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News for 16 June 2019

All the news for Sunday 16 June 2019

FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019
Bhubaneswar (IND)

Final results

JPN v USA (3rd/4th Place)     4 - 2   
IND v RSA (Final)     5 - 1

Final standings

1. India
2. South Africa
3. Japan
4. USA
5. Russia
6. Poland
7. Mexico
8. Uzbekistan

FIH Match Centre

Varun Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh blitz robs game of drama as India coast to victory over South Africa

Sundeep Misra

India secured their participation in the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers by reaching the finals. Twitter@sports_odisha

In a start quite rare for India in a final, the 2nd and 11th minute strikes off consecutive PCs closed the door on South Africa, and at the same time ensured India jog its way to the finish, as they closed the match out 5-1 in front of a packed Kalinga stadium. The opening sequence by Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh robbed the match of drama and it was only a late flourish in the 4th quarter that saw South Africa make some concerted moves.

After the Sultan Azlan Shah final loss to South Korea a few months ago, this win in the FIH Men’s Series Finals would heal wounds in the Indian camp.

If ever there was a chance of a close-fought encounter, it was possible with South Africa keeping a tight defensive structure at the back with Richard Pautz and Nqobile Ntuli roaming upfront dragging away two defenders; that space could have been exploited. But in the 1st and 2nd quarter because of the early goals, pressure at the back couldn’t make the South Africans be too adventurous upfront.

India had brought in Gurjant Singh, the centre-forward in place of the injured midfielder Sumit. The Indian coach Graham Reid said, “This can happen during tough matches, Sumit sustained a complex fracture of the right hand in the match against Japan.”

Manpreet Singh had the first strike on the South African striking circle which led to the first penalty corner in the 2nd minute. Varun’s flick to the left-hand corner of Pieterse Rassie was low and swift, giving the SA goalkeeper no chance. Within minutes, Surender Kumar had moved up but the smart flick couldn’t be tapped in by Mandeep Singh. India was holding the midfield, not allowing SA to create moves. Time and again, India used the flanks to stretch and then laid out the crosses.

The opening sequence by Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh robbed the match of drama. Image Courtesy: The Hockey India

The second PC came in the 11th minute and Harmanpreet was on target with his flick. Leading 2-0, the curtains were being drawn on the SA performance. It’s never difficult to come back from a 0-2 deficit in a hockey game. In fact, earlier in the day, USA had equalised 2-2 in the 59th minute against Japan. But Kenta Tanaka scored twice in the 60th minute to ensure Japan won 4-2 and finish third.

South Africa, however, was caught between the devil and the deep sea. If they were to move up, leaving gaps, India would kill them. If they stayed back and built a structure, India still had enough skill to get a few more goals. SA opted for the latter which would have kept the scores respectable. On this same ground in December 2018, India had smashed SA 5-0 in the World Cup.

If there was a man disappointed after the 1st quarter, it was the South African goalkeeper Rassie, who did position himself well, but PCs can sometimes slip away from a goalkeeper and that is exactly what happened on the 2nd Indian PC.

In the second quarter, SA kept possession and rotated the ball. They used the width of the midfield trying to keep the ball away from India. In that period, they also came close to scoring when Pautz and Ntuli almost got the sequence right but too many sticks deflected the ball away. The defensive wall had been built. Unable to crack it, India rotated the ball back, looking for a gap from which they could slip it into SA’s striking circle.

That opportunity came when Birendra Lakra, head down, zig-zagged into the SA striking circle and was about to take a shot when he was stick-checked. The resultant stroke was flicked in by Harmanpreet Singh, his 2nd goal of the match. At 3-0, the doors were closing on the match. South Africa needed a goal to put some pressure on India. At the end of the 2nd quarter, India led 3-0 with 13 circle penetrations compared to 5 for South Africa. India had six shots on goal with 80 percent possession.

India cruised through the match, and never really looked like they would be tested. Image Courtesy: The Hockey India

At the start of the 3rd quarter, Pautz had another opportunity, a wide gap to the left but the reverse hit was in haste as the ball went over the Indian goal post. SA was trying to comeback. But the chances were few and far between.

It was a Mandeep move that set up India’s 4th goal in the 35th minute. A deft pass to Simranjeet who made his way through a slew of sticks and as the ball rolled free, Vivek Sagar slapped a reverse shot past the SA goalkeeper.
India, lacking intensity just that bit still rotated the ball and shot in the crosses. But like so many match days for Mandeep, it still wasn’t happening for him. Crosses sizzled across the SA goalmouth and Mandeep kept trying the deflection. It was almost like the ball and Mandeep’s stick had a sour relationship. In such situations, players do often try and dominate the ball trying to find that goal that could set up a momentum. Not Mandeep, who kept finding opportunities for PCs and tapping the ball to better placed teammates.

India’s fifth goal came in the 49th minute. Harmanpreet sold a dummy, slipping the ball to Varun Kumar whose flick powered into the SA goal. At 5-0, there was only one result in the match. It was also SA’s best period in the match when they earned three PCs in the 4th quarter. Off the second, Jethro Eustice flicked to the left as the hard working Pautz deflected in a beautiful goal. In the 53rd minute, it was 5-1.

In the dying minutes, both India and SA had a PC each; India’s 5th PC was saved by the SA goalkeeper while SA’s 3rd PC was brilliantly trapped by Surender who stood in front of Sreejesh.

At the post-match press conference, Graham Reid said: “I think what I am pleased with is the last two matches, where it really counted. We played well. Yesterday (against Japan) was very good, today was good in parts.”

Speaking on the tournament, Reid, said, “I never put an upper limit on something. We should always get better. From the point of PC conversion, all our flickers did well in this event. The great thing is we are creating opportunities. Next phase is to ensure we convert those percentages.”

In the tournament, India scored 35 goals and conceded four. The next stage is the important one where the Indian team plays a four-nation in Japan and possibly goes to Europe. Graham Reid has won his first tournament as coach. But even he won’t do cartwheels on this success. More than anything, Reid must be a stabilising influence on this Indian side that has seen too many come through the door promising to show them Eden. On the contrary, slow and steady progress should see the Indian team reach Tokyo 2020.


India takes giant step towards Olympic berth

A complete performance sees the host hammer South Africa 5-1 in the summit clash.

Uthra Ganesan

Indian hockey players pose with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after winning the Hockey World Series finals against South Africa, in Bhubaneswar on June 15, 2019. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

India reserved its best for the last, registering a comprehensive 5-1 victory against South Africa in the title clash of the Hockey Series Finals here on Saturday with a performance that was far removed from the fumbling start it had made.

The all-round show would not just be a relief for the team and coach Graham Reid, but also a major step forward in its quest for an Olympic spot. The host dominated every department against a side that had fought its way into the final.

Despite the scoreline not being as massive as in previous games, it was a far more polished display from India which took charge from the opening minute and never relented. For Reid, that would perhaps be the biggest takeaway from the outing.

India pressed hard all 60 minutes, not leaving any gaps in the defence. It opened up space in every area of the field – all this, without losing its structure or discipline.

The players advanced to receive the ball instead of waiting for it and kept possession without rushing for the goal. Despite taking the lead as early as the second minute, when Varun Kumar struck a perfectly placed shot in the bottom left corner through Rassie Pieterse’s legs off India’s first penalty corner, the team did not lose control.

Manpreet Singh, named Player-of-the-tournament, was impressive as always in the middle and the flanks, while Vivek Prasad was brilliant in holding up the all-important centre-half position every time he got the responsibility. It was a delight to watch the Indians crowd the opposition circle and penetrate at will. Even defenders Harmanpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra lurked on the edge of the circle.

The host converted three out of five Penalty Corners (PCs) — an area that has been a concern for the side — and it was all about India in front of over 12,000 fans who crowded the Kalinga Stadium. Although India was the favourite, South Africa was a tricky opponent. It got its first chance in the 53rd minute — two back-to-back PCs — and struck its only goal.

Japan pips USA

Earlier, Japan finished third with a 4-2 win against USA in a dramatic playoff that saw three goals being scored in the final 90 seconds. USA began the scoring but got the equaliser in the 59th minute to make it 2-2. With the game heading for a shootout, USA decided to remove its goalkeeper and Kenta Tanaka scored twice in the final minute.

The results:

Final: India 5 (Harmanpreet Singh 2, Varun Kumar 2, Vivek Prasad) bt South Africa 1 (Richard Pautz); 3-4 placings: Japan 4 (Kenta Tanaka 2, Kazuma Murata, Yoshiki Kirishita) bt USA 2 (Aki Kaeppeler 2).

Special awards: Player-of-the-tournament: Manpreet Singh (India); Best junior player: Vivek Prasad (India); Best goalkeeper: Jonathan Klages (USA); Top scorers: Harmanpreet Singh (India), Varun Kumar (India) and Semen Matkovskiy (Russia) - six each.

The Hindu

5-star India rip SA apart, win FIH Series Finals

Varun Kumar (left) reacts after scoring against South Africa during their finale at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday. PTI

India lived up to their billing and thrashed South Africa 5-1 in the summit clash to win the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament here today.

Coming into the tournament as overwhelming favourites, world no. 5 India played like champions and remained unbeaten throughout the tournament.
Dragflickers Varun Kumar (2nd and 49th minutes) and Harmanpreet Singh (11th and 25th) scored a brace each, while Vivek Sagar Prasad (35th) was the other goal scorer for India. South Africa’s lone goal was scored by Richard Pautz in the 53rd minute.

India and South Africa have already qualified for the final round of the Olympics qualifiers before today’s summit clash.     

Earlier, Asian Games champion Japan defeated USA 4-2 to finish third.

The top two finishers of this tournament make it to the final round of the Olympics qualifiers to be held later this year.   India secured their first penalty corner as early as in the second minute and Varun made no mistake in converting the opportunity into goal. In the 11th minute, India got another penalty corner and this time Harmanpreet slammed home to make the scoreline 2-0 in favour of the hosts. Five minutes from half time, India were awarded a penalty stroke and Harmanpreet made no mistake, 3-0. India dominated proceedings afterwards and scored two more.

The Tribune

Smooth sailing for India over South Africa

s2h Team

Unbeaten Manpreet Singh's crack outfit won the FIH Series Finals today at Kalinga Stadium in style, giving no elbow room for the challenger South Africa. Showing improvement match after match, India won fifth match on the trot today to annex the title. The manner in which it overcame the tenacious Japan in the semis yesterday (7-2) and the magnificent way it set aside the challenge of fighters in the African Champions today (5-1), infuse confidence on the new Indian outfit. Six years ago too India won a Olympic Qualifier on home soils (Delhi) unbeaten all along albeit being a six-nation.

After having achieved their purpose yesterday with semi-final success, India and South Africa had nothing special to achieve today in the final, except that any title win will always adds to a team's morale.

