All the news for Saturday 4 July 2015
World number one team to face host nation in FINTRO HWL Semi-Final
Great Britain and India face third place battle while Pakistan fall to Ireland
Belgium and Australia won their respective semi-finals by clear margins to secure their places in the final of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals. The result means India and Great Britain will contest third place.
In the earlier matches, Ireland beat Pakistan to set up a fifth place battle with Malaysia, who defeated France in a feisty encounter.
Great Britain v Australia 1-3 (1-0)
This was a game that saw Australia's flair and attack stifled for much of the game by an energetic and disciplined Great Britain defence.
And it was Great Britain who nearly opened the scoring when David Condon was in a free position as the ball fell to him. However, in a game that was played at a high tempo and with flashes of brilliance from both teams, it was the deadly finishing of Australia that was the difference between the teams.
The deadlock was broken when Blake Govers (28') crunched the ball under Pinner to make it 1-0. it took Govers' personal goal tally to seven, making him the current top scorer.
Great Britain responded through Nick Catlin, (36') a fantastic reverse stick shot that stunned Andrew Charter in the Kookaburra's goal.
Australia re-took the lead when Daniel Beale (38') found himself facing an empty goal as Pinner was drawn out of position, but that lead could have been greater had the Great Britain 'keeper not pulled off a fabulous point-blank save minutes earlier from Jamie Dwyer.
The nail was hammered into the Great Britain coffin with just nine minutes left on the clock when brilliant interchange between Dwyer and Jacob Whetton (51') saw the latter slot the ball home.
The result means that Australia will play Belgium in the final, while Great Britain face India for third place.
"Great Britain came out strong, but hard work from all the boys saw us through," said Australia's opening scorer Blake Govers.
"I think we just failed to play through the pressure," said Nick Catlin. "Australia turned the ball over too much. And we were disappointed to concede straight after scoring the equaliser."
Belgium v India 4-0 (2-0)
Florent van Aubel scored a hat trick as Belgium delighted the home crowd with a 4-0 victory over India in the first semi-final match of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final.
The game was won in the opening few minutes as Belgium took an early lead through Florent van Aubel and Tanguy Cosyns.
Van Aubel went on to score his hat trick later in the game, but with Rupinder Singh lacking his usual fire power in front of goal and the India forward line coming short against strong and disciplined Red Lion's defence, the outcome was virtually assured by half-time.
The Red Lions took the lead when a reverse stick shot from Tom Boon was touched into the goal by Florent van Aubel (2'). This lead was extended when Tanguy Cosyns (8') hit a belter of a strike into the corner of Sreejesh Parattu's goal.
For the remainder of the quarter, Belgium's tactics changed and they sat back to absorb the India pressure. When the Red Lions did break down play, they were quick to counter-attack.
India created their own chances in the half, one of the best came when Gurbaj Singh's movement created space but the subsequent shot from Yuvraj Walmiki was wide.
In the second half, India came out with a renewed vigour and created more scoring opportunities. Rupindar Singh shot a penalty corner wide, and Sardar Singh was becoming increasingly dominant in midfield.
A steal by Jerome Truyens in midfield put Belgium back on the attack and the subsequent penalty corner was slotted home by Van Aubel (41'), the ball falling to him after it hit the post. Indian won a penalty corner after Arthur van Doren fouled but Rupinder Singh was unable to get his blistering shot on target.
The India drag flick specialist showed his frustration as his shot flew wide. Speaking later he said: "Today we just couldn't make the chances count. Belgium built that early lead and defended well, it was difficult to play against them."
Van Aubel's third (53') was an instinctive goal. he picked the ball up to the left of the goal and fired into a narrow gap between goalkeeper and post.
"We didn't play with our usual defensive structure against France (in the quarter-finals)," said Arthur van Doren. "We learnt from that and today our defence built the platform so that our forwards could play with their flair and skill."
Malaysia v France 4-1 (1-1)
Malaysia bounced back from the disappointment of their loss against India to ensure they are still in with a shot at fifth place.
But, the Speedy Tigers were put through their paces by a tenacious French team. The deadlock was broken at the start of the second quarter when the ever-industrious Hugo Genestet found Jean Laurent Kieffer (18') with a perfect defence-splitting pass. The deflection flew over 'keeper Roslan Jamaluddin's head.
The lead was short-lived as Shahrun Abdullah's (19') shot rebounded to Muhammad Shamsul, who slammed the ball home.
Malaysia took the lead in the second half when Azuan Hasan (37') dived full length onto a cross to put the Speedy Tigers ahead.
In the final quarter, some French ill-discipline took its toll on the lower-ranked side. Guillaume Deront was given a yellow card for a bad tackle and a few minutes later goalkeeper Martin Zylbermann was given his marching orders for an ill-timed tackle.
This was not before captain Razie Rahim had scored Malaysia's third – a ferocious penalty corner strike.
In a dramatic final few minutes, Zylbermann was dismissed and Rahim was able to double his personal tally from the penalty spot.
"After we lost to India in the quarter-finals, we knew we had to win this one and aim to finish fifth," said Faizal Saari. "We worked hard for each other and supported throughout. It was a tough game, but we kept encouraging each other from the start to the finish."
The result means France will face Pakistan in the 7/8th play-off and Malaysia will go onto to contest fifth spot with Ireland.
Ireland v Pakistan 1-0 (0-0)
"This is a dark day for Pakistan," said Rashid Mehmood as he left the pitch following his team's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ireland. The result means Pakistan have failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their illustrious hockey history.
It was opposite emotions for Ireland's goalkeeper Davey Harte as he reflected upon a game that saw his side soak up pressure for most of the game, before a penalty corner gave them the all-important breakthrough goal.
"We knew that it would be that way. Pakistan is a seriously good team, with a higher ranking (10) to Ireland (14). We knew they would come at us, so we were prepared to defend for long periods."
The goal came in the 46th minute when Stephen Dowd won a penalty corner. Alan Sothern stepped up and his shot went like a rocket down the centre of the goal and past Pakistan 'keeper Imran Butt.
"We played well and created chances, but we just couldn't score," added Mehmood. These chances included a first quarter attempt that fell to Muhammad Dilber. The forward was unlucky not to see his brave diving deflection sneak past Harte - the tall 'keeper reacting swiftly to steer the ball past the post.
The second quarter saw Pakistan upping the pressure on their European rivals, but a tame effort from Muhammad Umar Bhutta was padded away almost disdainfully by Harte. The Green Shirts kept the ball pinging around Harte's circle but a staunch Irish defence continued to soak up the pressure.
Irish hearts were in their mouths when Pakistan called for a video referral in the last five minutes. Their penalty corner request was turned down and Ireland took the game to the other end of the pitch.
Pakistan removed their 'keeper Imran Butt in a last-rich effort to equal the match, but time was against them, as Eugene Magee kept a cool head and held possession as the clock ticked down. The final 100 seconds were played around the Irish circle but somehow, the Green Machine held the Green Shirts at bay and their Olympic dream remains alive.
Kookas beat Great Britain
Aussie men reach World League final & officially guarantee Rio 2016 spot
Jake Whetton was back on the scoreboard
Never mind the ‘Road to Rio’, Kookaburras coach Graham Reid dubbed the next 12 months the ‘Race to Rio’ after the Kookaburras came through an absorbing and highly competitive semi-final at the Hockey World League in Antwerp to officially secure their place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
A 3-1 win over Great Britain saw Australia’s men progress to Sunday’s Grand Final against the hosts and world number four, Belgium, who overcame India 4-2 in the other semi-final.
A goal shortly before half time from tournament leading-scorer Blake Govers gave the Australian men a deserved lead but Nick Catlin fired Britain level early in the third quarter.
Daniel Beale restored the Australian advantage two minutes later, sweeping home into an empty goal from Jake Whetton’s unselfish square pass and Whetton went from provider to scorer for the Kookaburras’ third, turning home Jamie
Dwyer’s cross from the right ten minutes from full time.
The margin of victory might have been significantly more but for the goal frame, which twice came to Great Britain’s rescue.
Minutes before Govers’ opener, Fergus Kavanagh’s rasping shot cannoned back off the crossbar and late in the game Eddie Ockenden’s deft deflection on Kieran Govers’ penalty corner rebounded off the post.
British goalkeeper George Pinner also denied the Aussie men on more than one occasion, including a close range glove save from Jamie Dwyer immediately prior to Catlin’s equaliser and a smart low save from Kieran Govers’ penalty corner.
Speaking after the match, Reid said, “I think it’s a race now to Rio. Of all the teams, there isn’t much between them, the top six, the top eight. Whoever can get better the quickest is going to triumph.”
On the match, he said, “The result was what we were chasing. I thought GB came out really hard and to our credit we absorbed the pressure really well.
“In that first 15 minutes they threw everything at us and we stopped most of it. There were probably a couple of lucky ones but that’s alright, you need that.
