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News for 09 February 2020

All the news for Sunday 9 February 2020

2020 FIH Pro League (Men) - 9 February

7 Feb 2020     ARG v ESP (RR)     3 - 4
8 Feb 2020     NZL v GBR (RR)     1 - 1 (3 - 1 SO)
8 Feb 2020     IND v BEL (RR)     2 - 1
8 Feb 2020    ARG v ESP (RR)     5 - 1
9 Feb 2020     NZL v GBR (RR)     0 - 3
9 Feb 2020 17:00 (GMT +5:30)     IND v BEL (RR)     Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

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

Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win Draws SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Belgium 5 3 1 0 0 1 16 9 7 11
2 India 3 2 1 0 0 0 10 6 4 8
3 Netherlands 4 2 0 0 1 1 13 13 0 7
4 Australia 4 1 1 0 1 1 13 11 2 6
5 Germany 2 1 1 0 0 0 7 3 4 5
6 Great Britain 4 1 0 0 2 1 9 10 -1 5
7 Spain 6 1 0 0 1 4 13 23 -10 4
8 Argentina 2 1 0 0 0 1 8 5 3 3
9 New Zealand 4 0 1 0 0 3 4 13 -9 2

FIH Match Centre

2020 FIH Pro League (Women) - 9 February

7 Feb 2020    ARG v USA (RR)     6 - 2
8 Feb 2020     CHN v BEL (RR)     Postponed due to Coronavirus
8 Feb 2020     ARG v USA (RR)     6 - 1
8 Feb 2020     NZL v GBR (RR)     0 - 3
9 Feb 2020     CHN v BEL (RR)     Postponed due to Coronavirus
9 Feb 2020     NZL v GBR (RR)     2 - 2 (4 - 5 SO)

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

Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win Draws SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Netherlands 3 3 0 0 0 0 16 2 14 12
2 Australia 3 1 1 0 1 0 6 5 1 9
3 Argentina 2 2 0 0 0 0 12 3 9 6
4 Belgium 4 1 1 0 1 1 7 9 -2 6
5 Great Britain 3 1 1 0 0 1 6 4 2 5
6 New Zealand 4 1 0 0 1 2 7 8 -1 4
7 Germany 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 China 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 -5 0
9 United States 3 0 0 0 0 3 3 21 -18  

FIH Match Centre

GB men beat New Zealand as women win bonus point in draw

Adam Dixon - All three of Great Britain's men's goals came from penalty corners

Adam Dixon scored twice as Great Britain's men beat New Zealand 3-0 in the FIH Pro League with the women's teams playing out a 2-2 draw.

Dixon's strikes sandwiched a goal by Liam Ansell as the men earned their first victory of the campaign.

Anna Toman equalised for GB women after New Zealand had taken a first-half lead, with Grace Balsdon adding a second before the hosts scored late on.

But GB won the shootout 5-4 to earn a bonus point in Auckland.

"I'm really proud of the girls, a bit disappointed at the end but really proud of the girls who took the shuffles," captain Hollie Pearne-Webb told BT Sport.

"We have made a really big step up the last month."

Nine teams play in each competition, which serves as a qualifier for the World Cup and Olympic Games. GB women are fifth in their standings, while the men are sixth.

Both teams next play the Netherlands in a double-header in Utrecht on 28-29 April.

BBC Sport

Double joy for Argentina while Great Britain shine against New Zealand

The FIH Hockey Pro League continues with matches just hours apart but actually being played on different days. On Saturday 8th February, Argentina host USA women and Spain men before the attention switches to New Zealand, where the Black Sticks national teams face Great Britain on Sunday 9th February.

FIH will be posting regular match updates via our dedicated live reporting pages, the links to which can be found below. To find out how you can watch the action, please visit our broadcast page by clicking here. In territories where broadcast rights agreements are not in place, fans can watch live match action from the FIH Hockey Pro League via the FIH.live global broadcast platform. To visit FIH.live, click here.

Saturday 8th February 2020

Buenos Aires (ARG) – Women: Argentina 6, USA 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Carla Rebecchi (ARG)
In Buenos Aires, Argentina defeated USA for the second time in two days, powering to a 6-1 win against their Pan American rivals to take a maximum six points from their first matches of the 2020 season. Las Leonas, 6-2 winners against the Americans on Friday (7 February), established a 3-0 lead in the opening quarter thanks to goals from Agustina Gorzelany, Delfina Merino and Carla Rebecchi, before USA’s Taylor West reduced the deficit two minutes ahead of half time. However, a Noel Barrionuevo double and second for Merino put the result beyond all doubt.

"We are very happy about these two wins”, said Argentina’s Carla Rebecchi, who was named Player of the Match. “I think now we are thinking about our next match, which is against Holland next week. I think it is going to be a very tough match and it is always a special match that we like to play. I think we have to train very hard this week for that, as it is going to be a very nice weekend."

USA captain Ashley Hoffman said: “I think that we need to be more fit. I think we need to focus on our basic skills, passing to a red shirt out there, and giving the ball where our team-mates want it. I think that will improve the connection."
More details on the match can be found on our live reporting page by clicking here.

Buenos Aires (ARG) – Men: Argentina 5, Spain 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Lucas Martinez (ARG)
Argentina men were also winners on Saturday, with the reigning Olympic champions defeating Spain 5-1 to avenge Friday’s loss against the Red Sticks. Martin Ferreiro’s blistering open play strike for Argentina was cancelled out by a trademark penalty corner drag-flick from Pau Quemada, leaving the teams level at half time. However, a three-goal burst from Lucas Vila, Jose Tolini and Lucas Martinez established a 4-1 advantage in the third quarter before Martinez claimed his second and Argentina’s fifth early in the fourth period.

"The difference [between today and yesterday] was that today we were in good form, we played really good during the game, so we are happy to get the three points today”, said Player of the Match Lucas Martinez. “The next step for us will be next week against the Netherlands, which of course will be a really tough game, as is usual in the international games. We should get better on the defence and some structure in attack and penalty corners to try to beat the Netherlands."

Pau Quemada (ESP) said: "We need to keep on improving. We knew that the second game would be tough, mostly because of the effort we made yesterday, but they were marvellous so we need to keep on going."

More details on the match can be found on our live reporting page by clicking here.  

Sunday 9th February 2020

Auckland (NZL) - Men: New Zealand 0, Great Britain 3 (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Adam Dixon (GBR)
Report to follow...
More details on the match can be found on our live reporting page by clicking here.

Auckland (NZL) - Women: New Zealand 2, Great Britain 2 - 4-5 After Shoot-Out (Match 2 of 2)

Player of the Match: Georgia Barnett (NZL)
Report to follow ...
More details on the match can be found on our live reporting page by clicking here.

The final match of this weekend’s FIH Hockey Pro League programme sees India men and reigning World and European champions Belgium taking to the turf at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, with Belgium looking to avenge the 2-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of the hosts on Saturday.

Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India v Belgium (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 2030 (GMT/UTC -3)
Match page | live reporting: click here.

To see the complete FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 match schedule, which includes links to ticket sites for each of the matches, please click here.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  


Official FIH Pro League Site

India men stun World champions Belgium in FIH Hockey Pro League

India men claimed a stunning 2-1 victory over reigning World and European champions Belgium on a busy day of world class action in the FIH Hockey Pro League.

The day’s play started at the North Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland, where New Zealand's men got the better of Great Britain to claim a bonus point thanks to a shoot-out victory after the two sides finished with the scores locked together at 1-1. A fine backhand strike from Stephen Jenness put the Black Sticks ahead in the third quarter of the match, with Great Britain eventually restoring parity thanks to Christopher Griffiths' composed, volleyed finish four minutes from the end. With both teams taking a point for the draw, it was New Zealand who took the bonus point courtesy of an excellent goalkeeping performance in the shoot-out from Player of the Match Richard Joyce, who only conceded just once as the Black Sticks emerged 3-1 winners.

Speaking after the match, Richard Joyce said: "We've always had our troubles against GB. They are a pretty good team, they attack with pace and I think we did a really well to absorb their counter-attacks and capitalise on our chances."

More information on the match can be found on the live reporting page by clicking here.

Great Britain’s women produced a stellar performance against hosts New Zealand, scoring three times without reply to claim their first win of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League. Tessa Howard opened the scoring nine minutes into the match with a finish from close range, with Charlotte Watson's emphatic penalty stroke doubling GB's advantage in the second quarter. The Black Sticks rallied in the third quarter but failed to find the goal that they so desperately needed before Player of the Match Shona McCallin put the result beyond all doubt, sliding in to score GB's third to give Mark Hager an impressive 3-0 away victory over his former side.

Great Britain's Lily Owsley said: “There’s a lot of relief – we’re glad to start the ball rolling and it was a great game. After last weekend’s disappointment [against Australia] we needed that and hopefully we’ll come out tomorrow and get even more points from this trip."

For more information, click here.

