News for 06 March 2010

All the news for Saturday 6 April 2010.

Hero Honda World Cup

Day 6 - Friday 05-03-2010 16:35 Korea 1 : 2 New Zealand
Day 6 - Friday 05-03-2010 18:35 Netherlands 6 : 0 Canada
Day 6 - Friday 05-03-2010 20:35 Germany 4: 3 Argentina
Pool A
Rank Teams Played Wins Draw Lost GF - GA GD Points
1 Netherlands 3 3 0 0 12 - 1 11 9
2 Germany 3 2 1 0 12 - 5 7 7
3 New Zealand 3 2 0 1 6 - 6 0 6
4 Korea 3 1 1 1 5 - 5 0 4
5 Argentina 3 0 0 3 4 - 9 -5 0
6

 



The Netherlands are flying high in Delhi

The Netherlands earned their third win of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 against Canada (6-0). Germany and New Zealand also won, against Korea (2-1) and Argentina (4-3),  to stay within striking distance.

Game 16 – Korea v. New Zealand: 1-2 (half-time: 0-2)

Korea and New Zealand had met only once before at a World Cup, when the Kiwis won 3-1 in 1998. Unfortunately, as for the other days when neither India nor Pakistan are playing, the stands were nearly empty, creating an eerie atmosphere for a World Cup match…

New Zealand was immediately dangerous and they scored on their first penalty-corner in the 4th minute, by Andrew HAYWARD finally on target in this competition. Korea immediately forced a similar chance at the other hand but Ryan ARCHIBALD on the post deflected the ball wide. Korea then dominated for a long period, but without generating any clear goal chances, while New Zealand forced a penalty stroke on one of their rare incursions in attack when a shot by Priyesh BHANA was stopped on the line by the foot of a retreating defender. Dean COUZINS, Captain of the Kiwis for the day, made no mistake to increase their lead to 2-0.

Korea had a series of penalty-corners at the start of second period but could not trouble Kyle PONTIFEX in the New Zealand goal. The Kiwis had a narrow escape when a ball eluded their goal-keeper and rolled slowly on the goal line but no Korean player was around to tap it in. Korea’s penalty-corner units were clearly on a bad day and were unsuccessful on five attempts. One of them was countered by runner Shea MCALEESE who then proceeded to dash the whole length of the pitch and deliver a perfect cross for Blair HILTON who shot high in the stands. 

Kyle PONTIFEX had another strong performance in goal and managed to keep the Koreans at bay until a penalty-stroke was whistled in the final minute of play. Nam Yong LEE scored it, but it was too little too late and the Kiwis earned their second win of the competition.

Match Facts (Korea v. New Zealand):

> New Zealand won 2-1 to collect their second straight WC win over Korea, following their 3-1 victory in 1998.
> The Kiwis (6 points) have now overtaken Korea in the Pool B Standings (4 points).
> This match saw two PS goals. The last WC match to see 2 PS goals was ENG-GER 1-2 in 2006, which saw Simon Mantell (ENG) and Christopher Zeller (GER) score PS goals.
> Dean Couzins (NZL) and Lee Nam Yong (KOR) scored only the second and third PS goal at Delhi 2010. The first PS goal was scored by Australia’s Jamie Dwyer, who has also missed a PS this tournament.
> NZL might be heading for their best WC finish. Their best finish in the competition so far is seventh place, which they achieved in Amstelveen 1973, Kuala Lumpur 1975 and Bombay 1982.

Game 17 – Netherlands v. Canada: 6-0 (half-time: 0-0)

The second match of the day seemed like a David vs. Goliath contest. Canada had lost veteran Ranjeev DEOL with a nasty hand injury in practice and were lining up three World Cup rookies (Matthew PECK in goal, Taylor CURRAN and Jesse WATSON). To their credit, they seemed in a better frame of mind than against Germany and the first scoring chance was for them when Philip WRIGHT received the ball completely alone in the Dutch circle, but could not control it.

The Netherlands progressively increased the pressure and Matt PECK in the Canadian goal was kept busy. He stood his ground well on a one-on-one with Valentin VERGA, pushing him aside then getting up fast enough to deflect the shot from the rebound. Canada scrambled a penalty-corner chance and Matt PECK stopped the first attempt by Taeke TAEKEMA on a similar set piece at the other end. The Canadians defended well a second Dutch penalty-corner, were saved by the post on the third one and successfully appealed what could have been the first goal for The Netherlands.

Permanently harangued by Rob SHORT, Canada were certainly offering a completely different face than in their poor show against Germany, playing a composed and organized defense and progressing up field by quick counter-attacks. The Netherlands never managed to take control of play in first period and were imprecise on a number of shooting chances, so half-time was reached without any goal.

The Dutch immediately pressed forward in second period and the Canadian were pushed back on their heels. Taeke TAEKEMA finally opened the scoring on a penalty-corner in the 41st minute. After Canada nearly equalized on a scramble in front of Guus VOGELS, Ronald BROUWER soon increased the lead with an easy tap-in on a pass from Teun DE NOOIJER attracting three defenders. Rogier HOFMAN added a third goal after picking up the rebound from another shot by Teun DE NOOIJER and things started to look bleak for the Canadians.

With their defense stretched, the Canadians could not prevent additional goals by Rob RECKERS, Rogier HOFMAN then Taeke TAEKEMA, and The Netherlands cruised to their third victory of the competition to top pool A.

Match Facts (Netherlands v. Canada):


> Netherlands join England as the only teams to have won all three of their matches at Delhi 2010.
> The Netherlands have now won 4 successive World Cup matches (2006-2010). This equals their second longest winning streak in the competition. Holland’s record for most consecutive WC wins is 6 and was set in1998-2002.
> The Netherland scored 6 goals in the second half today. The last time they managed this in a World Cup match was on 24 November 1994 against Belgium 8-1 (HT 2-1).
> Taekema scored twice to lift his WC total to 19 goals. This takes him into third place on the all-time World Cup top scorer list, overtaking Wolfgang Strödter’s (GER) total of 18 goals.
> Only Paul Litjens (NED, 26) and Ties Kruize (NED, 21) have scored more WC goals.
> Taekema has now scored in each of The Netherlands’ last seven World Cup matches (2006-2010).
> He is the first player to do so since Australia’s Jay Stacey (1994-1998).
> Rogier Hofman became the first Dutch player since Teun de Nooijer in 1998 (vs NZL) to score 2 field goals in a World Cup match.
> Canada are yet to collect their first points at Delhi 2010, having lost all three of their games as did South Africa in Pool B. Argentina can join them if they lose to Germany later tonight.

Game 18 – Germany v. Argentina: 4-3 (half-time: 3-2)

The last game of the day started in front of empty stands, a sad situation and even more so because spectators would have been well entertained by the excellent match offered by the reigning World Champions Germany and Argentina.

Germany opened the scoring in the 5th minute by Martin ZWICKER slamming in goal the rebound of a Matthias WITTHAUS’ shot, but Argentina had equalized within a minute with a crafty reverse stick shot by Lucas Martin VILA over sliding German goalkeeper Tim JESSULAT. Germany regained the lead by Martin ZWICKER diving at the second post to deflect a pass and Matthias WITTHAUS added a sumptuous goal, collecting the ball at the top of the circle, turning to eliminate two defenders and shooting out of reach of Juan Tomas ESPINOSA in the Argentinean goal. For the record, this was the hundredth goal of this high-scoring competition

The game continued at high pace, the two teams offering a pleasant display of open hockey. Argentina added a goal just before the break by Matias Enrique PAREDES, pouncing on the rebound of a Pedro IBARRA’s penalty-corner. With only one goal difference between the two teams at half-time, it was everybody’s game.

The second half started with a long midfield battle with few scoring chances, until a penalty-corner in the 51st minute scored by Martin HÄNER at the conclusion of an elaborate combination perfectly executed. Argentina replied immediately by a penalty-corner scored by Pedro IBARRA. Back within one goal, the South Americans pushed desperately to equalize and created some hot situations in the German circle; Tim JESSULAT in goal had to intervene multiple times to protect his goal.

After a confusing sequence when both Maximilian MÜLLER and Pedro IBARRA were shown yellow cards, the last ten minutes of play were intense. Lucas Rafael ROSSI had a chance to equalize from the top of the circle but mishandled the shot. The end of the game was all Argentina, but they could not score again and Germany were obviously relieved to hear the final horn to secure the three points of the win, while Argentina felt hard done with their third loss of the competition.

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 continues on Saturday in Delhi when Australia face Spain, South Africa meet Pakistan and England conclude the day against host India.

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 6 - Friday 5 March 2010


Korea v. New Zealand  1:2 (0:2)
NZL   4mn  Andrew HAYWARD (PC)  0:1
NZL  22mn  Dean COUZINS (PS)  0:2
KOR  70mn  Nam Yong LEE (PS)  1:2

Netherlands v. Canada  6:0 (0:0)
NED  41mn  Taeke TAEKEMA (PC)  1:0
NED  43mn  Ronald BROUWER (FG)  2:0
NED  48mn  Rogier HOFMAN (FG)  3:0
NED  53mn  Rob RECKERS (FG)  4:0
NED  56mn  Rogier HOFMAN (FG)  5:0
NED  63mn  Taeke TAEKEMA (PC)  6:0

Germany v. Argentina  4:3 (3:2)

GER   5mn  Martin ZWICKER (FG)  1:0
ARG   6mn  Lucas Martin VILA (FG)  1:1
GER  14mn  Martin ZWICKER (PC)  2:1
GER  23mn  Matthias WITTHAUS (FG)  3:1
ARG  34mn  Matias Enrique PAREDES (PC)  3:2
GER  51mn  Martin HÄNER (PC)  4:2
ARG  55mn Pedro IBARRA (PC)  4:3

Pool Standings:
Pool A: 1) Netherlands 9 pts  2) Germany 7 pts  3) New Zealand 6 pts  4) Korea 4pts  5) Argentina 0 pt (-5)  6)  Canada 0 pt (-13)
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



The Netherlands cruises to yet another win

New Zealand beats Korea by the odd goal in three; Germany staves off Argentina

S. Thyagarajan


— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

ON TARGET:The Netherlands' Rogier Hoffmann (second from left) celebrates one of his two strikes against Canada with teammate Verga.


New Delhi: Shackled by its own sluggishness, and also due to a spirited resistance, the Netherlands regained its touch and poise only in the second half to carve out a 6-0 victory over Canada in a Pool A tie of the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Saturday. This was the Dutch team's third successive win.

The Dutchmen have garnered full points to almost ensure a place in the last four.

Pleasing raids

With a wonderful player in the calibre of Teun de Nooijer as leader of the attack, the Dutch fashioned raids that looked pleasing to the eye and worked on a finish that satisfied the connoisseur.

But what does the Dutch team do when it is desperate for a goal? Look to the stocky drag flicker Taeke Taekema.

After three fruitless penalty corners and a barren first half, the indomitable Taekema eased the tension by hitting the target from the team's fifth penalty corner shortly after resumption.

This triggered a Dutch resurgence and the attack gained fluency and fervour. Rogier Hoffmann, Floris Evers and Ronald Brouwer touched their wonted form with Nooijer serving as the fulcrum.

The proficiency with which Nooijer did the spadework for the second goal that Brouwer scored was eye-catching.

Setback for Korea

Earlier, Korea suffered a setback and surrendered, before the mode and methods of New Zealand, by the odd goal in three. The Asian champion failed to come up with its usual flair and speed against the well-organised Kiwi defensive phalanx headed by the goal-keeper Pontifex.

The Koreans scored their goal with just 23 seconds left before the hooter from a penalty stroke, which the Kiwis hotly disputed with umpire Satinder Kumar. On the day's showing, the Kiwis cannot be grudged their win.

Led commendably in the midfield by Ryan Archibald, with support from Dean Couzins and Blair Hopping, the Kiwis were composed in their movements. There was no evidence of intense pressure or hurly-burly action in the goal area. They Kiwis prowled like silent assassins.

With the match four minutes old, the Kiwis found the target from a clean penalty corner hit by Andrew Hayward. Whatever retaliation came from the Koreans, it looked lukewarm. The combination of Archibald, Haig and Hopping ensured that the Koreans did not enough space to break in. The Koreans could manage only a solitary penalty corner in the first half.

The Kiwis widened the margin midway through from a penalty stroke when the elusive Prajesh Bhana was obstructed inside the circle. Dean Couzins converted with a touch of fuss.

The Korean attack, surprisingly, failed to achieve that touch of pace. Though skipper Jong Ho played his heart out, in this level of the game one swallow does not make a summer.

Good defence

A measure of the Kiwi defensive work can be gauged from the way the Koreans were denied success in the five penalty corners they forced in the second half. While it is incomprehensible as to why the Kiwis went on the defensive in this period, the means employed to nullify the penalty corners were praiseworthy. A large measure of credit should go to the goalkeeper, Kyle Pontifex.

New Zealand has six points from three matches and Korea's tally is four from the same number.

Zwicker scores

The unpredictable Argentina gave Germany, the defending champion several suspenseful moments before going down in the last match. Germany surged ahead within a few minutes from start from a goal by Martin Zwicker. Before the cheers died Argentina levelled from a spectacular shot by Lucas Vila.

Zwicker struck again midway through followed by Matthias Witthaus whose shot from the top of the circle gave no chance to goal-keeper Juan Tomas. Close on half-time, Mathias Parades, put Argentina back in the fight.

The tempo escalated after resumption and Martin Haner scored off a penalty corner only to see Argentina come back again through a penalty corner by Padro Ibarra.

Germany won in the end, but it had to struggle a good deal.

The results:

Pool A: New Zealand 2 (Andrew Hayward, Dean Couzins) bt Korea 1 (Young Lee Nam). HT 2-0; Netherlands 6 (Taeke Taekema 2, Ronald Brouwer, Rogier Hoffmann 2, Rob Reckers) bt Canada 0. HT 0-0; Germany 4 (Martin Zwicker 2, Matthias Witthaus, Martin Haner) beat Argentina 3 (Lucas Vila, Mathias Parades, Padro Ibarra) HT 3-2.

Saturday's matches: Australia vs. Spain (4.35 p.m.); South Africa vs. Pakistan (6.35 p.m.); England vs. India (8.35 p.m.) .

The Hindu



Germany, New Zealand and Netherlands post wins on Day 6.

K. Arumugam


Netherlands notched up another straight win today defeating Canada 6-0, all the goals coming in the second half. The third win takes them close to the semis.

New Zealand surprised Korea 1-2 while on the last match of the day, Germany survived many anxious moments before holding on to the single goal margin to post its third win. Argentina had to bow down to precise Germany 3-4.

In the fifth minute Martin Zwicker set the tune and tenor of the match with an opportunistic field goal, and then diverting a penalty corner push in the 14th minute. In between his brace, Martin Vila reduced the margin.

Before half time both teams scored a goal apiece, Matthias Witthaus for Germany and Matias Pardes for Argentina.

