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News for 22 June 2017

All the news for Thursday 22 June 2017

All the action from Day One of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Brussels

It was a scorcher on the opening day of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Brussels, Belgium, as temperatures reached the high 30s. It was a day that saw the Netherlands present coach Alyson Annan with the perfect birthday present as they showed why they are the number one side in the world.

Australia also found their feet quickly, their young side gelling to beat Malaysia – the lowest ranked team in the competition. In the other two games, Italy and China were evenly matched as they shared the spoils in the opening match of the day and New Zealand battled past Spain in a tightly fought contest.

With the dual prize of qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup and a place at the Hockey World League Final 2017 for those finishing in the top slots, this is an event in which every team will be pulling out all the stops to secure as high a pool place finish as possible.

There are rich rewards for the top placed teams. The four highest finishers will go on to compete in the showcase end of year event, the Hockey World League Final in Auckland, New Zealand between 17-26 November.

And five automatic berths are available for the 2018 Hockey Women's World Cup in London, England, although this will increase depending on the outcomes of the upcoming Continental Championships, which are also World Cup qualification events.

China v Italy 2-2 (1-1)

In the opening Pool A match, China took an early lead through Gu Bingfeng as she converted a penalty corner in the third minute of the match against Italy (World Ranking: 16). China, ranked eighth in the FIH World Rankings looked much the stronger side in the opening encounters as they camped in the Italian half. Goalkeeper for Italy, Celina Traverso was called into action and pulled off some great saves to keep her side in the game. But Italy are always willing to take the game to their opponents and this was no different. With just three minutes left before half-time, Lara Oviedo took the ball neatly round a defender and slotted the ball past 'keeper Li Dongxiao to even things up.

The third quarter was an even-matched affair with both sides creating chances but neither able to find that final breakthrough. China were structured in their build-up and defence but Italy were always on the prowl seeking the quick break. This continued in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Chiara Tiddy was influential at the heart of the Italian defence, keeping the Chinese attack at bay. The breakthrough came when Wu Mengrong found the target after some good pressure from China. The game seemed to be going with the rankings until three minutes from the end when Eugenie Mastronardi tucked the ball away to even things up after some good build-up from Carolina Pereyra.

Martina Chirico, the Italy goalkeeper, said of her team: "Italy's game is to react to goals, so when China scored, we knew to go out and counter-attack immediately. Our ambition here is to get better with every game."

Australia v Malaysia 3-0 (1-0)

The Hockeyroos took a hold of this game in the opening period of play when Maddy Fitzpatrick got on the end of a fierce penalty corner shot to put the team ranked fourth in the world into the lead against Malaysia. Despite going behind, Malaysia were very quick to put Australia under pressure, with Norfaiezah Saiuti shooting from the top of the circle to challenge Rachael Lynch in the Australia goal. The lowest ranked team at the tournament (WR: 22) caused more problems for the Hockeyroo defence as they won a penalty corner towards the end of the first half. Lynch dealt with the shot and the Australia side showed their pace with a quick counter-attack. Malaysia's 'keeper Farah Yahya was out quickly to smother the threat.

The fourth quarter saw Australia extend their lead when Fitzpatrick scored her second – again a strong penalty corner shot that flew past the Malaysia defence. Minutes later Georgina Morgan made it 3-0.

"This team is really gelling together on and off the pitch," says Karri McMahon, captain of Australia. "We have some things to work on – turning our press into scoring opportunities for example and raising our overall skill level – but I truly believe we have a gold medal winning team that is capable of taking Australia back to glory days."

Netherlands v Scotland 4-0 (2-0)

Scotland's first foray into Hockey World League Semi-Final action was a bruising encounter with the world number one team, the Netherlands. The Dutch side opened their account in the sixth minute as Frederique Matla rasped a shot past Nicola Cochrane in the Scottish goal. The lead was doubled at the end of the quarter when Laurien Leurink scored after a period of pressure on the Scottish defence.

Following the half-time break, Netherlands resumed their domination of possession and were rewarded with an eighth penalty corner. A triple switch saw Lauren Stam with the space to slam the ball past Cochrane to make it 3-0. The fourth goal came as a result of some great build-up play by Carlien Dirkse van der Heuval, who drifted past two defenders before slipping the ball to Kitty van Male who pushed it home.

Scotland continued to play their game and forced a corner in the dying minutes of the game when Nikki Llyod, who was playing her 100th game for Scotland, was stick tackled as she strove to weave through the orange defence. The corner effort didn't work out but Scotland would have been heartened by the resolve they showed during this game.

Frederique Matla spoke of "some things we wanted to focus on before the game, which I think we achieved," as well as adding that the defending World Champions were still a new, young side that was developing with every game.

Scotland's head coach, Gordon Shepherd said he was "delighted with the way his team had played as a tight unit and defended against the world's best team, while Nikki Lloyd added that winning her 100th cap in a match against the Netherlands was a "dream come true." The midfielder said she burst with pride every time she played for her nation.

New Zealand v Spain 1-0 (1-0)

There were two distinctive styles on display as New Zealand (WR: 5) and Spain (WR: 10) faced each other in the fourth match of the day. Olivia Merry got the Black Sticks off to a flying start as she slammed the ball home from a penalty corner in the 19th minute of their pool B encounter with Spain.

The next two quarters were end-to-end as the Spanish team showed some silky skills in build-up play but failed to really trouble Sally Rutherford in the New Zealand goal. For their part, New Zealand played with a lot of pace and physicality and strung some space-creating passes together as they used every inch of the pitch.

The final quarter was the epitome of two teams determined to make their mark on this event. New Zealand knew they need to remain disciplined to protect their lead but they still played their usual attacking game whenever they gained possession. Spain pushed and pushed but a good save by Rutherford kept the Red Sticks out and gave her side the three points.

"Spain are playing really aggressive hockey, very much how we like to play," said New Zealand's Ella Gunson. "We were really pleased to beat them because in the four test matches we played just before this tournament we lost two and drew two. We would like to have scored more but to get off to a three point start."

Berta Bonastre of Spain said, "We were not happy with the result but yes, we were very happy with the way we played. We had more possession and more attacks on the goal. New Zealand played more defensively. For us, it was a time to learn about the pitch, the environment and to adapt to the conditions and pace of the tournament."

"We still have three matches left and we will take it match-by-match."

FIH site

Hockeyroos win World League Semi’s Opener

Defeat Malaysia 3 - 0

Holly MacNeil

The Hockeyroos World League Semi-Final campaign began today with the Australian’s defeating Malaysia 3 – 0 in their first game, thanks to a double from Madi Fitzpatrick and a goal from Georgie Morgan.

Just four minutes into the game and Australia forced a penalty corner opportunity, the injection from Jordan Holzberger was on point and the flick that followed from Madi Fitzpatrick sailed straight into the goal past keeper Farah Yahya.

Malaysia took control of the ball early in the second quarter with a flying attempt on a field goal, however Aussie goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram flew out of the net to deflect the goal.

With four minutes to go in the second quarter, Madi Ratcliffe forced a penalty corner for the Hockeyroos but the Malaysian team rushed from the net to avoid giving the Australian’s another goal.

With just seconds to go in the first half Malaysia were on for their first penalty corner, but Australia weren’t about to concede a goal and the half finished with AUS 1 – 0 MAS.

The final two minutes of play in the third quarter saw Australia up for their fifth opportunity at a penalty corner. This time they converted, with Madi Fitzpatrick scoring her second goal of the game to give the Hockeyroos a 2 – nil lead.

With only a minute to go in the game, the Hockeyroos were up again; Georgie Morgan converting a penalty corner to ultimately give Australia a 3 – nil win against Malaysia in their first game at the World League Semi-Finals.

Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said: “It was nice to get a win in the first game, I think if we’re serious about it we weren’t at our best today, but it was pleasing to get the first game under our belt, to get the win and to get the points.

