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News for 24 July 2015

All the news for Friday 24 July 2015

Host Canada and Argentina advance to gold medal match in Men’s 2015 Pan American Games

2015 Pan American Games - SF - Brazil vs. Canada. Photo: Yan Huckendubler

In thrilling match, Canada beats Brazil in the penalty shoot out to advance to the gold medal match. Taken together with the other semifinal result of Argentina’s 6-0 defeat over Chile, Argentina and Canada advanced to the gold medal match. Chile and Brazil will play in the bronze medal match. Mexico and United States will play for fifth place. In the match for seventh place, Cuba will face Trinidad and Tobago. Argentina’s Gonzalo Peillat leads all scorers with 14 goals and in second place on the goal scoring list is Argentina’s Lucas Vila with 8 goals.  Please check back here for live score updates, social media, post-match interviews and more during the final day of the Men’s competition on 25 July.

Semifinal: Brazil vs. Canada: 0-0 (ht: 0-0) SO: 3-5

The second mens semifinal was between Brazil and Canada. The match started with both teams having shots on goal in the opening minutes. First, Canada’s Matt Guest had a shot blocked by Brazil’s keeper Rodrigo Faustino. And then Patrick van der Heijden had a shot blocked by Canada’s keeper Dave Carter. After facing tough defense by Brazil in the midfield, Canada’s Scott Tupper sent the ball to Sukhi Panesar who had a shot blocked by Faustino. Canada’s Mark Pearson was there for the rebound, but the shot went high. Ten minutes into the first quarter the match was still scoreless. Brazil kept playing good defense to force Canada to pass the ball throughout the midfield. During a scramble in front of the goal, Faustino made a big save in the 13th minute to prevent Canada from scoring. In the final two minutes of the first quarter, Brazil had most of the possession, but Canada played incredibly strong defense to prevent Brazil from entering their attacking circle.

The second quarter started with the score still Brazil 0, Canada 0. In the 18th minute, Guest had the first shot of the second quarter, but his shot was saved by multiple Brazil defenders.  Canada then earned the first penalty corner of the match, but failed to fully inject the ball. Canada continued to pressure on attack, but Brazil continued to play excellent team defense to keep Canada away from its attacking circle for the rest of the second quarter. With one of Canada’s few shots in the second quarter, again by Guest, going wide in the final minute, the score at halftime remained Brazil 0, Canada 0.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter both battled intensely for possession. In the 35th minute, the crowd started to get really loud cheering for Canada, but Patrick van der Heijden and Bruno Sousa continued to play and lead excellent team defense for Brazil. In the 38th minute, Canada earned their second penalty corner of the match, but Brazil’s defense blocked the shot. In the 41st minute Patrick van der Heijden had another big run on attack, but Canada recovered the ball before van der Heijden could get a shot off.  Brazil continued to play incredibly strong defense for the rest of the third quarter to largely prevent Canada from entering their attacking circle. Brazil’s Luis Reus earned a yellow card in the 45th minute and then the third quarter ended with the score still Brazil 0, Canada 0.

The fourth quarter started with Canada having a man advantage due to the yellow card to Reus. In the 51st minute, Gordon Johnston nearly had a goal for Canada, but the shot looked to be saved by the majority of Brazil’s team. In the 54th minute, Canada earned a penalty corner, but Faustino saved the shot. Lucas Paixao then had a run on attack for Brazil, but again Brazil could not manage to retain possession. Canada’s Gabriel Ho-Garcia looked to find Guest in the final seconds, but the ball went wide.

With the match still tied Brazil 0, Canada 0 at the end of regulation, the match went into a penalty shoot out.

In the shoot out, in front of a roaring crowd, Mark Pearson went first for Canada and successfully dodged Faustino for the score. Then Brazil’s Yuri van der Heijden beat Canada’s keeper Dave Carter for the score. Canada’s Devohn Noronha Teixeira just got the ball in on the right post past Faustino for the score. Brazil’s Patrick van der Heijden then did a similar move scoring from the right post around Carter. Canada’s Sukhi Panesar had a long battle with Faustino, but just got the ball in the cage. Carter saved the shot by Reus.  And then Gordon Johnston hit a ball from the top of the circle past Faustino. Brazil’s Stephane Smith then scored. Canada’s Adam Froese shoot out goal lifted high over Faustino gave Canada the semifinal win to advance to the final against Argentina on 25 July. Brazil will play Chile for the bronze medal.

Semifinal: Argentina vs. Chile: 6-0 (ht: 2-0)

The first mens semifinal was between Southern neighbors Argentina and Chile. The match started with Chile on attack and in the second minute Chile’s Martin Rodriguez had the first shot of the match saved by Argentina’s keeper Juan Vivaldi. Two minutes later Argentina’s Gonzalo Peillat had a shot saved by Chile’s keeper Adrian Henriquez. A turnover by Chile’s defender Ignacio Gajardo in Chile’s defensive end helped Argentina keep the ball in their attacking end. In the 6th minute, Matias Rey hit a hard shot at goal that was deflected into goal by Lucas Vila to give Argentina the lead over Chile. In an intense match both teams battled for possession in front of a full stadium full of Argentinean and Chilean flags.  In the 11th minute, good defense by Gajardo and Andres Fuenzalida led to Chile’s Thomas Kannegiesser having a breakaway on attack, but Argentina prevented Kannegiesser from getting a shot off. For the remaining four minutes in the first quarter, play was in Argentina’s attacking half, but with Chile defending strong Argentina could not get another shot off before the end of the first quarter. Thus, the score remained Argentina 1, Chile 0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the first minute of the second quarter, Vila had another shot on goal, but it was saved by Chile’s defender Nicolas Renz who promptly cleared the ball out. Vila was then awarded a green card. Argentina continued to attack, however, and after Captain Matias Paredes just missed the goal in the 18th minute, Argentina earned their first penalty corners of the match. Chile’s defense blocked up two penalty corners and on the third, the penalty corner shot by Peillat went wide. Chile earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 22nd minute. The shot was blocked by Vivaldi and Argentina’s Joaquin Menini played strong defense to help Argentina regain possession and go back on attack. In the 25th minute, Chile’s Fernando Binder was given a green card and Argentina continued to attack. In the 30th minute, Argentina was awarded a penalty corner and Peillat put in his signature drag flick to make the score Argentina 2, Chile 0 at the halftime break.

The third quarter started with Argentina on the attack. Argentina’s Juan Lopez earned a yellow card in the 32nd minute. However, Argentina continued to pressure on attack. In the 39th minute, Argentina’s Brunet had a hard shot from the left side of the circle that was saved by Henriquez. In the 41st minute Chile’s Sebastian Kapsch received a yellow card. Argentina ran fast back on attack and earned two penalty corners in the 42nd minute, Peillat put in his second penalty corner of the match to make the score Argentina 3, Chile 0. In the 44th minute, Argentina earned another penalty corner again Peillat put in the goal to increase his team’s lead to four goals.  Less than one minute later, Paredes scored to make the score Argentina 5, Chile 0.

For the first ten minutes of the fourth quarter Argentina dominated the possession in their attacking half, but Chile played good defense to prevent Argentina from having many shot opportunities. In the 57th minute, Chile’s Sven Richter and Binder had a run on attack blocked by Argentina’s defense. Argentina continued to pressure on attack and with 10 seconds remaining in the match, Brunet made the score Argentina 6, Chile 0 to end the match.

With the win, Argentina advances to the gold medal match and Chile will play for bronze on 25 July.

