All the news for Saturday 14 November 2015
Ridzwan ready to swat down challenges in Junior Asia Cup hockey
by S. Ramaguru
KUANTAN: National Juniors goalkeeper Mohd Ridzwan Azmi is ready to thwart everything thrown at him in the Junior Asia Cup.
Ridzwan almost lost his status as the top junior goalkeeper in the Sultan of Johor Cup hockey tournament in Johor Baru last month, when he fared badly in the opening two matches.
Thankfully, he slowly but surely regained his composure and went on to play in all the matches.
This time, he intends to be on his toes right from the very first minute when the Junior Asia Cup begins at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan on Saturday.
“It was a nightmarish start for me in Johor. A lot was expected of me and I almost blew it,” said the 20-year-old from Malacca.
“I don’t know if it was because I was nervous or a lack of confidence. It took me awhile to get over the poor start, but I managed to do it.
“This time, I won’t let the team down.”
Ridzwan knows that it’s crucial for the team keep a clean sheet in their opening match against China.
“We are all aware of the importance of this tournament. The target is to qualify for the Junior World Cup next year,” he said.
Malaysia, who will try to defend the title the won in Malacca in 2012, have surprisingly dropped Abdul Khaliq Hamirin and retained the injured Mohd Amirol Aideed in their final 18 squad.
Juniors coach A. Arulselvaraj explained that Amirol and another doubtful starter Mohd Sufi Ismat have recovered from their injuries and “I feel it would be better to take them for now”.
“I needed more defensive players and, since the two had recovered sufficiently, I decided to go with them,” he said.
That meant the team had to sacrifice 18-year-old Sabah forward Khaliq.
Arulselvaraj said that the main thing now “is to get off to a winning start against China”.
“We know very little about China, but I’m not going to underestimate them. I’ll field my best team and go all out to secure full points,” he said.
China coach Song Yi admitted that Malaysia will have an edge with the home crowd.
“We’ve only had three months of training ... the players haven’t had any tournament exposure. So, Malaysia will have the edge in many aspects,” he said.
“We hope to try and steal a point off them, but it will be tough. We’ll take it one match at a time and see how it goes.”
The Junior Asia Cup is a qualifier for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi next year. Asia has four places and India, as hosts, have already taken up one spot.
The Star of Malaysia
India hockey team banking on familiarity in Kuantan
by S. Ramaguru
KUANTAN: They say familiarity breeds contempt.
But India’s National Juniors certainly don’t think so.
They believe that their familiarity with the playing conditions – and the vociferous crowd – in Kuantan will spur them on in the Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament, which begins Saturday.
“We love the support we get in Malaysia ... and we’re familiar with the climate and other conditions in this country. This is an advantage for us as the boys won’t need to acclimatise and we can get cracking from the first day itself,” said India’s head coach Harendra Singh.
Another advantage in their favour is that among the eight teams in the tournament, 2004 and 2008 champions India are the ones least under pressure.
The other seven teams – Malaysia, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, China, Bangladesh and Oman – are all fighting for a berth to the Junior World Cup in New Delhi next year. India, of course, have qualified as hosts.
For the Junior Asia Cup, India are in Group A with hosts Malaysia, Japan and China.
They open their campaign against Japan at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium and Harendra wants his team to start with a bang.
“The boys have been together for over two months now and that just adds to the comfort and performance standard. They operate as a team and will be collectively working towards favourable results,” he said.
“The energy in the camp is very positive ... we’re confident we can put up a great show in Malaysia.”
India are also fresh from their silver medal achievement in the fifth Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Baru last month and skipper Harjeet Singh feels they have what it takes to regain the Junior Asia Cup.
“We have been together for over 60 days now and we have worked hard on strengthening our defence. We’ve also tried to work on our attacks and counter attacks,” Harjeet said.
“We have high expectations of ourselves ... there’s no question of us taking it easy although we’ve already qualified for the Junior World Cup.”
The top four teams from this tournament will make the cut for the Junior World Cup.
The Star of Malaysia
India targets crown
India came a poor third in the last Malacca Junior Asia Cup but can target the crown now in Kuantan. India being the most experienced side in terms of international exposure, can deliver.
Much water has flowed down between the strait of Malacca -- which hosted the previous Junior Asia Cup -- and Kuantan where the new edition will unfold tomorrow. Foremost to any Malaysian visitor will be the missing of King of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah, who was then the president of the Asian Hockey Federation and also the chief guest of the prize distribution function at Malacca.
