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News for 15 June 2015

All the news for Monday 15 June 2015

Germany defeat host nation Argentina in final

Netherlands crush Canada to claim prestigious HWL Final and Rio 2016 Olympic Games tickets

Reigning Olympic champions Germany have emerged victorious at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final thanks to a 4-1 triumph over host nation Argentina in Buenos Aires.

A packed stadium enjoyed a hugely entertaining competition final at the Centro Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CeNARD), with goals from Christopher Rühr and Niklas Wellen giving Germany a 2-0 lead before a penalty stroke from Argentina’s Juan Gilardi reduced the deficit. Argentina's Los Leones came close to levelling numerous times, but late strikes from Rühr and Florian Fuchs confirmed a notable competition victory for Markus Weise’s men.

Christopher Rühr’s double strike made him the competition’s joint-top scorer alongside Spain striker Pau Quemada with six goals, while the impressive performances of 20-year-old Niklas Wellen saw him named as the competition’s Best Young Player in the prize-giving ceremony.

It was also a good day for the Netherlands, who powered to a 6-0 win over Canada to claim a 3rd place finish thanks to goals from Constantijn Jonker (2), Billy Bakker, Mink van der Weerden, Robbert Kemperman and Robert van der Horst. The result confirmed that the European giants would join Germany and Argentina at both the end-of-year showpiece Hockey World League Final in India and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Canada’s 4th place finish leaves them within touching distance of a ticket to Rio, although they will have to wait until the conclusion of the Continental Championships before knowing if they have done enough. The brilliance of Canadian shot-stopper David Carter was recognised in the prize-giving ceremony, being voted both the competition’s Best Player and Best Goalkeeper.

Earlier in the day, Spain’s Red Sticks kept their Olympic hopes alive by defeating New Zealand’s Black Sticks 3-1 to claim 5th place, while Korea ended a disappointing campaign on a positive note by finishing 7th thanks to a 1-0 win over Asian rivals Japan.

Complete information about the event in Buenos Aires including match highlights, photos, reports and flash quotes as well as all competition information can be found on the official event website. To visit the website, click here.

Information regarding the women’s Valencia Hockey World League event taking place in Valencia, Spain as well as details about the upcoming men’s and women’s FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp can be found on www.fih.ch .

Final Standings
1. Germany
2. Argentina
3. Netherlands
4. Canada
5. Spain
6. New Zealand
7. Korea
8. Japan
9. Egypt
10. Austria

Event Awards
Best Player Award: David Carter (CAN)
Best Young Player Award: Niklas Wellen (GER)
Best Goalkeeper Award: David Carter (CAN)
Top Scorers: Pau Quemada (ESP) & Christopher Rühr (GER) - 6 goals.


FIH site

Spain grab 5th place in Buenos Aires while Korea finish 7th

Albert Beltran scores to make it 1-1 (FIH/Frank Uijlenbroek)

Spain’s Red Sticks kept their Olympic hopes alive after getting the better end on New Zealand’s Black Sticks in the 5th place playoff of the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. Albert Beltran, Gabriel Dabanch and Andres Mir were the goal-scoring heroes at this 3-1 win. Earlier, Korea had narrowly defeated Japan 1-0 to take seventh place. The game-winning goal was scored by You Hyosik in the second quarter.

Match 31: 5th place playoff
Spain v New Zealand 3-1 (1-1)

New Zealand entered the match with intense focus and convincingly grabbed the lead through a phenomenal goal scored by Simon Child (13’). The Black Sticks captain found the net after great work by George Muir.

The Red Sticks found a gap to force the equaliser when Albert Beltran (26’) slotted home the rebound of a Jordi Carrera penalty corner flick. The score was tied at 1-1 at halftime and Spain came out sharp scoring after 43 seconds. Gabriel Dabanch deflected a pass coming from Manel Terraza (31’) to give his Red Sticks the lead.

The lead gave Spain confidence to push forward. The Red Sticks had more ball possession and created a few more promising opportunities in the third quarter they could not capitalize on. New Zealand forced a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter but Xavi Lleonart managed to block the shot.

The last quarter saw the Black Sticks earning a penalty corner but again, they were unable to get the shot away. With the minutes ticking down, Spain defended well and focussed on counter-attacks. New Zealand took full risk and replaced their goalkeeper Devon Manchester by an 11th field player but the effort did not pay off.

Instead, Spain were winning possession and Andres Mir (56’) pushed the ball into the empty goal to secure the 3-1 victory.

Thoughts on the match

Gabriel Dabanch (ESP)
“My goal came in a very important moment. We were pushing really hard before this but couldn’t score. This was very important for the game. We had to win today to keep our chances open to qualify for the Olympics and we still believe in it.”

Colin Batch (NZL)
“We started very well and had a good first half but then we didn’t perform when the pressure came on and we need to learn how to do this. We didn’t play collectively in the important moments of the game. This is something we need to develop further. Our next step is to try to qualify through the Oceania Cup and we know that were are capable of doing this.”

Match 30: 7th place playoff 
Korea v Japan 1-0 (1-0)

Korea narrowly defeated Japan 1-0 to take seventh place at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. The game-winning goal was scored by You Hyosik in the second quarter.

The match was goalless after the first quarter but Korea took the lead five minutes into the second quarter with a goal from You Hyosik (20’). The world’s number eight dominated play throughout the second quarter, but went into halftime with just a narrow 1-0 lead.

Japan fought hard to level the score in the third quarter but the solid Korean defence led by Lee Seunghoon kept every attempt at bay. The Samurais tried everything to get on the scoreboard, replacing their goalkeeper Katsuya Takase with another field player.

Kenta Tanaka could have scored with 20 seconds left on the clock but his shot hit the outside of the post. So You’s goal remained the only one in this game sealing the Korean victory.

Thoughts on the match

You Hyosik (KOR)
“We can be satisfied with today’s match but not with the whole tournament. We came here to finish within in the top three but we failed. However, I think this tournament was a very good experience for our team. We need to keep on working now and look forward to play in the 2016 Champions Trophy.”

Ippei Fujimoto (JPN)
“This event was a very good experience for Japan Hockey but the result is not satisfying for us. We now need to focus on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. We will work hard for it. I’m 25 years old now, so it’s my personal goal to participate in 2020.”

#HWL2015 #RoadToRio

FIH site

Canadians exceed expectations finishing 4th at Men's World League Semifinal

Canada loses to World No.2 Netherlands in 3rd place match

Kishan Mistry

With a chance to guarantee a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games, the Canadian Men’s Field Hockey Team was beaten by Netherlands by a score of 6-0 in the Bronze Medal match of the World League Semifinal Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Despite losing in today’s match, Canada – ranked fifteenth in the world – will finish at a respectable fourth place in the tournament behind the Dutch. In terms of Olympic qualification, although Canada hasn’t officially confirmed their spot, the fourth place finish means the men have still have a good chance to be playing in Brazil in 2016 by way of tournament ranking.

With the win, the Netherlands, the tournament's top team, secures its spot in Rio and is headed off to the Hockey World League Final in India this coming November along with Germany and Argentina.

Coming into the Bronze Medal match, Canada knew that they had a big task at hand facing off against the Netherlands – ranked second in the world – with Olympic qualification on the line.

The match got off to a quick offensive start for the Dutch side with Constantijn Jonker scoring within the first couple minutes. Despite Canada conceding an early strike from the Netherlands, they were able to settle in and neutralize their opponent’s offence keeping the score close at 1-0. 

Going into the second quarter, Canada found themselves down by another goal after Netherland’s Billy Bakker scoring in the seventeenth minute off smashing a heavy shot passed goaltending David Carter.

Following the goal, Carter was able to prove why he has been the best keeper of the tournament making some spectacular saves throughout the quarter. The Dutch were able to put themselves up 3-0 off a high flick from Mink van der Weerden in the twenty-sixth.

Down a score of 3-0 heading into the half, Canada knew they had quite a challenge to get back into the Bronze Medal match. The Netherlands struck twice in the third quarter with goals from Robbert Kemperman in the thirty-fourth minute and Robert van der Horst in the fortieth minute of play.

