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News 23 April 2014

All the news for Wednesday 23 April 2014

Eight teams each vie for one 2016 Champions Trophy qualification spot

Can home support lift Malaysia and Scotland to heady hockey heights?

Nina Neidermeyer/Sarah Juggins

Malaysia and Scotland will provide the platform for six days of scintillating hockey action as eight men's and eight women's teams do battle for a coveted place in the 2016 Champions Trophy. The men's competition, the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1, takes place in Kuantan, while the women's equivalent will take place in the newly-built National Hockey Centre in Glasgow.

In Kuantan, the tournament runs from 26 April to 4 May, the Glasgow version starts on 27 April and also finishes on 4 May. Both follow the same format, with pool matches followed by quarter-final crossovers, semi-finals and a final.

Among the teams expected to perform well at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 (CC1) are New Zealand, who won silver at the Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi this January, and Korea, the current continental champions of Asia. Among the favourites to lift the trophy in Glasgow are Korea, the USA, South Africa and rising stars Belgium.

In the men's competition, New Zealand, Korea and Malaysia will be appearing just a few weeks later in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague (31 May-15 June), while in the women's section, Korea, Belgium, USA and South Africa will be playing in Holland. That means that not only is this tournament essential for all teams who have aspirations to step up to Champions Trophy status, but it will also send these teams into the World Cup on the back of six days of high- class competitive hockey.

This year will be the first time France have appeared in the men's CC1, while Ireland, who were debutantes at the 2012 CCI, will hope they can build on the surprise bronze medal they won in Quilmes, Argentina. Host nation Malaysia will have the support of their vocal and enthusiastic home crowd, plus the confidence they will have gained from finishing in second place behind Australia at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Also competing in Kuantan will be Japan, Poland and, fresh from a successful Pan Am Indoor World Cup qualifier, Canada.

Every team participating in Glasgow will be looking for their first Champions Challenge gold medal, but none more so than Korea. They have competed in the Champions Trophy on 11 occasions, winning the prestigious event in 1989. Korea will be aiming to take top spot and make a return to Champions Trophy hockey.

Host nation Scotland comes into the tournament as the lowest ranked team but, like the men in Malaysia, the crowds buoyed by Commonwealth Games fever, will be providing vociferous support and Scotland will be hoping to tap into that enthusiasm and perform above their ranking. World Cup competitors South Africa, alongside determined India, Spain and Ireland squads will all be aiming for a podium spot.

Many of the squads consist of a number of players who recently participated in the Junior World Cup, and with these talented youngsters making the step up to senior international hockey, this edition of the Champions Challenge 1 is set to provide two cracking competitions, with the race for medals wide open and the opportunity to see some of the emerging hockey nations making their mark on the international stage.

For more information about both Champions Challenge 1 events visit our official tournament event sites by clicking here for Kuantan and here for Glasgow. The event pages will bring you all of the news coming from the events including written match reports, action photos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics, match highlights and much more. These sites will also publish any late squad changes, with updated rosters being available ahead of the start of competition.

FIH site

Did you know…? Background to the tournament


Set up in 2001 and organised every two years, the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 will set the stage for one qualification spot at the illustrious Champions Trophy in 2016. Since 2009, the men’s competition has included eight teams from around the globe. Participants in the first-ever Champions Challenge 1 included India, South Africa, Argentina, Malaysia, Japan and Belgium.

Argentina are the most decorated in Champions Challenge 1 history, taking three titles in four appearances (2005, 2007 and 2012), while Korea, yet to win gold, have been the runners-up in each of their three appearances (2003, 2005 and 2012). Others who have won the tournament include India, Spain, New Zealand and Belgium.

The event will feature two top-10 ranked teams in New Zealand and Korea, while the more closely ranked Malaysia, Japan, Ireland, Canada, France and Poland will round out the rest of the list. New Zealand were successful in only one of their three Champions Challenge 1 appearances, defeating Pakistan for gold in 2009. This year will also be the first appearance for France.

Two pools of four teams will square off with quarter-final crossovers and semi-finals to fill the six-day tournament. New Zealand will be the heavy favourite in Pool A with Japan, Ireland and Poland looking to produce an upset, while Pool B features Korea, Malaysia, Canada and France. Due to the introduction of the Hockey World League, the event in Kuantan will be the eighth and last men’s Champions Challenge 1 competition.

The tournament begins on the 26th April and the final match will take place on the 4th May. The event will be key in Hockey World Cup Preparation as Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia also have their tickets punched to compete at this year’s event in The Hague, Netherlands, from 31 May to 15 June.

