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News for 29 March 2019

All the news for Friday 29 March 2019

Ansell returns from injury to make men's squad for Argentina trip

Adam Dixon celebrates in the FIH Pro League

Liam Ansell returns from injury for Great Britain’s men’s team’s trip to Argentina in their next match in the global FIH Pro League.

Ansell, 25, has been ruled out since the Hockey Men’s World Cup late last year, when he scored two goals as England finished fourth.

Also included in an FIHPL squad for the first time is Reading’s Peter Scott, who would be in line to make his Great Britain debut if selected to face the Olympic champions. Scott is the sixth GB Elite Development programme to be included in an FIHPL squad this year.

Mikey Hoare is also set to play in the FIHPL for the first time, while David Condon is back after missing the last games against New Zealand and Australia. Liam Sanford will miss the trip after recent knee surgery.

Great Britain are looking for a first win over Argentina since a test series in 2015, while the reigning Olympic champions will be looking for revenge over the English players who inflicted a world cup quarter final defeat on them just a few short months ago.

Full squad:
David Ames (ENG) (Holcombe)
Liam Ansell (ENG) (East Grinstead)
David Condon (ENG) (East Grinstead)
Brendan Creed (ENG) (Surbiton)
Adam Dixon (Capt) (ENG) (Beeston)
Alan Forsyth (SCO) (Surbiton)
James Gall (ENG) (Surbiton)
Harry Gibson (GK) (ENG) (Surbiton)
Mikey Hoare (ENG) (Wimbledon)
Lee Morton (SCO) (Reading)
George Pinner (GK) (ENG) (Holcombe)
Phil Roper (ENG) (Wimbledon)
Peter Scott (ENG) (Reading)
Ian Sloan (ENG) (Wimbledon)
Luke Taylor (ENG) (Surbiton)
Zach Wallace (ENG) (Surbiton)
Jack Waller (ENG) (Wimbledon)
Sam Ward (ENG) (Old Georgians)
Henry Weir (ENG) (Wimbledon)
Ollie Willars (ENG) (Beeston)

Great Britain will be led by Russell Garcia for this fixture. Following an intense 12 months, with two World Cups in five months and a transition to the men’s programme, Danny Kerry will not be travelling and will be taking some time back in the UK to plan and energise, ensuring that building blocks are in place for the programme to excel leading into the remainder of the FIH Pro League, then the EuroHockey Championships and possible Olympic Qualifiers later in 2019.

Performance Director Ed Barney commented, “We have four very clear objectives for the senior programmes in 2019. One of these is about how we arrive at Olympic Qualification and 2020 with an energised, excited and fresh staff and player group. Through the early stages of the FIH Pro League we have already applied different staff models within the support staff – these have worked well and the decision for Danny to take a little time back is solely related to this. It’s an exciting opportunity for Russell, the staff team and the squad, and we know that Russell will lead the programme with real expertise, skill and passion.”

Danny Kerry added, “We’re again taking the opportunity to broaden the depth in our squad and I am excited about the inclusion of Peter Scott. The competition for places is good, the team dynamic is good and we continue to work hard on a number of areas. It seems a long time since we played Australia in February and Argentina have played a number of matches during that time. We will therefore need to be quick out of the blocks, but I am confident in the work the lads have put in over practice recently.”

Great Britain’s men currently have six points from three games in the FIHPL, while Argentina have seven points from their five matches. Argentina are currently Olympic champions but lost to league leaders Australia in their last match, although they were without drag flick specialist Gonzalo Peillat.

GB take on Argentina on Saturday 6 April at 7:30pm UK time, live on BT Sport.

Great Britain Hockey media release

2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Ipoh (MAS)

Fixtures 29 March

16:05     IND v POL (RR)
18:05     KOR v JPN (RR
20:35     MAS v CAN (RR

Fixtures 30 March

15:40     ??? v POL(5/6th Placing)       
18:05     ??? v ??? (3/4th Placing)       
20:35     IND v KOR (Final)

Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 India 4 3 1 0 14 6 8 10
2 Korea 4 3 1 0 12 7 5 10
3 Malaysia 4 2 0 2 12 10 2 6
4 Canada 4 2 0 2 12 14 -2 6
5 Japan 4 1 0 3 7 8 -1 3
6 Poland 4 0 0 4 3 15 -12 0

FIH Match Centre

Not quite poles apart

s2h Team

Say Poland and Indian hockey fans old enough to remember wince. Thoughts of the 2000 Sydney Olympics come flooding back. Especially the traumatic moment when Tomas Cichy scored to make it 1-1 a mere 90 seconds from the end to shunt India out of an Olympic medal round they so passionately longed to make ever since the 1980 Moscow Games.

