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News 02 May 2014

All the news for Friday 2 May 2014

Top seeds are eliminated at CC1 quarter-final stage

Ireland and Malaysia are triumphant, but Korea women and Black Sticks men suffer shock defeats

(Photo: Gasing image)

The Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan and the Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow threw up some surprise results, and no nation will be celebrating hockey more wildly than Ireland tonight, after both the men's and the women's team beat opposition who were ranked higher in the world rankings and booked their places in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Host nation Malaysia were the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1. Fitri Saari emerged as the hero when his Speedy Tigers defeated the Black Sticks 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out. New Zealand, who entered this quarter-final as the unbeaten pool A winners, found themselves trailing 4-1. However, they were able to bounce back and a goal scored in the final minute forced the ambitious Malaysian side into a shoot-out competition, with Saari scoring the winning goal.

Ireland faced European rivals France, and this closely-contested match went to shoot-out after the match finished in regulation time at 2-2. Hero for the Green Machine was goalkeeper David Harte who kept his team in the game and then kept a clean sheet in Ireland's 3-0 victory in the shoot-out.

Things got physical in the match between Canada and Poland, with two players receiving red cards with just one minute left on the clock. The tense match finished 3-2 in Canada's favour after a goalless first quarter burst into life for the next three quarters. Poland were in the ascendancy until the final quarter, but Canada found the winning goal in the 60th minute, before seeing out a tense final 10 minutes.

Korea remain unbeaten after they recorded a convincing 5-1 win over their rivals Japan. Korea were the dominant side throughout the match and ran out comfortable winners with Jang Jong Hyun scoring a hat-trick and Hyun Hye Sung and Nam Hyun adding to the total. Japan’s consolation goal was provided by Heita Yoshihara. 

Saturday's semi-finals will see Malaysia take on Canada, while Ireland will play the unbeaten Korea side. In the 5th-8th place matches New Zealand will play Poland and France will face Japan.

In Glasgow, Ireland women pulled off the shock result of the day when they defeated Korea 2-1 As the team that finished in last place in their pool, Ireland were not expected to win this encounter, but they started sharply, with Kathyrn Mullan scoring from a penalty corner in the third minute. Korea came back into the match when Hye Lyoung Han scored from a penalty corner, but with just over 10 minutes left on the clock Anna O'Flanagan made it 2-1.

The second quarter final was a battle of the 'Reds'. In this case the Spanish Red Sticks against Belgium Red Panthers. Spain eventually won 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the match finished 1-1 in regulation time. As expected, this was a close game. There were goals at both ends of the first half, Spain took the lead in the 6th minute when captain Rocio Ybarra scored from a penalty corner, and Belgium hit back through Alix Gerniers (31') from a lovely piece of passing play that left the Spaniards causing shadows.

In the shoot-out, both teams showed a lot of nerves, and the keepers were able to force errors so that at the end of the first five attempts on goal the score stood at 2-2. In sudden death, it was Spain's Alicia Magez who scored the winning goal.

A performance of grit and determination in the face of a well-organised, spirited India team was how USA coach Craig Parnham summed up his team's performance in the last quarter final match. The USA won 1-0, through a goal by Rachel Dawson, but the performance was a far cry from the dominate displays they had shown earlier in the tournament. In comparison, India coach Neil Hawgood was delighted with the improvement shown by his side.

In the semi finals South Africa will face Ireland, while the USA will play Spain. The 5th-8th places will see Korea take on Scotland and Belgium against India.

FIH site

South Africa sprint out of the blocks and into the semi-finals

Scotland play catch-up but time was against host nation as they lost 2-1

South Africa win slot in quarter-finals (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

South Africa started both halves of their quarter-final match against Scotland in dominant fashion, leaving Scotland chasing the game. Shelley Russell opened South Africa's account within one minute of the start of the game, saying later that this had very much been the game plan. However, having made such a sparkling start, South Africa then appeared to lose their structure and much of the half was spent with Scotland creating attacks, particularly on the right-hand side of the pitch, with South Africa breaking down play, but not really starting any attacks of their own.

Scotland's Vikki Bunce and Alison Bell were particularly energetic in midfield, keeping the experienced duo of Tarryn Bright and Marsha Cox under constant pressure, and preventing them from controlling the centre of the pitch. Also having a fantastic game was goalkeeper Amy Gibson, who celebrated her 50th cap with an impressive performance in goal.

In the second half, South Africa again came out fast with Player of the Match Russell (38') scoring her second of the game. The match flowed across the pitch and both teams showed a fair measure of aggression as Scotland tried to work the ball into the South Africa circle and the team in yellow looked for a third goal.

While South Africa were the more clinical in their finishing, and players like Cox and Russell were able to show their class, there was very little between the two teams in the build-up play. Both sides were quick to put the ball carrier under pressure, but both teams also made some basic errors, particularly when it came to the final attacking moves.

With just seven minutes on the clock, Scotland stormed back into the came when captain Linda Clement (64') hit the bar and Emily McGuire reacted quickest to tap the ball over the line. Scotland piled on the pressure and South Africa started to let panic seep into their game. Fortunately for the team ranked 12th in the world, time was on their side and so they will face Ireland in the semi-finals, while Scotland face a match against Korea.

Speaking after the game, Russell said: "We spoke about the need to start well and that was our focus for this game. We are ecstatic about winning and can't wait for the semi-finals against Ireland."

FIH site

Pitch-side ponderings from South Africa's two-goal hero

Shelley Russell talks about her extended family and hopes for the Commonwealth Games

(Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Here is our daily pitch-side ponderings with Shelley Russell, two-goal hero for South Africa in their 2-0 victory over Scotland.

The South Africa side that started today looked a lot sharper than on other match days, why was that?

We said that we really had to focus on the way we started the match. In the previous games it took us a while to get going so we said we would go out all guns blazing. Our warm-up was much sharper and we just went from the whistle.

How is the spirit in the South Africa camp?

Well we are really ecstatic about today's result, but we are a really close bunch of players anyway. I know it sounds like a cliche, but we really are like a big family. This year we will be spending at least 50 days together so it is really important that we all get on with each other. We are lucky because we genuinely do all get on together.

You are going to be spending a lot of time in Glasgow with the Commonwealth's coming up. How do you like the city?

It's fantastic. Today is the first time it has really been cold, but even then it is a beautiful city. Our hotel is by the river Clyde and we go running there every day. I know we are really close to all the shops too, but we haven't had a chance to see them yet. I am really looking forwards to that though. Everyone has been really friendly to us here and we are really excited about coming back for the Commonwealth Games. I also think Glasgow is lucky for us. We won today, and I would like to think we can get a medal in the Commonwealths too. I'm being realistic about the World Cup – if we finished in the top six we would be ecstatic.

FIH site

Investec SA into Champs Challenge women’s hockey semi-finals


Celebrating Shelley Russell's second goal. Photo: RODRIGO JARAMILLO

Two goals from the outstanding Shelley Russell saw the Investec South Africa women's hockey team beat Scotland 2-1 after leading 1-0 at half-time in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge in Glasgow Thursday night .

Russell's brace came in the first and 38th minutes, while Scotland scored through Emily Maguire in the 64th minute.

SA will play Ireland, shock 2-1 winners over world number eight South Korea, in Saturday's semi-finals at 3pm SA time.

SA had far more opportunities to score than their opponents, several of them gilt-edged, blue chip chances that somehow got away.

The match could have been sewn up with 27 minutes left when two such golden opportunities somehow, some way, didn't go in. That would have made the score 4-0.

Russell and Lisa Deetlefs were outstanding, while Sulette Damons' energy was incredible.

The Investec SA team as a whole played with an impressive energy and urgency, and shaped to place the Scots under constant pressure; attacking even when without the ball, attacking their opponent by closing them down and hurrying them into mistakes.

If SA take the same confident approach into Saturday's semi-final against giant-killers Ireland, always difficult opponents for the girls in green and gold, there is no reason why they should not win well.

SA Hockey Association media release

Scots lose out to South Africa in Champions Challenge quarter-final

Scotland's Emily Maguire celebrates her late goal against South Africa Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland Senior Women missed out a semi-final place in the Women’s Champions Challenge after falling 2-1 to South Africa in tonight’s last eight encounter at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre.

Two goals from Shelley Russell was the difference between the two sides in the end, Emily Maguire scoring the Scots’ goal late on.

Scotland now progress to the Classification matches this weekend, meeting Korea on Saturday morning (09.00)

A disappointed Scotland Senior Women Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said, “We didn’t play for seventy minutes today, we got caught cold right at the start when they scored so that was a tough one to take. It gave South Africa huge confidence and the players got a bit nervous.

“We gave them a stern talk at half-time and in the second half they were much better than the level at which they had been playing, causing them some problems but not as many as we would have liked. The girls showed character in the second half and we’ve told them to take away the positives to build on for the rest of the summer so we can improve.

We know we can get better and we just need to show that level of consistency in the performances we deliver from now on.”

