News for 09 January 2012

All the news for Monday 9 January 2012


Germans lift the Richard Docherty cup

RICHARD DOCHERTY INDOOR CUP - NAPIER UNIVERSITY ENGAGE SPORTS CENTRE  -  SUNDAY 08 JANUARY.

FINAL
HIGHLAND JAGUARS V GROSSFLOTTBECKER (GER)

Grossflottbecker from Hamburg showed why the Germans are the masters of the indoor game with a 6-5 victory over Scotland in a pulsating final of the Richard Docherty Indoor Cup in Edinburgh yesterday.  However, Billy McPherson`s charges must take a lot of credit for taking the Germans right to the wire with a spirited performance before the European Nations Trophy next weekend.

Scotland got off to the best of starts with a goal from Ross McPherson with the first attack of the game.  The Germans were certainly taken aback when the Scots doubled their lead from a penalty corner, Allan Law switched the ball to Grange`s Gary Cameron who promptly swept it home.  This setback spurred the Germans into action and Felix Schuess fired in a quick hat-trick in as many minutes to put Grossflottbecker into a 3-2 half-time lead.

The Scots were back on level terms within two minutes of the restart, at a penalty corner Allan Law switched the ball to Chris Wilson to score with ease.  The Scots then went 4-3 ahead, a Willie Marshall flick from the spot sent the German goalkeeper the wrong way after Andrew Thornton`s initial effort had been illegally saved on the line by a defender.  The Germans retaliated, Schuess was on target again for the equaliser, followed by a further goal from Alan Forsyth, ironically a Scottish internationalist guesting for Grossflottbecker.  

Marshall gave the Scots a life-line with a low shot to make it 5-5, but with three minutes left that man Schuess got his fifth goal of the game which proved to be the winner for the Germans.

BRONZE MEDAL PLAY-OFF
INVERLEITH V HC RDG (NED)

Inverleith recovered their composure to see off HC RDG 9-8 to take the bronze medal in a game that transpired to be a brilliant display of indoor hockey by both sides that thoroughly entertained the crowd.  The Edinburgh outfit raced into a 3-1 lead in the opening five minutes through Derek Salmond, Chris Grassick and Callum Duke.   It then took the Scots another ten minutes to add a fourth from Philip Hall for a comfortable half time lead.

In a thoroughly entertaining second half which contained a dozen goals between both sides, the Dutch tried vainly to get back on level terms but Inverleith managed to hold on to their lead through goals from Ross Jamieson, Chris Duncan, Duke, Grassick, and Dick.

5/6 PLAY-OFF
GROVE MENZIESHILL V CELTIC PANTHERS

The depleted Grove Menzieshill outfit finished in sixth place after falling 6-4 to the Welsh national squad under the guise of Celtic Panthers.  It all started well for the Taysiders, Andrew Suttie gave them an early lead from the spot and that was followed by a quick double from Josh Cairns for a 3-0 lead in only eight minutes.

Instead of Menzieshill consolidating their early lead, instead it signalled a Welsh come back through Ben Croxall, Joe Naughalty and Owaine Dolan-Gray.  The first half ended square at 4-4 with Cairns picking up his hat-trick goal and Croxall scoring again for Wales.

Menzieshill failed to find the net at all in the second half but Andy Siemann and Naughalty again provided the winners for the Panthers.

SEMI-FINALS

In the first semi-final the German side Grossflottbecker swamped HC RDG 15-3.   Philip Otte was top scorer with seven goals while Ferdi von Oetzen notched a hat-trick.

The all-Scottish semi-final between Billy McPherson`s national squad and Inverleith ended with the former running out comfortable 9-3 winners.  It took eight minutes before Chris Wilson gave the Scots the lead with a penalty corner that went in off the goalkeeper`s stick.  Scotland then scored a flurry of goals in the final minutes of the half, Wilson picked up his hat-trick with two goals from very narrow angles, followed by strikes by Gareth Hall and Allan Law for a five goal lead at the interval.

The second half was a slightly more even affair, Gary Cameron made it six only for Chris Grassick to open Inverleith`s account with a penalty corner shot that went in off the bar.  Scotland then raced into a 9-1 lead through a double from Willie Marshall and Wilson picked up his fourth of the contest.  In a late rally Stephen Dick scored a couple of late set pieces, but by then the result was never in doubt.

Scots featured prominently in the end of tournament awards, Scotland`s Allan Dick picked up the goalkeeper of the tournament award, Edinburgh-born HC RGD`s Laurence Docherty, elder brother of Richard whose untimely death at 27 was the occasion for the tournament, was top goalscorer while Grossflottbecker`s Philip Witte got the player of the tournament.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



No change at the top

There was no change at the top of the women`s Cottish Subway indoor national league as top sides VWS Dundee Wanderers, Grove Menzieshill and Milne Craig Western all won both games as expected while Reid Kerr College Kelburne consolidated fourth place with wins over Clydesdale and Grove`s second string.

League leaders Wanderers did it the hard way, with their regular goalkeeper Carmin Dow injured, they decided to play both games with six outfield players, but still managed to see off CALA Edinburgh 7-4 and Granite City Wanderers 10-2.

Sarah Robertson gave CALA an early lead, but Wanderers retaliated with three goals before the interval, Rachael Osborne , Louise Sheriffs and Julie Bryce were the strikers.   Despite the fact that Sam Sangster did a very creditable job as kicking back, goals from Lucy Lanigan and Robertson brought the scores level at 3-3.  Wanderers stepped it up and Bryce, Sheriffs and Amy Rowan gave the champions a 6-3 lead.  Emma Watson hit the target with a penalty corner which flew into the roof of the Wanderers` net, but a goal by Bruce in the final minute sealed the points for the Taysiders.

Wanderers then saw off Granite City with a hat-trick from Sheriffs, two for Bryce and the rest were all singles.

