All the news for Wednesday 6 December 2017
Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 - ~Day 6
Results Day 5
Pool A ARG v ESP 1 - 2
Pool A BEL v NED 3 - 0
Fixtures (time GMT +5:30)
17:15 QF ESP v AUS
19:30 QF BEL v IND
Final Pool Standings
Quarter-final line-up revealed at Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017
Belgium's Tom Boon (in white) was amongst the scorers in his team's 3-0 triumph over the Netherlands on Tuesday. Copyright: FIH / World Sport Pics
Bhubaneswar, India: Following another exciting day of competition at the Kalinga Stadium, the quarter-final line-up of the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 has now been revealed.
Belgium finished at the top of Pool A courtesy of a 3-0 victory over the fourth placed finishers the Netherlands, while Spain’s battling 2-1 triumph over Olympic champions and world number 1 Argentina saw them finish in second place with Los Leones in third.
The first of the cross-over quarter-finals will take place on Wednesday 6th December, with Spain (2nd Pool A) playing reigning world and Hockey World League champions Australia (3rd Pool B) at 1715 Indian Standard Time (UTC: +5.30). That match will be followed at 1930 by the meeting between Belgium (1st Pool A) and India (4th Pool B).
The two remaining quarter-final matches will be played on Thursday 7th December, with England (2nd Pool B) taking on Argentina (3rd Pool A) at 1715 before Germany (1st Pool B) play the Netherlands (4th Pool A) at 1930.
In the day’s opening match, Spain were the dominant force for the majority of the first two quarters in their meeting with Argentina, having a remarkable 73 percent possession in their opponents' half. However, it was the Red Sticks who found themselves trailing 1-0 at half time thanks to a superb strike from Leones captain Matias Paredes, who produced the coolest of finishes with his back to goal to find the target with a reverse flick in off the left post.
The Spaniards continued to show their fight in the third quarter but Argentina kept goalscoring opportunities to a minimum before Spain turned the match on its head in the fourth quarter. Experienced attacker Pau Quemada found the target with a low penalty corner drag-flick in the 50th minute before Josep Romeu netted a penalty stroke with less than two minutes remaining after a goal-bound shot hit the body of an Argentine defender.
“It is the first time we have played against Argentina since the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics, and it was a big fight so we are very happy to have taken three points today”, said Spain captain Miguel Delas after the match. On his side being 1-0 down at half time against the run of play, Delas said: “We knew we were doing things well so we focussed on that. We showed good patience to wait for our chances to score and I’m proud of that.”
The result meant that Spain were guaranteed a minimum second place finish in Pool A, and had a slim chance of finishing top on goal difference provided that leaders Belgium fell to a heavy defeat against the Netherlands in the concluding match of the pool phase. It proved to be a false hope as the Red Lions produced yet another top class performance, winning 3-0 to finish at the top of the pile with a maximum nine points from their three games.
Competition top scorer Loick Luypaert continued his excellent form here in Bhubaneswar with the opening two goals for Belgium, slamming home blistering penalty corner drag-flicks in the 19th and 30th minutes to take his tally to six goals in three matches. Belgium’s third goal also came from a penalty corner, with Tom Boon making his mark on the scoreboard to give the Dutch little chance of staging a come-back.
In the final quarter the Netherlands had a penalty corner goal struck off by a smart video referral from Belgium, who spotted that the ball had not left the circle before the shot was taken. Belgium also had one final gilt-edged chance, with Luypaert missing the chance to claim his second successive hat-trick when he sent a penalty stroke wide of the target. It mattered little, with Belgium taking a comfortable victory ahead of the quarter-final crossovers.
RESULTS – DAY 5
Pool A: Argentina 1, Spain 2.
Man of the Match, presented by Odisha New Opportunities: Miguel Delas (ESP)
Junior Player of the Match, presented by ONGC: Santiago Tarazona (ARG)
Pool A: Belgium 3, Netherlands 0.
Man of the Match, presented by Odisha New Opportunities: Sam van der Ven (NED)
Junior Player of the Match, presented by ONGC: Arthur de Sloover (BEL)
Pool Standings (Final)
Quarter-Final line-up and schedule (All times Indian Standard Time - UTC +5.30)
Wednesday 6th December 2017
17:15: Spain v Australia
19:30: Belgium v India
Thursday 7th December 2017
17:15: England v Argentina
19:30: Germany v Netherlands
Spain stun Olympic champion Argentina 2-1
BHUBANESWAR: In the space of three days, Spain got the scalp of another top-ranked team at the Hockey World League Final when they edged past Olympic champion Argentina 2-1 on Tuesday. After falling behind in the first half by a goal, they scored twice in the final 10 minutes to finish the pool stage with two wins and a defeat.
On paper, it was world's top-ranked team meeting no 7. But on current form, Spain was the team with a win under their belt while Argentina still winless at the Hockey World League Final. Spain enjoyed a staggering 73% possession in the first half. However, in the beginning the two teams were involved in tight tussle with each vying to hold the ball but Spain's influence grew as the play progressed. They made few runs with intent but the Argentine defence was alert.
To their credit, Argentina, scrambling for the ball as during the first two quarters, nearly matched Spain in circle entries. Against the run of play, they then produced a moment of brilliance with Lucas Vila winning the ball in the opponent half and jinking it to his captain Matias Pardes who with a lovely touch sent the ball rolling inside the cage. Argentina had converted a half-chance to go 1-0 up in the second quarter.
After the change of ends, Spain, who had stunned Netherlands in their tournament opener, pressed hard and pushed Argentina deep. Soon, they won the first penalty corner of the match in the third quarter but the trap wasn't clean and the attempt afterwards amounted to nothing.
They soon got another chance to bring parity when a second penalty corner came their way. The veteran Pau Quemada slung a powerful low shot with the ball almost kissing the turf and whizzing past the rushers and the diving goalkeeper into the cage. With 10 minutes remaining, Spain were back in the game. It was to be their evening as in the closing stages, they got the rub of the green when they were awarded a penalty stroke after the ball hitting the leg of the last Argentine defender on the goalline during a penalty corner. No. 23 Josep Romeu made no mistake as he crashed the ball inside the goal to make it 2-1 in the 59th minute.