Indian team in fact needed a heavy dose of morale booster. After all, the top ranked Asian team in the FIH hierarchy India flopped at Asian Games where it was top billed to win the title, and with that, like in the previous occasion, directly qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. But it happen. Semifinal defeat at the hands of Malaysia spelt doom for India.

Right earnestly the Men's team is making amends.

Today's marvellous victory is a proof. Though qualified for the tricky 14-team Olympic Qualifier, India is still far off from avoiding Chile-like disaster.

Relaxed after winning the semis, which served all the purpose of the event, India played a cool but productive brand of hockey. The much needed precision in set plays, which was lacking in a bit in Bhubaneswar, was all present today for all the see. The mere fact that four of India's five goals came from penalty corner or stroke situation vouchsafe that India is a precise side.

Varun Kumar set the scoring act on track with a second-minute penalty corner conversion. Experienced Harmanpreet Singh picked up the gauntlet and went about his business in a professional fashion. He struck a brace, one in the 11th minute another in the 25th minute. These three goals coming before half time, took the match away from the visitors.

Ten minutes later, rising star Vivek Prasad Sagar scored the only field goal of the day.

South Africa's consolation goal came through the blade of Richard Paulatz when India already established a formidable 5-0 lead.

Manpreet Singh was adjudged the Best Player of the Tournament.

Naveen Patnaik, who won the State Assembly election for a record fifth term, presented the award to the captain. It carried Rs.1 lack purse.

India also got Fair Play award and its Sagar Prasad the Young Player award.


Final Defeat for South Africa but goals achieved

Photo - Hockey India

Heading to Bhubaneswar for the FIH Hockey Series Finals in India, South African hockey fans would have been hopeful but not overly optimistic of a top 2 finish. The men were at the start of a new coaching process and had very little time together heading to India. That they started the tournament with two disheartening defeats properly added to the lack of optimism. But on the edge of elimination South Africa fought back.

A superb win against Mexico was followed up by a hard-fought victory against Russia before a superb last gasp come from behind victory against USA to secure a spot in the final. That victory secured South Africa’s spot in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers and more importantly gave South Africa momentum ahead of the African Cup in Stellenbosch in August.

Of course, South Africa still had to play the final against hosts India and faced a massive crowd in support of the home nation. India on their day are simply breath-taking and today was one of those days as the hosts outshone the African champions from the start of the game. They won two penalty corners in the first quarter and scored from both. The first in the second minute from Varun Kumar before Harmanpreet Singh followed suite in the 13th minute.

Singh added another with a fortuitous penalty stroke awarded in the 25th minute and at half time India led 3-0 having had 18 circle entries to South Africa’s 3. That score quickly moved to 4-0 with Vivek Prasad netting from a field goal after some good aerial skills from Hardik Singh and Varun Khumar made it 5-0 early in the fourth to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Kalinga Stadium. South Africa managed to get one back from a penalty corner with Richard Pautz the scorer but in truth it was just a consolation goal.

For coach Garreth Ewing and his assistants Sihle Ntuli and Cheslyn Gie it will be a case of job done. The performances of some players will be particularly pleasing with Rassie Pieterse having his best series in goal, while Austin Smith, Jethro Eustice and Tyson Dlungwana were particularly pleasing in defence. Nicholas Spooner and Bili Ntuli both continued to build their reputations as well. The focus will turn quickly onto the African Cup as Ewing will know that a lot of the hard work is still ahead.

For South African hockey fans, the focus now switches from India to Spain, from Bhubaneswar to Valencia and from Men’s Hockey to Women’s hockey as the SuperGroup South Africa ladies attempt to continue their Road to Tokyo with a top two finish in a tough field. The action gets underway on the 19 June.

FIH Hockey Series Finals – Final

India 5 (Kumar 2’ & 49’, Singh 11’ & 25’ & Prasad 35’)
South Africa 1 (Pautz 53’)

SA Hockey Association media release

SA hockey men finish second in India

South Africa settled for second place at the FIH Men’s Series in Bhubaneswar, India as they suffered a 5-0 defeat against the host nation in the final.

India were quick out of the gate with their first goal in the back of the net in the second minute of the game. The hosts, backed by a ferocious crowd, added two more goals before halftime to all but seal the final.

South Africa struggled to get momentum going in the second half and India pounced to add their fourth goal in the 36th minute.

In the 50th minute India added their fifth goal before South Africa’s Richard Pautz grabbed their only game of the match in the 53rd minute.

The SA men’s team continue on their path to qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games with the African Championships up next.


Asian Games champions Japan secure third spot with 4-2 victory over USA

Japan celebrate after scoring against USA in the third-place playoff. AFP

Bhubaneswar: Asian Games champions Japan defeated USA 4-2 in a hard-fought match to finish third in the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

World No 18 Japan scored through Kazuma Murata (11th), Yoshiki Krishita (25th), Kenta Tanaka (60th and 60th) to emerge winners.

World No 25 USA gave a good account of themselves with Aki Kaeppler converting two penalty corners to give Japan a tough fight.

It was a hard-fought encounter as there was hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides in terms of ball possession.

While Japan enjoyed 69.50 percent of ball possession, the Americans were closely behind at 68.75 percent.

However, in terms of experience it turned out to be a great outing for the Americans as they outplayed higher-ranked teams to finish on top of their pool.

Japan, meanwhile, approached the tournament as a preparation for next year's Tokyo Olympics after having qualified for the quadrennial event as continental champions as well as hosts.

The FIH Series Finals offer two spots in the final round of Olympic qualifiers to be held later this year.

Hosts India and South Africa have already sealed the two spots by entering the final, which the Indian team won by a 5-1 margin.


USMNT Falls in Bronze Medal Match of FIH Series Finals

Image Courtesy of Hockey India

BHUBANESWAR, India – In the bronze medal game of the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaeswar, India, the No. 25 U.S. Men's National Team met familiar opponent No. 18 Japan. Having met in the final pool game, which ended in a tie, both sides knew this meeting was going to be a battled until the end - and that it was. Despite scoring the game's opening goal in the first few minutes, USA rallied from behind to tie the game in the 59th minute. But in a haunting similar fashion to their last-second loss to South Africa, Japan deflected in the go-ahead goal plus one more in the final moments to claim a 4-2 win.

Calm and composed hockey is what USA brought to the opening minutes of the first quarter. On defense, USA limited Japan’s circle entries by tightly marking and stepping to intercept. On offense, the red, white and blue worked to get it in their attacking end using speed and swift passes. It took until the 9th minute for the first positive penetration to come in the reward of a Japan penalty corner. The drag chance by Hirotaka Zendana was saved by USA goalkeeper Daan Wisselink (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Immediately following, USA took possession the other way and responded with a penalty corner of their own that Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) sailed into the net to give USA a 1-0 lead. That advantage lasted only 60 seconds as down the other way, Japan converted off a penalty corner on a textbook reverse deflection into the net by Kazuma Murata to tie the game. Both sides had runs in the final minutes, but the quarter finished at 1-1.

The second frame started with shared control before Japan opened the door five minutes in to a spell of chances. A shot by Murata was saved and cleared by Wisselink right to another Japan striker who crossed it back but Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) was there to clear it away. This was followed by a reverse shot from Kenta Tanaka that was also saved by Wisselink but the official called a penalty stroke as Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.) recovered to defend. Dragflicker Zendana stepped up to take the stroke but his attempt went wide. USA worked it down the other way forcing Japan goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa to make a diving save after Michael Barminski (Venura, Calif.) sent a backhand toward the goal and Singh rushed the pads. A minute later, Japan earned another penalty stroke after Barminski was called for deliberately using the back of his stick in the circle. Yoshiki Kirishita buried the stroke into the left corner to give Japan a 2-1 lead. Both sides shared penalty corner chances in the final minutes, Japan with two and USA with one, that went no avail. Japan held the 2-1 lead going into halftime.

Japan held the tempo early in the third quarter, forcing Wisselink to come off his line to make a save. That same play was followed by a Japan penalty corner that was almost converted after the drag was saved by Wisselink, the rebound fell right to a Japan striker and the follow-up sweep by Yamada was saved off the stick of a diving Wisselink. Japan earned another penalty corner shortly after and the initial shot was saved by Wisselink and it fell a yard away and a collective effort by Wisselink and Barminski on the line kept Japan out. In the 41st minute, Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) was presented with a backhand chance but he couldn’t make a solid connection. Japan saw a final chance at the end of the quarter, but A. Kaeppeler made the stop to keep the score in favor of Japan at 2-1.

An action packed fourth quarter saw both USA and Japan share an equal amount of possession. At the 50-minute mark, both teams earned unsuccessful penalty corners followed by multiple circle entries. With the game on the line and 1:34 left, Japan’s Masaki Ohashi was issued a 5-minute yellow card which opted USA to pull Wisselink for two extra field players. The strategy worked as 20 seconds later, USA earned another penalty corner that A. Kaeppeler buried into the left corner of the goal to tie up the game at 2-2. This tally was short lived as Japan immediately countered and with 36 seconds remaining found the go-ahead goal after Suguru Hoshi sent a ball in to K. Tanaka that was deflected in. Pulling Wisselink again, Japan capitalized on an open net seconds later after an aerial ball got through USA’s defense and K. Tanaka scored a solo field goal. The game clock sounded as Japan won 4-2.          

At the end of the game, USA goalkeeper Wisselink was named Man of the Match, after making 13 saves in the match.

Following the conclusion of the title game, individual tournament awards were given. USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) was named Odisha Mining Corporation Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament for his performance throughout the event.

Next, the U.S. Men’s National Team will travel to Spain for a test series from July 1 to 6 in preparation for the 2019 Pan American Games in July in Lima, Peru.

USFHA media release

Playing in extreme heat will prepare us well for Tokyo, says Graham Reid after final victory

Foreign teams have struggled under the extreme heat in Bhubaneswar, but India's head coach Graham Reid felt it will help the team in what could be similar conditions on the upcoming tour of Japan.

Samarnath Soory

Graham Reid is confident playing in the high-pressure matches situations during the FIH Hockey Series Finals will equip his team for the sterner challenges ahead.   -  PTI

India men’s hockey team has secured its place in the upcoming Olympic Qualifiers (to be held in October or November) by finishing as the winner of the FIH Hockey Series Finals by beating South Africa 5-1 in the final at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday.

Foreign teams have struggled under the extreme heat in Bhubaneswar, but India’s head coach Graham Reid felt it will help the team as he expects similar conditions in the upcoming tour of Japan (August 17-21) and at the summer Olympics.

“The two biggest takeaways for me from this tournament is our performances in the semifinal and final. It was pleasing to see the team come back in the previous game (against Japan) and today (in the final) we were good in parts. It has been a good practice for us under this heat, which is something we are expecting will be similar in Tokyo,” he said.

Reid also felt that the young players in the team have benefited from playing in front of huge crowds at the Kalinga Stadium while praising his penalty corner specialists as Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh finished joint top goalscorers of the tournament with six goals.