What more the patriarch of Malaysian hockey would have wanted than his own team, always construed to be third fiddler to either India or Pakistan, winning the gold. Malaysian juniors had a wonderful run that year under the coaching prowess of Dharmaraj.
They had a young crop aiming next year’s Delhi Junior World Cup, and were determined to make a mark there with a four-year youth development program.
Yes, Dharma’s team defeated both India and Pakistan en route first ever Asia Cup gold; fittingly the same team finished above the both nations a year later in Delhi in the Junior Asia Cup. For the first time, Malaysians played the semi-final of Junior World Cup in Delhi, beating India in the pool.
The highlight of previous Asia Cup therefore is as much Malaysia winning the Asia Cup as India and Pakistan going down.
Malaysians before the final match against Pakistan wore a T-shirt which read: ‘I am under-21, or you?’ Wearing the same jersey, the full Malaysian team went to Pakistan bench and showed, and it almost pshyche d the visitors.
India, trained by a new set of coaches with Baljit Singh Saini replacing Mukesh Kumar, Thoiba Singh coming in as Manager, with Sandeep Sangwan in attendance, did well to finish third.
It was the same team, san captain Harpreet Singh, which figured in the first Johor Cup.
India defeated Pakistan in the league, with a beauty of a goal from Amit Rohidas, but went down to Malaysia in the semis. For the bronze, Koreans were defeated.
The poor showing of India reflected within a year at Junior World Cup where it failed to reach the semis. Junior Asia Cup has so far proved to be the harbinger of things to come, index of progress in the run up to the target: Junior World Cup.
Being the hosts India is assured of a slot for the next Junior World Cup, but as we said early, a good performance is a must for India to better its rating at Delhi.
Stars such as Malak Singh, Gurmail Singh, a hot property in the HIL auction, Dipsan Tirkey, present captain Harjeet Singh, rising stars Devinder Walmiki, Sampath, etc were all spotted at Malacca in the last Junior Asia Cup, but the greatest performance came from midfielder, Haryana’s Mor Singh.
Malaysia is not that strong a team now compared to the last, and Pakistan is a rebuilding side. Much is not known about brittle Koreans but India is a well settled outfit.
Now it is only expected the settled kings prove their worth. Less than a place in the final will be acceptable.
Harendra Singh, who could not make much of impact when he took the seniors for the Asia Cup to Kuantan, now has a chance to silence his critics.
India to face Japan in junior men's Hockey Asia Cup opener
The Indian junior men's hockey team. (TNN Photo)
NEW DELHI: The Indian colts will play Japan in their opening match of the eighth junior men's Asia Cup hockey tournament at Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia on Saturday.
Placed in Pool A along side Malaysia, Japan and China, the Indian colts are touted as one of the favourites to lift the title in the eight-nation tournament to be held at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here from November 14 to 22.
The other competing teams in tournament are Korea, Pakistan, Oman and Bangladesh, who are placed in Pool B.
India will be high on confidence going into the tournament having finished runners-up in the 5th Sultan of Johor Cup. The Indian colts lost 3-4 to Great Britain the nail-bitting penalty shoot-out.
Speaking about his team's recent performances, especially on the Malaysian soil, Indian junior team's chief coach Harendra Singh said: "We feel Malaysia is our second home and we are expecting great support throughout the tournament.
"The Japanese play a very tight game and speed is their major weapon. We have worked on our defence and attack and we will be expecting to give a strong show in the tournament," he said.
India captain Harjeet Singh added: "We will try and stick to our routine and keep it simple. We believe Japan will be equally prepared and enthusiastic for the match, but we shall put our best foot forward."
After Japan, India will play hosts Malaysia on Sunday before locking horns against China on November 17 in their last pool match.
Pool A Pool B
The fixtures of the Indian matches for the group stage are as follows:
Date Match# Description Local Time Indian Time Pitch Teams
14 Nov. 2015 4 Pool A 20:15 17:45 Pitch 1 IND-JPN
15 Nov. 2015 8 Pool A 20:15 17:45 Pitch 1 MAS-IND
17 Nov. 2015 11 Pool A 18:00 15:30 Pitch 1 IND-CHN
The Times of India
Junior Asia Cup: Pakistan colts face Bangladesh in opener
By Nabil Tahir
PHOTO COURTESY: PHF
KARACHI: Riding on the back of a loss and a draw in their practice matches against China and Japan respectively, Pakistan’s junior hockey team will play their opening match of the 8th Men’s Junior Asia Cup against Bangladesh at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia on Saturday.
