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News for 30 June 2019

All the news for Sunday 30 June 2019

2019 FIH Pro League (Women)
Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam

GER v ARG (3rd/4th Place)     1 - 1 (3 - 1 SO)
NED v AUS (Final)     2 - 2 (4 - 3 SO)

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

FIH Match Centre

The Netherlands crowned women’s FIH Pro League champions

The Netherlands have been crowned winners of the inaugural FIH Pro League thanks to a shoot-out victory over Australia, triumphing in a thrilling final played in glorious sunshine at the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam on Saturday 29 June 2019. A breathtaking contest saw the match finish with the scores locked together at 2-2, before the Netherlands emerged 4-3 winners in the one-on-ones to defeat an Australia team that pushed them every step of the way in front of a sell-out crowd. 

Australia silenced the home fans when Mariah Williams scored from a penalty corner in the 19th minute before Marijn Veen pulled the Dutch level four minutes later. Kelly Jonker’s fourth quarter strike put the hosts ahead in the fourth quarter, but a late penalty stroke was clinically dispatched by Kaitlin Nobbs to send the match into a shoot-out. With the score locked at 3-3 after four attempts each, a disallowed goal from Australia’s Brooke Peris allowed Lauren Stam to wrap up the victory as the Oranje added the FIH Pro League to their world and European titles.

As well as the lifting the trophy, the Netherlands also saw one of their players collect an individual award, with Frederique Matla named as the Best Player of the FIH Pro League. Australia’s Rachael Lynch was named Deloitte Goalkeeper of the Grand Final, while Argentina’s Micaela Retegui took the Auping Best Goal of the FIH Pro League Grand Final thanks to her brilliant strike against Germany in the 3-4 play-off. New Zealand’s Olivia Merry was also confirmed as the overall top scorer in the FIH Pro League, with her sensational 15 goal tally proving too much for the chasing pack who were competing here at in Amsterdam. It was also an extra special day for Lidewij Welten, who was a trophy winner on 200th international appearance.

Following the completion of the women’s FIH Pro League, the FIH World Rankings have been updated. The next rankings update will take place on 8 September 2019, following the completion of the Continental Championships.

In the title match, Australia (FIH World Ranking: 3) were forced to soak up huge amounts of pressure from the Netherlands (WR:1) in the opening quarter, with goalkeeper Rachael Lynch making numerous crucial blocks to keep the hosts at bay. Laurien Leurink came the closest with a backhand strike that Lynch could only parry, but the Australian shot-stopper produced a remarkable save by spinning around and brilliantly clearing the ball off the goal-line with an instinctive swing of her stick.

The huge crowd watching on were being thoroughly entertained by the home favourites, but they fell silent four minutes into the second quarter when the Hockeyroos scored a perfectly executed penalty corner routine, with Mariah Williams brilliantly touching home a low flick from Jodie Kenny which left Dutch goalkeeper Josine Koning stranded. However, the home fans were cheering once again when Marijn Veen powered into the circle from the right and levelled the scores with a fierce strike, beating Lynch at her near post to restore parity.

The Netherlands dominated the closing stages of the second quarter but both teams had massive chances in the third period, with Australia - the only team to have beaten the Netherlands in this year’s FIH Pro League - showing no fear against the world champions ahead of an extraordinary final quarter.

Laurien Leurink appeared to put the hosts ahead just one minute after the break, only to see her goal ruled out by an Australian appeal to the video umpire. There was no doubt about Kelly Jonker’s goal three minutes later, with the striker guiding an angled deflection into the roof of the net after a perfect pass from Player of the Match Eva de Goede. Just when it seemed that a Netherlands victory was a certainty, a goal-bound penalty corner drag-flick from Jodie Kenny hit the foot of a Netherlands defender, with a penalty stroke being awarded. Kaitlin Nobbs made no mistake from the spot, firing home to send the match into a shoot-out.

With only one miss apiece from the two teams from the first eight shoot-out efforts, the match was effectively at sudden-death going into the final round. Australia’s Brooke Peris found the target but a video referral deemed her shot illegal, with Lauren Stam showing the coolest of heads to give the Netherlands a dramatic and hard-earned victory.

