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News for 28 August 2015

All the news for Friday 28 August 2015

Netherlands & Germany to fight for men’s Euro crown

The men’s final of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 will be contested between the top ranked teams in the competition, with the World and Olympic Silver medallists the Netherlands set to take on reigning European and Olympic champions Germany in what promises to be a sensational showdown this Saturday.

Electric attacker Jeroen Hertzberger netted the only goal of the game as second ranked Netherlands battled their way past a defensively excellent semi-final opponent in Ireland, while host nation England suffered a heart-breaking shoot-out defeat to third ranked Germany at the end of a breathtaking match that kept a big crowd on the edge of their seats throughout.

In the classification matches, France and Belgium were able to put some clear water between themselves and relegation as they both recorded victories.


Netherlands 1-0 Ireland

The first semi-final was a strangely quiet affair between the second-ranked Netherlands and 14th-ranked Ireland, with an early strike from Jeroen Hertzberger proving to be the difference between the two sides as the Dutch sealed their place in the Gold medal game.

Herzberger’s goal arrived in the 12th minute of the game, touching home a strike from Bob de Voogd following a period of deep defending from the Irishmen. The Green Machine were excellent in defence throughout the match, but few could deny that the Dutch were worthy winners and will now set their sights on winning a fourth European title, adding to their successes in 1983, 1987 and 2007.

After the game, Netherlands defender Mink van der Weerden said: “A win is a win, and in a semi-final that is what you want”, before going on to praise the Irish defence and in particular ace goalkeeper David Harte, who is having yet another outstanding competition.

Germany 2-2 England (3-2 SO)

The familiar story – a game of two halves and then the Germans win in a shoot-out. After an epic tussle, Markus Weise’s side prevailed against England 3-2 after normal time had ended locked at 2-2.

Mats Grambusch and Nicolas Jacobi were the heroes as the former coolly converted and the goalkeeper denied Sam Ward to seal the victory. It sets up a classic decider against the Netherlands on Saturday as they bid to win their ninth European title.

It was level pegging virtually all the way with an initial English lead cancelled out quickly before a stunning last three minutes that saw Lukas Windfeder put the Germans in front only for Ashley Jackson to equalise from the penalty spot before Germany prevailed in the shoot-out.

“We have the best ‘keeper in the world when it comes to shoot-outs,” said Germany's Christopher Rühr. “And we have the confidence that comes from winning in the big games. We are confident and looking forward to the final against the Netherlands.”


Russia 2-4 France

Victor Charlet scored a brace of penalty corners to help France claim a 4-2 win against Russia to keep alive their hopes of retaining their place at the top table of European hockey. Charles Masson and Alexis Fourcroy were also on target for Les Bleus, with Nikolay Yankun and Mikhail Proskuriakov netting for Russia.

Speaking after the match, Charlet said: “We are very happy to win. It was a tough game against a strong and physical team.” He also emphasised the importance of winning their final match in the Championships. “It’s very important for France to stay in the top division and for the future of French hockey.”

Spain 0-3 Belgium

From a game that was in danger of fizzling into a non-entity, the match between Spain and Belgium sparked into life in the final quarter, with Tom Boon acting the role of provider and finisher in Belgium’s 3-0 victory over their lower-ranked rivals. Despite defeat, it was still a memorable day for Spain, whose place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was confirmed following Ireland’s loss against the Netherlands earlier in the day. To read more on this story, click here.

“We have a year to close the gap between ourselves and the top teams,” said Spain’s Jordi Carrera, looking ahead to next year’s Olympiad. “Today we couldn’t keep the ball and we were one step behind. We have a year to put that right.”

FIH site

Netherlands and Germany set up classic Euro final

Two very different semi-finals, but only one ending – heartbreak for two teams and joy for the others. It was a familiar story for England in the last match of the day as they lost on shoot-out to Germany after a scintillating and fast-paced match that ended 2-2 in normal time.

Nicolas Jacobi made the key save after Mats Grambusch had netted his side’s final shoot-out effort to run up a 3-2 win in the final reckoning

“We have the best ‘keeper in the world when it comes to shoot-outs,” said Christopher Ruhr. “And we have the confidence that comes from winning in the big games. We are confident and looking forward to the final against the Netherlands.”

Barry Middleton, the England captain choked back his disappointment as he reflected on the game. “We’re proud of the way we played and the game we put out there. But in the end we lost and that’s tough to get away from right now.”

The first semi-final was a slightly tamer affair. The Netherlands beat a compact Ireland by a solitary goal to book their places in the Unibet EuroHockey Championship final.

The Green Machine were forced into a defensive position for much of the game and the Netherlands struggled to create too many chances. In the end, just Jeroen Hertzberger’s 12th minute goal was the difference.

Eugene Magee said: “We are very disappointed, we had a game plan but it just didn’t come off. We should have changed our mindset and didn’t, but that is something that we must take into our next game.” -

The Netherlands will meet Germany in Saturday’s final at 4.30pm while Ireland face England in the bronze match at 2pm.

France beat Russia 4-2 and Belgium were 3-0 winners over Spain in the relegation pool. It means Spain and France will have a straight battle to avoid dropping to the second tier.

Euro Hockey League media release

Ireland fall 1-0 to Netherlands, Bronze medal match awaits

Photo Credit: Eleni Henry

The world number 2 and current Olympic silver medallists dashed Irish hopes of a Eurohockey Championships final spot in a close contest that ended 1-0 to the Dutch. The Green Machine can still win themselves a medal when they play either Germany or England in the bronze medal match on Saturday at 2pm, regardless of the result Ireland have achieved their best ever result in the Euro’s.

The Irish defence was undone in the 12th minute by Hertzberger who was waiting on Harte’s left post to dispatch a deflected sweep into the goal. Mitch Darling responded almost immediately with a darting run into the circle but his blistering shot was pushed onto the post by the goalkeeper. Shimmins, skills on display throughout, unlocked the Dutch defence, who haven’t conceded a goal the entire tournament, on more than occasion.

Conor Harte, Paul Gleghorne and Ronan Gormley all took knocks in what was a physical encounter at times that saw both teams pick up 1 green and 1 yellow card each. Ireland’s only penalty corner was expertly run down and deflected wide, likewise the green machine defence kept the Dutch penalty corner attack at bay. The Dutch had 18 circle entries but only 5 shots on goal, 3 of which came in one barrage, so credit must go to the Irish players for keeping any Dutch chances to a minimum.

Davey Harte was taken off in the final 2 minutes to allow Ireland play with 11 outfield players and pressurise the Dutch defence but it wasn’t to be. The green machine created history and cemented their deserved presence amongst the top teams in world hockey by simply being in the semi-finals, but they can go one better with a victory on Saturday.