Click here to download the Tournament Result History.

FIH site

Champions Challenge: Black Sticks start as favourites

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: World number six New Zealand will start as favourites in the Champions Challenge I which starts in Kuantan on Saturday.

The Kiwis, the highest ranked side in the eight-team tournament, aim to regain their place in the elite top-eight Champions Trophy next year.

The Champions Challenge I, which will be played at the Wisma Belia Stadium in Kuantan from Saturday until May 4, will double up as a qualifier for the 2016 Champions Trophy.

It will also serve as a platform for Malaysia, South Korea and New Zealand to continue their preparations for the World Cup in The Hague, Holland, next month.

New Zealand, more fondly known as The Black Sticks, are in Group A with Japan, Ireland and Poland while world No. 13 Malaysia have South Korea, Canada and France for company in Group B.

“We view this Champions Challenge I as an important tournament. It’s not just about preparing for the World Cup but we also want to gain ranking points and qualify for the Champions Trophy. So, this is really a key event for us,” said New Zealand head coach Colin Batch.

New Zealand, whose team comprises a mix of youth and experience, have improved by leaps and bounds since the 2012 London Olympics.

Eleven of the 18 players short-listed by Hockey New Zealand for the Champions Challenge I tournament have amassed more than 100 international caps each, with skipper Dean Couzins (300 caps) leading the charge.

New Zealand got off to a positive start this year by winning a silver medal at the World League Final in New Delhi, India. It was their best result at a major tournament since defeating Australia to clinch the gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

“We are playing with confidence and that’s pleasing. We are looking forward to heading to Malaysia and doing some further training over there before the tournament gets under way,” said Batch.

Kiwi skipper Couzins picked up his 300th cap last Saturday against Australia in a two-test series.

He is just the second New Zealander to have reached the milestone. Team-mate Phil Burrows is the other one.

Following his debut in 2001, Couzins has become a pillar of strength in the Black Sticks’ defence.

Couzins, who said it was a huge honour to have played 300 times for New Zealand, aims to lead his team to the top of the heap in Kuantan.

The Star of Malaysia

Coach Dharma wants the Champions Challenge title

By S. Ramaguru

National hockey chief coach K. Dharmaraj wants his side to win the Champions Challenge I tournament that starts in Kuantan on Saturday. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey team have set themselves a lofty target in the Champions Challenge I, which starts in Kuantan on Saturday.

Coach K. Dharmaraj’s men are targeting the Champions Challenge I title to qualify for next year’s Champions Trophy.

And, en route to doing that, improve on their best-ever performance – a fourth-placing achieved in Quilmes, Argentina in 2012 – in the tournament.

Winning the Champions Challenge I will surely boost the team’s morale as they then set their sights on the World Cup, which will be held at the Hague, Holland, from May 30-June 15.

So, basically the Kuantan tournament will give Dharmaraj’s men an additional platform to gauge their strength as they prepare for the World Cup.

Fresh from a runner-up finish behind champions Australia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last month, the Malaysians will no doubt aim for the title – or at least make the final.

“This tournament (the Champions Challenge I) serves as the final warm-up for teams heading for the World Cup. For us, the team we field in Kuantan will almost certainly be the one that will carry the challenge at the World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.

“There may be some minor reshuffling of the line-up but I believe that the majority of players in the list of 18 here will also be on the plane to Holland.”

Dharmaraj is expected to drop three players when he names the final 18 later this evening after the friendly against Poland. Malaysia were supposed to have played France on Tuesday but it was cancelled as the Frenchmen only arrived in Kuantan in the afternoon.

Dharmaraj said that they will also be looking closely at New Zealand and South Korea as these two teams will join Malaysia at the World Cup in May.

“The target here is to win the title and I’m hoping that the players will show further improvement in their game and also play to the structure we have devised,” said Dharmaraj.

For the Champions Challenge I, Malaysia are in Group B with France, South Korea and Canada. New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and Poland make up Group B.

Malaysia will open their campaign against France on Saturday.

The Star of Malaysia

Glasgow welcomes teams for Champions Challenge 1

The Scottish city has a busy summer of sport ahead, but for now it is all about the hockey

Sarah Juggins

(Photo: Fieldhockey.fr)

The eight teams competing at the Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Glasgow all have their eye on one prize – a spot at the prestigious Champions Trophy, set for June 2016 in London. Taking place in the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow, which will be hosting the Commonwealth Games in just over three months time, the tournament will also provide an opportunity for Belgium, Korea, South Africa and the USA to flex their hockey muscles before they compete in the World Cup in the Hague.

