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News for 22 January 2017

All the news for Sunday 22 January 2017

Malaysia and Ireland qualify for Hockey World League Semi-Finals

Host nation and Green Army reach final at women’s HWL event in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia scored a sensational 2-1 win over higher-ranked Italy in a sudden-death shoot-out to join Ireland, winners against Wales, in qualifying for the World League Semi-Finals at the women’s HWL Round 2 event in Kuala Lumpur.

On Semi-Finals day in front of nearly 2000 fans at the Tun Razak Stadium, K. Dharmaraj’s Malaysia (Hero FIH World Ranking: 21) twice fought back from a goal down to hold the 15th ranked Italians to a 2-2 draw in regulation time while Ireland downed Wales 2-0 in the first of the final four contests.

The results mean that both Malaysia and Ireland have qualified for this summer’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals competitions in Belgium and South Africa, where tickets to the women's Hockey World Cup 2018 in London are on the table.  

“For the last year these players have been training very hard," said Dharmaraj in the post-match press conference. "Our training programme starts at 5am and they train twice a day. Today is the result of the hard work and they deserve to be in the World League Semi-Finals.”

He continued: “When we went into the shoot-out I was still confident we will make it. My heart was pounding faster than usual and when Fatin (Shafika) stepped up in the sudden-death after the Italian player missed, I said to myself ‘we are through’.”

The Malaysian women have never qualified for the World Cup and the women's Hockey World League Round 2 event is Dharmaraj’s first major assignment as Head Coach since taking over the position in January 2016.

Ireland’s Green Army and Malaysia’s Tigress will meet in the final of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 tomorrow (22 January) while Italy and Wales will battle for third placing.

All of the goals in the Italy versus Malaysia contest came ahead of half time. Midfielder Maria Garraffo fired the Italians ahead in the 10th minute from open play but this was quickly cancelled by Fazilla Sylvester Silin three minutes later from a penalty corner.

The Italians, undaunted by the equaliser, continued with a barrage of counter attacks at the start of the second quarter and were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 18th minute. Agata Wybieralska made no mistake to give the Italians a 2-1 advantage, but once again Malaysia’s Tigress produced a great fight-back with a Hanis Nadiah Onn field goal four minutes before the end of the first half to draw level.

The second half saw the Malaysians and Italians having a fair share of ball possession and goal opportunities but with no change to the scoreboard - pushing the game into a shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya was the toast of the Tigress as she kept the Italians at bay in the first round of shoot-outs which saw finished with the teams locked at 1-1 after five attempts each. Italy’s Dalila Mirabella and Fatin Sukri were the only successful Italian and Malaysian players.

However, Valentina Braconi missed the first shoot-out in sudden-death before Fatin Shafika Md Shukri stepped up to gave all Malaysians a night to celebrate.

Two goals in two minutes gave Ireland a 2-0 victory over Wales to advance into Sunday’s final. Ireland’s Yvonne O’Byrne broke the deadlock in the 27th minute with a penalty corner goal before Anna O’Flanagan doubled the lead from open play a minute later. O’Flanagan has been in sparking form in Kuala Lumpur, having found the net 11 times to sit comfortably at the top of the scorer’s charts.

The second half saw both sides creating chances but Ireland held the advantage with possession. Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran made a strong save in the final few minutes of the third quarter to keep the marauding Wales forwards at bay and keep a third successive clean sheet in Kuala Lumpur.

Report provided by the Malaysia Hockey Confederation

Results – Semi-Finals

Ireland 2, Wales 0.
Italy 2, Malaysia 2 (Malaysia win 1-2 after shoot-out).

Sunday (22 January, 2017)

7-8: Hong Kong v Kazakhstan (1345 local time)
5-6: Thailand v Singapore (1600)
3-4: Wales v Italy (1815)
1-2: Malaysia v Italy (2030)

FIH site

Rejuvenated Singapore upset Kazakhstan at women's HWL Round 2

Thailand beat Hong Kong to set up 5-6 meeting with Singapore in Kuala Lumpur

Thailand and Singapore will go head-to-head in the play-off for 5-6th placing on Sunday in the women Hockey World League Round 2 competition being played at Kuala Lumpur’s Tun Razak Stadium in Malaysia.

The Thais, placed 31st in the Hero FIH World Rankings, defeated Hong Kong (WR: 37) 3-0 whilst world number 43 Singapore triumphed 4-1 over Kazakhstan (WR: 33) in the 5-8th classification matches on Friday (20 January).

It was Singapore’s maiden victory in the tournament after finishing bottom of Pool A. They lost to Thailand (0-4), Wales (0-7) and Italy (0-9) in the preliminary round before suffering a 10-0 defeat at the hands of Ireland in the Quarter-Finals.

