All the news for Thursday 2 March 2017
Faizal dropped from Malaysian squad after failing medical
by S. Ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Faizal Saari (pic) has been dropped from the national team for the World Hockey League Round Two, which starts on Saturday, after failing a last-minute medical.
He suffered a hamstring injury in January while playing for Terengganu in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
The team used him sparingly in their march towards the TNB Cup final.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) named Faizal in the final 18 but on condition he passed a last-minute medical.
On Tuesday, tests revealed that he has aggravated the injury.
Mohd Ramadan Rosli was called up as replacement and he left with the team for Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Tuesday.
Malaysia are in Group A with hosts Bangladesh, Oman and Fiji. Group B comprises China, Ghana, Egypt and Sri Lanka.
“Faizal failed a last-minute medical and has been replaced by Ramadan Rosli. When Faizal was picked, the coach (Stephen van Huizen) had said that he would only take the player if he gets through the medical,” said MHC chief executive officer K. Logan Raj.
He also said that the national team would play against China in a friendly at the national stadium in Dhaka today.
“The team will only have one practice match prior to the start of the tournament. It will give them a chance to check out the venue,” he said, adding that the target for Malaysia, as the top seeds, is to win the tournament.
The top two teams will qualify automatically for the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in June.
The Star of Malaysia
1 Month Countdown to World League 2 in West Vancouver
Today marks the beginning of the one month countdown to the 2017 Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver, British Columbia.
From April 1-9, 2017, Canada’s women’s field hockey team hosts six other nations, as all teams aim for 2018 Hockey World Cup qualification. The top two finishers in West Vancouver move on to World League 3 this summer, where spots for the World Cup are up for grabs.
For the Canadian women, who train full-time and year-round in Vancouver, playing at home is an opportunity that does not come around very often.
Before competing at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario in July 2015, Canada’s Women’s National Team had not played on home soil since May 2012, when the team hosted the United States for a test series in Victoria.
But on the west coast, there hasn’t been a competition of the magnitude of World League since an Olympic qualifying event was held in Victoria in April 2008.
Kate Wright, who is currently the Women’s National Team’s leader in games played and is third in all-time games played, was the only active player to compete in that series.
Now, nine years later, the Canadian women once again have the opportunity to play in front of family, friends, and fans in Western Canada in a competition with important implications.
In addition to it being the first major competition in the West since 2008 ,the vast majority of the women who will be named to the team will be playing in the West for the first time. And with the current squads consisting of predominantly British Columbia bred athletes, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
So, with one month to go, the anticipation builds. And with the local flavour, the long wait, and the opportunity to make an impact on home soil, this edition of the Women’s National Team is “Made For This” opportunity.
Tickets for Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver are on sale now and can be purchased here.
For more tournament information, click here.
For Canada’s schedule, results, and recaps click here.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Cedric D'Souza interview: Former Indian hockey coach talks about HIL, Junior World Cup title win
Delhi Waveriders coach Cedric D'Souza during a press conference. Getty
Cedric D’Souza stood at the corner of the turf at the Homebush Stadium, the venue of the Hockey World Cup. It's 1994, 26 November to be exact. For Cedric, it was his first assignment as India’s national hockey coach. He is pacing up and down like a caged animal, just off the corner flag, in the space between the wire fence and the touch line. It’s a stretch of less than a few metres as he takes four to five steps and then back again. He has been doing this for almost ten minutes.
In the shadow of the setting sun, across the sky-line of Sydney, the Indian team trains. A day back they lost to Holland 2-4; a match many critics, experts and commentators dubbed ‘pacy, intelligent’ and ‘unlucky’ that India didn’t walk off with at least a draw. Cedric is like a tuning fork. Yet there is a cloud of sullen silence over him. Suddenly, he looks up, walks over hurriedly. “You need quotes,” he asks, eyes like little powder kegs. “We will beat South Africa in the next match. We have to.” India drew 2-2 with South Africa.
Twenty-two years later, not much has changed. He is still wired, high strung; probably hooked up to an electric sub-station. He is thin, wiry but beneath the cap, a pony tail peeks out. The face may be slightly weather beaten but the demeanor is still tense, impatient and restless. At The Grand in New Delhi, he opens the door and says, “We have 30 minutes. But we will have to move in 20. I need to go for team training.” Yet he makes tea.
