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News for 25 June 2015

All the news for Thursday 25 June 2015

France claim first win, Kookaburras overcome Pakistan.

Day 4: France claimed their first points of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals with a superb win over Pool A opponents Poland, giving them an excellent chance of reaching the quarter-final stage of the competition. Also in Pool A, Australia’s Kookaburras overcame stern resistance from Pakistan’s Greenshirts before coming out on top. More details can be found below.

Pool A
Poland 1-4 France
Two penalty corner drag-flicks from Victor Charlet enabled France to collect their first Pool A points at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, seeing off Poland 4-1 to move within touching distance of a place in the event quarter-finals.

Les Bleues took the lead in the second quarter thanks to a penalty stroke from Hugo Genestet, who sent a low effort past into the bottom right corner of Meciej Pacanowski’s goal.

France made it 2-0 in the third quarter through Charlet before clever work from Krystian Makowski created a simple tap in for Maciej Wejezowski to reduce the deficit ahead of the fourth quarter.

Poland came within inches of levelling the scores early in the fourth quarter when Tomasz Gorny hit the crossbar, but a yellow card awarded to Arkadiusz Brozek proved to be costly for the Poles with Jean-Laurent Kieffer and Charlet killing the game off with late strikes.

“It is very exciting for us because we know that we can do very well in this tournament, so it is good to take a step closer to the quarter finals”, said two goal hero Victor Charlet after the match. “Now we will focus on our next match against Pakistan, and we want to beat them. After what we showed against India, I think we are capable of it.”

Pakistan 1-6 Australia
Australia emerged triumphant in the final match of the day, overcoming stern resistance from Pakistan to run out 6-1 winners. The result puts the mighty Kookaburras onto six points in the Pool, drawing alongside India and moving three clear of the famous Greenshirts.

As expected, the match was packed full of action and incredible skills, with Pakistan giving the world number 1 ranked team a real run for their money in the opening two quarters.

The Australians took the lead when Jacob Whetton finished off brilliant team move in the 9th minute, but five minutes later Pakistan restored parity thanks to a Muhammad Irfan penalty corner.

It was no more than the Greenshirts deserved, but the Australians stepped up their game considerably in the third quarter to establish a 3-1 lead thanks to Daniel Beale and Matthew Swann.

Legendary attacker Jamie Dwyer made the score 4-1 in the fourth quarter, with teenage sensation Blake Govers scoring Australia’s fifth and sixth goals with a penalty corner double. "They played well earlier in the year so we knew it was going to be a fight, but it was nice to grind it away and get some goals in the second half”, said Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles after the match.

It was also a special day for Indian umpire Raghu Prasad, who took charge of his 100th senior international and was subsequently awarded his Golden Whistle the game.

More details about the competition including video clips, imagery and official tournament information can be found on the event website.

#HWL2015 #RoadToRio

FIH site

Italy book quarter-final ticket; Hockeyroos defeat host nation

Day 4: Round 2 qualifiers Italy sealed their a place in the cross-over quarter-final phase of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals thanks to a Pool B triumph over France. Meanwhile, in Pool A, India got their first points of the tournament with victory over Poland while Australia’s Hockeyroos moved onto six points with a hard fought win over host nation Belgium. More details about the exciting games from Wednesday can be found below.

Pool A
Italy 4-0 France
Italy defeated France 4-0 to secure their first win in women’s Pool A. The result puts the Italians - who won the HWL Round 2 event in Montevideo - onto four points, enough to guarantee their place in the cross-over quarter-finals.

Agata Wybieralska’s opened the scoring before Marcela Casale scored the goal of the game with a powerful backhand shot into the top right of the goal. Giuliana Ruggieri netted a third before Wybieralska grabbed her second and Italy’s fourth with a fierce penalty corner strike.

Following their win, Italy captain Chiara Tiddi said: “We felt good today. We had to win that game so we are happy with the result. Now we have to think about the game tomorrow because we know it will be an another important game against Japan, but we are feeling positive.”

Pool B
India 3-1 Poland
A 3-1 win against Poland women saw India claim their first victory in Pool B in Antwerp, Belgium.

A double strike from Rani gave India a 2-0 lead ahead of half time, but Poland pull a goal back in the fourth quarter with Natalia Wisniewska’s attempted pass taking a deflection off an Indian defender to reduce the deficit. However, India responded within minutes as Rani supplied Vandana Katariya for a tap-in to complete the scoring.

After the game, India’s double goal scorer Rani said: “This game was very important for us because we need to qualify for the quarter-finals and we lost our first two matches. Today we won because the whole team did well. We played better than the first two matches where we conceded a lot of goals and didn’t play attacking hockey. Today we played attacking hockey and we worked very hard as a team.”

Belgium 0-2 Australia
Australia women defeated hosts Belgium 2-0 on Wednesday evening in Pool B to pick up their second win of the competition.

