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News for 13 December 2017

All the news for Wednesday 13 December 2017

Australia men and Netherlands women finish 2017 top of FIH Hero World Rankings

In men's hockey, Australia’s 2-1 gold medal win over Argentina in the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final means the Kookaburras have knocked the Pan American champions off the top for the first time since the Rio 2016 Olympics. Number one in the world is a familiar place for the Australians who, until the Olympics in Rio, had held top spot since January 2014.

Belgium, Netherlands and Germany remain unchanged at third, fourth and fifth respectively, while India’s third place finish in Bhubaneswar has seen the gap between themselves, in sixth position, and fifth place Germany reduce significantly.

The other movers in the men’s world rankings are Spain who have moved up one spot to eighth in the world, over-taking New Zealand in the process.

In the women's competition Netherlands retained their position at the top after they claimed the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final title late last month.

England and Argentina remain in second and third place respectively following their involvement in the Auckland competition.

New Zealand's silver medal at this event combined with Australia's failure to qualify for the Hockey World League Final and therefore earn points, meant that the Black Sticks overtook their Oceania neighbours into fourth place.

Korea’s bronze medal in Auckland means that the Asian team remain in ninth place in the rankings but they have closed the gap markedly on China, with only 35 points now separating the continental rivals.

Germany, USA and China remain in sixth, seventh and eighth place in the world rankings respectively.

For a complete guide to the FIH Hero World Rankings, click here.


FIH site

Kookaburras Finish 2017 As World Number One

Alexie Beovich

The Kookaburras will finish 2017 as the world ranked number one men’s hockey team following the release of the latest FIH Hero World Rankings on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

The team took top spot of the Men’s FIH Hero World Rankings after a 2-1 gold medal win over Argentina in the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final.

The Kookaburras showed they are moving in the right direction with the team taking out first place at all of their major events in 2017, including the Oceania Cup, International Festival of Hockey and World League.

Australia’s successful year was underlined by regaining world number one ranking for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Belgium, Netherlands and Germany remain unchanged at third, fourth and fifth respectively, while India’s third place finish in Bhubaneswar has seen the gap between themselves, in sixth position, and fifth place Germany reduce significantly.

In the women's competition, the Netherlands retained their position at the top after they claimed the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final title late last month.

Australia’s Hockeyroos finish 2017 at number five in the Women’s FIH Hero World Rankings.

The Kookaburras will enjoy a short break over the holiday period before the group gets together in January ahead of the Test series against the Netherlands in Perth and Narrogin.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster for the Dutch Test series, with the first game in Narrogin on Saturday 27 January.

Hockey Australia media release

Indian men's hockey team ends year on 6th spot

LAUSANNE: India's men and women's hockey teams remained in the sixth and 10th positions respectively in the rankings revealed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Tuesday.

The men's team was at the sixth spot at the beginning of the year and maintained it throughout the year. Though India (1566 points) won the bronze medal at the season-ending Hockey World League (HWL) Final on Sunday, they were not able to topple fifth-placed Germany (1680).

The women's team started the year at the 12th spot but slowly they jumped two spots. Their Asia Cup win last month helped them gain two spots, leapfrogging over Spain and Japan.

At the top of men's hockey, Australia knocked out Argentina for the first time since the Rio 2016 Olympics. Number one in the world is a familiar place for the Australians who, until the Olympics in Rio, had held top spot since January 2014. The HWL Final title helped Australia topple the South American champions and 2016 Olympic gold medallists.

Belgium, Netherlands and Germany remain unchanged at third, fourth and fifth respectively.

The other movers in the men's world rankings are Spain who have moved up one spot to eighth in the world, overtaking New Zealand in the process.

In the women's competition, the Netherlands retained their position at the top after they claimed the Sentinel Homes HWL Final title late last month.

England and Argentina remain in second and third place respectively following their involvement in the Auckland competition.

New Zealand's silver medal at this event combined with Australia's failure to qualify for the HWL Final and therefore earn points, meant that the Black Sticks overtook their Oceania neighbours into fourth place.

South Korea's bronze medal in Auckland means that the Asian team remains in ninth place in the rankings but they have closed the gap markedly on China, with only 35 points now separating the continental rivals.

Germany, the United States and China remain in sixth, seventh and eighth place in the world rankings respectively.