“It was amazing, it was a tough match with the shoot-outs but I’m so proud we got the win”, said Netherlands ace Xan de Waard. “It’s the first FIH Pro League ever, so I think that is amazing. We’ve had so much fun, so to end it like this is amazing.”

Australia’s Jane Claxton said: “The Dutch are a force to be reckoned with, and we knew that coming into this game. But we’ve got a lot of fire in our bellies now and it’s really good to have that coming into an Olympic year, so I’m really proud of the girls.”

Earlier in the day, Germany (WR:5) claimed a shoot-out victory over Argentina (WR:4) to claim a third place finish in the FIH Pro League after the match finished 1-1 in searing temperatures at the Wagener Stadium.

Argentina took the lead thanks to a wonderful improvised shot from Micaela Retegui, who squeezed the ball through her own legs to find the bottom left corner of the goal moments after a mazy run from Victoria Granatto. Retegui’s terrific finish - later named best goal of the FIH Pro League Grand Final - was the only goal of the first two quarters, but Germany hit back early in the third period when Anne Schröder volleyed home from close range. Germany probably had the better of the quarter, but Argentina - who lost Micaela Rebecchi to a head injury - rallied hard in the latter stages but the two teams remained locked at 1-1 to trigger a shoot-out.

The opening four efforts in the one-on-ones were missed before Germany took control, with Janne Müller-Wieland, Pia Maertens and Viktoria Huse all on target as Die Danas triumphed in 3-1 in the shoot-out.

“We are really excited”, said Germany captain Janne Müller-Wieland. “They are such a strong side to play against, and such a tough game and in such heat, it was really tough to play in it. But I’m very proud of the girls, such a great reward for a very long Pro League. It’s incredible - we didn’t think of achieving this at the start of the Pro League, so getting a medal is great and that gives us a lot of confidence for the Europeans and for whatever it to follow.”

Despite defeat, it was a proud day for Argentina legend Carla Rebecchi, who made her 300th appearance for Las Leonas. “It is an honour to play for my country, wearing this shirt”, said Rebecchi. “I’m really happy to play my 300th game.”

On Sunday 30 June, the winner of the inaugural men’s FIH Pro League competition will be decided. The two highest ranked men’s teams in world hockey will contest the title match in the inaugural FIH Pro League, with world champions Belgium set to take on in-form Australia in Sunday’s event final following two thrilling semi-final matches at Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium on Friday (28 June). The Netherlands and Great Britain will play in Sunday’s 3-4 play-off match at 1430 Central European Summer Time (CEST - UTC/GMT+2), with the final between the Kookaburras and the Red Lions getting underway at 1700.

FIH Pro League Grand Final - 29 June 2019

Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam (NED)

Result: Women’s Match 75 - 3-4 Play-Off
Germany 1, Argentina 1 (3-1 after shoot-out)
Player of the Match: Lucina von der Heyde (ARG)
Umpires: Amber Church (NZL), Michelle Joubert (RSA) and Coen van Bunge (NED - video)

Result: Women’s Match 76 - Final
Netherlands 2, Australia 2 (4-3 after shoot-out)
Player of the Match: Eva de Goede (NED)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Sarah Wilson (SCO) and Marcin Grochal (POL - video)


Auping Best Goal of the Grand Final: Micaela Retegui (ARG) in the 3-4 Play-Off
Deloitte Goalkeeper of the Grand Final: Rachael Lynch (AUS)
Hero Top Scorer: Olivia Merry (NZL) - 15 goals.
FIH Best Player of the FIH Pro League: Frederique Matla (NED)

Upcoming fixtures and timings (all times CEST - UTC/GMT +2)

Sunday 30 June 2019 - men’s competition

1430: 3-4 play-off - Great Britain vs Netherlands
1700: Final - Australia vs Belgium


Official FIH Pro League Site

Hockeyroos Defeated In Grand Final Classic

Mitch Wynd

The Hockeyroos pushed the world number one Netherlands all the way to a penalty shootout on home soil in the inaugural FIH Pro League, going down 4-3 after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.

Mariah Williams and Kaitlin Nobbs scored for Australia in a match that was largely dominated by the Netherlands everywhere except the scoreboard due to some resolute defence and typical Australian fight.

The match started in sweltering conditions in Amstelveen - the mercury reaching the 35 degree mark amidst a widespread heatwave in Europe.