Scotland got off to the worst possible start, conceding the opening goal inside the first minute. Shelley Russell picked the ball up in midfield, subsequently driving into the circle to dispatch a low shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net to give South Africa an early 1-0 lead.

South Africa team celebrate the winning goal from Shelley Russell, centre. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Striker Ailsa Wyllie attempted to get the Scots back on level terms in the ninth minute, cutting in from the right flank into the circle but South African goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer was quickly out from her goal to smother the Grove Menzieshill star’s shot.

Ailsa Wyllie tests South Africa goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Nicki Skrastin was next in line to seek an equalising goal, but her shot on goal was miscued wide of the target after she had engineered a promising opening inside the circle.

South Africa were awarded a penalty corner in the 15th minute for an illegal tackle but Scotland goalkeeper Amy Gibson made light work of Lisa Marie Deetlefs’ attempt on goal.

An excellent break from Sulette Damons down the right flank ended in disappointment as her shot was rushed and skewed well wide of the Scottish goal, while Kathleen Taylor squandered a golden opportunity to extend her side’s lead shortly before the half-time break, thundering the ball past the right hand upright from close range.

The last action of a fairly nervous first half for both sides saw Deetlefs’ second penalty corner strike being saved by Gibson’s stick.

Striker Nikki Lloyd looks to get Scotland moving. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Having conceded inside the first minute of the first half, the Scots suffered a similar fate at the start of the second half, South Africa going 2-0 up in the 37th minute. Deetlefs struck a low drive towards goal from a penalty corner, with Russell intervening in the ball’s trajectory to deflect it past Gibson for her second goal of the game and silence the home crowd.

South Africa looked to put the game out of sight for the national side shortly after; Celia Evans narrowly missing out at the back post following Taylor’s drive across goal, and Damons squeezing the ball off the toe of her stick when the goal was at her mercy.

Scotland were awarded a penalty corner in the 52nd minute, defender Becky Merchant switching to Aileen Davis but the Clifton defender’s shot was easily dealt with by van Deventer.

Three minutes later, both Lilian du Plessis and Bernadette Coston was denied by a fantastic double save from Gibson.

Olympian Emily Maguire then breathed life into Scotland’s efforts to claw back their deficit, bundling home the home side’s first goal in the 64th minute after captain Linda Clement had crashed a Nikki Lloyd pass off the underside of the bar.

However, it was South Africa who closed out the contest at 2-1 and progressed to Saturday’s semi-finals.

Women’s FIH Champions Challenge I, Pool A Result, Glasgow National Hockey Centre, Scotland
Scotland (Emily Maguire 64') 1-2 South Africa (Shelley Russell 1', 37')

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

Spain win shoot-out after war of attrition ends in deadlock

In battle of the "reds", the Sticks beat the Panthers

Spain celebrating winning the quarter-final match against Belgium (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

In a war of attrition between two close European rivals, Spain were able to reverse their most recent result against Spain to book their place in the Champions Challenge 1 semi-finals with a 3-2 win in the penalty shoot-out. The full-time match ended 1-1.

The second quarter-final of the event in Glasgow saw Belgium, who finished second in pool A take on Spain, who took third place in pool B. The Red Sticks and the Red Panthers are evenly matched in many ways – Spain have a world ranking of 14, Belgium are ranked just two above at 12; both teams are full of young players and so are building for the future; and both teams desperately want to get into the Champions Trophy.

As expected, this was a close game. There were goals at both ends of the first half, Spain took the lead in the 6th minute when captain Rocio Ybarra scored from a penalty corner, and Belgium hit back through Alix Gerniers (31') from a lovely piece of passing play that left the Spaniards causing shadows.

The second half ebbed and flowed for both sides. Spain enjoyed a strong opening 10 minutes and they came close on many occasions, particularly through the surging runs of Beatriz Perez and Maira Gomez. To counter the danger, Belgium worked hard to get players behind the ball and put pressure on the ball carrier.

With just 15 minutes to go, this match turned into a war of attrition with both teams running hard to find that elusive goal. Belgium's cause wasn't helped when Alix Gerniers received a yellow card and left the Red Sticks with a player advantage. Both teams played furious hockey to the end, but the final score remained 1-1.

In the shoot-out, both teams showed a lot of nerves, and the keepers were able to force errors so that at the end of the first five attempts on goal the score stood at 2-2. In sudden death, it was Belgium's Alix Gerniers who was unable to get past Spain's 'keeper Maria Lopez de Eguilaz Zubiria.

The goal-scorers in the shoot-out were: Spain: Alicia Magaz 2, Lola Riera. Belgium: Anouk Raes, Alix Gerniers.

After the game a distraught Jill Boon said: "That was such a huge disappointment, we wanted to win this tournament. It is the perfect tournament to get good competitive experience; we have a very young squad and you can train as hard as you want, but you can't buy experience like this."

Adrian Locke was delighted with his team's performance. "The last time we played Belgium was in the Olympic qualifier, which we lost. And Belgium have overtaken us in the rankings, so this was a very good result."

FIH site

Ireland defy the odds to win place in semi-finals

Wall of green kept tournament favourites at bay

Ireland celebrate scoring against Korea (Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo)

Defying the odds and at times pulling off some near miraculous feats of defending, Ireland overcame pre-tournament favourites Korea 2-1 to earn a place in the semi-finals.

As the team that finished in last place in their pool, Ireland were not expected to win this encounter, but from the start the Ireland team played attacking, confident hockey that clearly surprised the Korea team. Ireland were the first to strike in the 3rd minute, when Kathyrn Mullan scored from a penalty corner. The rest of the first half was a case of attack and counter-attack, with Korea building patiently up the right-hand side of the pitch, and Ireland relying on solid defending and quick breaks. A series of penalty corners towards the end of the half yielded no joy for the team in red, with Emma Gray performing heroics in the Ireland goal.

Nicola Evans, who was one of Ireland's energetic midfielders, said: "At half-time we spoke about playing our game and building up play in phases. We knew that if we could suck up the pressure then we would be able to get behind the Korea defence with quick breaks. We had identified that this is where there were gaps to be exploited."

Standing up to the Korea pressure was definitely a feature of the second half. Korea came out with a renewed intensity and spent much of the half trying to break the Ireland defence down. Driven by their captain Jong Eun Kim in midfield, the Koreans piled the pressure on the Ireland circle and this paid off when Hye Lyoung Han (49) scored from a penalty corner.

With the game back on even terms the Koreans began to up the pace of their game, switching the ball quickly around the pitch and forcing the Irish team to work hard to regain possession. Three penalty corners for Ireland gained the initiative back for the team in green, and Anna O'Flanagan (57) was able to strike from the left and make it 2-1. This signalled a renewed attack from the Koreans and for the next five minutes Korea were camped in the Irish circle, with Gray called into action time and again.

"I think they ran out of ideas," added Evans, complimenting the defence for the battling display that helped propel Ireland into Saturday's semi-finals.

FIH site

Malaysia await Canada in semi-final with Ireland playing Korea

The top four are known at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1

Malaysia are celebrating with their fans in the Stadium Wisma Belia. (Photo: FIH)

The semi-finals of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan will see host nation Malaysia taking on Canada with Ireland facing Korea. In the 5-8 classification matches New Zealand will play Poland with France meeting Japan.

“We played Malaysia a lot in the past, so we know a lot about them”, says Canada coach Anthony Farry. “This will be a great opportunity for us to play in front of a big crowd.” Team-captain Scott Tupper agrees: “We are so excited to play Malaysia because of the crowd aspect.” 

Both teams have already met in pool B when Malaysia grabbed a 4-3 victory. In March, they also played each other at the Azlan Shah Cup with the host nation winning 3-1. This is the first time in history that Canada reach the top four in a Champions Challenge 1. Before, their best finish was a 6th place in Quilmes 2012.

Although the win over the Black Sticks gave his team a lot of confidence, Malaysia coach Muhammad Dhaarma Raj points out: “We know that we need to fight again to reach the final.” In Thursday’s quarter-finals the Speedy Tigers defeated top seeds New Zealand 3-2 in a penalty shootout. Canada won 3-2 against Poland.

The second semi-final will be played between Ireland and Korea. “We are looking forward to the match as we don’t play against Asian opponents very often. This will be a different style of playing we need to get used to”, says Irish captain John Jackson.

The Green Machine reached the top four thanks to a 3-0 shootout victory over European rivals France. Matchwinner was goalkeeper David Harte who kept a clean sheet in the one-on-one competition.

“Ireland have a strong defence. Their goalie David Harte is one of the best keepers in the world”, admits Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo. “But hopefully we can win this match and make the final.” The Asian champions defeated Japan 5-1 with triple-goalscorer Jang Jong Hyun being the Man of the Match.  

FIH site

Jang scores hat-trick as Korea beat Japan

Asian champions were too strong

Korea remain unbeaten in Kuantan. (Photo: FIH)

Korea remain unbeaten at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. The Asian champions produced a convincing 5-1 win over their rivals Japan in today’s last quarter-final. In Saturday’s semi-final Korea will face Ireland who had earlier beaten France 3-0 in a shootout.