Belgium's return to the stadium where they lifted the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup 2018 was not to be a happy one, with India claiming a 2-1 victory over the world's number one ranked team at Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium. India needed just 90 second to take the lead when Mandeep Singh deflected home from close range, with Belgium eventually pulling level in the third quarter thanks to Gauthier Boccard's penalty corner rocket. India's winning goal arrived one minute into the final quarter through Ramandeep Singh before the hosts repelled intense pressure from their illustrious opponents to seal a win that sees them move second behind Belgians in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings. Belgium created a host of goal-scoring opportunities, but superb goalkeeping performances from Krishan Pathak and PR Sreejesh - who played two quarters each - played a crucial role in what is a famous victory for India.

India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, who was named Player of the Match, said: "We started well and worked very hard. We are very proud of our defence of our PCs [penalty corners]."

For more information, click here.

The FIH Hockey Pro League continues on later today when Argentina’s teams play the second matches of their respective double headers against USA women and Spain men, with New Zealand and India hosting second matches on Sunday (9 February). A list of this weekend’s fixtures can be found below, with the complete match schedule available by clicking here.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

FIH Hockey Pro League 

Match Day 12 – Saturday 08 February 2020

North Harbour Hockey Stadium, Auckland (NZL)

Men’s result: New Zealand 1, Great Britain 1 3-1 After Shoot-Out (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Richard Joyce (GK - NZL)
Umpires: Lim Hong-Zhen (SGP), Steve Rogers (AUS) & Aleisha Neumann (AUS - video)

Women’s result: New Zealand 0, Great Britain 3 (Match 1 of 2)

Player of the Match: Shona McCallin (GBR)
Umpires: Irene Presenqui (ARG), Aleisha Neumann (AUS) & Steve Rogers (AUS - video)

Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)

Men’s result: India 2, Belgium 1 (Match 1 of 2)

Player of the Match: Krishan Pathak (GK - IND)
Umpires: David Tomlinson (NZL), Coen van Bunge (NED) & Gareth Greenfield (NZL - video)

Upcoming fixtures - Saturday 08 February 2020

Buenos Aires (ARG) – Women: Argentina v USA (Match 2 of 2)

Time: 1800 (GMT/UTC -3)
Buenos Aires (ARG) – Men: Argentina v Spain (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 2030 (GMT/UTC -3)

Sunday 9 February 2020

Auckland (NZL) – Men: New Zealand v Great Britain (Match 2 of 2)

Time: 1700 (GMT/UTC +13)
Auckland (NZL) – Women: New Zealand v Great Britain (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 1930 (GMT/UTC +13)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India v Belgium (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 1700 (GMT/UTC +5.30)


Official FIH Pro League Site

India stun world champions Belgium in FIH Pro League

By Nancy Gillen


India edged past world champions Belgium in a shock victory in the men's International Hockey Federation (FIH) Pro League.

The Indian side recorded a narrow 2-1 victory at Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the venue where Belgium had lifted the World Cup in 2018.

Mandeep Singh gave India the lead after just 90 seconds, before Gauthier Boccard finally pulled Belgium level in the third quarter.

Despite the setback, Ramandeep Singh scored the winner for the hosts as soon as the fourth quarter started, with Belgium unable to respond.

"We started well and worked very hard," said India's goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, who was named player of the match.

"We are very proud of our defence of our penalty corners."

Spain also edged past Argentina 4-3 at Cenard in Buenos Aires in the men's competition.

Two goals from Maico Casella and one from Jose Tolini were not enough to give Argentina the victory, with Pau Quemada scoring twice for Spain.

Alvaro Iglesias and Vincenc Ruiz also got on the scoresheet.

In the women's contest at the same venue, Argentina secured a more comfortable 6-2 win against the United States.

Julieta Jankunas, Delfina Merino, Agustina Gorzelany, Rosario Luchetti, Rocio Sanchez and Carla Rebecchi all contributed to the Argentinian victory.

Ashley Hoffman and Taylor West scored the consolatory goals for the US.

Britain then managed their first win of the Pro League season, with the Olympic champions defeating New Zealand 3-0.

Goals came from Tessa Howard, Charlotte Watson and Shona McCallin.

Inside the Games

Disciplined, determined India deliver stunning blow to world No 1 Belgium as team's ascendancy extends

Sundeep Misra

India climbed to No 4 in world rankings after victory over Belgium. @SVSunil24

Separated by a goal within 90 seconds of the start, India in the lead 1-0, both teams took different paths. Belgium ate up space, used the flanks and fired away shot after shot. India after scoring the opener in the second minute off a Mandeep Singh deflection, sat back, absorbed the blows, the goalkeeper’s, Krishan Pathak and P Sreejesh, giving a new meaning to the word ‘last line of defence.’ Both showed courage and technically were perfect, coming out and not standing on the line paid dividends as Belgian forwards couldn’t use that extra second to create space and shoot. On a larger, inspirational scale, India beat the World No 1 and World Champions 2-1 to climb to world No 4 spot in the FIH rankings. In the Pro League standings, India climb to second spot with 8 points after 3 matches, Belgium are still on top with 11 points after 5 matches.

Not since the rankings began has India ever entered the top four in World Hockey. They were World Champions in 1975 and Olympic Champions in 1980. But those days, there were no rankings. India, of course, finished 5th in the 1994 World Cup so for a brief while found itself in the top six. But this is truly a showing that has come steadily to a team which has step-by-step increased its domination and climb into the top four nations in the world.

At the break, the stats were: Belgium’s 13 shots on goal to India’s 2 while the circle penetrations gave Belgium 21 to India’s 6. Belgium had 6 PCs to none for India. The question at that point was, how long can India survive? But, whether you play defensive or offensive hockey, structures are what make you survive. Belgium raided the Indian striking circle but couldn’t trap, hold or create enough space to beat the Indian goalkeepers. The Indian defence, normally, gets rattled. Against Belgium, they held their own, kept the last line of players in a single file, trapped cleanly and as Reid said after the match "happy with the way the defence tackled."

The first minute was an indication on how the match eventually would play out. Jarmanpreet Singh, playing Pro League for the first time, had let the ball slip but Belgian captain Thomas Briels couldn’t reach the ball in time. The counterattack flowed, a few seconds later. Vivek Prasad gave it to Raj Kumar Pal who was playing in his debut match for the senior side. Pal cut the ball back to the top of the circle where Dilpreet didn’t waste any time in hitting it towards goal. Mandeep standing a few feet away from the Belgian goalkeeper deflected it in. India had the lead 1-0. Belgium was a bit rattled.

The match had begun amidst a drizzle. The weather made the fans stay away. More importantly, the heavy turf didn’t deter the Belgians from playing both the flanks. Knowing that Belgium would attack, India packed the defence, pulling in the midfield and kept two players above the line, ready for a counterattack. By the end of the 1st Q, Belgium had five PCs. India had a goal and four extremely sharp saves from Krishan Pathak. Theoretically, forwards score goals and goalkeepers save then. By that game plan, India was playing brilliantly.

Sreejesh replaced Pathak in the second quarter. Belgium continued to attack, using both flanks to stretch the Indian defence and also ensuring that India pull players back. The midfield was suddenly with Belgium. Sreejesh saved off a Van Doren shot and two minutes later, Dohmen squeezed through a pass to Tanguy Cosyns whose smart deflection was saved by Sreejesh, again. Except for the 6th PC, India didn’t concede any in the 2nd Quarter. The worry was that India wasn’t making chances upfront. It was difficult also to play full court as players had been pulled back.

As the 3rd Q started, Belgium created their 7th PC. With Pathak playing fearlessly, Belgium needed a moment of brilliance. It came with some smart thinking of the bench as the PC stopper pushed the ball to Gauthier Boccard as the main PC flicker sold a dummy. Boccard created space on the left and by the time, the Indian defence, caught on the wrong foot, could understand the danger, he flicked high into the top right corner of the Indian goal. There was no way, any defence could have stopped that ball. Belgium had the equaliser in the 33rd minute. The scores were tied 1-1.

Stung by the Belgian equaliser, India shifted for a bit from the defensive to being adventurous. Two PCs came and off the 2nd it looked like Manpreet had found the goal. But the umpire checked it and saw that the ball had not left the striking circle. Belgium was making fast turnovers, running smoothly from the midfield, as the ball was sprayed into corners. De Kerpel found a lot of space on the right thus moving into the Indian striking circle with ease. India later in the 4th Q plugged the gap.

Tied at 1-1, both teams moved into the last and 4th Q. A minute into the quarter, 46th minute, India had their 3rd PC. Harmanpreet Singh’s flick deflected off a defender stick and reached Ramandeep Singh who made no mistake tapping in to give India a 2-1 lead. Belgium were once again chasing the match and scoreboard. They had their 8th and 9th PC. India’s defence line stood strong. By now, a little frustration was creeping into the Belgium’s play. India did have a few counters but couldn’t capitalise, losing the ball to bad passes or over playing in the midfield. With the clock showing 2:36 left in the match, Dilpreet was shown the yellow card. For the remaining time, India was down to ten men. Replays showed that Dilpreet was unlucky while Van Doren created the yellow card with a bit of gamesmanship and drama.

