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News for 29 June 2017

All the news for Thursday 29 June 2017

Black Sticks beaten in World League tune up

Photo: Planet Hockey

The Vantage Black Sticks Men have suffered a heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium in the second of two test matches in Brussels.

New Zealand struggled to create momentum against the Rio Olympic silver medallists, who were fuelled by a double from Sebastien Dockier.

The Kiwis started well and pushed the hosts through some exciting phases of play in a goalless first quarter, but it was all Belgium from there.

Head coach Darren Smith said it was tough going against Belgium, who lifted to another level following the first test.

“Belgium really stepped it up today and the quality of their play was better than ours,” he said.

“I thought we started well and put together some good attacking hockey but as the game wore on we weren’t able to mount pressure on Belgium and their finishing was lethal.

“Defensively we needed to tackle and defend much better in the circle so we will take those learnings and make sure we improve going into World League.”

The Vantage Black Sticks now head to South Africa for final preparation ahead of the FIH World League Semi Final which starts on 8th July in Johannesburg.

New Zealand open the tournament against France at 10:00pm on Sunday 9th July (NZT), with live coverage on SKY Sport.

Meanwhile, the Vantage Black Sticks Women go up against Italy in the quarter finals at their World League Semi Final in Brussels tonight, live on SKY Sport 4 from 11:10pm (NZT).

BELGIUM 5: (Sebastien Dockier 2, Thomas Briels, Amaury Keusters, Cedric Charlier)
Halftime: Belgium 3-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Eight teams in the hunt for World Cup and World League Final qualification

It is crunch time in Brussels as the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals enters the crucial stages. At stake, automatic qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London and a place at the Hockey World League Final in Auckland at the end of this year. Eight teams are contesting the quarter-finals and there are some intriguing match-ups in store.

9/10th place

Scotland v Malaysia

Scotland face Malaysia in the first match of Day Six at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals, in a match to decide on 9/10th place. The higher ranked Scottish team (Hero FIH World Ranking 17) will be hoping to end their tournament on a high with a confidence boosting win.

Malaysia will be looking to take the experience they gained in containing New Zealand to a 1-0 score line in their last pool game, and gain yet more experience in high level tournament competition before they head to their continental championships and a potential appearance at the Commonwealth Games next year.


New Zealand v Italy

In the first quarter-final of the competition, the Black Sticks take on Italy (WR: 16), a side that has performed consistently well at this event against higher-ranked opposition, including a draw with both China and Korea in the pool stages.

New Zealand (WR:5) are a team that has yet to hit top form. They won their opening two matches but were unconvincing in the 1-0 win against lower-ranked Spain and outplayed in their loss to Belgium. However, New Zealand put in a strong performance against Australia and will be looking to play with the strength, physicality and speed that, on their top days, they are renown for.

Italy welcomes back Jasbeer Singh after her one match suspension, and they will be looking for the experience of captain Chiara Tiddy, Dalila Mirabella and Elisabetta Pacella to help weather any New Zealand attack and create opportunities of their own.

For their part, New Zealand is not short of experience or talent, coach Mark Hager will be looking for his captain Stacey Michelsen and experienced players such as Sam Charlton and Pippa Hayward to galvanise the team to perform at their scintillating best.

Australia v China

Barring their 2-0 defeat at the hands of arch rivals New Zealand, Australia have played this event well so far. They achieved their first target of winning the pool and will now be determined to make the semi-finals and automatic qualification to the World Cup in 2018.

The Hockeyroos are still a squad in the making with several younger and more inexperienced players on the team but this is tempered by the presence of some characters who are real match winners. Kathryn Slattery proved she had out her scoring boots on in the 4-1 match against Spain and Emily Smith will always be looking for a chance to run at the opposition. Maddy Fitzpatrick and Georgina Morgan are two players who are starting to shine in this squad.

China can always be relied on to grow in a tournament. They are a side that defends well and can prove frustrating to an opposition, particularly a team like Australia that likes to use space and play an attacking game. In Ye Jiao they have a very good young goalkeeper, while the experience and tenacity of players such as Cui Qiuxia, De Jiaojiao and Llang Meiyu will ensure the team is always pushing for results when it most matters. China's tactics are usually spot on, particularly in the later stages of an event.

Netherlands v Spain

As group winners and with no goals conceded, the Netherlands are looking a class act at this event. They stuttered against China, only scoring towards the end of the game but, rather than seeing this as a problem, the team viewed it as a chance to practice a patient approach.