The Times of India

India men's team ends year on 6th, women finish 10th

Indian men's hockey team. PTI file photo

The Indian men's team was at the sixth spot since the beginning of this year and maintained its position throughout 2017.India's third place finish at the recently-concluded Men's Hockey World League (HWL) Final in Bhubaneswar though helped them reduce the gap with fifth place Germany significantly, they failed to topple them.

India now have 1566 points, while Germany have 1680.

Australian men's team reclaimed the top position from Argentina after posting a 2-1 win over the same opponents in the title clash of the HWL Final.

The Kookaburras have knocked the Pan American champions from the top for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Until the Rio Games, Australia had held on to the top spot since January 2014. Belgium and the Netherlands remained unchanged at third and fourth places respectively.

Meanwhile, the Indian women's team, who started the year at the 12th spot, jumped up two places to 10th.

Their Asia Cup win last month helped them gain two positions, leapfrogging Spain and Japan. The Netherlands maintained their position at the top after claiming the Sentinel Homes HWL Final title last month.

England and Argentina retained second and third places respectively following their involvement in the Auckland competition.

Daily News & Analysis

Rafters, Cavemen crowned 2017 PHL champions

By Karien Jonckheere

The Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen celebrate retaining their title. Photo by Marcel Sigg

The Orange River Rafters completed their climb from rock bottom to the pinnacle of the Premier Hockey League, while the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen stormed to a successful title defence in Johannesburg today.

After their extraordinary road to the final, the Rafters took the title with victory over the Private Property St Lucia Lakers while the Cavemen claimed a resounding win over the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons.

It wasn’t the match the Rafters would have hoped for though as yet another Highveld thunderstorm took its toll on proceedings at the Randburg Astro. As a result of the persistent lightning the women’s final went straight to a shoot-out.

That’s not something the Rafters would have been relishing considering none of their previous matches in the tournament had gone to shoot-outs while the Lakers had played in two before that point. In fact, the Rafters had not even practised a shoot-out prior to the final.

But it seemed fate was on their side. With the scores level after the first round, they eventually sealed the deal with a 3-2 win to take the title that seemed so far out of their reach after the first weekend of matches when they suffered two losses and were written off by many as the tournament no-hopers.

“I don’t think anyone would have thought we’d be champions,” said a thrilled Rafters captain Sulette Damons, who finished as the tournament’s top goalscorer, despite missing the first weekend’s matches. “We were the underdogs but we took it game by game and everyone kept on believing and did so well to get us where we are.

“Obviously we wanted to play – it’s not nice to win like this and it’s unlucky for the St Lucia Lakers but at the end there has to be a winner and we’ll take it. We had a slow start but as they say – it’s how you end and we ended on a high note.

“We hadn’t practised shoot-outs at all so we just went in with hope and luck and faith. We finished bottom last year so to win this competition is just awesome.”

Rafters coach Shaun Hulley felt some sympathy for the Lakers, after serving as their assistant coach in 2016. “This morning I looked at the weather and I saw 5 o’ clock thunderstorms – I was hoping it wasn’t going to go to this. It’s not the greatest way to win. I know the Lakers girls really well and my heart really goes out to them. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we just shared it, but in the competition you unfortunately have to have a winner. Our girls did play their hearts out this week though and I don’t want to deny them that so we’ll enjoy it,” he said afterwards.

Asked if he could ever have expected to take the title after that horrible opening weekend, Hulley admitted: “I would not have believed it. After our first weekend I was really worried. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the tournament but we did know that if we just stuck to our processes and kept focusing on what we could do we’d get better, and that’s what we did.” The coach also paid tribute to national stars Damons and Dirkie Chamberlain for their enormous contribution to turning things around for the team.

The clouds had cleared by the time the Cavemen took to the field to complete their mission of defending the title they won in 2016. Staying true to the game plan that’s worked so well for them so far, they slotted in an early goal – Brynn Cleak finding the back of the net in the 11th minute. Miguel da Graca then made things even more difficult for the Dragons when he doubled the Cavemen’s lead just three minutes later.

Dragons coach Sihle Ntuli has been talking all tournament about how his side were managing to make the most of the opportunities they were creating. But that wasn’t the case tonight as numerous chances went begging. By the time Michael Abrahams slotted in a third for the Cavemen at the end of the third quarter, the contest was all but over, with the 3-0 margin finally seeing them crowned deserved champions.

