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News 29 April 2014

All the news for Tuesday 29 April 2014

Pool A produces good result for home team, and Korea continue winning ways

Four goals floor India, while Belgium can't find way past Korea defence

Korea v Belgium, pool A, Day 2 Champions Challenge (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Scotland put in a convincing performance to beat India 4-0 in their second pool A match of the Champions Challenge 1 tournament, while Korea wore Belgium down with a composed performance. The result means the tournament favourites have maximum points from two games.

 It was a much improved India team who came out fighting against Scotland, but it was the home nation who were the first to trouble the goalkeeper when Savita Savita was called to make an athletic double save from first Vicki Bunce and then Alison Bell.

For much of the first half Scotland had the lion's share of possession but despite some good build-up work, particularly from Nicola Lloyd and Alison Bell, they didn't look like scoring. Then a moment of pure power and precision from Nikki Kidd (30') broke the deadlock as she hammered home from a penalty corner to make it 1-0. Minutes later Emily McGuire (33') added to the scoreline with another thunderous shot.

After half-time Vikki Bunce (41') made it 3-0 from a penalty corner and Scotland continued to dominate play for the majority of the game. The icing on the cake was the fourth goal scored by Rebecca Ward (66') to make the final score 4-0.

In the second pool A match, Park Mi Hyun (27') scored the opening goal for Korea, although it took nearly 30 minutes for the stalemate between these two teams to be broken. Captain Kim Jong Eun made a run that split the Belgium defence and created space, and her pass found Park free on the edge of the area. The experienced player made no mistake and took her chance with clinical precision.

In the second half, Alix Gerniers thought she had scored the equaliser, but her goal was ruled to have struck a foot. However, just minutes later her teammate Stephanie de Groof (49) scored from a penalty corner. Belgium joy was short-lived however, as goal-scorer Park struck again (52). Forced wide, the Korean star still managed to find a small gap to slot the ball home and restore her team's lead.

The final 20 minutes of the game saw both teams playing structured hockey that tested their opposing defences, but despite some incisive attacking moves, Belgium were unable to break down the Korean defence and the score remained 2-1.

FIH site

Irish eyes smile, and South Africa overcome USA strength in Day 2, pool B matches

Both pool B matches were games of two halves as Spain and USA lose points

Spain v Ireland in pool B Champions Challenge 1 (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Day 2, pool B

South Africa v USA 2-1 (0-1)

Both the USA and Spain found themselves letting a dominant opening first half performance disintegrate, leaving their opponents the opportunity to get back into the game and, in the case of USA, lose all three points.

In the first pool B match of the second day of Champions Challenge 1 competition, the USA started in strong fashion and, in a mirror image of their first game, Katie O'Donnell (13') scored after a period of sustained pressure on the South Africa defence. The USA team were particularly strong when they attacked up the right-hand side of the pitch through Melissa Gonzalez and Paige Selenski, but the team were unable to turn the pressure into goals.

Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (45') put South Africa back in the game with a penalty corner, but the green and gold team were lucky not to fall behind almost immediately when a defensive error put Paige Selenski through on goal. Her shot went wide as she slipped while striking.The severity of that miss was highlighted when Lilian du Plessis (50') scored the winning goal for South Africa.

Spain v Ireland 2-2 (2-0)

A game that seemed to be heading for a certain Irish defeat was turned around by a battling second half performance by the team in green. A reminder from coach Darren Smith at half-time that they had already beaten Spain in a test series earlier in the year was enough to galvanise the team into action.

The first half of the second pool B match between Spain and Ireland was a very one-way affair with Spain taking an early 2-0 lead, through Maria Lopez (10') and Lola Riera (13').

But then Emily Beatty arrived on the scene and within the space of four minutes the game had swung dramatically. Her first goal (62') came from a rebound and the second (66') was a cross that took a deflection.

In the dying minutes of the game, Spain regrouped and earned a penalty corner as the clock showed time, but the strike soared over the crossbar and while Ireland celebrated, Spain will have felt as if they threw two points away

FIH site

USA slip up against South Africa

Pool B wide open as South Africa grab three points

RSA v USA pool B (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Both the USA and South Africa enjoyed periods of dominance in this pool B match, but it was South Africa's better finishing and an unfortunate slip in front of goal that separated the teams and left South Africa 2-1 winners.

The USA started their second match of pool B in a mirror image of their first game. Katie O'Donnell (12') scoring from open play after a period of sustained pressure on the South Africa defence. The remainder of the half was a game of end-to-end hockey with both teams showing a lot of attacking flair, but no clinical finishing in front of the goal.

Melissa Gonzalez and Paige Selenski were both instrumental in building up USA attacks down the right-hand side of the pitch, with Marsha Cox and Quanita Bobbs working hard to create opportunities in the South Africa midfield.

Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (45) put South Africa back in the game with a penalty corner, but the green and gold team were lucky not to fall behind almost immediately when a defensive error put Paige Selenski through on goal. Her shot went wide as she slipped while striking.

The severity of that miss was highlighted when Lilian du Plessis (50) put South Africa ahead after a well-taken goal left the Jackie Kintzer stranded in the USA goal.

FIH site

Van Deventer enables stirring SA fightback to victory over USA


Investec South Africa hockey team goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer makes another save as team-mate Illse Davids and the USA's Katie Reinprecht look on.

A slick United States, technically sound and intelligent manipulators of space, ran the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team ragged in the first half to lead 1-0 in the Champions Challenge at the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow Monday, but a remarkable fightback after the changeover saw the girls in green and gold beat the world’s 10th-ranked north Americans 2-1.

An excellent recovery by Nicolene Terblanche, who then relayed the ball to Dirkie Chamberlain, resulted in SA striker Lilian du Plessis showing the composure which made for a superb finish - and the winner - in the 50th minute, this after Lisa Deetlefs had beaten USA goalkeeper Jackie Kintzner with a powerful penalty corner slap shot five minutes earlier (45th).

Katie O’Donnell stole along the right-hand baseline in the most confined of spaces to open the scoring in the 12th minute and had it not been for a whole host of saves by SA goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer the USA would have led by a bigger margin going into the second half.

“The USA played very well in the first half, moved the ball well, very strong, a very clever game, we were always a yard off the pace,” said SA head coach Giles Bonnet.

Yet Van Deventer’s saves, left and right, many at close-range, kept the lively USA forwards out - and her team in the match – and Bonnet was full of praise for his keeper.

“At half-time I said, ‘We didn’t play to our ability and thanks to Anelle we are still in the game. We now have the chance to turn it around, so we have two choices; we can sit back and let Anelle try and keep us in the game for another half and then lose, or we can go win the game’, so thanks to Anelle we were able to do that.

“In the second half we decided to put more pressure, lift the game, lift what we were doing and we saw in the second half that we have the in-house capacity in the team to do that.”

World number 11 SA now have a handy four points from two matches, having being held to a 2-2 draw by world number 15 Ireland on day one, this despite the girls in green and gold missing a hatful of chances.

Bonnet believes there is still much to do as South Africa look forward to their final Pool B match against world number 14 Spain at 10.30am (SA time) Wednesday before Thursday’s quarter-finals.

“The second half was disappointing in the number of chances we created that we didn’t convert, we should have finished off the game, so there is still a lot of work to do in the kitchen.”

