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News for 05 May 2015

All the news for Tuesday 5 May 2014

India look for a better showing in second test

s2h team

Before the start of first test between India and Japan, the home side was seen as firm favorites to dominate the four match series. But what happened in Bhubaneswar last night raises eye-brows at Indian team’s performance ending in a Japanese controlled 1-1 draw.

The Sardar Singh-led-side who finished third in recently concluded 15th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup beating power-house Australia 4-2 were lacking behind on all the aspects of the game compared to the visitors. Specially the trio of Raghunath, Birendra Lakra and Rupinderpal Singh displayed rusty defensive skills and were regularly out-broken by Japanese strikers.

The Indian side were at their inconsistent best against Japan. Though Sardar Singh & Co started it with flurry of attacks but ended up giving advantage to their Asian counter-parts in the second quarter. The defense gave to much space and was completely demolished by Japanese striking force, as they took the lead through Daichi Kurogawa’s goal in the 19th minute of the game.

Inadequate striking skills, inability to win or convert penalty comers plagued the team has hurt coach Paul Van Ass’s tactics. The Dutch-coach would believe his team to comeback with a different mind-set and strong play in the second test.

“We didn't play very good yesterday and faced strong challenges from the Japan side. As I told you earlier, don’t see the ranking, they are a very good Asian team, who plays in European style speedy hockey. We didn't play as per our expectations in the first half, that’s why we conceded the goal. But we came back after the half-time and played well. The first match was like testing each other’s strength and we now know the Japanese better. We are working harder on our defence side and in the next match, we will step on the field with better strategies against the opponents.” India Chief Coach Paul van Ass stated.

Gurbaj Singh was blazing and looked most efficient of Indian players, compiling his skills blending with the strong runs and creating chances through the right flanks.

India would hope to bounce back hard in Tuesday ‘s game and give something back to local fans who were left disappointed on a tame 1-1 draw.

If played to their full-strength, Paul Van’s men can easily outplay the 16th ranked side in the world.


India, Japan gear-up for second match of Test series

BHUBANESWAR: After a high-intense drawn match against Japan, India will now step-on the field with a single goal of winning their second match to put a strong hold in the four-Test series on Tuesday.

India displayed rusty defence on Sunday during their 1-1 draw against Japan to begin its four-match Test series on a disappointing note and skipper Sardar Singh will hope his team puts up a better show on Tuesday.

Indian players will have to tackle Japan's long passes as well as contain them in their half to create maximum goal-scoring opportunities.

In the penalty corner, India has a stronger side than the visitors and in the presence of specialists such as VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra and skipper Sardar Singh, Indians have ability to convert maximum penalty corners in goals.

Japan, on the other hand, could not materialize a single penalty corner yesterday and they found difficult to surpass goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

Come tomorrow, both India and Japan will have to tweak their strategies to outplay each other. While Indians will look to work on their defence side, Japan have to work on their penalty corner skills.

"We didn't play very good yesterday and faced strong challenges from the Japan side. As I told you earlier, don't see the ranking, they are a very good Asian team, who plays in European style speedy hockey," India chief coach Paul van Ass said after the Practice Session.

"We didn't play as per our expectations in the first half, that's why we conceded the goal. But we came back after the half-time and played well.

"The first match was like testing each other's strength and we now know the Japanese better. We are working harder on our defence side and in the next match, we will step on the field with better strategies against the opponents."

Speaking at the Practice Session at Kalinga Stadium, Japan coach Keonwook Kang said: "Though we drew the match yesterday, we are not happy with our performance and we need to improve in various areas.

"We have a good defence but we need to work harder on attacking. We have a better understanding of Indian players now and we will make strategies around their style. We are looking forward to tomorrow's game."

The Times of India

‘Australia a testing ground for 2016 qualifiers’

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui is viewing the ongoing Four-Nation International Challenge in Hobart as a prime opportunity to judge the players’ performance and select the best team for the 2016 Rio Olympics’ qualification round.

The World Hockey League in June will serve as the qualifiers for next year’s mega event in Brazil.