The Times of India
Belgium blank Netherlands, face India in quarterfinals
Belgium eased past European champions Netherlands to send a stern warning to India before their quarterfinal clash on Wednesday. In-form Loick Luypaert scored two penalty corner goals, while Tom Boon converted one as the Olympics silver medallists won 3-0 to top Pool A and set up a quarterfinal clash with Pool B laggards India.
The hosts have had a horrible tournament so far, losing two and drawing one match. Belgium, on the other hand, have won all three. Belgium beat Olympics champions Argentina 3-2 before hammering Spain 5-0 in their second match. The form Belgium are in, it doesn’t look too good for India. But whatever the results in the pool stage, India cannot be counted out in a knockout game.
Three years ago, India met Belgium at the same stage in the Champions Trophy at the same ground. India had had a terrible tournament till that match as well. After falling behind 0-2, India had rallied to beat Belgium 4-2.
In the 2015 Hockey World League Final in Raipur, India won the bronze medal despite finishing last in their pool. But India have not looked like a winning team so far. Apart from brief periods of fighting display, India have been abject on the turf. They will have to improve their game by a great deal if they wish to pose a challenge to Belgium. The Red Lions’ performance against archrivals Netherlands on Tuesday doesn’t only make them the favourites against India but also the overall favourites.
India coach Sjoerd Marijne said while India have a lot of respect for the Belgians, they believe they can win. “If you want to win tournaments, you have to face them all,” said Marijne. “Belgium is a very strong team and we have a lot of respect for them. The players believe we can win. We hope to make a bright start. It’s a match where the winner takes it all. It’s a match against a great opponent.”
Spain stun Argentina
Spain came back from being a goal down to beat Argentina 2-1. This is the Olympics champions’ second defeat of the tournament and they have drawn the third.
Spain 2-1 Argentina
Belgium 3-0 Netherlands
I should've scored the hat-trick: Loick Luypaert
BHUBANESWAR: In their three matches of the Hockey World League Final, Belgium have pumped in 11 goals, the most among the eight teams. Drag-flicker Loick Luypaert is the reason behind their prolific run, who has himself recorded six goals - the most by any player so far.
In the first game, he scored a goal in 3-2 win over Argentina and followed it up with a hat-trick in a 5-0 demolition of Spain. Then on Tuesday, he scored twice against the Netherlands and missed out on yet another hat-trick when he missed a PC and then a penalty stroke.
While any player would be satisfied with the performance, Luypaert wanted to get the third goal saying he probably switched off a bit early. "Little bit disappointed with the stroke I missed. I think the pressure was already up (from us) after being 3-0 up. I switched off too soon, could have scored a couple more," he told TOI Sports after the match.
Calling Belgium a complete team who are performing like a well-oiled machine, Luypaert pointed out that defense is one area that his team has been superb with two cleans sheets from three matches. "Our defensive work has been top notch. We have really good goalies. We haven't given a lot of chances to our opponents with easy shot at the goal. Twice we have had zero goals against us. We are a cohesive unit. Our strikers have been sharp in this tournament. We are still going to work on it to get better. Our forwards are classy. They win us a lot of [penalty] corners. We are a complete team," the 26-year-old said.
Throwing light on their preparations for the HWL Final, Luypaert said, "We prepared little bit in Belgium and then little bit in European competition. We flew here (in India) a week early to acclimatise with the conditions."
He also said that the team is looking forward to play India on Wednesday. "We played them four years ago here in the same atmosphere. We lost that game. So we have something to play for after that game. I think it's an amazing experience to play in front of such crowd," he said.
The Times of India
Can India tie all loose ends together?
A team in disarray takes on dominant Belgium; it’s Spain v Australia in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal
Ecstatic: Belgum’s Loick Luypaert celebrates scoring against the Netherlands.
A day after India capitulated to Germany, the team management cancelled its scheduled training session on Tuesday. It first decided to have an in-camera practice in the morning before cancelling it altogether 10 minutes later.
The uncertainty was symptomatic of India’s problems on field at the Hockey World League Finals here. India is trying a system it is not used to, coach Sjoerd Marijne has relegated responsibility to the players to decide how they want to play and the net result has been a team seemingly in disarray.
Amidst all this, the team will take on a dominant Belgium in the quarterfinals on Wednesday hoping it will all come together at the crunch. Olympic silver medallist Belgium, along with Germany, has been the best team on display so far and remains unbeaten.
It has found a new hero in every game with Loick Luypaert leading the charge. It has conceded the least goals and scored the most.
Despite enjoying a better overall record — 45 wins, 17 losses and 10 draws in 72 games — India has been hopelessly outplayed in the last 15 face-offs against Belgium with 12 losses including in the last two outings.
Captain Manpreet Singh is one of the seniors but he too seems to be struggling. Rupinderpal Singh is still rusty on return from injury.
The juniors aren’t exactly wet behind the ears but have played like that. Someone like a Sardar Singh or P.R. Sreejesh is being sorely missed. “We respect Belgium but if you have to win tournaments and get to the top, you have to win against all teams. At the moment, we are trying to connect the dots and it’s taking some time. But believe me, this team will do it,” Marijne said.
For the team’s sake, one would hope the winning begins on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Spain earned a penalty stroke 90 seconds from time and ensure it wouldn’t be wasted, winning its final league match 2-1 against Argentina after trailing by a goal till the final 10 minutes to finish at second spot in Pool A and set up a quarterfinal match against defending champion Australia.
Table-topper Belgium remained unbeaten with a 3-0 win against Netherlands in the other game of the day.
The results (Pool A):
Spain 2 (Pau Quemada, Josep Romeu) bt Argentina 1 (Matias Paredes); Belgium 3 (Loick Luypaert 2, Tom Boon) bt the Netherlands 0.
Wednesday’s schedule (quarterfinals): Spain vs Australia (5.15 pm), India vs Belgium (7.30 pm).
