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News for 02 January 2017

All the news for Monday 2 January 2017

National Hockey semis WAPDA face PIA as SSGC take on NBP

KARACHI: WAPDA qualified for the semi-finals of National Hockey Championships when they held SSGC to a draw at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore, on Sunday.

Army had to beat SNGPL with a six-goal margin and then see WAPDA losing to SSGC in the last encounter. The soldiers did their job magnificently, defeating SNGPL 7-1, but WAPDA achieved the minimum requirement to move to the last-four stage when they held SSGC to a 2-2 draw.

The first semi-final will be played between PIA and WAPDA and the second between SSGC and National Bank of Pakistan. The first begins at 11am on Tuesday (tomorrow) and the second at 2pm.

The second qualifier for the semi-finals from the Pool B was only determined when the final whistle of the last match, between WAPDA and SSGC, was blown.

In the first 15 minutes of the match between Army and SNGPL, there was no indicator of the events to come. Both the sides had phases of ascendancy and entered the opposition’s circle but there was no attempt on the goal.

The second quarter was electrifying. The first five minutes witnessed many attempts from both sides.

The last 10 minutes were completely dominated by the soldiers. On their first penalty corner, the ball remained in the circle for some time with a little ping pong. Eventually, promising forward Nauman netted it by flicking a risen ball.

Soon, a good attack saw a parallel pass near the goal line on circle’s left side availed by well-positioned Abbas.

Army made it 3-0 in the 29th minute. Yasir sprinted into the circle and his seemingly weak push surprisingly went in off a defender’s stick.

The young SNGPL, making their debut at the Nationals, rallied well in the third quarter. They had more goal-scoring opportunities though only one was availed. Dawood beautifully first timed a good ball into the circle.

With only two goals ahead, and 15 minutes left, Army’s hopes to keep the semi-final dream alive were fading.

Apart from Pakistan’s former captain M Imran and current national star M Rizwan Sr, Army too had a youthful team.

After an SGPL attempt rebounded off the pole, it was all Army domination. They repeatedly penetrated the opponents’ defence, especially from the right flank.

In the 50th minute, after a wonderful run along the right flank, the ball was back passed to Nauman, who had all the time to make it 4-1. The fifth goal was a mirror image of the previous. Nauman completed his hat-trick.

An excellent one-touch move found Jabbar slotting the ball into the goal from a close range.

Army required one more to achieve the objective. It came to the final minute. An excellent long ball from Rizwan Sr was well trapped on the left flank. An equally good feed-in was pushed into the cage by Jabbar again.

For WAPDA the minimum requirement was a draw. SSGC, already qualified, still went for a victory and it was a competitive match throughout.

WAPDA started in earnest and had the upper hand most of the first quarter; they made two good attempts on the goal apart from earning two penalty corners. But it finished 0-0.

They were one up in the 18th minute when diminutive Asad Bashir, unmarked at the top of the circle, scored after receiving an excellent flat backhander from the left.

SSGC made an instant comeback; not only equalising but going ahead within the next two minutes. Rizwan Ali’s inch-perfect long pass was shot into the net by under-18 international Naveed Alam in the flash of an eye. Rana Sohail sent in an excellent diagonal through ball from the left. Adeel, another promising under-18 international, was brought down by the advancing goalkeeper. The umpire had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty stroke spot. Abbas Haider sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. It was 2-1 in favour of SSGC.

But soon SSGC had a severe setback as their captain Olympian Adnan Maqsood had to leave the field after receiving a nasty injury to the nose.

WAPDA were now faster in their attacks but SSGC defended well. Their net minder Amjad Ali effected a couple of fine saves.

Looking for the much needed equaliser, WAPDA sent in veteran Waseem early in the second half.

They exerted sustained pressure with good moves.

After the fourth PC was dramatically deflected away by the line stopper, the leveller arrived off the next PC in the 43rd minute. Aleem Bilal’s stinger thundered against the top left of the net.

The absorbing battle continued in the last 15 minutes with both the sides going forward. SSGC had the only real opportunity. Their only PC of the day was well cleared by the line stopper. It ended 2-2, much to the relief of WAPDA.

The News International

Telkom Orange at ‘100 pc’ for African event


Telkom Orange hockey players celebrate after they retained their Kenya Hockey Union women's Premier league title after a 4-0 win against Amira Sailors at City Park Hockey Stadium on November 13, 2016. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Telkom Orange women’s hockey club coach Jos Openda has warned his charges against complacency as they bid to win an unprecedented ninth Africa Cup of Club Championship crown.