“This tournament is very helpful in terms of working out the best combination for the Olympic qualifiers, which will start from June 22,” said Islahuddin while talking to The Express Tribune. “You always want to challenge yourself against the best in the world and Australia certainly provides that opportunity.”

He also said that the team is missing two experienced players Muhammad Rizwan Sr and Rashid Mehmood, who are still playing in their respective German leagues.

“Although we picked the best available side for this tour, we’ll once again experiment with a few other players after our series in Korea for the World Hockey League,” he added.

Meanwhile, the chief selector said that he is in continuous contact with head coach Shahnaz Sheikh about the performance of the team in the last two matches.

“Sheikh told me that the team faced some difficulties in the beginning, but are now used to the Australian conditions and a better performance will be seen in the next four matches,” said Islahuddin.

The Express Tribune

World League direct route to Olympics

By David Leggat

The Black Sticks men celebrate their penalty shootout victory over Australia in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. PHOTO/PMFSportsimages

New Zealand will have the World League semifinals in Argentina next month at the back of their minds when they contest an international tournament in Hobart this week.

The World League is the most direct route to next year's Olympic Games. The top three teams in Buenos Aires will qualify and New Zealand, on rankings, have a good chance.

Since beating world No 1 Australia in a shootout at the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia last month, New Zealand, with confidence significantly boosted, are adopting a slightly changed philosophy.

In Malaysia, captain Simon Child said the Black Sticks tried to prepare for each game as if it was an Olympic medal match.

"We treated every game as if the gold medal was on line. It really had an impact on our preparation, nutrition, recovery, all those one percenters," Child said.

"We focussed on the 60 minutes in front of us and you can break that down further to one quarter at a time. This is good preparation for the world league but this is a really important game for the group," he said of tomorrow night's opener against Australia.

Child, among the world's best strikers, believes the Malaysian title was "a big positive for us".

"We've always known we are a good team and can compete with the best, but to beat Australia in the final was a big stepping stone for us. We are progressing nicely."

There is one injury concern, with Northland's Shay Neal hurting a knee in training on Sunday. Jared Panchia is joining the group as cover.

World No 7 New Zealand have games against tenth-ranked Pakistan and No 8 Korea, and a second outing against the Aussies while in Hobart.

New Zealand have drawn the Koreans, world No 2 the Netherlands, 16th-ranked Japan and Egypt, four places lower, in Buenos Aires in the 10-nation tournament starting on June 3.

Their closest rivals for Olympic places should be No 3 Germany and sixth-ranked Argentina, along with the Dutch.

"This tournament is very helpful going into Olympic qualifying," New Zealand coach Colin Batch said.

"You always want to challenge yourself against the best in the world and Australia certainly provides that."

The New Zealand Herald

The invisible woman

It is often said that the best umpires are those who go unnoticed during the match. We speak to a woman whose role is to lead and support the invisible heroes.

At any major tournament, such as the Hockey World League Semi Finals taking place in Antwerp, Buenos Aires and Valencia, team work is a quality that is in high demand. But, when the sides take to the pitch there is more than two sets of teams at work. While the kudos might go to the 22 athletes on the field, there are two more people whose performances are crucial to the success of the game – and at their very best they go unnoticed.

Just like the players, the umpires are part of a team and here we speak to a person whose job it is to make sure that the umpiring team is also performing at its peak.

Renee Cohen is a former Dutch international umpire, who along with her fellow Umpire Manager Jean Duncan, will be taking charge of the umpires working in Valencia at one of the women’s semi finals. She explains what that role entails: “We aim to do everything possible within our control to create the right environment for umpires to perform at their best. Consistency throughout the tournament is one of the most important factors, so we arrange team building exercises, fitness training, briefings, match de-briefs, organising transportation and making sure everybody is fed and watered.”

Renee added that she is also there to lend an ear or provide a shoulder to cry on when things get tense or tough.

The likeable Dutchwoman brings plenty of experience to the role. During her own international umpiring career she has blown the whistle at two Olympic Games, two World Cups, six Champions Trophies and two European Championships, as well as dozens of other international events. This gives her both the credentials to perform her role as well as the empathy that is sometimes needed when working with umpires and players in a highly pressured competitive environment.

