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News for 16 December 2018

All the news for Sunday 16 December 2018

Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 - Day 17
Bhubaneswar (IND)

Results Semi-finals

ENG v BEL (SF 1)     0 - 6
AUS v NED (SF 2)     2 - 2 (3 - 4 SO)

Finals 16 December 2018

16:30     ENG v AUS (Bronze Medal)
19:00     BEL v NED (Gold Medal)

FIH Match Centre

Belgium march into World Cup final after 47-year wait

That’s mine: Belgium’s Simon Gougnard (front) vying for the ball with England’s Liam Ansell during the Hockey World Cup semi-finals at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, yesterday. — AP

PETALING JAYA: It was a historic moment for Belgium when they powered their way to the Hockey World Cup final for the first time in 47 years.

And the Red Lions did it in style when they trounced England 6-0 in the semi-finals at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, yesterday.

Despite England starting the match with more ball possession, it was Belgium who struck first through a field goal by their experienced striker Tom Boon in the eighth minute.

It wasn’t long before the Red Lions added a second in the 19th minute through a penalty corner from Simon Gougnard to go into half time with a comfortable lead.

Belgium hit again when Cedric Charlier connected with the ball from a cross in the 42nd minute before Alexander Hendrickx converted from a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter for an unassailable four-goal lead.

Hendrickx then scored his seventh goal of the tournament with another strike from the penalty corner in the 50th minute before Sebastien Dockier completed England’s humiliation with a field goal three minutes later to make it 6-0.

Belgium will clash with Holland in today’s final after they stunned defending champions Australia.

The Star of Malaysia

England well beaten by Belgium after heroic World Cup run

David Ames at the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup

England's World Cup dream was ended by Belgium at the semi final stage as the Olympic silver medal winners won with a comprehensive scoreline.

Danny Kerry's side had performed superbly to get to this stage, but the Red Lions were sadly too good on the day and took a deserved victory.

England had a few half chances in the third quarter at 2-0 down, but Belgium stood firm and once they got a fourth right at the end of Q3, the Red Lions' position was sealed.

For the third successive World Cup, England unfortunately lost at the semi final stage, and will now dig deep to play in the 3rd/4th game at 11am on Sunday.

With Kerry only a couple of months into the job, and with a whole host of new young players in the squad, the future remains bright and they will look to end the tournament on a high.

Match report

It was Belgium who drew first blood, Florent van Aubel bursting down the left, crossing for Tom Boon to finish past George Pinner on eight minutes.

The Red Lions continued to enjoy the majority of possession, and Boon was inches away from another goal, deflecting an effort onto the crossbar just before the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter Jack Waller did exceptionally well to release Barry Middleton on the break, but Phil Roper could not quite find a teammate inside the D.

With 19 minutes gone England were penalised inside their own D, and agonised over whether to refer the decision. Pinner saved the initial effort, but Simon Gougnard was on hand to lash home the rebound.

On 27, Sebastien Dockier should have made it three but shot past the upright with only Pinner to beat.

At half time, Danny Kerry told reporters he was looking for more endeavour up front, and his team responded with a their best spell of the game, Adam Dixon almost scoring from a penalty corner but goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch perhaps a touch fortunate to see it cleared on the line.

England were showing some purpose, but Belgium kept them at a distance, first blocking a David Condon effort before Harry Martin's deflection was cleared.
However, Belgium's quality shone through again when Cedric Charlier made it 3-0 with a rasping finish from an aerial.

Again England were a touch unfortunate from a corner as Luke Taylor's effort almost evaded Vanasch, but once more Belgium punished England, Alexander Hendrickx smashing a corner past Pinner for 4-0 after Liam Sanford was penalised right at the end of the third quarter.

Four goals down in the final quarter, England understandably found it tough going, and with ten remaining Hendrickx scored another corner for 5-0. Then Dockier made it six as the Red Lions really put England to the sword.

It was a slightly cruel finish to the match, and Belgium moved ruthlessly into Sunday's final after an excellent performance on their part. Kerry took his side into a huddle at full time and will no doubt have been asking them to hold their heads high following a superb run in this event.

With the FIH Pro League starting next month and Olympic qualification on the line in 2019, there is much to look forward to for hockey in Great Britain in the coming months. And first of all England aim for a bronze medal on Sunday.

England 0
Belgium 6
Boon (FG, 8); Gougnard (PC, 19); Charlier (FG, 42); Hendrickx (PC, 45; PC, 50); Dockier (FG, 53)

Starting XI: Pinner (GK) (C), Ames, Gleghorne, Martin, Dixon, Middleton, Ansell, Condon, Waller, Gall, Sanford

Subs used: Taylor, Roper, Sloan, Hoare, Calnan, Wallace

Unused sub: Gibson (GK)

England Hockey Board Media release

England endure medal round trauma again

Errol D’Cruz

Photo: s2h photographer Rakesh

It’s all too familiar for England. This is their third semifinal defeat in the World Cup and after two fourth-place finishes at New Delhi 2010 and The Hague 2014, the team has to pick itself up ahead of the bronze medal match a day after a crushing 0-6 defeat to Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday.

It’s a daunting task, given that their opponents will be the redoubtable Australians, the No. 1 ranked team and dethroned holders who were stopped by the Netherlands in the other semifinal but only after a shootout. Six members of the current squad finished empty handed in The Hague four years ago. Barry Middleton, captain at the time, Harry Martin, Michael Hoare, Mark Gleghorne, Adam Dixon and goalkeeper George Pinner experienced the sinking feeling of missing out on a medal.

England kept hosts Netherlands down to just a single goal in their semifinal and were undone by Argentina 0-2 in the fight for the bronze.

Eight years ago in New Delhi, England were beaten by Germany 1-4 in the semifinals before going down to the Netherlands 3-4 in the third-fourth place play off. Middleton and Adam Dixon, members of the squad in Bhubaneswar, were in action at the Indian capital.

Photo: s2h photographer Rakesh

Two of the current squad also carry baggage from the 2012 London Olympics, albeit playing as Great Britain – a team comprising almost fully England players.

Middleton, the iconic midfielder who turns 35, next year and who has logged 431 international matches and Harry Martin, who also plays in the midfield, were members of the team ravaged 2-9 by the Netherlands in the 2012 Olympic semifinals.

And like here in Bhubaneswar, the duo had to put the hiding behind them and take on Australia, the hot favourites, beaten by Germany 2-4 in the semifinals. Great Britain lost, but only 1-3, in a spirited display that belied the trauma of the previous match.

Photo: s2h photographer Rakesh

As many as 12 of this England squad are making their World Cup debut and may not be burdened with the despair of missing out on a medal in two previous outings of the World Cup.

But they’ll need every mentoring by the 34-year-old Middleton, who has just played his 430th international match, and 26-year-old Martin (200) to cope with the after-effects of a devastating rout in the semifinals. After all, the prospect of playing arch-rivals Australia, smarting at being pipped at the post by the Netherlands in the semifinals in their quest to complete a hat-trick of World Cup titles, isn't the best way to recover and move ahead.


Simon Gougnard helps Belgium to Hockey World Cup final after father’s passing

Emotion flowed through Simon Gougnard on Saturday as he helped Belgium reach their World Cup final with a 6-0 defeat of England, hours after his father passed away.

Gougnard had received the news at the team hotel in Bhubaneswar, but had decided to play on and scoring a decisive second goal which paved the way for victory.

Alexander Hendrickx scored two penalty corners for Belgium to lead the tournament scorers charts with seven goals and set up a final clash with the Netherlands.

Belgium, who had beaten two-time champs Germany in the last eight, came out firing with Tom Boon giving them an early lead in the eighth minute. The match was already settled when Sebastien Dockier rattled in an unstoppable shot late on.

“We are just really proud at what happened. We played in the honour of (the) father of Simon who suddenly passed away yesterday,” Boon, who was player of the match, told reporters.

Belgium coach Shane McLeod, who was clearly emotional in the press conference, also praised Gougnard’s mental toughness.

“We had words and he shared his news with the group and if anything it brought us closer together. It’s something that you don’t wish on anyone but it’s a circle of life,” said McLeod.

“He played for his father today and he played a fantastic game.”

Cedric Charlier and Sebastien Dockier also scored for the Olympic silver medallists who now eye history in the title clash on Sunday.

Team mate Nicolas De Kerper said:”It was really hard news for him and also for the team. We needed to carry him today and tomorrow and he is a really strong guy. The team is all with him and behind him.”

The Hockey Paper

England’s hockey World Cup dream ended by Belgium in semi-final rout

England defenders look dejected as they fell to semi-final defeat for the third hockey World Cup in a row. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for FIH

England’s dream of reaching a first men’s hockey World Cup final since 1986 was ended in humbling fashion as they were beaten 6-0 by Belgium in Bhubaneswar, India.

England pulled off a major surprise by beating the world’s second-ranked side, Argentina, in their quarter-final – but were brought down to earth by the world’s No 3 team, who raced into an early two-goal lead.

Tom Boon turned the ball past George Pinner to put Belgium ahead after nine minutes. England held out for the rest of the opening quarter, but Belgium doubled their lead soon after. Simon Gougnard was first to react after Pinner made a good save from a penalty corner, and flashed the ball in from a tight angle.

England began the second half positively, with Adam Dixon’s penalty corner cleared off the line before Florent van Aubel was sent to the sin bin for a foul on Liam Ansell. They could not make the man advantage count and were punished when Belgium broke, Cedric Charlier firing in their third goal.

Florent van Aubel celebrates after Alexander Hendrickx’s first goal as Belgium routed England in the Men’s Hockey World Cup semi-final. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi/AP

Belgium were now closing in on their first World Cup final and made absolutely sure seconds before the end of the third quarter as Alex Hendrickx converted a penalty corner for his sixth goal of the tournament. In the fourth quarter, England failed to convert another penalty corner and man advantage and were again punished for missed chances.

Hendrickx added another penalty corner after the ball struck Michael Hoare’s foot during a Belgium break, before Sébastien Dockier fired high past Pinner to complete the rout.

In the second semi-final, the Netherlands set up a local derby in the final after beating Australia 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Defending champions Australia, who have failed to reach the final for the first time since 1999, will contest the third-place play-off with England.

The Guardian

Kerry and Roper reflect on semi final defeat at World Cup

Danny Kerry at the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup

England were defeated 6-0 by Belgium in their World Cup semi final, and while coach Danny Kerry was of course disappointed with the outcome, he praised his troops for their continued development throughout the event.

He said, "I feel we have grown and developed as a group on and off the pitch, and we’ve demonstrated resilience during a long tournament here in the sub continent.

"However, Belgium were the better side today and we will keep perspective.

"Our roles now are to regroup and prepare for the bronze medal match, it is a great opportunity to continue our progression.”

Co-captain Phil Roper was disappointed with the display against what was a ruthless Red Lions outfit, saying, "We didn't really put our game out there.

"The Belgians played a really good game and we want to be more competitive than that.

"For us, you can't go into a World Cup semi final and not put your game out there and stick to the gameplan.

"We have to move on quickly now, we've got 24 hours to recover for the bronze medal match on Sunday."

England Hockey Board Media release

Bereaved Belgian player turns out for semifinal

By Rutvick Mehta

File photo of Simon Gougnard

At the end of the Belgium-England quarterfinals, every Belgian player went up to Simon Gougnard and gave him a hug.