India will have engage mighty Belgians
India will have to meet the mighty team in Bhubneswar. Only outfit to win all the matches in the Hockey World League Finals, the Red Lions tamed European Champions Netherlands to smithereens today in the last pool match by an astounding 3-0 score despite missing a stroke.
Only team not to score a victory in Bhubneswar viz India will play another crucial quarterfinal against the same Belgium, who dashed their hopes in Rio.
Failing to post a win over Canada in the last pool match - a win would have pitted them against Spain - India landed up against Belgium only to be banged.
On Wednesday India-Belgium quarters will be played 19.30 hrs IST after Australia-Spain match. On Thursday, the 3rd quarters will be between England and Argentina. The match of the day will be when Germany takes on traditional foe Netherlands after that.
Indian team came and watched the Belgium-Spain match, and must have got a bit of Belgium.
Like a well-oiled machine, Belgium left no room for the Dutch to dominate. The Belgians were so overwhelming that they got ten penalty corners and a stroke while the dutch exactly half of that minus stroke.
Loick Luypaert, already top scorer with four goals, added two more today through penalty corners. He could have easily made his second hattrick at this level had only he pushed the stroke that umpire Javed Sheikh of India awarded which withstood counter referral. However, Loick pushed it wide making the task of ultimate Man of the Match Bart van der easy.
Earlier in the penultimate pool match, Spain outwitted struggling Argentina.
After Rio revenge, Tom Boon ready for India challenge
Bhubaneswar: On December 2, when Belgium beat Argentina 3-2, recording their first win in the tournament, it was revenge of sorts for them. The Belgians had earlier been beaten by Argentina in the final of Rio Olympics and a victory against them was a morale booster. Now, their star player Tom Boon, is looking forward for the big one against India.
“Argentina is a good team, and it was great to beat them. Now we are up against India. It is always special to play against India in front of their home crowd. They are a strong team. We are going to enjoy the game a lot,” said Tom Boon.
Though with a perfect three wins, the Belgians are the only team in the tournament to remain without loss. The spirited Belgium yesterday outplayed Netherlands for a fluent 3-0 win depsite missing out a stroke.
However, the most the quarter-final remains most crucial as this would be the knock-out game.
“In this format, quarter final is most crucial. So, that becomes a must win,” he said.
“The first target was to set up momentum for the quarter-final and that is done.”
Boon has earlier played in the same stadium during the Champions Trophy in 2014 and enjoys a good local support.
“The people here love hockey and there are a lot of fans of the sport. With us playing against India, I hope they enjoy and we can give them a good show.”
Tom Boon also played a season in the Hockey India League, for which the Mumbai franchise paid the season's highest prize exceeding USD 100,000
India face rampaging Belgium in quarters
BHUBANESWAR: The Indian team's progression in the round-robin stage of the Hockey World League Final has been a curious affair. When a lot wasn't expected from them, they defied the logic and when they raised hopes, they again surprised. The Australia match, expected to be a test, was passed with flying colours - lighting start, sharp passes, resolute defence and exemplary counterattacks. They sent a message to the defending champions Australia and to the rest of the six teams - watch out. But, in the next two matches, they were back to their old self - poor passing, allowing the opposition to dictate the pace, defensive errors resulting in goals and poor finishing.
From the high of a draw, they progressed downwards to two terrible defeats. Had the format of the HWL Final been any different, they would have been watching the knockout stage from the comfort of their homes. But, since the tournament allows for all eight teams to move to the quarters, they are still very much in Bhubaneswar and even too some time out from their 'rest day' and watch Belgium destroy Netherlands from the stands on Tuesday night.
Sjoerd Marijne has continuously spoken about maintaining consistency. He has tried defending his team's performance even after woeful performance. He though admits they need to avoid defensive errors and work on converting their penalty corners - an area they have been found wanting against the top teams.
Belgium is not just one of the top teams, it is the team to beat this tournament. Their rampaging form has seen the likes of Spain Argentina (3-2), Spain (5-0) and Netherlands (3-0) surrender either meekly or after some fight. While India have fallen a step behind, they have raised the bar every game. And to think of, they are not going full throttle considering to conserve energies for the phase that matters.
Against Belgium, not only Marjine's men will be tested in all the departments. Rupinder Pal Singh and company will have to close out their captain Thomas Briels from creating opportunities in India's half for his forwards who have more often than not, found the target. India captain Manpreet Singh has been the lone shining light in the midfield but in the absence of help from others, he too cuts a sorry figure at times.
On Wednesday evening, they have one last chance to reignite the spark which they put on display on the opening night of the tournament failing which they will out of medal contention and will then be contesting to avoid a last place-finish.
The Times of India
Kookaburras To Face Spain In HWL Quarter-Finals
The Kookaburras will face world number nine Spain in the quarter-finals of the FIH Men’s World League Final in Bhubaneswar at 10.45pm AEDT on Wednesday live on Fox Sports.
World number two Australia finished third in Pool B with three draws and will meet the Spanish who ended Pool A ranked second with two wins.
Spain all but sealed second spot with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over world number one Argentina on Tuesday night. Belgium’s 3-0 win over the Netherlands in the later game confirmed their spot as Pool A winners and Spain as runners-up.
The Kookaburras drew 1-1 with India, 2-2 with Germany and 2-2 with England in their three pool matches.
Australia and Spain last met at the World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg in July with the Kookaburras winning both matches, including an 8-1 win in the third place match.
The winner of the Australia-Spain quarter-final will meet either Germany or the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Friday or Saturday.
Spain v Australia, 10.45pm AEDT Wednesday 6 December
Belgium v India, 1am AEDT Thursday 7 December
England v Argentina, 10.45pm AEDT Thursday 7 December
Germany v Netherlands, 1am AEDT Friday 8 December
*All matches will be televised on Fox Sports
Hockey Australia media release
India were burdened by coach Sjoerd Marijne's new system in Germany loss
Bhubaneswar: Gurjant Singh of India falls down after charging with German defender Weinke Ferdinand. PTI
Indian hockey needs a Sean Hannity. Even as US President Donald Trump’s rating sinks like stone in water, Fox News host Hannity is defending Trump at all costs. Something or someone similar was needed when Indian captain Manpreet Singh and national coach Sjoerd Marijne sat for a press conference after India had been thoroughly exposed by yet another opponent.
