News for 25 May 2012

All the news for Friday 25 May 2012


Malaysia hold Korea



Malaysia held Korea to a 1-1 draw in the final match in the opening day of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

It was a spirited display from the Malaysians who fielded several youngsters, with three earning their first international caps.

Six of the seven juniors who featured in the victorious Junior Asia Cup in Malacca were fielded in the match against the Koreans.

Only Mohd Fitri Saari was not named for the match. Three juniors Mohd Rahmadan Rosli, Noor Faeez Ibrahim and Norhizzat Ibrahim earned their first international caps for the national team.

The other juniors in the team are Faizal Saari, Mohd Firhan Ashaari and Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi.

The juniors proved in the match that they have the ability to play as good as the seniors in the match.

Both the teams started off cautiously but it was Malaysia, who earned their first penalty corner in the six minute.

Striker Faizal, who was joint top scorer in the Junior Asia Cup with six goals, flicked the ball over the post. A minute later Faizal had another chance to give Malaysia the lead but he muffed his chance from top of the semi circle.

However, the speedy Koreans capitalised from a counter attack and they took the lead through Seo Jong Ho in the seventh minute.

Jong-ho collected a through pass from Kang Moon-kweon before pushing the ball past goalkeeper Kumar.

Malaysia earned another penalty corner in the 20th minute and Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim’s flick was easily blocked a Korean defender.

The Koreans had a chance to increase the lead in the 34th minute but Jang Jong-hyun high flick was well saved by Kumar.

Faisal was put through by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin in the 55th minute but he went straight into the Korean keeper thus wasting a golden opportunity.

But he made amends in 56th minute when a cross from Mohd Marhan Jalil went through a sea of legs and Faisal had the easy task of putting the ball into the empty goal, much to the delight of the 7,000 odd fans.

Korea nearly made Malaysia pay for prolonged celebrations as they were awarded a penalty corner in the very next minute but once again Kumar stood tall in between the posts.

Malaysia survived a final ten minutes onslaught to hold on for a well deserved draw.

Official Azlan Shah Cup site



New Zealand hit India for five


Sandeep Singh shadows Phil Burrows on the Blue turf of the Ipoh Stadium.

New Zealand put a dent on the Indian hockey revival when they defeated them 5-1 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh this evening.

The fact that New Zealand had only 16 players available for the match as Blair Hilton was ruled out for appendicitis while his replacement Shay Neal was still on the way coupled with the fact that Hugo Inglis could not play due to illness.

But it was a poor display from the Indians that attributed to the heavy defeat.

New Zealand took the lead just 45 seconds into the match as Simon Child unleashed a shot that Indian custodian Sreejesh Parathu who was fielded instead of skipper Bharat Chetri.

But India were undeterred as Birendra Lakra sent in a cross from the right that was picked up by Shivendra Singh in the semi circle who kept his cool to round off New Zealand keeper Kyle Pontifex before slotting into an empty goal to put India on level terms in the 6th minute.



New Zealand forced three penalty corners in the 16th, 18th and 19th minutes but were prevented from scoring by a strong Indian defence as well as superb keeping by Sreejesh who saved in quick succession from Child and Nick Wilson off the third penalty corner.

As the clocked was ticking away, India started dictating play as the likes of Sardar Singh and Birendra started spraying passes to the striker. But they could not turn the possession into goals.

It was however New Zealand who scored as Andy Hayward scored off a penalty corner in the 34th minute to give them a 2-1 lead going into halftime.

India were awarded two penalty corners in the 40th and 45th minutes, but at both occassions their ace penalty corner hitter Sandeep Singh was on the bench. And R. Ragunath was unable to find the back of the net.

India survived a penalty corner in the 55th minute as Andy Hayward’s attempt bounced off the post. But they soon found themselves 3-1 down as Nick Wilson’s deft deflection off a pass from Shea Mcaleese slipped through the pads of Sreejash in the 59th minute.

Things got worse for India as two minutes later Stephen Jenness was given all the time in the world to pick his spot and give New Zealand a 4-1 lead. And a goal by Matt L’hullier in the 65th minute made it a nightmare opening match for India.

Official Azlan Shah Cup site



Pakistan defeat Argentina



Last years losing finalist Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in the opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

They almost squandared a 2-0 lead before scoring the winner five minutes from time to take all three points.

It was however a scrappy performance from both teams as they tried to get accustomed to the blue pitch, similar to the surface in Olympics in London this July.

It was a rather slow start to the match as both the teams opted to hold on to the ball instead of throwing numbers forward.

Thus it was a boring opening ten minutes as there was hardly a shot a goal, let alone a penalty corner.

The first real opening fell to Pakistan as Shabbir Ahmad Khan was not picked up by defenders in the semi circle and his snap shot was well kept out by Argentina’s custodian Juan Manuel Vivaldi.

Pakistan were awarded a penalty corner in the 22nd minute and although the ever reliable Sohail Abbas was on the pitch, a porr stop foiled any decent attempt on goal.

Argentina too failed to take advantage of a penalty corner in the 29th minute when the attempt by Pedro Ibarra deflected off the stick of another Argentine player and went wide.

But Pakistan were not to be denied as two minutes before halftime Muhammad Irfan was put through by Shafqat Rasool and his shot sailed into goal past a rooted Vivaldi.

Argentina had an opportunity to draw level in the 46th minute when Irfan was adjudged to have fouled Santiago Montelli. But it was muffed as they failed to stop cleanly.

A penalty corner to Pakistan in the 46th minute dealt a double blow for the South American side.  Ibarra was yellow carded for breaking the penalty corner defence and Sohail Abbas then stepped up to convert the penalty corner, giving Pakistan a 2-0 lead.

Argentina reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute as Gonzalo Peillat scored off a penalty corner with Ibarra still on the sidelines.

In the 62nd minute it was all square when Mathias Parades sneaked up behind the defence to slot the ball home after a through ball by Mathias Villa.

Pakistan were stunned and upped the ante. They were duly rewarded as Haseem Khan deflected a shot by Irfan from the right in the 65th minute to put Pakistan 3-2 ahead.

Muhammad Waqas completed the scoring, deflecting in a shot on the left by Shabbir Ahmad Khan to give Pakistan a 4-2 win.

Official Azlan Shah Cup site



Juniors to the fore

YOUNG GUNS: Faizal gives Malaysia a point in opener

By JUGJET SINGH



Malaysia’s Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil (in yellow) tries to get past the Korean defence in their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup opening match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium yesterday. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

A JUNIOR partnership  between Faizal  Saari and Marhan Jalil saved the blushes as Malaysia held Olympic-bound South Korea to a 1-1 draw in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.

The Koreans had taken the lead through Seo Jong Ho in the seventh minute, and Malaysia had to wait until the 56th minute before Marhan fed Faizal who slammed in the equaliser.

Both the players were also instrumental in Malaysia winning the Junior Asia Cup gold in Malacca recently.

Six of the seven players who featured in the victorious Junior Asia Cup in Malacca were fielded in the match against the Koreans.

Only Fitri Saari was not named for the match while three Juniors Rahmadan Rosli, Noor Faeez Ibrahim and Norhizzat Ibrahim earned their first international caps for the national team.