Coach Craig Fulton said “We tried really hard today to get over the line and make the final but it wasn’t to be. The Irish team is strong mentally and will bounce back. We will take the lessons from today and get ready to go again on Saturday”.

Unibet Eurohockey Championship Semi Finals

Ireland 0
Netherlands 1 (Hertzberger)

Team: Harte (Captain), Jackson, Gormley, Magee, Shimmins, O’Donoghue, Darling, Good, Burton, Gleghorne, Harte.

Bench: Cargo, Sothern, Caruth, Robson, Watt, Bell, Fitzgerald.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Germany break English hearts in shoot out drama

Harry Martin in action against Gemany at Euros

Germany sealed their place in the final of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships with a tense shootout win over England. Markus Weise’s side had edged in front after goals from Martin Zwicker and Lukas Windfeder had cancelled out Mark Gleghorne’s opener but Ashley Jackson’s late penalty stroke took the game into a shootout. Nicolas Jacobi was the hero for his side, saving twice in the shootout to break English hearts and condemn Bobby Crutchley’s team to the bronze medal match.

It was a lively opening quarter but clear chances were hard to come by. Jacobi and George Pinner were both forced into early clearances. The lion’s share of the action took place in the middle of the field with a battle for control swinging from one side to the other. The first clear chance came with five minutes to go till the break. A lovely passing move from England involving Barry Middleton and David Ames set David Condon free and he bravely dived in to get the shot off which Jacobi smothered with a fine save. England were a whisker away moments later. A loose ball broke to Chris Griffiths near the top of the circle but his first time shot flashed wide. Pinner was called into action to make a crucial block from Marco Miltkau and it remained 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter England came out strongly. A quick free hit allowed Ames to find Sam Ward in the circle. Although Ward got his shot away he was adjudged to be fouled by Martin Haener and a penalty stroke was awarded. Germany asked for a video referral and the decision was overturned. Undeterred, England attacked again. Adam Dixon broke into the circle and crossed for Gleghorne who guided the ball in to give his side the lead. Mats Grambusch’s snapshot on the turn went wide without troubling Pinner and then Christopher Ruhr went even closer with an incredible run and shot, but again it was off the target. Germany’s pressure told and they equalised right on the stroke of half time. Niklas Wellen crossed and Martin Zwicker was on hand to steer the ball in at the near post to restore parity at the break.

In the third quarter England won a penalty corner after a foul on Dan Fox. Jackson fired it in low but somehow Jacobi got a stick to it to turn it around the post. Ward collected an aerial pass from Lewers and broke into the circle but his cross just evaded a diving Middleton and it remained 1-1 at the end of the third quarter.

Germany pressed England back at the start of the fourth quarter but the defence held firm with Michael Hoare and Lewers producing some superb defensive work. Ward and then Middleton forced good saves in quick succession from Jacobi but as the clock ticked down the tension was mounting. Germany won a penalty corner with three minutes to go. Lucas Windfeder beat Pinner to his left with a fierce drag flick to edge Germany in front. England went straight to the other end and won a corner but Jackson’s shot was charged down by the runner. England took off goalkeeper Pinner as a last throw of the dice and it paid off as they won another penalty corner after Jackson was held in the circle. Gleghorne’s flick came back off Jacobi and in the ensuing melee Middleton was fouled to earn a penalty stroke. Germany referred the decision and after a long delay the award was upheld. Jackson stepped up and was the calmest man in the stadium, sending Jacobi the wrong way to score and put the game to a shootout.

Florian Fuchs went first in the shootout and scored. Jackson stepped up first for England and spun twice before calmly slotting it home. Tobias Hauke was next but Pinner did brilliantly to make a double save and clear but then Jacobi followed suit from Middleton’s effort. Moritz Furste made it 2-1 with a cool finish and then Nick Catlin hit the post. Mathias Muller had the chance to make it 3-1 but Pinner saved again. Harry Martin was next to go, and he levelled it up at 2-2 before Mats Grambusch scored to put the pressure on Ward. Jacobi made a superb double save from the Holcombe striker and England were beaten.

England’s next match of the competition is against Ireland in the bronze medal match which takes place on 29 August at 14:00. Coverage is on the BBC Red button and BBC Sport website.

Quotes – Nick Catlin, England

“It doesn’t get much closer than that. It’s probably the best semi-final I’ve been involved in since I came into the team. We certainly turned up and played our part but we went from the ecstasy of making 2-2 to the agony of losing on shootout. We’re there or thereabouts. That’s the closest we’ve ever pushed them in a major tournament.

The more we play these games the closer we’re getting. If we keep playing the way we did today we won’t lose these games every time. The shootout is a bit of a lottery - Germany seem to win a few more than they lose but we are very close.

All Sam Ward needs to do is look at Barry [Middleton] and me. It doesn’t matter who you are it’s a pressure situation and it can happen to anyone. Tobias Hauke’s one of the best players in the world and he’s missed. Sam Ward will be ok. He’ll come back from it. It’s important not to wallow. We’ll have debrief and look at where we can improve ahead of Ireland on Saturday. I have no doubt we’ll bounce back and produce a good performance.”

Germany 2 (1)
Martin Zwicker, 30 (FG)
Lukas Windfeder, 57 (PC)

England 2 (1)
Mark Gleghorne, 20 (FG)
Ashley Jackson, 59 (PS)

Germany win 3 - 2 after shoot out

England Hockey Board Media release

England beaten on shoot out

By Mike Haymonds

ENGLAND’S men suffered defeat to the Germans by 3-2 in a dramatic penalty shootout in their semi-final at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in the Olympic Park.

It was 2-2 in regulation time after goals for each side in the last three minutes set up the dramatic finale after a game of the highest quality with England producing their best performance in the event.

England had a penalty stroke award overturned on a video referral in the second quarter but they opened the scoring minutes later when Adam Dixon’s cross was steered in by Mark Gleghorne.

The Germans equalised on the stroke of half time when Martin Zwicker converted Niklas Wellen’s cross and superb defence on both sides ensured there were no further scores until the final minutes.

Lukas Windfeder’s fierce drag flick put the Germans ahead from their first penalty corner but, when keeper George Pinner was withdrawn, England won a third corner.

Gleghorne’s flick was saved, and in the ensuing melee, Barry Middleton was fouled. The Germans’ appeal against the penalty stroke awarded was rejected and Ashley Jackson made no mistake from the spot to take the game into a shootout.

The Germans were always ahead with Florian Fuchs, Moritz Furste and Mats Grambusch on target while only Jackson and Harry Martin were successful for England.

England face Ireland in the bronze medal match tomorrow (Saturday) while Germany and the Netherlands contest the final.

Nick Catlin said: “It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s probably the best semi-final I’ve been involved in.

