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News for 27 March 2015

All the news for Friday 27 March 2015

Latest World Rankings released by FIH

Australia men & Netherlands women hold firm at the top of the rankings

(Photo: FIH / Grant Treeby)

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has released the latest FIH World Rankings as of March 2015.  These include points awarded following the completion of the Hockey World League Round 2 events.

In the FIH Men’s World Rankings, 2014 World Champions Australia (1), World Cup Silver medallists the Netherlands (2) and 2012 Olympic Champions Germany (3) continue to hold the top three positions, with Tom Boon’s Belgium moving into fourth place ahead of Ashley Jackson’s England, who drop to fifth. Argentina’s Los Leones retain sixth place ahead of New Zealand (7), Korea (8), India (9) and Pakistan (10).

Malaysia (12), Ireland (14), Canada (15), Japan (16), Poland (17), France (18), Egypt (20), Austria (22) and China (31) all secured top three finishes in the Hockey World League Round 2 events, reaching the Olympic qualifier Semi-Final phase and collecting crucial ranking points in the process. Although these teams have seen little change in their current FIH World Ranking on this occasion, their involvement in the upcoming Hockey World League Semi-Finals will generate even more points and could trigger some significant movement.

The top four positions in the FIH Women’s World Rankings remain the same, with the Netherlands (1), Australia (2), Argentina (3) and New Zealand (4) all retaining their places. However, there has been some movement in the 5-8 positions, with USA moving from eighth place to fifth ahead of Germany’s Die Danas (6), China (7), England (8), Korea (9) and Japan (10).

As with the men’s rankings, the teams that secured qualification from Round 2 to the Semi-Finals of the women’s Hockey World League have experienced only subtle changes in terms of the position in the FIH World Rankings at this stage. However India (13), Ireland (14), Italy (16), Azerbaijan (19), Canada (20), Poland (23) and Uruguay (29) will all collect performance-related points from their involvement in the HWL Semi-Finals, something which could initiate substantial changes.

To see the latest FIH World Rankings in full, click here. The next update to the FIH World Rankings will be made following the completion of the Hockey World League Semi-Final events which take place in June and July.

FIH site

FIH release schedule for the women’s Hockey World League Semi-Final Valencia, Spain

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FIH have released the pools and match schedule for the women’s Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia, Spain.  The Hockey World League Semi Final is a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with three guaranteed places available to the ten teams competing in the Semi-Final leg in Spain.

The Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia takes place from 10-21 June 2015 in Spain’s third largest city and features an extraordinary line-up.   The ten teams making up the pools are a mixture of automatic qualifiers courtesy of their world rankings (at time of entry), the host and the teams who join via their qualification success in Round 2 of the Hockey World League.

Pool A features 2014 Champions Trophy winners Argentina alongside London 2012 Olympic Bronze medallists Great Britain, host nation Spain, China and Round 2 qualifier Canada.  While Pool B includes the high flying USA team with Germany, South Africa and two qualifiers from Round 2 – Ireland and Uruguay.

The opening day of the event (Wednesday 10 June) will feature eight of the ten teams taking part and the pool matches will be spread over five days. The event will conclude with the finals and play off’s on Sunday 21 June.

FIH President, Leandro Negre said:  “We are greatly looking forward to the Semi-Final event in Valencia.  Spain always has amazing crowds and we know there will be great support for the home nation.  With Olympic qualification at stake, we expect an action-packed and competitive event.”

RFEH President Santiago Deó Valera said: “The Olympic qualifying event in Valencia is not far away. We are looking forward to what will be a great event, which we are sure everybody will enjoy, with excellent play from all participating teams and where we hope that our National team achieves the classification for participating in Rio.

 Participating Teams

Pool A Pool B
Argentina USA
China Germany
Great Britain South Africa
Spain Ireland
Canada Uruguay

To see the complete tournament schedule, please click here.

FIH site

USWNT Roster Organized for 8 Nations Tournament in New Zealand

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Craig Parnham has established the 18-athlete roster that will be traveling to New Zealand for the 8 Nations Tournament from April 11-19, 2015. The event will include eight teams placed in the top 13 in the world, according to the FIH World Rankings.

“The 8 Nations event in Hawke’s Bay will be an interesting tournament with all the participating teams preparing for the World League Semifinals,” said Parnham. “The matches will provide us another opportunity to continue to develop the team as we move toward the summer events.”

The games will take place at the Hasting Sports Park in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Before the tournament begins, Team USA will play second world ranked Australia in a practice match on April 9 and is set to play them again in their first game on April 11.

