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News for 27 August 2015

All the news for Thursday 27 August 2015

Superb Spain seal semi-final ticket

It was another pulsating day of action at the 2015 Unibet EuroHockey Championships in London, with Spain women producing a remarkable goal-scoring performance to overturn a huge goal-difference deficit to eventually secure a place in the competition semi-finals ahead of Belgium’s Red Panthers.

Spain’s 10-0 win over Poland proved to be hugely significant, meaning that Belgium needed an unlikely draw against reigning World and Olympic champions the Netherlands in Pool A’s final match. It proved to be a bridge too far for the Belgians, with the Dutch cruising to a comfortable win to seal Spain’s place in the final four. Later in the day, host nation England confirmed their place as the winners of Pool B with a comprehensive victory over reigning European champions Germany.

The women's semi-finals, which take place on Friday (28th August), will see Pool A winners the Netherlands take on Pool B runners up Germany, while host nation England will do battle with Adrian Lock’s ever-improving Spanish outfit.


Spain 10-0 Poland

Lola Reira hit a hat-trick as Spain thrashed Poland to boost their chances of reaching the semi-finals, something that was later confirmed when Belgium failed to secure the necessary point that they needed in the afternoon meeting with the Netherlands.

Prior to the Pool A fixture, Adrian Lock’s side knew that they would need a 10-goal swing in their favour to overtake Belgium’s goal difference and give themselves a realistic chance of making the final four. A 10-0 victory over the Poles piled the pressure on the Red Panthers, and it proved to be enough as the Belgians went down 5-0 against the top ranked team in the world.

Speaking on their landslide victory, Maria Lopez said: “The whole team played great, but we achieved what we were fighting for. Getting 10 goals is not easy, so we did well.”

Netherlands 5-0 Belgium

Belgium’s Red Panthers went into this game knowing that a score draw or win against the Netherlands was their only hope of reaching the competition semi-finals.

However, scoring a goal against a side that had scored 17 goals and conceded just one in their two previous pool matches was always going to be tough, and there was never a chance that the Netherlands would be relaxed or take it easy in this fixture. The Dutch girls produced a performance that was a masterclass in patience and control, with inspirational captain Maartje Paumen scoring twice and Valerie Magis, Caia van Maasakker and Ellen Hoog also chipping in with goals.

A jubilant Kelly Jonker said: “We have had two days off, so it was a challenge to get straight into the game, but then we hit our stride. When we get going we like to play flowing, showcase hockey.”


Scotland 3-1 Italy

Scotland secured third place in Pool B with a 3-1 victory over Italy in a scrappy match played in torrential rain at the Lee Valley Hockey centre.

All of the goals came in the third quarter of the game, with Scotland captain Leigh Fawcett netting a minute after half time before Rebecca Merchant doubled the advantage five minutes later. Moments later, Italy captain Chiara Tiddi pulled a goal back for the Italians but the Scots soon reestablished their two-goal cushion when Kareena Marshall deflected home an Aileen Davis drag-flick to complete the scoring.

The result secured a third place finish in Pool B for Scotland, with Italy finishing fourth.

England 4-1 Germany

Super-striker Alex Danson hit a hat-trick as England thrilled the home fans with a 4-1 win over Pool B rivals and reigning European champions Germany, a result which puts the host nation into the semi-finals as the Pool winners.

England will now face a final four meeting with Spain, who finished second in Pool B, while Germany’s Die Danas have the unenviable task of defeating reigning world and Olympic champions the Netherlands if they are to successfully defend their European title.

Despite Danson’s hat-trick, it was team-mate Sophie Bray who opened the scoring in just the second minute of the game, with Danson grabbing her first just a minute later to send the home supporters into raptures. Germany were rattled for much of the opening two periods, but hit back in the third quarter when Kristina Hillmann fired home. However, Danson scored late in the period before completing her treble in the fourth quarter to give England a resounding victory and set up a semi-final showdown with Spain.

FIH site

Spain's double digits secure semi spot

Spain completed the women’s semi-final line-up at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships as they ran up a huge 10-0 win over Poland to edge out Belgium’s Red Panthers on goal difference.

The result means Spain will now play England in the semi-finals. Coach Adrian Lock said: “We made it through to the semi finals which will give us a boost. It backs up the philosophy that if we work hard then the results will take care of themselves.

“That keeps our motivation high. Obviously we are still hoping to qualify for the Olympics so it keeps us on our toes and keeps us working and looking forward to what’s to come.”

That result put the pressure on Belgium to get a result against the Netherlands but they were in imperious form as they strode past Belgium by a 4-0 scoreline.

The Dutch started slowly by their own supreme standards but, as Kelly Jonker said: “We have had a couple of days off, so we found it difficult to get straight back into it at pace.”

Germany and England had already qualified for the final four ahead of their showdown and the hosts produced a fine performance to grab top spot.

The result, a 4-1 win for England, was well-received by the crowd, although Luisa Steindor said after the game that she was pleased to have drawn the Netherlands because the world number one side had cruised through so far.

England’s opening scorer, Sophie Bray said that she was delighted that England had finally played the way they knew they could. “That was a good performance in front of the home crowd.”

