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News for 27 April 2016

All the news for Wednesday 27 April 2016

Southerns’ spotlight as fellow hockey heavyweights WP stutter


Migs da Graca of Southerns in possession as Northern Blues’ Hendy Seerane challenges during the Battle of Gauteng on Day 2 of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals on Randburg Astro Tuesday night. Image REG CALDECOTT

Hosts Southern Gauteng enjoyed a stellar second day at Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals on Randburg Hockey Stadium Tuesday with their men’s and women’s teams claiming pole position in the Pool phase after posting second successive wins.

Southern Gauteng ladies, defending champs, conjured a top-class 7-0 demolition of Free State, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs and Bernie Coston scoring twice, while the men emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win over arch-rivals across the Jukskei and perennial challengers Northern Blues in a fractious game that ended a day interrupted by over an hour of fury from the Highveld’s grumpy heavens.

Southerns didn’t win without a fight, coming back from a 1-0 deficit by Africa Olympic Qualifier hat-trick hero Matt Guise-Brown, the former Maritzburg College head prefect and goalscoring record holder. Johannesburg man Brad Venter produced an equaliser on the stroke of half-time before Southerns earned a shot from the penalty spot, Guise-Brown alleging hacking Julian Hykes’ rhythm stick from behind in the goal zone. The unerring pace, explosivity and precision of Gareth Heyns bulging Blues’ the net for a classy winner.

But … such is the brutal nature of tournament hockey, last year’s finalists from the City of Gold may yet be caught at the top of their Pool if second-stringers Wits beat the Blues Wednesday and Southerns fact victim to a characteristic implosion against a more-than-useful Eastern Province.

The men from the Windy City beat the Blues 4-3 on opening day Monday before being upstaged 2-1 by feisty underdogs Witsies come day two. Wits’ supremely talented Nic Gonsalves doubled up via an action goal in the 19th and a brilliantly-worked PC option in the 22nd. The deficit was cut in half by Cody van Wyk from field play but the PE lads weren’t able to carve a way through twice.

Pool A in men’s A Section is developing into an epic contest as reigning champs and prolific Nationals winner s Tuffy Western Province dropped to third after losing to SA U21 while KZN Raiders, who drew with the junior internationals on the first day, joined them at the top of the standings with a comfortable 6-1 win over Free State.

Free State provided anxious times for the men from the muggy East Coast but it was only a hiccup as Durban roared to victory.

Free State started strongly and so nearly claimed the first goal when Dylan Swanepoel rocketed a PC drag-flick off the post in the second minute. But gradually their competitiveness waned and Raiders cranked up the pressure with passages of quality hockey.

Surf City opened the scoring in the eighth when a fine Mo Mea cross was expertly met and deflected into goal by Travis Hardnick.

The rest of the half went well Raiders as they added two more impressive goals. Stephen Wiggett showed the talents of an ace goal-poacher as he seemed to have so much time to rob the ball off a defender’s stick and slam it into the goal all in one stroke for the Raiders’ second goal, and Jethro Eustice, who did invaluable work in midfield, then flicked home well from a PC to make it 3-0 after 20.

Varsity College’s Dan Sibbald was inches away from the goal of the tournament to date when his reverse-stick shot batted off the post, the international having started the move just outside his own 23 with a superb run.

The third quarter was better for Free State as they pulled a goal back through Darren Kamffer before normal service was resumed in the final quarter, Raiders racking up three more.

Ross Hetem set up and finished the first with a measured aerial across the D to Jarryd Jones, who cut back and returned to Hetem, who slotted home a good reverse-stick finish.

Jones scored the last on the final hooter with a slap high into the net after a PC with Wiggett getting his second five minutes earlier with a well-struck angled shot.

SA U21 were having none of their heroes of yore, denting the Capetonians’ ambitions in a five-goal contest that epitomised strength of purpose in head coach Garreth Ewing’s charges.

Ryan Crowe handed SA U21 the lead with a field goal before Western Province struck back thanks to an Austin Smith PC drag-flick.

The thundershowers led to a waterlogged astro, pushing the remainder of the day’s games back. Play eventually resumed with the sides locked 1-1.

Another field goal, this time by Khumo Mokale, helped SA U21 regain the lead and a penalty stroke in the 40th from St John’s College product Kyle Lion-Cachet sealed victory. Western Province managed to close the gap with four minutes left as prolific PC exponent and twice World All Stars selection Smith recorded another set-piece strike.