Tiffany Ong scored a double (29th and 33rd minutes) for Singapore while Ong Yan Ting (3rd) and Toh Li Man (9th) added to Kazakhstan’s misery. Algerim Mahanova replied for Kazakhstan in the 55th minute via a field goal.

The Thailand versus Hong Kong match was hotly contested in the early stages before the Thais took the lead thanks to a penalty corner from Praphatson Khuilang, who netted her second goal of the tournament.

Thailand upped the ante after half time and increased the advantage to 3-0 with goals from team captain Tikhamporn Sakunpithak in the 37th minute via open play and Kornkanok Sanpoung five minutes from time.

“We went in with high hopes of winning this match”, said Tikamporn Sakunpithak after the match. “Our defeat against Malaysia in the Quarter-Finals inspired all the players to go out there and make amends. Now we aim to at least finish fifth in the tournament.”

Hong Kong captain, Lo I Ka, said the tournament has been a good learning exposure for the younger players in the squad who will form the backbone of the Hong Kong team in future.“There are a lot of positives here for the team. We don’t really look at the results as we have had a good share of our opportunities to score but squandered. It has been a good balance of attacking and defending in all matches.”

The action returns on Saturday (21 January, 2017) with the Semi-Finals matches involving Ireland-Wales and Malaysia-Italy. The top two teams will qualify for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals phase, where tickets to the Hockey World Cup 2018 are on the table.

Report provided by the Malaysia Hockey Confederation

5-8th Classification matches: Thailand 3, Hong Kong 0; Singapore 4, Kazakhstan 1.

FIH site

Green Army Earn Spot In Finals And World League 3

2 goals in 2 minutes proved enough for the Green Army to not only book their place in the World League 2 finals but also that coveted spot at World League 3 with head coach Graham Shaw saying “We’re delighted to have qualified for World League 3 and are really looking forward to a busy summer ahead”. 

Wales didn’t allow the Irish backline to sit as high up the pitch distributing the ball at will as they had done throughout the tournament so far but that didn’t prevent Katie Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan from charging into the circle. It looked as if Mullan was going to open the scoring in the 19th minute but her reverse strike pinged off the post. O’Flanagan was again causing the Welsh defence trouble and Rose Thomas was called on to make several great saves. The deadlock was broken in the 27th minute from a penalty corner converted by Yvonne O’Byrne. True to form, O’Flanagan doubled the lead just 1 minute later as she bolted down the right wing and into the circle, drawing Thomas into no-man’s-land before scoring on the reverse. The game suddenly had a different look to it as the Green Army went into half time with a 2 goal lead.

The second half saw both sides creating chances but Ireland held the advantage with 60% of possession. Penalty corners for each team saw them exchange shots that whizzed wide past the post. Ayeisha McFerran made a strong save in the final few minutes of the third quarter to keep her clean sheet and the 2-0 cushion intact. Thomas was again forced to make a great save in the Welsh goal but as the clock ticked down Ireland rarely left the Welsh half and secured the 2-0 victory.

After the final whistle head coach Graham Shaw said “Wales played as well as expected. We scored two very good goals and limited their goal scoring opportunities throughout the whole game. We’re really looking forward to taking on Malaysia in the final. It will be an incredible atmosphere and something we can only learn from. It’s a fantastic opportunity to test how we deal with the noise from the home crowd”.

The Green Army will face Malaysia in tomorrow’s final (12:30pm Irish time). Malaysia, despite their ranking of 21, should not be underestimated given they beat higher ranked Italy to secure their place in the final as well as recently beating world number 5 New Zealand.

Ireland 2 (O’Byrne, O’Flanagan)
Wales 0

Squad: McFerran, Sargent, Evans, Mullan (Captain), McCay, Watkins, Colvin, Daly, O’Byrne, O’Flanagan, Wilson

Subs: Cassin, Matthews, Tice, Carroll, Pinder, Upton, Barry

Irish Hockey Association media release

Malaysia make World League Semi-finals in dramatic style

by Aftar Singh

Pure joy: The Malaysian players celebrate after scoring against Italy at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday. — AR T CHEN/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian women’s hockey team created history by qualifying for their first-ever World League Semi-finals.

And what a way to do it as they stunned favourites and world No. 15 Italy 1-0 in a sudden-death penalty shootout after both the teams failed to break the 2-2 deadlock in regulation time in the semi-finals.

Malaysia, who are ranked 21st in the world, will face world No. 16 Ireland in the final today at the Tun Razak Stadium at 8.30pm. Ireland beat Wales 2-0 in the other semis.

K. Dharmaraj’s girls showed that they are no pushovers as they twice came back from a goal down to hold the physically bigger Italians.

Italy took the lead through Maria Garraffo in the 10th minute but three minutes later, Malaysia equalised through Fazilla Silin off a penalty corner.

The Italians regained the lead off a penalty corner converted by Agata Wybieralska in the 18th minute.

