All the news for Friday 14 April 2019
FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 - Day 9
Fixtures (GMT +5:30)
14 Jun 2019 RUS v POL (5/6 Place) 3 - 2
14 Jun 2019 17:00 USA v RSA (SF)
14 Jun 2019 19:15 IND v JPN (SF)
15 Jun 2019 17:00 Loser IND v JPN v Loser USA v RSA (3rd/4th Place)
15 Jun 2019 19:15 Winner IND v JPN v Winner USA v RSA (Final)
Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)
FIH Match Centre
India start favourites against Japan in semis, but Manpreet Singh's men need to convert chances
India will play Japan for a place in final in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Image: Hockey India
Siegfried Aikman remains the eternal optimist. Hours before Japan’s semi-final encounter with India, he does believe there could be a surprise, an upset. “As long as I live, as long as there is one second to play, we have hope,” he said in an interaction with the media; the very nature of a pre-match (semi-final) press conference giving the match much-needed credibility.
Otherwise, how do you look the following numbers — in the previous 13 matches, India have lost none, they have scored 61 goals and conceded 12 and during that period, they have scored five-plus, five times with scores like 10-2, 6-0, 8-0 and 9-0; the last two scorelines coming in the 2018 Asian Games (8-0) and at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy (9-0).
Yet, it’s Japan who are the Asian Games Champions and not India. Despite India beating them 8-0 in Jakarta. It’s a David vs Goliath story waiting to happen. It’s a story that Aikman would love to see transpire — David (Japan) slays Goliath (India). But is it possible that on a windy Bhubaneswar evening when the sea breeze from the Bay of Bengal fills the cavernous Kalinga Stadium, Japan can pull out a few rabbits from their inexperienced hats? In a way, this is the best chance that Japan have.
Graham Reid’s India have been stuttering. Yes, they have scored 10-0 twice and beaten Poland 3-1, but the fluency and control that a side ranked No 5 in the world need to show have been missing. Experience, superior skills have ensured India put it past their opponents. Hell, even the players shadows would have beaten Russia and Uzbekistan, with due respect to the teams. There is every chance that India would raise their game and if that happens, Japan wouldn’t have to do much. But for that cohesion, flow and stability in the defence, midfield, and forward-line is required.
Japan understand India's play and would surely like to absorb the early raids. Graham Reid, in his first tournament with the Indian team, admits that knockouts are tricky. “I think that's the key. This must be a normal game for us. We must prepare like we normally would. If you ask me this question before the (our) first game, I think I will say we will be preparing the same way. We will be focussing on the first few minutes of the game and move forward from there. We have tactics in place and that's what will happen.”
Before the FIH Men’s Series Finals started, this wasn’t the scenario that Aikman and Japan wanted. A safe prediction was an India vs Japan final. But the 2-2 draw with the United States gave both teams seven points apiece with the Americans having a superior goal difference. Aikman had then said the Japanese team wasn’t getting much exposure after the Asian Games and that budget cuts had also happened with the national team. In India, it would be unheard of having an Asian Games champion undergoing budget cuts. But Japan wants to put money where they believe they have a realistic chance of entering the top six at the 2020 Olympics. All of this has strengthened the resolve of the Japanese to prove a point here in Bhubaneswar.
India are in a worse spot. They couldn’t qualify directly by winning the Asian Games and haven’t played any hockey after the World Cup except for the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia where they finished runners-up. This is a run-up to qualifying for Tokyo and the team is in a rebuilding session. It’s obvious that the national team would require more tournaments, international matches before they start understanding or be responsive to Reid’s philosophy.
Reid believes "opportunities are being created" but the fact is that "opportunities" were being created before Reid and with almost every coach of any pedigree. It’s the putting away of the opportunities that need to be tackled and solved. The team also seems low on intensity but that could just be the tournament itself and the lack of a tough opponent. After a three-day hiatus, India might just face an opponent who could counter-punch and squeeze in a few PCs to make it into an exciting and even contest.
At the Asian Games, India were 3-0 up in the first two quarters. Japan were pushed back early as India created pandemonium. In the first two quarters itself, the Indian defence had held up solidly when Kenta Tanaka and Shoda Yamada had found space and opportunity. In the match against Poland, India was often caught on the counterattack and that would be an area that Aikman would surely investigate.
Former India coach Harendra Singh, under whom India beat Japan 8-0 (Asian Games), 9-0 (Asian Champions Trophy) and 3-2 (ACT semi-final), feels that the Indian forwards are not applying themselves. “The decision-making inside the circle is not happening,” he explains. “The striker is not going through the process. If the forwards don’t follow a process but only look for goals, it will not happen. Skills have to be merged with technique to get results.”
Harendra believes Japan are a good team and if they play within their limitations, keep a tight defence and use the counter, it will be a good match. “They are always a dark horse,” he says. “There has been a cultural, behavioural and an attitude change in the Japanese hockey team. Now they intercept smartly and counter very strongly. If India lose the ball in the midfield, they will pay a price.”
Yet, Harendra believes India will play to potential and move into the final. “These boys can play from memory also and if the defence plays a solid game, then the opportunities upfront will increase manifold and goals will come.”
The occasion should lift India. And the opponent. In the last semi-final played with Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy, India won 3-2 after both the teams were tied 1-1 at the break. India had scored through Gurjant Singh, Chinglensana and Dilpreet Singh; all the three are not playing this tournament.
Harendra goes back to Jakarta and gives the reason for that 8-0 win. “Japan is not good at one versus one and if India take them on, space will be created, and they will panic.”
It was in 2015 in a Test match that Japan drew 1-1 with India and then in 2013 at the Asian Champions Trophy Japan beat India 2-1. India had sent in 13 juniors to play the Asian Champions Trophy. Incidentally, the Indian team that lost to Japan had Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh as captain, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, and Ramandeep Singh, all of whom would line-up today against Japan.
“Early goals are the answer,” feels Harendra against a side like Japan. “India needs to score early to play better hockey and also have command over the game.” But at the same time, Harendra also says to be "ready for a surprise" from Aikman. “His biggest strength is that he can change the style of play at any moment, turn the tactics around and will always look for a result.”
Reid is not concerned with the past. “A semi-final is always a different game,” says the Australian. “I am always a believer that yesterday's result not necessarily determines today's result. I don't drag too much into reading past performances. Japan played very well last night, and we have them in the semis. We will be trying to win the game and play the best we can.”
On being asked about an India win, Aikman replied, “India win? Maybe, but it's not done. Still at this moment, we strongly believe we can win. It's a hypothetical question as of now. A match is over when it is over. Statistically, India should win.”
Optimism can be like a coin; one does not know which side it benefits.
India starts favourite against the Asian Games champion
Forward line still a concern as the hosts take on Japan in the semifinals
Prep time: Indian skipper Manpreet Singh, left, and Simranjeet Singh honing their skills ahead of the all-important encounter. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout
It was a match that was expected to be played at the very end, India and Japan taking on each other in the title clash of the Hockey Series Finals here.
The smallest of slip-ups has meant the game arrives a day earlier with the two Asian sides meeting in the semifinals on Friday.
Both have been below-par in their outing so far, even though Japan managed a comprehensive win against Poland in the quarterfinals.
That, however, has meant just a day’s rest for the side even as India had three off days. Neither team, though, is looking at the past to plan for the future.
But while a win would be essential for India to advance in its quest for an Olympic spot, its Japanese counterpart, Siegfried Aikman, can breathe easier. Already qualified twice over — as Asian Games champion and host — Japan has no such pressures.
“We came here to win. If we want to do well at the Olympics, we have to beat the top-10 teams, and the only top-10 team in Asia is here,” he shrugged.
Rankings matter little as has already been proven in the tournament so far. Still, India is expected to start favourite but needs to up its game in every department to make sure Japan doesn’t spring a surprise.
India’s forward line would be the biggest concern for the coach. The team has created enough chances, even though it has messed up a lot more, but not converted them.
Despite early attacks, the team has taken time to get into the scoring rhythm and its penalty corner conversions remain an issue, even against a weaker side like Uzbekistan.
The defence and the goalkeepers have had little to do but the one time it was tested – against Poland – they were caught unawares and that would be the biggest challenge on Friday.
Japan would be coming on far more strongly than any of the three opponents India has played so far and the defence and goalkeeping, untested so far, would have to stay alert and prepared.
At the other end, Japan’s scoring too has been wayward but its defence has held up. Aikman admitted that possession was the key and that his team messed up in the group but also insisted that doing well was no guarantee for success and that the team had planned for the game.
Given India’s poor recent record in knockout games — Asian Games semifinals, World Cup quarterfinals and the Azlan Shah final — Friday’s game would be a test as much for the players as Reid.
The other last-four clash would see USA take on South Africa in a repeat of the opening game of the tournament that saw the African champion being upset.
In the morning, Russia and Poland would fight it out for the fifth place.
All Important Semifinal for India today
PIC: News item of on India-Japan match, 1958 Asian Games.