As a matter of fact, that fateful encounter is often referred to as the start of India’s tendency to concede goals at the death.

The two nations square up to each other again in Ipoh on Friday, the concluding day of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup round-robin phase. The encounter is inconsequential with India already having booked a slot in the final against South Korea and Poland confirmed for the wooden spoon match against Japan. India, ranked fifth, are on a roll having collected 10 points from four matches including convincing wins over Japan (2-0), Malaysia (4-2) and Canada (7-3) but conceded a last minute goal to South Korea, their opponents in Saturday’s final in a 1-1 draw.

Poland, the lowest ranked in the tournament at No. 21, have yet to secure a point after losing all four matches to Canada (1-5), Malaysia (0-4), South Korea (2-3) and Japan (0-3). Either team would like to finish the league in a positive frame of mind before the playoffs and victory would be more than welcome.

India are expected to test their attacking prowess where Mandeep Singh has been a livewire, if five goals he has scored so far is a testimony.

The Poles would hope to replicate a performance that nearly helped them spring an upset over 17th-ranked South Korea who fought back to overturn a late deficit.

Poland have vanished from the radar when it comes to top flight hockey. After the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, the eastern Europeans have failed to qualify for the FIH showpiece event as well as the Olympics.<> When Poland last featured in the World Cup, India beat them 4-1 in a pool match. However, Poland had pushed India to a free-fall at the 1986 World Cup in Willesden, England, with a 1-0 victory their first match. India didn’t quite recover from the setback and eventually finished with the wooden spoon.

Even when India won their last of eight Olympic gold medals at Moscow 1980, they may have not made the playoff final against Spain had it not been for an equalizer two seconds from the end against Poland. Mervyn Fernandis netted from close range to make it 2-2 and gain a valuable point for India which in the final analysis proved crucial.

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Poland held India to a 2-2 draw and in a warm-up friendly in Warsaw before the 1973 World Cup in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, the Poles beat the highly fancied Indians 4-3. All of Poland’s goal came from the blade of Stefan Otulakowski, their penalty corner striker who emerged joint top-scorer at the 1975 World Cup with Ties Kruise of the Netherlands and Manzoor ul-Hassan of Pakistan (seven goals each).

Poland have come in as replacements for South Africa who pulled out at the last minute. Inviting the Poles made sense for both the Azlan Shah Cup organizers and the Polish federation.

Poland are due to make a landmark tour of Pakistan in April and the invitation to Ipoh must have come as God-sent.

For all their obscurity at top-level outdoor hockey, the Poles have scintillated at the Indoor World Cup finishing runners-up to then invincible Germany in each of the first three editions.


Stats Speak: Polish have harassed India in Olympics

By B.G.Joshi (Sehore-Bhopal, India)

India and South Korea have entered in the final of 28th Azlan Shah Cup. Today’s match against Poland is inconsequential. However Poland has harassed India in all the matches played in Olympics.

In Munich Olympics (1972) Poland drew with India 2-2.

In Moscow Olympics (1980) Mervin Fernandes equalized goal (2-2) synchronized with hooter. Thanks to this lucky goal, India played and won the final.

In Sydney (2000) India needed either a victory or a 2-2 tie in its last pool match against Poland. India led 1-0 but Tomascz Cichy of Poland scored the equalizer in last 86 seconds of the game thus denied India a SF.

Here are statistical highlights of India-Poland:









Goals for


Goals for









Last 10







Last played in Antwerp (2015) World League, India won 3-0, Devinder and Yuvraj  Walmiki(brothers from Mumbai) have scored the goals in that match.


India looks to test attacking prowess against Poland

India and Korea have already secured their place in the finals which is to be held on Saturday.

Indian men’s hockey players celebrate their win over Malaysia at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019 in Ipoh. Photo Credit: PTI

Their final berth already sealed, favourites India would look to test their attacking prowess and aim for a big win when they take on lower-ranked Poland in their final league match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Friday.

With three wins and a draw, India are currently leading the six-team league table with 10 points and a goal difference of eight.

