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News for 07 January 2015

All the news for Wednesday 7 January 2015

Austria edge SA hockey men in 7-goal thriller

JONATHAN COOK at Queensmead

The South Africa men's hockey team were shaded 4-3 by Austria at Queensmead in Durban Tuesday night after trailing 3-1 at half-time in a pulsating second Test of the four-match series.

The heart-stopping win puts the Europeans 1-0 up in the series after Monday’s first encounter was drawn 1-1.

With Wednesday seeing the teams taking a well-earned rest, the third Test at Queensmead is on Thursday at 6pm, while the fourth and final Test on Friday has been moved forward from 2pm to a 1pm start time.

SA scored first through a Matt Guise-Brown penalty corner drag-flick bullet in the 12th minute but the Europeans hit back with a three-goal blitz inside 10 minutes and the men in green and gold faced an uphill battle going into the last two of the four 15-minute chukkas.

Michael Koerper’s penalty stroke in the 14th minute and field goals from Alezander Bele and captain Ben Stanzl in the 19th and 23rd minutes respectively put the Austrians, at 3-1 up, in a great position to win the match.

Both sides created enough opportunities and there were encouraging debuts in this experimental SA team for midfielder Chad Cairncross and strikers Shannon Boucher and Richard Pautz.

Despite both side’s hard work, the third chukka of 15 minutes went scoreless, but spurred on by an enthusiastic home crowd the fourth and final stanza saw SA pull a goal back with 10 minutes left in the match (50th minute) when a Guise-Brown pass found striker Keenan Horne, who shook off several determined tackles before being impeded by a desperate Austrian defensive lunge.

Guise-Brown stepped up and rifled his second PC into the backboard (3-2) and the outcome was again in the balance. Striving hard for the 3-3 equaliser, SA threw everything at the embattled Austrians and tempers flared as the clock wound down.

SA continued exploiting the left flank to advantage and with six minutes left (54th) the industrious Horne latched onto the ball and cracked a pass across the face of goal for Pautz to make it 3-3 in spectacular fashion.

But just two minutes later (56th) the Austrians were back in front when Julius Heimanns scored a soft goal (4-3). The fired-up South Africans again came back hard but this time replacement keeper Ben Melic got in the way of a Guise-Brown PC scorcher.

With just seconds left SA came agonisingly close to drawing level yet again but it was not to be, which means the men in green and gold cannot afford to lose the third Test if they are to stay alive in the series.

SA (1) 3 (Matt Guise-Brown PCs 12th and 50th, Richard Pautz FG 54th)
Austria (3) 4 (Michael Koerper PS 14th, FGs Alezander Bele 19th, Ben Stanzl 23rd, Julius Heimanns 56th)

3rd Test: Thurs, 8 Jan (6pm)
4th and final Test: Fri, 9 Jan (1pm)

SA Hockey Association media release

Best of the best move indoors

With the Indoor Hockey World Cup taking place in less than a month's time, we look at the development of the game and preview the showcase event.

(Photo: FIH)

Fast, furious and great entertainment, indoor hockey is the lesser-known relative of the outdoor game, but with the advent of the fourth Indoor World Cup in Leipzig, Germany, in February, the sport is making waves around the world.

While some countries taking part in the showcase event are old hands at the sport – both Germany and Canada have competed in every World Cup – for debutant countries such as Sweden men and Belgium women this is a step into the unknown.

So just what is it about indoor hockey that makes it so exciting? Surely it is just a mini version of the outdoor game?

In fact nothing could be further from the truth, indoor hockey is a sport that calls for skills and abilities that can be very different from the outdoor game and, perhaps surprisingly, not all outdoor players make good indoor players. The fundamentals are the same: players use sticks, albeit lighter and flatter; the ball is the same dimension as an outdoor ball, although slightly lighter; the aim is to score goals past a ‘keeper padded in protective clothing; there are penalty corners and penalty strokes. But the game is lightening fast; it is usually high scoring; the ball is not allowed to leave the ground unless it is a shot at goal so it skids at high speed across the polished surface; and one mistake or bad touch will almost certainly result in lost possession and possibly a goal-scoring chance. 