In the wee hours of Saturday, Gougnard received the news that his father has died after battling a prolonged illness. The 27-year-old midfielder entered the field around 14 hours later to help his country make their first ever Hockey World Cup final, which he did by scoring the team’s second goal.

“It was difficult for him,” Belgium captain Thomas Briels said. “His father was already very sick for a while. It’s sad he couldn’t be there with his father, but he really wanted to play.

“He was really close to his father. We knew he was sick but hoped he would make it till Simon is back with him. He couldn’t be there with his family. That is the hard part,” he added.

Belgium coach Shane Mcleod said, “Simon’s father has been sick for a while, so it wasn’t a sudden thing. Simon was able to spend real quality time with his father before coming here. And today’s victory (Saturday) was a tribute for him.”

Briels said everybody in the team was close to Gougnard’s father, who was a hockey buff himself. “I think everybody in the team lost someone who they dearly love and are near to. We dedicate the victory to this father. Today, our memories are with him,” said Briels.

Daily News & Analysis

Belgium puts celebrations on hold

Focuses on rest and recovery ahead of the final

Y.B. Sarangi

BHUBANESWAR, 15/12/2018: Belgium players celebrates after score goals against England in the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 semifinal match at Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

Belgian players will keep their feet on the ground and postpone their celebrations for 24 hours even after securing the country’s maiden World Cup medal by reaching the final for the first time in six appearances. The players did not want to spoil the fine campaign before getting the best possible result.

“It’s a historic moment. Not only reaching the final but the way we did it. We really deserved to win and deserved the final. Still we have one big step ahead. It’s key to recover as fast as possible,” said Belgium captain Thomas Briels.

“We will try to keep our feet on the ground and recover as fast as possible. In 24 hours, we have to play again (in the final). That’s the key for now.

“There are always positives and negatives (of playing on consecutive days). If you have a couple of more days, you have more rest. The guys did a lot of work to beat England. Now we have to take food and go to sleep. We hope we can celebrate tomorrow night.”

The run-up to the semifinals was not ideal for Belgium on Saturday as midfielder Simon Gougnard, who had been an integral part of the side for about nine years and scored a goal against England, received the news of his father’s death at 2 o’clock in the night. It was a shocker for the closely-knit team and the players wore black arm-bands in the match.

“It was difficult. His father was quite sick. It is a shame he couldn’t be there with his father, but he really wanted to play. So, we dedicate the victory to his father. Today our memories are with him, especially with Simon and his father,” said Briels, with a touch of sadness.

The Hindu

Heartbreak For Kookaburras In World Cup Semi-Final Shootout

Ben Somerford

The Kookaburras have suffered World Cup heartbreak losing Saturday night’s semi-final to the Netherlands in a shootout after earlier equalising with less than 30 seconds to play.

The world number four Dutch edged Australia 4-3 in the shootout with goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak denying Daniel Beale, in his 150th game, in sudden death to clinch the victory in Bhubaneswar, India.

Blaak was named Man of the Match after making numerous saves from Australia’s 10 shots on target earlier in the match, with the Kookaburras dramatically rallying from a 2-0 half-time deficit, eventually with a last-minute Eddie Ockenden equaliser.

The result ends the top-ranked Kookaburras’ charge for a third straight World Cup title, having lifted the trophy in 2010 and 2014.

It also means three-time champions Netherlands will play first-time finalists Belgium in Sunday’s decider from 12:30am AEDT on Monday morning.

The Kookaburras’ World Cup campaign isn’t over despite the defeat, as they’ll play England for bronze from 10pm AEDT on Sunday.

Earlier, Kookaburras veteran Ockenden, who was one of two members in this side from both 2010 and 2014, had dramatically equalised with 27 seconds to play.

Australia had trailed 2-0 at main break but heroically fought back with Tim Howard netting his first international goal in the 44th minute, before Ockenden’s late leveller.

The Dutch scored in both the first and second quarters from Glenn Schuurman (9’) and Seve van Ass (20’), with the latter’s shot deflecting in off Howard.

Both sides raced out of the blocks, starting the game with attacking intent, but it was the Dutch who created the clear-cut chances with Kookaburras keeper Andrew Charter called into action to save Mink van der Weerden’s fourth minute flick.

Five minutes later, Jonas de Geus cut the ball inside the circle after a baseline run, finding Schuurman who converted for only his third international goal.

Mirco Pruijser deflected Billy Bakker’s drive into the post before the first break as Australia withstood the Dutch pressure.

Australia’s top scorer Blake Govers forced Blaak into an 18th minute save from a second attempt at a short corner, while Seve van Ass dragged wide moments later from a Dutch PC.

Govers was denied again by Blaak before the Dutch added a second when van Ass’ cutback from the baseline was fortuitously deflected beyond Charter by Howard.

Blaak continued to make key saves denying Tim Brand twice, before his extended left leg blocked Govers’ low drive before half-time.

The Netherlands lost Valentin Verga for five minutes due to a third quarter yellow card but Australia couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage, with the Dutch having the better chances in the third.

However, Australia did pull a goal back in the 44th minute after Trent Mitton did well to win a penalty corner. The Kookaburras employed a penalty corner variation which appeared to have failed until Howard beat Blaak with a low slap.

Australian substitute keeper Tyler Lovell saved van der Weerden’s flick in the 51st minute before Flynn Ogilvie tested Blaak again.

The Kookaburras opted to pull Lovell for an extra outfield player with five minutes to go and almost levelled when Govers again forced Blaak into a good save from a 58th minute short corner.

With less than 30 seconds on the clock Australia got their reward when Beale raced forward with his pass into the D turned by Ockenden under Blaak with the aid of a Dutch deflection.

The late equaliser sent the game to the dreaded shootout, where Australia’s Aran Zalewski shot over with the first attempt before Charter pulled the Kookaburras level at 1-1 after two shots with a good save to deny Pruijser.

Tom Craig put Australia ahead with the next chance and Charter had the Kookaburras in the box seat when he saved from Robbert Kemperman leading 2-1 after three shots each.

However, Brand failed with his attempt, before the Dutch levelled through van Ass. Jake Whetton and Thijs van Dam traded goals to send the shootout to sudden death.

The Dutch went first in sudden death with Jeroen Hertzberger beating Charter before Blaak swept away Beale’s chance to earn the Dutch a 4-3 shootout win to leave Australia heartbroken.

Australia 2 (Howard 44', Ockenden 60')
Netherlands 2 (Schuurman 9', van Ass 20')

Australia 3 (Zalewski X, Beale O, Craig O, Brand X, Whetton O; Beale X)
Netherlands 4 (Hertzberger O, Pruijser X, Kemperman X, van Ass O, van Dam O; Hertzberger O)

Hockey Australia media release

Like Olympic Champions, World Champions too sent off

s2h Team

Is the Odisha World Cup is turning out to be the craziest. Indications go this way. Earlier, Olympic Champions Argentina were sent packing. Now, the defending champions Australia too faced the same fate of Rio Champions, despite a heroic equalizer struck by captain Eddie Ockenden a mere 26 seconds before the full time, and thus stretching the Dutch to the shoot out.

The shoout out score stood 3-3. The fulltime score was 2-2. In the ensued sudden death, Joren Hertzberger whacked a goal, and then waited a few seconds to see his moments, as his goalie Pirmin Blaak blocking the shot of Daniel Beale. The stadium erupted in joy after finding the previous finalist Netherlands has won over Australia (6-5) over their tormentor at The Hague four years ago.

In the first semifinal, sprinting forwards of Belgium seemed to have entered the Kalinga turf with extra spring fittings in their legs. Despite not a run of the mill stuff from England goalie Geroge Pinner, Belgium thundered six goals without reply to enter the Sunday World Cup final. Belgium, as the scoreline reflects, outplayed their rival today, that too, in style and substance.

Neighbours The Netherlands will play Belgium in the final tomorrow.

Four years ago, Richard Charlesworth's Australia shamed the hosts The Netherlands 1-6 in the final. Four years later, the loser that day turned out to be their tormentor. Its creditable for Aussies, who infused live in to what seemed a lost cause, with just 26 seconds left in the clock. This Eddie Ockendon's goal, that rolled slowly into the cage between the leg of Pirmin Blaak, provided a lifeline to the defending champions.

Earlier, six minutes before the end of first quarter and six minutes into the next quarter, Netherlands stunned the Aussies with sprints in to the circle with mesmerizing ball control and pleasing stick work.

Captain Eddie Ockenden scored after a right wing attack put in ideal position to do so.

First shoot out of the Odisha World Cup saw see-saw battle. The process started with Aran Zalewski missing, but the trio of Daniel Beale, Tom Craig and Jake Whetton striking. On the other side, Joren Hertzberger, See van Ass and This van Dam scored.

The rest is history.

The first semifinal frustrated the packed stands, as England, who sent Rio Champions, packing could not rise their standard to a level where they can hold their citadel in tact.


The Dutch edge Australia in thriller semifinal

Belgium hammers England with its biggest ever competition win

Uthra Ganesan

Netherlands players run to greet to their goal keeper Piramin Blaak (No.26) after win their match in the penalty shootout against Australia in the Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 semifinal match at Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar.  Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

Australia proved why it is considered one of the toughest teams in the sport, taking the fight till the very end but its dreams of becoming the first team to win a hat-trick of World Cup titles were crushed with a heartbreaking 4-3 shootout loss to the Netherlands in the semifinals here on Saturday. The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation time.

The Dutch will now look to join Pakistan as the only other team to win four world titles but would have to get past first-time finalist Belgium. The Belgians crushed England 6-0 in the other semifinal.

Twice-defending champion Australia was all but out before a Robbert Kemperman defensive blunder with 26 seconds to time gave it a lifeline.

Kemperman deflected Eddie Ockenden’s hit trying to clear it and was horrified to see it roll through goalkeeper Primin Blaak’s legs and take the game to the shootouts. The teams then stayed level over five shots — both scored three and missed two — before Daniel Beale was denied by Blaak in sudden death.

Earlier, Australia’s almost easy passage till the semifinals became its undoing as it trailed all through the game.

The Dutch clearly looked the better-prepared side. They started cautiously, took time to settle down even as Australia threw it all at the opposition in the first five minutes to create a couple of half chances that went astray.

Thereafter the Netherlands began creeping ahead and scored off its first shot at goal in the ninth minute, when Glenn Schuurman tapped in. Australia kept attacking but the Dutch defence and Blaak stood firm.

At the other end, Andrew Charter saved quite a few clear shots at goal but with a defence that had no clue and had not been challenged so far, he could only do so much.

Earlier, Belgium overwhelmed England with not just its control of the game but also its brilliance in negating the opponent’s biggest strength — its midfield — for a thumping victory. It was its biggest win ever in the competition.

It was a one-sided affair even though England tried to make the occasional foray into the other half. But two penalty corners through the game — both saved by the rusher on the line — was all that England could manage as it succumbed to its third straight defeat in the semifinals of the World Cup. Belgium, on the other hand, was aggressive with captain Thomas Briels leading the way in breaking ahead.

The results (semifinals): Belgium 6 (Alexander Hendrickx 2, Tom Boon, Simon Gougnard, Cedric Charlier, Sebastien Dockier) bt England 0, the Netherlands 2 (Glenn Schuurman, Seve van Ass) bt Australia 2 (Tim Howard, Eddie Ockenden) via shootout. Shootout scores: the Netherlands 4 (Jeroen Hertzberger 2, Seve van Ass, Thijs van Dam) bt Austalia 3 (Tom Craig, Jake Whetton, Daniel Beale).