Investec South Africa (0) 2 (Lisa Deetlefs 45th minute, Lilian du Plessis 50th)
USA (1) 1 (Katie O’Donnell 16th)

Starting: Anelle van Deventer, Lisa Deetlefs, Lenise Marais, Quanita Bobbs, Marsha Cox (capt), Shelley Russell, Bernie Coston, Tarryn Bright, Dirkie Chamberlain, Sulette Damons, Celia Evans.
Rolling subs: Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Illse Davids, Marcelle Manson, Kelly Madsen, Lilian du Plessis, Kathleen Taylor.

SA Hockey Association media release

U.S. Women Bring Tenacity to Pitch as the Squad Dives Deeper into Champions Challenge

Team USA falls short to South Africa in a tight second game of tournament

GLASGOW, Scotland – Back-to-back game days did not allow for a slip in the U.S. athletes’ mental or physical prowess as the National Team continued further into fierce competition at the Champions Challenge. The U.S. National Team remained consistent and delivered another solid performance but fell short with a score of 1-2 against South Africa.

From the commencement of the match, with glowing yellow jerseys intact, South Africa swarmed around Team USA’s forward line to apply high pressure. Movement of the game then batted from both end lines of the pitch for a majority of the first half until USA athlete Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.) maneuvered the ball to the bottom left portion of the cage with 22 minutes left on the clock.

“Although the result did not go our way today I thought we had some periods of very nice play,” said Head Coach Craig Parnham. “It’s encouraging to see us continue to create chances throughout the game. We now move our attention to preparing for our next game against Ireland on Wednesday.”

Coming out of the gate strong in the second half led to a flurry of corners for Team USA. Although the team created breakaways and various other attack opportunities throughout the match, the U.S. was unable to solidify another goal. U.S. goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa.) and her core defensive unit were tested with South Africa’s steady speed to the baseline until their first corner prevailed. South Africa was able to knot the score 1-1 with a straight shot from center circle from the penalty corner.

“I think that South Africa brought more pressure in the second half,” said USA defender Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.). “For us in the backfield we used short options to open up longer options. Communication definitely kept us and the goalkeeper together during the game.”

Despite USA’s ample attack presence, South Africa edged out the team with another shot to make the score 1-2. The match continued to be thrilling display of hockey from the red, white and blue. ‘U-S-A’ chants from children echoed throughout the stadium in support and anticipation until the very last second of the match. South Africa walked off the pitch with the win and a score of USA 1, South Africa 2.

Yesterday the U.S. defeated Spain 3-1 in the first round of pool play. Play resumes on April 30 against Ireland at 11:30 a.m. local time, 6:30 a.m. ET.

USFHA media release

Scotland bounce back to rout India in Glasgow

Scotland's players celebrate another goal Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland Senior Women bounced back from yesterday’s narrow loss to Belgium with a superb performance, roundly beating India 4-0 at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre this evening.

In front of a fervent and passionate home support, goals from Nikki Kidd, Emily Maguire, Vikki Bunce and Becky Ward ensured the national side secured a vital win in their quest to top Pool A of the competition.

The Scots now move on from tonight’s encounter to play their final group game against Korea on Wednesday afternoon (14.00).

Scotland huddle together for a few words from Head Coach Gordon Shepherd after tonight's win over India. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

An ecstatic Scotland Senior Women Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said of his side performance, “Absolutely delighted. Yesterday we got the performance but not result. Today we got the result with one of the best performances this Scotland team has produced for years. We played great hockey for the entire seventy minutes, from back to front. I’m lost for words to describe how good that performance was.

“It was a total team effort, everyone played their part in the win. There wasn’t one stand-out player; there were seventeen stand-out players and a reserve goalkeeper who feels every bit part of tonight’s success.

"That’s what it takes to win at this level and we’ve told the players to enjoy the success. The crowd were fantastic too and the players are very grateful for their support. We now look forward to Korea on Wednesday.”

Nikki Lloyd feels the challenge of an Indian defender Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland made an impressive start to the contest, winning a penalty corner in the fourth minute. Nikki Kidd played the ball back to injector Ailsa Wyllie, but the Grove Menzieshill striker’s shot was wide of the target.

In the 11th minute, Ali Bell was denied the opening goal too, her shot brilliantly saved by Savita Savita in the Indian goal.

Savita was again to frustrate the home side four minutes later, her block preventing Kidd’s drag-flick from finding the back of the net.

It appeared as if it was going to be one of those nights for Shepherd’s side; this time replacement goalkeeper Yogita Bali was alert to save Bell’s reverse stick attempt, before smothering Nicki Skrastin’s strike on goal in the 21st minute.

Scotland's Nicki Skrastin collides with India 'keeper Yogita Bali. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Next it was Cat Ralph’s turn to pepper India’s goal with two penalty corner strikes but yet again Bali was equal to the challenge, pushing both efforts to safety.

Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

India almost took the lead against the run of play in the 27th minute, but Scotland goalkeeper Amy Gibson made a great save from Poonam Rani.

Scotland’s pressure and domination of possession finally bared fruit in the 29th minute. India’s defence struggled to clear their lines, the ball falling to Kidd on the right of the circle and the Canterbury midfielder made no mistake this time, smashing the ball into the far left corner of the net to break the deadlock.

On the stroke of half-time, the Scots doubled their lead after a determined run and shot from Sarah Robertson cannoned off an Indian defender and fell into the path of Emily Maguire to bundle home the second goal in the 34th minute.

Not content with their two goal lead at half-time, Vikki Bunce slid in to get on the end of Kidd’s penalty corner shot and crash the ball past Bali to register a third Scottish goal in the 41st minute.

Vikki Bunce was Scotland's third goalscorer against India. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Further opportunities came Scotland’s way during the second half, captain Linda Clement diving to hit a Bunce cross narrowly wide of the target and a Robertson effort being knocked away from the net right on the line.

Four minutes from time, defender Becky Ward rounded off the scoring, netting the fourth goal for the Scots from a rebound after Ralph’s fierce shot at penalty corner was cleared off the goal-line.

Women’s FIH Champions Challenge I, Pool A Result

Glasgow National Hockey Centre, Scotland

Scotland (Nikki Kidd 29', Emily Maguire 34', Vikki Bunce 41', Becky Ward 66') 4-0 India

Scotland Senior Women: Nicola Cochrane (Edinburgh University), Vikki Bunce (Dundee Wanderers), Morag McLellan (Clydesdale Western), Alison Bell (Grove Menzieshill), Rebecca Ward (Dundee Wanderers), Catriona Ralph (Clydesdale Western), Sarah Robertson (Edinburgh University), Linda Clement (Captain, Grove Menzieshill), Ailsa Wyllie (Grove Menzieshill), Leigh Fawcett (Grove Menzieshill), Rebecca Merchant (Edinburgh University), Nikki Kidd (Canterbury), Susan McGilveray (Clydesdale Western), Nicola Lloyd (Canterbury), Nicola Skrastin (Clydesdale Western), Emily Maguire (Reading), Aileen Davis (Clifton), Amy Gibson (Old Loughtonians).

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Poonam Rani, Chanchan Devi complete 100 international caps

Hockey India congratulated both the players for making the country proud with their contributions.

Poonam Rani and Chanchan Devi.

NEW DELHI: Members of the Indian women's hockey team, Poonam Rani and Chanchan Devi have achieved the rare feat of featuring in 100 international games for the country.

The two forwards now have to their credit 100 international caps. While Poonam completed her 100th international match during the Indian eves European Tour against Ireland last week, Chanchan achieved the feat during India's opening match of the Champions Challenge 1 in Scotland against Korea on Sunday.