Both teams started well in front of a packed venue at the home of KHC Dragons. However, the Hockeyroos silenced the home crowd quickly as Jodie Kenny hit the top right hand corner of the net with their first penalty corner after only nine minutes. Belgium gave their illustrious opponents a tough game, but a penalty stroke from Karri McMahon put the result beyond doubt.

This game saw Australia captain Madonna Blyth equal Nikki Hudson’s cap record for Australia as she represented her country at senior level for the 303rd time. Looking ahead to breaking that record against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, Blyth said: “The next game will give me the chance to reflect on my career and all the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. First and foremost it will be a really tough match for us and we will definitely want to improve on today – we’re going to have to be better against in-form New Zealand.”

More details about the competition including video clips, imagery and official tournament information can be found on the event website.

#HWL2015 #RoadToRio

FIH site

Golden game for umpire Raghu Prasad

India’s Raghu Prasad has become the 35th men’s umpire to receive a Golden Whistle, the coveted gift awarded to umpires on the occasion of their 100th senior international match.

Raghu reached the milestone in Wednesday’s Pool A match between Pakistan and Australia at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp. He is the third Indian umpire to officiate 100 senior international matches, joining Satinder Kumar and Javed Sheikh who received their Golden Whistles in 2009 and 2014 respectively.

“It’s an awesome feeling to reach this milestone as it is not an easy job for an umpire to reach that level,” said Raghu. “I cannot express how I feel about it - it really is unbelievable.”

Since becoming an international umpire in 2003, Raghu has officiated at many world level events including the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, which was held last year in The Hague.  The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and four FIH Champions Trophy events also feature on his impressive CV, as does the 2010 Hero Hockey World Cup in Delhi, although unfortunately he was forced to stay on the sidelines throughout that event due to illness.

“For me, the match between the Netherlands and Korea at last year’s World Cup was a memorable experience, as it was a great match in front of a big crowd”, said Raghu. "It was certainly an amazing moment for me.”

At 36 years of age, Raghu could well be umpiring at this level for another decade. So, is he setting his sights on reach 200 games? “If time permits and I stay fit, it would be great, but we’ll take it one game at a time!”

FIH site

Kookaburras stay on track

World Champions overcome Pakistan at Hockey World League

Jake Whetton celebrating a goal with Matthew Swann and Jamie Dwyer

The Kookaburras returned to action at the Hockey World League with a 6-1 win over Pakistan to retain their place at the top of Pool A in Antwerp.

18 year-old Blake Govers took his tally to four goals in two games with a brace of late penalty corner goals, adding to strikes by Jake Whetton, Daniel Beale, Matthew Swann and Jamie Dwyer.

Jake Whetton’s concluding touch to a clinical breakaway gave the Kookaburras an early lead before Muhammad Irfan’s deflected penalty corner goal levelled things.

Daniel Beale was calmness personified as he sidestepped the goalkeeper to roll the ball in for 2-1 shortly after half time and a rare Matthew Swann goal ten minutes later extended the World Champions’ advantage.

Jamie Dwyer netted his 220th international goal for 4-1 as he timed his run across goal to perfection, deflecting Chris Ciriello’s pass into the bottom corner. Then up stepped Govers, who rattled the backboard with his first and found the net high above the goalkeeper with his second as Australia’s lead was extended to 6-1.

Coach Graham Reid was pleased with how his side began the game but admitted that things didn’t go entirely as planned in the opening two quarters before a strong finish.

He said, “First five or ten minutes it was really good. Our tone and energy was good, we were doing the right things, all the things we talked about. Then we got one up and we took our foot off the pedal and against a team like this you can’t do that.

“They’ll fill the space that you’ve just left and I think they did that. They got a goal back and they got a bit of belief again. The longer you keep Pakistan in the game the longer they’ll stay.

“At half time we fixed a couple of things. We got our press working a little better. And again tone and energy – that came out. It was much better second half and we were able to put the ball in the net. Our corners worked well; a couple of variations that I thought worked well.”

Looking ahead to Friday’s match against Poland, Reid said, “Poland can also play very well so we’ll be making sure we do the homework there. We don’t know them very well so that’s one of our plans in the next 24 hours, to make sure everyone is on top of their players and who goes where.”
The Kookaburras face Poland at 4:00am AEST on Saturday.       

Hockey World League
Antwerp, Belgium

Pool A, Match 2

Jake Whetton 9 (FG)
Daniel Beale 32 (PC)
Matthew Swann 42 (FG)
Jamie Dwyer 49 (FG)
Blake Govers 54, 58 (PC, PC)
Muhammad Irfan 13 (PC)

Hockey Australia media release

World champions Australia spike Pakistan's challenge 6-1

ANTWERP (Belgium): World champions Australia displayed their prowess in a 6-1 drubbing of Pakistan in the preliminary league of the Hockey World League Semi-Final at the KHC Dragons Stadium.