The sport first became popular in Europe in the 1950s, with Germany the driving force behind its development. While it initially became popular among players in northern Europe and Canada who wanted to continue to play their sport during the harsh winter months, it gradually spread across the globe and is today as popular in the warm climates of South Africa and Australia as it is in the chillier countries. Recognition of indoor hockey as a global sport came in 2003 when FIH organised the inaugural FIH World Indoor Hockey Championships in Germany in 2003. Since then Germany has dominated. The men’s team has won every World Cup and the women have won two of the three.

The approach to indoor hockey differs depending on where in the world you are. The indoor season in Europe tends to be in the two month period between the middle of December and the middle of February. This will be a time when clubs take a break from the domestic outdoor leagues and the indoor national competitions take centre stage, with many top outdoor players transferring to the indoor game. Other countries, such as South Africa, the Netherlands and Iran have squads that are dedicated indoor squads and they train and compete throughout the season as indoor players. 

Iran and Sweden are both countries where outdoor pitches are a rarity, and so the indoor game gives hockey players a chance to develop their playing skills and techniques and experience international competition. The Iranians are the Asian indoor champions, and have ambitions to improve upon their 10th-place finish at the last edition.

Sweden has been making steady improvements in its indoor hockey performances over the last decade, gradually moving up through the leagues. But progress is often hampered by the popularity of two other hockey-based sports. Niclas Franzen, Sweden’s goalkeeper explains: “Ice hockey and street hockey are popular so we are always fighting for funding and media space. We have good indoor players in Sweden though and many would be a good fit in some of the top indoor club leagues in Europe.” Sweden’s preparations for this World Cup got off to a good start as they defeated fellow World Cup competitors Canada in the final of the Indoor Mason Cup, held in Denmark.

While some hockey players view indoor hockey as a means of honing outdoor skills, for others there is little comparison between the two. Tracey Martens, who is competing for South Africa in Leipzig says: “Indoor for sure! I love the pace and intensity of indoor and that you are always involved in the game, even as a defender you often find yourself in the attacking circle with a chance to score goals.”

The eyes of the hockey-loving world were on the Hague during May and June of 2014, but this February the excitement moves indoors, when 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams do battle to be crowned Indoor Hockey World Champions.

FIH site

Bjorkman focus on Indoor WC gold after Mason Cup win

Harvestehuder THC’s Johan Bjorkman scored a massive 17 goals for Sweden to lead his side to the Mason Cup in Denmark on Monday, winning the three-day event ahead of Canada, Dinamo Elektrostal, Switzerland and local clubs Orient Lyngby and Slagelse HK.

After group wins over Slagelse, Switzerland and Canada, allied to two draws, they ended in the top two to set up a final showdown with the Canadians.

The Swedes won out in thrilling fashion on penalties 5-4 with normal time ending 6-6, setting them up for their World Cup assault in Leipzig in February.

For Bjorkman, he says that he has just one aim for that competition: "My personal goal is one World Championship gold. It is the biggest thing you can play as indoor hockey is not an Olympic discipline."

Bjokrman has had an incredible year, helping HTHC win a wealth of titles including the Euro Hockey League and the European club indoor crown.

And Leipzig is the next medal he has on his agenda: "I have no rituals that I do before games, but right now I prepare by practicing hard and focus as much as possible."

Euro Hockey League media release

Final Four set to do battle

Slough goalkeeper Maddie Hinch prepares to face a penalty corner at Hockey 5s 2014-15

This weekend the crème de la crème of the domestic women’s teams will make their way to Kettering for the 2015 Hockey 5s semi-finals. With holders Reading narrowly missing the cut this season there will be a new name on the trophy when all is said and done. We take a look at the qualifiers.

The first clash is a repeat of the 2014 semi-final as Bowdon Hightown and Canterbury renew hostilities for a place at finals day at The SSE Arena, Wembley.

Hightown qualified top of the pile after a stellar first weekend of four wins from four laid the foundations for them. They picked up the points needed to secure their semi-final place with time to spare on the second weekend. Bowdon proved to be the league’s great entertainers, netting the most goals with 40 strikes coming from eight games. Sally Walton helped herself to 18 goals, making her the competition’s top scorer whilst Tina Cullen showed her class with ten goals of her own. Bowdon have been here before and after their finals day disappointment last season they will be keen to go all the way and recapture the title they won back in 2010-11.