“It was good to see our corner better and getting some goals today; but we know there’s lots to do and we’ll be better tomorrow. We’ll be working hard to make sure our basics are better tomorrow”

The Hockeyroos next play Belgium tomorrow night at 8pm local time / 2am AWST / 4am AEST. Tune into the game live on Fox Sports Australia.

Hockeyroos Match Schedule
Thursday, 22 June v BEL at 8pm local / 2am AWST / 4am AEST
Saturday, 24 June v NZL at 2pm local / 8pm AWST / 10pm AEST
Sunday, 25 June v ESP at 2pm local / 8pm AWST / 10pm AEST
Thursday, 29 June – quarter finals TBC

Madi Fitzpatrick 4, 44 (PC, PC)
Georgie Morgan 59 (PC)

Hockeyroos team v Malaysia
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Laura Barden (Kew, VIC) 31/5
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *plays for ACT 137/3
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 121/11
Jacqui Day (Mountain Creek, QLD) 10/0
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *plays for QLD 20/5
Jordyn Holzberger (Ipswich, QLD) 48/5
Rachael Lynch (Melbourne, VIC) 159/0
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 113/9
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 199/37
Madeleine Ratcliffe (Warnambool, VIC) 13/3
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 71/25

Used Substitutes
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW) 14/0
Kate Hanna (Constitution Hill, NSW) 19/1
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD) 16/2
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW) 60/12
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 173/66
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD) 21/0
Georgia Wilson (Mahogany Creek, WA) 3/0

Hockey Australia media release

Black Sticks hold off Spain in opener

Photo: FIH/Getty Images

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have held on for a 1-0 win over Spain in their opening match at the FIH World League Semi Final in Brussels.

It was a strong defensive effort from the Kiwis while a first half penalty corner proved the difference with Olivia Merry delivering the crucial strike.

Following on from last week’s four test series against Spain in Barcelona, the Black Sticks opened the match with high intensity against a familiar foe.

Spain held the bulk of possession in the first half but the Kiwis were organised and effective on defence to ward off the danger.

New Zealand’s goal came in the 19th minute from a penalty corner, which Merry received at the top of the circle and smashed a forehand shot low and into goal off a defender’s stick.

The second half was a much more even affair with both sides creating half chances but neither able to convert anything onto the score sheet.

Head coach Mark Hager said while there were plenty of things to work on, it was pleasing to bank three points for a win.

“We started well early on but then allowed Spain to take control and they were all over us in the second quarter,” he said.

“I was happy to see Liv convert that penalty corner – that’s something that needed improving after our Spain series and it came at the right time today.

“We’ve now got two days off before we play again which is good and bad, you like to get into a rhythm at tournaments but it also gives us more time to prepare for a tough game which will be played in hot conditions.”

The Vantage Black Sticks now go into recovery mode ahead of their next clash against trans-Tasman rivals Australia at midnight this Saturday night (NZT), with live coverage on SKY Sport.

Halftime: New Zealand 1-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks women score narrow win over Spain in World League opener

The Black Sticks celebrate Olivia Merry's goal against Spain. GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks women have grabbed a solid 1-0 win over Spain in their opening match at the FIH World League Hockey Semifinal in Brussels.

Olivia Merry's 19th-minute strike from a penalty corner was the difference between the two sides on the scoresheet, with New Zealand's strong defensive effort ensuring they kept a clean sheet.

It was an impressive result given the Black Sticks were unable to beat Spain in any of their four tests against them in Barcelona last week.

Olivia Merry celebrates with her Black Sticks team-mate Samantha Charlton after scoring against Spain at the World League Semifinal on Thursday. GETTY IMAGES

Spain held the bulk of possession in the first half, but the Kiwis were organised and effective on defence to ward off the danger.

Merry then stepped up to smash a forehand shot from the top of the circle low and into the goal off a defender's stick.

The Black Sticks' Liz Thompson looks for a pass against Spain in Brussels on Thursday. GETTY IMAGES

The second half was a much more even affair with both sides creating half chances, but neither able to convert anything onto the scoresheet.

Head coach Mark Hager said while there were plenty of things to work on, it was pleasing to bank three points for a win.

"We started well early on but then allowed Spain to take control and they were all over us in the second quarter," he said.

A dejected Berta Bonastre (right) after the her side's loss to New Zealand on Thursday. GETTY IMAGES

"I was happy to see Liv convert that penalty corner – that's something that needed improving after our Spain series and it came at the right time today.
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"We've now got two days off before we play again which is good and bad, you like to get into a rhythm at tournaments but it also gives us more time to prepare for a tough game which will be played in hot conditions."

The Black Sticks next match is against trans-Tasman rivals Australia at midnight on Saturday night (NZ time).


Black Sticks 1 (Olivia Merry) Spain 0. HT: 1-0


Scotland women defeated by world number one ranked the Netherlands

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

Scotland’s women’s hockey team was defeated in its opening match of the World League Semi-Finals in Brussels by a very impressive world number 1-ranked the Netherlands. The Scots defended very well against the Dutch who in the end managed to find the net four times for a 4-0 win.

It was a fairly even start to the match with the Dutch enjoying most of the possession for the opening five minutes. However, the breakthrough came on seven minutes after a rapid run down the left saw Frederique Matla smack the ball home low at the near post from a tight angle.

As the quarter progressed the Scots were still doing a lot of chasing as the Netherlands calmly passed the ball around, and moving the Scotland defence from side-to-side in the process.

As the end of the first quarter drew closer, Scotland keeper Nicola Cochrane was called into action after a mazy run to the centre edge of the D saw a low shot to the right well saved by the keeper

The second Dutch goal would eventually come courtesy of Laurien Leurink. A quick counter-attack through the middle saw the Scotland defence quickly outnumbered and the ball was laid off to the Dutch number six who had plenty of time to pick her spot and smash home the second.

The second quarter started in much the same style as the first with the Dutch controlling play with fluid passing, and the Scotland working hard doing a lot of chasing.

Trouble loomed when the Scots lost the ball in front of their D but a quick shot was fired wide by the dangerous Matla.

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

Then five minutes before half time and the Dutch broke down the left and won a penalty corner. It was a moment of real danger for the Scots but the resulting effort was defended well and prompted a Scotland counter attack. The ball was sent diagonally towards the halfway line and was picked up on the right. The counter-attack was ended by a good tackle right on the edge of the Dutch D to prevent a Scottish shot on goal.

Into the second half and the Dutch showed no signs of letting up; their passing and pressure was almost relentless. As soon as the Scots won the ball they were immediately crowded by a high line.

The Netherlands won a penalty corner five minutes into the second half and after the initial shot was chased down, the Dutch worked the ball towards the left of the D to the wide-open Lauren Stam who smacked home low to make it 3-0.

Amy Gibson, who took her place in goal for Scotland since the second quarter, was called to action when she got down low to her right at another penalty corner routine.

Scotland had a venture forward after a great turn on the left Nikki Lloyd who then took on the shot on her reverse stick, but it was cleared away by the Dutch Keeper.

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

In the final quarter Gibson again pulled off a fantastic save from a penalty corner that looked like it had goal written all over it.

The Dutch, however, would make it 4-0 after a long run down the left was cut back across goal to the Kitty Van Male who had a simple tap in seven minutes from time.

Scotland came close to pulling a goal back through a penalty corner three minutes from the end. In a move off the training ground they tried to play it out back to the injector but the pass was batted away by the Dutch defence.

Scotland Women’s coach Gordon Shepherd said, “I’m very happy with the defensive performance. We knew it was going to be a tough game but the girls put a lot of effort into the performance and overall I’m delighted at the strength they showed.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

World League reaches business end in London

The first men’s Hockey World League semi-final reaches the business end on Thursday with the first batch of 2018 World Cup tickets set to be earned in London.