Poonam, hailing from Hisar in Haryana, made her India debut in 2009, and since then has not looked back. She was a member of the FIH Junior World Cup in USA in the same year.

In 2010 Poonam was part of the team playing Test matches against Japan, China and New Zealand and her performance yet again helped her to represent the country in the Women Asian Champions Trophy in Korea as well as FIH Women's World Cup which was played in Argentina, Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Asian Games in China that year.

Since then Poonam has represented India in almost every tournament that the country has played. She was also part of the team that won the historic bronze medal in the FIH Junior Women's World Cup last year in Germany and third Women Asian Champions Trophy 2013 in Japan, where India won silver medal.

Chanchan, who comes from Manipur, also made her debut in 2009 with the seventh Asia Cup in Thailand followed by FIH Champions Challenge in Russia later that year.

In 2010, she represented the country in the Women's Champions Trophy in Korea, FIH Women's World Cup in Argentina, Commonwealth Games in India and Asian Games in China. In 2013, Chanchan was part of World League Round 2 in Delhi, World League Round 3 in Rotterdam, eighth Women's Asia Cup in Malaysia where the team bagged bronze and the third Women's Asian Champions Trophy in Japan where the team won silver.

Hockey India congratulated both the players for making the country proud with their contributions.

The Hindu

CC1 Match 2 Ireland 2-2 Spain

IRELAND women’s hockey team drew 2-2 with Spain today in their 2nd match of the Champions Challenge I tournament taking place in Glasgow, Scotland.

Ireland started with the first chance in the 6th minute but Katie Mullan’s deflection was denied by the woodwork before Spain took the lead in the 9th minute from a crash ball deflection Alicia Magaz with the touch. Spain doubled their lead with the first penalty corner of the match, Lola Riera, executing with precision on Emma Gray’s glove side to make it 2-0. Ireland had chances throughout the half with plenty of circle penetrations but couldn’t get any real chances away including a penalty corner opportunity in the 30th minute but Audrey O’Flynn’s drag was denied and Ireland headed in for the break trailing 2-0.

Ireland dominated possession in the second half but it took numerous attempts before they got rewarded for their efforts. In the 60th minute Mullan, Pinder and O’Flanagan combined for a penalty corner reward which Emily Beatty popped home nicking the rebound off the keepers pads and lifting it home to draw back to 1-2. From the restart Ireland secured another penalty corner but the attempt was kept out. Just 6 minutes later Emily Beatty was on hand once again to covert for her side with a lovely dodge on the by-line to lay off a reverse stick pass which made its way into the goal before Nikki Evans could get the final touch to make it 2-2

Ireland gave a chance to Spain in the dying seconds to steal a last minute win with a penalty corner but fast running from Anna O’Flanagan deflected the shot high and wide and Ireland closed out the game with a 2-2 draw.

IRELAND 2 (0) Emily Beatty 60m pc; 66m fg

SPAIN 2 (2) Alicia Magaz 9th fg; Lola Riera 12th pc

Starting XI: Emma Gray GK; Cliodhna Sargent; Emma Smyth; Shirley McCay; Megan Frazer (Capt); Naomi Carroll; Audrey O’Flynn; Chloe Watkins; Nicci Daly; Anna O’Flanagan; Kate Dillon

Reserves: Michelle Harvey; Nicola Evans; Ayeisha McFerran; Katie Mullan; Gillian Pinder

IRELAND Next Matches M&W

Tuesday 29th April
17.00 Pool A Ireland v Japan (m)

Wednesday 30 April
11:30 Pool B USA v Ireland (w)

Thursday 1 May
Quarter Finals (w)
Quarter Finals (m)

Saturday 3 May
Classification Matches / Semi Finals (w)
Classification Matches / Semi Finals (m)

Sunday 4 May
Classification Matches / Finals (w)
Classification Matches / Finals (m)

Irish Hockey Association media release

Malaysia plan "a giant step forward" at CC1 in Kuantan

Preliminary round finishes on Tuesday at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1

Malaysia want to win tomorrow's match against Canada. (Photo: FIH)

National head coach Muhammad Dhaarma Raj said Malaysia will take a "giant step forward" to ensure the host nation pulls off a majestic win over Canada in the last pool B match of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 at Kuantan's Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.

Dhaarma Raj admits that it was a bitter pill to swallow after suffering consecutive defeats against France (3-2) and Korea (3-1) which has placed the team in an "uncomfortable position" of probably having to meet pool A possible leaders New Zealand in the quarterfinals stage on Thursday.

New Zealand lead pool A with six points and take on Poland on Tuesday. However, Poland and Japan with three equal points respectively have an open chance of improving their standings in the group. In pool B, the Koreans top the table with four points, Canada in second (4) spot, France third (3) while Malaysia have yet to win any point.

Given the choice, Dhaarma Raj would prefer the Malaysians avoid any encounter with the Black Sticks, ranked sixth in the world, in the last eight of the tournament. “We all know the situation at this moment given the format of the tournament. As much as we want to avoid New Zealand the top rated team here, we might just end up playing them,” added Dhaarma Raj.

“But we can still get away with this kind of situation tomorrow against Canada. However, we are in a very tricky situation still because whatever we do our game and result will still have no bearing if France hold the Koreans to a draw or even win. We will still end up playing New Zealand,” he said.

For the record, Malaysia defeated Canada 3-0 in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March. Dhaarma Raj, who is in his second assignment as senior team coach, said the team played a far better game against the Koreans than in the first match against France but were just unlucky not to have scored early in the game.

“We created many opportunities, had six penalty corners and event saw Shahril Saabah’s flick hit the post in the first 12 minutes. We were just very unlucky against the Koreans. It wasn’t our day at all. The Koreans had three chances and made good use of it. Our defence was a problem and this is something we have to look into.”

However, he dismissed talks of a rift in the team over the selection of players, but agreed that there have been changes made in match strategies which might have affected the game plan. “We also tried some things that normally we don’t do. Playing Faiz Helmi in midfield instead as a sweeper and Kevin Lim at the back were choices I had to make given the situation we are in. If we had Razie (Rahim) I could have pushed Faiz up in midfield. This is the only chance we have of trying out players in the group stage before moving on to the quarterfinals.”

“I am looking at sticking to our earlier game plan and positions. We have a problem at the back and are not settled yet. I have to see what the best line-up is as the matches go,” he added.

Team captain Azlan Misron also echoed the sentiments expressed by his coach by adding that the younger players in the team will have to "up the tempo" and get back on track. “We are one of the three better teams in this tournament (besides Korea and New Zealand) based on world rankings. Unfortunately we ended up in a very tricky situation. It will be a different game against Canada and we must take our chances well this time,” he said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand head coach Colin Batch said he was surprised with the performance of France, Poland and Ireland in this edition of the Champions Challenge 1. “Our focus has always been to qualify for the 2016 Champions Trophy and the World Cup next month. We have been heading the right direction but it's not over yet. We have the quarterfinals on our mind first and get on after every match,” said Batch.

Korean coach Shin Seok-Kyo said his players have done a good job in the last two matches despite not having his best players in Kuantan due to injuries. “We want to win this match against France although it will be another tough encounter. We know that France have players with good individual skills. It is our aim to reach the final here in Kuantan and, of course, we also want to win this tournament.”

FIH site

Coach shoots down disunity claims

By Jugjet Singh

Malaysia’s Faizal Saari (front) is tackled by Korea’s Hyun Hye Sung in their Champions Challenge I match on Sunday.Pic by Luqman Hakim Zubir

NATIONAL chief coach K. Dharmaraj yesterday denied speculation that Malaysia were playing badly in the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan because of disunity due to his selection of players.