Tuffy WP women provided more ill news for the Western Cape as they drew 1-1 with Northern Blues. The early exchanges were dominated by Northerns who created a number of chances by putting the heat on WP’s defensive screen. Had it not been for diminutive shot stopper Nicole la Fleur the Pretoria lasses may have been down a goal early on as the lady donning the mitts kept out an exploding Jacinta Jubb PC effort in the ninth.

Jubb broke the bottleneck two minutes from the changeover with a powerful PC that hurtled into the backboard like a racehorse out of the gate. The lead was short-lived as Province struck back through Anche Nortje and while both sides fought hard for the lead in the third and fourth quarters the goals never came. It was made worse by the fact that both sides were left to rue a number of missed set-piece opportunities.

North-West’s women showed they will be coming hard at Southern Gauteng when they meet Wednesday with a trouble-free 4-1 win over the SA U21s, two of their goals coming from Lori Hyde.


Men’s A Section: KZN Raiders 6 (Travis Hardnick, Stephen Wiggett [2], Jethro Eustice, Ross Hetem, Jarryd Jones) Free State 1 (Darren Kamffer); Eastern Province 1 (Cody van Wyk) Wits 2 (Nicolas Gonsalves [2]); Tuffy Western Province 2 (Austin Smith [2]) SA U21 3 (Ryan Crowe, Khumo Mokale, Kyle Lion-Cachet); Southern Gauteng 2 (Brad Venter, Gareth Heyns) Northern Blues 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Women’s A Section: North West 4 (Sulette Damons, Lori Hyde [2], Sinalo Jafta) SA U21 1 (Nomnikelo Veto); Southern Gauteng 7 (Lisa-Mari Deetlefs [2], Robyn Johnson, Bernadette Coston [2], Taryn Mallett, Lisa Hawker) Free State 0; Tuffy Western Province 1 (Anche Nortje) Northerns Blues 1 (Jacinta Jubb); Spar KZN Raiders 3 (Chiree Coetzee, Sarah Bingham, Kara-Lee Stella) Wits 0.

Men’s B Section: Northerns B 2 (Michael Hesse, Michael Seal) Eastern Gauteng 2 (Grant Robins, Brandon Crockett); SA Country Districts 2 (Henry Cock, Keith Stainbank) Zimbabwe 3 (Phillip Machaya, Tendai Maredza, Luckson Sikisa); KZN Inland 0 KZN Mynahs 5 (Dale van der Merwe [3], Richard Pentecost, Tanner Bottomley); WP Peninsula 4 (Warren McEwan [2], Luthando Jonas, Cameron Ryan) North-West 3 (Gertjie Lambrecht, Wayne Jeffery, Essex Mbekeni).

Women’s B Section: WP Peninsula 8 ( Nicole Bartsch [2], Georgia Moir, Simone Strydom, Rosanne Lombard, Georgia Grobler, Aimee Pote, Robyn Pinder) SA Country Districts 1 (Robyn Morgan); Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0 Northerns B 3 (Anneke Avent, Janie Porteous, Chanel Dippenaar); Mpumalanga 1 (Shannia-Lee Swart) Zimbabwe 4 (Michelle Williams [2], Iman Johnson, Nicola Watson); KZN Mynahs 5 (Carla van Niekerk [2], Pamela Daniel [2], Jamie Chisholm) KZN Inland 2 (Silindile Mbhele, Tiffany Jones).

Text and scores info KEN BORLAND and NICK GORDON (The Citizen)

SA Hockey Association media release

Brax claim first ever playoff place

Picture: Koen Suyk

Braxgata claimed a playoff place in the Belgian league for the first time in their history as they beat Herakles 4-1 while Waterloo Ducks drew 1-1 at Royal Leopold to see Brax move into fourth place.

Thijs Bams had given Herakles a third minute lead but Diego Arana quickly tied the game up before they took off in the second half with Loïck Luypaert (pictured) from a stroke, a goal from Anton van Biesen and a corner from Jerome Dekeyser secured the result.

For the Ducks, they found Leo goalkeeper Romain Henet in excellent form, denying everything that was thrown at him in a game that featured a 45 minute delay for hailstones.