Malaysia then survived a 10-minute onslaught, and even saved South Korea's penalty corner won in the last minute of the match to share points.

The national team play Olympic hosts Britain today, and the juniors proved against South Korea that they should be given more playing time in the Azlan Shah Cup by coach Tai Beng Hai.

In another match, New Zealand were in a mean mood when they hit a high-five against India to put a dent in their title hopes.

It was a superb start for the Kiwis, considering they had only 16 players available for the match as Blair Hilton was ruled out for appendicitis while his replacement Shay Neal was still on the way coupled with the fact that Hugo Inglis could not play due to illness.

The New Zealand goals were scored by Simon Child (first minute), Andy Hayward (34th), Nick Wilson' (59th), Stephen Jenness (61st), Matt L'hullier (65th). The India goal was scored by Shivendra Singh in the sixth minute.

In the first match of the day, last year's silver medallists Pakistan beat Argentina 4-2 with goals from Muhammad Irfan (33rd minute), Sohail Abbas (46th), Haseem Khan (65th) and Muhammad Waqas (69th).

The Argentina goals were scored by Gonzalo Peillat (53rd) and Mathias Parades (62nd).

FIXTURES -- SUNDAY: New Zealand v Pakistan (4pm), South Korea v Argentina (6pm), Britain v India (8pm).

MAY 28: South Korea v Pakistan (4pm), Britain v Argentina (6pm), India v Malaysia (8pm).

MAY 30: Argentina v India (4pm), Britain v New Zealand (6pm), Pakistan v Malaysia (8pm).

MAY 31: Britain v South Korea (4pm), Pakistan v India (6pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (8pm).

JUNE 2: South Korea v New Zealand (4pm), Britain v Pakistan (6pm), Argentina v Malaysia (8pm).

New Straits Times



Malaysia fight back to snatch a point against South Korea

By AFTAR SINGH



Three’s company: Malaysia’s Amir Farid (right) trying to get past three South Korea players at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday. — RONIE CHIN / The Star

IPOH: Malaysia earned the respect of the fans by fighting back from a goal down to hold South Korea to a 1-1 draw in their opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the Azlan Shah Stadium.

The Koreans took a seventh-mi­­nute lead through Seo Jong-ho but the national team showed tremendous fighting spirit to equalise in the 56th through forward Faizal Saari.

Although Malaysia failed to qua­lify for the Olympics, 7,000 fans turned up to cheer them at the stadium yesterday.

Six of the seven juniors who featured in the victorious Junior Asia Cup team played against the Koreans with Mohd Fitri Saari the sole omission.

Mohd Rahmadan Rosli, Noor Faeez Ibrahim and Norhizzat Ibra­him earned their first international caps while the other juniors in the team were Faizal, Mohd Firhan Ashaari and Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi.

The youngsters did not waste any time in showing that they can play as well as their seniors.

Both teams started off cautiously but it was Malaysia who earned the first penalty corner in the fifth minute.

However, 21-year-old Faizal, joint top scorer in the Junior Asia Cup with six goals, flicked the ball over the post.

A minute later, Faizal had another chance to put Malaysia ahead but he muffed his chance from the top of the D.

The speedy Koreans counter attacked and scored in the seventh minute when Jong-ho collected a through pass from Kang Moon-kweon and pushed it past goalkeeper S. Kumar.

Malaysia had another penalty corner in the 20th minute but Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim’s flick was blocked by a defender.

The Koreans had a great chance to increase their lead in the 34th minute but Jang Jong-hyun’s high flick was well saved by Kumar.

After the breather, Faizal collected a through pass from Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin in the 55th minute and let fly a powerful hit which goal­keeper Kin Jae-hyeon saved well.

But a minute later Faizal got his act right.

Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil crossed from the right and there was Faizal to easily push it into a gaping goalmouth.

Malaysia played the last five minutes with just 10 men after Norhizzat was flashed the yellow card for a rough tackle.

The Koreans surged forward in search of the winning goal and earned a penalty corner in the last few seconds but Noor Faeez blocked the attempt.

Goalkeeper Kumar was named the man-of-the-match for coming to Malaysia’s rescue with numerous saves.

Malaysia, who are ranked 13th in the world, will face world No. 4 Britain at 6pm today.

The Star of Malaysia



New Zealand outplays India for a fluent 5-1 victory

K Arumugam


It seems New Zealand knows fully well how to unknot India. They did it last year on the same turf here in Ipoh, and repeated it more clinically and stylishly again now.

The Kiwis forced India to start its campaign on a jarring note. It’s a heavy defeat for India. Pressing from the word go, New Zealand outplayed India for a fluent 5-1 victory in the opening match on Thursday.

In the last year edition, New Zealand posted an impressive 7-3 win.

Shivender Singh gave India an early relief with a cool goal in the six minute and with that equalizer when the score stood 1-1, a cracker of a contest was expected, and it was but not for India.

New Zealand made its intention clear, coming with a goal at the stroke of half time, to take rest with a goal more on their side.

The otherwise sedate first half was followed by a brisk movements, and it witnessed quick counter attacks from New Zealand each of which carried a goal threat.

Even as Indian coach Michael Nobbs pressed all the fresh legs and youngsters in the second half, New Zealand played a patient game, and waited for their moment to come. India reined supreme in the first quarter of the second session, but was lethargic and poor inside the circle.

Like SV Sunil in the first half, Juvraj Walmiki returned to International hockey after the injury, really painfully. He was put in by Tushar well, but he took a fancy reverse shot which was within the grasp of rival goalie to deflect.

Misses of this nature cost India, and the waiting Kiwis changed their gear in the second later to decimate the Indians.

Goals came for the Kiwi's as easy as stored eggs in a refrigerator.

New Zealand struck three goals in the space of 8 minutes, first from Nick Wilson in the 58th minute, followed by a gem from Stephens Jenness (6st min) and the last nail in the coffin was put by penalty corner expert Matt L'huiller in the 65th minute.

Over all, the Indians are to be blamed for the poor show.

They did not show any method in their movements, and the way they placed themselves in the circle is anything but impressive. Michael Nobbs said it is a reality check, and the team has failed him.

Once the Kiwis struck the early goal within seconds from the bully off, and it was by veteran Simon Child, India did not recover fully from the shock, and had to end the day the way they did. India will now meet South Korea tomorrow in the third match of Day Two (17.30 hrs IST).

Stick2Hockey.com



The habit of ball watching has to go

K Arumugam


New Zealand and India are in the same pool of London Olympics. Their famed feat will be watched very keenly in two months time at the Olympics. It was therefore expected the duo would test each other thoroughly here in their Azlan Shah Cup opening match.

Indian national team chief coach Michael Nobbs always postulate and project a concept of ‘ruthlessness’. Which meant score mercilessly, as many goals as you want till the enemies’ energies and enthusiasm are extinguished.

This is one way of building your reputation in the international scene. Quite probably this is the kind of game most teams that are power to reckon with in the contemporary scene, resort to. No one is contended with mere winning the game, but the manner too counts in the long run. Unlike in the last decade, the current one witnessed one-sided matches quite often. With no offside rule in practice, goals can come any time at any moment. This ruthlessness was well in evidence.