Korea were the dominant side throughout the match and run out comfortable winners with Jang Jong Hyun registering a hat-trick. Korea opened the scoring when Hyun Hye Sung (11’) converted from a close range. World-ranked number 7 Korea were led by Jang Jong Hyun contributing a hat-trick (24’/40’/49’) of penalty corner goals to lift the score to 4-0.

Nam Hyun (59’) extended the lead to 5-0 by converting another penalty corner. “Penalty corners are the strength of the Korean team, so I’m happy with this”, said coach Shin Seok Kyo. Japan’s consolation goal was provided by Heita Yoshihara (63’) scoring from open play. 

“This was not an easy win. Japan played very well and put us under pressure”, added Shin giving credit to the opponents.

FIH site

Canada defeat Poland 3-2 to secure a semi-final spot

Philip Wright's goal made the difference in this encounter

Canada will play off the semi-finals in Kuantan. (Photo: FIH)

Canada got the better of Poland in the second quarter-final of the Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. In Saturday’s semi-final, the Canadians will now face host nation Malaysia, who had earlier beaten pre-tournament favourites New Zealand 3-2 in a shootout.

“We are really excited about playing Malaysia again. We know the opposition very well and of course we will try everything to win this time”, said Canada’s Philip Wright. His goal (60’) was the difference in today’s quarter-final against Poland as he dived onto the ball to deflect a penalty corner shot into the Polish goal to give Canada a 3-2 lead. “This is a really strong win for us. It was a really difficult match, so all the credit to Poland”, added Wright who was selected as Man of the Match.

The second quarter-final saw two equal teams battling it out for a semi-final spot. However, both teams failed to create any scoring opportunities in the first quarter. Poland opened the scoring in the second quarter when Karol Majchrzak (22’) managed to convert a rebounded penalty corner. The goal acted as a wake-up call for Canada and they subsequently increased the speed of the game. Iain Smythe (29’) equalised from open play just before half-time.

Michal Nowakowski (43’) came close to scoring for Poland but his penalty corner flick was saved by Canada goalkeeper David Carter. However, Poland took the lead again when Krystian Makowski’s (47’) penalty corner shot found the net. Canada struck back thanks to Matthew Guest (54’) before Wright (60’) provided the winning goal.

In a dramatic finish to an exciting match, Canada’s Sukhi Panesar and Poland’s Michal Kasprzyk were sent off with red cards in the 69th minute because of the use of excessive physical force. 

FIH site

Green Machine book semi-final ticket after winning against France

Ireland celebrate their win against France. (Photo: FIH )

Ireland defeated their European rivals France 3-0 in a shoot-out competition at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 to march into the top four. The score after regulation time had been tied at 2-2.

Ireland and France are two teams knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well as they are used to playing each other frequently in Europe. The Green Machine took an early lead thanks to Alan Sothern’s (2’) penalty corner goal. Afterwards it was France who had the greater ball possession and created more scoring opportunities.

Despite winning a series of penalty corners in the first two quarters, the Tricolores were unable to beat David Harte in the Irish goal. Again, the keeper delivered an outstanding performance to keep his team in the match. “David is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, credit to him and the whole defence”, said Ireland captain John Jackson.

The hard work and effort showed by the French team paid off in the second half when Guillaume Deront (41’) was unmarked in front of goal, received the ball and scored. The Tricolores controlled the match from that point and added another goal when team-captain Martin Genestet (50’) managed to get the ball past David Harte. “We were far from our best hockey but we fought up to the end”, Jackson added.

The fourth quarter saw Ireland becoming stronger, forcing two penalty corners towards the end of the match. The second one was neatly taken by Stephen Dowds (64’) to level the score to 2-2. 

In the shootout, Ireland could rely on their world-class goalkeeper Harte who kept a clean sheet. The Irish goals were scored by Eugene Magee, Peter Brown and Alan Sothern. 

FIH site

Malaysia win dramatic shootout over New Zealand

Tournament favourites lose to host nation in Kuantan

Malaysia celebrate with their fans. (Photo: FIH )

Host nation Malaysia are the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. Fitri Saari’s goal made the difference when his Speedy Tigers defeated the Black Sticks 3-2 in a penalty shootout. New Zealand, who entered this quarter-final as the unbeaten pool A winners, found themselves behind 4-1. However, they were able to bounce back and force the ambitious Malaysian side into a shootout competition.

A big crowd had came to see New Zealand taking on host nation Malaysia in today’s first quarter-final in the stadium Wisma Belia. Both teams have also qualified for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague. The Black Sticks were quick to get on the scoreboard with Steve Edwards (4’) putting his team up after three minutes. Malaysia pushed hard to equalize but the New Zealand defence kept the sheet clean in the first quarter.

Because of the hot weather conditions here in Kuantan this match was played in four quarters of 17.5 minutes each. The second quarter saw Malaysia eventually getting on the scoreboard when team-captain Azlan Misron (20’) scored from open play to level the score. The Malaysian national team, also known as Speedy Tigers, added another goal just three minutes later when Muhammad Saabah (23’) fired home a penalty corner. Suddenly, the unbeaten Black Sticks found themselves behind for the first time in this tournament.

The hosts extended their lead to 3-1 one minute later when Fitri Saari (24’) scored from a solo run. The enthusiastic crowd pushed Malaysia to their fourth goal which came off the stick of Muhammad Saabah (31’). Malaysia nearly shocked the tournament favourites again by scoring a fifth goal but Faizal Saari’s solo run attempt was eventually saved by Black Sticks goalkeeper Devon Manchester. “We lost this match in the second quarter”, said Black Sticks coach Colin Batch.

New Zealand had better control of the game in the third quarter but just could find one goal thanks to a successful penalty corner taken by flicker Andy Hayward (45’). New Zealand returned the pressure in the fourth quarter and won a series of penalty corners but the Malaysian defence and goalie Kumar blocked the shots. However, Hayward (60’) managed to get one shot past the keeper shortening the score to 4-3.

With three minutes remaining, New Zealand substituted their goalkeeper to play on with 11 field players. The effort paid off and the Black Sticks won another penalty corner in the last minute. The first attempt led to another penalty corner and this one was converted by Hayward (70’) who made his hat-trick. “I’m very proud on how the guys came back in the second half”, added Batch. “This was very difficult to swallow but we managed to prepare the boys for the shootout”, said Malaysia coach Muhammad Dhaarma Raj.

The shootout saw New Zealand going up 2-0 thanks to goals from Hugo Inglis and Blair Hilton. This time Malaysia fought back scoring from their last three attempts thanks to Firhan Ashari, Muhammad Sabbah and Fitri Saari.

FIH site

May Day thriller


MALAYSIA beat World No 6 New Zealand 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a nail-biting 70 minutes which saw eight goals flying in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge I at Kuantan Stadium yesterday.

May Day celebrations almost turned into a May Day distress signal when coach K. Dharmaraj’s men played dramatic hockey.

After being a goal down by the third minute, they took a 4-1 lead before collapsing and ending up with a 4-4 draw in regulation time.

The hard fought victory will now see World No 13 Malaysia play No 16 Canada in the semi-finals tomorrow. Canada beat Poland 3-2 in the other quarter-finals. Malaysia had beaten Canada 4-3 in Group B.

Dharmaraj said: “It was an ‘Oh No!’ feeling when the shoot-out was being taken as we were down 0-2 but eventually won 3-2 with great saves from the goalkeeper (S. Kumar).”

A disappointed New Zealand coach Colin Batch said: “Malaysia were on an upward trend after beating Canada (Tuesday) and were obviously at their best today.”

Steve Edwars tapped in from close range to give the Kiwis an early fourth minute lead, but a super fight-back saw skipper Azlan Misron leading by example to score in the 20th minute while three more were from the efforts of Shahril Saabah (23rd, 31st) and Fitri Saari (24th).

New Zealand clawed back with a hat-trick of penalty corners from Andy Hayward in the 45th, 60th and 70th minutes.

In the penalty shoot-out, Faiz Jali and Faizal Saari missed and the Kiwis were leading 2-0 at that point before S. Kumar brought out three saves while Firhan Ashaari, Shahril Saabah and Fitri Saari were on target.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “They should have won in regulation time when leading 4-1, but never mind, as I'm proud of their fighting spirits.”

New Straits Times

Malaysia through to Champions Challenge semi-finals (updated)

By S. Ramaguru

The Malaysia hockey team players celebrate their win over New Zealand in a penalty shootout victory in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan on Thursday. Both teams drew 4-4 at full-time before Malaysia prevailed 3-2 in the shootout. - BERNAMA

KUANTAN: Early setback, big lead, great fightback, tale of two halves, penalty shootout. The Malaysia-New Zealand Champions Challenge I quarter-final match had it all.

From leading 4-1, Malaysia found themselves held 4-4 by the fancied New Zealand at the end of regulation time at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here on Thursday. Then, in the shootout, Malaysia prevailed 3-2.

Malaysia produced a masterclass performance in the first half – getting off to a lightning quick start.

But it wasn’t before the Kiwis went ahead first – through Steve Edwards’ field goal in the fourth minute.

