News for 13 March 2010

All the news for Saturday 13 March 2010
Hero Honda World Cup

Day 13 - Friday - 9 - 10 Classification 12-03-2010 15:35 New Zealand 4 (5/6): 4 (4/6) (PSC)
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South Africa
Day 13 - Friday - 7 - 8 Classification 12-03-2010 18:05 Argentina 4 : 2 India
Day 13 - Friday - 5 - 6 Classification 12-03-2010 20:35 Korea 0 : 2 Spain

Final Positions

1. Australia or Germany
2. Australia or Germany
3. England or Netherlands
4. England or Netherlands
5. Spain
6. Korea

7. Argentina
8. India

9. New Zealand
10. South Africa

11. Canada
12. Pakistan



Spain, Argentina and New Zealand win classification matches


At the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 in Delhi, Spain took 5th place over Korea with two Paul Amat goals, Argentina overpowered India for 7th place with three goals in four minutes and New Zealand took the best over South Africa at the end of a nail biting penalty-stroke competition.

Game 34 – 9th-10th – New Zealand v. South Africa: 4-4 – penalty-strokes: 5-4 (half-time: 0-1 – full-time: 4-4)

The match for 9th place started well for the African Champions, Justin REID-ROSS scoring a penalty-corner in the 4th minute to grab an early lead. Both teams were playing high paced hockey despite the blaring afternoon sun. South Africa had the biggest share of play but were well contained by the Kiwis and could not progress close enough to the circle. New Zealand were more opportunistic and earned a penalty-corner on a rare incursion in the circle but could not capitalize.

After a green card to Lloyd NORRIS-JONES, momentum shifted, the Kiwis monopolized the ball and pushed South Africa on their heels for a long period of time but without creating much danger for Erasmus PIETERSE in goal. The best chance was for Shea MCALEESE shooting from close range but the South African keeper protected his goal with a spectacular save. Ryan ARCHIBALD and Blair HILTON, alone in the middle of circle, were at the reception of a free hit shot hard in the circle by Steven EDWARDS but they both missed the ball.

New Zealand finally equalized early in second period by Hugo INGLIS, perfectly set-up by Ryan ARCHIBALD, and took the lead less than a minute later on a penalty-corner by Andrew HAYWARD. The game suddenly opened up and Lloyd NORRIS-JONES tied the game for South Africa in the 45th minute after an acceleration that left stranded a couple of Kiwis and a shot from the top of the circle that left no chance to Kyle PONTIFEX in goal. However, nearly on the next play, New Zealand regained the lead with another Andrew HAYWARD’s penalty-corner... only to see Taine PATON level the game again with a reverse shot that surprised PONTIFEX. Five goals in less than ten minutes!

Thomas HAMMOND put South Africa back on top with an opportunistic follow-up on a ball bouncing in the circle that the defenders could not control. The Kiwis had to play short after a green card in the final ten minutes, lost some momentum and barely avoided another goal, but Andrew HAYWARD scored his third penalty-corner of the match with no time left on regulation time to push the game in overtime!

From there, it was anybody’s game and, with fatigue kicking in, both teams played cautiously for a while before creating more chances in the second period of overtime. Once again South Africa conceded a penalty-corner in the final seconds but Andrew HAYWARD could not convert this time and the fate of the game had to be decided by a penalty-stroke shootout, where New Zealand prevailed 5-4 after two saves by Kyle PONTIFEX.

New Zealand finished 9th but have been struggling since they lost their skipper Phillip BURROWS on injury after their second game in this World Cup. South Africa finished 10th; they have been playing well since their drubbing at the hands of Australia earlier in the competition and certainly finished on an ascending note, with victories over Pakistan, a draw with India and this close loss to New Zealand.

Match Facts (New Zealand v. South Africa):
> New Zealand beat South Africa 5-4 in a penalty stroke competition after a 4-4 draw in the Final 9-10 at Delhi 2010.
> New Zealand finished ninth at a World Cup for the third time (1986, 2002, 2010).
> South Africa equalled their best result ever in World Cup competition by finishing 10th as they did in 1994.
> Andy Hayward netted 3 times today, to become the first New Zealand player since Hayden Shaw in 2002 to score a World Cup hat-trick.
> Hayward also became NZL’s top goal scorer with four goals at Delhi 2010.
> Lloyd Norris-Jones netted his third goal of the tournament to join Marvin Harper as RSA’s top goal scorers at Delhi 2010.
> NZL converted 3 from 5 penalty comers in today’s match.
> NZL’s PC record for the whole tournament is 6 for 15 (40%).
> RSA ended the Delhi 2010 World Cup penalty corner success rate at 4 for 17 (24%).

Game 35 – 7th-8th – Argentina v. India: 4-2 (half-time: 1-0)

India was playing to salvage some pride in “their” World Cup and to confirm their progression, since a 7th (or even 8th) place would be their best result since 1994 after their dismal performances in 1998 (9th), 2002 (10th) then Monchengladbach (11th). The crowd was smaller than on the initial days but was supporting the home team as enthusiastically as ever.

India had an early penalty-corner but Sandeep SINGH’s flick was way too high. They kept dominating the early stages of the match, raising waves of expectations with each run and each dribble, but the Argentinean were prepared for this initial surge and weathered the storm as well as they could. The best chance was for Gurwinder Singh CHANDI at the conclusion of a vast Indian movement but his shot from the top of the circle was wide. Argentina were trying to find their high forwards with long aerial ball, a tactic that proved inefficient.

Indian skipper Rajpal SINGH was very active on their front line, but they could not generate many clear chances and Argentina started to push more, opening the scoring in the 28th minute by Tomas ARGENTO, poaching a ball behind Indian goalkeeper Adrian D'SOUZA. India had another chance on penalty-corner but Fernando ZYLBERBERG saved it on the line and India found themselves empty-handed again despite having done most of the work in a highly entertaining first period played at blistering speed.

India were all over the Argentinean circle as soon as play resumed after half-time. The South Americans were saved by a video-umpire referral that reversed a penalty-corner call and both goal-keepers were called into action in quick succession in this fast flowing game going end-to-end. India were awarded a penalty-stroke in the 42nd minute after a stick tackle and Sandeep SINGH officiated to pull his team level. However, the ecstatic cheers had not yet died down that Lucas VILA had scored at the other end on a penalty-corner! He added a field goal soon after, followed by another field goal by Facundo CALLIONI, and Argentina were suddenly up by three goals, with the crowd in a stunned silence.

Shivendra SINGH gave back some hope in the 49th minute, picking up his own rebound from close range. With twenty minutes left on the clock, Argentina were facing a long end of match and were concentrating their strength on their defense, anchored by an imperial Pedro IBARRA. With times passing, India seemed to lose hope, their passes became less precise and their dribbles erratic; Argentina pushed forward and completely overwhelmed the Indian defense on two occasions but missed their fifth goal by a whisker.

Despite the drums in the stands, India could not rekindle the magic and Argentina ran away with the win and the seventh place. They played well in this World Cup and could even have finished higher without some of their narrow losses (against Korea and Germany) earlier in the competition.

Match Facts (Argentina v. India):
> Argentina beat India to finish 7th, their best World Cup result since 2002, when they were placed 6th.
> In 1994 Argentina also finished 7th, beating Korea on penalty strokes.
> For India 8th place is their best World Cup ranking since 1994, when they were placed 5th.
> India’s 8th place finish equals the lowest ranking for a World Cup host. Argentina (1978) and Malaysia (2002) also finished 8th on home soil.
> India have failed to win their last 5 WC matches (1 draw, 4 defeats). Their only win at Delhi 2010 was the 4-1 vs Pakistan in their first match.
> Lucas Vila scored twice today, to become top goal scorer for Argentina at Delhi 2010 at 4 goals.
> Sandeep Singh became the first player to score a World Cup penalty stroke goal for India since Baljit Singh Dhillon in 2002 in India’s 4-1 won over Poland.
> Sandeep Singh’s 4 goals at Delhi 2010make him the top goal scorer for the Indian team this tournament.
> India PC success rate at Delhi 2010 is 4 for 20.
> Argentina converted 4 of 4 PCs at Delhi 2010.

Game 33 – 5th-6th – Korea v. Spain: 0-2 (half-time: 0-2)


The winner of the last match of the day for 5th-6th place would also earn a berth for the 2010 Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach, alongside the already qualified teams Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand and The Netherlands. The match started with a bang, Pol AMAT diving full length to deflect out of reach of the Korean goalkeeper a deep pass by Alex FABREGAS. The goal was scored after... 18 seconds of play, a new record for World Cup action!

Interestingly, the statistics showed that the three teams that scored a goal in the first minute of play in this competition ended up losing the match (Canada lost to New Zealand 2-3, New Zealand lost to The Netherlands 1-3 and Netherlands lost to Korea 1-2) but the Spaniards did not seem bothered by the numbers and kept attacking, progressing very fast up the field with their positive passes while the Koreans were taking their time to build their moves, passing patiently laterally until they found a way to break forward at blistering speed.

Spain earned a penalty-corner after a referral to the video-umpire but Pau QUEMADA powerful flick crashed on the crossbar and was cleared by a defender. The game settled in midfield for a while, Spain looking confident and dangerous each time they were getting within shooting distance, while Francisco CORTES in their goal was seldom called into action.

Spain were at their best in first period, and one had to wonder how Pakistan managed to beat them to push them out of semi-final action, but they could not capitalize on their domination, leaving the door open for Korea to come back in the game. The Asian Champions nearly did that in the final minutes of the period, first forcing a penalty-corner in a rare circle penetration then on a shoot from close range that went just inches wide. This was enough of a warning for Spain and Pol AMAT added a second goal in the 32nd minute, left facing an empty net after David ALEGRE attracted the Korean keeper and managed a diving pass.

The Koreans switched on high gear as soon as play resumed and took control of the tempo. Spain showed poise to hold tight facing wave after wave of attack. They conceded a penalty-corner, shot wide by Seung Il LEE, but the Spanish defense did not leave much space or time to the Korean attackers.  They also showed their experience, choosing when not to contest balls that they had little chance to win, in order to preserve energy for the end of the game. Korea scrambled another penalty-corner chance. With time passing, their efforts became more and more intense, but so was also the Spaniards’ resolve to hang on to their lead.

No more goals were scored and Spain finished this World Cup at a very respectable 5th place.

Match Facts (Korea v. Spain):
> Spain beat Korea to claim fifth place at the World Cup and more importantly, Spain qualify for the 2010 Champions Trophy.
> With four European teams qualified and two from Oceania, the 2010 CT tournament in Monchengladbach will be the first Men’s Champions Trophy without an Asian team present.
> This is the first World Cup match to see two goals from Pol Amat (ESP). His previous 8 WC goals were all scored in 8 different matches.
> Pol Amat’s opening goal after only 18 seconds is the fastest of the Deli 2010 tournament.
> Korea have now conceded the two fastest goals at Delhi 2010. Ronald Brouwer (NED) scored after 25 seconds against Korea in the pool match.
> Spain have now won all four of their World Cup Final 5-6 matches, beating England (3-0) in 1973, India (2-0) in 1978, Argentina (3-2) in 1986 and Korea (2-0) in 2010.

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 concludes on Saturday in Delhi with the medal matches, when England face The Netherlands for the bronze medal and Germany and Australia lock horn in the much anticipated final for the 2010 World Cup title.

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 12 - Friday 12 March 2010


9th-10th – New Zealand v. South Africa  4:4 + penalty-stokes 5-4 (0:1, 4:4)
RSA   4mn  Justin REID-ROSS (PC)  0:1
NZL  40mn  Hugo INGLIS (FG)  1:1
NZL  42mn  Andrew HAYWARD (PC)  2:1
RSA  45mn  Lloyd NORRIS-JONES (FG)  2:2
NZL  49mn  Andrew HAYWARD (PC)  3:2
RSA  50mn  Taine PATON (FG)  3:3
RSA  57mn  Thomas HAMMOND (FG)  3:4
NZL  70+mn  Andrew HAYWARD (PC)  4:4

7th-8th – Argentina v. India  4:2 (1:0)
ARG  28mn  Tomas ARGENTO INNOCENTE (FG)  1:0
IND  42mn  Sandeep SINGH (PS)  1:1
ARG  43mn  Lucas Martin VILA (PC)  2:1
ARG  45mn Lucas Martin VILA (FG)  3:1
ARG  46mn Facundo CALLIONI (FG)  4:1
IND  49mn  Shivendra SINGH (FG)  4:2

5th-6th – Korea v. Spain  0:2 (0:2)
ESP   1mn  Pol AMAT (FG)  0:1
ESP  32mn  Pol AMAT (FG)  0:2

Schedule for last day:
Saturday 13 march

15:35 – 3rd-4th – England v. Netherlands
18:05 – Final – Germany v. Australia

Final Standings:

1) to 4) to be decided on Saturday
5) Spain
6) Korea
7) Argentina
8) India
9) New Zealand
10) South Africa
11) Canada
12) Pakistan

WorldHockey



Disappointing finish for India

Aggressive Argentina floors the host with a convincing win

S. Thyagarajan


— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

ABJECT SURRENDER:A haggard looking Indian team, with captain Rajpal Singh leading, leaves the playing arena after losing to Argentina.


New Delhi: There was precious little to portray anything in eloquent terms as India suffered a disappointing reverse to settle for the eighth place in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Friday.

In a space of two minutes in the second half, Argentina floored the opponent to emerge winner by a 4-2 margin to secure the seventh place.

What contributed to the end game was the failure to make good of the moves that were well conceived by the consistent mid-field. Bharat Chikkara on the left and Sardara Singh from the middle put across a stream of passes.

Rajpal Singh with Vikram Pillay and Halappa as able allies managed to sneak in a few times as did Chandi and Shivendra Singh. But these raids were not sharp enough to confuse the Argentine defenders, Padro Ibarra and Alajendro.

Argentina's victory came largely on account of the pace the players generated thanks to the loping runs by Mario Almada and Lucas Vila and by the display of opportunism. The lead surfaced midway through when goal-keeper Adrian padded a long ball. Innocente lurking in the area pounced on the rebound.

Two penalty corners brought India no reward as the shots by Sandeep Singh were met without a fuss by goal-keeper Juan Tomas. Sandeep, however, converted a penalty stroke awarded by the Korean umpire Kin Hong Lee. It was disputed by the Argentine players but approved by the video umpire for a stick check by Mathias Vila on Vikram Pillay.

This moment of delight was destroyed in the next two minutes by the electrifying moves of Argentina. A thundering penalty corner drive by Lucas Vila beat Adrian all ends up as did the finishing touches by Lucas Vila off a move from Almada in the next minute. The fourth did not take long as Facudo Callioni made capital of a defender's error.

Down and out all that the Indians could do was to keep up the pressure which paid off when Shivendra slotted a rebound from a reverse shot taken by Rajpal Singh at the goal-keeper. Later, a Shivendra-Vikram effort ended with the latter's shot hitting the cross piece.

Clearly disappointed a small section of the spectators targeted coach, Jose Brasa, shouting slogans against him.

It needs be reminded that India has moved up three spots in the ratings since 2006 when it finished 11th.

Two goals by Pol Amat, both in the first half, gave Spain the fifth spot against Korea in the last match of the day.

The results:

9-10: New Zealand 9 (Ignlis Hugo, Andrew Hayward 3-hat-trick); (TB: Dean Couzins, Andrew Hayward, Shea McCleese, Nicolas Wilson: SD: Dean Couzins) beat South Africa 8 (Justine Reid Ross, Norris Lloyd, Taine Paton, Tomas Hammond; TB: Lloyd Madson, Wade Paton, Julian Hykes, Gareth Carr). HT: 0-1. 7-8: Argentina 4 (Innocente Argento, Lucas Vila 2, Facudo Callioni) beat India 2 (Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh) HT 1-0. 5-6: Spain (Pol Amat 2) 2 bt Korea 0. HT 2-0 .

Saturday's matches: 3-4: Netherlands v England (3.35 p.m.). Final: Australia v Germany (6.05 p.m.) .

The Hindu



Black Sticks beat South Africa

By Terry Maddaford In New Delhi


The Black Sticks rode their luck, used three get out of jail free cards, and eventually sneaked home 5-4 over plucky South Africa in a shootout to claim ninth place at the World Cup this morning New Zealand time (Saturday, March 13).