Grove also picked up an easy three points from their second string, Ailsa Wyllie scored two while the others came from Louise Carroll, Leigh Fawcett, Jaime Lyon and Louise Campbell.  A 12-2 victory over Clydesdale followed, Jaime Lyon got four, there were hat-tricks each for Linda Clement and Wyllie while Fawcett scored twice.

Western also started off with a comfortable 6-0 win over Granite City Wanderers, Ellie Cockburn and Susan McGilveray both scored twice while Anna-Mae Morton and Fiona Bruce.   CALA was much more of a struggle, especially when Amy Brodie gave the Edinburgh side a half-time one goal lead.  After the interval Catriona Ralph equalised with a spectacular reverse stick shot and with three minutes remaining Nicky Skrastin notched the winner.

Despite a hat-trick from Nikki Lloyd Kelburne beat Clydesdale 6-5. Emma Barlow and Amy Hislop both scored twice and the others came from Laura Carlton and a last minute strike from Claire McFarlane to seal the points.  In their second outing the Paisley outfit overcame Grove A 4-1 with Drew Berry getting a double.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



East Grinstead top the table on road to Wembley

The Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships came to a dramatic conclusion at the weekend with East Grinstead finishing top of the table.

Joining the Sussex side in the finals are Bowdon, Beeston and Reading. The indoor championship will be concluded at Wembley Arena on Sunday January 29.

For East Grinstead, the final day ended much the same as most others, with them winning both games.

Reading proved to be a stern test in their first encounter of the day and it took a second half comeback with goals from Ashley Jackson and David de Prez to clinch a 5-4 victory.

But the second game proved to be less of a test for East Grinstead as they put Sevenoaks to the sword with a 12-2 win. Great Britain international star Ashley Jackson was irrepressible once again, weighing in with five goals. The win ensured that East Grinstead could not be caught at the top of the table and go to the Finals undefeated on 22 points.

Bowdon finished in second place on 19 points.  After managing only a draw in their first against Old Loughtonians, they knew it would be a tall order to top the league.  But they played their final game before East Grinstead and piled the pressure on the leaders by hitting an incredible 18 goals against Harleston Magpies. Simon and David Egerton scored four each and Alastair Brogdon scored a hat trick.

It was not to be enough but they will take comfort in the fact that they are currently free scoring and dangerous opponents for anyone.

Beeston beat Canterbury 6-3 and although the Nottingham side lost to Surbiton 4-2 in their final games, a haul of 15 points meant they still finished in third place, three points ahead of Reading in fourth.

Reading had to rely on their superior goal difference to qualify for the finals after a loss and a victory on Sunday left them level on points with Surbiton.

Surbiton will be feeling hard done by after beating Beeston with their other match ending in a 6-6 draw with Canterbury.

They looked to have done enough when Tim Deakin scored in the 39th minute but a last minute David Mathews strike gave Canterbury a share of the spoils.

With the line up for the 2012 Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals complete, three of 2011's finalists will return to Wembley Arena on Sunday 29 January.  East Grinstead, Beeston and Reading all return to the 7000 capacity arena while Bowdon's men join their women at Wembley for the first time.

England Hockey Board Media release



Women's Super Sixes Semi Final line-up confirmed

Victories against Trojans and Canterbury on Sunday saw Bowdon Hightown take top spot in the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships.

No one has managed to beat the Cheshire side in the league stage of the indoor championships and the completed league table sees them sitting pretty at the head of the table, five points clear of the rest of the field.

Joining Bowdon Hightown in next Saturday's semi finals at Loughborough University will be Sutton Coldfield, Leicester and the 2011 runners-up Reading, after a thrilling final day in Bristol.

Michelle Liptrot and Tina Cullen have forged an incredible partnership for Bowdon Hightown and on Sunday alone they found the backboard 12 times between them, scoring all of the team’s goals.

Against Trojans, Cullen opened the scoring in the first minute before a quickfire hat-trick from the stick of Liptrot condemned the opposition to an 8-2 defeat.

Canterbury were next up and goals from Susannah Townsend and Grace Balsdon were not enough to stop Bowdon from taking maximum points once again.

Sutton Coldfield and Leicester were both in a strong position to finish second and as the two met, the game ended with honours even at 2-2.

Interestingly, both of these teams played Slough in their other matches and both recorded victories. And although Leicester were the more convincing winners over Slough with a Katie Long hat-trick helping them to a 6-4 win, it was Sutton Coldfield who snuck into second place, equal on points but with the slenderest of goal differences.

Canterbury had a lot to do on the final day if they were to reach the finals with them needing victories against Bowdon and Trojans to be sure of qualifying.

Although they competed with Bowdon Hightown they couldn’t find a way to beat the leaders and a 6-2 win over Trojans wasn’t enough, they miss out on the finals by just a single point.

It was Reading who took the fourth spot with two Emma Thomas braces contributing to a 5-3 win over Harleston Magpies and a resounding 6-1 beating of Clifton.

It’s been a long slog for Harleston Magpies who have lost all eight games of the series, scoring just ten goals.

Just above them on three points, Trojans have also struggled to compete but have put their all into making the last day of the group stage a difficult one for the top teams.

The top four teams in the Women’s Premier Division are now headed to Loughborough University where they will battle it out to reach the final to be played at Wembley Arena.  Ticket's for next weekend's semi finals are on sale at www.englandhockey.co.uk/store, starting at just £3.

England Hockey Board Media release



England men confirm squad for Euro Indoors

Experienced team to take on Europe's best in Leipzig



England's Richard Alexander in full flow (Photo: FIH / England Hockey Board)

The England Hockey Board has announced the England men’s indoor squad to compete at the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championships in Leipzig from 13-15 January.

The squad contains nine of athletes that won England promotion to the elite Championships from Europe’s second tier two years ago.  Richard Alexander, Nick Brothers, Jonty Clarke, Adam Dixon, Ashley Jackson, Glenn Kirkham, Richard Mantell, George Pinner and Richard Smith were all members of the side that topped the standings in Poznan in 2010 and are joined by Reading’s Nick Catlin, Hampstead & Westminster’s Dan Fox and Surbiton’s Rob Moore, all of them experienced internationals.