“We certainly turned up and played our part but we went from the ecstasy of making it 2-2 to the agony of losing on a shootout.

“We’re there or thereabouts. That’s the closest we’ve ever pushed them in a major tournament.”

Daily Express

England men denied final berth by Germany in dramatic shoot out

Traditional semi-final ending sees England beaten on a shoot out by Olympic champions Germany at Unibet European Championships

By Rod Gilmour, Olympic Park

To the last: England men were denied a European final berth by Germany Photo: CHRIS LEE

It was perhaps no surprise that the statistics showed England men having never beaten Germany in a major semi-final, losing all four encounters since 1974 before this pulsating EuroHockey Championships clash.

After the game had finished 2-2, England succumbed to a fifth last night after the defending champions prevailed 3-2 in a tension-fuelled shoot out. Sam Ward, the Holcombe forward, missed his last shuffle from the 23-metre line as Germany set up a final against Holland.

“We had an intensity and passion for the shirt where everyone worked for each other tonight,” said Barry Middleton, the dejected England captain. “We controlled the game but ultimately we couldn’t get over the line.”

After a sedate opening, the game ignited in the 20th minute thanks to England’s shape and deft rotational policy. David Condon, a standout performer this week, started and ended a piercing move up field, only for Nicolas Jacobi to smother the shot. Chris Griffiths then slapped wide on the volley when set up perfectly in the circle.

After a video referral saw a penalty stroke overturned for England, they finally broke the deadlock when Adam Dixon scooped across goal after five cute touches where Mark Gleghorne smashed home.

For all England's endeavour, Germany were still holding 60 per cent possession and they leveled, typically, with 15 seconds left of a riveting first half when Martin Zwicker tapped home through George Pinner’s legs.

Germany’s national set up is vastly different to England Hockey, whose players are centrally contracted and train full-time. Half of Germany's 18-strong squad study or hold down jobs. Tobias Hauke, the former world player of the year, works as an assistant press officer for Bundesliga side Hamburg.

Yet, the Olympic champions have won six of the last nine European titles. Another final looked in the offing with their hammer blow equaliser, but England pressed in the third quarter.

The best chance came from a 70-yard aerial ball when Iain Lewers found Ward deep in German territory. The forward hit hard across goal where a diving Middleton, searching for his 100th international goal, couldn’t quite connect. It would have been some goal.

With time ticking Germany were awarded a rare penalty corner and Lukas Windfelder silenced Lee Valley with a hard-hitting flick past Pinner and Middleton. Back came England and after a period of uncertainty over a video replay - even the fourth official managed a smile despite the tension - Ashley Jackson leveled a minute later with a timely penalty stroke.

England, who had 10 shots on goal to Germany's three, pressed for the winner – with Pinner taken off for an out-field player - but the dreaded shoot out soon came.

Middleton's men will now play for bronze against Ireland after Holland, who last won the title in 2007, reached the final with a below-par performance against dogged opposition.

Having racked up a raft of goals in the pool stages, it was left to an 11th minute strike by Jeroen Hertzberger to see them into Saturday’s final.

Max Caldas, the former Dutch women’s coach until last year, has molded the men’s side into a consistent side and they have yet to concede a goal in their four games thus far.

Meanwhile, England women have the chance to reach Sunday’s final when they take on Spain in their semi-final on Friday night.

The Telegraph

Spain men qualify for Rio 2016 Olympics

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed today that Spain men have qualified for the hockey event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Spain qualified after Ireland lost to the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in London, which ensured that the only teams who can now win the event have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals – the Netherlands, Germany and England (as Great Britain).

The winner of the EuroHockey Championships will qualify for the 2016 Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which Spain secure as the team who ranked highest at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals not already qualified.

Spain finished fifth at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires while Ireland finished fifth in Antwerp, however Spain qualify ahead of Ireland as they rank above them in the FIH world rankings.

Spain men join the nine teams already qualified for Rio 2016 - India as Asian Games champions, Argentina as Pan Am Games champions and Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain and Canada through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.

Brazil men also joined the line-up when their place in the semi-final at the Pan Am Games satisfied the host nation participation criteria established by IOC and FIH.

The remaining two Olympic places (men) will not be finalised until after the Continental Championships, the Oceania Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations, which finish in November this year.

FIH site

Spain Qualify for Rio Olympics Hockey Men's Competition

Spain finished fifth at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires while Ireland finished fifth in Antwerp, however Spain qualify ahead of Ireland as they rank above them in the FIH world rankings.

File Image of the Spanish Hockey Team. They have become the tenth team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

London: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed on Thursday that Spain men have qualified for the hockey event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Spain qualified after Ireland lost to the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the Euro Hockey Championships in London, which ensured that the only teams who can now win the event have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals - the Netherlands, Germany and England (as Great Britain).

The winner of the Euro Hockey Championships will qualify for the 2016 Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which Spain secure as the team ranked highest at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals not already qualified.

Spain finished fifth at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires while Ireland finished fifth in Antwerp, however Spain qualify ahead of Ireland as they rank above them in the FIH world rankings.

Spain men join the nine teams already qualified for Rio 2016 -- India as Asian Games champions, Argentina as Pan Am Games champions and Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain and Canada through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.

Brazil men also joined the line-up when their place in the semi-final at the Pan Am Games satisfied the host nation participation criteria established by IOC and FIH.

The remaining two Olympic places (men) will not be finalised until after the Continental Championships, the Oceania Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations, which finish in November this year.

NDTV Sports

Hero confirmed title sponsor of the ‘Hero Hockey World League Final’, Raipur

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is pleased to announce Hero as the title sponsor of the 2015 men’s Hockey World League Final.

Taking place in the Indian city of Raipur, Chhattisgarh between 27 November and 6 December 2015, the event will be called the ‘Hero Hockey World League Final’.

Hero (Hero MotoCorp Ltd) is the world's largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles, based in India. In 2001, the company became the largest two-wheeler manufacturing company in India and also the world’s largest producer of two-wheelers in terms of unit volume sales in a calendar year - a position it continues to maintain to date.

The sponsorship sees Hero continue their ongoing support for the sport of hockey and the FIH. Hero has provided the title sponsorship for numerous FIH flagship events, including the men’s Hero Honda Hockey World Cup 2010, Hero Hockey Junior World Cup 2013 and the inaugural men’s Hero Hockey World League Final 2014, which were all held in New Delhi, India. They were also title sponsor of the men’s Hero Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar, India later in 2014.

Speaking of this agreement, Hero Chairman, Managing Director and CEO, Mr Pawan Munjal, expressed his delight at the partnership. He said: “The ‘Hero Hockey World League Final 2015’ is yet again going to bring world-class hockey to the country. This will give an opportunity for all the top teams including Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium, Argentina, Canada and India to sharpen their skills before they head into the Rio Olympics next year.