Picking up full points from their second consecutive win in Pool A, Australia took the top spot in the pool on Wednesday night. Australia and India have won both their matches, but Australia's 10-goal rout of France have given them a superior goal-difference.

Pakistan, with a 2-1 win over Poland in their previous outings, now head into Friday's contest against India.

For Pakistan this tournament is the last opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, having lost the Asian Games gold medal to India, who became the first team to secure passage to the quadrennial Olympics.

Three Olympic qualification spots are available to the top-placed teams in this competition, but some teams ranked slightly lower may also get a chance if any of the countries also feature in the five places available to winners of continental tournaments.

Pakistan had failed to feature in the 2014 World Cup, an event that they have more times than any other country.

Australia were the dominant team from the start, forcing their first penalty corner in the second minute and surging into the initial lead a minute later through Jacob Whetton's flash striker in open play.

Pakistan got the equaliser against the run of play when Muhammad Irfan deflected in a penalty corner shot from captain Muhammad Imran in a deft set-piece execution.

After being 1-1 level at half-time, Australia stamped their authority with five more goals.

Daniel Beale capitalised a set-piece penalty corner attempt in the 32nd minute, followed by field goals from Matthew Swann in the 41st and Jamie Dwyer in the 49th.

Blake Govers then got into goal-scoring action with two penalty corner conversions in the 54th and 58th minutes.

The Times of India

Australia hand Pakistan 6-1 drubbing in HWL Semi-Finals

Pakistan and Australia in action at the World Hockey League Semi-finals - Photo courtesy FIH/Grant Treeby

Australia handed Pakistan a 6-1 drubbing in their second match of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals on Wednesday, making the prospects of Rio 2016 much tougher for the Greenshirts.

The result puts the mighty Kookaburras onto six points in the Pool A, drawing alongside India and moving three clear of the famous Greenshirts.

As expected, the match was packed full of action and incredible skills, with Pakistan giving the world number 1 ranked team a real run for their money in the opening two quarters.

The Australians took the lead when Jacob Whetton finished off brilliant team move in the 9th minute, but five minutes later Pakistan restored parity thanks to a Mohammad Irfan penalty corner.

It was no more than the Greenshirts deserved, but the Australians stepped up their game considerably in the third quarter to establish a 3-1 lead thanks to Daniel Beale and Matthew Swann.

Legendary attacker Jamie Dwyer made the score 4-1 in the fourth quarter, with teenage sensation Blake Govers scoring Australia’s fifth and sixth goals with a penalty corner double.

“They played well earlier in the year so we knew it was going to be a fight, but it was nice to grind it away and get some goals in the second half,” said Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles after the match.

Pakistan will now take on India on June 26 in what promises to be a cracking encounter.


Hockeyroos beat hosts

Kenny, McMahon score in 2-0 win to keep quarter final quest on track

Goals from defenders Jodie Kenny and Karri McMahon and the heroics of Ashlee Wells and Madonna Blyth helped maintain the Hockeyroos’ course towards the quarter finals of the Hockey World League as they overcame an energetic Belgian side in Antwerp.

Kenny’s early opener with a trademark top corner drag flick settled early nerves but it took Karri McMahon’s low penalty stroke conversion shortly before the end of the third quarter for Australia to earn true breathing space.

The outcome might have been somewhat different but for a string of saves by goalkeeper Ashlee Wells on her 50th appearance and a stunning diving block by captain Madonna Blyth in front of goal on the day she matched Nikki Hudson’s record 303 appearances for the Hockeyroos.

The result keeps the Hockeyroos in second place in Pool B, level with New Zealand on points but behind on goal difference. The trans-Tasman rivals meet on Friday morning (04:00am AEST).

Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens was pleased with the outcome and the way his side had played.

He said, “It’s a good start to the tournament. We knew Belgium would be a tricky opponent at home, particularly early in the tournament when they’re fresh, and to get the three points today was really pleasing.

“I think the girls were, once again, pretty spot on with their game plan. They stuck to it and executed it well. I thought maybe in the first ten minutes they struggled with it a bit. It’s something that we’ve done before but we haven’t played that way in a while. I thought as we got into the game we started to dominate.

"In the second half we had many field scoring opportunities but unfortunately just failed to put it in the net at the final shot, but the build-up was really fantastic."

The best of the early opportunities fell to the hosts, who flashed a ball through the Australian circle before winning the game’s first penalty corner, which was well defended by Eddie Bone.

At the other end it was Kenny that broke the deadlock with a rocket-propelled penalty corner flick that flew into the top right corner, an almost carbon copy of her opening goal against Poland on Sunday.

The second quarter saw six penalty corners awarded – four to Australia, two to Belgium - including one that Kenny saw rebound back off the frame of the goal, but defences remained on top and the Hockeyroos went in a goal to the good at the break.

The Hockeyroos were rewarded for an energetic start to the third quarter when Karri McMahon stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after Kathryn Slattery was tripped in the act of shooting. It was no less that Australia’s women deserved having seen Brooke Peris’ effort cleared off the goal line by Stephanie De Groof minutes earlier and an earlier save by Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooge.