In front of 9,000 plus fans, who came to watch India take on Germany, the hosts' performance was perplexing. In hockey, there are instances where a team gets many chances and still doesn’t score. But there is a forward movement happening as players combine and look for opportunities. In the match against Germany, India seemed burdened by a strategy that they were desperately trying to imbibe. The end result: Germany very easily went past India 2-0 to top Pool B. India remain at the bottom but will still play the quarter-finals.
There is a frightening gap between winning the Asian Championships and trying to do well at the World level; but having said that, such capitulation hasn’t been seen since the 2012 London Olympics. It wasn't not just about the score.
It was alarming to see the sheer possession that Germany enjoyed. Yes, the Germans have been playing possession hockey for nearly 25 years. They are masters at it. India seemed to have jettisoned natural instincts and completely relied on counter-attacks and the opponents' mistakes to try and score. This worked against Australia as the Aussies were caught off-guard on fast breaks and India got the opening goal. It’s another matter that the hosts couldn’t score off the numerous chances they got.
With packed defences, and most teams in the top four defending penalty corners and field attempts extremely well, getting goals is tough at such world-level tournaments. India did have their moments against Germany. They clearly had two opportunities and three half-chances. Even on the break, they caught the Germans thrice. But what hurts is India’s impotence around penalty corners. India had four against Germany; but nothing came out of them. Marijne, a man with apparently infinite patience and a smile, said, "We had the chances. But couldn’t convert them.”
Is it that simple to convert chances? The bigger questions, however, swirl around the system the team is playing at the moment. Across the four quarters, and specifically for large periods in the fourth quarter, India were chasing the game. It is no secret that Germany weren't allowing India to hit their groove. The visitors kept rotating the ball and kept possession to ensure that India didn’t have the ammunition to launch a counter. Sometimes for as long as three minutes — a long stretch in modern hockey — India did off the ball running.
At the moment, the players have apparently bought into the system. The restless fans didn’t. But to give the devil his due, the players aren't playing for the fans, even though 9,000 of them were at the stadium. They are, at the moment, inside a system that completely relies on the counter and picking off the opponent’s mistakes.
Marijne explained that the start was slow against Germany as there were too many technical errors. In a layman’s language, it meant that India were using more than two touches on the ball and that resulted in time wastage and also gave the opponents time to come behind the ball.
“I know what Germany is playing,” Marijne said. “But we will reach there. At the moment, we are trying to connect the dots and it’s taking some time. But believe me, this team will do it.”
Marijne didn’t say "have patience". But that is exactly what foreign coaches across the world have said over the years.
In 1990, India beat South Korea in Delhi at the Asia Cup 5-2. The scoreline could easily have been seven-plus. There were loads of missed opportunities. India’s tactical plan in those days was to rush at the opponent and get as many goals as possible. Kim Sang Ryul, the Korean coach was smiling after the battering by India. Two years later, in an interview he said Korea were ready to beat India.
Even though India beat Korea in the 1994 World Cup, victories eventually dried out. Korea played a tight game and Kim called it the diamond formation, where players converged on the opponent eventually closing all distribution channels. Exactly 10 years later, with big wins in the middle especially at the Asian Championships and at the Asian Games, Korea beat India 2-0 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was a game similar to the one we watched against Germany.
Closing of all channels left Indian players dried up on the pitch. Korea controlled the midfield and made players of the calibre of Mukesh Kumar, Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Deepak Thakur, Samir Dad and Gagan Ajit Singh feel useless on the pitch. After the match, Pillay said, “Ball hi nayi mila, goal kahan se karoge? (Didn’t even get the ball so where will the goals come from?)
Something similar happened to Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh — players who possess enough skills to unsettle opponents. Germany planned their match strategy around defusing situations. Even under Paul Lissek at the 1992 Olympics, they ran rings around everybody. At times, it seemed they hated scoring. They took delight in keeping the ball and making the opponents run around like headless chickens.
Psychologically, this strategy affects forwards when match stats show they didn’t have much of a touch. On the sidelines, the coach needs to support players constantly. Lissek was a master at that and it's easy to implement when an entire nation plays a particular system.
The biggest scoreline when Germany won the 1992 Olympic Gold was the 8-2 against Egypt and after that it was the 3-0 score against India. Apart from that, they drew 1-1 with Australia, beat Great Britain 2-0, beat Argentina 2-1 and won the semi-finals against Pakistan 2-1 and then beat Australia in the final with a similar score. Against top opponents, it’s always been close, tight and utter field domination.
Cedric D’Souza, coach of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics team under whom India played a 1-1 draw in their second match in the Pool, said, “This is a process that started with the Asia Cup and culminates with the World Cup. So every tournament has to be a stepping stone with the focus on being fully prepared in a year’s time.”
D'Souza also said that the players have been consulted about the system in play and they have bought into it. “Yes, it’s a totally new system and we should give the players more time,” he stressed.
Indian captain Manpreet Singh did admit that there was frustration. “But we are trying to lessen the errors,” he added.
When pressed a little in the post-match conference against Germany, Marijne said better match statistics don't have any significance if a team can't win. "If you look at the match statistics, we have more circle entries, more penalty corners, more ball possession but eventually it is about scoring. The chances we get we have to make use of them."
In a match, one team will have more ball possession but it's more important to convert penalty corners to win the match. India still needed to score at 50 percent and they floundered by not getting any goals of four penalty corners.
The stats do tell a story — at full-time, India had 10 shots on goal to Germany’s six. Germany had a possession of 64 percent to India’s 34 percent. India had no conversions from four penalty corners while Germany scored once off the two they earned. India’s circle entries were 13 compared to 14 for Germany.
Marijne said, "In the second half we played well. We created chances but didn't execute them and they (Germany) knew how to execute their opportunities. One team had more ball possession but what matters is execution. It's about who scores most goals. It's about winning the match."