“As a keen supporter of our national game, I am also quite happy to see the event being held at Raipur in the state of Chhatisgarh, because this will give a golden opportunity for hockey fans there to see top class action up close for the first time. This move will certainly go a long way in further popularizing the game in the country.”

FIH President Leandro Negre was also pleased to confirm the partnership. He said: “We are delighted to welcome Hero on-board as title sponsor of the Hero Hockey World League Final in Raipur, India. Given the ongoing commitment that Hero has made to hockey both in India and around the world over the years, it is a natural fit for them to partner with FIH for the 2015 men’s Hero Hockey World Hockey League Final being held in India. Hero is a true champion of hockey.”

FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather added: “Hero is one of world’s leading brands, therefore to partner with one of India’s most successful businesses once again is fantastic for our sport. We’ve already seen the effect that Hero’s commitment to hockey has had, especially in India where the national men’s team have already qualified for Rio 2016 as Asian champions while it still remains possible for the women to qualify as well.

“Their support extends much beyond India however as their input continues to fuel the growth of hockey around the world. We look forward to working with Hero in Raipur as we aim to make the Hero Hockey World League Final a truly fantastic event for everyone involved.”

Following the conclusion of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in July, the field is now set for the Final.

The Hero Hockey World League Final line-up includes eight national men’s hockey teams who qualified through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Buenos Aires and Antwerp.

They include Australia, ranked number one in the FIH World Rankings, Netherlands (2), Germany (3), Belgium (4), Great Britain (5), Argentina (6), hosts India (8) and Canada (13).

The event will be held in the 3,000 capacity Raipur International Hockey Stadium which was opened as a dedicated hockey facility in August 2014.

FIH site

A Section semi-finalists decided at SA Women’s hockey IPT

JONATHAN COOK in Potchefstroom

Free State's Lezanne Vermaak (left) scores the opening goal past Northern Blues goalkeeper Phume Mbande during the Bloemfontein girls' 2-1 win at the SA Interprovincial Tournament in Potchefstroom Thursday as Free State's Jo-Nelke Swanepoel and Blues' Kim Hubach (face mask) look on. PHOTO REBECCA HEARFIELD (GSPORT)

On a day of drama and thrilling action, the semi-finalists in the elite A Section of the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament (IPT) were decided at North-West University in Potchefstroom Thursday.

In the opening match in the A Section Thursday, Western Province beat a competitive South Gauteng Wits 4-0 after a goalless first half.

WP finally broke the deadlock after 43 minutes when Candice Manuel scored from a penalty corner. Five minutes later (48th) Manuel made it 2-0 from field play and a minute after (49th) Nicole de Vries breached the Wits defence from another PC. A minute from full-time (59th) Quanita Bobbs made no error from the penalty spot.

WP were good value for their win and recovered well from their shock 5-1 defeat by Southern Gauteng on Thursday.

Match two saw one of the most remarkable matches in the long history of this competition for national supremacy.

Free State, missing three key defenders who had varsity commitments to attend to - and then losing another player through injury in the third quarter - played with remarkable courage and tenacity to beat defending champions Northern Blues 2-1 after the score was deadlocked 0-0 at half-time.

Free State, who won promotion to the A Section after clinching the B Section title in Pietermaritzburg last year, opened the scoring two minutes after half-time (32nd) via a brilliant Lezanne Vermaak finish from a PC.

Northerns equalised in the 39th after Sammy Prost’s field goal, which saw a basic error hurt the Free State cause. However, Northerns had missed from the penalty spot so perhaps it was justice.

The winner went Free State’s way and again came off the stick of the inspired Vermaak, just three minutes from the end (57th) and once again from a PC.

Match three witnessed a surprise when Spar KZN Raiders edged Southern Gauteng 2-1 after Southerns had led 1-0 at half-time.

Southerns striker Lilian du Plessis opened the scoring with a reverse-stick rocket in the ninth minute but the strong-finishing Raiders had the last say with goals from field play by Stacey Hiron in the 42nd and Karen Bowyer’s winner in the 55th, only five minutes from the final whistle.

The fourth and final A Section clash was between North West and Border, and the East London girls, who have been on the wrong end of some big goal margins, were outstanding – their fighting spirit winning many admirers – but in the end the host province ended 1-0 winners with the goal coming from Danielle de Wet.

The outcome of the four A Section matches sees Pool B winners Southern Gauteng versus Pool A runners up Northern Blues in the first semi-final at 4pm Friday, while semi-final two features Pool A winners Free State up against Pool B runners up Western Province at 6pm.
The times of Saturday’s A Section classification matches have been changed. The playoff for seventh and eighth places is at 09h30 followed by the showdown for fifth and sixth places at 11h30. The playoff for third and fourth places is at 13h30 while the final is at 15h30.

The B Section matches remain the same. The nine-team B Section tournament is a round-robin format with no semi-finals or final.

A Section: WP 4 SG Wits 0; Free State 2 Northern Blues 1; Spar KZN Raiders 2 Southern Gauteng 1; North West 1 Border 0.
B Section: SACD A 4 SG Nuggets 0; WP Pens 3 EP 1; KZN Mynahs 5 KZN Inland 1; Namibia 3 Mpumalanga 0; SG Nuggets 4 SACD B 1.
Pool A (all played 3) – 1 Free State 16GD 7 pts; 2 Northern Blues 11GD 6 pts; 3 North West 0GD 4 pts; 4 Border -27GD 0 pts.
Pool B (all played 3) – 1 Southern Gauteng 6GD 6 pts; 2 WP 2GD 6 pts; 3 Spar KZN Raiders 1GD 6 pts; 4 SG Wits -9GD 0 pts.
(Matches played in brackets, goal difference, points)
1 Namibia (6) 14GD 16 pts; 2 WP Pens (5) 16GD 13 pts; 3 KZN Inland (6) 6GD 12 pts; 4 KZN Mynahs (6) 6GD 12 pts; 5 SACD A (5) 2GD 9 pts; 6 EP -1GD 6 pts; 7 Mpumalanga (5) -9GD 3 pts; 8 SG Nuggets (6) -13GD 3 pts; 9 SACD B -18GD 0 pts.
12h00 Border vs Spar KZN Raiders; 14h00 North West vs SG Wits. Semi-Final 1: 16h00 Northern Blues vs Southern Gauteng. Semi-Final 2: 18h00 Free State vs WP.
B Section fixtures: 09h00 SACD A vs KZN Inland; 10h45 EP vs KZN Mynahs; 12h30 SACD B vs Mpumalanga; 14h15 WP Pens vs SG Nuggets; 16h00 SACD A vs Namibia.