The Netherlands play Germany at 1.15pm (GMT) on Friday afternoon while England play Spain at 7.30pm. Poland meet Italy in the first game in the relegation pool at 11am with Belgium meeting Scotland at 5.15pm.

Euro Hockey League media release

Dominant England beat Germany

Alex Danson scored a hat-trick against Germany

A hat-trick from Alex Danson and another from Sophie Bray handed England top spot in the group and a semi-final clash with Spain after Danny Kerry’s side put four past Germany for a famous win. Both Danson and Bray opened their accounts for the tournament in a blistering opening quarter and although Kristina Hillmann pulled one back, England were not to be denied.

The hosts got off to a dream start with a goal from their first meaningful attack. Susannah Townsend’s cross found Hannah Macleod in the circle. The No6 showed superb composure to find space before firing the ball across for Sophie Bray to deflect in her first goal of the tournament. It was 2-0 a minute later. Bray turned provider this time, crossing for Danson to slam home from close range.

England’s pace going forward was causing Germany all kinds of problems. Bray and Owsley linked up well and the latter’s cross almost picked out a diving Sam Quek as Danny Kerry’s side searched for the third goal.

Germany’s first threat took 12 minutes to arrive. Charlotte Stapenhorst showed lovely skills to create space for a shot but Maddie Hinch was equal to the task and made the save. In the last minute of the quarter Danson again slipped away from her marker but Macleod couldn’t quite get the touch to her cross and it stayed 2-0 at the break.

In the opening moments of the second quarter Germany won a penalty corner. Luisa Steindor took the shot but it went wide of the post. At the other end Danson bulldozed her way into the circle and stung Yvonne Frank’s pads with a rasping drive. Frank had to be on her guard again in the seventh minute of the half when Bray weaved her way through the defence and smashed a backhand shot at goal that the goalkeeper had to deal with. As Germany continued to struggle to get a foothold in the contest Danson had a great chance to make it 3-0. Once again Frank excelled, making a fine save and keeping her side in the contest at half time.

Germany rallied in the third quarter and Laura Unsworth was called upon to clear off the line. Then there was a moment of high drama. Kristina Hillmann’s deft touch beat Hinch to pull one back. It went to a video referral and with no advice possible the goal was given. On 44 minutes England won a penalty corner and it paid dividends. The shot from Unsworth was saved by Frank but Danson was alive to the situation and lifted the ball in for her second and England’s third. Danny Kerry’s side ended the third quarter down to ten players after a yellow card for Nicola White, but they were in the ascendancy despite the numerical disadvantage.

The fourth quarter proved to be a tense fifteen minutes. Hinch was called upon to clear under pressure and Germany threw everything forwards. The England No1 saved well again from Anne Schröder and then at the other end Bray won England a penalty corner. Although the first strike was saved, Unsworth played it back in and Danson was there again to complete her hat-trick and grab her 50th goal for England. Germany won a late penalty corner but there was to be no more drama and once again Hinch made the save. England’s lead was clear at the full time whistle.

England’s next match is the semi-final against Spain on 28 August at 19:30 live on the BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport Website

Quotes – Lily Owsley

“These kinds of tournaments are all about momentum and three wins out of three keeps that going. It didn’t matter how we played tonight, we weren’t going to let anyone take top spot away from us. It’s brilliant to finish the group on high like this. We now play the Spanish who we’ve played plenty of times and beaten multiple times. They’re a good side but we can’t wait for Friday.

We’ve come out here and proved we are a serious contender and we are here to try and win the gold. We don’t want to settle for second best.

I got my first cap in front of a home crowd and it’s an emotional moment for me to get my 50th in the same way. It’s a special day for me and it’s great because my first cap was a 4-1 win and now my 50th is too. My friends and family are all here and to do it with one of my best friends, Sophie Bray is even more special.

Alex is a hat-trick hero. You don’t see many in international hockey and all the goals were great goals. She’s a great player.

We’re confident going into the semi finals. We’ve built the momentum and we know they’re a good side. We won’t be complacent but we know we have a chance. The best team will win and hopefully it’ll be us.”

England 4 (2)
Sophie Bray 2 (FG)
Alex Danson 3, 44, 53 (FG, PC, PC)

Germany 1 (0)
Kristina Hillmann 39 (FG)

England Hockey Board Media release

Danson hat-trick seals England's stunning performance

By Mike Haymonds

England hat-trick hero Alex Danson celebrates with her team mates. Credit Koen Suyk

ALEX DANSON scored a hat-trick as England produced a stunning performance to beat Germany 4-1  and finish top of their pool at the Unibet EuroHockey Championship in the Olympic Park.

Danson’s treble included  her 50th England goal while Sophie Bray and Lily Owsley reached 50 England caps.

England had already qualified for the semi-finals but made the best possible start with two goals in the first three minutes.

In the second minute Susannah Townsend and Hannah Macleod combined to set up Bray for her first goal of the tournament and a minute later Bray’s cross was fired home by Danson .

Germany recovered from the early blow but they struggled to penetrate a strong England defence before Kristina Hillmann reduced the deficit in the 39th minute with a deflection which survived a video appeal.

Five minutes later Danson bagged her second at England’s second penalty corner when she lifted the rebound from Laura Unsworth’s strike past Yvonne Frank.

