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News for 29 August 2017

All the news for Tuesday 29 August 2017

Malaysia make it seven-in-a-row in women’s hockey

National Women's Hockey player Hanis Onn (left) celebrates her first goal against Thailand during KL2017 SEA Games Women's Hockey final at National Hockey Stadium Bukit Jalil Monday. -- fotoBERNAMA

THE Malaysian women’s hockey team are in seventh heaven.

Coach K. Dharmaraj’s team turned on the heat in the fourth – and last – quarter to score two quick goals to beat Thailand 2-0 in the final at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Hanis Nadiah Onn netted a field goal in the 46th minute to give Malaysia the lead before Nuraini Abdul Rashid doubled the score a minute later with a penalty corner goal.

It was Malaysia’s seventh consecutive gold in the SEA Games series since the Jakarta edition in 1997.

In the KL edition this year, Malaysia scored a total of 32 goals and conceding none in five matches.

They outplayed Indonesia and Myanmar with identical 11-0 scorelines before beating Singapore 5-0 and Thailand 3-0 in the round-robin matches.

“Playing in a final is never easy.

“The Thais were the underdogs but they gave us a good fight,” said Dharmaraj.

“I knew we had to get early goals to overcome the hardworking Thais. Instead, we had to wait until the fourth quarter to score.

“The goal lifted the pressure off us and we did well to score another to seal the match,” added Dharma­raj.

“We will take a short break before we begin preparing for our next assignment – the Asia Cup in Kaka­migahara, Japan (Oct 28-Nov 5).”

The Star of Malaysia

Tough openers for Irish Junior teams in Valencia

Hannah McLoughlin under pressure in defence. Pic: Sander Uijlenbroek

In the aftermath of the senior EuroHockey Championships, the Irish Under-21s both suffered tough losses in the searing Valencia heat against two of the fancied sides.

The Junior Green army learned a harsh early lesson in their opening EuroHockey Championship encounter, going down 3-0 to England in the Spanish heat.

Speaking aftewards, coach Dave Passmore summed it up succinctly: “We just got punished when we played poorly. We started nervously and made a couple of errors and England were clinical. Two corners, two goals. We had more corners, way more of the possession but you have to play at 0-0 and not 3-0.”

Holly Munro picked out the bottom corner in the third minute to get England on the board and Erica Sanders added a second before the end of the first quarter from a slip left and sweep.

Ireland did create throughout the tie and a fine move between Sorcha Clarke, Edel Nyland and Abbie Russell almost unlocked the door. But they were caught once again before half time from a right-wing attack that ended with Holly Hunt finishing off in mid-circle.

The second half saw Ireland have the guts of the play, winning four corners and drawing some fine stops from Miriam Pritchard.

From one corner, Ellen Curran sustained a nasty stick to the face, leading to her having to depart for hospital while England’s Charlotte Calnan fainted due to heatstroke with five minutes to go.

“We haven’t played competitive games for three years at this level so I suppose it’s not surprising,” Passmore said afterwards. “But I think we showed enough in the second half that we are here to compete. With the draw in the other game, if we can win the last two games, we should go through.”

With morning temperatures already pushing the mercury up to 30 degrees, the Irish men took on Germany in their opening tie but got off to the worst possible start, conceding a corner that was soon upgraded to a stroke. Niklas Bossherhoff converted.

Simon Wolfe – one of two returnees along with Jamie Carr from the 2014 Under-21 Euros – equalised on the counter-attack to even the tie up at 1-1. Jan Schiffer put Germany ahead once again when he got on the end of a brilliant cross.

Luke Madeley evened up the game for a second time in the 39th minute, a direct drag-flick from a corner. But the game went away from Ireland a minute later when Moritz Rothlander scored almost instantly and Thies Ole Prinz made it 4-2 before the third quarter was out.

A yellow card for Sam Grace in the final quarter meant stymied their chances and so they now line up a date with Austria on Wednesday. The Austrians lost 5-1 to Belgium.

Jonny Caren said of the tie: “It didn’t go exactly according to our plan but I think we did well tactically. It wasn’t the best of starts going 1-0 down two minutes in but the boys fought back.