“Walking into the changeroom before the game I saw a couple of nervous faces,” admitted Cavemen captain Rassie Pieterse afterwards. “But we said a few nerves aren’t a bad thing. We got ourselves into the final so all we could do was play our socks off and our hearts out. It’s a great bunch of guys – really a brotherhood. That’s what the Cavemen are about and it really showed again this year.

“Winning the tournament back to back – I can’t be prouder. It shows a lot of character and it also shows a lot of character coming off the field and not conceding a goal. It’s one thing we worked on very hard – we went for the motto ‘defend to win’ and there’s nothing more we could have asked for,” added Pieterse.

“I’m just so chuffed lifting that trophy again – it’s such a beautiful trophy.”

Meanwhile, having dominated the first two weekends of PHL action and then suffering two consecutive losses to be relegated to the bronze-medal playoff, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunters, managed to bounce back with one last victory. There was only one goal in it, but the defending champions were determined to secure that third spot. Izelle Venter’s 45th minute goal from a penalty corner made sure of the 1-0 win over the Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies.

There was no such joy for last year’s men’s runners up, the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants, though. Having scraped through to the playoffs after only two group game wins, they suffered a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Cavemen in yesterday’s semifinal. Then playing for the men’s bronze today, they were handed another loss. This time it was a closer affair. They found themselves 2-0 down against the Mapungubwe Mambas by the ninth minute, after goals from captain Owen Mavimbi and Greg Last. And while they managed to finally get one back, via Andrew Manson off a penalty corner in the third quarter, they just couldn’t find the equaliser and had to settle for fourth place after the 2-1 loss.

12 December 2017

Women’s final:
Orange River Rafters 3-2 (shoot-out) Private Property St Lucia Lakers

Men’s final:
Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 3-0 ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons

Women’s bronze medal match:
Tivoli Blyde River Bunter 1-0 Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies

Men’s bronze medal match:
Mapungubwe Mambas 2-1 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants

SA Hockey Association media release

Halkett, Evans named SA Hockey players of the year

By Karien Jonckheere

Rhett Halkett and Celia Evans have been named the country’s best men’s and women’s hockey players for 2016. The duo were among the award winners announced today by SA Hockey in Johannesburg.

Halkett and Evans emerged as the standout players during the annual Cape Town Private Property Summer Series from January to March 2016, as well as the men’s series against Spain, Belgium, Canada and Germany and the women’s against India, Germany and Scotland.

“It’s a huge honour to receive this award,” said Halkett. “Thank you to the players who have been instrumental in providing a platform for personal growth and performance. It is, and always will be, a privilege to represent South Africa in this sport we love. Congratulations to all the award winners,” he added.

Evans said: “This award is a symbol of hard work, dedication and commitment. I definitely don’t think I’m the only player who is committed to the process, but it is a true honour to receive this award.

“Being part of the national team means more than just receiving a test cap, more than just being a ‘good’ hockey player, more than having fans or Instagram followers. I’m not about that. It means that every day I am committed to being better,” she added.

Recently retired international umpire John Wright was named the joint winner of the Malik Umpire of the Year award with Michelle Joubert. Both did the country proud in umpiring the respective men’s and women’s finals at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year. Wright was also handed the President’s award in recognition for the role he played in steering the ship with regards to umpiring in South Africa.

“I am humbled by all the support and acknowledgement us as officials have received,” said Joubert. “I never imagined that I would be appointed to any final, let alone an Olympic final, and to make it even more special, was to have John appointed to the men's final.  It can sometimes be tough out there, but knowing that somewhere I may have inspired someone else to pick up a whistle, means more than any award to me.

“Thank you to SAHA for this award and acknowledging our efforts as officials and congratulations to John also for sharing it with me.” 

Sheila Brown received the Paul Richards Technical Official of the Year award for the role she played as tournament director at the Rio Olympics. Meanwhile, Lindsey Wright was handed the Steve and Linda Jaspan Trophy for Coach of the Year for leading her Northern Blues team to the 2016 IPT title and claiming the inaugural women’s Premier Hockey League title with the Blyde River Bunters.

CEO of SA Hockey Marissa Langeni congratulated all the award winners, saying: “The awards represent the celebration of our players, coaches and technical officials who continually keep the SA Hockey brand alive. They have represented the country on the biggest possible stages and done us proud and our congratulations go out to all the winners. Our sincere thanks also go to our sponsors – Private Property, Tsogo Sun, Grays, Old Mutual iWYZE, BrandSA, Crossroads, CTM, SuperSport and Sport and Recreation SA - for supporting the #SAHockeyRevolution.”