Her day-to-day job also helps her fulfil her FIH role. She is vice president in charge of European sales and marketing for American independent hotel management company Interstate Hotels and Resorts. Along with five colleagues, Renee currently manage 21 hotels in The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Hungary and Bosnia under various franchised brands.

This, she says, is the perfect fit: “I absolutely bring the skills and attributes from my day job to this role (Umpire Manager). And vice versa too. Good people skills, coaching and leadership skills and communication skills are a prerequisite to be successful as an umpire manager and as a manager in daily life. I have learnt as an umpire manager and brought that experience to my work and I have learned as a manager in daily life and brought those skills to the pitch and the umpiring team.”

The greatest challenge facing Renee and Jean in Valencia will be “keeping everybody happy,” says Renee. “As Umpire Managers you try to create a group that performs as a team both on and off the pitch. But in the end, every umpire wants to do “the big games” and only two people per game can be appointed. So managing expectations and dealing with disappointment is a challenge.”

As Umpire Manager, Renee often finds herself having post-match discussions with team coaches and this can sometimes get heated. “Umpires make mistakes, teams lose,” she says with the same calmness she employs pitch side. “The Umpire Manager is sometimes used by coaches to share their frustrations, others give useful feedback to help us develop our umpires for the better of the game.”

For Renee, the most pleasurable part of her role is to see her umpires performing well. “I would like to think I play a crucial, and often invisible, part of the success of hockey as a sport. I can be incredibly proud of “my girls” performing well on the pitch. Umpires generally get very little recognition and very few people actually know how much these 100 per cent volunteers invest in their umpiring careers.”

FIH site

Polo land their "triple corona" with Spanish title

RC Polo claimed their “triple corona” on Sunday as they won a shoot-out to defeat host club Egara in the Spanish league final, making it three titles in succession for the Barcelona men.

As in 2014, the tie was decided between the same sides in the same manner with Polo prevaling to win their 13th title.

In a hotly contested final in which both goalkeepers, Quico Cortes and Oriol Fàbregas, made a string of great saves. After a first quarter with chances for both teams and a corner for Egara, the opening goal came in the 18th minute from Xavi Lleonart’s corner.

The reply was immediate with Guillem Fustagueras levelling a minute later. Soon after, Roger Padrós drew the best from Cortes while Fabregas made two consecutive stops from Pep Romeu.

And so it went on with both sides going tit for tat with chances with Edouard Arbos and Edi Tubau going close down the final stretch but no further goals accrued, leading to the shoot-out in which Polo won out 4-3.

Following the finals weekend, Marc Bolto – from Atletic Terrassa – was named the league’s most promising player, Quico Cortes the best goalkeeper and Lleonart the MVP of the final four.

Euro Hockey League media release

Harbour Women continue winning run

Photo courtesy www.photosport.co.nz

The North Harbour Women have continued their great start to the National U21 Tournament, accounting for the local Capital side 2-1 in Wellington on Monday.

North Harbour started the stronger of the two sides, eventually going ahead through a well taken field goal from Mattea Harris.

Despite Harbour having the better of the chances, it was Capital who found the net late in the first half after a slick penalty corner move resulted in Freya Hawes deflecting in to keep the sides level at halftime.

The second half was a more even affair, with both sides pressing hard for the winner. The decisive goal came with 11 minutes to go when a long ball from Ella Hyatt-Brown found its way to Courtney Winterbottom in the circle who put the visitors from the north ahead.

Harbour captain Alex Conway was ecstatic to be two from two so far.

“Capital didn’t make it easy for us – it was a tight tough game. We had 80% of the possession in the first half which helped us. We held on well at the end, particularly the penalty corner right on the final buzzer.”

Conway said the side had been building for this tournament for a number of weeks and have had some impressive pre-tournament results.

“We had a good win against Auckland and another one against Midlands which gave us a lot of confidence going into the tournament.”

The Harbour girls now go into a top of the table clash against Central on Tuesday, but Conway confirmed her side would be up for the challenge.