The Hindu

Belgium, Netherlands chase glory as tournament poised to get new winner after 16 years

Shantanu Srivastava

The Netherlands moved to their seventh World Cup final with a sudden death win over defending champions Australia on Saturday. AFP

Bhubaneswar: When Dutch coach Maximiliano Caldas was asked what to expect of the Netherlands-Belgium World Cup final, he had the shortest and the most accurate answer conceivable. Spectacle, he said. For two teams who have sneakily built momentum and gathered pace as the tournament wore on, Sunday promises to be their busiest workday. It could also be the most entertaining day of the tournament.

It would be false to suggest that nobody expected these two teams to reach the final 20 days back when the event was accorded a blockbuster opening. Belgium have, in recent years, built a team and a reputation that revels in big matches. Their silver medal at the Rio Olympics, in which they beat the Netherlands on the way, was deemed unexpected when it was actually a just reward for their robust domestic structure. Their team hasn't changed much over the past 4-5 years, which is the result and also the reason, for their consistent rise.

On Saturday, Belgium came into their own and pounded half a dozen goals to systematically demolish England. Their game was fast, fluid and flawless. The attacks were precise, their defence solid and their gameplan reflected a sinister finality. They meant business and their understated build-up added to their menace.

Belgium's maiden World Cup appearance may test their nerves, but Caldas is not taking anything for granted.

"We don't look at the past, we care for the present. Belgium has not played a final at the World Cup, yet, but if you look at the stats, they are the most experienced team here. They play tough games, close games and they have been a force to reckon with in last years. They are going to fight tomorrow, that's for sure," he said of his opponents.

The Netherlands' campaign has followed a similar pattern. Their early loss to Germany chastened them and once they found their groove, they were unstoppable. They were rarely stretched by India, but after watching Australia dominate the first five minutes, the Dutch raised their game with clinical ease.

Australia are not an easy team to hold off and Caldas' men knew it. They figured that the best way to keep the defending champions from scoring was to score themselves and that's what they sought to do. The turnovers were quick, the pace impressive and they continuously peppered the Australian circle with efficient play from the flanks. The Aussies replied in kind, but the Dutch defence stood tall.

Both teams play similar style too, and that, Caladas said, adds to the allure. "These are two teams that play a relatively similar style. Both teams that like to attack. We enjoy the rivalry; they attack and we attack, there is a lot of open play. We are going to enjoy that for sure," he said.

The Netherlands have been perennial World Cup favourites and Sunday will be their seventh World Cup final, the most by any team. They were the finalists in the previous edition of the event too and earned the third place in the one before.

Dutch great Stephan Veen, who was the captain of the World Cup-winning team of 1998 — the last time they lifted the trophy — feels the Netherlands have a slight advantage going into the final.

"I think the fact that they have played a penalty shootout at this World Cup puts them n a better position to deal with pressure. There is very little to choose from between the teams, but I think The Netherlands have their nose ahead," he said.

Belgium coach Shane McLeod, though, was unruffled. "We have been training hard for the last two or three weeks. It will be a shame if we let it go tomorrow (Sunday). We will go to sleep early and be ready for the final.

"We pride ourselves in educating our players. We got them to a point where they are almost a finished product. I am very happy with where our players are at. They know the importance of the tournament They have the ability to put into action what they are asked to do and they can change in the middle of the game as well," the reigning FIH Best Coach of the Year winner added.

On Sunday, as Bhubaneswar — jaded by the seeming endlessness of the event — renews its romance with the sport one last time, no love will be lost between the European rivals. World Cup will have a new winner in 16 years (Australia and Germany have won two titles apiece since 2002) and in a land steeped in history, a fresh legend will be written. The final is here.


Belgium maul England to enter maiden final; Netherlands crush Australia's dream of hat-trick of titles

Netherlands celebrate their victory against Australia in the semi-final of the Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. Image Courtesy: Twitter @HockeyIndia

Bhubaneswar: Belgium created history by making their maiden appearance in the men's hockey World Cup summit clash, thrashing England 6-0 in a lopsided first semi-final while World No 4 Netherlands broke Australia's dream of clinching a hat-trick of World Cup titles.

Alexander Hendrickx (45th, 50th minutes) converted two penalty corners, while Tom Boon (8th), Simon Gougnard (19th), Cedric Charlier (42nd) and Sebastien Dockier (53rd) were the other goal scorers for the world number three at the Kalinga Stadium.

Prior to this, the Red Lions' best performance in the World Cup was a fifth-place finish in the last edition of the tournament at The Hague, Netherlands in 2014.

The Belgium players, who wore black armbands to pay respect to their teammate Gougnard whose father passed away before the match, dominated possession in the first two quarters and created a couple of promising chances, two of which resulted in goals.

It didn't take long for Belgium to take the lead as Boon deflected in Florent van Aubel's measured cross from the left in the eighth minute.

Just seconds from the end of first quarter, Boon again came close but his deflection from a long ball hit the post.

Belgium doubled their lead in the 19th minute through Gougnard, who scored from a rebound after Hendrickx's flick from their first penalty corner was saved by England captain and goalkeeper George Pinner.

The Red Lions missed a sitter three minutes from half time when an unmarked Dockier pushed wide Van Aubel's pass, with only Pinner to beat.

Just a minute after the change of ends, England secured their first penalty corner, but the world number seven failed to capitalise on the opportunity.

Belgium extended their lead in the 42nd minute through Charlier, who scored with a fierce shot from a close range.

Minutes later, England earned another penalty corner but Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch was up to the task, and thwarted the danger with a fine save.

Seconds from the end of the third quarter, Belgium made it 4-0 when Hendrickx found the back of the English net from his team's second penalty corner.

Belgium continued to toy with the English defence and pumped in two more goals in the fourth and final quarter to make the last-four contest a thoroughly one-sided affair.

Another penalty corner resulted in another goal through Hendrickx, in the 50th minute, before Dockier scored from a field effort three minutes later to complete the rout.

Towards the end of the match, England secured two more penalty corners but lack of execution let them down, as they rounded off a disappointing outing.

The Dutch took a sweet revenge of their 1-6 loss to the Kookaburras in the summit clash of the 2014 World Cup at the Hague.

The match went into shoot-out after both Netherlands and Australia were locked 2-2 at the end of regulation 60 minutes.

Glenn Schuurman (9th minute) and Seeve van Ass (20th) scored for the Dutch before Tim Howard (45th) converted a penalty corner and Eddie Ockenden (60th) found the equaliser for Australia just 26 seconds from the final hooter.

In the shoot-off, Daniel Beale, Tom Craig and Jake Whetton scored for Australia while Jeroen Hertzberger, Van Ass and Thijs van Dam were on target for the Dutch to take the encounter into sudden death.

But it was not to be Australia's day, as Beale's attempt was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak after Hertberger scored to take Netherlands to their second consecutive World Cup final.

Netherlands will face Olympic silver medallist Belgium in Sunday's summit clash after the Red Lions spanked England 6-0 in the other semi-final earlier in the day.

World no.1 Australia will look for a consolation bronze medal when they take on England in the third-fourth place play-off match on Sunday.

Netherlands took time to get off the blocks as Australia did all the attacking in the initial few minutes but without much success.

After sitting back initially, the Dutchmen got into the groove slowly and had the first real scoring chance in the fourth minute through a penalty corner but Mnk van der Weerden's flick was kept away by Australia goalkeeper Andrew Charter.

Netherlands kept up the pressure on the Australian defence and minutes later took the lead through Schuurman, who scored from close range after being set up by Jonas de Gues' brilliant run down the right flank.

Three minutes from the end of first quarter, Mirco Pruijser's deflection from Netherlands skipper Billy Bakker's long ball down the middle hit the post.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Australia earned their first penalty corner but wasted it.

Netherlands and Australia traded one more penalty corner each in the next few minutes but both the teams failed to convert the chances.

Van Ass doubled Netherlands' lead after his shot from right corner of the box went into the goal following a deflection from Australian Tim Howard's stick.

Trailing by two goals, the Australians came out with purpose after the change of ends as they attacked in numbers in search of breakthroughs.

The Dutch too matched their rivals stick for stick as the game witnessed an end-to-end battle.

Australia pulled a goal back just at the stroke of third quarter through Howard who scored from a penalty corner after their variation went wrong.

Netherlands goalkeeper Blaak had a wonderful match, inflicting brilliant saves now and then to deny the Australians.

In the 53rd minute, an alert Blaak came up with a wonderful reflex save to keep out Flynn Ogilivie's diving effort and then five minutes later the Dutch keeper made another stunning save to deny Blake Govers from Australia's fourth penalty corner.

But the Australians did not give up hope and fought till their last breath, which resulted in getting the equaliser just 26 seconds from full time through Ockenden and take the match into shoot-out.


Netherlands crush Australia's dream of hat-trick of WC titles, progress to final

Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 , PTI

World No. 4 Netherlands broke Australia's dream of clinching a hat-trick of World Cup titles, beating the two-time defending champions 4-3 in sudden death in a pulsating semi-final of Men Hockey's show-piece tournament in Bhubneshwar on Saturday.

The Dutch thus took a sweet revenge of their 1-6 loss to the Kookaburras in the summit clash of the 2014 World Cup at the Hague.

The match went into shoot-out after both Netherlands and Australia were locked 2-2 at the end of regulation 60 minutes.

Glenn Schuurman (9th minute) and Seeve van Ass (20th) scored for the Dutch before Tim Howard (45th) converted a penalty corner and Eddie Ockenden (60th) found the equaliser for Australia just 26 seconds from the final hooter.

In the shoot-off, Daniel Beale, Tom Craig and Jake Whetton scored for Australia while Jeroen Hertzberger, Van Ass and Thijs van Dam were on target for the Dutch to take the encounter into sudden death.

But it was not to be Australia's day, as Beale's attempt was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak after Hertberger scored to take Netherlands to their second consecutive World Cup final.

Netherlands will face Olympic silver medallist Belgium in Sunday's summit clash after the Red Lions spanked England 6-0 in the other semi-final earlier in the day.

World no.1 Australia will look for a consolation bronze medal when they take on England in the third-fourth place play-off match on Sunday.

Netherlands took time to get off the blocks as Australia did all the attacking in the initial few minutes but without much success.

After sitting back initially, the Dutchmen got into the groove slowly and had the first real scoring chance in the fourth minute through a penalty corner but Mnk van der Weerden's flick was kept away by Australia goalkeeper Andrew Charter.

Netherlands kept up the pressure on the Australian defence and minutes later took the lead through Schuurman, who scored from close range after being set up by Jonas de Gues' brilliant run down the right flank.

Three minutes from the end of first quarter, Mirco Pruijser's deflection from Netherlands skipper Billy Bakker's long ball down the middle hit the post.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Australia earned their first penalty corner but wasted it.

Netherlands and Australia traded one more penalty corner each in the next few minutes but both the teams failed to convert the chances.

Van Ass doubled Netherlands' lead after his shot from right corner of the box went into the goal following a deflection from Australian Tim Howard's stick.

Trailing by two goals, the Australians came out with purpose after the change of ends as they attacked in numbers in search of breakthroughs.

The Dutch too matched their rivals stick for stick as the game witnessed an end-to-end battle.