Danson completed her hat-trick in similar fashion in the 53rd minute, tucking away a corner rebound after Unsworth played another corner rebound onto her stick.

Lily Owsley said: “These kinds of tournaments are all about momentum and three wins out of three keeps that going. It didn’t matter how we played, we weren’t going to let anyone take top spot away from us.

“It’s brilliant to finish the group on a high like this. We’ve come out here and proved we are a serious contender and we are here to try and win the gold.

“We don’t want to settle for second best.”

In Friday’s semi-finals England meet Spain and Netherlands face Germany.

Daily Express

Both England teams surge into Semi-Finals

With the final men’s pool matches played on Tuesday, the Unibet EuroHockey Championships Semi-Final line-up is decided. Pool A winners Netherlands will take on the surprise package, Ireland, while Germany – as Pool B winners – will face host nation England.

Men's Semi-Final Line-Up - Thursday 27 August

11:00 Classification Match Russia v France
13:15 Semi-Final 1 Netherlands v Ireland
17:15 Classification Match Spain v Belgium
19:30 Semi-Final 2 Germany v England

England women are joined by the Netherlands, Germany and either Spain or Belgium in Friday's Semi-Finals. The schedule for the Women's Semi-Finals will be finalised after the concluding pool fixtures on Wednesday.

Women's Semi-Final Line-Up - Friday 28 August

11:00 Classification Match
13:15 Semi-Final 1: Netherlands v Germany
17:15 Classification Match
19:30 Semi-Final 2 – England’s v Spain

Tickets are still available for both Semi-Finals - take a look at all the ticketing details here. They're set to be brilliant days out as the tournament draws to a dramatic close!

England Hockey Board Media release

Semi-Final Preview: Sam Ward

Sam Ward who scored twice for England against Spain in action for England. Credit Stanislas Brochier

England vs. Germany is a sporting occasion steeped in history. From penalty shootout heartbreak to ruthless efficiency to the famous “Where were the Germans?” line, these two traditional sporting foes have gone toe-toe in their fair share of iconic sporting clashes.

Sam Ward’s international career is still in its infancy but the Holcombe striker has already seen up close what the reigning Olympic and European champions are capable of:

“They’re a good side. Their man to man marking is tight and they’re excellent in everything they do. Some of their players are really world class but if we do the basics well and stick to our plans we have a good chance.”

Despite the well known quality of their opponents, Ward feels England have grown into the tournament and have nothing to fear. There is a respect but not awe in the young man’s words:

“Overall we’ve done well. We were disappointed with the performance against the Dutch but we put that to bed and came out strongly against Spain. We know Germany are a class outfit, but we have our share of class players too. If we’re all firing, who knows what could happen?”

A factor in the success of failure of Bobby Crutchley’s side in this semi-final will surely be the support of the home crowd. Playing in front of a partisan set of fans in your home country has been a real boost for Ward and his teammates:

“This tournament has been very exciting. I’ve played in a couple now and the supporters that travel are great but there are only ever a small number of them. Here there are 5,000 people all cheering for you and it really gives you a boost.” he adds “It’s quite nerve wracking at times having a crowd where there are people you know watching, but I’ve learned very quickly to separate myself from that and to make sure I use the support to my advantage.”

The No13 has six goals in 12 games for England and earned his place in the central training squad after a number of prolific domestic seasons. Whilst the main weapon in his arsenal remains his prowess in front of goal, Ward has worked hard to improve his overall game in order to contribute to the needs of the team:

“When I first came into the squad I was all about scoring goals. I was desperate to get my name on the scoresheet every time. Now I’m working hard on my defensive awareness and trying to create chances for my teammates, too. It’s an old cliché but it doesn’t really matter who scores as long as we win.”

England are keen to shed their “nearly men” tag and pick up some big titles. Ward believes the support of a home crowd could help them get over the line and recapture the title they won in 2009:

“It’s an exciting time. We will do everything we can to win for the fans. Playing in front of the home crowd is special and we want to be in that final. Gold medals are what we want to be winning. We need to win the semi-final first, though. We’ll put everything into the semi-final with Germany and then see where we are.”

The stage is set, can Ward and his team make their way into the dream final in their home country? We don’t have to wait long to find out!

England Hockey Board Media release

Scotland secure important three points with win against Italy

Kareena Marshall celebrates her goal with player of the match Nikki Kidd. Photo Credit: Ady Kerry

Scotland Senior Women secured a vital 3-1 win over Italy in their final EuroHockey Nations Championship Pool B match today.

Goals from captain Leigh Fawcett, Becky Merchant on her 100th international appearance, and defender Kareena Marshall ensured that the Scots will carry through three important points to the Pool C stage, where they will face matches against Belgium or Spain and Poland.

Italy’s solitary strike came from captain Chiara Tiddi.

Following the win, Scotland’s Unibet Player of the Match Nikki Kidd said, “It was an important win for us as we’re targeting a place in the top six. The win against Italy was obviously crucial; we’ve gone out and done that. We’re very happy.

“We had a good chat at half-time, we wanted to step it up and really put the pressure on them. When Tiddi went off, we had a plan about what we were going to do when they went down to ten and nine [players]. We went out and executed that.

“We targeted this game so if need be, we would carry the three points through. We need to put this game to bed, re-focus on the next game and go out and achieve our objective.”