But the hosts fought for every ball to cancel the Italians’ lead with a close-range goal by Hanis Onn in the 26th minute. The match then went to penalty shootout.

The first five mandatory shootout ended 1-1 with Dalila Mirabella converting for Italy while Fatin Sukri scored for Malaysia.

In the sudden-death, Marcela Casale failed to convert while Fatin Sukri netted for the historic win.

Dharmaraj praised his girls for their never-say-die attitude.

“My girls played their hearts out. I knew that God is with us and I believe that we can beat them in the penalty shootout,” said Dharmaraj.

“We worked hard for this tournament. I’m glad that we qualified for the final and also advanced into the World League Semi-finals.”

The Star of Malaysia

Bobbs and Russell get goals against China

The South African women's hockey team will wonder what might have been after Saturday’s 2-3 lost in the Summer Series against China.

The Summer Series is held in Cape Town and all the matches will be played at Hartleyvale.

Although China is better off, according to the world ranking - China is eighth against South Africa's 13th place - the home team can only blame themselves for the defeat. They will wonder why they battled so much with their passing and why they gave China's dangerous striker Bingfeng Gu a gap the size of a garage door to get China's third goal.

Quanita Bobbs levelled the game with a goal just before halftime after Gu gave China the lead in the first chukka. With the start of the fourth quarter China was leading 3-1. Shelley Russell got a goal after good play from a penalty-corner. In the last five minutes, South Africa really tried to level the score.

According to Bobbs it was one of the windiest days she ever experienced on the hockey field. "It felt like you running with a parachute at your back! However, this is something we cannot control so we can’t let it affect us too much. It did make matters more difficult though. In the first quarter we allowed China to dominate play, but came back with some good play in the second."

Talking about her goal Bobbs said with a big smile: "It's been so long since I scored a goal for my country, that it felt like my first goal again! I was very surprised and happy when the ball hit the back of the goal-box. The timing of the goal was very important. It levelled the score and gave the team confidence at an important stage of the game."

Tomorrow the women teams of China and Chile will face off at 16:00, with the South African men coming up against the third best team in the world, Holland at 18:00. Dutch coach Max Caldas and his men finished fourth at the Rio Olympic Games and played in the final of the previous World Cup.

There will be no games on Monday and Tuesday, but the action continues on Wednesday with a double dose of games with SA’s women against China at 18:00 and the second meeting between the men of South Africa and Holland at 20:00.

SA Hockey Association media release

Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and Russia are through to the semi-finals

Russia v Italy (Frank Uijlenbroek (c))

4 more competitive games this morning in Vienna as 7 of the 8 teams still had a chance to make the semi-finals! First up was a competitive game Russia v Italy, Russia taking the honours there. Next up Czech Republic v Turkey, they needed at least a draw to be sure of a semi-final slot, but the win in fact put them top of Pool A with 7 points. It was then time for Pool B to take to the court and this pool was even tighter than Pool A. Switzerland and Belarus prevailed to take the 2 remaining slots in the semi-finals.

Upcoming games this afternoon will be LIVE STREAMED here.

Pool C 16:00  TUR – AUT
Pool C 17:10 ITA – POL
Semi Final 1 18:30 CZE – SUI –
Semi Final 2 20:00 BLR – RUS

Match 9: Russia v Italy 5-3 (2-1) 

An explosive start to the day as Russia and Italy took to the pitch! A three pronged attack from Russia saw Alina KHALIMOVA  with a full dive to reach the ball and open the scoring! Italy answered quickly with a goal from open play. Russia went ahead again, a shot from close range from captain Alina KHALIMOVA again. The score remained 2-1 at the break.

An incredibly tight second half ensured with Italy levelling the score again, Elettra Bormida (her second of the game). Two quick goals from Russia and the scoreline of 4-2 was getting away from Italy. With 5 minutes to play and a must win game, Italy opted for a power play. The team worked incredibly hard and were rewarded with a goal 4-3.  A baseline flick on the run from Alina GORYACHEVA all but sealed the victory for Russia as there was nothing the defence could do with no goal keeper. 5-3.

Speaking to Russia’s manager Mikhail SNEGIREV post game he said they were “very happy to be in the semi-final. They would wait with interest on their opposition. About his captain Alina KHALIMOVA “We are delighted with her and her performance. But really it is all about the team and working together.” The girls will now take some rest and work on their tactics for this afternoon, but to sum up their tactics in a word he said that “attack” is their main aim. They know that they have enough firepower up front to win games.

Watch the Highlights here:


Match 10: Czech Republic v Turkey 5-4 (3-2) 

Czech and Turkey played out another incredibly important and hard fought game. Turkey went ahead twice without reply from Czech, but Czech patiently worked themselves back into the game scoring twice to level the scores. The dominance changed in the game as Czech calmly settled into the game and went ahead as Natálie NOVÁKOVÁ was determined to get past the Turkish keeper and after several efforts flicked the ball from an impossible angle beating the keeper and defence. The score remained 3-2 at the half.