Cedric said, “The team is playing at a high pace and this means release in speed and also speed in decision making, speed in give and go. The buzz word is going forward at high speed. So we need to be patient and let the team fine tune the method.”
Marijne, who is under pressure as he looks to implement a process, believes this team has the quality to deliver. Nobody is talking about the coach at the moment and it would be unfair to doubt him so soon. But in world hockey, India along with Pakistan are probably two nations where patience runs thin when results aren’t good. The word ‘patience’ becomes a stick to beat you down with.
Across the world, in every sport, changes happen, tactically every sport evolves, and there are times when a team with just 28 percent possession gets a couple of goals against a team that did all the hard work but couldn’t score. These are similar times. India stand at six in the world in a sport where a lot of churning is taking place. Indian hockey would rather be on the cusp of something spectacular than just hover around looking at short-term results.
Penalty corners headache persists for India
Time running out: Rupinderpal Singh, who has been a bit rusty after coming back from injury, needs to score for India in crunch moments.
Before the competition started, India’s biggest strength being touted was its riches in the penalty corner department. No other team at the Hockey World league Finals here could boast of a five-man battery, each one of them tried and tested in the penalty corner conversion business.
Three games later, with the league engagements wrapped up without a win and some disappointing performances, the riches have appeared strictly underwhelming. And even though the disclaimer that the real tournament starts with the quarterfinals beginning on Wednesday has been run innumerable times, there is something to be said about building momentum and hitting the groove. India hasn’t done that, yet.
So far, India has scored the least number of goals. It also has the second worst goal difference behind Spain but the latter also has won two out of its three games. And when it comes to penalty corners, India ranks at the bottom in terms of conversion percentages with just one success in 13 attempts (7.86%).
Dutch legend Floris Jan Bovelander, without taking names, indicated that the measure of a successful player was when he scores in crunch situtations.
“India has a couple of good ones but you have to score goals at the right moment. That makes you special and really good. You have to score in crunch games. Then you are good,” he said.
The good ones he spoke about include Rupinderpal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh with Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas and Dipsan Tirkey to complete the quintet. Of these, three have not attempted any tries so far here.
Rupinder has been a bit rusty coming back from injury and Harmanpreet seems to be concentrating more on his defensive duties.
Former India skipper and drag-flick expert V.R. Raghunath, who has been out of the national scheme of things since the Rio Olympics, feels India needs to be more aggressive and proactive on field.
“The players have to be more attacking in every department. Whether it’s the forwards attempting goals or penalty corners or the drag-flickers executing them, I would like to see more aggression. They need to read the penalty corner situations during the match, not before or after, and try and keep the goalkeepers guessing,” he suggested.
Sounds logical but the Indians have so far refrained from trying anything new. There have been no variations tried — only direct hits at the goal and that too mostly low shots — and no attempts made to surprise the goalkeepers.
A senior player suggested that, barring the senior pros like Argentina’s Juan Vivaldi or George Pinner from England, most of the goalkeepers here were new and young but India made them look good.
“We are playing very good till the attacking 25 yards, but tend to pull back and hesitate after that, I don’t know why. The team seems a bit nervous and playing too safe for its own good. The penalty coner attack has been very predictable, there is no challenge for the ’keepers, and the flickers seem to be going where the opposition wants them to go rather than controlling the shots,” he added.
Not that the strikers have scored much, despite creating chances galore. But former coach A.B. Subbaiah seconded that the team needed to be more attacking.
“We need to play attacking hockey till the end. Against England, our boys looked slow and in defensive mode from the very beginning,” he said.
It’s early days yet and the team may still sort its problems out. But the lack of creativity and experimentation in the league games — the perfect opportunity to do so — would be a concern.
India need to shrug off inconsistencies ahead of quarter-final clash
File image of the India men's hockey team. Reuters
Bhubaneswar: An inconsistent India will have to raise their game by leaps and bounds if they are to upstage Olympic silver medallist Belgium in the quarter-final of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final on Wednesday.
India, bronze medallist in 2015, finished last in Pool B after garnering just one point from one draw and two losses and will now take on the world No. 2 side in the knockout round after the Red Lions topped Pool A following their 3-0 win over Netherlands.
Belgium's all three goals came from penalty corners through Loick Luypaert (19th and 30th minutes) and Tom Boon (32nd minute).
The victory margin could have been 4-0 for Belgium had Luypaert not missed a penalty stroke in the 50th minute.
Lower ranked Spain sprang a surprise and stunned reigning Olympic champions Argentina 2-1 earlier in the day to finish second in Pool A with six points, while Netherlands finished at the bottom with one point after Argentina, who also have one point from three matches.
In the first quarter-final on Wednesday, Spain will face Australia, who finished third in Pool B.
In the other quarterfinals, Pool B toppers England, who finished second in Pool B, will square off against Argentina while Germany will play Netherlands on Thursday.
Even though India have a better overall head-to-head record against Belgium, the recent results against the Red Lions are far from impressive.
In 71 matches played so far between the two sides, India had won 45, lost 17 and drew 10 times.
In the recent past India played Belgium four times and on three occasions they ended up on the losing side, which includes the quarter-final defeat at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 0-1 reverse in the semi-finals of the last edition of HWL Final in Raipur.
After an impressive 1-1 draw against world champions Australia, India's performance has slipped significantly as they wasted chances galore in their next two games to lose 2-3 and 0-2 against England and Germany respectively.
The Indian forwardline comprising Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil and Lalit Upadhyay failed to live up to the expectations and have been below-par so far in the tournament.
As if the misfiring strikers were not enough, India also has been let down by their dragflickers.
Despite possessing a battery of dragflickers in Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas, the Indians have a poor penalty corner conversion rate and have made use of just two out of the 13 set pieces they earned in the tournament so far.
Skipper Manpreet Singh has been the player to watch out for India as in all the three pool matches he led from the front, but didn't get enough support from his team-mates.
"We will have to improve in all departments of the game. We need to improve on our penalty corners and shots on goal. We created plenty of chances but our execution was not perfect," India's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne had said after the loss to Germany.