Captain Leigh Fawcett opened the scoring for Scotland against Italy. Photo Credit: Ady Kerry

A goalless first half was characterised by frantic periods of play and neither side really truly troubled the goalkeepers at each end of the pitch.

Shortly before the end of the first period, the Italians were awarded three penalty corners in a row, but could only manage a speculative shot on goal at the third attempt from captain Chiara Tiddi that Scotland goalkeeper Amy Gibson made light work of.

A further penalty corner set-piece came the way of the Azzurri right on the first quarter hooter but Marcela Casale was unable to connect with Maria Socino's shot to the back post.

Scottish hopes of scoring an opening goal were boosted when Italy were reduced to nine players for a green and yellow card in quick succession during the second quarter.

Disappointingly, the Scots were only able to fashion one penalty corner opportunity, which Italian goalkeeper Martin Chirico diverted away from goal after Emily Maguire’s reverse stick strike looked destined for the bottom right corner.

Just before half-time, Nikki Lloyd’s snap-shot from the right of the circle was dealt with easily by Chirico and an otherwise scrappy, tense first half concluded with no further goalmouth action.

Nikki Llloyd on the attack against Italy. Photo Credit: Ady Kerry

With Head Coach Gordon Shepherd visibly and audibly frustrated with a lacklustre first half performance from his players, Scotland re-emerged for the second half with greater attacking intent.

Indeed, the game burst into life inside sixty seconds of the re-start after a Scottish penalty corner award.

Nikki Kidd’s initial drag-flick attempt was saved by Chirico, Vikki Bunce’s follow-up was also blocked by the Italian shot-stopper, but the ball fell invitingly to captain Leigh Fawcett to stroke her first international goal into the net to open the scoring.

In echoes of the set-piece that heralded the opening goal against England last Saturday, another penalty corner saw Kidd return the ball to injector Sarah Robertson but unfortunately her cross could not be converted by Bunce.

Sandwiched between two excellent Chirico saves from Kidd drag-flicks, a great chance fell to cap centurion Becky Merchant but the Edinburgh University star could only put the ball wide after great build-up play down the left flank.

Relentless Scottish pressure on the Italian defence was rewarded with a second goal in the 36th minute though.

Maguire and Merchant’s initial attempts were valiantly denied by Chirico but the follow-up from Merchant was bundled into her own net by defender Constanza Aguirre.

Scotland rejoice after a vital second goal. Photo Credit: Ady Kerry

Yet, Italy responded to their hardship in immediate fashion a minute later when Tiddi’s shot from just inside the circle beat a melee of players in front of her and cross the goal-line to reduce the deficit to one goal.

Shortly after, Amy Brodie and Louise Campbell found themselves with a two-on-one opportunity with Chirico dashing off her goal-line to narrow the angle for a shot but her defensive colleagues transpired to give away a penalty corner for illegal use of the foot

Up-stepped Kareena Marshall from the resulting set-play to slam the ball low and hard into the bottom left corner and restore her side’s two goal lead.

Italy had two excellent chances at the start of the fourth quarter but neither Giuliana Ruggieri nor Valentina Braconi could demonstrate the necessary application to find the back of the net.

In the final piece of goalmouth action, a brilliant run and cross from Becky Ward was gathered by Robertson with her back to goal, but her reverse stick attempt went the wrong side of the left hand post.

Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 (W)

Pool B Result

Scotland (Leigh Fawcett 31', Becky Merchant 36', Kareena Marshall 39' ) 3 -1 Italy (Chiara Tiddi 37')

Scotland Senior Women: Amy Brodie, Leigh Fawcett, captain (both Grove Menzieshill), Fiona Bruce, Ali Howie, Susan McGilveray, Nicki Skrastin (all Clydesdale Western), Louise Campbell, Nikki Cochrane, Becky Merchant (all Edinburgh University), Vikki Bunce, Becky Ward (both Dundee Wanderers), Aileen Davis (Clifton), Amy Gibson (Slough), Nikki Kidd (Mannheimer), Nikki Lloyd (Wimbledon), Emily Maguire (Reading), Kareena Marshall (Western Wildcats), Sarah Robertson (Holcolme)

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Korea three match series

Hockeyroos to start their race to Rio against Korea next week

The Hockeyroos’ race to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games begins next week in Perth when the Australian women take on Korea in three official test matches.

A squad will be named to play in the matches on 5, 6 and 8 September following the conclusion of the women’s national camp on Thursday 3 September. The national camp features a group of 38 athletes, who will participate in a number of training matches and exercises over the course of the week.

In the mix for the Korean tests, the 38 invited athletes include the 21 available members of the national senior squad, the 15 available members of the national development squad and two members of the national junior squad. Those two, Kaitlin Nobbs and Grace Stewart (both NSW), have been invited on the back of strong performances at the U21 Australian Championships in Hobart last month.

Two-time Olympian Casey Sablowski (née Eastham) will miss the camp while recovering from knee surgery, as will World Cup winner Kellie White, who continues her long-term rehabilitation, also from knee surgery. Hockeyroos captain Madonna Blyth is on restricted duties as she recovers from a broken rib. National Development Squad goalkeeper Elizabeth Duguid is also unavailable; she will be competing in the national weightlifting championships.