Now he is stationed in Vienna, hoping that a four-year contract is good enough to make the Austrian national hockey team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And he is also the coach of the Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League. Sheets of team formation and zonal markings have been taped across the front wall of his room at the five-star hotel. He is looking at them absent-mindedly as he stirs sugar in the tea. Not that absent-mindedly.
“The pace has surely picked up,” Cedric says. “But tactically we still play around with the same formations. In '94, I remember playing sometimes with a lone forward upfront (Edward Aranha) and it paid off. The strikers were good. We had Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh Kumar, Sabu Varkey, Gavin Ferreira.” Comparing them with the present lot, Cedric feels those in the Junior World Cup were excellent. “Things have improved greatly,” he says. “Everyone in the top six is worried about India. They know the team is improving constantly and is now a real threat. Honestly, the Indian team is looking good.”
Watching him, you do sometimes feel that after 22 years of top-level coaching, the fire might have dimmed, the persona would have softened but the words still come out like being fired from an AK-47. The brash, arrogant Cedric might be a thing of the past. But the confidence is still sky-high as is his fidelity for the Indian national team. Many may have forgotten but he was the coach of the 1989-90 Mumbai team that won the national hockey title in Gwalior beating a strong Punjab side in the final with a packed 35,000-strong crowd supporting the Mumbai team.
Back in 1996, just before taking the team to the Atlanta Olympics, Cedric had implored the then Indian Hockey Federation under KPS Gill to give the national team around 15 matches in Europe. But it never materialized. Finances were a mess back then. Finding sponsors was like growing tropical fruit in Alaska. Cedric is, however, happy that what many believed then is happening now and the national team has benefitted from regularly playing the big teams.
“The fear psychosis is over,” he says. “The unknown in world hockey when we played big teams with too many gaps in between is a thing of the past. We now beat them in Europe.” He points to the silver medal finish in the Champions Trophy in 2016 London as an example. “Wasn’t that a brilliant final,” he asks, his face lit up like a neon sign.
File photo of Indian hockey coach Cedric D' Souza with his players at the national hockey camp in Bangalore April 26, 2001. AFP
Cedric believes that more than anything the Hockey India League is a boon. “I believe in it hundred percent,” he says. “The cream is playing here. All the big names are here and our juniors are here too.”
But the reason that the former Indian national coach believes that Indian hockey can cross the imaginary line between being an also-ran team to hitting the top four is when you lift a World Cup and according to Cedric, the juniors have done that. “These players are brimming with confidence,” he says. “Look at Harjeet (Singh) and the way he changes the pace of a game, understanding the positions and creating moves. It will take some time for them mature but the crop is there. We need to tend to them.”
In between, Cedric answers phones and directs his supporting staff to ensure that the goalkeepers get an extra hour of training. “Just do it,” he orders. In a four-quarter encounter, it’s all about game changers and how a player or many players can lead a match. “I believe a team needs to have leaders,” he explains. “The captain is an arm-band but players can lead with the kind of match situations they can create. Look at Manpreet (Singh) and how he can change the complexion of the match with an accurate run down the middle. The boy has oomph.”
In the Rio Olympics, Manpreet was given the midfield position while Sardar Singh was pushed into a forward’s role. With a shot of skill, sudden acceleration and a slap shot that landed on a forward’s stick, Manpreet put the fear of the devil into opponent’s midfield and defence zones.
Cedric gives a lot of credit to PR Sreejesh, the Indian captain and in reality, the ‘last line’ of defence, the goalkeeper. “Look at the way he helped the junior India goalkeeper at the World Cup. His enthusiasm is infectious and he keeps pushing every player. More than that, you can rely on him to bring India out of a sticky corner. It’s because of his proficiency as a goalkeeper that defenders like Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet have raised their game.”
To a coach like Cedric, it’s imperative that one asks about the India vs Belgium match in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics. Was it bad tactics in the third and fourth quarter? Or was Belgium good on the day in beating India 3-1? Cedric sinks into the chair slightly, opens a bottle of water and takes a sip. “You know what,” he says. “If the result was the other way around, everybody would have praised (Roelant) Oltmans and a gamble would have paid off. It didn’t click, whatever Oltmans thought would. And quick goals put us under pressure.”