“I think it is one of our takeaways from the tournament. The opportunity (for younger players) to play in the semifinal and the final in front of such huge crowds is something which will prepare them for high-pressure situations. All our three (drag)flickers are also doing really well and they have made use of the scoring opportunities,” the Australian said.

India has managed to get maximum points from the tournament, which will crucial be for world number 5 as the top seven teams will host the Olympic Qualifiers matches.

“We are looking forward to the updated rankings as it will be important for the qualifiers. We will also assess our performances here and move forward with more improvements,” Indian captain Manpreet Singh.

Indian forward Ramandeep Singh, who has been a goal poacher for the majority of his career, has turned the provider for the forwardline following his return to the team after nine months. The veteran, who has represented India in 129 matches, is happy in his new role.

“I have always been good at connecting the play in and around the circle and it is good see that I can provide passes to Simran(jeet) and Akashdeep to score the goals. There will be more in the upcoming months as we will get used to each others’ movements and link up better,” he said.

For South Africa’s coach Garreth Ewing, his players were emotionally drained after the tough 2-1 semifinal victory against USA which secured it a place in the Olympics Qualifiers.

“After yesterday’s game we did not have much recovery time. I feel that we were physically and emotionally drained after getting qualified,” he said.

Ewing is focused on the African Championships in August as winning the continental championship will give South Africa an automatic spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I think it was a game for us to measure ourselves against a team like India. We let ourselves down in the opening minutes, but it is really important for us to understand the level we need to be, which we are not at right now. But we need to win the African Championship, which will get us an automatic qualification (for the Olympics) and then we will see what happens next,” he said.


Japan team gets a C+ from coach

s2h Team

As Japan gets preps up to play their last match in the FIH Men’s Series Final against USA for the third spot, coach Siegfried Aikman rates the team performance at C+. The grading comes despite Japan not losing a single match in the group stages (2 wins, 1 draw). After winning 6-2 over Poland in the crossovers, Japan faced India in semis and lost 2-7 despite a strong start.

“It is a C+ for me. Mental preparedness is also a part of our game. The moment we lose control, we get a lot of goals against us. Our hockey is decent or even a high level – we play fast and structured, we surprise and control and we also have skills. But, we can’t get higher points, if we are not mentally strong,” Aikman says.

Talking in detail about the match against India, Aikman said, “We were unlucky and lost momentum. Our players got card for nothing. When umpires fail, they give cards. Instead of accepting they can make mistakes, they give cards. But, I won’t blame them. Our players were not able to understand what was happening.”

Japan players had got two yellow cards and two green cards in the match against India. Though they had a great start in the match, scoring the first goal at the second minute and dominating the possession with well-structured game, they gave up to the pressure after India took a 4-2 lead from 2-2. The Japan team went off momentum, but maintained their structured passes, trying to break through the Indian defense but to no avail. And Coach Aikman, believes the team doesn’t deserve extra marks for the attempt as well.

Asked if he was being too harsh on the team he said, “We are not at the level where we can say we will do it tomorrow. We need to change and change doesn’t come gently. Change occurs when things get worse, not when everything is going right. In my coaching, I am very strict. My players understand it. So, they support me in being who I am.


Gursahibjit Singh - New addition to India's strike force

After a successful outing with the India U21 team in the 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup, 20-year-old Gursahibjit Singh made his debut against Japan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March this year.

Samarnath Soory

20-year-old Gursahibjit Singh scored against Japan in the 2019 FIH Series final last four fixture.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

 It is not quite often to see a player make it to India’s senior national team after playing just one tournament with the junior team and keep his place. Gursahibjit Singh is one among the exceptions of the country’s talent pool who has been able to thrive on the biggest stage.

After a successful outing in the 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup, where Indian U21 team finished runners-up, the 20-year old received his first call up to the senior men’s team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March, 2019 and made his debut against Japan.

Hailing from Gurdaspur district in Punjab, which has produced international players such as Sandeep Singh, Rani Rampal, Gurjeet Kaur to name a few, Gursahibjit’s learned his basics in hockey from his brother and uncle.

“My uncle Shamsher Singh is my inspiration. He did not play much at the highest level, but I started playing because of him,” the forward says.

At the age of eight, Gursahibjit’s father enlisted him at a residential hockey academy near Batala. After spending three years honing his skills, the academy coach Ranjit Singh suggested Gursahibjit to join Surjit Hockey Academy in Jalandhar, which has a rich history of producing Olympians ever since its inception in 1984.

Gursahibjit Singh’s qualities have been spotted very early by one of the academy’s revered coaches Avtar Singh. “His skills at the time were alright. But he had the physique and explosive pace, which are the basic things a player needs to play at the highest level,” Avtar Singh says. Avtar knew that the shy lad from Batala was capable of scaling great heights.

“Though he was very young, he was very focused and mature for a 14 year old,” he says. In order to match the standards of the modern game, which the Europeans have set since the introduction of the Astroturf in the 70s, Gursahibjit was trained to be fast, trap the ball cleanly and keep possession at all times.

“Akashdeep and Simranjeet are the players I always look up to. They have a unique style of playing. Germany’s Christopher Ruhr is another player who is always wonderful to watch,” Gursahibjit says.

Representing Hockey Punjab at the Junior National Championship in January, 2018,  the forward was confident that he would be selected national junior team. But he did not make the cut as players born after 1998 were not considered for the selection for the particular tournament.

“Not making it to the junior team broke his heart,” Avtar remembers. “He was very disappointed and disturbed by the result. His game began to slacken. I had to be hard on him, because he was very good. I assured him that this is not the end.”

Rightly so, Gursahibjit was selected for the junior national camp in May 2018 and where he impressed coach Jude Felix, who picked him for the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia.

India put on a strong displays, including a thrilling 5-4 win against Australia, as it reached the final. In the final, Gursahibjit opened the scoring for India in the 9th minute. But three more goals from Great Britain took the game away from the Indians as it finished runners-up.

In November, 2018, Gursahibjit received a call for senior team’s national camp in Bhubaneswar and there was no looking back. He made it to the squad for the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April as India decided to give young players a chance.

Gursahibjit Singh was part of the India U21 side which finished runner-up to Great Britain in the 2018 Sultan of Johor cup.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

For Gursahibjit, there were no jitters when he was standing for the pushback alongside Mandeep Singh in India’s first match against Japan. “I could feel the pressure. But what do you do, you have to learn to control yourself,” he says matter-of-factly.

Playing alongside his seniors and batchmate Hardik Singh from Surjit Hockey Academy, the senior national team’s dressing room was a welcoming place for the youngster. “All of them have made debuts before me, so they understand how things are at the international level. Even if my make mistakes, they explain it to me and advise me in a very friendly manner,” he says.

The tour of Australia in April followed, which was India’s first assignment under Graham Reid and everyone in the team was eager to impress the new coach. Gursahibjit looked up to his mentor for advice.

“Make sure that you ask the new coach what he expects from you and what is your role in the team. Don’t think twice. Come up with questions so that you can prove that you are willing to do anything for the team,” Avtar Singh remembers telling Gursahibjit.

The Australian tour was a mixed bag for India where it lost two of its Test matches to Australia despite remaining undefeated in the opening three unofficial matches, followed by the FIH Series Finals at home – a litmus test for the team and Gursahibjit.

Despite recording wins of 10-0, 3-1, 10-0, 7-2 and securing a spot in November’s Olympic Qualifiers, India was not at its free-flowing best. The forward line had often missed chances from close range and Gursahibjit too was guilty of missing out on few goals. The youngster is aware of his mistakes but is not bogged down by them as he look at the three goal he has scored in the tournament.

“I never allow negative thoughts. Our preparation has been very good, and I am hopeful of doing well at the qualifiers.” When asked if he is confident of keeping his place for the upcoming tours of Japan and Belgium, Gursahibjit remains philosophical.

“You can never be perfect. We have to control ourselves in life no matter what the situation. I will try to keep myself like that always,” he says. But his coach Avtar Singh is sure his pupil has long career ahead of him. “I have no doubts that he will keep on playing for the Indian team for the next 9-10 years.”


Hockey Olympic Qualifiers likely in October or November

The draw for the qualifiers will be held in September (date to be decided) after the updated world rankings are released on September 8

Samarnath Soory

India made the cut for the Olympic Qualifiers be reaching the summit clash at the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar.   -  Hockey India Twitter

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Saturday announced tentative dates for the 14-team FIH Olympic Qualifiers which is likely to be held in October (26-27) or November(2-3) this year.

The draw for the qualifiers will be held in September (date to be decided) after the updated world rankings are released on September 8. These rankings will be updated after the completion of the continental championships (African, Pan American, Oceania, European).

Fourteen teams (6 top teams from FIH Series Finals + 4 top teams from FIH Pro League + 4 top-ranked teams which have not played in either tournaments) will feature in the Olympic Qualifiers where each team plays one other team over two legs and will have to outscore its opponent on aggregate to earn a berth at the Olympics.

“As per the qualification process agreed with the International Olympic Committee, the 14 teams in the FIH Olympic qualifiers, for each gender, will be ranked 1 to 14 based on their FIH World Rankings on September 8th, after the completion of all Continental Championships,” the FIH said, in its official statement.

Currently, Malaysia, Canada, India, South Africa have sealed a spot in the men's qualifiers by finishing top two in the FIH Series Finals at Kuala Lumpur and Bhubaneswar respectively while eight teams will be in action in French capital of Paris, from June 15-23 for the remaining two spots.

The continental championships will take place in the next few months - Pan America Games - July 26-August 11, Africa Championship - August 12-18, Eurohockey Championship - August 16-25, Oceania Championship - September 1-8.

Both Japan’s men’s and women’s team have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by winning the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

The top 7 ranked teams will the host the FIH Olympic qualifier events. The qualifiers draw will see the top three teams hosting the bottom three teams and the teams ranked 4-7 will be pitted against the teams ranked 8-11.


FIH Women's Series Finals Banbridge 2019 - Day 9
Banbridge (IRL)

Results and fixtures (GMT +1)

15 Jun 2019    SGP v UKR (7 / 8)    0 - 3
15 Jun 2019    IRL v CZE (SF)        4 - 0
15 Jun 2019    KOR v MAS (SF)     3 - 0

16 Jun 2019 11:00     FRA v SCO (5 / 6)
16 Jun 2019 13:15     CZE v MAS (3 / 4
16 Jun 2019 15:30     IRL v KOR (Final)

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

FIH Match Centre

Irish Women to play Korea in Final tomorrow in Havelock Park

Irish Women defeat Czech Republic 4-0 to enter the final of the FIH Series Final in Havelock Park this afternoon. This result has earned them an Olympic qualifier place for October/November later this year.