“At 2-2, the killer goal was the next one going in straightaway because we had the momentum at that stage. There was a massive work rate. You see how much sweat is on the shirts and the boys put in a huge stint. Hopefully, it gives us momentum for the next game.

Simon Wolfe and John Mullins celebrate the Irish men’s first goal. Pic: Sander Uijlenbroek/World Sports Pics

“Austria is a target for us. Our objective this time around is to make sure in the A division. We set out a good stall today and if we can play that way again, the result will take care of itself and we will look at Belgium after that.”

German coach Valentin Altenburg – who led the senior team at the Rio Olympics – said of the tie.

“I think it was a good game to start; Ireland did a good job defending which was very effective. Whenever they entered ours, they were very dangerous, equalising twice and making things very difficult for us.

“Ireland will be a strong competitor. Everyone is getting closer together. Smaller countries are increasing their level and speed.”

EuroHockey Junior Championships
Pool B: Ireland 0 England 3 (H Munro, E Sanders, H Hunt); France 0 Germany 0
Tuesday: Ireland v France, 2.30pm (Irish time)

Pool B: Ireland 2 (S Wolfe, L Madeley) Germany 4 (N Bosserhoff, J Schiffer, M Rothlander, T O Prinz); Belgium 5 Austria 1
Wednesday: Ireland v Austria, 9am (Irish time)

The Hook

Van Ass and De Wijn hail Kemperman wonder goal as turning point

©: World Sport Pics

Seve van Ass and Sander de Wijn said the beautiful moment Robbert Kemperman scored the Netherlands’ first goal provided not just a boost on the scoreboard but also in getting the crowd rocking at the Wagener Stadium.

It set them up for a famous EuroHockey Championships final comeback, recovering from 2-0 down to beat Belgium 4-2.

The Netherlands needed something special to get them back in the tie and it arrived seven minutes into the second half when Sander de Wijn’s diagonal overhead to pick out Kemperman. He controlled and then unleashed a vicious volley.

“We felt the tide was turning,” HC Rotterdam’s van Ass said of that special goal. “We definitely felt that energy, especially at the penalty corner after the [opening] Kemperman goal. The crowd was exploding and we were doing something good and we took that energy in a positive way. We felt really strong, our legs and lungs were great in the second half and we had that little bit extra than the Belgians.”

SV Kampong’s Sander de Wijn added it was a special performance: “Most of the people at half-time wouldn’t give us any chance, especially after our 5-0 defeat in the group stage. We needed a moment to reopen the game and, in the end, amazing.

“It was a great season after a disappointing Olympics. We’ve started something new, kept faith in ourselves and structure and proved we can handle the pressure. Especially for the young guys, their first major tournament, there was a lot of pressure on them and they performed really well.”

On the flip side, KHC Dragons’ Felix Denayer said it was a “very tough day” for his Red Lions who have raised their expectation levels.

“The first five minutes, the Dutch guys came out of the start blocks very well. Luckily, we survived that and grew into the game, scoring the first and the second and I thought we were going to build on it. On the ball, we probably weren’t good enough. Credit to the Dutch guys who came back.

“The evolution has been that before we would be happy to be in the final. Now, with the Rio silver was a big relief but from there on, we have an ambitious group and I think we showed we can beat the top of the world with our wins over Netherlands in the pool and Germany in the semi-finals. Today, we saw we have some steps still to make.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Dar Academy overcomes Den Bosch 2-1

By Ijaz Chaudhry

Den Bosch is one of the biggest hockey clubs in Holland with over 2,500 members. Many mega stars of Dutch hockey including Mark Lammers, Jerome Delmee, Mathias Browyer, Peit Hein Geeris, among others, have appeared in the Den Bosch colours.

The club has as many as seven artificial turfs plus a smaller pitch. It has been recently refurbished with increased seating capacity.

For the match against the Dar Hockey Academy, the hosts fielded a very strong youthful side with four players who have represented Netherlands national under 18 side. A few players from the Men's first side added strength.

Dar HA applied early pressure. They penetrated the opponent's defence a few times and also earned two penalty corners.

Abbas Naqqash put them ahead in the 9th minute. After receiving a good pass at the top of the circle, Abbas created space and found the little gap between the near post and the goal keeper with a peach of a reverse handed shot- one of the finishes of the tour.

Thereafter, the two sides had phases where they enjoyed superiority without domination.