It was then all Malaysia. First, skipper Azlan Misron found the equaliser with his first goal of the tournament in the 20th minute.

Then, Mohd Shahril Saabah bagged a brace in the 23rd and 31st minutes. He now has four goals to his name.

But the best goal came from Fitri Saari, who collected the ball at the 50-yard line before racing into the D, evading three Kiwi defenders and slotting past goalkeeper Devon Manchester in the 24th minute.

The Kiwis turned on the style after the break to level the score at 4-4, courtesy of a penalty corner hat-trick by Andy Hayward (45th, 60th, 70th).

Then came the shootout – and more drama.

It looked like Malaysia had blown it when Faizal Saari and Faiz Helmi Jali missed their attempts while Hugo Inglis and Blair Hilton netted for New Zealand.

But, as luck would have it, Malaysia tucked away the next three attempts – through Mohd Firhan Azhaari, Shahril and Fitri – while the Kiwis missed three in-a-row through Simon Child, Steve Edwards and Phil Burrows.

This was certainly not a match for the faint-hearted.

And coach K. Dharmaraj described the shootout as “a lucky break”.

“We had such a good first half and really made the goals count. Although we held a three-goal advantage, we told the players to go back after the break and not to think about it and to just play their normal game,” he said.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t work. We allowed them space to attack and paid the price by conceding three goals.

“We even went 2-0 down in the shootout ... but I’m glad we came back to win it. I’m proud of my players ... they proved themselves today.”

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said it was a good comeback by his players but rued the fact that they did not get the job done in the shootout.

“It’s always hard coming back from a three-goal deficit. I’m proud of my players ... the way they fought back and creating a lot of chances,” he said.

“In a shootout, it is always dicey but that’s how it is. We are certainly disappointed at losing this way.”

Malaysia will now take on Canada in the semi-finals. Canada beat Poland 3-2 in the other quarter-final.

The Star of Malaysia

Malaysia edge Black Sticks in penalty shoot-out

Hugo Inglis looks to control the ball.

The Black Sticks Men have been defeated in a penalty shoot-out by hosts Malaysia after their quarter final at the Champions Challenge ended tied 4-4 at fulltime.

New Zealand trailed 1-4 at halftime before three penalty corner flicks from Andy Hayward brought the Black Sticks back into the game, his third goal coming in the final minute of regulation time.

With the result in the hands of a penalty shoot-out, the Black Sticks had the upper hand early after converting their first two attempts while Malaysia missed their first two.

But three missed shots in a row from the Kiwis left the door open for Malaysia to snatch the victory and progress into the semi finals.

The loss leaves the Black Sticks out of medal contention at the tournament, where they will next face a rematch against Poland at 6.45pm on Saturday (NZ time) in the 5th-8th classification round.

Head coach Colin Batch said the loss was hard to take after going into the quarter finals on the back of three straight wins.

“We will regroup and do well in the next few games but right now there’s a lot of disappointment in the group as you can expect,” he said.

“There were positives to come from the game and it was pleasing that we were able to dominate parts of the second half but to allow them to score four unanswered goals was a disaster.

“We went with the same penalty shoot-out group that did well for us at the World League Final and we feel like we’ve got that right. It was disappointing to let it slip after going up 2-0 but we will take that and learn from it.”

The full tournament schedule and results are available at www.fih.ch

The Champions Challenge doubles as a qualifier for the 2016 Champions Trophy with the winner earning an automatic berth, and is also important preparation for the Hockey World Cup from 31 May – 15 June in The Hague, Netherlands.

BLACK STICKS 4: (Andy Hayward 3, Steve Edwards)
MALAYSIA 4: (Muhammad Subbah 2, Azlan Misron, Fitri Saari)
Malaysia won the penalty shoot-out 3-2
Halftime: Malaysia 4-1

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Shock loss for Black Sticks

By David Leggat

Andy Hayward scored a hat-trick in the Black Sticks' shoot-out defeat. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand have suffered a shock defeat in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge men's hockey tournament in Malaysia.

The sixth-ranked Black Sticks, favoured to win the tournament, were beaten in a penalty shootout by the hosts, who are ranked No 13, after scores were locked 4-4 at fulltime.

The result is a blow to New Zealand as the challenge winners were guaranteed an automatic spot at the 2016 Champions Trophy.

''Right now there's a lot of disappointment in the group as you'd expect," coach Colin Batch said.

New Zealand will now rely on an invitation from the International Hockey Federation to fill the one discretionary spot in the eight-team field for the Champions Trophy, to be staged in Argentina.

New Zealand were in trouble at halftime, trailing 4-1. However three penalty corner flicks from Andy Hayward - his third coming in the final minute of regulation time - took the game into a shootout.

New Zealand, using the same group who had performed strongly at the World League final in New Delhi in January, went 2-0 up while the Malaysians missed their first two. However three successive missed shots cost New Zealand dearly and allowed Malaysia back into the contest, and ultimately snatch a surprising win.

''It's always hard coming back from a three-goal deficit. I'm proud of my players ... the way they fought back and creating a lot of chances," Batch said.

"In a shootout, it is always dicey but that's how it is. We are certainly disappointed at losing this way."

The result means New Zealand can finish no higher than fifth.

They face Poland, whom they beat 8-3 in pool play, on Saturday night in the 5th to 8th classification.

Result: Malaysia 4 (Muhammad Subbah 2, Azlan Misron, Fitri Saari) New Zealand 4 (Andy Hayward 3, Steve Edwards). HT: 4-1.
Malaysia won 3-2 on penalties.

The New Zealand Herald

Black Sticks defeated by Malaysia in quarters

The Black Sticks men's hockey team have crashed out of the Champions Challenge Trophy tournament after a heartbreaking shootout defeat to host nation Malaysia in the quarterfinals.

Colin Batch's New Zealand team fought back from a 1-4 halftime deficit to 4-4 after drag flick specialist Andy Hayward netted his third penalty corner goal in the 70th minute.

But Malaysia won the shootout 3-2 to the delight of the home crowd in Kuantan.

The Black Sticks' loss after topping Pool A in the elimination series ends their hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Champions Trophy elite international competition.

Midfielder Steve Edwards gave New Zealand a superb start with a fourth minute field goal. But Malaysia struck three times in a withering four-minute burst and grabbed another just before the interval to take a three -goal lead into the break.

Captain Azla Misron equalised in the 20th minute and Muhammad Saabah scored from a penalty corner in the 23rd before Fitri Saari's field goal a minute later. Saabah scored from general play in the 31st minute to set the Black Sticks a stiff challenge in the second spell.

Batch's bunch responded magnificently to exert a lot of pressure with Hayward, a midfielder-defender from Tauranga, scoring from penalty corners in the 45th and 60th minutes before completing his hat-trick with his last-gasp goal in the 70th.

The Kiwis began brightly in the shootout with Hugo Inglis scoring to make it 1-0. Black Sticks keeper Devon Manchester saved Malaysia's first shot and Blair Hilton slotted his for a 2-0 buffer.

But goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam was Malaysia's hero with three consecutive saves to foil experienced Kiwis Simon Child, Edwards and Phil Burrows.

Firhan Ashari, Saabah and Saari kept their cool to convert their strokes and steer a jubilant Malaysian team into the semifinals.

The result would have been disappointing for Batch and his coaching staff who called for greater defensive discipline after the Black Sticks' 9-3 win over Poland in the final round of pool play.

But they still shipped four first-half goals against the Malaysians.


South Korea cruise, Ireland and Canada slog for semi's berth

By S. Ramaguru

KUANTAN: South Korea, Ireland and Canada checked into last four of the Champions Challenge I in contrasting fashions.

World No. 7 South Korea cruised past Japan 5-1 in the quarter-finals at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

The other two quarter-finals were more closely contested. Ireland and France were level at 2-2 in regulation time and needed a penalty shootout to settle the issue. Ireland came out tops in the shootout, winning 3-0.

As for Canada, they had to slog for a 3-2 win over Poland.

Tomorrow’s semi-finals will see Malaysia taking on Canada and Ireland facing South Korea.

The fifth-eighth placing playoffs will see New Zealand meeting Poland and France squaring off with Japan.

In the South Korea-Japan match, Hyun Hye-sung and Jang Jong-hyun scored in the 11th and 24th minutes respectively to give the Koreans a 2-0 first-half lead.

The Koreans added three more goals after the break through Jong-hyun (40th, 49th) and Nam Hyun-woo (59th) while Heita Yoshihara scored Japan’s consolation goal in the 63rd minute.

The Ireland-France match came alive in the second half.

Ireland went ahead through Alan Southern in the second minute and the score stayed at 1-0 at half-time.

France equalised through Guillaume Deront (41st) and went 2-1 up through Martin Genestet (50th). Ireland then equalised through Stephen Dowds in the 64th minute to take the match into a penalty shootout.

In the shootout, John Jackson, Eugene Magee and Peter Brown scored for Ireland.

Canada, meanwhile, needed a 60th minute goal by veteran Philip Wright to see off Poland.