Australia pulled a goal back just at the stroke of third quarter through Howard who scored from a penalty corner after their variation went wrong.

Netherlands goalkeeper Blaak had a wonderful match, inflicting brilliant saves now and then to deny the Australians.

In the 53rd minute, an alert Blaak came up with a wonderful reflex save to keep out Flynn Ogilivie's diving effort and then five minutes later the Dutch keeper made another stunning save to deny Blake Govers from Australia's fourth penalty corner.

But the Australians did not give up hope and fought till their last breath, which resulted in getting the equaliser just 26 seconds from full time through Ockenden and take the match into shoot-out.

Daily News & Analysis

Dutch outlast Australia to set up World Cup final v Belgium

by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru

Netherlands battled past two-time defending champions Australia in a penalty shootout to set up an all-European World Cup final against Belgium in Bhubaneswar, India on Saturday.

After the scores were level at 2-2 in regular time, the Dutch won 4-3 in the sudden death shootout.

Belgium had thrashed England 6-0 earlier on Saturday to reach their first World Cup final.

The Dutch looked in control when they took a 2-0 halftime lead, courtesy of goals from Glenn Schuurman and Seve van A**.

Australia's Tim Howard converted a penalty corner in the 45th minute to set up an intense finale before Eddie Ockenden equalised with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.

Both teams converted three of their opening five penalty shots before Jeroen Hertzberger handed the Dutch an advantage as he dribbled past goalkeeper Andrew Charter to find the net.

Netherlands keeper Pirmin Blaak then saved Daniel Beale's shot to secure a place in Sunday's World Cup final and end Australia's dominance after their triumphs in 2010 and 2014.


The 2016 Olympic silver medallists Belgium took the lead against England in the eighth minute when Florent van Aubel's cross was deflected in by striker Tom Boon.

Simon Gougnard, who had received news of his father's death on the eve of the semi-final clash, made it 2-0 with a fierce shot after George Pinner parried a penalty corner flick.

Belgium coach Shane McLeod hailed Gougnard's mental toughness after he shared the news that he had lost his father with the squad and went on to play in the game.

"We had words and he shared his news with the group and if anything it brought us closer together. It's something that you don't wish on anyone but it's a circle of life," McLeod said.

"He played for his father today and he played a fantastic game."

A brace from Alexander Hendrickx through penalty corners, along with field goals from Cedric Charlier and Sebastien Dockier added further gloss to the scoreline.

It was England's third straight World Cup semi-final defeat as they struggled to create chances at the Kalinga Stadium.

Thomas Briels-led Belgium improved on their previous best fifth-place finish achieved four years ago in The Hague.

In the last few years Belgium have built a reputation as a team with attacking flair but their displays in the tournament so far have shown they also boast a disciplined defensive unit.

With 2017 World Goalkeeper of the Year Vincent Vanasch, the Red Lions defence have conceded just five goals in six matches.

"It was really our big goal to be in the last game of the tournament and hopefully we can do one more step and play even better than today," Briels said.

The Star of Malaysia

Red Lions and Oranje set to clash in top-line final once again

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Belgium and the Netherlands will face off in a repeat of the 2017 European Championships in Sunday as they contest the World Cup final in Bhubaneswar following their wildly contrasting semi-final wins

The red lions made a massive statement with a staggering 6-0 semi-final triumph over England in the first match of the day.

Belgium– wearing black armbands in memory of Simon Gougnard’s father, who sadly passed away on Friday – were absolutely sensational against England, a team that had reached the semi-finals for the third World Cup in succession.

Tom Boon gave Belgium the perfect start, getting ahead of his marker to deflect past England goalkeeper George Pinner in the eighth minute. They took
a 2-0 lead into half time thanks to the outstanding Gougnard, who pounced on a penalty corner rebound to smash into England’s net.

Cedric Charlier’s blistering strike finished off a rapid counter-attack, leaving Danny Kerry’s team with a mountainous task to overcome.

A penalty corner double from Alexander Hendrickx – his sixth and seventh goals of a hugely productive World Cup – either side of the quarter-time break all but sealed a Belgian victory, with Sebastien Dockier firing a late sixth into the roof of Pinner’s net to complete an emphatic 6-0 triumph.

Speaking after the match, Belgium captain Thomas Briels said: “We worked really hard for this success. It was a big challenge. Especially after [the] Germany [victory], we had a tough game and we wanted to be really ready for this challenge and I think we did a really good job today.

“It feels amazing to be in the final. It was really our big goal to be in the last game of the tournament and hopefully we can do one more step and play even better than today. We really hope we can bring the Cup home. We have to recover first. It’s going to be another really tough game. But I think we still have the energy to deliver one more good performance.”

The second semi-final was a replay of the World Cup final of 2014, with reigning champions Australia and the Netherlands taking to the field for what proved to be a truly epic encounter.

After soaking up some early Australian pressure, the Netherlands took the lead when Jonas de Geus surged around the back of the Kookaburras’ defence before finding Glenn Schuurman who made no mistake from close range.

Seve van Ass made it 2-0 in the second quarter when his attempted cross was inadvertently deflected into the Australian net by Tim Howard, giving the Dutch some breathing space.

Australia’s response was fierce, with Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak producing numerous high-quality blocks to keep the title holders off the score-sheet ahead of the halftime break.

The match continued to move from end-to-end at breakneck speed, with Australia pulling a goal back through Howard’s ferocious slap-shot from the top of the circle to give his team hope going into the final quarter.

Blaak – later named Odisha Player of the Match – continued his sensational form in the fourth period by making further crucial saves, including a remarkable close-range block from Flynn Ogilvie who seemed almost certain to score.

Australia’s equaliser arrived with just 26 seconds of the match remaining, and there was little Blaak could do about it. Eddie Ockenden was the scorer, brilliantly intercepting an aerial pass before eventually getting a first time shot towards goal, only for the unfortunate Schuurman to edge the ball through his goalkeeper’s legs to send the match to a shoot-out.

With both teams missing twice, the shoot-out score was locked at 3-3 and went to sudden-death. Jeroen Hertzberger made no mistake with the first of the sudden-death efforts, piling the pressure on Daniel Beale, who needed to score to keep Australian hopes alive.

However, it was Blaak and the Netherlands who would emerge triumphant, with the goalkeeper standing tall to make a superb stick save to put the Oranje into the World Cup final at the expense of the defending champions.

Speaking after the match, Hertzberger – who scored twice in the shoot-out – said: “It was great. I think we deserve to win. We made it very hard for ourselves but at the end of the day we kept our focus and deserved to win the game.

“To be honest, the shoot-outs were obviously a bit nerve-breaking but there’s also something amazing about it. I had real confidence that we were going to win. I had so much confidence in our goalie even after we missed.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Euro rule at Worlds

Dutch horror for Oz, Belgium crush England

Indervir Grewal in Bhubaneswar

The Netherlands players congratulate goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak after beating Australia in a penalty shootout. PTI

The Oranje squeezed into the final after a thrilling encounter with Australia, ensuring that the World Cup will go to a country other than Australia and Germany for the first time in 20 years.

With a timely, well-judged swipe of his stick in nerve-wracking atmosphere, Pirmin Blaak denied the two-time defending champions a place in the final for the first time since 2002. A wave of Dutchmen swallowed the goalkeeper, easily the star of the day, after his save in the sudden death of the shootout sent the Netherlands through to final for the second successive time.

Before the two teams stepped on to the pitch on Saturday, it seemed the reigning champions would edge through one more time. At least, their form had suggested it. However, the Dutch carried their never-say-die spirit from the previous game into the semifinal, and hustled Australia out of the contest for most part of the game.

The Dutch players were more proactive and assertive, winning most of the common balls and getting in crucial tackles regularly. With their energy, the Netherlands managed to disrupt Australia’s rhythm. With the momentum on their side, the Dutch forced their way into the Australian circle on a couple of occasions. Glenn Schuurman slapped in Netherlands’ first in the ninth minute. Five minutes into the second quarter, Seve van Ass’s cross from inside the circle went in off an Australian stick.

Australia scored when, in the 45th minute, Tim Howard converted a penalty corner on the second try. Then, 26 seconds from the final hooter, a harmless push from the top of circle took a deflection off a Dutch stick and trickled in through Blaak’s pads.

The tide had turned. In the shootout as well, the Dutch led and trailed. Until, Jeroen Hertzberger, the other star for the Dutch, converted in the sudden death and Blaak denied Daniel Beale.

The Netherlands have a chance to win the title for the first time since 1998, but they would need luck to get past first-time finalists Belgium, who thrashed England 6-0.

The Tribune

Holland and Belgium set up European final

For Australia and England, how do they come back less than 24 hours later and repeat for bronze?

It will be a brutally physical test today – and for the finalists Belgium and the Netherlands.

England wilted 6-0 and Australia lost 4-3 on a sudden death shoot out to the Dutch and with it their bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of titles.

Defeat for the Kookaburras did feature one of the great World Cup goals when Eddie Ockenden cut off an aerial, was then fed a return pass in the circle before seeing his shot go in off defender and goalkeeper with 26 second remaining.

But the stunned Oranje were indebted their goalkeeper, man-of-the-match Pirmin Blaak, who then made a key last save in a dramatic sudden death victory. It had finished 2-2 in normal time.

Blaak was in blazing form between the posts. He thrust hands and boots out to deny Australia making headway in normal time and then proved the stand out in the shoot out.

What an advert it was for world hockey. The Dutch will be slight favourites now to win their first title in 20 years. Belgium will going for their first world title, after reaching the Olympic and EuroHockey finals since 2016.

With a lengthy three-week World Cup which bizarrely allowed for a prolonged Pool stage and then back-to-back matches for the final four, let’s hope that they heavyweight showdown between Europe’s current best remains that.

Skill, pace and finesse with two of the best zonal set ups in the game is what lies in store. Don’t miss out.

England aim to rally

England’s bid to reach their first World Cup final overseas was repelled in blistering fashion by Belgium.

England have finished fourth at the last two World Cups, with midfielder Barry Middleton playing on both occasions.

He said: ‘People will be sad or happy, we don’t care, everyone has their own way of dealing with this. By the morning, everyone has to be ready.

‘There is a medal on the line. This is what we do as sports people, we get over setbacks.’

Middleton said that the scoreline wasn’t as ‘crazy’ as it looked.

‘It felt we had a bit of control but we needed a bit more intensity and zip in the first half.

‘Tonight’s the night to be sad or happy, we don’t care, everyone has their own way of dealing with this. By the morning, everyone has to be ready.’

Mark Gleghorne added: ‘They were better than us but the annoying this is we just didn’t show up today. You can’t afford to be flat against a team like that.

“We have to get back playing to the level we played in the previous games.”

What they said

“We just said to each other that we won. But we know we gave the game away with 30 seconds to go. We realised we need to stay down to Earth. We need to be even better tomorrow if we want to win the trophy,”

Jeroen Hertzberger

“But you know how Holland play, there’s a lot of zonal stuff going on there. So it’s really a nice compliment to our team. So we have to be innovative and keep going one step ahead of others. Hopefully, they will continue to try to catch up rather than passing us.”

Shane McLeod, Belgium coach

The Hockey Paper

Finals preview

By Todd Williams

And so, after 34 matches, we finally reach the last day of this wonderful World Cup and the two games that will determine the three medal winners.

