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News for 14 December 2018

All the news for Friday 14 December 2018

Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 - Day 16
Bhubaneswar (IND)

Results 13 December

GER v BEL (QF)     1 - 2
IND v NED (QF)     1 - 2

Friday 14 December is a rest day - thank goodness

Semifinals 15 December (GMT +5:30)

16:00     ENG v BEL (SF 1)
18:30     AUS v NED (SF 2)

FIH Match Centre

Belgium edge Germany to reach semis

By Jugjet Singh

BHUBANESWAR: Belgium played a super defensive match to beat Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.

They will now play England in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Dieter Linnekogel (14th) gave the Germans an early lead, but Alexander Hendrickx (18th) equalised four minutes later off their third consecutive penalty corner.

Tom Boon then gave them some breathing space with a 50th minute field goal, and even though Germany removed their goalkeeper six minutes from time to press with 11 men, they still failed to break Belgium's determination to play in the semi-finals.

Belgium won a total of nine penalty corners, but never gave away any to Germany.

Loick Luypaert, 209 caps, said their defensive wall won them the match.

"We didn't give away much in this match as our defenders did their job well.

"That itself tells out story. Now, we will face England in the semi-finals, and I expect a very tough encounter, but we will prevail again," said the Olympian.

New Straits Times

Belgium edge past two-time winners Germany to set up semi-final clash against England

Belgium won the hard-fought encounter thanks to a diving shot from Tom Boon. Twitter@FIH_Hockey

Bhubaneswar: Olympic silver medallist Belgium qualified for the semi-finals of the men's hockey World Cup for the first time ever when they defeated two-time champions Germany 2-1 on Thursday.

World No. 3 Belgium scored through Alexander Hendrickx (18th minute) and Tom Boon (50th) to register the come-from-behind win.

World No. 6 Germany's lone goal came from the stick of Dieter Linnekogel in the 14th minute. Belgium will now fight it out with England on Saturday for a place in the final.

The Red Lions were by far the better side on display considering the number of scoring chances they got in the opening two quarters.

Belgium got their first scoring chance in the seventh minute in the form of a penalty corner but they could not capitalise on that.

Germany, however, took the lead against the run of play in the 14th minute when an unmarked Linnekogel scored from the top of the circle after receiving a pass from Tom Grambusch.

Stunned by the goal, Belgium went for the offensive and secured three back-to-back penalty corners just at the stroke the of first quarter but could convert none.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Belgium secured their fifth penalty corner and Hendrickx scored with a grounded flick to level the scores.

The Red Lions earned two more penalty corners in the second quarter but again faltered as Germany defended in numbers.

Four minutes after the change of ends, Germany came close to restoring their lead but Timm Herzbursch's shot from close range was kept at bay by Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.

Belgium secured their eighth penalty corner in the 37th minute but Hendrickx's try was well defended by Tobias Hauke. Minutes later, Belgium earned their ninth penalty corner but once again Hendrickx's effort was kept out of the target by the German defence.

Ten minutes from the final hooter, Belgium got the all-important winner through Boon who scored from a rebound after skipper Thomas Briels' initial try was saved by German keeper Tobias Walter.

Thereafter, the Red Lions went into a defensive mode as they decided to sit back and deny and scoring opportunities to the Germans.

Six minutes from time, Germany took out their goalkeeper for an extra player and tried to attack the Belgium goal in numbers in search of the equaliser but the winners defended well to make their first appearance in the semi-final of the quadrennial event.


India out of reckoning after narrow QF loss

s2h Team

(Pic: Rakesh)

India lacked that bit of energy and enterprise that can give victory in cliff-hanger contests. It was clearly pronounced today in the do-or-die quarterfinal, especially in the fourth quarter. A desperate tackle on the left edge of the circle by Manpreet Singh was a penalty corner gift to the marauding but unsuccessful Netherlands. Later, Indian coach Harendera Singh termed the award of PC too harsh.

They did not waste the godsend opportunity. Their task of taking the lead again was made easy when Amit Rohidas, who assumes post man role in penalty corner defence, did the disaster of a surge out of the cage seconds before the ball was pushed. He was promptly sent out.

India's penalty corner defence was handicapped as it now had to be three instead of usual four, to prevent any damage. The 1-1 deadlock that existed for the last two quarters, 35 minutes to be specific, came to an end. It ended in favour of the famed rival, ending Indian dreams. Mink van der Weerden, who was out of form, found his touch. His grounder was so pacy that it skipped past the extended right leg of goalie PR Sreejesh (2-1) to crash into the backboard. Exactly ten minutes were left in the clock since Weerden's goal, but the gap could not be narrowed by India despite playing best part of their hockey.

India used kicking-back in Harmanpreet Singh in the last four minutes in which spell it made two good moves and also got a penalty corner to bring parity on scoreboard. But the Dutch won't buckle.

India is out of the World Cup. India have never won The Netherlands in any World Cup, and the sad saga continues. For the resolute Indian hockey fans, 43 years wait for semi-final did not end. They have to wait another four year!

India took the lead when Akashdeep Singh scooped a short rebound from Netherlands goalkeeper to put India ahead in the 12th minute to electrify the already charged huge crowd. Undaunted, their rivals pressed hard thereafter and got their dividends with a freehit deflection when just two seconds left for the first quarter break.

This equalizer from Thierry Brinkmann survived umpire's self referral, and when the goal was sustained, the news was received with dead silence in the at the packed stands. India could not keep their lead in the first quarter.

Second quarter was not subdued, it was action packed though the scoreboard remained static. Netherlands

At Halftime the score stood 1-1. India created a wonderful opportunity in the 33rd minute to go up.

Akashdeep Singh was the culprit to let go the gilt-edged chance. Harmanpreet Singh sent a lightening slap shot into the circle from his 25-yard zone, that landed in the rival circle, where Akashdeep Singh was stationed. He had to beat only goalkeeper to put India on the driver's seat. Pirmin Blaak (gk) was seen rushing towards him, Akash had time and space, wast near the top edge, but shot his reverse high, could not get it low towards empty goal.

Anxious moments in deed.

Moments later, India conceded an easy penalty corner, its defenders doing the worst way of defending when cornered in the circle - deliberate pushing of the ball out of play from backline. It resulted in two successive penalty corners, but no damage was done. Captain Manpreet Singh did some quick charging, while Surender Kumar was at his best when follow through actions of the Dutch threatened menacingly, time and again.

The third penalty corner that was awarded in sequence was meanwhile managed with a clever referral from India. After surviving the ordeal, India got breathing space.