A drenched pitch meant a slower pace in the opening quarter. The Czech’s started strongly, with 2 penalty corners in the first quarter: foiled once by pitch conditions, which helped Katie Mullan bring the ball back up the pitch, while the second was saved by McFerran, with Hannah Matthews on hand to take the re-bound back out of the Irish circle.

The first chance of the opening quarter came from O’Flanagan, after being set up nicely by Deirdre Duke, however the shot went wide. Duke was back again shortly with the last chance of the quarter, although Czech goalkeeper Cechakova prevented her from putting Ireland on the scoreboard.

The second quarter saw Ireland take the lead. A penalty corner, inserted by Hannah Matthews, provided the opportunity for Shirley McCay sweep it past Czech defence and Cechakova to put Ireland on the scoreboard. Zoe Wilson added to the lead shortly afterwards from another penalty corner. The shot looked wide but hit the post and bounced in to see Ireland 2-0 up. Ireland seemed to come into their own again in the second quarter with far more attacking, threatening the Czech Republic a lot more throughout.

Ireland remained dominant in quarter three, carrying the majority of possession. Upton, Tice, McCay, Barr all playing well throughout to bring ball up to threaten but the Czech defence was much stronger in this quarter. Despite no additions to the scoreboard, Ireland seemed comfortably in control. A short venture into the Irish circle was quickly countered by Chloe Brown who joined the squad this morning as Megan Frazer unfortunately had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.

Sarah Hawkshaw takes a shot but Cechakova saves it. Ireland were back attacking almost immediately with Shirley McCay retrieving the ball on the line and passing nicely to Sarah Hawkshaw to bring the lead to three goals. Anna O'Flanagan brought it home in the final minute with the fourth and final goal of the match.

Speaking on the match, Interim Head Coach Gareth Grundie said, “I’m very pleased with that performance, it was controlled and disciplined.

We played good, attacking hockey and their keeper had a few good saves.

We’re looking forward to recovering and preparing to go again tomorrow.”

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, L Tice, G Pinder, B Barr, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke, A Meeke
Subs: R Upton, C Brown, S McCay, C Watkins, N Daly, S Hawkshaw, E Buckley

Czech Republic: B Cechakova, K Lacina, J Reichlova, A Koziskova, T Mejzlikova, V Novakova, A Lehovcova, A Kolarova, V Decsyova, A Vorlova, N Novakova
Subs: T Holubcova, N Hajkova, K Jelinkova, R Capouchova, N Babicka, M Hlavata, B Brizova

Korea beat Malaysia 3-0 in the second semi-final of the day claiming their spot in the final tomorrow against the Green Army. The final will take place at 15:30 in Havelock Park, Banbridge.

Gareth Grundie had this to say regarding the Korean squad for tomorrow’s final, “We’ve done a fair bit of work on them ahead of the tournament. We’re looking forward to a good competitive game Now that top two is assured we can relax and play our style of hockey”.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Green Army march through to Series final and a big step forward on Road to Tokyo

Shirley McCay celebrates her goal. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Ireland’s women took a big leap forward on their Road to Tokyo as they dismissed the Czech Republic 4-0 at a drenched Banbridge, assuring they will be part of next October’s Olympic qualifiers.

It also sets up a final date with Korea where a win can give their hopes of a home qualifier date a big boost.

Shirley McCay’s 19th minute penalty corner “skipper” shot set them on their way after a tricky enough opening quarter before Zoe Wilson put daylight between the sides. Late goals from Sarah Hawkshaw and Anna O’Flanagan completed the win and the final berth.

Early on, a drenched pitch saw Ireland struggle at times in the face of a rudimentary Czech approach, slowing the game where possible before launching long balls – both high and along the ground – to their forward lines.

Via that route, they enjoyed a modicum of success, winning a couple of corners, more than they mustered in the previous 8-1 meeting last Sunday.

But Ireland started to work through their connections with good chances falling to Anna O’Flanagan and Deirdre Duke before the end of the first quarter.

In such conditions, though, corners were always likely to be the clearest way of forging ahead and the Green Army converted both of their first two between the 19th and 22nd minute.

McCay – a la the win over the USA in the World Cup – delivered the first with a disguised angle from left to right. It was intended for Katie Mullan but the striker – maybe wary after she took a ball to the jaw in training a day earlier that left her with six stitches and large swelling – missed the touch and the ball whipped into the backboard.

Heavy traffic in midfield. Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“I just put it on target and if they miss, I’ll take it,” McCay grinned afterwards. “They crowded the circle and we knew it was going to be a battle so the set-pieces were going to be massive for us. We’ve worked really hard on them and we’ve plenty in our locker on our day. We executed them well today.

“Those are the moments for us we need to execute and we don’t have a specialist corner or a go-to or anything, but we have three or four really top-class players at the top of the circle there. Injectors, trappers, everything. We know we can rely on our set-pieces.”

Three minutes later, Wilson’s heavily deflected corner – via a switch left – doubled up and the Czechs never really showed the same resolve after that.

Ireland did let a few golden chances slip from play while Ireland did run up eight corners but could not add to their tally on that front.

It meant the game was not fully put to bed until 10 minutes from the end. McCay played a key part again when she retrieved the ball wide on the right endline, taking her time before picking out Hawkshaw to tap-in her third goal of the tournament.

O’Flanagan completed the victory in the last 30 seconds as four Irish attackers tore in on goal and she clipped home via Barbora Cechakova’s pads.

For McCay, she had been considering retirement in the wake of the World Cup but is delighted she put that decision on the backburner.

“These are moments you relish and play for. If I wasn’t involved here, I would be sitting at home watching and kicking myself, regretting it. I took time out, really enjoyed it and now I am.”

And she is now keen to finish the tournament on a high with a win boosting their world ranking points and potentially aiding a home draw for the Olympic qualifiers.

“Phase one is complete; phase two is to get those ranking points. We know how valuable they will be and there is a significant difference between first and second place finishes.

“We are aware of how tight it is in and around the ranking points between each spot. We just want to give ourselves the best opportunity. Tomorrow will also be a really competitive game which will help us to see where we are at. A final is a final, you will always want to win it.

“Getting through today was always going to have that bit of pressure and nerves but we did the job.”

Women’s FIH Series Finals
Semi-final: Ireland 4 (S McCay, Z Wilson, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan) Czech Republic 0

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, L Tice, G Pinder, B Barr, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke, A Meeke
Subs: R Upton, C Brown, S McCay, C Watkins, N Daly, S Hawkshaw, E Buckley

Czech Republic: B Cechakova, K Lacina, J Reichlova, A Koziskova, T Mejzlikova, V Novakova, A Lehovcova, A Kolarova, V Decsyova, A Vorlova, N Novakova
Subs: T Holubcova, N Hajkova, K Jelinkova, R Capouchova, N Babicka, M Hlavata, B Brizova

Women’s FIH Series Finals (all at Banbridge)
Semi-final: Ireland 4 (S McCay, Z Wilson, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan) Czech Republic 0; Korea 3 Malaysia 0
7th/8th place playoff: Ukraine 3 Singapore 0

Sunday schedule
Final: Ireland v Korea, 3.30pm
3rd/4th place playoff: Malaysia v Czech Republic, 1.15pm
5th/6th place playoff: Scotland v France, 11am

The Hook

Ireland win semi-final to secure Olympic qualifiers spot

Ireland's Deidre Duke sees her powerful strike saved by Barbora Cechakova

Ireland have earned a place in the Olympic qualifiers thanks to a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the FIH Series semi-final in Banbridge.

Shirley McCay and Zoe Wilson netted from penalty corner moves in the second quarter to set the hosts on their way to a comfortable win.

Sarah Hawshaw's close-range finish and an Anna O'Flanagan strike in the final minute sealed a place in the decider.

Ireland will take on Korea in Sunday's final.

Ireland hammered the Czechs 8-1 in the group stage but found them tougher opponents on Saturday as the rain fell at Havelock Park.

O'Flanagan scored four goals in that game but she blazed wide with the first good chance before keeper Barbora Cechakova made a good block from Deidre Duke's shot.

The breakthrough came four minutes into the second quarter when McCay rifled into the bottom corner of the net.

Wilson doubled the lead three minutes later with another impressive penalty corner as her strike flew in off a Czech stick.

It was proving to be a frustrating game for O'Flanagan - the forward was twice denied by Cechakova in the third quarter before she deflected wide from a penalty corner.

Any Irish nerves were settled when Hawshaw finished from a drilled McCay cross and O'Flanagan finally got her reward in the final seconds by firing home from an Ali Meeke pass.

Both finalists secure an Olympics Games qualifier slot so the Irish can look forward to making their bid for Tokyo 2020 in October.

BBC Sport

Sayonara, Tokyo: Women's hockey team fail to qualify for 2020 Olympics

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women's hockey team's hopes of qualifying for 2020 the Tokyo Olympics is up in smoke after they lost 3-0 to South Korea in the FIH Series Finals semi-finals at Banbridge, Ireland on Saturday (June 15).

The Koreans scored their goals through Cho Hyejin (12th minute), Kim Hyunji (17th) and Cheon Eunbi (48th).

Only the finalists will qualify to play in the next playoff round to book their tickets for the Olympics.

The Koreans, ranked 11 in the world, will face world No. 8 Ireland in the final Sunday (June 16) at the Banbridge Hockey Club.

Hosts Ireland outplayed Czech Republic 4-0 in the other semi-finals match on Saturday.

Malaysia, ranked 22 in the world, will take on world No. 19 Czech Republic for the third place.

The Star of Malaysia

Brown steps in for whirlwind return to Green Amry

Chloe Brown in action against the Czech Republic. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Chloe Brown described her call-up to replace Megan Frazer in the Irish women’s squad for the FIH Series Finals semi-final against the Czech Republic as something of a whirlwind.

The 25-year-old was at work at Ardingley College in England, preparing for a school sports day when the call came through, leading to a mad dash to get to Banbridge in time.

“I got the call there had been an injury and may need to start preparing to come over,” she said. It’s been a whirlwind since then, getting to the airport at about 10.30pm, getting home, meeting the girls first thing this morning.”

It was her 57th cap but first time playing in a ranking match since the 2015 European B division in Prague. It follows a fine maiden season with East Grinstead, highlighted by their English indoor championship success.

“I loved every moment. I am orange through and through and will be Ards until the day I pass away. But I have learned a huge amount with East Grinstead, not just in attacking positions but also working off the ball, working with the GB girls like Laura Unsworth and Sophie Bray.

“I’ve also been playing a different indoor game. We won the indoor the last seven years [with Ards]. With EG, it’s different game and a different set-up, getting through to the Super Sixes and having a ‘dramatic’ 10-0 final win! So we’re now off to Holland next February for the A division, the hockey capital of the world!”

As for linking up with the panel, it is mixed emotions but she felt she grew into the game against the Czechs.