Crossover 5-8: United States vs. Trindad and Tobago: 2-1 (ht: 1-0)

In the second mens 5-8 crossover, United States and Trinidad and Tobago played. The first ten minutes of the first quarter was a battle for possession. Alex Cunningham had a few opportunities to score for the United States in the first ten minutes of the match, but each time lost the ball off the endline. In the 12th minute, Cunningham had another shot opportunity, but Trinidad and Tobago’s Aiden de Gannes came up with the ball. Both teams kept trading possession. In the final minute of the first quarter, the United States’ Tyler Sundeen had a shot blocked as Trinidad and Tobago’s Shaquille Daniel made a running tackle to keep the score at the end of the first quarter United States 0, Trinidad and Tobago, 0.

The second quarter started with Trinidad and Tobago on attack. Akim Toussaint, Captain Darren Cowie, Tariq Marcano kept pressuring on attack, but could not get a shot off. In the 19th minute, the United States had a shot by Sundeen miss the back of the goal cage. Two minutes later, Trinidad and Tobago’s Toussaint had a hard shot on goal saved by United States’ keeper Christopher Rea that resulted in a penalty corner. The United States saved the penalty corner shot and Trinidad and Tobago continued to pressure on attack. In the 23rd minute, Trinidad and Tobago’s Christopher Scipio looked to create a goal with Dominic Young, but Young was unable to get a shot off. In the 27th minute, the United States earned their first penalty corner of the match. The shot by United States’ Will Holt trickled past Trinidad and Tobago’s keeper Andrey Rocke to give the United States the lead. Trinidad and Tobago rushed back onto attack from the restart and Rea came far out the goal cage to preserve his team’s recent lead. In the 29th minute, Trinidad and Tobago earned a penalty corner, but Rea made multiple saves to keep Trinidad and Tobago from scoring. Rea blocked another Trinidad and Tobago penalty corner shot and the United States held on to their one goal lead over Trinidad and Tobago to end the second quarter. Thus, the score at halftime remained United States 1, Trinidad and Tobago 0.

In the opening minute of the third quarter, Kristien Emmanuel blasted a shot that went wide of the goal cage.  For the next five minutes, both teams fought for possession in the midfield. In the 36th minute, Mickell Pierre found an open Marcano in the circle who blasted the shot past Rea to tie the match United States 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1. The United States went back on attack and a shot by Sundeen quickly regained the lead for the United States in the 38th minute. For the next five minutes, the intensity of the match was felt with both teams playing good defense to prevent each other from making more than two consecutive passes. The United States was awarded a penalty corner a few seconds before time expired in the third quarter. Trinidad and Tobago’s defense blocked up the play to keep the score United States 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1 to close out the third quarter.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the United States earned a penalty corner, but the shot was blocked by Rocke. The United States continued to pressure on attack and Rocke continued to make saves to keep the United States from scoring further. For the next ten minutes, both teams continued to battle for possession in the midfield. In the 58th minute, Trinidad and Tobago’s Stefan Mouttet nearly tied the match, but the shot went wide. Pierre then went fast on attack that led to a penalty corner for Trinidad and Tobago in the 59th minute.  Rea made a big save to stop the shot by Solomon Eccles. With thirty seconds remaining, Trinidad and Tobago took Rocke out of the match, but Trinidad and Tobago could not get another shot off. Thus, the final score remained United States 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1. With the win, United States will face Mexico in the match for fifth place on 25 July.

Crossover 5-8: Mexico vs. Cuba: 3-1 (ht: 1-0)

The first mens 5-8 crossover was between Mexico and Cuba. Cuba played the match with ten players including keeper Leordan Hernandez. For the first six minutes of the first quarter Mexico held most of the possession, but Cuba’s defense prevented Mexico from getting a shot off and from penetrating their attacking circle. Cuba then had a run on attack, but Yendry Delgado could not get a shot off. Mexico regained possession, but Miguel Othon and Irvin Chavez still had trouble getting a shot off for Mexico. In the 12th minute, Cuba had another run on attack and Delgado had a shot opportunity go just wide of the goal cage. With Cuba continuing to play could defense to hold off the Mexico attack the match remained scoreless at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with Cuba fast on attack and earning the first penalty corner of the match in the 17th minute. Cuba failed to execute the penalty corner play. Mexico’s Bruno Peraza and Pol Moreno kept trying to attack for Mexico, but Cuba continued to play strong defense led by Captain Roger Aguilera. Mexico’s Daniel Castillo was given a green card in the 21st minute and Cuba tried to take advantage. Cuba’s Mikel Tritzant had the ball in Cuba’s attacking circle, but just missed connecting with Yasmanny Gutierrez and Mexico regained possession. In the 27th minute, Cuba’s Marcos Martinez had a breakaway on attack that resulted in another penalty corner for Cuba. Blanco’s shot for Cuba, however, was too high and thus, the match remained scoreless. In the 29th minute, Mexico earned their first penalty corner of the match. Campillo converted the penalty corner to give Mexico the lead over Cuba. In the final minute, Mexico held off Cuba’s attack to preserve the score at halftime, Mexico 1, Cuba 0.

To start the third quarter Mexico went fast on attack and Campillo found Guillermo Pedraza for the quick score past Hernandez to make the score Mexico 2, Cuba 0 in the 32nd minute. Cuba immediately went back on attack and earned two penalty corners. Cuba could not get the shot off on the first and on the second Blanco’s shot was saved by Mexico’s keeper Moises Vargas. In the 38th minute, Cuba earned another penalty corner, but Blanco’s shot went high of the goal cage. Cuba continued to pressure on attack. In the 43rd minute, Cuba’s Martinez found Gutierrez who shot the ball past Hernandez to make the score Mexico 2, Cuba 1. Cuba earned two more penalty corners in the 45th minute, but the shot on the second corner went wide. Thus, Mexico kept its one goal lead over Cuba to end the third quarter.

After five minutes of play in Cuba’s attacking half, Mexico took advantage of its first scoring opportunity in its attacking circle as Ricardo Garcia pushed the ball hard past Hernandez to give his team a two goal lead in the 50th minute. Cuba rushed back on attack and earned another penalty corner in the 52nd minute. Blanco’s hard penalty corner hit was saved by Mexico’s keeper Vargas. Cuba continued to pressure on attack and earned another penalty corner in the 58th minute, but Mexico broke up the play. Cuba regained possession and Aguilera’s shot just missed the inside of the goal from the far post. With either team unable to get another shot off in the final minute, the final score remained Mexico 3, Cuba 1. With the win, Mexico will play for fifth place on 25 July. 

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Canada advances to men's final after semifinal win over Brazil

Canadians will face Argentina for the 11th straight Pan Am Games final

Shaheed Devji and Kishan Mistry

Photo: Yan Huckendubler

If there was ever a question of whether history has a tendency of repeating itself, one need only look as far as the Pan American Games field hockey final. With Canada's men's field hockey team beating Brazi in a shootout (0-0 [5-3]) in Thursday's semifinal, the Canadians will face Argentina in the tournament final for the eleventh straight year.


With the win, Canada officially qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But it wasn't an easy task.

After coming off a solid 3-0 quarterfinal win over Trinidad and Tobago, Canada seemed to be in a comfortable place facing off against Brazil in the semifinals.

Coming into the match, now ranked 13th in the world, Canada knew a victory on home soil would guarantee their spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics next August and a place in Saturday's final.

Canada's 9-1 win over Brazil in the tournament's opener would not end up being indicator of how this match would play out. Within moments of the opening quarter it became apparent that this game would be closer than predicted.