Rachael Lynch was forced into a dramatic save in the sixth minute, when she palmed the initial shot into the air before turning around and clearing the ball before it crossed the goal line.

The Netherlands controlled much of the play throughout the first quarter, however the Australian defence absorbed the pressure well.

A crucial moment of the second quarter was the save from Rachael Lynch leading to a penalty stroke being awarded to the Netherlands, upon video referral the penalty stroke was overturned.

With a couple of penalty corners going Australia’s way, the breakthrough first goal came in the 19th minute after Mariah Williams made a clever touch from Jodie Kenny’s initial shot to wrong foot the goalkeeper.

A costly turnover in midfield led to the home team equalising through Marijn Veen on the run, smashing the ball past Lynch who had made several good saves to that point.

Much like the semi-final against Argentina, Australia held on in the contest despite the opposition controlling much of the possession and attacking chances.

A few scoring opportunities did present themselves in the third quarter, Mariah Williams had a shot for a second goal denied, before a defensive error almost allowed Grace Stewart to score from directly in front only to be blocked by Veenendaal.

The final quarter started with drama, as a Dutch goal was ruled out after an umpire referral much to the displeasure of the vocal home crowd.

Their disappointment did not last long though, as Kelly Jonker scored three minutes later with a deflection up high beyond the reach of Lynch.

More drama followed as a penalty stroke was awarded to Australia with two minutes left in the match following a Dutch foul on the goal line from a well taken penalty corner from Jodie Kenny. Kaitlin Nobbs stepped up to the spot and coolly converted to bring scores level again.

With the match drawn, the Hockeyroos went to the shootout for the second time in two games.

The shootout was also a tense affair, with the Netherlands winning 4-3 and claiming the Pro League title.

Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin spoke of the pride he had in his team no matter the result.

“Extremely proud of the effort of the girls today in a really tough environment. It was a very competitive match, we had some good chances in the third quarter which was pleasing to see,” he said post-match.

“Anyone could have won the shootout…it is really important to have the opportunity to play in these matches which provide such great experience for Oceania Cup and the Tokyo Olympics.”

Australia 2 (Williams 19’, Nobbs 58’) - 3 (Nobbs O, Malone O, M Fitzpatrick X, Williams O, Peris X)
Netherlands 2 (Veen 24’, Jonker 49’) - 4 (Ketels O, de Waard O, Verschoor O, Veen X, Stam O)

Hockey Australia media release

Olivia Merry completes world first

The FIH Pro League Women’s competition ended on Sunday morning when the Netherlands beat Australia in a penalty shootout to secure the title. While the New Zealand teams were not part of finals weekend, one of the Vantage Black Sticks Women ensured through her stellar play throughout the competition that she would be named the leading goal scorer of the Pro League.

Olivia Merry achieved something that had never been achieved at an Olympic Games, Champions Trophy or World Cup and that was to score 15 goals in an FIH competition. During the Pro League Merry managed to score two hat tricks against Great Britain in front of her home fans where she helped the Black Sticks Women secure a massive win over the Brits, and against Belgium where the New Zealand side was able to avenge their 1-0 loss that Belgium had inflicted on the team from earlier in the Pro League.

Merry commented “I wouldn’t be able to achieve any of this without my teammates, it is a privilege to be part of such a hardworking and dedicated team”.

Anita McLaren is currently the all-time leading goal scorer for the Black Sticks Women amassing a mammoth 105 goals in her time in the Black Singlet. Olivia has now moved into second place on 95 goals from 221 matches for the New Zealand side, at the speed with which she is scoring goals at the moment Merry could be the leading goal scorer before the end of the season. 

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Stats Speak: Olivia Merry of New Zealand is the 8th ladies to score 15 goals in an International Tournament

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

In women's hockey, the list of 15+ goal scorers is given below. The feat of scoring 15+ goals in women's hockey has never happened in the Olympics, World Cup or Champions Trophy.

Surprisingly, no players from Australia, Netherlands, Germany or Argentina figure in the 15+ goal scorers.