Players of experience, such as Margot van Geffen, Kitty van Male, Marloes Keetels and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuval provide the backbone of this team but the emergence of players such as Maria Verschoor, Laurien Leurink, Charlotte Vega and Frederique Matla could well signal the start of a new Dutch era of dominance.

Spain, by contrast, have battled their way to the quarter-finals but will consider themselves unlucky not to have finished higher up the pools. They have pushed higher-ranked rivals hard and have shown themselves to be a squad of talented and physical players. They also show lots of strategic nous, particularly in the last pool match against Belgium. Coming up against the world number one will be a challenge but Spain will go into the match and throw everything they have at the Netherlands.

Korea v Belgium

The fourth quarter-final is an intriguing match between a team that is consistently among the top 10 in the world and a side that is in the middle stages of development. Korea (WR: 9) go into the match with the confidence of a win over Asia rivals China but they also endured a 9-0 loss to Netherlands. Against China, Korea set up a stubborn defence and then scored two counter-attacks; against Belgium (WR: 14) they will meet a side that will be far more attacking than China, which could see a change of tactics from Korea. Certainly, in Cheon Eunbi, Cheon Seul Ki and Baek Eeseul they have players who can create and score goals and, as they proved against China, they have defence that can withstand a lot of pressure.

Belgium will have been frustrated with their loss to Spain as they let their very high standard of the earlier performances slip a little. Captain Anouk Raes and team stalwarts Jill Boon and Louise Cavenaile will be looking to steady the ship and not let the sense of occasion get to the younger players. This is a very talented bunch of athletes who have the potential to be semi-finalists if they perform to their ability.

FIH site

Conor Harte back for Green Machine’s World Cup bid

Conor Harte is an important returnee for the Irish senior men. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Conor Harte has overcome a knock to take up a place in the Irish men’s squad for July’s Hockey World League Semi-final tournament in Johannesburg, the main qualifier for the 2018 World Cup.

The double-centurion missed last weekend’s brilliant performances at the Hamburg Masters but has been passed fit to be a key part of the defence in South Africa.

He will form part of an experienced defensive line-up though Ronan Gormley – an ever-present for world ranking tournaments for the last decade – is a rare absentee due to work commitments.

In total, there are four changes from March’s World League Round 2 with Olympians John Jackson and Alan Sothern providing excellent additions having returned to the panel after a six-month break after Rio.

Sothern scored in all three ties, raising his international scoring tally to 74, second only to John Jermyn’s 91 and current squad mate Shane O’Donoghue.

That shows the potency in the forward line along with rising star John McKee who proved crucial in pulling the strings, notching several assists.

Stu Loughrey and Stephen Cole are back in for their first world ranking tournament for a number of years. They edge out Lee Cole and Daragh Walsh in the final selection for places in defence and midfield, respectively.

On the debit side, Olympic duo Michael Robson and Peter Caruth are both out injured for the summer while Kirk Shimmins is unavailable for this tournament, too.

Ireland will travel out to the tournament that starts on July 9th in great shape, winning 11 of their last 12 matches and have lost just once in 16 games in 2017 to date.

That culminated in a brilliant 4-2 win over 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Germany on Sunday to win the Masters event, adding to victories over Spain (4-1) and Austria (7-2).

In Johannesburg, Ireland need to finish in the top five from the ten-team event to be guaranteed a ticket to the 2018 World Cup. However, a finish as low as seventh should be good enough for Ireland – barring miracles in Oceania and the Americas – given how the other World League semi-final tournament panned out in London last week.

Ireland – at ninth in the world – are the fifth highest ranked side in their competition and will fancy wins against Egypt and South Africa – in the opening game on July 9 – in the group stages. Belgium and Germany are the top ranked sides.

Speaking about the squad and upcoming tournament, coach Craig Fulton said: “We are looking forward to World League in Johannesburg, the obvious goal for us is to qualify for the World Cup and finish as high as possible in the tournament.

“The selected team has a nice blend of youth and experience, and the whole squad has been working really hard to get to this point. The team is in a good place and we’re looking forward to our preparation in South Africa next week.”