Malaysia lost 3-2 to France and 3-1 to South Korea and will play Canada today, where a defeat will see them face tournament favourites New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

“I agree the team have not been playing up to mark, and I have also heard from many people that the cause might be due to the selection of many Junior World Cup players (eight) and that I have favoured certain players over others who were dropped.

“But there is no truth in this because I have selected the best available and I am trying out new positions for several players and that is why the team look disjointed and unsettled after two matches.

“I was also a player once, and I will never bring favouritism into selecting players as I know it causes pain to those who are not selected,” said Dharmaraj.

He also agreed that the midfield and defence are in disarray.

“With regular defender Razie (Rahim) still nursing an injury and several former key players not selected because others have overtaken them, there is bound to be some miscommunication between the players. But it is not because they are not happy with my selection process.”

Midfielder-defender Shahrun Nabil and defender Baljit Singh were among the players left out, and replaced with German-born Kevin Lim and a host of juniors.

“We also tried some things that normally we don’t do. Playing Faiz Helmi in midfield instead of as a sweeper and Kevin at the back were choices I had to make given the situation we are in.

“If we had Razie (Rahim) I could have pushed Faiz up in midfield. This (against Canada) is the only chance we have of trying out players in the group stage before moving on to the quarter-finals.”

“I am looking at sticking to our earlier game plan and positions. We have a problem at the back (defence) and are not settled yet. I have to see what the best line-up is as the matches go,” he lamented.

Malaysia’s hopes hinge on the France-South Korea match at 3pm, because if the French win, Malaysia will finish at the bottom of Group B and chances are high they will meet tournament favourites New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

But if South Korea beat France and Malaysia beat Canada, Dharmaraj’s side will not only avoid New Zealand in the quarters, but also the semis if they progress that far.

For the record, Malaysia defeated Canada 3-0 in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March.

New Straits Times

Hockey coach Dharmaraj denies infighting

By S. Ramaguru

Malaysia lost 1-3 to South Korea in the Champions Challenge I group match. – Bernama Photo

KUANTAN: Something is amiss with the national hockey team.

They came into the Champions Challenge I with high hopes and a lofty target of winning the title.

A late selection process (the management only named their final 18 players hours before the team managers’ meeting on Friday) was thought to be due to the many options they had to choose from.

Things were promising as the team gave some inspired performances in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last month, finishing as runners-up to Australia.

Surprisingly, the team put up a disjointed and uninspiring show here in Kuantan. They were beaten in both their Group B matches.

Malaysia lost 2-3 to France on Saturday and then 1-3 to South Korea on Sunday. They have one final group match on Tuesday against Canada. A defeat or draw means they will be playing top seeds New Zealand in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

So, what has gone wrong?

National coach K. Dharmaraj on Monday refuted claims of infighting in the team.

“We made some changes to our playing style and also tried out other tactical ideas. The players were unable to cope, resulting in poor performances.

“I disagree completely that there are divisions and unhappiness in the team. I have heard the rumours after our second defeat on Sunday. It is not true,” said Dharmaraj.

He also dismissed claims that the management favoured the juniors instead of the seniors for the Champions Challenge I.

“The selection was based on merit and I have turned to players whom I felt could get the job done. It is not about favouring any one party (in this case the juniors).

“I am sure when a player is dropped they will be disappointed, but that is normal. We had a tough time making the selection and that should tell us that we have good material to pick from,” he added.

On the match against Canada, Dharmaraj said they would go all out for a win.

“Having said that, our fate depends on tomorrow’s first match between South Korea and France. If it is a draw, then we will finish last in the group and play New Zealand. It is the same if France win. But should South Korea win by a big margin, then we need to beat Canada to ensure we finish third in the group.

“It is all mathematical at the moment. The only good thing is that we go into our match knowing what is at stake. We also need to find the right winning combination again,” he added.

The Star of Malaysia

Canada no easy opponents in Champions Challenge

By S. Ramaguru

KUANTAN: Ranked 16th in the world, not much was expected of the Canadians at the Champions Challenge I, but they have proven critics wrong so far.

A draw with South Korea (3-3) and a win over France (3-2) has put them in second position in Group B, with South Korea in the lead on goal difference.

Canada play Malaysia on Tuesday and they know winning the tie will set them on an easier path in the quarter-finals.

The Canadians are returning to Malaysia for the second time in a month, following their participation in March’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

The team secured a fourth-placed finish there, their best on record.

In the Ipoh tournament, they lost to fellow Group B rivals South Korea (3-0) and Malaysia (3-1). This time, Canada are much better prepared and seem determined to be taken seriously.

They are bent on improving their performance in the Champions Challenge I. In their last outing in 2012 in Quilmes, Argentina, they finished sixth.

Team coach Anthony Farry said that playing Malaysia is tough as they always have a strong line-up.

“Here in Kuantan they have the home crowd behind them and we are not used to playing under such conditions, not to mention the humidity.

“But we have started off well and the players are responding well to our style. The draw against the South Koreans is noteworthy, as we came back from a 3-1 score line.

“So we do fancy our chances against Malaysia tomorrow,” he said.

The Canadians have brought pretty much the same squad that played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, with three changes. The three players who came into the team are Richard Hildreth, David Jameson (both 29 years old) and 24-year-old John Smythe, who has just four caps thus far.

The squad selected by head coach Farry contain three players named in the 2013 Pan American Elite Team. They are defender Scott Tupper and strikers Matthew Guest and Mark Pearson.

This is not an inexperienced team, either. Skipper Tupper has 177 caps while Pearson came into the tournament with 144 caps. Three others have more than 100 caps – Philip Wright (132), Hildreth (112) and Jameson (192).

Farry added that his side are thrilled to play Malaysia, despite the home crowd and humid weather.

“The game tomorrow will be tough as Malaysia are looking to win their first match. We have to stay focused and play our normal game.

“The conditions will be a bit better, considering it is a night match,” he added.

The Star of Malaysia

Poland use rest day to hold a hockey clinic at a local school

More than 80 kids enjoy meeting Polish hockey stars

The students enjoyed their clinic with the Polish team. (Photo: FIH / Polish Hockey Association)

The Polish team used today’s rest day to conduct a hockey clinic for more than 80 kids from the Pahang region in Malaysia. After finishing their morning training session, the Polish team went to a local school where they spent an hour teaching a group of talented young Malaysian hockey players.

The clinic started with an intense warm-up programme which was prepared by the team's physical education coach. The session included fun games as well exercises to improve strength such as push-ups or squats.

Afterwards the kids were divided into smaller groups. These groups all competed against each other in a six-station circuit. Each station was made up to improve a certain skill such as goal scoring, dribbling, defending, passing, one-on-ones and tip-ins. The effort paid off as the students were eager to learn and enthusiastic throughout the session.

The whole group enjoyed themselves and kept on asking for even more entertainment. The students made friends with the Polish team members and promised to support Poland in all their upcoming matches at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.

FIH site

Belgium and Argentina play off for top spot in Four Nations

Scotland's home support to act as 12th man in encounter with England

Belgium and England at the Four Nations (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Belgium and Argentina will play off for first and second place in the Glasgow Four Nations, while England will face the home nation Scotland, as well as a large and passionate crowd, in the third/fourth play-off.

The matches have thrown up some interesting results, with Argentina thrashing Scotland 5-2 but losing to Belgium, while England will count themselves unlucky not to be playing for first and second spot after a high quality, but ultimately losing, performance against Belgium.