Poland had earlier gone ahead through Karol Majchrzak (22nd minute) before Iain Smythe equalised for Canada (29th).

Poland went ahead again through Krystian Makowski (47th) but Canada drew level a second time through Matthew Guest (54th).

Then came Wright’s winning strike.

The match, however, was marred by the sending off of Canada’s Sukhi Panesar and Poland’s Michal Kasprzyk in the 69th minute for the use of excessive physical force.

The Star of Malaysia

Late comeback pushes Canada past Poland and into semi final

Canada got the better of Poland in the second quarter-final of the Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. In Saturday’s semi-final, the Canadians will now face host nation Malaysia, who had earlier beaten pre-tournament favourites New Zealand 3-2 in a shootout.

“We are really excited about playing Malaysia again. We know the opposition very well and of course we will try everything to win this time”, said Canada’s Philip Wright. His goal (60’) was the difference in today’s quarter-final against Poland as he dived onto the ball to deflect a penalty corner shot into the Polish goal to give Canada a 3-2 lead. “This is a really strong win for us. It was a really difficult match, so all the credit to Poland”, added Wright who was selected as Man of the Match.

The second quarter-final saw two equal teams battling it out for a semi-final spot. However, both teams failed to create any scoring opportunities in the first quarter. Poland opened the scoring in the second quarter when Karol Majchrzak (22’) managed to convert a rebounded penalty corner. The goal acted as a wake-up call for Canada and they subsequently increased the speed of the game. Iain Smythe (29’) equalised from open play just before half-time.

Michal Nowakowski (43’) came close to scoring for Poland but his penalty corner flick was saved by Canada goalkeeper David Carter. However, Poland took the lead again when Krystian Makowski’s (47’) penalty corner shot found the net. Canada struck back thanks to Matthew Guest (54’) before Wright (60’) provided the winning goal.

In a dramatic finish to an exciting match, Canada’s Sukhi Panesar and Poland’s Michal Kasprzyk were sent off with red cards in the 69th minute because of the use of excessive physical force. 

Canada faces host Malaysia in the semi final Saturday, May 3 at 4:15amPST/7:15am EST.

Field Hockey Canada media release

BOTH National Hockey Teams Through to SEMI FINAL

That was someday for Irish Hockey. Both the National Men and National Women’s teams won their quarter finals of their world ranking Champions Challenge I Tournament today. Ireland’s women beat WORLD NUMBER 8’s Korea 2-1 to cause the biggest upset of the tournament while the men took it all the way to extra time against France where they beat them 3-0 on a shoot out after normal time ended 2-2. Ireland women will play the winners of Belgium or Spain while the men will square up against Korea or Japan this Saturday.


Ireland’s women caused the biggest upset of the Champions Challenge I tournament in Scotland today beating top ranked side Korea to secure a semi-final spot with a deserved 2-1 win. Ireland scored early in the 3rd minute after securing a penalty corner, Anna O’Flanagan’s initial strike was saved and Katie Mullan reacted swiftly to convert the rebound making it 1-0.

Korea remained confident throughout the first half testing Ireland at times but a calm and composed Ireland dealt ably with the threats to enjoy the half time break and a chance to reconvene with a 1-0 lead.

Ireland came out attacking once again showing early intent including a number of penalty corners but Korea’s persistence and waves of attack finally paid dividends with a well-executed penalty corner routine which saw the penalty spot deflection from Han H fly over the keeper to pull her side back onto 1-1 level terms with Ireland. Ireland’s defense were tested on numerous occasions in the second half but stellar performances from the side marshalled by Emma Gray in goals kept Ireland steady until they were ready to strike once again. And strike they did this time Anna O’Flanagan giving a lesson in executing a straight strike from a penalty corner in the 56th minute to make it 2-1. Ireland continued to have a number of chances to make it three but the final touch just evaded them and the match closed out 2-1 to Ireland securing them a semi-final spot against either Belgium or Spain this Saturday.

Commenting after the match Coach Smith was delighted but focusing on Saturday “We were delighted with the result, I thought the girls held the possession of the ball better than we did against USA stringing good passes together. The defense were immense and there was some great goalkeeping from Emma Gray”

“Our plans are to get the girls nice and recovered now with a training session tomorrow and focusing on preparation for the Saturday match.”

Semi Final 2pm Saturday 3rd May

14.00   Ireland v Scotland / South Africa

IRELAND 2 (1) Katie Mullan 6m pc; Anna O’Flanagan 56m pc
KOREA 1 (0) Han H 49m pc

Starting XI: Emma Gray; Cliodhna Sargent; Emma Smyth; Nikki Evans; Shirley McCay; Megan Frazer; Audrey O’Flynn; Chloe Watkins; Nicci Daly; Katie Mullan; Anna O’Flanagan

Reserves: Michelle Harvey; Naomi Carroll; Ayeisha McFerran; Gillian Pinder; Kate Dillon; Alison Meeke; Emily Beatty.


Ireland’s men secured their spot in the semi-finals when they secured a win over France in dramatic style today in Malaysia at the Champions Challenge I tournament. Ireland opened early marksman Alan Sothern getting the conversion in the 2nd minute from a penalty corner strike to put his side 1-0 up.

The remainder of the first half was scoreless although both sides were busy looking for opportunities. France equalised in the 44th minute thanks to Guillaume Derong before taking the lead for the first time in this match after Martin Genestet converted for Les Bleus in the 50th minute. Ireland remained confident and with just 6 minutes to spare Stephen Dowds converted off a penalty corner to push the side all the way to a penalty shoot-out.

Ireland closed out the match in dramatic fashion after both sides missed their first penalties before Ireland went on to convert a further 3 to win on a penalty shoot out 3-0, Eugene Magee, Peter Brown and Alan Sothern all getting on the score sheet.

Commenting after the match Coach Fulton said "We are pleased with the resilience shown by the team against a strong French side, who performed in the opening matches. We stuck to the task and with David Harte in top form we grew in confidence as the game progressed. We still have a lot of preparation before Saturday and we will analyze our performances from this week."

Semi Final 2pm Saturday 3rd May

14.30     Ireland v Korea / Japan (Irish Time)

IRELAND 2 (1) Alan Sothern 2m pc, Stephen Dowds 64th pc

FRANCE 2 (0) Guillaume Derong 44m; Martin Genestet 50m

Starting XI: David Harte GK: John Jackson; Johnny Bell; Chris Cargo; Maurice Elliott; Alan Sothern; Eugene Magee; Kirk Shimmins; Drew Carlisle; Philip Brown; Paul Gleghorne

Reserves: Stephen Dowds; Matthew Bell; Bruce McCandless; Michael Robson; David Fitzgerald; Richard Shaw; Peter Brown

Irish Hockey Association media release

England battle to draw with Canada

England v Canada (Photo: Ady Kerry)

England women had to settle for a draw with Canada in the final match at Bisham Abbey on Thursday afternoon, as their preparations for the World Cup and Commonwealth Games continue.

After beating their rivals 6-1 in Monday’s other capped clash between the two sides, England came up against a strong defensive performance from Canada.

Similar to that previous performance, Canada scored early in the match, but England’s efforts to battle back were met with strong defence and they were left frustrated until Kate Richardson-Walsh scored from a penalty corner to save England’s blushes.

“We applied almost constant pressure but came up against a resilient defence, which is something we’re not used to – but it’s something that we need to overcome,” said Head Coach Jason Lee.

England enjoyed a bright opening spell, but Canada opened their account after ten minutes with a goal from a straight strike at a penalty corner which was hit low and to the right of Maddie Hinch in the England goal.

There were plenty of other chances on goal for England, but they were left frustrated as their finishing let them down time after time, and Canada seemed pleased to have held their lead to the half time break.

England continued to press and had several circle entries, but to their credit the Canadian defence and goalkeeper worked hard to shut out England.

With two minutes remaining, England pulled level from their 11th penalty corner of the game, Ellie Watton injecting into the circle for Kate Richardson-Walsh to score with a direct flick.

Kate Richardson-Walsh 68 (PC)

CANADA 1 (1)
Sara McManus 16 (PC)

Squad for Match 2 - England v Canada

Shirt # - Name - Club

1 - Maddie Hinch - Holcombe
4 - Laura Unsworth - Holcombe
6 - Hannah Macleod - Leicester
7 - Georgie Twigg - Surbiton
9 - Susie Townsend - Reading
10 - Susie Gilbert - Reading
11 - Kate Richardson-Walsh - Reading
13 - Sam Quek - Reading
15 - Alex Danson - Reading
18 - Giselle Ansley - Surbiton
19 - Sophie Bray - MOP (NED)
20 - Hollie Webb - Surbiton
21 - Ellie Watton - Beeston
22 - Ashleigh Ball - Slough
23 - Sally Walton - Wakefield
26 - Lily Owsley - University of Birmingham
27 - Zoe Shipperley - Buckingham
28 - Nicola White - Leicester

England Hockey Board Media release

Canadian women earn draw against third ranked England

In the second of two test matches, the Canadian Women's National Team earned an impressive 1-1 draw against the England National Team, the third ranked women's team in the world.