After the group stages, Scotland and Korea were eliminated with the other eight sides going through to the quarter-finals.

Pool A winners Argentina facing Pool B’s fourth-placed Pakistan at 13.15 (GMT), before Pool B runners-up India play Malaysia at 15.30. Pool B winners The Netherlands meet Pool A’s fourth placed team China at 17.45 before Pool A runners-up England take on Canada, who finished third in Pool B, at 20.00.

On Tuesday, outsides Scotland had the chance to upset the odds and overtake Pakistan if they beat Canada.

Despite a valiant effort, things did not quite go their way. Gordon Johnston gave Canada the lead with a fine penalty corner drag-flick just before half time, but Scotland produced an excellent performance after the break and eventually levelled when Surbiton’s Willie Marshall smashed home a penalty corner rebound to renew hopes.

Scotland dominated the final quarter but found Canada goalkeeper David Carter in brilliant form, denying numerous chances to see out the draw.

The result was good news for Pakistan, who finished fourth in Pool B and remain in the hunt for the required top five finish in order to secure a place at next year’s Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.

India and the Netherlands brought Pool B to a close with a high intensity encounter, with the Dutch taking a 3-1 win to top the table.

Bloemendaal’s Thierry Brinkman scored the opening goal as they built a 3-0 lead early, something which the attacker was happy with.

“We played a really good game, especially the first 20 minutes”, he said after the match. “We were very sharp in the first quarter, scoring two goals. After that we were perhaps not so sharp, but we played with a solid defence. We are top of the group with four wins from four games and improving with every game.”

In Pool A, Malaysia claimed a second successive win at the event with a convincing 5-1 result against China.

The final match of the pool phase was an entertaining clash between England and Korea with the hosts winning 7-2 thanks to Sam Ward’s four goals.

Euro Hockey League media release

Canada ready for challenge of facing host England in World League quarterfinal

Shaheed Devji

Balraj Panesar (left) and Scott Tupper (right) watch the ball in Canada’s match vs Pakistan on June 16, 2017 at the World League Semi-Final in London (By Yan Huckendubler)

When it comes to checking items off their list, the Canadian men’s field hockey team has done pretty well so far in London.

Canada was able to take points from two key games when it won against Pakistan and tied Scotland. As a result, the men finished third in Pool B and moved on to the quarterfinal at the 2017 World League Semi-Final.

“It was really nice to get the great start that we did, which set us off in a good position in the tournament right away and we were really looking forward to doing that,” says team captain Scott Tupper, who has scored twice in London.

“I think we came in knowing that we had a really good shot at number three in the pool and perhaps could punch a bit higher if we caught some breaks and played really well. We didn’t quite get there, but to get in at the number three spot was good for us and I think sets us up well for the latter half of the tournament.”

Next up on the laundry list would be to replicate what they did at the 2015 World League Semi-Final in Argentina, where Canada upset World No. 7 New Zealand in the quarterfinal and essentially qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.

In London, a quarterfinal win would guarantee a top four finish in the competition and 2018 World Cup spot, as the top five finishers earn World Cup qualification.

But the task of defeating England, which is also the 7th ranked team in the world this time around, may prove to be more difficult.

“They’re a bit of a redeveloped team with some younger guys, but their younger guys are good. They’re hard working and they’re fast and they’re dangerous,” says Men’s National Team Interim Head Coach Paul Bundy.

What is also different than 2015 is that the Canadian men are not nearly as familiar with the English and they were with the Blacksticks, which they faced in a seven game series earlier in the year prior to defeating New Zealand in Buenos Aires.

Canada last played Great Britain at the 2015 World League Final in India where they lost 3-1. They also met England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and also lost 3-1.

“It’s going to be a little bit trickier to manage because we’re playing in England,” Bundy says. “They’re going to have a home crowd advantage and they’re going to try and keep the tempo really high against us and they’re going to push us back into our defence. We’re going to make sure that the plan we have is going to cater for that.”

Canada has shown in this competition, however, that it can craft a plan that is effective against the world’s top teams.

In it’s pool match against the Netherlands, the world’s fourth ranked team, the 11th ranked Canadians came up on the short end of a 3-1 loss, but were pleased with the execution of their game plan, which gave them a chance to take points.

And for Canada, it will likely be the same approach against England on Thursday.

“With that Dutch game, we can draw on the positives with the way we defended, and at times perhaps frustrated them and really locked down our half of the pitch,” adds Tupper, who has been playing in the Dutch second division this year.

“We’ll have to be on top of sort of everything we do, but I think if we are I think we certainly have a shot to pull out a result and move on.”

That result would solidify a World Cup spot, but Canada knows it has already done a lot – and maybe enough – to ensure it has a good shot at qualifying anyways.

With several of the top five finishers at this World League and the one in South Africa in July likely to also with their respective Continental Championships later this year, Canada knows there will be double-qualifications for the World Cup around the corner, meaning finishers from 6th spot on from each tournament will be next in line to scoop up their World Cup spots.

But despite that, the Canadians would rather not leave things to chance if they have the choice.

“It’s not quite done and dusted yet,” Tupper says. “We still need to win some games to really lock it in. Top eight may be good enough, but we really want to put ourselves in the best position and to know as early as possible that the qualification has come.”

Field Hockey Canada media release

India's proficient forwards give them edge over Malaysia in quarters

Sundeep Misra

Playing down the India-Malaysia quarter-final could be a shrewd approach. But when both coaches refuse to put their team ahead in the show-boating race, it can mean only one thing – contests between both these teams have been closer than predicted.

In the bragging rights arena, Stephen van Huizen even downplayed their last engagement when Malaysia beat India 1-0 at the 2017 Azlan Shah, around 45 days back. “That was a different tournament,” Stephen said. “We were playing at home and we won.” Of course, London is different. The Hockey World League is not the Azlan Shah. But the core area, the players remain the same. Irrespective of the venue, India and Malaysia have had some razor-sharp contests.

India, however, enter the final and most challenging phase of a tournament, the result of which will not only help gauge the quality of this team but also give a peep into the future, especially keeping in mind the 2017 Hockey World League Finals and the 2018 World Cup, both of which are being hosted by India. In a way, it’s also a battle to reclaim old glory and climb from the present World ranking of No 6 to enter the world’s top four. It is a realistic target but only time will tell if it can be realised.

After the 1-3 loss to Holland, a match where India showed persistence and could have pulled a goal back after Akashdeep Singh scored, the quarter-final will be a test of fortitude, grit and resoluteness. More than that, this Manpreet Singh-led squad needs to show some spunk against the fast moving and pacy Malaysians.

Justifying the defeat to the Dutch as a Pool match where the result wasn’t a knock-out, the Indian captain said, “See it was a pool match and we didn’t want to do any variations as most teams would have seen that before the knock-outs begin. The quarter-final is more important in the tournament. So, now we have to focus on it. We will try new variations in quarters and hopefully in the semi-finals.”

Indian coach Roelant Oltmans had said before the tournament that he doesn’t want to think about players who are not here. But Rupinder Pal Singh’s hamstring injury a day before the World League has made India deficient in the penalty corners department. Harmanpreet Singh is good but when it comes to the variation and angles, he still hasn’t got it right. The mixing of the angles combined with the low flicks adds to the penalty corner flicker's arsenal. And India are suffering at the moment.

For a player who has played the Olympics, misfiring a penalty corner against the Dutch was not expected and that is one area where Oltmans needs to seriously look at before assembling the troops against the Malaysians. Sometimes, you can’t have everything. The Indian forwards till now have scored 12 goals out of a total of 15 goals. Harmanpreet Singh has scored three off penalty corners. If India gets the breaks early and penalty corners follow, Harmanpreet Singh will have to convert to ensure that Malaysia remain under pressure.