Ireland (Hockey World League Semi-final, July 9-23): D Harte (GK, SV Kampong), Jamie 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 (Lisnagarvey), S O’Donoghue (Glenanne), S Murray (Lisnagarvey), J McKee (Banbridge), P Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), J Duncan (Herakles), C Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), S Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), S Cole (Monkstown)

Hockey World League semi-final
Pool A: Australia (2), New Zealand (8), Spain (10), Japan (16), France (17)
Pool B: Germany (3), Belgium (5), Ireland (9), South Africa (15), Egypt (19)

July 9: Ireland vs South Africa, 6pm
July 11: Ireland vs Belgium, 6pm
July 13: Ireland vs Egypt, 12pm
July 17: Ireland vs Germany, 4pm
July 19: Quarter-finals
July 21: Semi-finals; 5th-8th playoffs
July 23: Final, classification matches

The Hook

U-19 USMNT Loses Close Hard, Fought Battle in First Match of European Tour

BILTHOVEN, The Netherlands – The U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team is abroad where they will embark on a 10-day training period featuring intense training sessions and matches against some of the highest competition at the junior level. In their first match together after naming the squad in February, an early goal by Stichtsche Cricket en Hockeyclub (SCHC) team resulted in a 1-0 loss for Team USA.

"Both teams played very hard. We want to thank SCHC for their hospitality,” said Rutger Wiese, Junior USMNT Head Coach. “This was a great start for this young team and we're looking forward to a great future. Today, showed how important it is to play as many international matches as possible.”

SCHC started the game with high pressure and quick ball circulation. This continued throughout the first quarter as the U-19 USMNT struggled to find an answer. In the 13th minute of play, SCHC capitalized on a field goal chance to go up 1-0.

After halftime, a better organized Team USA showed promise and great progress. Although they had a shaky start, the U-19 USMNT was able to regroup and gain momentum in the third and fourth quarters.

With four attacking penalty corners and several goal scoring opportunities, the game was more even sided. However, the early SCHC goal would overcome the score line and result in a 1-0 loss for Team USA.

The U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team will continue their European Tour with a match this morning against Belgium. For more updates about the U-19 USMNT, visit usafieldhockey.com and follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter.

U-19 USMNT European Tour Roster:
Jaxon Bakerman (Westlake Village, Calif.), Payton Breslow (Moorpark, Calif.), Alex Curtis (London, England),Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.), Jack Galucci (Trumbull, Conn.), Zaid Hassan (Santa Clara, Calif.), Liam Hawley (Ventura, Calif.), Colin Hennessy (Marlborough, Mass.), Wander Hommes (Westlake Village, Calif.), Graeme Jackson (Moorpark, Calif.), Amar Khokar (Valencia, Calif.), David Kristof (Darien, Conn.), Ethan LaSala (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Michael Mendoza (Monument, Colo.), Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas), Ryan Torigian (Simi Valley, Calif.), Maxwell Walshaw (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Dean Schiller (Alexandria, Va.), Garry Singh (Corona, Calif.), Sam Zuzick (Moorpark, Calif.)

USFHA media release

Kh Junaid defends hockey team’s poor showing

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team head coach Khawaja Junaid ironically has termed green shirts performance in Hockey World League Semi-final round more than what had been expected.

“Keeping in mind we had taken 9 to 10 fresh players, who had hardly experience of playing a dozen matches even then they did exceptionally well,” Junaid explained while talking to The Nation on Wednesday

“In 2014 world cup we failed to qualify, in 2016 Olympics we failed to qualify despite having senior players. But in 2017 we have managed to virtually qualify for the Hockey World Cup 2018 to be held in India, as we finished 7th and it was a great achievement to play in the quarterfinals, as we are guaranteed a berth. We had to finish among top 8 in the WHL, which we managed to do.”

He said that one must kept in mind that Pakistan lost to superior and much higher ranked teams and managed to beat teams who were behind Pakistan in international rankings all the Asian teams with the exception of India badly suffered and lost easily. He said India was investing heavily on the game and they had formulated a combination and their players were playing their trade for the last seven years or so and their hockey league was also helping them.

“We had never said we will win the World Hockey League semi-finals, we had set our sights on qualifying for the next year’s world cup and we had achieved that task. Yes off course we conceded too many goals to our liking but it was not because of our players played badly. It was because they failed to handle the pressure, but one thing is good enough that they realised their mistakes and short comings. They came to me and after watching videos of their matches and promised to rectify their errors and promised to come back strongly. If we look closely we did not performed badly even against world top hockey playing nation Argentina, who are Olympic champions as well as losing 3-1 in the quarterfinals is not a bad result. Yes we lost badly against India conceding 13 goals in two matches and off course it is a sign of worry but now I had planned to ensure involving my players for 20 to 25 matches before the Asia Cup to be played in Bangladesh in August. I am planning three matches against England, as many against Ireland and 3 to 4 against Scotland. The world cup is still more than 16 months away so we have time at our side before preparing team for the next year’s hockey world cup in India.”

Junaid said Pakistan Hockey Federation had provided him much more than he wanted and players were also highly cooperative and always tried to learn quickly but they are well-short of exposure and playing hockey against top hockey playing nations. “Our ten players had faced Argentina, Netherlands and Canada for the very first time. I am quite sure these boys’ will not only give tough time to these top nations but also carve out desired results as well. I can assure all that after 1-month, these players will be more than prepared to face any given opponent. One has to understand ground realities before pointing finger as we are preparing a fresh team and they need to play 25 to 50 matches before being able to challenge even Asian teams. Malaysia, China are also under reprocessing like Pakistan. They are spending huge amount on their national team and players, while on the other hand we with limited resources are trying our level best to take Pakistan hockey back to old glory days heights.”

He requested all the legends and past greats to join hands with federation for the joint cause of helping Pakistan hockey team instead of points scoring and levelling allegations against federation.

The Nation

Indian Debacle: Selectors are also accountable

Pinder Singh Sagoo

The author

Yet another disappointing end for Indian hockey on a global stage which entails thorough introspection and immediate remedial measure so to bring in the eluding consistency in every match and for that the selectors who pin down the team from Core-33 also need to burn midnight oil.

After bagging Silver at last year’s champion’s trophy at the same venue, there was expectations of another medal finish, sadly how wrong it proved to be.

At Rio Olympics too, India failed similarly at crucial stage. It was to a better ranked Belgium then but now a lower ranked but highly spirited Malaysians.

BACKGROUND: India started London 2017 campaign rather sluggishly but was successfully. Going a goal down, but struck four times later win Scotland 1-4.

The Canada encounter next was a much improved. India played high tempo, controlled most parts of the match , and won with ease 3 – 0.

The third match was a cracker. Despite lacking in traditional intensity, Pakistan started brightly with a couple of early chances which weren’t converted, and then let India maul them 7 – 1.

The real test was higher ranked Holland, winner would top the group. It’s against the higher ranked teams that India have to produce results to be taken seriously as contenders in major tournaments.

India got off to the worst possible way, conceding two very early goals, and from there on India were just playing second fiddle to the much better, organised professionally drilled team. Holland never let settle. It was the usual Indian story.

QUARTER-FINAL: India v Malaysia

On paper this looked an easy match. But it was not. From the start it was clear the India were fast, but the Malaysian’s were the hungrier. India lacked co-ordination as a team. Poor passing, stopping by the forwards, positional play from the midfield and forwards was key but were wayward, the Malaysian defence were able to deal with this easily and attack with swift with fast counter attack’s causing problems for India, resulting in nearly always getting a short corner or fouls in India’s half of the pitch.

Malaysia scored from their first two short corners, shaken India responded with two quick field goals leaving the match finely balanced on a knife edge! There was a sense of worry in the crowd that whoever scored the next goal would win the match. Malaysia always looked to be one. Malaysia struck off another penalty corner. A tense final quarter started, India now throwing everything to score and move for a shootout. They made good efforts, but open goals missed with each Ramandeep and Akashdeep Singh failing to connect gem of feeds. Malaysia won the match 3 -2.

Fans want India to do well. But the fact is they struggle, seem unable to play their natural game against solid team. Often, the opposition picks off India’s main player and neutralise them. Holland did this excellently on Sardara Singh. He was rendered ineffective, could not influence the outcome. Against Malaysia he did manage to have some influence but the forwards failed to deliver. India were missing a few senior players, in goal and defence, but then this is tame excuses , as every major teams have all started to develop their teams with new players in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics which give them good dividends, like Holland and England who made it to the semi finals.

India seems to be still going with the same players. Yes, a couple of Junior World Cup winners are there though. There are serious questions which need to be answered by the so called selectors. Was this really the best available players to represent India at such a level? It is very easy to blame the coach, but watching the match’s, coach Oltmans on a number of occasions was getting annoyed, frustrated by the way the team was playing. Once the players step on the pitch they are responsible to perform and deliver what they have been practising, but this sadly doesn’t seem to be the case with India.

THE CONCLUSION: The same old problems and mistakes keep resurface key matches.

• The defence struggling to cope with pressure, resulting in simple mistakes in the D, mistimed tackles, rash clearance’s resulting in short corners and ultimately goals!

• Half backs and midfield didn’t function as a unit in the key matches appeared disjointed, uncomfortable and panicky on the ball, and able to link up to be an effective unit thus supplying the forwards, they also were pressurised and lost the ball, i.e. Holland twice picked the ball from Sardara Singh and scored.

• The forward line again, failed in two important matches, missing simple chances, trying to complicate things in front of goal, failing to receive the ball or being out of position, over running in attack resulting in losing the ball resulting in a counter attack conceding short corners or a goal.

• The concern and worrying fact is that this group of players are better equipped, better prepared then players in the past yet the same mistakes keep happening over and over again, they have video’s of each team, meetings to prepare for matches, look at strength and weakness of the opposition.

• India’s failure to convert the limited short corners against Holland and Malaysia is a serious concern, while rival teams have no problem in creating and converting them.

• India defending short corners is a worry, in Rio and here in London, I noticed that Kothajit as postman, in Rio was stepping out and moving to his right and leaving a clear line for the opposing drag flicker to score, here he was coming forward and turning his back and Malaysia scored two goals in that channel, surely these are the points that would be picked up in team meetings when video sessions, or no one is prepared to do that role?

India to be truly considered a major force on the world hockey stage are a long way off yet, Until they are able to perform at a consistent level at major tournaments they cannot be really considered a force. The Indian selectors have to take a long hard look at themselves, what is the criteria they use to select players to represent the country? When did they last come to watch the team play and see firsthand for themselves how the players they have selected are performing?

In this Indian team there are players who are past their best and are still in the squad on what basis and what merit? India’s forwards have failed again; surely it would make sense to try out the forwards from the Lucknow squad to see how they would perform at the elite level.

Teams like Holland, England, Germany and Australia have started to re-build their teams with next World Cup and Olympics as targets.

India missed out the opportunity in London.

India need to look at how other teams have begun the rebuilding process. India just picks up the same core group, go with the same set of players with minimum ‘new’ faces!

The over whelming feeling after three losses by the large Indian fans watching was that they had failed to perform and at no stage looked like they were able to compete with the Holland or Malaysia, leaving everyone once again with the feeling with what could have been.

Mere winning of Pakistan has no meaning. India has to move further.

The writer is a London based hockey fan and critic.


Irish U21 Women's Squad Valencia Training Panel

Ireland U21 July - Valencia Training Panel

After a lot of thought and consideration the following players (in position order) have been selected for the Europeans panel to the end of July:

1, GK, Emma Buckley (GK)
2, GK, Clodagh Cassin (GK)
3, GK, Elizabeth Murphy (GK)
4, Def, Alex Ogilby
5, Def, Suzie Kelly
 6, Def, Erin Getty
7, Def, Sarah Patton
8, Def, Alana Doyle
9, Def / Link, Hannah McLoughlin
10, Link /Def, Ruth Maguire ©
11, Link, Anna Richardson
12, Link, Emma Kernohan
13, Link / Lib, Erica Markey
14, Link / Lib, Ellen Curran
15, Link / Lib, Sara Twomey ©
16, Lib, Michelle Carey
17, Lib / Fwd, Jessica McMaster
18, Fwd, Abbie Russell
19, Fwd, Taite Doherty
20, Fwd, Tori Hastings
21, Fwd, Edel Nyland
22, Fwd, Sorcha Clarke
23, Fwd, Sarah Torrans
24, Fwd, Rachel Burns
25, Fwd, Hannah Irwin
    Lib, Katie Larmour

Speaking about the squad, head coach David Passmore said “The selection for this group has been very competitive as the group of 34 athletes have generally worked really hard and this made the cut difficult. It is a very young group overall with a few players who have worked with the seniors. We are working hard to increase the positional flexibility within the group but have been hampered by injury and illness to a number of players"

U21 Women Fixtures:

Sat 8th July 3pm Ireland vs England
Sun 9th 1:30pm Ireland vs England

Both matches will take place in Queens, Belfast.

Irish Hockey Association media release

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