Orange, who are also record 19 times local league champions, are favourites to defend their crown when the continental showpiece gets underway on Saturday at the City Park Stadium.

“I think we are almost at 100 per cent and the players did not break for Christmas because we take this competition very serious and want to win it again,” Openda told Nation Sport after the team’s training session on Saturday evening.

Some 20 clubs from across the continent are expected to feature in the week-long tourney that will run till January 15.

Orange, who are training at the City Park Stadium, will represent the country in the women’s category alongside Sliders.

Butali Sugar Warriors and Kenya Police will do battle for the country in the men’s affair.

Openda is fully aware that pressure will be on the champions to maintain their winning ways and believes his team can handle the pressure.

“I am sure other clubs have prepared well on how to wrestle the title from us and we therefore also need to up our game if we are to retain the gong.”

Openda has snapped up defender Beatrice Wekesa from United States International University of Africa (USIU-A) in a bid to maintain a clean sheet. Wekesa will provides cover in defence with utility player Betsy Omalla ruled out of the competition.

Omalla left the country for the UK last July.

“Our defence in the 2016 season was not threatened as much but it’s one of the areas that we are working on besides our forward department,” noted the former national team head coach.

Orange beat Ghana Police 3-2 on post-match penalties in last year’s final at the Olympic Youth Development Centre Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia to win their eighth title, their fourth in a row.

National women’s team captain Tracy Karanja, who led the club to their 19th league title, will again lead out her teammates in the hunt for more glory. The team’s strength lies in its forward players led by veteran striker Jackline Mwangi, who has won five continental titles with the club.

Mwangi, who was top scorer at last year’s edition will be supported by internationals Audrey Omaido, Maureen Okumu and Maureen Okumu.

At the same time, Egyptian women’s club Sharkia are expected to arrive in the country on Monday.

Daily Nation

Nur Insafi bolster squad as theyeye return to top flight

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Nur Insafi are determined to get back into the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The Penang outfit last featured in the top flight in 2012.

To realise their target, Nur Insafi have recruited six Pakistanis for their Division One challenge this season.

Team manager S. Tata­chanamurthi believes they have a strong chance of gaining promotion.

“The three top Division One sides last season are now in the Premier Division, so we definitely have a good chance this time. I also have most of my players from last year’s Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) campaign.

“And they are more experienced now. On top of that, we have the full quota of six foreign players,” he said.

The six Pakistanis are Mazhar Abbas, Mohamed Billal Qadir, Shan Irshad, Abdul Asim Khan, Amir Shahzad and Mohamed Ateeq.

Nur Insafi also have four seasoned senior players – K. Keevan Raj, Nur Hrsikesa, Mohamed Haikal Mutalib and Mohamed Fahmi Nasir – to guide their youngsters.

“We’ve a good blend of seniors and juniors.

“With the right tactics, we can certainly go far,” said Tata­chanamurthi.

Nur Insafi’s first assignment is the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Knockout Trophy from Jan 6-10. They face Politeknik in the all-Division clash in the first round.

After the tournament, Nur Insafi will play their opening Division One match against Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) on Jan 19.

Besides Nur Insafi, Politeknik and MBPJ, the others competing in the eight-team Division One are RMAF Rajawali, Johor, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Police and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

The Star of Malaysia

South Korean-powered Politeknik eye Division One crown

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Politeknik Malaysia have set their sights on the Malaysia Hockey League’s (MHL) Division One title.

Despite not finishing higher than fourth in their four-year foray, Politeknik are confident they can do it this season following the signings of five South Korean players.

“The five South Koreans are attached to the Sultan Ibrahim Politeknik in Johor Baru. Now, we are extremely confident of our chances this year,” said team coordinator Mohamed Rafi.

“The five arrived on Friday to train with us. They are highly disciplined and it’s rubbing off on our players. I am pleased with this,” added Rafi, who is also the development centre chairman for hockey at Politeknik Malaysia.

The five South Koreans are Hwang Man-gi, Oh Seyong, Kim Hyeon-hong, Ha Jun-young and Choi Jin-young. Hyeon-hong was the South Korea skipper at the recent Junior World Cup in India. Seyoung, Man-gi and Jin-young were also members of the team who finished 14th in the 16-team tournament.

Politeknik also have two Malaysian Junior World Cuppers. But they allowed Mohamed Ashram Hamsani and Mohamed Firdaus Fauzi to play in the Premier Division.