Belgium will be the team to beat in the tournament and they will be high on confidence after finishing their pool engagements with an all-win record.
All said and done, the Indians will have to dish out a lion-hearted performance to progress to the semi-finals of the elite tournament.
Earlier in the day, lower ranked Spain stunned reigning Olympic champions Argentina 2-1 to finish second in Pool A with six points.
World No 9 Spain came from a goal down to surprise World No 1 Argentina, who struggled in converting the opportunities in the 60-minute duel.
Spain had conceded a goal in the second quarter when Argentina captain Matias Paredes struck a field goal in the 21st minute.
But the Spaniards did not give up and made a valiant comeback in the 35th minute through Pau Quemada's strike before scoring the winner just a minute from the hooter when they were awarded a penalty stroke and Josep Romeu made no mistake in converting from spot.
Stats Speak: Will India break Belgium’s winning streak?
By B.G.Joshi (in Kalinga Hockey Stadium Bhubaneswar)
Belgium beat India 4-3 in Johannesburg Champions Challenge Cup (Dec 4,2011).to win the cup and secure entry in the elite zone Champions Trophy(Melbourne-2012). Tom Boon netted the goal 40 seconds before the hooter
Since then, the Red Lions have the upper hand against Indians. Belgium has won 12 out of 15 matches in last 6 years. Here are statistical highlights of India-Belgium in international hockey:
India versus Belgium at a glance
Last played: Boom Test Match; Aug 2017; lost 1-3
Last win: Dusseldorf invitation tourney; Jul 2017; 3-2
Our new players will take some time to settle: Gonzalo Peillat
BHUBANESWAR: Argentina has had a tough Hockey World League Final so far. They lost to Belgium in their opening match, played out a nail-biting draw with Netherlands and on Tuesday were stunned by lower-ranked Spain. The group stage standings might be immaterial to who enters the knockouts but for a team who is the current Olympic champion, these strings of result don't do justice to the tag.
Drag-flicker Gonzalo Piellat put the blame on Argentine forwards saying even though they were controlling the game better in the beginning, the support upfront was missing. "We controlled the game well. I think, our forwards weren't up to the mark today," Piellat, who was the leading goal-scorer at the 2014 Hockey Men's World Cup said after the match.
When TOI asked whether his team will have to revise their strategy for the knockouts, Piellat hinted it need not because the team will improve as a majority of players in the team are new to the setup and will take some time before getting used to it. "See, we have around nine new players at the moment. They need to get used to the system. It will take some time. Some players don't have much experience. It is quite difficult for them to just come in and get used to it. If we push harder, we can get the wins," the 25-year-old said.
While he agrees that results of the pool stage aren't that important but they do decide whom a team faces in the knockouts and they have now set their sight firmly on the upcoming matches. "What position you finish in the league stage will decide whom you face in the quarters. But we might finish at the top in pool but lose in the quarters. Our focus is now firmly on the knockouts. We will do our best," he said.
The Times of India
Expected Indian defenders to come at us harder: German coach Stefan Kermas
BHUBANESWAR: Germany were technically superior to India across fronts in their 2-0 win at the Hockey World League Final here on Monday. However, the style of Indian play and the way their defenders dealt with them also helped them finish the league stage on a high.
"The Indian defenders didn't come at us as hard as we expected," Germany coach Stefan Kermas said after the match. "We did have a lot of possession. But possession alone doesn't matter when you cannot score. Our defence was quite well, we defended all the penalty corners well. We always have to keep our eyes on what can we do better in the offense. We have a good mixture of man-on-man marking and high offensive zonal marking."
Kermas said the key to their success is finding the right balance between pace and accuracy. "The key to success is to find the right mixture of speed because it alone doesn't help. You have to be accurate with the passes too. We like the teams that play a little bit deeper. For us it proved beneficial the way Indians played today," he said.
Kermas felt that the team put up a much-improved performance than they did against Australia but admitted he was unhappy that they could not score a third goal. "We played better than in the game against Australia, used and created the space better and with good passing, always found a way to take the ball to the final quarter. We should have scored a third goal and it's something that I am not happy about but for sure we had a clear plan," he said.
Germany captain Martin Haner put up a brilliant performance and also scored the opening goal for his team. He said his relatively inexperienced team has grown in confidence in the three league matches and that they know have the self-belief to beat any team.
"Before the tournament we said the quarterfinals will be the most important game but as a team we are relatively inexperienced than others. We haven't played much together. Now we have a lot of self-confidence that we can beat any team in the tournament," Haner said.
The Times of India
Enrique Gonzalez: Rising hockey star from Madrid, with Dutch imprint on his game
BHUBANESHWAR: What comes to your mind when you think of Spain? Bull-fighting, La Tomatina, Flamenco, Sagrada Familia, Tapas, football? If you aren't too familiar with the Spanish culture, you can be forgiven for not making an association with any of those words barring football.
But what about field hockey? Still no? Again, no sweat.
Spain's men's hockey team has three silver and one bronze medal at the Olympics and two silver and a bronze from World Cups. They have twice won EuroHockey Championships and have also once claimed gold at the Champions Trophy apart from a couple silvers and three bronze medals. Their women's team has an Olympic gold, from the Barcelona Games in 1992. But as is with cricket and other sports in India, football and hockey in Spain are on two different levels.
This is the second time Spain's men's team is in India to participate in a major FIH event. In December 2016, they were in Lucknow for the men's junior world cup where they finished sixth, above Netherlands and England. While the result isn't much to gloat about, the team impressed. And there was one player who delighted with his deft skills as he dribbled and dodged past one player after another. In this day and age, when hockey has undergone a sea change and become less dependent on skills with the pace of the game quicker and sometimes impossible to track, the way this young European forward performed was heartening.
He quickly graduated to the next level, with the senior team, and now is currently with them in Bhubaneswar for the HWL Final. He had impressed everyone enough to be awarded with the Player of the Tournament trophy.
Meet Enrique Gonzalez, a shy 21-year-old with eyes full of dreams. He hails from Madrid, a hotbed of football. When younger, like everyone else in his town, he took a liking to football. Growing up, Gonzalez juggled between football and hockey.