SA Hockey awards 2016

President’s Award: John Wright
John Marquard Senior Men’s Player of the Year: Rhett Halkett
Ros Howell Snr Women’s Player of the Year: Celia Evans
Lennie Botha U21 Men’s Player of the Year: Alex Stewart
Sheila Brown U21 Women’s Player of the Year: Marizen Marais
Peter Vieyra U18 Boys Player of the Year:  Andrew Hobson
Dave Carr U18 Girls Player of the Year:  Hannah Pearce
Malik Umpire of the Year: John Wright and Michelle Joubert
Stuart McIldowie Award for service to umpiring: Peter Wright
Paul Richards Technical Official of the year: Sheila Brown
Steve and Linda Jaspan Trophy for Coach of the Year:  Lindsey Wright

SA Hockey Association media release

TUK condemned to relegation


Kenya Police's Kennedy Sibweche (left) shields the ball from Technical University of Kenya's Leonard Marwa during their Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League match on December 12, 2017 at City Park Stadium, Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Technical University of Kenya (TUK) have been relegated from the Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League after a 7-0 loss to Kenya Police at the City Park Stadium, Nairobi. on Tuesday.

Calvin Kanu and Victor Wekesa each scored twice in the lopsided encounter. Skipper Oliver Echenje, Samuel Wokila and Vincent Odindo were also on target as Police ran riot.

The students, who were making their debut in the top-flight this season, are stuck at the bottom with eight points with four games left.

Even if they win their remaining matches, the best they can achieve is 20 points.

TUK coach Peter Mwathe admitted that his charges paid the price of inexperience of playing at the highest level.

"At this stage you have to be consistent and also avoid many mistakes. We gave our best but ultimately it was not enough to guarantee our stay in the top flight," Mwathe said.

While TUK plan for life in the second tier league, Police moved to 67 points, 16 ahead for second placed Butali with four games left. Six points in their last four matches will see them crowned champions.

In the women's Premier League, champions Telkom moved to within four points of the title after they thrashed Amira Sailors 5-1 at the same venue. A brace from Barbara Simiyu set the leaders on the path to an emphatic win.

Audrey Omaido and Jackline Mwangi were also on target to take their tallies of the season to 20 goals with Lillian Aura also chipping in with a late goal. Yvette Kanyandong scored a consolation goal for the Sailors.

Telkom are now on 48 points from 16 matches with four matches left, 12 ahead of second placed Strathmore University Scorpions. Telkom assistant coach Josephine Ataro lauded her charges for keeping their 100 percent record intact.

"Our forwards were impressive, causing their defence all sorts of problems.We want to wrap up the title and turn our attention to next month's Africa Club Championship," Ataro said.

It marked a bad outing for Amira, who drew 1-1 with Vikings last Sunday seriously denting their chances of finishing in second spot.

Telkom just need four points in their final four matches to secure a record 20th league title. Earlier, Scorpions thrashed  University of Nairobi 6-0 to move up two spots in the women's  top flight league.

International Gilly Okumu inspired her side to a comfortable win after grabbing a hat trick.

Lynn Ayuma, Winnie Ingati and Denise Odongo were also on target as the Scoropins kept alive their chances of securing second spot and a place in next year's Africa Club Championship.

Scorpions are on 36 points, two ahead of Amira and United States International University of- (USIU-A) Africa Spartans who are in third and fourth place respectively.

UON remain bottom with three points and are yet to win a match this season.

Daily Nation

Brace from Barbara Simiyu guides side to impressive victory

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Telkom's Audrey Omaido (left) and Winnie Ivayo of Vickings in action at City Park. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Champions Telkom are two matches away from retaining their Kenya Hockey Union women’s league title.

This is after they thrashed Amira Sailors 5-1 in a league match yesterday at City Park to extend their unbeaten run and close in on an unprecedented 20th title.

A brace from Barbara Simiyu and a goal each from Jackline Mwangi, Audrey Omaido, and Lilian Aura gave the African champions their 16th successive victory this season.

Telkom assistant coach Josephine Ataro told The Standard Sports that their focus is to ensure they improve in every unit as they prepare for their continental title defence.

“We want to have a good ending and since we already have one hand on the league title, our main focus is to improve at individual level as well as a team. We will also be keen on strengthening our respective units ahead of the Africa Club Cup  Champions,” Ataro said.