Madonna Blyth then demonstrated the commitment that has epitomised her career as she threw herself full length through the air to deny a goal-bound Belgian shot as the hosts looked for an instantaneous reply.

Both sides created chances in the final quarter with Ashlee Wells most notably denying the hosts on three occasions.

Speaking about the influence on the match of Ashlee Wells and Madonna Blyth, Adam Commens added, “I thought Ash made some key saves and obviously Madonna’s save on the line…they’re match winning saves those types of saves. I think that epitomises Madonna’s commitment to the group. She played a pretty solid role throughout the midfield, as well. As the game went on she started to assert her influence on it.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s clash with New Zealand, Commens said, “Games against New Zealand are always really difficult. We’ll look to try and keep the same intensity as we did today. It’s going to be a challenge playing back-to-back games but we’ve done it before. It’s an opponent we know and each time we play it’s a pretty exciting encounter.”

Forward Georgie Parker missed the match with a virus.      

Watch the Hockeyroos v New Zealand live on Fox Sports in Australia from 4:00am AEST / 2:00am AWST on Friday.  

Hockey World League
Antwerp, Belgium
Pool B, Match 2

Jodie Kenny 9 (PC)
Karri McMahon 41 (PS)

Hockeyroos squad v Belgium
Name (Hometown/State) Caps/Goals
Madonna Blyth (Brisbane, QLD) 303/67
Kirstin Dwyer (Mackay, QLD) 75/2
Anna Flanagan (Canberra, ACT) 145/33
Jodie Kenny (Wamuran, QLD) 139/83
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 65/7
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 157/31
Casey Sablowski (South Coast, NSW) 224/44
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 17/5
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 119/49
Ashlee Wells (Morwell, VIC) 50/0
Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW) 16/2
Used Substitutes
Teneal Attard (Mackay, QLD) 208/10
Edwina Bone (Evatt, ACT) 73/2
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 62/5 
Ashleigh Nelson (Wagin, WA) 177/63
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT) 55/9

Unused Substitutes
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC) 121/0
Georgie Parker (Berri, SA) 78/25
Match Schedule - Hockeyroos' Fixtures (dates and times all AEST)
26 June – Hockeyroos v New Zealand – 04:00 AEST
28 June – Hockeyroos v India – 02:00 AEST
30 June – TBC - Quarter Final
2 July – TBC - Semi Final / Classification
4 July – TBC - Medal Matches / Classification

Hockey Australia media release

Indian Women outclass Poland 3-1

s2h team

With an aim to register their first win in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi- Final 2015 (Women), India and Poland clashed against each other today where India had a convincing win over Poland 3-1. While the first quarter was a dry run for both the teams it was the second quarter which finally saw goals getting scored, even marking India opening its account and going on to win the match 3-1.

The game displayed a set of fearless performances by both the teams who made full efforts to utilize the scoring opportunities that came their way. India displayed a polished defence and a good control of the ball possession through the match which strictly denied the Poland’s entry into the circle. In the dying minutes of the first quarter, India earned its first penalty corner but failed to convert it. As both the teams failed to open their account, the first quarter went goalless.

Unfolding the second quarter of the game, Indian eves ensured possession of the ball coupled with brilliant stickwork. It was in the 20th minute when a penalty corner opportunity was slammed by Rani efficiently which helped India take the lead in the game. Looking at increasing the goal difference it was Rani yet again who was seen in action in the D as she perfectly placed the ball into the nets in the in the 29th minute leaving the opponents stunned and frustrated. With the end of the first half, the score was 2-0 in favour of India.

With the change of the sides, Poland made desperate attempts to put themselves into the frame but was unable to break the resolute defence of the Indian team. The Indian girls continued to put in some serious pressure on the other side and showcased a wonderful piece of interception throughout the match. With Poland unable to score any goal, the third quarter ended with a 2-0 with India still having a lead over Poland.

Maintaining the same momentum, India opened the last quarter of the game on the front foot and showed some strength and dynamism to close the gaps but it was Natalia Wisniewska finally netted ball in her team’s favor in the 49th minute through a field effort, taking the score to 1-2. India looking at adding another goal, 54th minute saw Rani pass the ball to Vandana Katariya who was standing right next to the goal box and who on her side did not make a mistake in deflecting the ball into the nets, taking the score to 3-1 and which sealed the game in India’s favor.


Finally, Indian eves taste success

India beat Poland 3-1 in the Hockey World League Semifinals match in Antwerp on Wednesday. FILE

ANTWERP - Rani Rampal scored two goals as the Indian women’s team finally tasted success with a 3-1 triumph over Poland in the Hockey World League Semifinals.

Coming back into the team after a nine-month break due to injury, Rampal converted a penalty corner and then scored a fine field goal to overcome a dogged Polish team in their Pool B encounter.

