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News for 17 July 2017

All the news for Monday 17 July 2017

South Africa surprise as women’s quarter-final line-up confirmed on Day 9 in Johannesburg

South Africa claimed an unexpected win over USA to reach the competition quarter-finals in Johannesburg. Copyright: FIH / Getty Images

Johannesburg, South Africa: Following another high-quality day of action at the University of the Witwatersrand, the quarter-final line-up of the women’s Hockey World League Semi-Final has been revealed.

The first of the quarter-final matches, which take place on Tuesday 18th July, will be played at 11:15 South Africa Standard Time (UTC +2), with Pool B runners-up USA facing Japan, who finished third in Pool A. That match is followed by Argentina versus Ireland, with the teams that finished first in Pool B and fourth in Pool A respectively meeting at 13:30. At 15:45, Pool A winners England play Pool B’s fourth placed team India before Germany, second in Pool A, take on a South Africa side that claimed third place in Pool B at 1800.

In Pool A, England emerged at the top of the standings with nine points from their four matches, ahead of second placed Germany, Japan in third, Ireland fourth and Poland fifth. The top four were all in action on Sunday, with Germany recording a comfortable 3-0 victory over Japan before England battled past Ireland 3-2 to claim top spot.

Japan (FIH Hero World Ranking: 11) were the better team in the opening stages of their match against Germany (WR: 7), but failed to get the breakthrough despite rattling the frame of the goal moments before Die Danas took the lead in the 23rd minute. Charlotte Stapenhorst was credited with the goal, although her cross-shot appeared to be going wide before taking an unfortunate deflection from a Japanese player. Strikes in the third and fourth quarters from Nike Lorenz and Cecile Pieper sealed the win and put Germany, albeit temporarily, into first place in the pool ahead of the England versus Ireland match.

Speaking after the game, Germany captain Janne Müller-Wieland said: “Japan are a great team and we have massive respect for them. I am very pleased with the win, especially the way the team has reacted to the defeat [against England].”

Both England (WR: 2) and Ireland (WR: 15) went into the final Pool A match knowing that a win for either would be enough to top the standings, with England taking a 2-0 lead into half time thanks Sarah Haycroft’s deflected shot and a superb penalty corner deflection from Shona McCallin. The Green Army hit back with two quick goals shortly after the break through Nicci Daly and a captain’s goal from Katie Mullan, taking the score to 2-2 and leaving the European champions stunned. However, England were not to be denied, with team captain Alex Danson pouncing on a penalty corner rebound to score her 102nd international goal and seal that all-important first place finish.

“They [Ireland] are so hard working, it is actually annoying”, said England’s Lily Owsley, who earned her 100th senior international cap (England and Great Britain combined), after the match. “They just don’t give up, they fight for every ball and are getting better and better. Fair play to them, they gave us a real run for our money today and actually dominated at times but we came through it, which is the important thing.”

In Pool B, Argentina finished in first place, with USA, South Africa and India taking the second, third and fourth quarter-final qualification positions respectively.

South Africa (WR: 13) produced an epic performance in front of a passion-filled capacity crowd to defeat USA (WR: 6) 3-2 and confirm their place in the competition quarter-finals, breaking the hearts of Chile who were forced into fifth place on the back of the result. Melissa Gonzalez cracked home a brilliant backhand effort to give USA the lead in the 14th minute before Jade Mayne pulled the home favourites level ahead of hand time. Jill Witmer edged the Americans ahead just before the third quarter break, but two goals from Candice Manuel in the fourth quarter triggered wild celebrations from the both the home fans and the players as South Africa booked their ticket to the quarter-final.

“I’m just super stoked”, said a thrilled Bernie Coston after the match. “We came here with an overall goal, now we just take it game by game. USA are a tough team to play against, and also bring the best out of us. The crowd went berserk with every tackle, and that really made a difference.”

Defeat for USA in the third match of the day meant that Argentina (WR: 3) went into their final Pool B match against India (WR: 12) knowing that they were already certain of a first place finish. It made little difference to their approach, as Las Leonas produced another excellent display to claim a 3-0 triumph over India’s Eves. Argentina needed less than 90 seconds to leave their first imprint on the score-sheet with Rocio Sanchez making it 1-0 before an open play effort from Maria Granatto and Noel Barrionuevo’s penalty stroke took the score to 3-0 at half time. India produced a much improved performance in the third and fourth quarters but Argentina's lead never looked threatened.

Argentina's Delfina Merino was pleased with her team's performance, and said that the focus would now switch onto their quarter-final clash with Ireland. "They [Ireland] are a very tough team, we've been watching some of their matches here", said Merino. "We will need to be very focused."

On Monday 17th July, the final four matches of the men’s pools will take place to decide the quarter-final line up. Australia and Japan take to the field for their Pool A contest at 12:00 South African Standard Time (UTC +2) before Spain and New Zealand, who also compete in Pool A, face-off at 14:00. Pool B draws to a close with the day’s two final matches, with Germany taking on Ireland at 16:00 ahead of the South Africa versus Belgium clash at 1800.

Women’s Quarter-Final line-up
Matches to be played Tuesday 18 July 2017. All times South Africa Standard Time (UTC +2)
11:15: USA (2nd Pool B) v Japan (3rd Pool A)
13:30: Argentina (1st Pool B) v Ireland (4th Pool A)
15:45: England (1st Pool A) v India (4th Pool B)
18:00: Germany (2nd Pool A) v South Africa (3rd Pool B)

FIH site

Dramatic win over USA seals quarterfinal spot for SA

South Africa’s national women’s hockey team qualified for the quarterfinals of the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals after a dramatic win over the USA.

