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News for 30 September 2020

All the news for Wednesday 30 September 2020

Stephan Veen does the trick as Dutch clinch Gold at Sydney 2000

s2h Team

You could attach a label “captain’s knock” to Stephan Veen’s feat in the Sydney Olympic final played on this day 20 years ago. No, cricket wasn’t played at the Sydney Games. It was the hockey stick alright that the Dutch captain wielded, not the willow in a superlative performance to help bring the Netherlands their second Olympic gold medal.

History maker at Sydney Olympics the incomparable Stephen Veen (r) of The Netherlands. Photo: K Arumugam

Veen, an ebullient midfielder, scored a hat-trick – all of Netherlands’ goals in regulation time — and then the decisive one in the tie-breaker to beat South Korea at Sydney’s Olympic Park and help his country retain the gold medal they won for the first time in Atlanta.

It took nerves of steel to step up and score amid high pressure after the Dutch fritted away a 3-1 lead in regulation time with four minutes left on the clock.

 Veen converted the final attempt of the set of five penalty strokes to seal it for the Dutch. In regulation time, his goals in the 20th, 36th and 64th seemed to settle it but the Koreans who took the lead through Song Seung-Tae in the 9th minute came back strongly with two goals in the 66th minute through Kim Kyun-Seok and Kang Keon-Wook to force tie-breaker.

There were celebrations on either side of the pitch, however. Beaten they may have been but the Koreans surpassed their own expectations to win the silver and chaired their iconic coach Kim Sang-Ryul.

Lethal Combo: Captain Veen and coach Roelant Oltmans

The Netherlands won their semifinals against hosts Australia also through the tie-breaker after there was no score in regulation time. The Dutch won 5-4 with Veen on target but with the fourth attempt. It boiled down to the last penalty stroke of the set of five and amid massive pressure Brent Livermore failed to score, giving the Dutch passage into the final.

Both the Dutch and the Koreans enjoyed a huge slice of luck in entering the medal round which both bid adieu to on a dramatic concluding day of the league phase.

Dutch chances were dead and buried it appeared after a 0-2 defeat to Pakistan who topped the pool. Pool rivals Germany led 1-0 against Britain and appeared cruising towards the last four but the British bounced back to win 2-1 and spark celebrations in the Dutch section of the Olympic village. Even a draw would have put the Germans through but, much to Dutch delight, that was not to be. Britain were already out of the running and played for pride.

Stephan Veen (l) with another Dutch legend Ties Kruize. Photo:  K. Arumugam

South Korea had lost to hosts Australia and with India odds-on-favourites to beat Poland, languishing last but one in the pool perhaps braced for the classification matches.

India led 1-0 through Dilip Tirkey’s corner strike in the 53rd minute and with only 106 seconds left on the clock, Tomacz Cichy exploited a quirk in defence to rifle in past a bewildered Jude Menezes in goal to shatter the eight-time Olympic champions’ dreams.

The Kookaburras won the bronze with a 6-3 demolition of another devastated team – Pakistan – who dominated their semifinal against South Korea but still finished on the losing side 0-1.

The Koreans converted one of only three penalty corners that came their way through an indirect attempt by Song Seung-Tae. As many seven awards fell to Pakistan and their ace drag-flicker Sohail Abbas but he was thwarted by the Korean “suicide” runners at the set-piece, one of whom ended up in hospital.

The women’s competition ended in glory for the hosts as the Hockeyroos beat Argentina 3-1 to win their third Olympic gold medal and second in a row.

No surprise therefore field hockey at the Sydney Olympics finished second to athletics in terms of percentage of capacity attendance.

Final standings


South Korea
Great Britain


New Zealand
Great Britain
South Korea
South Africa


Two Decades back, Pakistan last came close to winning an Olympic Medal

By Ijaz Chaudhry

This year, 9th September marked the 60th anniversary of Pakistan`s first ever Olympic gold which it won in hockey team at the 1960 Rome Olympics. To date, Pakistan has won a total of three gold, three silver and four bronze medals at the Olympics. Save for two bronze medals, the rest have arrived via hockey.

Pakistan last won an Olympic medal, a bronze in hockey, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

After that, the closest Pakistan came to an Olympic medal was two decades ago in 2000, also in September, when the hockey team finished fourth at the Sydney Olympics.