Their opponents will be Kent side, Canterbury. The Polo Farm outfit secured the final place in the top four by virtue of goal difference. Canterbury came out on top when the two sides met in this season’s qualifiers with a narrow 5-4 victory courtesy of double strikes from Eliza Brett and Susie Rowe, but they will also remember this time last year when their finals dreams were shattered by Bowdon who won the semi-final on shootout.  Canterbury will be relying on the goalscoring abilities of South African International Dirkie Chamberlain and Sarah Kerly who each scored seven times in the qualifiers, although in truth, they are a solid team unit who will relish the chance to join their men’s team at the showpiece in London.

The other semi-final pairs East Grinstead with Slough.

East Grinstead is a club who will forever be linked with the indoor game due to the exploits of their men’s side, but this is actually the first time the ladies have qualified for this stage. Having consolidated their position in the top flight in their first season, their second season has been a great success and seen them qualify for the final four by sweeping aside Sutton Coldfield in a winner-takes-all clash in the final match of the league phase.

England and Great Britain star Sophie Bray produced a series of eye catching displays in qualifying and scored 11 times but was ably assisted by the talents of seven-goal Pip Rabey. In goal they have the formidable Kirsty Mackay meaning this is a unit with quality all over the pitch. They, like Canterbury will be focused on ensuring the finals at The SSE Arena, Wembley feature both their men’s and women’s sides.

Slough will be keen to go one better than their efforts from last season when they crashed out at the semi-final stage. Alex Danson’s goal seconds from the final whistle broke Slough hearts and sent Reading through instead. With Great Britain goalkeeper Maddie Hinch between the posts and an incredible team work ethic, Slough boast the meanest defence in the competition, conceding just 19 times across the eight games. With the ever-impressive Alex Scott a constant danger up front (16 goals in qualifying) Slough will hope their strength in all areas can get them back in the hunt to win the title they last scooped in 2007-2008.

Hockey 5s Women's Semi-Finals.
Semi Final 1 (6pm): Bowdon Hightown vs Canterbury
Semi-Final 2 (7:30pm): East Grinstead vs Slough.
You can buy tickets to the semi-finals which take place this weekend at The Arena Sports Centre in Kettering. Doors open at 5pm. Follow this link to be directed to the ticketing page.

England Hockey Board Media release

Barry Middleton just misses out on taking Holcombe to the Wembley Arena finals

By Sean Cotter

Barry Middleton just missed out on taking Holcombe to the Wembley Arena finals. GETTY

BARRY MIDDLETON put in a surprise appearance at the second weekend of the indoor 5s championships at the FA's Burton-upon-Trent headquarters but just failed on goal difference to get his club Holcombe to the Wembley Arena finals on January 25.

Ahead of travelling out for hockey's equivalent to cricket's Indian Premier League, he scored seven goals and fellow IPL player Nick Catlin six in helping Holcombe win three and draw one of their matches. But it was not enough and he would have missed Wembley either way.

"I always knew the finals at Wembley were going to clash with India," said GB captain Middleton.

"But I just want to play hockey and play well and win every game wherever it is."

East Grinstead's serene progress to what could be a seventh successive title was rudely interrupted by Holcombe's 12-3 win with Catlin scoring five and Middleton four.

The champions, for whom Niall Stott ran up an 11-goal haul on Sunday, will be joined at Wembley by surprise package Sevenoaks, Reading and Canterbury while East Grinstead's women, with international Sophie Bray scoring a total of 11 goals, made it to this Saturday's semi-finals at Kettering along with Slough and fourth-placed Canterbury.

Bowdown Hightown finished top with England's Sally Walton the leading scorer on 18 goals.

Champions Reading, missing among others Kate Richardson-Walsh, who was made an MBE in the New Year Honours, were edged out on goal difference. The GB captain returned to squad training yesterday after a three-month sabbatical to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers in June.

Daily Express

Hockey goalie Hafizuddin only has one birthday wish

By Aftar Singh

Mohd Hafizuddin Othman is vying for one of the two goalkeeper spots in the national hockey team to the World League Round Two tournament in Singapore from Jan 17-25. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Mohd Hafizuddin Othman turns 23 on Wednesday with only one birthday wish: to be named for the World League Second Round in Singapore from Jan 17-25.

But Hafizuddin, who was named the best goalkeeper after guiding Terengganu to the double – league and overall titles – in last year’s Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), faces a strong challenge from veterans S. Kumar and Roslan Jamaluddin to be among the final 18 for the Singapore tournament.

There are 25 players in the training squad and national coach Tai Beng Hai will name the final 18 on Friday.