Putting the game out of well reach, the match’s first goal scorer Jonker was able to tally another sealing the deal for his country scoring the game’s sixth and final goal.

As the clock wound down, Canada had a couple of chances of their own to get at least one on the board from great play from both Gabriel Ho-Garcia and Brenden Bissett respectively failing to convert on their chances.

Closing out the match and the tournament, Canada was able to display some good perseverance and pride representing their country in Argentina.

Finishing fourth in the tournament, it has been a successful outing heading into the Pan American Games next month at home in Toronto.

Canada will have to patiently wait out a number of situations in order to officially qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In order for Canada to go through, they will have to wait a combination of results from the other World League Semifinal (June 20-July 5 in Antwerp, Belgium) and continental qualifiers from around the world. Canada can also qualify for Rio in their own continental qualifer if they win the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Black Sticks Men finish 6th at World League

Arun Panchia weaves his way out of trouble.

The Black Sticks Men have placed sixth at the FIH World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires after a 1-3 loss to Spain this morning.

The result means the Black Sticks next chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics will be when they face Australia and other Pacific Nations at the Oceania Cup in Taranaki, 21-25 October.

Head coach Colin Batch said the quality of hockey from the Black Sticks was pleasing in the first half today, but the players needed to work more together and stick to the game plan later in the game.

“I was pleased with large parts of that first half, but when it went into the balance we didn’t handle that very well. We need to stay much more collective and work together to come through difficult situations in a game and stick to the tactics during that tricky phase,” said Batch.

"Qualification for Rio Olympics at this tournament we felt was attainable, and it’s disappointing for everyone involved that we haven’t secured that. We now just need to look at our next qualification opportunity, which is the Oceania Cup and how we best prepare for that.”

 In the 13th minute, some George Muir speed through the midfield ended with Simon Child scoring from a cracking reverse stick shot and giving New Zealand the perfect start.

The Spanish found the equaliser in the second quarter when they were awarded a penalty corner and Albert Beltran picked up the rebound from goalkeeper Devon Manchester and outstretched on the ground, knocked it over the line.  After the half time break it took only one minute for Spain to take the lead when Gabriel Dabanch found space in the circle and hit it to the back of the net.

The intensity stepped up in the final spell and there was action at both ends of the field.  The Black Sticks had their chances, with Child creating one of the best in the quarter when he cleverly dribbled it along the baseline, but his final pass to Steve Edwards was well-intercepted by the Spanish defence.

With the clock counting down, Manchester was called off and replaced with a field player to give the Kiwis more go-forward upfront,  but with the goal open it only took one turnover and Spain’s Andres Mir scored and took the game out of New Zealand’s reach.

The Black Sticks depart Buenos Aires tomorrow.

Full time: 3-1
Half time: 1-1
NZ goal scorers: Simon Child
Spain’s goal scorers: Albert Beltran, Gabriel Dabanch, Andres Mir

Black Sticks Men vs Spain 1-3 loss
Black Sticks Men vs Japan 4-1 win
Black Sticks Men vs Canada 0-0. Lost the penalty shoot-out 7-8.
Black Sticks Men vs Korea 3-3 draw
Black Sticks Men vs Netherlands 1-1 draw
Black Sticks Men vs Japan 2-1 win
Black Sticks Men vs Egypt 4-1 win

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks' Olympic hopes take another blow

By David Leggat

Simon Child.

New Zealand's hopes of qualifying for the Rio Olympic men's hockey competition hang by a thread.

The Black Sticks were beaten 3-1 by lower-ranked Spain in their final game at the World League semifinals in Buenos Aires today.

That dashes seventh-ranked New Zealand's hopes of qualifying for Rio through finishing fifth, and leaves them needing to beat Australia in the Oceania Cup in Taranaki in October.

Spain had far more possession and looked more committed to the task than the Black Sticks who did well on far less ball but were unable to capitalise on their chances.

They had an ideal start when captain Simon Child scored in the sixth minute with a firm reverse stick shot after fine set up work by George Muir.

Spain, ranked 11th, equalised four minutes before halftime at a penalty corner when Alert Beltran reacted sharpest to jab a rebound in after New Zealand goalkeeper Devon Manchester blocked the initial shot.

Inside a minute of the third quarter starting, Spain were in front when Shea McAleese lost the ball and Spanish attacker Gabriel Dabanch Nasrala, with a deft deflection to a long range drive, beat Manchester.

New Zealand's penalty corner woes in the tournament continued when first Kane Russell had a shot blocked by a fast-breaking defender; then Nick Haig drove his shot, which was flying well wide of goal, into the back of Child's shoulder.

Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness and Child all toiled hard up front but when New Zealand withdrew Manchester to play an extra attacking player in the last four minutes it immediately went wrong.

Spain broke out of defence for Andres Mir Bel to poke the ball into an empty net.

Spain, who were ranked sixth best team at the tournament, therefore bettered that ranking and have a terrific chance of progressing to Rio.

New Zealand, whose ranking had them fourth best team in the tournament, still have their fate in their own hands, but face a daunting prospect in Taranaki against the world champions.

The New Zealand Herald

Black Sticks hopes of qualifying for Rio Olympics suffer hit

Simon Child scored for New Zealand in a 3-1 loss to Spain at the World League semifinals in Buenos Aires. ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

The New Zealand men's hockey team face an uphill battle to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics after finishing sixth at the FIH World League semifinal tournament.

The Black Sticks' tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, came to a close on Sunday (NZT Monday) with a 3-1 loss to Spain.

It was a costly loss for New Zealand, who could have cemented a berth for Rio with a fifth-placed finish at the tournament.

They will now need to beat Australia in the Oceania Cup in Taranaki in October to qualify for the Olympics.

Coach Colin Batch said it was frustrating they were unable to get the job done against Spain.

"Qualification for Rio Olympics at this tournament, we felt was attainable, and it's disappointing for everyone involved that we haven't secured that," Batch said.

"We now just need to look at our next qualification opportunity, which is the Oceania Cup and how we best prepare for that."

Batch said the quality of hockey from the Black Sticks was pleasing in the first half, but the players needed to work more together and stick to the game plan later in the game.

"I was pleased with large parts of that first half, but when it went into the balance we didn't handle that very well. We need to stay much more collective and work together to come through difficult situations in a game and stick to the tactics during that tricky phase," Batch said.

The Black Sticks made a perfect start in the 13th minute with strong lead-up work in the midfield from George Muir ending with captain Simon Child scoring from a cracking reverse stick shot.

Spain equalised in the second quarter when they were awarded a penalty corner. Albert Beltran picked up the rebound from goalkeeper Devon Manchester and outstretched on the ground, knocked it over the line.

After the half time break it took only one minute for Spain to take the lead when Gabriel Dabanch found space in the circle and hit it to the back of the net.

The intensity stepped up in the final spell and there was action at both ends of the field. The Black Sticks had their chances, with Child creating one of the best in the quarter when he cleverly dribbled it along the baseline, but his final pass to Steve Edwards was well-intercepted by the Spanish defence.

With the clock counting down, Manchester was called off and replaced with a field player to give the Kiwis more go-forward upfront. With the goal open it only took one turnover and Spain's Andres Mir scored and took the game out of New Zealand's reach.


Uruguay make their point

Great Britain continue winning ways through Bray's brace

Pool B: URU v RSA 1-1: GER v USA 2-2
Pool A: CAN v GBR 2-4: CHN v ARG 0-3

Uruguay earned their first point of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals when Manuela Vilar scored the equalising goal from a penalty corner with just two minutes left on the clock. The South Americans fought back after Celia Evans had given South Africa the lead.

The result still means that Uruguay will need Germany to beat South Africa by six or more goals to avoid coming last in the Pool, but the South Americans were pleased to have made their mark on this event.