Reenergized, India pressed hard, created an opportunity to go up, when Lalit Upadhyay sent a perfect cross into the circle only to see Dilpreet Singh diving but not connecting the ball.

Such missings are a galore in the fourth quarter too.

Simranjeet Singh, easily the only fresh leg player who justified his selection, split the Dutch defence to send a minus from right backline, but both Lalit and Akashdeep were so well marked individually, they could not bring in that extraordinary to deflect the ball that crossed in front of them against the open goal.

Two minutes later, the winning goal conceded.

India brought in Harmanpreet Singh four before the full time, which helped India wage grim battle to gain back the lost ground. India conceded a penalty corner and also generated one for it, both did not bring goals on board.

The last four minutes were tense, each move of India getting thump up from more than capacity crowd.

This is how the lone Asian team in the reckoning has ended. Three European teams and Australia will now fight it for medals. Friday is rest day

Belgium and England semifinal will be followed by Netherlands and Australia on Saturday.


Misfiring and error-prone India pays the price, crashes out of the World Cup

The Netherlands cashes in on its penalty corners; Belgium gets the better of Germany

Uthra Ganesan

Breaking Indian hearts: The Dutch players celebrate one of their two strikes. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

In Harendra Singh’s own words, this was the most important game of the competition, the ‘opening game of the World Cup’ after a four-nation tournament that India won in the Pool stage.

It would also have been the first time since India triumphed in 1975 that the host hoped to reach the last four.

That was not to be as India bowed out with a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals here on Thursday. It was always expected to be close but India would rue all the chances it wasted.

Dilpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh missed sitters, India failed to earn many penalty corners and held the ball too long.

The players chose the worst possible game to lose their focus and make errors.

Despite all this, India still took the lead, Akashdeep Singh shooting in a rebound after Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was saved.

With two seconds to go in the quarter, Holland got the equaliser, India letting in the softest of goals — Thierry Brinkman managing a deflection despite his stick being shielded by an Indian defender.

The end-to-end hockey saw both sides packing their defence but also leaving enough open space to attack and create opportunities.

There was little to separate the sides for a large part of the game, both teams doing enough to stay within a goal but failing to get the final shot. With their impeccable control on the move and accuracy in short passes, the Dutch kept the crowd silent.

The plan was simple — break India’s runs, stretch the defence and avoid aerial balls, preferring short, sharp moves and negate the presence of 18000 people at the venue. It worked.

Once Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner in the 50th minute to put Netherlands up, India looked like it lost the fight and the game, going into its shell.

Despite all the hard work from the Indian defence, specially Surender Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh and Manrpeet Singh — the Indian captain was indefatigable in his efforts — the team paid the price for its forwards’ profligacy.

The other game of the day was a contrast with Belgium completing the semifinal line-up with a 2-1 win against Germany, a scoreline that might indicate a close game but was all about Belgium creating chances and wasting them.

India’s best finish before this was fifth spot at the 1994 edition. But as per tournament rules, Germany’s more points in the pool stage would put it above India, which would now finish sixth.

The results (quarterfinals): Belgium 2 (Tom Boon, Alexander Hendrickx) bt Germany 1 (Dieter Linnekogel).

The Netherlands 2 (Thierry Brinkman, Mink van der Weerden) bt India 1 (Akashdeep Singh).

The Hindu

India’s dreams of crown end in tears and anger

Indervir Grewal in Bhubaneswar

After the loss, the Indians were unhappy with the umpire for showing a late yellow card to Amit Rohidas. FIH

What a battle! What atmosphere! Harendra Singh’s men gave their all against giants — in reputation as well as stature — of the game. In a stadium that could have resembled the Colosseum, with a crowd that was bursting with nervous energy, the Indian players fought their hearts out.

The Indian warriors, fighting till the end, desired more. The crowd, cheering till the final hooter, deserved better. A hockey fan, though, couldn’t have asked for more — what atmosphere, what a battle, and a deserving victor. Well! Not according to the losing side. After the on-field battle ended, Harendra and captain Manpreet Singh went on a tirade against the umpires. The warriors, who roared on-field till the last second, brought their fight off the field. Only now, they sounded more like sore losers.

“I would like to tender my apologies, we haven’t given what we had to,” Harendra said. “I am not going to stop today. If they (umpires) don’t want to improve, this type of result we will face. We’ve lost two major tournaments this year (because of umpiring).”

“They need to improve. We have lost two major tournaments. Then the public asks, why Indian hockey is not improving,” fumed Manpreet.

The two trained their guns at the international federation (FIH). “99.8 percent of the referrals go in favour of the players. Are you there to officiate the umpires? They are hoping the player will go for a referral,” said Harendra.

Manpreet moaned about the futility of lodging an official complaint. “What is the use? We’re out of the tournament,” Manpreet almost screamed.

‘Assess ourselves’

The captain and coach couldn’t contain their anger, until they were asked to assess their own performance. “In patches, I am satisfied,” Harendra said. “Overall, I say that Holland played their game.”

Not only did the Netherlands play their game — the Dutch were all over India in the second half — they decided to only assess themselves. “The team with the most chances wins the game. We won the game. That’s the bottom line,” Netherlands coach Max Caldas said. “In the end, the umpires didn’t play the game. We never discuss umpires because they just don’t matter.”

Dutch delight

The way the Netherlands played, especially in the second half, they didn’t need to look at the umpires. Expecting the match to be a “tough battle”, Caldas’ men started with a lot of energy. But India managed to keep pace with the Dutch, even if they struggled to keep possession. The passes weren’t reaching the men, the ball was skipping over Indian sticks. But the frantic pace didn’t help the Dutch either.

They also showed a hint of nerves. Both teams pressed high, but the Dutch were more successful in harrying India. They did, however, let an Indian player occasionally sneak through their net; and it led to dangerous attacks. But both teams defended impressively in the circle — until India earned their first penalty corner in the 12th minute. Akashdeep Singh, lurking around the penalty spot, sliced in a rebound to send the crowd into a frenzy. But the lead didn’t last – Thierry Brinkman sneaked in front of his marker to deflect in a long ball.

The pace settled down in the second quarter, which didn’t see much excitement. But it was words from the coach that helped the Netherlands take almost total control. “We spoke about holding the ball for longer. The first half we played a running game, which suited the Indian style,” Caldas said. “In the second half, we wanted to play the passing game. We didn’t sacrifice our speed… but we held the ball and made them chase the game,” he added.

That laid bare the tactical gap between the two teams. While Netherlands reduced the number of turnovers, India still gave away the ball. While in the first half, India’s mistakes didn’t lead to counterattacks because the game stopped on most occasions, the Dutch got more counter-attacking chances in the second half.