“All the girls did such a super job in the group stages; I just had to be ready in case they needed me. If I wasn’t called up, I am still their number one supporter. It was unfortunate there was an injury but I am happy that I am here now.

“It was strange at the start; I haven’t had much time to process it all. Once that first goal went in, it felt great. Everything started to come back together and it is great being back in the squad.”

And she paid tribute to interim Irish coach Gareth Grundie for having faith in her, the pair linking up again having worked with each other at Ards for a long time.

“It’s been great having Gareth alongside. He is a coach I really value and is part of the reason why I’ve developed so much in the last five years.”

The Hook

FIH Men's Series Finals Le Touquet-Paris Plage 2019 - Day 2
Le Touquet (FRA)

Results and Fixtures (GMT +2)

15 Jun 2019     IRL v SCO (Pool A)         4 - 2
15 Jun 2019    EGY v SGP (Pool A)     3 - 0
15 Jun 2019    KOR v CHI (Pool B)         3 - 1
15 Jun 2019     FRA v UKR (Pool B)     9 - 1

16 Jun 2019 11:15     SCO v SGP (Pool A)
16 Jun 2019 13:30     EGY v IRL (Pool A)
16 Jun 2019 15:45     UKR v CHI (Pool B)
16 Jun 2019 18:00     KOR v FRA (Pool B)

Matches are being streamed live on the FIH website: //fih.live/view/event/48364

Pool standings

Pool A

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Egypt 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
2 Ireland 1 1 0 0 4 2 2 3
3 Scotland 1 0 0 1 2 4 -2 0
4 Singapore 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0

Pool B

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 France 1 1 0 0 9 1 8 3
2 Korea 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 3
3 Chile 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0
4 Ukraine 1 0 0 1 1 9 -8 0

FIH Match Centre

Strong start for Ireland’s Men with 4-2 win over Scotland

Ireland’s men got their FIH World Series Final tournament in Le-Touquet-Paris-Plage off to a strong start with a solid performance against Scotland this morning.

Eugene Magee opened the scoring in the 2nd minute with a neatly taken reverse shot with Ireland dominating possession in the opening stages of the game. Scotland managed to equalise through Duncan Riddell in the 7th minute after their first penalty corner broke down and the ball was scrambled into David Harte’s goal.

Ireland continued to dominate possession during the first quarter and the pressure paid off when with just 2 minutes to go, Shane O’Donoghue scored from a penalty corner making it 2-1 to Ireland at the break.

Despite some good pressure from Ireland during the 2nd quarter, they were unable to extend their lead before half time despite winning 2 penalty corners in quick succession before the hooter.

Ireland began the 3rd quarter brightly and Magee extended the lead, shooting low into the bottom corner in the 35th minute. Just a minute later Scotland won a corner which was converted by Kenny Bain to make it 3-2. Michael Robson’s well taken upright reverse shot in the 40th minute restored Ireland’s 2 goal advantage before the end of the 3rd quarter.

Neither side managed to add to the goal tally in the 4th quarter and it finished 4-2 to Ireland.

Speaking on the result, Head Coach Alexander Cox said, “I am happy with the result and the way we played today. A first game at a tournament is always a difficult one and we handled that well.

We have clear objectives on and off the ball which we wanted to see today. I saw some great counter-attack chances. Out 1-0 was one of them.

I’m also happy with the individual performances, which makes a team. There are still points to improve, especially in our defensive structure, but overall a very good start against a well organised and good Scottish side.

The next battle is now our focus, Egypt tomorrow.”

Ireland take on Egypt in their 2nd match of the tournament tomorrow (16th June) at 12:30 Irish time as they continue their journey on the Road to Tokyo.

Ireland 4 (E Magee 2, S O’Donoghue, M Robson)
Scotland 2 (D Riddell, K Bain)

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B walker, D Walsh, C Harte, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, L Madeley, N Glassey, M Robson, P Gleghorne

Scotland: T Alexander, M Bremner, A Bull, R Anderson, R Harwood, K Bain, C Falconer, A McQuade, N Parkes, D Riddell, C MacKenzie
Subs: C Duke, C Golden, G Byers, R Shepherdson, E Greaves, M Collins, D Forrester

Matches are being streamed live on the FIH website: //fih.live/view/event/48364

Irish Hockey Association media release

Magee magic fires Green Machine to opening victory

Eugene Magee in action against France. Picture: Fédération Française de Hockey

Eugene Magee’s double set Ireland on course for a winning start to their FIH Series Finals campaign in Le Touquet, seeing off Scotland 4-2.

For Magee, he took on plenty of responsibility in the rejigged forward line with Matthew Nelson not yet in situ due to his brother Daniel’s wedding.

And the Bann man enjoyed being the fulcrum of the attack with two first-time strikes.

“The forwards have been working a lot on our finishing and it is becoming a natural fit for us now,” he said afterwards. “We have some quality names up front who are on form – Benny Walker is doing fantastic up there. It’s great to be playing with him, Sean Murray and Michael Robson; loving it.

“We are all people who can play both lines which means wherever you rotate, you will find a place you are comfortable in. The fact we have more people up there doing that means more flexibility.”

He started the scoring inside just two minutes following an excellent counter-attack move with Ben Walker laying on the final pass with the Banbridge man clipping home first time on the reverse.

Duncan Riddell equalised from close range but a Shane O’Donoghue drag-flick restored the advantage at the quarter-time break – his 98th international goal.

Magee extended the advantage early in the second half with another early shot after a sharply taken free-in fell his way.

Again the Scots replied quickly with Kenny Bain getting a fortuitous corner shot in after a messy routine. But Michael Robson got the crucial fourth goal with 20 minutes to go with a well-taken upright reverse-stick shot.

“It was a positive start to the tournament,” Magee added. “A lot we can still learn from it naturally but the first game is always the toughest physicallly in trying to get up to speed. We’ll look for those small improvements for Egypt (Sunday, 12.30pm Irish time).

“Always a hard battle. They play with a lot of physicality, pace and tempo. They are somewhat unknown this year so we will prepare as best we can.

Men’s FIH Series Finals
Pool A: Ireland 4 (E Magee 2, S O’Donoghue, M Robson)
Scotland 2 (D Riddell, K Bain)

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B walker, D Walsh, C Harte, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, L Madeley, N Glassey, M Robson, P Gleghorne

Scotland: T Alexander, M Bremner, A Bull, R Anderson, R Harwood, K Bain, C Falconer, A McQuade, N Parkes, D Riddell, C MacKenzie
Subs: C Duke, C Golden, G Byers, R Shepherdson, E Greaves, M Collins, D Forrester

The Hook

Close contest but Scotland men lose to Ireland in Le Touquet

Scotland men were defeated 4-2 by Ireland in the opening match of the FIH Series Finals in Le Touquet. It was a close encounter, and Scotland scored through Duncan Riddell and Kenny Bain, but it was Ireland who got off to a winning start. The match also saw Scotland’s Michael Bremner win his 100th cap for his country.

It was a quick start to the game for Ireland and it was rewarded by an early goal in Le Touquet. Eugene Magee was found in the centre of Scotland’s D and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net for Ireland 1-0 Scotland.

Scotland sparked into life very swiftly after the goal and pegged Ireland back.

Their equaliser would come soon enough and Duncan Riddell scored a low shot from close range at a penalty corner to make it 1-1.

Ireland got their noses back in front as the end of the first quarter approached, the goal came from a penalty corner strike by Shane O’Donoghue that found its way into the back of the net for 2-1.

In the second quarter it was a very close affair with neither side creating a clean chance for a goal. A Scots mistake gave Ireland a shot at goal but Tommy Alexander was easily a match to it.

Then just before half time an Ireland penalty corner was well saved by Alexander, diving to his left to palm clear.

Ireland extend their lead early in the second half with a powerful strike across the goalkeeper by Magee to make it Ireland 3-1 Scotland.

Scotland struck back immediately through a penalty corner goal by Kenny Bain. Ireland 3-2 Scotland. From the top of the D Bain’s shot seemed to clip an Irish stick on its way and zipped high into the net.

Ireland’s response came four minutes later when the ball fell kindly for Michael Robson in the Scots D, and he blasted it low to make it Ireland 4-2 Scotland.

The fourth quarter followed a similar pattern to the second with a close competitive contest in action. A good save by Scotland’s David Forrester at his top left corner from penalty corner strike was the main chance of note.

Callum Duke popped up in Ireland’s D towards the end but couldn’t get a shot away, and it was Ireland who triumphed on the opening day.

Next Scotland play Singapore tomorrow at 10:15am to try and get their first points on the board.

Scotland goal scorer Duncan Riddell said, “We played some really nice hockey today. If we can be a little bit more mature in both D’s we’ll get good outcomes out of our play, and I think that will put us on a good footing for the rest of the tournament.

“We’ll rest up well tonight and look at the video of today, we’ll probably watch the other game in our group and then look at the analysis and see what areas we can break them down.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Ireland begin tournament with 4-2 win over Scotland

Shane O'Donoghue put Ireland back in front from a penalty corner

Ireland's men began their FIH Series Finals campaign with a solid 4-2 win over Scotland in Le Touquet.

Eugene Magee fired in an early opener for Ireland before Duncan Riddell equalised in an entertaining opening quarter.

Shane O'Donoghue and Magee then struck either side of half-time as Alexander Cox's side seized control.

After Kenny Bain brought Scotland back to within a goal, Michael Robson hammered home to secure Ireland's win.

Following a disappointing World Cup campaign in India last year, Ireland have turned their attentions to securing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.

The tournament's top seeds need a top-two finish in France in order to advance to a two-legged play-off later this year.

After Magee and Riddell exchanged first quarter goals, Cox's side deservedly regained the lead when O'Donoghue struck from a penalty corner.

Magee's second early in the second half gave Ireland the two-goal cushion that their play had deserved but once again Scotland responded quickly through Bain.

The game appeared to be heading towards a tense final quarter but Robson's neat finish settled Irish nerves as they saw out the victory with relative comfort.

Ireland face Egypt on Sunday before their final Poll A game against Singapore on Tuesday.

BBC Sport

FIH Women's Series Finals Hiroshima 2019 - Day 2
Hiroshima (JPN)

Results and fixtures (GMT +9)

15 Jun 2019     CHI v MEX (Pool B)         7 - 0
15 Jun 2019     JPN v RUS (Pool B)     2 - 1
15 Jun 2019     POL v FIJ (Pool A)         6 - 0
15 Jun 2019     IND v URU (Pool A)         4 - 1

16 Jun 2019     RUS v MEX (Pool B)     6 - 0
16 Jun 2019     CHI v JPN (Pool B)         3 - 1
16 Jun 2019     URU v FIJ (Pool A)         4 - 0
16 Jun 2019     POL v IND (Pool A)         0 - 5

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Pool standings

Pool A

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 India 2 2 0 0 9 1 8 6
2 Poland 2 1 0 1 6 5 1 3
3 Uruguay 2 1 0 1 5 4 1 3
4 Fiji 2 0 0 2 0 10 -10 0

Pool B

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Chile 2 2 0 0 10 1 9 6
2 Russia 2 1 0 1 7 2 5 3
3 Japan 2 1 0 1 3 4 -1 3
4 Mexico 2 0 0 2 0 13 -13 0

FIH Match Centre

Solid opening for India at Hiroshima FIH Series

s2h Team

Hiroshima: Indian girls have begun their campaign at the FIH Women's Series Finals Hiroshima in style. They beat Uruguay 4-1 to send notice to their rival of their form.