A more measured approach in the second half . Turkey earned a corner in the 23rd minute which was expertly padded away by the Czech keeper. A nice build up as Czech switched the play from right to left leaving  Lucie SANKOVÁ  with an easy strike as the GK was fully committed. Czech led 4-2 and looked more comfortable on the ball. Turkey had chances to change the scoreline and did indeed bring the game back to 4-3 as captain Fatma Songül GÜLTEKIN  pounced on a rebound save. A wonderful reverse flick from SANKOVÁ extended the Czech’s lead. Once again captain Fatma Songül GÜLTEKIN  stuck home from a PC strike to score her hat-trick and bring the score back to a one goal deficit. 5-4. And that’s how the score remained.

Watch the Highlights here:


Match 11: Poland v Switzerland (0-2) 

A both teams needed a win to guarantee their place in the semi-final it was a cautious start to the game. Both teams happy to hold possession and outlet from the defence, looking for the gaps. Switzerland were first to find the gap and a 3 pass goal from their D to find Sofie STOMPS free on the right and her strike hit the backboard and delighted the Swiss support here in Vienna. A second chance fell to Switzerland who were awarded a pc just before the half, but the Polish keeper was quick off her line and fully committed to stop the strike from Switzerland. Moments before the half Switzerland went ahead again via the talented and dynamic Léonor BERLIE, who twisted and turned her marker to make herself free from the strike, again from the right side. The score was 0-2 at the half and a mountain to climb for Poland. A power-play for Russia in the last 10 minutes produced a goal to bring the score back to 1-2. In a fantastic finish, where both teams threw everything at the game, with incredible discipline, the score ended 1-2. Swiss Coach Mathias SCHAEBEN said “I am so proud of my girls, we hoped to make the semi-final and avoid the relegation

Watch the Highlights here:


Match 12: Belarus v Austria 6 – 1 (3 – 1)

Nothing less than a win would be good enough for hosts to get through to the semi-finals, but a very determined Belarus would be the force to stop them!

Belarus set out their stall early in the game with 3 quick goals early on, Austria did claw one back immediately after the second goal, bringing the score to a reachable 3-1.

However they were forced to soak up endless attacks from a better Belarus side, who were stronger. A power-play in the last 1/4 but to no avail as Belarus pushed hard and scored 3 more to seal the win and a place in the semi-final.


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EuroHockey media release

Czech Republic will face Belarus in the EuroHockey Indoor Junior Championship Final

Photograph: Belarus celebrate their historic win! (Frank Uijlenbroek (c))   

21st January 2017: A mixed afternoon of highs and lows as we entered the ‘business end of the competition. One team will face automatic relegation from here in Vienna for 2019, so the Pool C is now a battle to survive in this division. First up was Turkey v hosts Austria and Austria found their form in this game with a 3-1 win over Turkey. Poland also secured their place in the division with a win over  a tired Italian team, 3-0. Czech Republic lined out against Switzerland in the first semi-final and had a comprehensive win over a tired Swiss side. In the final game of the day Belarus v Russia in which Belarus dominated and well earned their place v Czech in the Final tomorrow.

Round up:

Match 13: Turkey v Austria 1-3  (1-1) 

Turkey opened the scoring via a solo run from Meryem OYMAK, who ran the length of the pitch and beat the keeper in a one on one! Austria replied via a direct pc strike from Johanna BUCHLEITNER. And so it remained at the half. In the second half both teams worked hard to find the winner and to be sure to remain in this division in 2019. A pretty feisty affair with a number of cards being shown, in the end Austria played the better hockey and were rewarded with a goal in the 25th minute via a well worked corner as  Marta LAGINJA was slipped the ball and was on target. Turkey were frustrated in the closing minutes of the game, the went for a power play but conceded a further goal. Final score 1-3.

Watch back on our Live Stream

Match 14: Italy v Poland 0-3 (0-1) 

A tired start to the game from both teams as at lot of energy had been expended in their earlier games. Poland were happy to outlet from the back and hold onto possession. Paulina REDER scored in the 19th minute for Poland to give them the lead going into the break.

Again Poland were happy to be patient and wait for a break, whilst Italy worked hard to find a gap in the Polish defence. Poland’s second was scored into an open net, as Italy had resorted to a power-play to find the equaliser. Straight from the restart, Skoraszewska put the game beyond doubt in favour of Poland. Final score 0-3.