India’s strategy to attack too directly, thus losing the ball quickly, didn’t help them either. “Because of our attacking style, sometimes when we have the ball, we get too anxious to move forward. We should hold the ball as well,” Harendra said.

India could not find their feet in the game. But they must be credited for keeping the Dutch out despite being pushed up against the wall. The Netherlands got five penalty corners in the second half, one of which got them the goal, through Mink van der Weerden.

India had 10 minutes to find an equaliser, but they suffered a setback when Amit Rohidas received a 10-minute yellow card in the 53rd minute. For Harendra, that was a match-turning moment, for which he criticised the umpire.

Belgium get past Germans

Belgium put up a dominant performance against Germany, though they didn’t have the best of starts — they gave Germany too much space and got punished when an unmarked Dieter Linnekogel struck from the centre of the circle in the 14th minute.

But the usual Belgium side, with their zonal defence working in unison, started the second quarter. They starved the Germans of space and expanded their presence in the field. Three minutes later, Alexander Hendrickx fired in a low drag-flick to give Belgium the equaliser. The Red Lions found their groove, while the Germans were making too many uncharacteristic mistakes. They were hurried into small errors in passing and receiving. Germans running with the ball is unheard of, but that’s what happened on many occasions because they just couldn’t pass the ball around. They barely stayed in the match until Tom Boon squeezed the ball into the goal under the goalkeeper.

The Tribune

India lose to Netherlands in hockey World Cup quarters

BHUBANESWAR: India crashed out of the field hockey World Cup after a 1-2 loss to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

The hosts squandered an early advantage to go down fighting against a determined Dutch side that left the home crowd heartbroken at the Kalinga Stadium in the east Indian state of Odisha.

Akashdeep Singh raised India’s hopes of making the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1975 with a penalty corner conversion that took them to a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.

The Dutch though soon drew level with Thierry Brinkman scoring a goal in the 15th minute as momentum swung from one team to another.
India's Varun Kumar makes a pass past Netherland's players during the field hockey quarter-final match at the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. - AFP

The scores stayed level at 1-1 till the fourth and final quarter when Van der Weerden found the back of the net during his penalty corner strike in the 50th minute.

The Netherlands will now play two-time defending champions Australia in the last-four clash on Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday Olympic silver medallist Belgium qualified for the semis of the men’s World Cup for the first time when they beat two-time champions Germany 2-1.

They will face England in the final-four battle this weekend.

New Straits Times

India's WC dream over with 2-1 defeat against Netherlands

Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 , AFP

India let history slip out of its hands with a heartbreaking quarterfinal defeat against the Netherlands in the men's hockey World Cup, a result which left the young players of the team crying on the pitch.

A well-oiled Indian unit had raised the hopes of making the semifinals for the first time since 1975 but the Dutch side broke a million hearts by coming from behind to knock out the hosts 2-1 in the last-eight clash.

Young players such as Dilpreet Singh left the pitch with tears in their eyes.

India took the lead in the 12th minute through Akashdeep Singh before Thierry Brinkman drew parity for Netherlands five seconds before the end of the first quarter.

After a hard-fought third quarter, Netherlands scored the winner in the 50th minute when Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner.

The defeat ended India's long cherished dream of lifting the trophy only for the second time after its lone triumph in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur.

It was a momentous occasion for India to rewrite history books after 43 years as they had never qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup after 1975.

The Netherlands played like true warriors and didn't give an inch to the Indians after the change of ends.

The Dutch had the first shot at the goal in the 11th minute but Jeroen Hertzberger reverse hit went just wide of the Indian goal.

India's first real scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner and the hosts did not let go the chance as Akashdeep scored from a rebound after Harmanpreet Singh's initial flick was saved by German goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.

Kothajit Singh produced a stellar performance for India at the back as he denied the Dutch on a number of occasions with timely interceptions.

But at the stroke of the first quarter, Netherlands drew level when Brinkman got the faintest of deflection to beat Indian custodian PR Sreejesh from a long ball from outside the cirle.

Five minutes from the first half, India came tantalisingly close from restoring their lead by Nilkanata shot wide from a rebound after Akashdeep's deflection was kept away by Blaak in front of the German goal.

Four minutes into the second half, Akshdeep had a golden chance to restore India's lead but his reverse hit from a long ball of Harmanpreet Singh sailed over the Dutch goal.

Soon Netherlands secured two back-to-back penalty corners but the Indians defended stoutly to thwart the danger.

In the 48th minute, Simranjeet Singh's fine stick work in the right flank went in vain as Akashdeep failed to reach his pass with only the Dutch goalie to beat.

The Dutch came out with a plan in the fourth quarter and didn't give India any leeway into their citadel.

The Indians found it difficult to build up attacks as the Dutch concentrated on tight men marking.

Ten minutes from the final hooter Netherlands secured their fourth penalty corner and Van der Weerden found the back of the net past Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who had an ordinary tournament as per his standard.

Desperate for the equaliser, the Indians threw up numbers upfront and it bore fruit when Chinglensana Singh earned their second penalty corner but Dutch goalkeeper Blaak made double save to deny Harmanpreet.

In search of a match-saving goal, India withdraw goalkeeper Sreejesh for an extra player but the move didn't pay any dividend.

Two minutes from time, Netherlands secured another penalty corner but the Indian defence, without a goalkeeper, did well to keep Netherlands at bay.

The hosts failed to get the equaliser as the packed stadium backed the Men in Blue till the very last second only to return home disappointed.

Netherlands will take on two-time defending champion Australia while Belgium will take on England on Saturday.

Daily News & Analysis

Gougnard and van der Weerden primed for World Cup semi-final dates

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Belgium and the Netherlands joined England and Australia in the final four of the World Cup in India with close-run 2-1 wins over Germany and India, respectively.

Belgium’s Red Lions claimed a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over Germany to secure a first World Cup semi-final appearance in their history.

Reflecting on the win, Waterloo Ducks man Simon Gougnard was thrilled about the result, but indicated that the team’s focus had already switched to Saturday’s semi-final against England.

“We had to fight really hard”, said Gougnard. “We are really happy but now we have to refocus and reboot and we’re looking forward to play the next game against England.

“The English team has some really quality players on the ball. A really physical team so we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game if we want to be able to contest with them. We will have to analyse them on video and come back with a really good plan if we want to win.”

Germany were the first team to make a mark on the scoreboard a minute before the end of the first quarter through midfielder Dieter Linnekogel, who drilled a low, powerful shot through the legs of Vincent Vanasch after being expertly found by Tom Grambusch’s searching pass from the right.

