Multan after that declaration and it was understandable but he got over it almost that very night.He was never late for the bus, for practice, for meetings. On one day he knew he was going to be, so he came up to me and said there was something that had to be attended. I just thought that’s why he was who he was. I wish a lot of lesser players could learn from his thoughtfulness and the respect he showed, not just for me as the coach but for his cricket, what we were all trying to to, what wewere all trying to be part of.advertisementTendulkar has the best balance of any player I have ever seen. I got enjoyment out of watching him play a forward defensive shot of complete poise and control. He makes batting look simple. With his waiting family at Mumbai airport in October 2002.He was a very tough but fair competitor and he had great humanity. In 2003, we were in New Zealand on what was a horrible tour for the team. For me, it was worse because I had taken the team I coached back to my home country and we weren’t playing likewe could. It was an awful time to be honest. By the time we came to Queenstown, I was feeling particularly beat-up. Sachin was living in the room next to mine, and one evening he came over with a bottle of wine and tried to make me feel better. We just talked about how the tour had gone and how the team knew that it would have been a very bitter pill to swallow. Well, my face certainly showed that evening and at the time I appreciated his thoughtfulness.Sachin and I have always had some interesting conversations about batting and I remember one in Sydney 2003-04 along with his wife Anjali. Sachin had not got a big score on the tour by his standards and Sydney was to be the last test. Eventually he made a plan that he would not play the backfoot drive squarish through the off-side until he really got in. He then got 241 not out without a cover drive. Some pundits called it scratchy, and grumbled that he was not the same Tendulkar and I thought that was rubbish. Tendulkar shakes hands with physically challenged fans after apractice session before the national challenger tournament at Mohali in October 2005.That innings was not about showing off his repertoire for a couple of hours to keep the crowd happy, that was just another piece of Tendulkar genius, of being able to control the mental side of his game and the big runs. I lost count of the number of times commentators and the like used to say he’s on the wane, he’s not same player he was. To them Iwanted to say, “just look in the scorebook”. Today I want to ask them, he’s been a long time waning, hasn’t he?Given his huge popularity, Sachin could have taken on the superstar life but he just loved the game and he was determined to succeed. This determination really doesn’t get talked about by writers and commentators. Sometimes he could go into himself, which may look like aloofness at a distance, but I always thought it was something that came from who he was. Or maybe something it was someone he needed to be because of his life. This genuine genius of a performer at the crease was actually just a normal man who strangely enough couldn’t walk down the street outside his home.One of the people in cricket Sachin reminds me of most is Shane Warne. They come from two different parts of the world, one of them’s a batsman, the other a bowler, one man smokes and the other doesn’t and let’s not even gointo the difference in the kind of headlines they generate. What brings them together, though, and actually makes them friends is complete understanding and control over their craft. Theirs is a highly developed and matured skill, which you don’t find everywhere and which comes once in a few generations and in time to come whenever the game is talked about they will be forever remembered.After Sachin got a big score a few years ago, and it may have been a 200 against Zimbabwe, I did bring up the figure of a 100 hundreds. It wasn’t about sowing a seed, I just thought back then, that he could do it if he wanted to. He’s close now and I’m keeping count. Getting to that milestone would put Sachin alongside Bradman who really rated him.Ahundred hundreds would be a number like Bradman’s famous average, a record that onlyahistory-maker could set. Normally you would have thought there was Bradman and the rest. Now I think, Sachin comes somewhere in between Bradman and the rest. History may put them very close, maybe on the same shelf.advertisementI lost count of the number of times commentators said he’s on the wane. To them I wanted to say, “JUST LOOK IN THE SCOREBOOK”. Today I want to ask them, he’s been along time waning, hasn’t he?last_img read more

2003 Cup: Heartbreak for India as Aus juggernaut rolls on