“Then we started to build into the game and that was what I was very pleased at. We built into it. The second quarter was better and then in the third quarter we had a little bit of a stutter there but after that I thought we controlled the game pretty well from there.”
In a mark of respect and solidarity with the Australian public at home, the Kookaburras wore black armbands in memory of Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh, who was tragically killed on Friday.
An energetic opening period saw the Kookaburras weather early British pressure and survive a goalmouth scare in the second minute when David Condon failed to connect at the back post with the Australian goal at his mercy.
Demonstrating their patience, the Kookaburras edged their way into the game and went in front shortly before half time through the tournament’s leading goal scorer, Blake Govers.
After older brother Kieran had won Australia’s first penalty corner of the match, his 18 year-old sibling stepped up to the mark, flicking home low into the bottom left corner.
Australia had a chance to extend their lead early in the third quarter but Jamie Dwyer was denied by a strong glove save from George Pinner in the GB goal. A resulting penalty corner was then flicked wide by Chris Ciriello.
Almost immediately, at the other end, Nick Catlin pounced to equalise. With a run that split the Kookaburras defence, Catlin burst in through the top of the circle to fire a low tomahawk strike into the bottom of the goal.
It took less than two minutes for the Kookaburras to reassert their superiority, however, as Jake Whetton accepted a gift of a misplaced pass from Britain’s Mark Gleghorne on the edge of the GB circle. Drawing the goalkeeper, the Whetton unselfishly squared to fellow Queenslander Daniel Beale who swept home into the empty net for 2-1.
Midway through the final period Jamie Dwyer weaved his way inside the right of the GB circle and as the British defence stood off him, sent a cross to match run of Jake Whetton to the near post, who neatly diverted home.
Three late penalty corners came and went for the Kookaburras who could only watch as Ockenden’s deflection rebounded straight back off the post and Pinner dived full length to his right to tip Kieran Govers’ shot round the same post.
Australia’s men will play Belgium at 2:00am AEST on Monday morning (6:00pm CEST in Belgium, Sunday) in the Grand Final.
Hockey World League
KOOKABURRAS: 3 (1)
Blake Govers 28 (PC)
Daniel Beale 38 (FG)
Jake Whetton 51 (FG)
GREAT BRITAIN: 1 (0)
Nick Catlin 36 (FG)
Kookaburras squad v Great Britain
Name (Hometown/State) Caps/Goals
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT) 97/0
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 169/109
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 112/5
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 340/222
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 12/11
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 205/14
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 264/22
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 251/62
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 177/54
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 96/41
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW) 62/3
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD) 63/12
Kiel Brown (Toowoomba, QLD) 167/6
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 130/39
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 107/56
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA) 49/0
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 121/6
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 65/6
Semi-Final & Classification Fixtures & Results
9th/10th: Poland 4-2 China
5th-8th: Ireland 1-0 Pakistan
5th-8th: Malaysia 4-1 France
Semi: India 0-4 Belgium
Semi: Australia 3-1 Great Britain
Match Schedule - Kookaburras
5 July - 18:00 CEST / 02:00 AEST (Monday 6th) - Grand Final - Australia v Belgium
Hockey Australia media release
Great Britain downed by clinical Kookaburras
Nick Catlin in action for Great Britain
A devastating display of clinical finishing from Australia sent the Kookaburras into Sunday’s final after a 3-1 win over Great Britain. Despite a splendid strike from Nick Catlin in the 36th minute and a resolute display from Bobby Crutchley’s team, Australia took their chances with goals from Blake Govers, Daniel Beale and Jacob Whetton handing them the win. As a result Great Britain will face India in the 3rd/4th playoff on Sunday.
Great Britain threatened the Australian goal early on. After a good period of possession, David Ames forced his way along the backline but David Condon couldn’t quite apply the finish to turn in the cross at the back post.
At the other end a pass into the GB circle came back off the post and allowed Jamie Dwyer a sight of goal which was quickly snuffed out by some excellent goalkeeping from George Pinner. The game became a fast, physical battle with the two teams fighting hard for control of the midfield but as a result chances were scarce and it was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, Barry Middleton’s superb pass from the half way line cut through the defence and almost found Sam Ward. The No13 dived at full length but was just unable to get the touch.
With five minutes left in the half Great Britain were indebted to the woodwork to keep the score level. A searing strike from Fergus Kavanagh cannoned off the angle of post and bar and away to safety. However two minutes later Australia forced their first penalty corner. With the Govers brothers lining up at the top of the circle the threat was clear. It was the younger of the two, Blake Govers who fired the ball into the bottom corner to Pinner’s right to make it 1-0, his seventh goal of the tournament. There was time for the Kookaburras to win another penalty corner before the break. Blake Govers took the honours again but his effort flew wide of the post and it stayed 1-0 at the interval.
The first chance of the second half fell to Australia. Dwyer seized on a loose ball in the circle only for Pinner to make a superb save with his glove. With nine minutes left in the quarter GB drew level. Catlin rounded Matthew Swann and found the bottom corner with a bullet finish to the delight of the small pocket of Great Britain fans inside the stadium.
Parity lasted a matter of minutes. A defensive slip by Bobby Crutchley’s side gifted the Kookaburras a chance and Jacob Whetton set up Daniel Beale who hit the net to make it 2-1. Great Britain thought they had won a penalty corner via a video referral but the appeal was turned down and it they trailed heading into the final quarter.
As the game entered the final ten minutes the Kookaburras extended their advantage. Dwyer’s cross was turned in expertly by Whetton from close range to make it 3-1. A deflection from Eddie Ockenden rattled the post and then Pinner did well to get down and repel a penalty corner from Kieran Govers. The score stayed 3-1 meaning Australia will play in Sunday’s final whilst Great Britain will play India for third place.
Quotes – Great Britain Defender Dan Fox
“It was disappointing because we controlled possession well in the first quarter but after that we weren’t good enough on the ball. We made a couple of errors which will always make it difficult against the best team in the world. The game gave us a funny situation really. We’re delighted to have secured Olympic qualification in the last game, but this group wants to get to finals so we’re very disappointed to miss out tonight.
Against a high pressing side like Australia errors will always be punished. We’re aware of that though and we spend enough time working on how to combat those threats. As you saw, sides like them seize on the smallest mistakes and that was the difference today.
We’re looking forward to the India match. It’s not the game we wanted to be in, but they’re a good side so it’ll be a test for us. All these games are big games and there’s pressure on both sides. We want to come third rather than fourth and end the tournament on a high.”
Great Britain Head Coach – Bobby Crutchley
“We started the game well which you have to do against them because they always come at you at 100 miles an hour. We defended well for the most part but the second and third goals were sloppy which is frustrating when we’d worked so hard to get back level. Overall we didn’t create enough and that’s something we need to get better at. We need to be more of a threat going forwards to win against sides like them.
We’re really pleased with the development of some of our players but we want to compete with sides like Australia and be up there with the best. We are aiming to get better and better to give ourselves a chance in Rio. We want to start to win more games, to get on more podiums and to push even further.”
Great Britain 1 (0)
Nick Catlin 36 (FG)
Australia 3 (1)
Blake Govers 28 (PC)
Daniel Beale 38 (FG)
Jacob Whetton 51 (FG)
Great Britain Hockey media release
Britain's unbeaten run halted by World Champions
By Mike Haymonds
GREAT BRITAIN's unbeaten record was halted by a 3-1 defeat by world champions Australia at the semi-final stage of the Fintro World League in Antwerp.
It was GB's 32nd defeat in 53 games with the Aussies, their only win a 3-1 result last month in the Olympic Park. Bobby Crutchley's men now face India for third place on Sunday having already qualified for the Rio Olympics.
In a closely contested opening quarter Australia came close when a long ball into the D, looking for Kieran Govers, struck a post.
In the second quarter Fergus Kavanagh hit a post and a long pass from GB skipper Barry Middleton just eluded a diving Sam Ward.
As Australia began to gain the ascendancy Kieran Govers won their first penalty corner and his brother Blake converted for his seventh goal of the tournament before
the same player fired narrowly wide from a second corner.
In the 36th minute Nick Gatlin equalised with a fine run and reverse stick strike.
The Aussies' third corner, after GB keeper George Pinner had palmed away a close-range shot from Jamie Dwyer, was fired wide by Chris Ciriello.
In the 38th minute the increasing pressure forced a GB misplaced pass which was intercepted by Jacob Whetton, who squared for Daniel Beale to steer it into the open
The Australians' high tempo attacking brought them a third goal in the 51st minute when a break saw Dwyer square for Whetton to force the ball home.
Three late corners for Australia saw Kieran Govers hit a post and Pinner make a diving stick save to deny the same player.
GB coach Bobby Crutchley said: "It was very disappointing because we want to challenge these guys and win these tournaments. We started well and for the whole game we defended well and restricted their chances but we need to cut out the mistakes.