Canada was coming off a one-sided 6-1 loss to England in the first game of the series on Monday and was looking to salvage the split before heading to Wales for three games.

As they did in the first match, Canada got on the board early. Sara McManus (Tsawwassen, B.C.) scored off a penalty corner in the sixteenth minute to give Canada a 1-0 lead.

But unlike Monday's first half, during which Canada also took the lead early only to have a handful of goals scored by England shortly thereafter, the Canadians were able to hold onto the lead into half time.

In fact, it would take until the final moments of the game in the sixty-ninth minute of the game for England to respond. Team captain Kate Richardson-Walsh scored, also on a penalty corner, to tie the game at one.

"Todays performance was exceptional from one of the youngest in world hockey playing against one of the most experienced and well drilled teams going around," said Women's National Team head coach Ian Rutledge. "Structurally we were very sound and our discipline to the small details was first class. The players worked tirelessly for the match from begining to end."

"The performance should reinforce the process we have been following and will act as a benchmark for future standards."

Canadian captain Kate Gillis (Kingston, Ont.) played in her 100th international match for Team Canada, joining Abigail Raye (Kelowna, B.C.) who reached 100 caps in Monday's match.

Canada will now head to Wales for three test matches, the first of which takes place on May 4 at 10:45amPST/1:45pmEST. For a full schedule click here.

Field Hockey Canada media release

PIA win Nishan-e-Haider hockey tournament

After the goal in the 23rd minute by PIA, the game turned into a one-sided affair as Wapda were unable to bounce back. PHOTO: PHF

KARACHI: PIA defeated Wapda 3-1 in the final to win the 9th Nishan-e-Haider hockey tournament played at the Mutiullah Hockey Stadium in Bahawalpur on Thursday.

The final started at a fast pace in front of a large crowd. Both teams, comprising Olympians and internationals, demonstrated their skills, making aggressive moves and stick work.

Wapda succeeded in drawing first blood when forward Tasawar Abbas got control of the ball from his half and sprinted into the PIA’s, where he gave a clever pass to Usman Bhutta, whose strong hit was deflected by Rana Umair into the goal post in the 21st minute of the match.

However, PIA bounced back with vengeance as Aamir Shahzad and Shafqat Rasool exchanged short passes between them and entered into the Wapda ‘D’ where they earned two back-to-back penalty corners. Full-back Ihsanullah succeeded in converting the second in the 23rd minute.

The final turned into a one-sided affair from here, as PIA overwhelmed the overly defensive opponents. The winners scored their second goal in the 45th minute, when moves between Shafqat Rasool, Waqas Akbar and Inyatullah earned their team a penalty corner and Ihsanullah dragged the ball into the goal to give his team a 2-1 lead.

In the 64th minute, Shafqat Rasool took control of the ball from his team’s own half and reached the striking area through clever dribbling where Inyatullah’s timely deflection earned the third goal for PIA, sealing the victory for the side.

Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee and Sports Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada was the chief guest at the final, who gave away the winning trophy to PIA’s captain Yasir Islam.

The Express Tribune

PIA lift 9th Nishan-e-Haider Hockey title

Baqaul Mohsin

BAHAWALPUR - PIA defeated Wapda 3-1 to lift the 9th Nishan-e-Haider Hockey Tournament title here at the Mutiullah Astroturf Hockey Stadium.  The floodlight final was witnessed by a large crowd and Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada was the chief guest at the final.

The final started at a very fast pace. Both the teams comprising Olympians and internationals demonstrated their skill making aggressive moves and stick work which provided a real entertainment to the spectators. Wapda forwards’ a number of moves were either intercepted by the PIA defenders or their hits were bravely stopped by the goalkeeper. However, forward Tasawar Abbas got control of the ball from his half and sprinted into the PIA where he gave a beautiful pass to Usman Bhutta whose strong hit was deflected by Rana Umair into the goal post in the 21st minute. PIA forwards bounced back in a hostile way. Aamir Shahzad and Shafqat Rasool exchanged short passes between them and entered into the D where they earned two back-to-back penalty corners. Full back Ihsanullah succeeded to convert the second in the 23rd minute.

After that the final turned into a one-sided affair as the PIA completely dominated the proceedings which forced Wadpa to adopt a defensive strategy. PIA scored their second goal in the 45th minute as a beautiful move among Shafqat, Waqas Akbar and Inyatullah earned a penalty corner and Ihsanullah dragged the ball into the goal to give a 2-1 lead to his team. In the 64th minute, Shafqat took control of the ball from the 25 line and reached in the D amid beautiful dribbling where Inyatullah timely deflection earned the third goal for PIA. Munawwar Hussain and Kamran Sharif supervised the final.  At the end, chief guest Riaz Pirzada gave away the winning Trophy to PIA’s captain Yasir Islam. Former Olympian Mutiullah and Maher Riaz, the chief organiser of the tournament also distributed prizes.

The chief guest vowed that the federal government was committed to combat terrorism through the medium of sports. He also vowed to lift the standard of national game and patronize the organisation of local tournaments to promote the dying game of hockey.

He added that the federal government was committed to provide hockey infrastructure to the aspiring sportsmen in small cities. He informed that installation of astroturfs in Sadiqabad, Vehari and Multan had been approved which would provide infrastructure to the hockey aspirants living in these areas. The minister lauded the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF)’s efforts to hold trials throughout the country to find upcoming talent and hoped it would help in the development of the national game. “Such trials are imperative to find talent and the PFH has done a commendable job by organising these trials which will help us finding future stars.”

The Nation

PIA clinch Nishar-i-Haider trophy

LAHORE: Two goals by Ihsanullah and one by Inayatullah helped PIA win the ninth Nishan-i-Haider hockey tournament by overcoming Wapda 3-1 in the final in Bahawalpur on Thursday.

Wapda earned the lead through Rana Umair who struck a field goal in the 21st minute.

But Ihsanullah restored the parity, two minutes later, cashing in on a short-corner.

The 1-1 score remained intact till the half time.

After the breather, Ihsanullah converted second short-corner in the 45th minute to put his team 2-1 ahead, before Inayatullah banged home a field goal in the 64th minute to seal the fate of the final.

Munawwar Hussain and Kamran Sharif supervised the final as field umpires.

At the end, Federal minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada gave away the winning trophy to PIA’s captain Yasir Islam.

Former Olympian Mutiullah and Maher Riaz, the chief organiser of the tournament also distributed prizes.


Irked Samiullah smells ‘greed’ in former Olympians’ move

Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Former hockey stalwart, Samiullah has lambasted the bunch of former Olympians, recently joined hands with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), and claimed that the standard of Pakistan’s hockey would not improve under the present administration. “Our former mates, especially Islahuddin, Shahnaz Sheikh, Ayaz Mahmood and Shahbaz should not have gone there. My impression is that they decided to join the PHF as a result of greed for various positions.” said Samiullah, while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

Recently, Shahnaz Sheikh (head coach), Islahuddin Siddiqui (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.

“These are petty favours, if they were keen to improve the standard of Pakistan hockey then should not have accepted any position. Instead should present a comprehensive plan of action to the federation”, said the former captain Samiullah.

On a question, Samiullah expressed readiness to work even with the incumbent management of the PHF, however added that he would not hold any position in the Federation. “I have always been ready to help the national game. Whenever an advice is sought, I will provide them [PHF] with comprehensive strategy in writing”, said the ‘flying horse’

“No, I will not accept any post in the federation, that’s not my goal at all”, concluded Samiullah


India coach Walsh critical of National camp being held in Delhi

NEW DELHI: Indian hockey team's chief coach Terry Walsh lashed out as the national probables' preparatory camp for the upcoming World Cup is being held in searing capital heat instead of cooler confines in any other part of the country.

Walsh indirectly took a dig at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and said his first choice for the camp was always SAI's South Centre in Bangalore.

Asked if it made sense to hold a camp in conditions where the maximum temeperature is 43 degrees celsius while the World Cup will be held in The Hague, Walsh sarcastically retorted, "Is there a choice? It's not in my hands. I always wanted the camp to be held in Bangalore but for that we needed to put in place a new turf."

"Bangalore's climate is much more plesant. But in the end it's all about inefficiency, poor plannning and poor management," an angry Walsh said after the team's training session in sultry conditions at the Major Dhyan Chand national Stadium on Thursday.

"It is not us who suffers, it is the players who suffer," he added.

The camp of the senior men's team was shifted out of Bangalore in August last year because of a worn-out astro-turf at the SAI (South) Centre, which resulted in injuries to key players like Gurmail Singh, Harbir Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, and SV Sunil among others.

This year's hockey World Cup will be held from May 31 to June 15 at The Hague, Netherlands where maximum temperatures would be between 15-20 degree celsius.

Walsh also rued the absence of an astroturf at places which are situated at higher altitude.

"Do we have turfs in hilly places? I would have loved to have the camp in such places but for that we need turfs. As far my knowledge, we have a turf in Manipur but all the facilities which the modern day hockey demands were not there," he said.

