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News for 25 June 2017

All the news for Sunday 25 June 2017

Argentina & Netherlands qualify for Odisha Hockey World League Final

London, England: Olympic champions Argentina and European champions The Netherlands have booked their places at the end-of-year showpiece Odisha Hockey World League Final after winning their respective final four matches at the Men’s Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London.

Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Argentina were the first team to reach the event final in London thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory over Malaysia to seal their place in the end-of-year Odisha Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar. The Malaysians – who have shown consistent improvement throughout this competition – were outstanding against their illustrious opponents, matching them until Lucas Vila scored superbly from a penalty corner rebound to find a gap between the legs of shotstopper Kumar Subramiam just before the first quarter-time break. Los Leones doubled the advanted four minutes into the third quarter thanks to a poacher’s goal from the impressive Manuel Brunet, but a penalty stroke convert by Fitri Saari kept Malaysia within touching distance of their opponents. Malaysia battled valiantly, but masterful defending ensured that Argentina took the win.  

Ignacio Ortiz, who earned his 100th cap in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Malaysia said: “It was a difficult match with quite a lot of nerves, so the game was quite closed. We were hoping for a more open game, but the important thing is we are in the final.”

The Netherlands came into the second semi-final of the day having only conceded twice in their previous five matches in this competition, and ended the day with that statistic intact thanks to a 2-0 triumph over hosts England. A large crowd turned out to support the host nation, but The Netherlands were very much the better team and would surely have been ahead earlier in the contest were it not for some outstanding goalkeeping from England captain George Pinner. The England 'keeper was eventually beaten in the 45th minute when Mirco Pruijser diverted Valentin Verga’s shot through the goalkeeper’s legs before Bjorn Kellerman added a second three minutes later. England continued to fight hard but the Dutch defensive unit was rarely troubled and controlled the final stages to make it six wins from six here in London.

After leading his side to victory, Dutch captain Billy Bakker said: “The nice thing about today was the crowd; it’s always good to play against the home team. I think we did a pretty good job. We came here to get a ticket to the World Cup, but also to win this tournament so it will be nice if we achieve two goals in two weeks.”

For England, defeat means that they will face Malaysia in Sunday’s 3-4 place play-off, with a ticket to the Odisha Hockey World League Final on offer to the winner.

The battle for the all-important fifth place finish and the subsequent World Cup qualification that comes with it will be contested between Canada and India after both sides won their respective matches against China and Pakistan to reach Sunday’s 5-6 classification game. As hosts of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 India have already qualified but will be determined to claim the win for the extra FIH Hero World Ranking points on offer, but a win for Canada would absolutely guarentee their appearance at next year’s global showpiece.

Team captain Scott Tupper scored a hat-trick for Canada in their victory overt China, although the Asians were very much in the contest for long periods of the match before going down 7-3. China twice lead in the contest thanks to strikes from E Wenhui and Meng Dihao with Matthew Sarmento and a Tupper penalty corner drag-flick drawing Canada level on both occasions. The Canadians pulled after half time with three quick goals from Mark Pearson, Floris van Son and a brilliant chipped finish from Keegan Pereira before China’s Wo Wei making it 5-3. Scott Tupper scored penalty corners either side of the third quarter break to complete his hat-trick and the match scoring.  

India, Canada’s opponents in the 5-6 contest, ran out to a 6-1 win over Pakistan. While Ramandeep Singh got the ball rolling in the eighth minute, most of the damage was done in a second quarter that featured three Indian goals without reply courtesy of Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh and a second for Ramandeep. A penalty corner from Harmanpreet Singh made it 5-0 after the break before Ajaz Ahmad netted for Pakistan ahead of the third quarter break with Mandeep making it 6-1 to India a minute before the end of the contest. Pakistan will meet China in the 7-8 classification match on Sunday.

Results – Saturday 24 June 2017
Match 27 (5-8): Canada 7, China 3
Match 26 (5-8): Pakistan 1, India 6
Match 28 (SF): Argentina 2, Malaysia 1
Match 29 (SF): England 0, Netherlands 2

Match schedule for Sunday 25 June (All times local – GMT / UTC +1)
Match 30 (7-8): Pakistan v China – 0930
Match 31 (5-6): India v Canada – 1145
Match 32 (3-4): Malaysia v England – 1400
Match 33 (1-2): Argentina v Netherlands – 1615

FIH site

Pruijser and Kellerman shoot the Dutch into HWL final

© Frank Uijlenbroek

The Netherlands will meet Argentina in the final of the Hockey World League semi-final in London following their respective wins over England and Malaysia in today’s semi-finals.

The Dutch left it late but eventually broke down the condensed English defence in which George Pinner won a personal corner duel with Mink van der Weerden.

The England 'keeper was eventually beaten in the 45th minute when Mirco Pruijser diverted Valentin Verga’s shot through Pinner’s legs before Bjorn Kellerman added a second three minutes later with a lovely touch and half-volley.

After leading his side to victory, Dutch captain Billy Bakker said: “The nice thing about today was the crowd; it’s always good to play against the home team. I think we did a pretty good job. We came here to get a ticket to the World Cup, but also to win this tournament so it will be nice if we achieve two goals in two weeks.”

For England, defeat means that they will face Malaysia in Sunday’s 3-4 place play-off, with a ticket to the Odisha Hockey World League Final on offer to the winner.

Argentina were 2-1 winners against Malaysia with Lucas Vila scoring from a corner before Manu Brunet doubled the lead. Fitri Saari got one back but they could not find an equaliser.

In the race for the fifth automatic World Cup ticket, Canada trailed twice before thumping China 7-3 while India beat Pakistan 6-1. For Canada, if they win Sunday’s game against the Indians, they will formally take up a World Cup ticket straight away.

Euro Hockey League media release

Netherlands edge past England in semi-final

Phil Roper in action against the Netherlands

England were narrowly defeated in a tight contest with the Netherlands in their Hero Hockey World League semi-final in London.

Goals from Mirco Pruijser and Bjorn Kellerman either side of the final break saw the Dutch pull ahead, England battled to the end with a late rally of pressure but the Netherlands defence held firm.

The hosts will now face Malaysia in the bronze medal match on Sunday 25 June and with victory a place at the Hockey World League Finals in India would be secured. You can still secure your seat, more details here.

After the match England's Henry Weir reflected on the game and looked ahead to their bronze medal clash with Malaysia, he said: "Losing a semi-final is obviously a knock back when it's such an important game.

"We want that third place spot, now we've got to swallow the bitter pill, evaluate and get ready for the Malaysia game."

Meanwhile the Netherlands will face Argentina in the final after beating Malaysia 2-1 in the day’s other semi-final.

Within minutes of the start England had already had an effort on goal, the ball looped into the Dutch area where Barry Middleton volleyed towards goal, but the goalkeeper was quickly off his line to smother the England man’s effort.

The game settled down soon after this with both sides largely cancelling each other out before the Dutch enjoyed a strong end to the quarter. George Pinner produced a fine double save before a fine defensive clearance from Sam Ward kept the game goalless at the first break.

The Netherlands began to take control of the contest early in the second quarter, they increased the pressure on the England defence but found Pinner on top form. Two Mink Van der Weerden penalty corners were dealt with in style, firstly a diving stick stop before palming away a high effort with his glove.

England though responded and twice went close before half-time as Phil Roper began to cause problems, firstly releasing Harry Martin whose shot was saved and then creating an effort of his own which flew just wide.

Little changed after the break as both sides again continued to be equal in all departments. The Netherlands ended the quarter strongly, Pinner twice made stops but 30 seconds before the final interval Pruijser's deflection found the backboard.

The Dutch were quick to extend their lead in the final quarter, an exchange of passes at the top of the circle saw the ball sit up for Bjorn Kellerman who hammered his shot past Pinner.

England battled hard to find a way back into the contest and kept constant pressure on the Dutch until the very end but couldn’t find a way past a steely Netherlands defence.

England team:

George Pinner (C), David Ames, Henry Weir, Ian Sloan, Michael Hoare, Sam Ward, Phil Roper, Barry Middleton, Brendan Creed, David Goodfield, Liam Sanford, Chris Griffiths, David Condon, Adam Dixon, Mark Gleghorne, Harry Martin, Ollie Willars

England Hockey Board Media release

Our men can walk tall

by Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia gave a good account of themselves despite going down 2-1 to world No. 1 Argentina in the semi-final of the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in London.

Argentina got their goals through Agustin Mazzilli (13th minute) and Manuel Brunet (34th) while Malaysia replied through Fitri Saari (pen, 38th).

This was a better performance by coach Stephen van Huizen’s men, who lost 5-2 to Argentina in their group match last week.

Malaysia took to the field at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre yesterday without hard-working defender Faiz Helmi Jali, who had to sit out a one-match suspension after collecting four yellow cards in three matches.

Muhd Najmi Farizal Jazlan replaced Faiz.

Malaysia started well yesterday, earning two penalty corners in the fifth and seventh minutes, but Faizal Saari and Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim’s drag flicks were saved by goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi.

The South American champions, who got off to a slow start, then took the lead in the 13th minute off their first penalty corner.

Gonzalo Peillat’s low drag flick bounced off goalkeeper S. Kumar’s pads and Mazzilli dashed in to score with a reverse stick flick.

Malaysia then earned another penalty corner – with 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Again, Vivaldi saved Razie’s low flick.

Argentina raised their tempo in the second quarter and created several chances. Luckily, Kumar did well to make three good saves.