Just like five-time champions India, Korea too have secured their place in Saturday’s summit clash with 10 points but they have an inferior goal difference — five — than the Indians.

The last round league matches, thus, have become inconsequential for all the teams but both India and Korea would look to keep their winning momentum intact.

Against Poland, ranked 21st in the world, it should be an easy match for world number 5 India.

The Indians had a pretty good outing in the tournament so far, barring one match — against Saturday summit clash opponents Korea.

India defeated Asian Games gold medallist Japan 2-0 before getting the better of hosts Malaysia 4-2 and Canada 7-3. The only blip for the Manpreet Singh-led side was the 1-1 draw against Korea.

Come Friday, the Indians would be eyeing to test their attacking combinations ahead of the big final against Korea.

Mandeep Singh has been a live wire upfront, scoring a hat-trick against Canada but he needs more support from other strikers and that is precisely what the Indian think-tank would be hoping to achieve against Poland.

Besides Mandeep, Varun Kumar has been impressive with penalty corner conversions and he would like to continue in the same vein in the remainder of the matches.

After a slow start, the Indians showed progress in every match of the tournament with improved structure and discipline.

Poland, on the other hand, are still winless in the tournament and would at least look for a consolation point.

But it would be a herculean task to achieve that against a world-class side like India.

Poland were hammered 1-5 by Malaysia, 0-4 by Canada and 0-3 by Japan. Korea is the only team which had to fight tooth and nail to get the better of Poland 3-2.

With five titles under their belt, India are the second most successful team in the Azlan Shah Cup behind Australia (10 titles).

India’s last triumph here came way back in 2010 when they shared the title with Korea after the match was abandoned due to rain.

Despite coming here with a mix of senior and junior players, India would be looking to end their eight-year title jinx.

In other inconsequential matches on Friday, Korea will take on Japan while Malaysia will finish off their campaign against Canada.

The Hindu

Mandeep Singh: Korea is a strong side

s2h Team

The Man-in-form Mandeep Singh, who has been striking strong in the ongoing Azlan Cup, believes that his team is looking forward to putting their best foot forward in the remaining two matches to win the trophy for the first time since 2010.

"We do know that we have already qualified for the Final but it does not mean we are going to take it lightly against Poland. We are determined to keep performing to the best of our abilities, and to win our remaining two matches based on good performances," said Mandeep.

The 24-year-old Forward spoke about the prospects of playing Korea in the Final match after the two teams drew their Pool match 1-1. He said, "We know that Korea is a strong side, but we are doing everything to minimize any errors in our game. It is going to be our first Final of 2019, and we are all very well prepared to face them in the Final. We have learned a lot about them from our 1-1 draw in the Pool stages, and I feel that tomorrow's match against Poland will also give us a chance to prepare well for the Final."

Speaking about the areas on which his team has focused, Mandeep said, "We have had a good tournament so far as we have 10 points from our four matches, but of course we would have liked to get all the 12 points on the board. We have tried to improve as a unit, and being a part of the forward-line, I feel we have focused on making more circle penetrations, getting more shots on target, and regaining possession quickly. If we can execute all these things perfectly in the next two matches, I am sure we can finish with the Gold Medal."

The young Forward has scored a total of five goals in four matches, including a hat-trick against Canada on Wednesday. However, Mandeep believes that the credit goes to his teammates for creating the opportunities for him. "I think the job of a striker is the easiest when you are in good form, and right now I feel like I am playing well. The credit for my goals obviously goes to my teammates who create the opportunities and space for me to do my bit. My focus during the matches when we are attacking is always on positioning myself correctly so that whenever there is a chance, I can make the most of it by converting it into a goal for my team," said Singh.

The Indian Men's Hockey team has seen a total of eight different goal-scorers so far in the tournament, and will play Poland their last Pool match on Friday, 29th March 2019 at 13.35hrs IST.

Meanwhile, the Final match between India and Korea will take place on Saturday, 30th March 2019 at 18.05hrs IST.


At odds with Oltmans

By Jugjet Singh

Does coach Roelant Oltmans have a good grasp of Malaysian hockey? NSTP/EFFENDY RASHID

An open letter to Malaysia coach

DEAR coach, since you are new to Malaysian hockey, let me advise you on some matters which you might not know, because I have been watching and writing about the sport for the last 25 years.