"The last two years we have developed considerably but we now have to use every day to continue improving. We are satisfied where we are at the moment. We kept the same level as them in the early stages but they continued at a high level and capitalised on our mistakes."
Florent Van Aubel scored a hat-trick for hosts Belgium as they progressed to the final after seeing off the threat of India in quickfire fashion.
Van Aubel struck in the second minute after India goalkeeper Sreejesh Parattu made two saves but had no chance to cover a third shot. The India stopper was in action six minutes later saving a corner shot again, only for Tanguy Cosyns to crack home. India were going wide with their own corners and the Belgian defence stayed firm.
Van Abel was quickest to react to a rebound as another Belgium corner hit the post in the 41st minute. Belgium made it 4-0 with seven minutes remaining, Van Aubel pouncing after another double save from Sreejesh Parattu.
Malaysia now play on Sunday for fifth place against Ireland, whose goalkeeper David Harte produced another fine performance to keep out Pakistan. Alan Sothern’s goal immediately after half-time kept Ireland’s Olympic hopes alive while costing Pakistan’s place in Rio. It is the first time that Pakistan have missed out on an Olympics since 1948, and it comes a year after they failed to make the World Cup.
World champions Australia set up title clash with Belgium
ANTWERP (Belgium): World champions Australia overcame some stiff resistance put up by Great Britain to notch up a 3-1 win and set up a title contest against Belgium in the men's Hockey World League Semifinals here.
World number one Australia stamped their authority during the second half to advance to Sunday's final against the home side who defeated India 4-0 in the other semifinal of the tournament.
India and Great Britain will meet in the bronze medal match, also on Sunday.
All the four semifinalists from this World League Semifinals will secure passage to the 2016 Olympics, with India's qualification assured from their Asian Games gold medal in Incheon.
After being denied by a ball bouncing back into play off the crossbar, Australia opened the scoring in the 27th minute through a penalty corner goal from Blake Govers.
Great Britain fought back to restore parity six minutes into the second session when Nick Catlin created an opening through his square movement from right into the scoring zone, which he capped with a fine reverse drive that sounded the boards.
Within two minutes, Australia were again in front as unmarked Daniel Beale swept a square pass inside the circle into the goal with the custodian already beaten by the cross. Jacob Whetton's goal for Australia in the 51st minute put the match beyond Great Britain's reach.
The Times of India
India goes down to Belgium 0-4
Antwerp (Belgium): After putting an impressive game, India Men Team went down to host nation Belgium by 0-4 in the Semi-Final match of the FINTRO World Hockey League Semi-Final 2015, held in Antwerp, Belgium today. Florent van Aubel scored a hat-trick and helped the FIH Rank # 4 team to reach the Final of the tournament.
The first quarter started with high intense battle and speedy attacks on both sides. Players from both team looked for early lead and tied to out-foxed each-others defenders. It was the hosts Belgium who got the early success when they sneaked into India’s circle from right side and Florent van Aubel scored a brilliant goal through his reverse shot, beating Indian custodian PR Sreejesh, in the 2nd minute. Belgians surprised attacked earned them 1-0 lead over India and both the teams again fought harder to score goals. Indians made few advances and managed to create some close chances to score goals but faced a steady Belgian defence. In the 8th minute, Belgium earned a penalty corner and Sreejesh saved the first shot perfectly, but the ball rebounded and Tanguy Cosyns hit the ball harder into the nets for their second goal. Conceding two quick goals, Indians started playing with more aggression and continuously attacked on their opponent’s side. After a fast-paced game, the first quarter finished at 2-0 in favour of Belgium.
In the 2nd quarter, India stepped on the ground with more passion and zeal to open their account. Indians attacked from all sides and managed to keep the ball in the Belgian half. Young forward player Satbir Singh led the attack, who challenged opponent’s defenders many times. Along with Satbir, skipper Sardar Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Dharamvir Singh and Manpreet Singh attacked from the right side and put pressure on Belgians. On the other side, Belgium players restricted Indian penetrations with their defensive game-plan and maintained the score-card 2-0 till the end of second quarter.
In the third quarter of the match, both teams continued their struggle to score goals and tried to create maximum opportunities. After series of attacks, India earned a penalty corner but failed to convert into goal. Belgium counter-attacked with quick speed and earned a penalty corner in the 41st minute. Indian defenders managed to save the first shot but ball rebounded towards the injector van Aubel, who sent the ball in the goal-box within fraction of a second. With van Aubel’s second goal, Belgium led the score-line by 3-0. Indians charged back and earned another penalty corner after few minutes. However, they failed to materialise the opportunity and the quarter finished at 3-0 in favour of Belgium.
In the fourth quarter, Indians came with better game-plans and tried to create opportunities to reduce the margin. Indians kept on attacking on their opponent’s half and same time they were restricting Belgian attacks. In the 53rd minute, Belgium earned another penalty corner. This time again, Sreejesh saved the first shot and he moved forward to clear the ball. But Belgian players dribbled him past him and van Aubel deflected the ball into the goal-box for his hat-trick goal. Trailing by four goals, Indians didn’t give up and they maintained their attacking tactics. However, India could not breach the Belgian defence and eventually they lost the match by 0-4.
India will play the 3rd / 4th match on 5th July 2015 at 07.00 pm (IST) in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015.
India thrashed 0-4 by Belgium in Semi-final
ANTWERP: India suffered a 0-4 defeat as their defence succumbed under the pressure mounted by an aggressive Belgium side in the semifinal of the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals at the KHC Dragons Stadium.
Livewire striker Florent van Aubel scored three goals for Belgium, whose organised game cut out the chances of India's breakaway counters posing a serious threat to their citadel.
Opening Belgium's account in the second minute on a defensive lapse at the top of the Indian circle, van Aubel went on to score two goals in the second half on penalty corner rebound to dash India's hopes of a comeback.
The other goal for the home team, backed by vociferous support from the galleries, came from Tanguy Cosyns.
In the final on Sunday, Belgium will play the winner of the second semifinal between World champions Australia and Great Britain, while India will go into the bronze medal contest.
All four semifinalists from this World League Semifinals are secured passage to the 2016 Olympics, with India's qualification assured from their Asian Games gold medal in Incheon.
A lapse by Jasjeet Singh in controlling the ball on top of the circle in the second minute led to Belgium taking an early lead. The Indian lost the bouncy ball that Felix Denayer picked up on the right flank and sent a square pass for van Aubel, who sent a firm reverse shot into the board.
Six minutes later, Belgium were two goals ahead on their first penalty corner. Arthur van Doren's penalty corner shot was padded by goalkeeper P R Sreejesh and the rebound went to Cosyns, who scored with a firm shot along the carpet.
Stunned by the early reversals, India tried to come back into the game and made their first attack in the ninth minute, but the Belgian defenders were very well organised and thwarted a good crack at the goal.
In the next minute, India brought in lanky defender Rupinder Pal Singh, who was injured in warm-up games here ahead of this tournament and made no appearance in the preliminary round matches. Rupinder played for an extended period today, and was on the pitch to take the three penalty corners India forced in the second session, but shot just wide of either post in two attempts to shoot into the corner.
A good opening came India's way in the 19th minute when Satbir Singh snatched the ball from van Doren and went into circle, but his reverse drive could not beat goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
India's best scoring chance in the first half came in the 26th minute when a raid caused some ruffle in the Belgian defence. The cross from right rebounded toward Yuvraj Walmiki off the goalkeeper, but Yuvraj's attempt went wide of the far post.
India forced the first of their two penalty corners in the 30th minute, but Rupinder's rising drag-flick went just wide of the right post.
Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh did well to block a goal- bearing shot from the right in open field play before Belgium got their third goal off a penalty corner. Sreejesh blocked Boon's penalty corner drive, but the rebound shot by van Aubel could not be denied.
Van Aubel again featured in the fourth goal for Belgium as he capitalised on a goalmouth scrimmage following two shots in a 53rd-minute penalty corner action that was blocked by Sreejesh, but van Aubel breached the defence with his deft shot.
In between the two Belgian penalty corner conversions, India muffed their second penalty corner in the 45th minute, when Rupinder's low flick narrowly missed the left post.
Frustration was clearly evident as Rupinder hurled his stick to the pitch in disgust at missing the chance.
India forced another penalty corner in the last minute of play, but even a consolation goal was denied as the ball could not be stopped cleanly for the shot to be taken.
The Times of India
Conceding soft goals put enormous pressure on us: Sardar
ANTWERP: Indian hockey skipper Sardar Singh said conceding two soft goals early in the semifinal against Belgium proved disastrous for India in the Hockey World League Semifinals at the KHC Stadium here on Friday.
India suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the higher-ranked Belgians, but the contest became a one-way street when India were not able to negate the lead conceded through soft early goals, said Sardar.
"Recent contests between India and Belgium have always been close, but today the early soft goals we conceded built enormous pressure," said Sardar, who could be repeatedly heard urging his teammates to put in some more effort whenever they lost the ball. "They were expected to come out strongly looking for early goals, but we erred in giving away two soft goals at the start."