First up will be this tournament’s second installment of the Australia England rivalry with both obviously teams coming off the disappointment of, albeit very different semi-final defeats.

For England, their winning run came to an unceremonious end at the hands of the impressive Belgians. If you include the winner-take-all round match against Ireland, England had shown great character and belief to win their last three matches. Their performance against Argentina in the Quarter Final showed far the team had come since their opening draw against China which had effectively put them at risk of an early exit.

In Belgium though, England discovered the level that it seems Argentina might have slipped from. With a new crop of young players, they will rightly not be too scarred by the heavy result and the benefit of experience will far outweigh the disappointment of the loss. Having already exceeded expectations, they can go into their third successive World Cup bronze medal playoff with not that much to lose and hopes for third time lucky after losses in 2014 and 2010.

In comparison, their opponents Australia will face the challenge of backing up after an agonising shoot out loss to the Dutch. Not only do they have to recover quickly from having the dream of their third successive World Cup victory dashed but the game itself was an emotional roller-coaster. Having been behind for all but the last twenty seconds, they were then briefly ahead in the shoot out and must have thought fate was on their side. Despite the intensity of the match, like all the top teams, they will be physically fine for this playoff, the question will be whether they are as in as good a shape above the shoulders.

The question will be which card coach Danny Kerry decides to play. On one hand he can go hard at the Aussies hoping to get at the open wounds of yesterday or on the other, he can aim to frustrate them and pick them off on the counter. Again though, as with the semi-final, I suspect that penalty corners will be the deciding factor and Govers and Hayward might swing it the Aussies way.

Following that, the neighbours, friends and club team mates in the Dutch and Belgian teams will face of in a replay of last year’s European Championship final in Amsterdam. Many people may remember the first battle between these two unbelievably talented teams in that tournament, where Belgium stunned the home crowd by beating the Netherlands 5-0.

This was arguably an even more remarkable match than the wonderful final where the Dutch came from 2-0 down to win 4-2. Lucky enough to be in the commentary box alongside the esteemed “Voice of Hockey”, Nick Irvine, we agreed that despite the lopsided scoreline, it had been one of the best games of hockey we had ever seen. With the Netherlands creating just as many chances as Belgium but just failing to score, the speed and technical quality of the hockey was simply on another planet.

In that context, this final becomes something of a deciding chapter. That first encounter at the Euros carried its own significance with the Belgians stamping their claim to be the best in Europe in no uncertain terms. That claim was reversed by the Dutch days later but not before Belgium had gone mighty close to taking all the honours.

The Dutch of course won the trophy but for many, the question of who was better team remained unresolved. How brilliant then that the decider just happens to double up as the World Cup final. Anything close to those two Euro meetings will be a treat and deserved finale for what has been a superb tournament and two players in particular might well hold the fate of their teams in their hands.

For the Netherlands, Mirco Pruijser was the dominant striker at the Euros but is yet to reach that level in Bhubaneswar. The Dutch have done well to find their goals from other sources but if he gets loose then he is good enough to take the Dutch with him to victory. Aside from his goal threat, a positive impact from Pruijser’s might, and I stress might, also lessen the impact of my player of tournament, Arthur Van Doren

If there’s a clear winner in that battle, then that could decide the match and everything tells me that the World Player of the Year and FIH Rising Star might just be getting his hands on another trophy by day’s end.

The Hockey Paper

The finalists hope to turn silver to gold

Errol D’Cruz

Neighbours last clashed for top honours in the World Cup 43 years ago. In an epic battle, India beat Pakistan 2-1 to win their first – and only – World Cup title in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tonight, Belgium will take on the Netherlands in Bhubaneswar, another Asian city. This, the second all-European final in the World Cup’s 14th edition, like the sub-continental duel in 1975, has plenty at stake with more than a few scores to be settled.

The Netherlands beat Spain 3-2 in extra-time at home in Utrecht in 1998 in the last final involving Continental nations and it brought the Dutch their last of three World Cup titles

The Belgians finished runners-up at the 2016 Rio Olympics, losing 2-4 to the Argentines. It was yet another silver medal for the Red Lions whose meteoric rise to the top bracket of international hockey started with victory over then World Champions Germany in the 2007 European Championships in Manchester, England, that fetched them a bronze medal and a direct spot to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Silver medals followed in the European Championship in 2013 and 2017, the 2014-15 Hockey World League and the Rio Olympics.

Belgium also finished second-best, losing to India in the Junior World Cup final in Lucknow two years ago.

At the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday, the Belgians stormed past England 6-0 to set up a date with the Dutch who deprived them of a gold medal at the last Euro Championship in Amstelveen where the Red Lions had surrendered a 2-0 lead to go down 2-4 in the final.

The Netherlands will become the first ever nation to play 100 World Cup matches when they square up to Belgium on Sunday.

But the Dutch have their minds on erasing a dubious statistic – an 18-year major global title (Olympic /World Cup) since 2000 Sydney.

There, at the start of the millennium, the Netherlands beat South Korea on penalty strokes in a memorable final to clinch their second Olympic gold medal.

The three-time World champions then finished with the silver medal at Athens 2004, courtesy a 1-2 loss in the final to the Netherlands.

More silver. In a first ever final at the Olympics or World Cup between their neighbours and bitter rivals, the Dutch lost to Germany 1-2 at the 2012 London Olympics.

And in a traumatic final in front of their own fans, the Netherlands were routed 1-6 at The Hague four years ago. A second successive final defeat would be tough to bear.

Belgium have their own hurdle to cross. Silver medal was a much-celebrated achievement in Rio two years ago but another medal of the same colour will leave the team coached by Shane McLeod, a New Zealander, devastated.

SILVER STREAKS Netherlands Olympics: Amsterdam 1928, Helsinki 1952 ; Athens 2004; London 2012.
World Cup: Buenos Aires 1978, Sydney 1994, The Hague 2014.
European Championship: Brussels 1970, Hannover 1978, Paris 1991, Dubin, Dublin 1995, Padua (Italy), 1999, Leipzig (Germany), 2005, Monchengladbach 2011.

Olympics: Rio 2016.
European Championship: Boom (Belgium), 2013, Amstelveen 2017.
Hockey World League (2014-15)


It’s Netherlands vs Belgium final tonight

By Rutvick Mehta

Netherlands Netherlands players celebrate their win over Australia in the semifinal of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Saturday , AFP

Netherlands goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak saw the ball trickle between his legs and into the goal after being deflected by the body of his own teammate. After keeping the Australians at bay with multiple valiant blocks throughout the match, he let them in with 26 seconds on the clock.

“That was the moment when we were like, ‘Why? Why did we give them a chance’,” Blaak said.

Two-time defending champions Australia celebrated wildly at that chance, the deflated Dutch dropped their heads.

However, armed with a tactical piece of paper, Blaak gathered his composure as Netherlands beat the mighty Aussies 4-3 in the penalty shootouts after a heart-stopping regulation time 2-2 finish to enter the final of the Hockey Men’s World Cup here on Saturday.

Blaak denied the Aussies two times in the shootouts but so did his counterpart Andrew Charter. Jeroen Hertzberger put all the onus on the Aussies by converting his first shot in the sudden death, and Blaak seized the opportunity with a cool-as-a-cucumber save against a charging Daniel Beale to set up Holland’s title clash with Belgium on Sunday.

Walking into the high-pressure penalty shootouts, the 30-year-old Blaak carried a piece of paper that had in it an analysis of all Australian players’ preferred play in the shootouts over the last two years. But with Australia leading 2-1 after three shots, Blaak had enough of the theory.  

“I put the paper away and told myself, ‘follow your heart and do it’,” Blaak said.

“I prepared all the shootouts, wrote down all the preferences of their players. But after three shots, I threw it away because it was in my head too much,” he added.

Just like the Dutch were in the head of Australia at the start.If the three-time world champions had any aura of invincibility walking into the semifinal battle, the fourth-ranked Netherlands were quick to dismiss it, earning the first penalty corner (PC) of the game in just the fourth minute. They couldn’t capitalise on it, yet it sent out a statement.

Belgium maul England

Olympic silver medallist Belgium make their maiden appearance in the World Cup final, thrashing England 6-0 in the first semi-final on Saturday.Alexander Hendrickx (45th, 50th minutes) converted two penalty corners, while Tom Boon (8th), Simon Gougnard (19th), Cedric Charlier (42nd) and Sebastien Dockier (53rd) were the other goal scorers for World No 3 side.

Daily News & Analysis

MHC's Walsh slams critics


Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) technical director Terry Walsh slammed his critics who are demanding for his resignation following the national team’s failure to achieve their target at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India. (Bernama photo)

SEPANG: Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) technical director Terry Walsh slammed his critics who are demanding for his resignation following the national team’s failure to achieve their target at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India.

Instead, the Australian will continue with his job and focus on assisting the national coaches to build a solid team for next year’s Olympic qualifiers.

The 65-year-old said his critics are those who do not possess the coaching credentials in hockey

“I do not have a problem with my critics. They probably do not understand what we are really trying to do.

“It takes a long process to build a solid team,” said Walsh when met at the KLIA here on Sunday.

However, Walsh admitted that he was disappointed with the national team’s performance in Bhubaneswar.

The team earned only one point against Pakistan (1-1), and suffered defeats to the Netherlands (7-0) and Germany (5-3) to finish bottom of their group.

“The players did not perform to their best ability, so we failed to achieve good results,” said Walsh.

Several officials and former internationals want Walsh to resign as they feel he has not done much in uplifting the standard of the game in the country.

Meanwhile, national coach Roelant Oltmans is confident that his team will bounce back in next year’s Olympic qualifiers.

“The team lost their playing pattern after conceding the third goal against the Netherlands in their opening match. They were mentally affected and could not play well.

“However, the players performed better against Pakistan and Germany but could not recover (from the thrashing by the Dutch).

“We were unlucky not to score more than a goal against Pakistan. If we had won, we would have qualified for the playoffs and probably finish in the top-10 bracket.

“The next move is to take the experiences from the World Cup and work on them in training to prepare for next year,” said the Dutchman, who will scout for more players in the Malaysia Hockey League, which starts in January.

Oltmans needs to find new blood as some of the current ones in the national team are reaching their retirement age.

Malaysia will start next year’s international calendar with the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March, followed by the World Series, which is part of the Olympic qualifying process, the following month in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia will go against Austria, Canada, Italy, Wales, Vanuatu, China and Brazil in the world series.

The team must secure a top-two finish to advance to the final phase of the qualifiers — two playoff matches in October and November to confirm their berth to Tokyo.

New Straits Times

This ‘custodian’ defends England’s goal as well as its skies

By Rutvick Mehta

Liam Sanford Liam Sanford with his parents after receiving RAF sportsman of the year award in 2017 , Twitter

Liam Sanford sees a lot of similarities in the twin careers he combines: one in shielding the England citadel as defender of the national hockey team and the other in protecting the skies as part of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF).

The 22-year-old is the senior aircraftman at the RAF, a job he believes has been a big factor in his development as a hockey player, and vice-versa.

Sanford's role in the London-based RAF involves working in the air traffic control tower as a fly operation assistant, coordinating with pilots in ensuring their jets take off, fly around and land smoothly.Pretty much what he does on the hockey field, he says, yelling and receiving instructions to and fro his teammates in his quest to win every game for his country.