The 8 Nations Tournament, or Hawke’s Bay Cup, is one of three tournaments held under the umbrella of the Festival of Hockey. In 13 days, 80 games will be played showcasing the world’s best teams. All six teams that participated in 2014 (Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan) are returning this year with the addition of India and Team USA.

USWNT 8 Nations Roster:

Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.), Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.), Melissa Gonzales (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa.), Ali McEvoy (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.), Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.), Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.), Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Alesha Widdall (Whitney Point, N.Y.), Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.)

For all information regarding the 8 Nations Tournament, including the schedule, check out the event page and follow the team on Twitter at @USAFieldHockey

USFHA media release

Pakistan to play ample hockey before Olympic qualifiers

Mohsin Ali

Islamabad - Pakistan hockey team training camp is in full swing here at the Naseer Bunda hockey stadium for the hectic hockey schedule, the main among them is Olympic qualifier.

All the players have reported except Rizwan Senior and Rashid, as both were supposed to report on March 20, as they sought permission for playing leagues in Netherlands and England, but they failed to report while Irfan has reported.
When head coach and manager Shahnaz Shaikh was asked about the camp absentees, he preferred to ignore it putting the responsibility on Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and said: “I have no idea about them as they didn’t contact me in this regard. The federation is in better position to answer why they failed to turn without any intimation.”

“We have decided to establish four-week camp in Islamabad, which will conclude on April 15. After one-week rest, the players will assemble once again for one-week short camp before our departure to Australia to play four-nation tournament, in which besides hosts Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Australia A, two teams of host nation along with Pakistan team will participate. The event will start from April 29 to May 2 in Hobart. After that, we will travel to Korea on May 12 to play 4-5-match series against Korea,” he said.

When asked about team’s departure for Umrah, Shahnaz said: “Umrah will be performed after Olympic qualification round in Belgium, as visa process of Australia and Korea require sufficient time.”

To a query about Olympic qualification pool, Shahnaz replied:  We are placed in Group-A alongside Australia, India, Poland and France. Every team is very tough in pool, as France has recently beaten China 5-2, while hosts Belgium, England, Malaysia, China and Austria are placed in Group-B. After league matches, knockout stage will start and three teams will get direct qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics, while the second qualification round will be played in Argentina and three teams will be selected for direct berth, while six remaining teams will get direct berths as per their international rankings. A total of 12 teams will be in action in the Olympics 2016, we have set top three finish in the first phase to ensure direct qualification in the Olympics.”

About the team and officials’ meeting with the PM, he said: “I have ironed my national blazer and waistcoat four times, but after every cancellation, I hang the stuff in my cupboard. Frankly speaking, it is not my concern but it’s PHF domain, so they must answer this question. I alongwith a few legends invited by President Mamnoon Hussain on March 31 for a meeting.”

When asked whether he would discuss with the President the team affairs and scheduled PM’s meeting, the head coach replied: “No, I will just talk about hockey. The PHF president and others will discuss in detail the entire issue and hopefully, the matter will finally be resolved.”

“We have hired four top coaches for every field. Olympian Tahir Zaman will look after forwards, Olympian Nasir Ali deep defence, Abu Zarr goalkeepers and video analyst and Shafqat Malik midfielders.” When asked about absence of Olympian Sameer Hussain, he said: “Sameer has some domestic problems and will join the team early next month.”

Talking to this scribe, former Olympian and captain Shahbaz Senior praised the abilities of Shahnaz as a coach and expressed his satisfaction over the progress the team has made under his coaching. “Under the current tight financial situation and keeping in mind past low performances, Shahnaz and his team had done a fantastic job. I hope they will continue performing well in the coming events and especially in the Olympic qualifiers.”

The Nation

Hockey India’s purple patch continues as both the national federation and the President are honoured

(Photo: Stanislas Brochier)

In a double celebration for Indian hockey, its national association, Hockey India, has been awarded Best National Sports Federation, while its President, Dr Narinder Batra is named as one of the 10 top sports personalities in the influential magazine, Indian Express.

With the men’s national team in particular enjoying one of its most successful years in recent times, Hockey India is going through something of a purple patch. The men’s team has qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics courtesy of a victory at the Asian Games, they also picked up silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the nation has also successfully hosted a number of top level competitions over the past three years.

In a ceremony in New Delhi, the Major Dhyan Chand Sports Awards Committee (MDCSA) named Hockey India as Best National Sports Federation. The award – named in memory of one of India’s greatest hockey players, Dhyan Chand – is given to sports personalities and organisations for their efforts and team work in building the sport in the country.