The scheduled Korea matches will offer the Hockeyroos an opportunity to fine-tune the women’s national senior program ahead of the Oceania Cup in New Zealand in October, World League Finals in Argentina in December and the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Entry into the Perth Hockey Stadium to watch the Hockeyroos v Korea matches will require a gold coin donation on arrival at the gate.

Please note: The Korea matches will not be livestreamed by Hockey Australia, however, live tweeting of the matches will be available via the @Hockeyroos Twitter account. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Hockeyroos v Korea Fixtures
Saturday 5 September: Hockeyroos v Korea – 14:15pm AWST
Sunday 6 September: Hockeyroos v Korea – 14:15pm AWST
Tuesday 8 September: Hockeyroos v Korea – 17:00pm AWST

Hockey Australia media release

Shelley and Bernie inspirational as Southerns outplay WP

JONATHAN COOK in Potchefstroom

Southern Gauteng captain Bernie Coston, the SA forward who scored a breathtaking goal during Southerns' stunning 5-1 win over arch-rivals Western Province at the SA Women's Interprovincial Hockey Tournament in Potchefstroom Wednesday. PHOTO ACTION PIX

An inspired Southern Gauteng beat arch-rivals Western Province 5-1 Wednesday after leading 4-0 at half-time on day two of A Section action at the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament in Potchefstroom.

The girls from Johannesburg were spurred on by brilliant performances from Shelley Russell and captain Bernie Coston in nailing down a 4-0 lead after just 26 minutes. Kaila Flemming was first on the scoresheet from the penalty spot, Russell bagged a brace and Coston scored a breath-taking goal.

Megan Robertson pulled one back for WP two minutes after half-time but the Capetonians weren’t able to score again and Roxy Turner-Coetzee netted Southerns’ fifth and final goal a minute from the end.

In the late game defending champs Northern Blues transferred the ball to good effect from Kim Hubach in deep central defence on to right half Natalia Esteves, back inside to captain Nicolene Terblanche in midfield and then out right for Sammy Prost to lay off to Dirkie Chamberlain in the six-metre area – and goal shots plus penalty corner opportunities were the outcome.

As they did in the exciting 2-2 draw with Free State Tuesday, North West defended with dogged determination and no little skill while also finding opportune moments to probe down the right wing, but the experienced, composed Blues left half Chrizelle Andries and her fellow defenders were up to the challenge.

Blues finally made the breakthrough two minutes after the half-time changeover (32nd) when the hugely experienced Kim Hubach let fly with a rocket from the penalty spot. The set-piece opportunity had been awarded by umpire Binks Robertson after the goalward-bound ball had struck a North West defender’s foot on the goalline.

Blues made it 2-0 in the 54th through a Jacinta Jubb field goal while Celia Evans reduced the deficit two minutes from full-time.

No matter how limited the bowling attack may be, you still have to bat well to score a century – and that analogy sums up Free State’s 15-0 drubbing of Border.

Head coach Braam van Wyk’s talented young Free State girls led 9-0 at half-time and spread their goal frenzy through all four of the 15-minute chukkas, four in the first, five in the second, and three apiece in the third and fourth.

The goals – the majority of which were constructed and then executed in brilliant fashion - came off the sticks of Shevaun Botha (3), Tanya Britz (2), Nicole Walraven (3), Casey-Jean Botha, Nisa van Zyl (2), Cornelle Botha (2) and outstanding captain Line Malan (2).

Like Charles Glass, the legendary brew master of South Africa’s favourite beer, Van Wyk is not easily pleased but there was no hiding the coach’s quiet pride in the manner of his team’s victory.

“The girls didn’t fall into the trap of playing too directly, which often happens when the favourites play the underdogs,” said Van Wyk, who has coached with distinction for decades.

“My strikers, too, were outstanding. We had chatted about the importance of being in the right scoring positions in the strike zone and they met my expectations. Another aspect that was pleasing is that it is vital to forget the scoreboard. You must concentrate on the quality of your play in each passage of play and the scoreboard will take care of itself.”

The second match bore witness to a fine performance from coach Lennie Botha’s Spar KZN Raiders, who beat a competitive South Gauteng Wits 3-2 after leading 3-0 at the break.

Wits, under the guidance of David Joshua, came back strongly in the last 20 minutes but Raiders were good value for their win. The Durban girls’ goals went to skipper Kelly Madsen, vice-captain Wendy Snelling (2) and Cardeux Nel, while Wits got on the scoreboard thanks to a thunderous penalty corner strike by the impressive Luche Klaasen and a Jessica Britz goal from field play.

Thursday’s final round of Pool fixtures to determine who secures berths in Friday’s semi-finals and playoff matches, sees a couple of blockbusters in the making. Two clashes in particular to savour are those between Blues and Free State at 2pm followed by Southerns versus Spar KZN Raiders at 4pm.

In the round robin B Section, the favoured teams gunning for promotion – WP Peninsula and Namibia – played to a 0-0 draw. It had the makings of a final, as there are no playoffs in this section, and play swung from end to end with both sides presenting themselves with goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the dearth of goals, this was a humdinger of a clash and it is a pity that these two teams won’t meet again in a final. What becomes vital now is that they keep winning and keep scoring as many goals as possible as the B Section winners of promotion to the 2016 A Section is likely to be decided on goal difference.