She added that with the annual continental championships one month away, they need to be at their best.

“We only have close to a month to prepare for our Africa title defence, therefore, we must remain focused before we break for the holidays.”

Telkom played offensively from the onset, forcing the Amira defence, led by captain Lorraine Nondi, to work harder to contain the attacking trio of Mwangi, Omaido, and Maureen Okumu. Telkom’s efforts finally paid off as Mwangi slotted past Amira goalkeeper Rachael Kerubo in the 11th minute.

Not ready to let Telkom have it easy, Amira tightened their defence as they went hunting for goals. However, the Telkom defence of Terry Juma, Flavia Mutiva, and Lucy Wangeci thwarted the efforts of Pauline Naise, Susan Okoth, and Yvette Kanyadong, who relentlessly battled to restore parity as the first quarter ended 1-0.

In another match, Strathmore University defeated University of Nairobi 6-0

The Standard Online

Perak and Perlis complete cast for second round of U-14 meet

By Aftar Singh

Close tussle: Negri Sembilan’s Muhd Irfan Danial (right) and Terengganu’s Muhd Harizh Iman vying for the ball during the 1MAS Under-14 hockey championship yesterday. — M. AZHAR ARIF / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Perak and Perlis are the last two teams to qualify for the second round of the 1MAS Under-14 hockey championship.

The silver state outplayed Singa-pore 4-0 to top Group B with 10 points from three wins and a draw while Perlis came back from a goal down to beat Melaka 4-1 in Group A.

Perlis, Kelantan and Penang were tied with six points from four matches but Perlis finished runners-up on better goal difference.

Muhamad Elly Iskandar Ahmad gave Melaka the lead in the 33rd minute but Perlis stormed back to score four goals in eight minutes at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Ahmad Ashraf Hariz Baharuddin equalised for Perlis in the 34th minute and two minutes later Ahmad Fakhrul Aiman Abdullah made it 2-1.

They scored two more through Muhd Farid Kadir (40th) and Shahmi Haikal Shahrizal (42nd).

Perak’s Muhammad Amirul Harif Mamat (16th, 37th) and Mohamed Farishshah Fauzian (28th, 36th) scored a brace each to tame Singapore.

Despite the big win, Perak manager-cum-coach Mohd Salleh Mohd Sharif was not impressed with his boys.

“The players don’t have a game structure as the team are made up of players from four different schools – Anderson, Gunung Rapat School, Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI),” said Salleh.

“They naturally have a problem playing as a unit. And I hope they will be able to click in the second round as we will be up against stronger opponents.

“Last year, we finished fifth but this time we are aiming for a top-four finish,” added Salleh.

The other four teams in the second round are defending champions Pahang, last year’s runners-up Johor, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur.

Perak, Perlis and Kuala Lumpur will play in Group X while Pahang, Sabah and Johor are drawn in Group Y. The group winners will play in the final.

In the girls’ competition, defending champions Pahang reached the second round with a 100% record when they defeated Kedah 2-0 in a Group A match.

In their fourth match, Zati Alyani Muhammad Zubir gave Pahang the lead in the 28th minute. Four minutes later J. Thibatharshini doubled the score for her sixth goal to date.

Terengganu also qualified from the group after a 2-2 draw against Perlis.

Both teams were tied with seven points from four matches but the East Coast side made it on better goal difference.

The other teams in the second round are Melaka, Selangor, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

The Star of Malaysia

Need for right mix

Marijne’s fast, attacking India were halted by world’s best in the Hockey World League; team needs strategic maturity to scale another level

Indervir Grewal

India’s second Hockey World League Final bronze medal in three years did not come in ideal circumstances. From six matches, India won only two – for the third place, they beat a beleaguered Germany, seven of whose players were hit by illness. The win followed an anticlimactic loss in the semifinals – their much-anticipated clash against Olympics champions Argentina was marred by waterlogging on the pitch.

In this format, the “real” tournament starts at the quarterfinals, and India won two of their three knockout games. But in two of their three knockout matches, coach Sjoerd Marijne would not have been able to make an accurate assessment of the team’s performance. Even so, the tournament served as a great learning experience for the team and new coach. These lessons can be significant because 2018 is an important year in terms of tournaments. “It was my first tournament with the team at the highest level,” said Marijne. “It gave me the opportunity to see the team and the players, their strengths and weaknesses, what changes we need to make.”