It was actually Brazil that got the first shot on goal, forcing goalkeeper David Carter to make a left pad save early.

Canada responded immediately and from then on would control the majoirty of possession.

The Canadians forayed often into the Brazilian end and put many balls through the Brazilian circle, but despite several good build-ups, they couldn't manage a goal.

Canada's best chances in the first half came off the sticks of Matthew Guest and Gabriel Ho-Garcia.

Guest was able to fire a high and hard shot at the Brazilian keeper Rodrigo Faustino, who batted the shot away with the blocker in the thirteenth minute.

Ho-Garcia followed that up in the twenty-fifth minute with a reverse shot from the top of the circle, but Faustino squeezed the pads and kept it out, keeping the game scoreless at half-time.

In the second, Canada continued to press but without reward. The final two quarters were highlighted by two Canadian penalty corners resulting in two unsuccessful drag flicks from Scott Tupper.

The game needed a shootout to be solved and Canada - which has had recent history in big shootouts - seemed comfortable, despite the pressure on home soil.

Both teams scored on their first two attempts. Canada's Mark Pearson and Devohn Noronha-Teixeira converted, before Sukhi Panesar scored their third. Gordon Johnston also scored for Canada.

Brazil, however, was thwarted on its third shot after David Carter made a sprawling left toe save.

That save would set up Adam Froese, who was scored two shootout winners in the last 18 months, for the shot to win.

Froese took his time before flipping the ball high past Faustino, giving Canada the win, a spot in the tournament final and a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Field Hockey Canada media release

USMNT Beats Trinidad and Tobago to Advance to 5th/6th Place Game

Photo: Paul Winstanley

TORONTO, Canada – During the second men's consolation match of the day at the Pan American Games, the U.S. Men’s National Team took a 2-1 win over 29th FIH World Ranked Trinidad and Tobago in an evenly contested game. With the victory, Team USA will face Mexico on Saturday, July 25 at 11:30 a.m. EST in the 5th and 6th place game.

"We had a very disappointing day against Brazil in our previous match," said U.S. Men's Head Coach Chris Clements. "We knew we had to continue today and be who we are on the field. We did that right from the very first minute and again created multiple chances in the first period which could have put the game beyond doubt even in the first period. Overall, we knew how we needed to play."

Team USA came out quick from the midfield,  as circle penetrations translated into shots on cage. In the 3rd minute, Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) drove with the ball down the center of the field into the attacking end and sent a solid strike just wide of the cage. Moritz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) followed a minute later with a backhanded cross from the left baseline that didn’t connect with a teammate’s stick.

Persistent to find a connecting goal pass, Team USA swung the ball around the defensive quarter of the field waiting for the prime opportunity to release a forward outlet. A chance came in the 14th minute when Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) fed a ball to Sundeen who was set to take a backhand shot toward goal but the chance was jabbed away by a Trinidad and Tobago defender.

Aggressive to notch a goal on the board, Team USA had a flurry of shots on cage at the beginning of the second quarter but were unable to produce a result. Trinidad and Tobago quickly countered with possession and ripped a backhanded shot that was denied by USA’s goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.) but the save directed the ball on to a USA foot resulting in a penalty corner. Off the corner, Barminski held strong on the left post to collect and cleanly clear the ball out of danger.

With the game remaining scoreless, both teams attempted to maintain possession and find a scoring opportunity. In the 25th minute, Trinidad and Tobago had a shot on goal that Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) defensively saved on the right post and outletted up the field. A minute later, Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) forced a foul in the circle to earn Team USA’s first penalty corner. A perfectly set corner piece translated as Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Ger.) faked a drag flick  and then passed to Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) who sent a low backhand into the goal to give USA a 1-0 lead.

Responding effectively off the restart whistle, Trinidad and Tobago maneuvered the ball into their attacking circle and earned a penalty corner a minute later. After a goalmouth scramble, Trinidad and Tobago received another penalty corner but USA’s goalkeeper Rea absorbed two back-to-back shots to keep the score at USA 1, Trinidad and Tobago 0 going into halftime.

"We knew we needed to come out hard and put in the work to get the win," said U.S. Men's National Team Athlete Johnny Orozco (Ventura, Calif.). "We gave all our effort today to get to our new goal of the 5th/6th placement stage. I'm really proud of this group, of what we've done and what we can do in the future."

Just seconds out of the halftime, a Trinidad and Tobago forward was eager to find the equalizer as he sprinted into the attacking circle on the right and released a hard strike that went just wide of the target. Remaining defensively strong, Team USA was able to work together to anticipate incoming Trinidad and Tobago threats.

In the 36th minute, Trinidad and Tobago found the equalizer as a deflected ball found Tariq Marcano, who capitalized on a backhand shot on cage to tie the game at 1-1. The locked score didn’t last long as two minutes later, Team USA charged into the offensive end of the field where an aerial ball from Kaeppeler found Sundeen who sent one into the cage to change the score to USA 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1.

Just before the close of the third quarter, Holt tested the Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper with a sharp shot to the upper right corner of the cage that was saved with an extended reach. Team USA kept possession and earned a penalty corner but the shot didn’t translate.

Wasting no time in the fourth quarter, the USMNT earned a penalty corner. Holt’s drag flick cruised past the left post narrowly missing. Chances kept arising for Team USA as Alex Grassi (Brookeville, Md.) weaved through Trinidad and Tobago traffic to locate Sundeen whose shot was turned away.

The energy levels on the field remained high as the final 10 minutes of play started with even possession. Looking to add another goal on the scoreboard, Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.) sent a low backhand ball toward the cage but the attempt was saved by Trinidad and Tobago’s goalkeeper. Trinidad and Tobago reacted and moved the ball down the field to earn a penalty corner. Just before time expired, USA’s goalkeeper Rea defended the goal line with a diving save and Kaeppeler retrieved the ball off Rea’s pads to clear it out of danger, securing the final score USA 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1.

"It's a challenge for a top athlete when you give everything you have and then you don't perform on a certain day to end up in the bottom bracket of an event, but we made ourselves determined to finished 5th," added Clements. "We obviously wanted the goal differential to be greater. We really need to look closely at finishing in the circle. The balls are right there; the shots are right there. The finishing touch is all that's missing." 

The U.S. Men’s National Team will move on to the 5th/6th place game on Saturday, July 25 at 11:30 a.m. EST against Mexico.

USFHA media release

USA Women qualify for Rio 2016 Olympic Games

USA women have qualified for the hockey event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  USA women beat Canada in their semi-final match this morning, to confirm their place in the final of the Pan Am Games and ultimately their place in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Argentina women won the other semi-final in Toronto and have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.  With both teams in the final, qualification for USA women is guaranteed either as winner of the Pan Am Games (Continental Champions) or the next highest ranked placed team from the Hockey World League Semi-Finals should the Continental Champion already have qualified.

USA women join the eight teams already qualified for Rio 2016.  Korea as Asian Games Champions and Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and Argentina through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.  New Zealand women also joined the line up yesterday.  Host Nation Brazil women failed to meet the qualification criteria and their place went to New Zealand as the next highest ranked placed team at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.

The remaining three Olympic places (women) will not be finalised until after the Continental Championships which finish in October this year.

FIH site

Canadian men’s field hockey team qualifies for 2016 Rio Olympics

Canada will return to Olympics for the first time since 2008

Shaheed Devji

Adam Froese celebrates not only scoring in the shootout, but Canada's qualification for the Rio Olympic Games. Photo: Yan Huckendubler

Toronto, ON – The Canadian men’s field hockey team is going back to the Olympic Games. By winning its semifinal match against Brazil and advancing to the 2015 Pan American Games field hockey final against Argentina, Canada has secured a spot to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“As a (field) hockey player and for a lot of amateur athletes, the Olympics is the ultimate experience in your sporting career,” says Canadian captain Scott Tupper, who competed at the 2008 Olympics as a 21 year-old and is one of two former Olympians on the team. “Having been to one and knowing how special it can be and what's it's like, having to sit one out and watch (2012) was definitely the low point of my career.”