SA Hockey Association media release

THT & KLHC: No room for errors

By Jugjet Singh

MALAYSIA Hockey League (MHL) Premier Divison Leaders Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) believe they will be fighting the battles of their lives this weekend to keep their title hopes alive.

KLHC top the standings on 19 points, just one point away from double champions Terengganu Hockey team, and hope to survive against UniKL today, and Sapura Sunday.

"In Round One, both these matches were close as we drew 3-3 with Sapura and could only beat UniKL 1-0. I believe we will have to bring out our best to claim six points thiw weekend, and then only can we play for the final League fixture on Sept 4," said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj.

Sept 4 is when KLHC meet Terengganu HT (THT).

As for THT they play their final three matches at home in Batu Buruk, starting with Tenaga today and Maybank Sunday.

"If we maintain our form, and THT win both their matches, the last fixture against THT will decide the title. Thats why this weekend is seen as do-or-die for both the teams," said Dharmaraj.

THT have a good record playing at home, and their only blemish this season was 6-2 drubbing in the hands of KLHC in the curtain raiser Charity Shield match.

"To say that we will have an easy time against UniKL is far-fetched, as even though they have 12 Project 2016 players, they have shown great determination and fighting spirit," said Dharmaraj.

For the record, UniKL have yet to win or draw a match this season, but all their matches went to the wire.

As for THT coach Sarjit Singh, he will be banking on home support: "The crowd at Batu Buruk has been simply great and with their backing, we hope to win all three matches and defend our title."

TODAY: Premier Division -- KLHC v UniKL (6pm, Pitch II), Terengganu HT v Tenaga (Batu Buruk, 6pm).

Division One: Group A: MASUM USM v TNB Thunderbolts (KLHA, 5pm), MSN-THT v BJSS (batu Buruk, 4pm); Group B: ATM Airod v SSTMI (Tun Razak, 7pm), PKS-KPM v UiTM (5pm, Pitch I), Nur Insafi v Politeknik (Sg Petani, 5pm).

Women: Group A: ATM Pernama v Politeknik (Tun Razsak, 5pm).

TOMORROW: Division One: Group B: PKS-KPM v UniKL Young Guns (7pm, Pitch I).

SUNDAY: Premier Division -- Sapura v KLHC (6pm, Pitch II), Terengganu v Maybank (Batu Buruk, 6pm), uniKL v Tenaga (8pm, Pitch II).

Division One: Group A: MSP-YPSSP v BJSS (Kuantan, 5pm), MBI v MSNT-THT (Azlan Shah, 5pm); Group B: UiTM v UniKL Young Guns (5pm, Pitch I), Nur Insafi v SSTMI (Sg Petani, 5pm), ATM Airod v Politeknik (Tun Razak, 5pm).


                  P     W       D       L       F       A       pts
KLHC                     7 6 1 0 20 9 19
TERENGGANU HT     7 6 0 1 25 11 18
SAPURA                     7 3 1 3 12 14 10
TENAGA            7 3 0 4 10 16 9
MAYBANK           6 1 0 5 8 16 3
UNIKL                  6 0 0 6 7 16 0

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

KLHC and Terengganu have to be careful in the league now

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Beware the spoilers.

That is the warning title rivals Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Terengganu must heed as they enter the final stretch of the Premier Division in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL)

KLHC lead the six-team standings with 19 points – just one ahead of defending champions Terengganu.

KLHC play Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) on Friday and Sapura on Sunday. Terengganu meet Tenaga Nasional on Friday and Maybank on Sunday.

Their opponents are out of the title chase, but KLHC and Terengganu can ill-afford to drop any points.

KLHC and Terengganu are due to meet on Sept 4 in what will surely be the title-decider.

But first, there are the party-poopers to take care of.

“This two games will see a lot of pressure on the title chasers. We have to win both these matches to stay in the title fight. One loss, and the title will go the other way,” said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj, who is well aware that his team led the standings until losing their grip in the penultimate match last year.

“What happened last year is still fresh in our minds ... we hope to avoid a repeat,” he said.

“There’s no point thinking of the final battle (on Sept 4) when the next two matches could derail our plans.

“I’m sure Terengganu will also be a little cautious and not drop any points.”

KLHC have four crocked players – Roslan Jamaluddin, Mohamed Razie Rahim, Rashid Baharom and Kevin Lim – but Dharmaraj is confident they’ll be ready for the matches.

“Their injuries are nothing serious ... just knocks and bruises,” said Dharmaraj.

“UniKL lost to us by just one goal in the first match. We expect them to have a go at us as they will want to end their winless run.”

Friday’s match will be UniKL’s fourth in seven days. Their postponed tie against Maybank has been slated for Sept 2.

The Star of Malaysia

Ford NHL fires into action this weekend

Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

New Zealand’s eight regions are ready to do battle at the 2015 Ford National Hockey League.

Round 1 (29 August) and Round 2 (6 September) will be played in various locations around the country before all teams converge on the Whangarei ITM Hockey Centre for finals week from 12-20 September.

On the line are bragging rights along with domestic hockey’s biggest prizes the Men’s Challenge Shield and the Women’s K Cup.

The pinnacle event will also double as a national selection tournament with the 2015/16 National and Development Squads to be named in September.

The Auckland Men are pushing for an unprecedented fifth consecutive title while the Auckland Women are hunting for a second straight victory after winning last year.

Auckland Men have the luxury of seven current Black Sticks in Devon Manchester, Dwayne Rowsell, Arun and Jared Panchia, Simon and Marcus Child and Ryan Archibald. Also add into the mix South African guest player Tim Drummond.

The Auckland Women’s line-up includes four Black Sticks (Amelia Gibson, Julia King, Liz Thompson and Katie Glynn), along with three Development Squad players. Behind them is the vast experience of former Black Sticks Krystal Forgesson and Charlotte and Sam Harrison.

All eyes will be on the Central Mysticks, who will enjoy the services of Black Sticks legends Kayla Whitelock and Emily Naylor after having a break from the sport following the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Whitelock, who gave birth just three months ago to her first child, will assess her performance at the Ford NHL goes before putting her hand up for international selection.

The North Harbour Men look to have some firepower on show, thanks to the likes of current National Squad players Steve Edwards, James Coughlan, Joe Bartholomew and George Muir along with goalkeeper Richard Joyce and defender Cory Bennett who are in the Development Squad.

Harbour also have some quality young talent and have also attracted Japanese striker Genki Mitani as their international guest player.

This year will be extra exciting for hockey fans with news the Women’s K Cup Final and Men’s Challenge Cup Final, along with the respective third and fourth place play-offs will be LIVE on SKY Sport.

The 2015 Ford National Hockey League is proudly supported by the Whangarei District Council and Trillian Trust.