Alexander, Brothers, Kirkham, Mantell, Moore, Pinner and Smith all competed in last year’s FIH Indoor World Cup where England finished sixth having qualified for the tournament for the first time.

Despite missing the Indoor World Cup, East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson leads England’s goal scoring exploits going into the European tournament having scored 20 in his 12 indoor international appearances.  Reading’s Jonty Clarke, with 14 goals in 12 games, Beeston’s Adam Dixon – 14 in 20 – and Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith - 16 in 26 -  also boast promising tallies.

Eight of the squad head to Germany on the back of helping their club teams East Grinstead, Beeston and Reading qualify for the Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals at Wembley Arena later this month.  East Grinstead pair Kirkham and Jackson helped their side win the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships Men’s Premier Division on Sunday, propelling them into the Wembley showpiece.  Beeston pair Dixon and Pinner and Reading quartet Brothers, Catlin, Clarke and Mantell will also feature for their sides in London in three weeks, with Bowdon the other side to qualify.    

Speaking about his squad selection, England Men’s Indoor Head Coach Andy Halliday said, “With the Olympic Games only 200 days away, we are utilising the short indoor season to support our London 2012 preparation.

“The European indoor competition is an ideal opportunity for players in the Olympic training group to develop and hone tight skills in a pressured environment.  As a consequence, this is an asset to our outdoor game.

“Primarily, selection for Leipzig has been made with outdoor development in mind. However, injury status and fatigue have also been taken into consideration.  With the increased workload of an Olympic year some players will benefit from spending time concentrating on their strength and conditioning programme ahead of our return to outdoor hockey towards the end of January."

In preparation for the tournament next weekend, England recently took part in a series of matches against German club sides in Hamburg.  Speaking about England’s preparation, Halliday added, “I was very pleased with our performances against German Bundesliga opposition at the training camp in Hamburg.  We have a tough pool in Leipzig but if we can match the intensity shown in Hamburg I think we may surprise a few people."

In Leipzig, England’s men will compete against the continent’s top exponents of hockey’s indoor format including 2008 European Champions Russia, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, with whom they are grouped in Pool B.  Pool A features World Cup Winners and hosts Germany, defending European Champions Austria, Spain and Switzerland, who also won promotion from the second tier in 2010.

England met all three of their Pool B opponents during the 2010 FIH Indoor World Cup campaign.  On the opening day, England beat the Czech Republic 2-1 with Glenn Kirkham, who will captain England in Leipzig, on the score sheet.  Against Russia, England narrowly lost 3-2 while also losing to the Netherlands, 4-2, in their final match, the fifth-sixth playoff.

The intensive three day tournament will see England play two matches on each of the opening two days with a classification match on the final day, Sunday.  England’s campaign begins on Friday afternoon against the Netherlands before playing the Czech Republic in the evening and Russia on Saturday morning.  A cross-over match or semi final awaits on Saturday afternoon before the classification and medal matches on Sunday.

England secured back-to-back European promotions in 2008 and 2010 after returning to the indoor scene to aid the development of athletes for the outdoor game following an eight year absence.

ENGLAND MEN’S INDOOR SQUAD FOR EUROHOCKEY NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Name (Club) England Indoor Caps/England Indoor Goals - Age


Richard Alexander (Surbiton) 18/7 - 30
Nick Brothers (GK) (Reading) 21/0 - 28
Nick Catlin (Reading) 5/0 - 22
Jonty Clarke (Reading) 12/14 - 30
Adam Dixon (Beeston) 20/14 - 25
Dan Fox (Hampstead and Westminster) 10/0 - 28
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) 12/20 - 24
Glenn Kirkham (Captain) (East Grinstead) 15/2 - 29
Richard Mantell (Reading) 18/8 - 30
Rob Moore (Surbiton) 6/1 - 30
George Pinner (GK) (Beeston) 4/0 - 24
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) 26/16 – 24

ENGLAND’S FIXTURES

Date – UK Time – Local Time - Fixture


Friday 13 January – 13:00 – 14:00 – England v Netherlands
Friday 13 January – 17:30 – 18:30 – England v Czech Republic
Saturday 14 January – 10:20 – 11:20 – England v Russia
Saturday 14 January – tbc – tbc – cross-over or semi final
Sunday 15 January – tbc – tbc – classification or medal match

More information about the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championships, please visit http://www.eurohockey2012.de/

England Hockey Board Media release



Scotland Men's squad for EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II

The Scotland Men's squad for this weekend's EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II in Lignano, Italy has been named by coach Billy McPherson.

Current national league leaders Grove Menzieshill dominate the selection with six included in the twelve man travelling party for the tournament taking place 13-15 January.

Scotland are drawn in Pool A, where they will play Italy, Sweden and Ukraine, whilst Pool B is made up of Belarus, Denmark, Poland and Slovakia.

For more information, please visit the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II website.

Scotland Men: Allan Dick (Inverleith) Adam MacKenzie (Inverleith) Allan Law (Grange) Gary Cameron (Grange)Andy Ross (Grove Menzieshill) Ross McPherson (Grove Menzieshill) Chris Wilson (Grove Menzieshill) Andrew Thornton (Grove Menzieshill) Michael Ross (Grove Menzieshill) Gavin Byres (Grove Menzieshill) Gareth Hall (Glynhill Hotel Kelburne) Willie Marshall (Glynhill Hotel Kelburne)

Pool A: ITA/SWE/SCO/UKR; Pool B: DEN/POL/BLR/SVK
Friday 13 January

10:30 B Denmark v Belarus
11:40 B Poland v Slovak Republic
12:50 A Italy v Scotland
14:00 A Sweden v Ukraine
15:30 B Belarus v Slovak Republic
16:40 B Poland v Denmark
17:50 A Scotland v Ukraine
19:00 A Sweden v Italy
Saturday 14 January
09:00 B Denmark v Slovak Republic
10:10 B Belarus v Poland
11:20 A Italy v Ukraine
12:30 A Scotland v Sweden
15:30 D 4A v 4B
16:40 D 3A v 3B
17:50 C 2A v 2B
19:00 C 1A v 1B
Sunday 15 January
10:30 D 4A v 3B
11:40 D 3A v 4B
13:00 C 2A v 1B
14:10 C 1A v 2B