India had their 4th PC in the dying minutes. Belgium had already pulled out their goalkeeper. All India needed was a rising flick, but a rank bad execution saw Belgium escape and with two seconds left, earned their 13th PC. Sreejesh pulled off another save as India won a tough encounter 2-1 and beat the World Champions on the very ground, they had been crowned in December 2018.

Pathak, rightfully, walked off with the man-of-the-match.

Belgium had 40 circle penetrations to India’s 18. They had 25 shots on goal to India’s 6. And they had 13 PCs to India’s 4. India won 2-1. Belgian coach Shane McLeod summed it up aptly after the match: “India’s early goal gave them the confidence while our moves showed more desperation than thought in execution.”

The Belgian captain Thomas Briels said that they created enough opportunities to win the match. “But India defended very well, and their goalkeepers were very good. India are tough opponents and we will learn from this.”

Indian coach Graham Reid was satisfied with the performance. “I am pleased we won a tough encounter, especially the last quarter. If we come up with a similar match, the boys would know what to do. We gave away too many opportunities and there are lots to learn from a match like this.”

Reid was also happy with the boy’s energy saying the “work rate was very good.” The Indian coach made a point in India taking an early referral and wasting it saying, “we need to tighten our procedure about referrals. We couldn’t use it in the later stages of the match.”

Briels, in the end, said, “We have to find a way to beat India.” It is a potentially a big 2nd game on Sunday. With both teams playing on such fine margins, the result will yet again hinge on discipline and structure.


Brilliant goalies give India a Belgium a toast (2/8/2020)

s2h team

Man of the match Krishan Pathak. Photo Courtesy: Shamim Qureshy

Not many times does one hear Indian goalies decide the outcome of a match in regulation play time as was seen today at Bhubaneswar. Its almost a new dawn for Indian men's hockey in the Olympic Year. Established goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and rookie Krishan Pathak played in equal measure to ward off a dozen penalty corners besides innumerable Belgium attacks, to give stuttering Indian attack a winning label. The duo's show undid all the fitting aspiration and matching hardwork of the reigning World Cup Champions.

Mandeeep Singh struck within two minutes and then in the 46th minute Ramandeep Singh added another for the heart-warming 2-1 victory over World Cup Champion visitors.

Manpreet Singh gave India an early lead in the 90th second of the encounter against Belgium at half-empty Kalinga stadium only to see it cancelled out three minutes after play resumed after lemon break.

Gauthier Boccard struck through a penalty corner. Early in the fourth quarter, Ramandeep Singh deflected the ball in the penalty corner sequence after it hit the first charger and bounced (2-1).

The 46th minute goals was countered by a penalty corner by the fighting Belgium. The drag was hit on the defenders let leading to another penalty corner, which was ably deflected by Indian charger. Belgium wanted another penalty corner but the umpire was not moved.

Earlier, Belgium were unstoppable in the first quarter after early conceding goal, but it was Krishan Pathank in goal who came out with numerous athletic stops that kept the scoreboard unmoved.

His illustrious senior in the cage Sreejesh came up with his his best in the second quarter to see it off for a calm 1-0 half time score.

Belgium did strike after the break, when Sreejesh was in goal and the penalty corner indirect saw the ball hitting the roof top.

Within seconds India got a penalty corner. Stopper Manpreet, depite not stopping properly managed to scoop for the goal in, which was contested by the visitors. The third umpire found the ball hitting Manpreet's leg before his shot and thus gave free hit in favour of Belgium. The Indian joy was short-lived before it was revived through the goal by Ramandeep Singh.

Unlike previous three quarters in which Belgium had its upper hand, It was even in the fourth quarter. India cam very close to scoring when Gurjant split the defence to enter the circle and send whiplash of a backhander towards goal, but despite diving Ramandeep Singh just missed out. Its a close shave for the visitors.

Belgium waged a grim battle and was on target many times. A perfect close range shot from vetern Jon-John Doeman was well tackled by Sreejesh. However, Belgium got a penalty corner which was again made null and void by the crowded Indian defence.

India took on Belgium today at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar in their third match of the 2nd FIH Pro-league. Earlier, India engaged The Netherlands in the double-header on the same turf.

This is Belgium's fifth match in the ongoing 2nd FIH Pro-league, all home away games. The reigning Olympic Silver Medalist and World Cup holders, are also World No.1 team under the revised world ranking system that came in to force very recently.

Further, Belgium are currently at the top of the league table with eleven points. They have won all of their four matches, defeating Australia and New Zealand (two matches each), away from home.

India with 8 points is behind them.


India stuns world number one Belgium 2-1

Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh scored on either side of a Gauthier Boccard's penalty corner strike as India beat world number one Belgium 2-1 on Saturday.

Team Sportstar

Indian men's hockey team celebrates the first goal against Belgium on Saturday.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Indian goalkeepers Krishan Bahadur Pathak and P.R. Sreejesh came up trumps as the men's hockey team beat the world number one Belgium 2-1 in the FIH Pro League match on Saturday. Mandeep Singh scored in the second minute to put India 1-0 up before Gauthier Boccard equalised for the visitor from a penalty corner in the 33rd minute.

Ramandeep Singh proved to be the difference between the sides as his 46th-minute goal from a penalty corner deflection to send the Kalinga Stadium into raptures.

Graham Reid's side began the match in emphatic fashion as Mandeep Singh converted from close range to put India 1-0 up in the 2nd minute. Newcomer Raj Kumar Pal got the ball on the left side of the penalty area and cut a pass to Dilpreet Singh who sent a powerful reverse hit towards the goal which was deflected into the net by Mandeep.

Undeterred by the early goal, Belgium won four penalty corners in a row but Amit Rohidas blocked Alexander Hendrickx thrice while the fourth attempt wide off the post. The visitor won two more corners in the first quarter but Krishan Pathak made a string of stunning saves to deny the Belgians.

Belgium pinned India back in its own circle for the entirety of the second quarter and won two penalty corners. Sreejesh was the hero during this period as thwarted attempts from Tom Boon, Augustin Meurmans and Simon Gougnard as India held to a slender lead.

The Indian goal was finally beaten soon after the half time as Belgium won a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. Gauthier Boccard made room on his left from a penalty corner variation and smashed a back pass into the roof of the net to pull the European champion level. Indian captain Manpreet Singh found the back of the net from a penalty corner in the 41st minute but video umpire Gareth Greenfield ruled out the goal as the ball was trapped inside the penalty area.

Belgium went close to getting the second goal when Florent van Aubel put Thomas Briels through to the goal but Pathak made a stunning save from point-blank range to save the reverse flick.

India snatched back the lead from a penalty corner in the 47th minute when Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick deflected off Victor Wegnez and fell for Ramandeep Singh who stabbed home from close range. Belgium swamped the Indian half in search of an equaliser and substituted goalkeeper Vicent Vanasch for an extra outfield player but the Indian defence stood firm to notch up a famous win.

The win took India to second the Pro League standings with eight points from three matches, behind Belgium which has 11 points from five games.

India will face Belgium in the second leg of the tie on Sunday beginning at 7 pm.


India holds off world champions Belgium 2-1

Hockey India Twitter

Indian hockey fans had a treat in Bhubaneswar when the Manpreet Singh-led team convincingly held off world champions Belgium to win 2-1 in 1st match of the double header.

Indian forwards Mandeep Singh (2nd) and Ramandeep Singh (46th) kept India in the lead at the Kalinga Stadium where Belgium had won the World Cup title a little more than a year ago.

While the goals were scored by the Indian forwards, the combined effort of goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak had won India—the current world No. 4 — this contest.

"Both Indian goalkeepers were fantastic. Without them we would have seen a totally different scoreline,” said Belgium coach Shane McLeod.

The World Cup winners had earned as many as 13 penalty corners and converted only one — Gauthier Boccard in the 33rd minute — with the rest being saved by the rushers and goalkeepers.

India chief coach Graham Reid's policy of changing goalkeepers every quarter proved effective.

India are now in second place with eight points from three matches and only behind leaders Belgium (11), who have played two more games in the FIH Pro League.

Reid, who is satisfied with the result said he was a little concerned about the errors that allowed the Belgians to take as many as 24 shots on goal.

“I’m really pleased about winning a tough encounter. They threw everything at us and we came out on top. But we gave away too many opportunities (corners). We have to do better than this but you are also playing against the best team in the world. So lots to learn,” said Reid.

Talking about the match, Belgium captain Thomas Briels said, “For the most part, we created chances to win a lot of corners but India defended really well. The goalies played an amazing game, credit to them. They didn’t let the ball go in. It is a good lesson. India is a tough opponent and we like to play tough opponents and learn from them. We will try to be better tomorrow. India put up a fight and are contestants for an Olympic medal.”

Daily News & Analysis

Goalies day out

Sreejesh, Pathak deny Belgium, India win first leg 2-1

Mandeep Singh (centre) scored the first goal for India against Belgium in the FIH Pro Hockey League in Bhubaneswar. HI

The Indian men’s hockey team’s sensational run of form continued as they stunned world champions Belgium 2-1 to seal their third win on the trot in the FIH Pro League.

After defeating world No. 3 Netherlands in their opening two matches of the FIH Pro League, India beat world No. 1 Belgium in a thrilling match at the Kalinga Stadium to continue their unbeaten run.

Mandeep strikes

Mandeep Singh scored a field goal in the 2nd minute of the match before Gauthier Boccard equalised for European champions Belgium in the 33rd minute with a powerful dragflick from a penalty corner.

Ramandeep Singh scored the decisive goal in the 47th minute via a penalty corner to give world No. 4 India a victory in front of a frenzied crowd at the same venue where the home side beat the Dutch twice.

With this sensational victory, India consolidated their ranking from No. 5 to No. 4 for the first time since the world ranking system was introduced in 2003. The two sides meet again tomorrow at the same venue.

After getting off to a rollicking start in their maiden FIH Hockey Pro League with a 5-2 and 3-1 shootout (3-3 in regulation time) wins against the Netherlands, India did well to halt Belgium’s winning streak in the ongoing FIH Pro League.

Coming into the match with identical 4-2 wins against Australia and 6-2 and 3-1 triumphs against against New Zealand, Belgium struggled to convert their chances against India. Despite dominating with ball-possession, making as many as 38 circle entries, taking 24 shots on the goal and 12 penalty corners, the Belgian unit could not muster much success inside the circle.

The Belgians were denied thanks to a standout performance by Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak who lived up to the billing, backing India’s defence by knocking off pretty much every opportunity created by the visiting team’s strikers.

Pathak Player of Match

Pathak, who was named Player of the Match, said: “We started well and worked very hard. We are very proud of our defence of the penalty corners.”

Belgium skipper Thomas Briels rued his team’s missed chances. “It was a tough match and playing India at home is never easy. We could not convert our chances. There have been many times when penalty corners have saved us, but today, the Indian goalkeepers were outstanding and hopefully we can seek revenge tomorrow,” he said.

Belgium are still on top with 11 points from five games. The victory was India’s 50th win against Belgium, who are still on top of the league standings with 11 points from five games.


    India 2: Mandeep Singh (2nd), Ramandeep Singh (47th)
    Belgium 1: Gauthier Boccard (33rd)

The Tribune

Late Griffiths strike sees GB's men draw with New Zealand

A late equaliser from Chris Griffiths earned Great Britain’s men their second point in the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League season.

The forward struck with just four minutes remaining after Stephen Jenness had put the hosts ahead with a fine reverse finish late in the third quarter.

Richard Joyce was inspired form for the hosts, making several crucial saves and denying Griffiths what looked to be a certain a winner in the 57th minute.

He then shone in the shootout too as New Zealand won 3-1 to take the bonus point.

Playing in their changed strip of white shirt & blue shorts, GB’s men started on the front foot as Rupert Shipperley saw an effort saved in the first minute before Will Calnan was thwarted by Joyce shortly after.

The hosts had their chances too, with George Pinner standing tall to save from point blank range early in the first quarter, while Mark Gleghorne had two corners saved.

The second quarter was more circumspect, with Tom Sorsby seeing one effort blocked before Liam Ansell hit the post in the dying moments of the half.

Sorsby then had another effort saved early in the third quarter while at the other end Pinner was called into action again from close range.

There was nothing he could do to prevent the Black Sticks from taking the lead in the 43rd minute though as Jenness powered a shot into the top corner.

Great Britain pressed hard to find the equaliser in the final quarter and it eventually came as Griffiths reacted well to turn a deflected effort past Joyce.

The East Grinstead forward was unlucky not to add a second a minute later as Joyce pulled off a fine reaction save as GB ended the game on top but could not find the winner, with Jackson also thwarted.

Will Calnan got Great Britain off to the perfect start in the shootout but Joyce was on hand to ensure it was the hosts who claimed the bonus point.

After the game, Griffiths said: “It’s another point in the bag but there were slight frustations at times throughout the game. We needed to possibly take more care of the ball in the final third but otherwise I thought it was a good performance.

“We’re a bit down because of the outcome as we felt like we dominated the game in patches. But I think that shows where we are as a group – we want to go out and win games and we don’t want to disappoint ourselves. I think that can only be a good thing.”

Head coach Danny Kerry added: “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win. We were soft on the ball in the important times and moments. I can’t take away from the lads they went for it and credit to them for coming back from 1-0 down. But even before then we had plenty of opportunities to win the game.

New Zealand 1 (0)
Jenness (43’, FG)

Great Britain 1 (0)
Griffiths (56’, FG)

NZ win shootout 3-1

Starting XI: Pinner (GK), Ames, Shipperley, Griffiths, Gleghorne, Roper, Dixon (C), Jackson, Ansell, Sanford, Wallace
Subs (Used): Sloan, Waller, Gall, Sorsby, Calnan, Draper
Subs (Unused): Taylor, Forsyth, Martin, Gibson (GK)

Great Britain Hockey media release

GB's women ease to first 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League victory

Watson Goal v NZ FIHPL20

A stunning goal from Shona McCallin helped Great Britain’s women secure their first win in the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League.

The midfielder swept home a delightful cross from Tess Howard ten minutes from the end to bag all thee points after an impressive performance.

Howard herself had neatly deflected home a cross to start the scoring early in a game that saw Lily Owsley make her 150th combined international appearance.

Charlotte Watson was also on target as Mark Hager’s team bagged their first points in this year’s edition.

It was New Zealand who came closest to breaking as they won three corners in quick succession halfway through the first quarter, with McCallin pulling off a brilliant save on the line.

Two minutes later Howard gave Great Britain the lead as she found herself in the perfect spot to lift Sarah Robertson’s dangerous cross over Georgia Barnett.

GB then won a corner in the 20th minute but Anna Toman’s slap was saved before Watson doubled the lead a minute later with a stroke after Jo Hunter was barged as she wound up to take a shot.

Toman saw another corner blocked early in the third quarter before the hosts started applying plenty of pressure in search of  a goal to draw themselves back into the game, winning several set pieces of their own.

But there was no way past Sabbie Heesh or her defenders, with Leah Wilkinson and Howard valiantly throwing themselves into the path of the ball.

McCallin then provided the moment of the day as she diving to turn Howard’s brilliant pass into the corner for her first ever GB goal and her first international strike in more than two years.

After the game, Owsley said: “There’s a lot of relief – we’re glad to start the ball rolling and it was a great game. After last weekend’s disappointment we needed that and hopefully we’ll come out tomorrow and get even more points from this trip.

“I thought last weekend we put in good performances but we didn’t come away with the wins. When you’re playing well you have to grind out good performances and today we knew we had to turn the screw and we did it.

“150 – I don’t know where the time has gone. It’s been a journey and to achieve this is very special and I’m so proud. I couldn’t think of a better group to get it with.”

The two teams play again at 4:30am GMT tomorrow morning.

New Zealand 0 (0)

Great Britain 3 (2)
Howard (9’, FG); Watson (21’, PS); McCallin (50’, FG)

Starting XI: Hinch (GK), Unsworth, Toman, Martin, Townsend, Robertson, Pearne-Webb (C), McCallin, Owsley, Balsdon, Watson
Subs (Used): Howard, Jones, Neal, Heesh (GK), Hunter, Petter, Wilkinson
Subs (Unused): Rayer, Burge

Great Britain Hockey media release

Great Britain women ease past New Zealand

By The Hockey Paper

GB ran out 3-0 winners in Auckland PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS/SIMON WATTS

Shona McCallin scored her first Great Britain goal in superb fashion on Saturday as Mark Hager’s side secured their first Pro League points of the campaign.

On his return to New Zealand as GB coach, Hager oversaw a comfortable 3-0 win against the Black Sticks in Auckland.

Tess Howard opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a close range shot, before Charlotte Watson notched a well-executed penalty stroke.

In the final quarter, Howard slapped into the circle where an unmarked McCallin deflected low from high up in the D. It was a wonderful strike and her first goal in 48 GB matches.

“They were faster and quicker to the ball and it looked like they wanted the win more,” said New Zealand’s Stacey Michelsen.

Maddie Hinch picked up a jaw injury early on in the match. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s win atoned for their match last Sunday where a perplexing FIH rule saw points awarded to Australia after the cancellation mid-match due to adverse weather – despite GB winning at the time.

Meanwhile, New Zealand men and GB drew 1-1 in their encounter, with the Kiwis running out 3-1 winners in the shoot-out.

Stephen Jenness scored in the 43rd minute before Chris Griffiths levelled 13 minutes later. The teams resume for the second games on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Las Leonas made a winning start to their campaign with a 6-2 triumph over USA.

Olympic men’s champions Argentina went down 4-3 as Spain came back to win courtesy of a last minute PC strike from Pau Quemada.

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The Hockey Paper

Argentina Pushes Past USWNT in Second FIH Hockey Pro League Meeting

Image Courtesy of FIH

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – In their second meeting in the FIH Hockey Pro League taking place at Cenard in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the No. 14 U.S. Women’s National Team knew they had to collectively defend well to maintain the strong attack of No. 3 Argentina. Although that was the game plan, Las Leonas scored in the first minute and never looked back as they pushed past the USA, 1-6.

Argentina came out quick and scored just one minute into the contest when Agustina Gorzelany put away a high penalty corner drag. Las Leonas was right back on the attack when Maria Granatto used quick stick skills to earn their first penalty corner but it was denied by the glove of USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles (Yorktown, Va.). A close chance came for USA in the 6th minute when in the right corner Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) worked it into the circle with 3D skills as Mary Beth Barham’s (Fairfax, Va.) falling connection went over the end line. Argentina continued to show possession dominance scoring two more times in the opening frame. The second goal came in the 8th minute when a push toward goal by Delfina Merino hit a USA foot and went in and the third off an overhead that was run down by Carla Rebecchi who entered the circle and popped it in over Robles.

USA created more scoring opportunities in the second quarter and that also resulted in more possession. In the 19th minute, Grega was fouled hard in the circle and earned USA a penalty corner, as Giselle Kanevsky was issued a green card. Unsuccessful on the chance, the red, white and blue continued to attack and earned two more penalty corners. The second attempt was well-executed when Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md.) deflected home a drag from Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) to add one back and change the score to 1-3.

Argentina came out hungry at the start of the third frame, when Rebecchi drove into the circle and set up Granatto but the quick hands of Robles rejected the chance. USA saw some positive forward play but couldn’t break into their attacking circle as they were met by Las Leonas’ strong defense. Argentina almost added another when Merino’s lift hit the corner of the crossbar, but they were able to recoup and win a penalty stroke after a video review. In the 40th minute, Noel Barrionuevo converted on the penalty stroke past USA goalkeeper Jess Jecko (Sauquoit, N.Y.), who replaced Robles for the play, to make it 1-4.

The fourth quarter started with USA on their heels as they defended in numbers to limit Argentina’s scoring threats. Las Leonas won three penalty corners in quick succession, but it wasn’t until the third in the 53rd minute when Barrionuevo buried a low, hard drag to extend the lead. Argentina continued to show their dominant ball control in the remaining minutes of the game and with just 11 seconds left Merino added her name to the scoresheet off a penalty corner rebound that she volleyed into the roof of the net.

“I think that we need to be more fit,” said Hoffman, USWNT Captain, following the game. “I think we need to focus on our basic skills, passing to a red shirt out there, and giving the ball where our teammates want it. I think that will improve the connection."

Following the game, Argentina’s Rebecchi was named Player of the Match for her one goal and many shots.

Next, the U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to Christchurch, New Zealand for back-to-back games next weekend against No. 7 New Zealand on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16, locally.


USFHA media release

Olivia Merry credits 'white line fever' as she becomes the Black Sticks' leading scorer

Andrew Voerman

Olivia Merry has scored more goals than anyone else for the Black Sticks. ALISHA LOVRICH/PHOTOSPORT

As is the case with many who are among the best in the world at what they do, Olivia Merry finds it a bit hard to explain.

She scored four goals as the Black Sticks beat Belgium in the FIH Pro League last weekend, becoming the country's all-time leading scorer.

With 106 to her name after that match, she had one more than former team-mate, Anita McLaren, having already left the likes of Krystal Forgesson (77), Katie Glynn (77), and Gemma Flynn (72 – and counting again) well behind.

Merry isn't one who seeks the limelight – and she is grateful for what she's learnt over the years from those she has now surpassed.

"I've always looked up to them as goalscorers … to top all of them, it seems surreal, because they were – and still are – my idols."

Merry has been a goalscorer since she was a youngster in Christchurch, and while she has an explanation for why she's so good at it, it doesn't come easy.

"It's a hard one to explain," she begins.

"But it's that white line fever.

"I'm a bit bigger than most of the females that play international hockey, so I guess that helps – the presence I have in the attacking circle is one of my strengths.

"My attitude is that if anyone gets in the way between the ball and the goal, they're probably going in the goal with it."

Merry had had a few days to reflect on her achievement before she spoke to Stuff, ahead of this weekend's Pro League clashes with Great Britain, but said it still felt "a bit surreal".

"With goals, it's a bit different to most personal milestones, I feel like goals are about the team and I've always had that approach.

"I think it's an awesome milestone to achieve, but they're definitely the team's goals, I'm often just the one that's lucky, at the end of the day, to put the ball in the back of the net."

Merry's climb to the top of the Black Sticks' goalscoring chart came after she was the top scorer in the Pro League in 2019, netting 15 times, five more than anyone else.

"It's not really something I strive for and it was a bit of a surprise," she said.

Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry was the top scorer in last year's Pro League. ALISHA LOVRICH/PHOTOSPORT

"With the Pro League finals, the girls involved had more opportunity to score goals because they played an extra couple of games.

"It was a bit weird how it happened, but I was pretty stoked. I guess I've been involved with the Black Sticks now for eight years, so it was nice to finally have a bit of success."

After taking on Great Britain this weekend in Auckland, the Black Sticks will head south, to Merry's hometown of Christchurch, where they have their last two sets of home matches, against the United States and Argentina.

"It seems like there is often a bit of an exodus up to Auckland for hockey players, so to bring hockey back to Christchurch is pretty cool," Merry said.

"There's coaches and players that I've grown up with over the years that are down there, so for them to be able to see you out there on the world stage is pretty cool."

Reflecting on her 106 goals, Merry picked out four that were especially memorable – her late winner in the 2017 World League semifinal against England; the strike that helped the Black Sticks beat Australia in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match in 2018; and a brace in front of a packed crowd in the Netherlands last year.


Whetton sees plenty of positives ahead of tough India test

By Adam Clifford.

Fresh from a few days off after consecutive defeats of Great Britain and making his 200th Kookaburras appearance, Jake Whetton took away much more than just the five points from the weekend in Sydney.

“I guess if you were to take something positive out of the first game against GB, it was the ability to come back into the game after falling behind 4-2, which shows that the resilience of the group is great,” said Whetton.

“Obviously it’s something we don’t want to rely on that often but it’s nice to know we were able to get back into the game and finish it off in a shootout.”

“Game two was a much better standard that we hold ourselves too. We had a really good conversation the night after game one on what we wanted to do in game two and I thought we did this particularly well.”

“It was nice to score some field goals and get our first win of the year.”

The Kookaburras blooded a debutant in each match, rewarding Nathan Ephraums and Kurt Lovett for strong Sultana Bran Hockey One campaigns in 2019 and impressive form within the squad’s daily training environment.

“Both Kurt and Nathan held their own very respectfully and it was great to be involved in their first games for their country,” Whetton acknowledged.

“They have both worked extremely hard to get to where they are, but it only gets harder from here and I know they are up for the ride which is awesome to see.”

The Kookaburras return to training before travelling to hockey-mad India to face a home side that won their opening FIH Pro League clash against the Netherlands 5-2, before drawing their follow up clash 3-3 and claiming the penalty shootout.

FIH recently announced a new match-based world ranking system from January and India have quickly climbed to number five in the world.

Whetton says his teammates will thoroughly examine footage from India’s recent games, but he also has one eye on his flight seating for the trek over.

“I’m not too phased about who I’ll be rooming buddies with, but typically I’ll call caps on the room with a king bed and not succeed,” the diminutive midfielder jokes.

“Where I sit on the plane and who I like to sit with has changed in the last few years with the status of my Virgin Australia rewards points going up.”

“Nowadays I tend to get an exit row and sit next to Eddie O, who with all his travel back to his beloved Tasmania and hockey trips, I’m pretty sure they have given him shares in Virgin Australia!”

Speaking of the Kookaburras co-captain, Whetton believes that if the stars align for Ockenden to break Jamie Dwyer’s national games record against Argentina in Perth next month, it will be an occasion deserving a sell out crowd.

“If Ed was to break the record of Jamie Dwyer in Perth it should be a full house, not just for the hockey player Ed is but for the person he is,” said Whetton.

“He’s an unbelievable talent who has torn up the hockey scene for well over 10 years.”

“I can’t talk directly for Jamie but I’m sure if there was anyone to break his record, he would love it to be Eddie. We have become great mates over the past 10 years and he deserves everything that comes his way. He’s the epitome of what a professional athlete.”

The Kookaburras are next in FIH Pro League action in India on 22/23 February. All of the Kookaburras’ FIH Pro League matches are LIVE on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.

Hockey Australia media release

2020 Test matches RSA v USA (M) - 1st Test
Durban (RSA)

8 Feb 2020     RSA v USA     4 - 2

Upcoming (GMT +2)

9 Feb 2020 15:00     RSA v USA
11 Feb 2020 17:00    RSA v USA
12 Feb 2020 09:00     RSA v USA

Live stream on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

FIH Match Centre

SA Hockey Men begin 2020 with victory

Picture – Raw Shuga Photograhpy

The South African Hockey Men got their official 2020 Road to Tokyo underway in Ballito today as they took on USA in the first of four test matches. In truth the squad is actually a week or so further along in their prep having played SA “A” in four games, before two warm up unofficial victories against USA.

Of course, the last time these two teams met in an official test match the South Africans produced a thrilling fight back and a sensational winner with 20 seconds remaining at the FIH Hockey Series Final. That win, through Nic Spooner’s intervention, essentially booked South Africa’s spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was also a historic test for a few reasons, it was the first outdoor international test match at Ashton College in Ballito, while it was also the first time the two nations would take on each other under the new outdoor hockey rankings. South Africa will be looking to push closer to Ireland in 13th, while USA will be eyeing the top 20 in their progress.

Mustapha Cassiem earned his debut, to make him a dual international (indoor and outdoor) by the time he is 17, it was also umpire Ayden Shrives 50th cap, another dual international of course!

South Africa faced a bit of early pressure from the visitors but took the lead on the back of their own pressure. A brilliant cross field ball picked up Dlungwana whose cross was connected by Ntuli. With a ton of work still to do, Ntuli showed he has the slalom skills for the Winter Olympics too and finished superbly. The hosts would wait until the 23rd minute before they doubled their lead through Clinton Panther. The home favourite picked up a quick counter just in the USA half before he began his 50m trial and finished off after a superb piece of brilliance.

The Americans to their credit did not back down pulling one goal back on the stroke of half time before Aki Kaeppeler levelled. Cutone got the opener for USA capitalizing on the South Africans playing with 9 men for two minutes. A goal mouth melee where he reacted quickest to fire it home. Kaeppeler’s goal coming from the much more regular penalty corner.

The Americans may have been sensing an upset, but South Africa showed that Garreth Ewing’s team is made of sterner things. The South Africans were awarded a stroke and Nic Spooner did what he does best to give the hosts the lead. There was still time for the goal of the game as Mustapha Cassiem received the slip and finished expertly to add an outdoor debut goal to his indoor one against Switzerland last year.

4-2 the final score for the South Africans who take the ranking points, the bragging rights and the lead in the four-test series.

SA Hockey Association media release

 USMNT Rally Comes Up Short in Match One Against South Africa

Clint Panther for South Africa shadows Paul Singh. Image Courtesy of Caleb Shepard Photography

DURBAN, South Africa – February 8, 2020 – Perfect playing conditions and a full crowd set up a competitive opening test-series match between the No. 24 U.S. Men’s National Team and No. 14 South Africa at Ashton International College in Durban, South Africa. Down early in the contest, USA tied the game in the second half to set up an exciting final quarter of play. The home team however was able to convert twice in the last 15 minutes to claim a 4-2 victory over the red, white and blue.

South Africa looked to start off quickly as they gained circle entry in the opening moments of the game but USA’s defensive unit was just a swift to halt the attempt. Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) responded with two penetrations on the team’s first offensive opportunity but could not find help on either try. In the 10th minute South Africa’s Nqobile Ntuli was able to lift the ball just past goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) for the first goal of the game. Adam Miller (Panama City, Fla.) was given a green card in the 13th minute which put USA on the defensive to round out the first quarter.

USA threatened with another circle entry in the 18th minute set up by Miller and Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) but could not find an open teammate to finish the play. South Africa continued to pressure on offense and forced Klages to make back-to-back saves. Maintaining possession, Clinton Panther found a hole in front of the goal in the 23rd minute to give South Africa a two-goal lead. Late in the half Matthew Guise-Brown was given consecutive green cards to set up USA with a two-man advantage in the 29th minute. Gerald Cutone (Reading, Mass.) scored on the team's ensuing possession to put USA back within a score at the half.

South Africa looked to regain a two-goal lead early in the third quarter on another penalty corner but was stopped by a diving Klages. Both squads continued to dual back and forth late into the frame when South Africa aimed to capitalize on a green card on Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) in the 39th minute but could not make anything happen. Back to 11 players, USA set up for a penalty corner in the 43rd minute where a drag flick by Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) tied the game 2-2. The team nearly took the lead moments later on their next offensive chance but was denied by goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse.

USA rapidly moved on offense to start the fourth quarter but could not find room for a clear shot on goal. Play was evenly matched until South Africa was given a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute. Nicholas Spooner successfully converted to put South Africa up 3-2. An additional goal on the team’s final penalty corner made the final score 4-2.

Today’s game marked three milestones for three USMNT athletes as Cutone, Michael Mendoza (Monument, Colo.) and Jatin Sharma (South San Francisco, Calif.) earned their first international cap.

Gerald Cutone

Michael Mendoza

Jatin Sharma
 "It was an exciting hard fought match today," said Rutger Wiese, USMNT Head Coach. "We could not be more proud of Cutone, Mendoza and Sharma getting their first cap and also with Cutone scoring in his debut match. Our young team is more than holding their own and gaining valuable experience against South Africa who are preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

Both USA and South Africa wore black bands on their sleeves and took part in a moment of silence prior to the start of the match. USA did this to honor and remember U.S. National Teams Manager Larry Amar while South Africa honored Jesse Coetzee-Turner, child of Pietie and Roxy Coetzee-Turner, and Harry Suckert, a long-standing member of the KZN Inland hockey community and life long custodian of South African Hockey.

The USMNT returns to the pitch tomorrow at 8 a.m. ET for the second match of the team’s test series against South Africa. Fans can watch the live stream on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

USFHA media release

SA Hockey Men begin 2020 with victory

Jabu Barnard

Nic Spooner (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The South African Hockey Men got their official 2020 Road to Tokyo underway in Ballito on Saturday as they beat the USA 4-2 in the first of four Test matches.

In truth the squad is actually a week or so further along in their preparation having played SA 'A' in four games, before two unofficial warm-up victories against USA.

Of course, the last time these two teams met in an official Test match the South Africans produced a thrilling fightback and a sensational winner with 20 seconds remaining at the FIH Hockey Series Final.

That win, through Nic Spooner's intervention, essentially booked South Africa's spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was also an historic Test for a few reasons, it was the first outdoor international Test match at Ashton College in Ballito, while it was also the first time the two nations would take on each other under the new outdoor hockey rankings.

South Africa will be looking to push closer to Ireland in 13th, while USA will be eyeing the top 20 in their progress.

Mustapha Cassiem earned his debut, to make him a dual international (indoor and outdoor) by the time he is 17, it was also umpire Ayden Shrives 50th cap, another dual international of course!

South Africa faced a bit of early pressure from the visitors but took the lead on the back of their own pressure. A brilliant cross-field ball picked up Dlungwana whose cross was connected by Ntuli.

With a ton of work still to do, Ntuli showed he has the slalom skills for the Winter Olympics too and finished superbly.

The hosts would wait until the 23rd minute before they doubled their lead through Clinton Panther.

The home favourite picked up a quick counter just in the USA half before he began his 50m trial and finished off after a superb piece of brilliance.

The Americans, to their credit, did not back down pulling one goal back on the stroke of half-time before Aki Kaeppeler levelled.

Cutone got the opener for USA capitalising on the South Africans playing with nine men for two minutes. A goalmouth melee where he reacted quickest to fire it home. Kaeppeler’s goal coming from the much more regular penalty corner.

The Americans may have been sensing an upset, but South Africa showed that Garreth Ewing’s team is made of sterner things.

The South Africans were awarded a stroke and Nic Spooner did what he does best to give the hosts the lead.

There was still time for the goal of the game as Mustapha Cassiem received the slip and finished expertly to add an outdoor debut goal to his indoor one against Switzerland last year.

The two-goal advantage for the South Africans saw them take the ranking points, the bragging rights and the lead in the four-Test series.


Indian National Women's hockey Championships: Haryana, SAI enter final

M. R. Praveen Chandran

Haryana quelled a spirited comeback from Maharashtra 3-2 to enter the final of the 10th Senior National Women's hockey championship (A division) at the National Games Hockey stadium here on Saturday.

In the summit clash, Haryana will meet SAI which edged past Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 2-1 in the sudden death. A resilient Maharashtra side clawed back twice in the match to equalise but Devika Sen converted a crucial penalty in the 54th minute to give Haryana the victory.

Haryana started strongly and rattled Maharashtra with its aggressive intent. Prolific striker Deepika scored a field goal to put Haryana ahead in the sixth minute. However, Maharashtra found its rhythm slowly and unsettled Haryana with fast breaks. Vaishnavi equalised for Maharashtra with a stunning reverse flick in the 12th minute.

The second Haryana goal came against the run of play in the 23rd minute. The Maharashtra defence lowered its guard and allowed Deepika Sen enough time to drill a low shot from inside the D.

After the break, Maharashtra attacked with enough verve, forcing Haryana to defend in numbers. The roving forward Rutuja Pisal was a constant threat for the Haryana defence and the sustained pressure resulted in a penalty corner for Maharashtra in the 53rd minute. Rutuja squeezed in the rebound that came her way after the Haryana goalkeeper Rekha padded away the first attempt.