Dorian Thiery’s first goal of the season by Leo 1-0 up with seven minutes to go to leave Waterloo needing a huge final effort. Quentin van Lierde did level the game in the last minute but they could not get win they needed to breach the top four.

For Ducks’ captain John-John Dohmen, he said the disappointment was enormous:"We finished fifth and that is our place after 22 games.We reap what we sow.Braxgata did what they to.From our side, we had to score twice and we have not succeeded."

It will be their first time outside the playoffs for 14 years.

Euro Hockey League media release

Atletic playoff hopes go down to final day

Atlètic Terrassa face a nervous battle to try and claim a place in the Spanish Honor Division playoffs following a 3-2 defeat to derby rivals Club Egara last Sunday.

Roc Oliva gave Atlètic a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute before three goals in the third quarter swung the game Egara’s way with Vincenc Ruiz, Lluis Mercade and Josep Farrés scoring.

Marc Sallés got one back but Egara held on for the win to keep their place at the top of the table by a point ahead of Real Club de Polo. Polo were 4-1 winners over Pozuelo.

It means the regular season title will be decided on the final day of the season next Sunday. Egara face bottom side Pozuelo where a win will guarantee the title; Polo hope for a slip-up and then get a result over SPV Complutense.

Club de Campo have the third playoff place thanks to their 3-0 win over Junior FC, leaving the last playoff place down to either Atlètic or Junior.

Atlètic, on 31 points, face Campo on the last day of the season. Junior are on 28 points and so hope that Campo win that one and then they go on to beat RS Tenis to have a chance of reaching the playoffs.

Euro Hockey League media release

Surprise package Santi says this year could be "the one"

AH&BC Amsterdam produced a surprise packages from their armoury for their KO8 game against Real Club de Polo with EHF Hall of Famer Santi Freixa being sprung into battle.

The Spaniard “retired” last summer and admitted that he was “surprised” to get another chance to play in the EHL. While the intention was to step away from the top tier, he remained playing with the second team and available to pop back in to the panel if required. And so that situation arose in the KO8

“I was the first surprised to return to the EHL. When I stopped, I made an agreement with Amsterdam that if they needed I would play,” he told the EHL website. “During the KO16, Kenny Bain got an injury so the coach called me! I'm a sort of back up plan. It's a way to give back to my club for all I have recieved over the years.”

Bain has since returned to action but Freixa could yet make an impact in the FINAL4 on May 14 against Harvestehuder THC if the need arises. It is a prospect he will relish, especially being so close to where he grew up with his original club, Atlètic Terrassa, a potential GRAND FINAL opponent.

“Atlètic is my family, not just a former club. The way Atlètic approach big matches is unique: the passion, the dedication of everyone in the club is outstanding. At some point, when you wear the yellow and black shirt, you know that in the last minutes you will win. That’s a deep belief that makes this team and club strong.”

Another person, Freixa is looking forward to seeing in Barcelona is Roger Pallarols. The coach will conclude his seven year tenure as the helm with Atlètic at the end of the season.

The pair used to share rooms in Freixa’s early years with the first team in Atlètic, winning trophies together along the way.

“I've never a met a person who works so hard for the team. He is a big exemple for his players. His work standards are always really high; as a player you can't relax a bit!”

Looking at the FINAL4, Freixa is confident that Amsterdam can finally win the title after three near misses before, reaching the GRAND FINAL in 2012 and coming third in 2010 and 2013.

“Honestly, Amsterdam was not at its best during the KO16 and KO8. I expect a better Amsterdam in the FINAL4. We conceded too much space for Wimbeldon and Polo but when we stepped in the circle, we were really effective.

“Now, the mood in the camp couldn't be better. Amsterdam won their ticket to the EHL for next season last Sunday. In the coming three weeks, we have the playoffs and the FINAL4.

“These are the weeks of truth. Now, it's the time to perform. Amsterdam has really stong individuals; Mirco Pruyser is on fire and Justin Reid Ross needs just one corner to score a goal.

“Billy Bakker en Valentin Verga have the ball stuck to the end of their sticks and they combine with other in a spectacular way; it’s great to see.

“I cannot stop saying great things about my teammates! But, above all, Amsterdam believe that this year could be the one!”

Euro Hockey League media release

Irish EY Champions Trophy Preview (Men)

The inaugural men’s EY Hockey League season reaches its climax this weekend with the Champions Trophy at Havelock Park where the new all-Ireland champion will be decided.

