All the news for Saturday 20 June 2015
HWL Semi-Finals Valencia: Four teams do battle for three automatic Olympic qualification spots
Germany celebrate making the semi-finals
Last four standing: Germany, Great Britain, China and Argentina contest the Hockey World League Semi-Final
Four teams, three automatic tickets to the Olympic Games. It is going to be a huge weekend for hockey in Valencia with Great Britain, Germany, Argentina and China battling it out for those all-important top three positions.
For all four teams, they already have the bonus of a place at the Hockey World League final later this year and all four will look to add to that with an even bigger prize on Saturday evening.
Argentina meet China in the first of the semi-finals at 4.30pm (CET) with the former side looking to repeat their 3-0 win in the group stage. Indeed, Argentina have a huge advantage in meetings between the two countries with China’s last win seven years ago during which time 12 games have been played in world level competition.
Macarena Rodriguez Perez says her side is learning quickly and this tournament has provided the perfect learning curve to improve with each game.
“The side is growing up and learning how to build towards Rio in the best form. Because we don’t now have the best player in the world [Luciana Aymar] like last year, this tournament is a really good tournament to help us prepare and grow for Rio in 2016.”
China look set to adopt a counter-attacking game once again as they aim to keep the battle close-knit and then exploit their surplus of pace up front in the form of Xhang Xiaoxue and Liang Meiyu. After an indifferent Pool A campaign, they dug out a shoot-out win against Ireland when it mattered and captain Cui Qiuxia said this was a huge moment for her team:
"This was our last shot at a place at the 2016 Olympics. We knew what we had to do."
Germany were another side to grab victory out of the fire, fighting back against Spain in the quarter-final in a shoot-out to earn a place against the more comfortable progressors Great Britain at 7pm. German skipper Janne Muller-Wieland said that they are going all guns blazing for an automatic ticket.
“GB will definitely be a tough challenge but we definitely want to beat them and not be hanging on and calculating whether we have the Olympic spot or not.”
Kate Richardson-Walsh is of a similar mind: "I know we are not going to the Olympics just yet, and we still have a job to do,”
Both sides are unbeaten so far in the tournament with GB recording five wins from five outings with four clean sheets on their record – only Canada has managed to breach their defence. Germany’s results have been more patchy with their last three games all ending in draws in regulation time. But, as Muller-Wieland said after their win against Spain in a shoot-out, German sides never go down without a fight.
The fifth to eighth place playoffs also have plenty of intrigue with nations hoping to finish as high as possible to keep alive an outside hope of potential Olympic qualification. USA play Ireland at 11.30am in a rematch of their group tie in which the latter won 2-0.
Craig Parnham will be hoping his side can produce a more effective corner routine as they spurned eight set pieces. Ireland have similar concerns after 15 of their corners went unconverted against China in their quarter-final.
If they can counter-attack like they did in the first meeting with Megan Frazer to the fore, this could be a fascinating encounter.
Spain will carry the favourite’s tag against South Africa in the other tie following a week of strong performances but they will need to quickly recover from their shoot-out loss to Germany. The Spaniards have been hugely competitive, beating Canada and China and drawing with Argentina and the Germans, in normal time, with their speed and work rate a real factor.
South Africa are still searching for a first win of the campaign and need to find a scoring touch having netted just three times so far. The ninth and tenth place playoff is on Friday evening with Uruguay playing Canada in an all Pan-American battle.
Canada end Hockey World League Semi-Final on winning note in Valencia
Pan-Am rivals dispute 9th/10th place
Canada claimed their first win of the World League semi-final in Valencia as second quarter goals from Kaelan Watson and Danielle Hennig earned them a 2-0 win and ninth place from the competition ahead of Pan-American rivals Uruguay.
The first quarter was an even affair with Sara McManus drawing a great low stop from Rosanna Paselle while Anastasia Olave’s piledriver brought Kaitlyn Williams into action, extending a full length boot to deny her.
The Canadians, though, took full control in the second phase of the tie. First, Watson picked up a rebound after Uruguay had saved on the goal line to make it 1-0. Then, Danielle Hennig roofed a drag-flick in the 29th minute to build a strong lead.
Canada continued the momentum into the second half but could not finish off some exciting right wing moves with a couple of crosses flashing past the face of goal. Uruguay pushed for goals in the closing quarter with Florencia Norbis denied by Williams who scrambled across her goal line brilliantly to snuff out the chance.
She also kept out a corner with a low stick-save before Paselle did likewise – albeit in more spectacular style with her left glove.
It was their last act of the tournament as Canada held firm with their two-goal advantage.
Speaking after the game, Janine Stanley of Uruguay said: "I am so proud of the team because we came here with many disadvantages, a poor infrastructure, no water-based pitch, and we have competed in matches against opponents with a higher ranking. While I am proud, I will also go back to Uruguay and think 'We could have won one or two of those games'."
Canada and Uruguay will now be competing in the Pan-American Games, where all the competing teams have another chance at qualifying for the Olympics. This was very much on Canada's Kelly Gillis' mind: “We had a tough tournament and didn’t finish where we wanted to. But it was important for us to finish on a good note and go into the Pan-Ams on a high.
“We had a great opportunity to learn from a bunch of teams. This was the first time we have played a whole group of teams at this level. Usually, we play Argentina and the USA in different circumstances. But here, every game, we play an amazing team. We can learn from ourselves and also from the other teams.”
Canada finishes with win at Women's World League Semifinal
2-0 victory over Uruguay gives Canadian women 9th spot
The Canadian Women's Field Hockey Team finished the World League Semifinal with a strong with a 2-0 win over Uruguay Friday in Valencia, Spain.
A strong performance from goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams who was awarded the win and shutout, along with first half goals from Kaelan Watson and Danielle Hennig led Canada to the win and the ninth place finish.
Despite finishing the tournament with a record of one win and four losses, the victory means Canada finishes the tournament in the exact spot they entered: ninth.
The game began scoreless through the first twenty-three minutes, with Canada doing what they had done all tournament, playing strong defensively and trying to press offensively.
Williams was asked to make some strong saves early to keep the game tied and it paid off near the end of the first half when two quick goals gave Canada the lead.
In the twenty-fourth minute Kaelan Watson was able to put Canada ahead for the first time in the the tournament. The Canadians were sparked as they added another in the twenty-ninth minute on a drag-flick from Danielle Hennig.
There were no goals in the third quarter but Uruguay began to press.
In the fourth quarter, Williams was again required to play extremely well and make some dramatic saves. Her solid goaltending kept Canada in front and the Canadian were able to see out their first victory of the tournament.
Canada will now focus on preparation for the 2015 Pan American Games, which take place in Toronto, Ontario from July 10th-26th. It is Canada's final chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The winner of the Pan Am Games earns a spot in Rio.
Canada's first game in Toronto is July 13th at 7pm against the Dominican Republic.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Great Britain women to meet Germany ... in another semi-final
European rivals set to meet for place in World League final in Valencia, with Alex Danson questioning her 'form'
By Rod Gilmour, Valencia
Star turn: Alex Danson, 30, has notched three goals in Valencia Photo: FIH
With five successive wins and four clean sheets, Great Britain will head into their World League semi-final as favourites to overcome Germany on Saturday evening, while a win will guarantee their place at next year’s Olympics.
The threatening sight of Great Britain women’s forward line has been a welcome sight too after the travails of last summer's World Cup, their last tournament in Europe, and will be a key factor against the European champions.