But the joy was shortlived as the quick riposte from Haryana saw it earn a penalty corner. Devika Sen converted the penalty with a direct hit to seal the contest.

For the second consecutive match, SAI's goalkeeper Anshu Lakra turned out to be her team's saviour. She was beaten only once in the shoot out against MPHA as SAI created history by reaching its maiden final.

Both SAI and MPHA were locked goalless during regular time. The first set of penalties failed to separate the teams as both of them scored a goal each. In the sudden death, Simta Minz scored for SAI while Anshu blocked Sadhna Senger's attempt.

MPHA was the better team during regular time. The academy girls made more threatening forays into the rival D and earned more penalty corners than their rivals. But MPHA failed to grab the chances that came its way. SAI defence soaked up the pressure to take the match into the shoot out.


HockAdemy winning streak ends

By Jugjet Singh

HOCKADEMY were finally brought down to earth following a 1-0 defeat to Terengganu Ladies in yesterday’s Malaysian Women’s Hockey League (MWHL) match in Kuala Terengganu.

Following the defeat, HockAdemy’s five-point lead, following six wins in a row, has been cut to two with Terengganu Ladies in second position on 16 points.

Terengganu Ladies captain Siti Noor Amarina was the toast with a penalty corner goal in the 37th minute.

According to HockAdemy coach K. Gobinathan, Terengganu only had one clear shot at goal and one penalty corner throughout the match.

“I don’t blame the players as Terengganu defended well. We will now focus on winning our remaining three matches to lift the title,” said Gobinathan.

RESULTS — Terengganu Ladies 1 HockAdemy 0, Mutiara Impian 1 Sabah 1, Police Blue Warriors 2 PKS UniTen 3.

New Straits Times

Pleasure can wait as birthday boy Govers puts UniKL first

Delaying gratification: All Kieran Govers wants for his birthday is three points against TNB Thunderbolt in the Malaysia Hockey League match today.

PETALING JAYA: There will be no big feasts and parties for Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) forward Kieran Govers as he turns 32 today.

Instead, the Australian will be hard at work and all he wants for his birthday is three points against TNB Thunderbolt in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) at the Tengku Abdullah Stadium in Bangi - and a phone call from his wife and son.

Defending champions UniKL are unbeaten in the league so far this season and Govers wants to keep the momentum going.

UniKL chalked up their 10th straight win against Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on Friday and are the overwhelming favourites against TNB Thunderbolt, who are sitting at the bottom of the league table.

With the fine form so far, many would have been pleased, but not Govers.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot to win the title just like last year. But in some matches, we had our ups and downs. We want to be consistent, ” said Govers, who has had a stellar career with Australia.

He was forced to call time on his international career on November 2018 due to hip issues but the striker, though, should have little regret as he has had a wonderful career with Australia winning the 2010 World Cup, 2010 Champions Trophy, 2014 Commonwealth Games and claiming a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

If Govers and Co win their next three matches, including the contest against the Thunderbolts, they will take the MHL title once more.

But the insatiable Govers, known for his lethal drag flicks, wants more - he’s also eyeing the overall TNB Cup with UniKL.

“We will not underestimate our opponents tomorrow (today) and I do expect a tough match but I’ll do my best to lead the team to another victory, ” added Govers, who hails from Wollongong.

UniKL had beaten TNB Thunderbolt 4-2 in the first round last month but it was a below-par performance by their own high standards.

While Govers promises to stay focused on the task at hand, he yearns to touch base with his family on his special day.

“I look forward to a phone call from my wife, Nicki and son Leo on my birthday. They are both in Australia but they’ve sent me some presents, ” said Govers, who hopes that will motivate him to go the extra mile today.

The Star of Malaysia

'I had 60 staples and screws in my head but I'm still targeting Tokyo'...

Team GB hockey player Sam Ward chasing an Olympic dream despite a horrific injury three months ago

By David Coverdale


Sam Ward tilts his head forward to show a scar running all the way across his scalp down to the bottom of his left ear. 'I had my face off,' explains the Great Britain hockey striker.

'They sliced from the top of my head to past my ear and then basically flopped my face back to get access to what was underneath. The operation was about four hours and I was knocked out for six. I had 31 staples put into the top of my head, plus all the stitches down the side. I also had 31 screws put in my face, plus four plates.'

Ward, 29, was forced to have such serious surgery after he was smashed in the face by a shot by team-mate Harry Martin during the second leg of November's Olympic qualifier against Malaysia - a tie his side won 9-3 on aggregate to secure their spot at Tokyo 2020.

Team GB hockey player Sam Ward is recovering after suffering a horrific injury last October

Ward was hit in the face by a hockey ball in a Team GB match and needed 31 staples in his head

The 29-year-old also had 31 screws and four plates in his face after being rushed to hospital

'He absolutely leathered it. I was probably about five yards away and it was travelling at a pretty, pretty high speed,' recalls the Leicester-born forward, one of the country's best players with 72 goals in 126 caps for Great Britain and England, including two goals in the game he suffered his gruesome injury.

'I fell to the floor, looked down and there was blood everywhere. I was in a lot of pain. While I was on the floor, what was in my head was, "Mum and Dad are in the crowd, get up and get off".

'No one would like to see their son or daughter in that scenario. I remember asking the performance director if I could go back on and he said: "Definitely not, we need to get you sorted".

'I looked in the mirror and you could see there was no facial structure. There were six or seven fractures. I'd sheared the eye socket off, which crushed my eye, and my cheek was in half.'

Ward picked up the gruesome injury in an Olympic qualifier against Malaysia which GB won

Ward was rushed to hospital that night and had maxillofacial surgery the following week. But it was not until he visited an eye specialist a few days later that he learned his injury was one which might end his career.

'I was told, "There's a tear through the back of the retina and it won't repair, it's got to be left". I just turned off and went silent. I cried. I said, "Just get me out of here".'

At home in Maidstone, three months after the incident, Ward is still coming to terms with the fact that he will never have full vision again in his left eye. He describes seeing a 'slight dot' or a 'little hazy line' when he looks, but he still has full peripheral vision and he claims his life is unaffected, apart from his job - playing hockey.

It is a sport Ward took up at the age of four and has played full-time since 2014, when he quit working at a Volkswagen dealership in Loughborough to sign a professional contract with England.

But while he will do everything he possibly can to make a comeback and play at his second Olympic Games this summer, it is too early to say what the future holds.

Ward has partial sight in his left eye but he is still trying to make this summer's Tokyo Olympics

The scars on his head still remain for the Team GB athlete as he continues to recover

And, as he explains, it is not just physically that he has to recover: 'The biggest thing was getting over the trauma of the noise.

'I struggled massively before Christmas with any form of hearing a stick hit a hockey ball because the last time I heard it was when I got hit in the head.

'The Saturday after my injury, I went to watch my club, Old Georgians, against Surbiton. My friend said, "You don't look very well", and I was like, "This is not a comfortable noise to be around".

'A week later, I went to watch a game at Reading and went on the pitch while the boys were warming up, but I thought, "I've got to get off".

'That was quite challenging but last month I went to watch coaching at my club and was around the boys pinging balls around and I wasn't flinching any more. That was the first step forward of getting over that fear of hockey balls.'

The Brit was hit from a shot by team-mate Harry Martin - with the ball weighing 5.5 ounces

Over the New Year, Ward enjoyed a much-needed holiday in Cape Town. A club cricketer himself, he had tickets to see England's Second Test win over South Africa. But sitting in the stands at Newlands was not all enjoyable.

'I'd say the first time it's really hit me, the thought of the unknown of what's going on, was when they sang the national anthem on morning one,' he explains. 'That is the first time I sat there and thought, "You might not do it again". I wouldn't say I am a depressed person but I've gone through a tough time.

'There are dark days and tough days. Often it is anxiety - "what if I can't do this?" That's the bit that spirals out of control but it's just nipping things in the bud early doors.

'Those tough days make us tougher as a person. The biggest thing I have learned is don't isolate yourself. Never be afraid to have a conversation with someone. It's OK not to be OK.

'In the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. I've got two legs, I'm fully fit, I can drive perfectly. The worst case scenario is that I don't play hockey again, but that is not something I am currently looking at.'

Ward had already scored twice in the Malaysia match before suffering his gruesome injury

Indeed, as soon as he returned from holiday, Ward met his physio and strength and conditioning coach to work out his programme to play again. 'Having 10 weeks without any form of exercise was tough. After I did my first proper running session on the treadmill, I felt horrific.

'But I have worked very hard physically over the last month and I am now starting to move back into hockey. I have started to be on the stick and ball a lot more, practising trapping the ball. I will start to move into more contact-based stuff over the next few weeks.

'I'm also doing things like hand-eye co-ordination, catching balls. It's a bit of depth perception on a moving ball that I need to work on. When the ball is on the floor, it is completely normal, it's the moving, bouncing ball that I am working hard on.