All the sides will have things to be pleased with: Carlos Retegui will be happy that his side have worked hard to overcome slow starts to their matches, while Scotland put together some excellent first-half performances only to fall short in the second half of their matches. Belgium coach Mark Lammers said that, while he was pleased to get his team together after the players had been involved in club hockey through the Euro Hockey League, he was also aware that the players were tired and would be needing a break after the tournament ended.

With the three teams of Argentina, Belgium and England all preparing for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, and Scotland and England also getting ready for the Commonwealth Games, this tournament was seen by all coaches as a great opportunity to try out players and systems.

FIH site

Pelliet double gives Argentina success over Scotland

Scotland's Kenny Bain fights for possession during today's game against Argentina. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland Senior Men suffered a third defeat in the Men’s 4 Nations hockey competition in Glasgow, losing 5-2 to world number 10 Argentina this morning.

A Gonzalo Peillet double, plus goals from Lucas Vila, Matias Paredes and Fancundo Callioni gave the Argentinians a comfortable victory. The home side’s two goals came from Kenny Bain and Daniel Coultas penalty corner efforts.

Dissecting his team’s performance Scotland Senior Men Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “There were some things that went well during today’s game, but equally there were some aspects that weren’t so good. When things don’t go well for you, you get punished and when they did go well for us, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities.

“Despite the results, it’s been a fantastic tournament that we may have liked to have slightly further down the line in our programme. But because of selection dates for the Commonwealth Games it wasn’t going to be possible. I’d like to have had more preparation time with the players.”

Scotland striker Alan Forsyth takes evasive action. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

It was Argentina who had all the early pressure, Facundo Callioni flashing a fierce drive just wide of Scotland goalkeeper Gavin Sommerville’s left hand upright. Two minutes later, the Western Wildcats shot-stopper was called into action once more, making a fine save to deny Juan Agulleiro’s snapshot, before blocking Manual Brunet’s effort shortly after.

Scotland began to impose their presence on proceedings as the first half progressed, Kenny Bain’s reverse stick shot producing a fine save from Argentinian goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi in the 13th minute, before Daniel Coultas’ penalty corner drag-flick was stopped a minute later.

Bain was thwarted once again by Vivaldi in the 16th minute, the ‘keeper diving low to his right to prevent the Hurley striker’s attempt registering the game’s opening goal.

Sommerville was called back into action at the other end of the pitch, Lucas Rey’s reverse stick strike was kicked to safety in the 20th minute before the Scot made a fantastic double save from Gonzalo Pelliet two minutes later.

Argentina captain Lucas Rey tussles with Scotland's Chris Grassick. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Despite the visitors having the majority of the possession throughout the half, it was Scotland who finally broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. Ian Moodie won a penalty corner and Bain’s drag-flick had enough power to beat Vivaldi’s attempted block and roll across the line.

The lead did not last long however, Pelliet evening up the score with a penalty corner to make it 1-1 in the 31st minute.

The Scots were then on the receiving end of a sucker-punch right on half-time, the home defence leaving Lucas Vila in too much space inside the circle and the Argentine attacker flicked in from close range to take a precious 2-1 lead into the break.

It was 3-1 three minutes into the second half, Matias Peredes stealing in from the right flank to fire the ball past Sommerville with a reverse stick.

Scotland's David Forstyh clashes sticks with Lucas Vila of Argentina. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Argentina’s fourth goal came in the 56th minute, Peillet claiming his second of the contest from a penalty corner drag-flick that flew in off Alan Forsyth’s stick despite the forward’s valiant attempt to stop the ball.

Nick Parkes twice came close to giving Scotland hope, the midfielder just missing out on Ian Scholefield’s excellent cross, before pranging the post with a sharp turn and hit, while Alan Forsyth was denied in front of goal by Vivaldi after good work on the right from Bain and Ian Moodie.

Scotland were finally rewarded for their attacking efforts six minute from full-time, Coultas getting on the score-sheet from a penalty corner.

However, it was Argentina had the final say though, a lofted pass from Rey bypassing the entire Scottish midfield and defence to find Callioni in space, who beat Sommerville with a sumptuous strike into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

Scotland will now play England in the 3rd/4th place play-off tomorrow after Belgium inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Bobby Crutchley’s side in the second match of the day. Captain Felix Denayer and Cedric Charlier got the Belgian goals, with Phil Roper England’s scorer. Belgium meet Argentina to determine the tournament winner.

Belgium's Cedric Charlier reels away in delight after scoring the winner against England. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland Senior Men: Gavin Sommerville (Western Wildcats), 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), David Forsyth (Qui Vive), Nick Parkes (Surbiton), Gavin Byers (Sheffield), Gary Cameron (Grange)

Men’s 4 Nations Results, Glasgow National Hockey Centre, Scotland

Scotland (Kenny Bain 27', Daniel Coultas 64') 2-5 Argentina (Gonzalo Peillet 31' 56', Lucas Vila 35', Matias Paredes 38', Facundo Callioni 65')

Belgium (Felix Denayer 34', Cedric Charlier 64’) 2-1 England (Roper 60’)

Men’s 4 Nations Standings:

BEL P3 W3 D0 L0 GF8 GA5 GD +2 Pts 9
ARG P3 W1 D1 L1 GF8 GA6 GD +2 Pts 4
ENG P3 W1 D1 L1 GF6 GA5 GD +1 Pts 4
SCO P3 W0 D0 L3 GF6 GA12 GD -6 Pts 0

Play-Off Fixtures:

Tuesday 29 April

09.00 Belgium v Argentina (1st/2nd)
11.00 England v Scotland (3rd/4th)

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Phil Roper first can't make difference for sorry England hockey team

ENGLAND missed the final of the Four Nations tournament in Glasgow on goal difference after losing 2-1 to Belgium yesterday.

By Graham Wilson

Phil Roper scored his first goal for England[PA ARCHIVE]

Wimbledon’s Phil Roper scored his first England goal on the hour to cancel out a Felix Denayer shot following a penalty corner just before half-time.

The game could then have gone either way but England lost Michael Hoare to the sin-bin for a yellow-card offence.

Belgium took advantage with five minutes remaining, when Cedric Charlier scrambled the ball home in front of goal.

England play for third place against Scotland today, with unbeaten Belgium taking on Argentina.

Ashleigh Ball scored two goals in England women’s 6-1 win against Canada at Bisham Abbey.

Surbiton had double reason to celebrate after following up their league title with a 7-1 win over Hampstead & Westminster in the Investec Cup.

Daily Express

England beat Canada in first of two match series

Ashleigh Ball scored twice against Canada in the first of a two match series - credit Ady Kerry

Today England women took a convincing 6-1 win over Canada in the first of two capped matches played at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.

Buckingham’s Zoe Shipperley makes her England debut and Ashleigh Ball scores twice in a dominant England display.

As part of their Commonwealth Games preparations Canada are spending a week at England Hockey’s headquarters - Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. England will face the world number 23 side four times over the course of the week, with two capped international matches and two training games* as preparations for the World Cup start to build.

After securing promotion into the Investec Premier Division with her club side, Buckingham’s Zoe Shipperley made April a month to remember as she made her England international debut.

The sides pushed back at 11am this morning as the first capped game got underway and bar a slightly shaky start for Jason Lee’s team, the result went with the form-book as England secured a convincing 6-1 victory over the visitors.