Again, though, the victory posed more questions for coach Shane McLeod than providing him with the answers he was looking for.

Down a goal inside three minutes and still trailing by that at halftime, New Zealand got back to 1-1 four minutes in the second spell, took the lead within two minutes before, almost as quickly, they surrendered that advantage. Again, they hit back quickly to lead 3-2.

The goalfest continued as South Africa scored the fifth goal in a frantic 11-minute burst for 3-3 before further turning the screws in going ahead with 14 minutes to play.

For all but the precious last few seconds they were rarely troubled in holding on.

With the clock running down, the Black Sticks won a penalty corner. With the end-of-match hooter having already been blown, Andy Hayward stepped forward and coolly slotted for 4-4 with his third drag flick of the half.

Sent to two periods of sudden death extra time, New Zealand, and Hayward, with the hooter having already sounded, had yet another late chance to “seal the deal.” His shot flew goalwards, took a deflection which the video umpire later confirmed came from a South African stick rather than body to send the game to the dreaded penalty stroke shootout.

Ryan Archibald stepped forward. Just as quickly he pulled his attempt wide.

After a South African miss scores were locked at 2-2 then 4-4 before Black Sticks goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex denied the South Africans their hoped for 5-4 lead as the second phase of the shootout began.

Up stepped stand-in captain Dean Couzins - taking the first attempt ahead of Archibald. Quickly he fired low and hard to beat Erasmus Pieterse for 5-4 and raced to join his team-mates in celebrating.

McLeod was far from happy despite claiming the win which is likely to see New Zealand’s world ranking rise a place to seventh on the back of Pakistan’s disastrous showing here.

“We have standards which we fell short of today,” said McLeod. “Some players did not perform to the standard we were expecting. We have to give the South Africans some credit for that.

“They play a hustle and bustle style which is not easy to counter but, more importantly, they came in the game determined to finish ninth which would have been a creditable effort. As much as I don’t like to admit, there was a hint of complacency among our players and it showed.

“It is not ideal in having to play catch up but we should be good enough to do it.”

While refusing to make excuses, McLeod again reiterated just how difficult it had been for his team in playing without strikers Simon Child and Phil Burrows.

“It meant a player like Nick Wilson, at just 19 years of age, had to step out as our senior striker. That is a big ask and I thought he responded to the challenge magnificently.”

He was not so glowing in looking elsewhere admitting he is now prepared to make “the hard calls” in naming his next squad.

“We will freshen our squad now. It would be a crime if we didn’t introduce new players. That process has already started.

“We have the opportunity at a four-nation tournament in Nottingham in July to have a look at these players,” said McLeod. “We will probably take 18 there but that squad might not include some of the senior players who will come in before we go to Germany for the Champions Trophy.”

Apart from Hayward’s three goals from penalty corners, Hugo Inglis added the final touch to a stunning Archibald lead-up for the first goal. South Africa scored their first from a penalty corner but their next three were scored from open play.

In one of the tournament’s vagaries, the South Africans went away $1600 richer with two of their players scooping the man of the match and the man of steel (best defender) awards.

Embarrassed officials later admitted the call was made five minutes from the end of ordinary time with South Africa 4-3 ahead.

New Zealand’s climb in the world rankings was further helped when Argentina, ranked 14th coming into the World Cup, beat India 4-2 in the second of the day’s play-offs.

Ahead 1-0 at halftime, Argentina conceded a stroke early in the second spell but hit back quickly with three goals in as many minutes for a 4-1 lead which the hosts could only reduce by one with 21 minutes to play.

The last of three matches on the penultimate day was a triumph, in more ways than one for the Spanish.
Ahead with a field goal in the first minutes and 2-0 ahead by halftime after a second, they held on to beat South Korea 2-0 to claim fifth place and, more importantly, a place in the Champions Trophy.

With today’s finalists Australia and Germany already qualified and New Zealand there following their Champions Challenge triumph, the next three best teams here win through. Two of the spots have already gone to England and the Netherlands who play for bronze handing the third to the next-best finisher -Spain. It promises to be a great tournament with the top five World Cup teams and New Zealand in Monchengladbach.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Kiwis stumble to ninth position

New Zealand held their nerves to beat South Africa on penalties and finish ninth in the hockey World Cup.

By Anshul Baijal


In a match where fortunes fluctuated from one side to another, it was New Zealand who held their nerves to beat South Africa 5-4 on penalty strokes at Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Friday.

The match had ended 4-4 after extra-time. Andrew Hayward struck a hat-trick for the Kiwis, while Hugo Inglis scored one. Justin Reid-Ross, Llyod Norris-Jones, Taine Paton and Thomas Hammond netted once each for the Proteas.

The Africans dictated most of the early play, making early in roads into the Kiwi circle and they were rewarded as early as the fourth minute. Ried-Ross slammed the ball into the top-right corner to make it 1-0 in favour of the Proteas.

The Black Sticks responded immediately, but Nicholas Winlson's shot was fended off by keeper Erasmus Pieterse.

Both the teams kept pushing forward but could not change the scoreline till the end of the first-half.

If the first session of play was a drought, the second was indeed a flood. The South Africans continued from where they had left in the first half. They were aggressive, but could not find the back of the net and saw the Kiwis equalize through Inglis in the 40th minute.

Two minutes later, Hayward converted a penalty corner to give Kiwis the lead. The Africans made it 2-2 in the 45th minute.

Jones-Norris capitalized on a defensive error and made a brilliant run in the New Zealand circle and struck from the edge of the circle to equalize for his team.

The Kiwis again had their noses ahead in the 49th minute. Hayward fired a drag-flick in the right corner to make it 3-2.

The Proteas got back in the level in the very next minute. Paton picked up the ball in the Kiwi circle and fired it into the bottom right corner.

Both teams used their energy they were conserving in the early part of the game with end-to-end attacks.

The South Africans, looking for their best finish at the World Cup, again got the lead 13 minutes from time through Hammond.

But the Kiwis were relentless in their attacks and found the equalizer in the very last minute. Hayward completed his hat-trick to push the game into extra-time.

The two sides were cautious in the extra period and made very few attempts on goal.

Both the teams could not find the golden goal, and the fate of the match was to be decided by penalty strokes.

The Kiwis held their nerves to win the match 5-4 on penalties.

ESPNStar.com



Kiwis down spirited Proteas

M.S.Unnikrishnan


New Zealand put out South Africa in sudden-death tie-breaker 9-8 (4-4 after full time and extra-time) to take the ninth place in the 12th Hero Honda FIH World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here today.

In an engrossing contest for the ninth and tenth positions, New Zealand fought back from arrears to hold South Africa 4-4 during the regulation period on the strength of a hat-trick by their brilliant drag-flicker Andrew Hayward, who converted three penalty corners in succession to make the score 4-4.

Extra time produced no goal and in the tie-breaker too, the teams shared four goals each, to deadlock the score at 8-8. In the sudden-death tie-breaker, Lloyd Madsen flunked for South Africa while captain Dean Couzins made no mistake for New Zealand.

In the tie-breaker, New Zealand got off on the wrong foot when Ryan Archibald hit out but it did not prove costly as Wade Paton missed for South Africa. The other strikers all found the mark to make the score level four-all, necessitating the sudden-death in which New Zealand sprang to life yet again to coast home with an overall goal tally of 9-8.

For the first time in the 12th edition of the World Cup, a match went to tie-breaker and sudden death. The only other match which witnessed extended play was between Pakistan and Canada which ended in Canada scoring a golden goal in the second half of extra-time to relegate Pakistan to the bottom. And Andrew Hayward was only the second player to score a hattrick in this championship, the first being the Netherland penalty corner expert Taekema.

South Africa were indeed unlucky to miss out the 9th position as they had not only struck the lead through Justin Ross-Reid int he 4th minute, but hit back to make it 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4. In the tie-breaker, New Zealand had wasted the opening stroke while South Africa converted their’s and had not Wade Paton missed their third shot, the script would have been different.

After South Africa took the lead and maintained it till half time, New Zealand scored two goals in the space of two minutes on resumption, in the fifth and seventh minutes, through Hugo Inglis and Andrew Hayward. Hayward also accounted for their other two goals to setup a hat-trick.

Lloyd Norris, Taine Paton and Thomas Hammond scored for South Africa. In the tie-breaker, captain Dean Couzins, Hayward, Shea Mcaleese ad Nicholas Wilson scored from penalty strokes for the Kiwis. Lloyd Masen, Justin Reid-Ross, Ian Haley and Gareth Carr scored for South Africa.

The Tribune



Black Sticks finish World Cup with win

The Black Sticks rode their luck, used some get out of jail free cards, and eventually sneaked home 5-4 over South Africa in a shoot-out to claim ninth place at the hockey World Cup in India last night.

Again, the victory posed more questions for coach Shane McLeod than providing him with the answers he was looking for.

Down a goal inside three minutes and still trailing by that at halftime, New Zealand got back to 1-1 four minutes in the second spell and took the lead within two minutes before surrendering that advantage. Again, they hit back quickly to lead 3-2.

The goal-fest continued as South Africa scored again in a frantic 11-minute burst to level 3-3 before further turning the screws in going ahead with 14 minutes to play.

For all but the last few seconds they were rarely troubled in holding on.

With the clock running down, the Black Sticks won a penalty corner. With the end-of-match hooter having already been blown, Andy Hayward stepped forward and slotted for 4-4 with his third drag flick of the half.

Sent to two periods of sudden death extra time, Hayward had a near miss on the hooter and the game went to a penalty stroke shoot-out.

The score went to 2-2 after misses from both sides, and then 4-4 before Black Sticks goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex denied the South Africans a 5-4 lead. Stand-in captain Dean Couzins then fired one low and hard to beat Erasmus Pieterse for a 5-4 win.

Despite the win McLeod was far from happy.

"We have standards which we fell short of today," he said. "Some players did not perform to the standard we were expecting. We have to give the South Africans some credit for that.

"They play a hustle and bustle style which is not easy to counter but, more importantly, they came in the game determined to finish ninth, which would have been a creditable effort. As much as I don't like to admit, there was a hint of complacency among our players and it showed.

"It is not ideal in having to play catch up, but we should be good enough to do it."

While refusing to make excuses, McLeod again reiterated how difficult it had been for his team in playing without strikers Simon Child and Phil Burrows.

"It meant a player like Nick Wilson, at just 19 years of age, had to step up as our senior striker. That is a big ask and I thought he responded to the challenge magnificently."

He was not so glowing in looking elsewhere, admitting he was now prepared to make "the hard calls" in naming his next squad.

"We will freshen our squad now. It would be a crime if we didn't introduce new players. That process has already started.

"We have the opportunity at a four-nation tournament in Nottingham in July to have a look at these players," McLeod said.

New Zealand will now likely climb one place to seventh in world rankings.

Stuff



New Zealand beat South Africa to finish ninth

NEW DELHI: New Zealand scored in the last minute of the regulation time and then held on to their nerves to beat South Africa 9-8 via sudden death penalty shootout to finish ninth in the Hockey World Cup on Friday.

New Zealand captain Dean Couzins scored from the spot in the sudden death after both sides were tied 4-4 in the penalty shootout and 4-4 in the regulation time.

In the regulation time, New Zealand scored 30 seconds before the final hooter through hat-trick man Andrew Hayward form a penalty corner.

In the penalty shootout, Couzins, Hayward, Shea Mcaleese and Nicholas Wilson scored for New Zealand while Ryan Archibald missed the target.

For South Africa, Lloyd Madsen, Justin Reid Ross, Ian Haley and Gareth Carr scored in the penalty shootout while Wade Paton missed the target.

After both sides were tied 4-4 in the penalty shootout, Couzins again stepped out to make it 5-4 and win the match.

Earlier, in a high-scoring match between the two fifth- place teams of Pool A and Pool B, six goals came in the second session after South Africa had taken a 1-0 lead at the breather in front of a sparse crowd at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Justin Reid Ross (fourth minute), Lloyd Norris Jones (45th), Taine Paton (50th) and Thomas Hammond (57th) scored for South Africa.

In the regulation time, Andrew Hayward scored a hat-trick (42nd, 49th and 70th minutes) for New Zealand - second in the tournament after Dutch drag-flicker Taeke Taekema - while Hugo Inglis found the target once in the 40th minute.

New Zealand converted two penalty corners from the four they got in the match while South Africa scored once from the two penalty corners they had.

Most of the early play was dominated by South Africa and they forced two penalty corners as against one by the Kiwis.

South Africa took the lead with Justin Reid Ross sending a drag flick to the upper right corner of New Zealand goal on their second penalty corner.

The Black Sticks put pressure on their opponents in the last 10 minutes of the first half but failed to give the finishing touches.

In the 27th minute, Shea Mcaleese shot was brilliantly saved by South African goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse.

Two minutes later, Nicholas Wilson failed to trap the ball off a cross from the right by Steven Edwards in front of an open South African goal.

In the 40th minute, Ryan Archibald, who has become the most capped Black Stick, dodged past a couple of defenders inside the Proteas striking circle and sent a perfect cross from the left for Hugo Inglis to just tap into the open goal.

Two minutes later (42nd), New Zealand took the lead form their second penalty corner of the match. Andrew Hayward's powerful drag flick zoomed past the South African goalkeeper to hit the top left corner of the net.

South Africa took just three minutes to restore parity with Lloyd Jones Norris scoring one of the best goals in this World Cup with his low running hit from the top of New Zealand striking circle.

New Zealand got their fourth penalty corner in the 49th minute and it was Haywards again to find the South Arican net with his drag-flick to make the scoreline 3-2.

South Africa took just one minute to equalise with Taine Paton slamming home from the left side of the striking circle.

It was the turn of South Africa to take the lead with Thomas Hammond slamming home after Julian Hykes' shot from just inside the striking circle sets the ball up in the air.

Just as it looked like all over for New Zealand, they got their fifth penalty corner of the match 30 second before the final whistle and Hyward found the target to score his third goal of the match and level the score 4-4.

The Times of India



"We did not live up to expectations"

New Zealand coach Shane McLeod believes his team has more potential than what their ninth-place finish at the World Cup shows.

By Anshul Baijal


New Zealand coach Shane McLeod was happy that his team beat South Africa to finish ninth in the World Cup, but he was not satisfied with his team's performance. "I am happy that we won the game today, but a ninth place finish is not what we were looking for," he said.

The Kiwis came into this tournament without some of their key players like Simon Child and Hayden Shaw and coach McLeod believes his team missed them in the tournament. "You will always miss such players," said McLeod.

Day's action in pics

He added: "Phil Burrows also got injured during the tournament. So we were basically without three of our first team players and it was difficult to fill these gaps."

Black Sticks captain Dean Couzins, meanwhile, preferred to see the positive side. "Some of our youngsters got a chance to play at the highest level. It will be good for New Zealand hockey in the long run," he said.

Couzins admitted that they were forced to try new combinations but unfortunately they did not work out for the Black Sticks. "Ryan Archibald had to play in the forward line. It is not always easy to change your position in middle of a tournament and we paid the price for it," said Couzins.

Meanwhile, South Africa coach Gregg Clark was disappointed after his team lost the game, but was happy with the way his team played. "We showed a lot of fighting spirit and the players showed commitment," he said.

ESPNStar.com



We are happy to finish three places above Pakistan: Shane McLeod

NEW DELHI: New Zealand coach Shane McLeod, on Friday, said his side would go home happy after finishing in a better position than the four-time champions Pakistan in the hockey World Cup.

New Zealand beat South Africa 9-8 via sudden death penalty shootout to finish ninth while Pakistan took the wooden spoon in the 12-team World Cup after losing to Canada 2-3 via an extra time golden goal on Thursday.

"We will go home happy as we ended up at ninth, three places above Pakistan. The boys came back strongly today and held on to their nerves in the penalty shoot out," he said after the match.

"Some of the young players came good at such a big stage. The World Cup experience will really help them in future."

McLeod said his side will also jump one place from the current eighth position in the FIH rankings to be issued after the World Cup.

"We will rise one place to seventh when the new FIH rankings come after this World Cup. So it is a positive which will come out of this World Cup," he said.

He said his side could have done better had striker Simon Child not pulled out of the tournament due to security fears.