Friday 13 January

10:30 B Denmark v Belarus
11:40 B Poland v Slovak Republic
12:50 A Italy v Scotland
14:00 A Sweden v Ukraine
15:30 B Belarus v Slovak Republic
16:40 B Poland v Denmark
17:50 A Scotland v Ukraine
19:00 A Sweden v Italy

Saturday 14 January

09:00 B Denmark v Slovak Republic
10:10 B Belarus v Poland
11:20 A Italy v Ukraine
12:30 A Scotland v Sweden
15:30 D 4A v 4B
16:40 D 3A v 3B
17:50 C 2A v 2B
19:00 C 1A v 1B

Sunday 15 January

10:30 D 4A v 3B
11:40 D 3A v 4B
13:00 C 2A v 1B
14:10 C 1A v 2B

Scottish Hockey Union media release



D/Force gets a spanking in Ventures semis

Nigel Simon


Solomon Eccles netted twice as Petrotrin spanked last year’s winner Defence Force 7–3 in their Men’s Open Division semifinal of the ninth annual Ventures Invitational Indoor Hockey Tournament at the Woodbrook Youth Facility, O’Connor Street, Woodbrook, yesterday. Eccles got his goals in the 20th and 30th minute while Dwain Quan Chan (third), Holland-based Wayne Legerton (25th), Tristan Grant (32nd) and Arielle Bowen (37th) added one each for the National Outdoor league champions, 3–1 ahead at the half. For Defence Force, which was also runner-up in 2010 to Ontario United, Mickel Pierre (fourth), Shane Legerton (24th) and Marcus James (27th) each scored.

In the final which was contested after press time last night, the Oilmen came up against Notre Dame which upstaged round-robin table-toppers Queen’s Park 2–1 on sudden-death penalty-flicks after a 3–3 draw in regulation-time. Shawn Lee Quay fired the Parkites ahead as early as the first minute but Shaquille Edwards drew the Dames level with nine minutes left, only for Dominic Young to restore the Parkites lead in the 34th minute. The Dames got even for the second time when Isaac Marecheau scored in the 37th minute and looked set for victory until Guyana’s Jerry Bell rescued the Parkites with a penalty-corner goal with only three seconds left on the clock to set up penalty-flicks. However, Bell soon turned from hero to villain as he and team-mate Evan Farrell both missed while captain, Darren Cowie scored.

For the victorious Dames, Aidan De Gannes and Edwards were on target while Marecheau missed. In the Women’s Open Division, Paragon and Notre Dame advanced to the tournament decider. Paragon led by a hat-trick from Zene Henry and one from Kristin Thompson whipped Ventures II, 4–1 while Kayla Brathwaite also banged in all three goals for the Dames in their 3–2 defeat of Ventures I. A new women’s champion was crowned this year as Canadian-based Goan Overseas Association (GOA), who won the women’s competition last year, did  not defend its title. GOA, who have won the title on two occasions, cancelled their trip following the announcement of the State of Emergency last August.

Both Open competitions carried a first prize of US$1,000 as well as a trophy. The runners-up got US$500 and third,  US$200. In the Veterans Division final, title-holder Defence Force came up against Malvern.

Results

Semifinal  
Men Open:

Petrotrin 7 (Dwain Quan Chan 3rd, Wayne Legerton 25th, Tristan Grant 32nd, Arielle Bowen 37th) vs Defence Force 3 (Mickel Pierre 4th, Shane Legerton 24th, Marcus James 27th)
Notre Dame 3 (Shaquille Edwards 31st, 39th, Isaac Marecheau 37th) vs QPCC 3 (Shawn Lee Quay 1st, Dominic Young 34th, Jerry Bell 40th) - Notre Dame won 2-1 on penalty-flicks.

Women Open:
Paragon 4 (Zene Henry 24th, 25th, 35th, Kristin Thompson 30th) vs Ventures II 1 (Rachael July-Sheppard 37th)
Notre Dame 3 (Kayla Brathwaite 5th, 31st, 36th) vs Ventures I 2 (Yesenia Luces 16th, Arielle Williams 37th).

Saturday
Men’s Open:

D/Force 5 (Mickel Pierre 3rd, 30th, Marcus James23rd, 36th, Nicholas Wren 18th) vs Petrotrin 4 (Wayne Legerton 36th, 39th, Atiba Whittington 1st, Dwain Quan Chan 28th)
QPCC 3 (Daren Cowie 12th, Evan Farrell 15th, Dominic Young 16th) vs Paragon 2 (Akim Toussaint 5th, 17th)
Petrotrin 6 (Atiba Whittington 3rd, 24th, Dwain Quan Chan 6th, Jonathan Williams 13th, Micofael O’Connor 39th, Wayne Legerton 32nd) vs Notre Dame 1 (Selwyn King 14th).
D/Force 7 (Marcus James 3rd, 6th, 24th, 26th, 29th, 37th, Gerard Ferguson 16th) vs Paragon 5 (Kiel Murray 5th, 34th, Sheldon Mc Kellar 20th, 39th, Akim Toussaint 11th).
Notre Dame 5 (Isaac Marecheau 20th, 32nd, Joe Cendrowski 2nd, Keith De Peza 5th, Aidan De Gannes 16th) vs D/Force 1 (Shane Legerton 28th)

Veterans:
Malvern 4 (Scott Dopson 3rd, 24th, Charles Carter 18th, Gary Hercules 36th) vs Fatima 1 (Roger Macedo).
D/Force 6 (Nicholas Wren 6th, 20th, Gerard Ferguson 20th, Roger Daniel 22nd, Paul Dijholtz 33rd, Gordon Snow 34th) vs Malvern 3 (Charles Carter 7th, 25th, 35th)

The Trinidad Guardian



Hockey greats predict bleak Olympics

ISLAMABAD: Hockey is unlikely to bring any glory for Pakistan at the 2012 London Olympics, according to the assessment of former greats of the game.