Most of the New Zealander’s goals yesterday came in particular spells. In the first and last five minutes of first half and then three goals in the space of 8 minutes midway through the second half.

The scoring pattern, the scheme, the ones that India faced yesterday against the Kiwis’s are nearly analogous to what they faced against the same rival last year in the same tournament.

After an equal first half, the Kiwis pumped in five goals in 2011.

It clearly shows the New Zealand have found a formula to unlock and unknot the Indians. One of the aspect that helped them to achieve their goal is India’s wonted habit of ball watching.

The Kiwis took the lead within 30 seconds, and how?

Sandeep Singh, who was totally off-colour yesterday, was watching the ball inside the circle instead of chasing it out.

It was his thorough ball watching habit that led to India’s first goal. The coach had no option than to sideline him in the second half. As luck would have it, India has got a couple of penalty corners during that time, and Raghunath did not measure upto the task.

You cannot get just two penalty corners in the whole of the match, and then cannot find fault with a negotiator. A penalty corner is as good as the pusher, stopper, the negotiator gives only the finishing touch.

Whereas the Kiwis could manufacture as many as nine penalty corners, India did not show any proficiency in the department.

India did not do well in this area in London either, meaning they don’t earn bare minimum penalty corners, say 4 or 5, that would give enough leeway to the PC executioner .

There is something amiss the way our forwards function and go about it. A measure of amateurism is well evident. Ball rises quite often during long corners and hit ins. Mispasses are also galore. Off the ball running is much to be desired. Couple of well-conceived moves gone awry due to this harried passes, falling on the hands of hawkish Kiwis.

Some teams fumble in the first match, and then recover. The coach has said, and the captain has endorsed, that the team did not play to a plan especially in the second half. Now that they know where they went wrong, let us hope things improve from now.

Better late than never

Stick2Hockey.com



Black Sticks Men claim victory over India despite illness

The Black Sticks Men have started the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over India in Ipoh, Malaysia last night.

The seventh-ranked Kiwis have been struggling with gastro-related illnesses since they arrived in Malaysia a week ago, so to simply get through the match in the humid conditions was an achievement.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod was very pleased with the scoreline against the 10th-ranked Indians.

“Considering what we’ve been through this week I was pleased with a number of aspects of our game. Our deep defence worked well and only gave away a couple of penalty corners and they were always well positioned for the crash ball from India.

“We played the game at a faster pace than India and most of our goals came from those counter-attacks.”

Striker Simon Child, who is one of at least six players who have been struggling with illness, opened the scoring in the first minute of the match with India replying five minutes later.

A superb penalty corner from Andy Hayward right on half time gave the Black Sticks the lead at the break.

Nick Wilson and Stephen Jenness slotted in goals just after the break and a penalty corner to Matt L’Huillier at the 65 minute mark put the result beyond doubt.

Vice-captain Shea McAleese was named player of the match.

The Black Sticks play ninth-ranked Argentina in their second match of the tournament tonight (NZ time). Argentina lost their first match 4-2 to Pakistan.

Hawke’s Bay is the Principal Partner of the Black Sticks Men and Women.

RESULTS
Full time: 5-1 (New Zealand win)
Half time: 2-1 (New Zealand lead)
New Zealand goalscorers: Simon Child, Andy Hayward, Nick Wilson, Stephen Jenness, Matt L’Huillier.

Visit www.azlanshahcup.com for full tournament results.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Unwell Black Sticks dispatch India in opener


The Black Sticks overcame illness to make a strong start to their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup campaign in Malaysia.

The world No 7-ranked New Zealanders dispatched India 5-1 in their opening match, having staved off the effects of a gastro illness that has dogged them since they arrived in Ipoh a week ago.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod was very pleased with the scoreline against the 10th-ranked Indians.

"Considering what we've been through this week I was pleased with a number of aspects of our game," McLeod said.

"Our deep defence worked well and only gave away a couple of penalty corners and they were always well positioned for the crash ball from India.

"We played the game at a faster pace than India and most of our goals came from those counter-attacks."

Striker Simon Child, one of at least six players who have been struggling with illness,

The Black Sticks opened the scoring in just the sixth minute through Simon Child.

That was short-lived though, with India equalising almost immediately with a goal to Shivendra Singh.

India played some slick hockey at times but were unable to convert that into goals, while New Zealand forced a series of penalty corners.

Nick Wilson missed a clear-cut scoring opportunity for the Black Sticks after 20 minutes and while they might have rued that missed chance they made up for it with a goal in 33rd minute to Andy Hayward and took a 2-1 advantage into the break.

India came out firing after halftime and won their first and second penalty corners of the game in the 40 and 45th minutes.

The Black Sticks defended those and then went close to extending their lead soon after when Hayward hit the post from the Black Sticks' seventh penalty corner of the game.

However, the disappointment was short-lived, with Wilson giving the Black Sticks a two-goal buffer with a successful strike on 58 minutes.

From there it was one-way traffic, with Stephen Jenness and Matt L'hullier getting their names on the score sheet.

The Black Sticks' next game tonight is against Argentina, who lost their opening match 4-2 to Pakistan.

New Zealand 5 (Simon Child, Andy Hayward, Nick Wilson, Stephen Jenness, Matt L'Huillier) India 1 (Shivendra Singh). HT: 2-1

Stuff



Black Sticks too strong for India



Vice-captain Shea McAleese was named player of the match. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Black Sticks men's team have started the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over India in Ipoh, Malaysia last night.

Striker Simon Child, who is one of at least six players who have been struggling with illness, opened the scoring in the first minute of the match with India replying five minutes later.

A superb penalty corner from Andy Hayward right on halftime gave the Black Sticks the lead at the break.

Nick Wilson and Stephen Jenness slotted in goals just after the break and a penalty corner to Matt L'Huillier at the 65 minute mark put the result beyond doubt.

Vice-captain Shea McAleese was named player of the match.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod was very pleased with the scoreline against the 10th-ranked Indians.

"Considering what we've been through this week I was pleased with a number of aspects of our game. Our deep defence worked well and only gave away a couple of penalty corners and they were always well positioned for the crash ball from India.

"We played the game at a faster pace than India and most of our goals came from those counter-attacks."

The Black Sticks play ninth-ranked Argentina in their second match of the tournament tonight (NZ time). Argentina lost their first match 4-2 to Pakistan.

The New Zealand Herald



Livid Michael Nobbs blasts 'inept' team

BANGALORE: Indian hockey coach Michael Nobbs is livid. The 5-1 rout that New Zealand handed to India in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament opener in Ipoh on Thursday has come as a rude shock to the Australian.

For him, the loss wasn't merely a reality check for the team. It was time to put the screws on errant players.

Starting with an opportunistic strike in the opening minute, New Zealand, who are drawn in the same group as India at the London Olympics, ripped through a lacklustre defence to build a healthy margin.

Simon Child (1st), Andy Hayward (35th), Nick Wilson (58th), Stephen Jenness (61st) and Matt L'huillier (65th) scored for New Zealand, while India's lone goal came through Shivendra Singh in the sixth minute. India also had their chances off penalty corners but failed to score. The defeat was reminiscent of India's 3-7 loss to the Black Sticks in the same tournament last year.