"We had been playing well but not scoring," said Vilar, "We knew we had to score at this minute, and we had a plan against the South African defence." The other Pool B match was a titanic clash between Germany and the USA. Katie Reinprecht was the two-goal hero for USA, but Lisa Altenburg and Hannah Kruger both got on score sheet in a game where shots rained in on both goals – but both Kristina Reynolds and Jackie Briggs were up to the challenge.

In Pool A, Great Britain continued their winning ways with a 4-2 victory over Canada.

Two goals for Sophie Bray and a goal apiece for Alex Danson and Georgie Twigg sentenced the Canadians to their third defeat of the tournament.

Laura Unsworth, who celebrated 50 combined caps (Great Britain and England) said: "It was good for us to play Canada as they are not a team we come up against often. They have a well-structured press and they are aggressive."

The final match of the day was a clash between China and Argentina. Very much like the first match against Canada, the Argentinians hit the ground running and were 3-0 up by the end of the first 30 minutes of play. An uneventful second half saw China attempt to break down the Argentine defence, but as Carla Rebecchi commented after the game, "Our defensive work from the forwards all the way back, was very good today."

Wang Mengyu, captain of China, said: “Argentina is one of the strongest teams in the world. At first, we were prepared to play a really tough game. My team mates played quite well, in my opinion, today but it’s only that we didn’t convert our chances into goals while the Argentinians converted theirs, especially in the first period.

“We’re not thinking about the quarter-finals yet because we still have a game to play in the pool matches. We are now working on a plan to play Great Britain and to win the game so its not the right time to think about the quarter-final yet.”

FIH site

Great Britain, Argentina win through to quarters

A brace for Bray ends Canada's dreams

Great Britain v Canada 4-2
Argentina v China 3-0

Great Britain continued their perfect start to Pool A with three wins from three outings as they proved too strong for Canada. Sophie Bray led the charge with a brace that under-pinned a 4-2 success.

Both China and Argentina will join Great Britain in the quarter-finals, but it was Las Leonas who took the honours in this encounter, a solid 3-0 win that was pretty much settled in the first half.

In the first Pool A match of the day, Alex Danson continued her fine form with a spectacular touch to Kate Richardson-Walsh’s push to ramp the ball over Kaitlyn Williams in the Canada goal. The North American side replied with their first goal of the tournament when Stephanie Norlander got in front of Giselle Ansley to poke home Abigail Raye’s baseline pass.

Parity lasted just a few minutes, though, with Georgie Twigg getting the key touch amid a melee in front of the Canadian goalkeeper from another corner. From yet another set piece, Sophie Bray got the rebound – with the help of Danson – for 3-1. And the striker extended the lead further when she batted in Susie Gilbert’s pass.

Canada did get one back on the hooter as Brienne Stairs ended her side’s group phase with some positives. They will play either Uruguay or South Africa in the ninth place playoff on Friday while GB continue to head the group going into their final game against China on Tuesday.

Kate Walsh, GB captain, said: "We are a team that needs to gather momentum and that is what we are doing in this tournament. We take one game at a time, so now we will be concentrating on our match against China. They play a very different game to the Europeans – they play in the channels more – so we need to prepare to cope with that style."

Laura Unsworth, who celebrated 50 combined caps (Great Britain and England) said: "It was good for us to play Canada as they are not a team we come up against often. They have a well-structured press and they are aggressive."

Argentina produced a devastating first half performance to see off China with all the goals coming before the big break. They did not have it all their own way in the opening minutes as China made a great start, winning two corners and drawing a stunning high save from Belen Succi.

Las Leonas replied instantly with Rocio Sanchez volleying in a sharp chance. Delfina Merino added the second in glorious style, nicking the ball away from a defender on the right sideline before entering the circle with menace and slamming past Li Dongxiao.

Florencia Habif found a route through the Chinese defences once again from a corner for 3-0 in the 21st minute to cap a golden period for the world number three side.

Thereafter, they found the going a bit tougher as China upped their performance and both sides nullified each other. Nonetheless, both sides will contest the quarter-finals on Thursday, qualifying with a game to spare.

FIH site

Battle lines drawn

USA and Germany slug it out, while Uruguay get first point on board

URU v RSA 1-1
GER v USA 2-2

It may have been honours even in both Pool B matches, but these were scintillating affairs. The opening game between Uruguay and South Africa was end-to-end, but with few open chances, while the second match was a physical battle of the highest order.

Uruguay recorded their first point of the competition, when Manuela Vilar scored in the 58th minute. Her equaliser meant that nothing is formally decided for the fourth quarter-final spot between Uruguay and South Africa after they shared a 1-1 draw.

The first half was an even affair. Uruguay forced four corners, while South Africa had the pick of the chances when Jade Mayne burst into the circle and was only denied by an excellent stick save from Rosanna Paselle. Celia Evans got the critical breakthrough in the 38th minute from her side’s first corner, a sweetly executed routine that saw a stepover at the top of the D before it was slapped by Dirkie Chamberlain to the injector spot. Evans adjusted her hands quickly to turn the ball home.

But Uruguay managed to summon up a corner with a couple of minutes remaining and Manuela Vilar strode forward – under little pressure from the runners – to the middle of the circle and powered home her drag-flick.

The result means the two sides are level with one draw to their name but South Africa have one game left in order to pin down their place in the last eight.

Dirkie Chamberlain (RSA): “We’re obviously very frustrated. We took a long time to get going. Again, focus in the last quarter [was an issue]. It seems like teams are always scoring against us in the last few minutes so that’s something we need to look at and fix."

Manuela Vilar, who scored Uruguay's last minute equaliser, said: "We knew we had to score. We had been playing well but not scoring, luckily this went in. We had studied how South Africa defended corners. so we had a plan."

Katie Reinprecht said she was "really pleased to have scored twice against Germany" in her side's 2-2 draw. The match was a real showcase event, with innovative attack being foiled by outstanding 'keeping.

Reinprecht opened the scoring, getting on the end of a superb team move, half-volleying home first time from Michelle Vitesse’s backhand cross. And they continued to be the more aggressive force for much of the first half though Germany did have some great chances to equalise.

The game turned, though, around the 39th minute as Germany scored twice in quick succession. First, Kristina Hillmann picked out Lisa Altenburg who worked the ball home and then a minute later, Hannah Kruger drove home a penalty corner to make it 2-1 to the Germans. "We were pleased with the way we turned the game around," said German captain Anne Schroder.

The US battled back once again and had their leveller when Kelsey Kolojejchick, amid heavy traffic, weaved into some room to roll the ball across goal where Reinprecht was able to nab her second goal. Germany did have a corner in the final minute but USA held on for the draw. They will battle it out again on Tuesday afternoon against South Africa and Ireland, respectively, to see who claims top spot.

FIH site

Great Britain maintain 100% record after Canada victory

Sophie Bray in action

Two goals from East Grinstead’s Sophie Bray helped steer Great Britain to their third win in three games at the World League Semi-Final. Bray added her brace to goals from Alex Danson and Georgie Twigg to fire Danny Kerry’s side to a 4-2 win over Canada.

Great Britain had the better of the opening quarter with the lion’s share of possession, however Canada’s deep defence was proving difficult to break down and chances were hard come by. A number of darting runs by Danson and Bray were snuffed out by the massed ranks of defence but with eight minutes on the clock Danny Kerry’s side broke the deadlock via their first penalty corner. With a move straight off the training ground Kate Richardson-Walsh played the ball in for a diving Alex Danson to deflect the ball high into the net for her 35th GB goal, moving her into second on the all-time top scorers’ list. Canada threatened late on in the quarter when Kaelen Watson broke free down the right but her shot was comfortably saved by Maddie Hinch.

In the second quarter Great Britain continued their dominance. Kaitlyn Williams made a good save to keep out a Giselle Ansley penalty corner as the pressure mounted. Against the run of play, Canada levelled the scores. Abigail Raye did well to break down the right into the circle, her cross found Stephanie Norlander who slotted in Canada’s first goal of the competition.