After the match against Malaysia that India lost 0-1 giving up a place in the final in the 2017 Azlan Shah, Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen had said, “After India failed with the penalty corners, we had no fear and played more openly.” That cannot be allowed against a side that cuts into the middle from the flanks very efficiently. Those were the breaks that we allowed the Dutch.

Stephen still believes that India will be coming against the Malaysians with everything they have got. “India will be geared up for revenge after the Azlan defeat,” he says. “We cannot gift them early goals because then we are over. We will keep the game tight and hopefully take it into the last quarter and even try for a shoot-out if scores are equal.”

No coach wants to chase in modern hockey. But it’s still a sport where coming back into the game depends on pure finishing. “We have a team that refuses to die down,” says Oltmans. “Against Holland, we showed that even though the Dutch could have scored more in the 1st quarter, we didn’t give up in the 3rd and 4th quarter.”

In the last five matches played between both the nations, India lost only once and won the rest; the last loss coming in the 2017 Azlan Shah (0-1). But before that, India beat them in the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy (2-1); at the 4-Nation Hockey Festival, Melbourne (4-2, 4-1 respectively) and then at the 2016 Azlan Shah with a big margin of 6-1. The scorers of that match Ramandeep Singh (2) and Talwinder Singh (1) will line-up against Malaysia. Interestingly, in the 2015 Hockey World League in Antwerp, India met Malaysia in the quarter-finals. Satbir gave India the lead but after that Malaysia went 2-1 up before Jasjit Singh Kular flicked in two penalty corners to give India victory. Kular is in London as a replacement for Rupinder Pal Singh.

Take a look at these scores: Malaysia beat India 3-2 in the 2015 Azlan Shah; India beat Malaysia 3-2 at the 2014 World Cup at Hague and then at the 2013 Asian Champions Trophy in Japan, India won 4-3. Margins have been narrow. “Those matches have happened,” said Oltmans. “I am interested in securing wins in the coming matches.”

Europe has not been a good hunting ground for Malaysia. In fact, they have never beaten India on European soil. In the 2004, Madrid qualifiers for the Athens Olympics, India won 5-3. In the 1996 Olympic Qualifiers, India and Malaysia drew 0-0 and before that in 1986 in a Test match in Belgium, India beat Malaysia 5-2.

The trend may still continue looking at the proficiency of the Indian forwards in this tournament. Akashdeep Singh (5), Ramandeep Singh (2), Talwinder Singh (2) and a goal each by Pardeep Mor, Sardar Singh and SV Sunil give India an edge.

On the other side, Malaysia have scored through Rahim Razie (3) and Faizal Saari (3). The one player, India were really expecting to shine on this stage was Mandeep Singh who had a good outing in the 2017 Azlan Shah with five goals which included a hat-trick against Japan. But Mandeep is yet to get into his groove. He has had chances but the poacher’s instinct seems to have deserted him. Nothing would be better for India than seeing Mandeep roar back into form against Malaysia.

But Malaysia may have a hidden card in the form of their Technical Director, Terry Walsh, the former Indian coach under whom India won the 2014 Asian Games. Terry now advises Malaysian coach Stephen and with his inside knowledge of Indian players, the match could rise to heights not yet seen in this rivalry between the two Asian nations. Stephen didn’t want to get into a conversation about Terry but said, “All things being equal, India are still the favourites.”

On the low conversion rate of penalty corners, Indian coach Oltmans had the last word. “More important part of the team is still to come,” said the Dutchman with a smile. For several Indian hockey fans, Akashdeep is the man of the moment with a talent so persuasive that when he moves, winning almost seems the only result


India will be keen to regroup

Takes on Malaysia in quarterfinals after being jolted by the Netherlands

Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh have been among the scorers and India will be hoping they get into the act against Malaysia too

Jolted by a loss to the Netherlands, India would look to re-group quickly when it takes on Malaysia in the quarterfinal of the Hockey World League semifinal, here on Thursday.

After registering three convincing wins against Scotland, Canada and Pakistan, India wasted chances galore to slump to a 1-3 defeat against the Netherlands, the first in the tournament.

Finishes second in group

The loss meant India finished second in Pool B behind Netherlands, which kept a clean slate.

The Indians only have themselves to blame for the defeat against the Dutch as besides conceding soft goals, they wasted numerous scoring chances.

And come Thursday, Roelant Oltmans’ men cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes against Malaysia, which is capable of springing surprises.

“This was our toughest match in the group and we had our chances, too. The good thing is that we came back after being 3-0 down but we didn’t do enough and got punished,” coach Oltmans had said after the defeat against Netherlands.

Going by form and ranking, world no. 6 India starts favourite against the 14th-placed Malaysians.

While striker Akashdeep Singh has been in superb form, scoring some scintillating goals in the tournament, he would look for support upfront from the likes of S.V. Sunil, Talwinder Singh and Mandeep Singh.

India’s midfield, led by the talismanic Sardar Singh and skipper Manpreet Singh, will have to take more responsibility while the inexperienced defence needs to pull up its socks as one bad day in office can now throw the team out of the tournament.

In the absence of Rupinderpal Singh, India was found wanting in penalty corner conversions with the young Harmanpreet Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular failing to live up to the expectations of Oltmans.

But the performances of reserve goalkeepers Vikas Dahiya and Akash Chikte in the absence of an injured P.R. Sreejesh have been heartening.

Meanwhile, in other quarterfinals, reigning Olympic champion Argentina will play Pakistan, the Netherlands will take on China and host England will square off against Canada.

The Hindu

Fiery Malaysia-India clash expected – even if the stakes are lower

by S. Ramaguru

Let me handle him: Malaysia’s Muhd Najmi Farizal Jazlan (left) trying to mark a China player.

KUALA LUMPUR: India and Malaysia have played each other 112 times in men’s hockey. India have won 77 times and Malaysia just 16 times.

Not only that. India also denied the Malaysian men’s hockey team a place in last year’s Rio Olympics when they won 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium.

Today, the two teams meet again at the same stage of the World Hockey League Semi-Finals. This time, though, the stakes are lower as both have qualified for next year’s World Cup.

A win for Malaysia will not only confirm their World Cup berth, but will also take them into the top eight in world hockey.

That loss still rankles among the Malaysian players.

And if that’s not enough, the two India players who scored in Antwerp – Jasjit Singh Kullar and Satbir Singh – are still in the team and Malaysia had better be wary.

In the 2015 match, Malaysia were leading 2-1 with goals from Mohd Razie Rahim and Mohd Shahril Saabah while Satbir replied for India. Then Jasjit scored two late penalty corner goals (49th and 56th) to dash Malaysia’s Olympic hopes.

Razie, who was the skipper of the team then, still remembers the setback vividly, saying that Jasjit caught them by complete surprise when he took the flicks.

“We didn’t have any data on him and never expected him to be a flicker,” said Razie yesterday.

“He is playing here (in London) but has not scored any goals or taken any flicks. Still, we will be wary of India’s ability to change flickers.”

Razie also warned his team-mates not to just focus on the two players.

“We beat India in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh in May). So, there’s no reason why we can’t do it again. But it will be tough,” said Razie, who has scored three goals in London thus far.

India coach Roelant Oltmans also did not want to be drawn into talking about the Malaysian game.

“For me, what is important is India’s game and how we prepare for it. We are not overly bothered about who we are pitted against. All the four quarter-final matches will be tough.

“We are here to win and will not take any match lightly, although we have an automatic spot in the World Cup,” said Oltmans.

Akashdeep Singh is India’s top scorer with five goals – all field attempts. National Juniors skipper Hermandeep Singh is their main penalty corner flicker.

The Star of Malaysia

Pakistan secure quarter final berth at last gasp.

By Shahid Khan at Lee Valley Hockey Centre, Olympic Park

Pakistan scraped into the quarter finals of the Hero Hockey World League semi-finals after Scotland drew their last pool match 1-1 against Canada at Olympic Park in London.