"To be going back in a leadership role ... it's really special. I think it will truly truly sink in over the next few days and the next few weeks, that we've got a really fantastic year of build up to come and the excitement that goes with preparing for an Olympic Games and ultimately competing in one.

A combination of Canada winning in the shootout (0-0 [5-3]) against Brazil, and Argentina winning its semifinal against Chile means the Canadians – no matter what happens in the final match – get a ticket to Rio in 2016.

Canada joins eight other nations who have qualified for the 2016 Games. Twelve teams in total will compete in the field hockey competition in Rio.

“The Olympics has been a goal for our team since the upset of Guadalajara four years ago” says Adam Froese, who scored the shootout winner in Canada's Olympic clinching 5-4 shootout win over Brazil. “We've been working really hard as a group. The guys here, the guys who aren't on the team today, we've all worked really hard. This is just a moment for all of us to enjoy those hard hours that we put in."

Canada reached the point of Olympic qualification through a strong finish at the World League Semifinal in Argentina in June. At that tournament, the Canadians – who are ranked fifteenth in the world – upset two teams (Spain and New Zealand) higher than them in the standings, leading to a fourth place finish and a virtually guaranteed spot in Rio.

The Canadians last competed in the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, China, where they finished tenth.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Indian women's hockey team almost assured of 2016 Rio Olympics spot

Victorious Indian women's hockey players after defeating Poland in the FIH hockey world league final match in New Delhi on March 5, 2015. With USA's qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Indian women are now virtually through to the Olympics as well. (PTI File Photo)

The defeat of the Canadian women's hockey team by USA in the semi-final of the Pan American Games in Toronto on Thursday to confirm the United States' place in the final and thus their place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games also virtually confirmed India’s spot for Rio de Janeiro as they are now the next higher ranked team from the Hockey World League Semifinals with three more Continental championships to go.

If any of the already qualified teams win their Continental championships, to be finalised by the end of October, India will confirm their spot for the 12-team competition.

If USA win Friday’s final in Toronto, they qualify for Rio as Continental champions. If they lose, they will still get through as Argentina have already qualified and USA are the next highest ranked team in the Hockey World League.

Both USA and India had finished fifth in the two Hockey World League Semifinals at Valencia and Antwerp respectively but USA are ranked higher (8th as compared to 13th of India) and thus were the first stand-by.

The Indian women have played in the Olympics only once – the 1980 event in Moscow where they lost 1-3 to the Soviet Union in the bronze medal match.

India’s spot for Rio will be confirmed if either of Netherlands, Germany, or England win the Euro Nations Championships starting on August 30 in London. They will have to wait for a few more days in case Belgium, ranked 12th in the World in the latest rankings issued on Thursday, or Spain win the European championship ahead of higher ranked teams.

In case they miss their berth because of a huge upset at the European Championship, India can get through the Oceania Cup in October as both Australia and New Zealand (ranked two and four in the latest rankings) have already qualified.

The only scenario in which India will fail to get their ticket to Rio is if both Australia and New Zealand are toppled by Fiji and Samoa, both of whom don’t even figure in the top 35 in world rankings, in the 9th Oceania Cup to be held from October 21-25 at Stratford, New Zealand.

Hindustan Times

Hockey's Rio nod lifts spirits

Women can start planning but men face more battles

By David Leggat

Anita Punt and her team can use the Oceania Cup to work on their game strategies. Photo / Paul Taylor

The women's Black Sticks had a strong inkling they would make it to Rio; still, yesterday's confirmation that they will be in the 12-team Olympic tournament lifted the spirits.

Planning can now start in the knowledge there is an end-game locked in next August in South America, which is far more than can be said for the men's national team.

Both teams will play the Oceania Cup over Labour Weekend in Stratford, but with vastly different agendas. The seventh-ranked men must beat world No 1 Australia to get to Rio. The women can use the series to work on their game strategies.

They met Australia twice in the world league semifinals in Antwerp early this month. The fourth-ranked Black Sticks won the pool game decisively, 2-0, in one of their stronger 60-minute displays in recent years, then lost their semifinal 4-2.

"It will be good not to have that heavy pressure on us but going into it you still want to win," midfield dynamo and captain Anita Punt said yesterday.

"It helps build confidence, especially for the younger girls, that we can play well and beat them. So we're not going just to compete."

The women then have the world league finals in Rosario, Argentina, at the end of the year, which will act as an authentic prelude to the Olympics. Seven of the world's top eight ranked countries will be there.

There are a couple of other tournaments in the pipeline and the women will find they get a pile of opportunity and support.

How the men's national team must envy them.

They have put themselves on a slippery slope by failing to secure their ticket to Rio at the world league semifinal in Buenos Aires in June. Losses to Canada in a marathon shootout, then Spain - both ranked several places lower than New Zealand's seventh - cost them dear.

Yesterday another plank was pulled from beneath them when Olympic hosts Brazil beat the United States in a penalty shootout at the Pan Am championships in Toronto.

That meant the 37th-ranked Brazilians fulfilled the criteria for contesting the Olympics by making the top six.

New Zealand desperately needed Brazil to miss out, thereby leaving one extra space open.

The qualification process is complex, but the upshot is Ireland, world No 14, are expected to take a place in the field which might otherwise have been seventh-ranked New Zealand's. Of course, all that doom and gloom can be washed away if New Zealand beat Australia in Stratford.

Both Olympic tournaments have four places left, reserved for the champions of Africa, Europe, Oceania and a space left once performances are recalibrated and compared from the world league events.

New Zealand beat Australia on penalties in the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia in April and are competitive against their neighbours.

Still, it's not how they saw their qualification bid playing out.

The New Zealand Herald

Green Army into Eurohockey Final and promoted to Divison A

Ireland secured a 4-0 victory over Belarus in the Eurohockey Championships II semi-final and in doing so, have not only earned themselves a spot in the final but also promotion to the top division in European hockey!

The Green Army dominated a game that at times lacked fluidity and required focused defending from both sides. Naomi Carroll scored Ireland’s first goal in the 8th minute, a simple tap in and her fourth goal of the tournament. Megan Frazer created several chances throughout the game and was rewarded with a goal in the 22nd minute; Shirley McCay made it 3-0 six minutes later as she swept the ball goalward during a penalty corner routine. McCay also earned her 208th cap for Ireland today, equalling Nikki Symmons record as the most capped woman in Irish hockey history!

The second half saw a period of increased pressure from the Belarussian side but McFerran showed her ever-increasing experience to keep a clean sheet. An intricate link up between Katie Mullan and Chloe Brown in the circle should have ended up in the back of the net but the final goal didn’t come until the 64th minute, courtesy of Brown as she scored her third goal of the tournament.

The win means Ireland are promoted to Division A, the top division, in European hockey.

Coach Graham Shaw said “We’re happy with the result and the performance today. We controlled the phases well and created a lot of chances. We set a target of gaining promotion back to A Division which is very important for us as a group going forward. We are delighted with achieving that and are looking forward to the final on Saturday”.

Ireland will play in the final on Saturday at 2:15pm (Irish time).