With 24 minutes gone, Great Britain re-established the lead. Laura Unsworth, making her 50th appearance for Great Britain slapped a penalty corner at goal and although Williams made the save, Georgie Twigg reacted first to pivot and fire in the rebound to make it 2-1.

Danson continued to terrorize the Canada defence and Williams did superbly to deny the No15 with a good block and then made a fine save to her left to repel a fierce Danson backhand strike.

With 35 minutes gone the third GB goal arrived from another penalty corner. Kate Richardson-Walsh fizzed the ball in and although it hit a defender’s foot, the umpire played a good advantage, allowing Bray to pounce and lift the ball over the goalkeeper for her second of the tournament.

In the final quarter Danny Kerry’s side searched for more goals. Kate Richardson-Walsh beat Williams with a penalty corner but found Raye on the line in superb form, the No15 effecting an excellent goal line clearance. With six minutes to play they got the fourth. A lovely run and cross from Susie Gilbert set up Bray at the far post and she slammed the ball home on the bounce for her second and Great Britain’s fourth.

Canada grabbed another goal on the stroke of full time thanks to Brienne Stairs but it was too little too late and Great Britain were not to be denied.

Quotes – Great Britain Forward Alex Danson:

“We’ve set our stall out in this tournament to take it one game at a time we’ve done the job and got the points. We’ve got one more game to look forward to in the pool. We had some fantastic opportunities today. The secret of this team is how hard we work away from the games, back in training. We’re disappointed with some of the chances that didn’t go in but we’ll go away and review and we’ll come back ready for China.”

Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry:

“Some of our play was very good. If we had kept greater composure in the attacking circle we could have scored a higher number of goals. I felt we controlled the game which given the nature of tournament hockey, was a very good thing to see.”

Great Britain 4 (2)
Alex Danson 8 (PC)
Georgie Twigg 24 (PC)
Sophie Bray 35 54 (PC, FG)

Canada 2 (1)
Stephanie Norlander 20 (FG)
Brienne Stairs 60 (PC)

Great Britain Hockey media release

Sophie Bray goals take Great Britain past Canada at World League semis

Sophie Bray, right, the scorer of two of Great Britain's goals, tackles Natalie Sourisseau of Canada with the help of Nic White at the World League semi-finals. Photograph: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Sophie Bray scored twice as Great Britain secured a third successive victory at the World League semi-finals with a 4-2 win over Canada.

Britain took the lead in Valencia following a penalty corner on eight minutes when Kate Richardson-Walsh played the ball in for Alex Danson to net at full stretch, taking her tally to 35 and second on the all-time GB scoring list.

Canada levelled against the run of play in the second quarter through Stephanie Norlander before Georgie Twigg slotted home a rebound from a penalty corner to put Britain back ahead on 24 minutes.

After more British pressure, led by Danson, it was 3-1 following another penalty corner on 35 minutes when Bray converted on the advantage after the ball had struck a defender’s foot.

Richardson-Walsh saw a goalbound effort cleared off the line before Britain netted a fourth goal with six minutes left when Bray slotted home following a positive run by Susie Gilbert. Brienne Stairs scored again for Canada in the final moments.

Britain are top of their pool, having beaten the hosts Spain and Argentina, before Tuesday’s final group game against China.

The top four sides go through to the knockout stages. The leading three will then qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Britain’s head coach, Danny Kerry, said: “We have set our stall out in this tournament to take it one game at a time; we have done the job and got the points.

“The secret of this team is how hard we work away from the games, back in training. We are disappointed with some of the chances that didn’t go in but we will go away and review, then come back ready for China.”

The Guardian

Canada scores twice in loss to Great Britain in final pool-stage match

Canadian women play for 9th on Friday, June 19th

Shaheed Devji

Despite playing their best game of the tournament, the Canadian Women’s National Team lost its final match of the World League Semifinals pool stage 4-2 to World No. 8 Great Britain Sunday in Valencia, Spain.

With the loss, Canada finishes in fifth in Pool A, meaning they will play for ninth place on Friday, June 19th.

 "I think we came out and we really tried our hardest to come out with a win," says Canadian captain Kate Gillis. "We knew it was going to be tough. But happy we could come out and fight for the whole game and get that last goal."

Canada was hoping to finish on a win and give themselves a chance at sneaking in the tournament quarterfinal. And while they put together their best offensive performance of the tournament, generating several chances and scoring their first two goals of the competition, in the end it wasn’t enough to get the better of Great Britain.

The Canadians were forced to play from behind for most of the game as early in the first quarter Great Britain earned and converted on a penalty corner in the eighth minute.

It was Alex Danson getting a stick on the drag flick, deflecting it high into the top of the goal giving the Brits the 1-0 lead.

Canada responded well, spurred on by a very positive run form Tegan Stairs down the right flank.

Stairs moved the ball to Kaelan Watson who quickly got behind the British defender and managed a hard shot on goal, but it was turned away by Maddie Hinch.

In the second quarter, Canada had another opportunity to tie the game when a nice build up from Sara McManus resulted in Canada’s first penalty corner.

Karli Johansens’ flick to the left side of the goal was a good one, but a diving Hinch was able to get a blocker on it.

In the twentieth minute, Canada broke through for the first time in the tournament.

Gillis forced her way through a hard tackle and into the circle, and the ball eventually found its way to Abigail Raye on the baseline. Raye put the ball back into the fray where it was Stephanie Norlander getting a stick free to knock it in to tie the game.

The beginning of the second quarter was very positive for Canada, but the level scoreline was short lived as in the twenty-third minute Great Britain regained their lead on another penalty corner.

Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams was above to make the initial save on the flick, but the ball dropped right in front of her and it was picked up by Georgie Twigg who spun and put it in the goal.

The teams exchanged chances before the half, but neither was able to convert and the score remained 2-1 at half-time.

In the second half, Great Britain continued to press with Alex Danson looking for her second of the match. She had two quick chances early, one turned away by Williams, the other put wide.

Canada had a chance of their own when Maddie Secco found an open Brienne Stairs who’s shot from in close was stopped by an onrushing Hinch.

Eventually, it was Great Britain that got the next goal, again on a penalty corner. The flick hit the foot of a Canadian defener and with Williams out of position, Sophie Bray potted her first of the game.

Bray added her second in the fourth quarter as a ball snuck through an array of legs in the area and she was able easily deposit it in the goal.

With the game out of reach, Canada was able to net its second of the match with no time left on the clock as on a penalty corner, Brienne Stairs picked up the rebound off a Sara McManus hit and from her knees was able to put it by Hinch.

“This is the first time we’ve been at tournament like this, playing top ten and top twenty teams and this is the place where we want to stay," adds Gillis. "I think we have a lot of learning to do but going into that last game we’re going to give it our all and make sure that we’re coming ninth in the tournament and as high up as we can.”

Canada will face either Urugay or South Africa in the 9th place match on Friday at 10:00am PT/1:00pm ET.

Field Hockey Canada media release

SA hockey women held to draw


On a very hot day in Valencia, Spain Sunday, the South Africa women’s hockey team dominated their World League Semi Final tournament match against Uruguay but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. The score was 0-0 at half-time.

SA made the breakthrough in the 37th minute from a well-worked penalty corner (PC) variation that saw Celia Evans apply the finishing touch .But Uruguay equalised in the 58th, just two minutes from full-time, when Manuela Vilar del Valle made the most of what had been a disputed PC award.

For the world’s 29th-ranked Uruguayans the 1-1 draw was a moral victory against a team ranked 18 places above. In a worst-case scenario, an SA defeat by more than a five-goal margin in Tuesday’s 5pm (SuperSport 7) final Pool B clash with Germany would end their quarter-final hopes and favour Uruguay.

The Uruguayans threw everything into this their last opportunity to reach the quarter-finals, knowing that with their inferior goal difference of five compared to South Africa, nothing less than victory would suffice. A draw for SA would probably be enough to ensure a quarter-final berth on Thursday, provided they don’t self-destruct against in in-form Germans Tuesday.

SA dominated Uruguay, but struggled to turn that advantage into goal shots while the Uruguayans made more from a lesser number of chances.