The Indian team opened their account with none other than captain Rani who struck in the 10th minute. as the match progressed with Uruguay showing determination and domination in the first quarter. However, they were rusty in utilizing their chances, even both penalty corners went abegging.

India slowly gained domination in the second quarter. India kept making their moves in the Uruguayan half. In the 21st minute, India got their first penalty corner of which reliable Gurjant Kaur doubled India’s lead.

Third quarter had a scrappy start as both sides kept losing the ball initially. But soon, India got its first PC of the quarter. Uruguayan goalkeeper Constance Schmidt-Liermann was upto the challenge keeping out India’s shot. In the minute, Uruguay got two penalty corners but in vain.

India’s constant pressure reaped dividends in the 40th minute. A nice pass from Vandana Katariya was ably converted by Jyoti to make it 3-0 for India, a scoreline that remained intact at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The fourth quarter didn’t look to have any different script. In the 50th minute, Neha Goyal had a chance to make it 4-0 for India when she fumbled with an easy chance. Against the run of the play, a minute later, Uruguay finally found the back of the net with some individual brilliance from Maria Teresa Viana Ache. She ran through the Indian defence to score her team’s first in the 51st minute.

India wasn’t ready to sit on the lead as five minutes later India took a 4-1 lead. Captain Rani made a smart pass in the D to Lalremsiami who was unmarked as she nudged the ball into Uruguayan goal. Eventually, the match ended in India’s favour 4-1.


Indian women down Uruguay

The team was impressive in its victory

Great start: The Indian players had a fine day in the field. 

The Indian women’s hockey team began its campaign in the FIH Series Finals Hiroshima 2019 with an impressive 4-1 win over Uruguay here on Saturday.

Ranked No. 9 in the world, India opened through captain Rani’s skilful strike in the 10th minute. At the end of first quarter, India led 1-0 despite Uruguay dominating the possession and creating more opportunities.

The South American side had four circle penetrations and two penalty corners, all of them kept at bay by an alert Indian defence. From the two circle penetrations India made, Rani converted one to give her side the lead.

India dominated possession in the second quarter. While Uruguay was kept quiet, India made its moves in the opposition half.

In the 21st minute, India got its first penalty corner and Gurjant Kaur did not make any mistake in converting it (2-0).

In the third quarter, both teams kept losing the ball. India got a penalty corner but Uruguay custodian Constance Schmidt-Liermann was upto the task and kept the shot out.

Wasted penalty corners

In the same minute, Uruguay got two penalty corners but both were wasted as the Indian defence kept it tight.

India’s constant pressure reaped dividends in the 40th minute as a nice pass from Vandana Katariya was ably converted by Jyoti. The 3-0 lead remained intact at the end of the third quarter.

In the 51st minute, Uruguay found the back of the Indian net with some individual brilliance from Maria Teresa Viana Ache.

India made it 4-1 in the 56th as captain Rani gave a smart pass in the opposition ‘D’ to an unmarked Lalremsiami, who nudged the ball into the Uruguay goal.

The result:

India 4 (Rani 10, Gurjant Kaur 21, Jyoti 40, Lalremsiami 56) bt Uruguay 1 (Maria Teresa Viana Ache 51).

The Hindu

2019 FIH Pro League (Men) - 16 June

14 Jun 2019     ESP v NZL (RR)      3 - 2    Club De Campos Villa, Madrid
14 Jun 2019     GBR v NED (RR)    2 - 2 (Shootout 3 - 4    Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London

16 Jun 2019 13:00     ESP v ARG (RR)     Club De Campos Villa, Madrid
16 Jun 2019 14:30     GER v AUS (RR)     Crefelder Hockey Club, Krefeld
16 Jun 2019 14:30     BEL v NZL (RR)     Wilrijkse Plein Antwerp, Antwerp

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Unofficial Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins Win Draws Loss Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points Percent
1 Australia 11 7 0 2 2 32 24 8 23 69.7
2 Belgium 11 6 1 2 2 44 26 18 22 66.7
3 Netherlands 12 5 3 1 3 34 26 8 22 61.1
4 Germany* 13 4 3 1 4 29 36 -7 20 51.3
5 Great Britain 13 5 1 2 5 33 31 2 19 48.7
6 Argentina* 11 5 0 1 4 25 28 -3 17 51.5
7 Spain 13 2 5 0 6 31 42 -11 16 41.0
8 New Zealand 12 0 0 4 8 26 41 -15 4 11.1

 * A cancelled match contributes 1 point to each team's results that is not shown in the tables as a cancelled match
The FIH inexplicably and confusingly use a system not used in any other sports League in the World, of making the Percentage more important than Points until the end of the League when they will revert to Points only. Fieldhockey.com prefers to use the conventional Points and so the Unofficial Pool Standings on this site are reflected in this manner.

FIH Match Centre

2019 FIH Pro League (Women) - 16 June

15 Jun 2019     CHN v USA (RR)     4 - 0    Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou    
15 Jun 2019     GBR v NED (RR)     0 - 1     Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London

16 Jun 2019 12:00     GER v AUS (RR)     Crefelder Hockey Club, Krefeld
16 Jun 2019 16:30     BEL v NZL (RR)     Wilrijkse Plein Antwerp, Antwerp

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Unofficial Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins Win Draws Loss Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points Percent
1 Netherlands 14 13 0 0 1 36 8 28 39 92.9
2 Argentina 14 9 4 0 1 28 12 16 35 83.3
3 Australia 13 8 1 1 3 31 18 13 27 69.2
4 Germany 14 8 0 2 4 30 19 11 26 61.9
5 Belgium 13 5 1 1 6 19 22 -3 18 46.2
7 China 17 5 0 2 10 31 40 -9 17 29.2
6 New Zealand 14 5 0 0 9 25 29 -4 15 35.7
8 Great Britain 15 2 2 1 10 19 36 -17 11 24.4
9 United States 16 1 1 2 12 13 48 -35 7 15.6

The FIH inexplicably and confusingly use a system not used in any other sports League in the World, of making the Percentage more important than Points until the end of the League when they will revert to Points only. Fieldhockey.com prefers to use the conventional Points and so the Unofficial Pool Standings on this site are reflected in this manner.

FIH Match Centre

China women end FIH Pro League campaign with comprehensive victory over USA in Changzhou

The large and noisy crowd packed into Changzhou’s Wujin Hockey Stadium to witness China women’s final match of the inaugural FIH Pro League season were not to be disappointed, with the hosts recording a thoroughly deserved 4-0 victory over USA on Saturday (15 June).

Goals from Peng Yang, Gu Bingfeng, Zhang Xiaoxue and Guo Qiu ensured that China ended their campaign in style, with the result moving the home favourites up to seventh in the standings, ahead of Great Britain who face the Netherlands in London later today. USA are now certain to finish bottom of the table, but will look to end their own campaign on a high when the face Germany on home soil on 22 June.

Despite both hosts China (FIH World Ranking: 10) and USA (WR:12) coming into this contest knowing that their hopes of a top four finish in the FIH Pro League had long since vanished, the match certainly had the feel that there was more at stake than simply national pride. Following their 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Pennsylvania, Janneke Schopman’s USA team arrived in Changzhou knowing that they had the chance of doing the double over China, while the hosts were looking to avenge that loss and and also finish their FIH Pro League campaign on a positive note.

China were dominant but wasteful in the first two quarters, missing numerous clear goal-scoring chances from both open play and penalty corner situations. As she has been throughout USA’s Pro League campaign, goalkeeper Kelsey Bing was in excellent form and made a number of crucial saves while Guo Qiu fired wide of the target with the goal at her mercy.

The crowd erupted when China finally made the breakthrough one minute before half time, with Peng Yang finishing off a frantic period of China pressure with a close-range tap-in. The USA decided to challenge the goal, but their referral to the video umpire was unsuccessful.

The home side were outstanding in the third quarter and, following three top class saves from Bing, took the score to 3-0 thanks to Gu Bingfeng’s low penalty corner drag-flick and an emphatic finish from Zhang Xiaoxue, rattling her strike from the right of the circle into the goal via the left post.

The USA played arguably their best hockey of the game toward the end of the third quarter and had the ball in the back of the China net thanks to Erin Matson, but the goal was correctly ruled out due to the ball hitting Matson’s foot just before she fired home.

China put the result beyond all doubt just one minute into the fourth quarter when Guo Qiu made it 4-0 with a cool, flicked finish after some outstanding work from Zhang Xiaoxue, who covered 50 metres in possession before splitting the USA defence with a perfect pass to the goalscorer. It was the final goal of the game, with USA joining Germany, Great Britain and New Zealand as teams to have been defeated by China in this year’s FIH Pro League.

“I want to thank all of the spectators who came to cheer team China today”, said Player of the Match Zhang Xiaoxue. “We have been through a lot in the FIH Pro League, but we have learned a lot and improved a lot. It has given us a really good opportunity to be a better team.”

The FIH Pro League continues later today when women’s Olympic champions Great Britain face world champions the Netherlands at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London.

FIH Pro League - 15 June 2019

Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou (CHN)

Result: Women’s Match 63

China 4, USA 0

Player of the Match: Zhang Xiaoxue (CHN)
Umpires: Ivona Makar (CRO), Aleisha Neumann (AUS) and Rawi Anbananthan (MAS - video)


Official FIH Pro League Site

USWNT Drops Final Road FIH Pro League Game to China

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Changzhou, China – June 15, 2019 – In their final road game of the FIH Pro League, No. 12 U.S. Women’s National Team took on No. 10 China at the Wujin Hockey Stadium in Changzhou, China. In a rematch from a contest less than a month ago, USA struggled to produce as the hosts converted on four chances in route to the 4-0 victory.

"I think we fought really hard but lacked a little finesse in our basic skills today," said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach, following the game. "Our biggest take away will be that despite the circumstances (loud crowd for example) we can still play our own game and do our own jobs first, not trying to do too much."

USA started with possession, but it didn’t take long for China to take control into their attacking end. After a few failed entries, the hosts earned their first penalty corner in the 5th minute. Unsuccessful on the chance, China went on to earn another two penalty corners and produced three shots in the quarter. USA’s lone circle penetration came in the 10th minute when Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.) successfully defended a China penalty corner and passed it ahead to counter. Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) used her skill to get it in the circle, drive the right baseline and dump it back but no teammate was there. The first frame finished scoreless.