Some chances came in the open play and both had penalty corners as well without converting any.

Above was the pattern till the end of the third quarter.

During the last 15 minutes, Dar HA's superior fitness came to the fore. The Pakistani boys' attacks came in droves.

Thrice pole denied Dar HA; a couple of PCs were also wasted. However, Waseem Akram standing alone in the Den Bosch circle, after receiving an excellent long pass from Ajmal Butt, cleverly side stepped the net minder before flicking in. It was 2-0 with eight minutes to go.

There was further twist in the story. With just two minutes left, taking advantage of delayed clearance in the Dar HA circle, junior international Brent reduced the margin for the HC Den Bosch.

However, Dar academy kept the lead intact when the final hooter sounded.

After the match, both the teams watched the exciting final of the Euro Nations Hockey between Holland and Belgium live on the big screen at the HC Den Bosch's club house.

Dar HA: 2, Den Bosch: 1
Dar HA: Abbas Naqqash & Waseem Akram
HC Den Bosch: Brent

Dar HA Tour of Holland; Record Updated: Wins 6, Defeats 2

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


2018 Australian Men's & Women's Indoor Hockey teams announced

Alexie Beovich

Hockey Australia is pleased to announce the 2018 Australian Men’s and Women’s Indoor Hockey Teams to compete at the 5th Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin, Germany. The Indoor Hockey World Cup will be held at the Max-Schmeling-Halle from the 7-11 February 2018.

The World’s top 24 (12 men’s and 12 women’s) national indoor hockey teams will take part in the event. The inaugural Indoor Hockey World Cup was held in 2003 and it has been traditionally held every four years. However, this time around FIH have adjusted the scheduling to just three years after the 2015 event in Leipzig, Germany.

Hockey Australia Chief Executive, Matt Favier said “To have both our Women’s and Men’s teams qualify for the World Cup is a testament to the development and success of indoor hockey in Australia. This is an outstanding achievement for all involved.”

The women’s team includes Tegan Boucher, Clare Commerford, Kyah Gray, Emma McLeish, and Shelley Watson who all participated in the 2015 Indoor World Cup in Germany. Tegan, Emma and Shelley have now been selected for three consecutive Indoor World Cups which is a wonderful achievement.

The men’s squad includes Olympic medalists Glenn Turner and Tim Deavin. Glenn made 136 appearances for the Kookaburras and scored 96 goals, while With Tim made 138 appearances for the Kookaburras. Tim also represented Australia at the 2011 Indoor Hockey World Cup in Poznan, Poland.

Men’s Head Coach Steve Willer said “It is an exciting time ahead for indoor hockey in Australia. We have an outstanding team with a number of players proving themselves at international level, in high pressure situations.”

Women’s Head Coach, Stewart Fenton said “The skill level, athleticism and the versatility of the players in this team will give us the best possible opportunity for success, whilst the quality of the younger players that will be making their Indoor World Cup debuts ensures a bright future for indoor hockey in Australia.

After a successful last Indoor World Cup in Germany I believe we have the talent to continue to improve and challenge the top European nations for glory come 2018”.

Berlin will be a fantastic opportunity on the world stage to show how strongly indoor hockey is developing within Australia. The game is very fast, played in confined spaces, requiring top-level ball control, breath taking elimination skills, team-orientated defending and split-second decision making.

The full squads are as listed below:

2018 Australian Women’s Indoor Hockey World Cup Team

Lauren AUSTIN (WA)
Tamsin BUNT (NSW)
Elizabeth DUGUID (WA / NT)
Lindsey HOWARD (QLD)
Madeleine MURPHY (TAS)
Shelley WATSON (ACT)

Shadow Players (who will have the opportunity to travel with the team to Europe)

Emma REID (WA)
Emily SECCULL (VIC)     

2018 Australian Men’s Indoor Hockey World Cup Team

James KNEE (VIC)

* Pending medical clearance by 01/12/2017

Train-On Players

Alexander MACKAY (NSW)

Location: Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany
Dates: 7-11 February, 2018

Hockey Australia media release

Buy Indoor World Cup tickets now!

Sports fans can now secure their tickets for the world’s greatest indoor hockey event - the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018. Tickets for this joint men’s and women’s event, taking place from 7-11 February2018 in Berlin, Germany, are now on sale.