Florencia Norbis drove into the strike zone in the second minute and got off a shot that SA keeper Sanani Mangisa saved comfortably. It was a good start for the South Americans and they picked off turnovers when SA went down the middle.

In the 19th, SA’s Shelley Russell got into a scoring position but the in-form Agustine Nieto made a superb defensive intervention. Then Jade Mayne showed her 3D skills in making inroads before firing off a shot the keeper did exceptionally well to deflect away. SA continued to dominate statistically, but it was Uruguay who won three PCs before half-time.

After the teams changed ends and went into the third quarter, Illse Davids was unlucky not to earn a PC before Dirkie Chamberlain made a threatening run, but a revitalised SA continued to battle in making goal shots.

At the other end Mangisa made a double save, both sides throwing everything into this vital match, before Bernie Coston took advantage of Terblanche’s pass to win the girls in green and gold’s first PC. An accurate, well-synchronised PC variation to the left from Lisa Deetlefs to Chamberlain saw corner injector and final receiver Evans deflect the ball between the posts and SA were 1-0 up after 37 minutes.

Both sides survived a couple of awkward moments in defence but SA were getting stronger, playing with more intent and assurance as the teams went into the fourth and final quarter. In the 47th Russell fed Chamberlain, whose snap-shot was saved before Mangisa made a fine stop from Soledad Villar.

After SA’s second PC, persistence from Davids set up Chamberlain but outstanding defender Federica Kempner blocked the shot. Kempner’s impressive physicality was not enough to stop Chamberlain winning a third PC but Uruguay survived the threat. With two minutes left Uruguay won a disputed, fifth, PC and the SA defence stood back to give Manuela Vilar del Valle all the time necessary to nail down the equaliser in the 58th minute (1-1).

It was Uruguay’s fourth and last Pool B match, having earlier lost 8-0 to world six Germany, 2-0 to world five USA and 3-2 to world 14 Ireland. The Uruguay clash was SA’s third match. SA lost 4-1 to Ireland last Wednesday. On Saturday, Chamberlain had put the African champions 1-0 up in the 4-1 defeat by USA.

SA team – Starting: Sanani Mangisa (GK), Lisa Deetlefs, Erin Hunter, Line Malan, Celia Evans, Nicolene Terblanche (capt), Illse Davids, Shelley Russell, Kelly Madsen, Bernie Coston, Dirkie Chamberlain. Rolling subs: Anelle van Deventer (GK), Nicole Walraven, Quanita Bobbs, Jade Mayne, Lilian du Plessis, Candice Manuel, Tanya Britz.           

South Africa’s Pool B matches: SA 1 Ireland 4; USA 4 SA 1; SA 1 Uruguay 1; Germany vs SA (Tuesday, 5pm on SS7). Quarter-finals: Thursday.

SA Hockey Association media release

Undefeated Pool Play Opponents Finish Match tied as Quarterfinal Looms

The U.S. Women’s National Team Tie Germany 2-2

VALENCIA, Spain – June 14, 2015 – The U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team is keeping course as they carefully navigate through FIH Women’s Hockey World League Semifinal with the aim of reaching the all-important quarterfinals which contain potential 2016 Olympic Games selection. Team USA’s third match of the event against 6th FIH World Ranked Germany was another critical point on that roadmap. The final score report stood at a draw of USA 2, Germany 2.

A game of physicality and high skill was established between the two national teams under Spain’s summer humidity. Germany was the first to break through into their attack semicircle daring entry past the U.S. defenders’ fortified unit. The scoreboard remained unmarked with rapid action jetting from end line to end line. In the 11th minute, Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) hit a reverse sweep to locate Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.) at the stroke line to half-volley the ball past Germany’s keeper late in the first quarter, making the score USA 1, Germany 0.

Play grew overly aggressive as umpires warned athletes from the squads with the appropriate display of cards. Both teams each equally earned a green card and two yellow cards to tame unruly play. Germany and the USA remain unbeaten in pool play and the hint of loss brought forth high intensity from both sides.

Marked in the 39th minute, Germany’s Lisa Altenburg maneuvered to the left side of the circle to net an equalizer which was quickly echoed by another goal in the 40th minute from Hannah Kruger. Germany took the lead 2-1 but not the match momentum.

“We knew when it hit the fourth quarter that we had more in the tank and had more to give,” said USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.). “We knew we were going to make a push for it. We train to keep going. When we have a team under the pump we keep going. And when they think we’re done, we keep going.”

Reluctant to stay down, USA’s Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) cruised along the end line to find Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.) who ripped a reverse hit high into the net. Germany contested the goal and under umpire’s review, the goal was erased. Germany continued their unwavering attack presence against USA’s defenders. Briggs endured rapid rebounded shots from close proximity to keep the match within reach. With pressure mounting as the match moved in the final passage, in the 48th minute Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa.) rounded the baseline to connect with a diving Katie Reinprecht for another world-class redirection into the goal. Germany had the final opportunity to settle the game with a corner as the clock ran down, but again Briggs was up to the task and made sure the USA came away with a tie. The final score concluded with USA 2, Germany 2.

“Germany is a great team and we knew it was going to be a fight,” said Briggs. “They gave us a run. Wish we could have come out with a win but pleased with the tie and our overall performance.”

Also during today’s match Witmer earned her 50th cap, an achievement for Team USA and the up and coming striker.

The first two matches of pool play gave way to a 2-0 victory over Uruguay as well as a 4-1 win to South Africa. Team USA continues on with FIH Hockey World League Semifinals Tuesday against Ireland at 9 a.m. EST. Follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter for live Team USA match updates.

USFHA media release

India lose 2-1 to Belgium in second practice game

Akashdeep Singh scored the lone goal for India during their practice match against Belgium. File photo

The Indian men’s hockey team went down fighting 2-1 to hosts Belgium in their second practice match ahead of the FIH World League Semi-Finals which will get underway here on June 20.

World No. 4 Belgium opened their account in the 12th minute through a field goal. India drew parity in the 32nd minute through striker Akashdeep Singh’s brilliant field goal.

But the Belgians had the last laugh as they scored the winner in the 52nd minute through another field strike.

Both the teams earned three penalty corners each but failed to convert a single opportunity.

India will play their third practice match against USA on June 16. India had earlier defeated France 1-0 in their first practice game.

India will face France in their opening game of the tournament on June 20.

The Tribune

Will miss SV Sunil on the field: Yuvraj Walmiki

ANTWERP (Belgium): As the Indian hockey team gears up for the FIH World League Semi-Final, forward Yuvraj Walmiki said the services of ace striker S V Sunil would be missed.

"I think we will miss him on the field as he is the speed demon of the team. The way he tears through the heart of the opponents defence is remarkable. But I think we need to learn on playing under situations where key players have to miss out because of reasons beyond anyone's control," Walmiki said ahead of the tournament starting June 20.

Speaking on him and his brother being in the team, he said it is quite special for him.

"I am fortunate to be part of this important tournament and it becomes more special as I will be playing along with my brother Devindar Walmiki. This is like a dream come true as we always spoke about representing the country together and this dream is soon to get realised."

On the new attacking strategies, he said coach Paul van Ass has helped the team improvise according to the situation.

"Under the new Chief Coach Paul van Ass, we are learning how to change our game from attack to defend in a matter of a few seconds. All the players are now part of the Team's defensive strategies and I am learning the skills and defending tactics," he said.

"This I think will work in our favour as we change our game plan as per the situation now. The players have no set boundaries now and each one is responsible towards the going-on, on the field," he added.

India will be clashing against France in their opening match of the tournament on June 20.

The Times of India

We have improved in passing and coordination: Ritu Rani

s2h team

Prolific forward Ritu Rani feels the Indian women's hockey team is well-prepared for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals here after working hard on improving the passing and coordination.

Speaking about the tournament starting June 20, the 21-year-old said she is extensively working on holding the possession of the ball and improving her short passing skills.