Factions within the team, technical and fitness issues and now the ongoing legal battle between the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and former Olympians are all likely to compound matters for the Greenshirts as they face a mountainous battle in London.

Veteran Spanish captain Santi Freixa commented at the 2011 Champions Trophy that Pakistan were “growing a lot and looking to the Olympics they’ll have a great squad.” His view are poles apart from the fate predicted by former Pakistani Olympians who have claimed that the team had no hope at the showpiece event.

“It is technically easy to catch the mistakes of players on the field during a game from afar. We can see those mistakes but when we, like any good coach, voice our opinion we are ignored,” said the national team’s most successful former captain Islahuddin.

“Where is the coach of the team? Where was he during the Pakistan-China series? Who is judging the performances of the players?” former Olympian Khalid Mehmood asked.

The China series, which marked the return of international hockey in Pakistan after a gap of seven years, and a clean-sweep was the only consolation for the Greenshirts after failures at the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy and the Champions Trophy.

“We failed to play as a team and that cost us dearly. The European teams are very tough but had we managed to stretch those patches of good performances into the entire game, we would have achieved better results,” captain Mohammad Imran said after the Champions Trophy debacle where they narrowly avoided the wooden spoon.

Imran also dismissed rumours of infighting among the senior members of the team.

“There are no captaincy issues and I get support from every member of the team.”

But a source within the federation claimed, “The national hockey team right now is divided into three groups. There are those who back Shakeel Abbasi, those who favour Mohammad Imran as skipper and those who just want to play good hockey while minding their own business.”

Add to the mix the fitness disparity between Pakistan and top teams at the Olympics, a failure to finish attacking moves and score of their traditional strength, penalty-corners, chances of the team do in fact look bleak as another former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh said.

“It is very sad that our team has already dropped from 1st to 9th spot in the world rankings and the PHF is issuing notice to us.”

Earlier, the PHF issued notices to 13 former Olympians by leveling charges of alleged involvement of federation office bearers in human trafficking.

The former Olympians had earlier this month sent a letter to government regarding the performance of the national hockey team and gave suggestions of how to make it better.

Dawn



International teams are still afraid of India: Nobbs

NEW DELHI: The Indian hockey team may not have achieved any significant success in the last two decades, but international teams are still wary of the eight-time Olympic champions, feels the side's foreign coach Michael Nobbs.

Nobbs, who is overseeing the second phase of the men's team's preparatory camp ahead of next month's Olympic qualifiers here, said India should make the London cut.

"In the last several years (since the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold) India has achieved nothing but still international teams are afraid of us," the Australian said after a training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Monday.

"It (the Olympic qualifiers) is an adventure for all of us, but of course we will feel the pressure. All we are now focussing on is to qualify and I am 90-95 per cent confident we will qualify.

"If something doesn't go awfully wrong or we don't have a really bad game or bad umpiring decisions, we should qualify. Our destiny is in our own hands," Nobbs stated.

India, who missed the cut for the 2008 Beijing Games, will fight it out with Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States of America in the qualifiers for the London Olympics to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here from February 18-26.

Since taking over the reigns of the team in September last year, Nobbs' main emphasis has always been the fitness of the Indian players and keeping that in mind, he had roped in exercise physiologist David John from Australia.

But four and half months down the line, when asked about the players' fitness, Nobbs seemed mighty pleased although he feels there is still a lot of work to be done on that front.

"The fitness of the team has improved by leaps and bounds. In Champions Challenge I tournament we were the fittest side.

"We are slowly getting the benefit of sports science. We are getting stronger day by day but we have to be more strong to keep ball possession," he insisted.

The coach also feels that his wards are at their best when they play attacking hockey but cautioned India's fragile backline, which tends to crumble under pressure.

"I closely followed the Champions Trophy and have noticed that now-a-days, all the teams play aggressive hockey. So it is an advantage for us because we are naturally talented in playing attacking hockey," Nobbs said.

"But when we play attacking hockey, we tend to fumble in defence. So, we have to take care of our defence also."

Asked how useful long preparatory camps are ahead of important tournaments, Nobbs said, "It is not a question of long camps but structured camps with matches in between.

"Taking the example of Australia. The Australian hockey team's camp has started on December 14 and will go on till the Olympics."

As part of preparation for the qualifiers, the Indian men's hockey team will play a Test series against South Africa from January 16-22, while their women's counterparts will take on Azerbaijan in four Tests from January 15-19.

Nobbs was also happy with Indian hockey's present bench strength and said after the Test series against South Africa, the players may be given 10-15 days break to re-energise themselves.

"Now we have got a healthy competition in the team. We have got 40-45 players who can be played anytime. These players just need opportunities."

Asked about the injuries of drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and promising striker Yuvraj Walmiki, the coach said the duo has been ruled out for the first two Tests against South Africa but may return in the remainder of the series.

Rupinder has a hairline fracture in the right femur bone, while Yuvraj is suffering from a hip injury.

The two players were diagnosed last month and will not join the camp for at least a fortnight.

Nobbs picked up Yuvraj for special praise, saying the young Mumbai lad has great future ahead of him but he needs to work harder on his fitness.

"Yuvraj is just like chicken legs. He has great skills and is always hungry for goals. But he just needs to put on some muscle," he said.

The Times of India



Need to handle pressure better in Olympic qualifier: Chetri

NEW DELHI: Erstwhile hockey powerhouse India has the tendency to crumble in crunch situations and captain Bharat Chetri on Monday said his side will have to do away with the habit ahead of next month's Olympic Qualifiers.