Women’s Third v Fourth Play-Off, 9.00am
Men’s Third v Fourth Play-Off, 11.00am
Women’s K Cup Final, 1.00pm
Men’s Challenge Cup Final, 3.00pm

Hockey New Zealand Media release

India need more tough tests ahead of Rio Olympics: Sreejesh

NEW DELHI: Hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels India need to go through tough tests against top teams to excel in next year's Rio Olympics.

Sreejesh dedicated his Arjuna award to the whole team, and said his recognition will motivate him and his teammates to do well in upcoming tournaments.

"This is not my award, this belongs to the whole team. Hockey is a team game and I alone cannot bring medal for the country. It is a huge honour and responsibility as well and we will be motivated to do well in future tournaments," Sreejesh said.

"We are ranked 8th in the world and one should not expect us to be a world champion overnight. But yes this team has potential and we can beat any team on our day. No team is invincible in modern hockey and we have beaten teams like Australia, New Zealand.

"All we need is to gain more and more experience and tests against top teams. We need to fine tune our game like taking correct decisions in crucial moments to maintain the consistency level and must handle the pressure well. We must not succumb under the pressure of big matches. This will come with experience of playing more against big teams," he said.

The experienced goalkeeper from Kerala, who has played 121 international matches for India, feels it was advantageous for India to qualify early for the Rio Games but they need to improve further to come up with better results in the mega-event.

India will tour New Zealand for a Test series next month while host Australia in October-November. They will also feature in the Hockey World League Finals later this year in Raipur.

Asked if the off-field controversies, including the unceremonious exits of chief coach Terry Walsh and Paul Van Ass have affected the team, Sreejesh replied in the negative.

"Players are matured enough to not get affected by off-field events. We are focusing of our on-field performance only as we all know how important Olympics is for us. This team is together for almost last two years and bonding well which will augur well in our favour," said the 27-year-old.

He idolises former India goalkeeper Adrian D'souza and feel shy when people call him 'the wall of Indian hockey'.

"Since the beginning of my career, I have been hearing Rahul Dravid is the wall of Indian cricket. I feel humbled and honoured when people call me 'the wall of Indian hockey' now. It is a huge responsibility," he said.

The Times of India

Team announced for 7th Women Junior Asia Cup

Rani Rampal to lead Indian Junior Women Hockey Team in 7th Women’s Junior Asia Cup

Hockey India announced the Indian Junior Women Hockey Squad for the upcoming 7th Women’s Junior Asia Cup to be played in Changzhou, China from 05 September to 13 September 2015. India is placed in Pool A along with China, Malaysia, Singapore, DPR Korea. In Pool B, Korea Rep, Japan, Thailand and Chinese-Taipei will contest against each other. This tournament will be a qualification event for the Junior Women World Cup 2016.

The team will be led by the very proficient Captain Rani Rampal whose leadership will motivate the other players to go the extra mile for the team.

undefined Playing their first match on the opening day, 05 September 2015 against DPR Korea, the young Indian team will be aiming to open the tourney on a winning note. Junior Women team recently finished third in the recent Volvo Invitational U-21 tournament held in Breda, the Netherlands. The girls are undergoing its training sessions in Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi to polish their skills with a focus on trying to cash in on the penalty corners.

Coach Baljeet Saini: “The team looks confident ahead of the upcoming tournament. They are very much determined post their third place finish at the U-21 Volvo Invitational tournament and the team will aim for a win in the Junior Women Asia Cup. The girls have worked on the various aspects including starting the game with speed and improved their attacking skills.”

Captain Rani: “The team is in good shape and the preparatory camp has been helping us to improve our game each day. We are optimistic after our recent third place finish at the U-21 Volvo Invitational tournament and focusing on our strategies and working on rectifying our mistakes so that we come out as a strong unit. I am sure that we will see a good competition in the upcoming tournament and hope to finish it on a winning note.”

List of players-

1. Inderpreet Kaur
2. Sheweta

3. Deep Grace Ekka
4. Namita Toppo
5. Gurjit Kaur
6. Jaspreet Kaur
7. Manjit Kaur
8. Rashmita Minz

9. M. Lily Chanu
10. Lilima Minz
11. Navjot Kaur (Vice Captain)
12. Renuka Yadav
13. Preeti Dubey

14. Anupa Barla
15. Rani Rampal(Captain)
16. Punam Barla
17. Navneet Kaur
18. Sonika


Strange Hockey India rule leaves senior players in lurch

Sudheendra Tripathi

MUMBAI: For a scant gathering at Churchgate's Mahindra Stadium on Wednesday, Adrian D'Souza was easily the standout performer. The 31-year-old, turning out for Air India in the semifinals of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gold Cup hockey tournament against Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), stood like a wall under the bar. He thwarted innumerable ONGC attempts to force the match into a shootout and excelled even then. It was entirely because of his performance that Air India managed to win the semifinal clash in the end.

Despite D'Souza's roaring show at the MHAL, he has every reason to feel annoyed or even cheated. Hockey India has decided not to include any player above the age of 30 in the auction pool for the cash-rich Hockey India League.

Let alone D'Souza, players like BPCL's Tushar Khandker, Indian Oil's Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur - all of them - are in their mid thirties but still a force to reckon with in the domestic circuit. Indian Oil, in fact, have won several domestic tournaments plainly riding on the performances of Singh and Thakur.

The 30-plus-rule, however, is restricted to the Indians alone. When the auction happens in September this year, there would be 20-odd foreign players who are above 30 and will go under the hammer. Hockey India could not be contacted to clarify as to why the rule applies to Indians alone. It is for the first time that such an illogical move has been put in place, one which doesn't find a mention in any other league in the country, especially where auctions are concerned.

"It is a bit unfair," said a source associated with a franchise. "A blanket rule like this will not allow some quality players to play the Hockey India League," the source added.

A former player, who didn't wish to be named said: "Players in any sport don't like to call it quits. They keep playing until they are asked or forced to leave. Youngsters do need a push to improve hockey in India. But to keep all players above a certain age out perhaps may not be the right decision after all."

An Olympian who was present to watch the semifinals, though, threw in another point of view. "Hockey India should conduct fitness tests if they feel the player is not qualified. If the player is fit enough to play he should most certainly be considered. Not allowing ageing players in the auction pool is very unfair," he said.

The Times of India

Pakistan hockey coach Shahnaz Sheikh resigns


Pakistan hockey head coach Shahnaz Sheikh resigned from his post on Thursday months after the national team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in its history.

The resignation came during a Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) meeting in Islamabad. Further, it was decided in the meeting that PHF secretary Rana Mujahid Ali will maintain his position till 2018.

The meeting, which was attended by 95 of the 105 members of the hockey federation, was held in Crown Plaza Hotel, Islamabad. The main agenda of the afternoon was for the new federation president, retired Brigadier Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, to take a vote of confidence from the members.