Saturday pits Lisnagarvey against Pembroke at 3pm before hosts Banbridge meet Monkstown at 5pm in a bid to reach Sunday’s final showdown.

There, the winner will be crowned, taking Ireland’s number one European qualification spot for 2017 with it.

Lisnagarvey come into the weekend off the back of an immaculate 16-game winning streak in the EY Hockey League regular season, winning the competition at a 16-point canter.

The breadth of their talent base has been crucial. This is typified in the goalscoring charts with seven players scoring six or more times during the season.

Timmy Cockram leads the way with 14 to his name with Sean Murray from midfield also hitting double figures. Daniel Buser, Andy Williamson and Neal Glassey have all chipped in while Mikey Watt, despite only joining the club from English side Surbiton in December, has given them an extra dimension in attack with nine goals already.

Defensively, the line-up is particularly solid with Ireland international Paul Gleghorne a pivotal man with his teak-tough tackling next to skipper Jonny Bell. They set the pace in motion while the former’s ability to launch long overheads into the forward lines.

It makes for a multi-faceted line-up who have been the standard-bearers this season. They will be smarting, though, from missing out on the Irish Senior Cup crown in the final, succumbing to a late sucker-punch from Monkstown to draw 2-2 in normal time before losing a penalty shoot-out.

They face who a Pembroke side in Saturday’s semi-final. The Dubliners were rank outsiders to reach the top four at the winter break as they sat eighth in the table, just a couple of points clear of relegation trouble.

While others faltered, though, they moved on up with wins over Cookstown and Glenanne to get their run started. And they closed the campaign with 10 points out of 12 to move into the top four for the first time on the final day of the season thanks to a 3-2 win over Cork C of I.

During that run, they also claimed the Leinster Senior Cup thanks to a 4-1 win over Corinthian on St Patrick’s Day. They will be at close to full strength though Patrick Shanahan has emigrated and Patrick Good missed the latter part of the league.

The key-line is the link between international duo Kirk Shimmins and Alan Sothern with the latter providing 21 goals, over 50% of their output, making him the second highest in the regular season behind Glenanne’s Shannon Boucher. His drag-flicks and quick hands in tight spaces in the circle make him a constant threat when the sniff of a score is about.

Karl Lynch and Ronan Flannery’s driving runs down the flanks are another feature, attacking the baselines. They tend to be involved in high scoring games with their open style – seven of their fixtures have been settled on 3-2 scorelines, losing twice to Lisnagarvey by that margin.

Goalkeeper Mark Ingram will need to be on top form, along with Keith O’Hare, Adam Pritchard and Harry Spain if they are to repel the Garvey charge.

Home hosts Banbridge face Monkstown in the second semi-final at 5pm with the former hoping to finally get one over the sky-blues. This is a repeat of the last three Irish Hockey League finals with Monkstown winning all three deciders.

Both of their meetings this season have ended in 1-1 draws, showing there is precious little between the two sides. Town have been a little bit off the boil in the regular season by their usual high standards, winning just 10 of 18 games in finishing second overall.

They showed their hunger for glory, though, in the Irish Senior Cup final when they snatched a shoot-out victory from the first against Lisnagarvey. Despite boasting an array of attacking options, their defence has been the key element this season with Richard Sykes, Ziggy Agnew and David Cole controlling the backline.

The sky blues have the most miserly defence, conceding just 23. Up front, Irish internationals Gareth Watkins, Jonny Bruton, Kyle Good and Davy Carson provide a wealth of options while Peter Caruth, if fit, can be yet another. Captain Stephen Cole and younger brother Lee, on the left side, pull the strings in midfield.

Banbridge have had a similarly staccato regular season with nine wins from 18, enough to comfortably make the playoffs in third place.

Stevie Dowds leads their line and while he has not hit the massive heights of last season, his 17 goals in the league mark him out as a chief threat alongside the effervescent Eugene Magee, a man of over 200 Irish caps.

Philip Brown has made a welcome return to the Bann line-up after a lengthy absence while there are plenty of top performers in the panel like Bruce McCandless, Owen Magee and Jonny McKee.

Matthew Bell has grown steadily in the past two seasons to be a real leader in defence while the towering goalkeeper Gareth Lennox has been a key addition since returning from a mid-season injury.