Walsh, however, said that things would have been much more difficult for Indian players if the temperatures were below 10 degree celsius during the World Cup.

Talking about his wards' preparation for the World Cup, the Australian emphasised on the "physiological change" the players undrwent during the team's recent Europe tour.

"There are no second thoughts on how hard our players have worked throughout the training. It is indeed a very big physiological change. The team played with much more confidence. It proves that the European Tour was a constructive one with hardly any negatives," he said.

"The basic things we want to prove and focus are the change in strength and power to work more on mid field, pace and be more patient in attacks.

"There is a lot of scope for improvement and we are going to refine what we have already especially the foot work and better goal scoring for the upcoming World Cup," he said.

India will leave for The Hague in May 22 and after landing at The Hague the Sardar Singh-led side will play two practice matches against South Africa and Argentina before the tournament proper begins.

The Times of India

European tour resulted in physiological change: Walsh

Mandeep Singh during a training session at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday. Tribune photo

New Delhi - Indian hockey team’s head coach Terry Walsh wasted no time in pressing the realistic button when asked about his team’s chances at the World Cup, which is less than a month away from now.

A 21-member team has just returned from its preparatory tour to the Netherlands, where the World Cup will take place from May 31 to June 15, and Walsh knows there’s no point in doling out tall hopes and then faltering in attaining them. “There’s a lot of ground for this team to cover at the international scene. We would not be able to cover much of that before the World Cup. It’s a long process and it has taken us six months to reach that level, I mean physical level. We can’t do much until we get to that level,” Walsh said after the team’s practice session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here today.

Walsh said the European tour has resulted in a “big physiological change” for the players. “There will be a big physiological change in the sharpness. There’s a whole lot of strength programming which has been done. There is a lot of scope for improvement and we are going to refine what we have already achieved.”

Walsh said the team played with much more confidence, which proved the tour to be constructive. “We were quite a threat to the European style of hockey, there’s no doubt that we can play them with much more confidence. We have some elements in our game which really threatened their defensive structure,” he added.

Talking about the searing heat in the capital where the camp is underway, Walsh said he would have preferred a city with much lower temperatures than the capital’s 43° C.

The World Cup will be hosted by Hague, where the maximum temperatures would be between 20-25° C. “It’s really hot out here. There are no second thoughts on how hard our players have worked throughout the training. It’s a pretty harsh temperature.”

The Tribune

Yuvraj Devindar a perfect Bollywood script

Tazeen Qureshy

For many, hockey is a game; for few it is life. And life takes its own course, twists and turns, eventually shinning best for people who deserve it. They say, you need to dream big to achieve big. These two brothers dreamt, and achieved.

The tale of the brother’s duo Yuvraj and Devindar Walmiki is no less than a Bollywood script. Two brothers with modest background living in a Mumbai slum dreamt to play for the Indian hockey team. The elder brother takes the lead, sweats out hard and finally achieves his goal. The younger brother simply follows his footsteps.

But, perhaps, destiny has more in store for them. Now, they desire to play for their country together. Their dream to bear the Indian jersey and play alongside each other has got a step closer after the duo have been selected for the European tour as a part of World Cup preparations. Though, the Walmiki brothers have played together earlier in domestic tournaments, the last being in 2010, playing for the country is a different achievement altogether.

“As a youngster, I always dreamt of playing for my country along with my elder brother. I am elated to get a chance now. Our family is also very happy. After hearing the news, my mother almost jumped in joy,” says the younger Devinder Walmiki.

Agrees Yuvraj, “It is a good feeling and proud moment for our parents. Improvement is the key. We need to perform well to fit in the World Cup squad.”

For the brothers, it has rather been a tough journey. While Yuvraj failed to impress selectors most of the time, Devindar did not make it to the junior World Cup squad.

“It is a great responsibility that has been bestowed upon me. I am rewarded for my performance in Hockey India League. I need to keep working hard and ensure that I am selected for World Cup,” Devindar says. In fact, this is just the beginning for them. The selection for the World Cup team is yet to happen. The brothers need to create a niche to fit in the squad. “Our ultimate dream is to represent India together. Making it to the World Cup squad is the next target,” he adds.

Yuvraj, however, denies any problem if either of the two are selected. “On-field, we are not brothers but competitors. If both of us make it the main team, it will be like icing on the cake. In case, one of us fail to do it, we will keep working hard. We have made ourselves prepared for such situations.”

On-field, the brothers might be competitors, but off-field, the stylish stars are like any other family going out for movies and dinner together. “We are close to each other. Dev calls me ‘darling brother’ while I call him ‘sweetheart’.’’ You can easily say that love is in the air for brothers,” says Yuvraj. ‘Sweetheart Devindar’, on the other hand, gives a glimpse of the ‘other’ side of elder brother. “Yuvraj is closer to mom and I am closer to dad. Both Yuvraj and mother often team up and tease me.”

So, is there any particular instance when his ‘darling’ brother played a prank on him? “Not once, he plays prank often. For instance, if I ever find money lying in the house, he will snatch it from me claiming it to be his. Only after he spends entire money on himself, he would come back saying the money wasn’t his,” Devinder adds.

Well, we hope their off-field chemistry reflects on-field as well. All the best Walmiki brothers!


First task for Harendra is Sub Junior Natonals, not a ritualistic camp

K Arumugam

Indian administrators idea of kick starting their Junior World Cup campaign, an event which will take place at home three years from now, is good one, but the question is whether the sixty odd players who are in the camp that started last week, out of which hardly half of them will make to the core group after trials this week end, will be able to play next Jr. World Cup?

Ordinarily the reply should be yes, after all it is first step towards forming crack out fit for the Junior World Cup, where we did not do well 4,5 months ago in Delhi.

The answer, regrettably is, a big No.

A glance at the age profile of the players, simply disappoint on this count. Most of the campers are almost in the early 20s, on look and on paper, obviously as they have been selected from the recently held Junior (under-21) and senior National Championships.

Three year hence, none of them will be under-21 to play the Junior World Cup unless and until the Indian jugaad works!

Therefore, the immediate concern of new coach Harendra, who may be well-versed with the age-old problems that plague India, should be able to get right players of right age.

If anything is to go by, the present lot at the camp under the banner of Junior World Cup, could make up content for the Development Team, which surprisingly India did not have one right now, covered under the carpet of Core Group.

Fortunately, Harendra should grab the opportunity that present itself before him, as he takes up the junior India assignment.

Unlike till recently, the hockey administration is putting in place different age group nationals, and it should come as a god send for Harendra.

Sub-Junior Nationals, for boys born on or after January 1, 1998 is going to be held in a fortnight’s time, Division A in Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Division B in Vadodara (Gujarat). This is where Performance of Director of Indian hockey -- who almost functions like yet another coach rather than putting in mechanism to scout talent without which no ‘performance’, not less ‘High Performance’ can be achieved.

Last year we were told Roelant Oltmans, HPD of HI, visited Manipur and other some destinations where domestic events like Nationals were held, and it was, against the backdrop, hoped he will help build a pyramid system of things that can systematically change things in long term perspective. What he has done in the vital area is not known, at least we in the media are unaware of his deliverances.

However, to bring matters to the point, it is important for Harendra to pick right kind of talent without wasting time.

For that he has pack his bag and move to Ranchi or Vadodara, rather than developing a Development Team, which doesn’t exist on paper, but it will be so if the present lot will be trained under Junior category.

Harendra, a veteran now in coaching, that too in Indian conditions, know well importance of right kind of talent.

Polishing them comes next, the first priority is to get them. Ranchi and Vadodara calling Harendra


Mike 'Abs' Absalom talks a good game

The Rabobank World Hockey Cup commentator on stray dogs, name checks and being a heart-throb

He first hit our screens as the zany 'Abs' on CBB television, and now he is all set to be the voice of hockey at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup. FIH catches up with the engaging, if slightly frenetic, Mike Absalom.

How did you make the move from 'zany' CBBC's presenter to sports commentator?

"In 2006/2007 I was presented with an opportunity to commentate on a few games of hockey for Eurosport. I play hockey, and had played for England U18/U21, so they literally put me straight into a studio, gave me a microphone and a television monitor to watch the game and said "Off you go then!" After being thrown in at the deep end I have commentated on a variety of sports including: football, rugby, skiing, and Formula One."

What is your background in hockey? 

I've played hockey since I was 8 years old and have always loved the competitive nature of the game. In 1997 I made my debut for England U18's and went on to train with the England U21's after I finished school, but in 2000, after years of 'full commitment' to hockey I 'jumped ship' to become a ski instructor in Canada.

I love commentating, but every time I hear the whistle blow, I wish I was still playing out there. I still play competitively for a club in London (Richmond HC) and will keep playing until I'm about 90. My goal is to play senior internationals for England/GB.

When you are commentating, how do you pitch your style so that it presents hockey as a serious sport for hockey aficionados but with a real appeal to sports fans with less hockey knowledge?

"My job as a commentator is actually a very simple one. It's to tell the story of the game whether that be to a seasoned pro or a new comer. The skill is to get that balance and tone right for the audience, young and old. My goal has always been to add something extra to each and every game. There are always talking points so that's what I focus on. It also helps if there are goals and the game is fiercely competitive.