The Indians were earlier beaten by Belgium and New Zealand in previous two matches. Even today, they missed a lot of chances before sealing victory with the third goal which was set up by Rampal and scored by Vandana Katariya.

India were dominant from the start, laying seige to the rival circle in the first quarter, but failed to have a good shot at the opposition goal.

Three penalty corners were wasted as the Indians got caught in tangles after wasting time dribbling inside the circle instead of having a crack at the goal.

It was against the run of play that Poland actually managed to find the back of the net in the 19th minute, but the goal was reversed on a review sought by India. The ball had struck a Polish striker’s foot. Within a minute, India took the lead on their fifth penalty corner. Rampal’s shot beat the rival goalkeeper to end in the left corner.

India had a good chance to double their lead in the 27th minute when Poland’s defenders lost the ball in their own territory and were caught off-guard as the Indians mounted a raid. Rampal picked up a pass on the top of the circle and squared it to Ritu Rani, whose shot lacked both direction and power. Rampal found India’s second in the 28th minute after being fed a short pass by Ritu Rani from the left. She rounded the goalkeeper before slotting the ball home.

Poland’s defence managed to thwart the Indians by crowding their territory and managed to reduce the margin in the 49th minute.

Natalia Wisniewska darted into the circle from the right and sent in a cross which seemed well-covered by custodian Savita. But the ball went past her pads off the stick of a diving Monika.

The Tribune

Poland had prepared only for this match: India women's coach

ANTWERP: Indian women's hockey coach Mathias Ahrens seemed satisfied at the 3-1 victory his team posted against Poland in a group match of the World League Semi-Final on Wednesday.

The scoreline was a repeat of the title encounter in the World Hockey League - Round Three, which was played in New Delhi earlier this year.

Ahrens, who took over as the national team's chief coach in May, said it was important for the Indian girls to get this victory to stay in contention for the quarterfinals from the five-team competition.

"The important thing is that the girls won and they played at a much fitter level," said Ahrens.

"It was not an easy encounter for us. Poland had just focused on this match," said Ahrens.

"The Polish team made no great effort in the previous two outings. All their preparations seemed to focus on us, while we came into the tournament with a much wider perspective," the coach said.

India had suffered defeats against hosts Belgium (1-0) and New Zealand (5-0) in previous outings.

Poland had also lost both their previous matches. They were outplayed by New Zealand (12-0) and Australia (9-0).

"Poland seemed to have prepared with the sights set on India. I am glad we were able to give a good account in the 3 -12 victory," said Ahrens.

Rani Rampal was the livewire of the Indian attack, scoring two goals and setting up the third one. Poland's only goal came through a defensive lapse by India, which saw the ball deflect into the boards off a diving defender's stick.

The Times of India

Belgium and India win to stay ahead

by S. Ramaguru

India's Chandanda Thimmaiah (L) and Poland's Mateusz Poltaszewski vie for the ball during their Group A match at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Belgium on Tuesday. - AFP

ANTWERP: Hosts Belgium and India won their respective group matches to stay ahead of their rivals in the World Hockey League Semi-Finals at the KHC Dragons Stadium.

India won their second match in Group A when they whipped Poland 3-0 on Tuesday. They had edged France 3-2 on the opening day on Saturday. The Asian Games champions top the group with six points and have secured their place in the quarter-finals.

Yuvraj Walmiki opened the scoring in the 23rd minute while skipper Sardar Singh added the second with a rare goal in the 42nd minute.

The third goal came from Devindar Walmiki in the 52nd minute.

Sardar was happy with the team’s performance.

“Now we look forward to the game against Pakistan on Thursday (today).

“It has been a while since I scored so it was a good time and it was a nice goal.

“We have to be ready for the next match as it is with Pakistan. We must keep up the winning momentum,” said Sardar.

In Group B, Belgium took over the leadership after a 6-0 drubbing of China. They have four points after the opening day 2-2 draw with Britain.

Amaury Keusters scored a hat-trick – the first of the tournament. The other scorers were Dorian Thierry, Simon Gougnard and Tom Boon.

Forward Boon said they needed a win after the opening draw.

“We came good in the end. We had some good periods, but we also had some bad spells too.

“We want to win every game so now we will look forward to our next match against Malaysia (on Friday). All of the teams from Asia are getting better and we cannot underestimate them,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

Rupinder's absence hurt India's penalty corner conversion: Van Ass

ANTWERP: India may have enjoyed a winning run in the opening two games of the ongoing Hockey World League Semi-Finals, but coach Paul van Ass admits that the team has faced penalty corner issues in the absence of injured drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh.

India's penalty corner attempts have made little impression in the matches against minnows France and Poland, although stand-in shooter Manpreet Singh scored a goal in the opening fixture.

In three penalty corners against Poland, India came nowhere near posting a threat to the rival citadel, while Manpreet managed to place a shot into the left corner of the board out of the three penalty corners India secured in the earlier outing against France.