However, Alex Danson, the 30-year-old who has led those youthful lines with a series of battle-hardened performances, remains far from satisfied with her own displays.
“I’ve had a lot of chances and I’m sure I will go back to Bisham and work on areas that will come in another tournament,” she said. “That’s how I work and we’re all our own worst critics. That’s what makes us so good.”
Danson will never highlight her individual work rate during 60 minutes of intense hockey, but one only had to witness her input during Great Britain’s 2-0 win over South Africa on Thursday - thrusting herself into challenges or diving for deflections in the circle – to understand the impact she gives to Danny Kerry’s side.
“Every single player has stepped up and it is a testament to the work we have put in at home,” she said.
Great Britain's forward lines have been in good form (FIH)
“We played for 31 of us [against South Africa] with the legs on the team and the mental alertness we had to have.
“We are a tactical, intelligent side and we all know our roles. That’s been the difference.”
Defender Kate Richardson-Walsh, the captain, admitted that the forwards have been “a joy to watch”, although she did rattle off every midfielders’ name too, mainly to underline Great Britain's all-round positivity during this World League.
“Just imagine what it’s like marking in them training,” she said of the forwards. “You just want to feed them the ball.”
However, Germany will be no pushovers after coming from behind to eventually beat hosts Spain in a sudden-death shoot out.
Germany's Janne Muller-Wieland said: “There are rumours about us that we are never beaten until we are on the bus on the way home.”
Meanwhile, Great Britain men begin their Olympic qualification campaign against hosts Belgium on Sunday in Antwerp.
Bobby Crutchley’s side are pitted in a pool which also features Malaysia and China. As with the women, the top three are guaranteed a berth in Rio.
SA hockey women in must-win against Spain
After the gut-wrenching disappointment of losing 2-0 to Great Britain in the quarter-finals of the World League Semi-Final tournament in Valencia, Spain on Thursday the South Africa women’s hockey team face another testing encounter in the weekend’s first round of playoff matches.
The world’s 11th-ranked South Africa face world number 15 Spain at 2pm SA time Saturday with the winners earning the right to play for fifth place against world number 14 Ireland or world number five USA at 2pm on Sunday. The losers will play for seventh place at 11.30am Sunday.
South Africa’s matches at Campo De Hockey De Valencia on Saturday and Sunday will not be shown on SuperSport.
Spain also have to pick themselves up for the SA match after the crushing blow of quarter-final defeat at the hands of world number six Germany on Thursday night, this after they had led 1-0 until nine minutes from full-time time and also 2-0 in the subsequent penalty shootout. Germany went on to win the shootout 3-2 after the scores were 1-1 in regulation time.
Both the SA and Spain coaching staff and players will be familiar with each other. The likes of Spanish goalkeeper Maria Lopez, captain Rocio Ybarra, playmaker Georgina Oliva and coach Adrian Lock have crossed swords with South African counterparts Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Jade Mayne and Sheldon Rostron in a number of close encounters between the two sides in the last five years and Saturday’s outcome is not easy to call.
For SA, a fifth-place finish is a must. Should two of three semi-finalists in Valencia – Argentina (Pan-American), Great Britain and Germany (both Europe) win their upcoming continental championship, it would bring the fifth-placed team into the picture as a qualifier for Rio.
The fourth semi-finalist in Valencia, China, lost their continental championship to South Korea.
Saturday’s semi-finals see world number three Argentina against world number seven China at 4.30pm (SA time) and the second semi-final pitches world number eight Great Britain versus Germany at 7pm. Both semi-finals will be televised live on SuperSport 8.
Of Sunday’s classification matches in Valencia, SuperSport will only be screening the 7pm final.
This weekend, SuperSport will be showing a number of live matches from the World League Semi-Final men’s and women’s tournaments in Antwerp, Belgium.
South Africa: Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Nicole Walraven, Line Malan, Celia Evans, Nicolene Terblanche (capt), Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Bernie Coston, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lilian du Plessis, Anelle van Deventer, Erin Hunter, Quanita Bobbs, Illse Davids, Kelly Madsen, Candice Manuel, Tanya Britz.
SA Hockey Association media release
FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals - Antwerp: France replace Azerbaijan in women’s competition
The Azerbaijan women’s team due to compete in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals event in Antwerp, have withdrawn from the competition following their non-arrival in Belgium.
The Azerbaijan women’s team due to compete in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals event in Antwerp, have withdrawn from the competition following their non-arrival in Belgium.
They will be replaced in the competition by France, who will directly replace Azerbaijan in the match schedule and the event will continue as per the existing pools and match times.
Taking into consideration the importance of this Olympic qualification event, the fan experience and the fact that the matches are being broadcast worldwide, Tournament Director David Collier deemed it necessary to take action in accordance with Tournament Regulation 19, which is designed to protect the integrity of the event.
The unfortunate withdrawal has opened the door to France, who at 24th in the FIH World Rankings were the highest ranked of the teams not qualified for the World League Semi-Final who were available to take up the position.
France will now have the opportunity to compete for one of the three guaranteed tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games available at the event.
Black Sticks eyeing Olympic qualification
The Black Sticks Women begin their quest to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics when the FIH World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium gets underway this evening (NZ time).
The Kiwis are among 10 of the world's top teams competing at the tournament which runs from 20 June - 5 July, with a top four finish earning a spot at the World League Final at the end of the year.
The tournament also doubles as an opportunity to qualify for Rio, with a top three placing securing an automatic berth.
First up at the tournament for the Black Sticks are relative unknowns Poland at 8pm tonight, with live coverage on SKY Sport 3.
New Zealand’s backline is strengthened with the return of experienced goalkeeper Sally Rutherford who has recovered from a broken toe which has kept her out of action for the past few months.
Canterbury’s Sophie Cocks is back in the side following a recent illness, while versatile midfielder Julia King has earned a call-up thanks to a strong club season in England which saw her take out MVP in the final.
Striker Kirsten Pearce (14 caps) will play in her first major international tournament having impressed during the recent Hawke’s Bay Cup.
The side is captained by Anita Punt as part of a leadership group also including Sam Charlton and Stacey Michelsen.
New Zealand is joined in Pool B at the tournament by Australia, Belgium, India and Poland while Pool A consists of Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Italy and France.
The World League format sees New Zealand play four pool games ahead of a crucial sudden-death quarter final against a Pool A opponent.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Women's team determined not to follow men's example at league semifinal
By David Leggat
Samantha Charlton of the Blakc Sticks. Photo / NZME.
New Zealand are determined not to follow the men's Black Sticks lead and make Rio Olympic qualifying harder for themselves than it need be, when they start their World League semifinal in Antwerp, Belgium tonight.
The women's team, ranked fourth in the world, kick off against lowly Poland, but coach Mark Hager is sure motivation won't be an issue through the tournament. "You can never rest on your laurels or expect that just because your ranking is that high you're going to be in the top three, so we just want to build to the quarter-final," Hager said from Antwerp.
The format has pool matches being used to finalise placings ahead of a quarter-final draw of crossover games. That's where the men's Black Sticks came unstuck in Buenos Aires a few days ago, losing a marathon penalty shootout of 28 attempts against Canada, ranked seven places lower, after a scoreless draw.
That result, combined with a subsequent lacklustre 3-1 loss to Spain, four places behind New Zealand, might yet bite their Rio chances.
Although they know full well how the men's campaign came unstuck, the women have their own ideas.
"The girls basically said they didn't want us as a coaching staff to compare themselves with the men," said Hager, who is no fan of the one-off quarter-final format, which he believes does not necessarily reward earlier success in the tournament.