It will tight and tough to pick a winner but Bann will hope to be spurred on by their usual, vociferous home support, bedecked in red, yellow and black.

Also on Sunday, the final place in next season’s EY Hockey League will be confirmed as Cookstown take on UCD in the ninth place/runner-up decider with the former bidding to avoid the drop with UCD hopeful to move up.

Men’s EY Champions Trophy (all at Havelock Park)

Semi-finals (Saturday): Lisnagarvey v Pembroke, 3pm; Monkstown v Banbridge, 5pm

Final (Sunday): 5pm

Promotion/relegation playoff (Sunday): Cookstown vs UCD, 12.30pm

Irish Hockey Association media release

Irish EY Champions Trophy Preview (Women)

Hermes will look to add the EY Champions Trophy crown, and the title of national champions, as the side to beat as the inaugural women’s EY Hockey League reaches its thrilling finale next weekend at Havelock Park, Banbridge.

They will play Irish Senior Cup champions Ulster Elks on Saturday afternoon while reigning national champs Pegasus meet Railway Union in the other semi-final, all battling for a place in Sunday’s final where the victors will be crowned.

Hermes go into the competition as the clear favourites following a dominant regular season campaign, winning the regular season title and a European place with four games remaining.

At that stage, Rudi Wortmann’s side had won 13 out of 14 games, a 3-3 tie in round 13 against Pegasus. After that, Hermes eased off the gas, losing to mid-table Pembroke and drawing with Cork Harlequins before getting back up to speed with 12 goals in their last two games.

Seven of those came away against their semi-final opponents Ulster Elks at Jordanstown in mid-March and they will be hoping for a repeat performance of that 7-0 demolition.

They Dubliners have strength in virtually every quarter, starting with captain Emma Gray – Ireland’s most capped goalkeeper – to Sarah Greene and Christine Quinlan at the back.

Suzie Kelly, Ellen Curran and Amber Barnwell bring energy and youth to their line-up but it is their front two lines which is truly breathtaking. Irish strikers Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans and Naomi Carroll have scored a massive 56 goals between them.

Behind them, Chloe Watkins has scored 14 goals from midfield, giving them a corner threat into the bargain. Watkins, O’Flanagan and Evans missed the last game of the regular season in the wake of the Hawkes Bay Cup in New Zealand with Ireland but they should be back to play their part.

Sally Campbell, Eimear Horan and recently capped Sinead Loughran mean there are options and rotations galore to work with.

As such, the Elks would look to have it all to do but, in the past two seasons, they have shown a major love for knock-out competitions. It has led them to the Irish Senior Cup two years in a row, qualifying for the Champions Trophy this season by virtue of their final shoot-out win over Ards last month.

Irish captain Megan Frazer is pivotal to their chances, her sublime individual skills and vision meaning they will be a threat from many angles. Gemma Frazer is another leading light if back in the fray – she missed the ISC final – while underage international Jessica McMaster provides plenty of goals.

Jordan Page’s overlapping runs from right back and Canadian Anna Kozniuk is a combative presence. But they could miss the hugely experienced Shirley McCay, with over 200 Irish caps to her name, due to a broken thumb. She provides a lot of their momentum with her array of long-range passes from the flanks.

She sustained a broken thumb in New Zealand and, with the short turnaround time, will struggle to be back in time for the semi-final.

As such, it will be a monumental task but Elks like to defy odds and will put it up to Hermes at every turn.

Railway Union face last year’s Irish Hockey League champions Pegasus in the first semi-final at 10.30am hoping they can repeat their pair of 1-0 league victories from the regular season.

Pegasus ended that phase of the competition in second place, overcoming a ropey start to the campaign to surge up the table. Indeed, it took them until day five of the season before they registered their first win of the campaign.

They subsequently won 10 more games from their next 13 but their only two losses in that run both came against Saturday’s opponent. As such, Arlene Boyles will hope to use the video from those ties to find a way to break through the Railway defence.

Their attacking triangle of Suzanne Ferris, Vanessa Surgeoner and Alex Speers – all internationals at some stage in their careers – have combined for 33 goals during the campaign, all hitting double figures.

Kate McConnell in midfield, Pamela Glass in defence and Sammy-Jo Greer in goal give Pegasus a very strong spine to their side.

But they have found Emer Lucey, Orla Fox and Grace O’Flanagan impossible to get past in two hours of hockey this season. They are among the experienced part of Railway’s side, dovetailing nicely with a large youthful element.