Watch back on our Live Stream

Match 15: Semi-Final 1 – Czech Republic v Switzerland (1-0) 3-0 

A cagey start to our first semi-final here in Vienna. A beautiful combination between Lucie SANKOVÁ and the scorer Michaela KUČEROVÁ put Poland ahead in the 15th minute. Score remained 1-0 at the break. 2 fantastic, identical drag flicks from Nikol BABICKÁ put Czech 3 ahead early in the second half and Switzerland, who had a tough game earlier to get to the semi-final, looked down and out of the game. Czech had the chance to seal the game with a penalty stroke but it was missed by Kolarova, the score leading into the last 2 minutes remained 3-0. Switzerland opted for the power-play to claw back the score, but Czech’s no.10 Adéla KOŽÍŠKOVÁ was particularly excellent in the sweeper position. A delighted Team Czech took no time in celebrating their 3rd ever EuroHockey Indoor Junior Final!

Speaking to the Czech captain after the game Veronika NOVAKOVA she said “For us it is most important to be in the final and to win a medal!” We reminded her about their silver medal 4 years ago, she said “Yes I remember I was there and I was so young! Now I am the oldest in the team.” She added that she just loves indoor hockey. Speaking about her team she was full of praise “They are so young, I am so very happy that they are not afraid to try new things. For sure they will be a very good team in 2 years time.”

Watch back on our Live Stream

Match 16: Semi-Final 2 – Belarus v Russia 

The second semi-final started in a very lively fashion with Belarus catching the Russian’s off guard as Raiskaya scored from play in the first minute. They doubled their lead via captain FILIPOVICH after a cheeky steal by SURIANINOVA  who laid it off for FlIPOVICH to score. She was on the scoreboard again in the 17th minute with a rocket from a corner. Russia scored on the break via Sartakova just before the break. But Belarus weren’t done yet! and almost on the halftime hooter they scored another excellent pc, this tim via BELAVUSAVA. 4-1 at halftime.

A patient start to the second half as both teams settled into the pace of the game and defended well. Tsaborova scores early in the 2nd half to put Belarus four goals ahead, an attack this time from the left side of the D. Russia, never giving up hope scored again via Sartakova, but Belarus dominated the second and scoring at will it seemed were 7-2 up with 10 minutes still remaining. The final score of 11-2 was a fair result for a very dominant team.

Watch back on our Live Stream

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EuroHockey media release

HIL 2017: Thrilling 3 3 draw for Dabang Mumbai over Ranchi Rays

s2h team

One would not have asked for a better opening encounter for the Hockey India league. After a barren half, visitors Ranchi Rays were sitting pretty with 3-1 score in their favour till just 47 seconds left in the clock. Then came the last of six penalty corners the hosts Dababg Mumbai have got. Dabang Mumbai took the risk of making it a field goal effort, and the way it fructified made the opening match a memorable one.

Field goal is counted as two in the HIL while penalty corner and stroke goals is counted as one.

Therefore, Jay Stacy's Dabang Mumbai went for the field goal, hoping for a draw when they got a last gasp PC opportunity, and it worked.

Nikkin Thimmaiah bounced on to a slow rebound of Ranchi Rays' goalie Lovell in the penalty corner drill, which was converted into a field attempt by the clever team, pushing the ball outside D. This electric moments of which Nikkin is the architect robbed the visitors of of a clear win, instead had to satisfy with 3-3 draw.

The penalty corner that came just 47 seconds left in the clock after the hosts applied for referral. The same referral came into play after Nikkin's feat, but it did not stand.

Till the PC turned field goal scenario, Ranchi Rays were leading 3-1 with a field goal which got two goals and a stroke goal through Christopher Ruhr in the 39th minute.

But Nikkin's fox like goal changed the course.

Nikkin was fittingly declared Man of the Match, while the forehand, 30th minute goal of Simranjit Singh that gave the visitor's a sensational start (2-0) got the Thrilling Goal award (Rs.50k)

First half of the first match of the season Five of Hockey India League saw no goals despite both Dabang Mumbai and Ranchi Rays creating amble chances.

Dabang Mumbai fought hard to ward off the lone penalty corner that the first half witnessed, with Trent Mitton pushing the pushed ball to the acute right side of the cage, leaving David Harte to extend his left leg and clear.

Just three minutes before the half time, Manpreet Jr, Lucknow goldie, got a green. Moments later Ranchi Rays' Manpreet Singh was seriously tripped when he was speeding with the ball in the midfield, leading to another Dabang Mumbai player getting still sterner Yellow card.

However the hosts played safe the change side without any danger.

On change, set up by Christopher Ruhr, substitute Simranjit Singh whacked a backhand to see the ball crashing in to the far corner of the net, bemusing Harte, the world's best goalie.

Christpher Ruhr again helped his team increase the lead with a clever placing of stroke ball to the other corner (3-0). The stroke was awarded when Chris Ruhr's push near goal hit a defender on the goaline in the penalty corner drill.

Meanwhile Harmanpreet Singh, who missed out the first PC, converted now off the second to narrow down the lead to 3-1. What happened thereafter is history.