Coach Satchi Reddy’s KZN Inland side are the third team in the title race and they were good value for their 4-1 win over a feisty Mpumalanga. Under the exemplary tutelage of coach Brighty Mashaba and well led by outstanding goalkeeper Corrie Bloem, Mpumalanga have impressed with their fighting spirit.

Inland, under the assured leadership of skipper Ros Flint, scored goals through the prolific Tiffany Jones - the runaway B Section top goalscorer (11) – as well as the in-form SA Indoor World Cup player Amy Greaves added to the brace by Michelle Dias, this after the girls from Nelspruit had opened the scoring in the third minute via the stick of Bonita Vere.

A Section: Free State 15 Border 0; Spar KZN Raiders 4 South Gauteng Wits 2; Southern Gauteng 5 Western Province 1; Northern blues 2 North West 1.
B Section: Namibia 4 SA Country Districts B 1; SA Country Districts A 5 Eastern Province 2; KZN Inland 4 Mpumalanga 1; KZN Mynahs 3 SG Nuggets 1; Namibia 0 WP Peninsula 0.
A Section logs (GD, points)
Pool A (all played 2) – 1 Northern Blues 12GD 6 pts; 2 Free State 15GD 4 pts; 3 North West -1GD 1 pt; 4 Border -26GD 0 pts.
Pool B (all played 2) – 1 Southern Gauteng 7GD 6 pts; 2 Spar KZN Raiders 0GD 3 pts; 3 WP -2GD 3 pts; 4 SG Wits -5GD 0 pts.
A Section: 12h00 WP vs SG Wits; 14h00 Northern Blues vs Free State; 16h00 Southern Gauteng vs Spar KZN Raiders; 18h00 North West vs Border.
B Section: 09h00 SACD A vs SG Nuggets; 10h45 EP vs WP Pens; 12h30 KZN Inland vs KZN Mynahs; 14h15 Mpumalanga vs Namibia; SACD B vs SG Nuggets.

SA Hockey Association media release

Sapura's got to make every penalty corners count

By Aftar Singh

PETALING JAYA: Sapura’s hopes of holding on to third spot in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) could be scuppered by their poor penalty corner execution.

Sapura have earned 22 penalty corners in seven matches – but only converted three.

They have 10 points – from three wins, a draw and three defeats and have just three matches left to play.

Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) lead the six-team standings with 19 points, followed by Terengganu on 18.

Sapura face fifth-placed Maybank at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Thursday knowing that they must win to stay third as Tenaga, who do not play, are just a point behind.

Sapura team manager Louis Gregory admitted that the team management has questioned the side’s poor penalty conversion rate.

“The management wants the team to rectify the issue fast because it could affect our chances of progressing in the league and also in the knockout stage,” said Louis.

“We’ve been working on it (the penalty corners) and hope to get it right against Maybank.

“A few of my players have not played true to their form ... we want them to buck up.”

Maybank, meanwhile, will not have the services of their penalty corner specialist Muhammad Irfan for the match against Sapura.

The Pakistani defender, who has scored three goals in six matches, will serve out a one-match suspension after collecting his second yellow card in the match against Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) last Sunday.

However, Maybank coach S. Velappan still believes his team can get the better of Sapura, especially after defeating UniKL 3-2 to register their first win last Sunday.

“Although I will not have Irfan for the match against Sapura, it does not matter as I have other reliable penalty corner flickers like Muhammad Toseeq, Ahmad Kazamirul (Nasrudin) and M. Jiwa to deliver the goals,” said Velappan.

Sapura edged Maybank 2-1 in the first round match.

The Star of Malaysia

The 49th Halo Ayr Hockey Festival is a roaring success

By Mike Wilson

Action from the hockey festival at Cambusdoon

COMPETITORS from across the country came to Ayr for the annual feast of hockey, which delivered plenty of action.

Visitors carried off top honours in the 49th Halo Ayr Hockey Festival.

Fifteen teams enjoyed a great weekend’s hockey with unusually dry weather.

After a gruelling schedule of 59 games involving old and new acquaintances, two east coast teams came out on top.

The young ladies team Granite City (Aberdeen) beat Ardrossan ladies on penalty flicks after a 0-0 draw and returning men’s team Dunfermline Carnegie beat the Ayr old boys’ team Spankers 2-0 in a thrilling final.

A huge thanks goes to the organising team, umpires, sponsors and all players.

Roll on next year’s 50th anniversary.

Daily Record

Nehru-Dhyan Chand Cup 2015: Shahpurjat goes down in final

s2h Team

Surprise pack of this year's Nehru-Dhyan Chand Cup Govt Co-Ed Sarvodaya Bal Vidyala, Shahpur Jat went down 1-3 to superior team Union Academy in the final today at the Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi.

Shahpurjat boys, brimming with confidence and hope, started the game well, but missed out the first attack they made narrowly and then allowed the rival team, formed on noodle basis a week before the tournament, enough elbow room.

Union Academy, led by Rahul, struck thrice with Keshav Tyagi, who was later declared Man of the Match, continued his scoring act.