Carey twins Niamh and Michelle have made a big impact this season in their attacking lines, using their pace and understanding to create a number of goals this season.

Emma Smyth, in midfield, will as always be pivotal to their chances and could well have a quality battle with Pegasus’s Steph Thompson.

Former international Kate Dillon has been in and out of the side this season due to external commitments but is another who could make an impact. Kate McKenna and Cecelia Joyce also bolster the panel having played with the Irish women’s cricket team in the T20 World Cup in India.

Railway come into the tie with three wins and three losses in their last six games while Pegasus’s form is much the stronger. Whether that holds true or Railway can continue their hoodoo over the northern side is anybody’s guess.

It then all leads to Sunday’s final at 2.45pm at the same venue where the first champion of the brand new EY Hockey League will be crowned.

Earlier on Sunday, there will be also be the battle for the final place in next season’s EYHL when UCC face Belfast Harlequins in the ninth place/runners-up battle promotion-relegation tussle.

The winner completes the line-up for the 2016/17 season while the loser will return to their provincial league for the next campaign.

Women’s EY Hockey League Champions Trophy (all at Havelock Park)

Semi-finals (Saturday): Pegasus v Railway Union, 10.30am; Hermes v Ulster Elks, 12.30pm

Final (Sunday): 2.45pm

Ninth place/runners-up decider: UCC v Belfast Harlequins, 10.30am

Irish Hockey Association media release

CT, 6-nation meet will determine final Rio combo, says coach Oltmans

BENGALURU: With 100 days to go for the Rio Olympics, India's hockey coach Roelant Oltmans said the focus would be improve by another 10 per cent in every aspect of the game.

"If we manage to do that then we come close to being medal contenders which is our core mission. We also play a few games such as the Champions Trophy in London and a six-nation tournament (in Valencia, Spain) which will determine the best combination for the Olympics. We also play friendlies with Spain, Belgium and New Zealand. This will give us an opportunity to test like we did in Malaysia," he said as the hockey camp began at the Sports Authority of India, South Centre, here on Tuesday. The Indian hockey team, which enjoyed a week of rest following their second-place finish at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh recently, was put through a gruelling yo-yo test to assess its fitness level.

Speaking about the Azlan Shah Cup, where the team lost in the final to Australia, Oltmans said: "Satisfied is a big word and people who know me, know well that I can't feel satisfied so easily, but the performance of the team is always getting better. It is important to me as a coach that the level we touched remains consistent."

Speaking about the final, Oltmans felt the team's defence tactics were good. "Australia is the No. 1 side in the world but at the same time we put forth an improved show at Azlan Shah. Our defence was well structured," he said.

"We had an experimental team at Azlan Shah. Sreejesh is the No. 1 goalkeeper in India and we didn't bring him to Malaysia to test the others. While I believe Harjot and Akash could have done better, we are working to better goalkeeping with the seven other boys via special sessions," Oltmans added.

The Times of India

Champions Trophy, six nations meet to determine final combination: Oltmans

BENGALURU: Fresh from a week-long break post the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, Indian captain Sardar Singh and his team were put through the rigors of a gruelling yo-yo test to access their fitness level at Sports Authority of India (SAI) South Centre on Tuesday.

Speaking about his team's recent outing, chief coach Roelant Oltmans said: "Satisfied is a big word and people who know me, know well that I can't feel satisfied so easily, but the performance of the team is always getting better. It is important to me as a coach that the level we touched remains consistent."

In the final against Australia, Oltmans feels that the team's defence tactics were good.

"Australia is the no. 1 side in the world but at the same time, we put forth an improved show at Azlan Shah. Our defence was well structured," said the Dutchman.

"We had an experimental team at Azlan Shah. Shreejesh is the no. 1 goalkeeper in India and we didn't bring him to Malaysia to test the others. While I believe, Harjot and Akash could have done better, we are overall working to better goalkeeping with the seven other boys via special sessions."

With exactly 101 days left before their first tie in the Rio Olympics, Oltmans' aim is to improve by another 10 per cent in every aspect of the game.

"If we manage to do that then we come close to being medal contender which is our core mission. We also play a few games such as Champions Trophy, Six Nations Tournament which will determine the best combination plays at the Olympics. We also play friendlies with Spain, Belgium and New Zealand. This gives us opportunity to test like we did in Malaysia," the coach concluded.