first_imgCaptain Ricky Ponting led from the front, scoring a breezy century in the final against India, to ensure Australia win their second straight – and third overall – World Cup. But the final in Johannesburg will be remembered as much for Sourav Ganguly’s debatable decision to bowl after winning the toss.The Aussies celebrate their victory over India in the final.Australia thrashed India by a whopping 125 runs in the final and that gave Ganguly’s critics ammunition to fire over his decision.They opined that he opted to bowl not due to any cricketing acumen but for the fear of the sharp Aussie pace attack.To be fair to the India captain, when the captains went out for the toss there was a heavy cloud cover over New Wanderers Stadium and the ground was damp. Even Ponting had said that had he won the toss, he would have bowled first.Boosted by Ponting’s 121- ball unbeaten 140 ( 8x6s, 4x4s), Australia posted a challenging 359 for two wickets in 50 overs, with Damien Martyn being the second highest scorer with an 88 not out (84 balls, 7x4s, 1×6).They were associated in an unbeaten third- wicket partnership of 234 that took the stuffing of Indian attack and ensured that the first prize worth $ 2m was Australia’s.Opener Adam Gilchrist chipped in with a half- century while Harbhajan Singh was the only Indian to take wickets.India began the chase abysmally, losing Sachin Tendulkar for four in the first over bowled by Glenn McGrath and they were never in the hunt for the rest of the innings, despite an 81- ball 82 from Virender Sehwag (10x4s, 3x6s).advertisementRahul Dravid’s was the only other significant contribution as he scored 47 off 57 balls.When India were 103 for three, rains forced players off the field. But the game resumed after 25 minutes and no overs were deducted.The win, a thoroughly deserved one, was Australia’s 17th consecutive ODI win.Tendulkar, who tallied 673, was adjudged the man of the tournament.The contentious Super Six stage, the second of the four stages of the tournament, was retained despite its criticism in the previous tournament. In the semi- finals, Australia defeated Sri Lanka by 48 runs by Duckworth & Lewis method and India thrashed Kenya by 91 runs in a rather easy outing.Barring the ignominy of losing Shane Warne to a positive drug test – he was tested positive for banned diuretics hydrochlorothiazide and amiloride and was banned for one year – before the tournament started, Australia were easily the best team. That Australian juggernaut rolled on despite losing pacer Jason Gillespie too, due to a heel injury, says volumes about their professionalism.Except for the defeat in the final, India had a dream run, especially considering that they were mauled on the tour of New Zealand just preceding the World Cup. The team, however, started tentatively as they struggled against the Netherlands before overcoming them, and gradually gained confidence.The tournament fetched a profit of $ 194 million – a huge increase on the $ 51 million earned in 1999 in England.Highlights of 2003Sachin Tendulkar was the highest run scorer of the tournament with an aggregate of 673 runs, which is most by a batsman in any World Cup so far.Just before the start of the World Cup, Shane Warne was handed a one- year ban for failing a dope test.The Aussie leg-spinner tested positive for banned diuretics hydrochlorothiazide and amiloride.India lost just two matches and both the losses came against Australia, who remained unbeaten throughout the tournament.The tournament saw the last Cup appearance of Jonty Rhodes, Allan Donald, Gary Kirsten, Wasim Akram and Aravinda de Silva.last_img read more

Osama killed: Pakistan’s duplicity in fight against terror unveiled

first_imgHours after US special forces killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden following an electrifying raid and a 45-minute firefight at his fortified compound in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, the magnitude of Pakistan’s lie began to unravel. That the Pakistani government desperately tried to camouflage a fact that was already,Hours after US special forces killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden following an electrifying raid and a 45-minute firefight at his fortified compound in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, the magnitude of Pakistan’s lie began to unravel. That the Pakistani government desperately tried to camouflage a fact that was already evident to a sceptical neighbourhood and a startled world. Not only had Pakistan become the heartland of terrorism, it had also been protecting the world’s most wanted terrorist. The plaintive defence the country’s spokesperson put out, that the country had lost thousands of its security forces in the war against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations, was a non sequitur. Pakistan, after all, had also spawned these thousands of terrorists. The Pakistan government tried desperately to avoid collateral damage with a series of statements. Each statement only succeeded in contradicting the previous one.Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam activists in Quetta protest Osama’s killingPakistani officials seemed stunned into silence on Monday morning, but when their voice broke, it was babble. Officials and spokesmen began talking at cross-purposes. The initial claim of a wonderful “joint victory” was slowly replaced by confusion, as American officials denied there was any Pakistani role. The fog of war deepened under the haze of lies. Here is a brief list:May 2, 12.30 p.m. “Pakistan government was cooperating with American intelligence throughout and they had been monitoring (Osama’s) activities with the Americans and they kept track of him from Afghanistan, Waziristan to Afghanistan and again to North Waziristan and some other areas?” Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan high commissioner to the UK, claimed a heroic role for his country.advertisementMay 2, 10 p.m. “Nobody knew that Osama bin Laden was there-no security agency, no Pakistani authorities knew about it. Had we known it, we would have done it ourselves.” Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan high commissioner to the UK, subverting what he had said in the morning.May 3, 8 a.m. “Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilised world. And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an Al Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day.” Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, in an opinion piece in The Washington Post,admitting there was no joint operation.May 3, 9 a.m. “If the Pakistani government had known that Osama bin Laden was there, we would’ve got him, like we got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.” Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan ambassador to the US, taking his own curve.May 3, 10.45 a.m. It is “inconceivable that bin Laden was without a support system inside Pakistan”. John Brennan, counter-terrorism adviser to US President Barack Obama, bluntly blaming Pakistan for being Osama’s saviour.May 4, 9.30 a.m. “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis might jeopardise the mission: they might alert the targets.” Leon Panetta, Director, CIA, virtually stating that Pakistan was hand-in-glove with Al Qaeda.May 4, 12 noon “This particular location (the Abbottabad compound) was pointed out by our intelligence quite some time ago to the US intelligence.” Salman Bashir, Pakistan foreign secretary, contradicting Zardari.May 4, 8.15 p.m. “This is an intelligence failure of the whole world, not Pakistan alone,” Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in Paris in a desperate bid to spread the blame.Obama addresses the media at the White house after Osama’s deathEven as the Pakistani establishment furiously twisted and turned in its moment of shame, Zardari sought to bridge a yawning trust deficit with its close ally and largest benefactor. Not only did the United States not tell Pakistan anything about the surgical operation deep inside its own territory, it informed its ally about the mission only after the last US helicopter had left their airspace. Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John O. Brennan asked the question that is now reverberating around the world: “How did Osama bin Laden stay at that compound for six years or so and go undetected?” He went on: “We have many, many questions about this. And I know Pakistani officials do as well.”The Pakistani politico-military leadership is scrambling around to find answers to this embarrassment. Yet, the most recent indication that this deep US mistrust was building to a crescendo came as recently as last month. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the seniormost US military official, bluntly accused Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the isi, of being hand-in-glove with Afghanistan’s most vicious terrorist network. “It’s fairly well known that the isi has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network, Mullen said. advertisementOsama’s walled compound in AbbottabadThe volte-face by an offiicial who was once a votary of close US-Pak military cooperation was telling. That Pakistan has been running with the hare and hunting with the hound has been the worst-kept secret of the war on terror. The ISI was mentioned in at least 180 of the Afghan WikiLeaks reports last year as backing attacks on US and nato forces. But the discovery of Osama bin Laden in a military cantonment took US-Pakistan ties to a new abyss. Brennan promised to “get to the bottom of establishing whether Osama had a support system helping him inside Pakistan.The operation was a slap on the face of the ghq Rawalpindi, home of the powerful Pakistani military that effectively controls all the important aspects of national security and foreign policy. For three years, a frustrated Bush administration contemplated launching operations inside Pakistan without informing its ally in the war on terror. This followed mounting US-nato casualties