Pakistan, which has won Olympic gold in the sport three times and the world championship four times, finished eighth in the Olympic qualifying rounds in Belgium in July, and will now not take part in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The 43-year-old, who was part of the 1994 World Cup winning team, is an International Hockey Federation (FIH) qualified coach and has served Egypt and Azerbaijan besides having a stint with the Greenshirts a decade ago.

Earlier this month Pakistan’s hockey chief Akhtar Rasool also handed in his resignation, saying, “I have resigned from the post for the best interests of the country and for the sake of our national sport.”

Pakistan’s hockey has seen a serious slump since they won the 1994 world title in Australia.

Pakistan finished last in the World Cup held in India in 2010, and have also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.

The Express Tribune

Pakistan hockey coach Shahnaz Sheikh quits

Rana Mujahid to continue as Secretary General till 2018

By Abdul Jabbar Faisal

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hockey head coach Shahnaz Sheikh has resigned from his post months after the national team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their history.

The resignation came during a Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Congress meeting which was called on Thursday to give vote of confidence to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s nominee Brig (r) Mohammad Khalid Sajjad Khokhar as new President of the national federation. The Congress unanimously endorsed Khalid as the new PHF chief. The meeting was required to be called as per PHF Constitution after the resignation of Akhtar Rasool. Akhtar had tendered his resignation on August 19, accepting responsibility for the Olympics debacle, and on that very day Khalid was nominated as new PHF President by the PHF Chief Patron, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. It was also decided in the meeting that PHF Secretary General Rana Mujahid Ali will maintain his position till 2018. The meeting, which was attended by 95 of the 105 members of the Congress, was held in Crown Plaza Hotel, Islamabad. Pakistan, who won Olympic gold in the sport three times and World Cup four times, finished eighth in the Olympic qualifying rounds in Belgium in July, and will now not take part in the Rio Olympics in 2016. The Congress also eulogised the services of Akhtar for running the national federation despite financial constraints.

Shahnaz said he had no pressure to resign. “I resigned for the betterment of hockey. “I had taken over the national hockey team at a difficult time. And during my period, Pakistan participated in four international fixtures, winning two silver medals,” Shahnaz added. Pakistan won silver medal in the Asian Games 2014 in South Korea and silver medal in the FIH Champions’ Trophy in India. Later talking to media, Khalid said that it was an uphill task to revive the national game but he would try to do it with the support of former Olympians and players. “We will make changes in the team with the passage of time and the team management will be announced in next couple of days,” he added. Replying a question, he said he would required a minimum of Rs.100 million to manage the basic needs of the national federation. “We cannot upgrade our national game without the support of the government. However, the PHF will not entirely focus on the government’s financial support. We will also generate money through sponsorship and other ways,” he maintained. Pakistan’s hockey has seen a serious slump since they won the 1994 world title in Australia. Pakistan finished last in the World Cup held in India in 2010, and have also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.

The Daily Times

New PHF president receives vote of confidence

By Nabil Tahir

KARACHI: Newly-instated president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, Brigadier (retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, received a vote of confidence during a congress meeting held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Islamabad on Thursday, while current secretary of the body Rana Mujahid was given an extension on his contract, which will run till the 2018 World Cup.

Meanwhile, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh resigned from his post during the meeting, which was accepted by Khokhar.

The meeting was held on a one-point agenda — for the congress to accept the new president after taking votes and for Khokhar to then put his faith in Mujahid to continue his role as secretary. “The members of the congress also agreed on extending Mujahid’s tenure,” said Khokhar.

Mujahid, who has been serving the PHF for the last two years and has tried to gather funds to revive the national sport and failed, has been given another chance with the new management.

On the other hand, Sheikh and his assistants, who trained the national team that won silver medals at Asian Games and Champions Trophy in 2014, handed in their resignations in the aftermath of Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“People here don’t appreciate good work. One loss made them forget everything we had previously achieved,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune. “No coach in the world gives 100 per cent results — there are many ups and downs in sports. You win some, you lose some.”

Sheikh said that his contract runs till the Rio event but since they had failed to qualify, there was no reason left to stay with the team. “I hope the new management under Khokhar has the ability to lift hockey again. He is a disciplined man and I hope to see this in his actions too,” he said.

Upon taking the vote of confidence, Khokhar said that he and his team will work tirelessly to improve the state of hockey affairs in the country, adding that they had asked the government for a Rs100 million grant to initiate their goals.

“This is the initial amount we require to run the federation and we will then provide the daily allowance to players when made available,” he said. “For the future, we will try to make the PHF strong enough to bear its own expenses. We will also be modifying the federation’s strategy and will announce relevant details soon.”

The Express Tribune

Khokhar approved new chief in profligate PHF meeting

Rana Mujahid retains secretary slot; Head coach Shahnaz Sheikh steps down

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar Thursday was endorsed as Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president by its 86 out of 108 congress members who also gave vote of confidence to current secretary Rana Mujahid.

Brig Khokhar's endorsement was very much expected, but the surprise of the day was Mujahid's vote of confidence from the congress members. The sources confirmed that majority of the congress members present in the meeting were not entitled to attend the congress’ extraordinary meeting.

The most significant of them all was presence of former secretary Asif Bajwa, who is considered as very close friend of Mujahid. Bajwa attended the meeting as Lahore District’s nominee, but Lahore District president Babar Ansari, when contacted, said that he had not nominated Bajwa. “We have nominated only Khawaja Juniad and Khawaja Awais. But Bajwa started maneuvering for Rana, otherwise, the meeting was convened to endorse Brig Khokhar as PHF president, nominated by chief patron. Bajwa spoiled Khokhar’s plan of getting elect his favorite Shahbaz Senior, as the house also gave vote of confidence to Mujahid,” he said.

Head coach and manager Shahnaz Sheikh also tendered his resignation to the newly-elected president, which was accepted immediately. It was quite evident that the axe would fall only on Akhtar Rasool, while the real culprits like Mujahid would manage to save their skin. Akhtar Rasool was made scapegoat, while coach Shahnaz, who managed to help Pakistan play in three finals, was disheartened to tender his resignation for just one poor result.

The same old faces would be inducted in the new setup, which, according to Brig Khokhar, would be transparent one. The new PHF has no experience of playing hockey or running such high-profile office while during the media talk, he failed to reply even a single question from the journalists, who were present in a good numbers. Despite the fact neither Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) nor the PHF invited journalists to cover this event, the journalists had to wait for several hours, but Khokhar and Mujahid were sitting in a private room and doing under the table deal.