THRILLING GOAL Rs.50K: Simranjeet Singh
MAN OF THE MATCH Rs.50K: Nikkin Thimmaiah


Thimmaiah rescues Dabang Mumbai

Nandakumar Marar

Action-packed: Dabang Mumbai’s Affan Yousuf (left) and Ranchi Rays’s Timothy Deavin battle it out. 

Nikkin Thimmaiah pulled Dabang Mumbai back from the brink of defeat to an honourable 3-3 draw against Ranchi Rays in the Coal India Hockey India League 2017 opener. The Indian striker applied the finishing touch to a deliberate indirect penalty-corner conversion (worth two goals) in the 59th minute. The home team trailed 1-3 till that point at the Mahindra stadium.

Christopher Ruhr was the stand-out performer for the visitors, justifying being the costliest foreigner in the league at $75,000. He floated all over the rival half, and set up a field goal for Rays with a stinging carpet drive to Simranjit. The latter responded with a neat trap and reverse hit. Ruhr later converted a stroke. Three out of four goals came in the third quarter.

Eventually, the rule awarding two goals for a field attempt, aimed at entertaining fans and giving opportunity to players in front of the goalmouth to showcase stick skills or power in their wrists, determined the outcome of the match.

Two video referrals were taken in the last minute.

Dabang’s move to question the umpire decision proved fruitful, resulting in the fifth penalty corner and the equaliser off a pass from Harmanpreet Singh.

Ruhr was kept under constant watch by the home team in the first quarter. Rays went for the direct route in the first penalty corner, Mitton’s drag was blocked by the Dabang custodian. Tryon shuttled between marking and distribution duties smoothly on the right. Manpreet got a yellow for a reckless tackle as the score remained goalless at half-time.

Ruhr turned creator on the right, spotting teammate Simranjit lurking near the centre just beyond the D. The latter trapped a powerful hit first-time and sounded the boards with the reverse hit. Harte, under the bar, was beaten by the time he shifted position and dived to block. Dabang replied with a drag-flick conversion by Harmanpreet Singh eight minutes later.

Rays’ second goal came via a penalty stroke. A Dabang defender failed to get his foot out of the way from a Sumit deflection. Ruhr stepped forward and beat Harte from the penalty spot with a firm push to the left post. Dabang forced two penalty corners in the action-packed third quarter, but did not make headway.

The score: Dabang Mumbai 3 (Harmanpreet Singh 37 PC, Nikkin Thimmaiah 59 FG) drew with Ranchi Rays 3 (Simranjit Singh 31 FG, Christopher Ruhr 38 PS).

The Hindu

HIL 5: Mumbai, Ranchi play out thrilling 3-3 draw

Dhananjay Roy

MUMBAI: Gearing up for their opening HIL 5 encounter against former champions Ranchi Rays at the MHA Stadium on Saturday evening, Dabang Mumbai were intent upon rectifying an anomaly that has dogged them over the past four editions. They had never won the opening game of the competition at home, and it was high time they made amends.

That, however, has to wait till the next edition of the tournament, but the hosts returned satisfied with a thrilling 3-3 result -the equaliser coming with only 43 seconds remaining on the clock. Trailing 3-1, Mumbai successfully appealed for a short corner through video referral. They needed to convert this opportunity through an indirect conversion, and remarkably they achieved it with striker Nikkin Thimmaiah scoring off a cross by Harmanpreet Singh.

Earlier, the Rays shot into the lead in the 31st minute when striker Simranjeet Singh trapped a brilliant cross from Christopher Ruhr on the right flank and then drilled the ball past goalkeeper David Harte. Importantly, Ranchi were awarded two points for the conversion as field goals have greater weight in the HIL.

Lancers open against Waveriders

BHUBANESWAR: Kalinga Lancers are all set to face Delhi Waveriders at Kalinga Stadium on Sunday in their opening match. The guests practised on the main turf for more than an hour on Saturday. "Lancers are a very strong team but we are confident of giving a tough fight to them. Though we have inducted many new faces in the team, we are a balanced team," Waveriders captain Rupinder Pal Singh said.

The Times of India

HIL opener: Mumbai’s heist

Mumbai: Dabang Mumbai overcame a two-goal deficit by scoring a splendid field goal in the dying moments to hold two-time champions Ranchi Rays 3-3 in the opening game of the fifth edition of Hockey India League here today.

India international Nikkin Thimmaiah scored the timely late goal in an indirect attempt off the hosts’ fifth and last penalty corner, which became a field effort and counted as two. This helped Mumbai storm back from 1-3 to 3-3 at the MHAL Stadium.

The other goal for the hosts was scored by Harmanpreet Singh, off a penalty corner, while Ranchi got their goals from Simranjeet Singh, a brilliant field effort that broke the goal drought in the match, and Germany’s Christopher Ruhr, who converted a penalty stroke.