"Well, where do we start? We were pathetic, everything we talked about and practised we decided to forget and go back to our old style of play," thundered Nobbs when asked about the margin of defeat. The defence was awful. I have repeatedly asked my defenders to mark from the front. In the first minute of the game, Sandeep mis-trapped a 40m pass aimed at the forward and they scored. It went downhill from there. One minute from half-time, Rupinderpal made a silly tackle which he didn't need to and they scored. 2-1 down at half-time," he said.

Nobbs pointed out that India had planned to do a half court press but ended up with a fuller version against a team as well drilled as New Zealand.

"They got around it easily and we exposed ourselves to counter-attack. It didn't help that our forwards suddenly decided not to come back and defend for the rest of the half. New Zealand had only seven shots (at the goal) in the game and scored five goals. A pathetic performance by us."

The coach said there was a lot of hard work ahead.

"We are not that good yet. We have to accept responsibility for our performance and not look for excuses. This tour is also about selection for the Olympic team. We can only have 16 and performances here will certainly have a bearing on who goes and who doesn't. If we are going to get a top six finish at the Olympics then we need a much better performance for the rest of this tour."

Nobbs felt the turf was difficult to play on but was quick to point out that it was the same for all the teams.

Results:

Pakistan 4 (Mohammad Irfan 34, Sohail Abbas 50, Abdul Haseem Khan 65, Muhammad Waqas 69) bt Argentina 2 (Gonzalo Peillat 53, Mathias Paredes 62).

New Zealand 5 (Simon Child 1, Andy Hayward 35, Nick Wilson 58, Stephen Jenness 61, Matt L'huillier 65) bt India 1 (Shivendra Singh 6).

South Korea 1 (Seo Jong-Ho 7) drew with Malaysia 1 (Faizal Saari 56).

The Times of India



Lacklustre India lose to New Zealand in Azlan Shah Cup

IPOH: Lacklustre India began their campaign in the 21st Azlan Shah Cup hockey with an embarrassing 1-5 defeat at the hands of speedy New Zealand.

Starting with an opportunistic strike past a rusty Indian defence in the opening minute, New Zealand ripped through the Indian backline as five different players registered their names in the scoresheet to repeat their runway victory last year.

New Zealand, who are drawn in the same group as India in the London Olympic Games, had outplayed India 7-3 in the 2011 Azlan Shah Cup, when India finished sixth in a field of seven nations despite starting as double defending champions.

Simon Child (1st minute), Andy Hayward (34th), Nick Wilson (32nd), Stephen Jenness (61st) and Matt L'huillier (65th) scored for New Zealand, who only the previous night had one of their players, Blair Hilton ruled out of the tournament after undergoing an emergency operation for appendicitis.

India's lone goal came through Shivendra Singh in the sixth minute, which kept the scores leval at 1-1 until the 34th minute.

New Zealand stunned the Indian defence in the opening minute of play when defender Sandeep Singh faltered in stopping a long shot inside the circle. Child made India pay for the lapse by picking up the ball and slamming it into the boards despite two defenders and the goalkeeper being in the circle.

India drew parity five minutes later when Shivendra received a long through pass from Birender Lakra and beat a defender before slotting it past New Zealand custodian Kyle Pontifex.

The Indian defence wilted under New Zealand's persistent attack midway in the first session, but just managed to hang on as goalkeeper P R Sreejesh warded off a series of shots in three successive penalty corners in the 16th minute.

The Times of India



Hapless India thrashed by New Zealand in opener

India were thrashed 1-5 by New Zealand in their first match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here yesterday.

It was a poor display from the Indians despite the fact that New Zealand had only 16 players at their disposal -- Blair Hilton was ruled out for appendicitis and Hugo Inglis was indisposed.

Simon Child (1st minute), Andy Hayward (34th), Nick Wilson (59th), Stephen Jenness (61st) and Matt L’huillier (65th) scored for New Zealand. Shivendra Singh struck the solitary goal for India in the sixth minute.

New Zealand took the lead just 45 seconds into the match as Child unleashed a shot that Indian custodian Sreejesh Parathu who was fielded instead of skipper Bharat Chetri.

But India were undeterred as Birendra Lakra sent in a cross from the right that was picked up by Shivendra Singh in the semi-circle who kept his cool to round off New Zealand keeper Kyle Pontifex before slotting into an empty goal to put India on level terms in the sixth minute.

New Zealand forced three penalty corners in the 16th, 18th and 19th minutes but were prevented from scoring by a strong Indian defence as well as superb keeping by Sreejesh who saved in quick succession from Child and Nick Wilson off the third penalty corner.

As the clock was ticking away, India started dictating play as the likes of Sardar Singh and Birendra started spraying passes to the striker. But they could not turn the possession into goals.

It was, however, New Zealand who scored as Andy Hayward scored off a penalty corner in the 34th minute to give them a 2-1 lead going into halftime.

India were awarded two penalty corners in the 40th and 45th minutes, when ace penalty corner hitter Sandeep Singh was on the bench, and V. Ragunath was unable to find the back of the net.

India survived a penalty corner in the 55th minute as Andy Hayward’s attempt bounced off the post. But they soon found themselves 3-1 down as Nick Wilson’s deft deflection off a pass from Shea Mcaleese slipped through the pads of Sreejesh in the 59th minute.

Things got worse for India as two minutes later Stephen Jenness was given all the time in the world to pick his spot and give New Zealand a 4-1 lead. And a goal by Matt L’hullier in the 65th minute made it a nightmare opening match for India.

Meanwhile, last year’s losing finalist Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in their opening match. Pakistan almost squandered a 2-0 lead before scoring the winner five minutes from time to take all three points.

It was, however, a scrappy performance from both teams as they tried to get accustomed to the blue pitch, similar to the surface in Olympics in London this July.

It was a rather slow start to the match as both the teams opted to hold on to the ball instead of throwing numbers forward.

Gulf Times



Pakistan beat Argentina in Azlan Shah Cup opener



Pakistan squandered many chances but put up a determined performance to win 4-2. -Photo: azlanshahcup.com

KARACHI: Pakistan beat Argentina 4-2 in their opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Pakistan, who had not had any experience playing on the blue turf before, squandered many chances but put up a determined performance to win the match amidst an Argentine fightback.

Shabbir Khan tried to score the opening goal but his shot was saved by Argentina’s goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi after which Pakistan were awarded a penalty corner in the 22nd minute which was not utilized.

Argentina were also awarded a penalty corner in the 29th minute but Pedro Ibarra’s shot was deflected wide.

The first goal of the match was scored by the Greenshirts as Shafqat Rasool put in a cross through to Mohammad Irfan who made the score 1-0 minutes before half-time.

Pakistan’s captain Sohail Abbas doubled the score in the 46th minute when he scored through a penalty corner, making the score 2-0. Argentina were awarded a penalty corner in the 53rd minute and Gonzalo Peillat scored to make the score 2-1.

Argentina fought back from being down 2-0 to equalize in the 53rd minute as Mathias Parades scored. However, the Greenshirts fought back and Haseem Khan put them ahead again in the 6th minute and a few minutes later Mohammad Waqas solidified their lead as he scored the fourth goal, resulting in a 4-2 win for Pakistan.

Pakistan Hockey Federation President Qasim Zia praised the team’s performance in the opening match.