"Yeah, we felt his (Simon Child's) absence. He is a good player and I think we could have done better had he been here," said McLeod.

The Times of India



Humiliationf for India, finishes 8th

s2h team


Argentina hands down a humiliating 2-4 defeat to the hosts in the 7th place decider. Crowd and right ambience did not help India which at one point of time was fighting with a score of 1-1. The irony is the hosts conceded three goals in four minutes between 43rd and 46th, soon after equalizing the solitary goal lead of Argentina.

India went for the lemon time having a goal dificient. On return in the 42nd minute, Kim Long Hae of Korea awarded a stroke, as Vikram Pillay was stick checked even as he was taking a shot at goal from near the goal mouth.

Argentina went for the Referral, which India survived and then Sandeep Singh converted with all comforts.

Then came the venomous four minutes in which Martin Vila posted a brace, and then Facundo Callioni added another one, Indian defence not existing for a while.

Shivender Singh scored a goal in the 49th minute, despite attacks thereafter India could not make use of any of their attack.

Just one win and draw to boot in six matches, India was lucky to figure among the top eight.

Stick2Hockey.com



India lose plot in fight for 7th place

Alok Sinha


NEW DELHI: Scorelines can at times deceive you. They don’t talk about ball possession, they don’t talk about the fast, attacking hockey played by the team which has lost; they don’t talk about the scoring chances created by the losers either. But scorelines rarely lie: they tell you clearly which team exploited the chances which came its way to make it count.

Well, that was the story of India’s fight for the seventh place in the Hero Honda World Cup here on Friday evening. And the scoreline: 4-2 in favour of Argentina.

Rajpal Singh’s men played a fast game for the first 25 minutes, dominating the midfield, attacking from both the flanks. They failed to make it count and a silly mistake saw them concede a soft goal. In the second half, they tried to attack again even as Argentina tried to slow down the game. They even equalized through Sandeep Singh off a penalty stroke but what followed was mayhem for the hosts. They conceded three goals in three minutes - captain Matias Vila scoring twice - and the fight was over.

It was as if the Indians had suddenly gone to sleep and had been woken up with a cruel, rude jolt. It was defending at its worst but credit must also go to Argentina for counter-attacking well and exploiting India’s weakness to such deadly effect.

The Indians did fight after that but managed to get just one goal through Shivendra Singh, in the 49th minute. After that Argentina defended well and Indian forwards simply failed to find the way to goal after entering the circle again and again.

So, India had much more possession of the ball, they penetrated the circle much more and yet walked out with nothing to show for it.

Coach Jose Brasa was understandably downcast after the match. "After South Africa and Canada we have conceded the maximum number of goals. This is worrying and we have to work on it. The first goal should not have been conceded. I had asked the defenders to Mark Fernando Zylberberg. They did not. Then those three goals... we have to improve inside the circle. We have to defend much better and also score. We penetrated the circle almost 40 times and got two goals. They went in 10 times and scored four. There’s lot of work to be done in defence and finishing, a lot of hard training," he said.

Brasa also defended his players, insisting they are the best in the country. "We tried out juniors during the Canada series but found out that these players are better. They tried their best here. Hopefully, in the coming months we will see more improvement. Of course, we need to plan our tours well."

Indian captain Rajpal Singh admitted after the match that there was no improvement in India’s performance here. "After the first match, we were expecting to do better," he said. Rajpal was very critical of the team’s defenders and put the blame almost entirely on their heads: "Except Pakistan we conceded at least three goals in every match. How can you expect to win in such a situation?"

The Times of India



Pathetic India finish 8th

JAYDEEP BASU

India’s Rajpal Singh and Facundo Callioni of Argentina during their classification match on Friday. (AFP)


New Delhi: India’s campaign in the World Cup hockey ended on a bitter note when they were routed 2-4 by Argentina at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, here on Friday. The hosts thus finished eighth in the 12-nation competition.

Trailing by a goal at the half time, the hosts equalised through a penalty stroke conversion by Sandeep Singh in the 42nd minute only to find themselves at the receiving end when the visitors took advantage of a loosely knit Indian defence to strike three quick goals in five minutes.

To make the matter worse, there were unpleasant scenes after the match when a couple of Indian players got involved in heated exchanges with a section of the crowd, who hurled abuses at the home team for their poor performance.

Senior player Prabhjot Singh, who had an immensely forgettable outing, was seen gesticulating to the crowd before he was calmed down by others. Skipper Rajpal Singh also got into arguments with a few spectators.

A dejected Rajpal later said: “The defence really let us down. I didn’t find any improvement in our performance. Last World Cup also we won only one match. Our defence was weak and we conceded poor goals.

“In the last World Cup, we finished 11 th and this time we have taken the eighth spot. That’s the only satisfaction we have,” a frustrated Rajpal added.

The defence surely made all the difference. The Argentine defenders were good in positional play and quick to clear the ball while their Indian counterparts — Sandeep Singh and Dhananjay Mahadik — were simply pathetic.

Between the 43rd and the 47th minute, Argentina scored three goals through Martin Lucas Vila (2) and Facundo Calloni to break India’s backbone.

India did rally back through a goal from Shivendra Singh and then made some courageous efforts upfront but that could hardly influence the result of the match.

Earlier, Tomas Innocento Argento put Argentina in the lead in the 28th minute when he turned in a long ball into the circle from Oscar Fernando Zylberberg.

Chief coach Jose Brasa, who backed his wards, hinted he was looking for replacements for players like Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur. “Both Prabhjot and Deepak are good players but sadly they didn’t perform as per the expectations. We have to see if there are other players who can take their position,” said Brasa.

Brasa said it was not a good idea to field youngsters in a tournament like World Cup.

“We tried out some junior players before the World Cup but found they were no better than the veterans. We decided to field the veterans as junior players would have found difficult to handle the pressure of playing in the World Cup”

In other classification matches, Spain defeated South Korea 2-0 to take the fifth spot, while New Zealand beat South Africa 5-4 in sudden death after the extra time ended in a 4-4 stalemate. The Kiwis finished ninth.

The Telegraph, India



India finish 8th

M.S.Unnikrishnan


India’s hopes of finishing even seventh was shattered by Argentina when they posted a 4-2 victory in the play-off match of the 12th Hero Honda FIH World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here tonight.

India could not blame anybody, but themselves, for the debacle as their unsteady defence and fumbling forwards let them down, despite enjoying midfield dominance in most part.

Argentina took the lead in the 28th minute when Tomas Argento Innocente flicked in a pass from Pedro Ibarra. This was after India dominated the first few minutes of the game when they attacked the rival goal relentlessly and earned two penalty corners which were wasted by Sandeep Singh, though he later made amends by scoring off a penalty stroke to account for his fourth goal of the championship.

India were denied a third penalty corner by the television umpire after referral in the fourth minute of second half. But three minutes later, India earned the stroke when Vikram Pillay was stick-checked by a defender when he was about to hit at the goal.

Sandeep drove in powerfully to equalise, but a minute later, Argentina regained the lead as a blinding counter attack resulted in a penalty corner, which was neatly hit home by Martin Lucas Almada.

India could have pulled off the equaliser yet again a minute later, but Sarvanjit Singh’s quick sally was wasted by Gurwinder Singh Chandi. Argentina knocked the wind out of the Indian sails when they struck two goals in the next three minutes, as the Indian defence was caught in a deep slumber.

Martin Lucas Vila completed his brace to add Argentina’s third goal when he trapped a back pass from Nicolas Mario Almada to flick in, in the 10th minute and two minutes later Facundo Callioni enhanced the lead to 4-1.

Though India were not subjugated by Argentina’s lead, as they mounted attacks down the flanks, they could not give logical finish to their moves, as the rival defenders dispossed them on the top of the circle, or inside the dee.

The stands erupted into a big roar when Shivendra Singh guided home a Rajpal Singh pass to get India’s second goal. Ironically Rajpal was guilty of muffing an easy chance when his shot hit the post, with an empty goal mocking at him.

Argentina thus avenged their defeat at the hands of India in the Champions Challenge match for the third place a few months ago. Argentina have always been the bugbear of India, and they once again proved to be a needle in the hosts’ flesh.

This was the eighth World Cup match between the two teams, and India suffered their fifth defeat. India had beaten the Latin American country twice, and once the contest ended in draw.

This was India’s best World Cup finish since 1994 when they took the fifth spot. India had not even qualified for this World Cup, and they made it only as hosts. And for the first time, India played in the 7-8 play off, and finished eighth.

Argentina featured for the third time in the play-off for 7-8 positions. In 1978, Argentina lost to England 1-3 to finish eighth and in 1994, Argentina beat Korea on penalty strokes to end up seventh.

The Tribune



Argentina drub sorry India

The South Americans beat India 4-2 to finish seventh in the hockey World Cup.

By Adarsh Vinay


Argentina overcame India 4-2 in the seventh-eighth play-off at the hockey World Cup in New Delhi on Friday.

Lucas Martin Vila scored twice for Argentina while Tomas Argento Innocente and Facundo Callioni added one each. For the hosts, Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh got on the scoresheet.

Argentina took the lead in the 28th minute. Fernando Oscar Zylberberg's long ball found Argento who put the South Americans in front.

Despite winning two penalty corners and enjoying most of the possession, India were unable to pull level and the first half ended 1-0.

They finally equalised in the 42nd minute when Sandeep scored off a penalty stroke. This was his fourth goal of the championship and he finished as India's topscorer.

But whatever hope India had of a comeback quickly vanished in the next few minutes. Vila scored a quickfire brace and Callioni added one more inside four minutes to give Argentina a three-goal advantage.

With the score at 4-1, the tie looked beyond India's reach and though the team fought resiliently, the stadium's sudden silence told the tale.

Shivendra pulled one back for India in the 49th minute granting some respectability to the scoreboard. But in the end, Brasa's men fell short again as the match ended 4-2.

The eighth-place finish for the hosts is their best at the World Cup in 16 years.

ESPNStar.com



Argentina end on seventh heaven

Age Correspondent


New Delhi, March 12: For the record, India put up their best performance in the Hockey World Cup in the last 16 years. But the proceedings on the field spelled out clearly that there is still a long way to the road to recovery.

On the day, India suffered a humiliating 2-4 defeat to Argentina to finish eight in the 12th World Cup here.

There wasn’t a single thing that the team did right. It was a collective failure with the defence, midfield and forwardline playing like amateurs. The Matias Vila-led Argentinans made full use of the opportunity and posted a convincing win.

India managed to thwart the opponents in the first 25 minutes and also enjoyed greater ball possession. The hosts though lacked ideas and were very ordinary inside the striking circle.

Said coach Jose Brasa after the match, “We played decently between one half of the circle to the other. The midfield created a lot of chances but the finishing was not there.

“We had at least 20 shots on the goal but could not convert them.”

India’s Achilles heel in the tournament however, was the defence. India missed the experience and coolness of stalwart Dilip Tirkey and will have a lot of loopholes to plug in future.

India conceded 17 goals in all, which says a lot about the inexperience of the team. Canada and South Africa were the only other sides to have conceded more goals.

Argentina did nothing fancy on the day. They waited for their chances and converted whatever came their way.

Tomas Argento connected a cross from Oscar Zylberberg to deflect the ball in and put the team ahead in the 28th minute.

India found the equaliser when drag-flicker Sandeep Singh converted a penalty stroke conversion in the 43rd minute, but their hopes of a victory faded when the world number 14 team pumped in three quick goals to make a mockery of the defence. Vila struck twice in the 43rd and 45th minutes, while Mario Almada added to the lead in the very next minute to seal the match.

Shivendra Singh reduced the margin in the 49th minute.

Prabhjot, fans on collision course


India’s shoddy display on the day angered die-hard supporters who booed the team after the 2-4 defeat. The chants of “India hai hai” though did no go down well with forward Prabhjot Singh, who exchanged some heated words with the spectators after the match.

Skipper Rajpal Singh played the peacemaker and requested the crowd to cool down.

The Asian Age



India finish disappointing eighth in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: India's disastrous hockey World Cup campaign ended with a 2-4 defeat against Argentina as the hosts finished a lowly eighth in the mega-event on Friday.

Argentina, meanwhile, registered their second seventh place finish in the tournament since 1994 when they defeated Korea on penalty strokes.

The Argentines started their campaign in World Cup with three straight defeats but bounced back strongly with three consecutive wins, including Friday's victory.

The eighth place finish can be seen as a marked improvement for the Indians who were 11th in the last edition of the tournament in Monchengladbach, Germany.

India could dig out only one victory against Pakistan in their first encounter and lost four and drew one out of the six matches they played in the tournament.

Incidentally, it was against the same opponents that India lost 2-3 in the ninth-12th classification match in Monchengladbach.

For Argentina Martin Lucas Villa (43rd minute, 45th) scored two goals, while Tomas Innocente Argento (28th) and Facundo Callioni (46th) scored one each in the seventh-eighth place classification match.

The Indians reduced the margin through Sandeep Singh (42nd) and Shivendra Singh (49th) at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

With this win, the Argentines have also extended their win-loss record against India in the World Cup. In the eight matches played between the two sides, Argentina have won five, lost two and one game ended in no result.

India started the match on an aggressive note but lacked finishing touches inside the Argentine Dee.

The Indians controlled the game for most part of the opening half and had the greater share of ball possession. They opted for long balls but the forwards were not up to the mark to transform them into goals.

India persistent pressure resulted in two penalty corners in the first half but on both the occasions ace drag-flicker Sandeep could not find the back of the Argentine net.

In contrast Argentina's attack on the Indian goal was far and few, mostly on counter attacks.

Veteran Prabhjot Singh failed to make any impression yet again and was seen engaging in an altercation with the disappointed spectators. He even showed his middle finger to the crowd, out of frustration.

Gurwinder Singh Chandi got a fantastic opportunity to give his side lead in the 17th minute but his shot from a Arjun Halappa pass went slightly wide of the Argentine goal.

Inspite of the persistent pressure, it was Argentina who scored first against the run of the mill in the 28th minute.

All the hard work from the Indians in the first half changed in the blink of an eye when Argento scored to go into the breather with a 1-0 lead.

The script was similar after the change of ends as the home team kept on the pressure on the Argentine defence with constant raids.

The Indians finally got the sought-after equaliser in the 42nd minute through a penalty stroke from Sandeep after the on-field umpires decision was upheld by video umpire.

Poor defence and unforced errors in the mid-field marred India's day yet again as the home team conceded three soft goals with a span of four minutes to the disappointment of the cheering crowd.

Lucas Villa scored two goals within two minutes - first from their first short corner and then a field goal to draw curtains on the home team's shoddy campaign in the tournament.

As if that was not enough, Callioni made it 4-1 two minutes later through a field goal to sum up yet another disappointing day for Indian hockey.

Three minutes later, Singh pulled one back for the hosts from a counter-attack to raise some hopes of a late fight back but that was not to be.

The Times of India



India lose yet again, finish disappointing 8th in WC

India's disastrous hockey World Cup campaign ended with a 2-4 defeat against Argentina as the hosts finished a lowly eighth in the mega-event here today.

Argentina, meanwhile, registered their second seventh place finish in the tournament since 1994 when they defeated Korea on penalty strokes.

The Argentines started their campaign here with three straight defeats but bounced back strongly with three consecutive wins, including today's victory.

The eighth place finish can be seen as a marked improvement for the Indians who were 11th in the last edition of the tournament in Monchengladbach, Germany.

India could dig out only one victory against Pakistan in their first encounter and lost four and drew one out of the six matches they played in the tournament.

Incidentally, it was against the same opponents that India lost 2-3 in the ninth-12th classification match in Monchengladbach.

For Argentina Martin Lucas Villa (43rd minute, 45th) scored two goals, while Tomas Innocente Argento (28th) and Facundo Callioni (46th) scored one each in the seventh-eighth place classification match.

The Indians reduced the margin through Sandeep Singh (42nd) and Shivendra Singh (49th) at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

Indian Express



Brasa apologetic about ‘sad' situation

Kamesh Srinivasan


NEW DELHI: The Indian team was understandably dejected about losing the seventh place match to Argentina, and coach Jose Brasa was apologetic about the ‘sad' situation.

“The problem was that we didn't score in the first 25 minutes. They scored the goals. After being behind it was very difficult for us,'' said Brasa, even as he praised the opponents.