Continental Events

Asian Games

1986, Seoul


Lim Gae Sook

South Korea



1982, Delhi


Rajbir Kaur



Asia Cup

2004, Delhi


Iwao Sachimi



European Nations Cup

1984, Lille


Natela Krasnikova



All-African Games

2003, Abuja - Nigeria


Pietie Coetzee

South Africa


African Championships



Lilian du Plessis

South Africa

FIH World Events

Hockey  Series Open



Michel Navarro



Hockey Pro League

2019 various venues


Olivia Merry

New Zealand

 Note-   Hockey stats and records has prepared/ compiled by B.G.Joshi of India by his intensive research and enthusiasm. 


2019 FIH Pro League (Men) - Finals
Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam

Time (GMT +2)

14:30     GBR v NED (3rd/4th Place)
17:00     AUS v BEL (Final)

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

FIH Match Centre

Preview: Australia and Belgium prepare to battle for men’s FIH Pro League crown

On Sunday 30 June, the winner of the inaugural men’s FIH Pro League competition will be decided. The two highest ranked men’s teams in world hockey will contest the title match in the inaugural FIH Pro League, with world champions Belgium set to take on in form Australia in the event final following two thrilling semi-final matches at Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium on Friday (28 June).

In the semi-finals on Friday (29 June), second ranked Australia produced a powerhouse performance to dismantle Great Britain 6-1 with Jacob Anderson scoring a six minute hat-trick as the Kookaburras matched the Hockeyroos as FIH Pro League finalists, while a moment of dazzling brilliance from Tom Boon helped top ranked Belgium overcome lowland rivals and FIH Pro League Grand Final hosts the Netherlands with a 3-1 score-line. The Netherlands and Great Britain will play in Sunday’s 3-4 play-off match at 1430 Central European Summer Time (CEST - UTC/GMT+2), with the title match between Australia and Belgium getting underway at 1700.

Team information and quotes from the teams competing in both matches can be found below.

3-4 Play-Off: Great Britain vs Netherlands - 1430 CEST (UTC/GMT+2)

Previous FIH Pro League meetings
2 June 2019: Netherlands 1-3 Great Britain - HC Oranje Rood, Eindhoven (NED)
14 June 2019: Great Britain 2-2 Netherlands (3-4 after shoot-out) - Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, London (ENG)

Great Britain

FIH World Ranking: 7
Position in regular FIH Pro League season: 4th
FIH Pro League results summary (regular season): Pl: 14 Wins: 6 Draws: 3 SO-Bonus: 1 Losses: 5 GF: 35 GA: 31 GD: 4 Pts: 22

Notable honours: 2x Olympic gold medallists (1920, 1988), Olympic silver medallists (1948), 2x Olympic bronze medallists (1952, 1984), FIH Champions Trophy silver medallists (1985), 2x FIH Champions Trophy bronze medallists (1978, 1984)

Player Perspective - Adam Dixon: “It’s been a long Pro League season, one that we have thoroughly enjoyed, and we want to go out on a high. Hopefully with good weather and a good crowd - this is a great place to come and play hockey - we’ll be looking to put on our best showing on Sunday.”

FIH Pro League Team Page: https://www.fihproleague.com/men/teams/great-britain__4837 
Website: http://www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk/
Twitter: @GBHockey 
Facebook: @GBHockey
Instagram: gbhockey


FIH World Ranking: 3
Position in regular FIH Pro League season: 3rd 
FIH Pro League results summary (regular season): Pl: 14 Wins: 5 Draws: 5 SO-Bonus: 3 Losses: 4 GF: 37 GA: 32 GD: 5 Pts: 23

Notable honours: 2x Olympic gold medallists (1996, 2000), 3x FIH Men’s World Cup winners (1973, 1990, 1998), 8x FIH Champions Trophy winners (1981, 1982, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006), Hockey World League winners (2012- 14 Edition), 5x European champions (1983, 1987, 2007, 2015, 2017).

Player Perspective - Seve van Ass: “This crowd and this stadium, it’s so wonderful and we really enjoy it here. It will be great to hear everyone cheering for us again once more.”