The event in Glasgow will feature two top-10 ranked teams in Korea and the USA, while close on their heels will be South Africa, Belgium, India, Spain, Ireland and host nation Scotland. Every team participating will be looking for their first Champions Challenge gold medal, with eyes firmly fixed on a spot at the 2016 Champions Trophy event as well as the chance to claim valuable ranking points. Korea have participated in 11 of the 20 Champions Trophy events, while Spain has appeared five times, the USA twice and South Africa once. The remainder of the teams will also be vying for their first appearance at the Champions Trophy.

Two pools of four teams will square off with quarter-final crossovers and semi-finals to fill the six-day tournament. Korea will be strong favourites in Pool A with Belgium, India and Scotland looking to pull an upset, while Pool B features USA, South Africa, Spain and Ireland. Due to the introduction of the Hockey World League, this will be the eighth and last Champions Challenge 1 competition. The event begins on the 26th April and the final match will take place on the 4th May.

Korea (7) come into this tournament as the hot favourites; they have finished runners-up on two occasions (2001 and 2007), but the past few months have not seen the team perform at its best. The side missed out on winning the Asia Cup when they were beaten in the tournament final by lower ranked Japan last September, while an eighth place finish at the Argentina Hockey World League Final at the end of the year was certainly below expectations. Of the current Korea squad, Park Mi Hyun is the player to watch. She was shortlisted for the 2013 FIH PLayer of the Year and has more than 200 senior international caps.

A rising star of global hockey, Belgium (12) – known as the Red Panthers – have secured their first ever appearance at an Olympic Games thanks to a brilliant performance at the Olympic qualifying event on home soil in Kontich in 2012. The side finished 11th in that tournament courtesy of a 2-1 classification match victory over fellow Champions Challenge 1 hopefuls USA. Their performances in 2013 provided further evidence that they are a growing force on the world stage, with a fourth place finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships and qualification for this summer’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands being their two stand-out achievements. The team, coached by Pascal Kina, could be among the front runners for the title in Glasgow.

India (13) have an average age of just 21.9 years, so come into the Champions Challenge 1 with a youthful but extremely talented group of players who are more than capable of mixing it with the big guns in Glasgow. The team contains seven members of the India U-21 squad that won bronze at last year’s Ergo Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany, with Deep Ekka, Monika, Lily Mayengbam, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Namita Toppo and Sushila Pukhrambam all being selected by head coach Neil Hawgood. Although India failed to qualify for this summer’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup, a strong showing at the Champions Challenge 1 would be a welcome success ahead of their summer return to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.

Host nation Scotland (16) makes up the Pool A quartet, coming into the tournament as the lowest ranked team in the Champions Challenge 1. But with Commonwealth fever gripping the nation, the team, coached by Gordon Shepherd, are not out of the running for medals. Scotland has performed excellently in the last two editions of this event, claiming the bronze medal at the Dublin 2011 competition before finishing fourth in 2012, which also took place in the Irish capital. Defender Emily Maguire, who plays her hockey for Reading in England, has an Olympic bronze medal in her trophy cabinet thanks to her inclusion in the Great Britain squad at the London 2012 Games.

In Pool B, USA (10) have claimed silver in the last two editions of Champions Challenge 1, and they will be hoping to make it third time lucky at the 2014 tournament in Glasgow. They have produced some fine form coming into this competition, having recently recorded a 4-0 series win against North American neighbours Canada. Among their experienced squad are three members of the 2013 Pan American Elite team, midfielders Rachel Dawson and Kathleen Sharkey, and defender Katie Reinprecht. The team is coached by Englishman Craig Parnham, with former Dutch international Janneke Schopman joining the staff in the role of assistant coach. The team has high hopes both here in Glasgow and at this summer’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

South Africa (12) have a busy summer ahead of them. The Champions Challenge is the first of three major competitions on European soil in the next three months for the team – they are also competing in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Head coach Giles Bonnet has made his title intentions clear by naming a squad that contains no fewer than 13 players who have made over 100 senior appearances for their country, ensuring that the African champions are more than capable of mixing it with the best teams at this tournament. The team will have to do it without two key players, with world record goal-scorer Pietie Coetzee and midfielder Jade Mayne both absent through injury.