Ticket prices for the event taking place in the Max-Schmeling-Halle range from €9 for reduced-rate day tickets for the first two days, up to €42 Euros for the Best Seats category on the final day. VIP tickets are available between €129 and €149.

Families can also join the action, with affordable priced tickets for children and young people available. Evening tickets (for matches after 17:00 each day) are also being offered during the preliminary round days (Wednesday/Thursday) to accommodate fans coming along after work, whilst a Play-off ticket will give fans access to all the matches from Friday afternoon (Quarter-Finals) until the finals on Sunday.

Note that tickets for the Family Sector and the Best Seats Sector are limited, so early booking is required.


FIH site

Bengaluru Cup hockey kick-starts today

Nithin Thimmaiah and Komala BM will lead the State sides in the 3rd All-India invitational hockey tournament for the Bengaluru Cup which gets underway at the hockey stadium on Tuesday.

A tournament that started in 2014 but was not held last year due to unavailability of turf, returns to the fold this time with six of the top men’s and women’s teams from the country vying for top honours.

In the men’s section, the State side will be joined by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), South Central Railway and Army XI while in the women’s battle, the State side will have to fight it out against defending champions Hockey Haryana, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA), Hockey Odisha, Eastern Railways and Hockey Maharashtra.

The tournament will be played on a round-robin cum knock-out format with top four teams from the group qualifying for the semifinals on September 7. The final is scheduled for September 8.

In the men’s section, Karnataka begin their campaign against a red-hot PNB side while the women’s side will face Eastern Railway in the opener on Tuesday.

Karanataka squad: Men: Jagdeep Dayal (GK), Mahan Gowda(GK), Appachu SK, Cariappa KT, Veeranna Gowda SP, MB Aiyappa, Rathan Muthanna VT, Abhishek HS, Rajendra, Naeemuddin, Somaiah KP, Raheel, Pradhan Somanna, MB Cariappa, Nithin Thimmaiah (C), Darshan DS, Bharath KR, Pruthvi Raj; Verghese (coach); Sampath (manager).

Women: Shravya GB (GK), Sandhya MG (GK), Chaithra N, Bhagyashree, Cheluvamba P, Pooja MD, Komala BM (C), Kruthika SP, Kaveramma AH, Sowmyashree, Anjali HR, Swapna NR, Leelavathy MJ, Nisha PC, Ramya, Reshma BB, Avinashree SR, Shalini U; Ganapathy KS (coach); Ankita (manager).

The Deccan Herald

Murtagh garners 400th career victory in 8-1 thrashing of Bryant

Northeastern Athletics

BOSTON – With an 8-1 thrashing, the largest victory over an opponent since the 2006 season, the Northeastern field hockey team helped to earn head coach Cheryl Murtagh's 400th career victory in exciting fashion. 

Murtagh is in her 30th season as the head coach of the Huskies, and has been a head coach for 32 seasons. Her 400 career victories top any coach in Northeastern history and rank seventh-most among active Division-I field hockey coaches.

The Huskies were led by Jamie Bartucca, June Curry-Lindahl and Camille O'Conor who each had two-goal games for the Huskies on the day. Bartucca and Curry-Lindahl also added assists on the day for a five-point game.

Bryant's lone goal came on the hands of Bethany Winkin in the 28th minute of action.

The Huskies jumped out to a fast 1-0 lead after Kellie Stigas ripped home a shot for her second goal of the year off of a perfect centering pass from Laura MacLachlan in the eighth minute of play. MacLachlan added to her point total on the day just four minutes later gathering her own rebound and firing it into the back of the box for her first goal of the season.

Northeastern made it a 3-0 game in the 17th minute when Jamie Bartucca snuck in and gathered up Aniek van de Graaf's initial shot and found the back of the box for her first goal of the season.

Bryant was able to get one back before the end of the half, taking advantage of a Northeastern miscue to drive down the field and net their first goal of the season.

Just 21 seconds into the second half, Bartucca gave the Huskies a 4-1 advantage with her second goal of the game, falling down and taking a deep pass from June Curry-Lindahl that looked like it was going to cross the end line and instead knocked it into the goal with the end of her stick for the score.