FIH Pro League Team Page: https://www.fihproleague.com/men/teams/netherlands__4842
Website: www.knhb.nl
Twitter: @oranjehockey
Facebook: oranjehockey
Instagram: oranjehockey

Final: Australia vs Belgium - 1700 CEST (UTC/GMT+2)

Previous FIH Pro League meetings
3 February 2019: Australia 1-4 Belgium - State Netball & Hockey Centre, Melbourne (AUS)
23 June 2019: Belgium 0-2 Australia - Wilrijkse Plein, Antwerp (BEL)


FIH World Ranking: 2
Position in regular FIH Pro League season: 1st
FIH Pro League results summary (regular season): Pl: 14 Wins: 10 Draws: 2  SO-Bonus: 0 Losses: 2 GF: 40 GA: 26 GD: 14 Pts: 32

Notable honours: Olympic gold medallists (2004) 3x Olympic silver medallists (1968, 1976, 1992), 5x Olympic bronze medallists (1964, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012), 3x FIH Men’s World Cup winners (1986, 2010, 2014), Hockey World League champions (2015, 2017), 15x Champions Trophy winners (1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1999, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018), 6x Commonwealth Games gold medallists (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018), 10x Oceania Cup champions (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017).

Player Perspective - Jacob Anderson: “There is no preference [on who we face in the final]. Both teams are really good, being top four in the world, so we will do our homework so we will be ready to face them on Sunday. This is my first major tournament so it would be really good to come away with the win, but you never know what is going to happen.”

FIH Pro League Team Page: https://www.fihproleague.com/men/teams/australia__4840
Hockey Australia website: www.hockey.org.au
Twitter - @kookaburras
Facebook: @TheKookaburras
Instagram: hockeyaustraliaofficial


FIH World Ranking: 1
Position in regular FIH Pro League season: 2nd
FIH Pro League results summary (regular season): Pl: 14  Wins: 8 Draws: 3  SO-Bonus: 1 Losses: 3 GF: 52 GA: 29 GD: 23 Pts: 28

Notable honours: World Cup winners – Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, Olympic silver medallists (2016), Olympic bronze medallists (1920), Hockey World League silver medallists (2015), European silver medallists (2013, 2017), European bronze medallists (2007), 5th place - Olympic Games (2012), 5th place - Rabobank Hockey World Cup (2014), 5th place - Hero Hockey Champions Trophy (2014).

Player Perspective - Thomas Briels: “They [Australia] are looking really sharp, in very good form. We played them two weeks ago at home where we lost 2-0. They have come here to Europe to win the tournament, but we are going to do our best to take the first ever FIH Pro League cup and bring it to Belgium.”

FIH Pro League Team Page: https://www.fihproleague.com/men/teams/belgium__4836
Royal Belgian Hockey Federation website: www.hockey.be
Twitter: @BELRedLions
Facebook: RedLions
Instagram: BELRedLions

Saturday 29 June 2019 - women’s competition
1430: 3-4 play-off - Germany vs Argentina
1700: Final - Netherlands vs Australia


Official FIH Pro League Site

U.S. O-60 Women's Masters Team Wins Gold, O-60 Men Finish 6th at GMH European Trophy

ANTWERP, Belgium  - The final day of competition at the Grand Masters Hockey (GMH) European Trophy saw the U.S. O-60 Men's Masters team drop a heartbreaking sudden victory shootout loss to claim 6th. On the other side, the U.S. O-60 Women's Masters Team took to the pitch in the gold medal game where they won 3-0.

O-60 Men's 1 - 1 Sixtiberians  (4 - 5 Shootout) (5th-6th)

After dueling to a 1-1 draw in pool play, the U.S. O-60 Men's Masters Team and Sixtiberians, Spanish Grand Masters, played out a similar thrilling performance in the 5th/6th place game. Scoreless after the first quarter, Juan Vila put Sixtiberians on the board in the 31st minute. It wouldn't be until the 50th minute when USA would capitalize on a tying opportunity as Peter Jones (Stamford, Conn.) lined up for a successful penalty stroke. Neither squad could find the game-winning goal in the final quarter as the match moved to a shootout. Both teams would score on their first two chances and miss on their third. In round four, after a miss by Pasqual Royo, a goal by Mahesh Saraswat (Northridge, Calif.) put USA ahead in the count. Joaquin Lopez would score in the fifth round for Sixtiberians to tie 3-3, but a miss by Alva Serrette (Lagrange, Calif.) would send the shootout to extra rounds. Lopez converted once again for the opposition in the seventh round which tilted the pressure on USA to put one more in to the goal. Unfortunately a close miss by USA's Peter Bale (Portland, Ore.) would make the final shootout tally 5-4 in favor of Sixtiberians to give the red, white and blue a sixth place finish.