But Kumar was helpless to prevent Argentina doubling the score in the 34th minute. Facundo Callioni’s hit bounced off Kumar’s pads and Brunet pounced to score.

Four minutes later, Malaysia earned their fourth penalty corner. Faizal was pushed in the semi-circle as he was about to take the drag flick.

Faizal asked for a video referral and Malaysia were awarded a penalty stroke.

Faizal’s younger brother, Fitri, flicked the ball high to send Vivaldi the wrong way.

Inspired, the Malaysians went all out to get the equaliser but Argentina held their ground.

Argentina were then reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute when Mazzilli was yellow-carded for a rough tackle.

Two minutes later, Malaysia found themselves down to 10 men as well when forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil was shown the yellow card for pushing an Argentina player.

The Star of Malaysia

Canada beats China, will play for 5th place and World Cup spot on Sunday

Shaheed Devji

Keegan Pereira of Canada celebrates scoring his sides fifth goal with Taylor Curran of Canada during the 5th-8th place match between Canada and China on day eight of the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on June 24, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Canada scored three goals in four minutes to start the second half and never looked back in a 7-3 win over China Saturday at the 2017 Hockey World League Semi-Final in London.

Captain Scott Tupper scored three times, while Matthew Sarmento, Mark Pearson, Floris van Son, and Keegan Pereira also got on the scoresheet in the win.

Canada moves on to play for a spot at the 2018 World Cup in the 5th place match against India (3:45am PT/6:45am ET; CBC Sports) on Sunday. The Canadians have faced India once so far in London, dropping a 3-0 decision in pool play.

On Saturday, the teams went back and forth in a see-saw first half.

China put Canada under pressure early and ended up scoring the game’s first goal in the 4th minute on a penalty corner, when a drag flick came in slow on Canadian keeper David Carter which left a rebound in front for E Wenhui to put in for the 1-0 lead.

China had a chance to double the lead just moments later but Carter made a sliding save to keep the deficit at just one.

The Canadians tied the game in the 14th minute when Sarmento, who missed a chance to score just moments earlier, was setup by Gabriel Ho-Garcia for Canada’s first goal of the game.

China was able to once again take the lead early in the second quarter, when Meng Dihao capitalized on a Canadian turnover in the circle and hammered a ball by Carter in the 19th minute.

After having a drag flick attempt blocked on a corner in the 21st minute, Canada equalized in the 22nd minute when Tupper made good on another attempt. The goal was Tupper’s first of three in the match, all of which came on the penalty corner, on which Canada went three-for-six on the day.

The second half was all Canada, particularly early in the 3rd quarter went the Canadians went on a scoring frenzy and put the game out of reach.

Pereira found Pearson behind the Chinese defenders and Pearson put the ball through the Chinese goalkeeper Ming Cheng’s legs to give Canada its first lead in the 33rd minute.

Then, after Sukhi Panesar forced a turnover in the midfield, van Son beat a Chinese defender at the top of the circle before hitting home Canada’s 4th goal of the game in the 35th minute.

In the 37th, Pereira scored what is undoubtedly a contender for goal of the tournament when he was found up field, behind the China defence, by a Tupper aerial from his own 16. Pereira knocked the ball down, took one more touch in the air, before popping it up and over the Chinese keeper for Canada’s 5th goal.

The Chinese got one back on a Wo Wei drag flick in the 39th minute, but after Carter made a save on a backhand from Ao Yan in the 45th minute, Canada was awarded a corner with only 20 seconds left in the third quarter, and that’s when Tupper picked up his second goal of the game.

China kept pushing but Carter was on top of his game, making two saves on a scramble in front of his goal in the 51st minute. Tupper helped by making a strong defensive play sweeping the ball of his goal line before scoring his third goal of the game in the 52nd minute to complete the hat-trick and Canada’s 7-3 win.

While their final placing has yet to be determined, the top four finishers in London have already been decided, meaning Canada will play for the fifth and final 2018 World Cup spot when it takes to the field in the 5th place match on Sunday.

Field Hockey Canada media release

India in another Big Win over Pakistan

Having defeated Pakistan 7-1 last Sunday in the pool game, India again outplayed their neighbours in the 5-8 position playoffs of the  Hockey World League Semifinal Round, also  the qualifiers for the  Hockey World Cup, at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

There was a slight difference. Pakistan were swept aside 1-6 this time.

Indians settled down early. After wasting a penalty corner in the 6th minute, they opened the account after two minutes. Pakistan should have cleared the ball entering their circle from the left side but the faulty clearance gave Ramandeep the chance to slot the loose ball in from a close range.

Pakistan made two well combined moves in the early minutes of the second quarter but didnt threaten the opposition's goal. In the 25th minute, India doubled the score with an opportunistic strike by Talwinder. A Pradeep Mor hit from some distance found Talwnder unmarked who found the target with a first time hit.

Indian forays came in a cascade and two more goals were scored in the next three minutes. Akashdeep, after an excellent run parallel to the left goal line, released the ball to Mandeep standing close to the goal who easily put it past the goal keeper. Soon, a clinical left side move was guided into the goal by a lunging Ramandeep.

India were four goals to the good at the half time.

They continued to press after the break. In the 36th minute, off the second PC, Harmanpreet's grounder went between the net minder and the left pole defender.
Five minutes later, Pakistan finally had one on the score sheet. Ejaz Ahmed capped a fluent move involving three players.

In the fourth quarter both sides had chances. In the 59th minute, Mandeep scored his second, availing a rebound  to make it 6-1.

In the last minute, India got an excellent chance in the form of a PC  to equal their record 7-1 win over Pakistan, achieved a few days back. But Pakistani goal keeper dived full length to his right and deflected the ball away with an extended stick.

Now, Pakistan would play China in the 7th/8th position match.

India: Ramandeep Singh 2, Mandeep Singh 2, Talwinder Singh & Harmanpreet Singh
Pakistan: Ejaz Ahmed

PHF Media release

India wins the embarrassing encounter emphatically, 6-1

s2h team

In the 'embarrassing' encounter for podium aiming India -- which had to play non-medal ranking 5th to 8th place decider -- that too repeat match against Pakistan, came out with geometric set pieces to stand out in the match and count.

India will take on Canada for the 5th place decider after it beat China comprehensively 7-3 in the morning. India beat Canada 3-0 in the league on last Saturday.

Goals came with rhythmic regularity,virtually even the last second in which Harmanpreet Singh pushed wide a penalty corner which the team got after a successful referral.

India led Pakistan 4-0 at half time. As if to give vent to its quarterfinal loss, India meant business from the beginning to keep the struggling Pakistan on toes. Goals reined.

With a brace from Ramandeep Singh, two close range deflections, Akashdeep -- despite missing a couple of sitters -- and Talwinder Singh struck a goal apiece in the first quarter.

Pardeep Mor dazzled throughout and sent a battery of forehands aiming at far post from near 25 yard area on the right flank, and it worked with mechanical precision. Twice Ramandeep struck off such precision shoots.

Sunil and Akashdeep were also the same unselfish move setters, which unsettled Pakistan to the hilt.

Pakistan were unable to match India in every department, though some solos here and there troubled India. Even their lone goal came after Chenglensana uncharacteristically failed to trap a short feed of Pak forward in front of goalie Vikas Dahiya. Ajay just applied his stick to the missed ball and it went into the cage between the leg of Vikas, rushing of Manpreet to cover the beaten Vikas just did not work.

Indian midfielders deadly hits proved to be threats to Pakistan.

Goal sequence
8 Ramandeep Singh
25 Talwinder Singh
27 Akashdeep Singh(but given to Mandeep Singh officially)
28 Ramandeep Singh
36 Harmanpreet Singh
49 Ajaz (1-5)
51 Mandeep Singh


Bruised India showed character in thumping win over Pakistan

Sundeep Misra

India did well to bounce back from the Malaysia defeat with 6-1 win over Pakistan. Twitter/ @HockeyIndia

After the quarter-final meltdown against Malaysia which blew up India's hopes of a podium finish at the Hockey World League Semi-final stage, Pakistan once again stood in the path of regaining some pride.

However, it is doubtful if the 6-1 score-line against Pakistan would heal the wounds that Malaysia inflicted; at least not in a hurry. Yet the six goals gave some cause for the Indian team to smile and a match against Canada where they would now have the motivation to finish 5th in the tournament.

It’s not something that the Roelant Oltmans-coached side aspired for when they boarded the flight out of India for Europe. But the Dutchman better introspect after the team lands back at home. Podium finishes at a world level tournament are rare. Undoubtedly, India blew up an opportunity. It’s easy to blame the players. But it’s also time that coaches and support staff are held accountable.

Gone was the dry summer heat that enveloped the early part of the tournament. Scattered dark clouds and thin showers welcomed India and Pakistan. The shadow of the earlier 1-7 defeat to India still followed Pakistan onto the pitch. And India began as if they had a flight to catch. Both flanks worked at speed and balls were cut into the Pakistan striking circle with ease.

Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar and Pardeep Mor played up, cutting the space between the Indian defence and midfield. Space was squeezed and Pakistan couldn’t move through the middle. On the flanks, they were intercepted and India counter-attacked. The Men in Blue looked different from the side that lost to Malaysia. The finishing was better. But the truth behind the resurgence was that India was aggressive and willing to take that extra risk without losing control.