By then, the decline of once dominating force of world hockey had already set in. Pakistan which won the World Cup in 1994, failed to make it to the semifinals of either the 1996 Olympics or the 1998 World Cup. It went through the qualifiers for the 1996 Olympics. It was no different for the next edition. Pakistan had to finish among the top six in a 12 team qualifier at Osaka, Japan in March 2000.

And they did it easily, finishing second.

Pakistan possessed a weapon which made them a real medal contender for the then upcoming Olympics. Sohail Abbas, the most lethal striker of penalty corners, top scored at the Olympic qualifiers with 13 goals. Sohail, who later finished his career with the highest number of international goals (348), had already started smashing records. His 60 goals in 1999 remain the highest tally of international goals bya player in a calendar year.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation planned it well. The Sydney Olympics were scheduled to begin on September 15. Pakistan team was sent to a preparatory and acclimatisation tour of Australia and neighbouring New Zealand well before that. They drew the three test series against Australia in the first week of August, stayed there for a while before moving to New Zealand where Pakistan won the four match series 3-0.

The team returned to Australia about 12 days before the Olympics opening ceremony.

The greenshirts began shakily. In the opening pool game against the minnows Canada, they had to come from behind twice to draw 2-2.

Next, it was a stronger Great Britain side. Pakistan appeared a completely transformed side. Dominating throughout, they found the target four times in each half to decimate the British 8-1. Pakistan hockey team`s outstanding display on September 18 was acknowledged by the media covering the Olympics as the 'Team Achievement of the Day'.

European Champions Germany were the opponents in the third pool match. The well contested tie, in which the two sides appeared wary of each other, ended 1-1.

In the penultimate pool match, Pakistan came across Malaysia.  Pakistan had an easy 5-2 win over them in the Olympic qualifiers a few months back. But at the Sydney Olympics, the lowly rated Malaysians had caused quite a stir by holding the mighty Holland to a goal less draw. They had also drawn against Great Britain and went down to Germany by a solitary goal. Hence, the Malaysians entered the field against Pakistan with a lot of confidence which showed. In a tight encounter, Malaysia went ahead in the 21st minute. Only three minutes later, Dr Atif Bashir equalized. The see saw battle continued in the second half. With seven minutes left, Suhaimi, the scorer of the first goal again put Malaysia ahead. Defeat loomed, but Sohail Abbas rescued Pakistan with a penalty corner goal in the last minute and it ended 2-2.

Moments later, a very bizarre incident was witnessed on Pakistan Television. Pakistan hockey team`s manager Islahuddin, who had managed the national team numerous times since early 80s, told the nation, "Pakistan is now out of the race for the semifinal and will now be playing the classification matches for the minor positions".

In fact, even if Pakistan had lost that match against Malaysia, they could have made it to the semifinal by winning the last pool match vs Holland. So much for Islah bhai`s arithmetic. More about his planning and coaching later.

So, Pakistan had everything to play for against Holland. They needed a victory and had the better of early exchanges. Sohail Abbas kept his record of scoring in every match. His penalty corner conversion in the 22nd minute made it 1-0.  Holland came back strongly and exerted great pressure, but failed to find the equaliser when the first half ended.

The second half also witnessed a tense battle. The Dutch had more of the possession and also opportunities. But a combination of some resolute Pakistan defence and ill luck denied them. Pakistan did make a few penetrations via counter attacks. One such turn over, with just three minutes left on the clock, resulted in a rebound off the goal keeper. Centre forward Kashif Jawwad pounced on it to double the advantage and sent the millions of TV viewers in Pakistan into jubilation. Though, Pakistan had won just two of the five matches, topped the pool with three draws. Two days later, they faced South Korea, who were lucky to finish second in their pool, in the semi-final.

Sohail Abbas, the face of Pakistan at the Olympics, had lived up to the expectations scoring seven of team`s 15 goals in the pool games.

And he was provided with all the chances in the semifinal watched by almost every household in Pakistan. Pakistanis attacked from the off and dominated the exchanges. No less than seven penalty corners came their way. The Koreans deployed a hitherto not so well known strategy to counter Sohail. Not one but two rushers sprinted straight towards Sohail to narrow his angle, a somewhat suicidal approach. During one such dash, the Korean rusher was hit by a Sohail bullet and had to be carried off the pitch. Yet, the plucky Koreans persisted with the ploy and Sohail couldn`t find the net.