"At RAF, I basically do all the talking to the pilots, providing basic information that they need to take off, land and do what they have to do," Sanford tells DNA."Obviously it's different to the civic airports people usually know of, where they just land and take off. Here, we do the more fancy stuff," he says with a laugh.

"Being in the RAF is a lot like playing hockey, really," he says. "It's quite a stressful environment at times; it involves a lot of training, courses and tests to keep you up to date."But you have your colleagues around you to work efficiently as a team, which you have in hockey as well," he adds.

Sanford's dual career choices are both inspired by his father, who was in the British military and played hockey at the club level. His mother contributed to it too, gifting her two sons hockey sticks during Christmas."I used to live in Cyprus when I was young," Sanford recalls. "My dad was in the military, and he had his own hockey team. So, most of the times I would go with him and mess around with sticks and stuff.

"My mum used to buy me and my brother hockey sticks for Christmas. They then asked us if we'd like to play hockey for a club, and we were like, 'sure, why not?' I carried on while my brother stopped," he says with a tinge of pride in his voice.Growing up and seeing his father being able to juggle his military role and hockey effortlessly, Sanford knew he had to walk the same road.

After completing his B. Tech in sports science, Sanford underwent a 10-week basic training course to become a member of the air force before being assigned to his specific unit, which comprised a 12-week advanced course to qualify."I lived around that military environment all my life. I saw the benefits my dad got with his hockey with regards to time off. He didn't play at as high a standard as me but he still got the luxury to play a sport he loved," he says.

What also attracted him was the range of activities RAF encourages their force of men and women to experience."I've done caving, mountain biking and stuff like that I would've never even thought of doing," he says.

"I know a woman who plays hockey and is also captain of the ski team. It's just an incredible opportunity to explore the world in a different way," he says.

While doing all of that, Sanford also graduated steadily at the club level, his hockey board getting a spring after the 2016 Junior World Cup in India. He was drafted into the senior set-up last year, and that's when RAF took note of his talent.

They provided him a time period of four years through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to focus primarily on his hockey, making him a part of the Armed Services Elite Athlete scheme, where he is given leave to train alongside his military duties.

"Most people in the RAF know what I do, so they're good with it," says Sanford, who was awarded as the RAF sportsman of the year last year."If they see I'm exhausted after a tough week of hockey, they ask me to take it easy. But at times, they also tell me, 'No, we need to you'," he adds.

Sanford hopes he is able to focus on hockey even after the Tokyo Games, while also realising that it depends on two factors – his performance on the field and RAF's leeway off it."After four years, if they don't necessarily need me full time, there is the potential to extend the arrangement. It's all up to them. But hopefully, I won't have to work another day of my life," he says with a chuckle.


Full name: Liam Sanford
Born: March 14, 1996
Position: Defender
Teams: England, Reading Hockey Club, RAF


Besides this senior World Cup, Liam Sanford was also part of the England team that took part in the 2016 Junior World Cup in India

Daily News & Analysis

Rogier van 't Hek on crowd-surfing after Netherlands' 1998 title, the state of the game back home and more

Amit Kamath

Rogier van 't Hek in the media tribune during the Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar.

Rogier van 't Hek cannot help but chuckle as he remembers the hand-made banner that his friends left at the stadium of FC Utrecht during the 1998 Hockey World Cup.

'Hekkie in de basis' it read. Hekkie in the national team.

Van 't Hek didn't get a lot of game time at the tournament, but the national team, which had the likes of Stephan Veen and Teun de Nooijer, went on to lift the title.

"Before our first match against Canada, which was also the first game of the tournament, we walked on to the pitch like footballers. There was nobody in the stands, but I remember that banner my friends left in the stands. We all laughed about it later," says van 't Hek, who is currently in India covering the 2018 World Cup as a journalist for NRC Media.

It has been two decades since that momentous victory, yet some memories still swirl at the top of his mind.

"The thing I remember from that tournament was the party we had afterwards to celebrate our win. The stadium had some 15,000 people to watch the game, which was unprecedented for a hockey game at the time. We had a big tent next to the stadium itself to celebrate the victory. In fact, that was the first time that the players crowd-surfed after the win. Since then it has become a regular thing," he says.

Surprisingly, the Dutch didn't have a smooth journey to the title. They lost 1-5 to Germany in one of their first group games. This led to players like Jacques Brinkman and Ronald Jansen to lampoon the coach Roelant Oltmans and his tactics publicly in the media.

"Some players criticised the mentality of the team and our tactics right after the defeat to Germany. Roelant called a team meeting then to clear the air. He told all of us that we are a team so we need to pull together if we are to have any chance of winning the World Cup.

"That was the remarkable thing about that team. We were 16 players who were not friends but were united by the goal of becoming World Champions. So we still pulled together."

Other memories that stick out for him are the tomahawk goal that de Nooijer hit from the edge of the D on the left to the top-right corner and their win in the final over Spain.

"That was a great final. We were a goal down in the first half, and by the second we were trailing 0-2. There was a lot of tension building up," says van 't Hek, who has admitted in the past to having had the best seat in the house for that game.

"And that's when the players stood up! Veen scored to take us a goal close. And when we equalised and went to extra-time, everyone was sure we would win. It was primarily because the Spanish team had lost their best player (Juan) Escarre due to a hamstring injury. Sure, you can say we got lucky. But that's how sport is."

Probably, no one is better-placed to understand the vagaries of sport than van 't Hek. If he had played in the current team, he would have gotten significantly more game time due to the rolling substitutions rule, which was active even during the 1998 edition.

"But it was a new rule at the time. So not a lot of teams and coaches were very comfortable with the rule. So many teams only used it for drag-flicks. It used to be funny: a drag-flicker would go in when his team had earned a PC, he would score, celebrate while running back to be substituted!"

20 years since those heady days at Utrecht, the Dutch are still chasing a World Cup title.

Ask van 't Hek how the game has changed since his time, and he says: "The pace of the sport has become incredibly fast over the years. Even Roelant Oltmans (who coached the Netherlands to the title in 1998 and has since coached India, Pakistan and Malaysia) said that it had become a 'power sport'. It is all about fitness and it is all about running. Back in our days, it was a more technical sport.

"But, of course, if you have 18 players and you have the option of rotating them all the time with constant substitutions you could have also get that back in our days," he added.

Ask him why the Netherlands has not won the Hockey World Cup since 1998 and he says, "If I knew the answer, I would have been an administrator in the Netherlands federation."

Eventually, he says that while a lot of money came into clubs in the Netherlands since his playing days, the players were still training like amateurs until a few years ago while being paid as professionals.

"When I quit the sport, I was training three times a week with my club. A few years later, even when clubs in the Netherlands started paying much better, players were still training three times a week," he said.

He adds: "Back in those days, maybe there were five favourites to win any world title. Right now there are six. Besides if you look at teams like India, you see that they are training all year round. What also happened since 1998 was that Australia and Germany produced much better teams. They had a good generation of players."

And what about this current generation of Dutch players at the World Cup?

"I would say they are two generations: we have six players who are maybe over 30 while a few players are around 20. But both of those generations have a good bunch of players."

He adds that should Netherlands win, it would be a great boost for the grassroots game.

“Netherlands requires this victory has it might popularise the game in the men's side. The women's team right now is very popular in the country as they have been winning so much. More girls play the sport than boys in the Netherlands. Should the men's team win, that will change.”

Will there be a big celebration back home should Netherlands win the title?

"Not as big as back in our days. There will be a lot of people to receive us at (Amsterdam Airport) Schiphol and a lot of interest in the media," says van 't Hek, before adding, "but there won't be any crowd-surfing."


India coach Harendra Singh irks FIH for raising questions on umpiring

Harendra blamed poor umpiring for India’s defeat to Netherlands in the quarterfinals

Uthra Ganesan

Indian Hockey team coach Harendra Singh addressing the press conference ahead of their upcoming match in the Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 at Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar on December 07, 2018. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced some major decisions on Saturday but also made it clear that questioning its officials was not acceptable.

Umpiring has been a contentious issue here at the World Cup with India coach Harendra Singh openly saying his team was robbed of a “fighting chance” in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. But FIH CEO Thierry Weil was more than categorical that there would not even be a review.

“I think the beauty of sports is, you have a winner and a loser. The day you win, you are happy. The day you lose, you are sad. Even the Argentina team cried on the bench. When you lose, what you have to do? You have to look forward to play better and win next time,” Weil said.

“I would just recommend (that) and definitely say umpires have a tough job. It (questioning umpires) is not acceptable. We will not review anything, what we will review is complaints made against the umpires. That is not acceptable.”

It was perhaps just a coincidence that at exactly that time Harendra, accompanied by analytical coach Chris Ciriello, was having a meeting with the Umpires’ Manager to explain his angst and seek answers. Interestingly, even the likes of Ric Charlesworth and Jagbir Singh have questioned the umpiring standards and decisions here.

Accompanied by FIH president Narinder Batra, Weil even praised the umpires for ‘volunteering’ to officiate. “They go through the full process to qualify, they are trained and evaluated on the basis of their performance. But they are not 100% paid. We don't have the resources,” he said.

Batra was on board. “I have my strong views about this kind of behaviour. A sport has to be played in the right spirit. I am here till the 17th but when I go back to Delhi, I will give my view on this. You are being unfair to people on the ground, sometimes umpires themselves ask for referrals.

“Other games have also adopted (video referral). They are doing a thankless job. Be graceful whether you win or lose. Finding faults is very easy. You should rather appreciate and respect,” he said bluntly.

Among other decisions was making the Junior World Cup a biennial affair (without any clarity on the next edition), a reworking of the ranking system (still in process) and a new four-year international calendar.

The Hindu

FIH may take action against India coach Harendra Singh

By Rutvick Mehta

Harendra Singh Harendra Singh , AFP

Under-fire India coach Harendra Singh faced further heat on Saturday, with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Narendra Batra threatening to take action against Harendra next week for criticising the umpires after India's quarterfinals exit against Netherlands.

"I have my very strong views on this kind of misbehaviour. A sport has to be played in the right spirit," Batra said here on Saturday."After 17th, I will be in New Delhi and I intend to speak on the matter as NOC (National Olympic Committee) president," Batra, who is also the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), added.

A thick cloud of uncertainty is already hanging over Harendra's head after India's below-par show in this World Cup at home, and his comments saying the umpires "robbed" the team through questionable decisions will only intensify the darkness around him in regards to his future as India coach.

Harendra was also summoned by the FIH on Saturday for an official hearing into the matter.

"Be graceful whether you win or lose. Finding fault is very easy. You should rather appreciate and respect," Batra said.However, during his time as Hockey India president, Batra too had publicly slammed the umpires after India lost the 2014 Champions Trophy final in the shootout to Australia in London.

India had lodged an official protest against a shootout infringement, and Batra had this to say immediately after the game: "The umpires have failed. Is this the quality of umpires you post for the final of the Champions Trophy?"On Saturday, FIH CEO Thierry Weil also didn't take too kindly the comments made by Harendra.

"It (questioning umpires) is not acceptable by the FIH," Weil said."We will not review (umpiring in that match). What we will review is the comments made against the umpires. That is not acceptable. Once you lose, you have to be a good loser," he added.