Ramandeep Singh is turning out to be quite a poacher. His positional sense and anticipation had already given him four goals in the tournament. And in the 8th minute, he got his fifth when he tapped in a Satbir Singh hit which he picked out from a melee in the Pakistan striking circle. Akashdeep had a wonderful opportunity when he was in a one-to-one situation with the Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali. But he shot out. At the end of the first quarter, India had a slender one-goal lead, but Pakistan was not threatening. They came through the flanks but ran out of ideas either outside or on top of the Indian striking circle.

Meanwhile, India stifled a bit from the pressure created by Pakistan on the flanks, let Pardeep Mor would dictate play. The right half produced his best play of the tournament. Time and again, he went up, creating space for the forwards and his sprints into the Pakistan half unsettled the defence. In the 25th minute, his hit from outside the circle was deflected in by Talwinder Singh. With a 2-0 lead, India were a bit relaxed.

Two minutes later, under intense pressure, the Pakistan defence let Akashdeep have a run. The Indian forward flicked towards the far corner, with the ball hitting the post and going in. Within the blink of an eye, India had a fourth after Sunil, Mandeep and then Ramandeep tapped in for his second goal on the day and sixth in the tournament. With two minutes to go for the break, all that mattered was whether India could better the 7-1 scoreline that they scored against Pakistan in the Pool match. At the break, India led 4-0.

Oltmans, like he has done throughout the tournament, replaced Akash Chikte with Vikas Dahiya. Off a melee, India earned their 2nd penalty corner of the match. Harmanpreet Singh fired in giving India a 5-0 lead. As a contest, the match was over and it would take a defensive error for India to concede. In the 41st minute, Pakistan scored off a counter-attack. India was caught napping and Ajaz Ahmad put the ball past Dahiya.

India missed two opportunities immediately – one with Sunil and then when Ramandeep failed to make most of a cross. However, the attacks kept coming. Sumit saw his massive reverse hit go off Pakistan goalkeeper’s pads. And then Ramandeep lost control right in front of the Pakistan goal.

In the last minute, Mandeep Singh juggled with a ball before slotting it home for his first goal of the tournament. He looked heavenwards and was immediately hugged by his mates. India led 6-1 and though they had a penalty corner in the end, India remained satisfied with half a dozen goals. At no stage did Pakistan threaten. India held control of the match throughout except for a few moments in each quarter. They could have scored more but in a match like this where speed and pace decide goals, at least 4-5 chances do go begging. India has scored 23 goals in the tournament with 13 of those goals coming against Pakistan.

Oltmans said he wasn’t happy with the result because this is not what he had hoped to achieve. “In this tournament, we won’t be happy anymore,” he said. “I think we should have finished higher than we will. But after the match against Malaysia, I said that our aim is to finish in 5th position and make sure we have two good matches. The first part is done and now we have to do the second part.”

Oltmans also felt it’s a compliment to the team that they picked themselves up after the disappointing loss to Malaysia. “Not only did they cope with the disappointment of the earlier match but also were eager to put in a good performance and get a good result.”

India will play Canada for 5th/6th position. In their match against China, the Canadians pumped in seven goals after China had taken the lead. Earlier, in the Pool match, India had beaten them 3-0. It would, however, be better to remember the 2-2 draw at the Rio Olympics. And work out the tactical strategy around it.

“To be honest, I have to look at them again,” said Oltmans. “I think Canada is a good team and have had good results over the tournament. It will be a competitive and I am happy about it because you need competitive matches in tournaments like this. That is my biggest disappointment that we did not have more competitive matches, and we could have played Argentina or Holland one more time, because that is good for the development of young players.”

Canada is a tough team defensively. They play compact and unless you beat them on the break or with set pieces, they have the power to hit back with counters. India needs to look at the stats that they conjure up in every match. Even against the Netherlands in the match that India lost 1-3, the Men in Blue entered their circle in the last quarter eight times but couldn’t finish. In the match against Malaysia, India entered the striking circle 25 times but had only two goals to show for it. Oltmans may appear brash and unapologetic but it’s time he harnessed that talent which Indian hockey often hints at. “We are working on it,” he said. “Also when you play with a more consistent forward line, they will improve in the coming years. At the end, that is most important.”


Same outcome in the re-match

by Dil Bahra

Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh celebrate India's third goal

For the second time in a space of a week, India showed their class and had a convincing 6 – 1 win over arch rivals Pakistan.

This time there was no big hype, the weather was much cooler, fewer spectators. And it was not played in the shadows of their cricket counterparts.

The difference of the two sides was clear to see. India, wounded from their surprise defeat against Malaysia a couple of days earlier, attacked from the start and showed their intent. Ramandeep Singh’s early goal settled any nerves.

India showed their class when, in the second period, in a space of four minutes they scored three goals.  Talwinder Singh scoring the first of the three and  Akashdeep Singh scoring the second. This goal was credited to Mandeep Singh on the official result sheet.  Ramandeep Singh added his  second to give India a  commanding 4 – 0 lead at half time.

Harmanpreet Singh made it 5 – 0 from his second penalty corner. Ajaz Ahmed  scored Pakistan’s only goal near the end of the third quarter.

India forwards enjoyed the freedom and spaces  created and could have scored another three goals from clear chances.

Mandeep Singh completed India’s scoring with his goal a couple of minutes before the end to make it 6 – 1.

The last penalty corner

With 9.8 seconds left on the clock, following a video referral,  India were awarded a penalty corner. An opportunity to match the score line of last Sunday was on line but missed.

Sikh players scored all India’s six goals in this match and six of the seven in the earlier encounter.

Sikhs in Hockey

India beat Pakistan 6-1 in HWL classification match

On target: Ramandeep Singh, center, scores against Pakistan during the Men's World Hockey League match at Lee Valley Hockey Centre, London, on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Indian hockey team continued its domination of arch-rivals Pakistan, handing them a 6-1 thrashing in a 5th-8th place classification match of the Hero Hockey World League Semifinals here today.

Goals by Ramandeep Singh (8’, 28’), Talwinder Singh (25’), Mandeep Singh (27’, 59’), and Harmanpreet Singh (36’) helped India decimate Pakistan and set up a clash with Canada in the 5th-6th place playoff.

The result dented Pakistan’s hopes of booking a berth to participate at the Hockey World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar next year.

India displayed good attack right from the start with their first real shot on goal coming as early as the opening minute when Ramandeep Singh set up one for an unmarked Akashdeep Singh in the circle.

But Akashdeep could not make a powerful connection to put the ball past Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali. Mandeep, meanwhile, helped India win their first Penalty Corner in the sixth minute but Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was defended well by Pakistan.

Soon after, India were seen putting pressure on Pakistan, interrupting their counter-attack cornering Pakistan player with a three-man defence. The strategy worked, with Pakistan losing the possession.

Satbir Singh, playing his 50th international match, was quick to spot Ramandeep in the circle who seized the opportunity for India to take a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute. India took their lead to a convincing 4-0 in the second quarter.

First it was Pardeep Mor who did well with a fierce pass to Talwinder Singh who simply had to angle his stick to beautifully deflect the ball into the post in the 25th minute.

It was Mandeep Singh who got the touch on the ball before it beat the keeper to take India’s lead to a healthy 3-0 in the 27th minute. India’s fourth goal came in the 28th minute when Sunil assisted Ramandeep from the far post. It was a diving effort by Ramandeep that ensured he scored his second goal of the match.

Pressure mounted on Pakistan when India won their second penalty corner in the 36th minute. Harmanpreet Singh made use of the opportunity as he came up with an improvised drag-flick, kept the ball low to beat the Pakistani keeper and take India’s lead to a formidable 5—0.

Pakistan finally found a breakthrough in the 41st minute when Ajaz Ahmad took advantage of a defensive error on India’s part to put the ball past keeper Vikas Dahiya.

The final quarter saw Pakistan make some desperate attempts on goal but India did well to contain their opponents with good defence.

With less than six minutes for the final hooter, Talwinder Singh swiftly dribbling into the striking circle did well to find his man Ramandeep on the far post who made a rapid attempt on goal.

But Pakistani defender Rizwan Jr. Muhammad was impeccable in his effort to deny Ramandeep his third goal of the match.

Mandeep Singh managed to take India’s lead to 6-1 in the 59th minute scoring the goal off a rebound.

India won a PC in the dying seconds of the match when Pakistan defender fouled in the circle through a stick tackle but Harmanpreet’s effort was defended well and India walked away with a comfortable 6-1 win


Pakistan lose 6-1 to India in Hockey World League play-off

Abdul Ghaffar

India has scored their second big win over Pakistan in six days, beating the men in green 6-1 in a World Hockey League play-off at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday.

Pakistan had lost their previous match against their arch-rivals 7-1 on Sunday.

Pakistan's defeat comes in the playoffs for positions fifth to eighth of the Hockey World League's semi-final round, which are considered qualifiers for the Hockey World Cup.

Pakistan will now play China for the seventh position on Sunday.

Both Pakistan and India bowed out of the competition on Thursday after losing their quarter-finals to Argentina and Malaysia by margins of 1-3 and 2-3, respectively.

In the remaining quarter-finals, the Netherlands had outplayed China 7-0 and England came from behind to down Canada 4-2.

South Korea had defeated Scotland 6-3 to finish 9th in the 10 team event.

All four winners of the quarterfinals — Argentina, Malaysia, Netherlands and England — have now booked a spot for the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India. India, as host of the World Cup, have automatically qualified for the mega event.


India: Ramandeep Singh 2, Talwinder Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh. Mandeep Singh

Pakistan: Ejaz Ahmed.