The second quarter started with back and forth play before Matson tried to send a backhand cross into the circle that went to no avail. China continued to threaten and tested USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) on consecutive chances. The first came when Mengling Zhong got a shot off, and although Bing made the initial save her touch hit a USA foot earning China their fourth penalty corner. The second came off the drag attempt by Bingfeng Gu and Bing was there to make the glove save. USA sustained multiple run by China and it seemed that the teams were going to go into halftime still scoreless but in the 29th minute the hosts worked it into the circle with quick passing and Yang Peng was on the left post to finish and make it USA 0, China 1.

The start of the third quarter was all China as they immediately took possession into their attacking end. Bing produced two critical back to back saves after two goal mouth scrambles. This was followed by captain Peng using great stick skill to eliminate and get between two USA defenders, but the run went unfinished. A deep USA turnover seemed costly as Hong Li used her speed to get into the circle and send a backhand shot over the goal. This was followed up by China’s fifth penalty corner of the game that Gu converted with a drag into the bottom left to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. USA continued to try and break through China’s defense but were unsuccessful. In the 40th minute, China extended their lead on a field goal after Xiaoxue Zhang fired a rocket of a shot into the far side board to make it 3-0. At that time, USA goalkeeper Jessica Jecko (Sauquoit, N.Y.) entered the game and that substitution seemed to provide a spark as the red, white and blue produced their first two shots of the game. The first came when Matson got into the circle and fired a backhand that earned USA a penalty corner. The second was on that attempt when Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) sent a straight shot on target and although Matson scored on the rebound it hit her foot before she put it in the goal.

China wasted no time after the whistle blew to start the final quarter with another goal. With a ton of space on the right side, X. Zhang sent it to Qiu Guo who collected the ball and lifted it into the net past Jecko to add her name to the score sheet. With nothing to lose, USA started to apply a higher press in hopes to turnover China’s defense. In the 53rd minute, it seemed that USA earned another penalty corner after a foul outside the circle was upgraded but China used their referral seeing a clean tackle and they were correct with the decision. USA had one final look on goal through Matson but the score stood 4-0 to China.

Today’s contest was the first international match for USWNT defender Kelly Marks (Elverson, Pa.).

Following the match, China’s X. Zhang was named Player of the Match.

The U.S. Women’s National Team returns to the United States for their final FIH Pro League game on Saturday, June 22 against No. 5 Germany at 7:00 p.m.ET. Tickets for this game are available and can be purchased by clicking here.

USFHA media release

Jonker late show gives Netherlands women victory over courageous Great Britain

It was the Olympic champions versus the world champions at London's Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Saturday (15 June), with Rio 2016 gold medallists Great Britain producing arguably their best performance of the FIH Pro League but still ending on the losing side as a late strike from Netherlands ace Kelly Jonker broke British hearts.

The Oranje were made to work hard for their 13th victory in 14 FIH Pro League matches, with Great Britain having two goals correctly ruled out by the video umpire before Jonker scored a trademark striker’s goal, being in the right place to guide home a sensational backhand cross from Lidewij Welten. With their place in the FIH Pro League Grand Final - and also the FIH Olympic qualifiers - already assured, the Netherlands are edging ever closer to a first place finish in the league, which would mean that they face the team that finishes fourth in their first Grand Final match. Defeat leaves Great Britain in eighth position, but the quality of their performance should give the great confidence ahead of their final FIH Pro League fixture, a clash against New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop next weekend.

Great Britain (FIH World Ranking: 2) thought that they had made the perfect start when Izzy Petter scored from close range in the third minute, but the Netherlands (WR:1) instantly appealed to the video umpire who spotted the ball hitting the foot of Lily Owsley in the build-up and was correctly ruled out. At the other end, a defence-splitting pass from 2018 FIH Player of the Year Eva de Goede set 2015 FIH Player of the Year Lidewij Welten through on goal, but Great Britain goalkeeper Amy Tennant confidently kicked Welten’s backhand shot away to safety.

The Netherlands put the hosts under considerable pressure in the opening minutes of the second quarter but could not find a way through a defensive line being expertly marshalled by GB captain Hollie Pearne-Webb. After Dutch pressure subsided, Great Britain pressed their opponents back and were perhaps unlucky not to have taken the lead ahead of half time. Netherlands defender Caia van Maasakker made a superb goal-line block from a Great Britain penalty corner, while Petter fired a backhand strike over the Dutch crossbar after some excellent approach play from Sarah Evans.

Great Britain had further chances to open the scoring in the third quarter but were also forced to defend two Dutch penalty corners ahead of an absorbing fourth period that had the crowd sitting on the edge of their seats. Tennant pulled off superb saves to deny Ginella Zerbo and Caia van Maasakker before Giselle Ansley sent a stunning penalty corner effort into the top right corner of the Dutch goal, but the wild celebrations in the stands were soon muted when a video umpire referral ruled out the strike as the ball had not left the circle before Ansley fired for goal.

Just as the match seemed to be heading for a shoot-out, the Dutch found their winner. Lidewij Welten accelerated down the left before firing pin-point accurate pass across the face of the British goal, with Jonker doing what she does best by guiding the ball into the net. The result was perhaps harsh on Great Britain, but once again the top ranked team in world hockey showed that they are more than capable of grinding out results when required.

“I think we had to work really hard to get these three points, but I’m really proud that we did it”, said Kelly Jonker after the match. “It was a tough match as GB were really good, so I’m happy that we got the three points. We have Argentina and Australia coming up at home in the Netherlands, which are really tough matches, but it’s really great to be in England again as we really enjoy playing here.”

Earlier in the day, China ended their FIH Pro League campaign with a comfortable 4-0 victory over USA.

There are five FIH Pro League matches taking place on Sunday (16 June), a day that could see a number of teams secure berths in the FIH Pro League Grand Final. Germany’s men and women take on Australia at the Crefelder Hockey Club in Krefeld, with Belgium playing host to the national teams of New Zealand at Antwerp’s Wilrijkse Plein. Argentina’s men are also in action, facing Spain at Club de Campos Villa in Madrid.

FIH Pro League - 15 June 2019

Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou (CHN)

Result: Women’s Match 63

China 4, USA 0

Player of the Match: Zhang Xiaoxue (CHN)
Umpires: Ivona Makar (CRO), Aleisha Neumann (AUS) and Rawi Anbananthan (MAS - video)

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London (ENG)

Result: Women’s Match 64

Great Britain 0, Netherlands 1
Player of the Match: Anna Toman (GBR)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Ayanna McClean (TTO) and Jakub Mejzlik (CZE - video)


Official FIH Pro League Site

Cruel defeat for women in final moments at home to Netherlands

Great Britain's Anna Toman in the FIH Pro League

Great Britain were cruelly beaten by the Netherlands in the last two minutes in their penultimate match of the women's FIH Pro League.

Having been the better team for the majority of the game and seeing two goals disallowed, Britain were beaten when Kelly Jonker scored for the world champions with just 90 seconds remaining.

Giselle Ansley had earlier been denied what would have been a sensational goal from a penalty corner when it was disallowed upon referral, and Izzy Petter had also seen a goal chalked off. Petter and Sarah Jones were also very close to scoring on other occasions but just missed the target, and Mark Hager's side dealt with the Dutch threat very well at the other end, right up until that cruel winner.

The ovation from the home crowd at full time said everything about the team's performance, and now the team look forward to their final match of the season at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 23 June.

Full report

Britain had the ball in the net with only a couple of minutes on the clock, but Izzy Petter's effort was disallowed after the ball inadvertently hit Lily Owsley's foot on the way to her. The Dutch were enjoying most of the possession, but their only effort of note in the first quarter was wide on the reverse from Lidewij Welten.

There were encouraging signs for GB in front of goal in the second quarter, Hannah Martin going close from a corner before the lively Petter shot over the bar after fashioning a decent opportunity. Mark Hager's side had put in a good shift in the first 30 minutes but neither side was able to find the breakthrough.

Into the second half and again it was GB with more territorial advantage, and Giselle Ansley almost found Sarah Jones from a penalty corner but it was just wide of the upright.

Britain looked the more likely to break the deadlock, but early in the fourth quarter 'keeper Amy Tennant had to be alert to keep out two Dutch efforts, the second one a top class effort down to her right from a corner.

Ansley was then the tiniest of margins away from an absolutely sensational goal, firing a penalty corner right into the top corner, only for it to be disallowed on referral for not leaving the circle. It would have been a truly wonderful goal and it was a very cruel - but correct - decision.

Into the last five minutes and Eva de Goede almost fashioned a goal for the Dutch but it dribbled just wide of the near post. And then with 90 seconds remaining, out of nowhere the Dutch snatched all three points, Welten firing in a cross that found Kelly Jonker at the back post for a neat finish.

It was terribly cruel on Mark Hager's side, having been the better team for most of the game, as well as seeing those two goals disallowed. But once the dust settles, they will reflect on a positive performance and look to New Zealand at the Stoop on Sunday as an opportunity to end on a high.

Great Britain 0

Netherlands 1
Jonker (58', FG)

Great Britain: Tennant (GK), Balsdon, Unsworth, Toman, Ansley, Pearne-Webb (C), Evans, Jones, Neal, Burge, Hunter, Owsley, Howard, Robertson, Townsend, Martin, Petter
Unused: Heesh

Great Britain Hockey media release

Great Britain women lose 1-0 to Netherlands after late goal

GB's Anna Toman was named player of the match against the Netherlands

Great Britain women are a "long way off" retaining their Olympic gold medal in Tokyo next year, says head coach Mark Hager.

They had two goals disallowed as the Netherlands scored late on to win their FIH Pro League tie 1-0 in London.

Britain are eighth in the Pro League standings with one game to go, having recorded just two wins.

However, Hager told the BBC he was "confident" his team could still win a medal at the Tokyo Games.

"We're a long way off," he said. "We've only got four gold medallists still in this group, so there are a lot of players still learning how to play big matches.

A number of Britain players, including captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, retired after winning gold at Rio 2016, while several are out with long-standing injuries.

They include captain Alex Danson, who suffered a "mild traumatic brain injury" last year, while Nicola White and Shona McCallin are still recovering from concussions.

As England, they won bronze at last year's Commonwealth Games and finished sixth at the World Cup.

"That's why the Pro League has been good, you get that opportunity and you get put in these scenarios where with a minute-and-a-half to go, they score," Hager added.

"Why? Because they have done it before. Unfortunately for us at the moment, we're probably on the other side where it is happening to us.

"I'm hoping, and I know, we will learn a lot and hopefully in three or six months, it won't happen again.

"I'm confident we'll get a medal. The women's game is so, so close."

Britain beat the Netherlands in a dramatic Olympic final in Rio but they were on the wrong end of a cruel defeat by the Dutch on Saturday.