When this scribe asked Brig Khokhar, same old people were standing with him who had destroyed the national game, he failed to answer the question and explain his plans how to take out Pakistan hockey from ashes. He also failed to answer questions regarding main source of generating funds for the PHF, as he was completely relying on government in this regard. If the prime minister meets Brig Khokhar and ready to roll out funds to him, then what was Akhtar Rasool's fault, who kept on requesting the PM to give him time so that he might discuss with him the ways how to save sinking ship of Pakistan hockey and how to regain its lost glory, but he was deprived of issuance of funds.

One thing is crystal clear that Brig Khaild just managed to get the hot seat because of his close relation with federal minister. He has no clear-cut plans to work for the betterment of hockey in general and players in particular and he is completely banking on government.

When asked about how much funds he required immediately and from where he would arrange funds, the new PHF chief replied: “We need Rs 100 million to start work on projects and we are depending on government in the first phase and will work on generating funds through our own sources in the second phase.” He confirmed that the PHF would hire a media manager and requested the journalists to allow horse to run freely. “We don't need to hit the horse back with stick all the time.”

When asked about starting Pakistan Premier Hockey League (PPHL), Brig Khokhar said: “We are working on that and PPHL will start in next few months. I have just taken over the helms of affairs, give me few days, it is my promise we will take all stakeholders on board and everything in the federation will be done transparently. He refused to tell whether his term started now or from the date when former president was elected. “We can make amendments in the PHF constitution.”

The new chief refused to draw line on Rana Mujahid's immediate future as secretary, but didn't rule out change of heart. For the time being, Rana has taken fresh vote of confidence from the congress, let see what comes next.

In next few days, same old people will be witnessed taking one or another role in the present setup, with patron and DG Planning and Development posts will be created after amendments in the PHF constitution.

To a query regarding revival of international hockey in Pakistan, Brig Khalid said: “The teams will tour Pakistan in due course of time. We will not appoint any foreign coach for the national team as it is juts wastage of money and when we are blessed with so many past greats, who can help players and put Pakistan hockey on right track, what is the need of hiring a foreign coach.”

Each and every individual attended the congress meeting will now get hefty TADAs along with other perks and privileges. At a time when PHF is in serious financial stride, what was the need of wasting money on congress meeting and hiring expensive hotel for this purpose? The start of the new PHF chief is not as impressive as it should be but he must go ahead wisely and take all the decisions purely for the betterment and improvement of the national game.

The Nation

Khalid gets vote of confidence from PHF Congress

Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s nominee retired Brig Khalid Khokhar as president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation received the vote of confidence from the PHF Congress here on Thursday.

The members at the extraordinary Congress meeting endorsed Khalid’s nomination and guaranteed him of their full support in uplifting the standard of the national game.

Khalid was nominated for the post of president on Aug 21 by the prime minister, who is also PHF patron-in-chief, in place of Akhtar Rasool who tendered his resignation recently.

Shahnaz Sheikh’s resignation accepted

During the meeting attended by 86 out of 108 members, national team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh submitted his resignation to the newly appointed president, which was accepted.

Shahnaz resigned while following in the footsteps of Akhtar Rasool who quit the post recently due to national team’s shameful performance in Belgium, resulting in Pakistan — former world hockey giants — failing to make Olympics for the first time.

While acknowledging the services rendered by Shahnaz, Khalid said: “Reviving the national game is an uphill task but I will try to do it with the support of former Olympians and players. The new [team] management will be announced in the coming days.”

He further said that there was a need of around Rs100 million to take steps for promoting the national game. “Besides government funding, the PHF will look to generate finance through sponsorships too.

“And in order to fully restore hockey in Pakistan, we will also make full efforts to host foreign teams.”

The Congress meeting surprised the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) officials, when former PHF secretary Asif Bajwa proposed the continuation of the tenure of the federation secretary Rana Mujahid.

The house applauded the proposal, giving an impression that Mujahid should continue working.

However, sources said that the meeting had been convened to discuss one-point agenda — i.e. vote of confidence for prime minister’s nominee — and that’s why there was no legal standing of the (perceived) vote of confidence for Mujahid.

“I’m surprised how Mujahid managed to get the confidence of the Congress members, though Bajwa’s proposal has no legal standing; but this indicates that Mujahid will create problem when the newly appointed president will try to remove him,” said a senior PSB official, who requested not to be named.

The official further said the government had decided to remove the incumbent secretary from his post come what may.

What if PHF Congress did not allow the government to remove the secretary, the official said: “Actually, the government is convinced that both Akhtar and Mujahid are equally responsible for the team’s pathetic show. I think Mujahid will have to submit his resignation.”


Khokhar’s appointment smacks of nepotism as govt fails to uphold merit

Anwar Zuberi

The government has once again compromised merit while announcing retired Brigadier Khalid Sajjad Khokhar as the successor of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President, Akhtar Rasool, who was compelled to step down in the aftermath of hockey team’s failure to qualify for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Despite Pakistan’s poor showing at Antwerp where the team finished eighth Akhtar was adamant not to quit, putting all the blame on the government for not providing sufficient funds.

The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), on the other hand, had conducted audit of the PHF’s accounts on the directives of prime minister and reached the conclusion that they were allegedly misused. In addition, a fact-finding committee was also constituted on team’s return from Europe which in the end made the PHF responsible for the debacle.

The committee further suggested that people who understand modern techniques of the game should be brought in for the betterment of the national game.

In Pakistan, it has become a practice that whenever PPP or PML N return to power, they manoeuvre and bring in their men at the helm of the PHF, PCB and a couple of other national federations irrespective of their merit.

Akhtar had served as the PHF chief previously also and on both the occasions under Nawaz Sharif-led government. Similarly, ex Pakistan hockey team full-back Qasim Zia served as the PHF chief during Benazir’s second tenure.

Zaka Ashraf and incumbent chief of the executive board Najam Sethi are the two notable names among others who were brought in at the helm of PCB on political grounds.

This is not the first time that PHF chief was politely asked by the ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) to bid adieu but there are many similar examples in the past.

Former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was asked by the then sports minister Najamuddin Khan to resign as the PHF chief or face action after Pakistan hockey team finished eighth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Then the government had also formed a three-member committee to investigate the reasons and causes for the green shirts’ pathetic performance at the Beijing Olympiad.

Khokhar, who is a close relative of federal minister for Planning and National Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, has once accompanied Pakistan hockey team abroad as manager. His daughter Mehak plays tennis and had represented the country in the Fed Cup. What the critics are asking is that are these credentials enough to make him the PHF president?

It is high time that the government should lay down a criteria and do away with the practice of appointing blue-eyed people at the helm of affairs at important sports organisations like the PHF, PCB, PSB and few other through manoeuvring.

Decline in various sports can not be turnaround through change of guard. Posting people on merit and reopening of sports departments in the commercial organisations and financial institutions is vital and only that can bring a positive change in the country’s sports.


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