Zia praised the young players and said they have performed at par with the seniors

“These youngsters will be a useful part of the team in the remaining matches,” he said.

Pakistan next play New Zealand on Sunday, May 27.

AFP adds: A depleted New Zealand thrashed India 5-1 in the second match of the day, while hosts Malaysia were held 1-1 by South Korea in the last match.

Indian coach Michael Nobbs said his side made the Kiwis look good with their below-par performance on the blue pitch, similar to that which will be used at the upcoming Olympics.

Nobbs will be hoping for far better from the fallen giants at London 2012.

“There was no issue with the blue pitch but we did not play well at all,” he said.

“We made them look good. We gave away the ball too easily and also made several errors in our half. It is always difficult when you do not convert your chances when you have them.”

The world seventh-ranked New Zealanders took the lead after just 45 seconds through Simon Child but India went level soon after as Shivendra Singh scored in the sixth minute.

But the Black Sticks reeled off four unanswered goals through Andy Hayward, Nick Wilson, Stephen Jenness and Matt L’huillier to rout the 10th-ranked Indians in the Malaysian city of Ipoh.

New Zealand dominated despite having only 16 players available for the match as Blair Hilton was ruled out with an appendicitis and his replacement Shay Neal was still en route at game time, while Hugo Inglis could not play due to illness.

In the final match of the day, hosts Malaysia held South Korea to a 1-1 draw despite fielding several young players including three who earned their first international caps.

India play South Korea on Friday while New Zealand face Argentina. The other match will see Britain playing their first game, against the hosts.

Dawn



Pakistan drub Argentina 4-2 in Azlan Shah Cup opener

IPOH ( Malaysia): Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas celebrated his captaincy debut with a rasping drag-flick into the net as Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in the opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Thursday.

Three-time champions Pakistan, who lost last year's final to Australia through a golden goal, squandered a two-goal lead to allow the tough-tackling Argentina draw 2-2 level, but then scored twice in the last five minutes to assert their supremacy.

Pakistan opened the scoring in the 34th minute, when they just had nine players on the field.

After a fine solo run Shafaqat Rasool sent a diagonal ball that was picked up on top of the circle by Muhammad Irfan, who beat Argentine goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi with a firm hit.

Skipper Abbas made it 2-0 in the 50th minute with a firm shot that beat Vivaldi and went high into the net.

Down 0-2, the Argentines came back strongly and exploited the gaps in Pakistan's own defence.

Gonzalo Peillat reduced the deficit with a penalty corner conversion in the 53rd minute when their star striker Pedro Ibarra was off the field due to a yellow-card suspension.

Argentina were back on level terms at 2-2 in the 62nd minute as Mathias Parades moved behind Pakistani defenders to capitalise on a through ball from Mathias Villa, slotting it into the boards.

However, Pakistan, missing several seasoned players who are facing disciplinary action for playing in the World Hockey Series in India, scored two field goals to clinch full points from the first outing here.

Haseem Khan put Pakistan in the lead again by deflecting in a shot from Irfan in the 65th minute and Muhammad Waqas rounded off the scoring with a brilliant goal in the penultimate minute from a rasping cross by Shabbir Ahmed.

While Argentina will face New Zealand in their next match on Friday, Pakistan will play the Black Sticks on Sunday.

The Times of India



GB takes first test

JONATHAN COOK in London


World number four Great Britain beat the world number 12 Investec South Africa women’s hockey team 5-1 after they were 2-0 up at half-time in the unofficial Test match at the still-to-be-completed Riverbank Arena in London’s unfinished Olympic Park late Thursday afternoon, before SA won the practice penalty shoot-out 4-0.

SA face GB at Bisham Abbey, in the second unofficial Test match, at 3.30 pm SA time Friday.

SA are in the process of finalising their team selection for the Olympics, while GB have named their team, the first country to do so. Pietie Coetzee, Tarryn Bright, Kate Woods, Shelley Russell and Lauren Penny were those in the 20-player squad named Wednesday for the three-week UK tour who did not play. GB also rested players, including Crista Cullen.

GB scored through Kate Walsh (2), Ash Ball, Chloe Rogers and Helen Richardson, while Kathleen Taylor scored for SA.

The splendid Riverbank Arena hockey stadium, venue for the London 2012 men’s and women’s hockey competitions, was empty save for a couple of construction workers but it gave the girls in green and gold the chance to get a taste of what is to come.

SA then move to Clydesdale Hockey Club in Glasgow and a five-Test official series against world number 18 Scotland. The matches are at 3.30 pm (SA time) Sunday, the same time Monday; at 8.30 pm next Wednesday, the same time on the Thursday and at 3.30 pm next Friday.

The girls in green and gold then return to Chiswick in London for the Investec London Cup that features world number one the Netherlands, world three Germany, GB, world seven Australia and world 14 Ireland.

SA face GB on Tuesday, June 5 at 5.30 pm (SA time); Germany at 9 pm on June 6; before the semi-finals on Saturday, June 9, and Sunday’s classification matches and the gold and bronze medal matches.

SA Hockey Association media release



SA men’s hockey team for training camp

JONATHAN COOK


The names of the 22 players selected to attend a South African men’s hockey squad training camp at University of the Free State Hockey Centre in Bloemfontein, starting Monday, has been released by the SA Hockey Association.

Head coach Gregg Clark’s group of 22 is led by Austin Smith and includes six players from Southern Gauteng, five from Western Province, five from KZN Coastal Raiders, four from Northern Blues and one each from Eastern Province and Amatole-Border.

The SA men won the Olympic Qualifier Tournament in Japan three weeks ago to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

SA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM TRAINING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Jacques le Roux (Western Province), Brendon Botes (Eastern Province).
Defenders: Rhett Halkett (Northern Blues), Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Andrew Cronje (WP), Justin Reid-Ross (NB), Lance Louw (SG), Ricky West (SG), Clinton Panther (SG).
Midfielders: Austin Smith (capt, WP), Wade Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Taine Paton (KCR), Jonty Robinson (NB), Nic Gonsalves (NB).
Strikers: Ian Haley (WP), Marvin Harper (KCR), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP), Julian Hykes (Amatole-Border), Thornton McDade (SG), Miguel da Graca (SG).

SA Hockey Association media release



A tale of two Pauls

The search for the next Malaysian national hockey coach is expected to end real soon.

And this blog can reveal that the top candidate to fill up the soon to be vacant position is South African Paul Revington.

Revington was the coach of the Irish team that denied Malaysia of a place in the final of the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers in March.

Prior to that he was coaching the South African national squad. He recently announced that he had turned down an extension of contract offered by the Ireland Hockey Association.

There were also efforts to woo another Paul and ironically the team was once coached by Paul Lissek.

It is learnt that Revington will be in Ipoh during the Azlan Shah Cup to discuss terms with the National Sports Council.

The MHC had also received applications from the Dutch duo of Jans Floris Bovelander and Jacques Brinkman.

Malaysia had foreign coaches in the past in the likes of Australia's Terry Walsh, Volker Knapp and Lissek.