I have watched, and written about them all: National under-14, under-16, under-18, Junior Hockey League, Malaysia Hockey League, Razak Cup, Azlan Shah Cup, Sultan of Johor Cup, Sea Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup, Olympics right down to school, district and club tournaments.

So, I believe I have a right to comment about Malaysian hockey.

What you said during a press conference, after Malaysia were soundly beaten by South Korea in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, smells of ignorance.

So, let me school you about Malaysian hockey.

For those who were not at the press conference here in Ipoh, here is the narrative.

The scribe had asked you, after Malaysia failed to qualify for the Azlan Shah Cup final: “Coach, do you agree that Malaysian players were jittery infront of their own fans and made too many mistakes which cost them the match?

And you answered: “Did you (the questioner) actually watch the match? Which match did you watch? Because I saw differently. They played world-class hockey and if they continue playing like this, they will become world class someday.

“No more (questions) from you... next question.”

And after the press conference, on your way out you said: “I noticed that you have been writing many negative articles about the team, and I have experienced this in India.”

Malaysia (in white) and South Korea players leave the field after their Azlan Shah Cup match on Wednesday. South Korea won 2-1. NSTP/EFFENDY RASHID

When I asked which articles, you just walked away without answering. So here goes...

Oltmans had worked in Pakistan as well as India, and their voracious media must have made him take this stand. So, I felt not anger but pity, as he must have brought this negative impression of the media to Malaysia.

First of all, it is nothing new for the Malaysian team to fail when it matters most.

Not wanting to go back too far as it might sound silly, I would like to remind Oltmans about Malaysia’s failure at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. If he didn’t know, he can do some research or better still, ask his team manager Stephen van Huizen who was the coach back then.

Check out my articles on the Dublin Olympic Qualifier, Belgium Olympic Qualifier, Junior World Cup Qualifier in Kuantan, Asian Games Olympics Qualifier in Jakarta and the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

I saw Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal cry after Belgium and Kuantan.

Before that, the previous MHC presidents, including King, Sultans and an admiral, had all shed tears for the Malaysian hockey team.

It’s nothing new for us, but might be alien to a newcomer like you. You made your appearance after the Asian Games in Jakarta, so I need to tell you about the past.

Malaysian players, from decades ago, have failed when it mattered most. But we, journalists, have still given them acres of space in our publications not because we have an agenda against the players, the MHC or the numerous coaches from Paul Lissek to Paul Revington to Terry Walsh to Oltmans.

It’s our passion and dream to see Malaysia finally win more than just the Sea Games gold, or qualify and play regurlary in the World Cup and Olympics.

Dear Oltmans, beating Canada in the pool match as well as if we meet again in the third-fourth classification in Ipoh, and again if we cross paths in the FIH Series Finals in KL, would make this scribe the happiest person in the world.

And hockey officials and fans would be eternally grateful to you.

Yours sincerely,

Jugjet Singh

New Straits Times

Back to the drawing board for our hockey team

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s back to the drawing board for the Malaysian hockey team after losing two matches in a row in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

Coach Roelant Oltmans’ (pic) men lost 1-2 to South Korea on Wednesday at the Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium. On Tuesday, they went down 2-4 to five-time champions India.

With the two defeats, Malaysia have six points and must get at least a draw against Canada today to earn the right to play in the third-place playoff tomorrow.

Canada also have six points from four matches and are expected to give Malaysia a run for their money.

Regardless of today’s outcome, Malaysia can consider their campaign in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup very disappointing as they have not won the title since the tournament’s inception in 1983.

Oltmans admitted that Malaysia’s penalty corners did not work out as expected and the players wasted many chances.

And it was quite apparent as they team committed the same errors in defence and were a big let down in their penalty corner conversions despite getting the help of former world renowned Dutch drag flicker Taeke Taekema two weeks ago.

Malaysia earned nine penalty corners each in the matches against India and South Korea but only managed to score one each in the two matches.

“We will work on it before the FIH World Series Finals (at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from April 26-May 4),” said the Dutch coach.

“We gave a good fight to the Koreans and was pleased with the commitment shown by the players. I’m not too disappointed that we didn’t make the final. It happens,” added Oltmans.

India and S. Korea have 10 points each and have booked their places in the final with one match in hand.

India should beat winless Poland in the last round robin match while the Koreans face Asian Games gold medallists Japan next.