The Red Lions pulled level three minutes into the second period, with Alexander Hendrickx scoring his fifth goal of the competition with a perfectly executed penalty corner drag-flick. It was no more than Belgium deserved, who were thwarted on numerous occasions thanks to some terrific goalkeeping from Germany’s Tobias Walter.

The high-paced action continued throughout the third and fourth quarters, with the defensive lines of both teams excelling before Belgium made what proved to be the decisive breakthrough ten minutes from the end.

Shot-stopper Walter produced another fine save to deny Belgium captain Thomas Briels, but could do little about the follow-up, with Tom Boon brilliantly spinning to slide the ball under the outstretched leg of the Germany goalkeeper.

The Netherlands followed up with a big battling win over the hosts India in front of a buzzing home crowd with Mink van der Weerden ultimately scoring the winning goal.

The Oranje-Rood man said afterwards: “It’s been an exciting game to look at, I guess. It’s been going up and down. We didn’t get the control we really wanted, I think.

“It’s hard playing India. They were really creative and fast and sometimes a bit unpredictable, which is one of their strengths. But I think we did well. It’s been a pleasure to be on the field. The crowd was crazy. It’s been impressive and it’s been a lot of fun playing this game.”

Akashdeep Singh opened the scoring before Thierry Brinkman’s brilliant touch made it 1-1. The two teams could not be separated in the second and third quarters, although both teams had their chances.

Van der Weerden saw a string of penalty corner opportunities wasted, while Akashdeep fired high over the Dutch goal with a backhand strike.

When the Netherlands had a goal ruled out by a smart Indian video referral early in the fourth quarter, it seemed that it was not going to be their day.

However, a poor tackle from Chinglensana Kangujam outside of the Indian circle resulted in a penalty corner, and the Dutch made no mistake from the opportunity as Mink van der Weerden slammed a low effort into the net.

They go through to the semi-finals on Saturday with Friday the first rest day of the competition.

Euro Hockey League media release

Beale To Reach 150 In Kookaburras’ Dutch Semi-Final Date

Ben Somerford

Kookaburras star Daniel Beale is showing no signs of letting up ahead of his 150th cap for Australia in Saturday night’s 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands in Bhubaneswar.

World number one and 2010 and 2014 World Cup winners Australia take on fourth-ranked ranked Netherlands from 11:50pm (AEDT) on Saturday night LIVE on FOX SPORTS 503 for a spot in Sunday’s decider.

Brisbane-born midfielder Beale only debuted for the Kookaburras in March 2013 against India but has emerged as a key player for the side in recent years, reaching the 150-mark in quick time.

He was part of Australia’s 2016 Rio Olympics team, 2014, 2016 and 2018 Champions Trophy teams and the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games teams.

But his influence has grown, with Beale named Player of the Tournament in March’s Azlan Shah Cup and at 25-years-old he appears set for a lengthy career in green and gold.

“Hopefully I’m able to play plenty more games for the Kookaburras,” Beale said.

“There is not better feeling than walking out in the green and gold with all your mates by your side and competing against the best in the world.

“I have fortunately been able to remain injury free for most of my career so far and depending on performance, I hope to be around for a little while longer.”

Beale said he was thrilled to bring up the 150-cap milestone having emerged after captaining Australia at the 2013 Junior World Cup.

“I always dreamed of being able to play for the Kookaburras so I feel very honoured and humbled to be able to be here about to play 150 games in the green and gold,” Beale said.

“Every game for the Kookaburras is special but to be able to get my 150th in a World Cup semi-final is pretty cool.

“It won’t matter too much once the game starts and will be more focused on trying to play our best and come away with a win.”

Reflecting on his career highlights to date, Beale added: “I don’t think anyone forgets their first match for the Kookaburras, mine came early 2013 against India at the Azlan Shah.

“I remember being very nervous and anxious but a lot of the experienced players give me plenty of advice and guidance and supported me through my first international match.

“Another highlight would have to be the opportunity to represent Australia at the Rio Olympics. The whole Olympic experience was surreal and something I will never forget.”

Beale said ahead of the semi-final that the mood remained strong within the Kookaburras group, who weren’t focused about winning a World Cup ‘three-peat’.

“We had some tough pool matches but were able to secure a quarter final spot and had another good match against a good French team,” he said.

“The team is feeling good but have plenty of learning and improvement before our semi-final on Saturday night. We are taking it one game at a time and have all our focus on that semi-final.”

Speaking about Australia’s semi-final opponent, Beale was full of respect having faced the Dutch in a tied four-match series in Perth and Narrogin earlier this year and during the Champions Trophy, when the Kookaburras won 3-1.

“The Netherlands team is always a tough opponent and we expect no different from them in the semi-final,” he said.

“They have been a top team in the world for many years and have quality across the field. They have very skilful and dangerous players in attack and are solid in defence. We expect a tough match against them.”

Australia v Netherlands

Saturday 15 December, 11:50pm AEDT

Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

LIVE on FOX SPORTS 503 & kayosports.com.au

Follow @Kookaburras on Twitter for updates

Kookaburras’ 18-member team for the World Cup
Athlete (City, State)
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Timothy Brand (Chatswood, NSW)
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Matthew Dawson (Killarney Vale, NSW)
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Jake Harvie (Dardanup, WA)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA)
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS)
Flynn Ogilvie (Wollongong, NSW)
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD)
Corey Weyer (Biggera Waters, QLD)
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD)
Dylan Wotherspoon (Murwillumbah, NSW) *Plays for QLD
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)

Hockey Australia media release

Confirmed: England face Belgium semi final at 10:30am GMT Saturday

Adam Dixon at the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup

England will play Belgium in the semi-finals of the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup at 10:30am UK time this Saturday 15 December. The game will be live on BT Sport in the UK, with highlights following on BBC Sport Online and FIH YouTube.
Belgium defeated Germany 2-1 to make it through to the final four, a day after England saw off Olympic Champions Argentina 3-2. The other semi finals sees holders Australia take on the Netherlands.

Kerry's view
Upon confirmation of the semi final ties, England head coach Danny Kerry commented, “Belgium are a team packed full of quality players, they have become a real force in world hockey. However we are very excited, we relish the challenge and opportunity that Saturday presents for this developing group.”

World Cup pedigree
England are into a third consecutive World Cup semi final. They lost the previous two to Australia (2014) and Germany (2010).

England have only ever reached one World Cup final, on home soil in London in 1986. This is the furthest Belgium have ever progressed in the competition.