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



130-team California Cup set for an action packed Memorial Day weekend of field hockey

By Jawwad Qamar


Moorpark, CA, May 25: The 2012 California Cup International Hockey Tournament begins today with the start of competition in the Super Divisions at Moorpark College where both men and women will be competing for the winner take all $5,000 first prize.

Overall, 130 teams from five nations will compete in 13 divisions ranging from Mixed Under-8 to Men/Women Super Divisions at the Moorpark College and Arroyo Vista Park venues from May 25-29. The 41st edition of the tournament more popularly known as the Cal Cup will feature over 2,500 players and the games will start at 7 a.m. and end around 7 p.m.

The inaugural tournament in 1971 included only six teams and Cal Cup has continuously grown ever since, attracting teams from all over the globe. This year, in addition to teams from USA and Canada, there are teams from Argentina, Mexico and Taiwan and there are players from all major field hockey loving nations playing for various teams.

Defending champions Camarillo Cougars are one of the favorites for the men’s title. West Vancouver Millionaires who won the Cal Cup cash in 2004 in their last appearance are the other. Having won the most Cal Cup titles, six, the Millionaires return to California after 7 years absence to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their illustrious program.

The other notables are Montauk Sharks from New York who have players representing, New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Utrecht and Dusseldorf, as well as past and present internationals from the USA and Great Britain.

In the Women’s Super Division, Chacras Vintage, from one of the Argentine Provinces, Mendoza and founded by Marina Di Giacomo (ex-Leona) are considered to return home with the Cal Cup title. Jolie Pitts and the veteran RUSH are the other favorites for the ladies crown.

Cal Cup is the premier invitational field hockey tournament held annually in the United States under the auspices the Field Hockey Federation and California Cup Organizing Committee. In addition to $5,000 top prize in the Super Divisions, every player in the top three teams of each division will receive Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals.

The 2012 Cal Cup tournament is also expected to contribute more than $ 6 Million to the local economy.

For schedule and directions to the venues, please visit www.calcup.net.

Fieldhockey.com Exclusive




Vancouver Millionaires return to Cal Cup to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their illustrious field hockey program

By Jawwad Qamar


After 7 years absence the West Vancouver Millionaires are attending Cal Cup to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their illustrious field hockey program. The Millionaires last won Cal Cup in 2004, which was the 6th Super-Men's title for the club. During the 1990's, the Millionaires won 5 consecutive Cal Cup titles. The 2004 team was put together as a tribute team to the late Ross Rutledge, who was both a teammate and mentor to many of the players on the side. Rutledge tragically succumbed to Cancer in 2004, after playing 2 Olympics for Canada, and representing his country over 150 times.

The West Vancouver Millionaires were founded in 1992, and have been the breeding-ground for many of Canada's top international players. Sending 6 players to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and 5 players to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the West Vancouver Millionaires have played an instrumental role in the success of Canadian Field Hockey over the past 20 years.

This year the only two remaining original Millionaires, Paul Wettlaufer and Steven Davis, will be wearing "RR" bands around their arms, as a continued tribute to Ross Rutledge, who was the original Millionaire and a legend. As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, West Vancouver FHC unveiled a new $4M water-based astroturf last September, aptly named "Rutledge Field."

Cal Cup also honors the memory of the Canadian great. In 2006 the California Cup Organizing Committee (CCOC) established the Ross Rutledge Award, awarded annually to acknowledge the accomplishments of each year’s top goal scorer in memory of the most prolific goal scorer in California Cup history.

Fieldhockey.com Exclusive



Mumbai thrash Maharashtra in one-sided game

MUMBAI: Hosts Mumbai produced a strong second-half display to thrash Maharashtra 7-0 in their Pool-B league match of the West Zone leg of the IHF Senior National Hockey Championship at the MHA Stadium on Thursday.

Mumbai enjoyed a clear edge over Maharashtra but in the first session they were restricted to just one goal, scored by Jayesh Jadhav in the 14th minute, who later added to his and the side's tally with another shot on target.

The hosts continued to attack the rival citadel, but all their attempts were thwarted by an alert and agile Maharashtra goalkeeper James Parmar, who had an excellent first half.

However, after switching sides, Mumbai showed improvement in their finishing and hammered home six goals to run away with the match.

Frontliner Osaf ur Rehman found the target twice, Jadhav added one more, while skipper Tyron Pereira, Roshan Keisham and Ganendrajit Ningombam chipped in with one each.

Earlier in the morning, Vidarbha blanked Rural Maharashtra 3-0 after leading by a solitary goal at the end of the first half. Captain S K Imran netted twice and Sushil Kumar got the other goal for the winners.

In another game, Pune DHA got past Baroda 4-2. Deep Patel 2, Amol Bhosale and Kunal Jagdale scored for the winnrs while for Baroda Vijay Thapa found the mark twice.

The Times of India



Aussies whinge over early starts at Olympics

JONATHAN MILLMOW


Whingeing Aussies. Just a day after the Black Sticks women took their early starts at the London Olympics on the chin, the Kookaburras have come out fuming at similar treatment.

Like the Black Sticks, the Australian men have three 8.30am starts and their coach, Ric Charlesworth, is aghast, particularly as arch-rivals Germany have none.

"I don't expect special treatment, I expect not to be disadvantaged," an angry Charlesworth said in Australia.

"Out of five matches you may expect one 5am start for our athletes, not three.

"It interferes with momentum, as major finals won't be played at that hour and it interrupts our routine over two weeks.

"Early games should be fairly distributed between all teams."

The women's draw has a few crinkles too, with favourites The Netherlands excused from any early starts.

Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager said after the draw was released that he had no issues with their 8.30am starts even though it required a 5am wake-up and disruptions to their body clock.

"We will have to get up early and get on with it," Hager said.

"We have got plenty of time to practise it so it shouldn't be a drama.

"They are the cards we have been dealt so we just have to get on with it."

The hockey competitions in London run from July 29 until August 11.

Stuff



AOC to fight for hockey

Samantha Lane



BUNBURY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: The Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth looks on during the second test match between the Kookaburras and the Netherlands held at Bunbury Hockey Stadium January 21, 2009 in Bunbury, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

AUSTRALIA could take its protest over the Kookaburras' tough Olympic draw - which would require the world No. 1 hockey team to rise at 5am three times during the London Games - to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

While the Australian Olympic Committee and Hockey Australia hope to settle the matter earlier after raising the case with the International Olympic Committee and hockey's international governing body respectively, the AOC last night vowed: "We will go down swinging."

"I want to give hockey - [governing body] FIH - the opportunity to do the right thing, and then we would reconsider our options in the event that was unfavourable," the AOC's director of sport, Fiona de Jong, told The Age.

The Nine Network yesterday dispelled the suspicion of Kookaburras' coach Ric Charlesworth that it had influenced the Olympic draw. "The Nine Network has had no involvement in the hockey schedule at the London 2012 Olympic Game," a network spokesperson said.

Fellow Olympics rights holder Foxtel also said it had had no say in the fixture.

When he responded to the draw announced on Wednesday, Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth told The Age: "The only plausible explanation is television."

In contrast to top-ranked Australia, home team Great Britain - ranked fourth in the world - has been given three matches starting at 7pm, and two at 4pm. The 13-day tournament climaxes with an evening gold medal final.