The Times of India

Down memory lane: Pakistan, India to clash at Slough Hockey Club

FAISALABAD: Hockey fans around the globe have something to look forward to with arch-rivals Pakistan and India taking on each other in mid-May in a three-match series organised by England’s Slough Hockey Club.

Both countries will have veteran players among their ranks. The Pakistan squad will include the likes of Muhammad Atiq, Muhammad Rizwan, Muhammad Khalid, Akhtar Ali, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Sharif, Kamran Ashraf, Muhammad Hussain, Muhammad Saqlain, Rehan Butt, Salman Akbar, Muhammad Arshad, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, Tahir Zaman, Babar Abdullah, Ali Afraz and Tariq Aziz.

“It is a very good step taken by the Slough Hockey Club, which is run by an Indian player Harjit Sandhu,” former captain Muhammad Imran told The Express Tribune. “People always look forward to this clash. They have also laid a new AstroTurf which will be inaugurated in this three-match series.”

Imran added that by bringing in legends of the game, the club has allowed fans to see them in action one last time. “These players are not seen in action anymore and people might have forgotten their game,” he said. “This is where they will see the likes of the famous Shahbaz Ahmed Senior in action once more.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior also praised Slough Hockey Club. “This is a very good initiative taken by the hockey club,” he said adding that everyone wants to see the nations play. “The three matches will be played on May 13, May 14 and May 15.”

The Express Tribune

A little 'catfight' on the cards for women's hockey No. 1 jersey

by Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian women’s hockey team goalkeepers Mas Huzaimah Mohd Aziz and Noorul Azwani Zuraiden have the same mission when they go on a 10-day playing tour of Japan from May 1.

Mas, 24, and Noorul, 21, will be fighting to claim No. 1 jersey.

The duo are among 20 players named for the five friendlies against the Japan national junior team in Nagoya.

The goalkeeper who impresses national coach K. Dharmaraj on the tour will get to replace Farah Ayuni Yahya, who has taken a nine-month break to attend a police inspector training stint at the Police Training Centre in Jalan Semarak on May 8.

Farah will not feature in the women’s World League Round Two at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Jan 15-22 next year and Dharmaraj admitted that the team would definitely miss her services.

“The World League Round Two is an important assignment for the national team ... I hope that either Mas or Noorul will be able to replace Farah,” said Dharmaraj.

“I will gauge their performances the players in the five matches before deciding who will be the first choice keeper.

“Although we’ll be playing against a young Japanese team, we can expect a tough time as they are skilful and fast on the break.”

Dharmaraj also hopes to arrange some matches with clubs in Nagoya.

“We want to play as many matches as possible in Japan so that we can prepare a solid team for the Australia League in September and also next year’s World League Round Two,” said Dharmaraj, who has taken over the national women’s team early this year.

The national women’s team went on a playing tour of Changzhou, China, last month. They played five matches against the China junior team, drawing one (2-2) and losing four (4-0, 2-1, 2-1 and 2-0).

The Star of Malaysia

Germany Tour Teams Set for U-17 & U-19 USWNT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. U-17 and U-19 Women's National Teams' tour rosters have been selected for both squads as they prepare for a trip to Germany from May 11-17. Heading to two separate regions of Germany, both teams will compete against international teams to get elite level exposure and to build on techniques and concepts they have been working on during training camp weekends.

The U-17 USWNT will head to Mannheim, Germany where they will compete in a 3 Nations Tournament including Holland, Germany and USA. All matches will be played at the Mannheim Hockey Club. The U-19 USWNT will head to Bad Breuznach, Germany where they will play three matches against Germany's Junior Team. All of these matches will be play at the Bad Kreuznach Hockey Club.

Both of the junior teams have had four training camps since December in preparation for this tour. Those training camps were held at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster County, Pa., the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. and Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa.

U-17 USWNT Germany Tour Roster:
Hailey Abbott (Malaga, N.J.), Mackenzie Allessie (Mount Joy, Pa.), Skyler Caron (Hampton, N.H.), Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.), Samantha Davidson (North Andover, Mass.), Charlotte De Vries (Virginia Beach, Va.), Kyler Greenwalt (Gambrills, Md.), Katie Jean (Mount Joy, Pa.), Alison McCarthy (Madison, N.J.), Kaylie Mings (Bellaire, Texas), Mary Kate Neff (Villanova, Pa.), Madison Orobono (Macungie, Pa.), Abigail Pitcairn (Aspinwall, Pa.), Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.), Elizabeth Romano (New Vernon, N.J.), Meredith Sholder (Alburtis, Pa.), Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.), Brynn Zorilla (Vista, Calif.)