Speaking after the game, England Head Coach Jason Lee said, “It was good to build on some patterns of play we’ve been working on in training and to put those patterns into match play. Even more pleasing was to see those approaches successfully converted into goals. There was a strong intensity to a lot of our play today and it gives us a good platform to build on for the rest of the week.”

Canada’s Captain Kate Gillis got her side off to a dream start as she scored in the sixth minute with a tap in at the far post after a cross was fired in from the left hand side.

Despite being a goal down England held their nerve and it wasn’t long before they started to dominate. Four more goals followed in the first half, all from England, with Ashleigh Ball registering a brace, Susannah Townsend deflecting in from an Alex Danson effort and Sophie Bray finding the target just before the break.

Canada held England off for the opening period in the second half, but eventually Lee’s side found a way through with Susie Gilbert and Hollie Webb both adding to the final score-line to make it 6-1.

England’s next capped game against Canada will take place on Wednesday or Thursday this week and is subject to squad availability.

Ashleigh Ball 13, 23 (PC, FG)
Susannah Townsend 18 (FG)
Sophie Bray 33 (FG)
Susie Gilbert 50 (FG)
Hollie Webb 63 (PC)

CANADA 1 (1)
Kate Gillis 6 (FG)

* Training matches are unofficial games which are not capped – the games provide an opportunity for performance teams to significantly alter their approach to a match if they wish to. For example this could be naming more than 18 players in the squad, altering the length of the match and trying out different tactics/approaches etc. The International Hockey Federation does not recognise these matches and no report or press release will be issued.

England Hockey Board Media release

Pakistan will defend Asian Games title, claims PHF chief

Mohammad Yaqoob

The decision to participate in the Asian Games has been taken after considerable delay by the PHF. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com

LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Akhtar Rasool on Monday vowed that national team would take part in this year’s Asian Games.

Talking to Dawn, the former Olympian said: “At this moment, I can say we will go to defend our title at the Asian Games.”

The team’s participation at the Games, scheduled to be held in the South Korean city of Incheon in September-October, is in doubt after no official of the PHF attended the meeting of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) on Saturday which finalised the Pakistan contingent for the Games.

PHF’s absence raised doubts whether it is interested in sending the team with the POA having set the deadline of Saturday, April 26 to finalise the contingent.

The PHF is set to hold trials to select the squad for the Asiad and Dawn has learnt that the POA could seek an extension to finalise the team from the organisers.

The decision to participate in the Asian Games has been taken after considerable delay by the PHF.

Despite having received the green light from the Inter-provincial ministry last Friday to take part in the event, the federation did not attend the meeting of the Arif Hasan-led POA to finalise the Pakistan contingent.

Arif, when contacted on Monday, told Dawn that he hadn’t “received any call from the PHF” while adding the deadline for submitting the final contingent was April 30 and “after that it would be difficult to get it”.

The ministry had also delayed the permission as it took a u-turn from its earlier policy of not recognising the Arif-led body for two years. Instead, against the instruction of the International Olympic Association (IOC), it had formed a parallel POA body headed by Akram Sahi.

The ministry, though, has now not only allowed the PHF and other national federations to contact Arif’s IOC-recognised POA for participation in the Asian Games but has also warned Akram’s body in a letter not to hold any meeting at the POA’s Olympic House.

However, Akram’s body held a meeting on Saturday also having the agenda of finalising the Asian Games contingent.

Khwaja Farooq Saeed, the secretary of that group, however denied having received any such letter from the ministry despite Dawn having obtained a copy of that letter.

The ministry had earlier helped Akram’s group get hold of the Olympic House in Lahore from Arif’s body besides having also seized the bank accounts of the original POA, which are still non-operational.

The IOC has also warned the government of Pakistan of giving back the Olympic House and releasing the accounts of its recognised POA whilst also deciding to ban Pakistan in July for government interference in the local Olympic body.

But with the ministry having changed their stance, Pakistan could avoid the ban and a decision in that regard will be taken when the ministry, Arif Hasan and IOC’s representative in Pakistan hold a meeting in Lausanne on May 21.

In another development, a private television channel quoted inter-provincial minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Monday that the government would follow the IOC Charter and it would also recognise Arif’s POA.

Pirzada had earlier said after a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Sports earlier this month that if he had the power, he would have “handcuffed Arif Hasan” while having also underestimated the IOC warning about the ban, claiming “it could not last more than six months”.


Hockey trials conclude

LAHORE: Two-day open trials to select talented players from the Punjab province concluded at the Johar Hockey Stadium, Johar Town here on Monday.

The trials, which began at the National Hockey Stadium on Sunday, were conducted by the Islahuddin Siddiqi-led national selection committee with Arshad Ali Chaudhry, Ayaz Mahmood, Khalid Bashir and Musaddiq Hussain as the committee members.

National team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh also witnessed the trials.

According to the PHF, 160 probables appeared in the two-day trials.

In the next phase, trials will be held at Lala Ayub Stadium in Peshawar on Tuesday.

The trials were also held at Quetta, Karachi and Bahawalpur centres.


Akhtar gives free hand to Shahnaz, Islah in bid to rebuild hockey

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool Monday said he had given unconditional powers to head coach Shahnaz Shaikh and chief selector Islahuddin and had told them to select team on merit and there would be absolutely no interference from the federation.

In an interview with The Nation on Monday Akhtar said: “I assured head coach to bring the list of the selected players and I will approve the list blindly. I am grateful to former greats, who trusted in my abilities and lend unconditional support to the PHF. They had strong reservations with the previous PHF regime and their backing is of great significance not only for the federation and players but also for the entire nation, andit is a very positive and clear indication that we are moving in the right direction.”

He said for the first time in the history of Pakistan Hockey he had put the entire accounts position on website to keep a fair check and balance and bring complete transparency in utilization of funds and keep the records straight. Everyone should feel free and check accounts position as this is taxpayers’ money and masses must be aware about actual position of funds and expenditures, he added.

When this correspondent asks Akhtar how much time federation require to put Pakistan hockey back on right track he replied: “I can't commit exact timing right now as we have hardly taken over the reins of the federation. But my steps would prove that I had put hockey on right track. I had talked with Islah and Shahnaz. They both think it would take three to four years to revive fortunes of Pakistan hockey. It is my promise we would continue to generate activities one after another.”

He said the PHF we would organise school, college and domestic level competitions. “Hockey is changing fast. We learn with each passing day. To come up with terms with other nations we have to take extra-ordinary measures and steps. We had even given chance during the recently concluded trials to those players who were not even considered by their respective departments. We manage to detect immense amount of talent, which would be in beneficial to the team and country in the coming months and years.”

“We would start training camp for Asian Games title defense at Naseer Bunda Stadium from May 3. The camp would continue for four to five weeks. Then we will give 15 days break for conducting national championship and the camp would resume at Abbottabad, then we would embark on international tour.”

He said to execute their plans federation needs sufficient amount funds and secretary Inter Provincial Coordination Ch Ejaz had not only appreciated their plans but also endorsed them to other federations. “I would submit detailed report about planned events during the current year to IPC secretary in a day or two. IPC secretary would take up the report with Prime Minister. I am quite hopeful a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would take place in a week or two and as a sportsman, sports lover and patron in chief of PHF, the PM will help federation in best possible way.”

He said he was also trying to woo private sector to patronize the federation. “I had also written letters to corporate sector, MD Bahria Town Malik Riaz, Mian Mansah of MCB, banks and other high profile institutes to lend a helping hand to federation.