Bartucca rewarded Curry-Lindahl for her earlier help by sending a pass across the box that Curry-Lindahl knocked in for her first goal of the game and second of the season to make it a 5-1 ballgame just minutes later.

Rookie Camille O'Conor added her second goal of the season, in as many games, with a shot from the left side of the field sending in a pass from Sam Bodo past the Bryant goalkeeper as the Huskies took a five-goal lead.

Curry-Lindahl added her second goal of the game in the 60th minute of action gathering a rebound in front of the net off of an O'Conor attempt and sending it back in to put the Huskies up 7-1, the most goals since Senior Day last season when Northeastern downed Towson 7-1.

O'Conor raced up the right side, into the circle and whipped a shot to the back of the box for her second goal of the game to make it an 8-1 affair. The eight goals are the most since the Huskies defeated Vermont 10-0 on Oct. 15, 2004 while the seven-goal victory is the greatest since a 7-0 win over Drexel on Oct. 6, 2006.

The Huskies will look to carry this momentum into their third road game of the season when they head to Quinnipiac Friday, September 1 at 3:30 p.m.


Lions field hockey looks for another dominant year

Maximillian C. Burgos

Sophmore Siney Padilla on the offensive attack.

The women’s field hockey team is looking for another dominant year in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The team enters this season on a 20-game regular season conference winning streak.

The lady lions may be young this year, but they still count on key returning defensive players. Under legendary coaching of Sharon Pfluger, the College’s women’s field hockey team has won the NJAC 22 times in 28 seasons since its conception in 1985. Pfluger has led the team to a historic record of 198-16-1 in the NJAC. In her 31 years of coaching field hockey at the College, her overall record is 564-86-5.

The team hopes to repeat as NJAC champions. The Lions top preseason NJAC polls, but they will need freshmen to step into important roles as they try to replace alumnae Jaclyn Douglas (’17) and Lexi Smith (’17), both former All-Americans.

The team still has plenty of weapons like senior Elizabeth Morrison and sophomore Cayla Andrews, both of whom scored 12 goals last year, contributing greatly to the offensive performance of the team.

On defense, seniors Jackie Schwartz and Christina Fabiano both look to build off last year’s progress. Schwartz started in 15 of the last 19 games last season. Fabiano started in 12 of the last 12 games posting a .718 save percentage, four shutouts and only allowed 0.77 goals per game.

The new-look Lions begin the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, against the Catholic University of American in Washington D.C. After three road games, the team opens up at home against Drew University on Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. — the first of five straight matches at Lions Stadium, where the team was undefeated last season.

Their toughest test should come from defending national champions Messiah College at home on Sept. 16, at 6:00 p.m. Messiah was one of three teams to beat the Lions during last year’s regular season, but the Lions now have a chance to strike back on their home turf.

The Signal

Bodil Keus impressed during her Maryland field hockey debut vs. Saint Joseph’s

By Scott Gelman

Maryland field hockey defender Bodil Keus stood near the 23-meter line with her left hand over her face, seemingly frustrated with the previous sequence.

After Saint Joseph's forward Anna Willocks scored on a penalty stroke to give Saint Joseph's a one-goal lead on Sunday, Keus stood in the center of the shooting circle with an opportunity to tie the game. The Amsterdam native's shot was saved. A minute later, she found herself in the same spot. Hawks goalie Victoria Kammerinke saved that attempt as well.

But Keus converted from a penalty corner around the 19-minute mark in the second frame, helping the Terps to a 2-1 victory. Her finish highlighted Maryland's depth, coach Missy Meharg said, and prompted a late offensive burst. The burst came after a sluggish first half forced the veteran coach to preach patience at the intermission.

"Because we're so deep, you see a lot of people trying to prove themselves," Meharg said. "It made us a little disorganized at times. We were able to rotate seven people in the front four pretty consistently."

Keus, a sophomore who made her Maryland debut on Sunday after transferring from Delaware, was among four Terps players to come off the bench in an attempt to energize the offense.

Keus took three of the Terps' 10 shots on goal, one shy of Maryland's total on-goal attempts in the first half. The missed opportunities weren't frustrating, Keussc said. But when the Terps scored their first goal this season after failing to do so for more than 50 minutes, she quickly joined the celebration.