Head to Head
In World Cups, these two teams have played each other three times, with England winning two and Belgium victorious in the other.
2014, The Hague: England 3-2 Belgium
1978: Buenos Aires: England 0-1 Belgium
1973: Amstelveen: England 5-2 Belgium

Martin milestone
Harry Martin is set to reach 200 combined appearances for England and Great Britain on Saturday. Michael Hoare earned his 100th England cap in Wednesday's quarter final.

Next meetings
Many of these players will face each other again in the new global FIH Pro League in 2019. Great Britain's men host Belgium in London on Sunday 19 May, while they travel to Antwerp eleven days later for the return fixture. England and Belgium then face each other in the pool stage in the European Championships on 18 Aug 2019, again in Antwerp.

England Hockey Board Media release

England’s Hockey World Cup hopes rely on fitness and clear heads

By The Hockey Paper, Bhubaneswar

What a night it was in Bhubaneswar for England – but six long days for Argentina.

Ever since their dispiriting 5-3 defeat to France, Argentina had played golf twice, gone to the coast and returned to set their sights on doing what Olympic champions do and iron out any last-minute deficiencies and plunder on.

But watching how their stilted, rooted to the spot defenders meekly surrendered to France with two of their goals, almost giving up the cause with the Pool won, suggested that this wasn’t a side with world title credentials.

To prepare for the physical contest, England staff sent the players to the gym. Playing two extra games helped no end, too. And so it proved on Wednesday night as England swept aside 20 years without a win over Los Leones – and a bronze medal defeat in 2014 – to march into the semi-finals. Little wonder Argentina didn’t turn up to the after-match press conference.

“We have a never-say-die attitude but we have a long way to go in this World Cup but we can compete with anyone,” said David Ames, an England stand out who has overcome niggling injuries this year to play a crucial role in India.

“It was a nervy game and we’ve taken each game and now we’re building momentum into a massive weekend for us and hopefully the support will be even bigger. Not many teams can get to the semi-final of a World Cup.”

As Barry Middleton alluded to afterwards, England had to put in the type of shift which goes unnoticed by the spectator. The extra stick work, tackle or block.

Middleton was at the heart of it and the hope for England is that his hand is only bruised after receiving a blow from a Gonzalo Peillat PC strike.

England’s game plan looked in good order. They didn’t concede a goal and only one PC until Argentina opened the scoring. In all, the Argentinians began to be continually flustered by England’s stout defence. Like with the Kiwis, they had to thrash the ball in the circle to find a way in on goal, rather than rely on any 3D skills or swift interchanging in the D.

Middleton also had to go off after his hit. And England continued to keep clear heads here too.

“When we had the injury to Barry, it felt like we had to make up for it,” said Adam Dixon. “People were staying out there a little bit longer, maybe doing shorter spells and coming on more frequently. We delivered a team effort.”

For the second game running, we also saw a period which gleaned three goals in four minutes (four goals in four minutes in the Black Sticks game). Again England came out on top here.

Yet, at 3-2, the game was far from certain. Better teams would have killed off the Olympic champions.

And Danny Kerry, the coach, admitted that there were still areas to work on ahead of Saturday’s semi-final.

“We haven’t perfected it, but we will, and that is thinking our way through games better,” he added.

It is a Bisham Abbey mantra which, if they get right for another 60 minutes, can continue to serve them well in Bhubaneswar.

The Hockey Paper

Australia in sight of record as changing Kookaburras

By The Hockey Paper, Bhubaneswar

The statistics are piling up for Australia with the same velocity as their path towards a World Cup record. By working hard for their 3-0 win over surprise outfit France, they reached their 11th straight semi-final.

It was also their 17th World Cup win in a row, stretching back to their 2010 World Cup opening defeat to England in New Delhi. They leaked just one goal in qualifying and kept that defensive record in tact against the French.

They are also this World Cup’s top scorers, with 19, while Blake Govers’ six goals leads the international stakes. Unbeaten in tournament play since Rio, the signs indeed look good.

There are still players here who featured at the 2014 World Cup, where the Kookaburras were widely considered the greatest team of the modern era.

Four years on, with a different coach and an influx of players who have travelled with the weight of a potential World Cup hat-trick on their shoulders, Australia, the world No 1 side, are adapting to rules changes in the game and dealing with the title burden.

“We wanted to evolve our game to match other styles of play, like the half-court and full press,” said Dylan Wotherspoon.

“There is a little bit of pressure [to win the title]. But this isn’t our third, it’s our first World Cup.”

Since the shift to four quarters, coupled with Ric Charlesworth leaving the green and gold, Australia also had to deal with a tactical overhaul.

“The game has changed since 2014, where we didn’t have quarters,” added Wotherspoon. “There is so much momentum but then you reset after 15 minutes and the other team can get a sniff.

“The old Kookaburras used to run over teams; they were fitter and stronger. Now you only have to play for 15 minutes and the big gap between the top and bottom teams is so much closer these days.”

Team-mate Tom Craig concurs. “With full press in its prime, teams didn’t know how to handle it. Coming into it now, teams are a little bit more conservative and we’ve had to change our structure. I think we are doing that quite well.”

Against France, they settled for three corner routines to set up a semi-final with xxx

Co-captain Aran Zalewski notched the third and said afterwards that the players are taking on their sub-continental challenge themselves.

“Australia has a proud history but we are trying to forge our own history on this team in this tournament,” he said.

The Hockey Paper

Let me worry about our hockey team, says Subahan

By Jugjet Singh

BHUBANESAR: Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal is not worried about Malaysia's performance in the World Cup, and said there is no reason to push the panic button.

Malaysia finished fourth in Group D, and were eliminated from the playoff stage together with Spain, South Africa and Ireland.

"When the groupings were released, we already knew it was going to be tough to make inroads against Netherlands and Germany. That's why coach Roelant (Oltmans) kept saying we are in a Group of Death.

"And now, even though we finished 15th out of 16 teams, I can still see the positive side of this team and I am sure they will perform in the Olympic qualifiers.

"Granted that they should not have lost 7-0 to Netherlands. The players should have fought harder for every ball.

"But there was some progress in the match against Pakistan and we were unlucky not to score more goals, especially the last penalty corner.

"The match against Germany saw our players put up a gallant fight after being 3-0 down, and were unlucky not to have scored their last penalty corner and were punished in a counter-attack by the Germans instead.

"I believe the champions in India will come from Malaysia’s group," said Subahan.

So what is next for the Malaysia?

"I have spoken with Oltmans and we plan to send the team to Europe next year before the Olympic Qualifier (in Kuala Lumpur) in April.

"Germany and Netherlands are preferred opponents to make the team stronger as we might yet again face teams from Europe in the second Olympic Qualifier in November," said Subahan.