"We saw that can be a lottery. The opposition defence can play well, their keeper has a blinder and all of a sudden you're in trouble.
"Obviously you learn lessons from it, but we are here in our own right and just need to concentrate on ourselves, put our plans in action and have belief we can play well and perform when it really counts."
New Zealand, the second-highest ranked team at the event, have had a skinny preparation. Since the Festival of Hockey tournament in Hastings in April, the Black Sticks have had just two practice games against the world No 1 Dutch this week, both lost, but both offering good indicators of how much improvement is needed.
"We were just getting off the plane and we knew they would really expose us and allow us to identify our weaknesses. Putting our structures in place, that's the biggest thing," Hager added.
Pool A consists of world champions the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Italy and Azerbaijan. The top three teams at the tournament are guaranteed spots at next year's Rio Olympics.
The New Zealand Herald
Black Sticks women's goalkeeper Sally Rutherford returns for Olympic qualifier
Goalkeeper Sally Rutherford has recovered from a broken toe to get a call up for the Black Sticks first chance at qualifying for the Olympics at the FIH World League semifinal in Belgium. Their first match is against Poland. KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX
The New Zealand women's hockey team gets the chance to do what its male counterparts couldn't - qualify automatically for the Rio Olympics.
The Black Sticks are not only competing for a place in the World League Final, they aiming to qualify for the 2016 Olympics with a top-three finish at the FIH World League semifinal in Belgium.
Their first match is Saturday night (NZ time) against Poland.
The Black Sticks men failed to secure an early spot in the Olympic tournament at their World League semifinal in Argentina last week, finishing a disappointing sixth, which means they will have to either beat Australia in the Oceania Cup or rely on their world ranking to seal a berth in Rio.
New Zealand are in pool B with long-term rivals Australia, India, Belgium and Poland. A top four finish in that group would set the Kiwis up for a quarterfinal against a team from pool A which consists of Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Italy and Azerbaijan.
Last time the Black Sticks beat the Hockeyroos was at the Oceania Cup in October 2013 and they were narrowly beaten 3-2 by the Aussies in the final at the Hawke's Bay Cup in April, after wasting an early lead.
New Zealand coach Mark Hager said the development of his squad since that final has been pleasing, with fierce competition for spots driving the team to perform better.
"We've got a good mix of experience and youth while some of the younger players have really put their hand up," he said.
Experienced goalkeeper Sally Rutherford, who has 87 caps, will be keen to use to the opportunity to re-establish herself in the team having recovered from a broken toe which has kept her out of action for the past few months.
Canterbury's Sophie Cocks also returns to the side following a recent illness, while Julia King has made the most of her strong season in England to get a call up.
Striker Kirsten Pearce will hope to make an early appearance in her first major international tournament having impressed during the Hawke's Bay Cup.
"We will go into World League pretty confident. I think we played well in Hawke's Bay and while the final result wasn't what we were after, the improvement we've had over the past few months has been amazing and it's nice to be part of it."
The combination of experience and youth is one that has worked well for the Black Sticks previously. In Belgium, Anita Punt continues as captain aided by a group of established game changers like Sam Charlton, Gemma Flynn and Stacey Michelsen.
"The squad is certainly developing well and we saw that at the Hawke's Bay Cup where Amelia Gibson played really well in goal and Gemma showed some top form, creating enormous scoring opportunities for us up front. Kirsten also performed well and stood up in the semifinal and final against Korea and Australia," Hager said.
"You add to that the returning players like Sally, Julia and Sophie and we have a solid platform to perform well in Belgium."
AT A GLANCE
Black Sticks women FIH World League Semifinal schedule:
June 20: New Zealand vs Poland - 9pm
June 24: New Zealand vs India - 1am
June 26: New Zealand vs Australia - 7am
June 28: New Zealand vs Belgium - 3am
Knockout rounds: June 30 - July 3
Final: July 5, 5am
Challenging time for Indian Men and Women teams
What invests the second part of the Hockey World League semi-finals starting tomorrow at Antwerp is the route it provides for making the grade to the Olympics at Rio. The top three finishers in the 10-team competitions for men and women become eligible to take part in the 2016 Olympics.
Launched in 2013, the HWL is perhaps the most broad-based event affording an opportunity to all member countries to be part of the World Cup or the Olympics. Conducted at various venues across the globe the tournament is now in the final stages.
The first semi finals were completed at Valencia (Argentina) where Germany, Argentina and Netherlands ensured their berths for the Olympics in the men’s section.
From India’s standpoint, the Antwerp edition is more relevant to the women than men. By virtue of being the Asian Champion, the Indian men have already booked their place for the Olympics. For the women’s team, which is showing a rising graph it is a do-or-die battle to return to the Olympics fold.
It is indisputable however the men’s team needs to prove and learn a lot. A podium finish is not beyond the compass, but the team has to perform at a high pitch. Contesting against teams like Australia, Pakistan, Poland and France in Pool B, calls for great amount of proficiency, perseverance and passion.
India opens its campaign tomorrow against France. Having won all the five previous matches with a goal aggregate of 32 for and seven against, India should begin the campaign with an advantage. Even against the World Champion, Australia, India’s recent record has been quite heartening. India has won four of the five played.
However, it is against Pakistan that India has fared badly winning only one of the last five matches. The stunning defeat in the Champions Trophy at Bhubaneswar rankles every one. India takes on Pakistan in the crucial match on June 26.
Reports suggest that the Indian team has performed with a measure of credit in the practice games. There is however a speck of concern that not many forwards figure in the scorer’s list as much as the defenders headed by Rupinderpal Singh. Paul van Ass, the Dutch coach, with the High Performance Director, Roelant Oltmans, have to work overtime to ensure a meritorious performance from the squad led by the indefatigable Sardar Singh assisted by goalkeeper Sreejesh and veteran Birendra Lakra.
It goes without saying that the women’s team will be under greater scrutiny here. Ritu Rani and her set of enthusiastic and enterprising colleagues are all set to a write a new page. The new coach Antony Thornton has to prove his credentials to show an improved performance from the women.
Drawn in Pool B against tough contenders, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Poland, the Indian women face a tremendous challenge. India’s first opponent is the home team Belgium tomorrow against whom we have won just one game in the last five meetings. While India has lost all the five matches in recent times, it has drawn against the Aussies at Auckland in April.
Beyond a point statistics do not convey a clear picture of the potential of the contestants. The expectation is that both the men and women squads have been prepared well and acquit themselves with a measure of credit at the HWL in Antwerp.
MEN: POOL A: Australia, France, INDIA, Pakistan, and Poland; POOL B: Belgium, Great Britain, Malaysia, Ireland and China.
WOMEN: Pool A: France, Italy, Japan, Korea and Netherlands; POOL B: Australia, Belgium, INDIA, New Zealand and Poland.
India begin HWL Semifinal campaign against France
ANTWERP: Following a relatively long break, the Sardar Singh-led Indian hockey team will begin their campaign with more than a point to prove when they take on World No. 18 France in their Pool A opener of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinal here on Saturday.
The Asian giants have had a relatively good summer with a bronze medal finish in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and a 3-0 win over Japan in a bilateral four-Test home series.
Though India don't have much of a motive as both their objectives for this tournament have been achieved. A top-3 finish in the tournament will qualify a team for the 2016 Olympics while a top-4 will make them eligible for the HWL Final in November-December.
India, however, have achieved both their targets. They became the first team to secure a Rio Games berth when they won the 2014 Asian Games gold. As hosts, they are also assured of a spot in the HWL Final.