Scotland, requiring a victory to deny Pakistan a berth in the quarter finals found themselves a goal behind early in the game. Although they scored to equalise they could not find the winner. The tense faces of the on looking Pakistan players softened in relief at the final hooter as they were pitted to play Argentina in the quarter final.

Greenshirts finished in 4th position in pool B after 3 heavy defeats against Holland (4-0), Canada (6-0) and India (7-1)  before they registered their first points by winning 3-1 against Scotland. Pakistan will take on group A winners Argentina in the quarter final on Thursday.

Current Olympic champions and world number 1 team, Argentina, will provide formidable opposition for Pakistan as they have progressed in the tournament having dropped only points with 3-3 draw against England while scoring a whopping number of 20 goals in four games.
The two countries have an intriguing relationship dating back to the 2nd World Cup in Amsterdam (1973), where Greenshirts were 6-0 winners in a match which saw Pakistan's youngest debutant, 16 years old Safdar Abbas score a goal.

At the 1978 World Cup held in Buenos Aires, Pakistan were clear favourites to lift the Trophy incidentally donated by them. The Pakistan captain Islahuddin on arrival noted that for the first time there was no sub continental presence amongst the crowd for a mega hockey tournament. He wondered if there would be any support for his team. However the Argentinian's took fancy to the Pakistanis and for the duration of the World Cup they remained as the unofficial ' home side' being cheered and applauded vociferously by the locals.

Such was the dominance of the Pakistan team that they lifted the World Cup in the Argentinian capital scoring 35 goals whilst conceding only four. In the course of the tournament they defeated Argentina 7-0.

The performance of the Pakistan team drew attention from the renowned British newspaper sports columnist Ian Woodridge of Daily Mail, who commented their team's performance as unmatched in world team sport.

Two month later Argentina hosted the FIFA World Cup and their World Cup winning coach, Cesar Luis Menotti said during an interview that he had been inspired by the display of the Pakistan hockey team at the World Cup and wanted his team to play on their pattern and that is how they won the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

The quarter finalist have played each other once in London when the South American team sprung a major surprise in the 1986 World Cup when they defeated the much fancied Pakistan team 3-1 in the opening match for the Greenshirts. 

Argentina nick named Les Leonos (the lions) have appeared in all the editions of hockey World Cups and have only a solitary medal to their name, a bronze medal which they won at the 13th World Cup in 2014 held in The Hague. However they are the current Olympic champions having defeated Belgium at the Rio Olympic Games.

Greenshirts, history on the other hand is littered with titles galore both in World Cups and Olympic Games but they have failed to qualify for the first time for both of these mega events. There last title was won at the 2016 South Asian Games where they defended their gold medal, winning 2-1 against India at Guwahati, India.

The World League semi-finals Round is also a 2018 World Cup qualifier. However if Pakistan fails to qualify here it will have to win the Asian Hockey Champion Trophy, which will be held in India later in the year.

Fieldhockey Exclusive

FIH, Pakistan not amused by India’s black armband protest

The international hockey federation (FIH) was stumped when the Indian team sent out a political message during their Hockey World League semifinal group stage match against arch-rivals Pakistan

Soumitra Bose

Ramandeep Singh (left) wearing a black arm band on his left sleeve during India vs Pakistan Hockey World League semi-finals match.(Hockey India )

India’s black armband protest during their Hockey World League semifinal group B match against Pakistan on June 18 has put the international hockey federation (FIH) in a spot of bother. On Wednesday, the FIH apologised for politically sensitive remarks made in the social media by its Indian president Narinder Batra.

Hosts England are among several nations who have not endorsed India’s manner of condoling the death of soldiers patrolling the troubled frontiers in Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan are visibly upset that India had used the hockey pitch to convey a political message.

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Olympic Park in Stratford on Wednesday, former Pakistan star Shahbaz Ahmed slammed Narinder Batra for posting Twitter messages on a delicate political issue. “Such things only spoil relationship, on and off the field,” he said.

Shahbaz, who is now the secretary-general of Pakistan Hockey Federation, said, “Batra forgot that he is the president of FIH. He needs to be fair in his position and avoid making remarks on issues that are beyond the control of hockey players, administrators and fans, three of the biggest stakeholders of any sport.”

After more than 48 hours and probably under pressure, the FIH stated that it did not side with its president. “The FIH would like to emphasise that these comments were the personal thoughts of Dr Batra and not representative of the views of the FIH. The FIH would like to apologise for any offence that these comments may have caused.

(Read | Hockey World League Semi-Final: India face Malaysian hurdle in quarters)

“At the request of FIH, these comments have now been deleted and the matter will be reviewed internally in line with our governance processes.”

England, too, have apologised to Pakistan, said 48-year-old Shahbaz, who retired from active hockey in 2002.

“Andy Tapley (organising committee boss) of England Hockey came to us and said they never saw this nature of Indian protest coming. It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth at a time when all the world federations are trying their best to use sports as a message of peace,” said Shahbaz.

“Why didn’t the Indian cricket team wear black armbands during the ICC Champions Trophy? They played Pakistan not once but twice. When you use players to deliver political messages, it is not in the right spirit,” said Shahbaz.

On June 18, India thrashed Pakistan 7-1. But the good work on the hockey pitch was spoilt by Virat Kohli’s men, who were handed a 180-run thrashing in the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan at The Oval.

Shahbaz said when the FIH president doesn’t know where to draw a line, “can you really blame the players?”

Known as the Maradona of hockey, Shahbaz recalled how a clutch of Pakistani players, who had made ugly gestures after beating India in a highly-charged Champions Trophy semifinal in Bhubaneswar on December 14, 2014, were made to apologise for their unwarranted act.

“Will Mr Batra do the same?” Shahbaz asked

Hindustan Times

Shahbaz Ahmad presents 'Signed' Hockey Stick to CEO England Hockey for The Hockey Museum

Sally Munday receives Signed Hockey Stick from Shahbaz Ahmad

The Hockey Museum located at Woking in London is home to a rich treasure of hockey memorabilia.

Supported by England Hockey and working in partnership with the FIH, The Hockey Museum is always looking for additions to its collection.

On the sidelines of the ongoing Hockey World League semifinal round, the Secretary General of Pakistan Hockey Federation, Shahbaz Ahmad donated a hockey stick signed by Pakistan's three Olympic gold medal winning teams' captains and the four World Cup winning captains.

The Signed Stick was presented by Shahbaz Ahmad to Sally Munday, the CEO of England Hockey at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Speaking on the occasion, Sally Munday thanked the PHF for this contribution, "Pakistan has a great hockey legacy. It is really nice to receive such a wonderful donation from the PHF."

Pakistan's Olympic Gold Medal Winning Captains:
1960: Brigadier Abdul Hameed Hameedi
1968: Dr Tariq Aziz
1984: Manzoor Hussain Junior

Pakistan's World Cup Winning Captains:
1971: Khalid Mahmood
1978: Islahuddin
1982: Akhtar Rasool
1994: Shahbaz Ahmad

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info  


SA Teams Announced For World League Semi-Finals 8-23 July

After two very intense and competitive final selection camps that took place in Potchefstroom for the women and Rustenburg for the men, the teams that will represent South Africa at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals hosted in Johannesburg have been named.

SA Women’s Hockey Team- Coach Sheldon Rostron

1. Stephanie Baxter
2. Quanita Bobbs
3. Kara Botes
4. Bernadette Coston
5. Sulette Damons
6. Illse Davids
7. Lisa Deetlefs
8. Lilian du Plessis
9. Celia Evans
10. Tarryn Glasby
11. Shelley Jones
12. Nicole La Fleur
13. Candice Manuel
14. Jade Mayne
15. Phumelela Mbande
16. Jessica o’Connor
17. Nicolene Terblanche
18. Nicole Walraven

Rostron is very optimistic ahead of the event and believes that this team will be competitive at the #HWL2017. Rostron’s confidence in his team shows in his interview for SuperSport Blitz, explaining his intentions and expectations for the women he has selected. Catch this interview, as well as men’s coach Fabian Gregory’s, on SuperSport Blitz, Channel 200, from 21 June 2017.