In the second session, Martin Haner deflected a penalty corner while in the 55th minute Pedro Ibarra, who was later declared Steel Defender of the day, scored once. Thereafter, it was Argentina all the time to get the elusive equalizer, they came close to getting it often, but the German defence stood firm, spent anxious moments, but did not yield.

1975 World Cup hero Michael Kindo and FIH President Leandro Negre gave away the awards

Luck deserts South Korea as they go down 1-2 to New Zealand in the first match of Day VI in the Hero Honda World Cup which is entering decisive phase.

Despite fast attacks and gaining numerous penalty corners, the ball simply refused to go in for the Koreans. All they could do was to score a goal 30 seconds before through a stroke that came off after a penalty corner drill.

New Zealand took the lead very early with goals coming from Andrew Hayward and a stroke conversion by Dean Couzins, who led the side today.

Koreans waged a grim battle from the word go, had better of ball possession, territorial advantage, and had more shots at goal, but every time it was so near and so far. Not just the Kiwis' defence but Kyle Pontifex under the cage also stood like a rock of Gibraltor.

Koreans had even better share of penalty corners – seven compared to one by their rival, the last one coming in the dying moments which turned into a stroke.

Lee Nam Yong converted the stroke sending in a grounder.

New Zealand today played without their regular captain Phil Burrows due to injury.

Korea in its previous match defeated Argentina on the same scoreline, the winner coming seconds left for the final hooter. However, today the precision was mising, and they paid for it.

Stick2Hockey.com



Dutch, Germans close in on semi-finals


JUBILANT: Netherlands hockey player Rogier Hofman (2 R) celebrates a goal against Canada with teammates during their World Cup 2010 match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi. (AFP)

Defending champions Germany and the Netherlands stayed on course for the semi-finals of the men’s field hockey World Cup with contrasting wins on Friday.

Germany, the reigning Olympic champions who are looking to win a third consecutive World Cup title, sweated to a 4-3 victory over a fighting Argentina at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The Dutch hammered lowly Canada 6-0 in another group A match with Rogier Hofman and Taeke Taekema scoring two goals apiece.

Ronald Brouwer and Rob Reckers were the other scorers as the Netherlands, a three-time winner, hit top gear in the second session after the first had ended 0-0.

With two rounds of league matches remaining, the Netherlands lead the group with nine full points from three games, followed by Germany with seven and New Zealand with six.

New Zealand stayed in contention for their first-ever appearance in the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over South Korea.

The Netherlands must win one of their two remaining games against world champions Germany on Sunday and South Korea on Tuesday to qualify for the semi-finals.

Dutch captain Teun de Nooijer said the three wins so far had given his team confidence ahead of the match against Germany.

“The rivalry between Germany and the Netherlands is intense, just like the one between India and Pakistan,” the veteran midfielder said.

“We have to be at our best because we know what the Germans are capable of. But the good record so far means we will be ready for them on Sunday.”

Argentina, who had lost both their previous matches, fought all the way against the Germans in an exciting late night match.

Martin Zwicker slammed two goals as Germany took a 3-1 lead, before Matias Paredes scored for Argentina just before half-time. Martin Haner put Germany 4-2 ahead in the 51st minute and Pedro Ibarra made it 3-4 four minutes later, but Argentina failed to get the equaliser in the last quarter.

“We knew Argentina will be tough because we play a similar game,” said German captain Max Muller. We should have had a two-goal advantage, but could not score a fifth goal.

“The group is wide open. We will of course need to get the better of the Dutch. It won’t be easy.” New Zealand scored both their goals against South Korea in the first half as Andrew Hayward converted a penalty corner in the fifth minute, before captain Dean Couzins pushed in a penalty stroke in the 22nd.

South Korea reduced the margin in the final minute through a stroke by Lee Nam Yong.

New Zealand, who have not finished higher than seventh in the World Cup, must win their last two games against Argentina on Sunday and Germany on Tuesday to book a semi-final spot. South Korea, the Asian champions, are virtually out of the race with just four points in the bag. Korean coach Shin Seok-Kyo blamed his team’s poor display in the tournament so far on the lack of proper preparation.

“We should have trained better for the World Cup, but the cold weather at home did not help,” he said. “It is not a good feeling now because we are almost out of it.”

New Zealand’s Couzins said the 3-1 win over the Koreans in the Beijing Olympics boosted his team’s confidence.

“We have a good record against them and that helped,” he said. “We are still in the fight for the semi-finals because we have played quite well.”

Gulf Times



Dutch all but clinch semi-final spot, Germans move a step closer

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: The Netherlands were a little edgy going into the second-half. The scorer had not been troubled and the Canadians seemed to enjoy shackling the three-time winners in their Pool A match of the FIH Hero Honda World Cup.

But the aberration was corrected soon by the Dutch, who hammered in six goals in the space of 23 minutes of the second-half, the deluge ensuring a third consecutive victory and taking them towards the semifinals.

Penalty-corner specialist Taeke Taekema struck the first goal for The Netherlands in the 41st minute and completed the tally in the 63rd, even as his team managed four vigorous strikes in between. The Canadians, who had a fair share of the exchanges in the first half, could not comprehend what hit them.

Rogier Hofman struck twice, while Ronald Brouwer and Rob Reckers put the ball in once each for the Dutch, who are considered the second-best team in the group after Germany.

“We spent a lot of energy in the first half, but just could not get our moves going. We now have a lot of confidence for the matches ahead with this comprehensive win,” said captain Teun de Nooijer. “Our next match against Germany is the one we are looking forward to. That match is something like an India-Pakistan match for you and we are brimming with confidence now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Germany, who had also beaten Canada 6-0 in an earlier league match, had to strive hard against a gritty Argentina side before prevailing 4-3.

Matthias Witthaus and Martin Zwicker figured in some early moves for Germany. Witthaus put Zwicker in position for a sixth-minute goal, which was equalised the very minute by Martin Lucas Vila, setting up the pace for the full session.

Zwicker and Witthaus then struck once each to put the defending champions 3-1 ahead. Matias Enrique Paredes reduced the margin for Argentina between flurries of forays from either side as the first half ended at 3-2.

In the second session, Martin Haner and Pedro Ibarra converted penalty-corners for Germany and Argentina, respectively. The dying minutes saw the Argentines put pressure on the German citadel and it took a last-minute save by goalkeeper Tim Jessulat to ensure full points. The 12th edition of this championship has brought little good news for Asian teams. Former champions India and Pakistan are all but out of contention from pool B, while Korea are only slightly better placed in the other pool.

A surprise 1-2 loss to New Zealand on Friday pulled down the Koreans, who reached the semifinals of the previous two editions. They failed to lift their game in the third match played to a virtually empty stadium and now have only four points from three outings.

New Zealand’s fourth-minute penalty-corner conversion through Andrew Hayward was an early surprise, while the one through Dean Couzins in the 22th minute left them a harried lot. The Koreans were left struggling to get the ball into the ‘D’ and a penalty stoke in the last minute, that was converted by Nam Yong Lee, was only a face-saver.

DNA



Black Sticks beat Korea 2-1 at World Cup

By Terry Maddaford


Dealt a last-minute body blow when captain and attacking spearhead Phil Burrows was ruled out of their third match at the Hero Honda World Cup, New Zealand stormed to a 2-0 lead and then held on to beat a lively Korean side 2-1 and keep their semifinal hopes alive.

Burrows arrived at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium confident he had shrugged off the calf injury sustained late in the loss to the Dutch two days earlier and would be fit to play.

But by the time the pre-match warm-up was completed, a distraught Burrows ruled himself out and handed the captain's armband to Dean Couzins and a place on the bench to late arrival Joseph Bartholomew.

"In the scheme of things it was a big blow as much of our game plan centres around Phil and what he brings to the team," said Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod.

"Losing a player with his experience puts added pressure on the younger players but overall I think they responded well."

Within three minutes of the start of a game both teams eyed as "must win", New Zealand won a penalty corner following a bad Korean tackle outside the circle.

From a well-rehearsed play, drag-flick exponent Andy Hayward delivered and was able to celebrate his first goal of the tournament and, more importantly, a vital early lead for his team.

Just as quickly, there was another scare for the New Zealand camp as midfielder Shea McAleese limped off but after a time-out, he recovered and returned as the Black Sticks went in search of a second goal.

New Zealand's attacking endeavours were eventually rewarded in the 22nd minute when a shot from Priyesh Bhana was blocked by a Korean foot in the goalmouth. The stroke quickly awarded and just as quickly pushed home by Couzins despite the goalkeeper anticipating well in thrusting himself in the right direction.

Down, but certainly not out, the Koreans pressed forward and forced the New Zealanders to drop deep in defence to counter their opponent's short-passing game.

After having a goal disallowed, a call by the video umpire, New Zealand held on and went to the break still 2-0 ahead.

The Koreans dominated for long periods in the second spell, forced six penalty corners to none, but a combination of poor execution and some nifty work from Pontifex denied them.

While on the back foot for much of the spell, New Zealand did create a couple of clear-cut scoring opportunities but Nick Wilson, after a great ball from man of the match Ryan Archibald, and Nick Haig, in a similar break away, were wide and over the top when they should have been on target.

As the clock wound down, the Koreans mounted a last attack, won a penalty stroke which, with 23secs to play, Nam Yong Lee converted.

It was a cruel blow for Pontifex who had pulled off a couple of crucial saves and deserved to walk away with a clean sheet.

"We have to score those goals we missed in the second half," admitted McLeod.

"In big games you don't get that many opportunities and when they come you have to take them.

"Again, I feel we can do better. In the past we have often started strongly and then petered out. Maybe this time we are doing it in reverse and will get better with each game. I certainly hope so.

"In some areas I felt we were better today than we had been against Canada and the Netherlands but we have to continue improving. We know Argentina will be more structured than the Koreas which should help."

Archibald was again the standout and deserved his reward.

Couzins, who combined well with Blair Hopping and had a good understanding with Pontifex, won the aptly named "Man of Steel" award handed to the best defender in each game.

For a 35 minutes of the second match of the day, New Zealand's hopes rose even higher as underdogs Canada held group leaders Holland scoreless. But, after turning 0-0, the floodgates opened in the second half as the Dutch ran away to win 6-0.

Drag flick expert Taeke Taekema scored first and last for his team with four field goals in between ensuring a three-from-three record and still the lead. Their game with Germany (early Monday morning NZ time) should decide the group while New Zealand's hopes rest on beating Argentina (also on Monday) before their last group match with the Germans on Wednesday morning.

In the last match of the night, Germany overcame some anxious moments before edging point-less Argentina 4-3 to slip ahead of New Zealand into second place.

The Germans led early, Argentina got back to 1-1 but after that were forced to play catch-up. They had a late chance to equalise but just missed. Had they scored and finished 4-4, the Black Sticks would have ended the round in second rather than third place. Dealt a last-minute body blow when captain and attacking spearhead Phil Burrows was ruled out of their third match at the Hero Honda World Cup, New Zealand stormed to a 2-0 lead and then held on to beat a lively Korean side 2-1 and keep their semifinal hopes alive.

Burrows arrived at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium confident he had shrugged off the calf injury sustained late in the loss to the Dutch two days earlier and would be fit to play.

But by the time the pre-match warm-up was completed, a distraught Burrows ruled himself out and handed the captain's armband to Dean Couzins and a place on the bench to late arrival Joseph Bartholomew.

"In the scheme of things it was a big blow as much of our game plan centres around Phil and what he brings to the team," said Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod.

"Losing a player with his experience puts added pressure on the younger players but overall I think they responded well."

Within three minutes of the start of a game both teams eyed as "must win", New Zealand won a penalty corner following a bad Korean tackle outside the circle.

From a well-rehearsed play, drag-flick exponent Andy Hayward delivered and was able to celebrate his first goal of the tournament and, more importantly, a vital early lead for his team.

Just as quickly, there was another scare for the New Zealand camp as midfielder Shea McAleese limped off but after a time-out, he recovered and returned as the Black Sticks went in search of a second goal.

New Zealand's attacking endeavours were eventually rewarded in the 22nd minute when a shot from Priyesh Bhana was blocked by a Korean foot in the goalmouth. The stroke quickly awarded and just as quickly pushed home by Couzins despite the goalkeeper anticipating well in thrusting himself in the right direction.

Down, but certainly not out, the Koreans pressed forward and forced the New Zealanders to drop deep in defence to counter their opponent's short-passing game.

After having a goal disallowed, a call by the video umpire, New Zealand held on and went to the break still 2-0 ahead.

The Koreans dominated for long periods in the second spell, forced six penalty corners to none, but a combination of poor execution and some nifty work from Pontifex denied them.

While on the back foot for much of the spell, New Zealand did create a couple of clear-cut scoring opportunities but Nick Wilson, after a great ball from man of the match Ryan Archibald, and Nick Haig, in a similar break away, were wide and over the top when they should have been on target.

As the clock wound down, the Koreans mounted a last attack, won a penalty stroke which, with 23secs to play, Nam Yong Lee converted.

It was a cruel blow for Pontifex who had pulled off a couple of crucial saves and deserved to walk away with a clean sheet.

"We have to score those goals we missed in the second half," admitted McLeod.

"In big games you don't get that many opportunities and when they come you have to take them.

"Again, I feel we can do better. In the past we have often started strongly and then petered out. Maybe this time we are doing it in reverse and will get better with each game. I certainly hope so.

"In some areas I felt we were better today than we had been against Canada and the Netherlands but we have to continue improving. We know Argentina will be more structured than the Koreas which should help."

Archibald was again the standout and deserved his reward.

Couzins, who combined well with Blair Hopping and had a good understanding with Pontifex, won the aptly named "Man of Steel" award handed to the best defender in each game.

For a 35 minutes of the second match of the day, New Zealand's hopes rose even higher as underdogs Canada held group leaders Holland scoreless. But, after turning 0-0, the floodgates opened in the second half as the Dutch ran away to win 6-0.

Drag flick expert Taeke Taekema scored first and last for his team with four field goals in between ensuring a three-from-three record and still the lead. Their game with Germany (early Monday morning NZ time) should decide the group while New Zealand's hopes rest on beating Argentina (also on Monday) before their last group match with the Germans on Wednesday morning.

In the last match of the night, Germany overcame some anxious moments before edging point-less Argentina 4-3 to slip ahead of New Zealand into second place.

The Germans led early, Argentina got back to 1-1 but after that were forced to play catch-up. They had a late chance to equalise but just missed. Had they scored and finished 4-4, the Black Sticks would have ended the round in second rather than third place.

Stuff



Kiwis ground Korea

M.S. Unnikrishnan


New Delhi: New Zealand withstood a fierce fight back by Korea to post a 2-1 victory in their third match of Group A in the 12th Hero Honda FIH World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here today. New Zealand scored both the goals in the first half but fell into a defensive mode on resumption to allow Korea the upper hand in attacks which earned them six penalty corners - seven overall - but could convert none.

But they were awarded a stroke following the seventh penalty corner which was converted by Yong Nam Lee with a strike past the left of the goal-keeper to reduce the margin. New Zealand used their height, strong physique and speed to dominate the play in the first session and scored the first goal off their first penalty corner in the fourth minute through Andrew Hayward whose powerful strike brooked no denial.

They struck the second goal in the 22nd minute off a penalty stroke. Dean Couzins took a clean hit to put the ball past the Korean custodian. New Zealand’s chances to score were few and far between but that did not prevent them from scoring when it counted unlike the Koreans who were worth a few goals if the chances they got were any indication of their dominance.

But the Kiwi defence held out manfully, dispossessing the Koreans before they could get close to hit the target. This was Korea’s first defeat in three matches which blotted their copy book and spoilt their chances of a semifinal berth. New Zealand registered their second win in three matches though the pool is dominated by defending champions Germany and The Netherlands.

Though Germany were held to a 2-2 draw by Korea, they came back to swamp Canada 6-0 while the Dutch have beaten Argentina and New Zealand to lead the group. Korea, who edged past Argentina after holding Germany, were on four points, but today's defeat has put paid to their hopes of a semi-final berth. Against Argentina too, Korea had struggled to keep themself afloat and only a last-minute goal helped them sail through.

This was the second meeting betweeen New Zealand and Korea in the World Cup, and the former have once again prevailed over the Asian champions. New Zealand had beaten Korea 3-1 when they met for the first in a World Cup match in 1998. The Kiwis had tamed Korea by a similar margin in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well. In fact, Korea have beaten New Zealand just once in seven meetings - at the 2005 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup by 6-4.

The Tribune



‘We defended well against Korea'

Y.B. Sarangi


— Photo: AP

GOOD SHOW:New Zealand's Ryan Archibald (left) intercepts South Korea's Nam Hyun-woo during their World Cup match on Friday.

NEW DELHI: Experienced Black Sticks mid-fielder Ryan Archibald said his team's focus on the defence paid dividends in the hockey World Cup match against Korea on Friday.

“We are happy to beat a top-six side like Korea, we have a good record against them. We defended well and slowed down the game to prevent their attackers from the sidelines,” he said.

Archibald, however, was not happy with the penalty corner conversions though New Zealand managed a 2-1 win.

“We did not execute the penalty corners well,” he said.

Pontiflex lauded

He lauded the effort of fellow team mate and goalkeeper Kyle Pontiflex, who achieved the feat of playing 100 international matches.

On regular captain Philip Burrows's absence, Archibald said, “He had injured his calf muscle in the game against the Dutch. I hope he recovers for the rest of the tournament.”

With two games left against Argentina and Germany, the mid-fielder said New Zealand had to do well in the rest of their matches to book a berth in the last four.

Hyo Sik You of Korea said his team was not up to the mark.

“New Zealand had a very good defence. We were a little down today, we need a little bit of stamina. But we still have a chance (to make the semis),” he said.

Satisfied

Following the Netherland's facile 6-0 win over Canada, captain Teun de Nooijer drew satisfaction that his side remained unbeaten to gather nine points.

“The first half was tough. In the second half, they were tired and we got more space to attack,” he said.

Despite his team missing out on converting some penalty corners, de Nooijer said he had confidence in his short corner specialists.

“We will think about Germany after some rest,” the Dutch skipper said.

Deol injured

Canada suffered because of the unavailability of a few players. Ranjeev Deol, who injured his finger during a practice session, was ruled out for the tournament after a surgery while Mark Pearson, whose father was hospitalised after suddenly falling ill, missed part of the match.

“I am yet to know the reason (what has happened to his father), I will discuss with him. But it is great that he came back and played for us,” Canadian captain Ken Pereira said.

“It is difficult to shut a team like the Netherlands for 70 minutes. They got some chances and capitalised on those,” he said.

The Hindu



New Zealand stay in contention

South Korea 1 New Zealand 2

New Zealand stayed in contention for their first-ever appearance in the semi-finals of the men's Hockey World Cup with a 2-1 win over South Korea.

Both goals for the Black Sticks came in the first half as Andrew Hayward converted a penalty corner in the fifth minute, before captain Dean Couzins pushed in a penalty stroke in the 22nd.

South Korea reduced the margin in the final minute through a stroke by Lee Nam Yong.

It was New Zealand's second win in three matches, giving them six points in group A.

The Netherlands (six points) and defending champions Germany (four) play their third round of matches later on Friday.

New Zealand, who have not finished higher than seventh in a Hockey World Cup, must win their last two games against Argentina on Sunday and Germany on Tuesday to book a semi-final spot.

South Korea, the Asian champions, are virtually out of the race with just three points in the bag. Coach Shin Seok-Kyo blamed his team's poor display in the tournament so far on the lack of proper preparation.

"We should have trained better for the World Cup, but the cold weather at home did not help," he said. "It is not a good feeling now because we are almost out of it."

New Zealand's Couzins said the 3-1 win over South Korea in the Beijing Olympics boosted his team's confidence.

"We have a good record against them and that helped," he said. "We are still in the fight for the semi-finals because we have played quite well."

The Telegraph



Netherlands keep party going

Spank Canada 6-0, assure semis berth

M.S.Unnikrishnan


New Delhi: The Dutch did it again, but with a bigger margin, to swamp a hapless Canada 6-0 to garner their victory on trot in Group A in the 12th Hero Honda World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here tonight. With nine points from three wins, The Netherlands are sitting pretty in the group, and are assured of a semifinal slot while Canada suffered their third straight defeat, and the second by a 0-6 tennis score.

Canada had lost their first match to New Zealand 2-3 before being outran by Germany. The Dutch, who began their campaign with a 3-0 win over Argentina, then beat New Zealand 3-1 but their best seemed to have been reserved against Canada, though all the goals came in the second half.

Canada, the oldest team in the competition with an average age of 30 plus, forced the first penalty corner early in the match and also made some forays into the Dutch goal. The three-time former champions also forced two penalty corners, but a goal eluded them in the first session.

But the Dutch were a transformed lot on resumption as they got their scoring act together to drive Canada into the abyss. The incomparable drag-flick specialist Taeke Taekema converted the fifth penalty corner with a perfect carpet drag to open the scoring five minutes into the second half. He also accounted for the sixth goal, but this time with a high scoop, off the seventh penalty corner. The sixth goal was also Taekema's sixth goal of the tournament to emerge as the top-scorer.

In between, Ronald Brouwer scored the second goal while Rogier Hofman also accounted for a brace, slamming in the third and fifth goals. Rob Reckers struck the third goal. The essential difference of the Dutch play was that they moved in a pattern, with quick, precision passes, and fine off the ball running. They always had a man at a vantage position to guide the ball in as the ball invariably passed through many a stick before finding the mark.

Though captain Teun Nooijer de and Robbert Kemperman could not figure among the goal-scorers, most of the moves were worked up by them to give their signature touch before others applied the killer punch.

New Zealand are second behind the Dutch with six points from two wins while Germany, who take on Argentina in the last match tonight, have four points from one draw and one win.

The Netherlands have now won all seven matches against Canada in the World Cup and Olympic competition. Their only previous World Cup encounter was in 1998 which they had won 3-1.

And at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Dutch had beaten Canada 4-2. So Canada are used to play second fiddle to the Dutch, and they are not complaining as they fell to a far superior team, though full credit to them for keeping the Dutch goalless in the first half.

The Tribune



Dutch drub Canada 6-0, Taekema becomes 3rd highest scorer

NEW DELHI: Title contenders the Netherlands pumped in six goals in the second half to blank a lowly Canada 6-0 and virtually booked a semifinal berth the hockey World Cup on Friday.

Fourth ranked the Netherlands failed to score in the first half but came back strongly after the break with some attacking hockey and maintained their clean slate in the tournament.

The Dutch are at the top of the Pool A with nine points from three matches. Canada are out of contention for a semifinal berth with their third successive loss.

Taek Taekema (41st and 63rd minutes), Rogier Hofman (48th and 56th), Roanld Brouwer (43rd) and Rob Reckers (53rd) scored for the Netherlands under floodlights at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Taekema's two goals today made him the third most prolific scorer in World Cup history. He is on 19 goals, behind his own countrymen and penalty corner specialists Paul Litjens (26) and Ties Kruize (21).

He went past Wolfgang Strodter (18 goals) of erstwhile West Germany, countryman Floris Jan Bovelander (17) and Pakistani Sohail Abbas (17) who had so far scored just one goal from three matches in the ongoing World Cup.

The Dutch earned eight penalty corners from which they converted two while Canada failed to get even a single penalty corner.

Canada, seven places below the Netherlands at 11th in the FIH rankings, kept at bay their opponents in the first half and the Dutch did not get many scoring chances even though they had more possession of the ball.

The Dutch were disallowed a goal in the 23rd minute with the Scottish referee ruling that Ronald Brouwer's reverse stick shot was too high.

The Canadian goalkeeper also made a couple of fine saves -- first stopping a Taeke Taekema drag flick in the 18th minute and then Rob Recker's reverse stick shot two minutes before the breather.

But it was a goal rush in the second half with the rampaging Dutch scoring almost at will and broke the Canadian resistance.

Taekema opened the scoring, placing his drag-flick to the right of the Canadian goalkeeper to sound the board. He then added another in the 63rd minute from a penalty corner to cement his tournament top scorer position with six goals.

The Times of India



Germany survive scare and down fighting Argentina 4-3

Prabhjot Singh


Germany’s Matthias Witthaus (L) celebrates with his team mate Jan-Marco Montag after scoring the third goal during their match against Argentina in New Delhi on Friday. — Reuters

New Delhi: Defending champions Germany survived some anxious moments and a scare to get past Argentina in their third pool A match at Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium here tonight. Pan-Americans were on the attack, needing a goal to square up with their more fancied opponents, when they ran out of the time to end the game as gallant losers at 3-4 in perhaps one of the best and well fought matches in the tournament so far.

Germany, who split points with Korea in their first game, have now seven points and are behind pool leaders the Netherlands with maximum nine points from three games. Germany started with a flourish taking the lead in the opening minute of the game as a follow up of a brilliant understanding between Witthaus and Martin Zwicker, who shared among themselves three of the four goals Germany scored today.

It was Martin Zwicker, who did the mop up operations of the first assault on Argentine goal initiated by Witthaus. Stung by the reverse, Pan Americans shot back, when Lucas Martin Vila, got past the packed German defence to restore parity.

Matching their opponents move by move, Argentines were unlucky not to end the day by sharing honours as they had a couple of brilliant moves in the last five minutes but were unlucky not to get past Tim Jussalat, the German goalkeeper, who executed at least a couple of brilliant saves.

Argentina was first to get a penalty corner in the seventh minute that went waste and Germany got its first five minutes later.

It was from the second penalty corner that Martin Zwicker, on the right flank deflected in the flick taken by Martin Haner for Germany’s second goal

A minute later, Witthaus made it 3-1 with a brilliant goal. Even after conceding 1-3 lead, Argentina continued with its top performance of the tournament. It was the spirited fight back that saw Mathias Paredes to score from their third penalty corner to make the score 2-3 before the game broke for half time.

While crisp and fast exchanges continued to provide a rich feast of vintage hockey, Germany took advantage of their third penalty corner in the 50th minute to score through Martin Haner. Up 4-2, it looked as if Germany would wrap the match comfortably.

But Argentina had different plans. They wanted to match their superior opponents and give them back whatever they had got.

In the 54th minute from their fourth penalty corner, Argentina inched in closer with a brilliant penalty corner conversion by Pedro Ibera. They did try for the fourth and the equalizer but luck was not with them

The Tribune



Germany preserve unbeaten record

Germany 4 Argentina 3


Germany held off a charged-up Argentina 4-3 to stay unbeaten behind Holland at the Hockey World Cup on Friday.

While Holland maintained a perfect record by thrashing Canada 6-0, New Zealand stayed in touch with the Pool A leaders by stunning South Korea 2-1 at Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Holland have nine points from three games, Germany seven, New Zealand six, and South Korea four. Argentina and Canada, yet to earn a point, have been eliminated from semi-finals contention.

Goalkeeper Tim Jessulat blocked a barrage of shots in the last 15 minutes to deny Argentina and help Germany maintain a 16-match unbeaten run, a streak second only to Australia's run of 20 in Hockey World Cup history.

Martin Zwicker had slammed in a rebound after only five minutes but Argentina took only a minute to reply when Lucas Vila's reverse stick lob beat Jessulat.

Zwicker's second goal, from a penalty corner, broke the deadlock in the 14th minute, then Matthias Witthaus made it 3-1 but Matias Paredes deflected in a shot just before the half for Argentina to retain hope at 3-2 down.

Martin Haner shot in a high penalty corner to make it 4-2 in the 51st minute, and Pedro Ibarra scored five minutes later to set up an exciting finale, but in the end Germany preserve their unbeaten World Cup record against Argentina.

The Telegraph



Germany win close match against Argentina

NEW DELHI: Defending champions Germany scraped past a plucky Argentina 4-3 in a Pool A hockey World Cup match to brighten their chances for a semifinal berth on Friday.

In the battle between the top and bottom-ranked sides, world number one Germany were lucky to have won the match against Argentina making a lot of scoring chances and earning more penalty corners (five against three) at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Germany, who were clinical in 6-0 drubbing of Canada in their second match, could not control the midfield and their goalkeeper Tim Jessulat saved the side on many occasions including a goal-line clearance in the dying moments.

Martin Zwicker (fifth and 14th minutes), Matthias Witthaus (23rd) and Martin Haner (51st) scored for Germany, while Lucas Martin Vila (sixth), Matias Enrique Paredes (34th) and Pedro Ibarra (55th) found the target for Argentina.

With this win, Germany, gunning for a hat-trick of titles after their 2002 and 2006 triumphs, are on seven points from two wins and a draw, and are on course for a semifinal berth.

Argentina, on the other hand, are already out of semifinal contention having lost their earlier two matches.

Germany opened scoring in the fifth minute through Zwicker, who slammed home off the rebound of a Witthaus pass.

Argentina struck back immediately with Vila scoring the equaliser in the next minute with a reverse stick shot which beat German goalkeeper Jessulat.

In the 14th minute, Zwicker scored his second goal via a diving deflection to the right post off the second penalty corner shot of his side.

Argentina exploited the free space they got at the midfield and forced their first penalty corner in the 20th minute but German goalkeeper Jessulat saved the drag-flick with his stick.

Germany made it 3-1 in the 23rd minute with Witthaus taking a powerful running shot from the top of the striking circle into the bottom left corner of Argentine goal.

Argentina were not the one to be deterred and they reduced the gap a minute before the breather with Paredes guiding a deflected drag-flick off their second penalty corner into the German goal.

The second half began at a frantic pace but both sides failed to score for 15 minutes before Germany scored from their third penalty corner -- first of second session.

Harner slammed home from a nice penalty corner variation to make it 4-2 in the 51st minute.

Argentina responded four minutes later from their fifth penalty corner and specialist Ibarra's drag-flick went into the German goal after deflecting from a defender.

The Times of India



Weise not happy with performance but praises goalkeeper

NEW DELHI: Germany coach Markus Weise on Friday credited his side's narrow 4-3 win over Argentina in the hockey World Cup to good performance of their custodian Tim Jessulat.

Weise said as expected his boys had to play out of their skin to register the win against Argentina at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

"I am not happy with the performance but I am happy with the result. In the second half we lost our way. Our goalkeeper (Tim Jessulat) saved the day for us, otherwise the result of the match would have been different," he told reporters.

"We expected a tough fight from the Argentines. Prior to this match, we had to good games," he added.

Germany captain Maximillian Muller agreed with his coach and said, "I am happy with the victory but not so happy with the way we played. We have to improve against the Netherlands if we want to beat them. Experienced German player Matthias Witthaus said the Germans had a bad day in office today.

"It's is not our best game, but sometimes you have a bad day. But we are happy with the three points. It brought us closer towards a semifinal spot," he said.

Argentina coach Pablo Lombi said he side displayed a lion-hearted performance against the Germans.

"We played well but we need to concentrate more on our attack and defence. It was a very close match," Lombi said.

"I am happy with the boys' performance but not happy with the result," he added.

The Times of India



England have semi-finals as the carrot against India

By Patrick Rowley in New Delhi


England play for a place in the Hero Honda World Cup semi-finals in the late evening match under floodlights at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday.

They are sure of making the top four if they defeat hosts India. Only one other country in their group would be able to equal their points total.

England have reached a World Cup semi-final only once, at Willesden in 1986 when Australia beat them in the final.

It used to be every English player’s dream to play against India, once the world’s greats, in India. England had a taste of the special atmosphere they can expect when they beat Pakistan 5-2 on Thursday.

India have disappointed their massive home support here by giving the impression that they are still glorifying in their first-day 4-1 victory over Pakistan. They have since lost 5-2 to both Australia and Spain.

These days India are all individual skill and seem quite unable to play as a co-ordinated attacking force.

Professionalism and confidence should see England, the European champions, to their fourth successive victory even though Richard Mantell has had to go home after breaking and dislocating an ankle. Late reserve Dan Fox will replace him in the squad.

The third matches in Group A were played on Friday. Holland were held goalless by Canada in the first half but came through 6-0 in the end.

They top Group A, like England with maximum points, but have still to play Germany and Korea and their semi-final place is by no means assured.

Holders Germany had trouble shaking off Argentina but won 4-3. Martin Haner, late of East Grinstead, scored the crucial fourth German goal.

But Korea’s last-four ambitions took a dip when they lost 2-1 to New Zealand.

The Telegraph



India needs big wins in next two games

Brasa speaks about the compulsions to play Deepak Thakur

S. Thyagarajan


— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

HEART-BREAKING:Disappointed fans watching the India-Spain match on Thursday.


New Delhi: What next? Is India still in the race? Such posers are pure rhetoric. They are invoked to keep the interest alive in the current Hero Honda hockey World Cup.

The 2-5 reverse against Spain on Thursday mirrored the chasm dividing Asia and Europe in approach, athleticism and adeptness.

England produced a classic display in a tough contest against Pakistan. The former European champion, Spain, peaked at the right time to expose India's inadequacies.

Arguments over theoretical possibilities of a semifinal berth are academic. At best they satisfy a dream. For that to happen India needs to win the next two matches against England and South Africa by big margins. You have to be an inveterate optimist to engage in such a line of thinking.

Practical assessment

Jose Brasa is practical in his post-match assessment. The best now is to strive and be in the race for the fifth spot. That would be a great achievement considering the 11th position in the last edition.

Brasa spoke about the compulsions to play Deepak Thakur. That India had to play a centre-forward who hardly touched the ball is pathetic. Danish Mujtaba could have been given a trial as Brasa did for Sreejesh.

India's failure was self-inflicted. There were chances galore. Equally, there were times when a little more care could have been exercised in marking the rival attackers, especially known strikers like Pol Amat and Pau Quemada.

Then, lack of variation in penalty corners. Of the seven, India converted one. Thundering hits at the goalkeeper always do not produce the desired result.

A certain amount of guile needs to be blended in to surprise the custodian.

What let India down was the inability to comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. After all, no team is perfect. They have to be identified and conquered with ingenuous means.

Brasa talks of inexperience. But more than half the side has won 100 international caps.

Crying over spilt milk or reiterating known deficiencies for decades is no remedy. The team needs to tighten up areas where it is strong, improve qualitatively the work in the defence zones.

England is at its peak. The defeat of the Aussies and the classic goals against Pakistan showed England can be tipped for the title.

As the European champion, it is entitled to think in terms of a dawn as World champion.

India's record against England is marginally better. Of the 23 played, the home team has 10 victories, seven defeats and six draws.

In the World Cup, it has three wins, two defeats and one draw. Such figures reflect nothing in the present scenario.

England is not at its full strength. Two of the best, Matt Daly and Simon Mantell, could not come because of injuries.

Loss of key player

The loss of the key player, Richard Mantell, after the tempestuous tie against Pakistan on Thursday leaves a dent.

How much can India exploit with Shivendra back is the question.

A draw would be a splendid result.

The Hindu



India look to pick up the pieces

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


New Delhi, March 5: An India-England hockey clash evokes memories of the Chile Olympic qualifiers two years ago, of India’s shock loss to a nation trying to find their feet in world hockey, and of a day that perhaps changed the face of the sport in the country.

The scars of the loss — India missed out on the Olympic Games for the first ever time — have been too deep to erase, and something that the Indian fans still haven’t come to terms with.

On Saturday, the two teams come face to face yet again in a Hockey World Cup Pool B game.

Though the significance of the tie is somewhat dimmed, with India almost out the semi-finals reckoning and England perched nicely on top of the table with three wins, the Men In Blue will need to be at their best on the morrow to aim for a top-eight finish.

Said India skipper Rajpal Singh, “That (Chile qualifiers) was a huge loss, but we have to remember that it happened two years ago. We have played them in the last year and managed to win. England are having a great run here, but there is no reason why we cannot beat them tomorrow.”

India have shown promise in the three matches played so far.

A beginning, it seems, has been made under foreign coach Jose Brasa: the bunch looks a lot fitter, Europeans methods have been blended with the Asian style of attacking play, the sharpness on the field is evident. But India are still far from being among the top nations in the world.

Said Brasa after the loss to Spain on Thursday night, “We lack the experience against the top teams. A lot of hard work has gone in in the last eight months, and it will require at least another year for us to reach their level. I can see changes and that is a positive sign. It is not difficult to match the top-six teams in the world. but it cannot be an overnight thing. It is a slow and long process.”

England, at present, are capable of beating the elite. Coach Jason Lee and his boys have delivered the goods without top players Simon Mantell and Matt Daly — beating Australia, South Africa and Pakistan with élan — which says a lot about their preparations and bench strength.

A win over India would assure England of the semi-finals berth and that will be their driving motive on Saturday. “Obviously, we would like to finish the job tomorrow,” said coach Lee.

Skipper Barry Middleton is in top form and has marshalled his young side superbly. Ashley Jackson is an industrious striker and a highly deceptive drag-flick specialist, and will be one to watch out for, along with James Tindall.

If there has been a weakness, it has been the unconvincing defence. And with their best defender and drag-flicker Richard Mantell out with a dislocated anjle, coach Lee must reorganise at the back. Mantell was injured in the match against Pakistan, ruling him out of the World Cup.

Said Lee, “We’ll take it one match at a time, and with Mantell out we’ll have to look at our team combination now. He was a key player and we have structured our game in the recent times around him. “Speaking about the Indian team, they have gone through reorganisation. Hopefully we’ll do well against them.”

India have worries of their own. The inexperience in the defence is hurting the team badly — midfielders Dhananjay Mahadik, Gurbaj Singh and Bharat Chikara have shown promise, but there is a long way to go before they settle in their new roles. Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh shone in the Pakistan game, but hasn’t been able to find his touch in the ensuing matches, leaving a lot on the strikeline.

The Chandigarh trio of Prabhjot Singh, Rajpal Singh and Deepak Thakur failed completely against the strong defence of Spain and Australia.

India though will be bolstered by the return of forward Shivendra Singh after a two-match ban. “I do not know how much it has affected our performance in the last two matches, but it was one of the reasons for the defeats. A bunch of 16 is any day better than 15,” said Brasa.

The Asian Age



India’s last chance to redeem some glory

Prabhjot Singh


New Delhi: Match against B pool leader England tomorrow is the last hope for the hosts India to redeem some lost glory. After serving two match suspension, Shivendra Singh will be back in the 16 while England has some injury problems with one of their ace players, Richard Mantell, being ruled out because of an injury.

While India has performed below expectations in last two of three matches they have played so far, England has impressed all with its superb display, including its sensational win over the Aussies, runners-up of last two editions of World Cup. England has not only one of the best goalkeepers on view here but also solid defence, some intelligent and aggressive forwards and an intelligent half-line that can unruffled any opponent on a given day.

India, on the other hand, has been inconsistent, with both forward line and deep defence cracking quickly under pressure. Keeping aside the India-Pakistan match, the Asian challenge in the World Cup here appears to be petering out. Last hope, South Korea, too, suffered a shock 1-2 defeat at hands of New Zealand earlier in the day today thus affecting their chances of making it to the medal round.

At the end of the day six, this tournament will be half way through with 18 of the 38 matches completed. So far if England has been the pick of the tournament so far, the Netherlands and Australia are not far behind with Germany also closing in the gap.

Besides India and Pakistan, Canada, Argentina and South Africa, too, have been big disappointments. Canada did put up a plucky fight against the Kiwis on the opening day to lose narrowly 2-3; they virtually surrendered after holding the powerful Dutch, the Netherlands, to a goalless first half. But in the second half, it rained goals and Canada did not know which way to go.

South Africa suffered a shattering 0-12 defeat at hands of Australia after a promising start to their pool B match yesterday. It can be safely inferred after completion of 18 matches that gap between the top four or five teams with the next six to seven teams has gone slightly wider. Fitness and speed could be the factors.

While England has both, the speed and the fitness, the hosts India, unfortunately are nowhere near them in both. Only a spirited game and a repeat of the opening day performance can raise some hope before a Saturday night packed audience at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. England has still to play Spain and India’s last game billed for Monday is against bottom-placed South Africa.

The Tribune



Indians look to pick themselves up

With little hope of progress, hosts play to improve ranking


JAYDEEP BASU


New Delhi: Left with very little chances of making the last four, India face England on Saturday looking to improve their ranking in the 12-nation hockey World Cup.

Although chief coach Jose Brasa has been saying for months that a fifth-place finish would be a satisfactory result, the resounding victory over traditional rivals Pakistan on the opening day raised hopes of a strong performance. Capacity crowds thronged the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium for India’s last two matches only to find the home team routed, first by Australia and then, on Thursday, by Spain.

“The results did not come as a surprise,” said veteran Aslam Sher Khan, whose superb penalty corner strike took India to the final of the 1975 World Cup.

“India had home advantage but the opposition was too strong in both the matches. Australia are the Champions Trophy winners and Spain are silver medallists at the last Olympics.

“How can one expect them to be beaten by a team that finished 11th in the last World Cup and failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics,” he asked.

Although Brasa said his team would go all out to beat England, no one expects the Indians to pull off a miracle. England are quite the in-form team of this tournament and are seriously building a squad for the 2012 Olympics that is to be hosted by London. In 2008, England had beaten India 2-0 in the crucial Olympic qualifier in Chile that saw the eight-time champions fail to qualify for the Games for the first time in 80 years.

“We have a chance against England,” said Brasa. “Our strengths are at an even level, more or less. They are a matured side but perhaps got upset against Pakistan after (Richard) Mantell was injured.”

True, India are a much better team now than what they were two years ago. Even legendary Australia coach Ric Charlesworth agrees: “India have improved a lot. Only thing they have to do now is to play more consistently at the international level.”

Many other team officials at the competition, too, feel that the Indian team’s fitness level has gone up under the new coach.

What raised eyebrows was Brasa’s decision to persist with Sandeep Singh as the drag-flicker in the Spain match.

The Spanish goalkeeper, it was evident, had already figured out Sandeep’s style of hitting during the team’s tour of Europe. Brasa, many thought, shouldn’t have allowed Sandeep to take all six penalty corners and should have opted for Dhananjay Mahadik or Diwakar Ram instead.

To add to that, man-to-man marking was absent from India’s game in the last two matches, which mistake the Englishmen are sure to capitalise on if repeated Saturday.

“There were some mistakes we made. We have to improve our defence. We have to look for other weapons to tackle the opponents as these are the best players we have. We gifted away some soft goals to Spain and that happens only in a childish match,” Brasa said.

Thus, for India, beating England in the penultimate group league match seems like too much to ask. The hosts, however, will be strengthened by the return of Shivendra Singh and one hopes it would add some bite to the Indian attack that looked rudderless in the match against Spain.

England have so far maintained an all-win record in the current championship and, at times, have even looked better than Australia.

It was no mean achievement for them to have overwhelmed the Aussies in the very first game although, against Pakistan, the English defence looked vulnerable for a brief period in the second half.

The Telegraph, India



Bruised India look to avoid hat-trick of losses

NEW DELHI: A semi-final spot virtually out of their grasp after back-to-back defeats, India brace up for another tough battle when they take on England in their next pool B match of the World Cup on Saturday.

India's dream of progressing to the last-four stage of the mega-event in front of home fans received a rude shock on Thursday when Spain demolished them 2-5 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The euphoria of the 4-1 win over Pakistan has all but settled after Australia and last night Spain gave the home team a reality check.

Even though Jose Brasa has introduced the Indians to the European style of hockey, the games against Australia and Spain has showed that India still have a long way to go when it comes to matching the European teams on the turf.

And England is no different and are probably playing their best hockey in this tournament, remaining unbeaten so far in their three matches. One of their wins came against hot favourites Australia.

In the last two matches against Australia and Spain, India were outwitted by their opponents in pace and fitness and the hosts can expect a similar challenge from the Englishmen.

Brasa has the tough task of sorting out the poor Indian defence. If the game against Australia was not a lesson, Spain brought out the demons in the backline, which made numerous silly errors to concede soft goals.

On more than one occasion, Sandeep Singh and Dhananjay Mahadik were guilty of giving away the ball to the Spaniards, two of which resulted in goals.

To add to that, man-to-man marking was absent from India's game in the last two matches, leaving rival players unmarked inside the circle. And if they continue to repeat the same mistakes, the Englishmen would capitalise rather easily.

"There were some mistakes we made. We have to improve our defence. We have to look for other weapons to tackle the opponents, as these are the best players we have. We gave away some gift goals to Spain and that happens only in a childish match," Brasa had said.

What was heartening in the game against Spain was that India created plenty of chances to score but the forward-line lacked coordination.

The experienced Deepak Thakur did very little in the first three matches to prove his worth in the side. However, in-form Shivendra Singh's return from a two-match suspension would give Brasa a few options upfront against England.

"The important thing is that we are creating chances. Deepak is not fully fit but we are asking him to play more because of Shiva's (Shivendra) absence. Shiva will return against England and that's a good thing for us. His absence has affected us," the Indian coach said.

We have a good chance to beat England as we defeated the same team during the European tour. We are more or less of the same level," Brasa said.

Another major concern for Brasa ahead of the England match is penalty-corner conversion. Inspite of having three drag-flickers in the side, the Indians only managed to convert one out of the six short corners they earned against Spain.

England, on the other hand, are a confident side with an unbeaten run so far in the tournament and are here to prove a point.

Captain Barry Middleton, Jonty Clarke, Iain Mackay, James Tindall and goalkeeper James Fair seemed in great form in the first three matches and would be aiming to carry on their impressive showing in the tournament.

However, the English side would miss the services of defender Richard Mantell dearly as he has been ruled out of the tournament after twisting his ankle against Pakistan on Thursday.

Meanwhile in other matches of Pool B, Pakistan, in a similar situation like India with one win out of three games, face a lowly South Africa in a must-win encounter if they desire to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.

However, it is the match between Australia and Spain which both India and Pakistan will be eagerly looking towards as the outcome of that encounter might eventually seal their fate in the 12th edition of the tournament.

The Times of India



Time to go for broke against England

Alok Sinha


NEW DELHI: After two bruising matches, India will have to stand up and fight again, this time against England. There is no time to lick the wounds, no place to hide in this world of marauding stick chargers.

A win over Pakistan raised the expectations of the fans, creating a buzz around the Blue Sticks. In a space of three days, everything has changed. They are not so hot anymore. But let's not forget that they lost to two of the top three teams in the world. Let's not forget that half of the team has not played competitive hockey at this level.

This a different league altogether and the Indians' lack of experience showed against Australia and Spain. Let's also not forget that India had finished 11th in Monchengladbach World Cup four years ago. At least they are in with a chance to improve upon that.

India coach Jose Brasa said so much on Thursday night. "We can still fight for the fifth position," he said. The question now is whether the team has the firepower to vindicate the coach's words by winning against England.

It's going to be a very tough battle on Saturday night.

England are on a hot streak, having won three matches in a row. They have improved a lot in the past two years and are the reigning European champions.

They play a very physical game - they run hard, are lethal in counter-attacks and are solid in defence.

Australia got a taste of it on the opening day and then Pakistan suffered. Coach Jason Lee has surely done a great job with this bunch.

Lee's main worry would be the injury to penalty corner expert Richard Mantell who was stretchered away to the hospital after breaking his leg against Pakistan. He would now rely on Ashley Jackson, who has already scored three goals, to do the trick.

India should be wary of England forwards James Tindall and Jonty Clarke who have revelled in latching on to long passes and shooting in a jiffy.

As for India, first the good news: Forward Shivendra Singh will be back in the attack. This would surely add to Brasa's options as Deepak Thakur, who is not fully fit, has struggled.

Beyond that there are too many loose ends to be tied up. The defence has looked shaky, leaving a lot of empty space around the circle and Spain punished India for the lapses on Thursday night.

Then there is the problem of getting field goals. The forwards will have to go for broke and not rely solely on getting penalty corners. It must be recalled that Australia forced 14 penalty corners against the Englishmen and yet lost 2-3.

India have so far shown that they don't give up easily. They are once again up against a stronger opponent. It's up to them to accept the challenge and make a difference.

The Times of India



Tactically speaking: India vs England

V Narayan Swamy


England are a vastly improved side from what India saw last year. Despite losing three players to injuries - Matt Daly, Simon Mantell and now his brother Richard Mantell - they possess a team that thrives on cohesion, pace and flawless execution. For India, recovery will be tough, having lost to Australia and Spain.

What India does well: The midfield, which was quite forgotten in the match against Spain, will play an important role. The return of Shivendra Singh is a big boost to the attack.

What India should do better: Get the defence organised. EVen pack it like they did against Pakistan. The forwardline has to play for goals, not penalty corners.

What England does well: Their forwardline, which is on cruise mode, relies on quick inroads, hard hits into the circle followed by deflections. Ashley Jackson as a libero can be quite a handful.

What England should do better: Their defence was shaky against Pakistan. Quick attacks unnerve them. With Richard Mantell gone, the onus is on Ben Hawes to steady the ship.

The key players: India: Arjun Halappa and Sardar Singh (midfield), Rajpal Singh (attack). England: Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton, James Tindall.

The Times of India



Only calculations gives hope to India

Two wins and India could still make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, albeit with some help from other teams in the group.

With just one win from three matches, India are certainly looking down the barrel, but wins against England and South Africa over the next three days could considerably brighten their chances.

There are several permutations and combinations under which India could make the grade, but the hosts would need a miracle of sorts for that to happen.

However, here is an equation, and a possible one, which would ensure India's passage to the next stage, that too on points basis. And it's based on the assumption that India will win both their remaining pool matches and take their points tally to 9.

Beating Spain would put England, who are on 9 points, in the semi-finals and a draw in the game between Spain (6 points) and Australia (6 points) would end the Spaniards' hopes as they will end with 7 points.

Australia's chances would end even if they were held to a draw by Pakistan (3 points). That would mean Australia would end the pool stage with 8 points.

If Pakistan draw against Australia and beat South Africa, that would take points tally to 7 only. Under these circumstances, South Africa would finish with no points.

The Times of India



Pakistan need big win over South Africa in World Cup

NEW DELHI: With their hopes of a semi-final place receding fast, Pakistan need to force a big win as they take on the weakest Pool B side South Africa in the Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday.

Like their sub-continental cousins India, Pakistan first have to win both their remaining games to keep alive their chances, which would also depend on the results of other games in the pool.

Having conceded 22 goals without earning a single point in their three games, South Africa have turned out to be the favourite whipping boys in the tournament and provide a good opportunity to Pakistan to find their bearings after the 2-5 defeat against England in an exciting but ill-tempered game Thursday.

England now top the pool with nine points, having won all their matches, followed by while Australia and Spain with six each. Pakistan, like India, are on three points but the hosts occupy the fourth slot on better goal difference.

For Pakistan, the road ahead would be anything but smooth, as what looks like a relatively easy game against the African team would be followed by the match against strong title contenders, Australia, who have been on a song after the shock defeat by England in the opener.

For Pakistan, forward Shakeel Abbasi has sparkled in the Cup, and would have to take an extra load on the morrow to ensure an emphatic victory for the four-time winners. They lost to India 1-4 in the opener before getting past Spain 2-1, and then went down to the in-form England.

With veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas a pale shadow of his old self, Pakistan have not quite delivered from set pieces, and this would be a major worrying factor for the team management.

Experienced striker Rehan Butt is another player who has done well only in patches, making the Pakistan attack line look less sharp.

Australia and Spain would meet in another big Pool B match Saturday.

After the World Cup record 12-0 win against South Africa, Australia would be looking to retain the momentum against the world number three Spain, who have almost shut the door on India's entry into the last four with a fluent 5-2 win.

The Times of India



Head to head: Pakistan versus South Africa

Pakistan versus South Africa match facts. -Courtesy FIH

World Cup Head-to-heads

- The only World Cup encounter between these sides came in 2002, when Pakistan beat SA 5-0 through goals by Atif Bashir (2), Sohail Abbas (2 PC) and Muhammad Shabbir.

- The last time these teams met was at the 2008 Olympics when Pakistan beat SA 3-1.

- At the 2006 Commonwealth Games SA avoided defeat against Pakistan by drawing 1-1.

South Africa Facts

- South Africa are the only team on Pool B still that are still to collect their first points at this World Cup.

- South Africa have conceded 22 goals in 3 matches at Delhi 2010, losing 4-2 to Spain, 6-4 to England and 12 -0 to Australia (the biggest defeat in WC history).

- South Africa are still to convert their first penalty corner (0-for-5).

- Marvin Harper is RSA’s leading goal scorer with 2 goals at Delhi at Delhi 2010.

- South Africa have lost their last 7 World Cup matches and are winless in their last 10 WC matches (2 draws, 8 defeats).

- Their last WC win came in 2002 when they beat Belgium 5-4 in the match for 13th place.

- Their biggest win in WC competition came on 7 March 2002 when they defeated Cuba 5-1.

- This is South Africa’s fourth World Cup participation, and third in a row.

- Their best result came at their first appearance in 1994 (10th).

- They have finished last and second to last in the previous two World Cups and they have also finished bottom in the 2008 Olympic Games.

- Captain and central defender Austin Smith was included in the FIH’s All-Star Team for 2009.

Pakistan Facts

- Pakistan beat Spain 2-1, to recover from their 4-1 defeat against India, only to lose 5-2 to England.

- Abdul Haseem Khan scored twice against Spain. This makes him the top goal scorer for Pakistan so far at the 2010 World Cup.

- Pakistan have converted 3 of 11 penalty corners (27%) at Delhi 2010.

- Sohail Abbas is Pakistan’s top goal scorer in WC history with 17 goals. The all-time WC record stands at 26 goals and is held by Paul Litjens (NED).

- Pakistan qualified by winning the World Cup qualifying tournament in Lille (FRA) in November 2009, beating Japan 3-1 in the final.

- Pakistan have won a record 4 World Cup titles (1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994).

- In the last 3 WC editions Pakistan have failed to reach the semi-final, finishing 5th (1998 and 2002) and 6th (2006).

- 17-year-olds Muhammad Umar Bhutta and Muhammad Rashid are the youngest players at the Delhi 2010 World Cup.

Dawn



Pakistan upbeat in spite of England loss

By our correspondent


KARACHI: Their World Cup campaign may be in tatters following defeats against India and England but Pakistan remain upbeat about their chances in the remaining Group B games.

Pakistan have just three points from three matches and seem highly unlikely to advance to the semifinals. But the Greenshirts are still focused on winning their last two games, including a tough one against Australia, to keep their hopes alive.

“It looks really difficult,” Shahid told the ‘The News’ regarding Pakistan’s chances of reaching the last-four. “But anything can happen. We want to stay in the hunt for the semifinals by winning our last two matches. If we fail (in reaching the last-four) then we would go all out to at least finish fifth in the World Cup,” he said. Pakistan take on Group B minnows South Africa on Saturday (today) before finishing their league matches with a clash against Australia.

On current form, Pakistan should beat South Africa but they will start as the underdogs against the Aussies.

“At the moment we are focussing on the match against South Africa,” he said. “We have to win it and then we will give our best to beat Australia.”

Commenting on his team’s disappointing 2-5 defeat against England on Thursday, Shahid said that his team lost the plot after coming back from two goals down to level scores 2-2. “At that time we were in a very position but our defence faltered and our goalie made too many mistakes.”

The News International



Pakistani hockey coach hoping for better show in remaining World Cup matches

Karachi: Despite losing two games, including the one against arch rivals India, out of the first three matches, the Pakistani hockey team is hopeful of winning the rest of its encounters in the ongoing Hockey World Cup in New Delhi.

Pakistan have just three points from the three games and it is unlikely that the 1994 champions would reach the semis with two more matches to be played, and the one against ‘hot favourites’ Australia.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan admitted that it would require a miracle to see his team reach the semi-finals, but expressed hope for a better show in the last two matches.

“It looks really difficult.But anything can happen. We want to stay in the hunt for the semifinals by winning our last two matches. If we fail (in reaching the last-four) then we would go all out to at least finish fifth in the World Cup,” The News quoted Khan, as saying.

Pakistan will take on minnows South Africa on Saturday (today) before the big one against Australia on March 8 (Monday).

“At the moment we are focussing on the match against South Africa. We have to win it and then we will give our best to beat Australia,” Khan added.

Commenting on the 2-5 defeat against England on Thursday, he said the team lost the plot after coming back from two goals down to level the score 2-2.

“At that time we were in a very good position but our defence faltered and our goalie made too many mistakes,” Khan said.

DNA



‘Greenshirts can’t finish among top-six’

From Abdul Mohi Shah


ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan captain Shahbaz Ahmed believes Pakistan have no chance of finishing among the top-six in the Hockey World Cup, saying when you aim low, you always get the worst.

Commenting on Pakistan’s disappointing show against England the other day, Shahbaz said he was shocked the way defence allowed opponents to penetrate and deflect the ball. “Sadly it was the management that set meek standards to begin with. At the time of departure, manager Asif Bajwa was quoted to have said that they would be playing for the sixth spot in the World Cup. If you aim low, glory hardly welcomes you. The honours and respect only awaits those who aim high and make them capable of beating the best.”

Shahbaz, who led the team to its last World Cup glory in Sydney in 1994, stressed that such irresponsible statements at the start of a mega event always leave bad impact on the players’ morale. He also sees little hope for Pakistan to finish among the top six.

“There is hardly any chance for Pakistan to finish among the top six. We have already lost two out of the three matches. We would probably win one more against South Africa. The way our team is playing I do not think we would have any chance of beating Australia. In all likelihood Pakistan would finish fourth or fifth in the pool, meaning the team would play for the last six positions.”

Shahbaz said if the team lacked mental toughness that was more due to irresponsible statements by the managements and team officials. Shahbaz said that in the match against England, there was no coordination whatsoever and the defence was set open for the English attacks. “Pakistan had recently engaged in a friendly series and the management had failed to chalk up a winning plan against them. Instead it was England who used that series as picking up the weaknesses of Pakistan team. England exploited our flaws perfectly and won the day. On the other hand, despite having goalkeeper as your head coach, it was the goalkeeping area that let you down against England.”

Shahbaz, who is now the PHF Governing Board member, predicted that the defeated Pakistan team management on its return would make lame excuses including that they had taken the opportunity to prepare for the Asian Games. “The government has given you million of rupees over the last one and half year with a promise that national team would go on to perform well in the World Cup. Eighteen months are good enough time to prepare a strong unit provided you are sincere and want to concentrate on players training. However, if the people concerned have got different interests, team preparation always gets second priority.”

The News International



Kookaburras look to continue run

Devadyuti Das


New Delhi, March 5: England are the runaway leaders of Pool B in the 12th Hockey World Cup here with three wins from as many matches so far and have almost assured themselves of a berth in the semifinals. It now becomes a race to the semis for Australia and Spain, who both have six points after three matches with two wins and a loss, with the teams from the sub-continent — India and Pakistan — now out of contention after identical 2-5 defeats on Thursday night.

The Kookaburras for now have the edge, thanks to their superior goal-difference after thrashing South Africa by a record 12-0 margin. The world number two side look to have got their act together after a scratchy start to the tournament against England.

The Aussies had 12 penalty corners and 28 shots on goal in their opening match but still went down 2-3 to the Englishmen. There has been a marked improvement in the side’s conversion rate since then as they overwhelmed hosts India 5-2 and steamrolled South Africa on Thursday.

One of their three ‘leaders’ Jamie Dwyer has shown his class throughout the tournament and his pace up front has troubled every defender. Dwyer is the joint leading goal-scorer in the tournament along with penalty-corner specialist Luke Doerner with five goals each.

Doerner was on the mark on Thursday helping Australia convert four of their six short-corner opportunities. Coach Ric Charlesworth’s knowledge of Indian conditions has also come in handy for the side.

“Charlesworth knows these conditions well and his inputs have been beneficial. I think it has helped us adapt to conditions here better,” Liam de Young said after the win over the Proteas on Thursday.

The Aussies will however face a tough challenge against Spain, who have essayed superior game in the box in spite of losing inspirational striker Santi Freixa for the entire tournament. Their short-corner specialists Pau Quemada and Xavier Ribas were almost unstoppable in the match against India and will be a handful for Australia.

The pace of their forwards led by skipper Pol Amat is also a notch above anything the Aussies have encountered so far. “We still have plenty of scope to improve. We gave lots of chances to India to score. We still have some way to go to reach our best level,” Spanish coach Dani Martin said.

Added Amat: “Every game for us is important whether we play against South Africa or Australia. We are treating each game as a final in the tournament.”

In the other match of the day, four-time champions Pakistan will look to roll over South Africa to keep their chances of a top eight finish alive. India’s arch-rivals are already out of the race for the semis and are now finding it difficult to replicate their sixth place finish in the 2006 edition.

“We still have two matches left in the tournament and theoretically have a chance of reaching the semis. We’ll look to win both of these matches,” Pakistan skipper Zeeshan Ashraf said on Thursday.

“No team has reached the semifinals from our group yet. But our first aim now is to win against South Africa,” coach Shahid Ai Khan said after the side’s 2-5 loss to England.

The Asian Age



Cracker on cards as Spain face Aussies

Narayan Swamy


NEW DELHI: Two wins apiece, now who wouldn't want the third? Both Australia and Spain will be locked in a stirring battle on Saturday as they look to bag three points from an encounter that will determine the top-rung lineup in Group B. Of the two, Spain will be desperate for victory as they wouldn't want to get down to sheer arithmetic on the final day of the league on Monday, when they take on England in an explosive match.

Going by their showing against India, where Spain were at their fluid best, Saturday's encounter should be a cracker. Led by Pol Amat, the Spaniards showed spunk and opportunism as they crushed the hosts. What stood out was their frontline, which was quick to pick holes in the defence and make good use of the space to slam in five goals.

That Spain has overcome the tardiness they showed against Pakistan was evident in the defence too. That should stand them in good stead as they take on the fleet-footed Australians.

For Australia, the going has been extremely good after their shock loss to England. The two easy wins against India and South Africa have boosted their morale but their defence showed signs of crumbling against sustained attack.

The Times of India



Much to learn from Dutch

Prabhjot Singh writes from New Delhi


The Netherlands, Malaysia and India belong to a select band of nations who have had the privilege of holding the World Cup Hockey tournament more than once. Hosting a tournament of the prestige of World Cup not only gives its ardent fraternity an extended chance to watch the top notch in action but also acts as a catalyst in promoting and encouraging a new generation to take to the sport seriously.

The Netherlands is an example. It organised the second World Cup in 1973 and won the title. Since then it has never looked back. It again won the World Cup in Lahore in 1990 and then as a host again in Utrecht in 1998. Hockey has now become a passion for the Dutch. It has perhaps the largest number of hockey playfields, all with latest version of synthetic pitches, and overwhelmingly large number of clubs and their members.

Both Malaysia and India, however, cannot emulate the Netherlands. Financial constraints may be one reason for these two Asian hockey giants to remain low in the international ranking ladder. Even the popularity of hockey has been unfortunately on the decline in both these countries.

After India organised the World Cup for the first time in 1982, it has never won a major FIH tournament. Its last major triumph has been the gold medal in truncated Moscow Olympic Games. I had a chance to cover the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht in the Netherlands. Everyday hundreds of youngsters, dressed in their playing uniform, would come not only to witness the games but also play some friendly games amongst themselves on adjoining playfields.

Further, the organisers had put up some exhibitions where latest hockey equipment was on display and sale. The organisers had also made sure that at the end of the day, these youngsters had enough to cheer about by organising music parties for them.

Also during free hours, exhibition matches featuring men-women mixed teams, seniors and special people were also organised. To be precise, they converted the World Cup into a hockey festival in an endeavour to keep everyone interested in the sport with its organisation.

However, here in India, it has been a different concept altogether. For some security concerns as well as for some other unknown reasons, organisers of the 2012 World Cup are not very keen for larger participation of both hockey enthusiasts and players in the successful conduct of the event. Except for some young trainees of the Punjab Sports Department, none of the trainees of various hockey academies could come here even if they wanted to come by buying tickets.

Tickets remained out of their grasp. On some days, the turnout at Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium renovated at a massive cost of Rs 266 crores has been in hundreds and not even a thousand. Did the public money was spent just to cater to the needs, interests or personal benefit of only a select few?

How does the Organising Committee as well as the Hockey India want to use this event as a lever to promote or revive hockey in the country? Malaysia has not done that badly as we do. They have a regular tournament - Azlan Shah- on annual basis where they invite top teams of the World.

Their position may have slightly improved but not come down drastically as is the case with India. Politics may be the reason that could be attributed for the failure of Malaysians to come up on international hockey horizons unlike both Korea and China, other two new Asian forces in world hockey.

Korea and China by organising the Olympics and other major tournaments have relegated both India and Pakistan far behind both in men and women sections. After all they have reaped benefits of hosting the major hockey events. It is time for India to draw a leaf from the books of the Netherlands, China and Korea. Otherwise, hockey will be history.

The Tribune



Defeats against Oz, Spain expose flaws in selection process

NEW DELHI: Blaming India's back-to-back defeats against Australia and Spain in the hockey World Cup on flawed selection process, former Olympians on Friday demanded ouster of non-performers from the team and a complete overhaul of the system.

India began their ongoing World Cup campaign on a positive note, outclassing Pakistan 4-1 but wore a sorry look against Australia and Spain, who thrashed them with identical 5-2 scoreline in their next two outings.

The defeats have virtually dashed India's semifinal hopes and former Olympians are not even hopeful of a top-six finish.

A member of India's 1975 World Cup winning side, Aslam Sher Khan feels the selection committee must own the responsibility of the team's shoddy performance in the last two encounters.

"After the win against Pakistan, everybody had hopes from the team. Everybody felt that the boys have developed fighting spirit but it was not. The team is the same as it was before. We should not keep high hopes from it," Aslam said.

"If we have to revive Indian hockey. We have to set up an institution for the game as it was before. There is no set up for hockey in the country and we hardly have any knowledge from where these players have come," he said.

He was also very critical of veteran striker Deepak Thakur's performance.

"I don't know why Deepak is in the World Cup squad. He is not fully fit and always keeps on hiding behind other players, fearing he may get hit," Aslam said.

Aslam's views were backed by his former team-mate of the 1975 triumphant side Ashok Kumar, who said the present defence of the national team was the weakest ever he has seen in the history of Indian hockey.

"It is very difficult to predict the performance of this side. I haven't seen such a weak Indian defence in my entire life. It is very sad to see our defenders leaving rival players free inside the circle. Our defenders can't go up and down like other teams," he said.

"I also question the selection of Deepak Thakur in the side. He is not fully fit and looks terribly out of touch. The selection committee should take up the accountability for his selection," said Ashok, son of hockey great Dhyan Chand.

"In his place we could have selected a junior player who could have made the difference. Even what is Prabhjot (Singh) doing, he is not injured," the former selection committee member said.

Ashok also lashed out at Sandeep Singh and said the defender does not deserve a place in the team.

"Sandeep is a always a very weak defender. He committed plenty of errors yesterday. Yesterday, was the moment for him to rise to the occasion but he could only convert one out of the six penalty corners," he said.

Both Ashok and Aslam feel India would struggle to finish even in the top six.

"India are three-four level below top teams like Australia, Spain who played well in totality. I would be more than happy if they finish seventh or eighth," Aslam said.

"India would finish in between ninth and 12th position," Ashok added.

The Times of India



Our defence was way too vulnerable: V Baskaran

D Ram Raj


New Delhi: To put it simply, India served the match on a platter. Our defence was vulnerable and had no direction. The defenders were slow, they failed to intercept and appeared disorganised. In fact, we gifted the first two goals. Spain played a waiting game as they knew our defenders would panic.

The visitors looked a compact outfit with all 11 players putting their best. While they played total hockey, India played well only in patches. We may have missed Shivendra Singh, but the load was too much on Rajpal as none of the other forwards played to their potential.

Spain also missed a couple of players, but their superior bench strength helped them. In a tournament of this stature, each member of the squad must be of the same standard.

Unfortunately India’s reserves were way too weak and it doesn’t augur well to have only five or six players shouldering the entire burden.

Conceding a goal just before the break was a big folly. Pol Amat was left totally unmarked. The defence was not alert and Sreejesh, too, could have kept it away. I would say that four of the five goals we conceded were stoppable.

Being a Spaniard, Jose Brasa should have provided the Indian players with quite a few tips about his countrymen’s weaknesses. Instead, it was the European side which exploited India’s weaknesses and romped home.

India’s semifinal hopes are up in smoke but I reiterate that they need to play cohesively as a unit. Each of the 11 players has to be committed and must give his best.

DNA



The curious case of injured Deepak Thakur

Satya Siddharth Rath


NEW DELHI: A former India hockey coach, soon after the India-Spain clash at the World Cup on Thursday, had an interesting take on the performance of India in general and one player in particular. He said, "You know about the other record set on the day, apart from Australia's 12-0 hammering of South Africa? It has been created by Deepak Thakur, for playing the maximum time on the field without touching the ball!"

Those who watched the India-Spain game, or the one against Australia on Tuesday (which too India lost 2-5), might be inclined to agree. Ace forward Thakur, once a key member of India's attack force, has been a pale shadow of his former self in this World Cup. One can clearly see he's struggling: struggling to run, struggling to tap, struggling to even connect the ball. Yet, he is being persisted with. Why?

"You should realise that Deepak recently underwent an important surgery to repair a torn ligament. He's still recovering, he's not yet fully fit," chief coach Jose Brasa explained. So why include him in the squad at all then? "He's an important member of this side," the Spaniard said, adding: "Yes, he's about 90 per cent fit, but he's an important member of this side. And moreover, after Shivendra Singh's suspension, we had no option but to play him the full 70 minutes."

Another wounded horse is Sandeep Singh. "His back injury hasn't healed fully. That has affected our defence, particularly against top sides like Spain and Australia. But again, we needed a good drag-flicker and he's still the best in the country today. The reality ,is that there's not much bench strength. So we are handicapped," said a selector.

The Times of India



Weighed down by baggage and pressure, India loses it way

G. Rajaraman


There is hope yet for Indian hockey. No, I am not talking about its chances of making to the semifinals of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup but of the fast that it has not run out of support from fans. The writing was on the wall midway through the match but the spectators were steadfast in their support for the Indian team.

Indeed, it was a poignant sight that will be etched in my mind for a long time. India had lost its second successive match by a 2-5 margin and yet many hundreds of its disappointed fans lingered on to cheer the team. The warm gesture after India was outplayed by Spain on Thursday night showed that the sport will find support in the country.

The stadium was packed well before India’s key contest with Spain was due to start and it was quite an experience again, hearing the crowd sing the National Anthem as one and with pride. But its throaty support to the home side was not good enough to lift the side to be competitive until it was too late.

Clearly, there were not just 15 Spaniards working overtime to stop India’s dream of finding a winning sequence. The home team took the ground with enormous baggage – for 35 years and eight editions, their predecessors had tried and fallen short of the semifinal at the FIH World Cup – and this side was expected to alter the course of Indian hockey’s destiny in one tournament. This was the match that could pitchfork India among the contestants for the semifinal berth; this was the game that would set it up for a battle with the vastly improved England; It was not going to be easy, especially since Spain has always been a tough opposition and since it has been a while since India has played opposition such as Australia and Spain in the span of 48 hours.

The pressure was simply too enormous. Shivendra Singh’s enforced absence due to a two-match ban left the team without sting. Besides, hard as the young Gurwinder Singh Chandi tried to show that he belonged in this league, India’s lack of strike power upfront came through clearly. It was not long before the domino effect was felt at the other end.

India’s most consistent Indian players – Dhanjay Mahadik and Bharat Chikara – made uncharacteristic mistakes in defence and left the team staring down the barrel of the gun at the end of the first half. The two goals that the side conceded were both defensive lapses that let Albert Sala and Pol Amat score unhindered. It was always going to be difficult for India to play catch up, even after Sandeep Singh scored four minutes into the second half. Spain answered the challenge with two goals in as many minutes and it was all over bar the shouting. Sandeep Singh scored a second time to spark some hope but Spain was in control and pumped in a fifth goal towards the end to seal victory.

For a squad that boasted of three drag-flickers, India’s penalty corner conversion rate – scoring just once from the six chances – left it bruised. Sandeep Singh found the target once and caused the crowd to find its collective voice one more time but he will be the first to admit that the Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes was more than equal to the task of denying him.

It is not as if there were no positives; there were some. The Indian side mounted a steady fightback in the second half and kept pressing for goals – even if it came up against resolute defence. The team was able to keep fighting till the end, something that we have not known many Indian hockey sides to do.

Yet, in the end there was disappointment for the vast majority of the 15,000 hopeful fans who packed the wonderful stadium and many trooped toward the exit gate when Spain scored its fifth goal with three minutes left. Yet, the sight of a few hundreds staying back to cheer the Indian team was heartwarming. There is hope yet for Indian hockey.

Copyright: Stick2Hockey.com



Stuck in the rut, sub-continental style of hockey

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: The pondering over whether the sub-continental style of hockey has any relevance in the modern era resurfaced as both India and Pakistan were left clutching to straws after the third set of Pool ‘B’ matches of the omngoing FIH Hero Honda World Cup here.

Their identical 2-5 losses to Spain and England on Thursday have stubbed out any notions of flair leading to more goals, the new rule of ‘self passes’ on fouls only making the game faster and the inevitable ‘play catch’ scenario now on the front of goal-scoring too.

India and Pakistan have just one win from three matches each in a pool led surprisingly by England with Australia also staking their claims with a 12-0 annihilation of South Africa.

Both teams have one difficult match still to go apart from their matches against South Africa. India play England on Saturday, while Pakistan’s last match is against world number two Australia on Monday.

Though India’s Spaniard coach Jose Brasa is already reconciled to having lost the race for a last-four spot, former captain and drag flick specialist Sandeep Singh has not ruled his team out yet. “We are technically still in the tournament as there are two matches to go and a lot many possibilities. We will go out and do our best,” said Sandeep, whose reputed drag-flicks failed to pull India out of a mess against Spain.

Former Pakistan captain Akhtar Rasool is amongst the most disappointed ones seeing the results for India and Pakistan.

“I feel so helpless seeing the matches from the stands. I was better off playing than watching these matches,” quipped Rasool, who had led Pakistan to one of their four World Cup triumphs at the 1982 edition in Mumbai.

“I don’t think the style of play is responsible for our decline. In fact, we can use our traditional style better because if five forwards can’t get you enough goals, how can three of them do so?” was his contention in support of the traditional 5-3-2 formation, even as these teams try to embrace other forms.

Rasool, who was also a member of the successful team of the 1978 edition, was in favour of more India-Pakistan matches despite the fact that their competition is actually against European and Australian teams.

“The matter is not style of play, but the quality of play. Was Shahbaz Ahmed (Senior) not a hero in World Cups despite his propensity for exaggerated stick-work?” contended Rasool, who had retired after the 1982 World Cup and even went on to head the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) during the 1990s.

Rasool has another suggestion. “I would maintain that India and Pakistan should play each other more to prepare against European countries because it is also a matter of taking on class players and about matching opponents physically (strength and stamina),” added the famed centre-half of the 1970s.

DNA



India too moulded in old style to learn power play

NEW DELHI: That sinking feeling is all too familiar and it speaks for the depths Indian hockey has descended to over the past two decades. Now that India is all but out of contention for the semi-final at the ongoing Hockey World Cup, perhaps the hosts would be better off introspecting.

Mathematically, India's chances hinge on the results of matches involving the top three teams in the pool. At the same time, India would have to win their remaining two outings, against England (Saturday) and South Africa (Monday) to remain in contention.

One has witnessed far too many downs than ups involving the Indian team since they won their last big prize, the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics, to harbour any realistic hopes of the boys making the last four. It appears likely that two of the three - Australia, Spain and England - would eventually qualify for the medal rounds from this pool.

For Asian hockey, it has been another body blow with Pakistan all set to join India on the sidelines. While there is not much separating the two neighbours in terms of level of play and ability, it is obvious that their style of play has little relevance to modern hockey that is based on pace, power and tactics rather than just individual flair.

There was a lot of similarity in Wednesday's matches involving the two teams who went down by the same scoreline of 2-5. Coincidence it might have been, but the margin also reflected the increasing gap between the sub-continental teams and their European counterparts. Indeed, the one-time Kings of Hockey have now become the subjects.

For India, the warning flags are up and fluttering. There were definite signs of the players falling into a rut in the game with Spain, against whom patience and a slower pace would have fetched India better rewards. Loose marking in the deep defence, poor mobility in the midfield and unforgiveable errors at the finish were much in evidence. In the event, the odd moment of spark and sparkle that the Indians displayed did not impact the flow of the game.

With two defeats in three matches, coach Jose Brasa must be a disillusioned man. It is one thing to have pretty theories but quite another to have players capable of understanding and executing these on the pitch.

Coach Cedric D'Souza had similar problems during his stint in the 1990s. Like Balkishen Singh before him, D'Souza introduced a four-man midfield backed by three defenders, including a sweeper-back, leaving three in the attack that would be joined by the overlapping "linkmen". It worked in the 1994 World Cup, but two years later at the Atlanta Olympics, it fell apart as some of the key players found the plans beyond their comprehension and even ridiculed them!

In the 1970s, double Olympian (1956, 1960) R.S. Bhola, among the first of the theoreticians in Indian hockey, wanted the players to adopt modern techniques and strategies. But he was pooh-poohed as a "black board expert" and his thoughts were summarily dismissed, especially after the disastrous 1976 Games campaign when he was the manager.

Brasa must have realised the futility of his efforts to educate players on the nuances of modern hockey. Their habits are set and the style of play is far too deeply embedded to even adopt a fundamental skill like ball rotation, much less thinking on their feet when plans go wrong. Perhaps, he or anyone else would be better off coaching sub-juniors on a long-term basis as young minds can be easily moulded.

At the moment, there is no option but to hope the team does well in the coming games if only to make the fans believe that all is not lost yet for Indian hockey.

The Times of India



Asian teams facing dead end

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi: The domination of Asia in World Cup hockey is a thing of the past. And that’s not a very recent development either because barring South Korea, no other Asian nation could make the semi-finals in the last two editions.

The situation could get worse this time, in the Hero Honda World Cup. With South Korea going down to New Zealand 1-2 in pool A on Friday, the chances of an Asian team entering the penultimate round looks bleak.

In pool B, four-time champions Pakistan and hosts India are placed behind England, Australia and Spain and need lots of luck to qualify for the next stage.

At the end of Round III, in pool A, the Netherlands with nine points are almost certain to enter the semi-finals. Germany are placed second with seven followed by New Zealand on six and the Koreans on four. Argentina and Canada are yet to log any points.

Germany have two tough matches in hand. While they play the mighty Dutch on Sunday, their last match is against New Zealand, who, too, are now in contention for a last-four berth. The Black Caps, however, can hope to log full points against Argentina in their next match.

In pool B, three teams — England, Australia and Spain — are likely to fight it out for the two spots. England are best-placed with nine points and a win against India on Saturday would surely clear their path to the semis.

Spain are back in the fray after the win against India but their next two matches are against Australia on Saturday and England on Monday. Given their current form, not many expect the Spanish to pip the Aussies to a semi-final place.

As far as India are concerned, they have to win their next two matches by a good margin and pray for the other teams to falter in the final two rounds. The same goes for Pakistan.

The Telegraph, India



Hockey team's commitment pleases Gill

NEW DELHI: The Indian hockey team maybe virtually out of the semifinal contention in the ongoing World Cup but Sports Minister MS Gill is happy with the commitment of the players.

"I saw their matches and we played really well in the first match against Pakistan. We did not win the next two matches but I think win and loss are part and parcel of any game and they showed a lot of commitment," Gill told reporters after releasing his book "Himalayan Wonderland" on Friday.

"This team has the talent and probably they need improvement. But I'm not disappointed at all. I'm rather content with their commitment. The boys gave their best and you cannot expect more," Gill said.

The minister was also happy with the way local crowd have behaved in the World Cup so far.

"I'm really happy to see the way entire crowd in the National Stadium stood to honour the Pakistani national anthem. Even the players showed a lot of sportsman spirit and played a game which was clean and fair.

"After the match, some of the retired Pakistani players had no qualms admitting the Indians played better than them in that match. Both sides showed sportsman spirit and this is how it should be," Gill said.

After the fairytale 4-1 win over Pakistan, India crashed to a morale-shattering 2-5 defeat against Australia before slumping to their second successive loss against Spain last night.

"Australia simply took us by surprise and just didn't allow to settle down. I think in the last 10-14 minutes of the first half, the Indian players put a lot of pressure on the Australians even though it was not enough," Gill said.

Gill said the successful hosting of the ongoing World Cup and the Commonwealth Shooting Championship have allayed all fears about the timely completion of the venues which would be used for the Commonwealth Games in October.

"Since last year, I have been assuring all that stadia would be ready well in time and now you have it there. The Australians admitted the shooting range in Tughlakabad is the best in the world and (International Hockey Federation president Leandro) Negre calls National Stadium the best hockey stadium in the world," Gill said.

The Times of India



Indian hockey players get cement firm's sponsorship

MUMBAI: Shree Cement has signed a sponsorship deal with the Indian hockey team members whose sticks would carry the company's logo during the ongoing World Cup in Delhi.

Shree Cement Managing Director H M Bangur said through a media release that they were doing it to motivate the players to perform better on the field as well as for the love of the game.

"As a part of our belief to give back to the society, we offered this sponsorship which we think would further motivate the players perform better on field. We are doing this for the love of the game and also for our pride as hockey is our national game," said Bangur.

Shree Cement had offered financial support to the Indian players during the stand-off that took place between them and Hockey India in the run-up to the mega-event before the issue got sorted out.

The Times of India



Richard Mantell returns from India to face surgery alongside his brother, Simon

Cathy Harris Delhi


Richard Mantell, England’s talismanic defender and penalty corner specialist, will fly home early on Saturday morning after being ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle.

Hours after the 28-year-old Reading defender touches down, the national team meet India in a game they must win to reach the semi-finals.

In an unhappy coincidence, Mantell will undergo surgery on Monday to pin his fibula at the same London hospital, on the same day, as his younger brother Simon, 25, who flew home from Delhi after breaking a bone in his foot in a warm-up match and also requires surgery.

“It’ll be good to have him around and weird that we’ll both be hobbling around on crutches,” Richard said. “I’m gutted to be missing out on the tournament, especially as we’re in such a strong position and have been playing so well. But it was an accident and just one of those things.”

Mantell remembers vividly the sickening moment when he collided with Irfan, the Pakistan forward, who was diving forward to deflect the ball at a 48th-minute penalty corner. “I felt my leg click and when I saw what a horrendous angle it was, tried to grab it and pull it back,” he said.

“I was screaming at Glen Kirkham to get the doctor on and when he partially put it back it was a slight relief. But after coming off and being given oxygen and morphine, doctors put it back fully and that was excruciating — there was a bit of screaming and swearing then!”

Irfan was among seven Pakistan players who visited Mantell in his hotel room on Friday morning as he rested with his leg in plaster.

Mantell expects to miss the rest of the season but said the injury was not career threatening. Unfortunately, he knows all about the long process of rehabilitation having come through cruciate ligament reconstruction on both knees.

Jonty Clarke, Mantell’s Reading team-mate who scored two brilliant goals in England’s thumping 5-2 win over Pakistan, said although all the players had been very distressed at the injury scene it was time to put it behind them and focus on the India match.

“The Indian crowd have been very much behind us until now but it won’t be like that on Saturday,” he said. “It’s going to be an atmosphere none of us has ever played in and very daunting.”

On a positive note, Iain Mackay will face no further action regarding his temporary suspension during the game and will play against the hosts.

New Zealand kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the last four with a shock 2-0 win against Korea in Pool A, while Germany survived a late fightback by Argentina, winning 4-3. The Netherlands top the group with a 100 per cent record beating Canada 6-0 after a scoreless first half.

The Times



Indian-origin Canadian Ranjeev Deol ruled out of World Cup

NEW DELHI: Canada's Indian-origin player Ranjeev Deol will miss his side's remaining matches in the ongoing hockey World Cup due to a finger injury during practice.

Captain Ken Pereira said forward Ranjeev, who did not play in Canada's 0-6 loss to the Netherlands today, sustained a finger injury during practice on Thursday.

"It is unfortunate that Deol suffered a finger injury yesterday during practice and he will not take further part in the tournament," Pereira, himself an Indian-origin player, said after the match.

"He will need surgery and will be out of action for more than a month," he added.

Ranjeev, who was born in Canada, was also in the Canadian squad for the 2009 Beijing Olympics.

His father Surjit Singh Deol, originally from Ludhiana, played for Kenya after shifting to that country in three Olympics (1956-64).

It was the first instance of father and son figuring in Olympics for two different countries.

The Times of India



Holland-Germany match little bit like Indo-Pak: Nooijer


NEW DELHI: With three wins out of as many matches, his side is in a comfortable position in the hockey World Cup, and the Netherlands captain Teun de Nooijer said they are now eagerly waiting to play traditional rivals Germany in their next match.

Nooijer said for hockey fans of both the countries the clash between the Dutch and the German was equal to that of an Indo-Pak encounter.

"We know Germany very well. We know what they are capable of. The match between Holland and Germany is little bit like an India-Pakistan match," the Dutch skipper said after beating Canada 6-0 in a Pool A match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

"We are happy with the win. It gives us a lot of confidence. We just want to improve in every match. Our focus is now on Germany but the game will be tough," he added.

Nooijer said the Dutch would come well prepared against Germany on Sunday.

"We will need rest tomorrow ahead of the Germany match. We will watch their videos tomorrow and then make our strategy," Nooijer said.

Veteran Dutch goalkeeper Guus Vogels, who is playing his last World Cup, backed his skipper's view.

"We will do our homework first. We will analyse Germany and want to improve our game against them," he said.

"We have improved with every math but we are not quite there. I am looking forward to play against Germany," Vogels added.

The Netherlands coach Michel van den Heuvel also said that his boys' focus now would be on their remaining pool matches against Germany and Korea.

"We are very happy with the nine points we have. What is heartening is that we have conceded only one goal so far in the tournament.

"We are trying to get better in every match. The match against Germany would be interesting," Heuvel said.

He also agreed with his players that the Netherlands-Germany encounter was more or less similar to India-Pakistan match but said there was vast difference in the style of play of the teams.

"India and Pakistan play more open game, whereas the matches between Holland and Germany are more tactical," Huevel analysed.

The Times of India



Taeke-tonic: Practice makes one perfect

Satya Siddharth Rath


NEW DELHI: It's a Dutch invention, and Taeke Taekema is only carrying forward the legacy. The drag-flick has many exponents but no one seems to have perfected the art like the Dutch.

Of course, there's Pakistan's Sohail Abbas, and to some extent, our own Sandeep Singh, but Taekema is a class apart.

The 30-year-old, who opened the Netherlands' Hero Honda World Cup campaign with a hat-trick against Argentina on Monday. And the way he has begun, this could well turn out to be his World Cup. "It's too early to say that," he says. "Yes, my goal is to win the World Cup for my country."

The topic veers on to drag-flick and his take is, "Practice, practice, years of practice... It's not easy, let me tell you. There are a lot of factors involved rhythm, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, and more importantly, timing.

It's like a three-part symphony. You have to start moving, position yourself and target your spot before the ball is stopped. And you have just about a second for that. It requires a great level of practice to perfect it, and I still feel I am not perfect yet."

The Times of India



Furste living his father's dream

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: Hockey has a great family tradition - full of stories of the Kellers, the Amats and the Tirkeys - but amid the celebration of the sport's lineage is a poignant tale.

Moritz Furste, a star in the German team, picked up the stick because of his father Peter, who isn't around today to see his son excel. A shipping tragedy claimed his life and of all other 855 on board as the Estonia sank while making a trip from Tallin to Stockholm 15 years ago.

Furste went on to play for the same club his father did - HC Uhlenhorster in Hamburg, which won the first European Hockey League (EHL) in 2007-08 with Furste emerging as the player of the tournament. The midfielder is a seasoned member of the German team and strode the rostrum at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Germany beat Spain 1-0 in the final to win their third Olympic gold medal.

"I don't talk about it too much, but yes, during such moments when you win a big tournament, you remember your family - I remembered my mother, brother and of course, my father at Beijing," he said.

Furste is delighted that his mum Nicola and girlfriend's mom Karin are in New Delhi to watch him play in a tough and demanding tournament.

The tall midfielder takes on a huge workload, brandishes a drag-flick and is generally the buzz of a very compact German team taking in their stride the non-availability of Christopher Zeller and his brother Phillip - another family connection - as Germany attempt a hat-trick of World Cup titles.

The Zellers have skipped the event to concentrate on academics and Moritz himself is doing a juggling act with studies in Media Management.

The Times of India



Avtar in love with the land of his roots

Y.B. Sarangi


— Photo: BY Special Arrangement

Avtar Singh.


NEW DELHI: Having played four Olympics, Avtar Singh is a legendary figure in Kenyan hockey. However, his heart bleeds when he talks about the present state of the sport in India — the land of his roots.

Though he has lived all his life in Kenya, following his parents' migration to the African country in search of jobs, Avtar has some very good friends among the greats of Indian hockey. Ask him about the golden age when India used to rule the roost, he will speak on the topic with amazing enthusiasm.

“We (India) used to have strong teams then. Our players were very strong, they played the game out of passion and not for money. They used to train a lot on their own. They were super fit and skilful,” Avtar, whose passion for the sport and love for India has brought him to watch the hockey World Cup here, tells The Hindu in an interview.

“Prithipal used to wield a stick weighing 28 ounces,” he cites an example and asks, “Can you think of any player doing that? “It is not the same any more.”

Avtar, who represented Kenya in the 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics and coached the team in the 1984 Games, thinks the present Indian team lacks in strength.

“We are physically weaker than teams like Australia, New Zealand or any European team. But technically they cannot beat us,” the 70-year-old said.

Tips

Avtar gives a few more tips for the revival of Indian hockey.

“We have a lot of potential and there is no dearth of sponsorship. But we need to manage the sport properly, there should be a proper structure. We should organise more leagues.

“Like olden days, there should be three or four teams of equal standard.

“The former players can come together and help attain these objectives,” the man with the experience of 167 international matches said.

He talks about the heyday of Kenyan hockey with equal pride.

“Those days the National team was packed with Asians. First time Kenya played the Olympics in 1956 after qualifying as the African champion. In the inaugural World Cup in 1971, we finished fourth after losing to India.

“Later, the second generation players migrated to England and Canada and Africans came into the team. However, with time we lost our strength. Now, there is no proper management and no sponsorship to back the sport,” said Avtar, a former full-back and a penalty corner specialist.

Avtar was so famous for his penalty corner conversions that there used to be a popular saying in Kenya “When Avtar takes a PC, then it flies to Machakos (a place about 40km from Nairobi). That was his popularity,” said Dil Bahra, the man who has done extensive research on Sikh Olympian hockey players.

With that kind of passion and attachment to the sport, it was only natural that Avtar got married on a hockey tour.

“My wife is from India. In 1969, we were travelling around India for some preparatory games. The proposal came up all of a sudden and I got married,” Avtar fondly remembers.

He is still in touch with his old friends and prominent hockey stars of the Indian team such as Balbir Singh (Sr.), Balbir Singh, Harcharan Singh, Ajitpal Singh, Pargat Singh, Haripal Kaushik and Harbinder Singh.

The Hindu



Brahmst's angst against India is a thing of the past

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: Alan Brahmst is as tough as they come. And as dedicated. He has come to India for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup with every intention to take Canada to the upper echelons of the world game. But India holds a special tryst for the 44-year-old former World Cupper and Olympian whose international career spanned 14 years up until the Sydney Olympics.

Brahmst was understandably an aggrieved Canadian player, hurt and angry after being shunted out of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when India and Malaysia allegedly fixed a match in the qualifiers in Madrid.

The goalless draw did Canada in but lack of evidence failed to brook appropriate action against both India and Malaysia.

When the teams met at the 1998 Utrecht World Cup, it is believed that the Canadians swore revenge and India found themselves at the receiving end of a 1-4 scoreline.

Brahmst played a central role in the victory but earned himself a post-match expulsion for going up to the Indian bench and making an obscene gesture proclaiming the crushing win was revenge for Madrid. It resulted in a near free-for-all before things calmed down.

Brahmst's suspension hit Canada hard in the next few matches as the North Americans crashed to eighth after drawing with Germany 4-4 in their opener and running India ragged.

"It is all water under the bridge now, what happened is a thing of the past. India and Canada are very good friends and we want to build on the relationship," Brahmst said. "India were in Canada for a test series last year and we helped each other other a lot," he added. "I am very happy being in India," he said.

The Times of India



Two Code success

BY TERRY MADDAFORD In New Delhi


It comes as little surprise that countries regarded among the best soccer-playing nations in the world have also made their mark in hockey.

There are obvious similarities between the two codes with hockey, especially in recent times, making robust changes in an attempt to keep pace with the world’s most popular sport. The scrapping of the offside rule the most innovative as the FIH strove for a more expansive, free-flowing spectacle.

Overall, Germany stands out clearly as the best country in the two sports.

They have won the World Cup three times (1954, 1974 and 1990). They have also been runner-up four times, third three times and fourth once.

At the Hockey World Cup, a tournament first played in 1971 and 10 times since, the Germans, and as West Germany prior to 1990, have won twice (in 2002 and 2006), been runner-up twice, third four times and never further back than fifth.

The Germans are the only country to have won both World Cups. Others have come close.

England won their only World Cup in 1966 and almost completed the double 20 years later when their hockey team were beaten 2-1 by Australia in the final.

The Dutch twice, in 1974 and 1978, were beaten World Cup finalists. In 1978 their hockey team were also were beaten finalists losing 3-2 to Pakistan.

The Netherlands are three-time Hockey World Cup champions -- in 1973, 1990 and 1998.

Spain and Argentina have also made their mark in both codes.

Argentina, World Cup winners in 1978 and 1986 (and runners-up in 1930 and 1990) have twice finished in the top six at the Hockey World Cup.

Spain, currently the top-ranked team on the latest Fifa list, have only a fourth placing (in 1950), to show for their efforts on the football field, but they have twice, in 1971 and 1998 been beaten by the odd goal at the Hockey World Cup. They have also finished third -- four years ago.

Spain and England are the only two teams to reach a final and not win.

Venues for the Hockey World Cup have been well spread but with India, following the Netherlands and Malaysia, just the third country to host the tournament.

The 1982 Cup in Bombay was the last played on grass.

In 1990 60,000 fans packed the stadium in Lahore to watch the Dutch beat hosts Pakistan 3-1.

Pakistan have won the trophy a record four times but not since their 1994 triumph (their last appearance in a final) when they finished 1-1 with the Netherlands before winning 4-3 on penalty strokes.

New Zealand’s only claim to fame is one they would prefer to forget. In 1982, in Mumbai, they were beaten 12-3 by Pakistan in pool play -- the only time 15 goals have been scored in a match at this level.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Cop 'caught' selling hockey WC tickets illegally

NEW DELHI: A sting operation carried out by a news channel at the hockey World Cup venue on Friday purportedly showed a policeman on camera selling tickets in the black market, prompting police to initiate an inquiry into it.

The channel showed a policeman identified as Rohtash posted outside Major Dhyan Chand Stadium allegedly selling tickets -- Rs 500 tickets for Rs 1,000 and Rs 100 tickets for Rs 500.

The incident was captured minutes before the scheduled match between India and Spain on Thursday. The footage shows the policeman taking people inside the stadium without any checks so that he could sell them the tickets, the channel claimed.

"Rohtash sold tickets Rs 500 ticket for Rs 1000 and Rs 100 tickets for Rs 500. What was even more shocking was that other policemen did not seem at all bothered by their colleague's actions," it claimed.

A senior police official said they have asked the channel to submit the video footage. "We are inquiring into it. If there is some substance in it, we will take action," the official said.

The Times of India



Sting operation at stadium: Delhi police chief promises action


A day after a sting operation purportedly showed a security lapse at the World Cup Hockey stadium here, Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal on Saturday said appropriate action will be taken after a probe.

A news channel had purportedly showed a policeman identified as Rohtash posted outside Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium allegedly selling tickets -- Rs 500 tickets for Rs 1,000 and Rs 100 tickets for Rs 500 and help taking people inside the stadium without any checks.

"We got the copy of video footage. We will examine it. We will take appropriate action if there is anything," Dadwal told reporters here.

He said the security for the World Cup Hockey has been foolproof. The sting was captured minutes before the scheduled match between India and Spain on Thursday. The footage shows the policeman taking people inside the stadium without any checks so that he could sell them the tickets, the channel claimed.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said, "Resale of World Cup hockey tickets is not an offence like the resale of cinema tickets for which there is a specific Act under which action can be taken."

He said the police has called for the video footage from the channel. "We also have the CCTV footage of the area. We will examine if there is any misconduct by any police personnel".

Indian Express



New Zealanders join hockey security criticism

The parents of a New Zealand player at the hockey World Cup have joined a chorus of criticism aimed at suffocating security employed for the tournament in New Delhi.

A report in The Times newspaper today described ticketing arrangements for the tournament as "shambolic" and the security as "intimidating" and questioned whether the experience of supporters here would put off those planning to attend the Commonwealth Games in the same city in October.

"Once the frustrated fans have finally got their hands on tickets, there is the minefield of security to negotiate as Delhi uses the World Cup to test counter-terrorism measures before the Commonwealth Games," the newspaper said.

It said the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium had been turned into a fortress, with 19,000 police officers in evidence on all the streets within a 3km radius of the stadium. Armed guards, snipers, sniffer dogs and commandos patrol the area while armed officers escort blacked-out team buses moving to and from the stadium.

The parents of Black Sticks international Ben Collier said they wished they had stayed at home and watched their son's matches on television.

"My wife and I thought we'd sorted all our tickets out before we flew here only to find it wasn't the case at all," Cam Collier told the newspaper.

"We had to go through all sorts of accreditation and form-filling and were told to walk to four different places some distances apart to buy them. Getting tickets has been a nightmare.

"We had to sit in the sun without food or drinks and I couldn't even take pictures of my son because no cameras are allowed."

Delhi Police have promised "foolproof" security for the two-week tournament in the wake of the bomb blast in Pune last month that killed eight and threats from terrorist network al-Qaeda.

Rigorous stop-and-search security checks are conducted for everyone entering the stadium, The Times reported, and Delhi Police have taken out advertisements in local newspapers listing 39 banned items.

These include obvious objects such as fireworks, knives and laser lights but also items such as food, bottles, drinks, cameras, pens and coins, which are promptly confiscated.

Stuff



After initial wobble, turf starts to even out

Age Correspondent


New Delhi, March 5: The newly-laid Poligras turf at the revamped Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium copped severe criticism during the initial phases of the 12th Hockey World Cup. The major grouse of the players and coaches has been the fact that the ball bobbled around, making it difficult for the players to trap the ball.

Although Australia thrashed India by a comfortable 5-2 margin on Tuesday, coach Ric Charlesworth was disappointed with the pitch. “The pitch was very slow here and we missed a lot of chances to score since the ball bobbles here too much. The players found it very difficult because of the pitch,” Charlesworth had said.

But with every match the surface is showing signs of improvement as the Kookaburras ran riot on Thursday, thrashing South Africa by a record-margin of 12-0. The Aussies managed to convert four of the six penalty-corner opportunities they had in the match after converting just two from 15 opportunities before that match.

“The pitch is starting to play much better and the teams are also starting to adapt to the conditions. We are meticulous in our training for the short-corners, practising four times a week and at least 40 drag-flicks every time. The hard work is showing,” Luke Doerner, who scored four goals from penalty corners against South Africa, told this newspaper.

One of the world’s best drag-flickers, Taeke Taekema from the Netherlands, who also scored the tournament’s first hat-trick said, “The turf is a bit bumpy and it gets difficult for the players to hold the ball and hit during penalty-corners. But such things are not unusual in big tournaments, the turf will get smoother as the tournament progresses.”

England’s star drag-flicker Ashley Jackson isn’t perturbed by the pitch. “The turf is a bit bumpy but it is nothing unusual. We cannot use that as an excuse.”

“Every team will get used to the conditions and then you will see more goals. We have nothing to complain about because we trained on worse pitches before coming down here for the World Cup,” Jackson said.

The revamped venue was inaugurated just a month before the Hockey World Cup and the organisers didn’t get enough time to organise practice matches to ease out the surface.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan feels the turf is bumpier when it is dry. “There is no doubt that the ball bobbles a lot on this surface and every team is having trouble with it. When there is less water on the surface, the ball bounces more. It gets quite rough towards the end of the two halves,” Khan said.

The Asian Age



Mike Hooper happy with hockey World Cup security

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive Mike Hooper is satisfied with the security arrangements for the ongoing hockey World Cup and hopes this and other upcoming events will help in the formation of future plans.

“The security we have here is very good and the kind we would ideally want during the Commonwealth Games in October,” Hooper said on the sidelines of the hockey championship here.

“We also have the upcoming Commonwealth championships in boxing and archery, which should help us study the situation. The reports that we get after these meets will give us a good idea of what to expect,” added Hooper, who was elated to see New Zealand overcome the Koreans in a Pool A match.

The Kiwi official said athletes were being briefed about the situation here and their statements should not be taken seriously, as of now.

DNA



Ireland win Celtic Cup opener

IRELAND 3-2 FRANCE


The game started on waterlogged pitch resulting in the farcical concession of a goal after twenty seconds of play when French forward Charlotte Boyer scored.

Sixty seconds later sense prevailed when the Tournament Director suspended play just ninty seconds into the game.

Play recommenced 1 hour later with Ireland equalising after five minutes from their first short corner courtesy of a drag flick from Michelle Harvey.

Some sloppy play in the Ireland defence resulted in a French penalty corner from which Philipine Berly scored to put France 2-1 up.

Louisa Healy was the busier of the two keepers and made some fine saves.

Ireland lost defender Audrey O Flynn with a hand injury in this period and was to play no further part in the game.

Two minutes before half time, from Ireland's second corner, Michelle Harvey's strike was deflected high into the net from Rachel Mulligan's stick to send the teams in level at half time.

From the restart Ireland found their rhythm, forcing three corners and Harvey was again on target with a low drag flick to put Ireland 3-2 up and in control.

Mid way through the half Ireland conceded three corners in sucession but defended them well and went on to win a hard fought but well deserved victory.

There are some injury concerns for Muller with Captain Eimear Cregan (ankle), O Flynn (hand) and Small (Hamstring) all on the treatment table.

Irish Coach commented afterwards "It was a nighmare start to the match for us but the players handled it very well. They showed good maturity to stick to the take in advertisty. We clawed our way to a win in a difficult game."

Ireland play Scotland on Sunday at 10am (Irish Tme)

Squad: Louisa Healy (Loreto); Roisin Flinn (Old Alex); Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins); Eimear Cregan (Catholic Institute); Emma Clarke (Leicester); Emma Stewart (Armagh); Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney); Shirley McCay (Dragons); Audrey O'Flynn (UCC); Alex Speers (Dragons); Rachel Mulligan (Armagh); Nikki Symmons (Loreto); Emma Smyth (Railway Union); Lizzie Colvin (Loreto); Lisa Jacob (UCD); Michelle Harvey (Pegasus) Did not play Mary Goode (Bray) Niamh Small (Loreto)

Irish Hockey Association media release



Blair beaver wins it for Dames

Nigel Simon


National women’s team player Blair Wynn registered her first hat-trick of the season as promoted Notre Dame outclassed Defence Force in the T&T Hockey Board Women’s Championship Division at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua on Sunday.

The speedy Wynn, back home after spending four years at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania where she attained a Bachelors Degree in Sports Administration with a minor in Coaching and Masters in Liberal Arts fired in her first goal in the tenth minute. She added another in the 17th minute for a 2-0 half-time cushion.

Fellow national player Charlene Williams reduced the deficit for the “Teteron Women” in the 41st minute only for Wynn to complete her hat-trick three minutes later and extend the Dames’ advantage to 3-1. Wynn made it 4-1 in the 54th minute to complete her beaver-trick while Williams added another for a 4-2 scoreline in the 65th minute only for Dana De Gannes to chip in with a fifth item for the Dames to complete a 5-1 victory.

Trinidad Guardian