Key decisions by FIH

The FIH had its executive board meeting in Bhubaneswar on Friday, and came up with four key decisions:

  •     Junior World Cup to be held every two years
        New, simplified ranking system that allows every country to collect points
        New international calendar to be built for the next four years, including all the FIH events
        Decision on how to conduct Hockey 5s by the end of February 2019

Daily News & Analysis

India striker Akashdeep Singh faces possible two-match suspension

Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 , Twitter

Striker Akashdeep Singh faces a possible two-match suspension for breaching Code of Conduct at the end of India's quarterfinal loss against the Netherlands in the ongoing hockey World Cup in Bhubneshwar.

According to a statement from the world body, the International Hockey Federation's technical delegate had recommended Akashdeep's case to FIH's disciplinary commissioner.

As per the recommendation, Akashdeep faces a possible two-match suspension at the next top FIH event.

The striker had allegedly "used foul language or gesture (s) that was seriously obscene and offensive or having a 'seriously insulting nature to another participant or any other third person at the conclusion of India's quarter-final against the Netherlands on Thursday".

In his decision, FIH technical delegate Christian Deckenbrock indicated that if India had still been in the competition, he would have suspended Akashdeep for the next two matches.

However, in accordance with tournament regulations, Deckenbrock decided to give written notice of his decision to FIH CEO Thierry Weil and to recommend him to refer the case to the FIH disciplinary commissioner.

"Furthermore, the delegate stated that he will recommend that a suspension should apply for the next FIH top-tier competition (including FIH Series Final) at which India will participate and that it should also be considered whether the number of players which India may use in these matches will be limited according to 5.1 of the FIH tournament regulations," the statement further added.

Daily News & Analysis

FIH: Junior World Cup to be held every two years

s2h Team

The FIH, in their executive board meeting held during the 14th World Cup, took some significant decisions. The Junior World Cup, CEO Thierry Weil said at a media conference would be held every two years now. The dates and venue for the next edition would be announced later this year, said the Frenchman. The last Junior World Cup was held in Lucknow, India, in 2016, when the hosts emerged champions beating Belgium in the final.

“The hosts, venue and dates would be announced along with those of the 15th World Cup in June next year,” Weil said.

“The bidding process would end in February 2019 and the dates of the World Cup would depend on which window fits into the calendar. One in July in 2022 and the other in January 2023 were open,” he added. And on the subject of the international calendar, the FIH CEO said that efforts are on to make fixtures and events clear and available well in advance to fans and media.

Further transparency would be worked out for the international rankings which Weil said would be simpler than the one in use now.

Regarding, the Pro League which kicks off in January, Weil said a title sponsor would come in the way of other global sponsors who are on board. It was decided, he stated, to run the league without a title sponsor. On the World Cup format and duration, Weil said: “The 14th World Cup in Bhubaneswar is of a 19-day duration and is generally thought of being too long. A shorter World Cup is envisaged in future although the number of teams would remain 16.”


The FIH CEO came down heavily on the India coach Harendra Singh’s comments on the umpiring after his team’s quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands on Thursday. Weil said that defeat should be taken gracefully and sportingly. He added that the umpiring decisions should be a accepted.

The Frenchman called for respect of the umpires who have a tough task. No umpiring decisions would be reviewed, according to the FIH CEO. However, Weil added, that comments on the umpiring would be reviewed.

Weil’s statements strongly suggest that Harendra is likely to face disciplinary action for his criticism of the umpires who he referred to as the 12th and 13th players in the post-match press conference. Meanwhile, Indian forward Akashdeep Singh is also likely to face a two match suspension for using obscene and language and gestures during the quarterfinal defeat to the Dutch.


Wisdom, finally, dawns on hockey’s governing body!

The Hockey Insider

The Indian hockey team will not play in the FIH Pro League. AFP

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Two years of futile search for title sponsors for the proposed global elite nations’ league has brought wisdom to the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The FIH events will henceforth not have any title sponsors. The decision to this effect was endorsed by the FIH Executive Board meeting on Friday in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha state that not only bailed the FIH out with title sponsorship for this World Cup, but laid out the red carpet for the entire world’s hockey fraternity appreciating the city’s involvement in the sport’s big moment.

The World Cup sponsorships were never a big problem for the host nations, or the international federation. Notwithstanding some nations that could bring in a host of sponsors for international tournaments, the FIH’s commercial teams were unable to break the vertical divide when it came to an international brand existing across five continents.

The FIH has failed to evoke even the semblance of interest from global enterprises to back its FIH Pro League, featuring nine nations among men and women in home-and-away games for the first six months of the year.

The composition of the nations picked for the event being spread across five continents, the absence of hockey’s commercial powerhouse India, the problems with Pakistan finding a “home” venue for their games and hockey’s fragile commercial structure in several of the participating nations spiked all efforts of the FIH to find a global sponsor for the FIH Pro League, which is to make its debut in 2019.

That the FIH Pro League is going to massively disrupt the domestic leagues in most of the participating nations has also not been good publicity and several local sponsors are quite unhappy with this intrusion into their existing contracts.

Going for local partners — who should be willing to back their own national teams in all home games, and some even for overseas games — the FIH is now having to work hard and go the extra mile. It is a hit-and-trial method with the professed aim of expanding the sponsors’ pool. Don’t be surprised if the FIH tweaks the commercial terms several times after the FIH Pro League gets underway.

For now, taking a leaf out of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) book, the FIH has decided not to have title sponsors for any tournament in future.

“We’ve decided not to sell a global title sponsorship any longer,” says FIH’s Chief Executive Thierry Weil. “We’ll sell partnerships, instead.”

At a single instance, it is an expression of authority that title sponsorship was not worth it and also the acceptance of the FIH marketing folks failing to sell the game’s attraction to global enterprises.

On the commercial success, or failure, of the FIH Pro League rests the future course of international hockey, all the eggs having been put in one basket and some of the traditional events being dumped — including the once-elite Champions Trophy.

The FIH’s other grand decision is that they will not have a global television partner, indicating that the ongoing contract of Star TV will come to an end after this World Cup.

Is this event also made out of necessity? Was there a television contract on offer at all, or was this decision too taken out of necessity!

The FIH will not answer this question, but has decided to go around the world to sign local television partners. It involves logging a lot of air miles and working up a sweat, something the game could benefit from if they are able to spread the sport’s reach to new territories. But for now, fans in even a few of the participant countries are continuing to find innovative ways to see the telecast.

Wanting to flex its muscles, the FIH also wants to underscore that it is the game’s governing body. Is that the dawn of a new era?

The FIH is seeking some sort of discipline among venues that bid for events and then continue dithering about the tournament schedule; thereby leaving the participating nations wondering. Eventually, the event gets staged on dates quite different from when they were actually scheduled.

With the FIH Pro League leaving little scope for any dithering on dates, the FIH Executive Board has decided that the four-year calendar will henceforth not be tampered with. It seems, some penalty clauses may be needed to be incorporated if the member associations bidding for tournaments are to be made to toe the FIH line on this.

By the way, the FIH CEO told a media conference on Saturday that the Executive Board had decided to stage the Junior World Cup every two years.

The last Junior World Cup having been played in 2016, when would the next edition be? “Err, let me come back to you on this,” added the Chief Executive.


THT aims to re-capture TNB Cup


KUALA LUMPUR: After winning the TNB Malaysia Hockey Premier League last season, Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) are determined to win more next season with a target to snatch the TNB Cup from Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).

Despite boasting a team of star studded players, including penalty corner specialist, Gonzalo Peillat from Argentina, THT failed to make an impact as they settled with only the league title.

Team manager Saberi Salleh wants his charges to win more trophies next season, especially the TNB Cup.

"We hope to win back the TNB Cup from UniKL next season. Based on previous records, THT were consecutive champions from 2014-16.

"We want to repeat that feat and regain our winning streak next season.

"A number of players have also indicated their commitment to the team. This include the Saari brothers, Faizal and Fitri along with our goalkeeper, Hafizuddin Othman.

“As for import players, we haven't finalised our list yet. We still have time until Dec 21 to finalise our squad," said Saberi on Saturday.

Meanwhile, just like THT, UniKL are also looking to win the league title.

UniKL team manager Saiful Azhar Afandi, however, wants his team to focus on retaining the TNB Cup.

"There is no denying that we want to win the league title. In fact, Arul Selvaraj will still remain as our chief coach. We will try to win as many trophies as possible next season, said Saiful.

The Premier League will begin with the Charity Shield between THT and UniKL on Jan 11 and is expected end on March 3.

New Straits Times

2018 Test Matches: ESP v CAN (W) - 3rd Test
Sevilla (ESP)

ESP v CAN     1 - 1

FIH Match Centre

Superb SPAR South Africa draw with International All-Stars

SPAR South Africa Indoor Hockey Ladies arrived at the Pro Series Indoor Nationals on the back of a superb 2018 that saw them win 13 of the 15 test matches they have played, without tasting defeat. They were expected to see that run end when they took on a star studded International All-Stars at UCT in the first of a four match exhibition series. They had other plans.

Although the matches do not have official test match status, Lennie Botha was keen for his team to continue the momentum built up over the year ahead of tours to Switzerland and Czech Republic in January. The meticulous coach, who recently achieved his 50th indoor hockey test victory in charge of SPAR South Africa, will be thrilled by what he saw in front of a capacity crowd at UCT Sports Hall.

Dutch striker Kiki van Wijk, a Kampong star and a driving force for Netherlands at the Indoor Hockey World Cup, opened the scoring for the International All-Stars but the SPAR South African ladies fought back immediately and after Alex Heerbaart twice denied Edith Molikoe she was helpless to stop a superb flowing move by South Africa that Tegan Fourie finished superbly.

Almost immediately there was a controversial penalty stroke awarded to the International All-Stars and 17-year-old Namibian Kiana Cormack, the top scorer at the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup, made certain from the spot. The International All-Stars had the momentum, but their sails were not just taken down they were torn apart when Cheree Greyvenstein pulled off a save that defied the inevitability of a goalbound effort and led to a goal for South Africa. It’s very difficult to describe the save here, but it was as good as the most sensational goals as Greyvenstein grabbed the ball from behind her, on the line, before creating a counter attack with the distribution. Kelly Reed, returning to the team for the first time since the victorious Croatia Cup was on the end of the equalizer after a superb combination with Cindy Hack and Lilian du Plessis.

The half-time break was welcome for both sides as the pace of the game had been fantastic and the crowd of approximately 2000 were treated to some scintillating hockey.

South Africa started the second half with the same intensity and relied on Greyvenstein for the few times the International All-Stars managed to get past. Greyvenstein was up to the task making three fantastic saves of differing quality to deny Janne Muller-Wieland, Alli Meeke and Kiana Cormack. She was helpless to stop Polish captain Marlena Rybacha who made it 3-2 from a penalty corner eight minutes into the second half.

Once again SPAR South Africa refused to accept that and surged forward with Kelly Reed netting a second with the quickest reaction after Heerbaart had denied Tegan Fourie. In the final five minutes the South Africans looked fitter and stronger and thought they had the game won with a last-minute goal that was disallowed and a final second penalty stroke that was overruled. The game ended 3-3 in a fantastic display of hockey and an exceptional advert for the game of indoor hockey.

The teams played out a shootout to decide the winner for the crowd which Alli Meeke settled with a superb finish, to win the showdowns. For the crowd gathered if this was the starter, the main course and dessert will be even better.

After the game International All-Stars skipper Janne Muller-Wieland shared her thoughts: “I knew there would be a good atmosphere, but it was almost like being at the World Cup final all over again. I thought the South Africans played well, it was a close game, but I think the hockey will be even better over the coming days! I can’t wait to get back on the court again!”