However, they will look to put their best foot forward under new chief coach Paul van Ass who would like to make his mark on Indian hockey.
"The boys look in good form as they have showcased great play during the practice matches. But tomorrow will be the real test that they have to pass. Our practice match against Great Britain helped the team to work on the initial pressure that we had planned," said van Ass.
"I am hoping they continue this. With France they have to be careful as they are a strong team and will not give in easily. The key will be to get the crucial penalty corners and convert them."
India defeated France 1-0 in the practice match couple of days back via a penalty corner conversion by drag flick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh.
Though much more was expected from World No.9 India as they narrowly moved past France before losing 1-2 to Belgium, they came back strongly to beat the United States 4-0 and modern powerhouse Great Britain 3-1 in the other practice matches.
With a lot of youngsters in the squad, the tournament will also help the Indian team try out new combinations for more flexibility and balance, something that Sardar has been focussing on for some time now.
"The tournament is important for us as here we will be implementing new strategies which will help us gauge on where we stand as a team. We clashed against France during our practice session. We won the match and are still not over confident," said the skipper.
"The match against them got to the forefront that we had to capitalise on the initial chances and create pressure. For this we will strive to have maximum possession of the ball and keep attacking."
India has yet another advantage in head-to-head against France as they notched up a 6-2 win over them when they previously locked horns in the 2013 HWL Semifinals in the Netherlands.
While both teams will eye a win to attain a better record, India will look to continuing their goal scoring spree as they implement their new strategies, based more on attack.
Rupinder will be the main penalty corner specialist but trust veteran Dutch tactician van Ass to try out different variations. In the mean time, forwards Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Yuvraj Walmiki will be looking at sneaking in field goals and putting pressure on the opponents.
A win against France will be crucial as they will then be able to build momentum to take on higher-ranked teams, such as Poland (June 23), arch-rivals Pakistan (June 26) and reigning World Champions Australia (June 28) for a place in the knockouts.
The Times of India
'Relaxed' Indian men to try out new things in HWL Semifinal
ANTWERP (Belgium): Already assured of a place in next year's Rio Olympics, a relaxed Indian men's hockey team would look to experiment with its strategies in the FIH World League Semifinal where it takes on a lowly France in the side's tournament opener on Saturday.
The Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinal in the Belgian city of Antwerp, hosting its first major international hockey tournament since the 1920 Olympics, offers direct entry to the 2016 Olympics for three teams each in the men and women's competitions.
The Indian men's team is the only one in this tournament, which includes reigning World Champions Australia besides former Olympic champions Pakistan and Great Britain, to have already secured its passage to Rio by virtue of winning the gold medal at the Incheon Asian Games last year.
Under the stewardship of new chief coach Paul van Ass, the Indian men's team has the rare luxury of trying out new strategies in a major international event.
Van Ass acknowledged that India is now able to match the pace set by the rivals, but his wards need to bolster their ability of setting the pace to suit their game plan.
"When fit enough, the Indian players are quite good when the rivals make the pace of the contest, but they need to learn to dictate the flow of the contest," said Van Ass, who took charge of the Indian team two months ago ahead of the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, where the team won the bronze medal.
"We need to be much better in making the speed of the game," said the Dutchman, adding that the team also needs to be more coordinated when defending its own goal.
"Defending as a group is important. It is a structure story about getting the angles right."
India's qualification for the Olympic Games has provided Van Ass, a former Dutch national coach, some time to implement his strategy and assess the abilities of the players available to him, although a few injuries during the training camp ahead of the Belgian sojourn has been a disappointment.
Three late changes were made to the Indian squad for the World League Semifinals.
India's path to the semifinal here is blocked by Australia, thrice World Cup holders, and arch-rivals Pakistan, beside Poland and France.
The French are India's opening day rivals, who have grown in strength in recent years.
"I hope our training on creating early pressure will be evident when we go into the competition," said Van Ass.
Having got a feel of France's ability in a warm-up game here early their week, India captain Sardar Singh said: "We'll go out to exert early pressure and retain maximum possession."
It was a runaway victory over France in the qualification tournament's final that secured India's passage to the 2012 Olympic Games, which then turned out to be an embarrassment as the Indians finished at the bottom of the 12-team event in London.
Three spots from each of the World League Semifinals are on offer for the Olympic Games, but even some positions outside the semifinals have realistic chances of making it to the 2016 Olympics. The multiple qualification routes that allocate five spots to continental tournaments can have some teams securing dual Olympic qualification, and that could allow even teams placed fifth or sixth in the World League Semifinals to make it to Rio.
Pool A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France.
Pool B: Great Britain, Belgium , Malaysia, Ireland and China.
The Times of India
Get the crucial penalty corners, convert them: Paul van Ass
Indian Hockey Team Coach Paul Van Ass. Photo: S. Subramanium, The Hindu
India men’s hockey team will kick off their quest for the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final with a clash against France.
Indian hockey team might have defeated France in the first practice match but chief coach Paul van Ass feels Saturday’s clash in the Hockey World League Semi-Final will be a real test for the side and they need to not only get the penalty corners but also convert them.
“The boys look in good form as they have showcased great play during the practice matches. But tomorrow will be the real test that they have to pass,” van Ass said ahead of their opening match.
“Our practice match against Great Britain helped the team to work on the initial pressure that we had planned. I am hoping they continue this tomorrow.
“With France they have to be careful as they are a strong team and will not give in easily. The key tomorrow will be to get the crucial penalty corners in our name and convert them.”
The India men’s hockey team will kick off their quest for the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Belgium with a clash against France on the opening day on Saturday.
Ranked ninth in the world, Sardar Singh’s side are in the same pool with Australia, Poland, France and arch-rivals Pakistan.
The Indian team had a good campaign against France by winning the match through a brilliant penalty corner conversion by Rupinder Pal Singh.
India has yet another advantage in the head-to-head meeting with France as they notched up a 6-2 win over them when they previously locked horns in the 2013 Rabobank Hockey World league Semi Finals in the Netherlands.
India Captain Sardar Singh said: “The tournament is important for us, as here we will be implementing new strategies and play which will help us gauge on where we stand as a team.
“We clashed against France during our practice session here and while we won the match we are still not over confident. The match against them got to the forefront that we had to capitalise on the initial chances and create pressure.
For this we will strive to have maximum possession of the ball and keep attacking.”
Fintro Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015 is scheduled from June 20 to July 5.
India wants to go all the way to the final in Belgium
By S. Ramaguru
ANTWERP: India, who have already qualified for next year’s Olympics by virtue of being Asian Games champions, will be hell-bent on making the final of the World Hockey League Semi-Finals tournament which starts Saturday.
The tournament involving 12 teams is an Olympic qualifier with the top three sides guaranteed of a place in Rio.
Captain Sardar Singh said they would be using the tournament to build a strong team for the Olympics.
“Everything is going fine and we have achieved satisfactory results in our training sessions and practice matches. The whole team, including the coaches and support staff, have been working hard preparing for this tournament. We have improved a lot in various aspects. We are getting positive results from our new strategies and team combinations. So there is no way we will take it easy in our matches,” said Sardar.
India have been coached by Dutchman Paul van Ass since March. The former Holland coach’s first assignment was the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March. India managed to win the bronze. They also defeated world champions Australia in the preliminary round.
“We are now focusing on our finishing and converting our attacks into goals. With the addition of the new and young players, there’s more flexibility in our combinations now. We also have more options in our strategies.