When India met Japan outside the Olympic sphere, it was on its home soils. It was a big stage, it was men's hockey's first foray into the Asian Games. Japan hosted the premier multi-sport Asian meet in Tokyo six decades ago, where they found another platform besides the Olympics and bilateral contacts.
undefined The then reigning Olympic champions India put it across neat 8 goals over the hosts. Sixty years later, when the two met at the same genre of competition, now in a neutral place, Jakarta, the scoreline remained the same. Nothing changed for India with respect to its hockey domination over Japan but it was a mutational phase for under-rated Japan which, despite the Indian defeat, went on to annex its first ever Asiad gold. India just managed a bronze at the cost of Pakistan which was the title winner at Tokyo long ago. The entire Asian equation went topsy turvy.
When India takes on the neo-power Japan in the semi-finals of the Bhubaneswar FIH Series, therefore the pressure is on India, not on the Japanese. It was for two obvious reasons: Firstly, having underperformed over a couple of years, India is in dire need of achieving something big to improve its sagging morale. What can be a better place than on its home soils? A resounding victory at Bhubaneswar will pave perfect way for getting Olympic qualification through the last phase.
Secondly, India has not qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, but Japan had. Whether the hosts or Asian champions, Japan is there for sure in Tokyo unlike Greece! They can relax, but they will not. If they were a relaxed side, they would not have bounced back from 0-2 to 6-6 at Jakarata ten months ago!
Though India beat Japan with heavy score in Asian Champions Trophy and other events, Japan pulled up its socks in April this year. At Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Indian forwards could not have a fiefdom as they had in Jakarta and elsewhere subsequently. India extracted a 2-0 win in a tense contest.
Japan, coached by Dutch import Siegfried Aikman, is unpredictable to say the least.
They are not push over is a proven fact, but can they again be giant killer is the moot point as they line up for semi-final tomorrow.
The last three matches' proceedings prove both sides did not cover themselves with glory. Japan could only draw dogged side in USA while India huffed and buffed for a 3-1 win over Polant, who are way below in terms of FIH Ranking! Therefore, even as entire India is in excitment over impending India-Pakistan contest in the England-Wales Cricket World Cup, at least a thousand eyes will be anxious and curious to follow the FIH Series' semifinals.
If Japan can come back from 2-5 doan to 6-6 against Malaysia in the all important Asian Games, anything can happen tomorrow at Bhubaneswar.
India coach Graham Reid wants team to treat semi-final tie against Japan as 'normal game'
File image of Graham Reid. Image courtesy: Twitter @TheHockeyIndia
Bhubaneswar: Top two ranked sides of the tournament – India and Japan were slated to meet in the final of the in Bhubaneswar. A minor setback against the US resulted in Japan playing a crossover match to make it to the semi-finals. In a way, the stakes are higher for India than their opponents. Japan have already qualified for next year's Olympics, while India missed the chance at the Asian Games and will look to make the cut via Olympic Qualifications. Graham Reid's side needs to enter the final of the FIH World Series in order to play two-legged Olympic Qualification matches.
India did win all their matches in the group stage and qualified directly to the semi-finals. Knockouts can be tricky and especially if the match is against Japan. However, for India coach Reid, the preparations still remain the same, whether it 's a group stage game or a crucial knockout match.
"I think that's the key. This has to be a normal game for us. We have to prepare like we normally would. If you had asked me the same question before (our) first game, I think I will say (would have said) we will be preparing the same way. The idea is that we will be focussing on the first few minutes of the game and move forward from there. We have tactics in place and that's what will happen tomorrow," Reid said in the pre-match press conference at the Kalinga Stadium.
While Reid sounded adamant that despite the pressure of a knockout, India will treat the game like any other match, Japan coach Siegfried Aikman did tell that his team will do minor adjustments, but will mostly focus on their game.
"We are looking at our own performance. India have their own problems, we have our own problems. We have our strategy, of course we will make small adjustments. It's about how we can adapt. It's about our development, our growth," Aikman said.
Talking about pressure, Aikman refused to entertain the fact Japan have less pressure compared to India because they already through to the Olympics. As preparations for next year's Tokyo Games, Aikman wants to beat top-ten teams of the world, and now his team has got a chance.
"Losing doesn't exist in my nature. We came here to win and we want to test ourselves in winning. It will be a big challenge and our aim is to prepare ourselves to win matches like these. If we want to win at the Olympics, we want to beat the top ten teams, and the only top-ten team in Asia is here. We are also here for world-ranking points."
Last time India met Japan, it was at this year's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. India emerged 2-0 victorious in that game, but it was Japan who put on a decent show, improving from their last few games against India. Will Aikman's team will go one step further and cause an upset this time? Reid is not much bothered about past results.
"A semi-final is always a different game. I am always a believer that yesterday's result not necessarily determine today's result. I don't drag too much into reading past performances. Japan played very well last night and we have them in the semis tomorrow. We will be trying to win the game and play the best we can," Reid said.
"To win a tournament like this, you have to beat everybody. It's the order (meeting Japan in the semi-final) we have to play the game. We will be preparing as we normally would for a semi-final," Reid said when asked about facing Japan in the semis, and not in the final, as it was widely expected before the start of the tournament.
Aikman's Japan are the 18th best team in the world. Reid's India are ranked fifth. There's a gulf in terms of quality and ranking, but the Japan coach is not intimidated at the prospect of facing India in an important match.
"I noticed that India is doing very well, but that's not a guarantee for success. If you look at our matches, we dominated every match but still didn't top the pool. As long as I live, as long as there is one second to play, we have hope.
"For us, possession is the key. Our challenge (earlier) was against lower-ranked teams. India is not that. Till now, we have gone step by step. I hope tomorrow we go a step further," Aikman said.
On Friday, Russia overcame Polish challenge 3-2 to clinch the fifth spot in the tournament. The first semi-final of the tournament will see the US taking on South Africa at 5 pm IST followed by India vs Japan at 7.15 pm.
We have hope of beating India until the last second, says Japan’s coach
Japan coach Siegfried Aikman vowed that his team will try to put its best foot forward against India on Friday when the two sides clash in the FIH Hockey Series Finals semifinal at the Kalinga Stadium.
Japan coach Siegfried Aikman addresses the media on the eve of his side's FIH Hockey Series Finals semifinal clash against India. - Biswaranjan Rout
The Indian men’s hockey team missed out on a direct qualification spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when it lost the Asian Games 2018 semifinal to Malaysia. Japan, which already had a guaranteed spot as host, won the title, securing an Olympic spot on merit.
The team’s head coach Siegfried Aikman vowed that his team will try to put its best foot forward against India on Friday in the FIH Hockey Series Finals semifinal at the Kalinga Stadium.
“Belief? That is a religious question!”, Aikman replied when quizzed whether his team had the belief to upset the mighty host. “India has been doing well, but that is not a guarantee for success. We have dominated matches against USA and South Africa but we did not top the pool. As long as I live, as long as there is one second remaining the match, we have hope,” he added.
Aikman stressed that his players can gain vital experience from the tournament. “In order to play at the Olympics, you have to beat the top ten teams in the world and the best ranked team in Asia is here. We have come here to win the tournament as the winner gets most points for the world rankings and to test ourselves," Aikman said.
Most visiting teams have struggled in Bhubaneswar's sweltering heat, forcing the authorities to shift Friday’s 5/6 place match between Russia and Poland from 8.30 am to 8.00 am (IST). But, for Aikman the heat is not an excuse as the semifinal will begin at 7.00 pm (IST).
“We have played two matches in extreme heat and it had some effect on the players. But the heat is not an excuse as we will play (tomorrow) in the evening,” he said.
India has not lost to Japan in its past ten encounters – recently beating its Asian counterpart 3-2 at the Azlan Shah Cup in March. However, past results will not count for much.
India’s coach Graham Reid said: "Semifinal (of a tournament) is always a different game and past results do not necessarily mean much. I am not looking at what the past performances have been like, we will play the best way we can and try to win tomorrow's game.”
-Confusion among local media with India’s match timings-
The International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) official schedule stated that the first semifinal – Pool A winner vs Winner of Match No 15 (Japan vs Poland) – will be played at 5.00 pm followed by the second semifinal at 7.00 pm. Since India topped Pool A, Hockey India has decided to allot the second slot to India, leading to some confusion among the local media.
“The match is at 7 pm tomorrow. We have also notified all the media organisations through mail on Wednesday,” one of the officials clarified at the pre-match press conference.
Manpreet Singh and boys eye big win against Asian Games champions Japan in semifinals
Indian hockey team train ahead of semifinal clash against Japan , Hockey India
A tricky opponent in Asian Games champions Japan is sure to test India but home advantage gives Manpreet Singh and his men the upper-hand in the semifinal of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
Even though they registered some big wins in the preliminary stages against lower-ranked opponents, the Indians, under new chief coach Graham Reid, are yet to showcase their perfect game on the turf. The finalists will qualify for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held in October-November this year.
India notched up 10-0 wins over Russia and Uzbekistan and scraped past Poland 3-1 in the pool stages.