“Ashram is with Universiti Kuala Lumpur while Firdaus will play for Maybank. Our long-term target is to produce good players through our development programme. We are proud when our players are signed up to represent other teams,” said Rafi.

Politeknik’s first test is the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Knockout Trophy on Jan 6. They face Nur Insafi in the first round.

“It is a good test for us. Nur Insafi also have foreign players. The match will give us an indication where we stand in the league,” said Rafi.

Besides Politeknik and Nur Insafi, the others in the eight-team Division One are RMAF Rajawali, Johor, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Police, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

Coached by Mohamed Najib Yaakub, Politeknik’s first match in the league is against Johor on Jan 19.

The Star of Malaysia

HIL experience helped us play better at the Junior World Cup: Gurjant Singh

Vineet Ramakrishnan

NEW DELHI: The India men's junior hockey team capped off a fantastic 2016 for Indian hockey with a World Cup triumph in December by beating Belgium 2-1. Going in to the tournament, India were not the outright favourites but they played an attacking brand of hockey that had much-fancied teams like Spain, Australia and Belgium reeling.

At the forefront of India's successful journey was the big-match player Gurjant Singh, who scored the first goal of the final against Belgium to hand India the lead in the eightth minute, which was arguably the goal of the tournament. He also scored an important goal during the semi-final against Australia. Talking exclusively to TOI Sports , Gurjant opened up on the team's successful journey, his wonder goal and his plans for 2017.

How did it feel winning the Junior World Cup, a feat that was last achieved by India back in 2001?

The feeling was that of our target being achieved. We were training for over two years for this and when we finally achieved it there was no better feeling than that. We got a result like this after a long time, and we are very happy. We played our natural game and we won with that. Our senior team did well in 2016; they got a medal in the Champions Trophy so the year was good for Indian hockey, and to cap it off like this was just perfect.

There were no goals from you in the league matches. Did you feel any pressure going in to the knock-outs?

In league matches and the quarter-final, I didn't get any goals but I had a feeling that my first goal would be in an important match and even our coach told me the same and that is exactly happened. We were trailing 0-1 against Australia and I scored the equaliser. It was a draw and we went on to win on penalties. In the final, we took the lead at the start and that boosted our confidence and after that we played really well to win the final.

People were saying lot of things, like I am not getting the goals etc but I was unfazed because my team was winning. Anyone can score but the team should win, and the team was winning so there was no pressure on me as such. And it really doesn't matter to me that I was playing a semi-final or final, every match is important for the team and I don't take any pressure. We train each day and train for these big matches.

Your goal against Belgium in the final was something special. You first controlled the long ball and then got the reverse flick to perfection from an acute angle. Tell us more about that goal.

That goal was not by chance, I can tell you that. I had trained for it. The back-hand shot was something that I practiced a lot. I was not good at it earlier but I put in a lot of hard work, and that has now become my shot. During the last league match (against South Africa) I got a reverse flick right and created a pass for our first goal of the match. Even in the quarters, I had a couple back-hand passes.

And in the final I was telling the guys that just give me the ball, I will score. I didn't think I would get a chance to score like that but I did and scored.

You have been playing with Harjeet Singh, your skipper at the World Cup, from the age group level. How has he been as a captain?

Everybody in the team understands their responsibilities and Harjeet as captain managed that really well. He was there in the camp for the Olympics with the senior team so whatever he observed there, learned there, he discussed with us and his bonding with each and every one of us is very good. Same is the case with our coach Harendra Singh as well.

So what has changed for you after this World Cup triumph?

After the tournament win, we are getting noticed a lot. Hockey is getting deserved attention, and that is what we want. Wherever we go, people recognise us. We are attending more felicitation functions.

After a stellar year, what are your plans for next year? Will this momentum help you in the Hockey India League while representing Dabang Mumbai?

Last year when I played for Dabang Mumbai we had the confidence of playing in front of such a good crowd as a unit. It was a fantastic experience for me and it also helped other players who were part of the league and I am sure that experience helped us perform better at the World Cup.

As junior players, featuring in the league really boosted our confidence. As you could see, the teams that we beat were good teams and no one really thought that we could beat them, but we did and that had to do with the experience we gained while paying the league, with and against international players.

What are your personal goals for the upcoming HIL?

I know that we will put in a better performance than last year, we played really good last year but the results didn't come our way. I will carry this momentum forward to the league and try to do better.

The Times of India

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