Izzy Petter thought she had given the hosts the lead inside two minutes but replays showed the ball had hit Lily Owsley's foot on the way through.

Giselle Ansley smashed in a drag flick from a penalty corner but the ball was judged not to have left the circle, before Kelly Jonker scored for the Netherlands with 90 seconds remaining.

"I thought we played pretty well for the majority of the game," Hager said. "I suppose the one time you give the world champions an opportunity, they score.

"I told the girls we need to hurt still from that one, and not just be pleased we played well for the majority.

"I was pleased we had some bite in our attack. When we last played them, we just defended, so that was pleasing."

Britain's women play their final FIH Pro League game against New Zealand on 23 June at the Stoop in London.

BBC Sport

Why are we taking hockey to the Twickenham Stoop?

Twickenham Stoop preparations for the FIH Pro League

We are taking hockey to the Twickenham Stoop Stadium on Sunday 23 June, and would love to share more of the background to these historic fixtures.

Why are these game taking place at The Stoop?

First and foremost, these games have huge potential for the good of hockey. This technology could be hugely significant, not just for GB and England Hockey, but across the world. The ability to play hockey matches in pre-existing stadia across the globe would be a game-changer for the sport. We have already had enquiries from other nations about how the technology can be used globally for what has been dubbed 'Big Stadium Hockey.'

Why are England Hockey driving this?

England Hockey has continually pushed boundaries, last year we held the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup - the biggest women's-only sporting event the UK has ever seen - but we are not satisfied and we continually want bigger audiences for our amazing sport. The pitch technology is ground-breaking; ourselves and partners retain the IP and all being well it can be used by other nations, stadia and events in the future.

Who is making this investment?

England Hockey and its partners recognise the long term opportunity with this technology. We have had considerable support from Sport England, and in addition there are savings to be made by playing at a venue such as The Stoop which does not require investment in extra seating.

How will we play hockey on a rugby pitch?

Working with our partner Polypipe we're installing Permavoid which will allow us to build a hockey pitch over the existing rugby pitch, providing a strong base, enabling the grass to keep growing and supporting drainage. We're also using the new hockey turf developed by Polytan for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, which requires up to 65% less water than other pitches. The pitch being used at The Stoop will later be installed at Bisham Abbey for the men's and women's teams to prepare for Tokyo, and the Bisham pitch will then move to Lilleshall for young players in the country's National Age Groups.

How do we know it will work?

We built a test site at our performance home, Bisham Abbey and asked our GBR athletes to play on it. Working with the FIH we’ve used the player feedback to refine our design ahead of the matches at The Stoop.

How does the technology compare to previous temporary pitches?

This solution is very innovative because it is temporary, removable and repeatable. It is cutting edge technology and a patent has been filed to allow us to continue to develop this work. It is more flexible than the semi-permanent solution used in the Netherlands for the 2014 Hockey World Cups.

How long is it taking lay the pitch at The Stoop?

Work began roughly 6 weeks before the games take place to prepare The Stoop and create a level field. The hockey pitch has been installed now so we can test and give the teams time to train on it too. Importantly, the ‘pop-up’ pitch is intended to remain at The Stoop for a week beyond 23 June for community and other use, sharing the opportunity to play on this new international pitch. We have had a month’s lead-in time this year, future plans would mean that the technology can be brought in and out more quickly (10-14 days).

Who is bringing the technology together?

England Hockey are working with a number of partners: FIH, Polytan, Polypipe, STRI Group, Harlequins and Sport England. We are very excited to continue working with these partners in the future and are very grateful for their assistance.

What’s your ticket policy for this game?

A single ticket entitles you to watch both the women’s and men’s games. An adult seat starts at £34, while under 18s tickets begin at £11.50. Available at http://hockey.seetickets.com

Can people park nearby?

Yes, car parking in the Rosebine Car Park is priced at £10 for a car and only £15 for a minibus if you’re coming with your club – available at http://hockey.seetickets.com

reat Britain Hockey media release

2019 8 Nations Invitational Tournament (U 21) M - Day 6

Results and fixtures (GMT +2)

15 Jun 2019     AUT v IND (5-8)     2 - 4
15 Jun 2019     GER v AUS (SF)     3 - 2
15 Jun 2019     NED v GBR (5-8)     0 - 0 (2 - 3 SO)
15 Jun 2019     ESP v BEL (SF)     3 - 2

16 Jun 2019 15:30     GBR v IND (5-6)
16 Jun 2019 15:30     BEL v AUS (3-4)
16 Jun 2019 17:45     NED v AUT (7-8
16 Jun 2019 17:45     ESP v GER (Final)

FIH Match Centre

Germany Beats Burras in Semis in Spain Despite Strong Performance

Mitch Wynd

Australia’s U21 team, the Burras, suffered a tough loss overnight in the U21 Eight Nations Tournament in Spain, with Germany beating the team 3-2 after a close game.

The tournament, played in Madrid (Spain) from June 10 to 16, includes some of the strongest hockey nations with Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Germany, Austria and Spain giving the Australians plenty of international game practice.

Head Coach Ben Bishop said the team had looked forward to playing Germany, knowing the strong team would really challenge the Burras.

“It was a really tough loss, as I think we were a touch better than them,” said Bishop.

Ehren Hazell lead the team’s quest for goals in the second minute after a strong defence lead to a counter-attack. The Australian lead didn’t last as the team struggled to keep the Germans at bay.

“We lost our way a little with too many turnovers towards the second half, which then allowed Germany to get back into the game and score two goals before the first break,” Bishop explained.

The second and third quarter was an even game, although the Germans managed to get another goal against the Burras in the third quarter.

The Australians came back strong in the last quarter, putting pressure on the opponents and creating a number of turnovers. Tom Harvie scored an impressive corner with 12 minutes to go and the German goal keeper was kept busy for the remainder of the game. Several PCs were saved by the opponents and one by the post.

The team is now set to play for bronze against another strong nation, Belgium, tomorrow.

“We pushed all the way to the end with great effort by everyone. It was a great learning for our group as I think they started to realise they can mix it and be the best in the world at this level. Playing Belgium is a silver lining to our loss as it gives us another strong and different style to play against,” Bishop said.

The team 18-man strong team consists of players from around Australia:

(Name, surname, state)

Brayden KING WA
Alistair MURRAY WA
Christian STARKIE WA

Hockey Australia media release

Wazalendo hold Butali, as Sailors fire blanks in Kisumu


Champions Butali Sugar Warriors were forced to a 1-1 draw by exciting Wazalendo in Nairobi as Lakers and Amira Sailors also squared to a goalless draw in Kisumu in men and women’s hockey Premier League matches on Saturday.

Visiting Sailors held debutants Lakers to a barren draw in a match played at Simba Club in Kisumu.

It was also a day that saw former champions Sliders claim their first win of the season, edging out battling Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at City Park Stadium.

Fans were left thrilled and yearning for more at the City Park during Butali Sugar and Wazalendo’s end-to-end thriller.

Wazalendo looked the better side from the start but squandered several chances including back-to-back four penalty corners in the last quarter.

Against the run of play, Amos Barkibir chalked a diving cross from the leftwing to find George Mutira on the edge of goal to score and put Butali ahead in at the stroke of half time.

Then Daston Barasa, who arguably was the star of the match with his tantalising skills, dribbled past Butali’s defenders putting through Isaac Nandukule to level in the 37 minute in a match that Butali’s keeper Linus Sang was kept on his toes.

Despite the draw, Butali that is the only side yet to taste defeat this season, went one point clear on the top with 14 points from five wins and one draw.

Wazalendo, who had lost their unbeaten run the previous weekend, losing to Western Jaguars 2-0, stayed third with an improved tally of 13 points.

“It was a tough game as expected after both sides strengthen their squads at the beginning of this season,” said Butali Sugar coach Dennis Owoka.

Owoka said praised his keeper, who kept them in the match with three daring saves in the first half. “Wazalendo had a solid defence especially at the top of the circle where we failed to penetrate,” said Owoka.

His Wazalendo counterpart Fidelis Kimanzi indicated that they had planned to go for short game but Butali closed them down forcing the to keep it long.

“We were the better side especially in the last two quarters but wasted many opportunities. Our fitness level was top notch and that is why were able to run them down as we opened the game,” said Kimanzi, adding that his boys deserved to win the match. “We take the positives from the match keeping in mind that Butali are the defending champions.”

Jaguars, who were not in action this weekend, remain second on 13 points, beating Wazalendo with a superior goal difference.

Lakers, who picked one point from the draw with Amira, dislodged USIU-A from second place with eight points. USIU-A are now third with seven points while Amira improved their tally to six points to stay fourth.

Sliders climbed two places to fifth with five points after their victory against JKUAT.

It was the fifth draw for Lakers who now move up to second and dislodge United States International University (USIU) from second while Sailors remain fourth.

Daily Nation

Newbies Lakers go second after draw

By Washington Onyango

Lakers Alice Owiti (right) during a past league match. [Courtesy]

Newbies Lakers Hockey Club moved to second place in the standings after playing to a barren draw against Amira Sailors in a Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women Premier League match at Simba Club in Kisumu yesterday.

The lakeside outfit failed to register a win at their home ground for the fourth time after previously drawing with Sliders, Telkom and United States International University (USIU-A)

The draw however saw them leapfrog USIU-A to second position in the log with eight points after six matches, three less than defending champions Telkom.

Speaking after the match, Lakers head coach Brian Aduda rued missed chances but said he was happy with the result despite missing a chance to close the gap on Telkom.

“The girls played well today and I think we were unlucky once again. We are yet to win at home and with that we are losing points in bid to close the gap on Telkom,” Aduda said.

Aduda also blamed the winless run on lack of team training claiming majority of the players don’t get time to train together due to academic commitments.

“We are a young team with talented and youthful women who study in different universities. Because of their academic obligations, they are forced to train alone in various schools rather than a team training here in Kisumu. That has hindered our preparations,” he said.

The first quarter of the match saw lethal twins Alice and Maurine Owiti combine for their first attempt in goal in an even start.

No opportunities were created in the second quarter with the two defences standing tall to deny strikers a shot at goal.

However, the third quarter witnessed some brilliance with the host captain Linah Baraza and striker Auralia Opondo testing Sailors stopper Mariana Kimani.

The fourth quarter was however in the visitors favour after Linet Lusinde and Cindy Walucho forced home goalkeeper Effie Adhiambo into vital saves.

Lakers defender Ashley Akinyi then saved her team from defeat after clearing out a dangerous short corner before Adhiambo made a save of her own to deny Sailors at the death.

Sailors coach Jayala Asimba praised his charges for coming out of Kisumu with a point.

“A draw for us is good because we were playing a very good team in Lakers and I am happy we got a point from Kisumu. We have a game in hand which gives us an advantage of even surpassing Lakers if we win,” Asimba said.

The Standard Digital

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