Herald Exclusive: Barren fields

Abid Hussain

— Photo courtesy of Dawn archives.

The scenes that transpired at Sydney’s Homebush Stadium, 19 years ago, will forever remain etched in the memory of those Pakistanis who saw it live on television. The booming voice of (late) Farooq Mazhar; the minute by minute low-down on the thrilling penalty shoot-out; the nervous Dutch youngster Jeroen Delmee’s decisive push; the agile Mansoor Ahmed with his brilliant save and the subsequent celebration by the team — all of it remains part of our hockey folklore. The title won was Pakistan’s fourth World Cup victory.

This was an outstanding feat given that there had been only eight editions of the event until then. Only months earlier, Pakistan had won the Hockey Champions Trophy, the most prestigious tournament in international field hockey’s annual calendar at the time.

That World Cup victory was the last time the green shirts managed to win any of the big three global competitions (the World Cup, the Summer Olympics and the Champions Trophy). Between 1990 and the end of 1994, Pakistan hockey was, indeed, riding a wave of success comparable to its golden era in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Within those five years, Pakistan managed eight podium finishes – securing an impressive collection of three gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals – in two World Cups, five Champions Trophy tournaments, two Asian Games and one Olympic games.

The ensuing years saw the performance of the national team gradually plummet. The team often failed to qualify for the last four slots in a major tournament. The last big win Pakistan had was at the Guangzhou Asian Games, in 2010. The mother of all disappointments, though, was the inability of the national side to qualify for the World Cup in 2014, despite getting multiple opportunities to do so. A hockey World Cup without Pakistan is akin to having a football World Cup without Brazil — at least for local fans.

Not that the Pakistani team was a serious contender for winning the upcoming World Cup. In 2010, our boys stood last in the competition, their worst finish in World Cup history, earning them the ignominious wooden spoon. And, as of November 2013, they are ranked nine, according to the latest international rankings.

What caused such a drastic downfall? Why is Pakistan’s national sport in such a shambles? Above all, can its lost glory be restored?

To begin the quest for answers, no place in the country is better suited than Gojra. This little central Punjab city, an hour’s drive from Faisalabad, is often known in modern memory for the anti-Christian riots that wracked it in 2009. But its original claim to fame is its unmatched capacity to produce world-class hockey players. Despite a small population of just about 300,000 souls, Gojra has given Pakistan more than 100 international players in the last 67 years. Many of them went on to become superstars.

Iqbal Bali, a former Olympian, a retired international hockey umpire and a Gojra native, says the decline of the game at the national level has coincided with a lack of interest in it, at school and college levels. “To sustain the game, we need a competitive club hockey structure. And for that, the pool of players has to come from schools and colleges. If they don’t provide raw talent, there will be no rough diamonds available for coaches to polish,” he says.

— Photo courtesy of Dawn archives.

An imposing presence, 67-year-old Bali has been involved with the game for more than four decades. A member of the team that played in the 1972 Munich Olympics, he went on to become an umpire, officiating at many international events. The Barcelona Olympics, in 1992, was his last event as an umpire. Since then, he has dedicated himself to coaching emerging talent in his hometown at the Gojra Hockey Club, which he owns.

Bali gives a number of reasons why young boys aren’t finding it easy to take up the game at schools.

“Equipment has become very expensive and educational institutions don’t have enough funds to allocate for sports,” he says.

-Photo by AFP

“A single hockey stick made of fibre can cost anywhere between 8,000 rupees to 10,000 rupees. A goalkeeper’s equipment can cost more than 100,000 rupees. Unless someone provides funds and incentives, educational institutions will never invest in hockey.”

Shahnaz Sheikh, a former Olympian, believes that the separation of the sports ministry from the education ministry in the mid-1980s is a major reason why schools failed to maintain their interest in sports.

“Funds allocated for sports were no longer available to schools, automatically,” he says.

The other related development, according to him, was the mushrooming of schools that did not have any playgrounds.

“Schools built on one-kanal [605 square yards] plots have led to the ruin of sports at the grass roots level,” he tells the Herald.

How does Gojra, then, continue to be the nursery for the next generation of hockey players for Pakistan? “It offers them a glimpse of a secure future,” Bali says, walking along the grassy field his club maintains at the Government Postgraduate College, Gojra.

“People here believe hockey is their ticket to a better life. They don’t necessarily look at it from a sporting point of view.”

Bali says Gojra has always been a hub of national-level competitions, which helps increase the quality of local players. These tournaments also give players an opportunity to impress the managements of teams owned by government departments, banks and other corporations. Those who get a chance to enter these teams, secure a sustained livelihood as well as a chance to play for the national team. “Parents ask us to train their child enough for them to be employed at an organisation. Their aspiration is to have a breadwinner in the family, not a medal-winner,” he says.

Moreover, hockey in Gojra is a community-based project. Numerous former players in the city have voluntarily taken up the responsibility of training the next generation of players. With two major clubs in the city, youngsters flock to the grounds every evening for training under the watchful eyes of former stars. Even the equipment that the trainees use is often donated by ex-players. On many occasions, the seniors pool in money to purchase new equipment for the juniors. The grass field, where Bali’s boys practice, is maintained with private donations.

The government does almost nothing to endorse the sport. The Punjab Sports Board owns an AstroTurf ground in the city but it is in very poor condition. The turf, in fact, passed its expiry date five years ago. With such scarce official investment in the game, it is difficult to see how long Gojra will continue its glorious hockey tradition.

Based in Faisalabad, Rao Saleem Nazim, a former Olympian and a member of the 1976 Montreal Olympics hockey squad, is scathing in his criticism of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) — especially its decision to open 18 regional academies in different cities. “The PHF wasted an incredible amount of resources building and promoting these academies. It has been four years since these went into operation but show me one player today who trained there and made it to the national team,” says Nazim.

The academies, launched in 2009, engage PHF certified coaches to train players in different age groups. The idea is to develop a pool of players – from among trainees at the regional academies – for training at the national academy in Lahore. The national academy, in turn, is tasked with building players for the national squad. The project, however, lacks funding and accusation of nepotism and politicisation swirl around it. Rana Mujahid, the recently elected PHF general secretary and a former coordinator of the academies, admits that the whole idea requires revision. “We are considering a review of academies. The stakeholders will thoroughly discuss how to improve them,” he tells the Herald.

“Technological advances in the game didn’t harm our progress. Our inability to adapt did.” -Photo by AFP

Others think that the idea is altogether flawed and needs scrapping. “This is not how academies work. They should be meant for fine-tuning players, not finding them. Players can only be found if you have a robust grass-roots system that promotes players at schools, colleges and clubs,” says Nazim.

Citing the example of Holland and Germany, he says the European nations have improved their game through a strong club system and domestic tournaments all year round. “They spot players who have talent for playing at the national level from these intensely competitive tournaments and send them to their central academies for advance training.”

Nazim is also critical of the way coaches are appointed at the academies. They have to be qualified enough to be able to spot talent at a young age and groom that talent according to modern requirements, he says. “Instead, we have political appointees at the academies with no experience of playing international hockey or of coaching.”

Although Nazim emphasises that evolving rules and tech-heavy equipment have had no significant bearing on Pakistan hockey’s fortunes, he does insist that younger players need to play on synthetic turfs rather than on grass. “When young players start playing, they develop their technique running on grass which is easier to do than running on turf. Physical fitness is of utmost importance to be able to play on turf — which, unfortunately, is not our strong point,” he says.

Tahir Zaman, one of the greats of Pakistan hockey and currently the head coach of the national team, agrees. “When we were at our peak during the early 1990s, the game was evolving by the day but we failed to adapt to modernisation due to hubris and lack of foresight,” he tells the Herald.

An attacking midfielder in his heyday, Zaman quit hockey after the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Since then he has become an international coach and has served stints with the hockey squads of Azerbaijan and Egypt. In 2011, the PHF hired him as a consultant for the national team. “Technological advances in the game didn’t harm our progress,” he says, “Our inability to adapt did.”

Zaman says the game oversaw technical changes in coaching methods and in players’ training in the mid-1990s but Pakistan continued to rest on its laurels. “The Europeans observed our game, adopted the skills-first nature of Asian-style hockey while marrying it with the efficiency and disciplined nature of the European style; thus, creating the concept of ‘Total Hockey’, similar to what Dutch football coach Rinus Michels invented for football,” says Zaman. In Total Hockey, “every single player can perform attacking and defending skills, equally.”

It is amazing how far Pakistan has fallen behind in the race to catch up with innovations in the game. Back in 1978, when Pakistan went to Argentina to play in the World Cup, our boys annihilated every single one of their opponents. Not only did they maintain a 100-per-cent winning record, they also scored 35 goals while only four were scored against them. Among the admirers of the green shirts was Argentine football manager, Cesar Luis Menotti, whose team was bidding to win the football World Cup on its home soil. Menotti sought out Pakistan manager, Abdul Waheed Khan, to laud his team’s game play as well as to discuss tactics and strategy. Two months later, Argentina won the football world cup for the first time in history. Menotti did not forget to send a telegram of appreciation to the Pakistani manager for the advice he received.

Zaman highlights the importance of a 360-degree programme to overhaul the structure of Pakistan hockey. His ideas involve dedicated development of coaches, creation of a coaching manual, changing players’ attitude towards training and fitness, working towards consistency and, above all, having patience for changes to bear results. “We expect every new coach to bring with him a miracle medicine to cure the game of all the ills it suffers from. This will take time,” he stresses.