The MHC and their technical director Terry Walsh received brick-bats as well as suggestions on how to improve their players before the Olympic Qualifier.

"I don’t know why people are worried as I myself am not worried. I am confident we will eventually play good hockey and qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Just give Oltmans more time.

"It is easy for some to comment but as far as I remember those who commented also never won any major international medals as well, and they too have failed many times during their playing days.

"So let’s not forget that and give our boys the support they need and be fair to them and we will make it in April.

"And like I have said many times, if we don’t qualify for the Olympics, I will take full responsibility and resign,” he added.

New Straits Times

Commission to investigate Pakistan’s win-less run in Hockey World Cup

By Mohammad Yousuf Anjum


LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation president Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has ordered an investigation into the Hockey World Cup debacle where the national team wasn’t able to bag any victories.

Pakistan, placed in group D, lost 1-0 to Germany, drew 1-1 against Malaysia and then lost 5-1 to the Netherlands, but still qualified for the cross-over match against Belgium.

However, a 5-0 humiliation in the pre-quarter-final at the hands of the Belgian team ended the tournament for the Pakistan team.

The investigating commission put in place by the PHF president will prepare a performance report of the team in the World Cup, and it will also report on the downfall of hockey in general.

The four-man commission will be led by Olympian Rasheed Junior, whereas Manzoorul Hasan Senior, Shahid Ali Khan and Majid Basheer will assist him.

Basheer will also serve as the legal advisor and the secretary of the commission.

The commission will complete its report in 15 days and Khokhar has given the commission complete authority to prepare the report.

Give Abbas authority in PHF: former goalie Akbar

Former Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar has said that penalty-corner specialist Sohail Abbas should be given a place in the PHF.

He told The Express Tribune that former Olympians have destroyed hockey in the country due to politics.

Akbar said that Abbas is the ideal candidate to become the PHF secretary since he knows the requirements of modern and domestic hockey.

He also named Touqeer Dar as the other competent person to be given the reins of hockey in order to stop the national game’s downward spiral.

The Express Tribune

PHF to probe Pakistan’s dismal performance at Hockey World Cup

LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation has decided to probe the Pakistan team’s dismal performance at the Hockey World Cup debacle where they were not able to bag any victories. Pakistan, placed in Pool D, lost 1-0 to Germany, drew 1-1 against Malaysia and then lost 5-1 to the Netherlands, but still qualified for the cross-over match against Belgium. However, a 5-0 humiliation in the pre-quarter-final at the hands of Belgium ended the tournament for Pakistan. The probe will prepare a performance report of the team in the World Cup, and it will also report on the downfall of hockey in general. A four-man probe committee will be led by Olympian Rasheed Junior, whereas Manzoorul Hasan Senior, Shahid Ali Khan and Majid Basheer will assist him. Basheer will also serve as the legal advisor and the secretary of the committee. The committee will complete its report in 15 days

Former Olympians want regime change at PHF: Meanwhile, holding the present Pakistan Hockey Federation officials responsible for national team’s miserable performance in the World Cup, former Olympians Manzoor-ul-Hasan Senior and Samiullah Khan has said regime change is mandatory for the revival of Pakistan hockey. “The pathetic results produced by Pakistan at the World Cup shows complete lack of planning and preparation by the management. Therefore, the PHF officials should immediately resign; and if they don’t, the government should sack them,” both Manzoor and Samiuallh said. “Not even in one match Pakistan performed like an integrated unit; rather it looked as if individuals or groups [within a team] are playing,” lamented Manzoor. “Yes, Pakistan started off well against Germany but in a World Cup no team can make an impact on the basis of good show in just one match. You need to demonstrate high-quality game consistently in all outings to create chances for yourself to advance.” A disgruntled Manzoor held the federation – whom he claimed did not even develop domestic hockey – responsible for the disaster Pakistan went through in the 16-nation showpiece at Bhubaneswar.

“The PHF officials and the team management should immediately resign and if they don’t go the government should take necessary action to send them home,” he insisted. “Instead of preparing a world-class team, the current PHF management has been busy to form parallel bodies at district and provincial levels to get votes in order to remain in the federation,” he alleged. “Furthermore, the PHF has completely failed to develop infrastructure at domestic level, and this is the reason Pakistan hockey has undergone alarming decline in recent years.” Meanwhile noting that Pakistan delivered their worst performance at the mega event, Samiullah emphasised the present PHF regime must leave the scene if the country is to see the national team qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Underlining that the PHF management – rather than concentrating on building a strong team – has been running its affairs on adhoc basis, Samiullah said the induction of Tauqir Dar (head coach) and Danish Kaleem (assistant coach) at the eleventh hour before the national camp for the World Cup started reflects poor planning by the federation. He added that the PHF also raised a developing squad but it had failed to even produce a single player from it despite spending millions of rupees on the activity.

The Daily Times

With India's records at past tournaments missing, FIH displays its indifference towards history of sport

The Hockey Insider

When, just when, will the International Hockey Federation (FIH) stop peddling false information to the world at large!

The official tournament programme of the ongoing men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar is an illustration of the callous and distasteful level of indifference toward the game's history.

India's wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published by in the programme for 2018 World Cup.

India's wins against Germany in the previous editions are not reflected in statistics published in the official programme of the 2018 World Cup.

For a moment, forget what the FIH and its affiliated national associations across the world have done over the years in trashing the game's history, the World Cup would still seem to be an elite event whose records remain sacrosanct.

Err ... sorry, think again.

And, please think yet again if you consider the FIH and its affiliated units as custodians of hockey's legacy.

Even in disseminating the records of the elite World Cup tournament of the past — just 13 tournaments since the inaugural edition in 1971 — they seem to prefer fiction to fact.

"Don't tell me they want to pass them off as official records, these guys should be fiction writers," screamed a former Indian player who had featured in four early World Cups and even won a gold medal in 1975. Drawing the attention of The Hockey Insider to the disinformation being passed around with FIH "Stats" as the label, the ex-Indian striker was aghast after a simple glance at India's head-to-head World Cup records.

"They've simply scratched out the victories we carved out," said the former Indian striker who noticed something amiss when two games where he had played a role in the Indian victories over Germany did not figure in the FIH statistics published by the Official Programme of the 2018 World Cup titled "Stars Become Legends" and carrying images of Indian players Manpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh on the cover.

The startling missing facts that prompted the ex-Indian World Cup to call Firstpost would stare any Indian hockey follower in the face. India had an unbeaten record against Germany, who played as West Germany until the 1990 edition, in the initial three World Cups: two victories and a draw.