"Just relax and [get] going again," Keus said of her approach. "Just stay cool."

Keus' successful penalty attempt, which midfielder Madison Maguire assisted, prompted Maryland's more aggressive approach in the game's waning moments. In the 65th minute, midfielder Brooke Adler connected with forward Sabrina Rhodes, who scored to give Maryland a 2-1 advantage.

Both Meharg and Keus attributed the team's second half success to improved communication, a key element for an offense that is without Welma Luus and Grace Balsdon, its 2016 leading scorers.

"We definitely started connecting more on passes and being more calm with the ball," Rhodes said. "[In the first half], we were a little bit frantic on the ball and weren't connecting with each other."

The second half perspective change came after Meharg reminded her team in the locker room at halftime to become more engaged.

Keus was among the first to respond, tying the game and firing off a blocked shot attempt in the 61st minute, before Rhodes provided the winning goal.

"I was super impressed with Bodil Keus coming into the game at centerback," Meharg said.

The Diamondback

Remembering Major Dhyan Chand on National Sports Day

NEW DELHI: August 29 marks the birth anniversary of India's hockey wizard, Major Dhyan Chand. A phenomenal athlete, Dhyan Chand put India on the map back when the world continued to be plagued by wars and political bloodshed. He would have been 112 years old.

In honour of Dhyan Chand, August 29 is also celebrated as National Sports Day, when various sporting honours are bestowed upon athletes from India. Known for his sublime goal-scoring laurels and extraordinary ball control, Dhyan Chand is regarded as the greatest field hockey player of all time.

More so for earning three gold medals for India during the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics, a feat that made India a force to reckon with in hockey. Having scored more than 400 goals during his international career, Dhyan Chand would go on to play till 1948, at which time he was 42.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956 by the Indian government for his splendid contribution to Indian hockey and continues to be in the fray for being conferred the Bharat Ratna.

Greatness was something Dhyan Chand was destined for. Initially his focus laying more on wrestling, it wasn't until the age of 14 that Dhyan Chand took up hockey and only on his maiden international tour of New Zealand in 1926, scored 10 goals out of 20 in one match.

A year later, he would score 36 of 72 Indian goals in 10 matches at the London Folkestone Festival. In the final of the 1928 Olympics, Dhyan Chand netted two of the three Indian goals in the final against the Netherlands. He had also topped the chart with 14 goals.

At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Dhyan Chand scored 12 goals in two matches as India won gold again. A third straight Hockey title at the Games was captured when he took the field barefoot in the second half of the final against Germany and helped India win 8-1.

India's last hockey gold before Independence was incidentally the same Games where a certain Jesse Owens from America won four Olympic gold medals, a feat unparalleled back in the day.

The Times of India

Abdul Hameed ‘Hameedi’ – The hockey skipper who led Pakistan to their first Olympic gold

Pakistan’s first-ever international hockey team, who had the honour of participating in the 1948 Olympics, included a youngster from the town of Bannu. His name was Abdul Hameed, better known as Hameedi. An outstanding inside-right, Hameedi, who rose to the rank of brigadier in the Pakistan Army, was not only a schemer but also a tremendous scorer. He was a member of both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics teams. But these teams, despite having several outstanding players, could only finish fourth. The main reason of the failure was a lack of harmony and discipline. Hameedi was then made the captain of the team in 1956 and he didn’t disappoint - the army officer inculcated much-needed discipline and spirit in the team. Under Hameedi’s able captaincy, Pakistan won silver medal at the 1956 Olympics losing to India by a controversial goal in the final. Still, it was an epoch-making moment in the country’s sporting history as it was Pakistan’s first ever medal of any colour in any Olympic discipline. Then, in 1958, Hameedi led Pakistan to a gold medal at the Asian Games. It was the first time that India was relegated to second position in any international hockey tournament.