The official managers of the game also talk about its development as enthusiastically as anybody but their standard gripe is that they never get the money they require for a turnaround. Mujahid harps on the same theme in his interview with the Herald but does not seem to have a well-defined strategy to put things right. He talks about the idea of introducing a hockey league, like India does and to increase the number of domestic tournaments to “allow quantity to build, followed by quality.” He, then, moves on to another idea — of separating team management from the administration of the game. “We have had cases in past where PHF officials were also part of the team management. This will not happen again,” he says, but does not specify how it has hurt the game.

“I have been playing for over 10 years and in those years Pakistan had a different squad for every tour. You cannot build a team like that.” -Photo by AP

Hockey players have a litany of complaints of their own. Most of them don’t look happy or optimistic about their personal fortunes as well as those of the national side. In conversations with the Herald, they hold lack of incentives, insecurity, lack of respect and mismanagement as the main causes of the game’s decline. Shakeel Abbasi, one of the few celebrated Pakistani players in the last decade, is a prime example of someone thwarted, more than once, by mismanagement. Now 30, Abbasi started playing hockey in 1997, representing Sandeman High School in Quetta. With the help of supportive parents, he was able to rise through the ranks and secure selection for the National Junior Training Camp by 1998. By the next four years, he made it to the senior camp and then to the national side.

In the last few years, Abbasi has been consistently ranked among the best players in the world. In 2004 and 2012, he was chosen as the player of the tournament in the Champions Trophy; in 2008 and 2009, he was selected in the International Hockey Federation’s World XI. In his 10-year career at the national level, he has been banned from playing due to committing multiple breaches of discipline and was dropped from the team on three occasions. “I still don’t know why. I was only told I was being given a rest,” he tells the Herald.

In Abbasi’s opinion, players only ask for respect and consistency in selection. “I have been playing for over 10 years and in those years Pakistan had a different squad for every tour. You cannot build a team like that. There has to be consistency in selection and there has to be a core group of players in each squad. Only then results will start coming.”

Haseem Khan, a Karachi-based player and the nephew of Pakistan’s former hockey great Hanif Khan, believes those aspiring to play hockey don’t get the kind of support intending cricketers get. “I am lucky that I have a family that supports me and encourages me to pursue the sport along with my academics. Not everybody is that fortunate.”

Due to lack of attraction in the game, Khan says, only few are playing hockey. “Look at cricket; it has a structure where people can choose to have careers as professional players even if they don’t make it to the national team. It isn’t like that in hockey,” he says. “Unless players know that they have a sustainable future in the game, they will not be lured back.”

Money in the sport, in fact, seems to squeeze rather than expand. Public-sector organisations, like the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are facing financial crises and cannot afford to employ players as they could in the past. Others, like commercial banks, have started cost-cutting measures, with the axe often falling on the sports department. At the most, players are getting yearly contracts, not knowing what to do after these expire.

Imran Shah, the national team goalkeeper, was working at Habib Bank Limited when the bank disbanded its hockey team. He hasn’t found a job yet. “With no financial support or a sustainable career path, why should I play hockey?” asks Khan.

There seems to be no ready answer. Pakistan hockey, in the meanwhile, continues to find itself trapped in a vicious circle — fewer quality players are leading to a decrease in ranking, while a slide in the national side’s fortunes leads to money drying up for the game. Whatever happened in Sydney in December 1994 is a distant memory for the later generations — fading and impossible to repeat in the foreseeable future.


Goals galore on Day Three of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals

It was goals galore on Day Three of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Brussels as the host nation hit nine against Malaysia and Netherlands followed suit with a 9-0 win over Korea.

Fewer goals but equal entertainment was on hand for the opening and closing matches of the day as Oceania giants New Zealand beat Australia 2-0 in an uncompromising match and the final match – Italy against Scotland – ended 2-1 to the Italians and was high on drama and passion.

So much is at stake for these teams: for those that finish in the top five, an automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup in London awaits, and, with the continental qualifiers still to be played, more places could become available, making it imperative that teams finish as high in the tournament as possible.

There is also the matter of qualifying for the 2017 Hockey World League Finals, to be played in New Zealand later this year. The top four teams in Brussels will qualify for the eight nation event, although there is a small caveat to this. If New Zealand, the host nation of the Final, do not finish in the top four then only the top three teams in Brussels will qualify. They will be joined by the top four finishers from the Semi-Final competition in Johannesburg, South Africa, plus the highest ranked fourth place finisher from the two Semi-Final events.

New Zealand v Australia 2-0

This was always going to be a tight match between these Oceanic rivals as they battled to gain supremacy in Pool B. Coming into the game, Australia (World Ranking: 4), had won both their previous matches – 3-0 v Malaysia and 1-0 v Belgium – while New Zealand had emerged 1-0 victors after a close game against Spain.

The Black Sticks struck in the first quarter, Brooke Neal cracking home a penalty corner in the 15th minute, but this was the only break through as these two teams defended with tenacity and any potential attack was dealt with by two uncompromising defensive units.

Having taken the lead, New Zealand's Black Sticks looked to have a slight edge in the second half. The excellent Stacey Michelesen and Liz Thompson dominated the midfield and Ella Gunson, in particular, was calm under pressure in defence. For the Hockeyroos, there was a lot of energy on the pitch and Kat Slattery, in particular, ran tirelessly on the forward line but this was a day when experience won out.

New Zealand nearly stole a second goal when Kirsten-Leigh Pearce made an intercept in front of the Australian goal but Rachael Lynch was alert to the danger and cleared well. However, a few minutes later the Black Sticks won their sixth penalty corner and Brooke Neal netted her second goal of the game.

After the game, Australia's Kathryn Slattery said: "We are building. There is a new coaching staff, new players, we are a young team so it has been challenging but this is the start of an exciting time for Australia hockey. Today we didn't create enough scoring opportunities and, combined with a few errors, that cost us."

Two-goal hero Brooke Neal said: "Obviously I am happy to have scored but that is not the focus, I am very happy about the team and how we won. This was a very tough game against our close rivals. We knew we had to keep pushing because if we held back and defended, then Australia would have come back with more energy. So we kept attacking."

Malaysia v Belgium 0-9

The home supporters were in for a treat as the host nation Belgium hit top gear against Malaysia in their second Pool B match.

The Red Panthers were 1-0 up after two minutes as Anne-Sophie Weyns slipped the ball past Farah Yahya in the Malaysia goal and just five minutes later Aline Fobe made it 2-0 as she shot home from a penalty corner. The third goal saw a belter of a shot from captain Anouk Raes, which was given the subtlest of touches by Jill Boon to help it into the goal. Boon had provided the initial defence-splitting pass, so this was just rewards for her efforts.

Malaysia showed just how they were adapting to the pace of this Hockey World League Semi-Final event as they began to turn pressure onto the Belgium defence. Nurul Mansur fired a screamer of a shot across Aisling D'hooghe's goal after some great build-up by the Tigresses' midfield. Stephanie Vanden Borre had the chance to make it 4-0 when Belgium won a penalty stroke but the player scuffed her shot and Yahya made an easy save. On the stroke of half-time, Malaysia worked a good penalty corner routine that caused panic among D'Hooghe and her defence but the ball, fired in by Mansur, was scrambled off the line by Fobe as it span out of the 'keeper's range.

Belgium got the second half underway in equally fiery fashion. Alix Gerniers did all the work to win a penalty stroke but this time Vanden Borre was emphatic as she fired it into the top of the net. This was followed by a second for Boon as she converted a third penalty stroke. Malaysia's woes increased when Vanden Borre scored her second penalty stroke to bring the score to six. The stroke was the result of some clumsy Malaysian tackling as the Belgium forwards ran amok in the circle.

Raes made it seven for the Red Panthers when she struck a sweet shot into the goal and Emma Puvrez joined in the goal-fest a few minutes later as she swept the ball into the goal after a fluid passing movement from her teammates. Malaysia were reduced to 10 players for the last five minutes of the game and Belgium took advantage, pressing high up the field. With just two minutes left, Raes scored her second goal, yet another rasping shot and Belgium closed their account on 9-0.

Talking to Eliot Dautrebande of the local organising committee after the game, Fobe said: "Our tactics for the game were to be patient. We know that when we score one goal, we tend to go on to score more. We were happy to score nine goals as it is a real confidence booster. It means we can go into the matches against New Zealand and Spain in a very positive mood."

Highlighting the team spirit within the Belgium team, Fobe added: "After Stephanie missed the first penalty stroke, as soon as we won a second stroke, the whole team wanted her to take the second because we knew she could score and she needed to know we believed in her."

Korea v Netherlands 0-9

The Netherlands reinforced their position at the top of Pool A with a tremendous display of attacking skills as they put nine goals past Korea.

The first quarter was relatively quiet. Kitty van Male opened the scoring with a well-taken field goal in the fourth minute but then the Korea defence settled and closed off routes to goal. In the second quarter, a spell of pressure by the Oranje saw four more goals scored in a seven minute spell of pressure. First, Caia van Maasakker scored a trademark powerful penalty corner; Laurien Leurink made it three from open play; Van Male scored her second – a neatly taken goal after some good build-up; and Xan de Waard smashed the ball home from the edge of the circle after the Korea 'keeper, Jang Soo Ji had made an initial save.

The sixth goal was sublime as the ball was moved effortlessly through the field and Frederique Matla was able to slot it home over the diving body of Jang Soo Ji.