SA Men’s Hockey Team- Coach Fabian Gregory

1. Rassie Pieterse
2. Gowan Jones
3. Jethro Eustice
4. Austin Smith
5. Rhett Halkett
6. Daniel Bell
7. Matt Guise-Brown
8. Jonty Robinson
9. Daniel Sibbald
10. Reza Rosenburg
11. Ryan Julius
12. Tim Drummond
13. Owen Mvimbi
14. Julian Hykes
15. Nqobile Ntuli
16. Ignatius Malgraff
17. Dayaan Cassiem
18. Tevin Kok

Coach Gregory is excited to take on the challenges of #HWL2017 with an attacking approach. Gregory is looking to play a very exciting brand of hockey which promises the fans a team that is playing to compete and score goals. Both coaches have identified the importance of this tournament and what it means for SA hockey and their world ranking positions.

Both Gregory and Rostron are hoping to earn back the world ranking points that were lost due to missing out on the Olympics, with Gregory adding that the men’s team reaching top 10 within the next couple of years is a very realistic expectation.

Very few nations have had the opportunity to host both men and women at the same venue during the same time. This event at Wits Hockey Club, again demonstrates SAHA’s object to amplify the gender amazing aspect of our sport amongst some of the other objectives of, accessibility, professionalism, event experience and revolutionising hockey in South Africa. Hosting events on home soil plays into our cost management strategy due to the funding challenges of national teams traveling abroad.

With all one hundred and thirty two matches from the FIH World League Semi Finals will be broadcast live on SuperSport, there’s no excuse to miss out on the action.

SA Hockey Association media release

Rani Rampal to lead Indian eves in HWL Semi-Final

NEW DELHI: Striker Rani Rampal will lead an 18-member Indian women's team at the Hockey World League Semi-Final to begin on July 8 in Johannesburg. Defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam has been named as Rani's deputy for the tournament.

The team features an experienced line-up with Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Monika, Sushila and Gurjit Kaur forming a part of the defensive line.

The team has two goalkeepers -- Savita and Rajani Etimarpu while the midfield consists of Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Namita Toppo.

The forwardline features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Anupa Barla and Reena Khokhar.

Though the Indian eves suffered a 0-5 loss in their previous tour in New Zealand where they played the hosts in a five-match Series, they will aim for better results at the Hockey World League Semi-Final (Women) which also happens to be a qualifying tournament for the 2018 Women's World Cup in London.

"While our first aim is to do well in the pool stage and do well against opponents like South Africa and Argentina, our big target is to qualify for the World Cup next year. Though the qualifying criteria is top five teams, since England are the hosts, our criteria will be to finish in top 6 to qualify for the World Cup," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

India are grouped in Pool B along with strong opponents Argentina, South Africa, Chile and USA.

The event will also see participation from Germany, England, Ireland, Japan and Poland.

India will begin their campaign at the Hockey World League Semi-Final against South Africa on July 8.


Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu.

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (vice-captain), Monika.

Midfielders: Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Navjot Kaur, Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz.

Forwards: Reena Khokhar, Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Anupa Barla, Preeti Dubey.

The Times of India

Shaw Names World League Squad

Graham Shaw, head coach of the Irish women’s hockey team, has today announced his squad of 18 players for the World League Semi Finals in Johannesburg (8-23 July).

World League offers the side the chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in London, in doing so they would become the first Irish women’s team to play at a world cup since the 2002 Perth tournament. Qualification for the 2018 event has been expanded to 16 teams, giving the Green Army a very tangible opportunity of returning Ireland to the World Cup stage. The 16 teams will be comprised of England as World Cup hosts, 5 Continental champions and 10 highest placed National Associations in the Semi-Finals of World League (Johannesburg & Belgium) not qualified under the first 2 criteria.

There are no new faces in the side that combines a mixture of stalwarts along with several players who have yet to play in a World League Semi-Final.  Shaw’s side have had an eye-watering list of fixtures in preparation playing against 5 of the world’s top ten teams in recent months, most recently beating Olympic bronze medallists Germany.

The Green Army have a tough opening fixture of World League against world number 11 Japan, a ranking that perhaps doesn't reflect their ability as they beat Australia, New Zealand and USA in the Hawkes Bay Cup with those 3 opponents sitting 4th, 5th and 6th in the world respectively. The girls in green will then face world number 7 Germany, and Poland before a 3-day break which then sees them round out their pool games against world number 2 England, a side that will surely have a whole host of the Olympic champions Great Britain squad.

Speaking about the squad, Shaw said “Squad was selection was very tight with some difficult decisions. This is testament to how hard this group has worked and how we have developed over the past few months.

We’re very excited to get started at World League in South Africa. We will take every game as it comes during the tournament. Our aim is to finish in the top four in our pool which will put us in the Quarter Finals. Each team will pose a different threat and we will be as prepared as possible for each”.


Grace O’Flanagan - Railway Union
Hannah Matthews - Loreto
Zoe Wilson - Harvesthuder
Shirley McCay - Ulster Elks
Elizabeth Colvin - Loreto
Elena Tice - UCD
Chloe Watkins - Hermes/Monkstown
Katie Mullan - UCD
Gillian Pinder - UCD
Anna O’Flanagan - Hermes/Monkstown
Sinead Loughran - Hermes/Monkstown
Nicola Evans - Hermes/Monkstown
Nicola Daly - Muckross
Deirdre Duke - UCD
Emily Beatty - KHC Dragons
Roisin Upton - Cork Harlequins
Yvonne OByrne - Cork Harlequins
Ayeisha McFerran - Univeristy of Louisville

Irish Hockey Association media release

Ireland Hamburg-bound without trio of Olympians

Peter Caruth will miss the summer programme through injury. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ireland will travel to the Hamburg Masters this week without a trio of Olympians who played their part in the recent series win over Pakistan with Conor Harte, Peter Caruth and Kirk Shimmins not taking part this time.

Indeed, Caruth and Shimmins have both been ruled out of July's Hockey World League semi-finals with the former sustaining an injury that puts him out of the summer programme while Shimmins is not available for this competition.

Harte has a knock and so remains in Cork to heal but should be available in time for the World League in Johannesburg where the 2018 World Cup tickets will be decided.

Otherwise, there are eight of the players from Rio involved and 14 of the panel that played in World League Round 2 in March. The one bolter is Three Rock Rovers Daragh Walsh who made his debut in the Pakistan series earlier this month and he will try to push his claims for a midfield berth.

Speaking about this tournament, Fulton said: "We have had a very good training and match block recently. The whole squad of 30 players has added immense value to the final selection for the World League team.

"As always, selection is difficult in this group which is our strength and our goals are clear this summer - to qualify for the World Cup."

Ireland squad for Hamburg Masters (June 22-25, 2017): D Harte (GK, SV Kampong), J Carr (GK, Three Rock Rovers), J Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), J Bell (Lisnagarvey), M Bell (Banbridge), C Cargo (Hampstead & Westminster), M Nelson (Lisnagarvey), A Sothern (Pembroke), E Magee (Banbridge), N Glassey (Lisnagarey), S O’Donoghue (Glenanne), S Murray (Lisnagarvey), J McKee (Banbridge), D Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), P Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), J Duncan (Herakles), L Cole (Royal Oree), S Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), S Cole (Monkstown)

Hamburg Masters schedule
Thursday, June 22: Ireland v Spain, 4.45pm; Germany v Austria, 7pm
Friday, June 23: Ireland v Austria, 4.45pm; Spain v Germany, 7pm
Sunday, June 24: Austria v Spain, 10am; Ireland v Germany, 12.30pm

The Hook

Financial woe leaves Irish hockey out in the cold

Stephen Findlater

Ireland vs Pakistan Ireland keeper David Harte Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Freddie Parkinson

Hockey Ireland chief executive Jerome Pels says the lack of a viable international stadium and the organisation’s financial history – rather than performance levels – scuppered Ireland’s hopes of being part of the Pro League.