Following their failure to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, Spain (14) have been going through something of a transitional phase. Head coach Adrian Lock is very much looking to the future and has spent the first 12 months of his reign introducing a large number of talented youngsters into the senior squad. The team managed to grab a fifth place finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, suggesting that this inexperienced but gifted group is making big strides in the right direction. Lock will be looking for further improvement at the Champions Challenge 1, a tournament where they have achieved fourth place finishes on two occasions (2009 and 2011).

Despite being the second lowest ranked team in the tournament at Ireland (15) are certainly not a side to be taken lightly. They have competed in the last two editions of the Champions Challenge 1, finishing 6th at the 2011 event on before claiming the bronze medal in 2012, both events taking place on home soil in Dublin. Earlier this year, head coach Darren Smith took a largely experimental side to Terrassa for a training camp and four matches against Spain. It proved to a very successful exercise, with Ireland winning the series against their marginally higher ranked opponents by two games to one. Many of the players involved in that series victory have been given their chance to shine in the Champions Challenge 1 tournament, including 18-year-old goalkeeper Ayeisha O’Flynn and Emily Beatty, 20.

Many squads have included a number of players who shone in the recent Junior World Cup, so with these players making the step up to senior international hockey, this edition of the Champions Challenge 1 is set to be a cracking competition, with the race for medals wide open and the opportunity to see some of the next generation of talented players making their mark on the international stage.

For more information about the Champions Challenge 1 visit our official tournament event sites by clicking here. The event page will bring you all of the news coming from the event including written match reports, action photos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics, match highlights and much more. The site will also publish any late squad changes, with updated rosters being available ahead of the start of competition.

FIH site

Hockey heats up in Glasgow with men’s 4-Nations

(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

Glasgow is home of hockey this week as Scottish Hockey has the duty of hosting the women’s Champions Challenge 1 simultaneously with a men’s 4-Nations. The men’s event will feature a three-day round-robin with a final and semi-final taking place on 29 April. Joining Scotland in the event are world-ranked No. 4 England, No. 5 Belgium and No. 11 Argentina.  All three teams will be preparing for the big dance, the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, in The Hague on the 31 May to 15 June.

Time will not be wasted as England and Argentina will go head-to-head in the first game of the series on 25 April, while Scotland will host Belgium.


Most recently, England hosted Ireland for a test match, where the home side came out on top 3-0 thanks to two goals from 26-year-old striker Ashley Jackson. England’s last major competition was in the Hero Hockey World League Final in January where they had a perfect round of pool play. The team lost out in a penalty shoot out to New Zealand in their semi-final, going on to finish third overall after a narrow 2-1 win over Australia.


After two Belgian teams qualified for the Euro Hockey League (EHL) Final Four, there is no shortage of play for the Belgium national squad. In late March, Belgium hosted World Cup hosts the Netherlands for a test game where they drew 3-3 with Tanguy Cosyns making his mark with two penalty corner goals. In the Hero Hockey World League Final, Belgium finished fifth overall with a 2-1 win over India after tough pool-play match ups that included Australia, Argentina and the Netherlands.


Challenging two top-10 ranked teams in the world will be key for Argentina, whose first game of the Hockey World Cup will be against hosts, Netherlands. The 2013 Pan American Cup champions cruised through the South American Odesur Games in early March and will use the upcoming 6-Nations as their biggest preparation for the World Cup. Argentina finished in eighth at the Hero Hockey World League Final despite finishing second and ahead of the Netherlands in pool play.


Hosts Scotland have a big year ahead as hosts of this tournament as well as the upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July. Scotland will be eager for international competition, with their last major event being the Hockey World League Round 2, hosted last May in France. Scotland boast heavy experience in cap centurions Niall Stott, Chris Nelson, Kenny Bain, Iain Scholefield, Gareth Hall and William Marshall.

For tickets, match schedule and more visit the Scottish Hockey website and the Champions Challenge 1 event page.

FIH site

Scotland Senior Men squad announced for Men's 4 Nations

Scotland Senior Men Squad

Scotland Senior Men Head Coach Derek Forsyth today revealed his squad for the Men’s 4 Nations competition taking place at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre from 23-29 April.

Featuring Argentina, Belgium and England, the Scots will face high quality opposition as the squad’s preparations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games heightens in intensity.

The most recent FIH World Rankings place England fourth, Belgium fifth and Argentina 12th in the standings and all three visiting nations are preparing for participation in the Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands next month.

Looking forward to the competition this week, Scotland Senior Men Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “The players are looking forward to the competition, and the tournament will provide a great opportunity for them to test themselves against teams ranked in the world’s top ten.