Earlier, SGPC Academy from Amritsar defeated local outfit Nehru-NDMC Academy 3-2 in a fighting and fitting final.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia of Delhi Government and a local Member of Parliament visited the stadium and mingled with the teams.


Namdhari Hockey XI blank MDN School 7-0

Players of the MRS Hockey Academy, Amritsar, and the SGPC Hockey Academy, Faridkot, during a match at the Phase IX international hockey stadium in Mohali on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Chandigarh: The SGPC Hockey Academy, Punjab, and Namdhari Hockey XI, Bhani Sahib, today registered wins in their respective matches in the ongoing 14th ONGC SN Vohra Memorial Sub-Junior (U-14) Hockey Championship being played at the international hockey stadium in Mohali.

The SGPC Hockey Academy posted a well-contested one-goal victory over MRS Hockey Academy, Amritsar. After a barren opening half, the winning side scored the lone goal of the match in the 48th minute through Kohinoor Singh. Even after struggling hard, the Amritsar’s outfit failed to level their opponent’s score line.

In the second match, Namdhari Hockey XI, Bhani Sahib, registered a convincing 7-0 win over MDN School, Rohtak. Opening the team’s account, Taranveer Singh scored the first goal in the 8th minute while the lead was doubled by Jaskaran Singh in the 16th minute. In the 39th minute, Abhijeet Singh extended the lead to 3-0 through an awarded penalty corner while Harwinder Singh scored yet another field goal in the 48th minute to seal the moment at 4-0.

Later, in the dying five minutes of the game, the side posted three back-to-back goals through Abhijeet Singh in the 54th minute, Taranveer Singh in the 56th minute and Maninder Singh in the 59th minute to name the game.

Tomorrow, Namdhari Hockey XI will face DAV Shahabad while Sai Hockey Patna, Bihar, will lock horns with SGPC Hockey Academy, Faridkot.

The Tribune

Need more games: Indian women's hockey coach

Ritu Sejwal

NEW DELHI: The Indian women's hockey team has not yet officially qualified for the Rio Olympics, but their coach Mathias Ahrens is already planning for the Games. The 51-year-old German is confident that his team will make the grade.

"We are on a very safe side and I can assume that we have qualified. The equation which can rule us out is very complicated and difficult to explain. I would just say that we are 99% qualified," a confident Ahrens said.

Mathias believes that as the time for official announcement is approaching, the girls are getting more confident and have started to believe in themselves.

"There is a big boost in the on-field confidence. You can see from their attitude that we deserve to be there. All we need now is more games to prepare better. The men's team's schedule has been finalised but for the women we need to work on the dates," he said. The coach is confident that his girls can compete at the top level. "There are some areas where Australia and New Zealand are better than us but at the same time we have better in certain areas," he pointed out.

What is worrying Ahrens though, is the series of illness plaguing some junior players which has affected the team's preparations for the Junior Women's Asia Cup to be held in Changzhou, China from September 513. The team has been training in the absence of 4-5 key players, including skipper Rani Rampal who has been away owing to college exams.

"No I am not happy with the training. This is a big drawback and we are really far behind. We still have three players to come back to training. Even though they are on the path to recovery, their staying 10 days away from training is a big loss," he said. A total of 33 players, including seniors and juniors, were part of the coaching camp. "We have the juniors training for the Asia Cup and the focus of the seniors is very much on technical and athletic development" he said.

Navjyot calls for women's league

The vice captain of the junior team, Navjyot Kaur, said the team was working on fitness ahead of the tournament. "We need to be on top of our fitness. We have 13 players from the senior team and we want to make the finals to qualify for the World junior championship," she said. The lanky midfielder also stressed on the need for a hockey league for women. "We want to perform well in Rio and live up to the expectations of fans. We hope the level of women's hockey will improve and in future we can have leagues like the men have," Navjyot said.

The Times of India

Is India getting out of a sticky corner?

By: Shakya Mitra

Last week started with a 0-4 drubbing by Spain. By the time it was over, a resurgent Indian hockey team had not only wiped out the deficit in a three-game series, but won another to record an impressive series victory. This was on the back of a series win the week earlier over France. The growth in Indian hockey, notwithstanding the departure of Dutch coach Paul Van Ass, has made both fans and experts sit up.

For a sport which seemed a lost cause for India a few years back, India is regarded amongst the better teams in world hockey. Winning a medal in the Olympics would be the icing on the cake, but to see the men's national team reach the semifinal stages of events like the Champions Trophy and Hockey World League and even beating the bigger nations once in a while, is a very heartening.

What has brought this resurgence? While a gathering of talented players is key to a good team, what has been a catalyst for this growth is the Hockey India League (HIL). Launched in 2012, the league has possibly been the best thing to have happened to the game in India. It has brought much needed professionalism into Indian hockey where top players have had to justify their substantial pay cheques with performance on field.

At the same time, it made hockey a much more visible sport as it was broadcast on prime time TV. HIL brought world-class players from different countries - Australia, Holland, England and Germany - as well as some of the most esteemed and decorated coaches from India and abroad. The exposure to the very best in the game, no doubt, has been of massive influence in the improvement in Indian hockey over the past three years.