A lapse by Jasjit Singh in controlling the ball on top of the circle in the second minute led to Belgium opening the account early. As Jasjit lost the bouncy ball, Felix Denayer picked it up on the right flank and sent a square pass for livewire striker Florent van Aubel to score with a firm reverse shot.
Van Aubel scored two more goals in the second half on penalty corner rebounds to seal the big Belgian victory. Tanguy Cosyns made it 2-0 in the eighth minute on a penalty corner rebound from goalkeeper P R Sreejesh. "Perhaps, the nerves played a role in those soft goals," said Sardar.
India tried to forced their way back in the third quarter, but could not capitalise on the openings, including two penalty corners that came during this period. Rupinder Pal Singh, playing his first extended game for India in the tournament after an injury in warm-up games, shot marginally wide of the post on both sides. "We did well to earn ball possession in the second half, but could not make the chances count," said Sardar. "We need to learn to be strong in converting the chances."
India had beaten Belgium in the quarterfinals of the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar when the two teams last met. India have another chance to win a medal here, in the bronze medal game on Sunday. India await the result of the other semifinal between World champions Australia and Great Britain to know who will be their opponent for the bronze medal.
All four semifinalists from this World League Semifinals are secured passage to the 2016 Olympics, with India's qualification assured from their Asian Games gold medal in Incheon.
The Times of India
From Jordan to Milkha, van Ass finds novel ways to inspire team
Harpreet Kaur Lamba
India hockey coach Paul van Ass has dwelled often on the significance of training the mind. Playing as a team, understanding and improving communication, channelising the mind to think like a winner are some of things that the Dutchman has inculcated in his training programme for the national team. "You win when you think you can," has been his mantra.
At the ongoing Hockey World League semi-finals in Belgium, van Ass drew inspiration from India’s athletics legend Milkha Singh. On every match day, van Ass read out instances from Milkha’s autobiography The Race of My Life, giving his boys lessons on
team work, focus and avoiding distractions.
Said a player, "Milkha has won a record 77 races out of 80... and it speaks about consistency. The coach asked us to take inspiration from his life and understand that a sport involves much more than just training and hard work. It is about expanding our
Van Ass even read out portions when despite being in the best of form and well within reach to clinch an Olympic medal, Milkha had missed out in the 1960 Rome Games. Milkha, competing in the 400 metres final, had turned to see how his compatriots were doing and finished fourth -- fractions of a second behind the bronze medal winner.
"Paul told us how Milkha Singh was a favourite to win an Olympic medal, having beaten the rest in the qualifying by a fair margin. But on the main day, the final, he was not able to perform to his potential because of mental pressure. The sub-conscious mind and
emotions needs to be channelised is what he wants us to learn.
"An Olympic medal is something every athlete craves for and so do all of us," the player said.
This is not the first time that van Ass has introduced motivation sessions. In the past, he had drawn on the life of American basketball great Michael Jordan and US psychologist Timothy Leary’s Theory of Rose.
While Leary’s theory focused on the need to communicate better and hence, create a productive and friendly environment, Jordan’s inability to win a team title despite many individual feats was an inspiring story for the team.
"Michael Jordan is a huge name but there was a time people doubted his ability to carry a team to the title. Paul related how Jordan later led his squad to six NBA championship titles, signifying the importance of working together. There is no place for individual play in a team game and sessions like these are a constant reminder to that."
The Asian Age
Malaysia beat France 4-1, qualify for fifth-sixth playoff
By Jugjet Singh Randhawa
MALAYSIA beat France 4-1 and qualifies for the fifth-sixth playoff in the World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium.
It was a much-needed boost, as now Malaysia only needs to beat Ireland Sunday to finish fifth and qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. For the record, Malaysia beat Ireland 4-2 in Group A.
Coach Tai Beng Hai's men held the edge in the first quarter, and romped home in the final two quarters.
The French scored first off Jean-Laurent Kieffer in the 18th minute, but Malaysia equalised a minute later and went on to hit a big win.
The Malaysian goals were scored by Haziq Shamsul (19th), Meor Azuan (37th), Faizal Shaari (47th) and Razie Rahim (57th).
Meanwhile, Pakistan lost 1-0 in the other classification match, and will miss the Olympics for the first time since making their debut in 1948 in London.
And it was a 46th minute penalty corner goal by Alan Sothern which relegated Pakistan to the 7th-8th classification match against France on Sunday.
"This is a dark day for Pakistan," said player Rashid Mehmood as he left the pitch with his head bowed down.
Ireland, ranked 14th, thrashed Pakistan's No 10 seeding with determination, and nothing else.
RESULTS: Malaysia 4 France 1, Ireland 1 Pakistan 0.
SUNDAY: Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia v Ireland (7pm, Malaysian time).
New Straits Times
Rio Olympic dream kept alive with France win
by S. Ramaguru
ANTWERP: Coach Tai Beng Hai’s men kept their Rio de Janeiro Olympic hopes alive with a 4-1 win over France in the 5th-8th placing playoff match in the World Hockey League Semi-finals at the KHC Dragons Stadium.
The Malaysians could have sealed an automatic place in Rio had they finished in the top three here. They could have also sneaked in by finishing in the top four.
Surprisingly, even a fifth placing here could earn them a ticket to the Olympics, although it will depend on other factors.
It was a refreshing change to see the Malaysians fighting hard for the ball and taking their chances to score four goals after trailing by a 17th-minute strike from France’s Jean-Laurent Kieffer.
Malaysia took just a minute to get back on level terms, with Mohd Haziq Shamsul scoring off a goalmouth melee from close range.
Malaysia made it 2-1 in the 37th minute through a deflected Mohd Meor Azuan goal.
The Malaysians then earned three penalty corners in a row and it was the third, in the 47th minute, that bore fruit as Faizal Saari scored with a direct attempt.
Ten minutes later, Faizal broke through and was brought down in the D by goalkeeper Martin Zylbermann. The French keeper was shown the yellow card and Mohd Razie Rahim converted the flick to make it 4-1.
Malaysia will now face Ireland in the fight for fifth spot. Ireland had earlier defeated Pakistan 1-0.
Although skipper Razie and his team-mates had beaten the Irish 4-2 in the group stage, they know that Sunday’s clash would be a lot closer.
“We were very determined today and wanted to win the match (against France) very much. We have a day to rest and prepare ... we will make the most of it. It was a team effort out there today,” said Razie.
In the earlier match, Alan Southern was the hero for Ireland when he scored the crucial goal in the 46th minute through a direct penalty corner flick.
The Irish took part in the first Games in 1908 and finished second to England. Only six teams featured at that Games in London then.
Ireland have not qualified for the hockey event in the Olympics since then.
As for Pakistan, they will miss the Olympics for the first time ever.
They also missed out on the 2014 World Cup for the first time after being knocked out in the qualifiers.
The Star of Malaysia
Malaysia keep Asian challenge alive after Pakistan slump
ANTWERP: Malaysia stayed on course for an Olympic spot in men's hockey when they defeated France 4-1 to qualify for the fifth-position playoff in the World League Semifinals at the KHC Dragons Stadium on Friday.
Malaysia kept alive the Asian challenge after three-time Olympic champions Pakistan faltered in their last chance to stay in contention for a ticket to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Behind India, who have already qualified for the Olympics by virtue of winning the men's Asian Games gold medal, Malaysia are the only Asian team still in fray.
South Korea, silver medallists at the 2000 Olympics, have also failed to secure a place in the Olympic lineup. The Korean men finished seventh in the other World League Semifinals.
Three Olympic qualification spots are available to the top-placed teams from each of the two World League Semifinals, but some sides ranked up to the sixth place may also get a chance if any of the countries earn dual qualification by winning the continental tournaments.
Malaysia will take on Ireland in the playoff for the fifth spot on Sunday. The Irish clinched a 1-0 victory over Pakistan today.
Pakistan will meet France in the playoff for the seventh position in this tournament.
France opened the scoring against Malaysia in the 17th minute through a fine deflection by Jean-Laurent Kieffer, but Malaysia equalised within a minute when Muhammad Shamsul scored a cracker.
Malaysia then stamped their authority as Azuan Hasan connected a cross from right into the goal despite very little breathing space standing next to the goalkeeper in the 37th minute.
Faisal Saari sent a rising drag flick into the net in the 47th minute to bolster the Malaysian score before captain Razie Rahim made no mistake in flicking in a penalty stroke just three minutes from the hooter.
The Times of India
Ireland beat Pakistan for first time to keep Olympic dream alive
Photo Credit: FIH
The Green Machine have beaten world number 10 Pakistan for the first time in history to earn their place in the 5th/6th place playoff on Sunday at midday. A win on Sunday would give the Green Machine a great chance of qualifying for Rio once the remaining continental championships are completed.