Eurohockey Championships II Semi Final, Prague

Ireland 4 (Carroll, Frazer, McCay, Brown)
Belarus 0

Team: McFerran, Brown, Mullan, McCay, Frazer (C), Carroll, Pinder, Watkins, Daly, Matthews, Sargent

Subs: Davis, O'Byrne, Lloyd, Duke, McDonald, Meeke, Beatty.

Irish Hockey Association media release

FIH update the World Rankings with no change at the top

USA women slip down the rankings while Canada men move higher

Despite 132 hockey matches, totalling 297 hours of hockey coverage around the world, there has been no change at the top of the world ranking, with Australia men and Netherlands women holding their positions.
As both the men’s number one and the women’s number one sides won their Hockey World League Semi-Final matches in style that comes as no surprise. And by winning their respective Semi-Finals, both the Kookaburras and the Oranje have increased their lead as they each gained 25 points for the victories. The four Semi-Final events have also made an impact upon the world rankings lower down the order.
In the women’s rankings the biggest slider has been the USA, a fifth place finish at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia has seen the Pan-American team slip from fifth to eighth, allowing Germany, China and England to all move above them, now sitting at fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

This is the tightest area of the women’s world ranking as only 19 points separate four teams – Germany 1553, China 1548 and England 1539, USA 1535. Further down the rankings, Spain has moved back ahead of Ireland from 15th to 14th.
With four continental championships still to be played – Pan-American, European, Oceania and Africa – and the Hockey World League Final later this year, then plenty more movement can be expected.
For the men’s rankings, India have moved up one place to eighth in the table, and Canada – who put in a magnificent performance in Buenos Aires at the first Hockey World League Semi-Final event – move up two places to 13th in the world. South Africa men slip down the rankings from 13th to 15th.
Belgium and England, who rank fourth and fifth respectively, have only 27 points separating them, giving this year’s European Championships extra emphasis. The Championships also offer an opportunity for Spain to jump into the top 10 if they perform well in London, they currently sit in 11th place, just 12 points from Pakistan.
While Australia continues to sit at the top of the rankings, the European giants are queuing up behind them – Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and England. Argentina continues to hold sixth place after their good performance in Buenos Aires, while New Zealand will be looking nervously over their shoulder at the Asian teams of India and Korea, who are less than 50 points below.
The Netherlands dominate the women’s scene. The chasing pack is a truly cross-continental affair with Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and China all giving chase. South Africa hold their position at 11, but a good performance in Europe by Belgium will see the youthful but ambitious Red Panthers snapping at the heels of the African number one team.
The next rankings update will take place at the completion of the continental championships at the end of October and then following the Hockey World League Finals in December.

Click here to see the latest World Rankings

FIH site

Indian men rise to 8, women static at 13th in new FIH rankings

NEW DELHI: India climbed up a rung to occupy the eighth spot in the men's section, while the eves remained static at 13th position in the latest International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings issued on Thursday.

The FIH released the latest world rankings following the completion of four events comprising the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Buenos Aires and Antwerp (men); Valencia and Antwerp (women).

India men's hockey team's rise can be attributed to their fourth place finish in the World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp earlier this month.

World Cup holders Australia men and the Netherlands women remain at the top of the chart after both teams won their respective Hockey World League Semi-Final events, beating Belgium and Korea in the finals.

In the men's rankings, the Netherlands, who won silver in the 2014 World Cup remain in second place, while Olympic gold medallists Germany, who also won their Hockey World League Semi-Final, are in third place.

The battle for fourth spot continues between Belgium (4) and England (5) as just 27 points separate the two teams. Argentina (6) and New Zealand (7) remain unchanged followed by India, while Korea and Pakistan complete the top 10 list in the men's category.

Meanwhile, it is getting tight in the battle for top spots in the women's rankings as just 14 points separates Germany (5), China (6) and England (7).

While Australia (2), Argentina (3) and New Zealand (4) remain unmoved, USA women have dropped from fifth to eighth.

The Times of India

Mike: Forget about current batch

By Jugjet Singh

OLYMPIAN Maninderjit Singh feels the current senior national team should be disbanded as Malaysia look forward to four major tournaments in the next five years.

This came about after Brazil qualified for the semi-finals of the Pan American and met the criteria set by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to play as Olympic hosts.

Brazil upset United States 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out, after 1-1 regulation score, and dashed World League fifth reserves Malaysia's hopes of playing in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

"With no more chance of playing in next year's Olympics, the current senior squad should be disbanded and plans be formulated leading towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"Looking at the age of this team, about eight of them would be too old to play good hockey by the next Olympics, and also, there are three more important tournaments to qualify and play in," said Maninderjit who also briefly held the post of secretary in the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

And there are three tournaments in 2018. World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

"A detailed plan leading to the qualifications of the World Cup and Olympics must be formulated, and targets set for the men's and women's as well as both the junior teams.

"The MHC must also come out with a code of conduct for players, as this was one of the problems which led to a dismal outing in many previous tournaments," said Maninderjit.

Malaysia ranked 12th in the World, last played in the Olympics in Sydney 2000, where Maninderjit was a defender.

"The CEO (K. Logan Raj) must also monitor the progress of all four teams and call for a monthly review. The task is heavy, but  Malaysia must wake up early, or they will find themselves playing in qualifiers without any real hope of playing in the World Cup and Olympics," said Maninderjit.

MHC have already received the World League Semi-finals report from coach Tai Beng Hai and and it will be reviewed by the coaching committee either at the end of the month or first week of August.

And when the MHC Executive Board meets in the middle of August, they are expected to name a foreign coach, highly likely Australian Terry Walsh, to become the Technical Director and chart Malaysia's path towards the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Monkstown sign new coach Jonny Caren

Irish champions Monkstown have signed the national men’s assistant coach Jonny Caren as their new coach for the upcoming season, moving to the club after five years with Belfast Harlequins.

Caren’s coaching career began in Australia in New South Wales, working with the AHL team there before returning to Ireland.

More recently, he was head coach for the successful Irish Under-21 team, taking gold in the European B division in Lousada, Portugal last July and an advisor to the other national underage teams.

He has also regularly worked as the Irish men’s assistant coach and will be aiming to use his experience to extend Town’s reign as national champions into a fourth year, carrying on the work of Graham Shaw.

Caren will also be charged with building a development programme for the club’s youth academy. His squad will be bolstered by the return of Kyle Good following a year in Belgium with Dragons and they will look forward to playing at a new water-based pitch in Rathdown in the coming season,

One of the new coach’s first challenges is likely to be on preparation for the Euro Hockey League where Town have been handed a tough group but will see opportunity in the fact they have avoided a big dog from either Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium.

They have been placed in a three-team group with Spain’s third ranked side Egara and English runners-up East Grinstead for Round 1 which will be hosted by Harvestehuder in Hamburg from October 9-11, 2015.

Euro Hockey League media release

Van Strydonck experience key for Leo

Royal Leopold will return to the Euro Hockey League in Hamburg after a three year absence but they will have plenty of know-how in their ranks with the additions of Elliot van Strydonck and Gabriel Dabanch.

Both players were part of the Oranje Zwart side that won the competition last season in Bloemendaal and are hoping to make an impact.

Leopold look to be the favourites for success in Pool C on paper having been paired with Russian runners-up Dinamo Elektrostal and Italian newcomers SG Amsicora.

And van Strydonck told the Hockey Belgium website that his side are “happy with the draw. Both teams are within our reach.”

The club have some experience of Russian opposition, beating Izmailovo Moscow three years ago at the same stage of the competition 4-1. Van Strydonck admits, though, that he has “no idea” of the Italian side’s level.