The performance of the Manpreet Singh-led side is far from impressive. While the midfield has done well under Manpreet, it is the finishing which is a cause of concern for the Indians.
In all the three matches, India created innumerable scoring chances, but the strike force lacked the finishing touch.
Barring Akashdeep Singh, no other striker has looked threatening in the tournament so far.
While Mandeep Singh and young Gursahibjit Singh played well in patches, Ramandeep Singh, who returned to the side after nearly a one-year injury lay-off, looked a pale shadow of his past self.
"I am happy that we created plenty of chances but we need to work on our basic skills like finishing. It is an area where we need improvement," India's chief coach Graham Reid had said.
The Indian defence to has hardly been tested in the tournament so far with Poland being the only team to cause some trouble.
Both the goalkeepers -- PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak -- were mostly spectators in the pool matches but the scenario would be different Friday as the Japanese are expected to trouble the hosts.
The Asian Games champions gave India a tough fight even though they lost in the past two encounters.
While India beat Japan 3-2 in the semifinal of the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha last year, in their last meeting in the Azlan Shah Cup earlier this year, Manpreet and Co. eked out a 2-0 win.
Japan, on the other hand, have nothing to lose as they are already assured of an Olympic berth by virtue of being the hosts as well as continental champions.
Japan are taking this tournament as a preparation for the Games to be held in Tokyo.
Siegfried Aikman and his men would be desperate to prove a point that their Asian Games gold was not a fluke.
After a below-par pool round where they finished second behind the lower-ranked USA, world no.18 Japan thrashed Poland 6-2 in the cross-overs on Wednesday.
Daily News & Analysis
Stats Speak: Indian have all-win record against the Samurais in semifinals
BY B.G.Joshi (in Kalinga Hockey stadium Bhubaneswar)
FIH Hockey Series Finals (qualifiers for Olympic qualification event) in Bhubaneswar have reached stage of medal rounds. In the first semifinal, South Africa (World Ranking 16) will face emerging hockey force USA (World Ranking 25). Hosts India (WR 5) will meet Japan (WR 18) in the other semifinal.
For the record, India has won on all 11 occasions when they met Japan in the semifinals. In the Asian Games (1962, 66, 70, 78, 82, 94, 98), Asia Cup (1985, 89, 2007) and Asian Champions Trophy (2018) India beat Japan comprehensively in the semis. Here are the overall statistical highlights:
Last Five Matches
On Indian Soil
On Japanese Soil
Last met in March 2019 in Ipoh at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup league match, which India won 2-0
USMNT Closing in as Olympic Hopefuls
BHUBANESWAR, India – Before entering Kalinga Stadium for the first time, before stepping on and off the plane for the FIH Series Finals and even before competition began in 2019, the U.S. Men’s National Team has had one goal in mind: to earn their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Hard work, grit and determination have paved the way thus far over the past several months, with that goal nearly in sight as USA awaits to take the pitch in the semifinals of the FIH Series Finals tomorrow.
No. 25 USA will play in a rematch against No. 16 South Africa on Friday with bigger stakes. On the line is the right to play in an Olympic Qualifying event later this year, putting the USMNT’s ultimate goal the past three years one step closer. For the wolfpack, it has been crunch time since missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, marking 20 years since appearing on one of field hockey’s biggest stages. The roadmap they carved out in a humid hotel room in Trinidad and Tobago following the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 detailed everything from training, fitness and diet to various tours and tournaments like the FIH Series Finals.
Game play on Friday will solidify USA’s efforts post-road to Rio, win or lose, but a win makes their path that much shorter to the Olympic stage. They face a fork in the road currently to get to Tokyo with India on one side and Peru on the other in the form of the Pan American Games. Opportunity has never been higher for the USMNT. All that stands in their way is 60 minutes behind a well-executed game plan.
The U.S. Men’s National Team's semifinal matchup against South Africa is set for Friday, June 14 at 7:30 a.m. ET.
USFHA media release
FIH Women's Series Finals Banbridge 2019 - Day 7
Fixtures (GMT +1)
13 Jun 2019 MAS v FRA (Cross-over) 3 - 2
13 Jun 2019 SCO v CZE (Cross-over) 0 - 0 (3 - 4 SO)
14 June is a rest day
15 Jun 2019 11:00 SGP v UKR (7 / 8)
15 Jun 2019 13:15 IRL v CZE (SF)
15 Jun 2019 15:30 KOR v MAS (SF)
FIH Match Centre
Malaysia overpower France to reach semi-finals
By Jugjet Singh
The Malaysian players celebrate after beating France 3-2 in Banbridge, Northern Ireland on June 13, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women's hockey team put up a solid performance to beat France 3-2 in the cross-over match of the FIH Series Finals in Banbridge, Northern Ireland yesterday.
Coach K. Dharmaraj's side will play South Korea in the semi-finals tomorrow.
This is a golden opportunity for the Malysian ladies, as they now need to beat South Korea to play in the final round of the Olympic Qualifier in November.
However if they lose in the semis, due to their low World No 22 ranking, they will not make the final round.
It was a tense match until the final whistle, as even though France are ranked World No 30, they played much higher than their billing.
The Malaysian goals were scored by Nuraini Abdul Rashid (fifth), Fatin Shafika Sukri (eighth) and Hanis Nadiah Onn (15th).
France kept pace with goals from Delfina Gaspari (ninth) and Guusje van Bolhuis (26th) but could not find the equaliser to take the match into shoot-out.
There was drama in the last minute of the match when France won a dubious penalty corner, and skipper Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani protested but was shown the yellow card.
However, Malaysia defended the penalty corner and claimed glory in their first ever encounter against France.
For the record, South Korea who topped Group B and qualified for the semi-finals, could only beat France 1-0 in the group stage.
“Even though France are ranked lower than us, they played at a much higher level but we were prepared for them.
“Now we have a day's rest to study (via video) on South Korea's penalty corner defence and attack which could decide the outcome of the semi-finals,” said Siti Noor Amarina.
New Straits Times
Cruel shootout defeat for Scotland against Czech Rep
It was a cruel running penalties defeat for Scotland women as they lost 4-3 to Czech Republic in a deciding shootout in Banbridge. It means the Scots miss out on a semi-final contest against Ireland and will play France in the 5/6 play off on Sunday.
In a match that saw goalkeeper Amy Gibson win her 100th cap it was Scotland who started the match on the offensive looking for an early goal. Charlotte Watson flashed the ball across the face of the goal, after some good work by Kaz Cuthbert, but Emily Dark at the far post was unable to connect and provide a finish.
Czech Republic was looking really dangerous on the counter attack and issued a couple of warnings to Scotland, pouncing on loose balls and bursting forward at pace.
As the match continued it became a midfield battle with neither side creating any real opportunities. Scotland edged the play but found the Czech defence a tough nut to crack.
Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye .
Right after half time Scotland presented Czech Republic with a golden opportunity when a defensive mistake gave them a one-on-one, but the Czech forward dithered and the chance passed them by.
Then Scotland had a chance to score through a penalty corner, Bex Condie’s slap towards goal prompted a scramble in the D but the danger was cleared.
A Czech defensive error saw Watson pounce on the ball in front of goal but was denied by the goalkeeper, the rebound fell for Fiona Semple but her effort was padded clear to keep the Scots out.
In the final quarter Scotland completely dominated and hunted down a winner. A great opportunity fell their way but Condie couldn’t force the ball home after a swift break down the left by Louise Campbell and Sarah Jamieson.
Scotland dominated the final quarter but it went to a nail-biting shootout. As always the shootout was a tense affair and it ended all square at 2-2 after the first five penalties with Jamieson and Cuthbert both finding the net for Scotland.
It went to sudden death and Jamieson scored again before Cuthbert was denied after Czech Republic made it 4-3, meaning the Czechs took their place in the semi-finals.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Ireland confident ahead of rematch with Czech Republic
Ticket to October’s direct Olympic qualifiers on the line for Green Machine in semi-final
Ireland’s Ayeisha McFerran and Chloe Watkins celebrate after the 11-0 victory over Singapore in the FIH Series Finals Pool A clash at Banbridge. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Ireland’s women will go into their semi-final of the FIH Series Finals as huge favourites as they face a rematch with the Czech Republic with a ticket to October’s direct Olympic qualifiers on the line.
Last Sunday, the Green Army hammered the world-ranked number 19 side 8-1 in a complete performance in the group stages.
And there was little in their quarter-final tie on Thursday evening to suggest they will offer a bigger challenge this time out as they laboured to a low-quality 0-0 with Scotland, prevailing in a shoot-out. Victory on Saturday will ensure a top two finish and a place in a head-to-head contest that will decide the tickets to Tokyo.
The Irish men, meanwhile, begin their campaign with a double-header at the French resort of Le Touquet, facing Scotland on Saturday and Egypt on Sunday.
Like the women, they go into the competition as top seeds and a top-two finish would secure an Olympic qualifier next October.