“We were able to bring the squad together for training matches and preparation in Holland last week and despite some challenges in travel, the guys definitely benefitted from the opportunity to train and play as a squad. It will be a challenge for the players but this type of preparation will always be more important and valuable than training camps alone.”

Forsyth was sweating on a number of players coming through fitness tests, but is now in a position to name a full squad, which includes a great deal of experience in the form of cap centurions Niall Stott, Chris Nelson, Kenny Bain, Iain Scholefield, Gareth Hall and William Marshall.

Additionally, the Scots will also look to Bain, who has performed prolifically in the Hoofklasse scoring charts for Dutch side Hurley and Surbiton striker Alan Forsyth, to provide the firepower in attack, while Great Britain squad member Dan Coultas also provides a significant threat from the penalty corner set-piece.

“It’s important to have everyone available for the tournament and barring any last minute fitness concerns, we should be ready for the challenge that the three other nations will bring”, said Forsyth.

Scotland Senior Men: Jamie Cachia (Sheffield), Gareth Hall (Beeston), Michael Bremner (Kelburne), Dan Coultas (Holcombe), Alan Forsyth (Surbiton), Chris Grassick (Surbiton), Ian Moodie (Edinburgh University), Ross Stott (East Grinstead), Chris Nelson (Kelburne), Kenny Bain (Hurley), William Marshall (Sheffield), Iain Scholefield (Qui Vive), Niall Stott (East Grinstead), Chris Duncan (Edinburgh University), Wei Adams (Canterbury), David Forsyth (Qui Vive), Nick Parkes (Surbiton), Gavin Byers (Sheffield), Russell Anderson (Cannock), Michael Ross (Grove Menzieshill), David Forrester (Old Loughtonians), Gary Cameron (Grange), Gavin Sommerville (Western Wildcats), Ross McIntyre (Kelburne).

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Wins for Army Reds, PIA

LAHORE: Army Reds and PIA won their respective matches in the ninth Nishan-e-Haider Hockey tournament at the Motiuallh Stadium Bahawalpur on Monday night.

Two goals each by Shahid Ali Khan and Mohammad Imran helped Army Reds beat Pakistan Railways 7-3 after taking 4-2 lead.

Shahid slammed goals in the seventh and 32nd minutes while Imran banged home in the 22nd and 44th minutes with Habib-ur-Rehman (35th), Mohammad Kashif (57th) and Safeer (63rd) adding one goal each. For the losing side Yasir (10th), Junaid (24th) and Kamran Maqsood (45th) hit goals.

Three goals each by Ahsanullah and Ammad Butt guided PIA to a thumping 8-1 win against Army Whites. Ahsanullah blasted home in the fourth, 17th, 46th minute while Ammad fired goals in the 18th, 25th, 38th minutes. The solitary goal for the losing side was hit by Nouman Khan in the 6th minute.


Harendra aims high with junior hockey team

Rohan Puri

NEW DELHI: Harendra Singh, the newly appointed coach of the junior men's hockey team, said on Tuesday he expected the team to be among the top four in the world by 2016.

"A top-eight finish is the target of the senior team, so a player in the junior team must aim for the final in the 2016 World Cup. For me, this team should be among the top four in the world by the end of two years. This is a realistic target," Harendra told TOI on Tuesday.

"This team has to be groomed keeping in mind both short-term and long-term goals. But it's a slow, step-by-step process. We have to make the team capable enough to beat any team in the world. A No.10 team can't jump to No.1. So my aim is to ensure the team improves each and every month," said Singh, who started his coaching career in 1998 and has a total coaching experience of 379 matches. His achievements as a coach include eight gold medals with senior and junior teams, five silver and nine bronze in various international tournaments.

Singh, who has a two-year contract with the team, said there is an enormous talent pool in the country. "I am impressed with the level of talent in the country. With scientific support and help from Terry Walsh and Roelant Oltmans, we can groom a good team for the future," he said.

Hockey India (HI) has decided not to hire a chief coach for the junior team this time. Singh will be in charge of the current junior team along with BJ Kariappa.

The Times of India

England men can win hockey World Cup, says Germany's world player of the year Tobias Hauke

German star Tobias Hauke says England can pose threat at the World Cup in The Hague and singles out Nick Catlin as one of world's best players

By Rod Gilmour

Full force: Tobias Hauke and Germany will be aiming for World Cup glory after winning silver in 2010 Photo: FIH / FRANK UIJLENBROEK

England's three domestic sides may have crashed out of the European Cup at the last 16 stage last week, while the national side has yet to lift the men’s hockey World Cup, but Tobias Hauke, Germany’s world player of the year, says that Barry Middleton’s side will be a major threat in The Hague next month.