Hockey Australia president Stuart Grimshaw has fired off a letter of protest to the FIH's Europe-based president, Leandro Negre, while de Jong yesterday personally raised the matter with the IOC.

"They know that we mean business and that on these matters we will go down swinging and do everything we can to pursue a result that we think is fair and equitable," she said last night, adding that AOC president and IOC executive board member John Coates would stay out of the affair.

Brisbane Times



IOC to look into Australia's hockey draw protest

Samantha Lane


AUSTRALIA'S protest against the tough Olympic draw dealt to the world-leading men's hockey team has been taken up by the International Olympic Committee.

Outraged by the schedule that has Australia playing three 8.30am matches, while the home team, Great Britain, plays exclusively at night and in the afternoon, Hockey Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee have formally tabled their challenge with the sport's international governing body. The AOC's director of sport, Fiona de Jong, told The Age last night she had raised it directly with the IOC, which guaranteed yesterday that it would be actively involved in the case.

De Jong did not rule out taking the matter to the top - the Court of Arbitration for Sport. "The IOC responded to me saying it was a hockey matter, but that the IOC was definitely involved in this initial schedule and so they would be involved in the reconsideration by hockey," de Jong said.

"They know that we mean business and that on these matters we will go down swinging and do everything we can to pursue a result that we think is fair and equitable."

Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth is incensed by the draw that would have his team rising at 5am for half the round-robin competition and did not dismiss the suggestion it could cost a gold medal.

Brisbane Times



Hockey players make top 100

A HOST of local stars have been selected among Queensland's top 100 hockey players to compete in the inaugural Super League tournament to be played at the State Hockey Centre in Brisbane over the June long weekend.

The Super League tournament will comprise of men's and women's divisions, each with six competing zone teams from across the state.

The competition is different to other tournaments in that district associations are grouped together and given the opportunity to select a team of the strongest players within their zone.

Players from the Gold Coast and Tweed Border District Hockey Associations will combine to form men's and women's South Coast zone sides.

Jamie Stone of Upper Coomera, Brooke Anderson of Wonglepong, Savannah and Madison Fitzpatrick of Cabarita Beach, together with Rachel Mills and Kandice Olivieri of Arundel, are among the players named in the women's South Coast line-up.

Meanwhile local hockey legend, Brent Livermore, will lead the South Coast men's line-up which also includes Murwillumbah's Andrew Butterini and Dylan Wotherspoon.

From the Super League, men's and women's Australian Hockey League, state under 21, Queensland Development and Queensland Country teams will be selected.

As well as the South Coast sides, there will teams representing Brisbane, South West, Wide Bay, Central and Northern zones.

The Northern zone teams will consist of players from Cairns, Townsville, Mount Isa, the Peninsula and Atherton.

Central zone teams will be made-up of players from Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Moranbah, Wide Bay zone line-ups will include players from the Sunshine Coast, Maryborough, Gympie, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

The South West zone teams will consist of players from Toowoomba, Ipswich and Warwick and Brisbane zone teams will cater for Brisbane and Redlands players.

Super League will be played at the State Hockey Centre in Brisbane, 400 Lytton Road Colmslie, from June 9-11.

My Daily News



Pakistan’s Olympic preparations face further delay


The current situation indicates that the new turf might not be in place even after the Olympics. -Photo by AFP

LAHORE: The issue of laying blue astro-turf here at the National Hockey Stadium experienced yet another setback on Wednesday as the Sports Board Punjab (SBP), claiming violation of terms of the deal by a private contractor, gave the latter the final show-cause notice, hence extending uncertainty over Pakistan’s Olympic preparations.

SBP’s final notice to the contractor raised objections over delay in laying of the pitch. The latest development is a clear signal that the members of London-bound hockey squad — for whom primarily the turf is to be laid — may not get the chance to test their skills and technique on blue turf even once before they set out for Olympics.

Last year, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif sanctioned Rs35 million for the placement of blue turf on the request of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Qasim Zia with an initial plan to lay it before December 2011 for a friendly series against China during that month.

The ambitious plan could not materialise.

And the current situation indicates that the new turf might not be in place even after the Olympics as the SBP served the contractor a final show-cause notice on Wednesday, intensifying the issue further.

On Tuesday, the new turf reached the National Hockey Stadium. But the trucks loaded with the turf and related stuff were not allowed to enter the stadium, according to a media statement issued by the contractor.

The contractor claimed neither the SBP was allowing entrance to the trucks nor any of its officials were ready to communicate with him on the reasons, if any, for stopping the trucks.

The real dispute between the two parties erupted over the installation of the shock pads. Though the contractor had signed the agreement under which he had to install the shock pads before laying the new pitch. In an ill-planned move, the contractor had decided to lay the new turf, without shock pads, claiming shock pads were not needed.

However, the SBP, on their part, considered it a serious breach of the contract and subsequently served two notices to the said contractor before sending the final notice on Wednesday.

In yet another related development, there is a report that lately the contractor has agreed to install shock pads but now the SBP has served the final notice, which means the row will remain unresolved for a long time.

A SBP spokesman in a media statement issued on Wednesday said: “The Sports Board Punjab (SBP) has issued a final show-cause notice to the installer of the blue turf at the National Hockey Stadium for adopting delaying tactics in the execution of the project in due frame of time.

“The firm M/s Swallow International, owned by Usman Afridi, was given the task to lay the synthetic turf at the stadium which should have been laid by now but he has violated the terms of the deal from day one.

“He [the contractor] was with clear directives on five counts — on April 25, 27, 30 and then on May 4 and 8 — asked to remove the shock pads, clean and asphalt the surface of the stadium but he failed to remove them and follow other work, compelling the SBP for his continuous violations of the terms to declare Afridi and Swallow International a black-listed firm and take legal action,” the media release added.

Dawn



Black Sticks team for Asia Tour – a step closer towards Olympic selection

The Black Sticks Women’s team has been named for their Asia Tour, playing matches against China and Korea from 29 May to 7 June. Coach Mark Hager has named a touring group of 20, electing to take two extra athletes than the usual 18 to provide more opportunity for athletes to push for Olympic selection.

“This is another opportunity to play two more top eight teams and will assist in determining the final selection of the 16 players we will take to London,” says Hager.

Hager says selection has been extremely difficult, with competition between squad members fierce with Olympic selection looming.

“This travelling group is fairly close to what could be our Olympic team. Selection is far from game over for those left out and there’s certainly no guarantee that 16 from this 20 will make up the team for London,” says Hager.

“Building up to London has been part of a four year plan - we’ve been developing throughout the year and fitness is the one thing totally within our control, so we have been working hard at that. Our programme is designed for us to peak for that first game on 29 July, that’s our aim. Many players have hit personal bests in fitness tests in the last two weeks,” says Hager.

Auckland’s Lucy Talbot has fractured her thumb in training recently and is therefore unavailable for selection. Talbot will be reassessed at a later time, but will still be considered for final selection for London.

Young players of note who have made the team of 20 are Rhiannon Dennison (North Harbour), Julia King (Auckland), Samantha Charlton (Midlands) and Bridget Blackwood (Canterbury). Both King and Blackwood played head to head in the recent National U21 women’s final in Hamilton with Auckland beating Canterbury to break their two year winning streak.