"We're a bit weak at the penalty corners at the moment," said van Ass. "Rupinder has not been fit and we did not play him in these two games."

Rupinder sustained an injury during the warm-up games here in Antwerp, after coming in as a replacement for V R Raghunath in the originally-chosen squad. He yesterday trained with the Indian team on the pitch ahead, indicating he would be ready for the next outing against Pakistan on Friday.

"Yes, Rupinder will play the next game," the coach said.

Van Ass had initially left Rupinder out of the squad, deciding to include only frontline drag-flicker in Raghunath. The coach felt it was opportunity to test new strategies in set-piece execution, with other players in focus.

This luxury is offered to the Indian coach by the fact that the team has already qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games. India could afford not to field their best squad in the World League Semifinals, which otherwise is the last chance for some teams to qualify for the Olympics.

In the past two years, India have been served well by the efficiency of drag-flickers Raghunath and Rupinder.

Raghunath is the senior of the two drag-flickers and shared the space with ace shooter Sandeep Singh before Rupinder came into the spotlight with a fine show in Malaysia four years ago.

In due course, he replaced penalty corner specialist Sandeep in the Indian line-up and his pairing with Raghunath bolstered the defence.

Van Ass has been working on having options in penalty corners. He wants the Indian team to be able to try out more set-piece options in case both key drag-flickers are missing. He would like India to have multiple options in converting the penalty corners.

The Times of India

Will not give ball possession easily: Lalit Upadhayay

ANTWERP: Confident after registering two wins in the ongoing Hockey World League Semi-Final, Indian midlfielder Lalit Upadhayay said the team will look to improve ball-possession in the next couple of games against Pakistan and Australia.

After opening their account with 3-2 win against France, India came up with an improved showing against Poland with a convincing 3-0 triumph. Upadhayay said that India are eyeing a clean sweep in the league phase.

"While we won the first two matches, the next two against Pakistan and Australia are the ones we are looking forward to. We have been delivering as a unit and ensuring that we do not give up ball possession easily. Our target from here is to take a clean sweep in the pool phase," said Upadhayay.

The Walmiki brothers, Yuvraj and Devindar were on target and then skipper Sardar Singh found the net to outplay Poland in familiar cold conditions.

Upadhayay was all praise for Devindar's attacking skills.

"His skills in the D are remarkable and the key is his reaction time. He knows how and where to hit and he does it so swiftly which leaves many thinking post that. He will have to keep this momentum on in the upcoming matches," he said.

The Times of India

Looking for an Irish cheer!

by Jugjet Singh

MALAYSIA last played Ireland in the Champions Challenge in Kuantan last year, and the hosts snapped up the bronze medal with a convincing 4-2 score.

But the Irish did deny Malaysia a spot in the London Olympics, when they held us to a 1-1 draw at the Dublin Qualifier on St Patrick's day.

This scribe was there to watch both the matches, one played during a massive parade in chilly Dublin, the other played under sunny conditions and sea breeze in Kuantan.

In Dublin, Ireland went on to play in the final against South Korea, and the Asian giants beat them to the Olympics.

Malaysia play Ireland on the 25th, 8pm, and the only route for coach Tai Beng Hai and his men is a win or it will be bust all the way in the next two matches.

Ireland, ranked 14th, are two rungs below Malaysia: "Rankings do not matter in this tournament as every team is chasing for a spot in the Olympics and playing on a different level than what they are capable of normally," said Malaysian coach Beng Hai.

China were a classic example, as even though ranked 31st and 19 below Malaysia they played gallantly and only lost 2-3.

The matches here have been close, as even Pakistan could only beat Poland 2-1, while India scraped past France 3-2.

Belgium and Britain played to a 2-2 draw, while the only match that went to rankings was when Australia thrashed France 10-0.

On Monday, the Malaysian team were given a free day, and they went around in groups sightseeing and shopping in Antwerp to rest their edge nerves, as their next match was only three days away.

Yesterday, there was some light training and tomorrow will be another rest day for Malaysia before the Ireland do-or-die.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Sarjit saw the power in Zidane

by Jugjet Singh

TENGKU Ahmad Tajuddin @zidane is a pint sized player who almost did not make the national team because he is also bowlegged.

Back in 2004, a national selector stood by this scribe and said: "Its a pity that Tengku Ahmad will never make the national squad, because not only is he physically small-framed, but also bowlegged. This would be a big disadvantage when he plays bigger European players."

We were then watching Tengku Ahmad running circles around his team-mates in a selection friendly for the 2005 Rotterdam Junior World Cup. His nick-name Zidane was cemented after the friendly, as he showed speed and agility like the Algerian/French soccer star.

Luckily, the coach then, Sarjit Singh, saw differently from the said scout and named Zidane, from Perlis, into the training squad and he not only impressed in Rotterdam, but went on to play for Malaysia consistently and has more than 200 caps.