So why hockey? His father played the sport at club level in Spain and after a discussion with him, Gonzales decided to take it up seriously. "As a young kid, I played a lot of football. My father played hockey professionally in Spanish League. He inspired me to take hockey. And when I turned 11, turned to hockey and now I playing for Spain today," he tells TOI Sports.
To sharpen his skills, Gonzalez joined Club de Campo, where he learned the tricks of the stick. Today, he is enjoying his time in India, soaking in an atmosphere he is not used to playing when in his home country or in other European competitions. "Hockey is not that big in my country. It is mostly played in Madrid and Barcelona. Barcelona is at the top of the pile when it comes to hockey in Spain. I think 13 of the 18 players in our team belong are from there. The difference is this crowd. There aren't many fans of the game in Spain," he says.
Gonzalez made a happy return to the country after scoring in Spain's 3-2 win over Netherlands in their HWL Final opener. "Happy to be back here. India is a great nation to play hockey. The crowd here is amazing. They make it quite an experience," he adds.
Gonzalez landed as one of the Spanish juniors with big dreams in India last year. By the time he was finished with the World Cup, he was a star. He got a feel of the stardom after returning home. "The reception was amazing. I was in my school that time, everywhere the reaction was good. Before the tournament, the coach told me that if I play well, I will win the prize (player of the tournament)," he says.
Before the high of last year's visit to India, Gonzalez was left heartbroken when at the last minute he was excluded from the team for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He still remembers the day his coach told him he wasn't taking the flight to Brazil. Gonzalez was crestfallen but then, another important assignment awaited him in December that year, captaining Spain at the Junior World Cup where he made a name for himself.
After impressing at a world stage, Gonzalez hopes to repeat the same performance with the senior team but admits playing hockey at this level is very different and difficult from the junior circuit.
Gonzalez is still in his early days but he has already set sights on what he wants from his career. He wants to win titles with Spain and aims to play club hockey in Netherlands in the next three years. "Right now, I am playing in Spain. When I am 24 or 25, I would love to play for a club in the country," he says.
Gonzalez is aware of the chinks in his game and has no hesitation in admitting what he needs to work on. "The weakest part is the midfield. I want to improve my game in the middle and try to dribble more and run with the ball," he says. Even though his father played an important role in Gonzalez's decision to choose hockey over football, he seems more influenced by Dutch hockey. In particularly, the pair of Robert Kepperman and Valentin Verga who are his sporting heroes.
Unlike other sports, hockey isn't a financially rewarding career for the majority. Professional players equip themselves with education for a career and life after their professional careers are over. Gonzalez is studying Business Administration and Management from Universidad Carlos III where he also plays hockey too, and like millions of his compatriots he loves football. "Real Madrid is my team. I think it will be difficult for them to win the league this season. But I am trying to remain positive," he says.
He believes the current Spanish team is "quite strong" and has one of the best goalkeepers (Quico Cortes) in the world. "The balance is really good. We have experience in Pao Quemarda, Sergio Enriques - they all advise me to remain calm. I always heed to their advice and try to play better," he says.
The Times of India
XI Central American Games, Managua 2017 - Day 1
Central American Games (Hockey5s) - Managua. Phot: Virginia Paguaga
The XI Central American Games, Managua 2017, began at Conchita Palacios facilities. The opening game of the day was Nicaragua vs Panama (Women) with a victory 2-1 for Nicaragua. In the following match El Salvador played against Guatemala, With hard work and good strategy Guatemala won 3-1.
The Nicaraguans once again measured their strength in the Men's Hockey match against Guatemalan national team with a huge win 6 to 1.
During the afternoon Panama and El Salvador (Men) played an energetic match in which with great effort the Panamanian team took over the game with a final result 4 to 1.
The next game was Costa Rica vs Honduras. Costa Rican team achieved a total of 5 to 0, showing their organization and technical progress.
The girls from Nicaragua delighted us with their hockey techniques and for 30 minutes, the score was 0 to 0 against Costa Rica. Costa Rica kept playing and looking for opportunities. With great effort they scored and the match ended 1-0 for Costa Rica.
The Panamanian women's team won 3 to 1 against El Salvador. Panama scored in the first minute of the game . With a quick reaction El salvador tied the score 1 1, Panama then achieved its second goal to break the score, ending with a third goal.
The game between men's national teams of Guatemala and El Salvador was a very tough game, with no goals during the first and second half . Guatemala scored two goals the third quarter of the game. Final Result 2-1 Guatemala.
The men's teams of Honduras and Panama faced each in the last game of day 1. Panama scored in the first minute of the game. But this was not it. In 10 minutes they scored 2 more goals. In the third and fourth quarter they continued playing and looking for more opportunities. Panama scored 3 more goals. Final Result: 6-0
Pan American Hockey Federation media release
XI Central American Games, Managua 2017 - Day 2
Central American Games (Hockey5s) - Managua
Second day at Conchita Palacios Sports facility. For the second time in a row, the teams from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama made a great job to continue with the Central American Games Competition.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua men team faced each other this morning without any of them scoring in the first period. In the second half the Ticos scored their first goal before the Guatemala put the score 1-1, but unfortunately the referee canceled the goal. At the end of the game Costa Rica scored again, taking the victory 2-0 against the Nicaragua. Goals of Juan Navarro # 1 and Ricardo Acosta # 9.
The Costa Rican women's team faced El Salvador, finishing the first half with no goals. Both teams couldn’t score in the first half. In the second half, player # 20 Nohelia Mata scored the goal that would give the final result in favor of Costa Rica by 1- 0 over El Salvador.
Guatemala’s men team met Honduras. The first half was a very tight game. In the Second half # 32 Jose Villatoro from Guatemala opened the score . José Anzueto # 3,scored as well and gave Guatemala the advantage by two. Kevin Alvarado # 7 of Honduras narrowed the gap to 1-2 in the 27th minute. With no more minutes to play Player # 32 of Guatemala, scored the last goal of the match giving Guatemala a victory 3-1 over Honduras
Guatemala’s women team played against the locals, Nicaragua. In a resounding match the hosts scored 4 goals to seal the victory against their neighbors . Five minutes from the start, Player # 17 Judith Nicaragua opened the scoreboard, and just one minute into the second period Nicaragua's # 10, Maria Saravia put it 2-0. At 23 minutes Jayvelin Ramirez # 8 and Luisa Garcia # 2 at 26 minutes respectively, added for the 4-0 victory against Guatemala.