To say that HIL had an instant impact on hockey would be wrong and unfair. In the 2014 World Cup, India finished 9th out of 12 teams. But a year and a half was probably a very short period of time for things to change. The change is more discernible now. After the 2014 World Cup, India reached the final of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, won the Asian Games gold medal, beat Australia in Australia in a four match series last November as well as racked up victories over Holland and Belgium in  ..

With three years of the HIL completed, and the fourth scheduled for next January-February, the experience gained by Indian players from the tournament will be invaluable as they head for the Rio Olympics - an event for which they were the first Men's Hockey team to qualify.

Fortunately, the core of this team has remained very stable over the last few years. Of the 16 players who represented India at the 2012 London Olympics, nine are regular members of the current first team and should be going to Rio (this number includes Gurbaj Singh who is currently serving a ninemonth suspension).

Barring Sardar Singh, V R Raghunath, P R Sreejesh and Gurbaj, those who went to London and are now poised for Rio were barely in their 20s in 2012. At Rio, these youngsters who went to London, like Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Dharamvir Singh, would now be 24-26, mature and with invaluable experience gained from their very successful stints at the HIL, where they rubbed shoulders with the best players in the world.

Add to these Kothajit Singh and Rupinderpal Singh, players who narrowly missed selection for the London Olympics but are now established members of the Indian team, as well as Sreejesh, who went as the No. 2 goalkeeper to London and is today rated among the best in the business, and you have not just a very talented lot, but also a hungry bunch who have seen and played the game at its top-most level. And that's been thanks largely to HIL.

Actually, HIL has not only helped polish talented players, it has also unearthed young gems who are now members of the national team. For instance, forwards Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh were 18 and 17 respectively when they first played in the HIL in 2013. They are today India's big hopes. While from a technical perspective, the HIL cannot be the only criteria for selection, it is a far bigger platform in domestic hockey than there has ever been. Both the players were part of teams that won ..

For Rio we have a very talented group of players with self-belief, and at an age where they could go on to achieve big things. An Olympics medal would, of course, be a delicious icing on the cake, but even if India comes close to reaching the semifinals it could signal the revival of Indian hockey.

Shakya Mitra is a sports management professional and was the franchisee manager of the Ranchi Rays team that won the 2015 HIL.

The Economic Times

Indian junior hockey team eager to play Pakistan

SHILAROO (Himachal Pradesh): The Indian junior hockey team is preparing hard and eagerly waiting for the fifth Sultan of Johor Cup where it will open its campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 11.

The tournament will take place in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from October 11 to 18 where India will look to defend its title. The 32-member squad is currently training here under coach Harendra Singh.

"Our first game is against Pakistan and we are very excited to face them. Last year we beat them by a huge margin of 6-0 and we aim to attain a similar feat this time too," said forward Armaan Qureshi on Wednesday.

"But we cannot take them lightly as they know our style of play and will surely come back with a strategy. But having said this, we have our game plan ready and we will go out to implement and win the match".

Commenting on the training sessions, Qureshi added, "The training sessions have been very fruitful till now and we are getting positive results from our new game-plans and tactics.

"We are paying attention on quick attacks, receiving passes in detail which will ensure that we implement them perfectly in the upcoming tournament. The last tournament showcased the intent with which the players played to win and I am certain that the team will carry on the same agility in the impending tournament."

The Times of India

PHF Congress to convene for voting

KARACHI: Major changes are expected to take place at the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) when Brigadier (retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokar is selected as the president of Pakistan hockey’s governing body as the PHF Congress convenes on Thursday to cast their votes for the presidency.

A PHF official informed The Express Tribune that the posts of the chief selector, head coach and secretary would be the most affected once Khokar takes over.

According to the official, Olympian Shahbaz Senior will take up the position of the chief selector, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh is expected to be replaced by either Tahir Zaman or Qamar Ibrahim, while Brigadier (retd) Salim Nawaz is favourite for the secretary’s post.

Khokar was nominated by the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry on the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also the patron-in-chief of the body, after Akhtar Rasool resigned from the post following the debacle which saw the Greenshirts fail to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in history.

The new chief will now have to take a vote of confidence form the congress member to be legally eligible for the post.

The PHF has invited 105 members for the meeting who are being accommodated at the Pakistan Sports Board facility in Islamabad as the PHF themselves did not have the funds to accommodate them on their own.

All the members have been pre-informed on the one-point agenda of the meeting — vote of confidence for Khokar — while other concerns would also be addressed depending on the direction of the discussion.

The Express Tribune

Sikh Hockey Photo goes Viral

by Dil Bahra

Photo: Humans of New York

When 93 year old Jaswant Singh Chawla took out his hockey team photo from his wallet to show it to a photographer, he did not realise how popular this photo would become.

Mr Chawla was pictured holding the photo on ‘Humans of New York’ Facebook page on 26 April this year with the caption “This was my hockey team. I was the goalkeeper.” The post has been ‘liked’ by 427,270 people, had 6,867 ‘shares’ and 2,341 comments.

The photo, taken in 1940, is of Khalsa High School, Gujanwala, now Pakistan. Mr Chawla is sitting front centre (behind the Shield and hockey sticks).

Jaswant Singh Chawla resided in Jalandhar, Punjab, India until he moved to Vancouver, B.C., Canada in the 1980s. He currently resides in New York.

Sikhs in Hockey

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