He has scored many important goals and made many deft passes for Malaysia in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup, and many other tournaments around the globe.

At 29, he is at the threshold of his career and two matches away from playing in the Olympics -- 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Playing a feeders role now, Zidane's deft passes helped Malaysia beat China 3-2 and he is now looking forward to the challenge of his life-time -- Ireland.
"It feels like this is the moment that I have been waiting for all my life. When we came here we were drilled that its only three matches to the Olympics, and we have won one.

"Beating Ireland is a must if we want to play in the Olympics and there is no other option. It will not be easy, but we are ready to give our very best.

"Ireland will be the real test on our true strength, before we take on bigger giants Belgium and Britain," said Zidane.

If Malaysia beats Ireland, Britain and Belgium will no longer matter. What will matter is the third match -- in the quarter-finals -- as a win here will cement Malaysia's spot in the Olympics.

Three matches, one down, two more to go.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Stay calm and ye shall prevail

by S. Ramaguru

Mohd Razie Rahim (centre) is mobbed by team-mates after he scored the third goal against China in the World Hockey League group match in Belgium on Sunday. - Frank Uijlenbroek

ANTWERP: Cool heads are needed if Malaysia hope to stop Ireland’s aggressive approach at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals.

The duo meet on Thursday in their second Group B match at the KHC Dragons Stadium where a quarter-finals berth is on the line.

Malaysia and Ireland have met 18 times with Malaysia recording eight wins, four draws and six losses. The last meeting was at the Champions Challenge 1 Tournament in Kuantan last year where the Malaysians won 4-2.

National coach Tai Beng Hai said Ireland’s style of play has not changed over the years.

“The Irish play an aggressive game and they also use the flanks to good effect. They have a never-say-die attitude and will keep coming at you even if they are a goal or two down. That makes them dangerous to play against,” said Beng Hai.

“But having said that I believe that it’s a good chance for us to win this game and also take the pressure off ourselves. It is a game that both teams need to win. We knew from the start that the opening two matches are crucial and the players will be ready,” he added.

Malaysia kicked off their campaign with an edgy 3-2 win over China on Saturday. The match laid bare Malaysia’s error-prone game.

As for Ireland, they held fancied Britain to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.

“Our players have a fair idea of what to expect after watching Ireland play against Britain. But I am more concerned about our game plan and for the players to stick with it,” said Beng Hai.
“We have prepared as well as we can and all the time we have kept in mind the danger of being overly defensive. But I believe that with some extra effort and less mistakes we can take the game,” added Beng Hai.

The good news for Beng Hai is that he has an injury-free 18-man squad. Now, they need a win to boost their morale as they have to play highly-rated Belgium on Friday. The Belgians lead Group B with four points after an emphatic 6-0 win over China on Tuesday.

The Star of Malaysia

Ireland skipper believes Rio Olympics is within reach

by S. Ramaguru

Malaysia (yellow) and Ireland players confront each other as Faizal Saari goes to ground during the third-fourth classification match of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament in Kuantan last year. - Filepic

ANTWERP: Ireland have never played in the Olympics but skipper and goalkeeper David Harte believes that could change at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals.

The 27-year-old is confident that the team have what it takes to make the last four to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“We have a good blend of experience and youthful exuberance in the team. We are playing much better now. The team is looking good as we try and build on our recent performances.

“I am optimistic that we will win some of the group matches and make the quarter-finals. After that, it is just one game that will make the difference of making the Olympics,” said Harte.

Ireland kicked off their campaign by holding fancied Britain to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday. They will meet Malaysia at the KHC Dragons Stadium on Thursday.

Harte said that beating Malaysia is crucial in their bid to qualify for Rio.

“I believe we have the plan to beat them (Malaysia). The 2-2 draw with Britain may have surprised many, but not us. We know what we can do,” he added.

Ireland missed out on the 2008 Beijing Olympics after losing on goal difference to Argentina and New Zealand at a qualifying event in New Zealand. They then lost the third-place playoff to France.

“We are rebuilding the side since the 2012 qualifiers in Dublin. So we are seeing a lot of young talent coming up. It will be good for the team,” said Harte.

Ireland coach Craig Fulton was unhappy that his team only played their first match against Britain on the third day of the competition.

“It was not an ideal start to the tournament when you play after three days of rest. But we’re greatly encouraged by the draw with Britain and we can take heart that the players are in a good frame of mind.

“Malaysia are a good side. We played them in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan last year. Then, we had a good side but unfortunately we lost 2-4.

“We are aware of the potential danger Malaysia pose and we don’t take them for granted.

“We are here to qualify for the Olympics and we hope to end the tournament on a happy note,” said Fulton.

The Star of Malaysia

Men's U21: Canada takes second straight against U.S.

Two goal performance from Brandon Pereira leads home side to victory

Shaheed Devji

The Canadian Junior Men's National Team is off to a hot start in its four game Under-21 series against the United States. The Canadians won their second straight with a 5-1 win Wednesday night at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver.