The U-17 USWNT is led by head coach Jarred Martin and assisted by Ainslee Lamb and Tracy Fuchs. The medical trainer for the tour will be Devin Demyanovich.

"The U-17 squad has been working very hard over the past 6 months and growing each training weekend," said Martin. "The team is excited to have some high quality matches against Holland and Germany, as well as represent USA on the international stage. It will be a competitive setting to see where we are as a junior program when compared to some of the other top teams in the world."

U-19 USWNT Germany Tour Roster:
Jennifer Bleakney (Columbia, Md.), Mayv Clune (Quakertown, Pa.), Alexandra Davidson (North Andover, Mass.), Brooke Deberdine (Millersville, Pa.), Kara Enoch (Yorktown, Va.), Alexandra Halpin (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Amanda Hendry (Wilton, Conn.), Kelee Lepage (Honey Brook, Pa.), Lucinda Lytle (Lake Forest, Ill.), Samantha Popper (Blue Bell, Pa.), Haley Schleicher (Virginia Beach, Va.), Annie Snead (Midlothian, Va.), Taylor Stone (Herndon, Va.), Jacqueline Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.), Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.), Elise Wong (Lake Forest, Ill.), Kathleen Young (Essex Junction, Vt.), Corinne Zanolli (Newtown Square, Pa.)

The U-19 USWNT is led by head coach Ange Bradley and assisted by Mark Egner and Anne Zinkavich. The medical trainer for the tour will be Jennifer Russell.

USFHA media release

Cup double for Windermere hockey sides

We rule the North: The Windermere under-10s boys Hockey team, who were crowned 2016 champions of the North, with Junior Hockey Coordinator Caroline Quill. Photo: Richard Belk

WINDERMERE Hockey Club in the North of England enjoyed double success on a fine weekend all-round.

Mere’s men’s first team retained the Cumbria Cup and, a day later, their under-10s boys side became champions of the North at Leeds.

The open-age victory was Windermere’s fourth successive Cumbria Cup triumph.

While not quite as dominant as last year, they beat Kendal 5-1 in their opening game, defeated South Lakes 2-0 and finished the day with a classy 4-0 success against Keswick and West Cumbria.

It was the club’s next generation’s chance to shine on the university pitches at Weetwood, Leeds.

After beating Preston 7-0 in their first match, Mere’s youngsters went on to overcome Sheffield 2-0 and Chester 2-1 in their other group games.

They drew their semi-final with Doncaster 1-1 in normal time before going through 3-2 on penalty strokes.

In the final, Windermere faced Deeside Ramblers and won 1-0 with a controlled display of pass-and-move hockey.

North West Evening Mail

Hockeyroos in Bail out for Whitelion

Holly MacNeil

This Thursday Hockeyroos, Rachael Lynch, Georgia Nanscawen, Georgie Parker, Laura Barden, Renee Taylor, Emily Smith, Madonna Blyth and Jocelyn Bartram will take part in a Bail out Campaign at Fremantle Prison in aid of charity Whitelion.

Whitelion are a charity who work to help disadvantaged youths across Australia. The campaign will let the team see what it’s like to be locked up in prison, and they will hear the stories of some of the people who have been through the system.

Hockeyroos Goalkeeper Rachael Lynch who has organised the event said: “As athletes we are in a very privileged position with amazing support around us, guidance and opportunities that the average person doesn’t get.

“We know the importance of good role models so working with Whitelion is a great way for us to not only act as positive role models for young people in the community but also to gain some perspective and appreciation of the struggles many kids our age and younger can face. 

“I’m looking forward to the night and hope it’s a positive experience for all the girls.”

To raise money for the charity, the Hockeyroos have a signed team kit, and a coaching session on eBay. Check the items out here:

Coaching session: http://www.ebay.com.au/coachingsession

Signed playing kit: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/331836329821 

For more information on Whitelion and the Bailout please visit: https://www.whitelionbailout.org.au/

Hockey Australia media release

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