Hauke, who played a key part in Harvestehuder winning the EuroHockey League for the first time on Easter Monday, believes up to nine teams could win the World Cup.

England, he says, will be one of the favourites after the 26 year-old German saw a “different England” win bronze at the World League Finals in January, from the side which “plateaued” after London 2012.

“They run more than any other team and are really tough to beat on the pitch,” said Hauke. “They have a big chance with their individual players who can decide games like Middleton, Ashley Jackson and Nick Catlin.

“It doesn’t matter what happens in the past. If you are on the pitch you have to believe in yourself, otherwise you won’t win anything.

“For me, every game is new. You have to believe in your team and if they have that against all the top teams then they can do it [win a major trophy].”

Hauke’s praise didn’t stop at the England team. He singled out emerging star Catlin as one of the world’s best players and a midfielder he looks at closely thanks to his stick skills.

England's Nick Catlin in action

“I love to look at how he’s playing as he has such good technique,” the German admitted. “He is fast and when I was younger I was similar to Nick. I was more offensive and technical and played with more wrists.

“He is an outside midfielder, with great wrists. With me, I can’t often do the skills he does as I am in the centre position."


Hockey World Cup 2014: FIH to monitor stick length after Belgian 'keeper's 'broom' raises eyebrows

East Grinstead's manager questions Racing Club de Bruxelles goalkeeper's extended hockey stick as World Cup looms

By Rod Gilmour

Stick joy: Racing club de Bruxelles goalkeeper Jeremy Gucassoff celebrates with his onger stick after another penalty shoot-out success Photo: FFU PRESS AGENCY / FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Penalty shoot-outs at next month’s World Cup could reach “comic lengths” unless the height of a goalkeeper’s stick is regulated by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the sport’s governing body.

According to Matt Jones, East Grinstead’s manager, Jeremy Gucassoff, the Racing Club de Bruxelles goalkeeper, has exploited a loophole in the FIH rule which allows him to swap for an improvised longer stick, dubbed the ‘hockey broom’, in a penalty stroke or shoot-out situation.

Racing knocked out East Grinstead, one of English hockey’s top sides, at the EuroHockey Club Champion Indoors two months ago after Gucassoff saved a last-minute penalty stroke.

At the weekend, Gucassoff’s longer stick again played a crucial role in Racing reaching the EuroHockey League semi-finals in Eindhoven, when he saved three times in a last 16 shoot-out.

Belgium’s No. 1 will play in England’s group when the World Cup starts in The Hague on May 31, while there are fears that other international goalkeepers could follow Gucassoff’s ploy next month.

“There is a possibility it could get out of hand [at the World Cup],” Jones told Telegraph Sport. “The FIH should think seriously about maximum stick length as they have the opportunity to nip something in the bud before it becomes a problem.

“Bearing in mind the outrageous nature of the height of the stick and the clear benefit, he has been astute enough to make use of the ruling. There’s one side of me that has to tip my cap to him.”

Sticking to length: Racing club de Bruxelles goalkeeper Jeremy Gucassoff

At the Euro Indoors, officials cleared Gucassoff’s stick and East Grinstead’s appeal went unfounded. Currently, FIH rules refer only to a stick’s shape and dimension, while stipulating that the total weight should not exceed 737 grams.

An average stick weighs around 580g, and although Gucassoff’s longer version has yet to exceed the rules, Jones has “never seen a set of scales” at a hockey tournament.

“It is intriguing how something like this has slipped through the net, as it is a very clear and distinct advantage,” he added. “It would be absurd not to have a maximum length considering the fine details of the sport in so many other areas.

“We try to play on a level playing field but this is a little bit out of the realms of fair play. The FIH would have to change this very quickly before the World Cup as it could quite easily get to comic lengths.”

Richard Wilson, FIH's officials manager, told Telegraph Sport that there would be weighing scales at the World Cup, but the use of longer sticks "is something that we will be continuing to monitor.”

“Provided that the stick is able to pass through the 51mm stick ring, does not exceed the maximum 25mm bow and does not exceed 737g, the stick is considered legal," he added.

Hockey shoot-out is anyone's game

The penalty shoot-out – whereby a player has eight seconds to score from the 23-metre line – has been a popular ruling since it replaced the penalty stroke to decide matches in 2011. However, three years down the line, players and goalkeepers are still working out the best tactics to employ, making for an exciting spectacle.

The Telegraph

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