Have you ever made a complete howler?

I did once call 'Kelly Fairweather' (CEO of FIH) 'Kelly WareFeather' - Oooops. I actually said it twice, during the first edition of The Hockey India League. Sorry Kelly!

Outside of that name pronunciations can be a real challenge, but I normally get the opportunity to sit down with the team managers or the players themselves ahead of a tournament to make sure I get that right! And you can rely on feedback via Twitter if you get something wrong.

What has been the best commentary moment for you - have you had a 'they think its all over moment'?

Over the years I've been lucky enough to work on the Olympics, Champions Trophy, Indoor World Cup, Hockey India League but....

Weirdly the first one that springs to mind is when a stray dog ran onto the pitch in Argentina last year (2013) at the Women's World League Finals!! Since it happened the clip has gone viral and helped to promote hockey on a global scale!

In your Wiki entry it refers to you as a 'heart throb'. How do you cope with that status?

Hilarious. I think someone must have put that up there for a laugh!!

FIH site

England Team has more Sikhs than India’s  - Sydney World Cup 1994

by Dil Bahra

Back row; L – R: Andy Humphrey (Reserve), Simon Nicklin, Simon Hazlitt, Nicky Thompson, Don Williams, Soma Singh, Middle row: Dr Ian Beasley, Neil Minter (Physio), Phil McGuire, Chris Mayer, David Luckes, Simon Mason, Julian Halls, Bobby Crutchley, Dick Clarke (Ass. Coach), Keith Sorrell (Ass. Coach), Front row: Russell Garcia, Jason Laslett, David Whittle (Manager), David Whitaker (Coach), John Shaw (V. Captain), Jon Potter (Captain).
Insert: Kalbir Takher and John Hurst (G/K Coach)

In our series of the impact Sikhs have had at Men’s Hockey World Cups, we look at the eighth World Cup held in Sydney, Australia in 1994.

The eighth Men’s Hockey World Cup was held at the State Hockey Centre, Homebush, Sydney, Australia from 23 November - 4 December 1994.

Twelve nations competed and were divided into two pools of six as follows:

Pool A: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, England, Pakistan and Spain.

Pool B: Belgium, Germany, India, Korea, Netherlands and South Africa.

Indian Teams which were dominated by Sikh players in the past had only one Sikh player at Sydney World Cup in 1994.

India, the bronze medal winners at the first World Cup in Barcelona in 1971 were led by a Sikh (Ajit Pal Singh) and had five Sikh players. The team Manager (Balbir Singh Sr.) was a Sikh.  At the second World Cup in Amstelveen in 1973, where India won the Silver medal, the team coach was a Sikh (Balkrishan Singh) and had eight Sikhs. In the Gold medal winning team at the 3rd World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1975, the team which was led by a Sikh (Ajit Pal Singh) included seven Sikhs. And both the Team Manager and Team Coach were Sikhs - Balbir Singh Sr. and Gurcharan Singh Bodhi.

Two Sikh Officials were appointed for the Sydney World Cup.

Avtar Singh Sohal, a former Kenya captain, coach and umpire was appointed as a Judge at Sydney 1994 World Cup.

After playing for City Primary School and Duke of Gloucester School in Nairobi, Avtar won his first international cap for Kenya when he was selected to play against South Africa at the age of 19. Three years later he was selected for the Rome 1960 Olympic Games.

He was appointed as the National Team captain in 1962 for a Test series against Pakistan, and from then he led Kenya for a period of 10 years during which time Kenya were a powerhouse in the world hockey circles.

He captained Kenya at Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972 Olympic Games and was also captain at the 1st World Cup in Barcelona in 1971 where Kenya finished fourth, narrowly losing 1 – 2 to India in the Bronze medal match.

After retiring from playing, Avtar took over coaching and was Kenya’s Coach from 1978 to 1988. He was the team coach at Los Angeles Olympic Games. In addition to Coaching, he took up Umpiring and was awarded his FIH international Umpires badge in 1980.

He was appointed on FIH’s Development and Coaching Committee in 1988 and was a Judge at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Tarlok Singh Bhullar of India was on the Umpires panel. He was awarded  his International badge in April 1986, his Grade 1 badge in September 1988 and his World Panel badge in October 1991. He umpired at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

England had two Sikhs in their team – Soma Singh and Kalbir Singh Takher.

Soma Singh (left) and Kalbir Takher

Soma Singh was making his second appearance at a World Cup. He had played at the Lahore 1990 World Cup.

Soma, born in Sangathpur, Punjab, India, emigrated to the UK in 1966 aged one. He studied at Loxdale School, Bilston in Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Polytechnic in England.  He started playing hockey at an early age and by the time he was 13, he was selected for England U16 squad. Three years later he was in the England U18 & U19 squads. He earned his U21 cap when he was selected to play against Ireland at Aberystwyth, Wales in 1983 and played at the Vancouver 1985 Junior World Cup.

A centre half/sweeper, he played for Khalsa Hockey Club and Southgate Hockey Club in London. He earned his first England senior cap in 1985 when he was selected to play against Pakistan in Ipoh, Malaysia. He earned his first Great Britain cap when he was selected to play against France in Paris in September 1990. Soma scored a goal in his debut for England Indoors against Czech Republic at Palais de Sauveur , Lille in December 1993.

Kalbir Singh Takher was making his first appearance at a World Cup. Born in Wolverhampton in England, Kalbir studied at Highfield School in Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton University. An attacking midfielder, he played for English Premier League Club, Cannock. He earned his first England cap in April 1993 when he was selected to play against Germany in Celle, Germany.

England Team: 1. David Luckes (G/K); 2. Simon Mason (G/K); 3. Phillip McGuire; 4. Julian Halls; 5. Soma Singh; 6. John Potter (Capt); 7. Jason Laslett; 8. John Shaw; 9. Kalbir Singh Takher; 10. Nick Thompson; 11. Chris Mayer; 12. Simon Nicklin; 13. Russell Garcia; 14. Robert Crutchley; 15. Simon Hazlitt; 16. Donald Williams.

Manager: David Whittle; Coach: David Whitaker

The Indian team had one Sikh in their squad for Sydney 1994 World Cup.

Harpreet Singh Mander, a right half from Punjab Police was making his first appearance at a World Cup. He had played at Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and also played at the Asia Cup and Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1993.

India Team: 1. A B Subbaiah; 2. Alloysias Edwards; 3. Alexander Anil Aldrin; 4. Ranjnish Mishra; 5. K K Pooncha; 6. Harpreet Singh; 7. Jude Felix (Capt); 8. Shakeel Ahmed; 9. Sandeep Somesh Hamachimana; 10. Mukesh Kumar; 11. Varkey Sabu; 12. Dhanraj Pillay; 13. Mohommed Riaz Nabi; 14. Sanjeev Kumar; 15. Gavin Ferrera; 16. Edward Arahana.

Manager: T Jesudanam; Coach: Cedric D'Souza

Final Classification: 1. Pakistan; 2. Netherlands; 3. Australia; 4. Germany; 5. India; 6. England; 7. Argentina; 8. Korea; 9. Spain; 10. South Africa; 11. Belgium; 12. Belarus.

Next week: 9th World Cup – Utrecht, Netherlands 1998.

Sikhs in Hockey

Canterbury U21s get in behind community

The Canterbury Men’s Under 21 Regional team took advantage of a training game with Southern to help grow hockey in South Canterbury.

Players and coaches of the Canterbury squad ran a clinic for primary aged players and local coaches in Timaru around their training match in advance of the National U21 Tournament.

For the Canterbury players and coaches, giving back to the community is a long standing tradition. Canterbury head coach Mitch Hayde is part of a hockey family and is assisted by his father, Glenn, with the U21s.

"For me lots of the things I coach, I have taken from coaches that have influenced me. My family played a part in how I coach with their strong background as players and coaches," Hayde said.

The clinic at South Canterbury came on the heels of Southern and Canterbury scheduling practice matches in Timaru as a central location between Christchurch and Dunedin.

Hockey South Canterbury Development Officer Janelle Amalfitano organised the event after learning of the training games. Over 50 young players and a dozen youth coaches turned out for the development clinic which doubled as a fundraiser for the Canterbury team.

Culture is an important part of the Canterbury team’s development.  Growing as a team isn’t limited to the playing field.  

“For the guys in the team it was about sharing their knowledge and learning to do some coaching. Although most of the guys have a pretty good knowledge of the game, delivering it as a coach is always a challenge so it was a good learning experience for them,” said Hayde.

There were a number of wins around the event in South Canterbury.

"The clinic was not was not only a good way for the boys to raise money but an excellent opportunity for the younger players in Timaru to be exposed to some of the South Island’s best up and coming players.  

“There was a large turnout of young players and parents to watch the match afterwards. We’re grateful to Hockey South Canterbury for supporting the clinic and hopefully  look forward to seeing their players in future Canterbury teams.”

Hockey New Zealand Media release

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