Abdul Hameed ‘Hameedi’ at the top of the podium at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

And finally Hameedi attained eternal legend status by skippering Pakistan to their maiden Olympic gold in 1960. The final of the 1960 Rome Olympics is still regarded as one of the finest moments in Pakistan’s sports history. That’s when Pakistan came head-to-head against their archrivals India for the second time in the Olympic history. But unlike the first meeting in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Pakistan were not ready to settle for silver. Under brilliant leadership of Hameedi, Pakistan ended India’s 30-year dominance in hockey on September 9, 1960. With so much to prove, they went into the final to defeat India 1-0 with Naseer Bunda’s timeless goal - shocking the world champions of more than three decades, who lost to the underdogs. The common thread in the Rome Olympics gold was captain Hameedi. This man had waited for four Olympics since 1948 to win the gold. A formidable captain and a tactical genius who led Pakistan by example, Hameedi is still the only person to captain Pakistan twice in the Olympics: 1956 and 1960. Watching his game in Rome, the famous English hockey journalist R.I. Holland paid tribute to Hameedi by calling him “the most constructive forward in the world.” Hameedi’s tally of 16 Olympic goals remained a Pakistan record till 2008 when penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas surpassed it.

Hockey had changed the landscape for sports in Pakistan. The sport was introduced in the subcontinent by the British in 1885 and later local clubs were established throughout the region. The All-India team won their first gold medal at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. After losing their title for the first time in six Olympics - pre- and post-partition - Indians kept saying that Pakistan’s victory was a fluke. But the team had shaken their neighbours’ throne once and for all. It was the day the world of sports realised that Pakistan existed. But more importantly, the Indians understood that they don’t rule hockey anymore. Despite them calling Pakistan’s victory a fluke, Pakistan defeated them again in the 1962 Asian Games final. The biggest honour came for Pakistan hockey when President General Ayub Khan named hockey as the national sport after meeting the Rome Olympics winners. Before 1960, the government had not decided what Pakistan’s national sport would be. But Ayub Khan named it the national sport, because Pakistan players were too good at it.

Even after his retirement from professional hockey, Hameedi managed the Pakistan team on quite a few occasions, including the 1966 and 1970 Asian Games with Pakistan winning silver and gold medals, respectively. His last stint as manager was the 1973 World Cup, where Hameedi was handicapped since he was overseeing a second-string side. The Pakistan team who had participated in the 1972 Olympics were banned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for inappropriate behaviour after their defeat in the controversy-marred final against the hosts West Germany. And yet, it goes to Hameedi and his team’s credit that Pakistan still managed to finish fourth at the 1973 World Cup.

Hameedi’s last role was as the secretary general of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF). He assumed the post when the country’s hockey was at the lowest ebb till then. Pakistan had slumped to their worst positions in the World Cup and the Olympics. They ended 11th at the 1986 World Cup and finished fifth at the 1988 Olympics. Then began a revival under Hameedi’s watchful gaze. Pakistan regained some of their lost prestige by finishing as the runners-up in the 1990 World Cup, superbly hosted in Lahore by Hameedi’s PHF, and then by winning the bronze at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. In addition, Pakistan regained the Asian Games title apart from retaining the Asia Cup. Without Hameedi, the story of Pakistan hockey is incomplete. He served the game in almost every possible capacity: player, captain, manager of the team, and secretary of the PHF. At all times, Hameedi brought hope with him. Hameedi lives with his family in Islamabad.

The Daily Times

Zafar Iqbal: In 1984, we were simply the best but...

Zafar Iqbal, captain of the Indian hockey team at the 1984 Olympic games, remembers his campaign while speaking to Times of India

We were a great hockey team in the 1984 Olympics. Everybody predicted an Australia and India final for the gold medal.

But destiny had other plans.

We needed to beat West Germany to play the final. Three minutes to go, the scores at 0-0, I got a chance. A flying ball came at me at almost chest-height and I had just a fraction of a second to react. I noticed a small gap between the Germany goalkeeper's leg and the post. It was gettable, practice and instinct teaches you that. Nine times out of ten, we would have threaded the ball in. But when I took the shot, it hit the post and flew out. Unbelievable! It ended in a draw and we failed to make it to the semifinals. That was a huge heart-breaking moment.

We were a very strong team in 1984. We did not lose a single game barring the one against Australia.

After the draw with Germany, we won the next two matches to finish fifth, but failing to beat West Germany was a very sad moment for us. But that's sport for you. It teaches you a lot of things. Despite all of your skills and everything, you also need a little bit of luck. Some other day, that shot could have been a goal. Like with Sindhu, if some shots had gone her way or, if she had that fraction of luck more, the match could have gone her way.

The Times of India

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