The game got off to a tentative start with Pakistan enjoying the majority of the possession, a trend that remained for the match, but their crash-ball route 1 tactic was dealt with every time by Ireland. Both teams struggled to settle into their rhythm and the half time score of 0-0 reflected the back and forth nature of the game.
Pakistan continued to dominate possession but the Green Machine appeared more clinical and structured on the ball. Clever usage of the video referral by Stephen Dowds won Ireland a PC. An O’Donoghue dummy, set up Sothern who dragged it hard down the centre through the goalies legs. 1-0 to Ireland!
Ireland absorbed wave after wave of Pakistani attack and David Harte made arguably the save of his career, tipping the ball over the bar with 2 minutes left in the game. Speaking after the game, the ever-calm, Harte said “We pride ourselves on our defensive base and when we got our chances we put them away today. Our Olympic dream is still alive so we’ll rest up and get ready for Sunday.”
Coach Craig Fulton said "I'm really proud of the team today, it was a great result. It was a game of two halves; we didn't play well in the first half but defended well and then came out in the second half a little more relaxed, and the guys are looking forward to Sunday's game".
Ireland will face the winner of Malaysia vs France, on Sunday at midday.
Hockey World League Antwerp:
Ireland 1(Sothern) vs 0 Pakistan
Team: Harte, Jackson, Bell, Gormley, Sothern, Dowds, Magee, O’Donoghue, Darling, Good, Gleghorne.
Bench: Watt, Cargo, Caruth, Shimmins, Fitzgerald.
Irish Hockey Association media release
Dark Day as Pakistan fail to qualify for Olympics for first time in history
By Muhammad Ali
ANTWERP: It was a Dark Day in hockey as Pakistan failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their history when skipper Mohammad Imran and his charges were shocked by lowly ranked Ireland 1-0 in the classification match for 5-8 positions in the Hockey World League at KHC Dragons Stadium here on Friday. There was a danger of Ireland giving a tough time to Pakistan after they played a good game against world champions Australia in the quarterfinals. Ireland scored in the 46th minute to condemn Pakistan to another historic low. The greenshirts for the first time in the game's history also failed to qualify for the World Cup last year.
Pakistan, who missed their first opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics after losing the Incheon Asian Games final to India last year, needed to finish in the top three or atleast at fifth spot in the HWL to be guaranteed a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016. But they were once again guilty of not capitalising on opportunities in front of goal. Their defeat shattered not only hopes but also dreams of 180 million people of Pakistan. The ongoing HWL presented Pakistan their last opportunity to clinch an Olympic spot. Pakistan hockey is now facing a big crisis. The development is a big blow for national sport which for years now has been struggling to keep afloat amid a shortage of funds and poor management.
The once most-powerful nation in hockey has missed the Olympics for the first time since they made their debut in 1948. Pakistan have won World Cup more times than any other country. Behind India's eight gold medals and Germany's four titles, including one by West Germany, Pakistan are the most successful team in Olympic history. Pakistan have won three gold medals out of their six appearances in the title contest at the Olympics. At the last Olympic Games in London in 2012, they finished seventh.
"This is a sad day for Pakistan hockey," said captain Muhammad Imran as he walked away from the pitch shaking his head in disbelief. "We had chances, but failed to convert them. We were misfiring throughout the tournament," said Imran. "I feel sorry for the hockey lovers in Pakistan, who always expect a lot from the national team." Imran said the morale in the Pakistan squad was very low after today's loss, which means they will now play for the seventh and eighth position on Sunday. "The mood in the team is downcast," he said.
For Ireland, who won a silver medal in the 1908 Olympic hockey behind England, this was their first victory in 11 encounters against Pakistan. The match-winner by Alan Sothern in penalty corner action kept alive Ireland's dreams of making their first Olympic hockey appearance in a century. Failing to convert their territorial domination into goals, Pakistan became more error-prone in their desperation to get the equaliser.
With just a minute and a half left, they took off their goalkeeper to put in an additional striker on the pitch, but the move came too late. Irish captain David Harte, who under the bar blocked some Pakistan shots at the goal and saw others being sprayed wide, was delighted at the turn of events. "Things did not go well for us in some previous matches, but I'm elated that we emerged winners today," said Harte.
The Daily Times
From gold dreams to black eyes — the men in green story
By Nabil Tahir
Pakistan’s 1-0 defeat against Ireland meant they miss out on Olympic qualification for the first time. PHOTO: FILE/AFP
KARACHI: Three Olympic gold medals, four World Cups and being one the pioneers of the sport all counted for little as Pakistan lost 1-0 to Ireland in the FIH Hockey World League Semi-finals. As a result, for the first time in their illustrious history, the Pakistan hockey team has failed to qualify for the Olympics.
The men in green knew that nothing less than a win against 15th ranked Ireland in Antwerp, Belgium on Friday would suffice as they bid to finish fifth and retain any slim hope of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Despite the pressure, the side started off well and looked the better side at the start — bossing possession with 58% and receiving a penalty corner that was defended well by Kyle Good.
Pakistan also came close in the second quarter, with vice-captain Shafqat Rasool hitting an upright reverse shot just wide of the mark in the 17th minute.
Irish goalkeeper David Harte was then the hero as he smartly saved a Muhammad Rizwan Senior effort from close range in the 24th minute to ensure that the game remained 0-0 at half-time.
The Irish started the second half brightly as Stephen Dowds shot in the 33rd minute sailed over keeper Butt. Just three minutes later, Azfar Yaqoob was shown a green card for a foul on John Jackson. The Irish took full advantage of their numerical supremacy, taking full control of the match. Ronan Gormley’s strong snapshot in the 38th minute produced a brilliant save from Imran Butt.
Perhaps galvanised by their keeper’s heroics, Pakistan upped the ante themselves; Umer Bhutta producing a save from Harte. Despite the highly entertaining third quarter, it still remained 0-0 going into the break, thanks largely to the two keepers.
It was all-out attack from both sides in the final quarter but it was Ireland who succeeded in breaking the deadlock. A penalty corner was successfully converted by Alan Sothern, who hit a low flick through Butt’s legs into the goal in the 46th minute to give Ireland the precious lead.
The Irish then shut up shop, looking to defend their slim advantage. It almost backfired as Pakistan won a penalty corner five minutes from time, only for Muhammad Irfan to shoot wide in the 56th minute.
The men in green finally managed to put the ball in the net in the 58th minute but it didn’t count as the final touch had been outside the D. It was clear that it was not to be Pakistan’s day and the final whistle blew soon after, ending their slim hopes of Olympic qualification.
Regretting the missed opportunities
The result has understandably left a bitter taste in the mouths of former hockey greats. “The team had the best chance to seal their berth at the Olympics after missing direct entry through the Asian Games,” Olympian Samiullah Khan told The Express Tribune. “The defeat is disappointing as Pakistan had defeated Ireland 2-1 in a warm-up match.”
Samiullah felt that the team management and senior players were to blame for the defeat that knocked Pakistan out of the road to Rio.
“Missing so many chances is a result of poor coordination among the players. Individual skills were good but the coordination was really poor,” he said. “After missing out on the World Cup, this is another big shame for Pakistan.”
The Express Tribune
Pakistan lose to Ireland, out of Olympic race
ANTWERP: Once a powerhouse of the sport, Pakistan men's hockey team slumped to a new low as it failed to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics after suffering a shocking 0-1 defeat to Ireland in a play-off match of the World League Semifinals on Friday.
Pakistan's loss in the first play-off match for the fifth to eighth spots means now they cannot finish above the seventh position in this tournament and the Olympic spots for 12 teams from both World League Semifinals cannot go below the sixth place.
This was the last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, after losing the Asian Games final to India in Incheon last year.
Three-time gold medallists Pakistan are among the most successful team in Olympic hockey, only behind eight-time gold medallists India and four for Germany, which includes one by West Germany.
The result comes after Pakistan, for the first time in the game's history, also failed to qualify for the World Cup last year.
Pakistan had failed to feature among the 12 teams for the 2014 World Cup, an event that they have won more times than any other country.
"This is a sad day for Pakistan hockey," said captain Muhammad Imran as he walked away from the pitch shaking his head in disbelief.
"We had chances, but failed to convert them. We were misfiring throughout the tournament," said Imran.
"I feel sorry for the hockey lovers in Pakistan, who always expect a lot from the national team."
Imran said the morale in the Pakistan squad was very low after today's loss, which means they will now play for the seventh and eighth position on Sunday.
"The mood in the team is downcast," he said.
For Ireland, who won a silver medal in the 1908 Olympic hockey behind England, this was their first victory in 11 encounters against Pakistan.
The match-winner by Alan Sothern in penalty corner action in the 46th minute kept alive Ireland's dreams of making their first Olympic hockey appearance in a century.
Failing to convert their territorial domination into goals, Pakistan became more error-prone in their desperation to get the equaliser.