The Star of Malaysia

MHC president upset over national side's disappointing performances

By Jugjet Singh

National men’s senior squad coach Roelant Oltmans (back, centre) talks to his players during the 28th edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh. (PIC BY EFFENDY RASHID)

IPOH: The national men’s senior squad really let down Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal.

He was visibly upset with the 2-1 loss to South Korea on Wednesday, so much so Subahan used the word “disappointing” four times in a conversation with this scribe.

This competition in Ipoh was supposed to provide Malaysia with a great chance to win the Azlan Shah Cup, as many of the world’s top teams did not come this time.

Poland, Japan, Canada, South Korea and India all brought new players but still, the hosts couldn’t find their way to the final, and end up having to play for third-fourth placing on Saturday.

India, who left seven World Cup players back home, and South Korea who recalled five “old horses”, will play in the final instead.

Subahan must be the most disappointed man in the whole of Ipoh.

“The players were jittery and at times looked like they did not know the basics of the game, and this is not acceptable after the management catered for their every need,” he said.

“I will call the coach (Roelant Oltmans) to see me immediately after he returns to Kuala Lumpur for an explanation.

“This kind of display is totally unacceptable, as we have provided the players with a penalty corner trainer (former world class flicker Taeke Taekema) and goalkeeping coach (Martijn Drijver).

“Many other teams in Ipoh did not have the luxury of training under two of the world’s top coaches but still did better.

“I am very disappointed, as I had expected the team to at least play in the final, and even win gold for the first time, but they blew it again, just like they did in the final of the Indonesia Asian Games in Jakarta,” added Subahan.

Oltmans talked about statistics when he called Subahan, but the president was not impressed.

“From this period onwards, MHC want results because we have provided the team with the best coaches in the world.

“Statistics do not matter to me, what matters is a winning attitude which was missing from Malaysia but evident in South Korea and India.

“We need to play in the final of the FIH Series Finals, or even win it, and time is running out on the players as the tournament is about a month away.

“No more excuses, we want results from this team,” said Subahan.

Statisticts don't win matches, but desire and determination can work wonders like what France and China showed in the last World Cup, where Malaysia were yet again disappointing.

Subahan also expressed disappointment with the umpiring, which he felt could have been better.

New Straits Times

MHC President: 'No more excuses please'

By Jugjet Singh

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president, Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal (left) want results instead of excuses from national men’s senior squad coach Roelant Oltmans, and it should start tomorrow (Friday) when Malaysia play Canada in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Perak, and again on Saturday if both teams qualify for the bronze medal playoff match.

IPOH: So it all boils down to Canada, who have also been blowing hot-and-cold air in the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Perak.

Malaysia play the World No 10 tomorrow (Friday), and if they win, they might be facing the Canadians again for the bronze medal playoff match on Saturday.

The Canadians came to Ipoh with a mission — to test hosts Malaysia to the limit before both teams play in the FIH Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur from April 26-May 4.

The other teams in this pre-Olympic Qualifier are not big guns, and Malaysia even have the advantage as hosts.

Group A comprises of Canada, Austria, Wales and another team yet to be confirmed after Vanuatu withdrew. Malaysia are in Group B with China, Brazil and Italy.

Canada coach Paul Bundy has repeatedly said from day one at the Azlan Shah Cup that their mission in Ipoh is to spy on as well as beat Malaysia in the World Series if they cross paths.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president, Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, is equally determined to see Malaysia play in the final, and even win the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur.

“No more excuses, no more statistics to back up a defeat, no more ‘we played well but lost’.

“I don't want to hear all this from coach Roelant Oltmans when we play in the Series Finals in KL.

“I want results. And it should start on Friday when we play Canada, and again on Saturday if both teams qualify for the bronze medal playoff match,” he added.

After his team lost 7-3 to India, Bundy said: “Canadians don't play like this. We are a much better team, and since our mission here is to do well in the Series Finals, we came here for a single purpose — to play against Malaysia and learn as much as possible before we go to KL for the Olympics Qualifier at the end of next month.”

The stage is now set in Ipoh for an explosive Canada-Malaysia encounter which could determine the direction of hockey in the country.

New Straits Times

Shivendra Singh set to be appointed as assistant coach of men’s hockey team

The new chief coach Graham Reid’s tenure will be till 2020, extendable till 2022 World Cup depending upon his performance.