After a tough World Cup campaign, coach Alexander Cox has shaken up both personnel and formation. Olympians Alan Sothern, Kirk Shimmins and David Fitzgerald have been left out while Chris Cargo is unavailable, with Luke Madeley, Ben Walker and Jamie Carr from the hugely successful Three Rock Rovers panel coming in.
Given a wide selection of recognised midfielders, Cox’s selection looks lighter in terms of out-and-out attackers but he says it will fit his vision of playing two up front and suit plans to introduce a more zonal defensive platform.
Ireland’s last meeting with Scotland was a 5-1 win in 2018 and their opponents have not beaten the Green Machine in their last 20 meetings. In addition, they will be without their two best players – Chris Grassick and Alan Forsyth – who will line out for Great Britain instead this weekend in the Pro League.
Indeed, given Scotland cannot qualify for the Olympics, questions have been raised over why they are playing at these events with only ranking points on the line. Egypt, meanwhile, are a dogged opponent who Ireland took a while to shake off in 2017 but they ultimately prevailed 2-1.
The Irish Times
Semi-Final Saturday! Come support Ireland's Women's Hockey Team
Safely topping Pool A and through to Saturday’s semi-final, an 11-0 win saw the Irish Women dominate play for the entire game against Singapore on Tuesday afternoon, with the visitors rarely managing to bring play down into the Irish half of the pitch. The majority of the game comprised of free moving, attacking hockey from the host nation, keeping Singapore under pressure throughout.
A win on Saturday secures an Olympic Qualifier spot for the coming Autumn meaning it's still all to play for here in Banbridge. Speaking to BBC on the match, Roisin Upton said "We treat the next game as the biggest game each time around." So there will be plenty of high quality hockey to see this weekend!
Thursday’s matches will see Scotland who were 2nd in Pool B will take on the Czech Republic, the winner of this match will then face Ireland in Saturday's semi-final. Korea will then play the winner of Malaysia v France in the second semi-final later that afternoon to decide who will take to the pitch for the final on Sunday afternoon.
There is still time to get your tickets for this weekend and come support the Green Army on their road to Tokyo. Don't miss your chance to see some spectacular hockey this weekend! Tickets are available at www.hockey.ie/buy-tickets/
Irish Hockey Association media release
Madeley raring to go for first world ranking tournament
Madeley will make his ranking tournament debut. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Luke Madeley is raring to go to finally making his world ranking tournament debut at the FIH Series Finals this weekend in Le Touquet.
It forms the first phase of the Olympic qualifying process for the Irish men with the tournament following the same format as the women’s event which comes to a conclusion in Banbridge over the weekend.
Ireland start off with a date against Scotland on Saturday morning (10.15am Irish time – live on FIH.Live) before taking on Egypt a day later. They complete the group stage on Tuesday against minnows Singapore, hoping to come out on top to earn straight passage to the semi-finals.
For Madeley – who moves from Three Rock Rovers to KHC Leuven next season – he came within touching distance of the top level in December when he was part of the World Cup squad.
But he did not get any pitch time as he spend the fortnight in India as one of the reserves, along with Jeremy Duncan, waiting in the wings.
“It’s a lot different this week,” he told The Hook. “The World Cup was obviously a really good experience, being in that 20-man travelling squad.
But this is a completely different kettle of fish, knowing I am going to step on the pitch and compete with the lads. It’s really exciting!”
Reflecting on that odd experience, the former Irish Under-21 captain said it was tough to get his head around. On the one hand, there is the dream of playing in a World Cup; the other knowing it requires a team mate to suffer a misfortune.
“It was new for myself but it was new for Irish hockey as well. Being so far from home, it wasn’t practical to leave two guys waiting, training away by themselves.
“You have to plan for every situation. It was disappointing not to be in the 18-man squad but you had to keep training away, doing the physical work and be ready if and when the name gets called for whatever reason.
“You never wish injury on anyone, especially because everyone in the squad has been so good to me since I came in and they are my friends now. You have to just be ready to step in! It was a strange one, waiting in the aisles, doing all the extra running after every game.”
After a super season on the club front, it has him hungry to make his mark on the French coastline and he believes the squad is in a good place.
The World Cup did not go to plan but there was plenty of honesty in the debrief and they squad and coaching team have pin-pointed a number of areas to work on.
Indeed, there was only a short break following the tournament before a core conditioning programme between December and March to set the base for 2019.
Beyond the physical side, there was recognition the side needed to adjust their approach in key areas.
“At the top level, it comes down to small margins. It was the China game that cost us. We didn’t play with enough tempo or put their defence under enough pressure so that’s been a focus since then, trying to play more direct and with more speed. It’s been massive from the coaching staff to push.
“There have also been stats floating about goals scored within nine yards part of the goal. It is about trying to get the ball into that part of the circle and then score from there.”
Coach Alexander Cox has also been looking to implement a zonal defensive format to mix and match with the famed man-to-man structure that marked their road to European bronze and the Olympic Games.
Luke Madeley in action against the USA. Pic: Adrian Boehm
“The zonal side has been part of Alexander’s plan for a while with the team. We trialed it before the World Cup but there was a few issues with it so we reverted back to man-to-man, something the guys know and are very proud of.
“But the zonal stuff we have worked on since the start of the year has been going well. There are lessons to be learned and new challenges but there have been tweaks made and it is definitely another string to the bow that we can bring to the game.”
It was practiced to good effect in two wins over the USA while the side finished off their preparatory matches with a win and a draw against the French.
Ireland arrived in France on Monday before taking in training and gym time on Tuesday and a practice match with Chile on Wednesday.
“We are here to do a job and that’s to finish top of the group and hopefully that extra few days can help us going into the semi-final which is the focus. That’s obviously the goal but you can’t look past anybody. Our whole focus is on Scotland.
“it has all been part of a six to seven month process and we need to hit our straps now.”
Men’s FIH Series Finals, Pool A (all at Le Touquet Paris Plage, France – Irish times)
Saturday: Ireland v Scotland, 10.15am (Irish time); Egypt v Singapore, 12.30pm
Sunday: Scotland v Singapore, 10.15am; Ireland v Egypt, 12.30pm
Tuesday: Scotland v Egypt, 12.30pm; Ireland v Singapore, 2.45pm
We are going to have to really fight‚ says SA women's hockey coach
By David Isaacson
Dirkie Chamberlain of South Africa applauds fans following the FIH Womens Hockey World Cup Pool C game between Argentina and South Africa at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on July 28, 2018 in London, England. Image: Jack Thomas/Getty Images
A youthful South African women’s hockey team jetted out to their Hockey Series Finals tournament in Valencia on Wednesday evening looking to turn their Olympic Games fortunes around.
A top-two finish is the goal to boost their chances of getting to the Tokyo 2020 Games‚ and it also matches their second seeding in the eight-team tournament.
But captain Erin Hunter knows that in reality the June 19-27 tournament is going to be a desperate scrap between at least the four top sides.
SportsLIVE Podcast: Burger Hands, Miguel & the Proteas Soap Opera
“When you get to international level the margins between the teams become a lot smaller‚” Hunter told TimesLIVE at a farewell function in Johannesburg this week.
“Although you’re ranked 15 and they’re ranked 27‚ you should beat them‚ [but] it doesn’t work out that way and we know that.
“We’re going to have to perform in every single game.”
The two finalists will advance to the Olympic qualifying tournament later in the year where teams will bid to book their tickets for Japan.
The SA women qualified for Rio 2016 by winning the African championships the previous year‚ but they were omitted from the showpiece by the SA Olympic Committee (Sascoc) which refused to accept continental qualification.
Sascoc’s stance hasn’t changed‚ so the SA’s hockey administrators have proposed that qualifying for the qualifying tournament should suffice‚ because if they win the African championships in August‚ they will automatically be excluded from the qualifying tournament because‚ in the eyes of the world governing body‚ they would have already qualified.
Sascoc has yet to approve this proposal.
At 15th in the world‚ SA are the second-highest ranked side in the tournament‚ behind hosts Spain‚ seventh.
Italy‚ 17th‚ and Canada‚ 21st‚ are considered the other two main contenders‚ while Belarus are 20th‚ Wales 27th‚ Thailand 28th and Namibia 42nd.
Hunt pointed out that Canada‚ rapidly improving under former SA coach Giles Bonnet‚ had beaten SA at the Commonwealth Games last year despite being ranked lower.
SA are in the same pool as Italy‚ Wales and Thailand.
The second and third-placed teams will advance to cross-over matches with the winners of those taking on the pool victors in semifinals.
SA open their campaign against Wales on June 19‚ and then take on the Italians in a crunch game the following day.
Coach Robin van Ginkel said the Italians had played more international matches in their build-up than SA had.
“We’re higher ranked than them but their preparation would be way ahead of ours. And then Canada have a centralised programme with Giles.”
Under Bonnet‚ the Canadian team have been based in Belgium for the past few months‚ playing professional hockey for clubs there‚ but they still get together three times a week for their own practice sessions.
“We are in the top four and we are going to have to really fight to make that final.”