With just a minute and a half left, they took off their goalkeeper to put in an additional striker on the pitch, but the move came too late.
Irish captain David Harte, who under the bar blocked some Pakistan shots at the goal and saw others being sprayed wide, was delighted at the turn of events.
"Things did not go well for us in some previous matches, but I'm elated that we emerged winners today," said Harte.
Three Olympic qualification spots are available to the top-placed teams from this competition, but some sides ranked up to the sixth place may also get a chance if any of the countries earn dual qualification by winning the continental tournaments.
India have secured the continental spot from Asia by virtue of their Asian Games gold medal.
The Times of India
Olympic hopes dashed, shock grips Pakistan hockey community
KARACHI: A pall of gloom shrouded the Pakistan hockey community after the national team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in the history of the quadrennial event.
Once a powerhouse of the sport, Pakistan suffered a shocking 0-1 defeat to Ireland in a play-off match for the fifth to eighth spots of the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium to put an end to of their hopes of qualifying for next year's Rio Olympics.
"This is one of the most shameful days for Pakistan hockey. If the Pakistan Hockey Federation officials, the team management and selectors have any self-respect they should all resign immediately," former captain and Olympian Samiullah said.
"I urge the government to take notice of the shambles our hockey is in now and sack those responsible for this mess," he added.
To add fuel to fire, the current president and secretary of the PHF are in Belgium as also the former secretary Asif Bajwa. They all are said to have travelled on PHF expenses to attend a meeting.
Their presence has not gone down well at a time when the PHF has been pleading for funds from the government and sponsors to send the team for the Olympic qualifiers.
The team was only able to travel after the government-appointed Pakistan Sports Board gave a special grant to cover all expenses.
Pakistan, who once ruled world hockey, also failed to qualify for the World Cup last year for the first time in the history of the event.
Pakistan needed to finish at least in the fifth spot in Antwerp to have any hopes of getting a ticket to next year's Rio Olympics.
Olympian Ayaz Mehmood, who announced his resignation as national selector on television the same day when Pakistan lost to Great Britain in Antwerp, said it was a dark day for Pakistan hockey.
"I just don't know where we go from here it is unimaginable that for the first time in our history our hockey team will not be appearing at the Olympic Games," Ayaz, a member Pakistan's 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning side said.
Another Olympian and centre forward Hasan Sardar said that hockey today has reached its lowest ebb in Pakistan because the government had not taken the sport seriously and allowed incompetent people to destroy the fabrics of the sport in the country.
"We have been on a decline since last six seven years. What is the use of crying now? One can only hope that after these results things will change and people with real interests of Pakistan hockey at heart are brought in to change things," he said.
Former celebrated forward and coach Hanif Khan said he was shocked after hearing about the loss to Ireland.
"Even after we lost to England I was sure we would secure 5th place and keep our chances alive of playing in the Olympics. But today the loss to Ireland is a body blow to our hockey. In such a crucial game we missed so many golden scoring chances," he said.
The government is already carrying out an audit into funds spent by the PHF in the last few years that were granted to it by the government and already speculations have been rife about the auditors finding financial mismanagement.
Pakistan could have booked a straight spot in the Olympics last year in the Incheon Asian Games but lost to India in the final on penalty shoot-out.
Hockey remains the national sport of Pakistan and in the past the greenshirts have won four World Cups, three Olympic gold medals and a host of other international and Asian titles.
Their last major triumph came in the 2010 Asian games under Dutch coach Van Den, who was sacked unceremoniously by the PHF then headed by Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa.
The Times of India
Historic low as Pakistan fail to qualify for Olympics
Pakistan needed to finish at least in the 5th spot at the Hockey World League to have any hopes of getting a ticket to next year's Rio Olympics - Photo courtesy FIH
Pakistan have failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their illustrious hockey history after losing to Ireland 1-0 in the 5-8 position classification match of the Hockey World League in Antwerp, Belgium on Friday.
The result comes as another low for Greenshirts who for the first time in the game's history also failed to qualify for the World Cup last year.
Pakistan needed to finish at least in the 5th spot at the Hockey World League to have any hopes of getting a ticket to next year's Rio Olympics. But they were once again guilty of not capitalising on opportunities in front of goal.
Mohammad Dilber had the first chance of putting his team in front but his attempt in the first quarter only found the keeper.
Pakistan upped the ante in the second quarter but once again, Umar Bhutta's effort was blocked by a resolute Irish goalie.
Ireland then scored in the 46th minute to condemn Pakistan to another historic low.
"This is a dark day for Pakistan," said Rashid Mehmood as he left the pitch following Pakistan's defeat.
"We played well and created chances, but we just couldn't score," added Mehmood.
The development will come as a big blow for hockey in Pakistan, which for years now has been struggling to keep afloat amid a shortage of funds and poor management.
‘It’s doomsday for Pakistan hockey’
`'The players are not responsible for the defeat as they have been totally ignored by the PHF officials" - Photo courtesy FIH
LAHORE: Former Olympians, who have seen national flag fly high on numerous occasions in world hockey in the past, lashed out at the PHF after Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics following an embarrassing 0-1 defeat at the hands of Ireland on Friday.
One of them explicitly called it ‘doomsday for Pakistan hockey’.
“We have been listening to the same rhetoric from the PHF and their coaches for several years that ‘the team will win’ so and so event, but actually they came back empty-handed [on almost all occasions],” former Olympian Khawaja Zakauddin lamented.
“We finished a pathetic 12th at the 2010 World Cup and then we were ousted from the 2014 edition and now we will not be featuring in the Olympics for the first time, and therefore it is nothing but a doomsday for Pakistan hockey,” Zakauddin added.
“There seems to be an unending road of disaster for Pakistan hockey and I think all the stakeholders, including the government, should focus how to resurrect the national game which over the years has experienced unprecedented decline,” underlined Zaka, who has served Pakistan as head coach and manager on several occasions.
Zaka, however, agreed that the government had to take care of the players at all costs.
“The players should be honoured by all means by the government as they are the custodians of our national game,” he insisted.
Manzoor-ul-Hasan Senior, another Olympian, vented his anger over the team’s crash in Antwerp, saying it was time the PHF officials, who had been claiming themselves to be the ‘custodians’ of modern hockey, should feel ashamed.
However, when reminded that the team’s head coach Shahnaz Sheikh also belonged to the old hockey genre, Manzoor reckoned the head coach had committed several errors after joining ‘modern hockey’ campaigner like Asif Bajwa and company.
According to Manzoor, the biggest mistake committed by Shahnaz was of relieving Nasir Ali and Sameer Hussain as his assistant coaches on the advice of the PHF, and acquiring the services of Danish Kaleem.
“One can’t understand why the PHF sacked Shahnaz’s assistant coaches [Sameer and Nasir] — who were doing a good job — at the eleventh hour to adjust Danish,” Manzoor wondered.
He added: “The players are not responsible for the defeat [in Antwerp] as they have been totally ignored by the PHF officials.
“They have no respect from the officials as well as coaches.”
Asked how much blame the government (which had denied the supposedly cash-strapped PHF financial assistance in the past two years) should take for the present catastrophic situation of Pakistan hockey, Manzoor said federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Pervaiz Rashid had expressed their reservations over the reputation of current PHF office-bearers.
“Therefore, how could they hand over funds to such people?”
Meanwhile, Col. Mudassar, who also acted as PHF secretary in the past, said he could not believe that Ireland defeated Pakistan.
“I will not say that it is shameful for PHF president Akhtar Rasool or his secretary Rana Mujahid. As a nation, it is the darkest day for Pakistan hockey, and we all should feel shamed,” Mudassar said with a grieved voice.
Humiliation and disqualification — Pakistan hockey’s darkest hour
Pakistan's fall has come as little shock to the followers of the game - Photo courtesy FIH
The inevitable has happened. In what could easily be termed as the darkest hour in the country’s hockey history, the three-time former champions Pakistan for the first ever time since 1948 have failed to make it to the Olympics - the Rio Games 2016.
However, it has come as little shock to the followers of the game. The writing was very much on the wall even before Pakistan hockey team’s departure to Antwerp, Belgium, to compete in the Hockey World League Semi-final that also served as qualifiers for the Olympics.
The team was not in proper frame of mind when, instead of being duly rewarded by the government for winning back-to-back silver medals at the Incheon Asian Games and the Bhubaneswar Champions Trophy last year, the players received peanuts from the private sector and the Punjab government and that too after a yawning gap of several months.
The stunning 0-1 defeat at the hands of minnows Ireland - ranked at world No 14 - in the classification match on Friday quashed Pakistan’s hopes to make it to the next year’s Olympiad.
They were already in a tricky position two days ago after suffering a 1-2 loss at the hands of Great Britain in the knockout quarter-final. The Greenshirts needed to win its next two matches to seize the fifth spot which could have earned them a spot in the quadrennial Olympics. Alas, it was not to be.