The Tribune

A mixed day for junior World Cup winners

In a game where Ranchi Rays were forced to play more on the defensive front, Simranjeet Singh provided an attacking outlet for the visitors.

by Shahid Judge

Ranchi players cool down after the hard-fought opening game against Dabang Mumbai on 21 January in Hockey India League fixture. (Source: Hockey India League Twitter)

In their first appearance after winning the junior World Cup, India’s youngsters had a mixed day in the Hockey India League opener. There were moments of brilliance, yet none that would have a long lasting impact on the match. Then again, despite what the scoreline suggests, Dabang Mumbai’s 3-3 draw against Ranchi Rays at the MHA Stadium in Mumbai was a rather dull affair – that livened up only in the last minute.

Simranjeet’s spark

The last time Simranjeet Singh featured in a high-profile game, he scored a goal that won India the junior World Cup. The 21-year-old continued in the same vein. He marched into the Dabang Mumbai circle, closely marked by Vikas Sharma. He stood poised, just by the spot, waiting for Christopher Ruhr’s pass. When the ball arrived, he dropped his right shoulder ever so slightly to deceive his marker. Sharma moved to the right, but Simranjeet’s first touch went to the left, giving the striker a clear shot at goal. The striker swivelled smartly, hitting the ball sweetly from close range to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage in just 75 seconds of the second half.

In a game where the Rays were forced to play more on the defensive front, Simranjeet provided an attacking outlet for the visitors.

Junior World Cuppers’ impact

Gurjant Singh sprinted down the left flank, controlling the ball confidently after collecting a through ball from his Mumbai captain Florian Fuchs. In stepped Birendra Lakra to arrest the youngster’s progress. Yet Gurjant remained unfazed, using his momentum and fancy stick-work to dodge past the India defender. He wasn’t done just yet. ‘Mr Backhand,’ as he’s now called in the Mumbai ranks, unleashed a smart reverse-hit cross that was heading straight toward an unmarked Affan Yousuf on the far post. Only, Vikramjit Singh got there first to deflect the cross to safety.

The Gurjant-Vikramjit dual produced an interesting contest. Vikramjit would mark Gurjant effectively, blocking most passes that would venture the striker’s way. Still, Gurjant made himself available, more so in the fourth quarter, turning past the defender to set up key passes for his teammates.

Likewise, Manpreet and Nilakanta Sharma played a more prominent role in the Mumbai midfield, while Sumit Kumar also worked effectively for the Rays. Also, Harmanpreet Singh, an able defender with a menacing drag-flick, scored the first of Mumbai’s two goals.

Field goal rule

In the last minute, Mumbai decided to convert their penalty-corner approach to a field-goal attempt. Trailing 1-3, Robbert Kemperman trapped injector Sander De Wijn, and passed it five yards behind to activate the field goal. Harmanpreet slapped the ball down the middle, and in the resulting confusion, Nikkin Thimmaiah tapped home an equaliser for the hosts. A gripping finish to a game that threatened to remain a dull opener.

Indian Express

I want to play my best hockey: Sardar Singh

Jaspreet Sahni

CHANDIGARH: Fans at the Sector 42 Sports Complex waited eagerly to get a selfie with him and Sardar Singh made sure not to disappoint anyone here on Saturday.

The midfielder has been a picture of concentration ever since the Punjab Warriors commenced their camp here on January 16. The former India captain has admitted that the break after Rio Olympics last year did him a world of good, but it's another thing to bring that freshness to the pitch and convert it into performance. "Since the Asian Champions Trophy and then the Australia series (last year), I could feel that my skills, concentration and fitness are back in sync," Sardar told TOI on Saturday.

The rest after Rio worked like cherry on the top, and it's visible in the spring in his step. Be it a warm-up session, skills training or cooling down post practice - he has been in the thick of action.

"I want to play my best hockey as I am focusing on the coming four years (leading up to the Tokyo Olympics). I have to maintain my fitness. The skills that I have developed will stay with me, just need to be relaxed on the ground," he said.

The man who once used to rule India's midfield seems to have laid out a plan for himself - in which the 30-year-old is very clear about what he needs to do to prolong his career.

"Up and down is part and parcel of sports but my focus in this HIL is on each and every training session and then the matches. I have to also be careful about my fitness off the field because the league involves a lot of travelling," the midfielder added.

The Times of India

Pakistan Senior hockey team’s trials today

KARACHI: The two-day trials to shortlist players for national senior hockey team’s training camp begin at the Edhi Hockey Stadium on Sunday (today).

“The trials will begin at 2pm and three matches of 45 minutes each would be held among the participants,” head coach Khwaja Junaid told ‘The News’ on Saturday.

He said that the national selection committee will witness the trials to select the players and may ask for an extra session to be conducted if required, to further review the form and fitness of the players.

The training camp is being organised to help the national hockey team prepare for the tour of New Zealand and Australia in March.

He added that the players who fail to get selected for the next training camp would still remain part of Pakistan Development Squad and Pakistan Whites as backup to the senior hockey squad. A comprehensive training program would also be given to them in order to maintain their fitness.