"The tournament is really tough but the aim is the berth for the RIO Olympics. We are geared up as a team. I think the key will be to take the crucial passes as this enables keeping possession of the ball and moving further towards the opponent's Defence wall," she said.

This is possible if we keep pace with each other. We have been working on our passes and tackles and we are confident of a good start," she added.

Speaking on fellow striker Vandana Katariya, Rani said her return would help the side.

"We clearly missed her during the Hawke's Bay Cup. Her being back in the team strengthens our attack as she is good with her speed and her skill to break the defence chain at times leaves the opponents on the back foot," he said.

India will play their first match against Belgium on June 20.


Back to Belgium

Hockeyroos head coach Adam Commens shares his bond with Belgium

Coach of one of the world’s best hockey teams, Adam Commens has assisted the Hockeyroos from seventh in the world rankings to their current position of second over a two year period. Now, his squad of 18 athletes focus on securing Olympic qualification at the upcoming World League Semi Finals in Belgium later this month.

Belgium holds a special place in Adam’s heart. It’s the place where his international coaching career started, where his daughter lives, his fiancée is from and, most of all, it’s a place where he achieved great success with their national men’s hockey team. 

We sat down with Adam to ask him a few questions about his return to Belgium.

Hockey Australia (HA): Can you share what Belgium means to you?
Adam Commens (AC): It’s a place that’s close to my heart. The Belgium national men’s team was the first international team that I coached, my fiancée is from Belgium and also my daughter, Olivia, who is living in Belgium. As a coach, my history of coaching Belgium at an Olympic Games was also a very special part of my coaching career.

HA: What’s the strength of hockey in Belgium?
AC: It’s pretty crazy over there. It was a sport that was probably more for the elite and for the wealthier when I first arrived there in 2004. It has now become a family oriented sport and has grown enormously from around 20,000 players to around 50,000.They get behind their national teams since they have started to taste success. It’s always an electrifying atmosphere in the crowd and we’re expecting to see something similar at the World League.

HA: As a head coach, do you still battle nerves on match day?
AC: I get extremely nervous in tournaments that we have prepared really hard for and over a long period of time, the World League Semi Finals will be no exception. I probably get even more nervous in games where we are expected to win against opponents that are maybe ranked a little bit below us. It’s very difficult for me as a coach to separate that from what we’re about as a team and it’s all about processes and making sure we get it right. If we can get the process right the result takes care of itself.

HA: How much work goes on behind the scenes to get the Hockeyroos to where they are?
AC: There’s an enormous amount of work that people don’t see. People often ask me if it’s a full-time job, it’s more than a fulltime job. We have 27 athletes in Perth and they’re all working extremely hard to be part of the Hockeyroos. Outside of that, we have a development squad who are based across Australia and our junior program which filters up towards the Hockeyroos.

The staff management and management of the individual athletes is a huge amount of work. A lot goes into the preparation of an international team to get them to perform and gel cohesively at these high pressure, big moment tournaments.

Hockey Australia media release

PHF thankful to PSB for bailout; Imran confident ahead of qualifiers

Mohammad Yaqoob

PHF secretary Rana Mujahid (c) addresses a news conference alongside captain Mohammad Imran on Sunday

LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) expressed gratitude on Sunday to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) over the latter’s willingness to bear all the expenditures of the national team’s tour of Belgium where the national team will play the Hockey World League Semifinals as qualifying round for 2016 Olympics.

“I personally thank the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Riaz Pirzada and secretary Mohammed Ijaz Chaudhary for swiftly addressing our financial problems and facilitating the PHF to undertake the tour,” said PHF secretary Rana Mujahid accompanied by captain Mohammad Imran, coach Danish Kaleem and a new sponsor of the federation during a media conference here just hours before the team left for Belgium.

Ten teams will be featuring in the Hockey World League round starting on June 20 with top five teams qualifying for the Olympics scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

The PHF secretary, however, admitted that the issue of awarding daily allowance to members of the national team is yet to be resolved and expressed hope that an amicable agreement will be reached upon.

The PHF had to pay Rs15,000 per day as daily allowance to each member of the squad but the PSB had the limit of $20 for each member which is in fact a huge discrepancy, maintained the PHF secretary who said as the PSB was helping the PHF, the federation’s finance rule had to be applied.

Talking about weak financial affairs of the PHF which it has been faced with for the last several months, the secretary said the hockey governing body had sought financial help from sponsor Happilac Paint.

“The paint manufacturing company has come forward to help the game of hockey and we have great respect for their passion,” he said.

Also, Khawaja Ammad Khalid Sikka of the said paint manufacturing company vowed that players would be awarded with handsome prizes if they qualified for the Olympics Games. He said that hockey was Pakistan’s national game and he had just come forward to help the game financially having come to know through media about PHF’s poor financial affairs.

He also appealed to other businessmen to come forward to save the national game.

When asked whether he had any complaint against anyone in connection with delay in provision of funds despite approval by the IPC ministry, Rana Mujahid said he had no complaints against anyone and hoped that hurdles would be removed soon.

The PHF secretary appealed to the corporate sector to invest a portion of their funds in sports to uplift its standard. “Unlike India and European countries corporate sector’s sponsorship in sports is meager in Pakistan,” he lamented, adding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was a sports-loving person who would definitely ensure solution to PHF’s financial problems.

On the other hand, captain Imran while claiming that Pakistan were in a position to qualify for the Olympics said that he and his players were not worried about the issue of their daily allowance.

“Our first priority is to get focused on the game and to qualify for the Olympics,” the captain said while expressing the hope that “the PHF will take care of players’ need as it has done so in the past.”

Answering a question, the captain dispelled the impression that the squad was not well prepared for the event.

“We toured Australia and later on we went to South Korea. Our aim in both the tours was not to win matches but to test different combination with youngsters kept on getting chances on various occasions,” Imran commented.

“So, we are well prepared for the upcoming assignment, for we have taken full advantage of the previous tours,” he further said.

Also, the captain said that Pakistan had to play practice matches against Ireland and some other countries after reaching Belgium.


PHF optimistic about Pakistan’s chances at World Hockey League

Muhammad Imran and Shafqat Rasool retained as skipper, vice captain

LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary general Rana Mujahid Ali said Sunday he was optimistic about national game’s bright future and hopeful of Pakistan qualifying for the Rio Olympics 2016. “Despite shortage of funds the national team is participating in the World Hockey League Semifinals, which is also the qualifying round for the Rio Olympics 2016, to be played at Antwerp, Belgium from June 20 to July 5,” he told reporters at the National Hockey Stadium before the national team’s departure to Brussels via Dubai.

Mujahid, flanked by team captain Muhammad Imran, coach Danish Kaleem and representatives of sponsors Khawaja Ammad Khalid Sikka and Ahsen Sikka, thanked the Ministry for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for taking keen interest to ensure the national team’s tour which looked bleak in the wake of shortage of funds. “I personally thank IPC Minister Riaz Pirzada and IPC secretary Mohammad Ijaz Chaudhary for helping the national team to undertake the important tour,” he added.

When asked if he had any complain against anyone because release of funds was delayed despite the approval of the IPC Ministry, Mujahid said he had no complain against anyone and hoped that financial hurdles would be removed soon. The secretary general appealed to the Pakistan’s corporate sector to invest a portion of their funds in sports to uplift their standard. “Unlike India and European countries, the Pakistan corporate sector’s sponsorship in sports is meagre”, he lamented.

Mujahid informed the PHF had retained Imran and Shafqat Rasool as captain and vice captain of the national team. “Imran and Shafqat have been retained to their positions after consultation with PHF president Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry.” To a question, Mujahid said the issue of players’ daily allowance would be resolved amicably with the PSB. “The PSB rules allow $20 as daily allowance to athletes but as per the PHF rules we pay $150 to our players. We have successfully pleaded our case in a civilized way. The national team’s tour has been arranged at our request so hockey players should be paid their daily allowance as per the PHF rules.”