India won 1-0 in Barcelona in 1971; drew 0-0 against the then Olympic champions at Amsterdam in 1973 and outplayed them 3-1 in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur. The India-Germany encounters at Kuala Lumpur were the stuff that linger on in the memory of sports fans. India were leading 1-0 in their preliminary group encounter when rain disrupted the match.

Given the practice in the rain-affected 1975 World Cup – where a match was even shifted to another ground at half-time – this game was supposed to resume from that stage. But the FIH decided to replay the encounter afresh, brushing aside India's protests. In the replayed match, which India needed to win to advance to the semifinals, the Ajitpal Singh-led Indian team turned the form book upside down yet again to defeat the Olympic champions 3-1.

The 1978 edition in Buenos Aires saw the Germans hammer India 7-0 with the two nations playing out a 2-2 draw in London 1986.

Imagine, these matches are not part of the statistics that show just three India-Germany matches with all three confirmed as German victories. History is often misinterpreted by people wanting to twist it to their liking, but here is a case of sheer callousness.

It is not as if the FIH is an organisation incapable of actually dishing out the correct information. But, it seems, callousness about the game's history has assumed such drastic dimensions in the FIH that they do not care about momentous events even the other day.

Thousands of matches are missing from the FIH data, simply because it seems the federation could not be bothered to look up the records or conduct research. The FIH wants the hockey fraternity to forget memorable matches and just have a tunnel vision that looks just at the elite events.

Those propounding great theories about legacy may one day find time between their coffee breaks to look up the game's history. History, most often, is not confined to elite events. But then, the World Cup is one of hockey's few elite competitions and here too a star player of yesteryears had to scream to draw attention to the callous mistakes.

Just scratch your memories for international matches you have seen or read about. The chances are they will not be there in the FIH's "glorious" collection of records. Over the past two years, it has been highlighted by the hockey fraternity of South Asia that a majority of encounters that are part of the game's epic rivalry between India and Pakistan are missing from the FIH records.

The FIH, however, does not seem to have the time and inclination to even look into the mess it has created by recognising some matches and derecognising the others.

A few years ago, the FIH actually tried to give some semblance of sanity to the historical data that they circulate to the world.

Since then, the media and the FIH television partners are fed historical data that, politely said, is a joke. And this data is being circulated along with the television pictures.

It seems the hockey mandarins are very busy trying to sell misinformation.


2018 Test Matches: ESP v CAN (W) - 2nd Test
Sevilla (ESP)

ESP v CAN     0 - 2

FIH Match Centre

PAHF teams and the Pro Leagues

Sarah Juggins

The FIH Pro League is all set to burst into action on 19 January when Spain and Belgium men play against each other at the Estadio Betera in Valencia, Spain. The first Pro League fixture in our region takes place on 26 January when Argentina men and women take on Belgium men and women at the Estadio Municipal de Cordoba.

USA women begin their campaign a week later when they travel to Argentina to face their PAHF neighbours, also at the stadium in Cordoba.

Over the course of the six months from January to June, hockey for the top nations in the world will take on a whole new dimension. The three PAHF teams currently in the FIH Pro League will be travelling first to fixtures in the southern, then to the northern hemisphere – chasing the sunshine – to play one-off matches in a game-changing global league.

There are a total of 11 nations involved. Some, like Argentina, are fielding men’s and women’s teams so the prospect of double headers – where the men and women play matches on the same day at the same place – are an exciting prospect. For the USA, where only the women’s team is qualified, then it will be single gender fixtures.

The teams participating are: Argentina men and women; Australia men and women; Belgium men and women; Germany men and women; Great Britain men and women, Netherlands men and women; New Zealand men and women; Pakistan men; Spain men, China women and USA women.

The first three months sees all the Pro League matches taking place in the southern hemisphere, then from April through to June, the teams are mostly travelling north to the USA and Europe, although Argentina will be hosting Australia and New Zealand in April and May.

At the culmination of the league there will be play-offs and a grand final, with the top four placed teams automatically qualifying for the Olympic qualifiers, which take place at the end of 2019.

That this is a huge step for hockey is undeniable. Coaches and back-up staff are understandably nervous about how something on this scale works and in the months leading up to the first matches, coaching teams have been devoting time and thought to managing the processes.

For some teams, the new Pro League will mean a complete transformation to their season. Agustin Corradini, head coach to Argentina, explained how his players will be on a different time scale to most of their compatriots: “Everything will change. Normally, in Argentina it is holidays in December and January but for the players, that will be over. We will have to adapt our schedule to an European one. That will be the main challenge. Our players will need to train their bodies to have a different calendar to any other sports players in Argentina.”

And Argentina’s captain, Delfina Merino, explained how the recent Hockey Champions Trophy in Changzhou China had provided an opportunity to try out ways of dealing with long distance travel: “We had a brutal journey to get here [China]. Argentina is really far away, so we had a lot of discussions as a group before coming, about how to prepare. We brought a lot of our own food, we arrived well in advance of playing so the players could overcome jet-lag. But, you know, we are young players with a lot of energy, so we will cope.”

For the USA women’s team, the Pro League has also caused head coach Janneke Schopman to change the current training schedule. The former Netherlands international and Olympic gold medallist explains: “As a full-time program, we normally use the months January through to May to build up our physical performance and increase our level of strength and physique next to improving our gameplay. With the Pro League and the travel that’s part of it we have to do that work earlier and try to maintain our level of fitness throughout the season.”

Like many of her fellow coaches, Schopman sees the Pro League as a step into the unknown: “The countries that have club hockey will probably face more challenges to combine international gameplay with club commitments. As for us, the amount of travel and lack of actual training time will be different than what we are used to and it’s a bit of an unknown to be honest. We are planning ahead to stay away from potential difficulties but the experience itself will show us what it really will be like.”

Despite the challenges it will provide, Schopman is full of positivity for the new global competition, seeing it as a great way to showcase the sport in the USA.

“I think the idea of the Pro League is great, the ability to play high level games is important for our program. I hope that we can showcase our sport in the stadium and on television as, in my opinion, the American public would love the fast-paced skilful game we play. I’m sure it can have a great impact on more people wanting to play the sport in the US.”

For the players, the prospect of travelling the globe and playing their sport in regular, high intensity matches is hugely exciting. For a player such as Merino, who has spent the past decade as an elite player, this is a new challenge that will provide a fresh impetus and new motivations. For the FIH 2017 Player of the Year, the most exciting prospect is playing a number of matches in front of home supporters.

“In every stadium, when you play in Argentina, it just goes crazy and, as a player, that is a fantastic atmosphere to play in. Yes, travelling to the other countries will be a great experience, but to see the crowds in Cordoba, Rosario and Buenos Aires – well that will be something really special.”