O-60 Women's 3 - 0 Alliance (1st-2nd)

There was no stopping the U.S. O-60 Women's Masters Team as they stepped on the turf for the championship game of the GMH European Trophy against Alliance. The two squads has met just two days prior in their final pool play game, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Playing on the main pitch beside the KHC Dragons famous “Mansion” clubhouse, the players and fans were re-energized after a day of rest. Putting the aches and pains aside and being asked to empty the tank for one final day of competition by coach Ashley Johnston (Royersford, Pa), USA came out on top 3-0.

USA’s first goal came from a gritty penalty corner as Jeri Myers (Parkesburg, Pa.) slipped a pass toward the insert that was deflected by the defense. Josie Worthington (Owings Mills, Md.) collected the loose ball and pushed it to goal where Anne Keating (New York, N.Y.) was patiently positioned on the penalty spot to knock a backhand shot beyond the goalkeeper’s reach. 

Into the second quarter, USA continued to dominate possession as they focused on finding a teammate and attacking together. The team rotated five players across the midfield that each played their hearts and held the tempo for USA, including Myers, Worthington, captain Linda Kreiser (Middletown, Pa.), Cathy Jackson and Janet Powers (Towson, Md.). The red, white and blue once again drew a corner before halftime, where a rebound by Deb Atkins (Quarryville, Pa.) found the stick of Keating for her second goal of the game to give USA a 2-0 lead at the break.

The final two quarters saw Alliance pack the defensive half of the field, leading to far more midfield work and fewer attacking surges by USA. A tweak in the defensive corner unit strategy led to multiple fast break opportunities but USA was unable to convert. It took over thirty minutes and a handful of defensive saves, notably by Pat Rudy (Mill Hall, Pa.), for USA to put away the final goal. Executing a well-run press in the final minutes, Jane Cygan (Quakertown, Pa.) intercepted an attempted outlet and centered the ball to Loretta Di Pietro (New Haven, Conn.) who gave a quick one-touch pass to Jackson. Jackson then placed a beautiful ball inside the far post for the score as the team began to celebrate as the final minutes ticked off the clock.

The win gave the U.S. Women's Masters Team its first ever gold medal.

For more information regarding the GMH European Trophy including the full schedule, results, rosters and more, check out the official event page by clicking here.

USFHA media release

Junior USMNT Heads to The Netherlands for Next Training Camp

The Junior U.S. Men’s National Team is set to depart to The Netherlands early next week for their next training camp from July 2 to 10. In addition to training, the team will play in three friendly matches against local clubs on Saturday, July 6, Monday, July 8 and Tuesday, July 9.

Junior USMNT Roster:

Alex Curtis (London, United Kingdom), Gerald Cutone (Reading, Mass.), Phile Govaert (Rye, N.Y.), Liam Hawley (Ventura, Calif.), Colin Hennessy (Marlborough, Mass.), Wander Hommes (Westlake Village, Calif.), Wyatt Katz (Santa Rose Valley, Calif.), David Kristof (Darien, Conn.), Michael Mendoza (Monument, Colo.), Dean Schiller (Alexandria, Va.), Jatin Sharma (South San Francisco, Calif.), Amar Singh (Santa Clara, Calif.), Puneet Singh (San Jose, Calif.), Cameron Spach (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Eric Velge (Brussels, Belgium), Spencer Walshaw (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Max Walshaw (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)

USFHA media release

Some positives, some concerns for India

Apart from winning the title, it was a test more for coach Graham Reid’s planning in his first competitive outing with the Indian side.

Uthra Ganesan

India’s hockey team players celebrate their victory against South Africa in the title clash of the 2019 FIH men’s series finals in Bhubaneswar. Both the teams made it to the Olympic qualifiers. Photo: AFP

Even before the Hockey Series Finals began in Bhubaneswar recently, the talk was all about India’s performance and how comprehensively it could win against the opponents, the highest of whom was ranked 11 places behind the host. Not winning was not an option; a loss would have been disastrous.

Eventually, the top two sides met in the title clash, India hammering 16th-ranked South Africa 5-1 for an easy win. For once, though, winning the final was not the real target; both finalists advance to the Olympic qualifiers. For the players, winning was important, mentally, after repeatedly fumbling in knockouts and finals in the last few months. But it was a test more for coach Graham Reid’s planning in his first competitive outing with the Indian side.