Fast-breaking India

Marijne has brought a liveliness to India’s game. Under Roelant Oltmans, the team took its time to build attacks by moving the ball around. India became a side that liked to dominate possession, even against higher-ranked teams.

But right from start, Marijne has talked about fast, one-touch hockey. It was first seen in the Asia Cup, where India showed urgency in attack. After one or two passes at the back, there was a tendency to move forward.

But India’s new style is predominantly about counterattacking. India’s most effective weapon is the pressure created by the forwards and central midfielders and their success in making regular interceptions. The speed of their counterattacks, with one-touch or two-touch passing moves, was a surprising factor for their Asian opponents in Dhaka.

Tough lessons

India’s dominance at the Asia Cup raised curiosity about how they would fare against the world’s top teams. In Bhubaneswar, India’s first opponents, Australia, had a slow start, and their missed passes and missed traps played into India’s hands. The early pressure led to interceptions and chances from counterattacks.

However, once Australia regained their composure, they managed to pull India back. Before the tournament, Marijne warned the Indian players to improve their intercepting skill. “Because if we can’t, we will always be world No. 6,” he had said. At the HWL, India learnt this the hard way. After the initial hiccup, Australia slowed the pace, held possession to deny India counterattacking opportunities. England did the same, though in both the matches, India did get a few chances. But it was Germany who reiterated Marijne’s point with masterful discipline in the pool match.


India’s fascination to play fast and attacking hockey stems from their latest motto of playing to win. Oltmans was sacked because he wasn’t “result oriented”. The new attack-minded game means India look for fast breaks with attacking, incisive passes. However, attacking constantly leads to losing the ball quickly. Playing against lower-ranked Asian teams, India were able to apply pressure and regain possession with considerable ease. But Germany, whose players have great ball-holding ability, made India pay for losing possession. For almost all of the last quarter, India did not see the ball. After the match, Marijne said that “too much energy was lost (by his team) to get the ball”. “When they did, they tried to go forward quickly, which is our style,” he said.

Defend better

Losing the ball quickly also meant that India had to defend more. The recent shift to zonal defence not only aids India’s new strategy of attacking on the counter, but it has also made India a better defensive unit, though they still need to improve a lot. After the pool match against Germany, Marijne admitted that India “didn’t get enough interceptions” because the “players didn’t get close enough to the opponents”.

Also, letting opponents dominate possession means letting them control the game. There is a danger of being pushed back too deep. India still show susceptibility when the pace of the game is varied. The Indian players’ attention levels fall with a forced lull in the game, and they tend to deviate from the game-plan. If India don’t score first, when they take the other team by surprise, they tend to concede. It hurts their counterattacking strategy. In Bhubaneswar, India scored first thrice in six matches. But they couldn’t protect their lead for long.

Finding balance

Even against the depleted Germany in the third-place match, India didn’t look to dominate possession, despite taking a one-goal lead. India could have run the already tired Germans ragged. But they didn’t, and a lapse in concentration led to the equaliser. Even at 2-1, India went for their attacks, losing the ball often.

Fast, one-touch hockey doesn’t mean that the team must always look to move forward. India can play one-touch or two-touch hockey to rotate the ball around faster like Germany, who are known for their unsettling quick-passing game. In Bhubaneswar, it seemed that India tried to force the issue at times when they were frustrated by their tactically better opponents. That led to a high number of missed passes.

India can be successful with this style — counterattacking is favoured by even the top teams for its surprise element in today’s compact hockey. But the top teams can also vary their game according to different situations. India struggled for most parts against England and Germany, but the few times they built their attacks, they created scoring opportunities.

Tactical acumen

Looking at India’s slide during the pool stage, former Australia player Simon Orchard wrote, “Unfortunately the India men are getting worse at hockey #HWL2017”, on his Twitter page. After Netherlands coach Max Caldas argued that the tournament started with the quarterfinals, Orchard wrote: “…the difference is you guys are capable of much better. India I’m not sure are. Time will tell…”

Despite doubts, India improved considerably against Belgium. After the win, Marijne said that India were disciplined throughout, unlike in the pool matches. “We were structured, better in one-on-one defending and calm when we had the ball. Even though Belgium had more possession, we held the ball well,” Marijne said. “We controlled the game, made them play at our speed.”