Shivendra Singh is set to be appointed as the new assistant coach of the Indian men’s hockey team. Shivendra will exclusively work with the strikers and form an integral part of the Indian coaching staff. Photo Credit: PTI

Former India centre forward Shivendra Singh is set to be appointed assistant coach of the national men’s hockey team and will start working with the side next month.

A livewire during his playing days, Shivendra will exclusively work with the strikers and form an integral part of the Indian coaching staff set to be headed by Australian Graham Reid.

Reid’s appointment is just a formality now after Hockey India and Sports Authority of India recommended his name to the Sports Ministry earlier this week.

Besides Shivendra, former Australian drag-flicker Chris Ciriello, who is the current analytical coach, will be the other assistant coach in the new set-up.

“Shivendra Singh will join the Indian team soon as an assistant coach soon. He will work with the forwards under the new chief coach,” a source close to the development told PTI.

Shivendra was part of the Indian team that won a silver medal in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, besides being a member of the bronze medal-winning side of 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

He also won a gold with the Indian team in 2007 Asia Cup and 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The coaching set-up will also have SAI coach Piyush Kumar Dubey, who is already with the team at the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. He will exclusively work with the goalkeepers.

Meanwhile, the source also said that Reid was selected after he committed himself to Indian hockey and agreed to relocate to India with his family.

“The new coach has committed to India. He will be shifting his base to India with his family and will be based in Bengaluru,” the source said.

He also said the new chief coach’s tenure will be till 2020, extendable till 2022 World Cup depending upon his performance.

“The chief coach’s tenure will be till the end of next year. As per world hockey standards every international coach’s contract is supposed to be for an Olympic cycle.

“But his contract will have a provision os extension till 2022. Everything will depend on India’s performances leading upto the Tokyo Olympics,” the official said.

The Indian chief coach’s position has been lying vacant after the unceremonious sacking of Harendra Singh in January following a less-than-impressive quarterfinal exit at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar last year.

The source also informed that once the Sports Ministry gives its final approval, the chief coach will need at least a month to join his new assignment.

“He (new chief coach) is still associated with a top national team and he will have to give four weeks notice period to be relieved from his current job.”

Incidentally, Reid, a former Australia coach, is currently the assistant coach of the Netherlands hockey team.

Besides the Netherlands job, Reid was also the coach of his former club Amsterdam since 2017, a position from which he was dismissed earlier this month.

As soon as that development took place, speculation started that he is interested in taking up the India job, a claim which he neither rejected nor accepted.

The Hindu

Poland hockey series rescheduled, not called off

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has rubbished claims made by few quarters that Pakistan hockey team’s series with Poland is called off, saying a few individuals know nothing but want to create negativity.

Talking to The Nation, Brig said: “The matter of the fact is that Poland has their own issues and that’s why they requested the PHF to reschedule the dates. The series will take place this year and we are just waiting for Poland to confirm the dates suitable to them.”

Khokhar said the main threat, which was looming on PHF is the FIH ban. “We have written letters and I personally contacted the FIH and AHF chief executives and pleaded Pakistan’s case. I am grateful to FIH that they not only take our response very seriously, but also put it in the agenda of next FIH Board meeting. Our case was very technical and we had to handle it with care and responsibility, as future of Pakistan hockey depends on FIH course of action.

“They forwarded our case to the disciplinary committee, which meeting to be held next month. I am hopeful that Pakistan will escape ban. I informed them in detail the real issues being faced by the PHF. Pakistan had a great track record and being former champions, the international body duly regarded our services and promised to take Pakistan case positively,” he added.

The PHF chief said that the successful conduct of Pakistan Super League matches in Pakistan has given Pakistan hockey a new ray of hope. “It will help the PHF to get international tournaments as our forces have shown the world that we are capable of hosting international events in a befitting manner. I am optimistic that now PM Imran Khan will spare time and invite the PHF for a much-anticipated meeting.

“We need around Rs 200 million annual grant to run the affairs of the federation in a better way. The PHF has to conduct tournaments, participation in international tournaments and hire top class coaches. If the government has any doubts about misuse of funds, they should keep the cash and fulfill the federation’s requirements.

“We want to start the dream project of Pakistan Super Hockey League (PSHL) this year, as international players will be available by the end of this year. We want to conduct PSHL in Karachi, Lahore and other cities as well, but off course, it depends on budget and security clearance. It will give our players not only financial cover but also help them gain exposure while playing alongside the best in the business,” he added.