Pakistan now play France for the 7th-8th position which is, by all counts, a sorry state of affairs.
All through this Hockey World League Semi-finals, the performance of Mohammad Imran and his men had remained quite pathetic.
They registered their solitary win win over Poland by 2-1 but suffered 6-1 defeat at the hands of the formidable Australians besides sharing points with India and France by playing two draws in the group A matches.
Prior to team’s departure for Antwerp, the eleventh hour induction of ex-Olympian Danish Kaleem as coach of the team had also raised quite a few eyebrows.
He was the coach of the Pakistan junior hockey team that finished ninth among 16 teams at the New Delhi Junior Hockey World Cup in 2013 and his sudden promotion as the senior team coach smacked of foul play. Other coaches who were associated with the team including Nasir Ali, Shafqat Malik and Sameer Hussain were abruptly shown the door.
According to information reaching here, almost all the top officials of the cash-strapped Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) including President Akhtar Rasool, secretary Rana Mujahid and Asif Bajwa had left for Belgium, perhaps to avoid the scorching heatwave lashing the country.
The fact of the matter is that the very base of the game has shrunk beyond belief as almost all of the18 academies that were set up across the country to train young hockey players now cease to exist.
Pakistan’s shameful disqualification from the Rio Olympics is the second such humiliationg moment for Pakistan hockey under the present PHF regime after Pakistan had also failed to qualify for the World Cup at The Hague last year.
Besides that, the national hockey team also failed to feature at the Commonwealth Games held at Glasgow last year due to a row between the government and the Arif Hasan-led Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).
The ignominious ouster at Antwerp now have both critics and fans up in arms as they demand a thorough inquiry into the debacle and a complete overhaul of the national game and the PHF and the culprits be severely punished by the government.
Black day for hockey as Pakistan out of Olympics
ANTWERP - "This is a dark day for Pakistan," said Rashid Mehmood as he left the pitch following his team's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ireland. The result means Pakistan have failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their illustrious hockey history.
It was opposite emotions for Ireland's goalkeeper Davey Harte as he reflected upon a game that saw his side soak up pressure for most of the game, before a penalty corner gave them the all-important breakthrough goal. "We knew that it would be that way. Pakistan is a seriously good team, with a higher ranking (10) to Ireland (14). We knew they would come at us, so we were prepared to defend for long periods."
The goal came in the 46th minute when Stephen Dowd won a penalty corner. Alan Sothern stepped up and his shot went like a rocket down the centre of the goal and past Pakistan 'keeper Imran Butt. "We played well and created chances, but we just couldn't score," added Mehmood. These chances included a first quarter attempt that fell to Muhammad Dilber. The forward was unlucky not to see his brave diving deflection sneak past Harte - the tall 'keeper reacting swiftly to steer the ball past the post.
The second quarter saw Pakistan upping the pressure on their European rivals, but a tame effort from Muhammad Umar Bhutta was padded away almost disdainfully by Harte. The Green Shirts kept the ball pinging around Harte's circle but a staunch Irish defence continued to soak up the pressure. Irish hearts were in their mouths when Pakistan called for a video referral in the last five minutes. Their penalty corner request was turned down and Ireland took the game to the other end of the pitch.
Pakistan removed their 'keeper Imran Butt in a last-rich effort to equal the match, but time was against them, as Eugene Magee kept a cool head and held possession as the clock ticked down. The final 100 seconds were played around the Irish circle but somehow, the Green Army held the Green Shirts at bay and their Olympic dream remains alive.
A scoreline of 4-1 suggests Malaysian dominance, but the early stages of the game suggested the result could have gone either way. The first quarter of the game was played at a frenetic pace, with both France and Malaysia creating chances. The deadlock was broken at the start of the second quarter when the ever-industrious Hugo Genestet found Jean Laurent Kieffer (18') with a perfect defence-splitting pass. The deflection flew over 'keeper Roslan Jamaluddin's head.
The lead was short-lived as Shahrun Abdullah's (19') shot rebounded to Muhammad Shamsul, who slammed the ball home. The game continued to be played at a high tempo, with Malaysia having the best of the later exchanges. Faizal Saari chipped the ball over the crossbar, but this was just a warning shot to the French: just a few minutes later, Azuan Hasan (37') dived full length onto a cross to put the Speedy Tigers ahead.
The final session was played with no quarter given. Guillaume Deront was given a yellow card for a tough challenge on his Malaysian counterpart and the French faced a series of penalty corners as Malaysia strove to make their player advantage count. The goal that put the cushion between the teams came courtesy of captain Razie Rahim, a ferocious penalty corner strike that left Martin Zylbermann helpless in the French goal.
In a dramatic final few minutes, Zylbermann was dismissed after a crunching tackle on Saari and Rahim was able to double his personal tally from the penalty spot. "After we lost to India in the quarter-finals, we knew we had to win this one and aim to finish fifth," said Faizal Saari. "We worked hard for each other and supported throughout. It was a tough game, but we kept encouraging each other from the start to the finish." The result means France will face Pakistan in the 7/8th play-off and Malaysia will go onto to contest fifth spot with Ireland.
Shahnaz blames PHF, government for team’s dismissal show
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh refused to accept blame of green shirts dismal show in the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium and term lack of facilities, poor finishing behind green shirts failure to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Talking to The Nation, Shahnaz said: “I have never witnessed such poor finishing. I requested time and again to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to take Olympic qualifiers seriously and provide players better facilities, but no heed was paid in this regard. All the other participating teams had reached Belgium at least two weeks prior to the start of the event and played practice matches against each other in quite a few numbers. On the other hand, we managed to reach only two days prior to the start of the event and got just tow practice matches in available time.”
“I emphasized mainly on plenty corner conversion and spent hours in training on improving plenty corners, defense and coordination among players, but the players completely failed to respond. When our players failed to take benefit from the chances that came their way thick and fast, it was quite obvious, the opponents would take advantage from the situation,” he added.
Shahnaz said: “We have to come over from past glory days dreams. Yes, it is true we had won four world cups and three Olympics, but that is past now. The hockey has changed a lot. Belgium had qualified for the Olympics for the first time in 1976, now they are world number 5. All the other teams and countries had given top priority and invested heavily on hockey and especially on players. Without incentives, contracts and dailies, the players had done tremendously well, but for how long one could expect them to keep on showing desired results.
“The government and corporate sector must have to come forward and lend a helping hand to hockey. I had tried my level best with available resources. We had given superb performances in Asian Games and Champions Trophy, but no one bothers to say a few words of appreciation. The players were disheartened because the Prime Minister was time and again requested to spare time and meet with players so that they might get motivation, but all our requests fall on deaf ears,” he added.
Shahnaz said: “It is true that for the very first time after missing world cup last year, Pakistan hockey team would miss Olympics after participating in each Olympic since 1948, but it is also true we had to face lot of difficulties, pathetic condition of Naseer Bunda hockey stadium resulted in 3 or 4 main players injury and we still struggled to replace key players.”
When asked about his future as head coach and whether he would quit, Shahnaz replied: “One or two bad results don’t mean all the good work done by me and my supporting staff is over. I would remain in hockey and fully prepared to relinquish the post. I demand Prime Minister to order complete postmortem and culprits must be taken to task.”
“Without providing facilities and lifting the living standard of the players, there is no hope Pakistan hockey will come up from ashes. Pakistan hockey needs complete revamp and hefty finances. We were left high and dry. I requested the federation again and again to arrange international tours for the team to provide much-needed international exposure to the players. But no serious efforts were made rather we were given lollypop. I will announce my future after the last game of the event, but I will not make any decision in haste,” Shahnaz concluded.
Pakistan must work seriously to save national game: Shahnaz
ANTWERP: Downcast after Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics post their World League Semifinals loss to Ireland, hockey coach Shahnaz Sheikh on Friday said that it's high time that the stakeholders start working seriously to save the national game.
The Muhammad Imran-led team went down to Ireland 0-1 in the playoffs to send the country in mourning as it will be the first time that there will be no Pakistan hockey at the Rio Games. One of the most successful hockey teams in the Summer Games, Pakistan are only below India (eight) and Germany (four) in number of Olympic Gold medals won.
"This is terrible for Pakistan hockey," says Shahnaz, also a former captain and Olympian, who from the sidelines saw his misfiring strikers squander several goal-scoring chances at the KHC Dragons Stadium.
This was the last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, after losing the Asian Games final to India in Incheon last year.
Pakistan's loss in the first play-off for the fifth to eighth spots means now they cannot finish above the seventh position in this tournament and the Olympic spots for 12 teams from both World League Semifinals cannot go below the sixth place.
"If you don't score goals, you lose. It is as simple as that," said Shahnaz, asserting that Pakistan hockey needs some serious backing.
"We in Pakistan need to work seriously to save our national game," Shahnaz said. "There needs to be some very serious thought for hockey's sake."