“It’s about decisions in key moments,” continues Cedric. “It’s about the players also. Reaction time in adapting is also critical.” It’s a typical coaches’ answer. It’s a classic Cedric reply. Rarely will he criticize another coach.
He does praise the Indian junior coach Harendra Singh. “The way he handled pressure was excellent,” says Cedric. “I also think the Indian junior team was vastly superior. They were good enough to beat anybody and for that all credit goes to just one man, Harendra Singh.”
In his four seasons as Delhi Waveriders coach, Cedric has won the title once, secured two third-place finishes and this year finished a disappointing fourth. “We did try our best but the plans didn’t really work out,” he explains. “We gave too much space and just when it seemed it will all come back, the structure used to crumble.”
Cedric doesn’t give up too easily. Wins and losses could be stacked in two separate columns, a statistician’s delight. In Atlanta '96, he came quite close to taking India to an Olympic semi-final before as he would describe ‘it all crumbled.’ Desire has propelled him all these years as a coach. Maybe in three years, he might deliver the shock of taking the Austrian national team to the Olympics. It’s a long shot. For Cedric, it won’t be for a lack of trying.
Beeston hoping for home advantage boost
Beeston's Mark Gleghorne, who the club hope to have back for this weekend. Credit Tim Reder
With three home games in their last four, Beeston are hoping that home advantage will prove vital in their push to secure a top four finish in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division.
But with Surbiton the visitors this Sunday, they will need to be on top form to maintain their campaign to make it to the Finals Weekend.
“Having three home games is a big factor,” said Beeston Team Manager Graham Griffiths. “This is not an easy place to come to, we regularly get crowds of 200-300 who love their hockey and can give us an edge.”
With Ollie Willars and James Albery on international duty in South Africa, Beeston are hoping that the return of Mark Gleghorne from the Hockey India League can give them a boost, and Griffiths added: “If he’s fit and raring to go it will give us an edge, but we won’t know that until nearer the time.
“We’ve got a few injury niggles, but we’re in good spirits and will be doing our best over the last few weeks to get into the play-offs. We’re not bothered whether we finish second, third or fourth – we just want to get across the line and make it to the play-offs.”
Elsewhere, Hampstead and Westminster host East Grinstead on Sunday, in another match-up between two sides aiming for the play-offs.
Leaders Wimbledon have a home game against Reading, another side still in with a chance of being in the top four at the end of the 18-match programme.
Second-placed Holcombe will want to maintain that spot as they play Brooklands Manchester University on Sunday, while on Saturday evening Loughborough Students are at home against fellow relegation-threatened side Canterbury in a match neither can realistically afford to lose.
The University of Durham could wrap up the Men’s Conference North title with a home win against Preston on Sunday, while Olton and West Warwicks faint hopes rely on their rivals losing and Olton winning at Sheffield Hallam.
Meanwhile, Oxton head to Cannock with both teams desperate for points to avoid relegation.
The battle for top spot in the Men’s Conference East continues to be close. Leaders Teddington go to bottom of the table Wapping on Saturday evening, while Sevenoaks – who are only second on goal difference – play at home against Cambridge City on Sunday.
Cardiff and Met will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten record when they go to the University of Birmingham on Sunday. Meanwhile second-placed Team Bath Buccaneers play at home against Isca, and will be hoping to close the gap on leaders Cardiff.
FIXTURES - Saturday, March 4
Men’s Hockey League
Men’s Premier Division
Loughborough Students v Canterbury 18:00
Men’s Conference East
Wapping v Teddington 17:30
Sunday, March 5
Men’s Premier Division
Hampstead & Westminster v East Grinstead 14:00
Beeston v Surbiton 14:00
Wimbledon v Reading 14:00
Holcombe v Brooklands MU 14:00
Men’s Conference East
Brighton and Hove v Oxted 13:00
Indian Gymkhana v West Herts 14:00
Southgate v Richmond 14:30
Sevenoaks v Cambridge City 14:30
Men’s Conference North
Sheffield Hallam v Olton & West Warwicks 13:30
Univ of Durham v Preston 14:00
Leek v Bowdon 14:00
Doncaster v Deeside Ramblers 14:00
Cannock v Oxton 14:00
Men’s Conference West
Univ of Birmingham v Cardiff & Met 12:30
Univ of Exeter v Chichester 12:30
Cheltenham v Fareham 12:30
Univ of Bristol v Old Georgians 13:00
Team Bath Buccaneers v Isca 13:00
England Hockey Board Media release
Leicester face Birmingham as play-off push continues
Leicester celebrate beating Surbiton. Credit Andy Smith
Having inflicted Surbiton’s first league defeat in over three years last weekend, in-form Leicester will be hoping to further boost their bid for a top four finish when they host the University of Birmingham in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday.