Kumar, 35, is the country’s top goalkeeper with 244 caps while Roslan, 36, has represented Malaysia 180 times since 1998.

The Kuala Terengganu-born Hafizuddin has only 12 caps thus far. He made his international debut in the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last year, replacing Kumar (hamstring injury). Malaysia finished runners-up to Australia in the meet.

“Kumar is one of the best in the world and is definitely the first choice. So, I will have to fight Roslan to be named the reserve keeper,” said Hafizuddin, who helped Malaysia finish a creditable fourth out of 20 teams in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in 2013.

“Being named the best goalkeeper in the MHL has boosted my confidence and I’m confident I can pip Roslan to the reserve goalkeeper spot in the team.

“I know that my chances of winning a place for the World League will depend on my performance in training and the friendly matches.

“I think I did pretty well in the two friendlies against UniKL (Universiti Kuala Lumpur) last week. I didn’t play in the first friendly against Poland on Sunday, which ended in a 4-4 draw.”

Eight teams will feature in the World League Second Round, where world No. 13 Malaysia are the top seeds.

They are in Group A with Oman, Ukraine and Fiji.

Group B comprises Japan, Poland, Thailand and Singapore.

The top three teams will qualify for the two World League semi-finals in Belgium and Argentina in June.

The World League is the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Meanwhile, Karol Majchrzak scored a brace to steer Poland to a 4-3 win over Malaysia in their second friendly at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

Poland, who are here to prepare for the World League Second Round hockey tournament in Singapore from Jan 17-25, drew the first friendly 4-4 on Sunday at the same venue.

Majchrzak was on target in the 42nd and 59th minutes. Maciej Wejerowski (21st) and Mateusz Hulboj (52nd) netted the other goals.

Malaysia replied through Faizal Saari (40th) and Tengku Ahmad Tajudin (58th and 60th).

The Polish team will leave for Singapore on Monday.

The Star of Malaysia

Lleonart leads Polo to Torneo de Reyes win

Xavi Lleonart scored another two goals to hand Real club de Polo a 4-2 win over SG Amsicora and claim the Torneo de Reyes in style on home turf.

Needing just a draw, Lleonart and Llorenc Piera gave the hosts a 2-0 at half-time before Alex Casasayas extended the margin in the 43rd minute.

Luca Angius pulled one back for the Italian side a minute later but Lleonart’s fourth quarter goal killed off any chance of a comeback despite Gabriele Murgia’s late consolation goal.

Polo’s women beat France’s national team 5-0 to win their competition with goals from Marta Segu, Yana Vorushylo, Maria Gomez, Laura Valls and Berta Fabregas.

Euro Hockey League media release

Customs, PTV, PIA victorious in National Hockey

LAHORE - Customs, PTV and PIA scored wins in the ongoing 61st PSO National Hockey Championship at Sialkot Hockey Stadium, Sialkot.

According to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), the first match of the day witnessed Customs defeating PQA 3-1. Customs team dominated the first two halves while PQA bounced back in the third half but a good fight was also seen from Customs who added another in their tally to finish the third half 3-1 and in the fourth and last half, no score was converted by both the teams. For Customs, Bilal Qadir scored two goals in 12th and 18th minutes while Shahbaz added one in the 37th minute. For PQA, Rehan scored the only goal in 38th minute.

In the second match, PTV beat Police 2-1. The first half remained goalless while PTV took lead 1-0 lead in the second half. The third half saw another goal from PTV making it 2-0 while Police scored the consolation goal in the last half to finish the match 2-1. For PTV, captain Fayyaz scored first goal in 22nd minute while Nabeel Akram hit second in the 39th minute. For Police, the lone goal came from Atif Baig in the 47th minute.

In the third and last match of the day, PIA outclassed Railways 6-1. PIA were off the flying start as they hammered three back-to-back goals in the first half to take 3-0 lead. In the second half, they added two to make it 5-0. The third saw one goal each from PTV and Railways making it 6-1 while the last half remained goalless and the match ended with score 6-1. For PIA, Nohaiz Malik slammed two goals in 10th and 27th minutes while Kashif Ali (7th), Azfar Yaqoob (12th), Awais-ur-Rehman (25th) and M Zubair (45th) contributed one goal each. For Railways, Adeel Latif scored the only goal in 40th minute.

The Nation

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