in Afghanistan from Pakistan-based militants. Pakistan army chief General Kayani issued a stern warning that “no external force will be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.” After Osama’s killing, there was a stunned silence in the army. The usually voluble head of Inter Services Public Relations, Major General Athar Abbas, declined to comment. The foreign ministry put out a second statement: such surgical operations violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, could not serve as a precedent and could undermine cooperation in the war on terror. Khaki fingerprints could be seen all over this second statement.Jamaat-Ud-Dawa activists offer funeral prayers for Osama on a street in Karachi”Bin Laden was the golden goose that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of physics at Islamabad’s Qaid-i-Azam University. “Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions.” Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. “Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists,” says Hoodbhoy.One of Osama’s three aides killed during the Abbotabad raid. Heavy bleeding indicates he was shot from close rangeUS lawmakers meanwhile clamoured for a review of the nearly $3 billion in annual aid assistance from the US to Pakistan. “I think this tells us once again that Pakistan is playing a double game,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins. Another Republican Congressman Ted Poe plans to move a legislation which plans to freeze aid to Pakistan unless it certified it had no knowledge of Osama’s whereabouts. “It seems unimaginable that Osama bin Laden was living 1,000 yards away from a military base in a million-dollar mansion built especially for him and no one in the Pakistani government knew about it. I don’t buy it,” Poe said.The end of Osama will not be the end of international jihadi terrorism. “The non-state head of international jihadi terrorism may be dead, but the State of Pakistan, which continues to use this terrorism, lives in denial mode,” says B. Raman, former additional secretary, r&aw. “Neither the state of Pakistan nor its civil society is prepared to admit that Al Qaeda and its surviving leaders have managed to escape arrest, prosecution or death so far, because of the support extended to them by the State of Pakistan.”advertisementWho Built Osama’s House?Compound was built around six years ago. It was owned by a family of Pashtuns believed to be Osama’s trusted couriers and his only contact with the outside world.Osama’s family lived on the secluded second and third floor, never seen from outside.House located in a middle-class locality of a military cantonment at Abbottabad, nearly 80 km north of Islamabad.Shopkeepers in Quetta gather around TV screensFor the past six years, india today found while speaking to neighbours of Osama in Abbotabad, Mohammed Javed believed his neighbour was a reclusive Pir, or a Muslim saint. The sprawling white house with the 11-foot high grey concrete walls topped with barbed wire coils towered over his modest house in the Pashtun-dominated Bilal town, a suburb of Abbottabad. The compound had several families of various ethnicities living inside. “I tried to meet the Pir several times to get him to cure my son, but was not allowed to do so,” he says holding up his polio-afflicted son Siddique. It now emerges that the mysterious Pir that Mohammed Javed sought was the world’s most wanted fugitive, Osama.The middle-class suburb, Bilal Town, is mostly inhabited by retired army personnel or by persons who converge for degree courses in Abbottabad’s educational institutions.Late on Sunday night, locals heard the clatter of helicopters, gunfire and loud explosions. Most residents emerged from their homes turning on their lights. “I saw soldiers emerging from the helicopters and advancing towards the house. Some of them instructed us in chaste Pashto to turn off the lights and stay inside,” Gul Khan told India Today . Osama was shot and killed on the third floor of the building, an apartment with a seven-foot-high privacy wall. The Al Qaeda leader lived there with Amal al-Sadah, 27, a Yemeni who was his youngest wife. Laden married her in Afghanistan over a decade ago. She was shot in the leg during the operation and is now believed to be in the custody of Pakistani security forces.Click here to EnlargeThe property was owned by three Pashtun men believed to be brothers: Mohammad Arshad, Mohammad Tariq and Mohammad Zareen. They lived inside with their families. Arshad and Tariq were, in reality, Osama’s trusted couriers, his only link with the outside world. Both were killed in the firefight on May 2. Arshad is believed to be Abu Ahmed Al-Kuwaiti, the courier who inadvertently led the US forces to Osama. While purchasing the land and supervising construction of the building, Arshad told locals he was from Charsada, a Pakistani Pashtun town on the Afghan border.After