Also recognised for his leadership is the President of Hockey India, Dr Narinder Batra. The Indian Express named the passionate head of the national federation, who also serves on the FIH Executive Board, as number eight on the list of top 10 sports personalities in the country.

The magazine said of Dr Batra: “His decision making will be crucial for Indian hockey to build on one of its most successful years in recent times.”

Hockey India, led by Dr Batra, has consistently been promoting hockey as a sport not only nationally, through the successful franchised Hockey India League, but also on the international arena. Six major international tournaments, including the recent men’s Champions Trophy and the Hockey World League Finals, have been organised in India over the past three years. This has led to increased opportunities for the national team to play top level opposition and it has also given the infrastructure of hockey in India a boost.

The grassroots level of hockey in India also continues to develop. Hockey India has been nurturing young talent through various initiatives and it has also created an online training platform for academies and individual players to learn from national and international coaches.

A robust calendar of tournaments is already in place to provide international exposure to the national team as a build up to the upcoming Olympics.

FIH site

Challenging times ahead for Indian Hockey


A litmus test awaits the Dutch coach, Paul van Ass, and the High Performance Director, Roelent Oltmans, as Indian hockey enters the competition mode after the Champions Trophy in the next few weeks.

The first challenge comes in the Azlan Shah Trophy tournament at Ipoh from April 5 to 12, and then the high intensity semi-finals of the World Hockey League at Antwerp (Belgium) for both men and women from June 20 to July 5.

Much water has flowed down after the exit of the most successful coach, Terry Walsh, who steered the national team to a gold medal triumph at the Inchon Asian Games, and to a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow.

The ugly drama that preceded Walsh’s agonizing final moments with Hockey India before the end of the tenure continues to be a blot in the history of hockey in India.

Walsh may not be the first foreign coach subjected to an unprecedented humiliation not is likely to be the last. The caprice of the administration cannot be easily documented.

Be that as it may, van Ass, the once highly decorated Netherlands coach, enters the choppy waters where expectations are far too high to the expertise and efficiency of the national teams.

He succeeds a very successful coach who achieved a great deal for the sport. Even the renowned Oltmans did not get good marks for the team’s showing in the Champions Trophy at Bhubaneshwar.

It goes without saying that the Dutch duo of Ass and Oltmans has to deliver something to shout about in the Azlan Shah where India won the trophy last in 2010 sharing it Korea. India missed the last edition in 2014 citing the preparations for the World Cup at The Hague as the reason.

At Ipoh, India faces a very strong field that includes Australia, the defending champion, Korea, Canada, New Zealand and the host, Malaysia, the finalist last year. 

A podium finish here will establish the credibility of the van Ass as much as the success of the coaching programs initiated by the Roelant Oltmans.

India has fielded a strong team under the leadership of Sardar Singh assisted by the goalkeeper Sreejesh. The all round strength of the team enhances the optimism of a high finish.

A bigger test emerges from the WHL semi-finals at Antwerp (Belgium) in June-July. Three of the 10 teams in the fray will ensure their places in the Olympics at Rio next year. But for India, which has already qualified after the Gold Medal at the last Asian Games, a good showing here will be a great morale booster.

India is clubbed along with Australia and Pakistan in Pool A. A top four finish will give the team the right impetus to prepare for the Olympics.

For the women’s team, which won the Round two in New Delhi recently, it is a glorious chance to consolidate its growing stature.

WHL (semi-finals at Antwerp)

The Pools: A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France; B: Belgium, Great Britain, Malaysia, Ireland and China.

Women: Pool A: Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Italy and Azerbaijan; B: Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, India and Poland

Indian team for Azlan Shah tournament: Goalkeepers: Sreejesh and Harjot Singh; Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh and V.R.Raghunath. Mid-field: Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh, Dharamvir Singh and Chingelsena and S.K.Uthappa. Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, S.V.Sunil, Akashdep Singh, Nikkhin Thimmiah, Satbir Singh and Mandeep  Singh.


New coach Paul Van Ass keeps faith on continuity

Tazeen Qureshy

Gearing up for the first assignment as the coach of the Indian hockey team, Dutchman Paul Van Ass has decided to keep minimal changes so as to not affect the team’s overall momentum.

It was evident in his selection for the team bound for Azlan Shah Cup next month. The coach along with high performance director Roelant Oltmans and the other selectors have restored their faith in the same team which played the Champions Trophy in December last year. The 18-member team will be led by Sardar Singh and vice-captained by P.R. Sreejesh. However, three players have not found his favour.