SA will play Spain and Italy in warm-up matches ahead of the tournament.
SA squad: Erin Hunter (capt‚ 44 caps)‚ Celia Evans (148 caps)‚ Izelle Verster (10)‚ Marizen Marais (17)‚ Kristen Paton (18)‚ Robyn Johnson (3)‚ Kara-Lee Botes (44)‚ Dirkie Chamberlain (228)‚ Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (253)‚ Nomnikelo Veto (3)‚ Hannah Pearce (3)‚ Lilian du Plessis (121)‚ Stephanie Baxter (23)‚ Phumelela Mbande (GK‚ 38)‚ Quanita Bobbs (117)‚ Tarryn Glasby (33)‚ Bianca Wood (3)‚ Mmatshepo Modipane (GK‚ 8).
Indian women's hockey team on 'Mission 500' in Hiroshima
Women’s hockey team coach Marijne wants India to win Women’s Series Finals and ensure home advantage in Olympic qualifiers
By Rutvick Mehta
India women’s hockey India women’s hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne (3L) says he will have direct feedback sessions with players after each game to ensure there’s no complacency
India women's hockey team — the favourites.
It's a title that the national senior women's hockey team hasn't been too familiar with in the recent past. But fancied it will be entering the FIH Women's Series Finals starting on Saturday in Hiroshima, where two spots are up for grabs for the FIH Olympic qualifiers later in the year.
Placed ninth in the world, India are the highest-ranked team in the event but unlike with the men's tournament currently ongoing in Bhubaneswar, the competition will be a lot closer for captain Rani and her troops. They'll have to battle with 14th-ranked hosts Japan and world No. 16 Chile, although their pool stage has neither of them.
The favourites tag can either bring out the best from a team or make it wilt under the burden of expectations. Head coach Sjoerd Marijne, however, isn't too fussed about either.
"We were in the same position two years ago at the World League Round 2 with the same teams, and we did well there," Marijne told DNA from Hiroshima. "The most important thing is that we avoid being busy with those kind of thoughts. We have to focus on our own topics."
One of those topics is what the Dutchman labels "Mission 500".
Should India win this tournament, they will pocket 500 points that will boost their rankings and ensure that they host the opposition team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers by virtue of being the higher-ranked team.
"The players know the importance of this tournament, and we call it Mission 500," Marijne said.
"It's all about the 500 points, which will give us the home advantage for the next round of qualifiers.
"We don't have to worry about not qualifying for the next round because of our rankings. We have one goal this year: qualifying for the Olympics, and it doesn't matter how we do it as long as we achieve it."
The coach might exude confidence, but there's no doubt that this key event will be a test of the mental strength of this Indian women's team, more so with Rani's squad expected to go all the way.
Earlier this year, Marijne set a trend of sorts not just in Indian hockey but sport in general by taking a psychologist along with the team on its tour to Spain in January, besides regularly working on the players' mindset during camps in Bengaluru.
And, the 45-year-old Dutchman is hoping that the rewards of that exercise start bearing fruit.
"We are working twice a week with psychologists Priyanka and Somya, and together with me, we have prepared the girls mentally.
"This is an area where you can't do once and then stop. You have to keep training the mind for these kind of things and they are learning how to stay focused on the task," Marijne said, adding that he hopes to take sports psychologists along on more tours with the approval of Sports Authority of India.
For the Series Finals, India are clubbed in Pool A with Poland (world No. 23), Uruguay (24) and Fiji (44), which should make their passage to the semifinals straightforward. There's thus a danger of complacency creeping into the side while facing lower-ranked teams. Marijne, though, has a way to tackle it.
"After every match, we have a very direct feedback session where the girls know exactly from me and from each other how their performance was. We use this to keep everyone focused on their task. If we think we were not good enough, we just say it directly with everybody in the room. It creates transparency and the girls appreciate that," he said.
The team has had a few good results this year leading up to the tournament. In the tour to Spain, India drew a four-match series 1-1 with the seventh-ranked Spain and won a two-match series 1-0 against World Cup runners-up Ireland. They then beat Malaysia (five-match series 4-0) and Korea (three-match series 2-1) in the following two outings.
"We know more, because of these tours, where our challenges lie, and the biggest one is to stay focussed and not to take things lightly. Every match is important and that's how the girls have to approach it," Marijne said.
No Attention, No Problem
While most of the attention among hockey followers and media is on the Men’s Series Finals currently on in Bhubaneswar, the women’s team doesn’t mind flying under the radar miles away in Hiroshima. “To be honest, we are not busy with that. We have our own targets which we are focused on and what happens in the media or other attention is far away from us,” coach Sjoerd Marijne said.
Pool A: India (world No. 9), Poland (23), Uruguay (24), Fiji (44)
Pool B: Japan (14), Chile (16), Russia (25), Mexico (29)
Goalkeepers: Savita (V-C), Rajani Etimarpu; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nisha, Gurjit Kaur, Salima Tete, Sunita Lakra; Midfielders: Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal, Sushila Pukhrambam; Forwards: Rani (C), Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Jyoti
Daily News & Analysis
2019 FIH Pro League (Men) - 14 June
13 Jun 2019 ESP v AUS (RR) 3 - 2 Club De Campos Villa, Madrid
14 Jun 2019 19:00 (GMT +2) ESP v NZL (RR) Club De Campos Villa, Madrid
14 Jun 2019 19:30 (GMT +1) GBR v NED (RR) Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London
Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)
Unofficial Pool Standings
|Rank||Team||Played||Wins||Win Draws||Loss Draws||Losses||Goals For||Goals Against||Goal Difference||Points||Percent|
* A cancelled match contributes 1 point to each team's results that is not shown in the tables as a cancelled match
The FIH inexplicably and confusingly use a system not used in any other sports League in the World, of making the Percentage more important than Points until the end of the League when they will revert to Points only. Fieldhockey.com prefers to use the conventional Points and so the Unofficial Pool Standings on this site are reflected in this manner.
FIH Match Centre
2019 FIH Pro League (Women) - Weekend fixtures
15 Jun 2019 16:00 (GMT +8) CHN v USA (RR) Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou
5 Jun 2019 16:00 (GMT +1) GBR v NED (RR) Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London
16 Jun 2019 12:00 (GMT +2) GER v AUS (RR) Crefelder Hockey Club, Krefeld
16 Jun 2019 16:30 (GMT +2) BEL v NZL (RR) Wilrijkse Plein Antwerp, Antwerp
Spain men finally claim first win as Australia’s Grand Final qualification put on hold
Match Day 59 of the FIH Pro League was a momentous occasion for Spain’s Red Sticks, who finally claimed their first win of the competition by defeating league leaders Australia in an intriguing contest in Madrid on Thursday (13 June).
It was Spain’s first win over the Kookaburras since defeating them 1-0 in the pool phase at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, being enough to put Australia’s qualification for the FIH Pro League Grand Final temporarily on hold.
While Spain have been the great entertainers in the inaugural FIH Pro League and have won all five of the shoot-out competitions that they have been involved in, their 3-2 victory over Australia, thanks to goals from Josep Romeu (2) and Xavi Lleonart, marked their first outright win of the competition.
Australia remain top of the FIH Pro League standings but still have work to do if they are to guarantee that all-important top four finish that earns tickets to this month's FIH Pro League Grand Final in Amsterdam and the FIH Olympic qualifiers, which take place later this year.
Australia (FIH World Ranking: 2) were excellent in the first quarter of their clash with hosts Spain (WR: 9), opening the scoring after just three minutes when Tim Brand dived in to capitalise after a sustained period of pressure. Red Sticks goalkeeper Mario Garin made a fine reaction save to deny a second for the Kookaburras, batting away a fierce backhand strike from Flynn Ogilvie to ensure that the home side went into quarter-time break trailing by just one goal.
The visitors had the better of the early stages of the second period, but Spain - and attacking star Xavi Lleonart in particular - grew in stature as the second quarter progressed and snatched an equaliser from the first penalty corner of the game. Australia goalkeeper Andrew Charter could do little about the goal that beat him in the 28th minute, with Josep Romeu’s ferocious drag-flick from the top of the circle rocketing into the roof of the net to tie the scores at half time.
Shot-stopper Garin made numerous crucial saves in the third quarter before Spain stunned the Kookaburras by moving into a 2-1 lead thanks to the persistence of Xavi Lleonart, who somehow managed to scoop a superb one-handed finish into the Australian goal before the visitors could clear the danger.
Australia cranked up the pressure in the final quarter but Garin continued to excel, forcing Kookaburras coach Colin Batch to replace his goalkeeper with an outfield player in an attempt to overload the Spanish defence. The tactic paid off when a penalty corner effort found a Spanish foot on the goal-line, with Blake Govers stepping up to convert from the spot to make the score 2-2 with just two minutes remaining.