The Korea team never stopped working to get back on terms in this game and, at times, their discipline halted the Dutch dominance, but this was the day that Alyson Annan's team found top gear and the result will have sent warning signs to their next two pool opponents, China and Italy.

Goal number seven came from a reverse stick strike by Margot van Geffen. The defender, who had terrorised the Korea defence with her surging runs up the pitch, picked up the ball on the run and her resulting shot whistled into the Korea goal.

The final five minutes saw Netherlands add two more goals. First van Maasakker scored her second and then Charlotte Vega slammed home a cheeky mid-air shot that was as innovative as it was spectacular.

"We have a lot of new players so we have been working hard on building our team," said Margot van Geffen. "For me, this has meant a move into midfield [from defence] because we have a lot of very talented new defenders. They are very young but very good and today we really clicked."

Scotland v Italy 1-2

With Scotland registering a loss and a draw and Italy enjoying two drawn matches, both sides were looking for their first win of the tournament. In the world rankings things couldn't be closer, with Italy ranked at 16 and Scotland at 17, so this match had all the makings of being a humdinger of an encounter.

Italy got off to a dream start as they moved into a first quarter 2-0 lead in the final Pool A match of the day. Agata Wybieralska struck first – a beautifully taken penalty corner strike – and just five minutes later Jasbeer Singh made the most of some indecisive defending to double Italy's score.

Scotland worked hard to get back on terms in the game and the match became far more even as the half progressed, with Scotland working hard to nullify the Italian attack. Scotland were rewarded for their efforts when Kate Holmes emphatically smashed the ball into the goal after it had rebounded around the circle. This spurred the teams on to an even higher intensity of play and scoring opportunities began to open up for both teams.

Italy were reduced to 10 players in the third quarter and Scotland continued to press all over the pitch to make that player advantage count. Coach Gordon Shepherd removed his keeper with five minutes left on the clock in an attempt to gain an on-field advantage and it was game on for an exciting final few minutes.

The gamble failed in its ambition as Scotland were unable to penetrate the Italian defence and were left rueing missed chances. The results means that in their final pool match on Sunday 25 June, Scotland and Korea will be battling for the all important fourth place in Pool A.

Italy's captain Chiara Tiddy said: "We scored very early in the beginning of the match, which was good but we knew they would come out very strongly against us. We stayed together and we are very happy with this win."

An emotional Kate Holmes said: "We gave everything and put pressure on Italy for three quarters of the match. The first quarter was obviously disappointing. We have another chance [against Korea] so we will take the positives from this."

FIH site

Unrelenting Black Sticks sink Hockeyroos

Photo: Planet Hockey

Two goals from Brooke Neal has lifted the Vantage Black Sticks Women to an important 2-0 win over Australia at the FIH World League Semi Final in Brussels.

It was an outstanding defensive effort from the Kiwis, shutting down the Australian attack and recording their second clean sheet at the tournament.

The Black Sticks were dominant across the turf with close to 60 percent of possession while limiting the Hockeyroos to zero shots at goal for the entire match.

Defender Neal proved the star with penalty corner drag flick goals in the first and fourth quarters to seal the result which sees New Zealand on top of Pool B with six points.

“It’s always good to get one up over the Aussies and every time we play them we go out with a winning mindset,” Neal said post-match.

“It’s really good to come away with a clean score sheet – it’s something we’ve been working hard on defensively and then to be able to convert two penalty corners is pleasing.

“We now look ahead to Belgium who are going to be tough. This tournament is really tight so we need to make sure we are diligent and take advantage of any chances in the attacking circle.”

Neal opened the scoring in the 15th minute, rocketing a drag flick into the back of the net before delivering her second of match in the 57th minute with her flick deflecting off a defender’s stick and into the goal.

The Vantage Black Sticks are back on the turf against hosts Belgium at 2:00am on Monday morning (NZT), with live coverage on SKY Sport.

Halftime: New Zealand 1-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

New Zealand defeat Hockeyroos 2 - 0

Holly MacNeil

The Hockeyroos took on the Black Sticks in a trans-Tasman rivalry match today at the World League Semi-Finals in Brussels, Belgium. It was the Black Sticks day, with New Zealand taking out the game 2 – 0 Australia.

New Zealand came close to scoring in the 11th minute of play with a circle entry seeing a tussle for the ball and a Black Sticks crack at goal, but the shot went wide and the ball went back to Australia.

In the final minute of play for the quarter, New Zealand were awarded a penalty corner which Brooke Neal flicked with speed straight into the back of the net past the Australian team and keeper Jocelyn Bartram.

The Hockeyroos fought back in the second quarter with two circle entries of their own, however the score remained 1 – nil in New Zealand’s favour going into the half time break.

The first real goal opportunity in the third quarter came with just two minutes to go in the term after New Zealand referred and were awarded a penalty corner. The goal went wide and the score remained at AUS 0 – 1 NZL.

With just three minutes to go in the game New Zealand were awarded a third chance at a penalty corner and this time Brooke Neal converted to double the Black Sticks lead.

The Hockeyroos finally had their first opportunity to claim a penalty corner with two minutes to go in the game. The shot went wide and they were awarded a second chance which New Zealand referred on. The second penalty was disallowed and New Zealand claimed the game 2 – 0 Australia.

Following the game Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said: “I’m extremely disappointed with how we played. I thought we won the ball back from them a lot pretty comfortably, but then we just gave it back to them too easily through almost unforced turnovers.

“Our basic skills clearly aren’t good enough and I think we’re in a position where we will have to work very hard now. We need to prepare very, very well for Spain.”

The Hockeyroos next play Spain on Sunday at 2pm local time / 8pm AWST / 10pm AEST. Tune into the game live on Fox Sports Australia.

Hockeyroos Match Schedule
Sunday, 25 June v ESP at 2pm local / 8pm AWST / 10pm AEST
Thursday, 29 June – quarter finals TBC

Brooke Neal 15, 57 (PC, PC) 

Hockeyroos team v New Zealand
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW) 16/0
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *plays for ACT 139/3
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 123/11
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *plays for QLD 22/5
Kate Hanna (Constitution Hill, NSW) 21/1
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD) 18/2
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW) 62/13
Madeleine Ratcliffe (Warnambool, VIC) 15/3
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 73/25
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 175/66
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD) 23/0

Used Substitutes
Laura Barden (Kew, VIC) 33/5
Jacqui Day (Mountain Creek, QLD) 12/0
Rachael Lynch (Melbourne, VIC) 161/0
Jordyn Holzberger (Ipswich, QLD) 50/5
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 115/9
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 201/37
Georgia Wilson (Mahogany Creek, WA) 5/0

Hockey Australia media release

Black Sticks women dominate arch-rivals Australia to be well placed at World League Semifinal

New Zealand's Brooke Neal celebrates one of her two goals against Australia in their World League semifinal pool match. GETTY IMAGES

A dominant Black Sticks women's side has secured an important win over Australia at the FIH World League Semifinal.

The goals in the 2-0 win in Brussels on Sunday morning (NZ time) came courtesy of two Brooke Neal drag flicks from penalty corners, but it was New Zealand's dominance across the turf which was the key to their victory.

They were particularly outstanding on defence, shutting down the Australian attack, limiting the Hockeyroos to zero shots at goal for the entire match and recording their second-straight clean sheet at the tournament.

New Zealand's Brooke Neal (L) and Australia's Kathryn Slattery battle for possession in Brussels. GETTY IMAGES

That defensive superiority was aided by their ability to keep the ball as they held 60 per cent possession in the match.

It was only fitting that Neal, a defender, was the one to grab the headlines with her drag flick goals in the first and fourth quarters to seal the result, which sees New Zealand on top of Pool B with the maximum six points from two games. Australia are also on six points, but have played one more game than the Kiwis.

Brooke Neal fires in a shot from a penalty corner against Australia. GETTY IMAGES

"It's always good to get one up over the Aussies and every time we play them we go out with a winning mindset," Neal said post-match.

"It's really good to come away with a clean scoresheet – it's something we've been working hard on defensively and then to be able to convert two penalty corners is pleasing.

"We now look ahead to Belgium who are going to be tough. This tournament is really tight so we need to make sure we are diligent and take advantage of any chances in the attacking circle."

New Zealand's Brooke Neal takes a shot from a penalty corner against Australia. GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks are back on the turf against hosts Belgium at 2:00am on Monday morning (NZT).


Black Sticks 2 (Brooke Neal 2) Australia 0. HT: 1-0.

Pool B standings: New Zealand 6, Australia 6*, Belgium 3, Spain 3, Malaysia 0*. *played one more game


Valiant effort but Italy hold on to beat Scotland

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

A blistering second half performance was not enough for Scotland to take anything from their third match of the Women’s World League Semi-Finals in Brussels. Italy went two goals up in the first half, but it was one-way traffic in the second half as Scotland bravely battled to overturn the deficit, but were defeated 2-1 in the end. The Scots can qualify for the quarter finals of the tournament in tomorrow's match against Korea.

From the passion of the national anthem there was a quick sucker punch when the Scots were stung by an early goal from the first penalty corner of the match. Agata Wybieralska provided the finish, although it nicked a Scottish stick on its way, to make it 1-0 just two minutes into the match. It was a goal of fortune for the Italians and a tough start to the match for Scotland.

Italy came close shortly after their opener when Elisabetta Pacella darted into the D but couldn’t deflect the ball on target.

A second goal for the Italians would come soon enough and it was a strike out of nowhere. A crash ball into the Scotland D was deflected home by Jasbeer Singh at the far post to double Italy’s advantage.