Pakistan were defeated 2-1 by China in a match which had to be stopped 10 minutes early due to injuries while their fixture against Japan ended in a 1-1 draw. “
“Our player Azfar Yaqoob sustained an ankle injury during the first match and Mubashir Ali hurt his knee soon after, so the match had to be stopped,” head coach Tahir Zaman told The Express Tribune from Malaysia. “Both the payers are fit now and will be seen in action in the Asia Cup which also serves as the qualifying round for next year’s World Cup.”
The coach added that their match with Japan, who play a very tight game, had helped the colts work on their defence as well as attack.
“Winning the practice matches was not important for us; keeping the players fit for the main round was the priority,” said the coach.
Placed in Pool B alongside South Korea, Bangladesh and Oman, Pakistan will face tough competition from Korea and Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh have 10 players from their senior side which recently took part in the Asian Games and World Hockey League Round 2 last year,” said Zaman.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Ammad Butt said they were going into the opener with a positive frame of mind. “We will try and stick to our routine; keep it simple,” he said. “We believe Bangladesh will be equally prepared and enthusiastic for the match, but we shall put our best foot forward.”
The other competing teams in the tournament are India, Malaysia, Japan and China. The top four team including World Cup hosts India, will qualify for next year’s mega event.
The Express Tribune
Girls more confident now: Hawgood
Hawgood said the trip is about exploring the strengths and short-listing the team for Rio. (BCCL)
NEW DELHI: Neil Hawgood's journey with the Indian women's hockey team ended when his contract ended 12 months back. The Australian is now back as the chief coach and believes the girls have made good progress since he left.
"Obviously there is progression.You don't qualify for Olympics without any progression, something that the country hasn't done for last 36 years. They didn't get through the last World Cup. There has been positive change in the last 12 months. I don't want to measure it but qualifying in itself is a measure," Hawgood said. "They are a lot more confident than when I left. In 12 months there is a noticeable difference. One can see in the way they express themselves - their performance and confidence has grown and that opens their mind to explore other things," he added.
The 18-member team will be leaving for Argentina for international exposure and will play the hosts and Australia in a tri-series scheduled between November 18 and 30. Hawgood, who joined the team five days back, said the trip is about exploring the strengths and short-listing the team for Rio.
"I have been back only five days and this tour is about us finding out our weaknesses. It is an exploratory trip for us to see where we are and where we need to get really quickly," he said.
"Earlier, playing with teams around us was a good thing to do but now we have to realize that in order to improve we have to play top teams. That also helps in accessing the girls and gives a better idea about selection. When we get back from Argentina, we will sit down and explain them the reality that only 16 players will go to Rio," he pointed.
With nine months to go for the mega event, Hawgood believes it is mega event and that it is important to set realistic targets and is confident that a lot can still be done. "None of these girls have been near an Olympics. They have no idea what they are about to experience. It's a different world," he said.
"We have nine months and think we can do a lot. It's about meeting expectations. Realistic target is to put in a performance that will give them a chance to finish in a position that will make us happy with our progression. We are sitting 13th in world and have qualified, so in a sense we have overachieved in terms of what our world rankings are. But I can't say what will actually happen."
The Times of India
Kenya Police out to extend lead in weekend double-header
By BRIAN YONGA
Kennedy Nyongesa of the national hockey team (centre) dribbles past Kenya Police players during their friendly match on October 11, 2015 at the City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Kenya Police will be looking to move eight points clear at the top of the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s premier with victories in their two league assignments this weekend.
The 2013 champions take on Strathmore University’s Gladiators Saturday evening before facing Wazalendo on Sunday, a match that was to be played last weekend but was called off due to mechanical problems in the water pump.
The law enforcers, who top the league standings with 33 points, two ahead of second-placed Butali Sugar Warriors, will however miss the services of midfielder Willis Okeyo who is suspended for the Gladiators clash but will be back for the Wazalendo game.
“Okeyo’s absence will be a blow to us but we have several players who can step in and play the role. Our target is the three points and we are ready for the weekend matches,” Police captain Brian Saina told Saturday Nation Sport.
“Our opponents are equally prepared for the match and we therefore need to be on top of our game to collect maximum points.”
Saina alongside talismanic striker Moses Chepaliti, who has scored 12 league goals, will be counted on to bag the goals.