Team captain Imran said the players had no worries over their daily allowances as they know the financial plight of the PHF. “We are sure that once the PHF gets funds we would be paid our dues.” He said he was hopeful that the national team would qualify for the Rio Olympics. “We have worked hard on our grey areas and focused to maintain a high level of physical fitness and I am optimistic that we will bring happy news on our return from Belgium,” Imran maintained.

The Daily Times

Team has bright chance to qualify for Olympics: Rana

LAHORE - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Rana Mujahid has said that despite acute shortage of funds, the team is not only featuring in the Hockey World League semifinals but has also bright chance to qualify for the Rio Olympics 2016.

Speaking at the press briefing here at the National Hockey Stadium (NHS) Sunday, Rana, flanked by coach Danish Kaleem, sponsors Kh Ammad Khalid Sikka and Ahsen Sikka, thanked the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for taking keen interest to ensure the national team’s tour which looked bleak in the wake of shortage of funds.

“I personally thank IPC minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada and secretary M Ijaz Chaudhary for quickly addressing our appeal and facilitating the PHF to undertake the tour.”

When asked if he had any complain against anyone because provision of funds had been delayed long despite of approval of the IPC ministry, Rana replied that he had no complain against anyone and hoped that hurdles would be removed soon.

He appealed the corporate sector to invest a portion of their funds in hockey to uplift its standard.

“Unlike India and European countries, corporate sector’s sponsorship in sports is meager,” Rana lamented.

He also announced that the PHF had retained M Imran and Shafqat Rasool as captain and vice-captain of the national team.

Rana said Imran and Shafqat had been retained after consultation with PHF president Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry.

To a query, Rana said the issue of players’ daily allowance would be solved amicably with the PSB.

“The PSB rules allow $20 as daily allowance to the athletes but as per the PHF rules, we pay $150 to our players.

We have successfully pleaded our case in a civilized way that since the national team’s tour has been arranged at our request so the players should be paid their daily allowance as per the PHF rules,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, team captain M Imran said the players had no worries over their daily allowances as they knew the financial plight of the PHF.

“We are sure that once the PHF gets funds, we will be paid our dues,” he hoped.

He said he was hopeful that the national team would qualify for the Rio Olympics.

“We have worked hard on our grey areas and focused to maintain a high level of physical fitness and I am optimistic that we shall bring happy news on our return from Belgium,” Imran believed.

Sponsor Kh Ammad Sikka said his company would offer lucrative prizes once the team qualified for the Olympics.

“Our company has observed that hockey has been ignored since long so we decided to help the national game to help it regain its lost glory,” he concluded.

The Nation

Hockey team rejects measley $20 allowance for Olympic qualifiers

By Nabil Tahir

The players have said they would rather wait for the Pakistan Hockey Federation to pay them $150 a day rather than take Pakistan Sports Board’s $20 a day allowance right now. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Pakistan hockey team departed last night for the Hockey World League semi-finals, where they need to finish in the top three in order to qualify for the Olympics. However, the players have decided to reject the announced $20 daily allowance, some way short of Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) promise of $150.

The players refused to accept the $20 grant set by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and have demanded that the PHF pay them the $150 as per the rules set by the federation’s Rules and Regulation Committee.

PSB had decided to support the PHF, which is facing a financial crisis, by announcing the $20 per day allowance for each player in keeping with the sport board’s policy, along with all traveling and accommodation expenses of the team during the competition.

However, the players are less than happy with the announcement, saying that it is not the PSB’s responsibility, nor its prerogative, to be paying the dailies. “We have made a collective decision to reject the $20 daily allowance announced by the PSB and have asked PHF to pay us the $150 as per PHF rules,” Muhammad Imran, who was announced as the captain for the tournament, told The Express Tribune. “We have played without being paid in the past and are ready to play in this tournament too, but we want the PHF to pay the amount it is supposed to, even if we have to wait for it.”

The team will be in Belgium for 21 days, meaning that each player was supposed to receive $3,150 during the time but would have instead gotten just $420.

The PHF is also yet to pay the dues of the recent tours to Australia for the four-nation tournament and the Korean Test match series, which amount to $2,850 per player.

By the end of this qualification round, the PHF will owe each player around $6,000 for the three tours, along with $100 for the recently concluded training camp.

The players, however, are willing to wait. “We want to serve the country and bring Pakistan hockey back to its former glory,” said Imran. “Money is important but we will serve the country as best as we can and will let the government know that hockey still has the potential to make Pakistan proud.”

PHF to clear dues soon

PHF, which has debts of over Rs10 million, has said that it will pay the players as soon as the pending grant is approved.

“We are with the team and the management and appreciate the way they have cooperated with the PHF by not only playing for Pakistan but also winning medals without being paid,” said PHF secretary Rana Mujhaid. “We will pay every single penny of the players’ outstanding dues soon.”

‘Team selected on recent performance’

Imran added that the team has been selected on the basis of the players’ recent performances as there is little room for experiment at this stage.

“We cannot take a risk at this point — we need our best team to book our place at the Olympics and for that we have made some changes and included experienced players such as Rashid Mehmood and Muhammad Rizwan Senior, and a youngster Azfar Yaqoob, who has been performing well in the recent national and international events,” said the skipper.

Imran added that the team will not take any opponent lightly as the side which makes use of their chances is the one who most often wins in modern hockey. “Australia will be a tough team to play against and India are always an exciting opponent,” he said.

The Express Tribune

China Defeats USMNT in Euro Tour

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Playing against an aggressive and skilled China Team, the U.S. Men's National Team was able to close a 0-2 deficient at the half but were unable to capitalize on prime opportunities. Team USA fell to China 2-3 in their fourth game of the European Tour.

After a fierce start, Team USA had multiple scoring chances in the first period and in a moment of slack play China's dangerous counter attack was able to prosper.

More even play pursued in the second and third quarters but China made the most of their few opportunities to score.

Even though the USMNT was playing well, they were not as clinical as China until the fourth quarter, where they almost tied the game.

The scoring was lead by Moritz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) who scored a brilliant backhand after some slick play in the midfield. The second goal came from Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Ger.) who converted one of his two corner attempts. Team USA had multiple scoring opportunities like when Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) shot from close range but it was saved on the line.

The final score was 3-2 in favor of China.

"Playing opponents of this level gives our squad quality examples of taking versus squandering opportunities," said Chris Clements, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach. "Possession and circle penetrations were in our favor however finishing was not. We are making progress and are continuing to improve game by game."

The U.S. Men's National Team will train for tomorrow before facing India on Tuesday.

USFHA media release

Winning ways

Sarah Juggins

Lauren Crandall (USA) and Lucas Vila (ARG). Pic: Yan Huckendubler

Lauren Crandall and Lucas Vila are two players who knows what it is to win at the Pan American Games. For Argentina’s Vila, it was a second gold medal at the event, as he had also been part of the 2003 winning team, but for Lauren it was her first gold medal at the Pan Am Games and the start of something of a renaissance for Team USA.

“That win was definitely a step in the right direction when it came to putting USA Field Hockey back on the map” says Crandall. “It was a pivotal victory in our buildup to the London 2012 Olympics. Our team has experienced ups and downs since then but our focus is working hard every day to keep improving.”

Since then Team USA has been steadily working its way up the world rankings and, although London 2012 turned into a disappointing event for the aspirational USA squad, subsequent events have mostly been on the upward trajectory. Crandall and her colleagues will be hoping for a victory at this year’s Games will set them on a similar joinery to Rio 2016. But back to that game against pre-tournament favorites Argentina.

“I have to admit, it was one of the greatest wins of my career!  That team was special. We had prepared for the Pan American Games and specifically that final game for a long time. We were committed to one another, to fighting for one another to the end.  And then to get the victory and be able to celebrate with each other was a special moment that I will never forget.”

For Lucas Vila, it was a doubly special moment because it was both an Olympic qualifier and it was against their nemesis Canada, the team who had beaten them four years earlier. “It was great. We were very disappointed to lose the finals in the 2007 against Canada, so to meet them again in 2011 was important to us. And of course it meant we qualified for the 2012 Olympics, so it was also a relief.”