"We have participated in this great competition only once.That was three years ago. But today, our team is different. I think we can achieve good performances with this group that is more experienced and more professional in the past three seasons.

“We must make every effort so that Leo become present every year in the EHL.We must follow the example of the Dragons who became a major player in Europe. "

Euro Hockey League media release

Deepak does the star turn for IOC again

K. Keerthivasan

GOAL-GETTER: IOC had Deepak Thakur (orange jersey, centre), seen scoring one of his four goals, to thank for as it pipped CAG to top Pool A. Photo: R. Ragu   

Deepak Thakur has been the go-to man for Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for quite a while.

And he has lived up to his billing by scoring most of the goals for his team in the 89th all-India MCC Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here.

On Thursday, the 34-year-old once again proved his value to the side by scoring all four goals in defending champion IOC’s 4-3 victory over Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG).

With the victory, IOC topped Pool A with 10 points from its quota of four matches while CAG had to settle for second place with seven from four.

IOC will take on Punjab & Sind Bank while CAG will challenge Army XI in the semifinals to be played on Saturday.

In an inconsequential Pool A match, Avtar Singh’s late goal was instrumental in Namdhari XI’s solitary-goal win over Mumbai.

Namdhari and Mumbai finished their engagements with four and two points.

Truth be told, IOC has been scratchy in the tournament with too much reliance on Deepak. Against CAG, for the major part of the first half, it was a pretty close contest. After Deepak missed an easy chance with a wayward strike, CAG opened the account through Naemuddin’s strike off a penalty-corner. Though CAG made some eye-catching moves it lost possession in the ‘D’.

IOC, which had more possession, created a few chances with Deepak and Sunil Yadav making valiant efforts to equalise. The equaliser came soon when Deepak deflected home a pass from the right by Vikash Sharma.

CAG impressed for a while in the second session with Naemuddin and Avesh Ansari combining well. Later, V. Shanmugam’s delicious pass from the left went abegging before Naemuddin scored his second, tapping in a rebound off the ’keeper Baljit Singh’s pads.

Deepak was at hand again to equalise when he converted off a penalty-corner move after Didar Singh’s drive ricocheted from the ’keeper’s pads. Within minutes Deepak had IOC ahead when he scored following a melee.

There was more drama to come 10 minutes later when CAG made it 3-3 through a cleanly struck corner by skipper Mahendra Kumawat.

And as has been the case in this tournament, Deepak came to IOC’s rescue once again by scoring an opportunistic goal in the dying minutes.

Friday is a rest day.

The results:

Pool A: IOC 4 (Deepak Thakur 29, 49, 52, 69) bt CAG 3 (Naemuddin 12, 47, Mahendra Kumawat 62); Namdhari XI 1 (Avtar Singh 68) bt Mumbai 0.

The Hindu

India women go down to China 2-4 in Volvo Invitational U-21

BREDA (The Netherlands): After drawing level with Germany in their last game, India U-21 women's team went down fighting against China 2-4 in the Volvo Invitational U-21 hockey Tournament.

The match began with Indian women possessing the ball and making swift attacks at the goalpost with an aim to take early lead in the game on Wednesday. There effort fructified when in the 9th minute, India's Punam Barla struck a brilliant field goal to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Making constant endeavours into the opponent's inner circle, China's Mang Yuan struck an equaliser in the 16th minute and levelled the scores at 1-1.

With boosted spirit, China continued making efforts and it was Mengling Zhong who struck another field goal in the 20th minute taking the scores at 2-1, which remained till the half time.

The second half of the game began with much strength and poise as China continued to dominate. In the 51st minute, China was awarded with a penalty corner which was efficiently converted by Zixia Ou.

Indian eves bounced back into the game through Anupa Barla who converted an opportunity in the 66th minute taking the scores to 2-3.

The last minute of the game proved to be fruitful for China as Mang Yuan surged ahead and smacked the fourth goal for her team in the 70th minute.

India will meet New Zealand on Friday. The two teams had last met last year in a six-match series, where both the teams drew three matches, New Zealand won 2 and India won one match.

"We have to look ahead and aim to win our match against New Zealand tomorrow. The team will have to convert the penalty corners which will help them out the pressure on the opponents. Our defence even has to come out strong and ensure that we do not give away easy goals," chief coach Mathias Ahrens said.

The Volvo Invitational U-21 Tournament 2015 is being played at Breda, The Netherlands from July 18-26.

The Times of India

Batra dissociates himself with Evaluation Committee

s2h Team

Hockey India president Narender Dhruv Batra has announced that he will not be part of the evaluation committee he formed last fortnight to evaluate Indian team's performance at the HWL SF held at Antwerp, Belgium.

His decision assumes significance against the raging controversy of national chief coach Dutch Import Paul van Ass' reluctance to return to India, quoting he has been 'fired', which HI refutes.

The Committee to be chaired by triple Olympian and national selector Harbinder Singh, will sit tomorrow for the first time. Since Batra has said that he will go by the decisions of the Committee, the meeting is eagerly expected

"If the Committee will ask me to bring back Paul van, I will go to Netherlands to fly him in business class", Batra said this site yesterday.

"This is an independent committee, all the members are Olympians or international players. I am also looking forward to their decisions', he added.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Olympians B.P Govinda, Vasudevan Baskaran, A.B Subbaiah, Thoiba Singh, R.P Singh, Asunta Lakra and Jasjeet Kaur. The meeting will be held tomorrow (24 July 2015).

The Special Committee will review the reports, relevant data etc and provide feedback and recommendations for the future course of action for the Teams in their preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games.


Problem is Batra, not van Ass, says former coach Brasa

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

The ongoing drama over the "sacking" of India hockey coach Paul van Ass just five months into the job has thrown up a host of questions.

As coaches continue to be changed and chopped - van Ass is the fourth in five years to be shown the door - and the national team suffers in its wake, those at the top are left unshaken.

Hockey India president Narinder Batra, who claims that van Ass has not been sacked yet, even termed the Olympic and World Cup silver medal-winning Dutchman "a poor coach" and has called for a meeting on Friday to decide on the latter’s future.

Former coach Jose Brasa - who led India to medals in the 2010 Commonwealth and the Asian Games - called for HI officials to "come out of the stone age era" and "save their country’s hockey".

"The solution to India’s problem is very easy. Paul van Ass is an outstanding coach and must come back to India, and Narinder Batra has to resign," Brasa said in an interaction from Madrid.

"Batra wants to be the start of everything. He always wants to be the prima donna.

"The first day you meet him, Batra can promise you the moon, he did that with me and my assistant and after that he interfered in every single point," the 62-year-old said.

During his tenure, Brasa had several run-ins with the Batra-led administration and most of them concerned team selection, camp venues, preparation series and the need to have a free hand to implement decisions.

"After the 2010 Delhi World Cup, we were called urgently for a meeting at Batra’s home to analyse the performance. It was not a discussion, it was simply an attack on us. He even fired physical trainer David Perez, saying, ‘I know more about physical fitness than any other person in the world’. Such arrogance is never good for a sport," he said.

If one is to assess the current scenario, it seems imminent that van Ass’ days as India coach are all but over.

Said Brasa, "The real problem is that coaches do not have freedom to work in India. Whenever I had an argument with Hockey India or SAI, they treated me like a worm. They believe that we coaches have no knowledge, and I also felt that they do not consider us as humans, this despite that all of us have more experience in coaching than all of them combined.

"In fact, HI and SAI were so useless that they could not get one single training match for the team at the National Stadium before the 2010 World Cup."
Brasa recalled how he had a tough time dealing with the high-handed authorities here.