Nicaragua’s men team faced El Salvador in a match that left a balance of 2-2. After 3 minutes # 7 of Nicaragua Brass Tapia scored, but the joy was short-lived, in minute 5 his opponent tied the game. Once again the player # 7 of Nicaragua, Brass Tapia gave the advantage to his teams until they were again equaled after a good action of Mario Velasquez # 2 of El Salvador.
The match between Costa Rica and Panama women ended 0-0. Despite the efforts of both teams neither was able to make a difference.
In the afternoon Costa Rica men defeated Panama 2-0 with goals from # 10 Gabriel Orozco and # 12 Jose Serrano.
In last game of day 2 Honduras played against El Salvador men’s team. El Salvador was devastating. 6-0 victory over Honduras was completed with goals from: Kevyn Jimenez in the minutes 8, 9 and 30 with a hat-trick of, two goals by player # 9 Luis Mejia at 13 and 23 minutes and a goal from Jonathan Presa to the 21
Day 3 of men and women Central American Games will start Tomorrow from 8 in the morning.
Pan American Hockey Federation media release
Hockey Stars Awards: Meet the male Player of the Year nominees
Feared by their rivals, feted by their teammates and adored by their fans, the five shortlisted players for the FIH Male Player of the Year features some shining talent from around the globe. There are talented marksmen, hot shot penalty corner specialists and flamboyant play-makers. The one thing they all have in common? They are supremely talented sports people who are operating at the top of their game.
Here are the nominations in alphabetical order:
Netherlands sharp shooter and midfield dynamo Billy Bakker is one of the lynchpins of the Netherlands' midfield and one of the reasons Oranje have been so strong this year. Their sumptuous 6-1 victory at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London against Argentina was followed by a similar 4-2 win over rivals Belgium at the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships. Bakker and his team mates' victory in Amsterdam was cheered by thousands of orange-clad fans who enjoyed a consummate example of free-flowing hockey and Bakker was at the heart of every move.
Mats Grambusch has enjoyed another good year with Germany. He was leading goal scorer in the recent test matches against Great Britain; among the top goal scorers in both the EuroHockey Championships, where Germany finished fourth and also the HWL Semi-Finals in Johannesburg where his team secured second place and qualification for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. At 25, Grambusch is coming into his prime and this year has established himself as a key player in Germany’s hunt for World Cup gold in India next year. He scored the opening goal at the HWL Final and, with that event currently underway, Grambusch is in fearsomely good form.
The next nominee is a past winner of the Rising Stars Award. Argentina's drag flick specialist Gonzalo Peillat is one of a number of Argentina players who have been at the heart of Argentina's rise up the rankings in recent years. Peillat has a trophy cabinet full of medals that includes a bronze medal from the 2014 World Cup, gold at the 2015 Pan American Championships and, of course, 2016 Olympic gold. Peillat was top scorer at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, where Argentina finished in silver medal position. He was also joint top scorer at the Pan American Cup, where Argentina retained their title as continental champions.
When Netherlands' Mirco Pruyser gets into his opponent's circle, goalkeepers and defenders know they are in trouble. The freely-scoring striker was top scorer as the Netherlands took gold at the 2017 EuroHockey Championships. On that occasions he scored six goals. Pruyser was also part of the Netherlands team that stormed to a 6-1 win over Argentina at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London in June, securing the gold medal – a win that makes the Netherlands one of the favourites to lift the end of year Hockey World League Final trophy.
Belgium's Arthur van Doren is a player who has been making a huge impact on the game since he first burst onto the hockey scene in 2013. As a 17-year-old he was part of the Belgium squad that won silver at the 2013 EuroHockey Championships in Boom, Belgium, a feat the Red Lions and van Doren repeated in 2017. European silver was upgraded to Olympic silver in 2016 and in the same year van Doren was voted FIH Rising Star. The defender is in with a chance of repeating that success as he is once again a nominee in this year's Rising Star Award.
PHF allocates hefty amount for replacement of turfs at hockey centres
KARACHI: The government has allocated a hefty amount of Rs 647.713 million for replacing six worn out synthetic hockey turfs across the country, besides installing one at a new venue by June 2020, Dawn has reliably learnt on Tuesday.
The worn out turfs will be replaced at the Pakistan Sports Board Complex, Islamabad, at the Faisalabad Hockey Stadium, POF Wah Hockey Stadium at Wah Cantt, Lala Ayub Hockey Stadium at Peshawar, Gen Musa Hockey Stadium in Quetta and Hockey Stadium Abottabad.
The National Hockey Stadium, Sialkot Garrison, will be commissioned as a new venue where the seventh turf would be laid.
Sources said the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) also plans to establish an academy at Sialkot Garrison.
A decision in this regard was taken during a meeting that took place between the PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and the Minister for Planning Developement and Reform Ahsan Iqbal in Islamabad.
The ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) will dole out the funds to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) who will implement the projects.
Sources said the government is serious for the revival of the national game at the grassroots level across the country. When installed, the facilities will help revive the game by initiating training programme, tapping the budding talent and engage youth in healthy activities.
Besides, the project include installation of equalastic layer (E-Layer), rehabilitation of sub-base, repair of drains covers, repair/replacement of fences, water sprinkling system etc.
Upon completion, these stadia will be operated and maintained by the respective district and provincial governments from their own resources, the sources added.
The PC-I was discussed in a meeting held on Aug 30 this year wherein it was decided that modified PC-I in the light of observations of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform will be prepared and submitted by Sept 18 for processing. The Ministry of IPC has now furnished the modified PC-I on Nov 24.
These PC- I were finally approved in the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) meeting with the planning division on Monday under the chairmanship of Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz.