News for 05 March 2010

All the news for Friday 5 March 2010


England and Spain impressive in Delhi

At the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 in Delhi, England and Spain were impressive and won over Pakistan and India on similar scores (5-2), while Australia crushed South Africa (12-0)

Game 13 – South Africa v. Australia: 0-12 (half-time: 0-5)

The first game of the day was between South Africa and Australia, a first in World Cup history. The last time these teams met was at the 2008 Olympic Games, when Australia crushed South Africa (10-0), and the last time the African Champions won over the Kookaburras was at the 1998 Commonwealth Games (3-2).  Australia opened the competition with a loss to England (2-3) but came back to beat India (5-2), while South Africa were still chasing their first point.

As in their first two games, South Africa started strongly and forced the first penalty-corner, but Justin REID-ROSS’ low drag flick was countered by runner Kiel BROWN. Australia were quickly in the driver’s seat, earning a penalty-corner by Jamie DWYER, at the origin and conclusion of a vast attacking move that swept the whole field. But the Kookaburras’ routines are not tuned yet ad they could not produced anything. Brendon BOTES in the South African goal saved his team with a desperate dive to push away a ball that was rolling agonizingly slowly on the goal line.

The game was very open, with some spectacular shots at both ends, but it is finally on a penalty-corner that Australia scored in the 15th minute by Luke DOERNER. They added one goal soon after by Glenn TURNER, left with an easy tap-in in the empty goal after a solitary counter-attack by Jamie DWYER ripped apart the South African defense. There was now constant trouble in the South African circle and Desmond ABBOTT added a third goal when he pounced on a loose ball, turned around and slotted a reverse-stick shot high out of reach of Brendon BOTES.

The South African keeper was left on his own a few minutes later to face three Kookaburras, but he managed to protect his goal. Luke DOERNER and Fergus KAVANAGH added penalty-corners and things were really looking bleak for the South Africans going into the break (0-5).

The African Champions tried hard at the beginning of second period but their cause soon became desperate when Matthew BUTTURINI added a sixth goal by cleverly beating Brendon BOTES and Luke DOERNER completed his hat-trick of penalty-corners in the 49th minute. The rout continued relentlessly, to end up with a final score of 12:0, the highest margin in World Cup history, with Luke DOERNER ending up with 4 goals.

Match facts (South Africa v. Australia):

> The Kookaburras recorded the biggest ever win in World Cup history beating South Africa 12-0.
> The biggest World Cup winning margin till today was 9 goals.
> Australia also equalled Pakistan’s 28-year-old World Cup record for most goals scored in a match by a single team (12).
> In 1982 Pakistan defeated New Zealand 12-3.
> At the 2008 Olympic Games, Australia had crushed South Africa 10-0.

Game 14 – England v. Pakistan: 5-2 (half-time: 2-0)

England, unbeaten so far in the competition, started with a bang and thought that they had taken the lead in the third minute when Iain MACKAY batted into goal a ball lifted into the circle by a Pakistani defender, however the goal was disallowed by the video-umpire after a lengthy review.

The match continued at high pace but both defences were compact and there were few serious scoring chances until a penalty-corner for England. Richard MANTELL’s powerful high flick had the keeper beaten but it shaved the outside of the port. England nevertheless went first on the scoreboard in the 21st minute by Jonty CLARKE, diving to deflect high in goal a perfect cross from the left by James TINDALL. Immediately after, James FAIR in the English goal protected the advantage with a superb save in full extension on a Sohail ABBAS penalty-corner.

Pushed by the crowd filling in the stadium for the India game later in the day, Pakistan were trying hard to tie the game, but their defense was caught flat footed by Ashley JACKSON, sneaking in their back to deflect in goal a hard pass by Barry MIDDLETON from outside the circle. Two goals down, Pakistan went into the break looking dejected and with a lot of work to do to come back in the game.

Shakeel ABBASI was the most dangerous forward for Pakistan and another one of his deep penetrations earned a penalty-corner, but Sohail ABBAS was definitively off his usual lethal form and James FAIR gloved the ball away without too much problem. It took a spectacular solitary effort by Shakeel  ABBASI through the whole English defense for Pakistan to reduce the score in the 45th minute. Things were suddenly looking brighter for the Green Shirts and another penalty-corner gave them a chance to equalize by Rehan BUTT, after the initial shot was saved again by James FAIR.

Unfortunately, England lost central defender Richard MANTELL on the play after a nasty collision with an attacker. Just when it seemed that they would struggle through the last twenty minutes, England regained the lead by Barry MIDDLETON, deflecting on the run a cross from the right. James TINDALL had a golden opportunity soon after on a one-on-one with Salman AKBAR in the Pakistani goal, but his reverse stick shot went wide.

Pakistan were handicapped in the final minutes by a yellow card to Muhammad IMRAN and Jonty CLARKE scored his second goal of the game with a hard shot from a narrow angle and Barry MIDDLETON added a fifth goal in the 64th minute. Three goals down and one player short was too much for Pakistan and the European Champions cruised to a spectacular win to maintain their unbeaten streak in the competition.

Match facts (England v. Pakistan):

> England beat Pakistan by three goals their biggest winning margin over Pakistan in World Cup competition.
> England have won 4 of their 8 World Cup matches against Pakistan, drawing 2 and losing 2.
> England go top in Pool B with 9 points from 3 matches.
> Eight England players have now scored at least once at the 2010 World Cup.
> Ashley Jackson is now on three goals in this world Cup.

Game 15 – Spain v. India: 5-2 (half-time: 2-0)

The last game of the day between Spain and host India started in the usual boisterous atmosphere. The pundits have been harsh towards the Indian team after their severe loss to Australia, but the crowd in the stadium was as devoted as ever, screaming their hope each time an Indian player was moving forward.

In this fiery atmosphere, the players needed to pass on their initial nerves with some long and spectacular runs and a few attempts on goals that did not really threaten Francisco CORTES or Sreejesh Parattu RAVEENDRAN in goals. Xavi LLEONART earned a penalty-corner after stealing a ball in the circle from a careless defender, but it was well defended. Then Albert SALA temporarily silenced the crowd when his shot on the run from the top of the circle beat RAVEENDRAN to open the scoring, but cheering only redoubled soon after.

Spain survived a wild scramble in front of their goal, with the keeper on the ground and a flurry of sticks trying to reach the ball, and India were saved by the post and equally lucky at the other end. The crowd “ooooooohed” in unison when Francisco CORTES pulled two fantastic flying saves in the Spanish goal but was stunned when Spanish Captain Pol AMAT deflected in goal a cross from Alex FABREGAS in the dying seconds of the period, giving a precious two-goal cushion to his team going into half-time.

India pushed forward as soon as play resumed and Sandeep SINGH reduced the gap on a penalty-corner, sending up a deafening roar that immediately informed the whole city of Delhi of the goal. This triggered a flurry of goals in the span of a few minutes, first Pau QUEMADA and Roc OLIVA for Spain, then Gurwinder Singh CHANDI for India, pushing the score to 4-2!

The game became a furious battle raging from end to end, with Spain clearly on their heels but holding tight to maintain their lead. With time passing, the Indian forwards started to abuse of individual runs, spectacular and crowd pleasing but rarely efficient. India had a few more chances, including on penalty-corners, but Francisco CORTES was pulling a phenomenal performance and  Pau QUEMADA closed the debate with his second penalty-corner of the match in the 67th minute.

Match facts (Spain v. India):

> Spain beat India 5-2 to collect their second win at the 2010 World Cup.
> Today’s 5 goals equalled Spain’s scoring record in World Cup matches. They also scored five times in 1973 (5-0 vs Belgium) and 2002 (5-1 vs Japan).
> Spain join Australia on 6 points from 3 matches. Only England (9 points) did better in Pool B.
> India and Pakistan are on three points from 3 matches.
> This match saw three goals being scored in three minutes time (41’, 42’, 43’). This marks the fastest set of three goals at the 2010 World Cup.
> The South Africa – England (4-6) match saw three goals being scored in four minutes time (50’, 51’, 53’).
> Albert Sala’s goal was the first for Spain in a WC match against India in 24 years.
> Pablo Amat netted once. He has now scored in all four World Cup editions since 1998. The only other player to have scored in ever WC since 1998 is Sohail Abbas (PAK).

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 continues on Friday in Delhi when Korea face New Zealand, The Netherlands meet Canada and Germany conclude the day against Argentina.

For additional information, pictures, video clips, official game sheets, and more, please check the special FIH event site @ http://www.worldhockey.org/worldcup/.

Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 (men) – Delhi, India
Results Day 5 - Thursday 4 March 2010

South Africa v. Australia  0:12 (0:5)

AUS  15mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  0:1
AUS  21mn  Glenn TURNER (FG)  0:2
AUS  26mn  Desmond ABBOTT (FG)  0:3
AUS  34mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  0:4
AUS  35+mn  Fergus KAVANAGH (PC)  0:5
AUS  44mn  Matthew BUTTURINI (FG)  0:6
AUS  49mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  0:7
AUS  52mn  Jamie DWYER (FG)  0:8
AUS  54mn  Jamie DWYER (FG)  0:9
AUS  61mn  Glenn TURNER (FG)  0:10
AUS  65mn  Jamie DWYER (FG)  0:11
AUS  68mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  0:12

England v. Pakistan  5:2 (0:2)
ENG  21mn  Jonty CLARKE (FG)  1:0
ENG  32mn  Ashley JACKSON (FG)  2:0
PAK  45mn  Shakeel ABBASI (FG)  2:1
PAK  48mn  Rehan BUTT (PC)  2:2
ENG  53mn  Barry MIDDLETON (FG)  3:2
ENG  62mn  Jonty CLARKE (FG)  4:2
ENG  64mn  Barry MIDDLETON (FG)  5:2

Spain v. India  5:2 (2:0)
ESP  19mn  Albert SALA (FG)  1:0
ESP  35mn  Pol AMAT (FG)  2:0
IND  39mn  Sandeep SINGH (PC)  2:1
ESP  41mn  Pau QUEMADA (PC)  3:1
ESP  42mn  Roc OLIVA (FG)  4:1
IND  43mn  Gurwinder Singh CHANDI (FG)  4:2
ESP  67mn  Pau QUEMADA (FG)  5:2

Pool Standings:
Pool A: 1) Netherlands 6 pts  2) Germany 4 pts (+6)  3) Korea 4 pts (+1)  4) New Zealand 3pts  5) Argentina 0 pt (-4)  6)  Canada 0 pt (-7)
Pool B: 1) England 9 pts  2) Australia 6 pts (+14)  3) Spain 6 pts (+4)  4) India 3 pts (-3)  5) Pakistan 3 pts (-5) 6) South Africa 0 pt

WorldHockey



Spanish armada sinks India in a key encounter

England wards off Pakistan's challenge; Australia runs riot against South Africa


S. Thyagarajan


— Photo: R.V. Moorthy

FACILE WIN:Spanish players celebrate the team's fifth and final goal against India on Thursday.


New Delhi: All the excitement, expectations and vociferous support generated by a packed gathering at the Dhyan Chand Stadium on Thursday failed to inspire India to a winning performance in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup.

The 2-5 defeat to Spain has almost doused the chances of the team making the last four, especially with England and Australia in such splendid form in Pool B.

Spain was a transformed side as the players, despite the absence of the injured Eduard Tabau, functioned with palpable unison.

On the contrary, India succeeded only in building up pressure without a matching strategy to translate opportunities into goals.

Unable to convert

Prabhjot and Rajpal worked up enough pace to stretch the Spanish defence, but the attack was nowhere near overcoming the resistance. It was left to the diminutive Bharat Chikkara to dart in repeatedly.

The long passes by Sandeep Singh and Gurbaj rattled the rivals a bit, but none of the forwards could succeed in getting a deflection in. At least on two occasions the chances went waste.

The only penalty corner earned in the first half ended with Sardar flunking the rebound after goalkeeper Cortes had stopped Sandeep's shot.

Amidst the raising passion, it was Spain that struck first when Albert Sala scored after accepting a pass from Pol Amat.

Goalkeeper Sreejesh made a couple of saves but before half-time Pol Amat surprised him with a neat deflection to enlarge the lead.

Shortly after the break, Sandeep reduced the margin with a thunderbolt of a shot that left goalkeeper Cortes flabbergasted. But the joy was ephemeral as Spain struck twice in the space of a few minutes. Pau Quemada sent the ball to the roof of the net from a penalty corner and that was followed by a shock goal by Roc Oliva.

Though India hit back, when Gurvender Chandi tapped in a cross from Tushar, Quemada netted Spain's fifth in the closing minutes to hoist a comfortable victory.

Earlier, England produced a scintillating show to take full points against Pakistan. The 5-2 result not only underlined England's stature as the European Champion but also virtually put the team into the last four.

It was a tension-packed and incident-filled contest which saw three yellow cards being whipped out and a serious injury to England's top star Richard Mantell.

Stunning shot

Amidst the mayhem of players clashing and jostling, there were superbly struck goals too. Jonty Clarke produced a stunner of an effort, diving full stretch in front to connect a cross from James Tindell,

This goal set the tempo for a bright spell from the Englishmen that completely subjugated the Pakistani defensive network.

Ashley Jackson then shocked goalkeeper Salman Akbar by converting a pass from Barry Middleton.

Aware that an attacking display was not be to delayed any more, the Pakistanis took the initiative and forced the pace.

When Shakeel Abbasi managed to sneak in and strike shortly after resumption, the atmosphere became charged. There were fluent and fierce exchanges.

A penalty corner scrimmage, following a fine save by James Fair from a penalty corner hit by Sohail, ended in a melee.

Rehan Butt slammed in a hit by Rizwan from the right. As the goal was signalled came the video referral, even as Mantell lay prone on the ground with the medical staff rushing in. Pakistan had equalised and was desperate to consolidate.

Events began to take an ugly turn and when Mackay engaged Imran Mohammad in a bizarre tackle, a yellow card was invoked.

England, which regained the lead with a splendidly struck, zero-angle goal by Barry Middleton, soon tightened the grip. Jonty Clarke powered in the fourth and paved the way for Barry Middleton to complete a memorable triumph.

There was a fracas on the field as the hooter went off, forcing the officials, including Tournament Director Ken Read, to run in to mollify the players involved in the clash.

England has nine points from three successive victories, while Pakistan's tally remains at three from the same number of matches.

A dozen goals!

Earlier, Australia displayed its awesome power to overwhelm South Africa with a dozen goals without reply.

If there is a lingering doubt whether the Aussies would make it to the last four, let alone regain the glittering Cup after 1986, the show on Thursday evening left even the eternal doubters without a search for an alternative squad in the 12. So commanding were the Aussies that the South Africans were blown away like dry leaves in a storm. The margin ranks as the best ever in the history of the World Cup.

Statistics are mere heartless figures that do not always convey the true import. The Aussie demonstration went beyond the figures; it underlined the acme of perfection in formulating and finishing at the all-important end.

Doerner drills in four

Any effort to identify an individual in the team as the best is an exercise in futility. If the yardstick is figures then Luke Doerner takes the cake with four strikes. His whiplash drives brooked no reply from the goalkeeper or the defenders.

Jamie Dwyer took credit for netting three goals. He was well served by Desmond Abbott, Glenn Tuner and Mark Knowles.

The only consolation for the loser was that it contained the redoubtable opponent scoreless for 15 minutes. The South Africans even made a few sorties across with Julian Hykes testing goalkeeper Nathan Burgers in the first quarter.

The results: Pool B: Australia 12 (Luke Doerner 4, Glenn Turner 2, Desmond Abbott, Fergus Kavangh, Matthew Butturini, Jamie Dwyer 3) bt South Africa 0. HT 5-0.

England 5 (Jonty Clarke 2, Ashley Jackson, Bary Middleton 2) bt Pakistan 2 (Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt). HT 2-0.

Spain 5 (Albert Sala, Pol Amat, Pau Quemada 2, Roc Oliva) bt India 2 (Sandeep Singh, Gurvinder Chandi). HT 2-0.

Friday's matches: Korea vs. New Zealand (4.35 p.m.); Netherlands vs. Canada (6.35 p.m.); Germany vs. Argentina (8.35 p.m.) .

The Hindu



Aussies’ magnificent dozen

England’s Adam Dixon (L) vies with Pakistan’s Shakeel Abbasi during their match in New Delhi yesterday


Favourites Australia thrashed South Africa 12-0 yesterday to record the biggest win in World Cup history as former field hockey giants India and Pakistan took a tumble.

Australia’s penalty corner ace Luke Doerner slammed four goals, Jamie Dwyer three and Glenn Turner two as the Kookaburras surpassed Pakistan’s 12-3 romp over New Zealand in the 1982 edition in Mumbai.

European champions England continued their unbeaten run with a 5-2 demolition of Pakistan, with Jonty Clarke and captain Barry Middleton scoring two goals apiece.

England, who top group B with nine full points from three matches, need to win one of their two remaining games against India and Spain to qualify for their first World Cup semi-final since 1986.

Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain made light of the absence of injured strikers Santi Freixa and Eduard Tubau to silence a boisterous crowd of 19,000 with a 5-2 win over hosts India.

Pau Quemada converted two penalty corners, while Albert Sala, captain Pol Amat and David Alegre chipped in with goals in the key match.

India, who trailed 2-0 at half-time, earned consolation goals from Sandeep Singh and Gurwinder Chandi.

With two rounds of league matches still to be played, Australia and Spain were lying second in the group behind England with six points each.

India and Pakistan trail with three points apiece and need big wins in the remaining games to stay in contention for a place in the semi-finals.

South Africa, the other team in the group, have lost all three matches so far, scoring six goals and conceding 22.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth was delighted at his team’s big win.

“I did not know it was a record, but it is not everyday that we score 12 goals in a match,” he said.

“I liked the way we played throughout the match. We were relentless. I am also very pleased with our penalty corner conversions.”

England led Pakistan 2-0 at half-time, but the four-time champions hit back after the resumption to draw level with goals from Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt.

Middleton put his side 3-2 ahead in the 53rd minute, before Clarke and Middleton scored twice in three minutes to put the game out of Pakistan’s reach.

Gulf Times



Wins for England, Australia at Hockey World Cup

England held off Pakistan 5-2 to stay unbeaten while Australia achieved the biggest win in the history of field hockey's World Cup by hammering South Africa 12-0 overnight New Zealand time.

England's third straight win halfway through pool play left it in a good position to qualify for the semifinals for the first time since its silver medal at London in 1986, but it came at the cost of defender Richard Mantell, who dislocated his ankle and was out for the rest of the tournament.

"Richard's our key player and we're going to miss him. He's very good in long distribution of the ball,'' England coach Jason Lee said.

Captain Barry Middleton and Jonty Clarke scored twice each to lead England's charge against Pakistan.

Ashley Jackson also scored for England, which blew a 2-0 halftime lead when Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt scored in a four-minute span to draw level.

Middleton broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute.

"I think this is the best we've played in this tournament,'' Middleton said. ``We showed why we are European champions.''

Lee heaped praised on his team for its biggest win over Pakistan.

"It's a fantastic victory. It was a difficult match but the manner in which we played showed a lot of character from the boys,'' Lee said. `"They played excellent hockey in a match where emotions ran high.''

Penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner scored four times and Jamie Dwyer three as Australia eclipsed the previous biggest win of 12-3 by Pakistan against New Zealand at Bombay in 1982.

Australia's previous best World Cup scoreline was 9-0 against Ghana in 1975.

"It's not every day that we score 12 goals, but I was not aware that it was a record,'' Australia coach Ric Charlesworth said.

"I liked the way we played throughout the game, we were relentless.''

Glenn Turner scored twice, while Desmond Abbott, Fergus Kavanagh and Matthew Butturini also made one entry in the scorebook.

Australia took 16 minutes to score then led 5-0 at halftime, and finished with three in the last eight minutes.

The teams hadn't met since Australia won 10-0 at the Beijing Olympics.

India and Spain met late Thursday.

Stuff



Europe's gift to Asia, 5-2 for India and Pak

s2h Team


Precise European outfits England and Spain showed India and Pakistan respectively what it takes to put the ball in the net. This is how one can aptly sum up the way England first to Pakistan and Spain two hours to India taught India and Pak its brand of hockey. The former Asian giants dwarfted by the the goal scoring prowess of two Europeans on the fray today.

With third successive victory in as many as games, England became the strong claimant for the next week's semifinals.

Precise Spain leads India 2-0 at half time in the third and last match of Day V in the 12th Hero Honda World Cup.

Albert Sala scored in the 19th minutes and seconds remained for the lemon time, captain Pol Amat punched another one to change sides 2-0.

It seemed goalie PR Sreejesh was rooted in his position when Albert Sala' push from the right came, even as he was taking his shot from close range.

Indian defence was shaky and the Spaniards made use of it. First a casual clearance from Dhanjay Mahadik inside the circle, and the delayed clearnace led to India conceding a Penalty corner, but it was saved by PR Sreejesh. He conceded another one, before a stick check from Vikram also made the packed stands go in silence mode for a while.

India too got chances to equalize, but all its three penalty corners in the first half were well saved. Deepak Thakur meanwhile got a chance to put the ball in, but his diving deflection was wide off.

Sandeep, though, put once the ball inside the net three minutes into the break time, off a penalty corner, only one he got out of six tries, and then Baljit Singh Chandi tapped in from centre of the circle to enliven the full packed ground.

Perhaps, Dhananjay and Diwakar could have got a chance, but it was not to be.

While Spain went on to score three goals in the second half, Indians wasted the opportunities that Gurbaj, Arjun Halappa and Tushar Khandkar created. India could convert only one of six penalty corners, an areas fast becoming India's bugbear.

The hosts have lost two matches on trot after defeating Pakistan on the opening day. Now, India will take on England on Saturday.

Stick2Hockey.com



Kookaburras set World Cup record with 12-0 win

The Kookaburras have sent an ominous warning sign to their opposition at the World Cup, recording the biggest winning margin in World Cup history and demolishing South Africa 12-0 tonight in New Delhi, India.

Defender Luke Doerner was named man of the match, scoring five of the 12 goals, four from penalty corners.

After a slow start to the tournament in which they lost their opening game to England, the Kookaburras followed up their recent 5-2 victory over India with an even more impressive victory over South Africa.

South Africa knew they needed to strike early to have any chance against the higher ranked Australian team, and threw everything they had in the opening minutes.

It appeared likely to pay dividends when they were awarded the first penalty corner of the match. However a great run down by Kiel Brown denied them any real shot on goal.

The opening minutes remained fairly even, with South Africa showing no signs of intimidation.

The Kookaburras looked likely to score their first goal when a shot on goal hit the post, with Des Abbott there to slot in an easy goal. However an act of desperation from the South African goalkeeper saw him beat Abbott to the ball, clearing any danger.

However Australia's first goal was inevitable, and eventually came via a ferocious penalty corner goal to Luke Doerner.

As the half continued Simon Orchard became a key play maker for the Kookaburras in the midfield, while Jamie Dwyer was seemingly everywhere, causing headaches for South Africa as the Kookaburras worked their way on top.

Dwyer's presence became even more evident when he received the ball in the circle and instinctively passed to team mate Glenn Turner without hesitation who inturn slotted Australia's second goal with an open net.

From here the warnings signs began to sound for South Africa, and things were only getting worse when dangerous striker Des Abbott continued to become a focal point near the goals.

After his first shot on goal was stopped by the keeper, he received a second chance when only minutes later a reverse stick shot to the top left corner beat the keeper after he pushed the ball to space to create the opportunity.

The fitness of the Australian team became evident as the team continued to run hard, creating more space and opportunities which led to several interceptions.

Luke Doerner’s second penalty corner goal with only a minute remaining in the half was topped off by another penalty conversion, this time going to Fergus Kavanagh who scrambled for the ball on the goal line after the initial shot was blocked, making no mistake on his second shot and sending the Kookaburras into half time with a five goal lead.

Determined to continue their momentum, the Kookaburras continued to show no mercy in the second half, with youngster Matthew Butturini showing a great deal of class after receiving a pass from Orchard, finding space and drawing out the keeper to score on a tight angle.

After yet another penalty corner goal to Doerner it was evident that whatever issues the Kookaburras had with converting goals from their first match were now well and truly sorted.

In a good reward for his efforts, Jamie Dwyer eventually made his way onto the scoresheet, scoring two goals after some great team play involving Orchard, Graeme Begbie and Grant Schubert. In what was undoubtedly his best match of the tournament to date, Dwyer demonstrated exactly why he is regarded as the best player in the world today.

Australia’s 10th goal came after a good cross from Mark Knowles found the stick of Glenn Turner, who was surrounded by the South African goalkeeper and defenders who were forced to watch as the ball headed to the back of the net.

Doerner then finished off the match with the last two goals to achieve a World Cup record for the biggest winning margin.

For as good as the Kookaburra strikers were, the defenders were equally as good, ensuring that goalkeeper Nathan Burgers had a relatively quiet night.

The Kookaburras will next play Spain on Saturday 6th March.

Kookaburras 12 South Africa 0 (5-0 half time)

Goals – Doerner 16m PC/ 34m PC, 49m PC 66m FG, 68m PC, Turner 20m FG 62m FG, Abbott 26m FG, Kavanagh 35m PC, Butturini 44m FG, Dwyer 52m FG/ 54M FG,

Hockey Australia media release



Records are galore; Australia mauls Africa 12-0

K. Arumugam


Record books are in demand, as Australians go hammer and tongs against hapless Africans. The first match of Day V saw the Oceania champions mercilessly pound African Champions.

Australia defeated Africa by 12-0, a record equalled in terms of one team scoring maximum goals in a match. It was Pakistan's record that stood alone till today, as they defeated New Zealand in Mumbai 12-3 twenty eight summers ago.

This 12 goal margin win is a World Cup record. The previous margin of nine goal-margin has been witnessed in other occasions. Australia it was in 1975 that set the 9-0 goal margin win first time when it deeated Ghana at Kuala Lumpur (1975). Pakistan than equalled this in 1978 (defeating Ireland 9-0).

Luke Doerner was today declared Man of the Match while Mark Knowels got the Steel defender of the match.

Stick2Hockey.com



Slam bang at the hockey World Cup

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: There was no doubt where the allegiance of the spectators lay. Each Pakistan move was cheered wildly, especially when they were two goals down against England in the pool B match.

The four-time champions did take inspiration from the support, but did not have the wherewithal to match the energetic opposition through 70 minutes.

England dominated the first session and also put up a stupendous rally towards the end to prevail 5-2 and move towards a semifinal spot with their third consecutive win.

A strike by James Tindall was reversed after a referral as he volleyed in the ball from above shoulder height, but the early pressure was on Pakistan. Jonty Clarke put the sixth-ranked team ahead in the 20th minute while Ashley Jackson shot in on off Barry Middleton to make it 2-0.

Pakistan kept their head above the water with two quick goals in the second session, Shakeel Abbasi knocking in one after a superb solo effort and Rehan Butt scoring off a penalty-corner gained by Irfan Muhammad in the very next minute.

England goalkeeper James Fair did a fine job, especially with penalty-corners, but an injury to him did not affect their fortunes as Middleton put the ball in twice in the final session and Clarke scored his second goal with a cracking shot from the right of the ‘D’.

There were skirmishes in the field early on and the long-hooter heralded a near scuffle between the players, cutting down on the celebrations from England. “The umpires did not take control of the match. If Shivendra Singh of India was suspended following video reviews, I hope the tournament director takes note of the behaviour of England’s players too,” said an agitated Rehan Butt after the match.

Australia, who have been like wounded tigers after their initial loss to England, registered the biggest margin of victory in a World Cup match when they humiliated South Africa 12-0. Penalty-corner specialist Luke Doerner, who scored four goals during the spree to take the lead in the goal-scorer’s tally in the championship at five, was happy to have converted short corners with such ease.

“It was good to score so many goals, especially because our penalty-corner conversions were good. We did not do well in the first game (lost to England 2-3) and it was important for us to come back in such fashion in the tournament,” said the 31-year-old who has been playing for the Kookaburras for five years now.

One of the scorers in the 5-2 win over India, Doerner struck the first goal for the Aussies in the 13th minute. He also scored their fourth and seventh goals before completing the tally with the final one just two minutes from the long hooter. Jamie Dwyer struck thrice, Glenn Turner found the mark twice, while Matthew Butturini, Fergus Kavanagh and Desmond Abbott shot in once each for Australia, who led 5-0 at half-time.

DNA



Australia sweep South Africa Aside

Australia 12 South Africa 0


Title favourites Australia swept aside South Africa 12-0 to record the biggest victory in the history of the men's Hockey World Cup.

Penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner slammed four goals, Jamie Dwyer three and Glenn Turner two as the Australians gave the South Africans a hockey lesson in their first Hockey World Cup meeting.

The 11th goal in the 66th minute, which was attributed to Doerner, was later awarded to Dwyer by the technical bench.

Desmond Abbott, Fergus Kavanagh and Matthew Butturini were the other scorers in a spectacular goal spree at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the Indian capital.

The Kookaburras, who led 5-0 at half-time, surpassed Pakistan's 12-3 romp over New Zealand in the 1982 tournament in Mumbai, which was the previous highest victory margin in the World Cup.

"I did not know it was a record, but it is not everyday that we score 12 goals in a match," said Australian coach Ric Charlesworth. "This will help us in future games. I liked the way we played throughout the match. We were relentless. We attacked the opponents in a very good manner. I am also very pleased with our penalty corner conversions."

Australia, who lost their opening match against England, bounced back in style to defeat hosts India 5-2 and have now taken their Group B tally to six points from three matches.

European champions England, who have six points from two games, were taking on Pakistan later. India and Spain, with three points each, clash in the evening's last match.

South Africa have lost all three matches so far, scoring six goals and conceding 22. "We are extremely disappointed," said South African captain Austin Smith. "The scoreline suggests Australia were too good for us. It is difficult to pick ourselves up after such a loss because we are a young side."

The Telegraph



Ruthless Australia break WC record, spank SA 12-0

NEW DELHI: Title favourites Australia registered the biggest win in the history of hockey World Cup by inflicting a humiliating 12-0 defeat on South Africa in a Pool B match on Thursday.

The overwhelming win is the biggest in terms of goals in a World Cup match.

The earlier record was in the name of Pakistan, who had mauled New Zealand 12-3 in the 1982 edition of the event.

Luke Doerner converted four penalty corners while veteran Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner scored two field goals each as world number two Australia toyed with South Africa and made the Proteas look like a club side.

After some early jitters Australia took control over the match with speedy forays and brisk counter attacks and scored goals at will - five in the first half and seven after the change of ends -- to sound a warning bell for other teams.

Apart from Doerner (16th minutes, 34th, 49th, 66th 68th), Dwyer (52nd, 54th) and Turner (20th, 62nd), Desmond Abbott (26th), Fergus Kavanagh (35th) and Matthew Betturini (44th) were the other goals scorers for Australia.

Australia went ahead through Doerner, who converted their second penalty corner in the 16th minute, and four minutes later Turner made it 2-0 for the Olympic silver medallists with a nice field goal.

Turner scored his third goal in the tournament after Dwyer set it up for him from a fast paced counter attack.

The Aussies pumped in another in the 26th minute through Desmond Abbott whose reverse stick shot beat the South African goalkeeper Brendon Bodes all ends up.

As if that was not enough, Ric Charlesworth's boys scored two more in the last two minutes of the first half through short corners.

Doerner found the net again with an immaculate dragflick in the 34th minute and then Fergus Kavanagh scored from a rebound after the set piece was saved by custodian Botes.

The second period was no different as Australia pumped in seven more goals. Betturini extended the lead in the 44th minute and five minutes later Doerner scored his third goal of the game, making full use of their fifth short corner.

With his team ruling the roost, veteran Dwyer joined the party, scoring two field goals in the 52nd and 54th minute.

Turner scored his second when he deflected home a Mark Knowles cross from the left flank.

Doerner was unstoppable as he added two more to his tally in the last four minutes of the match, first a field goal and then from a set piece to pile on South Africa's agony.

With this win, Australia now have six points from three matches and will take on Spain in their next Pool B match on Saturday.

South Africa, on the other hand, are out of the semifinal race, having lost all three matches they have played and are languishing at the bottom of the points table.

The Proteas will face Pakistan in their next match on Saturday.

The Times of India



No record in mind but wanted to win by big margin: Ric

NEW DELHI: Australia on Thursday broke a 28-year old World Cup record with a crushing 12-0 win over South Africa but neither the coach Ric Charlesworth nor the players were aware about their achievement till the end of the match.

Australia eclipsed Pakistan's 12-3 margin win over New Zealand in 1982 in India.

"We lost our first match against England before beating India 5-2. We thought of beating South Africa by a huge margin because goal difference could be a factor in deciding who would reach the semifinals from this tough Pool B.

"We did not have any thought of creating a record. None of us knew that was a record till the end of the game," Charlesworth told reporters after the comprehensive win.

Even the Australians players came to know about the record when the scribes informed them during the post match media interaction.

But for them points matter more. "We have idea that it was a new record but we are happy having done that. For us three points are important record or not," Liam de Young, who captained the side today under Australia's rotational policy, said.

Star player Jamie Dwyer, who captained the side in Australia's first match against England, also said the record was news to him.

"It is good if it is that (a record). We did not know it. But more important we got three points and are improving every game after the loss against England in the first match," he said.

Dwyer, who was named 2009 World Player of the Year, said the rotational captaincy among himself, Young and Mark Knowles was done to share responsibility.

"We have been doing this for long in Australia, even in other sports. It distributes the responsibility among three of us senior most players," he said.

"In team meetings everybody are equal and any player can say or suggest anything. But three of us will take turns as captain and each will have to take responsibility at the pre- match training, dealing with the media like this, besides leading the side during the match," he added.

Drag-flicker Luke Doerner, who scored five goals today, including four from the penalty corners, said he was happy that his side had come good in penalty corner conversion after not doing well in their earlier two matches.

"We are happy we have done well. There was not much concerned though. We did not do that well against England but we were 50 per cent in penalty corner conversion against India and we came good today," he said.

Asked how many flicks he used to take during practice on a day, he said, "I used to do at least 40 flicks a day."

The Times of India



Jonty Clarke inspires England to third victory

Inspired by the returning Jonty Clarke, England’s men’s hockey team pulled off another excellent victory at the Hero Honda FIH World Cup in Delhi on Thursday as they beat the world’s number seven side Pakistan 5-2.  Steely determination and goals from Clarke, Ashley Jackson and captain Barry Middleton helped England recover from 2-2 but England’s celebrations will be heavily subdued after defender Richard Mantell was taken to hospital with a suspected ankle dislocation following a collision with Pakistan’s Muhammad Irfan.

Facing the four times world champions for the first time since a three match series in Cannock last summer, England coach Jason Lee restored Reading forward Jonty Clarke to the bench following his precautionary rest earlier in the week.  Dan Fox returned to the stand having made his World Cup debut on Tuesday against South Africa.

The match began in controversial circumstances with England’s Surbiton forward James Tindall having a goal disallowed inside three minutes after Pakistan referred German umpire Christian Blasch’s decision to the video umpire.  Ben Hawes’ cross from the right deflected high into the air off the stick of Akhtar Ali and into the circle where Tindall timed his shoulder high volley to perfection.  The 26 year old’s baseball-style shot flew into the bottom corner as Pakistan’s defenders immediately appealed to the umpire that it was played above shoulder height.  Video umpire Colin Hutchinson from Ireland agreed and the goal was ruled out but England had signalled their intent.

Pakistan had their first sight on James Fair’s goal in the ninth minute after a threaded through pass split the English defence.  But for the last minute intervention of Beeston’s Ali Wilson, Fair may have been picking the ball out of the net but the shot deflected off to the side of the pitch and it remained 0-0.

On 11 minutes, another of England’s Surbiton contingent, Richard Alexander, showed his hunger for the game as he stole the ball in the midfield before feeding World Young Player of the Year Ashley Jackson, who held off four Pakistan defenders before he was eventually outmuscled in the circle.

England won their first penalty corner of the game in the 15th minute after good work down the right from Hawes but Richard Mantell’s effort flew wide of the left post.  And Hawes was again in the thick of it a minute later, flashing a low hard cross from the right across the face of goal which Richard Alexander narrowly failed to connect with.

Having been in the ascendency for the opening period, England lost defender Richard Smith to a two minute suspension but despite the numerical disadvantage the men in white did not miss a beat.  A moment later, England were ahead.

On 20 minutes, Tindall latched onto Ben Hawes’ long aerial pass downfield and with his back to goal he drove a powerful pass across the circle, which was met at the back post by the diving Jonty Clarke.  The Reading man, back in the side after missing Tuesday’s win over South Africa with a tight hamstring, launched himself into a full length dive to brilliantly connect with Tindall’s cross and deflect the ball home.  1-0 to England.

Against South Africa, England had exhibited moments of naivety in defence and a break in concentration gave Pakistan’s Rehan Butt an opportunity along the baseline.  England’s defence recovered enough to crowd 29 year old at the expense of a penalty corner which Cannock’s Fair saved with his left foot down the middle of the goal.

With Pakistan coming at England there was space to exploit on the counter and Alastair Brogdon looked to capitalise when he broke down the left and cut the ball back to the supporting Ashley Jackson at the top of the circle.  Jackson took his shot on the move well but Salman Akbar stuck out a foot and kept it out with the tip of his toe at full stretch.

Pakistan were awarded their second corner on 28 minute after Richard Mantell deflected the ball up onto his teammate Wilson but again Fair was equal to the set piece, saving a powerfully flicked effort to his left.  Pakistan fired the rebound wide but subsequently appealed that the ball had hit the foot of England captain Barry Middleton.  Video replays were inconclusive and Pakistan lost their right to any more referrals for the remainder of the match.

Things got worse for the men in green three minutes before the break as England’s Dutch duo of Middleton and Jackson combined to put England two up.  Middleton’s pass from the top left of the circle appeared to go through two Pakistan defenders on its way to the back post where it was knocked in by Jackson; 2-0 at half time.

England were handed a numerical advantage with just 30 seconds played in the second half as Muhammad Zubair was yellow carded for a deliberate foul on Jackson deep inside Pakistan territory.  Two up and with a man advantage England might have crushed the Pakistani spirit there and then but Jackson saw his effort charged down well by Akhtar Ali at the top of the circle and Pakistan responded.

At the other end they won a corner of their own which James Fair again had to keep out, saving the shot with his left glove in front of his face and clearing the danger.

In the pressure that followed, 17 year old Rashid, the tournament’s second youngest player, found himself in space behind the English defence but before he could squeeze off a shot Ashley Jackson put in a telling block to force the ball behind.

Pakistan’s sustained pressure told on 45 minutes as Shakeel Abassi picked the ball up in the inside left channel before going on to pull a goal back.  Cutting inside, he took the ball around James Fair on the penalty spot and held off the challenge of Glenn Kirkham before firing the ball into the goal beyond two defenders on the line.

And things went from bad to worse for England when they lost a second goal and lost defender Richard Mantell to what appeared to be an ankle injury at Pakistan’s fourth corner.  First Mantell collided with Muhammad Irfam as he advanced from the post as the ball was pulled out.  With Mantell on the floor, the ball ended up on the right baseline and was fired back across through clear air to the waiting Rehan Butt, standing where Mantell would have been, to make it 2-2.

England’s disappointment at losing the goal was worsened by the injury to Mantell who was still lying prone in the circle.  Replays showed the Reading defender’s right ankle twisting in the collision and after a lengthy delay for treatment Mantell left the field on a stretcher and was transferred straight to hospital.

The incident sparked the game alive and on 50 minutes Mantell’s Reading teammate Iain Mackay was yellow carded for a shove in the midfield.

Three minutes later, England, still a man down, took advantage of a poor piece of goalkeeping from Salman to put them 3-2 up.  The experienced goalkeeper mis-kicked his clearance along the left baseline and the persistent Richard Alexander reacted quickest before cutting back to Middleton to score from close range.  The goal put England back in control but with Pakistan looking dangerous on every attack it was still very much anyone’s game.

That was until the 62nd minute when Iain Mackay was gifted the ball in the middle of the park and he found Jonty Clarke on the right of the circle.  In attempting to cover the pass to Rob Moore at the back post the Pakistan goalkeeper left his near post exposed and Clarke took full advantage, spotting the gap and firing England 4-2 ahead.

And Clarke was involved again in England’s fifth goal, which he created for Middleton to score his second of the game.  Spotting his captain’s run across goal, Clarke picked out Middleton in front of the goalkeeper and he added finishing touch to divert it past Salman with just five minutes remaining.

As time counted down, the match took on a more frenzied, end-to-end style but with neither side able to create another clear cut chance England ran out 5-2 winners, a fitting response from Mantell’s teammates who were clearly upset at losing their inspirational colleague.

Clarke’s return to the side and his contribution to such a superb result earned him the man of the match award from the organisers.

England manager Andy Halliday said afterwards that the team’s management were delighted with the performance, particularly in the final 20 minutes of the game.  “In the first half we took all that Pakistan threw at us and scored two cracking counter attacking goals,” he said.  “In the second half, Pakistan battled back into it.  And then we lost Rich.  In that phase of the game they put us under intense pressure and to battle back like we did after losing a key player was absolutely outstanding.”

The result gives England three wins from their opening three matches and ensures they go into Saturday’s fourth Pool B match against India top of the Pool.

Earlier in the day Australia ran out 12-0 victors over South Africa, setting a World Cup record in the process.

England’s match against India gets underway at 15:05 GMT on Saturday 8 March.

ENGLAND 5 (2)

Jonty Clarke 20, 62 (F, F)            
Ashley Jackson 32 (F)                 
Barry Middleton 53, 65 (F, F)                   

PAKISTAN 2 (0)

Shakeel Abbasi 45 (F)                 
Rehan Butt 49 (PC)                    

England Hockey Board media release



Richard Mantell Withdrawn From Hockey World Cup

The England Hockey Board regrets to announce that England Hockey defender Richard Mantell sustained a fracture and dislocation of the right ankle during England’s Hero Honda FIH World Cup Pool B match with Pakistan on Thursday afternoon.  As a result, he will take no further part in the World Cup.

The injury was sustained in a collision with Pakistan player Muhammad Irfan during a Pakistan penalty corner in the 48th minute of the match.  Richard was treated on the pitch and subsequently transferred to hospital for further attention.

He has since been released from hospital and has returned to the team hotel.

Richard will return to the United Kingdom within the next couple of days where he will undergo surgery on his ankle on Monday.

England Hockey Board Media release



Richard Mantell injury blow fails to deny England

Cathy Harris, Delhi



England's Richard Mantell reacts in pain after he collided with Pakistan's Muhammad Irfan during their match at the men's Hockey World Cup (Danish Ismail/Reuters)


Richard Mantell was ruled out of the World Cup yesterday after suffering a dislocated and broken ankle that overshadowed England’s 5-2 victory over Pakistan.

Two goals apiece by Barry Middleton, the captain, and Jonty Clarke inspired their team to a triumph over the four-times winners of the tournament. The win maintained their 100 per cent record and position at the top of pool B. Victory over either India tomorrow or Spain in their final group game on Monday will confirm their place in the semi-finals.

Mantell received treatment from England’s medical staff and two more doctors for five minutes before being carried off on a stretcher. The incident occurred at a penalty corner in the 48th minute from which Pakistan equalised after fighting back from 2-0 down at half-time.

Andy Halliday, the England manager, said that Mantell’s ankle was put back in place by doctors on the pitch and added: “It still didn’t look good and he was completely out of it when he came off the pitch.”

Jason Lee, the England head coach, has already had to cope with losing two strikers, Matt Daly and Mantell’s younger brother Simon, before the event. Now he must reorganise at the back after the loss of his best defender and penalty-corner specialist.

“It was a fantastic victory — it was astonishing how well they played,” Lee said. “The younger players were really shocked at how bad it [the injury] was. Emotions were running very high after the incident but they held it together.”

In an 11-minute spell after Mantell was taken off, two goals by Middleton either side of a strike by Clarke breathed new life, passion and determination into England.

Middleton marshalled his young side superbly. “It shows how much of a team we are and the spirit in it,” he said. “We let our emotions get the better of us for a while but you can understand that because it was such a terrible sight and not one you see often in the game.”

England might have made a dream start when James Tindall swatted a high ball into the backboard in the second minute, only to have his effort disallowed because he had played the ball with his stick above his shoulder. Clarke, returning to the squad after a hamstring strain, put England ahead in the 21st minute, diving full length to touch home Tindall’s cross.

Three minutes before half-time Ashley Jackson stole in to crack home a pass from Middleton and give England a deserved 2-0 lead.

If there has been a weakness for England here, it has been in periods of unconvincing defence and, under pressure from Pakistan’s quick forwards, they were punished for one careless pass too many as Pakistan replied with goals from Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt.

Having regained their composure after conceding the equaliser, Middleton neatly deflected in Richard Alexander’s cross to restore their advantage and Clarke unleashed a ferocious shot from an acute angle to make it 4-2 in the 62nd minute.

Middleton sealed England’s biggest win over Pakistan in a frantic finish by glancing in brilliantly a free hit by Clarke.

James Fair, the England goalkeeper, played his part by pulling off several superb saves, including acrobatically denying Sohail Abbas, the world’s most feared player from corners, and Adam Dixon, the Beeston player, enjoyed his best game for England in the midfield.

Australia sent a warning to their rivals earlier when they thrashed South Africa 12-0 to record the biggest winning margin in World Cup history. After a slow start, Spain kept their hopes of a semi-final place alive with a 5-2 win over India.

Thursday’s results: Australia 12 South Africa 0; England 5 Pakistan 2; Spain 5 India 2.

Saturday: Australia v Spain; South Africa v Pakistan; India v England. Monday: Spain v England; Australia v Pakistan; India v South Africa.

The Times



England beat Pakistan, but lose Mantell

England 5 Pakistan 2

By Pat Rowley


England regathered themselves brilliantly after a horrific injury to Richard Mantell to beat Pakistan 5-2 in their third group match at the Hockey World Cup.

Mantell suffered a suspected broken ankle while England defended a corner in the 12th minute of the second half. He was carried off on a stretcher and immediately taken to hospital.

As the right post man, Mantell stepped up as Pakistan played a variation corner. He turned slightly as he saw Pakistan's Muhammad Irfan going low at full stretch to attempt a deflection. A collision was inevitable. From the stand, it looked like a genuine accident.

Pakistan levelled the match at 2-2 from that corner. Rehan Butt scored, taking advantage of the gap left in England's corner defence as Mantell lay in agony on the pitch.

Hockey doesn't get many severe injuries but it was the second he has suffered in the last few years and England's core defender and corner expert is out of the World Cup. He is the third England player injured in the last two weeks, following the return home of his brother, Simon, and Matt Daly.

The goal and injury gave the iniative to Pakistan, as most of England's young players had never seen anything like such an injury and were visibly shaken.

It said much for the spirit in the team that they soon buckled down to get a result.

To win 5-2 in the end was remarkable. Jonty Clarke and Barry Middleton each scored twice and Jackson kept up his goal a game record.

It was England's biggest-ever win over Pakistan in 32 matches and ensured they maintained their three-point advantage in their group as they chase being one of the pool's two semi finalists.

Australia and Spain are still very much in the chase. Australia, the favourites, defeated South Africa 12-0, a record World Cup winning margin. Spain were 5-2 winners over England's next opponents, India.

The Telegraph



Injury to Richard Mantell spoils England World Cup win

Jonty Clarke and Barry Middleton both scored twice but an injury to Richard Mantell overshadowed England's 5-2 World Cup Pool B win over Pakistan.

Mantell suffered a dislocated and fractured right ankle in the second half, although England recovered to record their third win in three games.

Clarke's superb sliding effort and an Ashley Jackson strike had put England 2-0 up before Pakistan levelled.

Two late goals by Middleton and one by Clarke sealed the victory in Delhi.

England, who beat tournament favourites Australia and South Africa in their opening two matches, lead Pool B by three points and have matches against hosts India and Olympic silver medallists Spain to come.

But the loss of key player Mantell, the side's penalty corner specialist is a massive blow with England currently in a great position to reach the semi-finals.

The defender was stretchered off and taken to hospital after an accidental collision with Muhammad Irfan during the build-up to Pakistan's second goal.

He has since been released from hospital and will return to the United Kingdom ahead of surgery on Monday.

Team manager Andy Halliday said he was delighted with the performance, particularly in the final 20 minutes.

"In the first half we took all that Pakistan threw at us and scored two cracking counter attacking goals," he said.

"In the second half, Pakistan battled back into it, and then we lost Rich.

"In that phase of the game they put us under intense pressure and to battle back like we did after losing a key player was absolutely outstanding."

The European champions began brightly, with James Tindall having an early goal ruled out after a referral to the video umpire showed he had raised the stick above his head to hook the ball home.

But Tindall made amends when he set up Clarke for a superb sliding effort into the roof of the net to put England in front.

Four minutes before half-time, Jackson doubled England's lead when he nipped in on the left-hand side to steer home a fierce cross-field pass from outside the area.

Pakistan upped the pressure after the break and eventually got their deserved reward when Shakeel Abassi picked his way through a string of challenges to bury the ball in the right-hand corner.

Within minutes they were level as Reehan Butt poked home from close range following a penalty corner, a sequence of events that resulted in Mantell being carried off.

In an increasingly fractious match, Iain Mackay was sent to the stands for five minutes for a shove on Irfan but the one-man disadvantage did not prevent England regaining the lead, with captain Middleton netting from close range.

Clarke's angled shot made it 4-2 then he set up Middleton for his second goal.

Earlier, Australia set a new World Cup record with their 12-0 win over South Africa.

Australia, who led 5-0 at half-time, surpassed Pakistan's 12-3 romp over New Zealand in the 1982 tournament in Mumbai.

Spain moved up to six points with their 5-2 win over India in the final match of the day.

England: Fair (Cannock), Hawes (Surbiton), Mantell (Reading), Smith (Loughborough Students), Wilson (Beeston), Jackson (HGC), Kirkham (East Grinstead), Moore (Surbiton), Mackay (Reading), Middleton (capt, HGC), Tindall (Surbiton).

Substitutes: Alexander (Surbiton), Brogdon (Bowdon), Catlin (Loughborough Students), Clarke (Reading), Dixon (Beeston).

BBC Sport



England defeat Pakistan 5-2

s2h Team


England outwits fighting Pakistan in the circle, and posts what looks like a cakewalk score of 5-2. Pakistan came behind two goals down to equalize but in the second half, England's precision scorers made the win look like an easy one.

When England took two-zero lead (goals by Jonty Clarke and Ashley Jackson), it appeared all is over for Pakistan, but pepped up some piercing and furitful thrust of Shakeel Abbasi, Pakistan equalized. Rehan scored off the rebound of Pakistan's fourth penalty corner for the equlizer.

The second part of Second half belonged to the English, as they scored from both flanks, first time shots, acute angled ones, with that they walked away with full points. The full-throated Indian stands did not help Pakistan beyond a point. Captain Barry Middleton scored a brace, in between his feat, Jonty Clarke added another one goal to his kitty.

So superb was the finish of England that their third goal came when they were numerically down.

Pakistan scorers were Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt

Stick2Hockey.com



England thump Pakistan 5-2 in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: European champions England virtually assured themselves a place in the semifinal of the hockey World Cup after thumping Pakistan 5-2 to continue their unbeaten run in the tournament on Thursday.

Captain Barry Middleton (52nd, 65th) led from the front with two goals while James Tindall (20th), Ashley Jackson (32nd) and Jonty Clarke (62nd) scored a goal each to complete Pakistan's misery in the high-voltage Pool B match.

Pakistan reduced margin through Shakeel Abbasi (45th) and Rehan Butt (49th).

England started the match with a flourish and sounded the board in the fourth minute when Iain Mackay's spectacular overhead shot beat Pakistan custodian Salman Akbar all ends up.

But to the disappointment of the English side, Pakistan appealed against the shot and video umpire rejected the goal because of high stick.

Rehan Butt got a fine opportunity to send his side ahead in the first 10 minutes of the game but he shot wide.

England's consistent pressure finally yielded result in the 20th minute when Tindall broke the deadlock with a field goal.

Stung by the early strike, Pakistan pressed hard for the equaliser and earned two penalty corners but on both occasions England goalkeeper James Fair's great anticipation thwarted Sohail Abbas.

Three minutes from the interval, an unmarked Ashley Jackson compounded Pakistan's misery when he pushed in a great cross from Barry Middleton from outside the circle to go into the lemon break with a 2-0 lead.

The break did very little to help the Pakistani side as England started from where they left and earned their second penalty corner in the opening minute of the second half, but this time the Pakistani defence stood tall to deny the European champions another goal.

Abbas was off-colour with his drag-flicks today as he wasted another scoring chance in the 40th minute, hitting straight to the English goalkeeper Pakistan's third short corner.

Pakistan finally reduced the margin in the 45th minute through hard-working Shakeel Abbasi, who kept his cool to score from an English defensive lapse.

Two minutes later, Rehan Butt drew parity from close range after Abbas had failed to find the net from yet another short corner.

With the scores tied 2-2, the match turned little ugly with both the teams going for hard tackle in search of the winner.

Jolted by Pakistan's comeback, the Englishmen lost their cool, which resulted in a yellow card for mid-fielder Mackay for a dangerous tackle on an opponent.

But it was not to be Pakistan's day as Middleton scored from short distance to give England a 3-2 lead.

Pakistan conceded two more field goals in the last 10 minutes of the match with Clarke and Middleton finding the net in the 62nd and 65th minutes.

With three out of three wins, England are more or less through to the last four stage while Pakistan still has an outside chance of progressing.

England will take on India in their penultimate pool match on Saturday while Pakistan cannot afford to lose against a South Africa in their next outing.

The Times of India



Defensive lapses cost us dear: Zeeshan

Y.B. Sarangi


NEW DELHI: Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf agreed that defensive lapses let his team down against England in the hockey World Cup on Thursday.

“We made some mistakes in the defence. Besides, there were two yellow cards which made matters worse for us,” he said following his team's 5-2 loss.

“In the first half England played well. We tried to come back in the second half but conceded a few goals in our attempt to attack.”

On the rough exchange between England's Ian Mackay and Irfan, Zeeshan said, “he deliberately hit Irfan. The Tournament Director should ban him like Shivendra.”

The Pakistani skipper said his team still had a chance to make the semifinals.

Enjoying crowd support

Zeeshan's English counterpart Barry Middleton said his side enjoyed the crowd support. He said his team would miss the services of experienced striker Richard Mantell, who dislocated his right ankle during the match and was ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Ric Charlesworth said before the match Australia was worried about the South Africans. “But I liked the way our team played well throughout, they were relentless. If we improve everyday, we will be at a place where we want to be at the end of the tournament,” said the Australian coach.

Charlesworth defended the rotation of captaincy. “We have a few players with leadership abilities. We are rotating them. All have something to offer, all have some positive qualities,” he said.

Record margin

On the record margin of victory, the Aussie coach said he had no idea about it. “Is it? Nobody thinks about it.

“We had 25-30 shots at the goal today. Sometimes the scores are unfair. We have to make hay when the sun shines. The goals might make a difference at the end,” Charlesworth said.

South African captain Austin Smith was disappointed with his side's showing.

“We have the potential to compete against a team like Australia. However, 12-0 is certainly not the score. Our seniors were not up to the mark, no one stood up and took charge,” he said.

The Hindu



Only a miracle can save our Cup campaign now: Islah

By Khalid Hussain


KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Islahuddin Siddiqui on Thursday questioned national hockey management’s claims that their team has achieved substantial improvement, saying that the Greenshirts looked unprepared for a huge event like the World Cup.

Commenting on Pakistan’s performance in their 2-5 loss against England in a crucial World Cup game in New Delhi, Islah said that the national players lacked fitness and seemed confused during the best part of the encounter.

“It was quite visible that our players were not at par with England as far as their fitness was concerned,” said Islah, one of Pakistan’s most successful captains of all time. “I mean they were pretty tired in the last 15 minutes of the match and were even unable to get to the ball. It seems that they’ve not prepared well for a tournament like the World Cup,” he stressed.

Islah, also a former Pakistan coach, said that the national team was also unable to come out with a proper strategy to win the match.

“In fact, it seemed that there was no strategy. The players looked confused. Our midfield was in tatters. Waseem (Ahmed) who is supposed to be our playmaker and centre-half was floating all over the place without performing his main job in the centre. It was really bad.”

Islah said that after suffering defeats against India and England, only a miracle can help Pakistan reach the semifinals. “We should have beaten India and I think we should have also won against England,” he said. “But now we are in a difficult situation and only a miracle can save our World Cup campaign.”

Pakistan have to play South Africa and Australia in their remaining two games and need to win both of them, preferably by good margins to have some hopes of making the cut for the last-four stage. Even if they do it, Pakistan will have to pray that the results of the other Pool B matches go in their favour.

Before going to New Delhi Pakistan manager Asif Bajwa had declared that the World Cup wasn’t his team’s main goal adding that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is instead targeting the Asian Games to be held in China later this year.

Islah, however, believes that Bajwa and company were offering excuses even before the start of the World Cup.

“You can’t go and play in the World Cup without making it a target. It’s foolish to say that you are going there just to take part in it,” he said. “Even minor teams like Canada and South Africa see World Cup as their target and compete in it with the best possible preparations. How can a country like Pakistan, with four world titles, can just relax and say that the World Cup is not our target. It’s just beyond my comprehension.”

The News International



‘We don’t have a winning combination’


KARACHI: Former hockey legend Samiullah on Thursday said that the Pakistan team has played according to their capabilities and expecting them to do miracles was not wise.

“I was saying this from the very start that this Pakistan team does not have a winning combination and now it has been proved. They played as per their capability and it is of no use criticising the players,” Samiullah told PPI.

He said that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) should have showed the true picture of the team rather than making any tall claims which have left the entire nation disappointed.

Pakistan on Thursday lost to England 5-2. Earlier, in the first match they lost to arch-rivals India 4-1 and won their second match against Spain 2-1.

Pakistan now have a slim chance to qualify for the semifinals, if they beat South Africa and Australia and results of other matches go in their favour. “Pakistan played pathetically against India, otherwise they have not played that badly in the World Cup. They displayed a very good show against Olympic silver medallists Spain,” Samiullah said.

The News International



English blow to Pakistan

Aussies set Cup record with 12-0 thrashing of South Africa


OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi: Pakistan’s campaign in the World Cup Thursday suffered a major setback when they went down 2-5 to England in an ill-tempered clash at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Pakistan now have a mountain to climb if they are to make the semi-finals from Pool A. At the end of Round III, European champions England are firmly atop with nine points while Pakistan have only three points to show from their lone victory over Spain.

Earlier in the day, title favourites Australia strengthened their claim for the second semi-final spot from the group with a 12-0 whitewash of a hapless South Africa.

It is the biggest victory margin since the inception of the World Cup in 1971. Australia have six points and, also a goal difference that no other team in the group can match.

“We are now left with only a 10 per cent chance of entering the semis,” admitted Pakistan striker Rehan Butt. “We had a chance to get three points but conceded a couple of soft goals in the second half. That was the cause of our downfall.”

The result would have caused dismay to the huge crowd backing Pakistan. Down by two goals at the breather, the four-time champions made a strong comeback to draw level within 12 minutes of the second session through Shakeel Abbasi and Butt only to give away three more goals when England looked vulnerable for the first time in the tournament.

Thus, in the end, it was an anti-climax of sorts for the Pakistan fans who never expected their team to succumb so easily after such a good showing early in the second half. England, who scored through Jonty Clarke and Ashley Jackson in the first half, had even looked panicky for a while after the change of ends.

Once Pakistan pulled one back in the 44th minute the England players turned physical. So much so that when midfielder Iain Macky hit Mohammed Irfan on the nose, the altercation that followed threatened to turn into a free for all.

The situation was brought under control by the umpires with Macky being shown a yellow card.

England, however, were quick to regroup and launched some vicious attacks over the next few minute. They totally tore open the Pakistan defence and struck thrice more through skipper Barry Middleton, who scored two of those, and Clarke.

The Australians, who led 5-0 at the half time, scored through penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner (4) Jamie Dwyer (3), Glen Turner (2), Desmond Abbott, Fergus Kavanagh and Matthew Butturini.

Friday’s matches

Pool A: South Korea vs New Zealand (4.35pm); The Netherlands vs Canada (6.35pm); Germany vs Argentina (8.35pm).

The Telegraph, India



England's Mantell ruled out of hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: England hockey team suffered a big jolt as their key defender Richard Mantell was ruled out of the ongoing World Cup after twisting his right ankle during their match against Pakistan on Thursday.

Mantell was taken off the field on a stretcher towards the close of the Pool B match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium and coach Jason Lee said he will miss the tournament.

Mantell, one of the five English players who ran out in defence of a Pakistani penalty corner, fell down at the ground after apparently colliding with an opposition player.

"Richard is one of the best distributors of the ball. He has twisted his right ankle and he will miss the tournament," Jason said after his side beat Pakistan 5-2 in an ill-tempered match.

"His absence will be felt as an important match comes up on Saturday against India," he added.

Captain Barry Middleton conceded that his players "lost their heads" for a while after Mantell was injured.

"Mantell was taken off the field and some of us lost our head for 10 minutes or so after that. He (Mantell) is such a big player and it was a bit emotional at that time and there was lots of passion," he said.

The Times of India



Pakistan demand action against England's foul play in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf demanded action against some English players who, he alleged, resorted to intentional foul play in the Pool B match of the hockey World Cup on Thursday.

Zeeshan said one England player intentionally fouled Irfan Muhammad in the second half but he went scot-free.

"Irfan was hit by an England player and it was intentional. Just like Shivendra Singh was banned, the tournament director should see the match video footage and he (the English player) should be suspended," said Zeeshan after his side lost 2-5 in their third Pool B match.

Zeeshan, however, did not say that Pakistan would lodge a complaint to the tournament director.

Striker Rehan Butt also said that the England players committed some intentional fouls and the tournament directors should take note of that.

"The tournament director should take action as there was intentional fouls (by England players) after seeing the video footage just like had been done in case of Shivendra," the star striker said.

Zeeshan conceded that some individual mistakes also cost the team dear besides the two yellow cards they got in the second session after they restored parity from 0-2 down at the breather.

"England played well in the first half. We came back strongly in the second half by scoring two goals but the two yellow cards slowed down the tempo of our comeback

"Moreover we made mistakes in the second session. Though it will be difficult to make it to the semifinals but it is not over for us. We would look to win the last two matches and see what happens," he said.

Asked about poor performance of star drag-flicker Sohail Abbas and striker Rehan Butt, Zeeshan said, "Sohail could not score from two penalty corners and we think England goalkeeper had come prepared. Rehan though was off-colour today."

Rehan Butt agreed that the third goal by England was due to the mistake of goalkeeper Salman Akbar.

"We had some individual mistakes and that contributed to our loss. Salman had a mistake and that led to the third goal. But it is part of the game," said Rehan.

The Times of India



Double Standards by FIH, nothing new

By Anand Philar


Tournament Director Ken Read’s rather officious justification of Shivendra Singh’s three-match suspension (reduced to two following appeal by India) in the ongoing Hockey World Cup might sound plausible, but the punishment exceeds the crime. If anything, it smacks of FIH making an example of a country whose hockey administrators have rarely shown the spunk to stand up and be counted.

From that infamous day in Dhaka 25 years ago, when six Indian players were suspended following the fracas in the Asia Cup final against Pakistan, our national team has always been under the scanner. The international umpiring community generally views the Asian style of play with some suspicion and it is given that they are instructed to keep a “close watch” on the sub-continental players especially in close tackles, like the one that Shivendra was involved in.

Shivendra’s back swipe after the ball was well in the clear is a typical instinctive reaction of an Indian player to tackles from behind and is never intentional. It is a fairly common sight in domestic hockey where umpires tend to be rather lenient and not always strictly apply the latest interpretations. Thus, when the Indian teams play international tournaments, the old habits surface and are heavily penalised.

In the present instance, a two-match suspension defies logic. The on-field umpires missed the incident that at best merited a warning. The point is that Read’s perception of the level of offence (”reckless behaviour”) is open to question.

Read’s justification of slapping the ban — although Pakistan did not lodge any official protest — reflects a man who is a law unto himself. He held a similar position in the 2006 World Cup where two of Australia’s goals from penalty corner in the semi-final against South Korea were illegal as the ball was stopped inside the circle. Umpire Christian Blasch of Germany allowed the goals.

The TV replays left no room for doubt. Australia went on to win 4-2. The Koreans were rather slow in lodging a protest as by then their bench had signed the score-sheet.

One wonders whether Read thought of looking at the replays and pulling up the two on-field umpires (Blasch and Henrik Ehlers of Denmark). Rather, Ehlers was “rewarded” with a posting for the final where Germany beat Australia.

Earlier in the tournament, Read and the entire FIH top brass, including its then president, Els van Breda Vriesman of the Netherlands, witnessed the disgraceful fixed match between Germany and South Korea who played out a farcical goalless draw that eliminated the Dutch from the medal rounds. No action was taken, not even a token censure. The Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans fretted and fumed but did not lodge an official protest.

Rewind to the 1996 Olympic qualifier in Barcelona when Malaysia and India were involved in a fixed match, again a goalless draw that denied Canada a spot in the Atlanta Games later that year. The FIH reacted swiftly and launched an investigation into the sordid episode following Canada’s protest.

The outbursts of Indian team coach Cedric D’Souza against some of his own players who had secretly connived with the Malaysians, provided fresh fodder to FIH. Nothing came out of it since neither India nor Malaysia was guilty of breach of rule, but both lost face and credibility.

The two incidents reflect the double standards that the FIH is known for in dealing with acts of misconduct. If Read believes that investigation and subsequent punitive action are independent on protest from the aggrieved party, then the FIH should have acted in 2006. That it did not only strengthens the belief that there are different yardsticks to judge an act of misconduct.

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Spanish armada sinks india

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


New Delhi,March 4: India’s World Cup chances were dealt a huge blow as they went down 2-5 to the charging Spaniards in their third Pool B match of the Hockey World Cup here on Thursday. It was a sorry tale of missed chances and poor finishing as the Spaniards exposed the Indian defence completely.

The match began at a brisk pace. Spain made some early forays with skipper Pol Amat and David Alegre exerting immense pressure. The Indian defence was kept on its toes, and the midfield had to fall back on more than one occasion to bolster them.

Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, playing his second game, though stood out with his exemplary saves.

The Spanish plan was clear from the outset. Playing without lead strikers Santi Freixa and Eduard Tubau, the world number 3 side focused on two things: a packed defence and maximum penalty corners.

The Spaniards possess the best of drag-flickers in Pau Quemada and Xavier Ribas, and they knew it was their only chance to get past India. Their plan paid dividends as the duo were kept in the thick of action for the most part.

Spain earned as many as six penalty corners and Quemada got his name against two.

Besides, the Beijing Olympic silver medallists also made full use of the gaps and attacked in waves that caught the Indians unawares.

The first blow came in the 19th minute when striker Albert Sala scored from the tightest of angles. The Indians relied on counter-attacks, but the towering Xavier Ribas in the defence thwarted every effort. Goalkeeper Francisco Cortes also deserves special mention for his brilliant work. Spain’s second goal was a delight. Alex Fabregas sent a quick cross piercing the Indian defence, and skipper Amat’s one touch shot found the net.

India came out charging in the second half and scored in the 39th minute — Sandeep converting a penalty corner — evoking wild cheers from the crowd. But what followed later was a different story altogether.

There was no stopping the Spanish forwards as Quemada made it 3-1, while Roman Alegre scored off a brilliant goal a minute later to make it 4-1. Gurvinder Chandi managed to pull one back in the 43rd minute, when he connected on a cross from Tushar Khandker from the right. Skipper Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh made brilliant solo runs thereafter, but success eluded them.

Quemada netted another penalty corner in the 67th minute — his second of the day — as Spain sealed the issue.

The Asian Age



Spain silence the crowds

Spain 5 India 2


Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain made light of the absence of injured strikers Santi Freixa and Eduard Tubau to silence a boisterous crowd of 19,000 with a win over hosts India.

Pau Quemada converted two penalty corners, while Albert Sala, captain Pol Amat and David Alegre chipped in with goals in the key match.

India, who trailed 2-0 at half-time, earned consolation goals from Sandeep Singh and Gurwinder Chandi.

With two rounds of league matches still to be played, Australia and Spain were lying second in the group behind England with six points each.

India and Pakistan trail with three points apiece and need big wins in the remaining games to stay in contention for a place in the semi-finals.

South Africa, the other team in the group, have lost all three matches so far, scoring six goals and conceding 22.

India's Spanish coach Jose Brasa conceded the hosts were virtually out of the semi-finals, but wanted his team to finish among the top six.

"It's very disappointing to lose a crucial match, but we committed childish mistakes in the defence and up front," said Brasa.

"The game turned Spain's way when we conceded the second goal with just seconds to go for half-time."

Spain's goal-scorer Sala was confident his team can advance to the knock-out rounds.

"We have a very good chance now," he said. "We are finding form at the right time."

The Telegraph



India go down 2-5 against Spain

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: India’s jaded effort against Spain gave little hope to fans of seeing another spirited effort in the FIH Hero Honda World Cup. They lost the plot early on, were outplayed in virtually every department, and failed to lift themselves out of the depths of despair as their hopes of qualifying for the semifinals came crashing down.

The home team might have played a dream opening match against Pakistan, but the identical 2-5 losses to Australia and now Spain, leave them with the possibility of fighting it out for the lower half as the championship progresses. If the match against Australia had tested their nerves, it was simply a case of not coming up to the mark in front of a jam-packed Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Thursday.

With two losses in three matches and an outing to go against group leaders England, they might not be technically out of reckoning for a place in the last four, but with England having notched up three wins, Australia running up a huge goal average advantage in two wins and Spain keeping their nose ahead of India on the points table, the writing is on the wall.

“We are not in the reckoning for the semifinals any more, but would like to fight it out for the fifth place. We had a bad game today. We made some silly mistakes and paid the price for it,” said India’s Spanish coach Jose Brasa. Spain’s first strike through Albert Sala with a surge down the centre rocked the Indian boat and captain Pol Amat put the Beijing Olympic finalists 2-0 ahead by the break. The first session saw a shaky defence with even the consistent Dhananjay Mahadik unable to instill confidence, not to forget Sandeep Singh.

India’s hopes got a boost when Sandeep converted a penalty-corner early on resumption. But Pau Quemada and Roc Oliva once again seized the initiative to put Spain 4-1 ahead, seizing the chances when India failed to do anything once inside the ‘D’. Gurwinder Singh Chandi finally got a goal in his third match, when he did not struggle as much as before, but the same could not be said for fellow forward Deepak Thakur. If Thakur was sloppy, Prabhjot Singh could not pierce the defence-line like he would have liked to. That was also because he was marked well.

Neither were there enough first-timers from inside the circle nor the deft flicks inside when the ball hovered around the goalmouth, and India were left groping close to the goal.

There were a few penalty-corners that came India’s way, but it was Quemeda’s second goal that stubbed the last hopes of a miracle in the dying minutes when he completed the eventual score-line. “I think the crucial mistake was when Pol Amat was left unmarked and we conceded the second goal. That was a bad let-off that had a bearing on the final result,” said Brasa about the 35th minute slip-up. “Our penalty-corner conversions were very bad,” Brasa said.

DNA



Our semis chances nearly over: Brasa

Y.B. Sarangi


— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

FORLORN: The Indian team looks a sorry lot after its defeat to Spain.


NEW DELHI: Following India's 5-2 loss to Spain in the hockey World Cup, chief coach Jose Brasa on Thursday said the home team's chance of reaching the semifinals was nearly gone.

“Our dream of making the semifinals is almost over. Now it is a lottery, if we win and other teams lose. But now we should concentrate and try to get the fifth position,” the Spaniard said.

Lacking experience

Brasa, however, said the Indian team lacked experience and gave away easy goals to Spain. He said the margin of defeat did not reflect the level of contest in the match.

“Australia was too good for us. But today the teams were equal. We made mistakes in the match. For me, Spain's second goal was crucial. We gifted the goal with just 10 seconds to go for the half-time. Rodrigo Garza is one of the best players and we allowed him,” he said, adding another key player of the opposition camp, Pol Amat, was left unmarked on a few occasions.

On India wasting a lot of penalty corners, the coach said, “Sandeep had done well against the same goalkeeper (Francisco Cortes) in Spain in August. But today the goalkeeper was good.”

Compulsion

Brasa said out of compulsion he was forced to give Deepak Thakur more chances even though the striker was not at his best. “We are asking Deepak to play more because of the penalty on Shivendra.”

Spanish captain Pol Amat said his side took advantage of the huge gap between the Indian defence and midfield.

“We played much better today. The scoreline would have been higher had we converted all our chances. We made some good and quick moves,” he said.

Defensive lapses

Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf agreed that defensive lapses let his team down against England.

“We made some mistakes in the defence. Besides, there were two yellow cards which made matters worse for us,” he said.

On the rough exchange between England's Ian Mackay and Irfan, Zeeshan said, “he deliberately hit Irfan. The Tournament Director should ban him like Shivendra.”

Zeeshan's English counterpart Barry Middleton said his side enjoyed the crowd support. He said his team would miss the services of experienced striker Richard Mantell, who dislocated his right ankle during the match and was ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Ric Charlesworth said before the match Australia was worried about the South Africans. “But I liked the way our team played well throughout, they were relentless,” said the Australian coach.

Charlesworth defended the rotation of captaincy. “We have a few players with leadership abilities. We are rotating them. All have something to offer, all have some positive qualities,” he said.

The Hindu



India's semi-final hopes diminish after defeat against Spain

NEW DELHI: India's semi-final hopes virtually went up in smoke after Spain spanked them 5-2 in a crucial Pool B match of the hockey World Cup on Thursday.

The comprehensive defeat leaves India with no other option but to win both their remaining matches against England and South Africa and then pray that outcome of other matches also go in their favour.

For Spain, Paul Quemada (41st minute, 67th) struck twice while Albert Sala (19th minute), captain Pol Amat (35th) and Ramon Alegre (42nd) were the other goal-getters.

Sandeep Singh (39th) and Gurvinder Singh Chandi (43rd) scored the consolation goals for India.

In the do-or-die battle, the Indians had numerous chances to score but the strikers let the side down.

The mid-field once again sparkled but the defence wore a sorry look, committing blunders at crucial junctures, which eventually put paid to their hopes.

The match started on a fast note with the ball travelling from one end to the other right from the onset. Spain, however, was the more dominant force as they earned four scoring chances in the first 20 minutes.

The Spaniards got their first scoring chance in the second minute but skipper Pol Amat's reverse stick shot from inside the circle went wide.

Seven minutes later Xavi Lleonart was guilty of missing the target from a close range.

Spain's constant pressure earned them their first penalty corner in the 11th minute but the Olympic silver medallist team could not convert it.

But a few minutes later, the Spaniard's went ahead, courtesy a lapse in concentration from Sandeep Singh.

Albert Sala scored with a fierce shot from the top of the circle after Sandeep had lost the ball in the mid-field.

Down by a goal, India pressed hard for the equaliser and got plenty of chances to score but the experienced forward line of Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh lacked finishing.

India earned a penalty corner in the 24th minute of the match but Sandeep failed to convert as Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes' brilliance saved his team.

Cortes made back-to-back saves - first stopping Sandeep's flick and then kept away the rebound from Sardar Singh.

With nine minutes to go for the interval, Deepak missed a sitter, failing to connect the ball with only the Spanish custodian to beat.

Spain compounded the home team's woes just at the stroke of the half time with an unmarked Pol Amat doubling the lead from a quick Alex Fabregas cross.

Two goals down, the Indians came all out attacking in the second session and earned their second penalty corner of the match. This time Sandeep made no mistake as his low flick found the back of the Spanish net to reduce the margin for the hosts.

But India's joy was short-lived as Spain pumped in back-to-back goals, much to the disappointment of the cheering crowd.

The Indians pulled another back a minute later through Chandi, who score his first international goal from a Tushar Khandekar cross from the right.

Apart from the one strike at goal, Sandeep had a bad day in office as he squandered as many as three short corners to sum up India's day.

In the final five minutes of the match, India got their sixth short corner but as luck would have it, Dhananjay Mahadik failed to stop the push and the effort on rebound from Khandekar was saved by an agile Cortes.

To add salt to India's wound, Spain scored another three minutes from the hooter through Quemada from a set piece.

India will next play unbeaten England on Saturday while Spain will be up against title favourites Australia.

The Times of India



India are virtually out of semis

Alok Sinha


NEW DELHI: First things first. India are virtually out of contention for a semi-finals slot in the Hockey World Cup. It was billed as a 'do or die' encounter. It was fought really hard.

It's just that India failed to do it. They suffered yet another 2-5 defeat, this time against Spain, and the deafening silence inside a stadium which rocked for all of 70 minutes said the story of the night. The fans clapped for the Spaniards and left leaving the Indians staring dejectedly from the dugout.

You felt sad for the team but its obvious that the Indians have still got a lot of work to do to handle the European teams. They simply cannot afford to make so many silly errors. The first two strikes were real soft goals. You don't make such mistakes if you are trying to be the best. You also do not squander so many chances. Forward Deepak Thakur muffed his lines completely and was the weak link up front. Probably, the presence of the suspended Shivendra could have made a difference.

So, what do you say about a team which promises so much but loses the script midway through the battle. Well, they were simply outwitted in the midfield. It was a brilliant tactical game which Spain played almost to perfection. In the first half, their midfielders gave India no room to down the middle, leaving them with no option but to attack from the flanks. The moves fizzled out inside the circle. And, when they did manage to earn penalty corners - they got six - they could convert only one.

If India's Spanish coach Jose Brasa had the knowledge about this Spanish team, it did not show on the turf. One wonders what the story would have been had Spain's top strikers, Santi Freixa and Eduard Tubau, been playing in company of skipper Pol Amat, who was simply brilliant on Thursday night.

Spain had obviously done their homework and they played their best game of the tournament so far. The defeat at the hands of Pakistan must have rankled and it showed in the way they scrambled into empty spaces, dived and ran as if their lives depended on it.

India were in the reckoning when they scored through Sandeep just before the half-time hooter. But like in the match against Australia, two quick goals early in the second half sealed India's fate. There was no way they could have claw back from there.

They managed to make it 2-4 but its obvious that India did not have a Plan B. They rely heavily on Sandeep's drag flicks to get them goals. When he managed to convert just one out of six, India could only hope for Spain to make mistakes. That did not happen. It usually does not, when world's No.3 team is fighting for its reputation.

India have shown the will to fight and have looked classy in patches. They need more goal-scorers to make an impact.

They now have two matches to go, against England and South Africa. They can hope to win both, which would be a tall order given the way England are playing. However, if they manage to do that, even that would be a great result for team which is trying to rebuild, trying to find a footing on a stage from they exited long time ago.

And yes, please forget the calculators. Just enjoy the moments that make watching this Indian team worthwhile.

The Times of India



Lack of exposure did us in: Brasa

NEW DELHI: India coach Jose Brasa on Thursday admitted that team's semifinals hopes are over in the hockey World Cup and blamed lack of exposure for his side's dismal show in the prestigious event.

India suffered a 2-5 defeat at the hands of Spain and had lost by the same margin to Australian on Tuesday.

Brasa said his players committed some "childish" mistake due to the lack of international matches and set the target of finishing fifth.

"We are virtually out of the semifinal. Theoretically, we can reach there if we win our remaining two matches but that is after a lot of permutations and combination. The semifinal dream is almost over. We will think of finishing fifth," Brasa said after his side's third Pool B match.

"You can't expect miracles in six months. Half of the team is playing their first major tournament. Spain are of our level but our players committed childish mistakes, especially the second Spanish goal 10 seconds before the first half.

"We left Pol Amat (Spanish captain) unmarked near our goalpost. Amat is Spain's best player and one of the best in the world. You can't give space to him like that.

"The second goal made all the difference. We also could not control the Spanish sweeper. All these mistakes are due to lack of experience. We also did not have enough international matches before the World Cup.

"Spain came here after playing 10 international matches in the build-up to the tournament while we played just two practice matches just before the event," Brasa explained.

Brasa, however, stoically refused to blame any player for the loss and refused to do any post-mortem of the debacle.

"We are an improving team. We were ranked 12th before this World Cup and if we finish fifth it will be an improvement. I will not blame any player. We will analyse what went wrong for us. We will do it after the tournament and not now," he said.

Brasa, who had also coached Spanish national team in the past, defended his players saying that they played much better than what the scoreline showed.

"We had almost the same number of chances and control of the game as Spain. We had more or less the same number of penalty corners though we could convert just one (out of six)," he said.

Brasa also revealed that India made complaints of some umpiring errors in their 2-5 loss against Australia and the tournament director had accepted them.

"We made complaints and the tournament director told in the morning that the penalty corner from which Australia scored their second goal was wrong and India should have got a penalty stroke instead of penalty corner from a Gurvinder Singh Chandi attempt," he said.

The Spaniard also defended drag flicker Sandeep Singh who could score just one of the six penalty corners.

"Today we had decided to depend on Sandeep for penalty corners. Sandeep had scored goals against the same goalkeeper when we toured Spain. But today he could not score many but that happens in hockey," he said.

Brasa said he was hopeful of India reaching the level of the top teams this year.

"We are very disappointed for the hockey fans in the country. But we have two very important tournaments this year (Asian Games and Commonwealth Games). By that time I hope India will be able to match the top teams," he said.

Asked whether India can beat England on Saturday, he said, "England and Spain are of India's level. So we have a chance to beat England."

He also said that his side felt the absence of Shivendra Singh in the last two matches.

Forward Prabhjot Singh said man-marking and penalty corner conversion have been the concern for the home team.

"We have to work on man to man marking and penalty corner conversions," he said.

The Times of India



Tactically speaking: India vs Spain

V Narayan Swamy


A match where Spain out-thought and outclassed India. The 5-2 verdict was not an indication of a rout alone. It was a pointer to the fatuous ways of the hosts throughout the match.

India tried to match the pace, gave up on the midfield and opted for several long passes from the defence. Why accelerate the pace when you cannot keep up?

Where India won it: Not in many areas. The way the forwards and the linkmen surprised the Spaniards on occasions was heartening. They fetched penalty corners, a sign that India did create a stir in the Spanish circle.

Where India lost it: The defence was poorly manned, despite the Indians opting for a half-court or a three-quarter court press. They were tardy in falling back. Sandeep Singh was harried, made numerous unforced errors that gave the ball to Spain. Upfront, coordination was missing.

Where Spain won it: They kept it simple. Man-to-man marking of India's forwards, a quiet build-up in the middle, explosive, diagonal runs into the circle that made marking difficult and sharp first-time shooting.

Sparklers: Pau Quemada, Albert Sala, Ramon Alegre

Duds: Prabhjot, Tushar, Rajpal, Sandeep, Chhikara

In the final analysis: The Brasa touch is gone. No more of the one-touch passes. The inexplicable absence of a midfield, which ought to have cut down on the pace, and forwards who couldn't find their way in the circle all contributed.

The Times of India



Germany, the Netherlands should have it easy Friday

NEW DELHI: On current form, defending champions Germany and group leaders the Netherlands should find Argentina and Canada easy in their run-up to gain semi-final berths in the Hockey World Cup on Friday.

With gamemaker and captain Teun de Nooijer in fine fettle and lethal penalty-corner specialist Taeke Taekema on a song, the Netherlands were fluid in their movements while winning both their Pool A matches to garner six points.

After blanking Argentina 3-0, thanks to a Taekema hat-trick, and getting the better of New Zealand 3-1, the Dutch look favourites to log full points against Canada, which has suffered two losses on the trot at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The two sides have met only once earlier in the 1998 World Cup, and the Netherlands won 3-1 and then went on to claim their third and last title.

The Dutch are being considered strong contenders for the crown, but coach Michel van den Huevel has said he is taking one match at a time.

"I am not thinking beyond our next match against Canada Friday. We have improved from our first match. But we still have a long way to go," said Huevel.

"It was good to see that we got some nice field goals (against New Zealand) and our boys are also performing well with every match," he said.

Germany, who finished with a 2-2 draw against Korea, have signalled a return to form with a 6-0 decimation of Canada Wednesday.

Placed second in the Pool with four points from two outings, the Germans would be up against the physical game of the Latin American nation, but the European power-house's professional approach and clinical display put them much ahead of their rivals.

Like Canada, the Argentineans are yet to earn any point, having lost both their matches, but have a flair for attacks as Korea found Wednesday.

The Argentineans dominated the first session and went ahead in the second, before the Asian champions scored two late goals to manage a hard-fought victory.

The Germans, winners of the last two World Cups, have come with a young side, but have been well served by the 18-year-old Florian Fuchs, who has already slotted three goals in the first two games.

After being found miserably wanting in the penalty corner department against Korea, the Germans

improved Wednesday converting three of the set-pieces against Canada, and team coach Markus Weise would be looking forward to a repeat performance Thursday.

"I am happy we had a good conversion rate Wednesday. We got eight penalty corners and converted three. So, in this match we have made use of the opportunities. We will keep it going," Weise said.

Korea also have four points, but are third in the Pool on goal difference. New Zealand are a point and a rung behind the Koreans, and the contest between the two could be absorbing as both need to win to keep themselves in the race for a slot in the pre-summit round.

The Times of India



The Netherlands look to book semi-final berth

NEW DELHI: Strong contenders the Netherlands would aim to maintain a clean slate by beating lowly Canada in Pool A and book a semi-final berth in the hockey World Cup on Friday.

The Netherlands, ranked fourth in the world, have beaten Argentina 3-0 and New Zealand 3-1 comfortably in their earlier matches.

With the form they are in, it is unlikely that Canada could pose much problem for the Dutch, who have won the coveted World Cup trophy thrice earlier.

On the other hand, a defeat against the Netherlands would shut the semi-final door on Canada as they have lost their earlier two matches -- against New Zealand (2-3) and Germany (0-6).

The two sides have met once in a World Cup match in 1998 when the Dutch won 3-1. Their last meeting was in 2008 Beijing Olympics in which the Netherlands were victorious 4-2.

The Dutch have been clinical in their earlier two matches with penalty corner specialist Taeke Taekema in superb form having scored four goals -- all from his drag flicks -- to lead the tournament goal-scoring chart.

Captain Teun de Nooijer, in his fifth World Cup appearance has been the live wire for his side and would look to find the target as he is yet to score in the tournament.

For Canada, any hopes of an improbable upset would hinge on 37-year-old Rob Short, the oldest player in this World Cup and part of the FIH 2009 All Star Team.

In other two Pool A matches, South Korea and defending champions Germany would look to beat their respective opponents to bolster their semi-final chances.

The two matches would make it clear who would remain in contention for semi-finals and who will be shown the door from a relatively easier Pool A.

If South Korea and Germany win their respective matches against New Zealand and Argentina, they would get seven points from three matches with two wins and a draw.

If that happens, the Netherlands, South Korea and Germany will fight for two semi-final spots, while Argentina will be out of contention.

New Zealand, who have beaten Canada 3-2 in their opening match, will have a theoretical chance to reach the semi-final but unlikely to do it as they are yet to play Germany and the Netherlands.

History though favours New Zealand against South Korea as the former have won four matches, losing one and drawing one in their earlier six encounters in the World Cup.

But in the current form, the nippy Koreans, ranked fifth in the world and had finished third in the six-team elite 2009 Champions Trophy in Australia, have the edge over eighth- ranked New Zealand.

The Koreans have also drawn the mighty Germans 2-2 in their first match.

The Times of India



Rise of the English

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


New Delhi: “The last time we beat Australia was on grass which was about 20 years ago. We’ve had quite a few draws since then and Great Britain were 3-2 up in Beijing with two minutes to go but Australia scored in the last minute. But a win’s getting close and it will happen — I just hope it’s on my watch.”

England coach Jason Lee’s recent remark did not take long to materialise. One of the rapidly growing hockey nations, Lee’s boys did the unthinkable when they stunned the Kookaburras 3-2 in their opening game at the Hockey World Cup here. It was England’s first World Cup win over Australia after 35 years.

“Australia keep throwing it away,” said the England coach, who lost 1-2 to Australia at the Champions Trophy in December. “They’ve only won two major tournaments in their time and they often get it wrong when they go to the big events, so fingers crossed they get it wrong again.

“But India will be a big threat. It’s their national sport and they’re desperate to put themselves back onto the sporting map because they’ve had domestic problems as well as their sporting problems.”

No other nation has evoked more interest than England, who are making huge strides in world hockey. England announced their arrival with the EuroHockey Nations tournament title last year, where they beat world champions Germany and world number 3 Holland.

“It was only the second time in the history of European competition that we’ve been in the final (the first was in 1987) and it was only the third thing England have ever won after the 1920 and 1988 Olympics, so those facts would suggest it was unlikely that we would win,” Lee said.

“We played good hockey and were getting increasingly competitive with the top teams in the world — but I think everyone was surprised at how well we played.”

Though England’s claim to fame remain the 1988 Olympic Games gold, results in the last two years have proved that the squad have enough firepower in their arsenal to topple the heavyweights, a trait that was so missing under Lee’s predecessors.

So how did he bring about the change?

“I think our success story began in 2006. We have a good pool of players, who have been with us for some time now,” said Lee, who took over four years ago.

“A team needs to have two qualities to excel — consistency and tactical acumen. England have been thriving on this to take the upward path,” said Lee.

Their high point came when they beat India at the Chile Olympic qualifiers in 2008, sending the eight-time Olympic gold medallists crashing out for the first time ever.

“That was where out belief began, the belief that we can beat the top teams in the world. But it took years to hard work and toil,” Lee points out.

The beginning though was not easy. It was quite a task to retain the core group as most players chose a career over hockey for want of money. Said Lee, “Unfortunately the women failed to quality for the 2004 Olympics and so the sport had a massive financial cut which affected the men’s and women’s programmes.

“From that period on, we made small progress in performance terms so we were considered more appropriate for funding. Then, London won the right to host the 2012 Games. That gave us not long-term focus but medium-term focus, and funding which allowed that to happen.”

Lee is now pinning his hopes on a good show at the 2012 Games and feels a medal at the Delhi World Cup would be the ideal scenario. “2012 has brought us more security about funding. In the past we’ve lost a lot of players when we had funding problems. The players weren’t sure what the future held, and they had to make a choice about what was better for them — that’s one reason we’re progressing better now, which we hope can get us closer to medal contention in 2012.”

And what does it take to get there? “We were the best team at the Europeans but that’s the first time it’s happened in 20 years. If we want to be medal contenders in 2012 we have to play to that level consistently, which we haven’t done yet,” Lee added.

The Asian Age



‘Adopt structured approach'

Sports Reporter


NEW DELHI: There is no denying that international hockey will be incomplete without India and Pakistan. However, according to International Hockey Federation (FIH) coaching manager Tayyab Ikram, both the countries cannot rise to the top unless they get rid of the ad-hocism and adopt a structured approach.

Ikram, the secretary of the High Performance Department and a Coaching Director of FIH, said the two nations “must stop dreaming” and deal with ground realities to strengthen the roots of the sport.

“We have to adopt a different approach for India because people here are hungry for hockey. But potential, talent and participation-wise, it is not reflecting in the world rankings,” Ikram said here on Thursday.

Create a balance

Ikram, nevertheless, thinks that India should not mindlessly ape the training methods of successful European countries. “A player comes through a certain system. We cannot overload his mind with so many things. We got to create a balance,” he said.

The man with three decades of coaching experience stressed on the thinking aspect of the game and said the Indian players could learn a few things from the Europeans. “They (the Europeans) are better decision makers, so they know better management,” he said.

Ikram, who originally belonged to Lahore (Pakistan), said hockey must make improvements in terms of quality.

“The education system (in hockey) must be updated. India can take the high-performance package and introduce it….Hockey India (HI), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Ministry must think how many hours of quality coaching they are giving (to the players),” he said.

The FIH Master Coach is here to conduct a coaches' course on the sidelines of the World Cup. Altogether 46 coaches from 25 countries are participating in the programme.

The participants:

Rimoldi Jorgelina (Arg), Elizabeth Ljeoma (Nig), Solomon Casoojee (Aus), James Young (Aus/Lit), Berandai Dadong (Bru), Tjerk van Herwaarden (USA), Ronald Stein Leon (Chile), Kim Changback (Chn), Hany Hamouda, Hisham Hamouda (Egy), Hector Rocky Smith (Fij), Philip Fernandes (Guy), Jamilon Mulders, Jens Lueninghoener (Ger), Akbar Ali, Arif Ali (HK).

Somesh H. Sandeep, Sabu Varkey, Y.S. Chauhan, Inderjit Singh Gill, K. Singh Ripudaman, Mukul Pandey, P.V. Patel, Ajay Kumar Bansal (Ind), Christine Bartley, Michelle Holt (Jam), Siegfried Aikman. Akira Takahashi (Jpn), Seung-Jin Yoo (Kor), Tai Beng Hai, Dharma Raj Kanniah, Vivekanandan Ramaiah (Mas), Robert Hantjes, Eric Caspar Verboom (Netherlands), Nedeem Bhatti, Mohd. Junaid Khawaja (Pak), Russell Garcia (Sco), Michael Kinnen (Bel).

Juan Manuel Mas Oritz (Sin), Adrian Carolan (SA), Rohan Dissanayake, Leelananda Ittapanaga (SL), Sameer Hussain Syed (Tha), Mohd. Abdullah Al Batrani (Omn), Kwandwane Browne, Anthony Marcano (Tri).

The Hindu



Rookie Jackson chose hockey over cricket

AGE CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi,March 4: Ashley Jackson was the youngest member of the Great Britian team that came fifth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In a short span of time thereafter, Jackson has gone on to become one of the most feared dragflickers in the world. He was named the 2009 FIH Young Player of the Year, the first player from his country to receive this honour.

The man nicknamed the ‘Worm’ by his teammates took up the sport seriously only four years back but hasn’t looked back since. “I used to play both cricket and hockey at the Tunbridge Wells Club till age 18. A stage came when I had to choose one and I picked hockey because I got the opportunity to play professionally.

“If I had got a cricket contract from one of the counties, I might have gone that way,” Jackson told this newspaper ahead of his team’s crucial Pool ‘B’ clash against Pakistan in the 12th Hockey World Cup on Thursday.

“But you cannot support a family by playing hockey alone in England. I would say the game is the second most popular game in United Kingdom at the school and college level. Since you can’t earn much from the sport players don’t stick with it,” he added.

Jackson has worked on his game by playing in the highly competitive Dutch League for the HGC club. “Me and our captain Barry Middleton have been very lucky in this regard since we have got the opportunity to play in the Netherlands. Some of the best players in the world play there including most of the Australian team,” Jackson commented.

On their chance here after winning their first two matches, Jackson said, “We are now one of top 10 teams in the world. Before this tournament began we heard the hockey pundits saying that we had no chance of winning the World Cup.

“Now we have three games coming next for us against India, Pakistan and South Africa, who are all ranked below us. If we beat them we are definitely through to the semifinals.”

The Asian Age



Teenager Fuchs thrust into limelight

Age Correspondent


New Delhi: It doesn’t happen often that 18-year-olds with barely seven international caps are pushed into the limelight to shoulder the hopes of a nation that has kept a date with the World Cup in the previous two editions.

Florian Fuchs’ finds himself trying to make up for the loss of dreaded striker Christopher Zeller, who has moved out of hockey to pursue studie.

The young German who has mesmerised spectators with his fiery attacks has also been a cause of worry for Germany’s opponents in the World Cup here. Off the ground the blistering glares with which he attacks the rivals’ goal is taken over by boyish charm and the glee of being in the hot spot.

Fuchs, who is a junior World Cupper, made it to the senior side for the Champions Trophy last year, where he slammed in five goals.

The World Cup preparations for this teenager were both physically and mentally exhausting.

Fuchs’ who appeared for his A level examinations before heading to New Delhi said, “Studies back home are very important since, we cannot make a living out of hockey.

“We do learn how to balance both early in our lives. Since I had to study for my exams and prepare for the World Cup it was kind of tough. I hardly got any sleep because if I wasn’t training, I was studying. But those are small prices to pay when you are representing your country at an event like this.”

One of the youngest players in the tournament, Fuchs has scored three goals in two matches. German coach Markus Weise is not very impressed with the statistics and feels the youngster has some quick learning to do.

“He is a very talented player but he needs to work harder,” said Weise.

On the other hand skipper Maxmilian Muller feels Fuchs is a player to watch out for in the future.

With the pressure of playing in a team who are the defending champions, Fuchs feels it is the unity in the team that is going to hold them in good stead.

“We are like one big family. We talk to each other a lot. Since most of us are youngsters, the coach and senior players give us pep talks to ease the pressure,” says the Hamburg lad.

Fuchs who was one of the junior World Cup heroes for Germany said the senior team call was unexpected.

“The call was pretty surprising since I’m only 18. I was looking at making the cut for the 2012 London Olympics,” said Fuchs who enjoys strumming the guitar when he’s not wielding a stick.

The Asian Age



Gamesmanship takes zing off penalty corners

V Narayan Swamy


NEW DELHI: If you thought video referrals were turning out to be a tactician's tool to upset the rhythm of an opponent team, think again. These days, penalty corners are veritable road blocks to the game's flow, what with teams allowing precious seconds to tick away as they prepare for those critical moments under the bar.

Penalty corners at the Hero Honda hockey World Cup have been relatively long-drawn affairs, with players from the defending teams taking anywhere between 35 to 45 seconds to wear their protective gears and taking their positions on the goalline.

These are definitely anxious moments for the attacking team but somehow, the practice has been persisted with. The umpires too have generally turned a blind eye towards the delay, with perhaps one or two of them caring to hurry the defending team into action.

With penalty corners being the hub of activity these days and many teams dependent on the setpiece for their goals, it is clear that the ultra-slow ways of the players have more to do with throwing the opposing team off its stride than meticulously preparing themselves against danger.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have been keenly watching the new development and are planning measures to get the teams back to prompter ways. "For one, we don't understand why the umpires do not apply the time-out rule every time," FIH president Leandro Negre told TOI. "They allow a penalty corner without time-outs in the beginning of the game but towards the end, they begin using it. There has to be some consistency."

Having said that, Negre feels it is time the FIH took some proactive steps. "We have been noticing it for quite some time, including the Champions Trophy in Melbourne. This matter has to be attended to."

One solution that is doing the rounds is the time-out. But then, to instill some sense of discipline in the teams, the FIH feels that it ought to stipulate the number of seconds needed to prepare for a penalty corner. Any team (defending) flouting the norm will face a stringent punishment. A penalty stroke, maybe?

Negre refused to be drawn into the argument."We haven't thought of doubling the penalty yet. We may have cards too to warn them. We have a rule in penalty corners which state that any defender overstepping the line before the pusher releases the ball will be removed from the scene. We can improvise on that."

But then, Negre was quick to add that they were his thoughts. The competitions committee is at work. "We need to consult experts on this matter. At the same time, we need to introduce the rules as soon as possible. Maybe, this year's Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach will even have tournament regulations."

The Times of India



Are penalty corners taking too long?

Prabhjot Singh writes from New Delhi


Hockey, though 102 years old in Olympics, is still evolving. Some changes, including video referral, have been necessitated not only because of advancement of technology but also to ensure fairness in the supervision and conduct of matches.

Video referrals though introduced in the last Champions Trophy Tournament in Melbourne last year; it is for the first time that this technological advancement is used for post-review of an event captured on the camera to help the third umpire to arrive at correct adjudication.

And this may have cost India dearly for Shivendra Singh got two-match suspension for his alleged assault on Fareed Ahmed of Pakistan. No one can defend an assault irrespective of the nationality or affiliation of payers concerned, both attacker and the receiver.

It did raise a debate whether Technical or Tournament Director can take cognisance of an offence that eluded the attention of two umpires supervising the play. Technical Director explained that it was well within his rights to ensure the fair play guidelines are strictly enforced and safety of player on the field guaranteed.

Earlier, there were no cameras and hence no video referrals. Cricket started it and hockey has followed. It is not long ago that the previous International Hockey Federation chief, Breda Els Vriesman had ruled out the possibility of introduction of third umpire or electronic umpire saying the FIH trusts its umpires and honours their judgement on the field.

This is not the first decision of the previous regime to be over ruled by the new set of office-bearers of the FIH. While Breda Els Vriesman wanted hockey to become a more spectacular sport, she wanted the Rules Board to amend rules so that disruptions in the game because of umpires’ interventions be minimised.

At one stage, it was argued that actual playing time in a 70-minute game of hockey was seldom more than 37-42 minutes. Breda Els Vriesman did succeed in reducing unnecessary interventions by umpires by making basic changes in the rules governing free hit, kicking the ball, turning, shielding or screening of opponent, etc., etc. Even offside rule was given a go by.

Breda Els Vriesman also wanted another major change in taking of penalty corners. She thought too much time was lost between award and taking of penalty corner. Players would run to sidelines to get instructions from the side benches.

This correspondent followed all matches on the fourth day yesterday. Interestingly, average time taken after award of a penalty corner and push from the goal line takes 50 seconds. In case there are successive awards of penalty corners, the second award would consume about 25 seconds.

The maximum taken yesterday was 67 seconds when Canada got its only penalty corner against Germany. Germans took 55 seconds to take their penalty corner.

When New Zealand got its first penalty corner against the Netherlands, it took 62 seconds to take it. The Netherlands took 50, 35, 53, 49 and 51 seconds in five penalty corners recorded by this correspondent.

In a couple of cases when the umpires took time out, that has been subtracted from the actual time taken in taking a penalty corner. For example, in one case, umpire had taken seven seconds to clear a foreign object from the eyes of a defender in the New Zealand-the Netherlands match.

In the Argentina-Korea match, the average was 49 seconds while in case of a successive award, it was 27 seconds. Imagine how much time may have been lost when Australians took 13 penalty corners in their opening game against England.

Time is mostly lost when the players go for safety gadgets, including face masks as well as abdominal guards. A game that is mandated to be played along the surface has, of late, been allowing more and more aerial play to become more spectacular. ???

The Tribune



Penalty Corner Rules may change

If you thought video referrals were turning out to be a tactician's tool to upset the rhythm of an opponent team, think again. These days, penalty corners are veritable road blocks to the game's flow, what with teams allowing precious seconds to tick away as they prepare for those critical moments under the bar.

Penalty corners at the Hero Honda hockey World Cup have been relatively long-drawn affairs, with players from the defending teams taking anywhere between 35 to 45 seconds to wear their protective gears and taking their positions on the goalline.

These are definitely anxious moments for the attacking team but somehow, the practice has been persisted with. The umpires too have generally turned a blind eye towards the delay, with perhaps one or two of them caring to hurry the defending team into action.

With penalty corners being the hub of activity these days and many teams dependent on the setpiece for their goals, it is clear that the ultra-slow ways of the players have more to do with throwing the opposing team off its stride than meticulously preparing themselves against danger.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have been keenly watching the new development and are planning measures to get the teams back to prompter ways. "For one, we don't understand why the umpires do not apply the time-out rule every time," FIH president Leandro Negre told TOI. "They allow a penalty corner without time-outs in the beginning of the game but towards the end, they begin using it. There has to be some consistency."

Having said that, Negre feels it is time the FIH took some proactive steps. "We have been noticing it for quite some time, including the Champions Trophy in Melbourne. This matter has to be attended to."

One solution that is doing the rounds is the time-out. But then, to instill some sense of discipline in the teams, the FIH feels that it ought to stipulate the number of seconds needed to prepare for a penalty corner. Any team (defending) flouting the norm will face a stringent punishment. A penalty stroke, maybe?

Negre refused to be drawn into the argument."We haven't thought of doubling the penalty yet. We may have cards too to warn them. We have a rule in penalty corners which state that any defender overstepping the line before the pusher releases the ball will be removed from the scene. We can improvise on that."

But then, Negre was quick to add that they were his thoughts. The competitions committee is at work. "We need to consult experts on this matter. At the same time, we need to introduce the rules as soon as possible. Maybe, this year's Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach will even have tournament regulations."

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Captaincy rotation catching on with top sides

Age Correspondent


New Delhi,March 4: “Australia have advised that the captain for today’s match will be Liam De Young,” read a small note as one settled down to watch the Australia-South Africa Pool B game in the Hockey World Cup here on Thursday.

Substitutions have been a part and parcel of field games, but rotating captains is a trend that is fast catching up in the world of hockey.

The idea bred under top coach Ric Charlesworth, who first experimented with five captains for the Kookaburras a few years ago. The idea caught the fancy of other coaches, who now use it delegate responsibility and build team camaraderie.

Explained Australia striker and one of the co-captains Jamie Dwyer, “The idea is not to put all the pressure on one guy and divide responsibility equally. I am one of the co-captains and this is something I totally root for.

“Hockey is not a game where you need players to take drastic decisions. The strategy and planning part, besides player selection, is taken care by the coach, while a captain is required to take immediate decisions on the day.”

Australia have fielded three different captains in the three World Cup games played here so far.

Dwyer was at the helm in the opening game against England, while Mark Knowles and De Young took charge against India and South Africa, respectively.

Interestingly, Indian coach Jose Brasa had to weather quite a storm when he had tabled the idea of one captain and four vice-captains ahead of the quadrennial event. The authorities shot down the idea calling it “amateurish and impractical”.

In the past, top teams like Germany and Holland have also tried out the idea.

Germany have a pool of players, comprising of top players Maximillian Muller (skipper at this World Cup), Moritz Fuertse and Matthias Witthaus.

Said German coach Markus Weise, “The thought behind the idea is to share responsibilities between a group of players rather than burden it all on one pair of shoulders. In my team it is different.

“The players vote for their captain and two more players that build the team ‘council’ together with the captain.

“We tried this concept for the first time during the Punjab Gold Cup in India last year, because our regular captain Timmo Wess wasn’t there. It worked for us then and helped us recognise a core group of players who could be future captains.

“On a personal front, I might not go with the concept if I have a natural leader. It depends on what your players have to offer. If you have a natural leader, someone who can carry the team, I would pursue with the guy for a long period. But if you have five players who are equally capable, I would adopt Charlesworth’s concept.”

The coaches believe that the practice gives everyone in the team a chance to share responsibility and an opportunity to lead the side. It also helps cut down the feeling of insecurity and jealousy, they feel.

The Asian Age



Mark his words: Chess is the Weise way

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: What makes a hockey coach wily and wise? It could well be the 64-square board. Markus Weise, 47, the coach of Germany at the World Cup has a passion for chess and studying the game plans of Grand Masters.

You get the impression the two go together for Weise. The Germans out-thought the Spaniards in the 2008 Olympic final where Weise guided the men's team to the gold medal at Beijing. Four years earlier he did the same at Athens, this time with the women's team. Weise is the only coach to achieve glory with both men's and women's teams at the Olympics. "I was delighted to see chess shown on television the other night. It's very rarely that it happens," he said.

I was a member of the Hamburg chess club and the game gives me much happiness but also suffering," he said. To Weise, chess brings both pleasure and pain. "You work hard on the moves and if you're wrong, there's much pain," he elaborated. "Something like hockey," he added.

Weise sees a strong connection between the games. "Hockey utilises tactics, chess focuses on strategies. To me, both have to work for success,"said Weise. "Strategy concerns what you have to do. Tactics is how you do it. If you don't know what to do, how are you going to do it?" he asked.

"Take the Netherlands: they are strong on penalty corners and aim to earn as many as they can to score. So they frame their tactics to earn such awards, be it playing an attacking game to match and have players in the right positions to earn them," he said.

"In chess, it's the opening games, the build up, the middle game - translated to hockey terms you have the midfield build up and circle penetrations to earn penalty corners, then goals," he added.

The Times of India



Hockey's Men's Knock Out Competitions Reach Quarter Finals

Hockey’s men’s senior competitions reach the quarter finals stage this weekend with teams in the Cup, Trophy and Vase looking to reach the last four later this month.

Men’s Cup Quarter Finals

Only three England Hockey League (EHL) Premier Division teams remain in the Cup, with the highest ranked team being Beeston, currently fifth in the league. The Nottingham-based club comes up against Doncaster, who are sixth in the EHL Conference North Division.  Beeston have made the final in each of the past two seasons and will once again be aiming for a semi final place.  Doncaster made it to this stage with a narrow golden goal victory against Maidstone.

Brooklands MU, who are ninth in the EHL Premier Division, come up against Olton & West Warwicks, who are the only team from outside the EHL structure left in the competition.  The team from the Midlands, who look certain to gain promotion to the EHL, will be in confident mood to cause an upset as they have yet to taste defeat this season.  However, it won’t be an easy task as Brooklands MU defeated the 2009 Cup winners and league leaders Reading to progress to this stage.

Hampstead & Westminster, the third and final EHL Premier Division side left in the competition, also have a difficult match ahead of them as they come up against Old Loughtonians who are top of the EHL Conference East Division.  Old Loughtonians defeated Premier Division opponents Bowdon in the previous round and will be looking for another Premier scalp as they make the short 20 mile trip across London.  The hosts reached this stage with a narrow 2-1 victory on Golden Goal against Brighton & Hove.

It is the battle of the EHL Conferences in the fourth Cup quarter final fixture as Sevenoaks from the east welcome University of Birmingham from the west to Holly Bush Lane.  The students are becoming known as the penalty stroke specialists after their two previous matches in the competition went down to the wire.  This is the second match in succession that Sevenoaks have come up against university opposition having defeated University of Cambridge 3-1 in the previous round.

Men’s Trophy Quarter Finals

South meets west in the first match of the Men’s Trophy as Eastbourne from the Southern Premier Two welcome Alderley Edge who are fourth in North Division One.  Alderley Edge reached this stage with a walkover against Players whilst Eastbourne defeated South Nottingham 4-2.  Worthing will look to go one round further than they did last season as they travel to the west to take on Gloucester City who are second in the West Premier Two Division.  Worthing, who are also second in their league, reached this stage with a 4-3 victory on Golden Goal against North Notts.

Jersey will also look to go one stage further than last season as they travel to the mainland to take on London Wayfarers, currently third in South Premier Two.  Jersey beat Bramhall 4-3 to get to the last eight whilst the hosts received a walkover.  The final match sees Buckinghamshire side Wycombe travel north to face the University of Leeds.  The students are unbeaten in their league this season sitting top of North Division One.  Wycombe are also enjoying a good season and are currently second in South Premier Two.

Men’s Vase Quarter Finals

The game of the round in the Men’s Vase comes from Hampshire as Hamble host Haslemere.  Both teams play in the same division with Hamble currently third and Haslemere one place higher in second.  The match at Hamble earlier this season ended in a 2-2 draw but the visitors will have the upper hand as they defeated Hamble 3-1 last month.

South Cheshire face a long journey south to take on Bedfordshire side Shefford and Sandy who are fourth in their division.  South Cheshire will be looking to go one stage further than last season.

Streetly, who are top of the West Midlands Division One, welcome Plashet who have already been promoted from East Division Three SE and have a remarkable goal difference of +98.  Plashet’s route to this round was a comfortable 6-1 victory over Old Mid Whitgiftians whilst Streetly’s was much closer, winning on penalty strokes against Neston South Wirral.

The final match of the round comes from Staffordshire as Tamworth host Old Bordenian from the Kent/Sussex Regional Two Division.  Old Bordenian had a successful trip to the Midlands in the last round defeating Redditch whilst Tamworth squeezed through on strokes.

Men’s Cup Quarter Finals, ties to be played Sunday 7 March

Beeston v Doncaster (14:00, Highfields Sports Club)
Brooklands MU v Olton & WW (14:00, Brooklands MU HC)
Hampstead & Westminster v Old Loughtonians (14:00, Paddington Recreation Ground)
Sevenoaks v University of Birmingham (14:30, Hollybush Astroturf)

Men’s Trophy Quarter Finals, ties to be played Sunday 7 March

Eastbourne v Alderley Edge (12:30, Saffrons Sports Ground)
Gloucester City v Worthing (12:30, St Peter’s School)
London Wayfarers v Jersey (11:00, Raynes Park High School)
University of Leeds v Wycombe (13:00, University of Leeds)

Men’s Vase Quarter Finals, ties to be played Sunday 7 March

Hamble v Haslemere (13:30, Hamble HC)
Shefford & Sandy v South Cheshire (14:30, Sandy Upper School)
Streetly v Plashet (11:30, Streetly Sports College)
Tamworth v Old Bordenian (12:30, Woodhouse High School)

England Hockey Board Media release



2010 Youth Pan American CHhampionship

CHULA VISTA, CA - The USA Field Hockey Women's Under-17 National Team will head to Montevideo, Uruguay for competition in the 2010 Pan American Youth Championship, scheduled from March 13 to 20. Head Coach Shellie Onstead will lead the team.

The USA will face traditional Pan American rivals Argentina, Canada, Chile and Mexico in the eight-team tournament. Players born in 1993 and 1994 are eligible for competition. The 2010 Pan American Youth Championship serves as the continental qualifier for the 1st Youth Olympic Games, to take place in Singapore this summer.

“I’ve been looking at the pools and the competition, and I think it will look like a typical Pan American tournament at any level,” said Onstead. “We have to pay attention to Argentina. We have to pay attention to Canada, and we can’t take Chile lightly. On paper, we look like we should finish in the top four.”

The roster features Laura Gebhart, who served on the USA Junior World Cup Team at the 2009 BDO Women’s Junior World Cup in Boston. Gebhart scored two goals in that tournament.  

“Laura Gebhart is becoming a very effective forward,” said Onstead.  “She’ll be leading the pack on the front lines. Allie Evans is going to be quite helpful as well. Kelsey Smither will be one of our main players in the back.”

The U.S. will compete in Pool B of the tournament against Chile, Bermuda and host Uruguay. Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Paraguay are in Pool A. Crossovers will be played on Thursday, March 18 with classification matches on Saturday, March 20. Round-robin competition for the USA:

* Saturday, March 13 v Bermuda - 16:05
* Sunday, March 14 v Chile - 16:05
* Tuesday, March 16 v Uruguay - 19:05

In preparation, the team will hold a two-day training camp at the University of Maryland from March 8-9. The team recently completed a training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

“On Sunday we head to the University of Maryland and have two full days of training,” said Onstead.  “We’ll have three or four sessions of training before we fly to Uruguay.”

USFHA media release



Butler and Shaw Bow Out Of International Hockey

Two of Ireland's best known hockey internationals, Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw, have today announced their retirement from the international hockey scene. 

Stephen Butler was the first of the duo to appear on the International scene in 1999 three years before midfielder Graham Shaw earned his first senior cap in 2002. At the time no one could have anticipated that both would go on to play such a vital role for so many years in the Green shirt. 

Stephen made his debut at the age of 19 on June 5th 1999 when Ireland beat Japan one nil on home turf and he now retires as the countrys highest capped player with 163 international appearances and as a record goal scorer with 79 goals which is an amazing record.

Stephen is perhaps best known as an internationally renowned drag flick expert scoring 5 hat tricks and one of his most memorable goal scoring achievements was his brace of goals to earn Ireland a 2-2 against the mighty Pakistan in the World Cup qualifier in China 2006. He followed this up with another two goals as Ireland recorded their first ever win against Germany in 2007 with a 3-2 victory in Monchengladbach.

Commenting on his decision Butler said After lengthy discussions with family and close friends I have decided to draw a line under my International Hockey career. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and one that I have thought about carefully since the World Cup Qualifiers in Argentina. The commitment needed for International Hockey is growing each year and I have decided after 11 years of commitment that it is time for me to focus on other aspects of my life.

Irelands Graham Shaw burst onto the Senior Squad in 2002 when he made his debut against Wales in Cardiff with a 3-1 victory. After a very successful underage international career in the green shirt Graham went onto amass an incredible 151 caps the majority of which in the highly competitive midfield area. He will be remembered for his uncompromising attitude on the pitch which inspired his team mates on many occasions and he has been a great credit to Ireland over the years including most recently in his role of Vice Captaincy.

Commenting on the timing of his retirement now seemed the right time for this experienced international "Given the natural break in the international competition calendar I believe that now is the right time to call an end to my international career. There is a wealth of young talent coming through the system and it is essential that they are given the opportunity to experience hockey at the highest level while they have the time and energy to put that experience to good use.

Shaw was also keen to pay tribute to the support he has received over the years During my hockey career I have been fortunate to have the great support of my girlfriend Ali and my parents Victor and Nuala. I would also like to take this opportunity to give special thanks to my Club Glenanne and especially my close friends and team mates Stephen (Butler) and Joe (Brennan) for their continuous support and drive over the past number of years. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the coaches and players, (whom I know Stephen mentions by name later) I have had the privilege to work with at both at a club and international level over the past ten years, through whom I have made some life long friends.

As with all success there are always disappointments It has always been my dream to play in the Olympic Games or the World Cup. Like the rest of the squad I gave everything possible to make that dream a reality and was bitterly disappointed to miss out.

When reminiscing on his career it was clear that 2006 was a special year for Shaw It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to represent my country but the highlight for me personally was being given the captains armband during the summer of 2006  leading your country is an honour that very few people in any sport achieve and I will treasure the memory for the rest of my life.

Both players have been involved in making historic Irish Hockey moments, in January 2006 they were part of the first Irish team to beat South Africa, (1-0 in Pretoria) and they were also both part of the first Irish team to beat India (August 2004; 3-2). 

Butler was also keen to pay thanks to a number of people as he went onto say Playing Hockey for Ireland has been a very special part of my life and one that I have enjoyed immensely. I have made many friends for life and have memories that will stay with me forever. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a number of people; firstly I would like to thank all the players I have ever played with for making my international experience so enjoyable, you have all been such good friends and such an important part of my life. John Clarke, my 1st Senior International coach, who brought me into the senior squad in 1998. I still remember the day down in Cork after my first senior interpros when John approached me and asked me to be a member of the Senior Squad - this was one of the highlights of my career. I feel I owe John sincere thanks for getting my international career underway.

Dave Passmore, who I feel took my game to a new level on the International scene and brought us as a team to new heights and professionalism. Revs for his very valuable contributions and the effort that he has put into my game. We have worked very hard together on changing many aspects of my game and I would like to sincerely thank him for that. Sinead, Tristan, Hiler, Peter, Arul, and Ned for the commitment they have given to me. I would also like to thank my club Glenanne who have been very supportive through my career and my close friends in the team Graham, Joe and Bogger.

I would finally like to thank three very important people, firstly my girlfriend Sofie for putting up with the endless trips away and nights training, thank you for the continued support. I would also like to thank my parents Seamus and Gillian for being my biggest fans and supporters. I really appreciate the commitment they have given to support me and the team.

It has been an honour to represent Ireland and I have achieved more than I ever dreamed of.

Commenting upon the announcement of Shaw and Butlers retirement Coach Paul Revington had this to say I have been very fortunate as a coach to enjoy the 2009 season with both Stephen and Graham as key members of the Irish Hockey Team. Stephen fulfilled an important role for the Ireland Team in the middle of the field throughout 2009 and put in several strong performances during the Champions Challenge II and Euro Nations Trophy during the summer of 2009. I will always remember Stephens ability to pass the ball beautifully around the field and his important penalty corner strike against Wales to secure promotion to the European A division for 2011.

Graham provided a young Ireland Team with good technical strength in midfield during 2009 and was a key figure in building the confidence of a new generation of players at international level for Ireland in 2009. Graham provided the Team with experience and drive in his role as vice-captain and this was hugely influential in the Teams successful summer in 2009.

Both players accumulated a wealth of experience at international level over a 10 year period and I look forward to finding opportunities to continue both players involvement with the Ireland Squad in coaching or management positions to ensure this experience is not lost to our current generation of Ireland players. I wish both of them well in their future endeavors in life and hockey and would like to thank them for the quality they offered to the Ireland Team and for the strength of relationship they built with me as Leaders of the Ireland Team in 2009. 

Director of High Performance Dave Passmore who also spend a number of years coaching both Shaw and Butler was keen to pay tribute Graham Shaw and Stephen Butlers contribution to Irish Hockey is evident in their remarkable achievements in terms of both caps and goals. Whilst their timing is understandable losing both at the same time will leave an obvious dent in the team both on and off the pitch. I would like to thank them for their contributions and wish them all the best for the future. 

Both Shaw and Butler will continue to play their club hockey for Glenanne Hockey Club.

The IHA would also like to take this opportunity to thank both players for their massive commitment both on and off the field to Irish Hockey in the last few years and wish them all the best in the future.

Irish Hockey Association media release



Regaining gold in Tokyo

S. PATRONOBISH

Gurbux Singh with the Tokyo Olympics gold.


“For me, my first Olympics — Tokyo ’64 — was memorable. We not only won the gold medal, but also proved our detractors wrong, because everyone was fancying Pakistan to walk away with top honours.”

We were rather fortunate to be born at the right time when Indian hockey was at its pinnacle. For every player, Olympians I mean, it’s a dream to play at the mega event and winning gold there is something that very few even dare to think of, so tough is the competition.

For me, my first Olympics — Tokyo ’64 — was memorable, we not only won the gold medal, but also proved our detractors wrong, because everyone was fancying Pakistan to walk away with top honours. They had won the last edition in Rome, beating us 1-0 in the final. Hockey at that time was dominated by the south-Asians and it was all about stick-work, the Europeans could never match our skills. The introduction of Astroturf has made the game quicker and more physical, pushing us behind the physically stronger Europeans and Australians.

Going back to ’64 we had a poor start to the tournament; we drew our first two games against Spain and the unified German team and were in danger of missing out on a semi-finals spot. A 2-1 win over the Netherlands saw us through and then we played brilliantly to down Australia 3-1 in the semis. For the final, all of us were charged to inflict revenge, and our manager Inder Mohan Mahajan, coach Dharam Singh and skipper Charanjit Singh gave us a nice little pep talk on the eve of the game. Charan also suggested that we should keep our calm and not fall prey to the Pakistani tactics of intimidation and rough play.

At the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, our players had to endure Pakistani hostility and either got hurt or were beaten up. We had lost the final and I was not ready to face a similar fate. I made it clear that we wouldn’t start the fight, but if we got hit, we would hit back twice, and every profanity would be matched with equal vengeance. They had started the concept of a huddle way back then and their ‘Allah ho Akbar’ sounded like a war cry. Just to counter it we invented our very own ‘Bharat mata ki Jai’ and the atmosphere was exhilarating. As expected Pakistan started uncompromisingly and soon Anwar Ahmed Khan took a swipe at Harbinder. The latter was sent off for 10 minutes. That obvious unfairness strengthened our resolve and we started playing well. Then Mohinder Lal put us ahead five minutes into the second half.

Prithipal Singh, who had had a fantastic Games till then, finding the net 11 times, saw his stinging shot from a penalty corner deflect off the Pakistan goalkeeper’s pad. Unfortunately for them, their left-back Munir Dar stopped the ball with his foot. Mohinder converted the resultant penalty stroke.

Undaunted, the Pakistanis mounted a salvo at our goal, but Shankar Lakshman, our custodian, was playing the match of his life. He saved two rasping shots from penalty corners at the very end. Deservingly, he won the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ award.

Wild celebrations followed and the whole Indian contingent was there to support us. Milkha Singh and Raja Karni Singh (five times Olympian shooter) jumped off the stands, hysterically waving the national flag. Karni even twisted his ankle but there was no stopping him. Back home a substantial crowd was there at Palam Airport to welcome us and for the first time I think, Indian sportspersons were driven in a motorcade through the streets of Delhi and Jalandhar. Fans sought our autographs on currency notes and only then could I realise what we had actually achieved.

Such is destiny that four years later in Mexico City we finished a disappointing third even after going into the competition as the strongest team. It was the first time we had failed to make the final in the Olympics and the whole nation was plunged into darkness by this unprecedented loss. A 1-2 reverse at the hands of Australia in the semis sealed our day and the whole team was left stunned at the sudden change in fortunes. Sure of our success, the officials had planned a trip to the West Indies after the competition, but now no one was in a mood to party. With heavy hearts we took the field for the third-place playoff and though we beat Germany 2-1, it did little to lessen our pain.

When I look back now, what I find most puzzling is that there was really no reason behind our sudden loss of form. We had a good East African tour before the tournament and were raring to go. Though we had lost one of our best players, Inder Singh, ahead of the Olympics because of jaundice, we were confident of retaining our gold.

Maybe this complacency led to our defeat in the first match against New Zealand and that affected our confidence. As the joint-skipper with Prithipal, I think I should be held responsible because we failed to lift the team from its slumber. Perhaps we had peaked too early, but still no excuses can be made for that loss of face.

As told to Ayon Sengupta

Sportstar



Fighting for honour

R. V. MOORTHY


’I am elated that I was named as one of the members of the FIH All-Star women’s squad. It is a great feeling to be recognised in such a way,’ says Surinder Kaur (in pic, left, with Subhadra Pradhan).

Surinder Kaur is happy that the issue of incentives has been sorted out with the authorities. She and her team-mates are now looking to the challenges ahead. “The team is fully focused on the World Cup to be held in Argentina in August,” she says in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Indian women’s hockey scored a victory of sorts the other day when, through a ‘silent’ protest at the National camp in Bhopal, it succeeded in getting its incentives that were long overdue. Apparently inspired by the response that the men’s hockey players received following their protest, the women, led by the Indian captain, Surinder Kaur, decided enough was enough and took on the authorities. And in the end, all of them were very pleased with the response of the hockey authorities.

According to Surinder Kaur, the players had to fight not just for money but for their honour. They wanted to be treated on a par with the men. “We were not scared of engaging ourselves in such a prestigious fight with the officials, for we knew we were fighting for a just cause,” she said.

“Please remember that it was not a fight for monetary gains alone though they are equally significant given the comparatively lesser benefits we get. But it was principally intended to give a new look to women’s hockey,” Surinder Kaur explained in a chat with Sportstar. She was on her way back to the National camp in Bhopal after a brief visit to Tirupati.

“Now it is all over, the team is fully focused on its major task ahead — the World Cup to be held in Argentina in August,” Surinder Kaur said. “Fortunately, the crisis that threatened to rupture the fabric of the Indian hockey team is a thing of past, thanks to the wonderful gesture of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. He is like a God to us now for his very touching response,” she remarked.

Surinder Kaur led the protest along with three other seniors, Dipika Murty, Mamta Kharab and Subhadra Pradhan, by not only sporting black badges but also opening a joint account in a bank with the consent of the 31 other players in the camp and urging the people to donate money.

“Let me recall here the symbolic gesture of all the players in donating Rs. 20,000 to our goalkeeper E. Rajani of Andhra Pradesh, whose father was suffering from a serious ailment. It is exactly for these reasons that we fought such a risky battle so that the players’ needs back home are also taken care of,” Surinder Kaur explained.

“Definitely, we were not scared of any dire consequences, for even the officials knew very well that we were fighting for a just cause,” said Surinder Kaur, who led India to a silver medal at the Asia Cup recently.

“Thankfully it is all over. The onus is now on us to perform. We are really grateful to the MP Government and to the Sports Authority of India for providing all the facilities we had asked for. There is no scope for any complaints,” said the seasoned campaigner.

“We are also really lucky to have a dedicated coach like Kaushik Sir (M. K. Kaushik) who has a nine-member support staff to take care of the training and conditioning,” added Surinder Kaur.

“Efforts are on for a series against Japan before the World Cup. This is to enable us to assess our strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, I am pretty confident that this Indian team is capable of pulling off a surprise given the perfect blend of experience and youth,” she said.

“Winning the gold in the Champions Challenge in Russia was a creditable achievement and we hope to keep improving,” she said.

What about captaincy?

“I cannot say whether I will lead or not. But if given the chance it would be a great honour,” she said.

“Personally, I am elated that I was named as one of the members of the FIH All-Star women’s squad. It is a great feeling to be recognised in such a way and should only inspire me to give a better performance,” said Surinder Kaur.

Sportstar