The Koreans, who defended for long periods, managed to get only three penalty corners, last of which came with 13 minutes left. And they succeeded to score with an Indirect Drill.      

The score line of 1-0 stayed. Pakistan lost the match against the run of play.

Surprisingly, off all the seven penalty corners, Pakistan went for a direct attempt by Sohail. No alternate tactic was adopted.

Even an average follower of the game might have observed that, had Pakistan employed some indirect option off the penalty corner, they would have had a better chance of succee in scoring. Especially, with two defenders sprinting towards Sohail, the Koreans were not left with many on the goal line, so an indirect drill presented a great chance to find the target.

In the bronze medal game, Pakistan confronted Australia. The hosts too had lost the semifinal in a disappointing manner, on penalty shootout against the eventual gold medallists Holland.

Buoyed by a jam packed stadium, mostly the supporters of the home team, the Kookaburras easily overcame the visibly dispirited green shirts 6-3.

This scribe talked to some members of the 2000 Olympics Pakistan team, "that semifinal loss still rankles. Till to date, we get sleepless nights"

They all agree that it was ill planning by the manager.

They say that Islahuddin totally relied on direct flick by Sohail Abbas while no indirect drill was practiced. The Pakistan team had a couple of other good PC flickers in Imran Yousaf and Ali Raza. Apart from the indirect drill, another option could have been to employ two pairs at the circle top, to cause confusion among the rushers. The manager didn’t consider even that".

The Korean manager later revealed, `We had two days before the semi-final.  The Players and the management studied the videos of Pakistan`s penalty corners. We noted the time taken by the ball pushed by the injector from the goal line to reach Sohail. The two fastest Koreans practiced the sprints to reach as close as possible to limit his vision of the goal thus narrowing down the angle. `

When asked about Pakistan`s preparation/video analysis before the all-important semifinal, the members of the 2000 Olympics team laughed, They said that after the last pool match, Islahuddin told them to completely relax before the semifinal. Islahuddin never employed anything called video analysis. His coaching consisted of a physical training session in the morning and a practice match among the squad members in the evening. There was nothing regarding how to tackle a particular opponent. Occasionally, some senior members of the team assembled the boys in front of a black board. With a white chalk, they tried to teach some strategy. But it was no substitute for the video analysis.   

The players admit that they didn’t play well in the bronze medal game against Australia. None of them slept the night after the semifinal, which they thought they could have won. So near yet so far. All this reflected in the third place game.    

Things would have been completely different if Pakistan team had the services of a reputed professional foreign coach such as Hans Jorritsma or Reolant Oeltmans. Then they would have certainly played the final against Holland, the team Pakistan had defeated in the pool`.   

It is rightly said, ‘Great players don't always make Great Coaches.'

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


India’s stock rising due to international exposure - Deepika Thakur

The team can finish in the top four in the Tokyo Olympics, says Thakur.

Deepika Thakur: "It is a very crucial time for the team and each player should have her own yardstick and must work on raising the bar." - HOCKEY INDIA

A determination to win and extensive international exposure have helped the Indian women’s hockey team improve its performances in recent years, former star Deepika Thakur has said.

The Indian women’s hockey team enjoyed success in top tournaments recently, winning silver the 2018 Asian Games and qualifying for the Olympics for the second time in a row.

“The women’s team are determined to show that they too can win tournaments like the men’s team,” Thakur said.

“We have won the 2017 Asia Cup, entered the quarterfinals in the World Cup in London, won silver at the 2018 Asian Games. I think these are all great results and collective work by coaching staff and the federation. I feel Hockey India has ensured the women’s team gets fantastic exposure at the international level and planning the ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competition) accordingly has been critical in the team’s resurgence,” she added.


Thakur, who was a member of the Indian team at the Rio Olympics and also a significant contributor in India’s Asian Champions Trophy win in 2016, feels the side can bounce back when international competitions resume. “I certainly believe the team can bounce back. They were in good rhythm after winning back-to-back tournaments last year and they had done well in New Zealand earlier this year. This team is hungry to achieve success at the highest level and hence I am sure once competitions resume, they will bounce back and do everything in their capacity to finish top four in Tokyo,” she said.