“Central will be a tough side, but we will stick to our game plan and try not to get too frantic at the end and hopefully come away with the win.”

In the women’s competition, Auckland scored a late winner to beat Canterbury 4-3, the Barbarians fought hard but eventually went down to Midlands 3-1, and Central defeated Southern 2-0.

In earlier men’s results, North Harbour bounced back from Sunday’s defeat to beat Midlands 3-2, the Barbarians continued their winning run beating Southern 3-1, Canterbury overcame Central 6-3, and the local Capital side showed they will be tough to beat, defeating Auckland 4-2.

In the men’s competition, the Barbarians beat North Harbour 4-1, Auckland edged Central 4-3 and Capital overcame Canterbury 4-1.

CLICK HERE for Men's results and standings

CLICK HERE for Women's results and standings

Hockey New Zealand Media release

HI pays 10L for Nepal Earthquake relief fund

New Delhi: In support of the earthquake disaster in Nepal, Hockey India has extended help to the country by donating Rs 10,00,000 to the Prime Minister National Relief Fund.

Expressing grief over the critical situation in Nepal, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, President, Hockey India said, “Our neighbouring country needs our full support to come out of this situation and we are ready to offer all assistance to enable them to recover from this natural calamity. There has been considerable loss to the Nepalese community and our contribution is a small token of support to help them restart their lives.”

Through the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, this amount will be used for the well being of the families and manage the destruction that have happened as a result of the earthquake and its aftershocks.


Six nations down for Sultan of Johor Cup

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The fifth Sultan of Johor Cup will continue to be a six-nation affair.

Besides hosts Malaysia, subcontinent rivals India and Pakistan will return for a fifth time for the tournament in Johor Baru from Oct 11-18. They will be joined by former champions Australia, Argentina and Britain.

India, the winners in 2013 and 2014, will once again start as favourites in the Under-21 invitational meet.

Malaysia emerged champions in the inaugural meet in 2011 while Australia were winners in 2012.

Britain are back in the fray for a third time while Argentina will be making their second appearance.

The tournament will also serve as the final preparations for Malaysia, India and Pakistan as they are down for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan in November. The Junior Asia Cup is a qualifier for next year’s Junior World Cup Finals and offers four places for the Asian teams. Malaysia are the defending Junior Asia Cup champions.

“The countries invited are all top nations in junior hockey.  It will be an ideal preparation for the teams aiming to qualify for the 2016 Junior World Cup Finals,” said National Juniors coach A. Arulselvaraj.

“The Sultan of Johor Cup offers us the chance to gauge the strengths of India and Pakistan ahead of the Junior Asia Cup,” he added.

Arulselvaraj’s target is to ensure that Malaysia qualify for the Junior World Cup Finals in India.

Malaysia finished fourth in the last Finals in New Delhi in 2013.

The Star of Malaysia

Reprieve for two state hockey affiliates

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The two Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) affiliates facing the threat of de-registration have been given a reprieve.

Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman said that action will only be taken against the Perlis and Perak HAs after the MHC’s Congress on May 13.

The Perlis HA have been inactive since 2012 while Perak were told to hold their meeting last month but never got back to the Sports Commissioner’s office regarding their status.

“The Perlis HA should have been de-registered last year,” she said.

“Perlis will surely be de-registered. We do not want to take action now as we do not want to be seen as taking sides, with the MHC election pending.

“Perak’s men’s and women’s hockey associations were told to merge and hold their meeting last month. We will check again on their status after May 13 ... and take action if necessary.

“We have over 8,000 registered associations but not enough officers to check on them. That could be the reason why we missed these particular cases,” she added.

The MHC have 16 affiliates who are eligible to vote at the Congress.

Zaiton also confirmed that the MHC’s new constitution has been approved.

“Yes, it’s been done. They can start using it,” she said.

The MHC election will see fights for the posts of deputy president (men and women) and seven vice-presidents.

Selangor’s Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal has been elected unopposed after nominations closed on April 28. He will take over from Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who did not seek re-election.

The Star of Malaysia

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