Unlike the Champions Trophy, where India fielded six defenders, the team will have five for the Azlan Shah. Choosing two drag-flick experts, Van Ass has retained Rupinder Pal Singh and V.R. Raghunath, while Gurjinder Singh finds a miss in the final list.

The mid-field is almost the same except for Allahabad lad Danish Mujtaba making way for Chinglensana Singh. Chinglensana had a good stint with Dabang Mumbai team in the Hockey India League this year, which paved his way in the 18-member team.

In terms of forward-line, the Dutchman has decided to test the younger lot. Mandeep Singh and Satbir Singh have found a place in the team while Lalit Upadhaya doesn’t feature in the final team list.

The goalkeepers have, however, remained unchanged. In a fiery form, P.R. Sreejesh once again will guard India’s goalpost. Harjot Singh, meanwhile, will also be travelling with the team.

Azlan Shah Cup will start from April 5 in Ipoh, Malaysia. In the first match, India will take on South Korea.


Asian Games snub motivated me to make a comeback: Mandeep

NEW DELHI: The snub from the Asian Games gold medal-winning team motivated me to work harder and make a strong comeback into the Indian men's hockey team, said promising forward Mandeep Singh after his selection in the Sutlan Azlan Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia.

After being ignored for the Asian Games and Champions Trophy squad, Mandeep put up an impressive display in this year's Hero Hockey India League to impress the selectors and make a comeback in the national team.

"I was part of the World Cup squad in June last year but since then I missed out on other important tournaments. I was unlucky that I was not part of the gold winning team of the Asian Games. It motivated me to work even harder and make a strong comeback," Mandeep said.

"After missing out from the core team of the Asian Games, I went to the drawing board and understood where I was lacking. I worked hard on my loopholes and I was aware that the Hockey India League will be the platform for me to prove myself. Luckily I found my form and I gave my best during that period. I am happy that my hard work has paid off," he said.

The 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will be played from April 5 to 12 where six teams -- India, hosts Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Korea and New Zealand will fight for the title.

The Times of India

India drawn with Pakistan in semifinals

India and Pakistan will clash yet again at a major international hockey tournament on June 26, after being drawn in the same pool of the Fintro Hockey World League semifinals (men and women) in Antwerp, Belgium.

The tournament is scheduled to be held from June 20-July 5. The 10 teams in both sections have been divided into two pools of five each, and are a mixture of automatic qualifiers courtesy of their world rankings (at the time of entry).

India and Pakistan have been clubbed in Pool A along with world champion Australia, while host Belgium has Malaysia and Great Britain for company in Pool B. India will begin its campaign against France on the opening day, while Pakistan plays Poland.

Olympic qualifier

The event is a qualifying round for the 2016 Rio Olympics, making it an important one for the women’s team. For the men, however, there is less at stake. The tournament will only be a good preparatory event since the men’s team has already qualified by virtue of winning the Asian Games last year.

The podium finishers in the 10-team event for both men and women will qualify depending on continental results. It will be a tough task for the women, though. India has been drawn in Pool B along with Australia, while New Zealand hosts Belgium and Poland.

Reigning world and Olympic champion the Netherlands and Asian champion Korea are in Pool A.

The teams: Men: Pool A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland, France; Pool B: Belgium, Great Britain, Malaysia, Ireland, China.

Women: Pool A: The Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Italy, Azerbaijan; Pool B: Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, India, Poland.

The Hindu

We will play our natural game: Woman hockey striker Rani

NEW DELHI: Indian women hockey team's top striker Rani Rampal on Thursday said they are working hard on their inherited skills and natural game ahead of the Hawke's Bay Cup to be held in New Zealand from April 11-19.

In the preparatory camp which commenced at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on March 22 and will conclude on April 7, the players are strengthening their natural skills and rectifying mistakes.

"The Hawke's Bay Cup will be very tough as the best teams are participating in the tournament," Rani said in a release.

"We are working on various departments of our game and focussing on our own natural game. We believe that instead of experimenting on too many strategies, we are making strategies on the basis of our skills and natural game," the 20-year-old added.

Rani said they believe that the top teams can only be out-performed by playing a sharp game and flawless teamwork.

Along with India, Argentina, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand. and the United States are the contenders for the title at the Hastings Sports Park.

"If we manage to take our own skills to the next level, we can outperform our opponents. At the end of the day, flawless passing and quick counter attack win the matches," she said.