“The weather here is very cool and best suited to playing hockey. We are looking forward to the first match and want to start our campaign with a win,” said Sardar.
India are ranked ninth in the world and are seeded second in Group A behind Australia. They will kick off their campaign against France on Sunday. Pakistan and Poland are the other teams in the group.
Group B consists of Belgium, Britain, Malaysia, Ireland and China.
The Star of Malaysia
Indian eves face Belgium in Hockey World League opener
ANTWERP: Their eyes firmly set on a ticket to next year's Rio Olympics, Indian women's hockey team will lock horns with hosts Belgium in their inaugural match of the FIH World League Semifinals on Saturday.
Going by world rankings, there is hardly anything to differentiate between India (13th) and Belgium (12th) and the side which manages to overcome the pressure will come out on top in the Pool B match.
But going by recent records, Belgium hold an edge over the Indians as they defeated their rivals on two occasions during the 2014 FIH Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow.
But come Saturday, the Indian eves will be desperate to turn around their fortunes and hope to continue their good form in the prestigious tournament by utilising the experience they gained from their practice matches.
Confident of a good showing from his wards, India's chief coach Mathias Ahrens said the eves need to counter pressure situations to come out on top against the hosts tomorrow.
"We are aiming for a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games. The players have improved their skills as well as strategies according to the competition level here. It will be a test for the entire team tomorrow as it will give us a real time analysis of where do we stand and how immediately to plan for the next clashes," he said.
"The team is confident and are aware that they have to stick to the strategy and keep it simple. The idea will be to not allow pressure to seep in."
India captain Ritu Rani said a win on Saturday will boost the confidence of the team.
"Tomorrow's clash is very important as a win will boost our confidence level. The focus will only be on keeping possession and to not lose control of the ball easily. If we do this I think we can create pressure and create scoring chances," Ritu said.
After Belgium, Indian eves will face New Zealand on June 23 followed by matches against Poland (June 24) and Australia (June 27).
The Times of India
Pakistan take on Poland in opener
By Muhammad Ali
LAHORE: Led by Mohammad Imran, Pakistan will take on Poland in their opening match of the FIH Hockey World League (HWL) at Antwerp, Belgium on Saturday (today). The event, also the qualifiers for the Rio Olympics 2016, concludes on July 5. India will face off with France in other match of the opening day. Pakistan must finish among top five teams to qualify for the next year's Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Pakistan are placed in a tough Pool A alongside Poland, France, India and Australia. The greenshirts face huge challenge in their matches against Australia on June 24 and India on June 26. Pakistan, who last won their Olympic gold back in 1984 in Los Angeles, need to beat at least one of the two major opponents - Australia and India - as France and Poland do not seem to be posing any significant threat to Imran and his charges.
The Aussies have fielded an experienced squad since they have Olympics and HWL Finals qualification on the line. The Kookaburas line-up will be a mirror image of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold. Poland and France, ranked 17th and 18th respectively, are two of the most improved teams in world hockey. They are the two qualifiers from Round II of the HWL. While Poland ended that stage in second place in Singapore, France clinched the Round II tournament in Cape Town. An Olympic qualification will go a long way in the history of Polish and French hockey; but it will be a far-fetched dream with some heavyweights in the fray in Antwerp. Pool B comprises Great Britain, Belgium, Malaysia, Ireland and China.
Pakistan have to go through the tough qualification round while their opponents are in practice and have been touring different countries for matches, while the greenshirts have not played any bilateral series since 2011, taking part only in tournaments. Five top teams - apart from India, who have already qualified courtesy of their Asian Games win - will finally go for the Olympics. That means a semifinal ticket can guarantee a team qualification for the extravaganza in South America. In the presence of two strong teams like India and Australia in their pool, Pakistan may face problems to make it to the last-four stage. And in case Pakistan fail to qualify for the semifinals, it will be another hard task for them to fight it out to at least grab the fifth spot to ensure their place at the Olympics.
No doubt, India can stage a comeback in Antwerp to avenge their home defeat to Pakistan in the last year's Champions Trophy semifinal. Pakistan in an action-packed thriller overwhelmed India 4-3 before a lively crowd at Bhubaneswar. The memorable victory was, by far, a significant achievement of Pakistan hockey after many years in international contests. Last year India, under former coach Terry Walsh, went to beat Australia in Australia before clinching the Asian Games gold and the Rio berth at Incheon, South Korea, where they beat Pakistan in the final. That was when hockey re-ignited hopes of a revival and lifted them further by reaching the semi-finals of the 2014 Champions Trophy where a loss to Pakistan offered a reality check. At Antwerp, the two rivals will once again cross swords.
No points for guessing that of Pakistan's four pool encounters, the showpiece event will be the match against India, who are ranked just above Pakistan at No. 9. Pakistan surprised many by claiming silver at Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar, more so because they finished bottom of their pool in that tournament. They beat the Netherlands in the quarters and hosts India in the semis to reach the summit clash, where they lost to Germany. By beating India, Pakistan avenged their defeat in the Asian Games final, which denied Pakistan a direct entry into the Rio Olympics. That will be at the back of their mind, adding to the pressure that a game against India brings with it.
Goalkeepers: Imran Butt and Mazhar Abbas.
Full Backs: Muhammad Imran (captain), Muhammad Irfan and Syed Kashif Shah.
Halves: Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Muhammad Toseeq Arshad, Rashid Mahmood and Ammad Shakeel Butt.
Forwards: Muhammad Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Muhammad Kashif Ali, Muhammad Dilber, Muhammad Rizwan Senior, Ali Shan and Muhammad Azfar Yaqoob.
Shahnaz Sheikh (manager/head coach), Danish Kaleem (coach), Syed Abu Zar Umrao (coach), Asad Abbas Shah (team doctor).
Schedule (Pool Matches)
June 20: India vs France, Pakistan vs Poland.
June 21: China vs Malaysia. Britain vs Belgium,
Australia vs France.
June 23: Great Britain vs Ireland, India vs Poland,
Belgium vs China.
June 24: France vs France, Pakistan vs Australia.
June 25: Malaysia vs Ireland, Great Britain vs China.
June 26: 1reland vs China, Pakistan vs India,
Malaysia vs Belgium, Australia vs Poland.
June 28: Pakistan vs France, Malaysia vs Great Britain,
India vs Australia, Belgium vs Ireland.
The Daily Times
Pakistan face stiff test in Antwerp as Olympic hockey qualifiers begin
Once considered as a force to be reckoned with in the world, the Pakistan hockey team faces a Herculean task to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The team has reached Antwerp, Belgium, where the Hockey World League semi-finals begin on Saturday (today).
According to schedule, 10 teams that are vying for honours in the competition have been drawn into two groups.
Group ‘A’ comprises Pakistan, Poland, Australia, India and France while group ‘B’ include Belgium, Ireland, China, Malaysia and Great Britain.
Pakistan meets Poland on June 20, Australia on June 24, India on June 26 and France on June 28. The league will be followed by knock out round.
This is the third time that Pakistan will be making their appearance in Olympic qualifiers. History was created when after failing to earn direct passage for the 2000 Sydney Games, Pakistan qualified by finishing runners-up at Osaka. Spain won the qualifiers by getting the better of Pakistan 3-2 in the final.
In a repeat performance, Pakistan was compelled to travel to Madrid, Spain, to play qualifying event for the 2004 Athens Olympics where they seized third place by defeating India 4-2 in the play-off for the 3rd-4th positions.