Just when a shoot-out for the bonus point seemed almost inevitable, Spain won a penalty corner in the final minute and it would prove decisive. It was another opportunity for Romeu to show his drag-flicking abilities, but things did not quite go to plan. A poor trap at the top of the Australian circle denied Romeu the chance to fully unleash, being forced into sending a hopeful pass through a crowd of players towards the target. The speculative shot somehow found its way into the net, with a somewhat bizarre winning goal being ratified by video umpire Coen van Bunge after on-field umpire Martin Madden checked to ensure that the shot had been taken from within the circle.
Spain’s men will be back in action at Club de Campo on Friday 14 June when they take on New Zealand, with Great Britain men entertaining the Netherlands in front of a sell-out crowd at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London.
FIH Pro League - 13 June 2019
Club de Campos Villa, Madrid (ESP)
Result: Men’s Match 46
Spain 3, Australia 2
Player of the Match: Xavi Lleonart (ESP)
Umpires: Christian Blasch (GER), Martin Madden (SCO) and Coen van Bunge (NED - video)
Official FIH Pro League Site
Jackson and Grassick back for Great Britain after lengthy absences
Ashley Jackson of Great Britain
Great Britain's men's team are very pleased to welcome both Chris Grassick and Ashley Jackson back to international hockey at Friday night's FIH Pro League game at home to the Netherlands.
In addition, the women's team welcome back Lily Owsley after her recent injury.
Surbiton's Grassick, the captain of the Scotland men's team, has suffered terrible luck with injury in recent times, and last played for Great Britain's men more than 18 months ago.
Jackson - the nation's leading all-time goalscorer - will play his first game back after returning to training with the squad just a few weeks ago, and this will be his first appearance for his nation since our final match of the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Danny Kerry has named a team of 18 for Friday night's match, with Henry Weir, Mikey Hoare and the injured Sam Ward & Will Calnan all missing out from the 20 who faced Germany and Australia last weekend.
The women's team welcome back Owsley for the first time in almost a month, and will be hoping she recaptures the excellent form that saw her score two goals in two home games before she picked up an injury.
Goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh is back in as coach Mark Hager coninues to rotate his 'keeping options. Maddie Hinch, Amy Costello, Emily Defroand and the injured Suzy Petty miss out from last weekend's 20-strong squad.
David Ames (Holcombe) (ENG)
David Condon (East Grinstead) (ENG)
Brendan Creed (Surbiton) (ENG)
Adam Dixon (Beeston) (ENG) (C)
Alan Forsyth (Surbiton) (SCO)
James Gall (Surbiton) (ENG)
Harry Gibson (Surbiton) (ENG) (GK)
Chris Grassick (Surbiton) (SCO)
Chris Griffiths (East Grinstead) (ENG)
Ashley Jackson (Old Georgians) (ENG)
Harry Martin (Hampstead & Westminster) (ENG)
George Pinner (Old Georgians) (ENG) (GK)
Phil Roper (Wimbledon) (ENG)
Ian Sloan (Wimbledon) (ENG)
Tom Sorsby (Surbiton) (ENG)
Zach Wallace (Surbiton) (ENG)
Jack Waller (Wimbledon) (ENG)
Ollie Willars (Beeston) (ENG)
Giselle Ansley (Surbiton) (ENG)
Grace Balsdon (Canterbury) (ENG)
Esme Burge (University of Nottingham) (ENG)
Sarah Evans (Surbiton) (ENG)
Sabbie Heesh (Surbiton) (ENG) (GK)
Tess Howard (Durham University) (ENG)
Jo Hunter (Surbiton) (ENG)
Sarah Jones (Holcombe) (WAL)
Hannah Martin (Surbiton) (ENG)
Lizzie Neal (Loughborough Students) (ENG)
Lily Owsley (University of Birmingham) (ENG)
Hollie Pearne-Webb (Surbiton) (ENG) (C)
Izzy Petter (Surbiton) (ENG)
Sarah Robertson (Hampstead & Westminster) (SCO)
Amy Tennant (Reading) (ENG) (GK)
Anna Toman (Wimbledon) (ENG)
Susannah Townsend (Canterbury) (ENG)
Laura Unsworth (East Grinstead) (ENG)
Men's Head Coach Danny Kerry commented, "I'm delighted for Chris, it's been a long road back and it's been good to see him looking sharp in training despite months of rehab. On a personal note it's always good to support our athletes through these long phases and it's a credit to Chris in terms of his perseverance in testing circumstances.
"Ash has only been with us a short time, so it'll be good to see how we can use his undoubted skills and abilities within the squad, but in these initial games it's very much about Ash learning and understanding how the current team plays, so my expectations are tempered by the fact he's coming in relatively new to an existing way of playing."
Women's Head Coach Mark Hager said, "This is another important game for us, and another opportunity to assess players against the number one ranked side in the world. We have been rotating our outfield players and goalkeepers throughout the FIH Pro League and have done that again this time around, we'd always planned to provide opportunities and develop depth within the playing group. It'll be another big crowd, and then it's onto the Stoop so these are really important games for us."
The men's team remain in with a chance of making the Grand Final of the FIH Pro League by finishing in the top four. The simplest route to qualify is for Britain to win both of their remaining games, while hoping that Argentina lose one of their three remaining matches. There are a number of other permutations, but first and foremost Danny Kerry's side will aim to win both of their games.
Fixtures and tickets
The men take on the Netherlands at 7:30pm on Friday evening at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Tickets are available online until midnight on Thursday evening, and then on sale at the venue right up until the start of the game. Tickets start at £7.50 Under 18s and £22.50 adults.
The women host the Netherlands at 4pm on Saturday at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, and the game is completely sold out. Both matches are live on BT Sport.
Great Britain Hockey media release
Great Britain hockey star Ashley Jackson called up by Danny Kerry
Ashley Jackson last played for GB at Rio 2016 PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS
Those fans heading to Lee Valley for Great Britain men’s crunch tie with the Netherlands on Friday night will be treated to the ‘undoubted skills and abilities’ of Ashley Jackson in an international shirt for the first time since 2016.
Jackson returned to the GB programme this month and coach Danny Kerry has picked the star man for the must-win FIH Pro League match against the Dutch.
Chris Grassick has been out injured with a rare hamstring injury after 18 months on the sidelines but his progress and perseverance to get back to full fitness has also been rewarded by Kerry.
Meanwhile Henry Weir, Mikey Hoare and the injured Sam Ward and Will Calnan all miss out from the 20 who faced Germany and Australia last weekend.
In one of several permutations, to qualify for the Pro League Grand Finals, GB will look to win their final two matches and hope Argentina lose one of their last three.
Kerry said: “I’m delighted for Chris, it’s been a long road back and it’s been good to see him looking sharp in training despite months of rehab.
“On a personal note it’s always good to support our athletes through these long phases and it’s a credit to Chris in terms of his perseverance in testing circumstances.
Kerry admitted that it would take time for Jackson to bed in to the men’s way of playing.
He added: “Ash has only been with us a short time, so it’ll be good to see how we can use his undoubted skills and abilities within the squad, but in these initial games it’s very much about Ash learning and understanding how the current team plays, so my expectations are tempered by the fact he’s coming in relatively new to an existing way of playing.”
GB women play the Dutch on Saturday, with Lily Owsley returning to the squad after being sidelined for a month.
Mark Hager continues his rotational trend by including goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh. Maddie Hinch, Amy Costello, Emily Defroand and the injured Suzy Petty are rested.
Teenagers Izzy Petty and Esme Burge retain their places after impressing in recent games.
Don’t miss our Stoop review special. Subscribe by June 24 to receive your copy!
The Hockey Paper
Ashley Jackson: Record scorer back for GB after three-year exile
Ashley Jackson playing at the Rio Olympics. As well as club hockey, Ashley Jackson also played ice hockey during his almost three-year break from the GB team
Ashley Jackson will make his first appearance for Great Britain since the 2016 Olympics in Friday's match with the Netherlands in London.
Jackson scored 133 goals in a combined 234 games for Britain and England.
His last match was in Rio before he stepped away from international duty.
"Ash has only been with us a short time, so it'll be good to see how we can use his undoubted skills and abilities within the squad," said Britain men's head coach Danny Kerry.
During his three-year exile, Jackson spent time playing ice hockey in England and club hockey in the Netherlands, but after returning to play for Old Georgians, he was recalled to the Britain squad last month.
As well as Jackson, there is also a return after injury for Chris Grassick, the Scotland captain, for his first GB appearance for 18 months for the game at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Lily Owsley, one of the gold medal winners from Rio, returns to the women's team for their game against the same opponents on Saturday.
Both matches are part of the inaugural FIH Pro League, where the top four nations qualify for the Grand Final at the end of June.
The men's team currently lie sixth and can still qualify, whereas the women's team have already been eliminated.
Grassick: Why I never wanted to give up on this opportunity
Chris Grassick of Great Britain
Chris Grassick is exceptionally excited about getting back into a Great Britain shirt when the men's team take on the Netherlands on Friday night.
There is genuine excitement around the men's team with the Dutch in town this weekend, then New Zealand at the Stoop on 23 Jun, and with both Chris and Ashley Jackson returning to add to a vibrant young squad, there is much to be upbeat about.