Canada didn’t make it easy for Argentina. Vila recalls: “We were losing 1-0 in the first half, and had missed many chances. At half time we were very disappointed, and knew that we had to work even harder. In the beginning of the second half, we came out of the dressing rooms and we knew that we had to go for it and give it 100 per cent in the last 35 minutes. And so it was, we scored three times and played a really aggressive game.”

While Argentina’s men’s team were igniting the crowd with their second half winning display, Team USA were on the verge of breaking the hearts of the passionate followers of Las Leonas. What on earth was going through the minds of the USA players as they were preparing to enter the pitch for that final game? Crandall recalls the moments before the game: “We had done all the preparation prior to the game, so come game time it was just a matter of performing. We were relaxed but excited. We all went through our typical pre-game rituals: some of us played some games; others listen to music together in the locker room.  We treated it as any other game because we were confident in the work we put in training for the tournament”.

“As we got out on the pitch, I remember the crowd was loud and there were a lot of Argentinian fans; there was a section of fans with a drum that kept beating. But the best noise I heard all game was when that drum stopped, and the American fans began to roar.”

The USA got off to a dream start as they took a two goal lead and on the stroke of half-time they took a 3-1 lead, but with Las Leonas there is always the chance of a sublime piece of skill creating a goal. It wasn’t until Michelle Vittese made it 4-2 in the 66th minute of the game, did Crandall and her teammates dare to dream. “We went in with confidence, knowing that if we played our game and played together as a team, we could win. I felt the confidence growing as the game went on. Each goal we scored added more momentum to the game. But it wasn’t until Michelle Vittese put away our fourth goal that we knew we were taking that game”.

“After our team celebration I remember jumping the fence and grabbing an American flag from the crowd and running down the field holding the flag.  My teammates and I sprinted over to our Men’s National Team who were there supporting us and thanked them for their support - they were loud and amazing.”

Coming into an important period of hockey, Crandall and her teammates have their focus firmly set on qualifying for the Olympics. They now have two chances to seal a spot at Rio 2016, firstly at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, where USA will face Argentina, as well as top 12-ranked teams China, Great Britain and South Africa. Following the HWL Semi-Finals in Valencia, the team then returns to America for the Pan Am Games, where they have a second chance at Olympic qualification. Crandall refuses to be drawn on how she thinks the team will fare, saying simply: “Our goal is always to grow from each game so that we are playing our best hockey at the end of the tournament.”

Argentina also has the tricky Hockey World League Semi-Final to contend first. “We are really excited about the Hockey World League, we are already thinking and planning our first game against Austria,” says Vila. “Every team can qualify, it is really equal and tight for everybody. In the group stages our toughest opponent will be Germany.”

Like USA, Argentina’s path to the Olympics can also take two routes. A top three finish in Buenos Aires at the HWL Semi-Finals will guarantee a place at Rio 2016, a fourth place finish will leave Los Leones relying on other results from the other Semi-Final. A win in Toronto would guarantee a place in Brazil next year for the Rio Olympics.

“We want to repeat the win of 2011, of course,” says Vila. “We will take each match very seriously and play the tournament game by game. Once we qualify from the pool rounds, each match becomes a final, so we will play and then re-focus.”

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Dar Hockey Academy go down 0-4 to MEP

By Ijaz Chaudhry

It was a good Sunday crowd at Boxtel to watch local club MEP’s side, comprising players from the first men’s side and the under 18 team, take on the under 16 boys of Dar academy. The town has a sizeable Pakistani community and they were present in good numbers.

The host club applied pressure right from the first whistle. For the first 10 minutes, ball mostly remained in Pakistani side’s area whose deep defence remained solid and MEP were not given any real opportunity to aim at the target.

Ironically, it was the Dar HA who had the first real scoring chance. It came in the 13th minute after a fluent move but it was a regulations save for the MEP net minder.  In the last five minutes of the first quarter, the Lahore based academy had the better of exchanges.
The visitors continued their offensive play. In the 17th minute, a high ball into the MEP’s quarter wasn’t controlled properly by the defender. Asif pounced on the ball and raced into the circle. His powerful goal bound shot found a team mate’s foot.  Very next minute, a MEP raid was easily halted and cleared from the circle. Next few minutes saw Dar HA creating three good opportunities. A nice interplay between Umair and Asif had the first mentioned in a good scoring position but he fumbled with the ball. A penalty corner also arrived but the MOP defence didn’t let the indirect drill complete. Then it was Usman junior who failed to control an excellent pass. 

When it seemed the goal would soon arrive for the Dar HA, the match took another turn.  In the 25th minute, MOP raided after a long time and were successful when Menno Galema, whose elder brother Jelle is presently playing for Holland in the World Hockey League in Argentina, put the ball in the net off a rebound. The Dutch side dominated the rest of the second quarter with delightful moves from both the sides. Dar HA defence resisted well for a while but conceded a penalty corner in the 29th minute. However, the high flick was off the target.

The third quarter was all MEP. Two open play attempts went fruitless. In the 32nd minute, the lead was doubled through the third penalty corner. After a one-two at the top of the circle, Ties van Geel sounded the board with a well-placed hit. Very next minute, it was 3-0. A sweeping move from the left was clinically finished by Dirk van Ommeren.  MEP’s relentless offense continued. Dar HA short stopper Waqar was called to make an excellent save. In the 38th minute a clumsy challenge by left haf Aqeel gave the hosts another penalty corner. The slap drag was off the left pole. In the 40th minute ball entered the MEP circle after a long time via a diagonal hit by Usman senior but Asad was quite far to trap it.

MEP employed a high flick on their fifth penalty corner but Waqar did well to palm it away.  
Fourth goal soon arrived via yet another penalty corner in the second minute of the last quarter.  Waqar had dived to his right to stop the direct hit but the rebound was well taken by the injector Guus van Gardingen who found the far corner with a good hit.

In the second half of the game, the academy boys’ trapping and passing was poor as compared to what they had displayed in the earlier matches. 

Dar HA who were under the cosh for a considerable period enjoyed a rare period of ascendancy. In the 52nd minute, off a cross, Usman junior’s reverse chop hit was palmed away by the custodian. An excellent ball into the circle by Umair was not trapped by Usman Junior. Then Umair himself became the villain. He was well-positioned in the circle but fumbled a long pass. 

MEP retook the control of the proceedings and had two penalty corners in as many minutes, again due to faulty tackles. They failed to avail both: couldn’t take a proper strike on the seventh and net minder Waqar made two good saved off the eighth. 

In the 59th minute, Dar HA could have got a consolation goal but Asad failed to tap in from a hand shaking distance. 
So the visitors from Pakistan suffered their second defeat of the tour. It must be remembered that it was Dar HA’seventh match in as many days. That apparently told as the boys made many unforced errors in the second half. They were almost at par till the half time but caved in the last 30 minutes against a vastly experienced and matured team comprising mainly of players from Men’s first team.

Dar Hockey Academy: O       MEP: 4


MS Dhoni meets junior women hockey players

India's junior female hockey players were in for a surprise on Sunday as the country's ODI cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni met them during a practice session at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

While Dhoni was here for a personal training session ahead of the Indian cricket team's ODI matches in Bangladesh, the junior hockey players have assembled here for a camp, which began on May 31 and will continue till July 11.

The 48-core probables are part of the coaching camp preparing for the Volvo International U-21 Women's Tournament in the Netherlands, scheduled from July 18 to July 26.

"India cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni met the India junior women players on Saturday at the MDC National Stadium during their ongoing preparatory camp for the Volvo International Under-21 Tournament in the Netherlands and the 7th Junior Women's Asia Cup in China," Hockey India said in a release.

Dhoni, who quit Test captaincy last year, spent some time with the players, spoke to them about their preparations and wished them luck for the future challenges.

Dhoni's interest in the national game is widely known as he co-owns the Hockey India League (HIL) champions Ranchi Rays. Dhoni will lead the Indian Indian team in a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh, beginning Thursday.


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