Shahnaz said his players were hampered by the lack of resources and had just few international outings in the past one and a half year.
"Apart from playing in the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy, we did not have adequate international exposure," said Shahnaz.
Last year, Pakistan had failed to feature among the 12 teams for the 2014 World Cup, an event that they have won more times than any other country.
"The lack of resources is affecting Pakistan hockey's international performance. No operation can be run without adequate fuel," said Shahnaz.
Shahnaz warned that things can get worse for Pakistan hockey if no effort is made to revive the sport.
"If a sustained effort is not made for hockey's sake, there could be more of such disasters," Shahnaz said.
The Times of India
Indian Women team to face Japan for 5-6th palyoffs
A win against Japan will help Indian Women remain in qualification for Rio Olympics 2016
Antwerp (Belgium), 03 July 2015: An exhilarating game of hockey was witnessed here at Antwerp when the Indian Women Hockey team met Italy and at the end of regulation time the scores stood tied at 1-1. What transpired post that was nail biting and where the Indian eves kept its nerves to come out winners. All set to play for the 5th position in the ongoing tournament as well as keeping the hopes for a berth in the RIO Olympics 2016 alive, the Indian team will now aiming to beat Japan and come out victorious.
The Indian Women team last met Japan during the Hawke’s Bay Cup 2015 where at one point the former was trailing the 0-2 but came back strong to win 3-2, leaving the opponents stunned. This time around the Indian team would play to repeat the same feat and win the all important match. With stakes high, both teams are aware of the importance of a win tomorrow and will leave no stone unturned to ensure the game goes in their favour.
Goalkeeper Savita: “I think the defence will be the key tomorrow. We have to ensure we close the gaps, not allow easy access to our D, not give away penalty corners and hold the fort strong. This will help boost the attack to go for the kill. The initial goal will matter the most tomorrow and we are aware of that. The target from here is to stay in contention for Rio and a win takes us a step closer towards what we are aiming for. While we beat Japan last time around, we are not taking it as a ticket to a win tomorrow. We are aware that Japan too would be playing for the same cause and hence stakes are high.”
Chief Coach Mathias Ahrens: “All departments will have to deliver tomorrow. While scoring the goals are important, saving those crucial goals will be the key. We had a meeting and we are clear that we have to close the gaps and not allow them easy opportunities. They are a strong team and we have to be alert against them.”
India will contest for the 5th/6th position on 4th July 2015 against Japan at 1630 HRS IST.
Malaysian Juniors will have their plate full for the next five months
by Aftar Singh
The National Juniors won the gold medal at the recent Singapore SEA Games.
KUALA LUMPUR: It is going to be a hectic five months for the National Juniors hockey squad who are gearing up for the eighth edition of the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan from Nov 14-22.
The tournament is also the qualifying meet for next year’s Junior World Cup in India.
Malaysia must finish in the top four in Kuantan to feature in the Junior World Cup.
First on the squad’s programme is the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) from Aug 2-Sept 20. Most of the Project squad players will be playing for the six teams in the Premier Division – double champions Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC), Tenaga Nasional, Sapura, Maybank and Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
After the MHL, the squad, who won the Singapore SEA Games gold medal last month, will train for 10 days before competing in the six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Baru from Oct 11-18. The other teams involved in this Under-21 tournament are defending champions India, Pakistan, Australia, Britain and Argentina.
National Juniors coach S. Arulselvaraj admitted that it will be a hectic few months for his players.
“The 25 players in the Juniors squad will be released to play for their respective clubs in the MHL. However, I’ve requested the clubs to release them for three days – from Monday to Wednesday – during the MHL to attend national training sessions,” said Arulselvaraj, who added that the MHL matches will be played on weekends.
So, the Juniors, will surely have their plates full until the Junior Asia Cup.
Malaysia won the 2012 Junior Asia Cup in Malacca to qualify for the 2013 Junior World Cup in New Delhi. Malaysia finished a creditable fourth out of 20 teams in New Delhi.
Hopes are high on the Project 2016 squad to at least repeat that feat come November.
The Star of Malaysia
Pautz puts Tuks in pound seats and UJ live the dream
JONATHAN COOK at UKZN Greenfields Turf
University of Johannesburg celebrate their 2-0 victory over University of Stellenbosch in the University Sport SA final at UKZN Greenfields Turf Friday night.
It was a fairytale ending and a dream come true for the 2015 University Sport South Africa (USSA) hockey champions.
University of Pretoria’s Tuks men were relegated to the B Section two years ago, gained promotion last year and this year were crowned champion student team of South Africa when they beat Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s worthy Madibaz men 3-0 in the final at UKZN Greenfields Turf in Pietermaritzburg Friday night.
And University of Johannesburg’s UJ ladies achieved a dream double in 2015 after winning the Varsity Cup earlier this season and following it up with the USSA title in the first of Friday’s finals.
University of Johannesburg's Lilian du Plessis in possession as University of Stellenbosch's Natasha Rootenberg comes across in the University Sport SA final at UKZN Greenfields Turf Friday night.
Lilian du Plessis, women’s player of the tournament and top goalscorer, scored UJ’s second goal via a penalty corner five minutes from the end to follow up on the fine field goal netted by Robyn Johnson in the 15th minute in the 2-0 win over the determined University of Stellenbosch’s Maties ladies.
Tuks men had to work hard to stop the Madibaz challenge and in the second half it was the silky skills of Richard Pautz that made the ultimate difference after a goalless first stanza.
Four minutes after the changeover Pautz netted a great goal. And the second was even better from a team perspective. The quick hands of Stephen Cant and Tim Guise-Brown down the right channel carved open the opportunity for Pautz to make it 2-0.
Fittingly, it was Tuks captain Andrew Buckley who sealed the win two minutes from the end after Francois Pretorius had made a trademark break from deep defence.
Men’s B Section winners Varsity College have been promoted to the 2016 elite A Section and Wits University drop down. Women’s B Section winners Wits University are promoted and Varsity College ladies drop to the B Section for next year’s event.
FRIDAY CLASSIFICATION MATCHES
Men: (7/8) Ikeys 5 Wits 3; (5/6) UJ 9 UKZN 1; (3/4) Maties 4 Kovsies 0; (Final) Tuks 3 Madibaz 0
Women: (7/8) Ikeys 2 Varsity College 1; (5/6) Tuks 3 Madibaz 2; (3/4) Pukke 3 Kovsies 2; (Final) UJ 2 Maties 0
SA Hockey Association media release
Kenya Police out to claim top spot in hockey 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 | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Nine Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men and women’s premier league matches are on the cards this weekend.
After more than two months out of action, former champions Kenya Police take to the pitch this weekend as they look to move top of the table in the men’s premier league.
The law enforcers entertain Mvita XI at City Park Stadium this afternoon before taking on United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) in Sunday’s top game.
A win in both games will see Police move to the summit of the league, dislodging table toppers Strathmore Gladiators.
Police skipper Brian Saina expects his team to bounce back from the May 16 loss to Western Jaguars before the long break.
“Everyone was disappointed with the loss but that is now behind us and we are eager to get back to winning ways. Having been out of action for a long time, the lads are hungry to win and we will come back refreshed,” the Kenyan international told Nation Sport.
Only one point separates Police and USIU-A, who lost their unbeaten record to Gladiators two weeks ago.
“This is a big match with a lot at stake and we therefore need to be prepared for it. We want the win just as Police do and it will be a real battle for the points,” said USIU-A team manager Tom Olal.
A resurgent Greensharks will be out to pick up another win when they take on bottom-placed Parklands Sports club in another men’s premier league match this afternoon. Sharks beat 2012 champions Sikh Union 2-1 last weekend and will fancy their chances against the winless Parklands side.
In the women’s national league, defending champions Telkom Orange will be out to consolidate their lead when they take on Mount Kenya University on Sunday.
Orange are yet to concede a goal and have scored an impressive 26 goals in four matches.
Orange captain Betsy Omalla is confident the team will reign supreme but noted that the league fixtures were not ideal in aiding the team’s preparations for the African Club championship later this year.
“We play one weekend then we have to wait for a long time before playing again. We need to be playing consistently so that we can be ready to defend our African crown,” Omalla said.
Orange could be in second place by the time they take to the pitch with second-placed Strathmore Scorpions taking on JKUAT in today’s opening match while Daystar Falcons will be in Mombasa to take on Mombasa Sports Club.
FIXTURES (All matches at City Park Stadium unless otherwise stated)
National women: Strathmore University v JKUAT- (12pm), Mombasa Sports Club v Daystar University – 4pm – (Mombasa Sports Club)
National men: NYS v Technical University - (2pm)
Premier men: Kenya Police v Mvita - (4 p.m.), Parklands v Green Sharks - (6pm)
National women: Orange v MKU - (9am)
National men: JKUAT v Kimathi - National (11am)
Premier men: KU v Mvita - (1pm), USIU-A v Kenya Police - (3pm).