the raid, nine children aged between two and 12 and three women, one of whom was Arab, were taken from the compound by the Pakistani military to a hospital in town. One woman and two children in the group were part of Osama’s family.However, in a new twist, a Canadian newspaper claimed that the house belonged to the Kashmir-based militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen (hm). The hm’s chief Syed Salahuddin also heads the United Jehad Council, a loose confederation of militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The council had close links with Al Qaeda. Brennan said that Osama lived in this house for at least five or six years. “He had virtually no contact with the outside world. But he seemed to be quite active inside the compound,” he said. The property is also thought to be the place from where Osama periodically issued his videotapes and later, a series of audio tapes, calling for war against the West.Set on an acre of land, it was a scaled-down version of the featureless compounds inhabited by the Al Qaeda leader and his entourage in Sudan, Kandahar and Tora Bora. From those mini-settlements, he plotted his war against the West using unlikely weapons like hijacked passenger jets against office buildings. From this modest dwelling in suburban Abbottabad, it seems likely, Osama planned survival. From this self-contained 13-room abode, security forces recovered two cows and a buffalo and 150 chickens. The building had a large kitchen to cater to its inmates.The sole access to this triangular compound was through two iron security gates. Inside, a maze of high walls were purpose-built to befuddle intruders. The compound had electricity but strangely, no Internet, telephones or even the mandatory satellite dish. Abdul Saboor, a local electrician who wired up the house when it was built in 2005, calls it a house of mysterious people. “It had a large courtyard. I once saw three cute Arab-looking children,? he says. No one knew what went on behind the high walls. Osama was never seen outside. His couriers lived a low profile life with limited contact with the outside world. The only outsiders allowed into the gated compound seem to have been children. Eight-year-old Abubakar was a frequent visitor to the Osama home, where he played cricket with Raheel Khan, a resident of the compound. “I miss Raheel, we used to play cricket in the lawn of his house,” Abubakar says wistfully.Click here to EnlargeAbubakar says he never met Raheel’s family. Shopkeeper Shuja Raja says he knew two adult males who purchased cigarettes from his shop. No one knew what the men did for a living. They sometimes said they were businessmen and money changers. At other times, they said they lived on remittances from the Gulf. “They were six feet tall, well built, sported flowing beards and wore the regular white shalwar kameez suits. They were courteous but never spoke anything beyond a cursory exchange of greeting,” he recalls. They spoke Pashto with an Arabic lilt, he adds. “But we never ever saw the women.”The lightning strike by US Navy Seals on the compound also demolished several myths. Among them, that Osama and the senior Al Qaeda leadership were hiding in caves on the Af-Pak border. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the decade since 9/11 the Al Qaeda leadership fled their Afghan sanctuaries and the rugged Af-Pak borders for the relative anonymity of Pakistan’s major towns and cities. 9/11 plotter and Osama’s No 3, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, was arrested from a safe house in Rawalpindi. Two other 9/11 plotters, Abu Zubaidah and Ramzi Binalshibh, were picked up from Faisalabad and Karachi respectively.It was the location of the Al Qaeda chief’s residence that was befuddling: less than two kilometres away from the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy (pma). The equivalent of the Indian Military Academy, the pma boasted of alumni such as Generals Pervez Musharraf and Ashfaque Kayani. It seemed to offer undeniable proof of Pakistan’s complicity in sheltering the Al Qaeda leadership. “It is inconceivable that the army did not know Osama was there,” a senior Pakistani military official told india today.Abbottabad, a military cantonment founded by Major John Abbot in 1853, is an educational hub and hosts several major universities like the Ayub medical college, the Army Burns Hall college. It is also a major holiday destination for people looking to escape the searing heat of the Punjab plains. Over the years, it has become a refuge for Internally Displaced Persons fleeing the 2005 Muzaffarabad earthquake or the devastating floods in Waziristan last year. A major town in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, it was insulated from the rest of the province’s chief worries: bomb attacks and drone strikes. In short, the best place to hide a high-value target.The town first surfaced