The tournament would have helped Marijne realise that Indian players struggle to adapt to varying tactics. Indian players take a longer time to mature because they learn about different modern strategies only after getting into the national camps. As India lacks a proper system, coaches at the grassroots level don’t develop players’ creativity and decision-making ability, and training is not done keeping in mind the pressure of match situations. In comparison, European players – such as 21-year-old Belgian Victor Wegnez, named the best young player at HWL Finals – are already mature when they are 20-21 years old.

The Tribune

Consistency is key for Indian hockey: Experts

By Taus Rizvi

Indian’s bronze medal at the FIH Hockey World League Final might give the team some self-belief with a little less than a year to go for the FIH World Cup, but former Indian hockey stars feel that the third-place finish at the recently-concluded event could be misleading.

Former players believe there are still many areas the team needs to improve upon if they are to do well in next year’s World Cup.

“We should not look into positions where we are in. Positions can be a little bit misleading,” former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha said before playing an exhibition match during the inauguration of St. Stanislaus High School’s International Standard FIH approved “Father Donnely Astro Park” here on Sunday evening.

“For example, Belgium played five matches and won four yet they came fifth, while we won a match in regulation time only once (against Germany in bronze medal match).

“Right now, we are building up for the World Cup, and we should look at the progress and how we are playing. To be honest, there is a lot to improve,” Rasquinha added.

The legendary Dharanj Pillay remains optimistic ahead of the World Cup, but feels that there are still some grey areas. 

“I think we played good hockey. During my time, Australia was a superpower. But today India can also take on Australia, Germany and Belgium. Fitness has improved but we need to concentrate on hitting and stopping. Player should know the basics like right timing, right passes, and when to release the ball,” said Pillay.

Rasquinha said the Indians will have to become a lot more consistent in order to improve.

“We did struggle a bit in quite a few of the matches. Against Australia we played well initially, after that it’s been only in patches. That’s the biggest challenge a coach faces -- to get consistency. If we harbour hopes of winning a medal at the World Cup, then the team has to be consistent in over six-seven matches.

“Consistency is the key. We are not even consistent for the entire 60 minutes. We should look at that and then become consistent throughout the tournament,” said Rasquinha.

The 37-year-old Rasquinha, a skillful midfielder in his times, said India have to remain disciplined on several counts.

“We need to have tactical discipline which the coach sets. There are missed passes on certain occasions, we hold the ball too much, we are not disciplined in short corners. Individual and team discipline is important,” he said.Former player and coach Joaquim Carvalho said the players need to step up in crunch situations.

“We need to bag the crunch situations in big games. We need to have the ambition to win every game. We need to aspire to be consistently on the podiums at majors events like the World Cup and the Olympics,” he said.

Daily News & Analysis

Get to know: Las Leonas


Argentina are renowned for their flair, passion and power making them one of the most exciting teams in the world.

They have shown that these attributes remain in abundance at the start of a new four year cycle for the squad with some eye-catching performances in 2017, putting them in good stead ahead of 2018 and the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.

Their star studded side will be hoping to challenge for the trophy once again at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in 2018 but will be strongly tested from the off in a tough pool. They face the formidable Germans as well as the increasingly improved South Africans and Spain making the pool arguably the tightest of all and tickets are proving to be hot property.

Name: Las Leonas
Captain: Delfina Merino
World Ranking: 3
World Cup Wins: 2
Olympic Wins: 0 (2 x Runners up)
Vitality #HWC2018 Pool C: Argentina, Germany, South Africa, Spain

Las Leonas began the year with a 3-1 home series win over New Zealand before heading to the World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg. Argentina cruised to the semi-finals but fell short to Germany and then suffered defeat in their bronze medal match with England.

However they responded in style, bouncing back to win the Pan American Cup winning all their games and comfortably defeating Chile 4-1 in the final.

However they couldn’t win a medal at the World League Finals but ended strongly with a thumping 4-0 win over Germany, earning early bragging rights over their World Cup pool C rivals.

Argentina have a rich World Cup history having won it twice and finishing second on three occasions. Las Leonas won most recently on home soil in 2010 beating the Netherlands 3-1 in Rosario in a classic encounter in front of a raucous home crowd. 

Argentina’s Pool C Fixtures:

Sunday 22 July – Spain 1pm
Wednesday 25 July – Germany 6pm
Saturday 28 July – South Africa 2pm

England Hockey Board Media release

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