I am quite hopeful Nadra will soon renew the contract with the PHF. We had set lot of goals, but we need maximum funds for materialising our dreams and within the due time Pakistan would start giving the satisfactory results like past.”

The Nation

Former Olympians have come in to occupy PHF, alleges Bajwa

Mohammad Yaqoob

LAHORE: In a hard-hitting statement, former secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Asif Bajwa on Monday hurled serious allegations against the former Olympians who joined the federation recently, claiming their target was to occupy the federation and not the betterment of the national game.

“[Earlier] I was happy when these former Olympians joined the PHF because I thought it was a good sign for our hockey, but when facts were revealed to me it disappointed me because it was all result of a conspiracy hatched in order to occupy the PHF after entering its fold, instead of criticising from outside,” Bajwa told media at a hurriedly called news conference here on Monday.

“I will advise PHF president Akhtar Rasool and secretary Rana Mujahid to remain alert because these Olympians unfortunately possess a history of stabbing in the back,” Bajwa said in a serious tone.

Recently, Shahnaz Sheikh (head coach), Islahuddin Siddiqi (chief selector), Ayaz Mahmood (selector) , Akhtar-ul-Islam (executive board member), Shahbaz Senior and others joined the PHF, ending their four-year long opposition against the set-up first headed by Qasim Zia and now by Akhtar Rasool.

Without mentioning the names of any Olympians, Bajwa claimed that three among them, whom he said were defaulters, two were part of the Pakistan Hockey Federation executive board while one was out of the federation.

“According to the audit objections raised by the Auditor General of Pakistan in the PHF accounts, these three are to pay back money to the PHF, which they withdrew under different heads,” Bajwa stated.

Bajwa also questioned how Islahuddin (chief selector) and Shahnaz Sheikh (head coach) were made eligible to be part of the PHF executive board.

“Since the PHF executive board is to hold head coach and chief selector accountable for the team’s show in competitions, how both [Shahnaz and Islahuddin] in their current capacity will hold themselves accountable,” he wondered.

“Taking control of three seats in the executive board gives a clear message that they want to occupy the entire Pakistan Hockey Federation,” he reckoned.

Highlighting that chief selector Islahuddin received funds amounting to Rs20 million from the government recently for his own academy, Bajwa insisted Islahuddin should also be held responsible for giving the account of where those funds were utilised.

In December, he alleged, all three would try to get the owed money waived off.

“When I was Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary these Olympians were criticising Rana Mujahid [current PHF secretary] for holding several positions in the federation. However, now they [Shahnaz and Islahuddin] themselves are occupying two posts,” Bajwa underlined, adding the old Olympians had no plan for betterment of the game.

“I would like to remind the nation and media that currently, Pakistan, by winning the 2010 Asian Games and the 2013 Asian Champions Trophy, is regarded number one in Asia. Besides we also seized bronze medal in the 2012 Champions Trophy.

“These three events are scheduled to be held by December this year. And I challenge the current PHF management that national team will not be able to repeat their performance. If they retain [all the three] positions, I will publicly ask for apology from them, otherwise they will have to seek apology from public,” Bajwa asserted.

In this regard, Bajwa said, he would again address a press conference in December this year.

Commenting on the appointment of national coaches, Bajwa regretted that Pakistan Hockey Federation’s modern coaches, like Tahir Zaman and others, had been sidelined and the reins of national game had been given to these old coaches who he feared would take Pakistan hockey to ‘stone age’.

“Tahir is one of the best modern coaches the country has presently. But surprisingly he is associated neither with the national senior team nor with the junior outfit,” he bemoaned.

As soon as the Pakistan Hockey Federation received funds, Bajwa claimed, these Olympians (Shahnaz and Islahuddin) would demand the Pakistan Hockey Federation to pay them remuneration .

Ironically, Bajwa recalled, they in the past had been relentlessly criticising his policy of having paid coaches.

Responding to a query regarding chief selector Islahuddin’s reported statement in which he said he needed three, four years to raise a formidable team, Bajwa said he was just demanding him the national squad clinch Asian level titles, and nothing more.

“At least they have got the team which won the Asian Games, Asian Champions Trophy crowns and bronze medal in the [world] Champions Trophy and so [considering these achievements] the team should at least defend these titles [by coming December],” Bajwa concluded.


Wapda, NBP record wins in Nishan-i-Haider hockey

LAHORE: Wapda and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) recorded identical 4-2 victories as two more matches were decided in the Ninth Nishan-i-Haider Hockey Tournament in Bahawalpur on Monday.

Two goals each by Umar Bhuta and Zubair Riaz helped Wapda prevail over PIA while Sibtain Raza’s double helped NBP chalk out victory against Army Reds.

Umar’s 23rd-minute goal cancelled out Inayatullah’s opener for PIA in the 17th minute before Zubair scored twice in the 47th and the 63rd to put Wapda 3-1 up.

Mohammad Irfan gave PIA some hope when he reduced Wapda’s lead three minutes later but Umar sealed the result with his second a minute from time.

Sibtain’s brace in the space of four first-half minutes put NBP 2-0 up by the 20th minute and although Army Reds’ Mohammad Safeer reduced the deficit a minute later, Akbar Ali added the bankers’ third in the 43rd.

Abdul Jabbar pulled one back in the 50th but Ayub Ali’s goal two minutes before the hour mark clinched it for NBP.

Meanwhile, the teams and officials observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to renowned hockey commentator S. M. Naqi, who passed away in Karachi after a prolonged illness.

Also, former Olympian Samiullah Khan surprised everyone by appearing as chief guest of the day at the Mutiullah Hockey Stadium despite being against the current PHF hierarchy of Akhtar Rasool.

He said that the participation of Olympians and Internationals in such tournaments not only showed their interest for the game but aspiring youngsters also learned a lot from them.

“I am delighted to see all national players playing in the tournament,” Samiullah, who does not accept the elections of the PHF under which Akhtar and Rana Mujahid were elected as president and secretary in December last year, said.

“Their participation in the tournament has enhanced its standard and popularity and they have provided an opportunity for the youngsters of my city to learn hockey ethics and skill from them.”


Leinster's Over 40s men spoil Ulster's clean sweep at the Masters' Interpros

by Helen Johnston

Leinster's Over 40s men spoilt Ulster's clean sweep at the Master's Interpros which took place in Garryduff, Cork at the weekend.  Ulster won 4 of the 5 competitions, with Leinster winning the men's Over 40s section.  This Leinster team won three of their four matches, finishing with a 7-1 win over Ulster.  Their only loss was to Munster, losing 2-1 on the Saturday afternoon.  Dougie Good was the top scorer with 4 goals, with Paul Fitzpatrick (3), David Wilson (2) and Paul O'Brien (1) also getting on the score sheet.

In a weekend of 4 seasons - cold torrential rain and strong winds on Friday evening and Saturday morning to bright sunshine on Sunday afternoon - Ulster won the other 4 competitions.  Leinster did not compete in the Men's O45s which was won by Ulster, with Paul Johnston the main source of goals, netting 4.  This was the only section in which the ExPats and Connacht men competed, with Connacht finishing 2nd.  Munster were 3rd with the ExPats 4th.

In a close competition at Men's O50s, Ulster emerged as winners with 11 points to Leinster's 8 points, with Munster 3rd.  It was all square coming into the last game between Ulster and Leinster in which Leinster took a 2 goal lead, with goals from David Adams and Nigel Kingston.  Ulster, however, made a strong comeback scoring 3 goals, from Willie Cooper (2) and Malcolm McWhirter, to win the game and the O50s section.