Of late, the Indian hockey team has often been guilty of gifting away matches to opponents from comfortable situations, the most recent being the final of the Champions Challenge I tournament in South Africa, which they lost 3-4 to Belgium despite leading the majority of the 70 minutes.

But Chetri felt if they can guard that area in the qualifiers, to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from February 18-26, India are certain to qualify for this year's London Olympics.

"We are now more focussed under new coach (Michael Nobbs). We have got an easy draw (in the Olympic qualifiers) and I believe we should qualify.

"We have vastly improved our fitness levels. We have also developed our skills and are scoring more goals now. But we need to handle pressure in a better manner," Chetri said during the second phase of the team's preparatory camp here ahead of the qualifiers.

Eight-time champions India, who missed the cut for the 2008 Beijing Games, were handed an easy draw as they will fight it out with Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States of America in next month's qualifiers.

Despite the easy draw, the pressure of expectations would be high on the Indians when they turn out in the qualifiers before home fans, but the skipper felt otherwise.

"We will have the home advantage. The crowd will be behind us," Chetri said.

The custodian was full of praise for new coach Michael Nobbs and his tactics.

"Nobbs is a very attacking-minded coach. His focus is to put pressure on the opposition by scoring 3-4 goals in the first 15 minutes," Chetri said.

As part of preparation for the Olympic Qualifiers, India will play a Test series against South Africa here from January 16 to 22, and Chetri believed the series will be hugely beneficial for the home team.

"The Test series against South Africa will benefit us. 25-30 players will play against South Africa and whoever gives his best will be selected in the Indian team for the qualifiers."

The Times of India



I'm 100 per cent sure we will qualify for Olympics: Rajpal

NEW DELHI: With little more than a month to go for the hockey Olympic qualifiers, former captain Rajpal Singh on Sunday expressed confidence that erstwhile champions India will make it to the London Games.

Eight-time champions India, who missed cut for the 2008 Beijing Games, will fight it out with with Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States of America in the qualifiers for the London Olympics to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from February 18-26.

"I am 100 per cent sure that the team will qualify for the Olympics in the upcoming Qualification Tournament," said Rajpal.

"It is just 40 days to go for the qualifications and we are completely focused both on and off the field. We are not going to get distracted by anything at all till we achieve our goal," he added.

"Right now our only goal is to concentrate on the qualifiers and that is what we are doing. We are not even thinking of Olympics at the moment."

The core group of men's national hockey team arrived on Saturday from Bangalore for the second phase of the preparatory camp for the Olympic qualifiers.

The probables were joined by chief coach Michael Nobbs and exercise physiologist David John, who also arrived in the capital after a short break in Australia.

During the course of the camp, India will play a five-Test series against South Africa which will also serve as the selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers.

The upcoming qualifiers will be Indian team's last chance to book its London ticket and Rajpal said although the pressure is huge, the players are mentally ready for the challenge.

"Every individual have to deal with the pressure and we are all ready to do that. We know that we cannot lose our concentration even once while preparing for the tournament and in those 70 minutes that we would be on the field," Rajpal said.

"Even if we lose focus once during those 70 minutes, we know it can be disastrous," the experienced forward added on the sidelines of the inauguration of an indoor 10m rifle shooting range.

Rajpal agreed that off late the team had faltered at the final hurdle on number of occasion but assured of better show in the qualifiers.

"Yes, we have faltered at final moments but we are working on it."

Rajpal, who had said a few months back that fitness was a major concern for the team, on Sunday admitted that with the help of Australian trainer (John), the players have improved a lot.

"Fitness plays a big role while playing on the astroturfs. After Europeans and Australians started playing on the astroturfs, it has become a power game and fitness has to be at its best. With the Australian trainer we have benefited a lot," he said.

He also admitted that coach Michael Nobbs has helped the team in improving its goal scoring abilities.

"After Nobbs has come, we have started playing attacking hockey. It is typically a mixture of Indian and Australian style of hockey.

"It is now a question of putting our training into optimum use and peak at the right time," Rajpal said.

He also side-stepped questions on the beleaguered World Series Hockey, saying, "We have not decided whether we would play in the World Series Hockey, which is scheduled just after the qualifiers."

The Times of India



A natural dazzler!

Sidney Kiran


Sardar Singh has fused Indian ethos and European modernity to emerge a complete package There will be no scarcity of praises if you question Michael Nobbs about Sardar Singh. Nobbs first saw Sardar some six months ago after his appointment as India’s hockey team coach, and the Australian remarked without hesitation: “He is an exceptional player. He is probably one of the finest players in the world right now. He could easily walk into any team in the world.”

It’s not normal for any player to receive such instant accolades from a new coach, but Sardar is no average player. Extremely hard-working, phenomenally gifted and at times controversial, Sardar is one of a kind who has not just caught Nobbs’ attention but the viewers across the world.

The Haryana midfielder has made it to the International Hockey Federation’s prestigious All Star Team, which was conceptualised in 2006, for the second consecutive year. The squad, decided by public vote between December 12 and 21 and featuring living greats like Jamie Dwyer and Teun de Nooijer, is a wonderful New Year’s gift for Sardar, who runs the extra mile -- quite literally -- to sharpen and nurture his incredible natural talent.

“I am really thrilled to have been chosen again,” an elated Sardar told Deccan Herald from New Delhi where he is training in the Olympic Qualifiers national camp. “When I was chosen last year, I just could not believe it. To feature in a team that consists of all the best players, and some greats as well, is something incredible.

“It motivates me to do well for the country. Although, we didn’t play many major international events this year as compared to last, I was eager to exploit whatever opportunities I got. Having made the cut again, I just want to improve and encourage the youngsters in the squad. I thank all my coaches, fellow players and especially fans for voting for me.”

The remarkable aspect of Sardar, whose vision and supply can baffle you, is the amount of time the 26-year-old puts in to train. Long after everyone has packed their kits and are cooling their heels after a routine training session, Sardar will still be toiling like a lonely warrior. Following a few laps around the pitch, the Deputy Supertindent Police (DSP) with Haryana police will be perfecting his dribbling, passing and shooting skills before wrapping up with a session in the gym, a regular routine he follows with purpose and intent.

“I am a huge fan of dynamic Pakistan forward Shahbaz Ahmed. I’ve watched a lot of videos of him, and his skills are just fascinating. The ease with which he could bamboozle defenders is a treat to watch. I met him once and I asked him what I need to do to become a great player. He told me hardwork alone is not enough, I need to walk that extra mile to become a great player. That’s basically what I am doing now,” said Sardar.

On the pitch Sardar has a wonderful vision, never lost for ideas. The former Indian skipper hardly lets a ball slip past him, often finding time and space for his movements with ease. Sardar, who had performed defensive duties under former coach Jose Brasa, has imbibed Indian virtues like flair and style, but what makes him a complete package is the European-style control and passing. Now, returned to his favoured central midfielder role, Sardar said his immediate focus is to help the team emerge winners in the Olympic Qualifiers.

“I was part of the disaster four years ago in Chile when we failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in our history. It hurt us badly. Having said that, I believe we are on the right track. All of us are motivated in securing the London berth and, hopefully things go well,” he said. While there are a lot of positives about Sardar, he has also courted controversies in the past. He deserted the national camp twice last year before being pulled up by Hockey India for disciplinary issues. “Yes, it was a mistake on my part. Looking back, I feel I should not have done it. I agree, I had differences but it could have been handled in a better way. In a way, I’ve learnt my lessons. “Past is past, and I am looking ahead with great hope. Next month is very crucial, and I hope to play an integral part in our country’s success.”

Deccan Herald



China, then Australia and finally Netherlands

THE National hockey team will start the year with five friendlies against a visiting China side to prepare for the March Olympic Qualifiers in Dublin.

Starting from Wednesday, the China series will be closely watched, after the team played to a dismal fifth in the Champions Challenge I in South Africa.

Project 2013, who lifted the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup by beating Australia in the final, will also play one match against China.

“China, who are also preparing for the Olympic Qualifiers, should bring down their best players and it will be a good opportunity or our team to prepare for Dublin,” said team manager George Koshy.

The series were arranged after the Azlan Shah Cup, scheduled for February in Ipoh, was moved to the middle of the year after many teams turned down invitations due to a hectic Olympic year.

However, the team management is still uncertain if China would want 18 or 20 players fielded for the series.

“Since it is a friendly, we would discuss with the China coach whether to field 18 or 20 players per-match.

“And also, seven of our players would be involved with their University examinations during the period, and this could see some of them being not available for certain matches,” said Koshy.

And after the five matches, which end on Jan 18, the national team will travel to Perth and play against world No 1 Australia and the Netherlands.

“We managed to get four matches against Australia starting from Jan 29, and two more matches against the Nether lands in Perth.

“This is a golden opportunity to play against top-flight teams and further strengthen our Qualifier hopes,” said Koshy.

In the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers on March 10-18, Malaysia will play three relatively easy matches against Chile, followed by Russia and Ukraine and maximum points and goals will be the order of the day.

After that, the climb becomes steeper with matches against South Korea and finally hosts Ireland, and they need to win at least one match to play in the final of the Qualifier.

The Qualifier only offers one ticket to the London Olympics and China will be playing in the Japan Qualifiers in April.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey



Tunku Besar out to claim Div 1 scalps

By Jugjet Singh


TUNKU Besar Secondary School (TBSS), who will play in Division One of the Junior Hockey League (JHL), are eyeing a place in the quarter-finals for starters.

The last national player to come  from the school is current No 1 national goalkeeper S. Kumar, and the school hope some of their   strikers will be noticed by selectors.

“This team have been playing together for the past five years and since we became the Division Two champions last season, we earned a promotion to play with the big boys.

“However, we are setting ourselves a modest target as we do not have imported players as all are from TBSS itself,” said team manager M. Vivekananda, whose bulk of players are 18-year-olds waiting for their SPM results. “We will be banking more on field play instead of penalty corners for goals, as we do not have a good battery.”

Last season, TBSS captured their first JHL title when they beat MSSP-USM 4-1 in the Division Two final.

“It was the first JHL title for the school and we hope to build on it. There are some excellent teams in Division One, and if nothing else, my players will get a chance to learn how to play better hockey this season.”

Twenty-five teams have registered for the JHL, with Ipoh City Council and Anderson forming a partnership this season instead of playing as two teams.

The teams to watch will be League champions UniKL Young Guns and Overall champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt as well as Bukit Jalil Sports School.

The top six teams in Division One qualify for the quarter-finals with the champions from Division Two A and B.

The prize money has also increased from RM80,500 to RM145,500.

DIVISION ONE: Ipoh City Council/Anderson, Tunku Besar Tampin, SS Bukit Jalil, SS Bukit Jalil Juniors, SSTMI Thunderbolts, UniKL Young Guns, MSSPP-USM, Petaling Jaya City Council, Yayasan Pahang, Tunku Mahkota Ismail School.

DIVISION TWO A: Politeknik KPT, Nur Insafi, KHA-MSNK, MSSP-USM Juniors, Anderson Juniors, Sapura, Kelantan, Kelantan HA Juniors.

DIVISION TWO B: SMK Padang Midin, Tunas Pahang, MHS-MSSNM-MSN Melaka, Olak KPT, SMK Dato Taha, Johor HA, Kuala Lumpur Sport School.

New Straits Times



Have a relook at the Div Two groupings, officials urge MJHL

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) technical committee have been urged to review the groupings in Division Two.

Some officials want to know why all four Kedah teams – Kedah HA Juniors, KHA-MSN Kedah, Nur Insafi, Polimas Kedah – have been placed in Group A. The other teams in the group are MSS Penang-USM Juniors, Anderson Juniors, MSS Kelantan and Sapura.

It is learnt that the committee decided to place the northern teams in one group to minimise their travelling and expenses.

Teams from the central and southern regions have been placed in Group B.

But if this is the case, then why are SMK Padang Midin from Terengganu in Group B as they have to travel to Johor and Malacca for their matches.

An official from one of the Group B teams said the grouping was unfair.

He said it was understandable if they had made a draw to pick the teams for the two groups.

“That would have been the luck of the draw had the four teams ended up in the same group. It seems the grouping was ‘fixed’ and it is a shame as the teams from Kedah will not get the chance to play against other opponents except those from the north,” said the official.

It is learnt that a team from Negri Sembilan will be joining the league and will be sending in their application today.

If they do, then a redraw is in order.

DIVISION TWO

Group A: Polimas Kedah, Nur Insafi, KHA-MSN Kedah, MSSP-USM Juniors, Anderson Juniors, Sapura, PHK-MSS Kelantan, KHA Juniors.

Group B: SMK Padang Midin, Tunas Pahang, Malacca High School, Old La Sallians Association of Klang (Olak), SMK Dato Mohd Taha, Batu Pahat-MSN Johor, MSS KL.

The Star of Malaysia



Demote us to Div Two, Pahang side pleads with junior league committee

By S. RAMAGURU


KUALA LUMPUR: MSP-Yayasan Pahang have appealed to the Malaysia Junior Hockey League’s (MJHL) technical committee to demote them for this year’s tournament.

The team have been placed in Division One as last year’s representative MSSP-MSP-MPK Pahang had finished in eighth position. MSS Kelantan and Ipoh City Council (ICC) were demoted but the latter remained in Division One after merging with SMK Anderson.

MSP-Yayasan Pahang coach Chuah Boon Huat said he had informed the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) of their request when he submitted the entry on Friday.

“So we were surprised to learn that we are in Division One which is too strong for us as we are a new team. MSP, who backed MPK last year, are also sponsoring us. That is the extent of their involvement in the team. I suppose the committee thought that since we used the Pahang name, we were the same outfit,” he said.

Boon Huat conceded that he had only made a verbal request which was accepted by the officials.

“We will write to the MHC with an official request to have our status changed. I’m sure there are other teams who would want to play in Division One in our place.

“I know the quality of matches in Division One will be higher, but what is the point of just being the whipping boys. I really believe that we are out of our depth here,” he said.

For Boon Huat, who had played in the MJHL in the 90s for Malacca, this is his first foray into the league as coach.

The ex-international is Pahang’s Sukma coach but stressed that the MSP-Yayasan side is not their Sukma team.

“Far from it. This is just a development team where we hope to find a few players for the Sukma squad. These players have no real experience and the MJHL outing is purely for exposure. We will try our best but the objective is to gain experience,” he added.

This will be the second time that Boon Huat will be coaching an age group team. He was in charge of the Malacca team for the national Under-21 competition last year.

The MSP-Yayasan team also face a home ground problem as the two pitches in Kuantan - Kuantan Hockey Stadium and the Sukpa Stadium - have been declared unplayable by the technical committee.

“We are trying to get one of the turfs repaired but are not sure when that will happen. Otherwise, we will be forced to play our home matches elsewhere, perhaps in Malacca,” said Boon Huat.

A decision will be made before the team managers meeting on Jan 14.

The Star of Malaysia



Jivan achieves his dream of becoming a cop

By AFTAR SINGH



Duty calls: Jivan Mohan in his policeman’s uniform.

KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey player Jivan Mohan has finally achieved his dream of becoming a police inspector.

The Penang-born midfielder graduated with 959 other probationary inspectors on Saturday after completing the 10-month training course at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol).

The 28-year-old Jivan said he was delighted as he had been applying to join the police force since 2008.

“It feels really good as I want to serve the country,” said Jivan, who obtained a degree in human resource management from Universiti Putra Malaysia UPM) in 2008.

“I have an advantage as I not only speak English and Malay, but also three Chinese dialects – Mandarin, Teochew and Hokkien,” said Jivan, who is of mixed parentage.

His dad, a bus inspector, is Indian while his mother, a supervisor in a company, is Chinese.

“I’m eagerly waiting for my posting. It’s great to be able to serve my country not only as a hockey player but as a policeman,” said Jivan, who has 150 international caps.

Jivan first played for Malaysia in the Junior World Cup in Hobart in 2001 with his elder brother Jiwa. He also made his senior team debut in the Prime Minister Gold Cup in Bangladesh that year.

He last played for the country in the 2010 five-nation tournament in France, which Malaysia won. He was also a member of the national team that took the bronze medal in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the Asia Cup in Chennai in 2008.

He has also played with Jiwa, who is now a design engineer in Perth, for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) since 2003.

Jivan said he is glad that his new duties will not prevent him from being released to play for the national team.

“I still cherish hopes of playing for the country despite not being part of the current team preparing for the Olympic qualifier in Dublin in March,” he said.

“Perhaps I will get the call after that.”

The Star of Malaysia



MHF still exists?

Well checks by a journalist at the Sports Commissioners Office has revealed startling information.

For the Malaysian Hockey Federation has yet to be dissolved as of last Friday as the necessary documentation has yet to be submitted by the MHF.

And the way the EGM was rushed through on December 17 gave the impression that all the documents were ready and it was merely a procedure to dissolve MHF.

But apparently the MHF President has yet to sign a particular form and it is peculiar why that could not have been done at the end of the EGM.

Now technically MHF is an illegal body and if is learnt that efforts are underway to transfer funds from MHF to MHC.

So I guess it's quite alright to pay scant respect to the laws of the country as well as be morally right for doing something so obviously wrong.

As they say, power crazy officials are the bane in society, for they openly defy regulations, so what difference is there between MHF, MAU, FAM and BAM. Birds of a feather flock together.

Over to you Minister, try being fair for once, take FAM to the cleaners together with MAU please as to err is not human, not when that's what they do year in and year out, it's just incompetence.

Malaysian Hockey blogspot