on US radar screens in 2005. A key Al Qaeda figure, Abu Faraj Al Libbi, lived here in 2003. Libbi was captured by Pakistani forces in 2005 in Mardan, another city in the nwfp and transferred to Guantanamo Bay. His interrogation report appeared on WikiLeaks’ Gitmo files. “In July 2003, detainee (Libbi) received a letter from Osama’s designated courier, Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan, requesting him to take responsibility for collecting donations, organising travel and distributing funds to families of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Osama stated the detainee would be the official messenger between him and others in Pakistan.”The Qaeda leadership lived off the grid. They eschewed cellphones and Internet, which would allow them to be tracked by the formidable US technical snooping capabilities. Osama instead relied on human couriers who would physically carry tapes and messages into the world outside his sheltered compound. Ironically, it was this human courier network that led US security agencies to Osama, to end history’s largest manhunt. And laid the burden of proof at the door of his benefactors in Pakistan.It was this courier that led the US Navy Seals Team Six to his doorstep on May 2.How keen the US was to positively identify Osama’s body was seen in their choice of platform: heliborne commandos over unmanned drones. Since 2010, over 142 cia drone strikes have killed over 600 suspected militants in Pakistan. But on Sunday night, 79 commandos rode into Abbottabad on six high and fast flying MH-60 helicopters. Pakistani surveillance radars were jammed by the Americans during the mission. When helicopters fly low to avoid radar, they are slower and more vulnerable to ground fire, a fact the US knows well. President Carter’s 1980 mission to rescue 52 hostages from the US embassy in Tehran ended in a fireball in the Iranian desert. A helicopter collided with a transport aircraft on the desert floor, leaving eight US servicemen dead. The 1993 US attempt to kidnap a Somali warlord resulted in embarrassment: the shooting down of two Blackhawk helicopters and the deaths of 18 US soldiers. This nearly happened in Abbottabad: one MH-60 crashed after its tail rotor hit the Osama compound wall. No one was injured and the chopper was quickly scuttled.”Putting boots on the ground would mean the US could also unearth vital documents indicating locations of other Al Qaeda leaders,” says a veteran usaf helicopter gunship pilot. US officials say they unearthed a ‘mother lode’ of valuable data: computer hard drives and flash drives containing information about the Al Qaeda network. The information is currently being analysed at a secret location for clues on future plots and also unravelling the terrorist network.The Future of TerrorAl Qaeda has dwindled to less than 100 fightersAyman al-Zawahiri, anointed No. 1 after Osama, moves up to fbi’s most wantedKilling likely to make Pakistan worry about the safety of its protectees like Mullah Omar of the Taliban and the father-son duo of Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani.US officials say that the nucleus of Al Qaeda has now dwindled to a strength of just under 100 hardcore operatives. The space vacated by Osama, who carried a $50 million bounty, could be filled in by his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born physician who was reportedly anointed Osama’s successor by a shura in Afghanistan. He now automatically moves up to become the fbi’s most wanted man and is doubtless the subject of another US manhunt. However, the man who seemed fated to eternally remain Osama’s sidekick is nowhere near as charismatic as the slain number one.The group was formed by Osama in 1988 to channel Arab fighters in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In the past decade since the 9/11 attacks that killed over 2,700 US nationals, Al Qaeda morphed from a closely knit group into a loose amorphous ideology. Increasing US pressure on the group killed and captured most of its senior leadership, disrupted its command and control and sent the rest into deep hiding. It has now become an inspiration for a new wave of self-radicalised and self-taught youth who carry out strikes on their own.Over the years, militant groups had begun to see the scion of a wealthy Saudi millionaire as a messianic figure. Now with groups like the Pakistani Taliban warning of attacks against US and Pakistani military targets, analysts predict a step-up in the violence. “This is the beginning of another kind of war,” warns Pakistani military analyst Ayesha Siddiqa.Within hours of Osama’s killing, security was beefed up at all Pakistani military installations as the army braced for retaliation. “We expect attacks against the army units particularly those in cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi,” an army official told india today.For over 48 hours, Pakistanis regarded news of Osama’s death and his sea burial off the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the north Arabian Sea with a sense of disbelief. But as the news was confirmed by the political leadership, a wave of outrage swept the country. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, led a gayabana namaaz janaaza or ‘funeral in absentia’ prayer for Osama in Lahore. People took to the streets of Abbottabad, Quetta and Karachi, shouting slogans, waving Osama placards and railing against the US.”He was a hero for all of us,” says a student of Abbottabad’s degree college for boys. A similar protest was led by around 100 veiled students from the city’s degree college for girls. Other protesters blamed the Pakistani armed forces. “Where were the protectors of our frontiers when this operation was on?” one of the demonstrators asked. “Osama was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom, he has attained the title of a great Mujahid,” said Asmatullah, a protester in Quetta.”The killing of Osama gives America the space to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan and thinking about what to do next,” says Siddiqa. This is precisely what India is uncomfortable with. A US troop drawdown could mean Islamabad could use its strategic assets like the Taliban to wield greater influence over the shaky Hamid Karzai regime. “The clear issue is the need to focus on the situation in Afghanistan,” said a senior Indian government official, who declined to be named, in a reference to the situation post-Osama. “No one wants a precipitous withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan. There is still much work to be done.”The killing of Osama, however, will have the Pakistani military looking over its shoulder. “It will make the Pakistani military more nervous about the safety of its strategic assets like the Haqqanis and Mullah Omar whom it is shielding,” says G. Parthasarathy, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan. Some of this nervousness was reflected in a second response from Pakistan’s foreign office two days after the incident. “This event of unauthorised unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule. The Government of Pakistan affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US,” the statement noted. A terse warning the US may not pay heed to.last_img read more

FIFA World Cup 2014: Five key players from Croatia

first_imgLuka Modric and Mario Mandzukic will be crucial for Croatia in the tournamentNiko Kovac’s Croatia has one of the most stylish midfielders in world football, and one of the top strikers.Combined, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic can expect to help Croatia score some goals at the World Cup, and possibly make their way into the knockout round.Here are five players to watch:LUKA MODRICLuke Modric is the backbone of the Croatian national team, and has become a regular in Real Madrid’s central midfield.The slender-built former Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham player can also play as an attacking midfielder or winger with his neat technical skills.At the 2008 European Championship, Modric was included in the UEFA “Team of the Tournament,” becoming only the second Croatian to achieve that honor.MARIO MANDZUKICMario Mandzukic is the strike force of the Croatian team.Mandzukic, who plays for Bayern Munich, is known for finding space and his off-the-ball play. He also often participates in the defense, making him highly versatile.At Euro 2012, he and several others led the scoring chart with three goals. He also became the first Croat to score in a Champions League final, getting Bayern’s first goal in 2013.Bayern says it wants to keep him despite reported interest from several top English, Spanish and Italian teams.DARIJO SRNACroatia captain Darijo Srna is the workhorse of the team, known for his crossing and free kicks.Srna plays for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, and can play as a right back and at right midfield. He is the most capped player in the history of Croatian national team.advertisementSrna had offers from clubs like Chelsea and Bayern Munich, but he reportedly declined them due to his loyalty to Shakhtar.IVAN RAKITICSevilla captain and midfielder Ivan Rakitic regularly creates chances for the attackers.Technically sound, versatile and creative in possession, Rakitic regularly tracks back to help out defensively. Croatia will look to him to supplement the goal threat of Mario Mandzukic.Rakitic was born in Switzerland and played for the Swiss under-21 side.ALEN HALILOVICCreative midfielder Alen Halilovic, who turns 18 in June and will join Barcelona next season, is the Croatian first division’s youngest ever scorer and the youngest ever debutante for the Croatian national team.Currently playing for Dinamo Zagreb, Halilovic is considered to be one of the top young talents of European football.last_img read more