Currently sixth, Leicester could move up to third if they win and other results go in their favour.
“It has been a few years since we’ve been in the play-offs,” said Leicester manager Sue Holwell. “So it would be great to finish in the top four.
“Although we’re sixth at the moment we’ve still got to play both East Grinstead and the University of Birmingham above us, so our fate is very much in our own hands.
“Beating Surbiton was a great result for us, but to be honest we didn’t play particularly well, and we may have to improve if we are to beat Birmingham.”
There is also a crucial match-up at Coombe Dingle, where Clifton Robinsons play host to East Grinstead on Saturday.
Currently third and fourth and separated only by goal difference, both sides will be aiming to take the points and strengthen their bid for a spot at Finals Weekend.
At the other end of the table, Bowdon Hightown are at home against Canterbury, with both sides still in need of points to avoid becoming embroiled in a relegation battle.
While leaders Surbiton are hosting Slough, second-placed Holcombe are also at home against bottom of the table Reading.
The top two clash in the Investec Women’s Conference West, with leaders Stourport at home against Buckingham, who are second only on goal difference.
The result of the match-up could prove crucial to both side’s title ambitions. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table bottom club Exe host eighth-placed Oxford Hawks as they both battle the drop.
Sevenoaks are preparing to play Chelmsford in the Investec Women’s Conference East, and are desperate for points to keep the pressure on leaders Wimbledon who entertain Southgate.
In the Investec Conference North, Beeston are second and will be going all out for a win at third-placed Ben Rhydding, while leaders Brooklands Poynton go to Wakefield.
And at the other end of the table, bottom club Belper host second-bottom Timperley, with both sides battling to avoid relegation danger.
FIXTURES – Saturday, March 4
Investec Women’s Hockey League
Investec Premier Division
Clifton Robinsons v East Grinstead 13:00
Bowdon Hightown v Canterbury 13:45
Leicester v Univ of Birmingham 14:00
Surbiton v Slough 18:00
Holcombe v Reading 18:00
Investec Conference East
Sevenoaks v Chelmsford 12:00
Cambridge City v Harleston Magpies 12:30
St Albans v West Herts 13:00
Hampstead and Westminster v Northampton Saints 13:30
Wimbledon v Southgate 14:00
Investec Conference North
Belper v Timperley 12:00
Univ of Durham v Loughborough Students 12:00
Wakefield v Brooklands Poynton 13:30
Ben Rhydding v Beeston 13:30
Sutton Coldfield v Liverpool Sefton 14:00
Investec Conference West
Swansea City v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Olton & West Warwicks v Isca 12:00
Exe v Oxford Hawks 13:00
Trojans v Gloucester City 13:30
Stourport v Buckingham 18:00
England Hockey Board Media release
GB stars in US-style televised trials?
By Rod Gilmour, The Hockey Paper
Great Britain stars could play for their Olympic places in US-style trials after hockey was confirmed as one of the sports in talks to compete in televised events prior to the 2020 Games.
The British Olympic Association has been open to the idea of staging multi-sport British trials since last year, in a bid to boost popularity and generate television revenue before Olympic Games.
England Hockey has held discussions with the BOA on how the concept would work, but The Hockey Paper can reveal that any commitments would hinge on world hockey's new international calendar, which starts in 2019.
"We're interested in how it could work for hockey and building the profile of the sport," said Sally Munday, England Hockey's chief executive.
"We have been clear with the BOA. The biggest challenge we have with this is the new FIH home and away calendar in 2019, so it is very difficult for us to be an active part of the conversations."
Munday revealed that talks are currently at a "concept stage" with the BOA, along with seven other sports including gymnastics, rugby sevens and swimming.
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