Pakistan was, however, lucky to earn direct ticket for the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
After capturing back-to-back silver medals at the Incheon Asian Games and the Bhubaneswar Champions Trophy last year, the green shirts, instead of being rewarded, have gone through severe mental agony due to financial constraints of the PHF.
Though the PHF made a lot of hue and cry in this regard, no soul was moved in the corridor of power and the games controlling body had to beg in public as they had done before to materialise the preparatory Australian and South Korean trips.
In this backdrop, the morale of players was quite low which was visible in the twin events. According to sketchy results available on websites, Pakistan lost the opener to Australia by tennis score (0-6), beat South Korea 4-1 and suffered 2-4 loss at the hands of New Zealand at Hobart.
With the exception of first test, the PHF did not release the results of other games played against South Korea. However, information gathered by Dawn show that the series was marred by umpiring issues.
The government which is carrying out audit of the PHF accounts has eventually bailed the team out by releasing Rs110million for featuring in the qualifiers.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan had already missed the Hockey World Cup at The Hague last year. Hockey is the only hope of Pakistan at the Olympics and the government should give it priority by setting aside ample funds so that the issue that has cropped up this time could not be repeated again.
Mansoor fears about Pakistan chances in Olympic qualifier
ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan hockey captain and legendry goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed termed Olympic qualifying round as very tough nut to crack for green shirts and they would struggle to get a birth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Talking to The Nation, former Olympian Mansoor, who was winner of 1994 World Cup, said: “The conditions will be completely different in Belgium and badly affect national team players. In my personal opinion, Pakistan team should have reached Belgium at least 10 to 15 days prior to start of Olympic qualifiers as it could have given boys much-needed time and chance to get used to the conditions and they could have played at least five to seven practice matches as well.
“Another thing, totally against the green shirts, will be the tough pool. Pakistan team has to face the likes of Australia, India, Belgium and even France who can pose serious threat to Pakistan chances,” he added.
“Pakistan team shouldn’t make tall claims of beating arch-rivals India, as now the pressure is completely on green shirts, while Indians will be relaxed, as they have already qualified for the Rio Olympics. Now Pakistan team must have to beat India, or else they will suffer huge body blow. In my opinion, Pakistan team has bright chances of making it to the Olympics, as four teams will qualify,” he said.
Mansoor said in case Pakistan team failed to qualify for the Olympics, it would give ample time to the federation, the selectors and the coach to rethink strategy and assemble completely fresh team. “If the team qualifies for the Olympics, then it will be double responsibility on the management to assemble the winning combination. I have witnessed players’ training session on a number of occasions and found the players good enough in scoring field goals, but they lack in scoring goals on plenty corners while goalkeeping department also need improvement. The coach must pay attention towards these two main areas of concern and the players must also improve plenty corner conversion ratio and focus on minimizing goalkeeping errors.” Mansoor said he was quite surprised the senior most players like Shakeel Abbasi and Abdul Haseem Khan were not even invited for the training camps, while Champions Trophy hero in India Arsalan Qadir was also not picked. “They are big match players and it was a perfect platform for these top goal-scorers to showcase their skills and carve out victories for national team. In my opinion Shakeel and Haseem should have been invited in the camp. If their performances were not satisfactory during the camp, they should have been dropped from final squad. Pakistan team will badly miss these players.”
When asked about financial crisis in the federation, government was not entertaining federation and the PM was reluctant to meet federation and players, Mansoor replied: “There must be some misunderstanding between both parties. I feel deadlock should be removed and the PM should meet federation and players and listen to their genuine demands. I also want to know what the PHF marketing department has been doing. When government is not helping the federation, the marketing department should play its role and arrange meetings with different multinationals and corporate sector. It is also national and moral duty of national bigwigs to come forward and help the national game in best possible manner. Had proper heed was paid on marketing department, the funds could have been arranged from private sector,” Mansoor concluded.
It's Rio or bust. Hockey team start their campaign for Olympic ticket in Belgium
By S. Ramaguru
Germany already qualified for the Rio Olympics after winning Hockey World League Semi-final I. Others who have already qualified are Holland and Argentina. -EPA
ANTWERP: Malaysia will begin their final push to qualify for the Olympics when the World Hockey League Semi-Finals get under way at the K.H.C. Dragons Stadium here on Saturday.
The Malaysians are bidding to qualify for their first Olympics since Sydney 2000 where they finished 11th out of 12 teams in the fray.
But despite the long-term plans put in place since the World Cup last year, the preparations have not been ideal for the team.
And to add to the woes, Malaysia lost No. 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar after his three-year-old son passed away on Thursday. Kumar’s absence could be a telling factor.
He has been replaced in the team by up-and-coming youngster Mohamed Haifizuddin Othman.
Malaysia coach Tai Beng Hai is understandably apprehensive about Malaysia’s chances.
“But we have to go on and put up a fight. Nothing has been lost yet. The players are aware of the mammoth task that awaits them. No match is easy with or without Kumar,” said Beng Hai.
“It is a tough draw, but the challenge now is for us to defy the odds and qualify for the Olympics. I hope the team will finish in a good position in the group to qualify for the knockout stage comfortably,” he added.
Malaysia are in Group B with hosts Belgium, Britain, Ireland and China. World champions Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France are in Group A.
The top three teams automatically qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
World No. 12 Malaysia kick off their campaign against No. 31 China on Sunday and No. 14 Ireland on June 25. These two matches are without doubt the most important and Malaysia need to collect full points.
Once that is done, Malaysia should be well on the way to the quarter-finals. Then, Malaysia need to try and collect as many points as possible from No. 4 Belgium and No. 5 Britain to finish among the top two in the group.
The quarter-finals on July 1 will then decide Malaysia’s fate. If they win and make the semi-finals, then they are on their way to Rio.
It is a simple process.
The Malaysians, no doubt, have a very experienced line-up to realise the Olympic dream.
There are 11 players who have made more than 100 international appearances, including three who have surpassed the 200-cap barrier. They are Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah (224), Mohd Sukri Mutalib (217) and Azlan Misron, who is rapidly approaching 350 caps.
But all eyes will be on Faizal Saari. The controversial forward is a skilful player. If he plays to his true potential, he has the ability to be a match winner. He is also a potent penalty corner flicker along with skipper Mohamed Razie Rahim.
In Kumar’s absence, Beng Hai will rely on 37-year-old Roslan Jamaluddin, a holder of 192 caps, to keep the opponents from scoring.
The Star of Malaysia
Former internationals rally for team in Belgium to deliver
By Rajes Paul
Kumar (two from right) being helped by relatives as he escorts the remains of his son, Harshenn to the funeral at Taman Puncak Jalil. - SAMUEL ONG / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Let’s do it for national goalkeeper S. Kumar.
Former internationals Mirnawan Nawawi, Lum Mun Fatt and K. Gobinathan have called on the national team to step-up their game at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium.
Mirnawan, Mun Fatt and Gobinathan were among the many well-known figures from the Malaysian hockey fraternity to turn up to show their support for Kumar at the funeral of his three-year-old son Harshenn.
Kumar had returned home from Belgium as soon as he heard that his youngest son died at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital due to a blood infection on Thursday.
Understandably, the 36-year-old Kumar was too distraught to speak as hundreds of well-wishers gathered at his home.
Former skipper Mirnawan said that it was time for Kumar’s team-mates to rise to the occasion.
“It is sad that our good friend Kumar has lost his son. He needs to be here with his family right now – that’s the right thing to do,” said Mirnawan, who was the manager of the gold-medal winning hockey team at the recent Singapore SEA Games.