"After the World Cup, SAI did not allow me to have a holiday, Mr Pravir Krisn abused me and threatened to send me to a SAI camp in the north of India to train schoolboys. I think they wanted me to resign.

"In fact, SAI did not pay me my full salary. Even today, SAI owes me money. It was in my contract that the SAI has to pay for the tickets of my family visiting me, but after the visit they deducted that money from my salary. Is this how you treat foreign coaches?" he asked.

Brasa added that there was a definite need to "adapt a sporting culture" if India were serious about developing their hockey.

"In any country, hockey board members are fully determined to help the coach. It’s the opposite in India, who are living in the stone era," he said.

Why is Oltmans silent?

High performance director Roelant Oltmans’ role assumes importance in the wake of the ongoing hockey controversy.

According to Paul van Ass, it was Oltmans who had communicated to him about his "sacking" in an email, while HI president Narinder Batra has dismissed the claim saying the communication between the two coaches had nothing to do with the federation.

If HI has not sacked van Ass yet - as Batra claims - why is the federation not seeking answers from Oltmans on his email? Did Oltmans sent a mail on his own without consulting the federation, or was he asked by HI to do so?

The 62-year-old, who has taken charge as India coach and is usually available for interaction, has been totally quiet following the controversy. All attempts to reach him through mail or phone have
proved futile.

The Asian Age

Now, sports secretary calls coach Van Ass a liar

Sabi Hussain

NEW DELHI: A day before the all-important Hockey India (HI) meeting that will decide the fate of “sacked” Indian men’s team coach Paul van Ass, the Dutchman finds himself on a sticky wicket.

Ever since the controversy broke out, the veteran coach had been maintaining that he neither received the return ticket to India nor was he informed about the national camp at Shilaroo. However, HI chief Narinder Batra releasing the details of the flight ticket and Sports Secretary Ajit Mohan Sharan’s statement that Van Ass is speaking “white lies” on certain issues has made his return difficult.

Van Ass today said that he had received the mail from HI on June 9, but failed to “confirm” the return ticket as it slipped his mind.

“I checked my mailbox yesterday and there was a return booking to Delhi for July 17. I just had to confirm it, but I missed it. But, during all this, I came to know that I was not welcome anymore,” Van Ass told The Tribune from Rotterdam.

Van Ass has mailed all the communication from HI to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and is awaiting the reply. “I have sent the mails to SAI. I asked them twice if they received it or not. There has been no response.” However, Sharan informed that what Van Ass has sent to SAI doesn‘t indicate clearly that he has been sacked.

“He has sent some mails, but I would rather term those as ‘rambling’. Those were not definitive mails. Also, he was lying about the flight ticket as we have ourselves seen that the booking was made in his name,” Sharan told The Tribune.

Sharan said Van Ass has claimed that High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans told him that he has been sacked, but when Van Ass was asked to forward the mail, he refused. “He has not shared the mail with SAI. Why is he not sending it to us? And, by the way, who is Oltmans to sack him? Was he directed by SAI to do so? He has no authority to appoint or sack anyone. Van Ass should have checked it with us. He has a contract with SAI, not HI,” Sharan added.

When asked about it, Van Ass said: “I assumed that Batra had a contract with the SAI. He could sack me. But that was not the case. This means I still have a chance. I am ready to come back and meet all the parties involved.” But, Van Ass’ return seems unlikely as the Ministry, SAI and HI are on the same page this time around. When asked how he could believe Oltmans’ mail to be his marching orders when it was not on HI’s official letterhead, Van Ass: “Oltmans had written in his capacity as Technical Director. On Tuesday (July 14), it was confirmed that Elena Norman (HI CEO) had contacted the SAI. The formal letter was just a matter of days.”Asked why is he not sharing the mail with the SAI or making it public, Van Ass said: “Don’t worry. There’s a meeting tomorrow in Delhi. If they keep blaming me, I will release the mails.”

The Tribune

Dhanraj disappointed, Somaya hopeful

G. Viswanath

Dhanraj Pillay.

An extremely emotional individual, former hockey forward Dhanraj Pillay is upset with India’s capitulation by big margins to Australia, Belgium and Great Britain in the recent Fintro Hockey World League at Antwerp.

India lost 6-2 to Australia, 4-0 to Belgium in the semifinals and 5-1 to Great Britain in the third-fourth position match.

Engaged by the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) the 47-year-old Dhanraj is currently training u-12, u-14, u-16 and u-18 boys in Vadodara.

Dhanraj appeared quite annoyed with the status of Dutchman Paul van Ass that has forced India to hunt for another coach a year before the summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

He did not want to dwell too much on Australians Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh’s short stint with the Indian team.

A star player in the 1990s, Dhanraj reiterated his view that it was time to have faith in an Indian coach.

“What have the High Performance Director (Roelant Oltmans) and coach (van Ass) done. When I played for India, we never lost by such big margins to teams like Belgium and Great Britain.

“I agree that times have changed, and Indian team too has changed for the better, yet there is no excuse to lose by such big margins to Belgium and Great Britain.

“It’s not too late to appoint an Indian coach. He can prepare the team for the Rio Olympics which is a good 12 months away,” said Dhanraj.

Having played more than 330 matches for India, Dhanraj said the HI and SAI play a big role in the development of Indian hockey.

“HI brings in money, arranges camps and competitions and it has the right to request the Indian players to be consistent in their performances.

“The HI president and secretary have the right to ask reasonable questions. Most players don’t understand what the foreign coaches say. I have been a witness to this,” he said.

Meanwhile, M.M. Somaya, captain of the Indian team that won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, is hopeful of the national team shaping up before the Rio Games.

“We have four to five players of international class; not all can be Sardar Singh though. A coach should be given four years to settle down and the results will fall into place.

“We were quite steady for a major part of the tournament (at Antwerp).

“A fit Indian team was playing well and it appeared the team looked good till the semifinals. Maybe there was a lapse in concentration thereafter.

“It takes time to understand the tactics a new or foreign coach wants to employ.

“They are up-to-date with modern techniques and playing style,” said Somaya.

The Hindu

Hockey mess bad for players: Joaquim Carvalho

Rohan Puri

NEW DELHI: A day before the fate of Indian hockey coach Paul van Ass is to be decided, former India player and coach Joaquim Carvalho expressed his support for the Dutchman and asked for Hockey India president Narinder Batra's ouster.

Carvalho said that if the current regime continues, then no foreign coach would like to come to India. "Look at the number of changes we have had in the last five years. It shows it's no better than the earlier regime of KPS Gill. Indian hockey just can't move forward like this. No foreign player would like to come here."

He also expressed concern about the current 'mess' affecting Indian players. "This whole mess will cause damage to the players' mindset. They won't be able to focus on the game," said Carvalho.

"Paul was absolutely right. What Batra has said till now is absolute rubbish. If he wanted to have a word with the team, there was a proper time and place to do that. He had no business to enter the ground. The problem is Batra wants to control everything. He has a huge ego. He just wants to flaunt his power. This is arrogance at its best. Batra is responsible for the poor condition of Indian hockey and he should get out first. He needs to resign," Carvalho told TOI on Thursday.

"Who is Batra to say Van Ass is not a good coach? What are his credentials to say that? And if that was the case, why was he brought here in the first place? Who selected him and why did they select him?" he asked.

Former India goalkeeper Charles Cornelius agreed with Carvalho and said a coach needs to be given time to prove himself. "Results take time. Nothing is achieved overnight" said Carvalho. "We have had so many coaches. Once you have appointed one coach, give him at least three years to settle down and form a team. A coach learns from his own mistakes. There should be no interference," added Cornelius.