After the break another Italian crash ball into the D didn’t find a deflection, and luckily so as it would have been a difficult one for Amy Gibson in the Scotland goal to influence.

Scotland started to make good progress in the Italian half as the match progressed but were unable to create any clear chances.

Italy always looked dangerous when they attacked, however, and created another chance for a goal when a reverse stick shot from the top of the D by Lara Oviedo forced Gibson to make a good save.

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

The Scots were working hard, battling for a goal before the hooter, and they finally fashioned an opportunity with two minutes of the half remaining. A powerful Ali Howie low shot thundered just wide of the mark from the top of the D. Had it been on target it would have been a certain goal with the keeper beaten all ends up.

In the second half the Scottish pressure was increased higher up the pitch as the team emerged with real purpose after the restart. The play had much more intensity as the Scots went on the hunt for a goal to bring the team back into the match.

Some excellent early pressure by Scotland won a penalty corner. The ball was injected by Sarah Robertson for Kareena Cuthbert but her delivery was deflected just wide of the right post.

Then the Scots forged an opportunity from a move on the right of the D. The ball found its way goal ward and Becky Merchant and Cuthbert both piled in to try and force the ball over the line, but Italy survived.

Scotland were then awarded another penalty corner after some excellent play by Howie prompted a foul. This time Cuthbert’s delivery was well deflected by Howie and Kate Holmes was on hand to finish from close range to bring her side back into the match.

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

On the cusp of half time Katie Robertson fired wide of the right post as Scotland piled on the pressure for an equaliser. On the balance of play you fancied Scotland’s chances in the final quarter.

The final quarter found Scotland on the attack again from the outset. The Scots were awarded a couple of penalty corners on the trot, the first for a foul on Cuthbert. The routine was set up for Amy Costello who blasted the ball goal ward and found an Italian foot on the way. The second penalty corner prompted a very slick routine by the Scots but it was finally swept away at the post by an Italian defender.

Scotland went to kicking back with five minutes remaining, Costello taking the jersey as the Scots went for broke.

A penalty corner was awarded to Italy, which was well defended by Scotland, but in the melee Italy was awarded a penalty stroke. It went to a referral where the decision overturned after it revealed a great challenge by Robyn Collins to win the ball.

It was all-out-attack in the final minutes and Scotland came so close to equalising with seconds remaining, but it was Italy who held on for the win despite the valiant Scottish effort in the second half.

(Photo: FiH/Getty)

Scotland women’s Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said, “We’re disappointed to lose the match, we played really well and from the second quarter onwards we were the better team, but we were sloppy in the first quarter and ultimately it cost us in the end. We had enough chances but it just didn’t happen for us.

“It’s a quick turnaround for the next match. We’re feeling confident and now we’ll focus on winning the game against Korea. It would have been nice to qualify for the next round today, but we’re going to go for it against Korea.”

Kate Holmes said: "We gave everything and put pressure on Italy for three quarters of the match. The first quarter was obviously disappointing. We have another chance [against Korea] so we will take the positives from this."

Scottish Hockey Union media release

A testing day for SA at the African Cup of Nations

Tyron Barnard

Although on paper both SPAR South Africa ladies and Tops @ SPAR South African men were comfortable favourites, they may have been given a little surprise in the morning games by the skill and tenacity shown by their Zimbabwean counterparts.

Both the mens and womens Zimbabwe sides were playing test indoor hockey for the first time in over 20 years. The SPAR South African ladies dominated the first half as their neighbours took time to grow into the game and at half time held a 6 goal lead with Heather McEwan completing a hat-trick, the first of the tournament.

A much better performance in the second half by Zimbabwe, inspired by their captain and keeper Jamie Haasbroek kept the scoreline respectable and ultimately the game ended 7-0 in favour of the SPAR SA ladies.

The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks were impressed by the Zimbabwean players with some great running and hands and when Zimbabwean hockey legend Tendayi Maredza scored to give Zim the lead it was their first International Indoor goal for more than 20 years. This sparked the Tops @SPAR BlitzStoks into action and a hat-trick from Olympian Wade Paton gave the lads a 3-1 half time lead.

Zimbabwe scored a goal early in the second half and with just 10 minutes remaining had four penalty corners in a row to try and level, but were unsuccessful and soon conceded a fourth. After this it was one way traffic for Pierre le Roux’s men as Keagan Robinson led the rout and ultimately a very comfortable 10-2 victory.

If the Zimbabwe game was the starter, then both the South African sides knew that Namibia would be the main course. The Namibian women have been developing well, ironically thanks to Lennie Botha’s interest in developing them to help African Hockey further, coupled with their involvement in PSi.

The Women’s match was a battle of physicality and was a tough encounter that threatened to boil over once or twice due to the physical nature of the game. The Namibians looked keen to soak in the pressure before launching counter attacks and had numerous opportunities but were let down by poor decision making and poor discipline!

After the score was level at 1-1 just before half time both keepers upped their games and produced fine displays to keep the scoring down, but South Africa underline their supremacy with some outstanding team goals, the highlight of which was Amy Greaves little dink over Stoffberg. The victory gave the ladies domination of the group and one foot into the final!          

The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks were expected to roll over their Namibian opposition, but any team marshalled by Trevor Cormack is going to be a tough team. In front of a decent home crowd the Namibians produced probably their finest display in a test match and were 3-1 up with just 5 minutes remaining on the clock. SA would fight back with Ryan Julius netting a fantastic goal and then with just 25 seconds on the clock Justin Domleo, who is struggling with illness, showed his class with great work that allowed Rusten Abrahams to nick the ball in and save the draw for the lads. It was Rustens first International goal on a day when he joined Reza Rosenberg and Wade Paton in getting their first official test cap for SA Indoor Hockey!

Today the games are repeated and the job is simple, make sure we are in the final on Sunday where everything is on the line.

Day 1 Scores – Ladies

SA 7 (McEwan 3, Hack 2 & Reed 2)
Zimbabwe 0

SA 4 (McEwan, O’Connor, Botes & Greaves)
Namibia 1 (Venter)

Namibia 3 (Hermanus, Mengo & Boshoff)
Zimbabwe 1 (Grant)

Day 1 Scores – Men

SA 10 (Paton 3, Robinson 3, Fairweather, Domleo, Eustice & Rosenberg)
Zimbabwe 2 (Maredza & Tembo)

SA 3 (Abrahams, Julius & Paton)
Namibia 3 (Jacobs, Martins & Cleak)

Namibia 8 (Barltett 3, Tjikuniva, Martins, Hansen & Jacobs 2)
Zimbabwe 3 (Tembo, Maredza & Tholanah)

SA Hockey Association media release

Indoor AFCON 2017 - South Africa lay down the marker on day 2

Tyron Barnard

SPAR South Africa Ladies

The SPAR South Africa ladies knew that starting today they were all but mathematically secured of their place in the final, but Lennie Botha’s side took nothing for granted in the opening match of the day. SPAR South Africa produced a fantastic professional performance that was fitting to honour skipper Cindy Hack’s 50th Indoor Test cap. Cindy is the first ever South African to reach 50 indoor test caps. In true Cindy style though she didn’t want much fuss about her but rather about her team. The match was played in fantastic spirit and besides braces from Higgo and Walters there were goals for McEwan, O’Connor, Evans and Kara Botes.

After yesterday’s bruising encounter Namibia were expected to give South Africa a tough game in a bid to secure qualification to the final ahead of their final group game. However what we saw was the most dominant display I have seen the SPAR South Africa ladies play in a devastating spell of hockey that left Namibia floored. Eloise Walters was a centre piece with a hat-trick and so too was Heather McEwan who assisted four different times. But to single out certain players is not just in this team performance that was inspired. Namibia may very well fear that SA do that for a full game tomorrow.  Kara Botes also got on the scoresheet along with the impressive Amy Greaves and a brace from Kelly Reed.

The SPAR South Africa ladies will take on either Namibia or Zimbabwe in the final at 08:45 tomorrow morning Namibian time.

TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks

The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks were surprisingly held by Namibia in the game last night and had started slowly in their opening game against Zimbabwe. But today there was none of that as Pierre le Roux’s team shook the inevitable rust off and produced a lesson in indoor hockey to Zimbabwe without ever getting out of second gear. Ryan Julius is arguably the most exciting youngster in South African hockey and combined brilliantly with Olympian Wade Paton on four different occasions much to the Zimbabwean dismay. The pair together accounted for 7 of the TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks goals with Julius netting 5. Fairweather, Abrahams and Eustice each grabbed one a piece and goal poacher extraordinaire Keagan Robinson got another brace to his name.

That result meant that both Namibia and South Africa were through to the Final before their group game meeting this afternoon. Namibia held back some of their players in a bid to manage fitness but it backfired spectacularly as the TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks punished them with nine goals without raising too much of a sweat. Talented youngster Rusten Abrahams netted his first international hat-trick while Keagan Robinson bagged another brace and Jethro Eustice grabbed two for himself. Justin Domleo put one away himself after hit the post just 30 seconds earlier and Mo Mea got on the scoresheet too. Mo is incredibly fasting for the month of Ramadan and is still playing like man well fuelled!

The TOPS @ SPAR BlitzStoks will take on Namibia in the Final of the tournament at 10:00 tomorrow morning Namibian time

You can follow @TyronBarnard on twitter for live updates on the game.