PRESSURE ON POLICE
Gladiators’ coach Meshack Senge said the pressure will be on Police as they seek to reclaim the league title. He called on his charges to match their opponents and wreck their title bid.
“Games between us and Police are usually fiercely competitive and I expect this one to be close. They are on form and we therefore need to be on top of our game if we want to get anything from the match,” Senge said.
The university side are in seventh place and a win will see them move into the top five.
In the women’s national league, United States International University (USIU) Spartans take on Kenyatta University’s Titans in a university derby on Saturday. Spartans thrashed fellow university side Mount Kenya University 9-0 last weekend and will look to build on that victory.
Titans on the other hand will look to bounce back from last weekend’s 4-0 loss at the hands of champions Telkom Orange. Titans captain Prudence Wasilwa has challenged her teammates to play the way they did against the champions in the first half.
“We have faced USIU in the universities league a number of times and we therefore don’t have to be afraid of them,” the skipper noted.
In another women’s encounter, Daystar Falcons will be up against Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
In the men’s national league, National Youth Service take on Kimathi as Thika Rovers come up against Kabarak University.
FIXTURES - (All matches at City Park Stadium)
National women: KU v USIU – (12pm)
National men: Kimathi v NYS – (2pm), Thika Rovers v Kabarak- (4pm)
Premier men: Kenya Police v Strathmore (6pm)
National men: Kabarak v UON (9am), Parkroad Tigers v Daystar (1pm)
National women: JKUAT v Daystar (11am)
Premier men: Kenya Police v Wazalendo (3pm)
Hockey stars in South Pacific
Hockey is challenging soccer as the number one sport in the Solomon Islands. This is according to one keen player – Alan Temoa, one of the Solomon Island national team that this year made its first appearance on the international stage for more than three decades.
Earlier this year, the Solomon Islands entered the Pacific Games for the first time, finishing in fourth place, ahead of Tonga. For a first appearance, the results were the cause for optimism as the Solomon Islands lost to the eventual winners, Fiji, by a 22-1 scoreline, but then managed a respectable 10-3 loss to Papua New Guinea before beating Tonga 6-0.
Now, the Solomon Islands Hockey Federation is taking its commitment to the sport a step further as it has launched the first hockey league to be held in the country. With the population spread across the many islands, one venue has been made the focal point for the league – all matches will take place at the Ports Authority Sports Ground in Kukum.
The news was announced by President of the Solomon Islands Hockey Federation (SIHF), Nihal Seneviratne. He explained that two separate leagues will be in operation, the hockey club league for adults and the school hockey league, catering for youth hockey.
Nine schools across the islands are taking part in the inaugural schools competition, these are: Selwyn College, St Joseph Tenaru, St Nicolas School, King George VI, Betikama, Honiara High, Bishop Epalle, White River and Don Bosco.
The schools league will provide great preparation for the Junior Hockey World Cup qualifying tournament, which takes place in January in Queesnland, Australia. This is the first time the Solomon Islands will enter a team into the Junior Hockey World Cup qualifier, although back in the 1970s the Solomon Islands used to enter a team into the South Pacific Games.
The Solomon Islands Hockey Federation will use the school hockey competition to select a team to represent the Solomon Islands.
The Oceania Hockey Federation has been fulsome in its support for the Solomon Islands. Prior to the Pacific Games, Gill Gemming, Continental Development Officer of the Oceania Hockey Federation expressed the federation’s gratitude towards the SIHF for its level of engagement.
Gemming arranged for a goalkeeping set and other kit to be sent to the Solomon Islands and has also arranged workshops on the rules, coaching sessions and a meeting for team managers in preparation for international competition.
Underlying how far the sport has come in a short while, Temoa says: “I believe hockey can become the second biggest sport to soccer in the country. It’s played like soccer, however, hockey is more physically challenging as it involves both the upper and lower parts of the body.
“I love hockey very much and representing the Solomon Islands was a very great honour for me indeed,” he added.
Temoa is the driving force behind the Don Bosco Technical Institute, one of the teams competing in the new hockey league. The team’s nickname is the Uncles Hockey team, due to the number of uncles and nephews in the team.
Sharing Temoa’s enthusiasm is Joseph Iniga, the SIHF development officer: “There are definitely lots of new talents that we are seeing. With the right training and providing more game time, Solomon Islands can become a powerhouse in hockey in the region.”