Two goals from Candice Manual sealed the victory for South Africa after trailing twice in the match to win 3-2. Manual’s second goal gave SA the lead with nine minutes to go. The last few minutes the home crowd went wild to help the team keep that lead despite final attacks from America.

At halftime the score was 1-1. Melissa Gonzalez scored in the 14th minute to give the USA the lead after the first chukka. After brilliant work from Shelley Jones on the counter-attack Jade Mayne made it 1-1 in the 27th minute.

The USA took the lead again with one minute left in the third chukka when Jill Witmer hit the back of the goal-box. Candice Manuel made it all square again after some brilliant work between herself and Bernadette Coston. Less than two minutes later Manual scored again.

With their back against the wall the SA women stepped up big time in the second half. They played with intensity that lacked in previous games.

Sheldon Rostron was a very proud and emotional coach afterwards. “I am really happy. I actually have no words. My heart is pounding like crazy. The team had to dig deep for the victory. We wanted to work some shots at goals and score form it and we did that. We have learnt some lessons and I am excited with what we have achieved today.”

Goal-scorer Manual added: “It is great to score goals and win matches because we live for moments like these. When I score I am really happy and I had to show it!”

Captain Sulette Damons was also a happy camper. “We kept believing we could win even though we went behind twice. I am proud of my team.”

South Africa will play against Germany in the quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Tomorrow the SA men’s team is up against Belgium at 18:00. Belgium played in the final of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The only way the team can reach the next round is by beating Belgium who is in rampant form.

All matches in the Hockey World League Semi-Final are played at the Wits Hockey Astro in Johannesburg. Twenty of the world’s best men and women’s national teams will take part in these Hockey World Cup 2018 qualifiers from 8 - 23 July.

Tickets for the event can be purchased online at http://hockeyworldleague.nutickets.co.za/HWL

SA Hockey Association media release

Host Nation South Africa Defeats USWNT in Final Pool Match of FIH Hockey World League Semifinals

Images courtesy of Rodrigo Jaramillo and Getty Images/FIH

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – July 16, 2017 – A packed stadium at the University of Wits venue welcomed the U.S. Women’s National Team and host nation and FIH Hero World Ranked No. 13 South Africa in their fourth and final pool play match. A lot was on the line for both teams, as it was a must with for South Africa to advance to crossovers, and USA needed the points for final pool placement in the quarterfinal round. Finishing the first half tied at 1-1, South Africa came back and produced two goals within a two-minute span to earn the 3-2 victory over USA.

Both teams hit the field quick in the first quarter, tallying multiple shots on target. A close chance came for USA in the 2nd minute, when Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) used her speed and stick skills to find room and rip a shot on goal. South Africa responded with a circle penetration of their own, and a few chances after but USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.) was there to make the saves. For a period, South Africa tested USA’s defense but the constant communication and proper positioning paid off in the 14th minute Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) took the ball to the top of the circle, turned her defender and ripped a backhand shot into the goal to give USA a 1-0 lead.

USA started fast in the second quarter moving possession up field and getting a good look off a hard cross. A few more circle entries came but South Africa’s defensive unit limited USA from breaking past circle line. In the 26th minute, South Africa took a 16-yard ball quick, displayed good ball movement to get it down field and behind USA’s defense. The cross into the circle found South Africa striker Jade Mayne on the far post who put in the equalizer to make it 1-1. For the remainder of the quarter, both teams saw chances on goal but the score line stood.

Thirty minutes stood between the outcome of the match as well as the quarterfinal line-up. With patience, USA transferred the ball around the backfield and into pockets. Ball movement continued to be forward and with purpose but South Africa’s defense limited any USA threatening chance. South Africa turned the tables for a period where they battered USA’s defense but the ball was cleared up field to Kat Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) who moved it with speed. Constant attack paid off in the 44th minute when Katelyn Ginolfi (Lewes, Del.) gathered possession at the top of the circle, took a backhand and Witmer was there to touch it around South Africa’s goalkeeper to make it USA 2, South Africa 1 to finish out the quarter.

South Africa was determined in the fourth quarter and kick started a rally after USA’s Witmer was given a green card in the 47th minute. Two minutes following, South Africa threw an overhead that got in behind USA’s defense. The ball was picked up by a striker who passed it to a well-positioned Candice Manuel who deflected it in to tie the match. A minute after that, South Africa again took advantage of USA’s poor marking threaded the ball behind the defense to an open Manuel whose backhand shot went past USA’s goalkeeper Briggs to make it USA 2, South Africa 3. Double 5-minute yellow cards were given to USA’s Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) and South Africa’s Manuel at the 54th minute mark and a green card was awarded to South African’s Lilian Plessis a minute after that. USA fought hard as time ticked down but were unable to find the equalizer as South Africa would earn the 3-2 victory.

After preliminary round play, Team USA finished in the second position in Pool B. Quarterfinal play will start on Tuesday, July 18 for the U.S. Women's National as they face Japan at 5:15 a.m. EST.

USFHA media release

Who you gonna call? Candice, Candice Manuel!

by Ken Borland

Candice Manuel, who scored two goals in three minutes, was the toast of South African hockey on Sunday night as she secured a thrilling 3-2 win for the national women’s side over the USA at the Wits Astro, putting the host nation into the Hockey World League quarterfinals.

Manuel, who hails from Western Province and was earning her 46th international cap, equalised in the 49th minute with a slick finish after the ball was laid back to her in the middle of the circle by Bernie Coston, who had done brilliantly to claim an overhead and then take the goalkeeper out of play.

Two minutes later, veteran Nicolene Terblanche, who put an unhappy game behind her with a dominant final-quarter performance, found Manuel with a superb defence-splitting pass, and Manuel showed her ruthless edge by blasting a reverse-sticks shot past the feet of advancing USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs.

There were still nine minutes remaining in the match and South Africa can take enormous credit for the way they held on to their composure and their 3-2 lead under immense pressure from the sixth-ranked side in the closing stages.

“The challenge of knowing we must win really got the hearts firing and the energy was way up. This team seems to thrive on these moments, they showed great composure to come out with the win and there’s a lot of emotion now,” coach Sheldon Rostron said.

South Africa can now look forward to a quarterfinal against world number seven Germany on Tuesday and, if they can play like they did on Sunday, another upset is not beyond them.

The home side showed their intent from the outset as they dominated the first quarter, but still found themselves 1-0 down as a rapid counter-attack from halfway by the USA led to a goal by captain Melissa Gonzalez.

South Africa maintained consistent pressure on their more-fancied opposition through the second quarter and grabbed a great equaliser in the 26th minute as the indefatigable Shelley Jones (nee’ Russell) used her considerable pace to chase down a long ball, found Sulette Damons in the circle, who passed to Jade Mayne, who slotted home.

But it was all change in the third quarter as the USA turned the screw and claimed a 2-1 lead. Some slack marking saw Katelyn Ginolfi free in space and she ran into the circle and fired off a shot, which was deflected into goal by Jill Witmer.

It had been all USA in the third quarter, but the South Africans showed tremendous determination to fight back and get the vital victory.

“These moments are what we live for, to have the BMT to capitalise on our chances,” Manuel said. “We gave our all, it’s why we spend hours training. It just seems to be a South African trait that we shine in these moments. I still can’t let go of this phenomenal feeling, my head is everywhere!”

“Candice has a phenomemal ability to score goals, this is why we select her, and we brought her into play much better today in terms of our movement and the midfield service,” Rostron said.

Results: Germany 3 (Charlotte Stapenhorst, Nike Lorenz, Cecile Pieper) Japan 0; England 3 (Sarah Haycroft, Shona McCallin, Alex Danson) Ireland 2 (Nicola Daly, Kathryn Mullan); South Africa 3 (Jade Mayne, Candice Manuel 2) USA 2 (Melissa Gonzalez, Jill Witmer); Argentina 3 (Rocio Sanchez, Maria Granatto, Noel Barrionuevo) India 0.

Women’s quarterfinals: Japan v USA; South Africa v Germany; England v India; Argentina v Ireland.

Monday’s fixtures (men): 12pm Australia v Japan; 2pm Spain v New Zealand; 4pm Germany v Ireland; 6pm South Africa v Belgium.


Last-gasp SA progress to quarters

by Karien Jonckheere

Shelley Jones © Gallo Images

SA’s Shelley Jones summed it up perfectly when she described it as “the long way round”. South Africa’s women’s hockey team did indeed do it the hard way, but they have booked their place in the quarterfinals of the Hockey World League.

That’s after they beat the USA 3-2 in their must-win final group game at the Wits Astro in Johannesburg on Sunday.

After their shock loss to Chile during the week, the pressure was on and the SA side showed they were up to the task.

“When our backs are against the wall we always seem to produce a fighting performance. It feels incredible – especially after the devastation of the Chile game,” said a beaming Jones afterwards.

“I keep telling people ‘we’ll meet you there’ (in the playoffs) but we always take the long way round,” she added.

The South Africans showed no signs of nervousness as they took to the field against a team ranked seven places above them in the world. They had clearly taken an aggressive approach and within the first few minutes had already created several opportunities to score.

The SA side were in fact on the attack when they lost the ball and the USA pounced and moved it up to Melissa Gonzalez who slotted it in from the edge of the circle for a 1-0 lead.

It took another 12 minutes for SA to equalise. Heading towards the end of the half, Shelley Jones fed the ball through to Sulette Damons, who then passed it to Jade Mayne to slot it past the US keeper for the equaliser.

Some poor marking from the South Africans in the circle led to the USA once again taking the lead in the third quarter though. This time it was Jill Witmer who did the honours.

But five minutes later SA pulled one back with an excellent deflection from Candice Manuel off a Bernie Coston pass beating the keeper for 2-2.

Manuel was back in action just a matter of minutes later and smashed in another one for the 3-2 lead with nine minutes left to hold on for the victory. The South Africans did well to keep their composure under some intense pressure and there was wild celebration when the final hooter sounded, signalling the home team’s passage through to the quarterfinals.

“It was a really important game – a must-win game and it’s these moments that we sportswomen live for and those BMT moments that we have to capitalise on,” said Manuel afterwards. “Today was one of those that we had to win and we gave it our all.

“We had to put everything into this match. We put in the extra hours, we studied USA, we worked on ourselves, finding our strong points and our weaknesses as well and just putting in that extra effort because we knew this was a must-win. That’s when SA really shines – when we are in these big moments. We really pull it out.”

“It’s a phenomenal feeling. I still can’t let it go. My head is everywhere at the moment and we’ll hopefully bring this energy and vibe into the next match.”

SA coach Sheldon Rostron said a solid game plan had given the side confidence going into the match. “Obviously knowing this was a must-win got the hearts firing and the passion going but from the start I think the energy was high coming into this match. So well done to the girls,” he said.

Speaking about Manuel’s two-goal performance, he added: “I think she has a phenomenal ability to score goals. We brought her in much better today in terms of movement and the midfield servicing her and I think that’s why she was able to do that for us today.”

Meanwhile, in other matches on Sunday, Germany beat Japan 3-0 to finish second in Pool A, England defeated Ireland 3-2 to top that pool and Argentina beat India 3-0 to top Pool B.

Because of that result, South Africa finished above India (with whom they drew earlier in the tournament) in Pool B.

As a result, South Africa will face Germany in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. England will play India, USA will take on Japan and Argentina will face Ireland.

The SA men are back in action on Monday and will have been boosted by their female counterparts’ performance as they face a massive task of their own in having to beat Olympic silver medallists Belgium to reach the quarterfinals.


Indian Women’s Hockey Team lose 0-3 to World No. 3 Argentina

Anupa Barla of India controls the ball from Agustina Habif of Argentina.  Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Indian women’s hockey team suffered a 0-3 loss to strong opponents Argentina in their last group stage encounter at the Women’s Hockey World League Semi Final here.

For World No.3 Argentina, Rocio Sanchez (2nd minute), Maria Granatto (14th) and Noel Barrionuevo (25th) were the goal-scorer, while India drew a blank.

Argentina were quick to get off the blocks last night scoring as early as the second minute of the match. It was Rocio Sanchez who fetched Argentina an early 1-0 lead.

India’s goalkeeper Savita was kept busy right from the start and unfortunately for her this goal came off Argentina’s second shot on goal. Though she made a diving effort to save the first attempt, an unmarked Sanchez was quick to pick up the rebound and convert.

Soon after India came close to scoring an equalizer when Vandana Katariya assisted by Namita Toppo tried to deflect the ball into the post but it was blocked away by the Argentine goalkeeper. Savita made as many as four saves in the first 15 minutes and one of her best saves was padding away a fiercely struck shot by Julieta Jankunas.

Argentina also won their first PC in the 6th minute but it was blocked away by first runner Namita. Maria Granatto scored Argentina’s second goal in the 14th minute to go into the first hooter with a strong 2-0 lead.

India played this quarter sensibly, covering their defence and restricted Argentina from entering the striking circle. In the 23rd minute India won a PC but nothing came off the opportunity as Rani’s strike was well—saved by the Argentina goalkeeper.

Soon after, in the 25th minute Argentina was awarded a penalty stroke when Sushila fouled while defending a PC awarded to Argentina. The penalty stroke was converted by Noel Barrionuevo. Argentina began the third quarter with a comfortable 3-0 lead and continued to put India under pressure.

They won back-to-back PCs in the 34th minute but India goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu, who replaced Savita after half-time, along with Namito Toppo did well to defend. India came up with deep defensive tactics to keep Argentina goalless in this quarter.

The final 15 minutes saw the Indian defenders keep the Argentine attackers in check. They didn’t allow easy chances in the striking circle and came up with a high press to frustrate the Argentines.

Meanwhile, the Indian attackers made desperate attempts to take a successful shot on goal but it was hard to come by. A tense tackle by Sunita Lakra resulted in Argentina being awarded with a PC in the dying minutes of the match. But Rajani was brilliant with her save.

India gave away another PC to Argentina soon after, this was their 9th penalty corner but nothing came off the chance. Though Rani manufactured a great shot on goal within the final two minutes to the hooter, the Argentina goalkeeper denied India a goal. India will next take on England in the Quarter-final on

The Hindu

Danson strike guides England past Ireland

England v Ireland

Alex Danson’s 102nd international goal guided England to a 3-2 victory over Ireland and secured a top place finish in Pool A at the World Hockey League Semi-Finals.

England had raced into a 2-0 half-time lead through Sarah Haycroft and Shona McCallin before Ireland produced a stunning comeback to level after the break.

But Danson’s strike in the 43rd minute restored the lead for her side who saw off late Irish pressure to seal the win and their place at the top of their pool.

The opening exchanges were evenly contested before Ireland created the first chance of the match, but Maddie Hinch was quickly off her line save Anna O’Flanagan.

England responded and went on to look the better side in the opening quarter, forcing a number of dangerous circle penetrations. Shortly before the break England made this pressure count, Sarah Haycroft broke down the right and crossed onto an Irish foot which deflected into the goal.

The second quarter saw England twice go down to ten players which meant they spent the majority of the next fifteen minutes in their own half. However just before the half-time break good work from Lily Owsley won a penalty corner, McCallin popped up at the left hand post to deflect home Giselle Ansley’s dragflick.

After the interval Ireland levelled inside two minutes of the restart to stun England. Firstly Daly’s reverse shot deflected in off Ansley’s stick before Kathryn Mullan’s bobbled shot through a crowded circle snuck past Hinch.

Ireland continued to press but England’s defence held firm and on the stroke of the final break they were back in the lead. From a penalty corner Ansley’s effort was saved but Danson reacted quickest to hammer home the rebound.

In the final fifteen minutes the Irish battled hard to level once again and only some fine defending and standout tackles from Anna Toman and Hollie Webb. Ireland elected for a kicking back in a late attempt to equalise but England held firm.

England will contest their quarter final on Tuesday which will be shown live on BT Sport.

England XI: Maddie Hinch (GK), Giselle Ansley, Laura Unsworth, Hollie Webb, Anna Toman, Emily Defroand, Sarah Haycroft, Susannah Townsend, Nicola White, Alex Danson, Sophie Bray

Subs (Used): Grace Balsdon, Zoe Shipperley, Hannah Martin , Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley

Subs (Unused): Amy Tennant (GK)

England Hockey Board Media release

Lost chance for SA v Egypt

by Karien Jonckheere

Tim Drummond © Gallo Images

SA men’s hockey coach Fabian Gregory was uncharacteristically quiet as he faced up to the media after his side’s 2-1 loss to Egypt at the Hockey World League in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Understandably so. His side had run Olympic bronze medallists Germany agonisingly close two days ago, but in a match against the underdogs of the tournament, they simply couldn’t find the back of the net.

The post-match stats made for disappointing reading. Egypt had two shots on goal the entire match and had two goals from them. South Africa had 13 and, according to Gregory, the actual number was probably even higher.

“I actually think it was more than 13 shots on goal with the amount of penalty corners we had. And also you cannot miss open goals like that. We had too many chances at the end of the day,” said the dejected Gregory.

“But credit to the Egyptians. They defended like Trojans, they kept their shape really nice and tight, and we just struggled to exploit them. Even with the chances we had, we didn’t put them away. Their penalty corner defence was really sound so all credit to them. They’re good value and good luck to them.”

The South Africans enjoyed much of the possession and it was against the run of play that Egypt scored their first goal – a strike from Houssam Ghobran in the 29th minute. The home side came right back at them though and scored a matter of seconds later thanks to a deflection that beat the keeper from Daniel Sibbald.

But it was several defensive errors that led to Egypt’s second – a soft goal again by Ghobran in the 41st minute. Despite applying some intense pressure after that, the Egyptian defence held firm.

“I think we made terrible decisions when we were in our deep defensive zone,” admitted Gregory. “We do well to win the ball on the first phase but on the second phase when we’ve won the ball, we just give easy turnovers and give the ball away too easily and that’s where it counts.”

Speaking about the final five minutes when Egypt had two players off and the South Africans had a kicking back on in place of the keeper to push for the equaliser, Gregory added: “We got a number of goal shots in that time but we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net. It’s a difficult one to swallow in the sense that we had numerical advantage, we had advantage when it came to goal shots, possession, but it only counts when you put the ball in the back of the net.

“We’ll have to have a serious look at ourselves that we’re unable to score those goals when the opportunity presents itself.”

As for the seemingly insurmountable task now of defeating Olympic silver medallists Belgium on Monday in order to make it through to the quarterfinal stage, Gregory remained positive.

“It’s a must-win game for us. We’ll go out there and try our best. We played them in January and we competed really well. It’ll be a nice challenge for the players. They’ve got to pick themselves up after this. We are South Africa – we’re always optimistic so why not?”

SA captain Tim Drummond added: “It’s a tough pill to swallow and it’s very disappointing but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and we’ve got the group to do that. We’ve got Belgium next and we’ve just got to produce some awesomeness against them. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll be the underdogs and that’s a dangerous position to be in for the opposition.”

As for Belgium, meanwhile, two sensational saves from German keeper Tobias Walter in the last five seconds of their match saw the Belgians going down 3-2. In other matches played in front of a capacity crowd at the Wits Astro on Saturday, Spain defeated neighbours France 2-0 and Australia defeated New Zealand 2-1.


Guatemala and Panama on the lead in Managua

Ma. Josefina Chávez Diaz

The second day of Hockey 5 Championship in Luis Alfonso Velazquez’s Park Championship ended with Guatemala and Panama as top leads both men and women.

Costa Rica playing their first match of the tournament against Honduras who had lost 7 to 1 yesterday against Panama.

Despite they work on the mistakes done during the first match, and changed their attitude, they could not break the offensive game of Costa Rica and lost 2 to 1.

Costa Rica’s Captain Gabriel Orozco said “Everybody likes winning. We are pleased with our way of playing but we will improve to be ready when we play against our classic rival, Guatemala”

Honduras’s Goalkeeper Fernando Vega said "We played a lot better than yesterday, but we needed something extra to stay with the 3 points,"

Then it was the women's turn. Panama made their debut in Managua and did so with a win against Honduras. He won 3-0.

Nicaragua and Panama played an amazing game in Velazquez’s Park. The local team started the game with confidence and scored right at the beginning of the game.

From then until the end, both teams went for more. Great action by the goalkeeper Martín Carballo, saved many opportunities, while Panama looked for the tie. In the end, those led by Guillermo Stakeman took advantage of all the opportunities and over the end, only 2 ' of the final whistle turned over the game. Panama won 2 to 1.

The game between Guatemala and Nicaragua, the experience of those led by Hans Higueros was more successful. They won 3-1 at home.

Another good moment was between Costa Rica and Guatemala, in the fifth game of the day. Both teams were waiting for this match and they took advantage of it. With fair play, and a great match, Guatemala won 5 to 0.

The girls from Panama added their second win of the day after beating Costa Rica 4-1.

The closing games during the afternoon brought victories for Nicaragua’s Men & Women’s Team. They secured their first win after beating Honduras 3-0.

For their part the women team, an added their second win after beating Honduras 1 to 0.

Guatemala and Panama in both Men & Women are leaders. They have 6 points in two games.

Tomorrow will begin at 9.00 with the men’s game between Panama and Costa Rica.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Indonesia and Thailand pose biggest threats

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia and Thailand are seen as Malaysia’s biggest threats to the two indoor hockey golds at next month’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

Malaysia coach Mohamed Amin Rahim said he picked Indonesia and Thailand as favourites for the men and women’s titles based on their preparations and knowledge of the game.

Indoor hockey is being held for the first time in the Games history.

“Indonesia have been preparing for over a year for the Games. They have also engaged the Malaysian Armed Forces team, the national indoor champions, as their sparring partners.

“Thailand are also serious about winning the gold. They have hired an Iranian coach. The Iranians are the Asian champions for the last six editions,” said Amin, a former national field hockey defender.

Still, Amin believes Malaysia have a fighting chance to win both the golds.

“We are ready for the challenge despite being new to the sport. Some of them only took up indoor hockey three months ago. But I believe we’ve two good sides,” said Amin.

“Our players have the skills and they’ve made tremendous im­­prove­­ments.

“The fight for a place in the team is very competitive. The players are up to the task of winning the two golds,” said Amin.

Amin is now putting the players through their paces at the Real Sports Arena Futsal in Klang. The tournament venue at Mytec, Jalan Duta, is not ready yet.

“We’re waiting for the turf to be laid. After that we will shift our training base to the Games venue,” said Amin.

The Star of Malaysia

Pakistan hockey at crossroads

by Muhammad Ali

Pakistan hockey remained up in the clouds for more than three decades. Today it is at its lowest rung. It is lamentable that a team who won Olympic gold thrice, World Cup four times, Asia Cup thrice, Asian Games gold record eight times, Asian Champions Trophy gold twice, FIH Champions Trophy gold thrice and remained unbeatable at regional level for many years are now considered minnows and one of the lowly ranked outfits. Pakistan’s nightmarish run at the recently concluded World Hockey League (WHL) in London has been enough to convince even diehard fans that it is the end of the road for the game in the country. Pakistan have slipped to the point where a lightweight team such as Canada can give them a royal thrashing (6-0). The greenshirts, whose victories in the WHL came against lowly-ranked Scotland and China, were completely outplayed by major teams including Holland, India - twice - and Argentina as they finished a poor seventh at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It is ironic, though, that despite this horrendous show, Pakistan have managed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, thanks to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) which has raised the number of participating teams from 12 to 16 for the mega event. And yet, had it not been for the drawn match between Canada and Scotland, Pakistan would have returned empty-handed.

While the national game has been experiencing a sharp decline for a number of years now, the almost complete absence of skill, stamina and the will to win has been astonishing at the World Hockey League. Not a single facet of Pakistan’s game in the tournament is worth mentioning. The midfield and the forward line appeared completely disjointed, failing to put any pressure on the opposition, while both strikers and defenders were listless as the side lost games by huge margins, highlighting the embarrassing state of bankruptcy. The performance, no doubt, has brought shame, disgrace and anguish.

These are times when one fails to figure out what is keeping Pakistan hockey alive. In other countries, the people running the hockey affairs contribute by taking professional decisions and by executing them with competence rather than on the basis of personal preference and bias. But, frankly, we are not such a nation. The statements given by the top Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) officials, in the national media, aim at to make people believe that the national outfit is doing well, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The fact is that the way things are being conducted, the days ahead are anything but that. Self-projection is definitely being given a different meaning here. After qualifying for the World Cup 2018, the PHF top brass again jumped on the high horse, as the country had won the Olympic gold or World Cup. But sharp criticism in the national media brought them down with such a huge thud that it has a ring of Humpty Dumpty about it!

In Pakistan hockey, whenever the greenshirts lose a tournament, an unwarranted overhaul takes place and merit runs poor second to personal whims. The fact is ignored that the change of managers, coaches and selectors in no way promises success, planning does. But we are not a nation of sage souls. Rather we indulge in thoughtless decisions. If changing team managements after every defeat or bad performance had been the best remedy, Pakistan would have been champions. Unfortunately, the technical understanding of issues is always ignored, and it triggers a rot. Since the present management took over, the PHF is making changes which seem rather absurd even to a layman. Such as recalling and induction of former hockey stars in the team, sacking managers and coaches one after the other etc. There is no continuity, and the right kind of decision-making. Thus, making hockey a laughing stock.

Pakistan’s brilliant track record in international hockey since independence has owed much to the dynamic administrative skills of individuals like AIS Dara, Air Marshal Noor Khan, and Air Vice Marshal Farooq Umar. If one analyses carefully the periods of poor performance in Pakistan hockey they are invariably linked with poor management. At present there is much chaos and lack of vision in the PHF, and the chances the national team will sparkle in forthcoming events seem remote. Presently our national sport has been bedeviled with poor performance, rifts, petty politics, polarity, and has consequently been overshadowed by cricket. There are serious problems with the national sport of the country. Today Pakistan hockey is at crossroads.

The present top PHF management has no leadership qualities, vision, charisma, and the killer instinct that are hallmarks of good administrators. The way they are running the hockey show is anybody’s guess. In the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful patron’s benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal.

Due to country’s obsession with cricket these days, Pakistan hockey has been relegated to the background due to the Pakistan government’s indifferent attitude towards the national sport. On the other hand, our neighbour India in recent years has taken a giant leap in promoting its sports, injecting millions of dollars into cricket, hockey, badminton, tennis, football and kabaddi. They have started staging international leagues attracting world-class players. All this is helping India tremendously to elevate itself in the international sports arena. Unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan is exactly the opposite as the federal government lacks the required level of interest to involve the nation in sporting activities. Instead the Pakistan government is more interested in squandering billions of rupees on worthless projects.

We should focus on how to resurrect the national game which over the years has experienced unprecedented decline. It is dying slowly. We have to come over from past glory days dreams. Yes, we ruled the world, but that is history now. Pakistan hockey structure lacks in terms of skills and competitiveness. The very base of the game has shrunk beyond belief. Pakistan hockey’s slump is not quite as dramatic or sudden as it now seems to be. It’s been a slow and painful decline that began after 1994. A strong and balanced team can only be build keeping in view the modern approach to competitive international hockey, and the exacting scientific preparations that the international teams now favour. To remain consistent and show superior performance, Pakistan hockey needs improvement all over at every tier of the game at the domestic level to show an upward graph.

The lack of resources is affecting Pakistan hockey’s international performance. No operation can be run without adequate fuel. The need of the hour is to bring Pakistan hockey into line with the rest, best and the latest aspects of modern hockey as the game has changed a lot in recent years. Even the best of players cannot win without strategic strength as all team games need to have excellent pre-emptive and offensive strategies worked out scientifically.

The PHF has become politicized and nepotistic, just like its cricket counterpart. It is about time the PHF officials accept responsibility for ruining Pakistan hockey, and vacate their offices. In one word, what Pakistan hockey needs at the moment is change. It is crucial for the future of the game in the country that Pakistan must put in an improved performance in the forthcoming tournaments to herald its return as a major force in the hockey world. And that only can happen when the PHF is being run by people who know the game, are sincere and honest, believe in merit and can inculcate motivation, confidence and self-belief among the players. Otherwise, we should brace ourselves for further disasters. It is very unfortunate that national sport of the country has gone to the dogs.

The Daily Times

PHF plans to invite World Hockey XI before PHL

KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has planned to invite World Hockey Eleven consisting of famous players to play at least two matches with Pakistan before the beginning of Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) later this year, ‘The News’ has learnt.

Informed sources said that PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed was using his personal contacts to get renowned players of strong teams to come to the country. His stature in modern hockey is comparable to Diego Maradona in football.

The cities where the two matches would be played were yet to be decided, sources in PHF said. The matches are likely to be played in October or November, they said. The World XI is expected to have players from Australia, Germany, England, Belgium, Ireland, Spain and New Zealand.

The plans will be discussed in the PHF Executive Board meeting later this month in Islamabad in detail. The World XI matches and PHL are expected to create an atmosphere of international hockey’s revival in Pakistan, Shahbaz told ‘The News’.

He said that PHF was trying hard to strengthen Pakistan hockey but a turnaround could not be brought about overnight. “The last team which won the World Cup in 1994 consisted of players who had permanent jobs in such organisations as PIA.

“First we have to give the players a sense of financial security. “If we appoint six Olympic winning players and six World Cup winning players as coaches and assistant coaches of Pakistan hockey team, they will not be able to change the things if the players remain unemployed,” Shahbaz said.

“Since we took the responsibility, we have been working for providing employment to jobless national level players and we have managed to provide jobs to more than 70 players,” he claimed.

“Around a dozen domestic teams which had been closed are being restored and various new teams have been established in the last two years,” the PHF secretary said.PHL would prove beneficial in many ways for Pakistan hockey, he said. “It will bring money. Players will get handsome amounts. As a result, they will work harder to increase their value. But all this will not happen in a day,” he added.

He said that a number of national ranking domestic championships had been included in the PHF calendar, having millions of rupees in prize money. PHF has been encouraged in its efforts by the recent arrival of cricket and football stars in the country.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) organised PSL final in Lahore early this year and plans to organise eight matches of PSL in the next edition in Pakistan. International football stars Ronaldinho and Ryan Gigs played two exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore recently.

The News International

Defeat for Scotland U21 Women against clinical Russians

Ellie Hutcheson U21 Scotland Women

Scotland U21 Women were defeated 7-0 by Russia in their opening match of EuroHockey Junior Championship II in Hradec Kralove. It is a scoreline that doesn't quite tell the full story of a match that saw Scotland press forward for large periods of the contest.

The Scots had barely finished singing the national anthem when Russia took an early lead. Ekaterina Makagonova scored on four minutes to put Russia 1-0 up. The Russians were sharp in the circle and after a couple of ricochets the ball was dinked over the Mairi Fletcher to make it 1-0.

It was a very difficult opening quarter for the Scots as Russia dominated and pegged Scotland back. The quarter ended with Russia 1-0 in front and Scotland battling hard to keep them at bay.

In the second quarter however, Scotland came back into the game and played much better hockey. Things were looking positive for the Scots until Russia sucker punched them with a couple of clinical strikes.

The first came midway through the second quarter when Iuliia Sartakova thumped home a penalty corner. Five minutes later and Sartakova scored her second and Russia's third to make it 3-0 as the second quarter came to a close.

With these strikes the game swung towards the Russians and gave Scotland a mountain to climb in the second half.

The second half saw Scotland start on the front foot as they pressed Russia high up the pitch, forcing a succession of turnovers.

Scotland won a couple of penalty corners, one of which forced a good save when Laura Swanson injected for a pre-planned routine looking for a deflection. The keeper did well to save and deny the Scots a goal.

Scotland was looking the better team until they again were caught out by sucker punch breakaways.

The Russians were very direct and moved the ball from back-to-front very quickly. Scotland struggled with shape to deal with the breaks and Russia took full advantage.

A quick break led to a penalty corner and allowed Russia to make it 4-0 towards the end of the third quarter. Valeriia Borisova provided the finish.

Scotland kept plugging away and Emily Dark unleashed a ferocious shot that shaved the post in its way wide. Had it been on target it would have been a certain goal.

Then came a nightmare fifth goal for Russia right at the end of Q3 - Borisova again with the finish.

The fourth quarter didn’t start well for the Scots as Svetlana Eroshina made it 6-0 on 49 minutes. Anna Golubeva scored Russia’s seventh just one minute later to rub salt deeper into Scottish wounds.

Still Scotland charged forward. Lexi Sabatelli beat a couple of Russian defenders down the left and she found Lorna Cruickshank who deflected just wide.

Despite the heavy defeat Scotland had some good performances with Emily Dark and Ellie Hutcheson playing well in attack, Katie Stott performing at the back, and Zoe Sinclair making an impact in the second half.

Scotland U21 Women’s Head Coach Neil Menzies said, “The Russians were very clinical on the break and we were naïve in how we dealt with it. It was a bobbly pitch and so there were lots of bouncing balls that we came out second best on - and we let Russia break quickly. You also have to credit their good finishing.

“We could play this game again a dozen times over and never lose 7-0. You can’t lose 7-0 and it not take its toll emotionally. So, we need to emotionally put this game behind us, look at the video, and learn from it. Our target is still to finish in the top two and progress in the tournament and I’m still confident we can do that.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Scotland U21 Men defeated by top Polish finishing in St Petersburg

Scotland U21 Men were defeated 3-0 by Poland in their opening match of EuroHockey Junior Championship II in St Petersburg. It was a valiant effort by the Scots but some ruthless Polish finishing was the difference.

It was a very even opening to the match with no clear chances created for either side.

The Scots were confidently passing the ball around in their own half until a Polish interception saw a striker steal the ball and surge into the D. The Polish forward was quickly crowded out and Scotland emerged with the ball.

A good interception by Joe McConnell saw Scotland attack down the left but it fizzled out and gave Poland possession.

The first quarter ended with Scotland edging the play but having no clear opportunities for a shot on goal.

The second half saw the first real chance of the match fall for Poland – a slick passing move through the Scotland defence opened up a shot on the turn but Douglas Gourley in goal for Scotland was equal to it, and saved with his leg guards.

The white shirts of Poland were starting to look the more dangerous of the two teams, and they won the first penalty corner of the match after good play down right.

Gourley was called into action again and pulled off and excellent save to keep the score 0-0.

The stalemate wouldn’t last long and good move and finish gave Poland the lead. The Poles swept into Scotland’s D from the right and Maciej Trojanek picked his spot well to put his side in front before half time.

If Head Coach Graham Moodie was looking for an instant reaction from his team he got it as Scotland came out quick for the second half. Two brisk attacks in the opening two minutes saw Scotland come out fighting for an equaliser. The Poles held strong however and as time passed they grew into the half.

Poland doubled their lead through a well-taken penalty corner. A stunning finish from Robert Gruszczynski saw the ball thunder into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

The Poles could smell blood and went hunting for a killer third goal. Another penalty corner and this time a good double save by Gourley denied a third for Poland.

The third goal would eventually come however and it was another exceptional drag flick from a penalty corner that made it 3-0. Artur Nojgebauer expertly sent the ball sailing into the top right corner to take the match out of reach for the plucky Scots.

Scotland continued to battle hard regardless and some good dribbling by John McCluskey ended with his reverse stick shot zipping over the bar.

McCluskey was at it again minutes later and this time his dribbling won Scotland a penalty corner. It eventually became a trio of penalty corners and good goalkeeping by Aleksander Szewerda denied the Scots. The final effort was a nice routine to create space for the injector but the keeper read it well.

A late break forward found Cameron Golden in space on the left but he was closed down quickly and was unable to get a clean shot.

Scotland U21 Men Head Coach Graham Moodie said, “We made too many basic errors so can have no complaints with the result. We made things difficult for ourselves at times and we didn’t play as well as we can.

“That said we had a strong fourth quarter and started to find our stride towards the end of the match. The main focus now is to take the positives from the final quarter and build on that for our next game on Tuesday.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Central, Canterbury win National Under 18 titles

Photo: Planet Hockey

The Central Women and Canterbury Men have won this year’s Vantage National Under 18 Tournament titles at the Whangarei ITM Hockey Centre.

In an intriguing finals day, Central and Canterbury contested both the Men’s and Women’s gold medal matches with each region coming away with a trophy.

In the Women’s final, Central mustered a 4-1 win over Canterbury thanks to a Megan Phillips double as well as goals from Anna Crowley and Kaitlin Cotter.

Canterbury’s lone goal came from Emily Wium in the second quarter, which saw the score level 1-1 at halftime. Central then scored three unanswered goals in the third quarter to put the result beyond doubt.

Meanwhile, Canterbury won the Men’s final in an emphatic 6-0 victory against Central with Tim Schulpen and Henry Phelps both scoring braces along with goals from William Mace-Cochrane and Moss Jackson.

Canterbury were dominant throughout, delivering three goals in the first half and pouring on three more in the final five minutes of the match.

Emma Rainey (Central) won the Women’s Most Valuable Player award while Harrison Lawson (Central) scooped honours for the Men.

In the bronze medal matches, North Harbour won the Men’s match 4-2 over Capital as well as the Women’s game 3-1 against Auckland.

In the National Under 18 Association Tournament, Canterbury won the gold medal in both the Men’s and Women’s finals.

CLICK HERE for full results and standings from the Vantage National Under 18 Tournament

Hockey New Zealand Media release

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