Winning also gave India crucial points which would become important when the FIH resets its rankings after September and draws up the pairings for the best-of-two encounters in the Olympic qualifiers.

In both departments, there were positives tempered with some concerns. The semifinal against Japan was critical, the Asian Games champion regardless of its ranking a far trickier opponent than South Africa. India came together after an indifferent league stage against such minnows as Uzbekistan, Poland and Russia to roll over Japan 7-2 in style. But it took time, a couple of quarters, to settle down — time that would not be available against tougher teams and time that Reid cannot afford at bigger events.

The biggest concern, of course, would be the lack of open goals from the forwards. Mandeep Singh can be a wizard with the ball but he had a dismal outing, out of position and unable to get the shots right. Gursahibjit and Hardik Singh’s inexperience was exposed, as was Vivek Prasad’s. They are all good players but still work in progress. Akashdeep Singh got some brilliant ones but messed some easy chances. It was all a frustrating outing for the Indian strikers despite the deceptively high number of goals — most of which came through penalty corners.

The forthcoming tours of Japan and Europe would give Graham Reid, the Indian coach, more opportunities to look at his resources and have a clear idea about the structure he would want going ahead.  Photo:  Biswaranjan Rout

That would be a big relief. It was one department India had been seeking answers to, despite an abundance of players. The conversion rates for Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar, specially in the two knockout games, were better than the side’s average. Also welcome was Ramandeep Singh, returning after a year and rusty to begin with but getting into rhythm through the games, specially with his new role as a creator of chances and assistant to the younger legs up-front.

One would have to wait and see if the team management tinkers with the composition and how it finds the best balance. Players like Lalit Upadhyay, Kothajit Singh and Chinglensana are likely to be back after rest and recovery. S. V. Sunil remains uncertain but his experience cannot be counted out, as does Rupinderpal Singh.

Against the likes of South Africa, the Indian defence could afford to move up-front with Harmanpreet and Surinder at times lurking on the flanks far ahead, searching for scoring chances. The gaps were exploited by Japan and faster teams would pounce on counterattacks, making Rupinder’s experience important. Reid would then have to figure out the best combination at the qualifiers, figuring in the brittleness in the midfield as well.

That Japan, which had no need to exert itself and had nothing at stake, still went all out to play its best and improve should be the template for the Indian side that has often shown tendencies to let down the intensity in easier games. The best in the business do not bother with the level of the opposition, setting their own pace and standards and working to constantly improve them.

The good thing is the forthcoming tours of Japan and Europe that would give the coach more opportunities to look at his resources and have a clear idea about the structure he would want going ahead. The HSF was the first step to Tokyo 2020 but it’s done; the next and most important is yet to be taken and that should be the focus of the side here on.


Rajamanickam steps down as KLHA secretary

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Long-serving Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA) secretary V. Rajamanickam has decided to relinquish his post.

The 72-year-old Rajamanickam, who had served KLHA for 26 years, did not stand for election yesterday as he wanted to give new faces a chance.

“The time has come for me to spend time with my family,” said Rajamanickam, a former employee of KL City Hall (DBKL).

With his withdrawal, V. Muthu Kannu is the new secretary.

Datuk Seri Megat Shahriman Zaharudin, who is the president of the Malaysia Canoe Association, was elected as the new president.

Megat defeated incumbent Datuk Abu Huraira Yazid while coach I. Vickneswaran defeated S. Samson to become the deputy president.

Vickneswaran, who guided Terengganu to win the TNB Cup in the Malaysia Hockey League in March, said that he decided to contest as he wanted to raise the standard of hockey in the state.

“I had served as the KLHA development committee chairman before and as a former player and coach it is my duty to bring hockey to the next level in the state,” said Vickneswaran.President: Datuk Seri Megat Shahriman Zaharudin.

Deputy president: I. Vickneswaran.

Vice-presidents: Wan Muhd Faizal Ismail, Muhd Fariz Mustafa, Meor M. Shahril Saarani, Hebzibah Sudin, S. Vignesvaran.

Secretary: V. Muthu Kannu.

The Star of Malaysia

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