'Yes, it will be a long journey, and I can imagine there will be times I'll really struggle, but I will be doing everything I can to be back for Tokyo. I am not going to give up. I will be fighting as hard as I can.'

Ward (left) is regarded as one of Team GB's best hockey players ahead of the Olympic Games

If Ward does make a successful comeback, he will look rather different from the last time he stepped on a pitch.

'I've been looking at eyewear that I am going to wear on my return. I will be allowed to wear glasses to protect my good eye as any damage to that ruins my whole life in a way because I would then be partially sighted in both eyes. I've found out you can customise glasses and get them in your own colours, so I was really excited about that!

'I think I will get banter from my team-mates about the way I might look. I have to wear leggings already because of infection issues, so with glasses, I am going to look like some form of superhero!'

Any comments Ward may receive will be a small price to pay if it takes him a step closer to his goal of a place on the podium at Tokyo.

The 29-year-old is doing everything he can to be fit of the Olympics in Tokyo this summer

Ward will need to have special eyewear protection if he does make it to the Games this summer

That is something he has been striving for since Rio four years ago when, despite going into the Games ranked fourth in the world, Great Britain's men failed to even get out of the group stage, while the women won an historic gold medal.

'We underperformed in Rio and we had a pretty bad experience,' admits Ward. 'But being a competitive athlete, you want to go and put things right; go and improve as much as you can and that's what I want to go and do.

'Seeing the women win gold spurs you on to want to go on and achieve the same.

'It's a completely different ball game, winning a medal at an Olympic Games.

'If you are a top-level sports-person, you don't go to be part of it, you go to win a medal and achieve everything you can.

'If I was to go and win a medal now, it would mean absolutely everything. It makes me well up thinking about it because of the last few months I've had and the challenges I would have overcome.

'If I did medal, I don't think there would be anything better in the world.'

Daily Mail

US-based ex-Kenya star Otieno nurturing dreams of Kisumu youth


Raquel Otieno dribbles a ball outside her apartment in Mamboleo, Kisumu County. Otieno, through the Tunza Sports Academy, is determined to develop hockey and boxing, among other sports, among the less privileged youth. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The saying “a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step” by ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is one that will keep ringing in the mind of one Raquel Otieno.

The former Kenya hockey international is burning with the desire to promote Kenya’s hockey and boxing through her non-profit sports foundation – Tunza Sports Academy.

At an upcoming indoor hockey turf in Ratta, Seme Sub-county, tens of locals turn up every weekend and, during holidays, to watch hockey matches involving children from the locality.

The project is run by Tunza Sports Academy and Otieno, who is the foundation’s president - and a coach at the GForce Field Hockey Club in the United States of America - believes it will help put Kenya’s hockey back on track.

She also wants to improve the livelihoods of the youngsters through the initiative.

“Three years down the line, or more, we believe these players will be somewhere to impact the game positively.

“As a result, it will help end the poverty that they currently face back at home,” says Otieno.

Rael, as she is popularly known, is a native of Ratta, Seme Sub-county in Kisumu.

She donned the national team colours between 2001 and 2004, turning out as a forward, midfielder and defender in the team that represented Kenyan in the 2003 All African Games in Abuja, Nigeria, and Afro - Asia Games held in India the same year.


For club competition, she switched teams several times, featuring for the 21-times Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) women’s premier league champions Telkom, now re-branded to Blazers, Inter-capitale and Blue Eaglets (both disbanded), Mombasa Sports Club and Sliders.

In the USA, Otieno wears many hats in the game of field hockey. She is a technical official at the Junior Premier Hockey League and Pan American Hockey Federation.

The former Kenya international is also a member of the Indoor Master Team and, last year, she made it to the final list of players who were to represent US in the Women’s Masters Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong.

However, she failed to travel for the assignment because she was sitting an examination.

In boxing, Otieno is a trainer at Aces Boxing Club in Boonton, New Jersey.

Thanks to positive feedback from parents to some of the children that Otieno trains at GForce Field Hockey Club, and her love for sport, she saw the need to start a similar project in Kenya. “I was thinking of doing an orphanage or something with sports, and my passion with field hockey made me go for it. Parents of the children I was coaching also kept on sending messages of appreciation that I had changed their children’s character, so it then hit me that I should do the same back at home,” she says.

Tunza Sports Academy was formed in January, 2018, but started operations in March the same year, Mombasa County being the first to benefit.

Then, only girls were enrolled in the programme being held at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Changamwe.

Boys have since been brought on board and the place is now home to 35 players - 15 girls and 20 boys.

There is no fee paid to join the programme.

According to the foundation’s president, the societal problem an area faces is the determining factor on whether Tunza Sports Academy set base in place or not.

For Mombasa’s case, Otieno says it was informed by the need to break the “religious bondage” which had kept girls from the region away from taking part in sporting activities.

“In Mombasa, I saw a lot of religious aspects holding girls off from playing, yet we are now in a world where no matter which religion you belong to, you can play even if it means wearing a hijab like it happens at the Olympics.

“The need to ensure girls in Mombasa take part in sports pulled me there,” says the former Kenya international.

She has involved two hockey coaches in training the youngsters during weekends and holidays.

The foundation has plans of owning its own turf in the coastal town.

At the Seme’s facility, which was formed because of poverty the children in the area faces, construction work is underway, with the indoor turf already taking shape.

The slab, where the turf will sit has been built and it is where the youngsters’ trains during weekends and holidays.

When completed in two years’ time as the organizers have envisaged, the facility will house an outdoor turf, storage area and social amenities, which will include washrooms.

More than 60 players have joined the programme which began in September, 2017, and which is being overseen by several selected coaches, led by former Butali Sugar Warriors tactician Dennis Owoka.

He doubles up as the Tunza Academy Sports’ coaching director.

“We want to make the indoor turf to international standards and because we have got additional land space, we will put up a standard outdoor pitch as well,” says Otieno.

Her long-term goal is to establish a sports academy where players will be able to pursue education and sports within the same institution.

Despite the programme being free, the organisers found it rough in convincing locals to allow their children to be part of it.

According to the former Kenya International, the idea was not welcomed because hockey was a “strange game” to most of the locals.

“It took a lot of convincing, giving examples of ourselves to the locals on how hockey has given us an opportunity to either travel or get jobs,” says the Tunza founder.

To ensure the youngsters do not quit playing hockey when they are through with primary education, the organization is in talks with several top hockey-playing secondary schools to enroll them.

It also includes securing scholarships for the players at various top hockey playing universities, both locally and internationally.

During this form one intake, eight girls who are pioneers of the Kisumu academy joined Siaya County girls’ hockey champions Nyamira Girls High School, while four were admitted to Sinyolo Girls Secondary School in Kisumu.

It was a stiff competition among the schools as more than five had shown interest on the girls.

During the Kisumu’s facility launch on January 4 this year, it was joy as the players received different sets of uniforms and equipment, which were donations.

Dressed in a black t-shirt, a skirt, socks and white sneakers, Otieno joined the rest of the coaches in horning the youngsters skills in hockey. This is a norm every time she is back in Kenya.

With no sponsor yet, the project depend on donations from friends.

Otieno says her position as a coach and a member of several hockey bodies in US has made it easy for the foundation to secure equipment. But, she hopes to land a sponsor soon, having met all the requirements.


“We have made an application for the 501c (a license all non-profit organisations in US must have to solicit funds). Ones we get it, companies will be able to chip in,” says the tactician.

Apart from inadequate funding by the government, the former Blazers player blames continued poor performance by Kenya’s hockey national teams to poor training.

She says in Kenya, players are only trained on dribbling skills and not understanding the aspect s of the game, like it is done in US and other top hockey playing countries.

The 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, was the last time Kenya qualified for the prestigious event. They finished 12th.

Tunza Academy Sports coaching director Owoka is optimistic the initiative will go a long way in reviving Kenya’s hockey.

“We are starting from the lowest levels because it is known that when a player is nurtured well right from an early age, they excel. With this programme, we expect hockey to improve in a few years to come,” says Owoka.

About 35 kilometres away from the Ratta’s facility, sits the Nyalenda Boxing Academy.

Launched on January 18, the academy, which is also in the initial stages of development, is home to 36 players between 12 and 17 years, who include girls.

It is the first foundation established in the country.

The upcoming pugilists were selected by Kenya Boxing Federation judge David Ouma alongside other coaches.

Otieno says with the program, they intend to tap into talents and keep the children from the slum away from drugs and crime.

“Our main aim is to expose children to quality coaching that will raise the standards of sports to international level.

“We also want to keep the children engaged and away from the streets, because this will in turn increase the vibrancy of boxing in the region,” she says.

The academy is expected to provide an avenue for an exchange programme for the children from Kisumu, with outstanding pugilists having a joint training sessions with their counterparts from the Aces Boxing Club in US.

Otieno says she envisions the Kisumu junior performers representing the country in the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar.

Other sports, which the foundation intend to introduce are athletics and Lacrosse.

Daily Nation

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