“Kumar has done well for the nation. He has sacrificed so much over the years. I hope the team in Belgium will not be demoralised with his absence. The team is like a family – supporting each other in good and bad times. I hope the team will do the best – for themselves, for the nation, for Kumar.”
Gobinathan, who was Kumar’s room-mate when he was in the national team, said: “We were shocked to hear the news. We mourn together with him on the loss of his beloved son.
“I hope this incident will give the others in the team the extra fire in the belly to go all out to qualify for the Olympics.”
Mun Fatt, who was in the same team as Kumar at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, said the team should help Kumar realise his dream of playing in his first Olympics.
“Our heart goes out to Kumar right now. It is a tough time for him and his family,” said Mun Fatt.
“Kumar has never played in the Olympics. I hope the team will play their hearts out to make the cut. It will be a nice way to show their appreciation to Kumar for all his sacrifices.”
The Star of Malaysia
Roslan taking over the mantel from Kumar in Belgium
By Aftar Singh
Roslan (left) replacing Kumar in the match against South Africa at the World Cup in The Hague, Holland last
KUALA LUMPUR: Roslan Jamaluddin is now Malaysia’s No. 1 goalkeeper at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals, which begin Saturday in Antwerp, Belgium.
But there is no joy for Roslan as well as his 17 other team-mates. First-choice goalkeeper S. Kumar has decided to skip the tournament after his three-year-old son passed away and he returned home on Thursday. Kumar arrived home from Brussels to attend his son’s funeral.
“I have played alongside Kumar for a decade and he’s such an excellent keeper. We are like a family. I feel very sad for him and his family over the loss,” said 37-year-old Roslan.
“Kumar was looking forward to giving his best in the World League Semi-Finals to help Malaysia qualify for next year’s Olympics. But tragedy struck his family.
“Now, we’ll try our best to help him realise his dream of playing in the Olympics,” said Roslan, who is the only player in the present national team to feature in the Olympics – in Sydney in 2000.
Baljit Singh Charun, Kumar’s room-mate in Antwerp, said they were shocked when told of the tragic news.
“We all feel sad for Kumar. We will now fight hard to defy the odds to qualify for the Olympics,” said defender Baljit.
The Star of Malaysia
Late Forsyth equaliser gives Scotland draw against Wales
Wei Adams opened the scoring for Scotland /Photo Credit: Duncay Gray
Despite a double from striker Alan Forsyth, Scotland Senior Men were held to a 4-4 draw by Wales in the first of three international matches at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre this evening.
Captain Chris Grassick and Wei Adams were also on the scoresheet for the Scots, but goals from the visitors’ Rhodri Furlong, James Carson, Luke Hawker and Dale Hutchison ensured a share of the spoils at full-time.
Scotland took early control of the contest in the fifth minute when William Marshall’s long pass to Kenny Bain found the Scotland striker with space to power into the opposition circle. The former Kelburne forward’s cross was met by Wei Adams’ whose finish at the back post registered the opening goal.
Bain was proving to a thorn in the Welsh side in the early stages, again picking up a long-range pin-seeker from Marshall to fire a thunderous attempt on target, only for the unlucky Hamish Imrie to take a painful blow to the hip right as the ball careered towards goal.
Scottish hopes of a second goal were not to be denied for much longer however, Alan Forsyth’s close range finish giving his side a two-nil lead in the 18th minute.
Nevertheless, Wales’ regained composure shortly after to stun the Scots with two goals inside thirty seconds; Rhodri Furlong’s penalty corner drag-flick left Scotland goalkeeper David Forrester with no chance in the 22nd minute, before James Carson dragged the Welsh dragons level at 2-2 when his reverse stick shot fizzed past Forrester into the left corner.
Chances fell for both Dan Coultas and Adams before the half-time interval but the two sides went into the break level, with Wales perhaps the more satisfied with the scoreline after conceding a two goal advantage to Scotland.
Kenny Bain on the front foot for Scotland Photo Credit: Duncay Gray
The opening minutes of the second half saw captain Chris Grassick seize the initiative, having a goal disallowed in the 38th minute for an infringement, only for the Surbiton midfielder to make no mistake two minutes later, flicking the ball past Wales’ David Kettle from close range to restore his side's lead at 3-2.
Frustration ensued for the natives only four minutes later when Luke Hawker squared the match up once again, getting the deftest of touches to turn the ball home past Forrester.
Grassick almost sealed his second goal, firing a shot on target from the right of the circle but Kettle blocked the ball with his foot, before the Wales’ ‘keeper denied Adams with a great save from a penalty corner drag-flick.
A gilt-edged opportunity was presented to Alan Forsyth in the 51st minute, but with the goal gaping the shot skewed agonisingly wide of the target.
With six minutes remaining, Wales stunned the home support by taking the lead for the first time in the contest. Furlong’s penalty corner strike was superbly saved by Forrester but Dale Hutchison followed up with a robust strike to make it 3-4.
It was left to Alan Forsyth to salvage Scottish pride just before full-time, collecting the ball on the left of the circle and gliding effortlessly along the baseline to squeeze the ball in between the near post and Kettle's attempted save.
Alan Forsyth gets Scotland's late equaliser. Photo Credit: Duncay Gray
The two sides meet again tomorrow afternoon at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre with a 2pm pushback.
Earlier in the day, Scotland U16 Development side recorded an emphatic 4-1 win over Ulster.
Two goals from Fraser Calder, plus strikes from Jamie Golden and Kit Mackenzie gave the young Scots a winning scoreline.
Scotland U16 Development recorded a 4-1 win over Ulster Photo Credit: Duncay Gray
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Fiji Women's captain Catherine Fabiano
By Shalveen Chand
A bio snapshot of Fiji's women team captain for the Pacific Games, Catherine Fabiano
Name: Catherine Fabiano
Nickname: Cat/ Shawty
Date of birth: 13/02/1988
Place of birth: Suva
What is your aim in PNG: Lead my team to victory and bring back the gold medal
Favourite food: Roast Pork
Favourite drink: Fanta
Favourite local sportsperson: Hector Smith Jr (Very talented player with skills and patience)
Favourite international sportsperson: Cristiano Ronaldo
Your best sporting memory: Scoring the golden goal against PNG in extra time at the 2007 Pacific Games to win the gold medal.
The Fiji Times
German league returns for final sprint
The race for the German top four returns this weekend after the World League hiatus with a thrilling double weekend on the table.
Leaders Rot-Weiss Köln are in pole position but face big battles against top four contenders Krefeld and Uhlenhorst Mülheim. Speaking about the battles ahead, Rot-Weiss coach Frederik Merz, pictured, says it is important that his side pick up points from these encounters to guarantee a top four place.
They have ten points in the bank on fifth place Uhlenhorst and so one win from their last four games would confirm their playoff spot but Merz is looking to build momentum, too.
"We look primarily at ourselves. Both opponents will try to preserve their playoff chances until the very end, and so there will certainly be no easy games. But ultimately, it's also just the preparation that we need, meeting enemies that call for us to play at 100 percent."
UHC Hamburg are in third place with a five point cushion to fifth place. There programme for the weekend is friendlier with games against low-lying Nuremberg and Munich.
UHC have doubts over the fitness of Oliver Korn and Ricardo Nevado with knee injuries while Jonas Fürste however, has suffered a whiplash injury in a friendly against Poland's A squad.
Second place Harvestehuder take on Blau-Weiss Berlin on Saturday before meeting Berliner in a big tussle on Sunday.