SA Hockey Association media release

England women announce squad for Hero Hockey World League Semi-Finals

Alex Danson will captain England

England’s women’s hockey team have announced their squad of 18 that will contest the Hero Hockey World League Semi-final in Johannesburg starting on 8 July.

Heach coach Danny Kerry has named an experienced group with ten gold Olympic medallists from Rio 2016 making the squad that will travel to South Africa.

England will face Germany, Poland, Ireland and Japan in Pool A while Argentina, the USA, India, Chile and hosts South Africa will compete in Pool B.

Alex Danson will lead the side having taken on the captaincy ahead of the Investec Internationals earlier this summer which culminated with a memorable contest with the Netherlands that saw England narrowly defeated in a shootout in front of a sell out crowd at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

There will be extensive TV coverage of the tournament with BT Sport broadcasting the tournament with a full schedule of timings to follow.

Danny Kerry said, "We go to this tournament to seek qualification for the World League Finals in Auckland later in the year. This will be a great challenge with a tough pool to get through.

"We are looking forward to continuing our growth of the new squad as we build towards the World Cup in London next year.

"Out attacking half contains great pace and our defensive half a good range of distribution. We look forward to what the tournament holds"

England squad:

Alex Danson (C), Giselle Ansley, Grace Balsdon, Sophie Bray, Emily Defroand, Sarah Haycroft, Maddie Hinch, Jo Hunter, Hannah Martin, Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley, Zoe Shipperley, Amy Tennant, Anna Toman, Susannah Townsend, Laura Unsworth, Hollie Webb, Nicola White

Key fixtures and timings:

10th July: England v Poland (3pm UK Time)
12th July: England v Japan (3pm UK Time)
14th July: England v Germany (5pm UK Time)
16th July: England v Ireland (1pm UK Time)
18th July: Quarter-Finals
20th July: Semi-Finals
23rd July: Final

England Hockey Board Media release

Three from three for Ireland at Masters Home Nations

Ireland started the first day of the Home Nations Women's Masters tournament with three strong wins by the O-40s, O-45s and O-50s.

The O-40s got off to a great start. They are currently holders of the Home Nations title and their first match was against a strong England side.

The Irish dominated the game and took their chances with the ever reliable Emma Glanville getting the first goal from a corner strike and Gillian Garrett dispossessing the English and scoring with a fine finish.

While England did get one back, Tara Browne in the Irish goal and her defence held strong to secure the 2-1 win. They face Scotland on Saturday at 11.15am.

The O-45s also had a strong start to the tournament beating Scotland 3-0. Ash Schutte pounced on a rebound to start the scoring and then Anne Young scored twice for the win. Mary Harkin in the Irish goal was rarely troubled. The O-45s play Wales on Saturday at 10.45am.

The free scoring Irish O50s had a great opening game beating Scotland 6-0. They face England on Saturday at 9am.

O-40s: Ireland 2 (Emma Glanville, Gillian Garrett), England 1
O-45s: Ireland 3 (Ash Schutte, Anne Young 2), Scotland 0
O-50s: Ireland 6, Scotland 0

Over-40s: Ireland 2 England 1

On a gusty Friday morning on Three Rock mountain the Ireland 40s were taking on the might that is England, who had a bone to pick with Ireland given they had taken the Home nations title from them last year following a 10 year reign!

The match pace was set immediately and it was obvious that both sides were determined to give it 110%. High-intensity hockey and strong tackles were the order of the day in this tough contest. The first quarter ended in a stalemate, however, not far into the 2nd quarter the Irish team converted a finely tuned short corner set piece which was slotted home by Emma Glanville.

The home crowd support most certainly carried Ireland through a challenging 3rd quarter where the England team had more than 7 short corners awarded. The Irish defense was solid with Tara Browne holding the back line, ably assisted by Emma 'the Gladiator' Glanville.

Ireland went 2-0 ahead at the start of the fourth quarter when Gillian Garrett turned over possession and carried the ball into the English circle and fired a perfect reverse stick strike off the backboard.

The English scored a consolation goal through a penalty corner with three minutes left on the clock, but it was too little too late. Final score Ireland 2, England 1.

The whole Irish team defended brilliantly as a unit throughout the match and credit must go to each individual player as nothing was left on the pitch.

Over-45s: Ireland v Scotland 45s

Ireland started the brighter of the two sides and had a short corner within two minutes of the start. Aisling Field's shot from the top of the circle was well saved by the Scottish keeper and Ireland failed to score from the rebound.

The first quarter was all Ireland with Lynn Mills and Aoife O'Farrell combining well down the left hand side. Ireland continued to win short corners but the Scottish defence were proving difficult to break down.

The break through finally came in the 2nd quarter when JR Fisher received a ball in the circle on the right hand side and her shot beat the Scottish keeper but was saved on the line by a Scottish foot but with the umpire playing advantage, Ash Shutte was on hand to finish from close range.

Ireland were full of running now and Noreen Dockery's ball from right back found Susan McCourt on the right wing and she took on the Scottish left back and delivered a superb pass into the circle but unfortunately the Irish shot was blocked and Scotland cleared their lines.

Anne Young doubled the scoring just before half-time with a sublime reverse stick shot from the right hand side of the circle after good work from the Irish midfield of Clodagh Lynch, O'Farrell and Nikki Thompson.

In the second half Ireland continued to attack and win corners but it wasn't until the last quarter when Ireland finally converted this dominance into another goal. This was a well worked move by Anne Young to O'Farrell and a through pass to Thompson who rounded the keeper and passed to Young to slot home her second and Ireland's third.

The Irish defence of Harkin and co weren't tested in this match but stiffer tests lie ahead with Wales tomorrow at 10.45 and arch rivals England on Sunday at 3.45.

As the Irish captain Shelly Lyons said after the match "we will need to be more accurate and clinical in the circle tomorrow and Sunday if we want to win both matches”.

The Hook

Railways, Punjab & Sindh Bank to meet in final of national hockey championship

Punjab & Sindh Bank defeated Punjab by a solitary goal to book a place in Sunday’s final of the national hockey championship against Railways

Sharad Deep

Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB) rode defender Parvinder Singh’s splendid work to shock last year’s runners-up Punjab by a solitary goal in the semifinals of the national hockey championship here on Saturday.

They will take on Railways in the final on Sunday (5 pm start). The defending champions roared back to crush Chandigarh 5-1 after trailing 0-1 in the first quarter in the other semifinal.

A chance to make it to a development side of Hockey India seems to have encouraged the fringe players of Indian hockey, which includes some last year’s junior World Cup winning side, a list for which will be compiled at the end of the tournament.

Arman Qurashi, Parvinder Singh and many others from the victorious junior side, playing here for different sides, are likely to make the cut.

PSB and Punjab failed to score as the match entered the last five minutes and a penalty shootout appeared imminent. But the experienced Gurmail Singh set it up for PSB, sending a perfect cross for Karamjit Singh, who made no mistake in pushing the ball home diving to his right in the 57th minute.

Much to the surprise of Railways, Chandigarh forged into the lead in the eighth minute through skipper Gaurav Tokhi. Though Railways raised their attack and dominated the game, chances of an equaliser looked remote even in the second quarter.

However, things changed in the dying minutes of the third quarter. Nilakanta Sharma equalised in the 42nd minute before Ajay Kumar Pandey stretched the lead to 2-1 in the 48th minute. Back-to-back goals by Railways left Chandigarh running for cover.

In the 49th minute, Nilakanta struck his second (3-1) before Yuvraj Walmiki (54th) and Karanpal Singh (59th) netted two more goals to round off the tally. The score-line could have been different had the two teams not missed over a dozen penalty corners.

Chandigarh will play Punjab in the match for the third place.

Hindustan Times

Scorpions sting Multimedia in league tie at City Park

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Strathmore vs Multi Media University Strathmore Yvonne Karanja(l) and Multi Media Shirley Nahaf fight for the ball when they played National Ladies premier at City Park. ON 24/06/2017 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Ruth Adhiambo bagged a hat-trick as Strathmore University Scorpions fired six past hapless Multimedia University in a Kenya Hockey Union women’s league match yesterday at City Park Stadium.

The victory saw the 2013 continental silver medalists move to third place with 19 points pushing Amira Sailors who have 17 points to fourth place.

Judy Adhiambo netted a brace while Virginia Wanyee put her name on the score sheet once for their sixth win of the season.

Strathmore coach Meshack Senge was delighted with the victory saying it was a perfect warm up ahead of today’s crunch match against United States International University of Africa (USIU-A.

“It was a perfect warm up because we have a tough task tomorrow against USIU-A. We played well but we can still improve especially with the penalty corners,” Senge said.

A win in the varsity derby will see Strathmore leap to second place behind league leaders Telkom Orange while USIU-A who are currently second will be forced one place down.

Adhiambo announced Scorpions intended victory as she drilled past Multimedia defence finally beating goalkeeper Faith Moret to give her side a 1-0 lead in the first minute of play.

She did not allow the opponent time to settle as she successfully? converted a penalty corner for a 2-0 lead by the fifth minute.

After just 11 minutes of play, Scorpions were home and dry with a comfortable 3-0 advantage after Judy scored her first of the match. Those were the only goals of the first half as Multimedia played defensively in the second quarter not allowing more goals.

They loosened up towards the end of the third period and Adhiambo capitalised on that to complete her hat-trick in the 42nd minute. Judy netted her second three minutes later with Wanyee crowning their brilliant show in the 55th minute.

In the men’s National League encounter Impala Club thrashed Daystar 3-0.

The Standard Online

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