"We are practicing hard on our game and skills."

The Times of India

Pomorzanin Torun prepared for biggest challenge in years

Pomorzanin Torun’s Michal Nowakowski and Michal Raciniewski both reckon their side face the “biggest challenge” of recent times when they take on the mighty Dutch hosts HC Bloemendaal in the KO16.

His side stunned WKS Grunwald Poznan in last year’s Polish playoff final to win their national championship, ending their rivals six year reign in the competition.

This is their third time in the Euro Hockey League and first trip to the KO16 and Nowakowski says that it does not come much bigger than the draw on the table.

“I’m really looking forward for this game. For me, it doesn’t matter that we are playing on the Bloemendaal pitch. For our team, this would always be the biggest challenge we have faced in the last few years, but I hope we will show good hockey and it will be a great experience.”

Since last season, Bartosz Zywicka has moved on and while the side has a couple of small, niggling injuries. But Raciniewski says that Torun’s preparations for the KO16 have probably been among the most focussed possible.

They have had a month and a half together as a group with only him and Krystian Makowski playing in the indoor World Cup while Poland’s World League Round 2 was complete in January in Singapore.

With the weather being mild in Poland over winter and early spring, they have been able to engage in a full training programme straight after their indoor championships while their Polish league match with Grunwald on Sunday is perfectly time.

“Our team at this moment is in optimum shape for the EHL. Maybe two or three players have small health problems but it's nothing serious. I think that they will be able to play in league game with Grunwald Poznań this Sunday.

“They are the one of the best teams in Poland so playing with them is the best preparations for us. We are happy that we can play them the before trip to Holland.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Willars' Bees buzzing for Daring date

Key Beeston defender Ollie Willars says his youthful team have geared all their preparations toward peaking at the right time for the EHL KO16 in Bloemendaal next week and the subsequent English league playoffs.

The Nottingham-based club finished fourth in the NOW: Pensions Premier division regular season, setting them up for the final four.

But a spate of injuries meant that the reigning champions were not in the high-flying form of recent years as they finished 10 points off the top position occupied by East Grinstead.

With players coming back to fitness, though, they closed that campaign with solid wins over Brooklands MU and Cannock. Willars says it is now a matter of continuing that upward progression into the EHL where they face Belgian newcomers Royal Daring.

“Obviously as a group we are very disappointed with where we finished at the end of the season,” he told the EHL website. “We have suffered a number of injuries that has meant it has been hard to create a consistent run of results.

“We have had the whole of the group back together in the last few weeks and our performances have improved. For us it is very important that we peak at the EHL and our league Play-offs and that is what we have been working towards recently.

“The volume of injuries has had an impact obviously but that isn’t an excuse for us. Whoever puts on the Beeston shirt has a responsibility to deliver no matter how much experience they have.”

It has given the club an opportunity to give more game time to young players with Willars joking that, against East Grinstead, “the combined age of our bench was less than the manager!”

With a couple of weeks direct training toward the KO16 and Daring, the GB international says Beeston cannot wait for this next challenge.

“All our prep in the last few weeks has been geared towards Bloemendaal and the end of season play-offs.

“Royal Daring prove an exciting challenge, one in which we look forward to. They have a number of players with vast experience and we will have to be ready to deliver on the day. Its all set to be a great game of hockey.

“Last year we were disappointed with the way we performed but this year will be the first year where we have taken a fully fit squad with no injuries. We have been together now for a while and it is time we put ourselves out there as Europe’s best.

“The EHL is the pinnacle of club hockey, it’s the competition everyone wants to win. We have made lots of memories over the last few years but we are hoping this year’s memories will prove the fondest!”

Euro Hockey League media release

Ulster Hockey still says no to proposal for all-Ireland league

By Graham Hamilton

Way ahead: Angela Platt now knows Ulster clubs wishes

Ulster clubs have sent out a clear warning to the Irish Hockey Association that they do NOT want to be part of the new fully fledged all-Ireland league.

But it's not all bad news for the IHA, as the second vote at last night's Special General Meeting ruled out any chance of setting up an independent Northern Ireland Association.

Nevertheless, although the governing body will be pleased that the province with the biggest number of clubs still wants to remain part of the IHA family, it is a blow that the bulk of their clubs are still against the new IHL format despite the proposal being carried at the EGM.

Ulster executive manager Angela Platt revealed that the first vote at last night's meeting saw a 65-48 majority for Option 1, which was the Branch's preferred option, while the second vote on whether to carry out a feasibility study on going independent saw a 45-68 against result.