Khokhar announced that the PHF has decided to pay tribute to legendry Noor Khan and named after the upcoming national premier tournament him as 65th late Air Marshal  Muhammad Nur Khan Departmental National Hockey Championship 2019, which is allocated to Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) and it will be played at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium, Karachi from April 20 to May 2.

“I have requested Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to become the partners and hopefully, they will sponsor the mega championship. We have decided to give chances to the youngster in the event and included developing squads from the provinces. The best youngsters from every province will be selected through trials to represent the emerging squads,” Khokhar concluded.

The Nation

Who will win Scottish Women’s National League 1 on the final day of the season?

It’s the final week of competition and many issues around titles and relegation have already been settled, but there are still some outstanding matters to be resolved.

None more so than the destiny of the women`s National League 1 title, it will go down to the wire as four teams are in the mix.

After last weekend`s results Clydesdale Western and Edinburgh University are locked on 41 points, the former have the advantage on a goal difference of six. Only three points adrift are Dundee Wanderers and Western Wildcats with an outside chance of the top spot.

In reality, Western and Edinburgh are strong favourites to contest the title, either of them could only need a point against Dundee Wanderers and Hillhead respectively.

Clydesdale`s form has been a little up and down recently – they were held to a 1-1 draw by Glasgow University and lost a league and cup double to Edinburgh University – nevertheless they may remain narrow favourites for the title if they can see off Wanderers at Titwood.

However, they did lose the first league encounter on Tayside, downed by an Emily Dark hat-trick, while Millie Steiger and Lexi Sabatelli replied for the Glasgow side.

Wanderers’ progress up the table has been based on an unbeaten run since the winter shutdown…they need to maintain that sequence to reap the rewards.

The crunch encounter at Titwood should be an entertaining and high-scoring affair, both sides have several sharp shooters in their ranks.

While Edinburgh`s Sam Judge will be interested in the Titwood outcome, her charges must not take their eye off the task in hand against Hillhead – they need to win, and probably win by several goals to overcome the goal difference deficit.

Last time out the champions triumphed 7-2, Zara Malseed (4) along with Sophie Maunder (2) and Louise Campbell were on target, but this time that might still not be enough. It is not that easy to chase goals when you have to. In addition, Hillhead are on the back of two wins over Grange and Glasgow University, and have made seventh place their own.

The rest of the women`s affairs are settled – Watsonians and Grove Menzieshill are safe in mid-table, while Hillhead, Glasgow University and GHK will join either Aberdeen Standard Merlin Gordonians or Erskine Stewarts Melville from National League 2 to challenge for top flight status next season.

25 November 2018 at Auchenhowie. Scottish National League 1 match – Western Wildcats v Grove Menzieshill – photo by Duncan Gray

In the men`s league Grange are already champions, the runners-up spot is between Western Wildcats and Grove Menzieshill. The former have a two point lead and will be out to take the three points away to Watsonians. However, the Taysiders have a game in hand, their catch-up game is against Watsonians on Thursday evening, then they take on the champions Grange on Saturday on Tayside.

This season Grove Menzieshill`s form has encompassed some impressive results and the odd surprise – witness last weekend`s 5-0 reversal at the hands of Edinburgh University. The recent absence through injury of Scotland striker Cameron Golden has not helped their cause.

However, the race for fourth place is full of endless possibilities, but Uddingston have emerged favourite with a crucial two point lead over both Edinburgh University and Clydesdale. Their destiny lies in their own hands with two home games left, three points from Thursday evening`s home game against Hillhead and same again against Kelburne on Saturday would secured the top four place..

The foundation of the Lanarkshire side`s rise in the ranks has been a four match unbeaten run which has propelled them up the table.

Should Uddingston fail to deliver, Edinburgh University is waiting to pick up the challenge, they also have two games left with Hillhead away on Saturday and Gordonians on Sunday.

Clydesdale are dark horses in the race for fourth place, they will hope to pick up three points at home to Gordonians, but they have only one game left.

Watsonians and Kelburne will join either Dunfermline Carnegie or Inverleith from the lower tier in the play-offs. At present Hillhead are in seventh spot but that could change if they can take full points from their remaining fixtures against Uddingston and Edinburgh University.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

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