The News International

Christie continues to bag goals as Kelburne take indoor pole position

Photo by Mark Pugh

Outdoor champions Bromac Kelburne continue their indoor adventure and have grasped pole position in their pool with back-to-back wins over Grange and Uddingston, and again Johnny Christie was on fire with 11 goals over the piece.

Arch poacher Christie laid the foundation of the 10-3 victory over Grange; he scored the equalising goal after Frank Ryan had given Grange an early lead, and went on to claim another hat-trick which had taken his total for the season to 32 in only eight outings.

Kelburne led 3-1 at the interval with a double from Scotland midfielder Michael Bremner. Although Grange were able to grab another two in the second half the Edinburgh side were unable to halt the Paisley goal machine marching into double figures, with Bremner also claiming a hat-trick.

In the second game Christie went berserk with eight goals in Kelburne`s 13-4 win over Uddingston, five came in the first half, including a hat-trick in as many minutes just before the interval, and a further three in the second period, advancing his personal tally to an impressive 40 in the season to date. German Jonas Nommensen and Adam Bain both scored twice, and Jackey Tran did the same for Uddingston.

Grange recovered their composure to beat Hillhead 6-4 to consolidate second spot in the pool. A first half hat-trick by Ryan was the foundation of the Edinburgh side`s 5-2 interval lead, Callum Milne and Todd Mills got the others, Callum Duke got Hillhead`s two goals.

In the other pool champions Inverleith took a giant stride to claiming top spot with a comfortable 5-3 win over their great rivals Grove Menzieshill in their opening match.

There was an early exchange of goals, Derek Salmond`s open play strike was cancelled out by a penalty corner from Chris Wilson. Then up stepped former GB Olympian Stephen Dick to put Inverleith 3-1 up at the interval with a brace of set piece strikes.

The result was effectively over a minute into the second half when Dick struck again from a penalty corner for a 4-1 lead and his own hat-trick. Stuart Hatton added a fifth midway through the second half, although Wilson struck twice more for the Taysiders and his hat-trick.

Inverleith went on to consolidate their pole position in the pool with a comfortable 10-4 mauling of Western Wildcats in their second outing.

The champions were well on their way to the three points when they led 7-2 at the interval, there were hat-tricks each for Patrick Christie and Hatton, while Adam McKenzie opened the scoring from a penalty corner in the third minute.

The second half was a closer affair with McKenzie and Christie adding another to their personal tallies while Derek Salmond got the other; the replies from the Wildcats came from Joe McConnell and Fabian Goldie.

Grove Menzieshill went on to stake their claim to second spot in the pool with a 7-3 win over Clydesdale. The underdogs took the lead through Andrew Allan in only four minutes but normal service had been resumed by the interval with Gavin Byers, Euan Cuthill and Ben Cosgrove giving the Taysiders a 3-1 lead.

In the second half Chris Wilson, Ross McPherson, Cosgrove again and Gavin Tomlinson added to Grove Menzieshill`s tally while Euan Fraser and Fraser Hirst replied for the Glasgow side.

Hillhead took a massive step towards avoiding the relegation play-offs by seeing off Uddingston in a tense 3-2 victory. With the scores tied at 2-2 and only four minutes left a Callum Duke penalty corner strike claimed the three points and the route to safety.

Earlier, Duke had given Hillhead a single goal lead at the interval, but early in the second half Jackey Tran had levelled for the Lanarkshire side. In a quick exchange of goals Andrew Hilton put Hillhead into a 2-1 lead only for Martin Lorimer to equalise and set up a nervy finish. The score could have been different but for Hillhead keeper Jamie Frail saving a penalty flick.Indoor Hillhead

Photo by Mark Pugh

In the other pool Clydesdale would appear to have sent Western Wildcats into the relegation play-offs with a 3-1 win over the Auchenhowie side.

Struan Walker put the Titwood side a goal ahead at the interval. There was no further addition to the score until four minutes from the end when James Nairn doubled the Clydesdale score. In the closing minutes Joe McConnell gave the Wildcats a whisker of hope but Euan Fraser quickly put the game to rest with a third for Clydesdale.

It would appear that Dundee Wanderers have made an immediate return to the top flight after a 3-1 victory over Edinburgh University in the men’s second division play-offs. Although the students took the lead from the spot Wanderers were level by the interval through a penalty corner strike by Fergus Sandison.

In the second half Sandison scored two more to complete his hat-trick and take Wanderers to the final play-off against Grove Menzieshill`s second string who saw off Watsonians 8-1 in the other tie.

The Gala Day confrontation between Wanderers and Grove Menzieshill will decide the second division title but promotion automatically goes to the former as reserve sides cannot gain promotion to the first division.

Photo by Mark Pugh

Scottish Hockey Union media release

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