Dealing with the first vote, it means Ulster clubs have given the go-ahead for their Management Board to try to talk the IHA into scrapping the proposed fully fledged IHL, which takes the top Ulster teams out of their provincial league, and settling for an enhanced IHL which would permit the top teams to also play in their provincial leagues.

Whether it is possible to achieve this remains highly debatable for two reasons.

Firstly, the IHA seem entrenched in their idea and don't seem prepared to show flexibility towards those who oppose it.

And secondly it would take Ulster to get agreement for an EGM and then get the required majority vote to overturn it... and that seems unlikely as the other Branches have already worked out how to realign their leagues in the absence of their top teams.

However, even if Ulster don't manage to block the new IHL format, it's unlikely that the province could provide the new set-up with its full quota of clubs.

That's because the winning Option 1 vote includes a clause that Ulster teams should not take part.

Admittedly the Ulster Branch can't prevent them, and the probability is that Banbridge and Lisnagarvey men and Ards, Pegasus and Ulster Elks women will all take up the option.

Regarding the second vote on whether Ulster should become independent, it was a straight case of clubs accepting that there are far too many pitfalls and too much finance needed to even consider going down that line.

Belfast Telegraph

Nat U16: Penang Girls on course for hat-trick

By Jugjet Singh

PENANG Girls are on course to winning the National Under-16 title for the third consecutive year when they beat Malacca 2-0 to top Group A with maximum points at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil Thursday.

Mimie Zulaikha Zaini gave the champions the lead with a 49th minute penalty corner, while Nur Hafizah Maznan scored the second off a field attempt in the 61st minute. Penang did not drop a single point in five matches and will meet either Negri Sembilan or Kuala Lumpur in the semi-finals.

Penang beat Negri Sembilan 3-1 in last year's final, with Mimie scoring a brace while Nur Hafizah scored the other goal. Mimie was aptly named as the Best Player of the final then.

Negri and Kuala Lumpur square off in the final girls Group B match today, and while KL, on nine points, need an outright win, Negri have 10 points going into the match and need only a draw to advance.

Selangor girls top Group B on 15 points, and their match against Pahang today is just a warm-up before they face Kedah in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Penang coach Leo Vincey have taken his charges to two titles, and is looking forward to a hat-trick: "We have yet to drop any points and the confidence among my players is very high as we look forward to claiming our third consecutive title. We have to wait another day to see who we meet in the semi-finals (Negri or KL) but it does not matter who we play, as long as my girls play their normal game, our chances of playing in the final are there."

RESULTS: Boys' Group A: Perlis 1 Penang 1, Johor 4 Terengganu 1, Selangor x Malacca x; Group B: Kedah 5 Sabah 1, Negri Sembilan 1 Pahang 5, Perak x Kuala Lumpur x.

Girls' Group A: Perak 2 Kedah 4, Penang 2 Malacca 0; Group B: Pahang 1 Negri Sembilan 6, Terengganu 1 Selangor 3.

FRIDAY: Boys' Group B: Kelantan v Sabah (4pm, Pitch I), Perak v Kedah (4pm, Pitch II), Negri Sembilan v Kuala Lumpur (6pm, Pitch II).

Girls' Group B: Negri Sembilan v Kuala Lumpur (7.30am, Pitch I), Terengganu v Sabah (8am, Pitch II), Selangor v Pahang (9.30am, Pitch I).

(All matches at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil)

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Penang stay unbeaten in junior hockey meet

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Penang edged Malacca 2-0 to stay unbeaten in the girls’ event of the 1MAS-Milo National Under-16 hockey tournament.

It was the Penangites’ fifth win to seal a place in the semi-finals as Group A winners.

Mimie Zulaikha Zaini gave the islanders the lead off a penalty corner in the 49th minute. Nur Hafizah Maznan doubled the score off a field attempt in the 61st minute.

Penang coach Leo Vincey praised his team for another good show.

“Our mission is to win the title for the third straight year. We have a rest day tomorrow (today) and we will use it to prepare for the semi-finals on Saturday,” said Leo.

Kedah secured the other semi-final berth after beating Perak 4-2 to finish runners-up with nine points in Group A.

Selangor also booked a place in the last four with 15 points in Group B. They strolled to their fifth straight win by outplaying Terengganu 3-1.

Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur will square off today to decide who join Selangor in the semi-finals. Negri have 10 points and just need a draw while KL, on nine points, need an outright win.

The Star of Malaysia

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