However, Cornelius said that if the players want high performance director Roelant Oltmans as the coach, then they should be granted their wish. "If the boys want him to be the coach, then that should happen. If it's working for them, then that's how it should be. At least they will get good results."

The Times of India

Wrong end of stick: Time Hockey India let experts to do their jobs

The confrontation between national hockey coach Paul van Ass and Hockey India president Narendra Batra is the latest episode in the saga within what was once a truly national game. The Dutchman, who took charge barely four months ago, left for home in a huff after the Hockey World League tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, earlier this month and has not arrived to take charge of the national camp. Van Ass has told the media his services had been terminated and the decision was conveyed to him by compatriot Roelant Oltmans, Indian hockey’s high performance director. The coach has pointed to his run-in with Mr Batra, blaming him for encroaching on his turf by addressing players on the pitch in Antwerp.

India qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics last year as Asian Games champions. But the thrashing by Australia and once European lightweights Belgium and Great Britain at Antwerp, along with Pakistan holding them to a draw, has left doubts over the team’s progress since. The poor showing provoked Batra to address the players, but van Ass has argued he had used the tournament to experiment with positions. Batra has hit back, saying van Ass was rude to him. There is a slim chance that van Ass might still return, but coach versus federation has played out from the time India swallowed their pride and engaged Gerard Rach as the first foreign coach ahead of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Germany’s Rach left, describing Indian hockey as a ‘mad house’. The was repeated with his successors Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh. The most high-profile departure was of former Aussie great Ric Charlesworth, who quit as consultant after the authorities asked the sports ministry not to clear him for the Olympics qualifier in Chile. India lost in the final and failed to make it to the Olympics for the first time. If van Ass was a bad choice, it was Batra who had recommended him for the job.

The Indian sports landscape is changing. Badminton, shooting and wrestling have all won medals. India no longer hopes for an Olympic medal in hockey. Such controversies only show how much the country’s sports federations interfere with the work of coaches. It is time administrators realised their boundaries and allowed professionals to do their job.

Hindustan Times

Ad-hoc on PHF may lead to suspension of Pakistan

By Muhammad Ali

LAHORE: After Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the Olympics 2016, speculations are rife in the country that an ad-hoc would be imposed on the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), removing the legally elected President Akhtar Rasool and Secretary General Rana Mujahid Ali, both decorated former Olympians. Pakistan’s dismal result at the Olympic Qualifiers in Antwerp, Belgium earlier this month meant that for the first time in their hockey history, three-time Olympic champions Pakistan failed to make the cut for the Olympiad. The setback came after a similarly devastating blow last year when Pakistan could not feature in the Hockey World Cup for the first time in history after failing to qualify for the prestigious quadrennial tournament. After failing to the reach the semi-finals of the Antwerp event following a defeat against Britain in the quarters, Pakistan needed to beat Ireland in the play-off to keep their Olympic qualification hopes alive. But Pakistan, despite being the more aggressive and higher-ranked team, weren't just up to the mark.

If the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who is also the Chief Patron of the PHF, takes any unlawful step, on the advice of certain self-centred elements who are at loggerheads with the present PHF management, it might backfire as an ad-hoc set-up can not be imposed on the PHF. The constitution of the national hockey federation is very clear in this regard. Section 18 states: “The President shall hold office unless earlier resigned or a vacancy is created due to invalidity/death of exceeded the age limit of 70 years.” Section 20 deals with the office of PHF Secretary General and states the same. The Chief Patron can only “nominate the President in the case of a vacancy created by death or resignation, or if PHF Congress fails to fill the vacancy within next 15 days.”

Despite these constitutional impediments, if the federal government tried to interfere in the PHF affairs and impose their cronies or any ambitious former Olympians then it might face embarrassment at international level. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) have already given a clear warning that they would not tolerate any illegal act or government interference in the PHF affairs. If an ad hoc is imposed or any illegal step is taken by the government, the FIH and AHF will act swiftly and Pakistan could be banned or suspended.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan government tried to interfere in the affairs of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Pakistan but retreated when the International Olympic Council (IOC) decided to ban Pakistan from all Olympic activity. The PHF is affiliated with the FIH which is affiliated with the IOC.

It is no secret that the IOC does not tolerate any government interference in working of its member country as is evident from the attempts by the Indian government to dictate terms to the IOC which resulted in India’s suspension. The IOC’s attempt to keep sports at arm’s length from politics is the right decision because, in the IOC parlance, that’s what government interference amount to. Many governments around the globe had tried to dictate terms to the IOC in the past but its strict laws had always failed such attempts. It is high time that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should stand up, take notice of the situation and accept his government's shortcomings, follies and ignorance towards sports in Pakistan.

The sincerity of Akhtar Rasool and Rana Mujahid to take Pakistan hockey upward should not be doubted. The PHF expertise is always there to suggest ways and means to guide Pakistan hockey towards a quantum leap. But one could not take strong and concrete measures when there is no money to train and groom players. It is not PHF officials but players who perform in the field. The need of the hour is to bring Pakistan hockey into line with the rest, best and the latest aspects of modern hockey as the game has changed a lot in recent years.

Saner elements of this ‘land of the pure’are bewildered why with every defeat and poor performance extreme decisions are taken and why controversies simply refused to spare Pakistan sports. And above all, why there is no long term planning to take the game to a more professional plane in terms of skills and competitiveness, both at junior and senior levels. Perhaps they still not have realised by now that both in the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful patron's benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal. To rise above again, Pakistan hockey requires strong financial backup, commitment and self-belief. The federal government and business houses should come forward and support the PHF. Only hard and incessant efforts lead to success. In the absence of these, we should not dream of reaching skies.

The Daily Times

PHF most likely to be taken over by a dept

By Nabil Tahir

KARACHI: While Pakistan hockey is a mere shadow of its former self, the latest debacle in the form of missing out on Olympic qualification for the first time in the nation’s history has prompted the government to take some measures to help breathe life into the dying sport.

A probe committee had been established by the Prime Minister to pinpoint the reasons for the poor showing and based on some of the findings, the committee has suggested handing over the management of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to one of the government departments — National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) or Wapda.

The probe committee is headed by Inter Provisional Coordination secretary Ejaz Chaudhry and incudes Pakistan Sports Board director-general Akthar Nawaz Ganjera, Colonel Mudassar, Khawaja Junaid, Khalid Mehmood and Olympian Shahbaz Senior. They were supposed to meet with the PHF officials on July 23, but the PHF officials postponed the meeting, citing ‘unavoidable engagements’ to July 28.

After the committee meets with PHF officials next week, they would seek a meeting with the prime minister, the patron-in-chief of hockey. The probe committee would embark on the second phase of the process of finalising a department if the PM approves the suggested proposal.

While PIA stand out as the favourites to land the role, having already handled the same responsibility from 1970 to 1994 during which Pakistan not only won four World Cups but also became renowned as one of the major forces in world hockey, the committee has recommended NBP as the second choice as many of the national players are hired by the bank, while Wapda is third in the recommendation list.

Meanwhile, the fact-finding commission set up by the PHF, which includes Olympians Shahid Ali Khan, Mansoor Ahmed and Muhammad Akhlaq, met with PHF officials to further their inquiry. The meeting also included former selection committee members — Islahuddin Siddiqui and Ayaz Mehmood — who had resigned from their posts following Pakistan’s Olympic disqualification, and head coach Shahnaz Sheikh.

The Express Tribune

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