Chris himself deserves great credit for battling back from injury, having not played for Great Britain since late 2017, and last lining up in international hockey for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in April 2018.
He said, "I'm really excited about playing. Obviously I'm a little nervous for my first competitive game in a while, but I'll trust in all the work I've done, I'm ready, feeling sharp and it's very exciting.
"While I've been out it's been a challenge to stay positive but I understood it would all be worth it. I never, ever wanted to give up on this opportunity and I knew it was always worth fighting for."
As a first game back, the prospect of the Dutch in a key game at the end of the FIH Pro League is certainly one to savour. "Coming back into the Pro League there was never going to be an easy game. Every side poses a different challenge, and the Dutch at Lee Valley is a great way to return.
"There's no way Danny would put someone in if they're not ready, so we've got a big focus on the three points and making the Grand Final."
Grassick is joined in the squad by Ashley Jackson, who plays his first game since the Rio 2016 Olympics. Chris said, "I've trained with Ashley a lot, especially in the last cycle and everyone knows all about his ability. It's great to have him back in the GB team as well, it's another reason to be excited."
After this match, the team face New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 23 June in another hugely exciting game. Chris said, "Obviously we're currently focused on the Dutch game, but we're all very competitive and next week we'll be using training to fight for our places at the Stoop. We want to finish as high as we can and we've got two games to affect that.
"I've been watching a lot of Pro League games, it's very close in the table, there's lots of permutations but they don't matter right now, we're looking at the job in hand and affecting that."
Great Britain Hockey media release
Hannah Martin Proud To Follow In Brother Harry's Footsteps
Hannah Martin v Australia FIH Pro League
SUFFOLK hockey sensation Hannah Martin never thought she would have the chance to represent her country, let alone line up on the same pitch as her own brother.
The former Ipswich School student, who made her international debut in February 2017, will represent Great Britain at Twickenham Stoop less than three hours after her brother Harry when the British men’s and women’s teams face New Zealand in a double header on the final day of the new FIH Pro League tournament on Sunday 23 June.
Hockey clearly runs in the family with Harry representing Great Britain at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and Hannah, who has always been proud to follow his footsteps, cannot wait for them to share the same turf at the home of Harlequins later this month.
“It’s such a special occasion for me and my family,” she said.
“I’ve always looked up to my brother growing up. He’s always been my idol, so I feel so lucky to be playing alongside him at the top level.
“I never thought we would be playing one after another at a venue like The Stoop. It was just a dream for us when we were younger, but we are so fortunate to share a job daily.
“He’s been in the programme for eight or nine years, so I always look to him when I need guidance and it’s just so great to have him around.”
“We watch each other’s games and often share advice between us. It’s so nice having him for support, it’s a really special time for us both.”
Despite sitting third from bottom in the standings, Great Britain women’s hockey are confident of making the most of home advantage in their latest FIH Pro League contest.
A record number of tickets have already been sold for the 14,800-capacity stadium at the Stoop – although seats are still available – meaning it would be the biggest crowd to watch hockey in Britain since the London 2012 Olympics.
And while Hannah believes playing in front of a capacity crowd of almost 15,000 will help to inspire her side to another success on home soil, she is also confident the double header event will prove a triumph for the growth of the sport.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on New Zealand. We played out our first Pro League fixture out there against them and lost so we are determined to improve on the away result,” she added.
“A home crowd is so important. It can be key in avoiding defeat on home soil.
“There’s nothing like playing at home. You just hear a roar of noise every time you go and attack – it really adds that twelfth player on the pitch. You just feel invincible.
“It’s great to play back-to-back because you get the crowds down for both games and hopefully that will create a real buzz at the Stoop.
“Hopefully staging the match at the Stoop will help attract more people from this side of London over to hockey.”
Great Britain Men and Women face New Zealand in a unique FIH Pro League double-header at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 23 June.
Great Britain Hockey media release
Jones hoping to inspire new generation of Welsh stars
Jones v Australia FIH Pro League
Sarah Jones says she'll be far from the only Welsh player in the Great Britain women's hockey squad in a few years’ time.
The 28-year-old, from Lisvane, is the only player from the principality to have featured in the inaugural season of the FIH Pro League.
But with the Elite Development Programme now in place, the former Howells School pupil expects plenty of her fellow compatriots to follow in her footsteps.
"I'm massively proud to fly the flag for Wales," said Jones.
"To pull on a Welsh shirt is something I'd dreamt of doing since I was very young, and being able to represent Wales for GB is something I'm enormously proud of.
"I do hope to see lots of Welsh players coming through in the years to come and now they have a platform to do so.
"The Elite Development Programme offers a genuine pathway and I'm just so happy that's in place now.
"I think as with anything the amount of hard work you put into something, the level of enjoyment is higher depending on how much work you've had to put in.
"I had to work extremely hard to get those 91 caps for Wales and for those GB caps too.
"If you enjoy the process of working hard and continuously trying to be better, going out on that pitch every day to work hard, there will be a lot more caps to come."
The tenacious midfielder, who plays for Holcombe Hockey Club, represented Wales at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Following in the footsteps of Abergavenny's Rose Thomas, Jones made a long-awaited Great Britain debut in 2018 after amassing 91 Welsh caps.
While qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is yet to be secured, Mark Hager's side are planning a trip to Japan to acclimatise to conditions with a year to go.
There won't be any surprises for Jones, however, who played for Wales in Kuala Lumpur back in 2016 and has holidayed extensively in Asia.
"I think certainly there are no conditions that can be compared to the humidity and heat we'd experience in Japan," she said.
"I think having a period away in Japan at a similar time of year to the Olympics next year is invaluable for our preparation.
"I've been to Thailand and Vietnam on holiday and played in Kuala Lumpur for Wales three years ago.
"I'd definitely recommend them as holiday destinations, but as an athlete I wasn't prepared for that level of humidity.
"I think it's important you understand personally how you respond to those conditions and to bond as a team, too."
Great Britain Men and Women face New Zealand in a unique FIH Pro League double-header at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 23 June.
Great Britain Hockey media release
FIH Pro League Scouting Report: USWNT vs. China
In anticipation of the U.S. Women's National Team's upcoming FIH Pro League match, here is a scouting report you’ll want to review before the starting whistle.
Game Day: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Time: 4:00 a.m. ET
Location: Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou, China
Live Stream: Don't miss a second of the FIH Pro League action and watch the USWNT takes on China this Saturday. The FIH has signed a four-year media rights agreement with Bleacher Report Live for the territories of Canada and the United States. Bleacher Report Live is operated by Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia. The platform, which is Turner’s live sports streaming service, will be the primary destination for all fans to watch FIH Pro League matches.
FIH Pro League single games are available paid per view for $2.99 per match or $19.99 for the FIH Pro League 2019 Season Pass (all matches). Click here for the FIH Pro League live stream landing page.
FIH World Ranking: 10
bThe last time USA faced China was less than a month ago on May 18 in the FIH Pro League. In that matchup in Lancaster, Pa., the red, white and blue came in to the game with an agenda, seeking their first FIH Pro League win. USA did just that, scoring two goals in the second quarter and adding one more in the third while standing up against a flurry of defensive penalty corners from China for a 3-1 win.
Prior to that, USA and China went head-to-head in the 7th/8th place game of the 2017 Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland, New Zealand. A true battle, tied after the first quarter, the remaining saw a variation of goals produced from both sides as USA tallied five more to China’s three as the red, white and blue came out on top 6-4.
Head to Head
5 Previous Matches
What You Need to Know: Following a difﬁcult Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 where they failed to get out of their pool and subsequently ﬁnished last (16th) in the standings, 2002 Champions Trophy winners China produced some good performances at the Asian Games in Jakarta, claiming the bronze medal with a 2-1 victory over Korea. Gu Bingfeng – who ﬁnished as the competition's top scorer with 13 goals – and Song Xiaoming were on target to ensure that the tenure of Head Coach Jamilon Mülders ended on a high note. The team was then lucky enough to compete at the Wanglibao Hockey Champions Trophy - at Changzhou’s Wujin Hockey Stadium, China’s home venue for the FIH Pro League – where they ﬁnished fourth. Yi Jiao was a particularly impressive performer at that event and also throughout the year, with the 24-year-old shot-stopper earning a nomination for FIH Goalkeeper of the Year for 2018 in the process.
Recap of China's Previous Game: China took the lead in the opening quarter of the match. The lower ranked team had been putting Australia under a lot of pressure and a cross from Xi Xiayun found Chen Yi, who was able to tip the ball smartly past Rachael Lynch in the Australia goal.
The game really opened up in the second quarter as both teams showed their intent to push forward. Rebecca Greiner went on a lung-busting run that split the China defense and Jane Claxton was unlucky not to get on the end of the subsequent pass. As the quarter counted down, the home team were very much in the driving seat. Captain Peng Yang thought she had scored a second but it was ruled out on referral.