The new competition, which begins in January 2019, is part of the International Hockey Federation’s ambitious plans to drive the sport into the full-time, professional realm.

With television deals struck with BT Sport and Star Sports in India, the FIH is projecting revenues of up to $150 million over the initial four years of the competition. The event sees nine men’s and women’s teams from around the world facing each other on a home and away basis with 144 games broadcast over a six-month period.

Based on the world ranking list, Ireland’s ninth-rated men might have hoped to be part of the first wave based on current ability. But free-falling Pakistan were chosen ahead of them with their proposal to host games in Glasgow – due to security issues – proving more attractive to the selection body.

Indeed, their ability to draw over 80 million television viewers for last Sunday’s 7-1 drubbing at the hands of arch-rivals India indicates the IHF’s reasoning.

“We want to reiterate for us that Irish hockey is not good enough is absolutely not the case,” Pels said when asked about Ireland’s omission in favour of Pakistan. “It’s the commercial side of things where the issues are.”

It is the latest frustration for the Irish men as they attempt to maintain a place in the world’s elite tier. Currently ninth-ranked, they are the only side in the top 15 who are not in full-time, funded programmes.

To get there, they twice had to go to the hockey public for dig-outs. In 2012, they required a €60,000 bail-out to allow them to travel to the Champions Challenge in Argentina; in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, they required €225,000 to fund their Rio preparations.

Now, they are faced with being outside the loop with a possible dearth of regular matches against the world’s top sides.

Captain David Harte is worried it will stymie their progress. The two-time world goalkeeper of the year said: “What has worked for us over the last few years is playing against those teams, testing ourselves against the best and getting results against them. That, in essence, led to our qualification for Rio. You constantly want to play these teams.”

But with commercial viability listed second on the list of the FIH criteria for competing – eight lines above performance – it is clear to see where the bid fell down.

“The [financial] position of Hockey Ireland is pretty weak so quite a bit needs to happen,” Pels adds.

Financing trips to New Zealand, Argentina, India and Australia and a couple of trips to Europe in quick succession could cost close to €500,000.

“You get the scale of the costs. Our current funding is based on the events that have ranking points, have qualification for the World Cup or Olympic events or a medal event like the European Championships. Competing in this league, we would need to have an additional budget [specifically for the Pro League].”

The aspiration of the league is to offer hockey as a career choice, leaving the current batch of students and workers in a difficult position if they wish to take part.

“If you sign up for the league, you sign up your players for at least four months commitment to actually play those games,” Pels adds. “We don’t know how we could provide financial help for those players for the time they do this for Ireland [and not for the club].”

To meet those costs, the chief executive adds that there is no means of raising that extra capital currently barring a large new sponsor.

When Ireland can offer a home venue, though, is another matter. The National Hockey Stadium in UCD has been deemed unfit for international matches for the last two years with a stand-off currently between Hockey Ireland and the college over who will fund the replacement pitch.

Even if UCD replaces the turf, however, numerous modifications would need to be made to make it fit for hosting fully televised events with previous tournaments building temporary, improvised broadcast towers.

“Ideally, we have a plot of land reserved in our name in Abbotstown with planning permission attached at the National Sports Campus. That is the way we want to go. It will be a huge effort to develop it,” says Pel.

“This introduction of the Pro League, for us, makes it a good moment for us to go to the government and Sport Ireland to explain the need for having a place where we can host if we want to develop hockey to the next level.”

Pels is currently speaking to designers to cost such a project. But with the Pro League closed for applications until 2023, the fear is that the damage may be done with the lack of top level games creating a chasm between Ireland and the elite nations.

The Irish Examiner

Madibaz target semis at USSA hockey tournament

The skills of Madibaz star Chad Cairncross will play an important role for them when they compete in the University Sport South Africa hockey week in Johannesburg from June 28 to July 2. Photo: Saspa

Despite losing several senior players, the NMMU-Madibaz men’s hockey team will be striving to repeat last year’s effort at the University Sport South Africa tournament in Johannesburg next week.

Hockey manager Cheslyn Gie said they were eager to emulate their 2016 achievement of third when they compete at the University of Johannesburg and Wits from June 28 to July 2.

Although not looking too far ahead, he said they would target a position in the semifinals.

“We know it will be a tough week and the favourites will be Maties, who are the defending champions,” he said.

“Then Tuks and UJ will be up there as they have recruited top players, while Wits will also be looking to do well after investing heavily in their playing resources.

“We have lost some senior players through injuries and some have graduated, but will definitely be aiming for a spot in the top four.”

Gie added that the Hockey World League tournament, which followed the USSA week, could have an impact in the team’s fortunes.

“Players selected for the national squad will not be allowed to play at the USSA tournament and this could make things very interesting.”

He said they had just undergone a two-week training camp in preparation of the USSA week, which underlined the important role it played in their plans.

“It gives us an excellent chance to compare ourselves to our peers and it is also the qualifier for the Varsity Hockey competition in 2018.”

Besides the training camp, he said they had lined up several friendly games to complete their preparations.

Gie said strikers Ignatius Malgraff and Cerezo Comerasamy, links Chad Cairncross and Kirwin Christoffels and goalkeeper Muzimmal Sheik would have major roles to play.

Madibaz coach Michael van Rensburg said he wanted the women’s team to show some improvement on their seventh place of last year, with the top six their initial goal.

After competing in the Varsity Hockey competition this year, he said they had been working on a number of areas.

“In terms of our conditioning the squad have had a four-week fitness programme and the results have been pleasing so far. We still have a way to go but we are in a better space now than prior to Varsity Hockey.”

Van Rensburg added that on-field training had been held three times a week, culminating in a training camp last weekend.

He said their defence would be organised by the reliable skills of Luzaan Potgieter and Zimasa Dunywa, with squad leader Caitlin Gouws leading the attack from midfield.

“We also have the experience of talented attacking midfielder Kiona Sequiera, while Jayde Viljoen is a solid defensive midfielder.”

From a mental perspective, Van Rensburg said several sport psychology sessions with Port Elizabeth-based clinical psychologist Wesley Kew had made a big difference.

“This has been of tremendous value as we look to move into a new era we are creating for NMMU women’s hockey,” he said.

“We look forward to the Eastern Cape getting behind us as we strive to establish ourselves during a rebuilding phase with a young side that will aim to make the region proud.”

NMMU Media release

USWNT Staff Announces Newly Named 2017 U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team and U.S. Women’s National Development Squad

LANCASTER, Pa. – Four days of intense trainings and practice sessions stood between the 67 athletes that attended the U-21 Junior and Development Squad National Camp and their name on the final roster. U.S. Women’s National Team coaching staff is pleased to announce the newly named 2017 U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team and U.S. Women’s National Development Squad.

“I was pleased with the level of play at last weeks Young Women’s National Championship and the Junior National Camp only built on that,” said Phil Edwards, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. “The athletes in both groups worked hard throughout and showed an ability to adapt and learn which is critical to our success moving forward. We were able to name a group with a good mix of experience and new faces which bodes well for the year to come. A huge thank you must be extended to the coaches, selectors and officials who created an excellent training environment for the group.”

Selections to the U-21 Junior and Development Squad National Camp came from the 2017 Young Women’s National Championship, which featured more than 130 of the most elite female collegiate and post-collegiate athletes from around the country. The event concluded on June 16 and the National Camp took place June 17-20.