USA’s teenage goalscoring sensation Erin Matson is another player who enjoys the vibrant atmosphere created in the Argentina stadiums. “The fans are loud and energetic and I am a player who builds off that energy. That said, any country will be exciting as this league gives us the opportunity to experience many cultures and playing ambiences. I would say New Zealand will be my favourite country to visit because of how beautiful it is, and all of my experiences there have been memorable.”

For Matson, like many players currently on or embarking upon a dual sport and academic career, the Pro League has called for some careful time-management. “Balancing school and field hockey has always been one of my top priorities,” she says. “Academics are very important to me; my schoolwork comes first”.

“With this being my first spring semester of college, I will not be making it to many games overseas. Janneke and I worked hard to figure out a schedule that could balance both, and the best answer was to focus on school so I can graduate as early as possible and be ready to join the team full time.”

Where Matson is just setting out on her international career, so Kathleen Sharkey is a player who has been in the USA elite program for a number of years. The USA captain and star striker says: “For many years now in the United States we have committed to a full time centralized training program with the national team. And so I think we are prepared for the demands of the Pro League. However, there will be quite a lot more trips abroad, but I think we’re looking forward to the consistent international games that the Pro League will bring”.

“I think a challenge for us will be bringing the intensity each week for the length of the entire league. Usually we have to focus on one tournament or series at a time over the course of one or two weeks. Now we will have to be in a competition mindset for a few months. I think we’ll have to take it one game at a time and not get too focused on the future.”

With just over a month to go before the FIH Pro League starts the hockey world is waiting to see how things unfold. That there will be teething problems is not in doubt – everyone from the international body down to the newest recruit to a national team knows that the first season will present a huge learning curve for players, coaches and officials. It is a brave new world, but as Erin Matson succinctly puts it: “Incredible atmospheres, intense matches, high-stake situations, I’m looking forwards to it all beginning.”

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Megan Frazer says Tokyo 2020 is the next goal for the Irish women's hockey team

Megan Frazer says Ireland have set their sights on the 2020 Olympics following their World Cup heroics.

Megan Frazer and Shirley McCay celebrate their World Cup pool win against India

Ireland have climbed up to eighth place in the world following their final loss to the Netherlands and are hoping to build on their success in Tokyo.

The team have two chances of Olympic qualification next year - including through the inaugural Hockey Series.

"The World Cup was a good result but there's a whole lot more coming for this team hopefully," said Frazer.

"If we can qualify for the Olympics, that's going to be our next step and our next goal. We've parked the World Cup now, we've taken the things we've learned from it and we're going to apply that to our next qualification process."

Graham Shaw's side will compete at the European Championships in Belgium next August where just one spot at Tokyo 2020 will be on offer but Ireland will also host a finals round of the Hockey Series in June with two teams progressing to the final Olympic play-off series.

'We're best friends'

Frazer, who missed the World Cup final after suffering an injury during the semi-final win against Spain, hopes their exploits in London can inspire the team to further heights.

"We're starting to come down now and come back to real life but it's always going to be a memory we'll never forget and something that we'll strive to achieve in the future, something that will be inspirational as well," the 28-year-old midfielder told BBC Radio Foyle.

"I think the group of girls just really clicked and we were all playing for each other. We're best friends and it's a lot easier to bring out that type of performance and work-rate when everyone is pulling for each other.

"Our preparation was key, we had some great tactics that had been practiced for weeks in advance before we even got to London. So I think those two elements really helped to get us through."

Ireland coach Graham Shaw consoles Megan Frazer after she was ruled out of the World Cup final through injury

Ireland were the second-lowest ranked team going into the World Cup and their squad featured only a handful of full-time professional players based abroad but they out-performed the likes of India, Spain and USA on their way to the final where they lost to defending champions and world number one side the Netherlands.

Frazer, who plays for Mannheimer HC in the German Bundesliga, is one of the few Irish players with a full-time contract but she believes the team relishes the challenge of going up against the more established nations.

"Especially when we're going to play against teams that we know have million-pound programmes that are funded and this is their full-time job and we always know we have nothing to lose and can go and show what we can do with basically nothing compared to what the other teams have," she argued.

"That's always a nice challenge for us - to try and show other people up."

BBC Sport

Jaffa Super 6s Championship underway this weekend

The Jaffa Super 6s Championships return this weekend as 16 teams go head-to-head in the battle to qualify for the finals.

Expect the action to be fast, frenetic and full of goals as the men’s and women’s Premier Divisions get underway, with the top four teams from each qualifying for the Jaffa Super 6s Finals at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday 27 January.

Reigning men’s champions East Grinstead are looking to secure their tenth title in 11 years but face stiff competition from last year’s beaten finalists Team Bath Buccaneers as well as Canterbury, Holcombe, Sevenoaks, Wimbledon, Brooklands MU, Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster.

In the women’s competition Bowdon Hightown are also looking to successfully defend their title, facing Buckingham in their first game while also needing to overcome Beeston, Clifton Robinsons, Canterbury, East Grinstead, Holcombe, Leicester and Slough.

This weekend’s men’s fixtures will be held at Bromsgrove School, with the women’s taking place at the Phoenix Sport & Leisure Centre in Telford. The venues will then be swapped for the second round of matches on the 5-6 January.

Click here for more information on the Jaffa Super 6s Championships.

Click here to follow the action as it unfolds.

England Hockey Board Media release

Kookaburras Win Prestigious AIS Team Of The Year Award

Ben Somerford

The world number one Kookaburras have tonight been named Team of the Year at the AIS Sport Performance Awards (ASPAs) in Sydney following a remarkable 2018.

Almost 400 guests attended the black-tie AIS Sport Performance Awards at the Star in Sydney, the annual celebration of Australian high performance sport.

The Kookaburras, who on Wednesday qualified for the World Cup semi-finals, retained the world number one ranking throughout the voting period from December 2017.

The side also lifted almost every trophy available to them, taking out the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April and the 2018 FIH Champions Trophy in the Netherlands in July, as well as the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in March.

The Kookaburras were shortlisted alongside three other sides for the Team of the Year award, beating out the Men's 4000m Team Pursuit (Cycling), Australian Men’s Four (Rowing) and Australian Women's Sevens (Rugby).

Kookaburras forward Aaron Kleinschmidt accepted the award on behalf of the team who are currently in India for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, retired Kookaburras legend Mark Knowles missed out on the fan-voted ABC Personality of the Year gong, won by V8 Supercars driver Craig Lowndes.

The Kookaburras’ next match at the World Cup is on Saturday against the Netherlands.

Hockey Australia media release

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