“Five years ago, if you would ask me whether the women’s team had it in them to break into the top 10 ranking in the world, my answer may not have been a sure yes,” she conceded.

Thakur said India should remain motivated and focused on its goal of doing well in Tokyo.

“The current Indian side is very committed and focused. But when you have to be in national camps without competition it is easy to feel less motivated. Also, without competition, it is difficult to assess improvement. Hence, I would say it is a very crucial time for the team and each player should have her own yardstick and must work on raising the bar,” she said.


Hockey star Shane O’Donoghue brings coaching platform to Ireland

Shane O’Donoghue, middle, has been working with Mentally Fit for two years

Irish hockey’s record goalscorer Shane O’Donoghue has launched corporate performance coaching organisation Mentally Fit in Ireland.

O’Donoghue, 27, along with coach and mentor Graham Merriman have brought the first franchise of the Belgian company to Ireland.

The Irishman returned from league hockey in Belgium during lockdown to become player-coach role with Glenanne, his boyhood club.

O’Donoghue now hopes to help others with life and performance coaching after working with the brand for the past two years while playing in Belgium.

Co-franchise owner O’ Donoghue said: “There is a great understanding and appreciation in the value of human performance coaching in Ireland. Through these testing times, we all need some level of support and guidance to help build resilience, manage our energy and perform to the best of our abilities.

“During my international sporting career of 10 years and counting, I have experienced the highs and lows of both domestic and international tournaments including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I am a firm believer in the science behind Mentally Fit and I am really looking forward to seeing some amazing results for Irish companies similar to what has been seen in Belgium and across the world over the past 24 years.”


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The Hockey Paper

Garvey storm to women’s IHT title

Lisnagarvey captain Zahra Lowry lifts the Irish Hockey Trophy

Lisnagarvey’s storming first quarter put them on course to their second national trophy in eight days as they swept past the challenge of North Kildare.

The Kildare side had endured a tough preparation for the final with a local lockdown leading to Mark Lambe’s group separated into Kildare and non-KIldare hubs but they managed to get by their semi-final in impressive style.

But they found Garvey a serious proposition from the start with Michelle Tayloer making a number of great saves from the start, first from Megan Quinn followed soon after by Beth Ravey, with the rebound well defended by Kildare in the second instance.

Isabel Angel had Kildare’s first real chance, however her shot into the Garvey circle failed to find her teammates. Ravey was quick to seize another opportunity to shoot but sent it wide of the target.

It was a precursor, though, for Quinn to break the deadlock when she was on hand moments later to put the opening goal on the scoreboard.

And it was 2-0 before the end of the first quarter when a perfect cross picked out Zahra Lowry with her touch finding the goal.

The Comber Road hosts had several chances to extend their lead in the second quarter with a handful of penalty corners awarded in their favour. Each one was kept out by Taylor and the Kildare defence.

The third quarter saw another flurry of penalty corners awarded to Lisnagarvey in quick succession but Kildare defended well to stay in the hunt.

But outside hopes were put to an end in the final quarter when Ravey flicked in from a narrow angle after Taylor had made an initial strong save.

A penalty corner to North Kildare with four minutes on the clock saw Liz Hassett insert and Lucy Small drive the ball into the goal to put Kildare in the scoreboard.

And they piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but this late salvo arrived too late in the day as Garvey secured the Trophy.

Women’s Irish Hockey Trophy final

Lisnagarvey 3 (M Quinn, Z Lowry, B Ravey) North Kildare 1 (L Small)

Lisnagarvey: L Crooks, R Chambers, C McCluskey, P Brown, L Murray, Z Lowry, K Morris, B Ravey, M Quinn, A Christie, T McIlwaine.

Subs: L Patterson, D McGall, L Hughes, E Brown, S Kidd

North Kildare: M Taylor, N O’Malley, R Neary, E Teevan, H Adams, S Baker, K Edghill, S Monaghan, L Hassett, L Small, A Quinn

Subs: E Neary, G Adams, A O’Leary, J Staunton, C O’Regan, I Angel, S Simao

Umpires: M Blake, I McNeill

The Hook

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