In two closely fought women's competitions Ulster emerged as winners.  At O40s level Ulster initially drew with Leinster and narrowly beat Connacht 3-2, scoring the winning goal on the final hooter.  Connacht beat Ulster in the return game on the Sunday morning so that the competition decider came down to the final Ulster v Leinster match on the Sunday afternoon which Ulster won 2-0.  Ex international Janette Gordon (nee Turner) was instrumental for Ulster, while ex-international goalkeeper, Tara Browne, along with defender Emma Glanville were key players for Connacht.  Hazel Agar and Ashling Schutte showed well for Leinster.

At O45s level the competition was similarly close, with Ulster winning this section in the last game with a 4-0 win against Leinster.  Earlier they had beaten Leinster 2-0 but had 2 draws against Munster.  Leinster also had 2 draws against Munster.  Ulster had an impressive forward line of Carolyn Burns, Julie Doak and Claire Bell, while Cathy Walsh and Kathy Shaw impressed for Munster up front.  Sinead Guilfoyle in goals and midfielders Linda Jenkinson and Annie Lawlor were the stand out performers for Leinster.

The Masters Interprovincials serve as good preparation for the Masters World Cup taking place in Rotterdam, Holland from 5th to 13th June.  Ireland will be sending two women's teams at O40s and O50s level and two men's teams at O40s and O45s level, with possibly also an O50s team.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Rampant Telkom run over poor Strathmore to retain Vaisakhi Cup

By Ayumba Ayodi

Margaret Rotich (left) of Telkom Orange vies for the ball with Strathmore University’s Angela Nayala  in women’s final of Vaisakhi hockey tournament at City Park Stadium on Sunday. Telkom won 7-0. Below: Telkom’s Terry Masibo (right) shields the ball from Strathmore’s Winnie Ingati. Tanzania’s Moshi won men’s title. PHOTO/CHRIS OMOLLO

Veteran Hellen Chemtai and Margaret Rotich sunk a brace each to see off Telkom Orange to a great start to their season, crushing Strathmore 7-0 and retain the Vaisakhi hockey title at the City Park Stadium.

In the men’s final, Poliando Timano enjoyed a seven-minute moment of great display, claiming a double as Moshi from Tanzania edged out Ghana’s Customs 3-1 to lift the trophy.

Former international sprinter Chemtai  tapped home in the second minute after a great display, then Jackline Mwangi Jow scored with a telling flip in the sixth minute before Chemtai completed her double three minutes later.

Orange, who won an unrivalled 16th consecutive national league title a fortnight ago, were dominant against the varsity students who finished runner-up in the league. Strathmore conceded a goal with every ball that Orange played to the circle.

The Strathmore side was completely a different side that lost to Orange 1-2 during the Africa Clubs Championships final in Kampala three months ago. Strathmore halted Orange’s unbeaten run in the league last season, winning 1-0 even although Orange retained the title.

One of Kenya’s astute mid-fielders, Audrey Omaido, added to Orange’s tally with their fourth goal in the 19th minute before Rotich went for her first of his brace in the 32nd minute. Orange led 5-0 to the drinks.

The relentless Orange were on the hunt again with substitute Flavian Mutira making it 6-0 in the 40th minute before Rotich wrapped it for the Africa Clubs champions.

Orange coach Jos Openda said: “They (Strathmore) simply not a side that we met previously but it’s a good start to the season.

Openda said last season’s league stretched for a long time and Vaisakhi came earlier. “The girls simply didn’t play well. It was just another awful day in the office,” said Strathmore coach Meshak Senge.

Timana rocked Customs net in the second minute of men’s final before completing his brace in the eighth minute. Parsada Hari then beyond reach in the 40th minute.

Efforts by Mike Botange to draw the Ghanaians back into the match with a sterling goal on the 44th minute fell short for the Western Africa side.

Daily Nation

Meet the team... Spain are ready for the big stage

Forget fiestas and siestas, Spain are aiming to set the Rabaobank Hockey World Cup alight

Spain, the land of flamenco and fiesta, is also the team that many sides fear when it comes to major hockey tournaments. They play with style and flair and, with many of the team currently playing in the Dutch domestic league, the Spanish team has taken on board some northern European influence, which will add another dimension to their game.

Currently ranked 7th in the world, Spain has participated at every World Cup since the tournament began. They won silver in the first World Cup in 1971 and took silver again in 1998. A bronze medal in 2006 is the best result that captain Ramon Alegre and his team has managed of late in the World Cup, but silver in the 2011 Champions Trophy will have given Spain confidence that they can perform on the big stage.

FIH site

Spain's long-serving captain is is still going strong

Can Ramon lead Spain to a first World Cup title?

Ramon Alegre is one of the stalwarts of the Spanish side. He has played for the national team since 2004 and plays his domestic hockey in the Dutch league with SV Kampong. The 33-year-old has a wealth of experience at the highest level – he has played in three Olympic Games, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he was part of the silver-medal winning squad.

Spain will be in the same pool as England and Belgium at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, and when coaches from these teams talk about the threat posed by Spain, talk will always return to the experience and quality of Ramon Alegre. "When you play Spain, you always know you are going to face a team of real quality," says Belgium coach Mark Lammers. And England coach Bobby Crutchley agrees: "We have our most competitive games against Spain. They have not been on the international scene so much recently, but with players like Alegre, you always know they will be a good opposition."

Hockey runs in Ramon's family. His younger brother David has also played in past three Olympics, although he has continued to play his club hockey in Spain, as part of the Racing Club de Polo in Barcelona.

Both Ramon and David took part in the both the inaugural Hockey India League in 2013 and this year's version. Ramon played for the team that eventually finished sixth – Kalinga Lancers and David for the Uttar Pradesh Wizards who came third.

FIH site

Spooky Nook provides world class home to USA Field Hockey

From pretzels to pitch development, new home for hockey fulfills giant sport ambitions

USA Field Hockey has a new home that is genuinely world class and fulfills its developer's vision as a place where people who are passionate about hockey can gather. So impressed was FIH President Leandro Negre on a recent visit that he declared it was a place where he could "stay and never leave."

Leandro and FIH Chief Executive Officer Kelly Fairweather visited the new multi sport complex Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, PA, USA which also serves as the USA Field Hockey Home of Hockey. The complex is a 50-acre facility with multiple outside turfs and fields plus a 14-acre indoor sport venue building. Key to the development was the inclusion of an Olympic sport and hockey is a major sport in the north wast of the USA.

The developer, Sam Beiler, was formerly the owner of a highly successful pretzel company, and it was a combination of his business acumen and passion for sport that drove the project forward so it was completed in just two years.

During a visit to the facility, Leandro said: "This magnificent facility defies description. It is massive and meets the mantra Sam used as a mission statement. He wanted to create a one stop shop for people passionate about sport. There are first class sport venues of every type imaginable, restaurants, there will soon be a hotel on the complex, and top shelf customer service. Everything about The Nook is world class."

Kelly was also visibly impressed: "Not only are the venues top of the line, but the services are unlike any other venue I have visited. There is sports science with expert scientists; there is a prestigious orthopedic group on campus providing immediate sports medicine service; there is a chef on staff proving truly healthy nutritional choices; there are beautiful locker room facilities for the home team and up to three visiting teams; and there are two water based turfs..side by side...and one under a dome. I have never seen such a wonderful sports facility. I congratulate Sam for his vision, and look forward to USA Field Hockey's provision of this new home for significant international events as we move toward Rio."

USFHA media release

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