The third quarter saw much of the same. Australia was working hard to create chances, but China got momentum and always seemed one step ahead. However, with just seconds left in the quarter, China were made to rue not making more of their pressure when Player of the Match Maddie Fitzpatrick was able to send home a scorching penalty corner to level the score.
Australia came into the final quarter with renewed energy, knowing that a win was crucial in their bid to reach the Grand Final. Head Coach Paul Gaudoin asked his players for more and Savannah Fitzpatrick responded with a fantastic backhand shot that Emily Chalker was able to touch into the goal past Ye Jiao.
Rosie Malone extended Australia’s lead when she shot home after a goal mouth scramble and the Hockeyroos felt they had done enough to secure the win. China however, had other ideas and with two minutes on the clock, they removed their keeper and pressed forward.
The action paid off as Xu Wengyu found the back of the net after Jocelyn Bartram in the Australia goal had made two saves but had been unable to clear her lines.
Unfortunately for China, it was just not enough and Australia finished 3-2 winners.
China's Roster: Click Here
USFHA media release
2019 8 Nations Invitational Tournament (U 21) M
13 Jun 2019 BEL v AUT (Pool A) 5 - 1
13 Jun 2019 GBR v GER (Pool A) 1 - 7
13 Jun 2019 NED v AUS (Pool B) 1 - 1
13 Jun 2019 ESP v IND (Pool B 3 - 1
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|Rank||Team||Played||Wins||Draws||Losses||Goals For||Goals Against||Goal Difference||Points|
Australia’s Burras Head Into Semis in U21 Eight Nation Tournament in Spain
The Australian men’s U21 team, The Burras, have their eyes on a medal finish after securing a spot in the semi-finals.
In the first round (Pool B), the team beat India 4-0, but struggled against Spain with a 3-1 defeat. A close game against the Dutch last night saw the teams draw 1-1.
The tournament, played in Madrid (Spain) from June 10 to 16, includes some of the strongest hockey nations with Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Germany, Austria and Spain giving the Australians plenty of international game practice.
The team is led by Head Coach Ben Bishop, Assistant Coach Brent Livermore and Team Manager Andrew Smith. All three are former Kookaburras players.
“It has been a great experience so far for our athletes. We have had three challenging games against different styles of hockey, which has presented important learnings for everyone.
”The effort and endeavour of the group has been excellent in taking on these learnings. Our defence has been resolute in each match setting the tone for other areas in our game,” said Bishop.
Australia faces Germany next, with the two nations fighting for a medal finish at Somontes in Madrid Saturday June 15 at midday (8pm AEST).
“Our focus moving forward is to improve the connections between each other and execution of our play when in possession of the ball.
“Our semi-final match is against Germany who have shown so far to be a very strong team. It will be another great experience and challenge for us. I do not think we have played our best hockey as yet, but I know we are close, so I am really excited to see what that will look like on the weekend,” Bishop said.
The team 18-man strong team consists of players from around Australia:
(Name, surname, state)
Cade BANDITT QLD
Jonathan BRETHERTON VIC
Tom BROWN NSW
Nathan EPHRAUMS VIC
Harrison FARRELL QLD
Michael FRANCIS QLD
Dane GAVRANICH WA
Sam GRAY NSW
Liam HART QLD
Tom HARVEY WA
Ehren HAZELL NSW
Max HENDRY VIC
Brayden KING WA
Dylan MARTIN NSW
Sam MCCULLOCH TAS
Alistair MURRAY WA
Daine RICHARDS NSW
Christian STARKIE WA
Ben WHITE VIC
Hockey Australia media release
Indian junior men's team lose to Spain 1-3
India went into the game wary of the minor errors that had denied them victory in their previous group encounters.
ESP VS IND @Twitter:
A flurry of goals unsettled the Indian junior men's hockey team, which lost 1-3 to Spain in a group stage game at the 8-Nations U-21 Invitational tournament, here Thursday.
India went into the game wary of the minor errors that had denied them victory in their previous group encounters. The hosts, on the other hand, were brimming with confidence thanks to two successive victories.
India defended hard in the goalless first quarter and dominated possession in the second. But Spain's dogged defence cut down on any goal-scoring opportunities. The teams went into halftime locked in a goalless stalemate. In a lively third quarter, both teams came out attacking from the word go. It was India who struck first, Pratap Lakra converting a penalty corner in the first minute.
Spain hit back soon though, in a four-minute period, where they hit back with three quick goals. Ignacio Cobos struck their first, in the 35th minute with a PC conversion. Cesar Cusier (37') and Gonzalo Quijano (39') scored two in quick succession to give them a 3-1 lead.
To compound to India's troubles, Mandeep Mor picked up a yellow card in the 40th minute, leaving them a man down for the final part of the quarter. The team defended strongly ensuring that they do not concede more goals.India play Austria in a 5-8 classification encounter on Saturday.
Daily News & Analysis
Broek, Lawton and Nance Join the National Development Squad
Hockeyroos Head Coach Paul Gaudoin today welcomed three new players to the National Development Squad (NDS), following a strong performance and a change in eligibility by the women.
Roos Broek, Amy Lawton and Gabi Nance have all been added, showing outstanding talent according to Gaudoin.
Roos Broek, 25, was born in the Netherlands and until earlier this year, when she was granted Australian citizenship, unable to present Australia. She represented the Netherlands in the 2010 Youth Olympics Games, where her team claimed gold. Now an Australian citizen, Broek is based in Perth with her Kookaburra player husband Matthew Swann and has represented WA in the Australian Hockey League (AHL).
“Roos has been a very strong Forward in the last two seasons of the AHL. She’s got great athleticism and excellent ball handling skills. We see a real opportunity to fulfil her potential,” said Gaudoin.
Amy Lawton is a current junior squad member who has enjoyed a meteoric rise after debuting with the Hockeyroos in the Anzac Day FIH Pro League match against New Zealand. The 17-year-old lives in Emerald (VIC) and plays for the Southern United Hockey Club in Melbourne, while studying for her VCE.
“Amy Lawton has shown tremendous progress through her junior national squad and VAA opportunities. She plays beyond her years and displays a very high quality of hockey. She’s an incredible talent,” said Gaudoin.
Gabi Nance’s name is familiar to hockey fans here and internationally. The former Hockeyroos player took a break from the game following the Hockeyroos’ silver medal claim at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. She’s been focussed on reigniting her passion for the game, spending the past 12 months playing in the top league in the Netherlands. The 24-year-old is from Kingscliff, NSW but has represented South Australia in the Australian Hockey League.
“Gabi Nance has been playing in what’s probably the best league domestic league, so while she’s not been in Australia, she's been playing at a very high level and we obviously know her very well. She’s been a Hockeyroos player and we are thrilled to have her back in Australia,” Gaudoin said.
The appointments have been made following a recommendation by the National Selection Panel, who assessed the players against their performance at the 2018 National Championships, national HP and Pathway program opportunities as well as their performance in their respective Daily Training Environments (DTEs).
The NDS now consists of 15 players:
Roos Broek, WA
Naomi Evans, ACT
Ashley Fey, Qld
Renee Hunter, NSW
Kate Jenner, NSW
Amy Lawton, VIC
Gabi Nance, SA
Mikaela Patterson, NSW
Candyce Peacock, WA
Aleisha Power, WA
Karri Somerville, WA
Michaela Spano, SA
Tina Taseska, ACT
Jessica Watterson, NSW
Abigail Wilson, NSW
Hockey Australia media release
Neville Rothman appointed SA U21 Men’s Coach
The South African Hockey Association have today announced Neville Rothman as the new head coach of the SA Under 21 Hockey Men, succeeding previous incumbent and now national coach, Garreth Ewing. The appointment will be for the period up to an including the 2021 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup.
Rothman is no stranger to the SA U21 setup having fulfilled the role of Assistant coach to Garreth Ewing in the previous years. Adding to his involvement in the school’s setup having been the head coach of the SA U18 side for the home series against Australia in 2014 and 2016, the latter a 3-0 series win for the hosts.
Rothman also took the U18 team to the Nanjing Youth Olympic games in 2014. That team playing Hockey 5s, featured a host of players who are currently with the men’s side in India including Bili Ntuli, Tyson Dlungwana and Tevin Kok. As the convenor of selectors for the SA Under 18 Boys, Rothman has knowledge of a host of talent that will undoubtedly be the future of South African Men’s Hockey,
“Having been involved at various age group structures, I am incredibly humbled to be given the opportunity to take the SA Under 21 Men to the Junior Hockey World Cup. There is so much young talent in this country that makes me incredibly excited for this role.” Shared Neville Rothman
Rothman is also a full-time hockey man as he is the director of hockey at Affies in Pretoria having made the move after 11 years at Paarl Roos Gymnasium. He also previously worked with Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.
The team will partake in the Premier Hockey League and the Senior IPT with the idea of developing the squad towards the African Qualifiers in 2020. Should the team be successful they will then head to the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup in 2021.
There will also be an expectation that the development of this players is important to guide them through this phase of their careers and assist them in making the step up to Senior International hockey.
SA Hockey wishes Neville success for his new role!
SA Hockey Association media release