While South African hero Cheree Greyvenstein was extremely excited after the game: “It’s a dream come true playing for my country in front of a crowd like this, it’s something I dreamt about as a youngster and here I am doing it. I enjoyed my goal line save the most on the night, but mostly I am so proud of my team. We played incredibly well and I’m super excited for the rest of the series!”

Psi Exhibition Series – Game 1

South Africa 3 (Kelly Reed [2] & Tegan Fourie)
International All-Stars 3 (Kiki van Wijk, Marlena Rybacha & Kiana Cormack)

The remaining matches of the series all take place at UCT Sports Centre at 18:30 on the 15th, 18th and 19th December.

SA Hockey Association media release

International All-Stars produce flawless performance in victorious second match

The South African Womens team vs The All Star International Womens Team match held as part of the PSI 2018 Nationals matches played at UCT Sports Centre on 15th December 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa Photo - Andrew Swarts

An expectant crowd at UCT awaited the SPAR South Africa and PSI International All-Stars for the second match of the four-match series. The two sides had played out a scintillating opening fixture that ended 3-3 and set the scene for an exciting second match.

SPAR South Africa appeared buoyed by the crowd and the opening match performance. They started the game slightly better with Kelly Reed and Cindy Hack both firing wide after fantastic work to create some goal opportunities. South Africa looked to be turning the screw and then found themselves frustratingly trailing. Irelands Alli Meeke, who won a silver medal in the FIH Hockey World Cup, earlier this year finished off a half chance to give the International All-Stars the early lead.

South Africa surged forward quicker than teenagers for cell phone chargers, and Cindy Hack was denied by a super save by Alex Heerbaart to keep the lead. The second goal of the game looked like it would be a pivotal one and it eventually came when Marlena Rybacha made it 2-0 with an unstoppable penalty corner flick. The goal was a winding punch to the stomach and it got worse for South Africa when Lena Lindstroom celebrated her birthday with a field goal from the right-hand side

In the second half Rybacha would add her second before Kiana Cormack, the Namibian, scored the International All-Stars fifth goal of the match. The game lost its edge a bit in the last few minutes as both sides tried something different. South Africa pulled off their keeper, but even with the extra player could not break down the opposition defence.

Kiki van Wijk and Janne Muller-Wieland were once again superlative in their displays producing several interceptions, tackles and key passes throughout the match.

After the game birthday girl Lena Lindstroom shared her thoughts: “It feels amazing to get a goal on my birthday! Psi is unbelievable, I have never played in a set up like this and it is so much fun! Thank you for the support and all the cheers!”

South African captain Cindy Hack was full of praise for Pro Series Indoor.

“The atmosphere is absolutely incredible. The opportunities created for kids is amazing, I mean we have seven players in our team that have come through Psi. It shows the youngsters the importance of dreaming big and chasing those dreams. In terms of the hockey we are using this series to prepare for the tour to Switzerland and it’s imperative that we use it to work on our structures and plans so that we go and cause a few upsets in Europe!”

The South African Womens team vs The All Star International Womens Team match held as part of the PSI 2018 Nationals matches played at UCT Sports Centre on 15th December 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.  Photo by Shaun Roy

Psi Exhibition Series – Game 1
South Africa 0
International All-Stars 5 (Lena Lindstrom, Alli Meeke, Marlena Rybacha [2] & Kiana Cormack)

The remaining matches of the series all take place at UCT Sports Centre at 18:30 on the 18th and 19th December.

SA Hockey Association media release

Saturday Round-up: English Men's Jaffa Super 6s

There were goals galore at day one of the Jaffa Super 6s Men’s Premier Division at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, with both Hampstead and Westminster and Sevenoaks going unbeaten.

The London side top the table on goal difference following a 6-2 win over Surbiton followed by a whopping 10-0 win over Brooklands MU.

Kei Kaeppeler scored four on Saturday, while Anton Pohling added three and another four Hampstead & Westminster players scored twice each.

Sevenoaks are level on league points even though they didn’t find the net as many times. They overcame a 3-1 deficit at half time to win 5-3 against Team Bath Buccaneers, and then scraped a late winner in a 5-4 win over Holcombe in the day’s last match.

Holcombe’s Nick Bandurak is top of the scoring table with six goals, having scored in both their loss to Sevenoaks as well as a 5-2 win over Canterbury.

Surbiton bounced back from their loss to Hampstead and Westminster in emphatic style with a 10-5 victory over Wimbledon, while Canterbury were 6-2 winners over East Grinstead following their loss to Holcombe earlier in the day.

The day had begun with Brooklands MU winning 8-2 over Team Bath Buccaneers, while the day’s other match saw Wimbledon and East Grinstead battle out a 3-3 draw.

England Hockey Board Media release

Saturday Round- up: English Women's Jaffa Super 6s

East Grinstead and Slough are both unbeaten at the top of the early table after an action-packed day one of the Jaffa Super 6s Women’s Premier Division at the Phoenix Sport and Leisure Centre in Telford.

Sophie Bray scored four goals as East Grinstead made a great start to the tournament, scoring three in a 4-1 win over Canterbury before adding another as they beat Holcombe 5-1 in the final match of the day which saw Elsie Nix score twice.

Slough started their day with a 4-2 win over Beeston, and went on to beat Canterbury 5-3. Sarah Parkinson-Mills ended the day with three goals, while Mel Ball scored twice against Canterbury.

The day began with Leicester edging to a 3-2 win over Bowdon Hightown, but they were to lose out to Holcombe 4-2 later in the afternoon, while Bowdon Hightown returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Buckingham.

And in other action, Buckingham beat Clifton Robinsons 6-1 with Abbie Brant scoring twice, while Clifton Robinsons bounced back to winning ways to beat Beeston 3-2.

England Hockey Board Media release

Inverleith still in the driving seat of men’s indoor National League 1

Inverleith are still very much in the driving seat in Scottish indoor Men’s National League 1 with back-to-back victories over Dunfermline Carnegie and Dundee Wanderers, but both Western Wildcats and Grange have both moved up the table with unbeaten records in their three match session.

Inverleith opened with a comfortable 6-3 victory over newcomers Dunfermline Carnegie, but it was not so clear-cut at the interval with the score tied at 1-1. But the champions ran away with the second half with a flurry of goals for a 6-1 lead going into the closing minutes; David Ogden and Stephen Dick got two each while Craig Sinclair and Alex Wilson both scored.

Michael Ross had opened for Dunfermline and in the final three minutes Martin Daw and Sam Goldie notched consolations for the Fifers.

Inverleith`s second outing against Dundee Wanderers was a cracker, it was touch and go before the Edinburgh side emerged 5-4 winners in the end.

The first half was a close affair, Patrick Christie and Stephen Dick were on target for Inverleith while 16-year-old Cameron Bell pulled one back for Wanderers.

Inverleith seemed to have the contest won when they moved into a 4-2 lead, Christie and Dick were again among the goals while Fergus Sandison got Wanderers goal. Inverleith then succumbed to a flurry of cards and while they were reduced to five players for a total of eight minutes, Bell and Sandison took advantage to bring the contest level at 4-4.

But Wanderers failed to take advantage of Inverleith keeper`s spell in the sin bin, and ironically it was the champions who scored the winner through Ewen Mackie, and that is how it finished.

Grange added to Wanderers` woes with a 3-1 victory earlier in the day. Although neither side created too many clear-cut chances in the first half, Grange`s Alan Johnston did put his side ahead just before the interval.

In the second half Grange doubled their total with a strike by Clemens Rusnjak but Sandison brought the Taysiders back into the fray at 2-1. But the result was finally sealed with a last minute strike from Duncan Riddell to give Grange the points.

However, Grange let it slide a little in their second encounter with Dunfermline which ended in a 5-5 draw. Grange were on the verge of losing the contest when they entered the final minute 5-4 down, but a late counter by Hamish Imrie saved the day.

Grove Menzieshill were back on winning form in their first game with a comfortable 5-0 win over Clydesdale. The Taysiders were only a goal to the good at the interval, courtesy of a penalty corner conversion by Cameron Golden.

But the second half belonged to the former champions with further strikes by Ben Cromar, Albert Rowling, Golden again and finally Paul Martin.

It was a good day at the office for Grove Menzieshill as they followed up with an 11-2 win over Kelburne, the highlight was a Golden hat-trick.

Kelburne were again on the wrong end of a heave defeat, this time 12-1 to Western Wildcats. In the carnage there were hat-tricks for Rhury Smith, Fraser Moran and Hamish Galt.

Wildcats followed this with a 6-2 win over Clydesdale, Andrew McConnell got two while the others came from Joe McConnell, Adam McKenzie, Moran and Galt.

In the final two games of the day Wildcats and Grange slipped into second and third in the table, but with one more game played over Grove Menzieshill.

Wildcats were restricted to a 2-2 scoreline at the interval against Dunfermline, Hamish Galt and Joe McConnell scored for the Auchenhowie outfit while Michael Ross and Andrew Doyle replied for the Fifers.

Wildcats ran away with the contest in the second half, Galt put them 3-2 up and in the final three minutes Andrew McConnell and Fraser Moran clinched the three points.

Grange also finished the day on a high with a 9-5 victory over Clydesdale for their third defeat of the day. For the Edinburgh side Duncan Riddell scored a hat-trick and Callum Milne got two while there was a double for Clydesdale`s Chris McFadden.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Green Army & Shaw Win Big At RTE Sports Awards

The Green Army have won the coveted RTE Team of the Year award following a public vote and head coach Graham Shaw was announced as RTE Manager of the Year. The awards come as deserved recognition for the history-making silver medallists from the summer's World Cup in London. Ayeisha McFerran was nominated for the prestigious Sportsperson of the Year but narrowly missed out to World Rugby Player of the Year Jonny Sexton.

Speaking about the achievement, Shaw said "This is a huge moment for our sport. We've got a special group of people involved in the team who train really hard and work really hard for each other. This was our first World Cup and to show the level of composure and togetherness that the team did is something I'm very very proud of".

Irish Hockey Association media release

Irish women's hockey team crowned RTÉ Sport Team of the Year

The Ireland women's hockey team are named RTÉ Sport Team of the Year

The Irish women's hockey team have been named RTÉ Sport Team of the Year in a public vote.

Graham Shaw's team entered this year's World Cup finals in England, ranked the 15th highest of the 16 entrants.

Over the course of a dramatic fortnight, they captured the imagination of the nation, culminating in a tense semi-final meeting with Spain.

The Irish team held their nerve to beat Spain 3-2 in a penalty shootout, becoming the first senior Irish team to reach a World Cup final.

They were only the amateur team in the tournament and fell short against a world class Netherlands side in the final.

Forward Deirdre Duke recalled the buzz that built around the team as they progressed in the tournament, when speaking to RTÉ Sport earlier.

"It seemed to snowball a little bit. Once we played India in the second game, and after that, based on other results in our group, we qualified for our quarter-finals, was when it really got going for us.

"We didn't really realise what was going on at home, I think we still don't really realise. It's pretty special. It's strange for us because it's something we never experienced before, that kind of exposure and recognition."

The team received a heroes welcome when they returned on 6 August.

"When we came out the back door after the quarter-final and semi-final and there were almost 500 Irish supporters standing there singing Ole Ole. It was amazing to be a part of it."


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