"We have to step on the gas. We need six points, and of course we want to win this weekend in our last home games, "said coach Christoph Bechmann.
For most of the sides, it starts a run of four games in eight days which will confirm who reaches the playoffs and, ultimately, who wins the national crown.
Euro Hockey League media release
Gladiators seek to go top of league standings
By BRIAN YONGA
Kenya Police's Felix Okoth (left) dribbles past Cyril Mandela of Strathmore Gladiators during their Vaisakhi Hockey tournament match on April 22, 2015 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |
Former Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s premier league champions Strathmore Gladiators are aiming to go top of the league standings with victory in their two matches this weekend.
The university side host bottom-placed Parklands Club on Saturday at City Park Stadium in one of the four league matches lined up before taking on United States International University of Africa (USIU-A) in Sunday’s thriller.
Gladiators are currently fourth on the table with ten points and a win in both their matches will see them move top with 16 points, one more than league leaders and champions Butali Sugar Warriors, who are not in action this weekend.
Gladiators coach Meshack Senge has warned his team against underestimating their opponents, who have lost all their five matches this season, noting that league position will count for nothing when the two teams take to the pitch.
“It will be very disastrous if we think that we are favourites in the game because we are ahead of them (Parklands) in the table. We have prepared well and have the utmost respect for the opposition,” Senge told Saturday Nation Sport.
The tactician has also urged his players to kill off the match and avoid any slip ups as they did against Kenya College of Accountancy University (KCAU) in their last league match where they threw a way a two goal lead to draw 2-2.
In the women’s league, Kenyatta University will be aiming to upset last season’s runners up Strathmore Scorpions in the university derby on Saturday. KU are fifth with three points, four less than second-placed Scorpions.
KU skipper Prudence Wasilwa believes they are capable to pulling off a surprise against their highly fancied opponents as they seek to move up the standings.
“We will not be afraid of them, they are a good side but beatable and we shall have to concentrate on our game and ensure we do not make any mistakes,” she said.
Scorpions will be without Damaris Namulanda, Juliet Gitau and Pauline Naise all of whom are nursing injuries.
Daystar Falcons, buoyed by last week’s win over Mount Kenya University, will be looking to make it two wins on the trot when they play Sliders on Sunday, while MKU will take on Vikings in another women’s match.
National ladies: Strathmore v KU – 12pm – City Park
National men: NYS v Multimedia - 2pm – City Park, Kabarak v Daystar – 2pm –Kabarak
Premier men: Strathmore v Parklands – 4pm - City Park
National ladies: Vikings v MKU – 11 am, Falcons v Sliders- 1pm (City Park
Premier men: USIU- A v Strathmore – 3 pm – City Park
Strathmore clash with USIU-A in campus derby
By Elizabeth Mburugu
Two-time Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s premier league champions, Strathmore Gladiators, are eyeing double league victory this weekend to topple champions Butali Sugar Warriors at the summit of the table.
Fourth on league standings with 10 points, all they need is winning their ties as they face bottom-placed Parklands SC today.
However, their biggest test comes tomorrow when they take on their United States International University of Africa (USIU -A) counterparts. Victory in both matches will see the Gladiators move top with 16 points, one more than league leaders and champions Butali who have not been in action for a while.
Strathmore head coach, Meshack Senge, has cautioned his boys against looking down on their opponents, especially relegation-threatened Parklands, noting that league position will count for nothing when the two teams take to the pitch.
“It will be catastrophic to think that we are favourites, because we are ahead of them (Parklands) in the table. We have prepared well for the game and have the utmost respect for the opposition,” Senge told FeverPitch.
See Also: SCORPIONS STING: Strathmore edge Sliders to top KHU women's league standings
The tactician has also urged his players to handle the match seriously to avoid losing their supremacy as they did against Kenya College of Accountancy University (KCAU) in their last league match where they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.
In the women’s league, Kenyatta University will be aiming to upset last season’s runners-up Strathmore Scorpions in the university derby this afternoon. Scorpions will miss the services of Damaris Namulanda, Juliet Gitau and Pauline Naise, all ruled out owing to injuries.
Tomorrow, Daystar Falcons will be seeking a second win of the season, having triumphed over Mount Kenya University, who will be hoping to make it two wins on the trot when they play Sliders, while MKU will take on Vikings in another women’s match.
In the men’s national league, National Youth Service (NYS) will tackle Multimedia University while Kabarak will host Daystar in another encounter.
The Standard Online
Star Sports extends telecast rights of Hockey India events for 3 years
NEW DELHI: Star Sports on Friday extended the telecast rights of all major hockey events to be held in the country, including the Hockey India League for a period of three years from 2016 to 2018.
Star Sports and Hockey India (HI) had agreed to join hands to promote the sport in 2012 for an initial period of three years.
The agreement comes on the heels of Star Sports being appointed as the global broadcast partner for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for the next eight years, starting from January 2015.
With the extension to the agreement, Star Sports will also be the host broadcaster of Hockey India League (in India and globally) and all the international matches (in India and globally) for the period 2016 to 2018.
Speaking on the announcement HI president Narinder Batra said: "Star Sports is known for its strong content and production quality which helps increase viewers experience. They understand the target audience's pulse and they package the entire show accordingly. They are known for creating a complete experience for each tournament and that's what makes them stand out.
"We have seen this in our association with them since the inception of the Hockey India League as well as the international tournaments that they have hosted in the past. Keeping this in mind they are the ideal choice and we are happy that we have mutually agreed to continue this association for the next three years."
Star India CEO Uday Shankar added: "The decision to continue our association with Hockey India is in line with our commitment towards development of a multi sports culture in India. Over the last year, the national team has performed phenomenally well winning medals and accolades across the world, making the country proud.
"We believe in the potential of hockey as a sport and through our association with Hockey India, we will work towards popularising the sport and bring fans back to hockey."
The Times of India
SPARK Teams Up with USA Field Hockey to Create New PE Lessons
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched and field-tested physical education (PE) programs, is partnering with USA Field Hockey to create a field hockey-centric mini-curriculum for the SPARKfamily website. The lessons bring additional physical activity opportunities and the love of sport to physical education (PE) classes.
“A partnership with USA Field Hockey is natural for us because their core mission aligns with ours – keeping children active while instilling a love of physical activity and lifelong wellness,” said Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “These lessons will not only add more standards-aligned content to SPARK’s vast collection of lessons, they will help generate a love of field hockey in youth around the country.”
Created by three PE professionals and three field hockey experts, USA Field Hockey’s new mini-curriculum for grades 3-5 are based on age-appropriate field hockey core themes and concepts in line with SHAPE America national PE standards and grade level outcomes. The grade-level lessons are based on the following:
- Grade 3: The 10 lessons detail the basic skills of pushing, receiving/trapping, and tackling while focusing on introducing students to fun 'hidden learning’ games.
- Grade 4: The 10 lessons review basic skills, as well as teach forehand/reverse sweep and the jab techniques. Small games will emphasize spatial awareness, vision of the field and basic movements.
- Grade 5: The 10 lessons build player confidence in the individual attack and defense skills. The lessons introduce the positions and roles/responsibilities of a full-sided 11 on11 game, as well as the importance of positive communication and teamwork.
"As we continue our grass roots development of field hockey and work to get the sport into more physical education classrooms across the country, partnering with SPARK was an easy decision,” said Kyle Boyer, USA Field Hockey National Development Director. “Their curricula are research based and tested and are found in classrooms everywhere. This is a great step forward for us."
USFHA media release