Brasa said that the Indian team had problems inside the ‘D' both in attack and defence.

He said everything depended on the support the team gets towards better training and that would determine whether there would be slight or dramatic improvement when the team gears up for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.

Brasa stated that the inclination may be to go for junior talent if players of equal calibre were found in the ranks. He said that the tilt was towards retaining the experienced players for the World Cup.

“It also depends on what we will find on our way,'' he said, hinting that availability of raw talent was the key to moulding a world class team.

He was categorical that Sandeep Singh had ‘more or less' enjoyed similar success rate in the past, and he was the best bet to take the penalty corner drills.

The inability of the team to effectively mark key players of the opposite team also came for criticism from the coach.

“We need more training and more matches,'' Brasa said, highlighting the fact that hoping for good results without the right preparation was futile.

Talking about Prabhjot Singh not being at his best, the coach said that it was sad as he was a player capable of conjuring up goals at his best.

Captain Rajpal Singh said that he was never satisfied with his performance, but said that the team had done well to finish eighth as compared to the past.

Responding to a question on whether he would emulate the Pakistan team and quit, Rajpal shot back, questioning the fate of the past Indian teams in the last few editions of the World Cup, and said: “You decide whether I should resign or not.''

Both Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh had to endure a slogan shouting section of the crowd after the match. Prabhjot said that he accepted the limitations of the team, but said that conceding early goals had affected the eventual performance of the team.

The Hindu



Youngsters were no better than seniors: Jose Brasa

New Delhi: Disappointment writ large over his face after India's eighth place finish in World Cup, coach Jose Brasa today said he hardly had any choice in selecting players since juniors were no better than seniors.

India today lost 2-4 to Argentina in a classification match to finish eighth.

Brasa was unhappy with the performance of senior players particularly Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur.

Brasa said it was not a good idea to field youngsters in a tournament like World Cup.

"We tried out some junior players before the World Cup but found they were no better than the veterans. We decided to field the veterans as there would be pressure in the World Cup which the junior players would have been difficult to handle.

"World Cup is not the ideal stage to test the younger players. We tried youngsters in Canada. These players are the best we have today and we may try the junior players in future," he said.

Asked whether he was satisfied with Prabhjot's performance in World Cup, Brasa said, "I am not disappointed but sad with Prabhjot's performance. I would have liked Prabhjot scoring goals but he did not. His main role was to score but he is not a success in this tournament. He started well against Pakistan but could not contribute much later on."

Brasa said the main reasons for his side's disappointing performance was due to poor defence and failure to create chances once inside the opposition striking circle.

DNA



Jose Brasa lists ills of Indian hockey

NEW DELHI: A weak defence, missed chances and poor showing from seasoned campaigners like Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur spoiled India's chances in the World Cup, chief coach Jose Brasa said after the side finished eighth following a 2-4 loss to Argentina on Friday.

"We have to see if we can have other players taking their (Prabhjot and Deepak Thakur) position. We had tried some junior players. But we found they were not any better. So we decided to continue with the two because of their experience," Brasa said at the post-match media conference.

"The players who are here in the team, are there because they are the best available. But maybe, later on we can decide to give opportunity to the juniors, keeping the future in mind."

Brasa said the team's main problems lay "inside our D and in the opponent D."

"We played well from the top of our circle to the top of the rivals' circle. We scored some good goals. The goal, that was disallowed on video referral, against South Africa was the best in the World Cup," he said.

On Prabhjot, Brasa said his 'main function' was to score goals, but he failed to live up to the expectations. "But at the Champions Challenge tournament at Salta last December, he scored goals."

The Spaniard said drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was inconsistent. "He can be a good drag-flicker and a very good player. But sometimes he plays well, and sometimes he does not."

He said Sandeep started off well with two goals against Pakistan, but could not reproduce the success in the later matches. However, Brasa also blamed the slow track. "For instance, today Sandeep had problems as the track was slow."

Asked about the roadmap for Indian hockey, Brasa said there should be tours, preceded and followed by training for a month.

"We must organise the itinerary in such a way that there were three-four-five weeks of training before the tours. We also need training before playing practice games and also ahead of big tournament. Also, we should play matches before big tournaments".

On the game against Argentina, Brasa said the team suffered as Argentina's Fernando Zylberberg was left unmarked and the defence allowed two rival players to play freely inside the D.

"We had more ball possession. We also attacked a lot. We got several chances to score, but missed. They entered our D less than ten times and scored four goals. We got in 40 times, but scored only two," he said.

Asked whether the Indian players were not being able to translate gameplans into action, he said: "Maybe. It takes time to change the way you play".

The Times of India



We are missing experience in defence: Rajpal

NEW DELHI: Indian captain Rajpal Singh said on Friday that his team missed experience in defence during the hockey World Cup and emphasised that selectors should watch more domestic matches to unearth fresh talent.

"We are missing experience in defence. The problem is that we don't have anybody like Dilip Tirkey now," Rajpal said after India finished eighth in the World Cup after a 2-4 loss to Argentina in a classification game.

"All the selectors and other officials should watch more domestic matches to find out new defenders and other fresh players," he said.

Rajpal conceded that the Indian team did not show any improvement in terms of matches won.

"In 2006 also we won one match, and drew one. And this time also we have done the same. However, we have now moved up to the eighth spot from the 11th place finish four years back. In that way, you can say I am satisfied," he said.

The India captain, however, denied that the team choked under the pressure of expectations.

"Had that been so, we would not have won the first match against Pakistan," he said.

Rajpal also took a dig at the mediapersons, who asked whether the Indian team was also planning to retire by following the example set by the Pakistan side.

"We finished ninth, tenth and eleventh in the last three World Cups. And under my captaincy the team got the eighth place. And you want me to resign?"

When a scribe pointed out that he had targeted a semi-final finish before the tournament started, Rajpal said: "Somewhere down the line we deviated from our target. The way we started I thought we can make it. In the second match also (against Australia) we played well, though the margin was big. Our team performed well in the subsequent games also, though defence was a big problem."

He said the team's attack has improved after Jose Brasa joined as head coach.

"There have been many differences after he took over. We have Indian coaches also. And everybody sits together and decided the strategy."

The Times of India



Team trouble: Divided & making it known

Saurabh Duggal


Contrary to popular belief that the controversy surrounding the Indian hockey team's captaincy had been sorted out before the start of the World Cup, comes the startling revelation the team is still a divided house. And it, probably, showed in India's performance.

Senior players HT spoke to said that coach, Jose Brasa, had never accepted Rajpal Singh as skipper. For the Spaniard, Prabhjot Singh was the de facto captain.

“He (Brasa) had directed Rajpal not to hold any team meetings or speak to the players before and after the matches. Brasa had given these rights to Prabhjot,” said a player.

“Just to make Rajpal realise who the boss was, Brasa didn't include the forward in the starting XI. Only when Shivendra Singh was banned for two matches, was Rajpal included in the starting line-up. Later, when the player returned after serving the ban, Rajpal again met with the same fate,” said the player.

“Such acts shatter the morale of a player. I appreciate Rajpal's temperament… despite such discrimination, he still performed remarkably,” said a support staff member.

HT spent an entire day at the team hotel on March 10 and noticed an undercurrent of disunity. Even the support staff had been directed not to speak to the players directly or give any instructions.

Brasa had jumped the gun and announced Prabhjot as captain, while Rajpal, Deepak Thakur, Arjuna Halappa and Adrian D'souza were the vice-captains. But Hockey India named Rajpal to lead the team.

“When the HI Selection Committee decided to stick with Rajpal, Brasa held two 'votings' in three days. The first voting was done on February 7. The support staff was asked to give its choice of captain in front of the players. Prabhjot got the maximum votes, confirmed an official attached with the team.

“On Feb 8, we got a communication from HI that Rajpal would continue as captain. Again a voting took place. This time, the players were asked to give in writing that they would not play under Rajpal,” he said. “The seeds of discord were sown then and the team is still a divided house,” he added.

Hindustan Times



Spectators jeered at Indian hockey players

NEW DELHI: A section of the crowd, on Friday, jeered the Indian hockey players and shouted slogans against coach Jose Brasa after the home side lost 2-4 to Argentina to finish eighth in the World Cup.

Just as the Indian players were entering the mixed zone, meant for media interaction after a symbolic lap of honour, some spectators at the southern stand jeered them with expletives.

Captain Rajpal Singh and forward Prabhjot Singh, who had a forgettable World Cup, had a brief altercation with the spectators and the policemen at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium intervened to clam down the crowd.

The spectators also shouted 'Brasa hai hai' and the Spaniard asked the journalists to know what crowd was saying.

Rajpal, however, said the crowd supported the home team more than the players had expected.

"We got support from the hockey fans more than what we had expected. We could not do well in the World Cup but we hope we would make them happy in the Commonwealth Games here," he said.

Striker Shivendra Singh said the players feel sorry for disappointing the hockey fans of the country.

"We are sorry that we could not do well. They must have been disappointed. We will try to do well in future," he said.

The Times of India



Heckled by fans, Prabhjot loses cool

NEW DELHI: After the disappointing end to India’s World Cup campaign, forward Prabhjot Singh courted trouble soon after the match against Argentina by showing the middle finger to some fans who were heckling him.

The players had stopped at the fence near the eastern stand after the match, when this incident happened. After being abused by the fans Prabhjot first got into a heated exchange and then showed the finger in anger. He was led away by field marshals but was so incensed that he repeated the distasteful act.

This surely will not endear him to the fans.

The Times of India



Enraged Prabhjot shows middle finger to booing crowd

NEW DELHI: Striker Prabhjot Singh lost his cool and showed his middle finger to an irate crowd that booed the players after India lost to Argentina 2-4 to finish eigth in the 12-team Hockey World Cup on Friday.

As the Indian players came for the post-match presentation at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, some fans started to abuse them. Minutes later, captain Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot rushed to argue with the spectators on the other side of the fencing.

Securitymen rushed in and brought the situation under control, though a few bitter fans continued to raise slogans against the players.

The Times of India



Priyanka Chopra watches India-Argentina match in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: Bollywood beauty Priyanka Chopra, the brand ambassador of World Cup sponsors Hero Honda, on Friday watched India's hockey World Cup match against Argentina but left when India were struggling to find their feet.

Priyanka, who features in a television advertisement 'Hero Honda Dhak Dhak Go' to promote the hockey World Cup, watched the match from the beginning at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

She was seen sitting with Hero Honda Managing Director Pawan Munjal at the main stand of the stadium but left after 45 minutes into the game, when India were trailing 1-3 in the seventh-eighth place match.

India's hockey players including captain Surinder Kaur also watched the match, which India lost 2-4 to finish eighth in the tournament.

Interestingly, the women players were not brought at the stadium for any pool matches of India.

The Times of India



Pol Amat brace sinks Korea

Pol Amat was on target twice as Spain beat Korea to earn a Champions Trophy spot.

By Anshul Baijal


Two first half goals from Pol Amat helped Spain beat Korea 2-0 in the play-off for the fifth-sixth place at the hockey World Cup. The fifth-place finish booked them a berth in the Champions Trophy later this year.

The 2008 Olympic runners-up Spain started on a brisk note and went ahead after just 18 seconds. Amat slammed the ball into the top right corner to score the fastest goal of the tournament.

This helped the Spaniards to calm their nerves. They kept majority of the possession and did not let the Koreans wander near their goal.

Day's action in pics

Korea were more than happy to play from the midfield and they attacked from the wings. But their attacks came to nothing as the Spanish defence was too good for them.

The Asians had their first serious attempt on goal in the 28th minute but could not get past keeper Francisco Cortes.

Four minutes later, Spain doubled their advantage when Amat tapped in a Xavier Ribas-cross.

The second half started just as the first had, with Spain retaining most of the possession. The Koreans kept pushing forward in search of a goal but they lacked a real intent to score a goal.

Barring a few occasions, where the Koreans earned three penalty corners, the Spaniards were never forced out of their comfort zone. They never really pushed forward after the early lead and a tight defence ensured that there were no hiccups for the Europeans.

This is the worst performance for the Koreans in 12 years, after reaching the semi-finals in the previous two editions.

ESPNStar.com



Spain through to Champions Trophy

Prabhjot Singh


Experienced Pol Amat packed too much of ammunition in his armoury to fire two salvos in the first half to earn Spain not only the fifth place in the 12th World Cup Hockey Tournament but also a place in the next Champions Trophy to be held in Monchengladbach in August this year.

With a brace from Amat, including tournament’s fastest goal, Spain romped home with 2-0 win in the match for the fifth and sixth position before a virtually empty Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium on the penultimate day of the tournament here. So the Asian teams ended their World Cup campaign on a sad note. Korea took the sixth position, India eighth and Pakistan the 12th and last position. Never before the Asians had their teams performing so badly in this elite tournament.

The next edition of the Champions Trophy will also be played without any Asian nation. Interestingly, another distinctive feature of this World Cup has been that all 12 participating teams had recorded at least a win each. Only unbeaten team so far has been the defending champions Germany who will take on runner-up for last two editions, Australia, in the final tomorrow. The Netherlands will play England for the bronze medal.

After India had lost its last match to Argentina 2-4, the crowd started thinning out and not many could realise a new record was in the making. Pol Amat had a goal to his credit in the 18th second of the stat of the match against Korea.

Fed by Alex Fabregas, he had positioned himself well on the right flank to glide the ball past the Korean goalkeeper. Stung by the reverse, Koreans could never get going in a match that saw their superior opponents outpacing them, both in speed and stamina, besides denying them a clear scoring opportunity. Not content with his brilliant opening minute goal, Pol Amat had another surprise for the Koreans before the teams split for half time. He intercepted another cross, this time from the right flank, and positioned himself unmarked on the left flank, to score with yet another deflection.

His amazing brace was clearly the highlight of a match in which a couple of decisions were reversed by the video umpire. In all both Korea and Spain shared five penalty corners between themselves without making use of any. For Pol Amat, it has been an excellent tournament. Only in 2008, he was voted World Hockey Player of the year. Even last time when Korea played Spain, the latter won 3-2.

The Tribune



Super-fast Amat leads Spain to fifth place

NEW DELHI: Pol Amat scored a goal within 18 seconds of the start as Spain beat South Korea 2-0 to finish fifth in the men's field hockey World Cup on Friday.

The mercurial Amat followed his lightning strike with another goal three minutes from half-time to lead the Beijing Olympic silver-medallists to an emphatic win over the Asian champions.

Both teams were reduced to fighting for the 5-6 place after making the semi-finals of the previous World Cup in Germany in 2006.

The win ensured Spain a place in the elite six-nation Champions Trophy to be held in the German town of Monchengladbach from July 31-August 8.

Spain join hosts Germany, the three other semi-finalists at this World Cup, Australia, England and the Netherlands, and the winners of the qualifying event, New Zealand, in the tournament.

Defending champions Germany take on Australia in Saturday's final, the third successive title clash between the two teams in the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Lucas Vila scored two goals as Argentina downed hosts India 4-2 to take seventh place in the 12-nation tournament.

The South Americans, who had not lost a World Cup match to India since 1978, continued their domination of the former champions in the play-off for the 7th-8th positions.

Argentina led 1-0 at half-time through a fourth-minute goal by Tomas Argento, before Sandeep Singh convered a penalty stroke to draw level seven minutes into the second session.

Vila and Facundo Callioni pumped in three goals in four minutes to make it 4-1, a margin that proved beyond India's reach despite a goal from Shivendra Singh.

Argentina had finished 10th and India 11th in the previous World Cup.

New Zealand clinched the ninth position after defeating valiant South Africa in a high-scoring thriller which ended in a penalty shoot-out.

The Black Sticks, trailing 3-4 till the final minute of regulation play, equalised in the last second when Andrew Hayward netted his third penalty corner goal of the match.

Both teams failed to break the deadlock in 15 minutes of extra-time and New Zealand won the shoot-out 5-4 with captain Dean Couzins pushing in the crucial ninth stroke.

New Zealand had finished eighth in the last World Cup, while South Africa moved up two places from their 12th position in the same tournament.

The Times of India



Spain beat Korea 2-0 to finish fifth; qualify for Champions Trophy

New Delhi: Olympic silver medallist Spain ended their hockey World Cup campaign on a high, defeating Asian champions Korea 2-0 here today to finish fifth in the mega-event and qualify for this year's Champions Trophy.

With this win, Spain have kept their slate clean in the fifth-sixth classification match in the World Cup, having won four out of as many appearances.

Today's win also extended the Spaniards head-to-head against Korea.

The two teams have earlier met once in the tournament in the bronze medal play-off match in last World Cup in Monchengladbach, where the European side came out victorious.

Experienced striker Pol Amat scored both the goals (first minute, 32nd), including the second fastest goal in the history of the game to hand Spain a comfortable win at the floodlit Major Dhyn Chand National Stadium.

Amat's goal within the first 22 seconds of the match is the second fastest goal in history of the game after India's Ajit Singh who achieved the feat in 11 seconds against Argentina during the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Korean players were sharp in midfield but were not that effective inside the Spanish Dee.

With a place in this year's Champions Trophy in sight, Spain began with a bang as a sliding Pol Amat registered the fastest goal of the tournament in 22 seconds from an Alex Fabregas pass from the left.

DNA



"Happy to enter Champions Trophy"

Spain coach Dani Martin was delighted after his side qualified for the Champions Trophy.


By Adarsh Vinay


Spain coach Dani Martin was in a buoyant mood after his side overcame Korea 2-0 to secure the fifth spot at the hockey World Cup in New Delhi. The finish gives Spain a berth in the Champions Trophy to be held later this year and Martin was delighted.

“I am happy with the win. Fifth means we enter Champions Trophy and that is a good result for us. We are looking forward to the tournament,” he said.

A brace from skipper Pol Amat had helped the Spaniards beat Korea, and Martin was all praise for the striker. “He’s had a good tournament. He scored some crucial goals for the team. We were without Santi (Frexia) who had topscored in the last World Cup. Pol made up for his absence,” he said.

Barring Australia, the four other teams that finished in the top five at the World Cup are European sides. Martin said that frequent tours between the countries kept them at the top. “We are all neighbours in Europe so we travel to each other’s country for tours all the time. This gives us plenty of exposure and that is essential to be among the top sides in the world,” said the Spaniard.

Korea coach Seok Kyo Shin was not happy with the sixth-place finish. The Asian side had reached the last-four in the previous two World Cups and Shin was disappointed at not repeating that at this championship. “I am very sad with our position. We are a young team with new faces and we’re still in the building process. It will take time,” concluded the coach.

ESPNStar.com



Kookaburras v Germany World Cup final preview

The Kookaburras and Germany will meet in the World Cup Final for the third consecutive time when the 2010 final is played on Saturday 13th March in New Delhi India, beginning at 11.30pm EST.

Germany has emerged victorious in the two previous World Cup final encounters against Australia, winning in 2002 (1-2) and 2006 (3-4).

Five members of the 2006 Australian World Cup squad (Liam De Young, Luke Doerner, Jamie Dwyer, Rob Hammond and Mark Knowles) are still playing in the 2010 World Cup squad, while Liam De Young and Jamie Dwyer were also in the 2002 World Cup squad.

If the Kookaburras are successful it will be their first World Cup gold medal since 1986, of which current coach Ric Charlesworth was playing.

If Germany win, they will become the first country in history to win three successive World Cup titles.

Overall Australia and Germany have played 104 times, with Australia winning 40, Germany 47 and 17 draws.

The two teams have met four times at the World Cup, twice in finals and twice in bronze medal matches. Germany has won three of these four matches, with Australia’s win coming in the 1994 bronze medal match.

Australia v Germany – World Cup Results

2006 Australia v Germany – Final – 3-4
2002 Australia v Germany – Final – 1-2
1998 Australia v Germany – 3-4 playoff – 0-1
1994 Australia v Germany – 5-2 playoff – 5-2

Hockey Australia media release



Australia, Germany set for ‘three’ller

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


New Delhi, March 12: Australia face Germany in the 12th Hockey World Cup final here on Saturday. So what’s new, a hockey enthusiast will ask. The two giants have been doing it over the years, making it to the World Cup finals in 2006 (Monchengladbach) and 2002 (Kuala Lumpur).

The difference this time though could well lie in the presence of one man — Ric Charlesworth. The 57-year old Australian legend doesn’t know how to finish second and that is one thing that can pave the way for his team’s success in Saturday’s final.

Australia and Germany have been the recent powerhouses in hockey and arguably deserve to be in the final once again.

The Kookaburras are adept in modern methods and play with a lot of panache. Their attacking style along with the flair to defend when needed makes them a complete unit.

As a coach, Charlesworth knows how to play his cards well. The team lacked big match temperament in the past — losing both the finals — but in Charlesworth, they possess a man who is very capable of turning the tide.

Charlesworth believes the Kookaburras are not burdened by recent history; as only three members of the current German squad took part in the 2006 win in Monchengladbach.

“Germany are a good side. They are consistent and have quality players all around the field. Everyone talks about their defence but they have some dangerous strikers too. They have a good method with seemingly no weaknesses. But there are some areas we hope to exploit,” said Charlesworth.

Australia will once again bank on forwards Jamie Dwyer and Grant Schubert, along with penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner, the tournament’s leading goal-scorer. The Kookaburras can draw plenty from the sides’ most recent clash, when they came from 3-1 down to beat Germany 5-3 in the Champions Trophy final at Melbourne in December.

“Those experiences from the past are important and sometimes they’re part of the motivation,” he said. “The stories they (the senior players) tell are worth knowing, but we’ve been looking over the last six months at all sorts of important matches from past Olympics and past World Cups and everything that’s necessary for this game.”

Germany, on the other hand, would be hoping to make it a hat-trick. The European giants have fielded different teams in last three World Cups, but the results they have achieved are remarkable.

The Germans draw their strength from their never-say-die attitude. The changes in their squad have had no effect on their show at the big stage and that is their strength. The team rely on the experience of skipper Maximillian Muller, besides strikers Morits Fuertse and Florian Fuchs.

Germany though have one worry in the form of goalkeeper Max Weinhold, who missed the semifinals against England due to injury. Tim Jessualt is likely to take his place in the final.

Said German coach Markus Weise, “We know what to aim for and we have been lucky that our plans have worked out. There is a very thin line between success and defeat and we know that. We will have to give our best to cross the line towards success.”

Added skipper Muller, “We have been playing consistently and that has paid off. We will give our best in the final too.”

The Asian Age



Form guide favours Aussies in World Cup final

ERROL DCRUZ


NEW DELHI: Australia and Germany, for the third time in eight years, will battle for hockeys biggest honour.

When action transpires at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium, on Saturday, the Germans will be on the threshold of a hat-trick of World Cup titles. The Australians, aiming for their second after 24 years, would hope to end a painful sequence of finishing runners-up twice in a row to the same team, Germany.

Coach Richard Charlesworth, though, lets bygones be bygones. "I was just an interested spectator in the last the last two World Cups. Here, the opponents are different, our team is very different, the coaches are different, I am different. This team can make its own history by doing justice to itself and winning the World Cup," the player of the 1986 World Cup said.

Charlesworth, however, is mindful about his opponents in the final. "It will be a difficult game for us", said the man who guided the Australian women to both World Cup and Olympic success.

The Germans, after all, are the only unbeaten team in the tournament. But like the Aussies started on an indifferent note, trailing 0-2 at one stage against South Korea.

They fought back to draw but since then have looked the solid and vaunted unit that they are.

World Cup Head-to-head: Australia won 4, Germany won 4, drawn 3

The Times of India



German perfection vs Australian flair

C Rajshekhar Rao


Mumbai: Will Germany win a third consecutive title or will it be third time lucky for Australia who are vying for their second World Cup title? Though the odds seem pretty even, Germany are the only team in the championship to have improved with each match, seeming to produce something new in each outing.

The Aussies were considered favourites going into this championship, largely because of their recent Champions Trophy triumph. But the Germans have sounded a warning by remaining unbeaten. If Australia’s goal-scoring skills were exemplified with a 12-0 drubbing of South Africa, Germany’s all-round skills have come to the fore time and again.

“We came into the championship hoping to play the finals, now we are looking at winning the title,” said Aussie coach Ric Charlesworth, who is on the brink of becoming only the second man in the history to win both as a player (1986) and a coach.

“We have a different set of players, different strategies, different coach. I watched the last two finals as a spectator, but am confident this time will be different. I would not like to take credit for the performance though,” said Charlesworth.

Australia were the pick of the teams before they were made to fight hard for a 2-1 victory over The Netherlands in the semifinals. On the other hand, Germany — held to two draws in the league — thrashed England 4-1 to ensure a place in the final.

German captain Maximillian Muller fancied his team’s chances even though only three members of the team here were part of their triumph at home four years ago.

“Consistency is the key to our success. We have done well so far, but performances till the semifinals have no bearing on the final,” said Muller, who would be deriving confidence from the way young guns like Florian Fuchs have grabbed their opportunities.

Australian captain Jamie Dwyer was cautious though confident because of the presence of prolific goal-scorers like ace drag flicker Luke Doerner and the mercurial Glenn Turner, apart from himself. “The Germans are a young side, but they can be a tough team to beat. The final will be a different ball game, but essentially, it will be the Australian attack versus the German defence,” Dwyer summed up the prospects of the final.

DNA



Two styles of hockey in final

Dhanraj Pillai


For the third year in succession, the Hockey World Cup will witness a final between Germany and Australia, which goes to show how seriously these two nations have adapted to this speedy and skillful game and how superior they both are, in terms of individual skills and strategic play. These attributes, along with extreme physical preparedness, have helped them reach the final stage of world excellence.

The final is going to showcase two different types of hockey --- one that plays patient hockey, very disciplined and structured, as opposed to one that has great technical skills and individual flair, which outpaces every team that they play with ease and confidence.

In my mind, “Germany” will always be “Germany”. They may have started off the blocks slow (against Korea) but their change of gear ensured them a place in the final. I have always seen Germany as a team that can come out winning the war even when the odds are stacked against them. All they need is a moment of brilliance and they can turn the tables on any team on any day. They are not the reigning World Cup champions for nothing and will be going for a record triple in a row against Australia.

The motivation is already there and what is left is only the execution of the winning formula. For the record, they are the only undefeated team in the tournament and are improving with every game. It was a day when discipline, strategy and game plan were in perfect sync. Germany scored a 4-1 win over England, which celebrated their style of play that I reiterate has not changed over the last 25 years. They went on to prove that though the match statistics showed they did not have more possession than England, their patient game style and fast counter-attacks proved very decisive in ensuring victory.

Australia, meanwhile, would not like to continue to be just contenders and would want to stand on the podium with a World Cup gold medal in hand that has eluded them. Being one of the fittest teams in this tournament, and having many players with individual brilliance, they have been the exciting team to watch with their style of attacking hockey. They are not a team to bore you with simple and patient hockey.

Hindustan Times



An engrossing final on the cards

Hockey Correspondent


— PHOTO: Rajeev Bhat

HITMAN:Jan-Marco Montag (second from right) symbolises Germany's striking power.


New Delhi: The climax of the Hero Honda hockey World Cup unfolds on Saturday. An engrossing finale of the 13-day fiesta is in the offing from the two best exponents on the contemporary scene — Germany and Australia.

Defending champion Germany, also the Olympic champion, is on the threshold of a hat-trick, outclassing the same opponent in the two previous editions at Kuala Lumpur in 2002 and Monchengladbach in 2006.

Will there be a different script in 2010? Why not?

Germany has an unbeaten record in the pool with two drawn games. After a somewhat wonky start against Korea, the German progress has been amazing.

Systematically, they tightened loose ends in passing, trapping and scoring. Every move looks calibrated to perfection.

Age factor

Another factor is age. It is the youngest combination, with an average age of 24. There is a remarkable freshness. The defenders are on their toes all the time. Skipper Max Muller emerges as role model for defenders — alert, athletic and adept in interceptions and clearances. The midfield that shuffles itself in amazing co-ordination has been a treat to watch.

Jan-Marco Montag symbolises Germany's striking power. Whether it is a penalty corner or a deft deflection, he shows a masterly consistency. Oliver Korn, Philip Witte and the seasoned Matthias Witthaus are rebound specialists, a nightmare to the goalkeepers. They give the team a balance and enormous vibrancy.

Ric Charlesworth acknowledges the virtues of the German team. But the Aussie coach believes, and firmly, his boys can deliver. Individually and collectively, the Aussies are capable of maintaining the tenor and tempo almost throughout. Jamie Dwyer works like a beaver. He is well supported by Glenn Turner, Grant Schubert and Desmond Abbott.

Trump card

However, the trump card for Charlesworth is the lanky drag flicker, Luke Doerner, who may well be the match-winner.

Which way the final will go is the million-dollar question. Will the Aussie dream of regaining the trophy, last won in 1986 at Willesden, become a reality? Is Germany destined to become the only team to record a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs? It's a fascinating puzzle, to be resolved on Saturday.

The Hindu



Aussies plot German downfall

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi: Germany will be looking to make history by winning a third straight World Cup title at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on Saturday.

But for that they would have to overcome the challenge from a highly motivated Australia — runners-up in the last two editions.

No other team in the world, not even Pakistan in their halcyon days, could do what this young bunch from Germany is looking to achieve.

But then, as German captain Maximilian Muller said, the final could be the toughest test in their bid to keep their aura of invincibility intact. Australia have the power and skill to upstage any team.

The way the Aussies blocked the Netherlands’ progress in the semi-final was clear indication of their big-match temperament.

The Australians started their campaign on a losing note against England but thereafter won five matches on the trot in the most convincing manner.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth was hoping it would be “third time lucky” against the Germans.

“We’ve learnt from the earlier mistakes and have stepped up. Now I hope we take a further step up in the final.

“Germany are very consistent in their game and have high quality players around the field. They don’t have any weaknesses, but we have to find some in the final. Who knows, it could be third time lucky for us,” he said.

Saturday’s matches: For 3rd/4th place: The Netherlands vs England (3.35pm); Final: Germany vs Australia (6.05pm).

The Telegraph, India



Germany one win away from hat-trick of titles

NEW DELHI: Germany is one victory away from a hat-trick of men’s hockey World Cup titles, while Australia stands in its way, determined to make amends for successive losses in the final.

The third straight title showdown between these nations on Saturday (today) will pit the reigning Olympic and world champion Germany’s clinical precision against Australia’s expansive game.

Germany defeated European champion England 4-1 in Thursday’s semifinals, while Australia won 2-1 against three-time world champion the Netherlands.

Germany’s young team is hoping its big match temperament will see it past Australia, which has received little reward for being among the best teams in the world for the past four decades, winning just one Olympic and one World Cup title.

“Our consistency has been a huge factor in this tournament,” said German captain Max Muller, who is among the majority of German players making their first appearance in the World Cup.

Matthias Witthaus, Moritz Furste and Jan-Marco Montag are the only players from the 2006 champion team left in Germany’s squad that went on to win the Olympic title at Beijing in 2008.

German coach Markaus Weise said the final will be a “great challenge”.

“For me a hat-trick of three successive titles is just a number. I don’t go by statistics, we simply want to win the World Cup once again,” said Weise.

Germany’s strongest challenger in recent years has been Australia, which clinched its first Olympic Games gold medal at Athens in 2004, and is eager to win its first World Cup since 1986.

Australia was tipped as the favorite when it arrived in New Delhi for this World Cup after winning the Champions Trophy three months ago, outplaying Germany in the final.

After losing to Germany in the 2002 and 2006 finals, Australia is hoping for better under coach Ric Charlesworth, who captained the Kookaburras team that won the 1986 World Cup.

“This Australian team has different makeup and history,” said Charlesworth, asserting that the results of the last two World Cup finals is not playing on his players’ mind.

Charlesworth said the team must make more of its scoring chances.

“Our finishing is still a concern. It’s not as good as I want, but finishing in a hockey match is always difficult because other teams push hard,” he said.

Australia’s attack is led by ace strikers Grant Schubbert and Jamie Dwyer, whose golden goal clinched Australia the 2004 Olympic gold medal, while penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner’s seven goals are the highest in the current tournament.

The News International



Aussies stand between Germany and hat-trick of World Cup titles

NEW DELHI: Defending champions Germany would be gunning for a historic hat-trick of titles while Australia would be eyeing their first in 24 years when the two rivals lock horns in the final of the Hero Honda FIH hockey World Cup on Saturday.

Notwithstanding the fact that they are here with a young and relatively inexperienced side, with their consistency, the Germans have showed what it needs to rule world hockey.

Germany, who triumphed in 2002 and 2006, came into the tournament with only three players - Jan-Marco Montag, Moritz Furste and Matthias Witthaus - from their victorious campaign in the last edition in Monchengladbach.

But it hardly affected their performance at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and they approach the summit clash with an unbeaten record in the tournament so far.

Though without their main penalty corner specialist Christoph Zeller in the side, the Germans started their title defense on a cautious note with a 2-2 draw against plucky South Korea.

From there on they made significant improvement match after match, proved by their convincing 4-1 victory over an impressive England in the semi-final.

Under young Maximillian Muller's captaincy, the Germans have bettered their performance with every passing match.

The match will also give the reigning Olympic champions a chance to avenge their last year's Champions Trophy defeat at the hands of Australia in Melbourne, which was incidentally the last meeting between the two sides before the World Cup.

However, in terms of statistics, the Germans have an upper hand as they defeated Australia three times while lost only once in the four matches they played in the World Cup.

Interestingly, the last four World Cup encounters between the two sides ended in Germany's favour.

If that was not enough, it was the same Kookaburras whom Germany overcame in the last two World Cup finals. And going by their record, Muller's men would be aiming to add insult to Australia's injury for the third consecutive time.

Captain Muller too agreed that Germany's consistency and big match temperament stood them apart from other teams in the tournament.

"We have been consistent in this tournament. That made the difference. People say we have the big match temperament and we have the metal strength. It is just like that," he had said.

Australia, on the other hand, have been in ruthless form after their shocking 3-2 loss against England in their tournament opener.

Luke Doerner has been spot on with penalty corners and has so far converted seven of them in the tournament to lead the goal-scorers chart.

To add to that, the trio of Glenn Turner, Desmond Abbot and experienced Jamie Dwyer is a force to reckon with upfront and it will be a test of character for the Muller-led German defense.

Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of both the sides, the match is expected to be a contest between Australia's lethal attack and the German's defence led by captain Muller from the front.

For Australia, the high stakes associated with the game can be ascertained from star player Dwyer's statement, who said the Aussies want to end their final jinx against Germany on Saturday.

"Twice when we came up against Germany in the final we had lost. We want to change it by winning tomorrow. They (Germany) are a very good and solid side, hopefully we will take our chances and win the final tomorrow," he said.

"It could be German defence versus and Australian attack and we hope we will get some early goals," Dwyer added.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth too said that his boys are determined to change the script on Saturday against the resilient Germans.

"This German squad is different (from 2006). But whatever squad they came with they have always been tough customers. Germans always play consistent game. Everybody talked about German defence but they have also very good forwards," he said.

The Times of India



Germany eye hat trick, Australia the title after 24 years

A win away from a title hat-trick, a young German side will be looking for another clinical display in the Hockey World Cup on Saturday to get past the well-drilled Australians whose lone triumph came 24 years ago.

Beginning with a shock 1-4 defeat to England, pre-tournament favourites Australia have won five matches on the trot to reach the final and hope to be third time lucky against Germany, the 2002 and 2006 winners.

The Australians have been the most prolific scorers in the tournament, striking as many as 25 goals, including a record 12-0 against

Germany have a better record

Germany leads the head-to-head 3-1.

2006 (Final): Australia lost to Germany 3-4

2002 (Final): Australia lost to Germany 1-2

1998 (For third and fourth place): Australia lost to Germany 0-1

1994 (For third and fourth place): Australia beat Germany 5-2

The Australians have been well served by their penalty-corner expert Luke Doerner who has converted seven set pieces to emerge the tournament's top scorer alongside the Netherlands' Taeke Taekema. Glenn Turner (6) and Jamie Dwyer (5) have been the other principal goal getters for Australia, who went down 3-4 and 1-2 in the last two finals against Germany.

However, Aussie coach Ric Charlesworth is confident the final this time round will be different.

"This team has a completely different history as compared to the last two sides that lost the last two World Cup finals. This team has a lot of potential and will create its own history."

Olympic champions Germany, on the other hand, came with an inexperienced side, but improved with every match. They were held 2-2 by Korea in the opener, but then won three back-to-back games before finishing with another 2-2 draw with the Netherlands to reach the semi-final as the top team in Pool B. In the semis, they outplayed European champions England 4-1.

The world's number one side has played methodically, building up pressure slowly on the opponents to choke them into submission. Their penalty-corner conversions have been lethal, with a dozen goals coming from the set-pieces.

Besides the seasoned Matthias Witthaus, the youngster Forian Fuchs has played a leading role in the German campaign. The 18-year-old Fuchs has been their main scorer with four goals.

German coach Markus Weise said: "Any team playing in the final will pose a big challenge."

Hindustan Times



Charlesworth looks to join elite club

Age Correspondent


New Delhi, March 12: When 22 men from the two best hockey teams in the world take centre stage on Saturday night, there will be two others to watch out for — those behind the success of Germany and Australia — coaches Markus Weise and Ric Charlesworth respectively.

While the teams chase history, the coaches too have a lot at stake.

Victory here will mean Charlesworth will become just the second man to have been a part of a World Cup-winning team and have coached one too. For Weise, after coaching a German men’s and women’s team to Olympic gold, he’s now hoping to see his young boys take home a World Cup.

While Charlesworth’s men in gold and green were pre-tournament favourites, it was different for Weise, for whom the most important task was to ensure his boys did not get weighed down by expectations.

Speaking about building a team, Weise said, “It was very important to ensure there wasn’t too much hype around the boys as they entered the competition as defending champions and with only three players from the previous edition.”

Weise feels the key to his team’s success so far has been execution of plans and effective communication.

A victory here may not create ripples back in Germany, but it would be reward to for the passionate bunch of youngsters who have put their all-important academics on the back burner to be here.

“There is a big gap between football and rest of the sports in our country. Our victories are not celebrated, Michael Schumacher is the only other person after from the footballers who generates national interest. These boys play more for passion and that shows on the field,” said the 48-year-old German coach, who took over the reigns in 2006.

The Asian Age



Aussie coach: We can beat Germany

Despite losing the previous two World Cup finals to Germany, coach Ric Charlesworth believes Australia will be third time lucky.


By Adarsh Vinay


Australia coach Ric Charlesworth was pleased to see his team enter the hockey World Cup final for the third straight time. He was happy with his side's performance in the 2-1 win over Holland in the semifinal.

"As expected it was a tough game. A World Cup semifinal is always going to be difficult. We kept possession for most of the game and made many chances. We had enough quality today to justify the win," he said.

Australia will be up against Germany in the decider on Saturday. Charlesworth was all praise for the Germans who beat England 4-1 in the other last-four tie.

"Germany are a good side. They are consistent and have quality players all around the field. Everyone talks about their defence but they have some dangerous strikers too. They have a good method with seemingly no weaknesses. But there are some areas we hope to exploit," said the Australian.

Australia played Germany in the final of the previous two World Cups, with the latter winning on both occasions. Charlesworth refused to accept that his team would be apprehensive. "Those matches are history. They will have no bearing whatsoever. We are confident we can beat them on Saturday."

A win on Saturday would be a personal milestone for the Australian coach, who has won the World Cup as a player in 1986. But Charlesworth said that was not on his mind. "It is not about the coach or about personal milestones. These players deserve to realize their potential. That is all that matters," concluded the legendary Australian.

ESPNStar.com



"Speed is part of our tactics"

Star Australian player Like Doerner speaks to espnstar.com on the team’s journey so far in the World Cup.

By Rajarshi Gupta


Like Doerner’s natural flair has caught often caught the opponents’ defence napping in the Hockey World Cup.

The joint top-scorer in the World Cup (with the Netherlands’ Taeke Taekema) has been on top of his game in the tournament and admits it is an Aussie tactic to “intimidate” opponents.

“Speed is part of our play and we intimidate teams with it. We are a fit unit and that is something that has held us together against most other sides in the World Cup.”

Australia set a World Cup final date with Germany for the third successive year and Doerner has done the star turn for the team more often than not, slotting in seven goals in the process. That leaves him with a realistic chance of overtaking Taekema, who too has one game left. However, he claims statistics do not bother him.

“I am really not thinking about how many goals I can end up with. That doesn’t worry me. Hockey is a team game and all 11 players need to play well to for the side to win. I have just done my bit for the team.”

Australia beat the Netherlands 2-1 in a tense semi-final (when Doerner had scored too), where the Dutch fought back hard after being two goals down, replicating their flair that had seen them make the last-four. Was he worried of an Oranje backlash in the dying stages?

“They were two goals down with still some time left but we always knew that it would be a close game. Every team wants to give it their best shot in a semi and the Dutch had been on a roll but we were not worried. Our plans were well in place and they were executed perfectly.”

Ahead of the final, Doerner said it is imperative that the team stayed glued to the challenge at hand and refused to think too far beyond.

“It is good to reach the finals and now we have to just keep concentrating. The World Cup is still not over.”

The Aussie spirit is something to inspire. Despite an upset loss to England, they came back to thrash India, who were on a high after packing Pakistan off in their opener amidst much frenzy at home. Doerner represents the charisma that makes the team what it is. So, don’t bet against him inching ahead of Taekema as the leading scorer in the World Cup and Australia turning third time lucky.

ESPNStar.com



"Reaching WC final a great feeling"

German striker Florian Fuchs, in an exclusive chat with espnstar.com, reveals his desperation to reach the World Cup finals.

By Rajarshi Gupta


At 18 years, Florian Fuchs is the youngest player at this year’s Hockey World Cup but that has not stopped him from stamping his authority on the German team.

The defending world champions have a chance to become the first team to win the Cup three times in a row and Fuchs is thrilled to be part of what could be the greatest moment in the history of hockey.

“We deserved to reach the finals after playing so well throughout the tournament. There is no greater feeling for any player than turning up for a World Cup final.

It has been a great experience and it would be terrific if we can win the final. Three times in a row will be magical.”

Fuchs was merely 10 years-old when Germany started their journey to eternal glory eight years back and today he finds himself on the threshold of a major sporting moment. Does that make him anxious?

“Not really. I have loved playing against some of the best players in the world. My focus throughout the World Cup has been on scoring goals and that his how it will be when we play Australia.”

Despite scoring two goals in his side’s first win of the tournament against Canada, coach Marcus Weise had complained that Fuchs needed to adjust to team needs quickly. The youngster adjusted alright and learnt to deal with the ardour of international sport and the pressure that comes with it in front of packed crowds

“The crowd in India gets right behind you if they like what they see. It is different and I like it, very different from what it is in Germany.”

India’s failure to make it to the last-four did not discourage fans from rooting for their own favourites at the National Stadium and that is something young players like Fuchs and super stars like Taeke Taekema will take away with them.

For now, though, the focus will be firmly on young Fuchs, who has been the toast of a campaign that promises to create more ripples on Saturday night.

ESPNStar.com



Penalty-corner conversions can be decisive in the final

NEW DELHI: For Australia's penalty-corner expert and their principal scorer Luke Doerner, breaching the German defence in the Hockey World Cup final Saturday will be a big challenge.

Doerner, the joint top-scorer of the tournament with the Dutch Taeke Taekama, has scored all his seven goals through short corners and is hoping that his stinging drag-flicks do not misfire in the tournament's title match.

"It has been a good tournament for me and I hope that I can make those chances count for my team in the final," Doerner said.

"Penalty corners are very important in modern hockey. There is a lot of emphasis on a good penalty-corner conversion rate because it sets up the match. You need to have skill and lot of training to make it perfect."

"Germany have a strong defence and they improved with every match. But I don't think there will be any pressure on me in the final. I have been steady and the timing of the strokes is going right for me," said the 29-year-old defender.

Doerner said the Australian team would be hoping to be third time lucky after losing in the previous two World Cup finals.

"We share a good rivalry. Germany are good competitors and they excel in major tournaments. We are in good form but we know that we have to fight for everything against them," said Doerner, a member of the Australian team that lost to Germany in 2006 World Cup at Monchengladbach.

Both teams will look to convert their penalty corners as they have a good conversion rate going into the finals.

Australia, after wasting a dozen penalty corners while going down to England in their first match, came back splendidly to score 10 goals from penalty corners in their next five matches with Doerner doing bulk of the job.

Germany on the other hand, have scored 12 penalty-corner goals, and through nine different players.

The defending champions have come up with some brilliant set-pieces using various combination to catch the rivals on the wrong foot.

"They have been brilliant with their set-piece variations and I think we have to study and do homework for the final. We will have to work out a strategy," says Doerner, also a defender.

Another Australian player Mark Knowels agrees with Doerner's observation that Germany's defence has stood rock solid.

"We know that we have to fight for every ball. We cannot afford to relax against Germany. They are very strong in defence and are also penetrative upfront. We have been playing an attacking game. It will be about taking chances in the final."

"We have been the top two sides of the world for a few years now. And it shows in top tournaments for which we reserve our best and come out on top. We have had a healthy rivalry and hopefully this time we can pull it off."

The Times of India



England Hockey after bronze medal World Cup consolation

England face the Netherlands in a bronze medal play-off on Saturday hoping to put a winning seal on their best World Cup performance since 1986.

Jason Lee's side lost their semi-final to Germany to end hopes of matching the team of 1986's runners-up finish.

But defeat of the Netherlands in Delhi would still provide a welcome fillip looking ahead to London 2012.

"It's good for us in our progress towards the 2012 Olympics," head coach Lee told BBC Sport.

"Our aim before the tournament was to get to the semi-finals - we thought that would be a stretch for us - but we did that rather comfortably, so it was only in the back of our minds that we could get further than that.

"The semi-final was only our second at World Cups while it was Germany's 11th consecutive one, which tells you a lot.

"Our challenge is always to create a team from the youngsters coming through - we're not as blessed as India, Germany, Spain, Australia for example - but we're getting there."

England qualified for the last four courtesy of victories in their first four group games, including wins over eventual finalists Australia and hosts India.

But defeats to Spain, in their final dead rubber group game, and Germany have left something of a sour taste in the mouth that forward James Tindall hopes can prove inspiration for the team in the future.

"It is great to be getting to the latter stages of tournaments but now we want to be pushing on, we want to be world champions, Olympic champions, that's what we're striving for," he said.

"The bitter taste this has left in the mouth can be used as motivation looking ahead.

"I think we're good enough to win the Olympics if things go our way and with the support of the home crowd. That's our aim."

The bronze medal play-off gets under way at 1000 GMT, followed by the final between Germany and Australia at 1230 GMT.

BBC Sport



Age just a number for Canadian duo

Manuja Veerappa


New Delhi, March 12: They had the oldest pair of legs in the 12th edition of the FIH World Cup, yet they also had the spirit to match that of any tyro.

Supremely fit, energetic and motivated, Canada’s Rob Short and Ken Pereira are not going back home with the World Cup — their team escaped the wooden spoon by beating Pakistan and finishing 11th — but they warmed many a heart with their physical and mental strength.

Best friends and the beacons of hockey in Canada, Short at 37 and Pereira at 36 are the oldest players in the competition. Bidding adieu to the World Cup was a tough proposition for the duo.

“We would like to play in four more World Cups, ”joked Pereira who along with Short competed in the 1998 World Cup, the last time Canada had qualified for the quadrennial event.

The duo who play in the Dutch league laid the stepping stone for Canadian hockey players who wanted to look beyond playing for the country. Short in fact, was the first non-local to skipper a Dutch league side.

Looking back at their international careers which they both started in 1996, they feel the long and thorny journey has been a voyage worth the effort.

“Together we have heard our National anthem being played over 300 times at international matches and yet even today we get goose bumps when we hear it. It’s been a great journey for us. when we started off we found the going tough and even wanted to quit, but we hung in there and now we feel it was worth it,” said Pereira who took over the reins of captaincy from Short.

Despite the shift in leadership there was no heartburn between the two.

“Captaincy is just a title. We both have played under each other’s captaincy and learnt a lot. We are best friends off the field so being there for each other always mattered for us.” said Short.

Although their World Cup dreams are done with, the twosome are not ready to hang up their boots yet.

“We are not done yet. After a short break, we go back to the Netherlands to play in the league and then head back home to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. You haven’t seen the last of us yet, we are sure to come back here to give are best yet again,” said the Indian-born Pereira.

The sun may have set on their World Cup dreams, but they will continue to shine bright on the horizon of world hockey.

The Asian Age



Watching with critical Eye

Ijaz Chaudhry


This reknowned sports journalist takes a look at the best and the worst of the World Cup.

Durability:
-De Nooijer, the Dutch captain is playing his fifth World Cup
- Dutch manager, Ties Kruize appeared in all the first six World Cups as a player

Consistency:

-Germany has appeared in the semi finals of all the last 11 World Cups.
- If they win the final on the 13th, Germany would be completing a hat trick of World Cup victories; an unprecedented feat

undefined Confidence:
- Germany has the youngest team here with an average age of only 23

v- Germany has only three players from their winning squad of 2006 World Cup

The Most Improved Team:
- England reached the World Cup semi final for only the second time and for the first time outside their country
They managed to do that despite losing a number of players through injuries. Simon Mantell and Matt Daly on the eve of the World Cup and then the influential deep defender, Richard Mantell during the third match

The Most Unexpected Finish:
- The record four time champions, Pakistan had the ignominy of getting the wooden spoon

The Best Come Back:

-When South Africa lost to Australia 0-12, it was the heaviest defeat for any team in the World Cup’s history. But in the very next match, South Africa bounced back to beat Pakistan, the record four time champions

On the verge of creating history:
- German captain Maximilian Muller has been a member of the last two World Cup winning teams. If Germany wins the final, Muller would be only the second man in history to be a member of three World Cup winning squads. The first to do so was Pakistan’s Akhtar Rasool

A Continent’s disappointment:
-Only for the third time no Asian team featured in the semi finals. The only other occasions were 1986 and 1998

Then kings now paupers:
- The manager and coach of the last placed Pakistan team, Asif Bajwa and Shahid Ali Khan both have been World Cup winners in the past, Bajwa in 1994 and Khan in 1982

No dependency:

- Teams with the best penalty corner conversion rates, Germany and England, are not dependent on a single drag flicker and also have no fearsome name like Taekema, Abbas, etc. among their ranks

That defeat would haunt us:
The third ranked Spain surprisingly lost to Pakistan who eventually finished last, a defeat which cost them the semi final spot

The most influential video referral: With score at 2-2, India scores against South Africa. The Africans asked for a video referral related to a ‘foul’ committed in Indian circle moments back. The third umpire cancels the Indian goal and awards a penalty corner to South Africa who cash on it. The score board which showed 3-2 before the referral now displayed 2-3

The master coach:
- Australian coach, Richard Charlesworth has coached the Australian women team to two World Cup victories and same number of Olympic golds. He also has a World Cup winner medal (1986) as a player

Post Match Conference:
- A coach not knowing his team’s ranking. Pakistani coach Shahid Ali Khan in a post match press conference told the press men that his team is probably ranked eighth or ninth (their FIH ranking is seventh)
- Koreans’ interpreter was herself not much conversant with English causing a lot of confusion. This led to a change of interpreter after first three matches
- Brasa was most popular with his answers interspersed with wit, humour and Hindi words
- Korean coach’s hearty laughter before answering most of the questions made him also a favourite of the journalists

Knee-jerk Reaction:
- Within hours of Pakistan's defeat in the last position match, the president of Pakistan Hockey Federation, Qasim Zia dismissed the entire management and the selection committee.

Stick2Hockey.com



Teams should know how to use video-referral, says Negre

NEW DELHI: Defending the video referral introduced at this World Cup, International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Leandro Negre Thursday said it is the teams and the officials who need to know how to use the system judiciously.

The Spaniard said everyone on the field, including the coaching staff, used the video-referral poorly.

"Everybody from the umpires, players and coaches have to learn about the video referral. I must say a lot of teams in this World Cup have used the referral system rather poorly. Teams have to be wise in choosing which referral can change the course of the match. Some teams called for the referral when it was absolutely not needed," Negre said.

The FIH is likely to review the video referral system at its executive committee meeting here Monday.

The new video referral system has come under fire from top coaches like Australia's Ric Charlesworth and India's Jose Brasa.

Brasa was livid after the on-field umpires Ged Curran and Roel van Eert went for a video referral, disallowing his team's third goal against South Africa.

The Times of India



An Indian dream and the divide within...

Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times


Far removed from the glamour, glitz and crores which dominate the sporting discourse in our country, is the hockey world. It is a world dotted with players who don’t get millions to represent their country, nor do they have fancy jobs or get huge salaries, which would make their future safe and secure.

It is a world of petty bank clerks, plumbers, university students and the likes who take leave from their employers or even a break from their jobs or studies to play for their country. In fact the Indians are, ironically, the most privileged lot among the teams who are competing in the World Cup. Unlike them, the players from the other nations are not rewarded with decent jobs by the government for their skills on the field. The Indian team, again in comparison, gets “better” allowances and is showered with monetary rewards if they do well, like it happened when they beat Pakistan.

The South Africans, against whom India had such a tough time in drawing level, had no money to participate in the World Cup, and were finally funded with money arranged from a lottery. There are many instances where teams in the past have had to collect money themselves to participate in a world championship as governments have refused to fund them. Yet, India in the past three decades or so has languished far behind the other nations and, judging by the skills on display in this year’s World Cup, it is unlikely that they can regain their once undisputed champion status in the near future. The chasm between them and the top four teams is huge, be it basic skills of the game, speed, stamina, training or tactical acumen.

Watching the Australians or the other top teams control the ball, dribble with it, trap it dead and create spaces in the field, that too while running like grey hounds, is a spellbinding experience. We have for long been fed stories that India is a more skillful team but lose out to the Europeans because the artificial surface rewards brute strength more than subtle skills. This could have been true in the past, but not any more.

The free-flowing Europeans or the South Koreans are a sheer delight to watch. In contrast, the Indians not only lack basic skills, they commit more fouls and unnecessary rough tackles than the other teams.

The problem with Indian hockey is obviously deep-rooted and can’t be sorted out by getting good foreign coaches to train those who are already a finished product. If coach Barsa, as reports have suggested, had to correct the basics of the senior players, then there is something wrong with our grass-root training methods. What we need is a greater stress on junior training programmes which should be managed by people like Barsa and not just hire coaches for the National team and expect them to suddenly produce world beaters.

At a much larger level, the problem also stems from economic disparities, which infects our society. In the developed world, the amateur spirit of the players can remain alive, as insecurities of survival may not be an issue with them. The majority of aspiring young Indians who strive to play hockey in small towns and villages have little access to decent sporting facilities and are always worried about securing a future for themselves.

In India, there does not seem to be any middle ground possible: It is either the millions which cricket is offering or nothing.

Hindustan Times



Security agencies look other way, allow gadgets

Prabhjot Singh writes from New Delhi


Security agencies may have been inserting advertisements in media, both electronic and print, cautioning people against bringing to Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium when they come to watch the World Cup Hockey matches.

The lists of items banned include laptops, handicams and cameras. And the teams need these items the most. Hockey has been keeping pace with the technological advancements. Players on the bench now have available to them laptops that can help them to have a playback of an action, say a penalty corner, so as to counter strategy of his opponents.

Many teams not playing the World Cup or have just failed to qualify for the mega event also need to video record some of the matches for the benefit of their teams for their future international engagements. They, too, are allowed to bring in their gadgets.

Of course, media, too, is permitted to carry cameras, laptops, pencils and pens into the media box as well as media box but not beyond a point. Teams carry these gadgets on to the play-field; get connected to the video recorder sitting behind one of the goalposts, recording the entire.

Video recording is then relayed to the laptop of the team on the ground that is kept aside. Manager, coach and players on the bench can access or replay any of the recorded moments.

Head sets are more sophisticated. Team managements have their men in stands for reporting back movement and placement of men on the playfield at strategic moments; say before, during and after award of a penalty corner, free hit from 25 yard line or even a 16 yard free hit.

For any good coach or manager, it is important to analyse how each member of the opponents’ team conducts himself on the playfield with and without ball.

Needless to say that maximum a player can hold the ball is a little more than two minutes. That is simple mathematics, 32 players in a game of 70 minutes. So how does a player conducts himself or positions himself for the remaining 68 minutes is an important component of strategic planning.

Here the audio visual aids are handy as human eye and brain at times cannot take cognisance of each and every movement on the play- field. While the Europeans and Australians are far advanced in the use of the latest technology, teams from the subcontinent - India and Pakistan - appear to be lagging behind.

Game is faster. It is why the need for introduction of video umpire was felt for a long time. What could be more stunning that a number of decisions originally taken by umpires had to be reversed? Award of a penalty stroke to the Netherlands that had been originally blown for a free hit for Australia and denial of goal scored by India against South Africa are some of the examples of revised decisions.

It is not only players, conduct officials and technical staff but also the spectators turning techno-savvy. Other day Chairman of the Communication Committee of the International Hockey Federation talked about twitting and use of iPods and blackberries by the spectators while declaring big plasma screens inside stadiums as redundant.

Watching games and sports from stands has to change. So have the security norms. You cannot keep on revising the banned items upwardly. Some of these items are becoming an all-time necessity. You cannot allow one section to carry them inside the stadium while banning the other section.

The Tribune



Taking Indian hockey stars on a ride

G. Rajaraman


One of the spin-offs in a career in which writing and commenting on cricket seems to have taken precedence – despite having been to Olympic Games, Asian Games, SAF Games and numerous other non cricket sporting events – is that I have not been in touch with a whole generation of Indian hockey players.

A quirk of fate offered me a chance to make some headway in that direction when I got to spend some quality time with some players last week. In fact, I got to chat up with a couple of them from the Indian squad that took the field in the Hero Honda FIH World Cup on a 15-minute drive and we were able to exchange notes on a number of contemporary issues facing Indian hockey.

One of the pet peeves of the contemporary player is that their predecessors keep insisting that they do not work as hard as they did in their time. “I believe that if we had played in their era, we could have played three matches in a day. Such was the pace at which hockey was played then,” one of the players told me.

Now, that may be debatable but the players – like the modern cricketers who believe that past players are making a living by commenting on their performances – do have a point about some of the former stars being a little uncharitable towards the present squad. For I have always believed that former players have a responsibility towards the sport that they played so passionately and follow with similar intensity now.

If I tended to agree with the spirit of that statement I was in disagreement with what came next – and it had to do with payments. “We don’t get compensated for the amount of work we put in at training,” the player said, pointing out that unlike in the past when National camps were not year-long affairs.

“Players could spend time with their families and turn out for their respective employers’ teams in the domestic circuit. Now, we do not spend much time at home and find it hard to play for our employers,” he said. I pointed out that money was not the reason they had picked up the hockey stick the first time and said I believed their recent strike was unjustified.

“You talked of dues when you were not contracted to get any amounts from your Federation,” I said. “I am not against you making money but I disagreed with your method. If you were seeking player contracts and graded payments, you should have got into negotiations with the Federation and convinced them like the cricketers did a few years ago.”

To their credit, both players did not show any signs of animosity and heard me out when I explained how the then captain Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath spent close to two years convincing officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India that graded payments needed to be introduced.

“I agree that we started playing because we were passionate about it and did not expect to be rewarded for pursuing our passion,” he says. “But having coming along and having proved ourselves to be the best in the land, is it unfair to expect to be compensated? And, don’t you think many youngsters would be drawn to the game if we make it lucrative enough?”

Of course, I said. And since we had arrived at our destination, it was time to drop them with promises to stay in touch and share notes and ideas.

Stick2Hockey.com



Brasa: Pak series a good initiative

Coach Jose Brasa feels the bilateral test series with Pakistan will be good for Indian hockey.


By Adarsh Vinay


Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation on Thursday announced their plan to conduct an annual bilateral series between the two countries. The series will be for both men and women and will be played by the senior and junior national teams on a home and away basis.

India coach Jose Brasa believes the series is a good initiative and that it will provide much needed experience for the national side. "We need to play more matches. That has been our problem. More matches will mean more experience. Only then can we improve," he said.

In the ongoing World Cup in New Delhi, Pakistan finished bottom among the twelve teams. When asked if playing against such a side would help India improve, Brasa said that the first priority was to play matches no matter who the opposition.

"The most important thing for the Indian team is to play matches. I said before the World Cup that India had played less matches than most of the other teams. Had we played some matches, we would have performed better. So the most important thing is to play, regardless of the quality of the opponents," said the Spaniard.

With the topic on Pakistan's poor showing in the championship, Brasa said it had a lot to do with the defeat to India in the opening tie. "Losing to India must have been a mental blow. The India-Pakistan match was hyped up. The media gave it too much importance. Losing that match affected them the way it would have affected us had we lost."

He added that Pakistan's performance in the tournament was a series of highs and lows. "They lost their opener to us but after that they beat Spain. Then again they lost two matches but played very well against Australia. And then they went and lost to Canada."

"They lacked consistency. That is proof of how badly they also need to play more. The bilateral series will help both sides," concluded Brasa.

ESPNStar.com



Pakistanis fear backlash

Hockey Correspondent


NEW DELHI: The Pakistan team, fearing a backlash back home after finishing 12th and last in the World Cup, is preparing to take a flight to Lahore on Saturday without staying for the final.

It may be recalled that the team came to Delhi from Lahore by bus, via Wagah border, carrying a message for peace.

Predictably, the reaction in Pakistan to the poor showing by the four-time World champion is one of anger and disappointment.

While the PHF stepped in quickly to minimise the damage by sacking the team management and calling for an Executive Board meeting to take stock of the situation, what baffled everyone was the retirement of all the 18 players. It is important to note here that at least seven of these players have been in the national team for less than a year.

Sources close to the team reveal that enormous emotional pressure has been exerted on the young players to smother the feeling of outrage on arrival. At least six senior players are preparing to play in the European league where they earn substantially.

The Hindu



Seniors do not deserve place in the new team: Hasan Sardar

NEW DELHI: Sacked Pakistan chief selector Hasan Sardar, on Friday, blamed the quartet of senior players for the debacle in the hockey World Cup and favoured inclusion of only younger crop in the new national team.

Sardar said it was seniors, Rehan Butt, Sohail Abbas, Salman Akbar and Wasim Ahmed, who failed to respond to the challenge.

He said these players do not deserve a place in the team, which now should be made of only youngsters.

Sardar also termed as 'pre-mature' the decision of the entire squad to resign and retire from international hockey.

"I think the players decision is pre-mature. They are very upset so they have done this. There is no doubt that this is the worst ever performance by Pakistan but the world does not ends here," Sardar said from Lahore.

"Our players are not that bad as the result suggests. But some of them have let us down. We relied on them and they did not deliver. Salman Akbar, Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Wasim Ahmed are the four senior players who should be shown the door.

"The juniors are not bad. PHF should reconstruct the team and there should be no place for these four players in that," added the hero of 1978 and 1982 World Cups.

Pakistan suffered the ignominy of finishing last in the World Cup when it lost to Canada in the play-off match yesterday.

The shoddy show led to sacking of the selectors and the entire team management by the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

Taking up the moral responsibility of the defeat all the 18 players sent their resignation to the Federation.

When asked whether over reliance on senior players was a strategic mistake, Sardar shaked his head.

"You can't blame the selectors. These players have performed reasonably well in some of the recent tournament. We have beaten England and India and drew with the Netherlands. But I think they are a spent force now. Let the youngsters take the charge of Pakistan hockey," he opined.

Sardar, who witnessed Pakistan's sloppy performance, said the loss against arch-rivals India was very demoralising for the team.

"India-Pakistan matches are known for good hockey but we lost the match so badly. There was no coming back for the team then. We played better against Australia but there can be no excuse for the consecutive defeats. We have seen the golden era of Pakistan hockey so it pinches us even more."

Sardar said indiscipline could also be behind team's poor show in the mega-event.

"On the field there was a lot of indiscipline for sure. As far as the dressing room is concerned, we have to wait for the team managements report. But I guess something was wrong with the team," he said.

The Times of India



Congress to remove any office bearer of PHF

LAHORE: President, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Qasim Zia on Friday made it clear that only PHF congress was the competent body to remove any office bearer of the national hockey federation.“Congress is the only body to remove any office bearer through a no confidence move upon its success “,he told a news conference here on Friday after his return from India where he watched Pakistan’s shameful 12th and last finish in World Hockey Cup.

“They are  elected office bearers and they can be shown exit after no confidence motion passed against them by Congress”,he said adding” No other body or way could sack them “.

Answering a question, he denied that in the past a PHF secretary Khalid Mahmood was changed through a letter of the federal sports ministry and Muhammad Asif Bajwa was appointed in his place. “Khalid himself resigned and was not sacked by the sports ministry “,he added.

He also remained tight lipped when pressed time and again that was there pressure on the PHF president and secretary to quit after team’s dismal show in New Delhi in mega event.

However,Qasim, in a face saving move had earlier announced to dissolve the entire selection committee and the team management.And much to the surprise of everyone, the entire national team also submitted their resignation after Canda beat them 3-2 in a classification match.

PHF President expressed his determination to build a team for this year’s Asian Games which according to him (Qasim) was the main target of the national hockey federation.

“I am confident that we will be able to recover from this heavy loss which we suffered in the Cup as there is enough talent which will help is lifting the hockey out of present gloom “,he asserted.

“I will be having a personal interaction with the players to reverse their decision because there are some talented players in the team and we badly need them to proceed further “,he added.

“It was a good gesture shown by the players as they took fully responsibility for team’s debacle in the Cup “,he maintained.

To a question, he said, after receiving manager and coach reports the future line of action will be drawn or to conduct inquiry into the matter that what went wrong in Cup that the team performed so bad.

He denied the media report that the team management under which Pakistan had finished 11th in the 1986 World Cup in London had been banned for life.It was the worst defeat of Pakistan which had won the World Cup for four times in the past.

Associated Press of Pakistan



We will support PHF- Zeeshan Ashraf

ISLAMABAD, Mar 12 (APP): Pakistan team finished 12th, their worst ever finish, in the World Cup after losing 2-3 to Canada in the 11th-12th place playoff in New Delhi Thursday. All 18 members of Pakistan hockey team announced their retirement from international hockey following the four-time champions’ 12th place finish in Hockey World Cup. Pakistan Hockey Federation Qasim Zia, a member of the 1984 Olympic gold winning squad, has dissolved the team management and National Selection Committee after poor performance of the team in World Cup.

All those booted out are team manager Asif Bajwa, coach Shahid Ali Khan and assistant coach Shafqat Malik.

The selection committee comprising chief selector Hassan Sardar, Rana Mujahid Ali, Khalid Bashir, Farhat Khan and Muhammad Shafiq have also been sacked. Bajwa, however, is holding on to his position as the PHF secretary-general.

“All the 18 Pakistan hockey players will retire from international hockey after their poor performance on the World Cup,” sify.com quoted team manager Shahzad Malik as saying.

Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf said that all the 18 players feel they are responsible for the defeat and have decided to retire from international hockey.

“Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has done a lot for the players, but the players have failed to deliver. We will support PHF and we will also be available if Pakistan needs any player any time,” said Ashraf.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Ex-greats plan move to remove Bajwa as secretary

Former Pakistan coach says stake-holders should focus on positive steps to help team bounce back in future events

By our correspondent


KARACHI: Former Olympians on Friday threatened to kick start a nation-wide campaign for the removal of Asif Bajwa as secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) after the Greenshirts flopped miserably in the Hockey World Cup in Delhi.

“Asif Bajwa is responsible our team’ pathetic show in the World Cup, he should be sacked immediately,” said Olympian Qamar Zia.

“We launched a Go-Jamali-Go campaign two years back and will not hesitate to begin a similar campaign to save Pakistan hockey,” added Qasim, who said that he and fellow Olympians will hold a press conference on Sunday (tomorrow) to announce their plans to save Pakistan hockey.

Back in 2008, former Pakistan greats pushed for the sacking of Zafarullah Khan Jamali, the then PHF president, after finished finished on a poor eighth position in the Olympic Games in Beijing. Jamali was removed and was replaced by Qasim Zia last year.

In spite of repeated calls from former Olympians, Qasim Zia has refused to sack Bajwa as PHF secretary.

Islahuddin, former Pakistan captain, urged Bajwa to resign as PHF secretary.

“Bajwa should resign himself as secretary because he is the biggest culprit of our World Cup disaster,” Islah told this correspondent.

“If Bajwa is not brave enough to quit then PHF president should sack him,” added Islah.

Muhammad Saqlain, another former skipper, said that Bajwa called all the shots as the PHF secretary and Pakistan team manager and should take responsibility for his team’s last-place finish in the World Cup.

“Bajwa is the main culprit, he must go,” said Saqlain.

Muhammad Shafiq, who was sacked along with other national selectors, said that there is no justification for shifting the entire blame on the selectors.

“Holding only selection committee responsible is not justified because it’s the PHF secretary who is responsible for running the hockey affairs,” said Shafiq.

“Bajwa removed talented Shafqat Rasool because of personal grudge, his presence could have made a difference,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Shahid Ali Khan, who was sacked as Pakistan coach after the catastrophic showing in the World Cup, said that the former Olympians were barking up the wrong tree.

“As coach, I am responsible for our team’s defeat in the World Cup,” he told ‘The News’ from New Delhi. “It is totally wrong to single out Asif Bajwa for the team’s poor showing,” said the former Olympian.

Shahid said that Pakistan has suffered a huge blow in Delhi and hoped that better sense will prevail and proper steps will be taken to bounce back from the debacle.

“I believe that what Pakistan hockey needs at the moment are positive and constructive steps so that our team can bounce back from this disaster,” he said. “I hope that the PHF will find good coaches and selectors to put this team back on track.”

Commenting on his players’ decision to retire after finishing 12th in the World Cup, Shahid hoped that the players will change their mind and focus on getting ready for future events like the Asian Games.

The News International



Ruckus in Pakistan hockey as federation, team collide

LAHORE: Confusion and blame-game continued in the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) as officials, team management and players took collision-course after a disastrous World Cup performance.

The PHF on Thursday sacked the team management and the entire selection committee following the national team’s worst ever performance in the World Cup in India.

Pakistan finished last among the 12 competing teams in the World Cup on Thursday after a lowly-ranked Canada beat Zeeshan Ashraf’s men 3-2 in extra-time.

Unlike the Pakistan Cricket Board which refused to hold the team management accountable for the disastrous cricket tour of Australia, PHF President Qasim Zia wasted no time in removing the team management as well as the national selection committee soon after the shameful defeat against Canada.

Later, talking to newsmen, he said that Asif Bajwa would no more be the manager of the national team and his role will now be confined to just being the PHF secretary. “Asif Bajwa is an elected secretary, he will not be working as manager anymore,” Qasim said.

He said after the arrival of the team a meeting of the PHF Executive Board would be convened to take further action on the matter while a thorough inquiry would also be conducted into the debacle.

According to reports, Chief Selector Hasan Sardar had already made up his mind to quit his post and on Thursday announced his resignation minutes before Qasim disbanded the entire selection committee as well as the team management in New Delhi.

Those directly affected by the PHF move includes Coach Shahid Ali Khan, Assistant Coach Shafqat Malik, besides manager Bajwa. Among the selectors who were shown the door on Thursday are Rana Mujahid, Khalid Bashir, Farhat Khan and Mohammad Shafiq.

When asked why he was still holding office following the World Cup disaster, PHF President Qasim said his target was always the Asian Games 2010 and if the team fails to win that event, he may also quit Pakistan hockey.

“From day one I have been saying that my target is to win the Asian Games and if we failed to win that title, I may relinquish the job,” he said.

To a question he said though the seniors also failed to deliver, hockey was a team game everyone should feel responsible for the poor show. “The team has been giving good performances for the last one year and we were hoping some good results in the World Cup. But unfortunately, the team could not click in the mega event,” he said.

Denying media reports that the entire Pakistan team had also resigned, Qasim Zia said he had no such information. “I have no contact even with the PHF secretary in India after the defeat in the last match,” he said.

However, later a PHF press release confirmed the news that all the 18 players had also tendered the resignation. Sources said that the players took the decision to resign in unison because there was tremendous pressure on them to take full responsibility of the World Cup loss and they were finding it difficult to face the enraged fans back home.

Qasim further said the team had the potential to qualify for the semi-final but this result was unimaginable. “The way our team won the World Cup qualifiers in France and played the finals of the Champions Trophy qualifiers and also the Asia Cup, there were signs of improvement in the side. “Nobody was expecting this kind of performance in the World Cup,” he said dejectedly.

Meanwhile, chief selector Hasan Sardar, while talking to Dawn, said that he had advised the PHF president to dissolve the entire selection committee and the team management. “I had tendered my resignation to the president two days back with a request to accept it soon after the end of the World Cup. On Thursday I advised him to also dissolve the entire selection committee,” Hasan said.

However, chief selector was unhappy over the news coming from India that the players had also tendered their resignation enmasse. “I think they have taken this decision in sheer frustration and they should review it,” he said.

“The results are really bad and no one can defend this performance. But many players have still a lot of hockey left in them and they should not go to this extent,” he suggested.

“Captain of Pakistan team Zeeshan Ashraf said from New Delhi, India, that all the 18 players while taking responsibility for the team’s poor show at the mega event had decided to retire from international hockey,” a PHF press release said.

“He said that the PHF have done a lot for the players in every field but the players could not deliver as per the expectations of the nation.

“We will support the PHF in the future in any aspect of the game and will also be available if Pakistan needs any player any time,” it further said.

The 18 players who announced their retirement are Nasir Ahmad, Salman Akbar (goalkeepers); Zeeshan Ashraf, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Rashid (full-backs); Mohammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmad, Mohammad Imran, Fareed Ahmad, Sajjad Anwar (halves); Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Zubair, Akhtar Ali, Omer Bhutta, Abbas Haider and Mohammad Rizwan (forwards).

Pakistan earned the 12th position in the 12-team mega event. It could win only one match against Spain while losing to India, England, Australia and weak sides such as South Africa and Canada.

Meanwhile, former Olympian Naveed Alam advised Qasim to also resign following the defeats. “If all the decisions of the PHF have to be taken by Asif Bajwa or Rana Mujahid, then Qasim Zia should resign as PHF president and he should only continue with his political career,” he said.

The national team is to arrive here on Saturday.

Dawn



World Cup debacle

Dawn Editorial


Pakistan hockey plumbed record depths this week when the national side finished last in the World Cup, a tournament it has won four times between 1971 and 1994.

Stung into action by this dismal showing, the hockey federation summarily sacked the team’s coaches, its manager and the entire selection committee. The players meanwhile announced they were retiring from the international game en bloc, though this should be seen more as a gesture than a decision set in stone. Whatever their shortcomings, the last thing Pakistan hockey needs right now is the mass departure of players both seasoned and young. The Pakistan Hockey Federation president, for one, is opposed to the idea and seems certain that the proposed exodus will not materialise. The end result — 12th position — does not reflect our true ability and should not be allowed to permanently scar the team’s psyche.

So what went so horribly wrong in New Delhi? If anything the side seemed to be improving of late. In the run-up to the tournament, Pakistan drew two matches in Doha against the Netherlands, a formidable foe that reached the semi-finals of this World Cup. One theory is that the greenshirts may have peaked too early. They certainly did not play to their potential when it mattered most and often looked listless in the field. Low expectations going into the tournament did not help either.

The PHF set the bar too low when it suggested that ending up fifth or sixth would be satisfactory, which is hardly the stuff to give the troops before sending them into battle. Fitness levels also looked suspect and it sometimes seemed that the team was playing without a plan. The top sides are improving at a rapid rate and perhaps it is time the PHF hired a foreign coach who can train the team along modern lines.

Dawn



Asia should have more representation in FIH: Gill

NEW DELHI: Sports minister MS Gill, on Friday, expressed disappointment over the controversial referral system introduced in the hockey World Cup for the first time and said the FIH needs to have more representation from Asia in the management of the sport world over.

Gill said with the International Hockey Federation earning half of their revenues from India, the nation should have greater say in the affairs of world hockey.

"I feel Asia should have more participation in the management of hockey and in the referral system. I have already told this to FIH president (Leandro) Negre," Gill said during a luncheon meeting organised by the Sports Ministry for reporters covering the World Cup.

"FIH's main earning comes from India. India contributes 50 per cent of FIH's revenue. The Netherlands comes next. World hockey has to have India and Pakistan in the management of the game.

"I had discussions with Mr Negre and he is keen that Indian hockey should come up once again. He is keen that India should host more international tournaments," Gill added.

The sports minister also expressed satisfaction with the home team's performance in the megaevent, saying as long as the players and coaches give their 100 per cent he has no issues.

"As long as the players are giving their best I am happy. As a sports minister, my focus now is on the Commonwealth Games, and then the Asian Games, 2012 London Olympics is also not far away. The players have to train hard, play as a team without any irritation or infighting. They have to be disciplined, dedicated and give their best," Gill said.

"The same goes for the coaches. Their job is to do their very best with the team. As long as they are doing it, I am content," he said.

Gill said barring a few issues, he was happy with the way the World Cup has progressed so far.

"More or less, it has been a good tournament in a world class stadium built in just 14 months time. It encourages us to conduct more hockey events in future.

"We have noticed a few little shortcomings and glitches but they will be taken care of. It is a new stadium and the tournament is a good learning experience for us," he said.

The sports minister also apologised to the media, who were restricted from covering the national team's practice session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the run up to the World Cup on the pretext of security.

"We rapidly got the stadium ready and security surrounding the tournament was a worldwide concern. The tournament organisers, the Delhi Police and the participating teams all had their concerns. So I am sorry if any inconvenience is caused to anyone," Gill said.

FIH had, on Thursday, issued a new deadline to Hockey India to sort out its affiliation issues and conduct the much-awaited elections by May 31 and the sports minister too said that he was in favour of free and fair polls at the earliest.

"HI elections are purely an internal matter but off course it has to be done and there is no doubt about it. From the beginning, I said that I want fair and clean elections acceptable to India.

"The three formula for this is clean electoral role, independent presiding officer, not from the parent body or the Indian Olympic Association and thirdly secret ballot," Gill said.

On the India-Pakistan encounter, which the home team won 4-1 in the opening day of the tournament on February 28, Gill said, "There were on and off breaks in sporting ties between the two countries, so the match was a special occasion. The entire world wants to see India-Pakistan hockey.

On the country's preparedness for this year's Commonwealth Games, the Minister said, "In January, the hockey stadium was given to the country and in the next month the shooting range, which is the best in the world.

The Times of India



Perform during Razak Cup or you are out, national hockey players told

By S. RAMAGURU


KUALA LUMPUR: Players in the national hockey training squad have been told that their performances will come under review at the Razak Cup tournament, which will be held in Kuantan from March 24-April 4.

The 25 players will have to prove their worth to remain in the team as the coaches have been given the mandate to make changes or increase the number of players in the team to 30.

National coach Stephen van Huizen said: “This decision was made earlier when the selection of the initial squad was made after the Malaysia Hockey League) ended on Feb 12.

“We have clearance (from MHF) to increase the number of players in the squad by another five. But we will only do it if we are convinced that we have left out players who merit selection. The current players must also show that they are better than those who have been left out.”

The team are preparing for the Asian Champions Trophy, which will be held in Ipoh from April 14-18.

The long-term target for the team is the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November where a place in the London Olympics is at stake.

The national players have been working on their fitness level and will only be released to their respective state sides five days before the Razak Cup tournament begins.

“We believe that five days is enough time for the players to get ready with their state teams. We will name the training squad again after the tournament and then make our final selection for the Asian Champions Trophy a few days before the tournament starts,” said Stephen.

Stephen is working with Tai Beng Hai in preparing the team. Both coaches are taking charge of the team on an interim basis until the MHF make an appointment of a foreign coach.

The team has two other assignments this year – the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh in May and the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October.

The Star of Malaysia



Wanainchi confident for Rockets game

By David Namunyala


National Hockey League
Today
Wanainchi v Rockets


WANAINCHI manager Eriya Baluma is confident that his team is in good shape to win today’s game against Rockets in the national hockey league at Lugogo.

Both sides have registered a win in one game played.

“My boys are all in good shape and am sure they can’t stand to loose today’s game” Baluma said.

The New Vision