The newly named U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team welcomes more strong, new talent to the squad while containing 11 veterans. The 2018 U-21 USWNT training and competition schedule is yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

Congratulations to the following athletes who have been named to the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team:

Maddie Bacskai (Princeton, Berwyn, Pa.), Kendall Ballard (Ohio, Charlottesville, Va.), Kelsey Bing (Stanford, Houston, Texas), Virginia Bramley (Penn State, Elizabethtown, Pa.), Katrina Carter (Cal Berkeley, Gilroy, Calif.), Amanda Collins (UConn, Binghampton, N.Y.), Brooke Deberdine (Maryland, Millersville, Pa.), Linnea Gonzales (Maryland, Bel Air, Md.), Amelia Iacobucci (UConn, Malvern, Pa.), Mikayla Michals (Providence, Needham, Mass.), Margaux Paolino (Duke, Villanova, Pa.), Kealsie Robles (ODU, Seaford, Va.), Taylor Stone (Louisville, Herndon, Va.), Julianna Tornetta (Princeton, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), Sophia Tornetta (Princeton, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), Christie Van de Kamp (William & Mary, Midlothian, Va.), Jillian Wolgemuth (Duke, Mount Joy, Pa.), Elise Wong (Princeton, Perth Amboy, N.J.), Corinne Zanolli (Stanford, Newtown Square, Pa.)

In addition to the players selected above, five athletes will be offered a trial at the conclusion of their collegiate season at a date and location to be determined. Those athletes are Greta Ell (UVa, Plains, Pa.), Jenny Rizzo (Penn State, Hershey, Pa.), Haley Schleicher (Duke, Virginia Beach, Va.), Annie Snead (Midlothian, Va.) and Cassie Sumfest (UNC, Lewisburg, Pa.).

“I look forward to observing this group and others from the stands during the college season as we look to round out the team before the new year,” added Edwards.

To account for the transitional phase from the U-21 USWNT to the senior USWNT, the U.S. Women’s National Development Squad was introduced in November 2016 to nurture the talent of college students who no longer are permitted to be on the junior team due to age restrictions.

“Over the past three months, the players on the Development Team made a strong commitment to the program,” said Jun Kentwell, USWNT Development Squad Head Coach. “They worked hard for each other and their performance in the Young Women’s National Championship and National Camp showed the quality of their play.”

Congratulations to the following athletes who have been named to the U.S. Women’s National Development Squad:

Marybeth Barham (Yale, Fairfax, Va.), Samantha Carlino (UMass, Kennett Square, Pa.), Catherine Caro (Princeton, Martinsville, N.J.), Danielle Grega (ODU, Kingston, Pa.), Alexandra Hammel (Boston U., Duxbury, Mass.), Carrie Hanks (Maryland, Niskayuna, N.Y.), Karlie Heistand (UConn, Hamburg, Pa.), Dani Hemeon (Iowa, Gilroy, Calif.), Kellie Joyce (UNH, South Pomfret, N.Y.), Taylor Lister (Delaware, Hummelstown, Pa.), Carrera Lucas (UVa, Brooklandville, Md.), Ryan McCarthy (Princeton, Madison, N.J.), Emily McCoy (Boston College, Lititz, Pa.), Erin Menges (William & Mary, Richmond, Va.), Megan Miller (Richmond, Palmyra, Pa.), Kasey Tapman (Maryland, Annapolis, Md.), Casey Umstead (UConn, Green Lane, Pa.)

In addition to the players selected above, six athletes will be offered a trial at the conclusion of their collegiate season at a date and location to be determined. Those athletes are Taylor Blood (Boston U., Hampton Falls, N.H.), Carly Celkos (Penn State, Berlin, N.J.), Elena Curley (Northwestern, Louisville, Ky.), Skyler Fretz (Penn State, Oley, Pa.), Laura Hurff (Syracuse, Newark, Del.) and Katie Walsh (Louisville, Louisville, Ky.)

“I am pleased to welcome eight new players to the Development Team,” continued Kentwell. “We will be looking to build on the progress the team has made and provide the opportunity for more players to follow Erin McCrudden and Carissa Vittese to challenge for places on the U.S. Women’s National Team.”

This coming year, the U.S. Women’s National Development Squad will continue to work on developing the players’ skills, vision and tactical understanding. This will hopefully give players the opportunity to play overseas and gain some international experience which is extremely important as athletes look to progress to the USWNT.

USFHA media release

MR Negi: Painful 82 to joyful 2017

Mohandoss T Kalathail

Arrogant, bitter or sweet…

Revenge can be either of the three or all these aspects put together.

But in Mumbai there was a man who experienced the ‘revenge’ differently.

Yes, he is none other than Mir Ranjan Negi.

One has to speak to Negi to find out how he had to guard himself from the pangs of vengeful citizens after he conceded seven goals during the dreadful loss to Pakistan 35 years ago.

That happened during the 1982 Asian Games and it is still hard to pacify the ‘victim’ who single-handedly suffered the most humiliating situation.

Negi on Monday confirmed that he never felt arrogant, bitter or sweet as India pumped in seven goals to come up trumps 7-1 against Pakistan in the World Hockey League semifinal round on Sunday.

This joyful moment was happening when the highly rated Indian cricketers were being pummeled by the green brigade.

“Initially I kept switching channels, but what was happening in hockey was more awe inspiring and when the goals started to flow cricket was never in my mind,” said Negi, who sounded pacified, delighted and ecstatic.

It is the verdict 7-1 that made Negi nostalgic and brought back the ghost (horrible memories) of 1982.

“If then I was called a traitor and branded anti-national, my heart yearns for Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali. Though he was substituted after conceding six goals, I can very well understand what went through or still goes through his mind,” noted Negi.

“Felt little pity for the helpless goalkeeper of Pakistan Amjad Ali, who could not have done much, and is now left with memories which will haunt him for a long time to come. I lived with it and so will he.

“The win in hockey was so personal for me that even with India losing in cricket, I along with family lit candles and celebrated the hockey win like Diwali,” he detailed.

“At times I feel sad seeing the widening distance between India and Pakistan, but sports which brings two hearts closer is also adding fuel to the fire in recent times,” he pointed out.

Negi also praised Pakistan team while summarising the match.

“India with black bands played better hockey and showcased some amazing clinical finishes but Pakistan was not bad. It’s just that they missed on lot of sitters including the penalty corners they earned.”

Since long Negi has been saying that goalkeeping is a very tough but 'unthankful' job.

“A goalkeeper’s excellence and brilliance comes to the fore, when the defence line is strong and forwards are in best rhythm,” said Negi, who praised the performance of India’s custodian Akash Chitke.

Posting on his Facebook page, Negi expressed his pride. “Today (on Sunday) after 35 years we took the revenge by defeating them by the same margin. Feeling what Pak goalie must be undergoing,” he wrote on his page, revealing that he for the first time felt pacified since the 1982 Asian Games.

However, he conceded the pain of 1982 still stayed fresh in his mind and “that will remain forever.”

“If I had said revenge, it is just a term I used for the excellent performance by our boys. The 7-1 verdict also ignited a fire in me, but the old memories will stay forever,” he said.

Joining the ecstatic mood of Negi was his mentor Saiyed Ali Sibtain Naqvi, former India player and coach.

Speaking from Muscat, veteran Naqvi who is in his prime age, said he jumped with joy as the goals flowed.

“I felt more ecstatic, when Negi called me personally to vent out his feelings soon after the match,” said the veteran, a former Oman coach and still serving Oman Hockey Association as adviser.

“I was personally there in New Delhi when my boy Negi had faced the wrath and now I join him in feeling elated,” said Naqvi, who is synonymous to hockey in India and Oman.

Naqvi also said that the present hockey team will revive the good old golden days for India.

The author is former Sports Editor of Times of Oman and all views expressed in the article is of his own.


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