Two goals from Brandon Pereira led the way, in a performance that was polished from start to finish.

The first chances of the match came early as Canada's Josh Brown had a chance to give Canada the lead but was stopped by American keeper Nathanial O'Lari. Shortly after Brown's miss, Canada was awarded a penalty corner but Brandon Pereira, who was wearing the captain's armband, missed wide right.

After Pereira's attempt, Canada cotinued to press but O'Lari - who played the full sixty minutes - stood tall and the first quarter came to an end without any goals.

The early chances, however, were a tell tale sign of what was to come for Canada and in the second quarter, the home side broke though.

Rohan Chopra had an early chance that was stopped by O'Lari, but on an ensuing penalty corner, Pereira lined up again for the dragflick and this time converted to give the Canadians the 1-0 lead.

Just minutes later, Pereira found himself in the same position and delivered once again on a dragflick for the 2-0 lead.

The U.S. tried to fight back after the quick goals from Pereira and earned three successive corners for their efforts. It was on the third corner that Casey Walker was able to beat Lyndon Lemos with a flick of his own to cut the lead in half.

But before the half was done, Canada had a penalty corner and this time they opted for a set play which saw Josh Brown score from point blank range after a pass from Balraj Panesar.

Despite the 3-1 lead at half, Canada continued its offensive press and came out firing in the second half.

Some quick chances were turned away by O'Lari, but Panesar was able to smack a hard hit home for Canada's fourth goal. His goal was quickly followed by a tally from Amrit Sidhu, his first of the match and third of the series, for the 5-1 lead.

Liam Manning played the second half in goal for Canada and did not surrender a goal.

The two teams will shift back to Surrey for the remaining two games, which take place Friday and Saturday at 10:00am PST at Tamanawis Field.

Field Hockey Canada media release

U-21 U.S. Men's National Team Begins Series Against Canada's Junior High Performance

Yesterday's U-21 Men's National Team match against Canada's High Performance Squad might have been a loss by goals but not by effort. The team started the game strong with high pressure and solid possession. Moving the ball around with improved ball speed was present to make solid runs and transitions with the forwards to create opportunities, opening space up for other players. During the first quarter, the USA took the early lead by earning a stroke created by Graeme Jackson which was taken and scored by Doug Allison finishing off the first quarter USA 1, Canada 0. Throughout the game the red, white and blue kept pressure but Canada managed to score 2 goals by the end of the second quarter to tie the score and then gain the lead heading into the halftime break. In the third quarter, Canada scored another two unanswered goals despite the USA applying solid attacking pressure. During the final quarter, Team USA kept their heads up and played the game with a beautiful baseline run from Walter Pfaff to set up a tap in goal for Jaspreet Gill. The final score concluded USA 2, Canada 5.

"It was a disappointing start to the four match series, but we also had a lot of very positive play that we will look to build on in the upcoming games," said Head Coach Paul Lewis.

USA MVP of the Match - USA Christian Deangelis, Captain-Kai Kokolakis.

USFHA media release

Govia lifts Magnolias women to second

Nigel Simon

Petrotrin's Nicholas Grant, right, and Neil Lashely of Defence Force battle for the ball in their T&T Hockey Board Men's Championship Division match at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua on Friday. Petrotrin won 5-2. Photo: Anthony Harris

National forward Brianna Govia scored a pair of third quarter goals to lead title-chasing Shandy Carib Magnolias to a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Courts Malvern in the T&T Hockey Women’s Championship Division on Monday night.

Needing a win at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua to keep pace with table toppers Georgetown Cricket Club (20 points) and joint second placed teams, defending champion Paragon and Harvard Checkers, Magnolias fell behind as early as the second minute to a Mia Mitchell goal.

The Malvernites, who had only 12 players suited up for the encounter managed to hang onto the slim lead to the half-time whistle.

However, in the third period, teenager Govia finally got Magnolias’ equaliser in the 44th. This was quickly followed by goals from ex-national standout Stacey Siu Butt (46th), and another by Govia in the 51st to turn the match on its head and 3-1 in favour of Magnolias.

Any chances the overworked Malvernites had of earning a point from the contest ended in the 57th when another national teenaged player, Savannah De Freitas added a fourth item.

The win lifted Magnolias, which for only the second time this season featured all five Olton-sisters, Amie, Elise, Samantha, Saarah and Kaithlyn seeing playing time, to 16 points, the same as Paragon and Checkers, but with a superior goal-difference.

However, while Georgetown has completed its 12-match campaign, Magnolias and Checkers both have three matches left, while Paragon has four, setting the stage for an intriguing climax to the league season.

Tonight, Magnolias and Checkers will meet at the same venue from 8pm, in what is expected to be a tight contest while on Friday, Paragon faces winless Ventures and Checkers tackles Malvern.

The Trinidad Guardian

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