The Black Sticks Women will return home on 9 June, just prior to the Olympic team being announced during the week commencing 11 June. Finally, in July, the team will depart for their pre-Olympic tour, which includes a Four Nations in Germany from 12-15 July before they arrive at the Olympic Village on 16 July.

Click here to view the team list.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Kate Mahon retires from international hockey

Black Sticks defender and Midlands player Kate Mahon has decided to hang up the sticks and retire after seven years of international hockey. She will continue playing national league hockey for her Midlands team as well as staying involved in club hockey in the Waikato region.

Mahon debuted for the Black Sticks Women back in 2005 in a match in New Delhi under coach Ian Rutledge. She says her career highlight was when she scored the two penalty strokes to secure the win against Australia during the 2009 Oceania World Cup qualifier, securing the team’s spot at the 2010 World Cup.

Mark Hager took over as national coach in 2009 and remembers Mahon performing with excellence throughout the 2009 Champions Challenge, a tournament that the Black Sticks won.

“Kate has been an integral part of the team over the last seven years and has helped to create a great team culture. She excels in assisting the young ones and helping them to improve as both athletes and as people. Kate will be sorely missed as she’s always got on well with everyone and has a great sense of humour,” says Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager.

It is perhaps this healthy sense of humour that has got Mahon through some more challenging times. Mahon was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2004, just a year before her Black Sticks debut, and it is primarily for this reason that she has decided to retire.

“The last 12 months have been pretty tough with a series of niggles. Since the team centralised in Auckland in March, my body has just been struggling with the increased level of training. I feel like I have run out of opportunities to prove myself and I have lost some of that passion I once had,” says Mahon.

“Regardless of whether I made the Olympic team, I had made the decision not to continue beyond London. It was always going to be a tough decision, but knowing that my career was coming to an end maybe made that decision a little easier,” says Mahon.

Mahon has had to undergo five rounds of treatment during her time in the team which has been an on-going interruption to her training and her playing. She says her oncologist has been outstanding at ensuring her treatment is managed alongside her hockey.

“I’m known as the ‘hockey player’ at the hospital! Up until this year, I have been able to manage it reasonably well, but this year I have been feeling increasingly lethargic and I know that the time is right – it is a real relief to have finally made the decision,” says Mahon.

Hockey Players Association member and retired Black Stick Beth Jurgeleit says Kate has always been passionate about hockey and has had a very strong influence on team culture.

“Her work ethic, skill and determination at training and in matches, are the qualities I most remember and respect. She has been a truly inspiring player to play alongside at an international level.  Off the field, Kate always had time for others. She contributed massively to the development of the game - even finding time to represent her fellow players on the Players Board of the Hockey Players Association (HPA) during the early establishment and development of the Association,” says Jurgeleit.

Retirement aside, Mahon has high hopes for the Black Sticks Women and is fully behind the team in their quest to be the best.

“When they play at their best, they’re exceptional and a hard team to beat. They have a really good balance of speed and youth on their side. I will miss the girls a lot, and I will be following their progress closely between now and London,” says Mahon.

Mahon played 72 international tests for the Black Sticks.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Hockey gets involved with the Olympic Torch Relay


Georgie Twigg carries the Olympic Torch in Bristol

Since 19 May 2012, the Olympic torch relay has been touring the UK ahead of the London Olympic Games.  In total the journey will last for 70 days and the torch will be carried by 8,000 torchbearers.

Organisers of the Torch Relay say 95% of the country's population should be within one hour of the route, which ends on 27 July with the lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, Stratford.

Yesterday the torch went from Bristol to Cheltenham and Great Britain star Georgie Twigg, recently named in the GB women's Olympic squad, had the honour of carrying the flame along Henleaze Road in Bristol. Twigg, who was nominated by Bristol University where she studies Law alongside her international career said, "It was an absolutely amazing day. I just couldn't believe how many people were there - it was beyond belief. I was in a bus behind the procession from the start of the day which really added to the anticipation and nerves.

"It was such an adrenaline rush and showed how everyone's going to get behind Team GB for the Olympics. What's so great about the relay is that it's generating such a buzz around the Games and the whole country's united in it's excitement."


Olympic Rings - Firebrands HC - Olympic Torch Relay day 2012

On the same day the Torch also headed down Clevedon Road in Bristol where it went past Firebrands Hockey Club who celebrated its arrival in style with hundreds of club members and local school children turning out to show their support. Firebrands have been planning the event for months and their hard work more than paid off with the BBC and Olympic Gold Medallist triple Jumper Jonathan Edwards paying a visit to the club just a couple of weeks ago to see what preparations were underway for the arrival of the Torch Relay.


Susie Gilbert holds the Olympic Torch - Firebrands HC - Olympic Torch Relay day 2012

On the day itself though some of the greatest excitement was reserved for Great Britain star Susie Gilbert.  Mike Leatt, Chairman of Firebrands said, "Susie was absolutely brilliant. She was in every team photo, signed hundreds of autographs and truly motivated youngsters ahead of the Olympic Games."

England Hockey Board Media release



Amsterdam ready to host EHL and EHCCC Finals

Europe’s best club hockey teams in action



Dutch international and Amsterdam H&BC player Floris Evers (Photo: EHL / Frank Uijlenbroek)

Europe’s best club hockey teams play off in Amsterdam, The Netherlands this weekend. The men battle for the Euro Hockey League (EHL) crown and the women compete for the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup (EHCCC) title.

Saturday’s first EHL Semi Final sees the EHL double winners UHC Hamburg (GER) facing KHC Dragons (BEL). HC Rotterdam (NED) have the chance to take revenge against Amsterdam H&BC (NED) in Saturday’s second EHL Semi Final. AH&BC defeated Rotterdam twice in the Dutch Finals to win their 21st championship in history.

The women’s EHCCC Semi Finals will be played on Friday. German champions UHC Hamburg take on Hoofdklasse runners-up Larensche MHC with Spanish champions Club de Campo playing record champion HC ’s-Hertogenbosch. Den Bosch claimed their 14th Hoofdklasse title in 15 years after defeating Laren in the Dutch Finals.
The EHL and EHCCC Finals are scheduled for Sunday.

Many national players will be in action over the whitsun weekend such as the German internationals Moritz Fürste, Oliver Korn, Florian Fuchs, Nico Jacobi and Marco Miltkau with UHC Hamburg, the Dutchmen Taeke Taekema, Floris Evers, Valentin Verga, Billy Bakker and Klaas Vermeulen with Amsterdam H&BC as well as Jeroen Hertzberger, Roderick Weusthof, Robert van der Horst and Pirmin Blaak with HC Rotterdam. The Belgian internationals Jeffrey Thys, Florent van Aubel, Renaud Pangrazio, Loick Luypaert and Felix Denayer play for KHC Dragons.

The women’s EHCCC will see world-class players like Den Bosch’s Maartje Paumen, Maartje Goderie and Lidewij Welten, Laren’s Kim Lammers, Naomi van As, Joyce Sombroek, Wieke Dijkstra and Julia Müller, Uhlenhorst’s Yvonne Frank, Eileen Hoffmann, Janne Müller-Wieland and Jennifer Plass as well as Campo’s Maria Jesus Rosa, Barbara Malda and Pilar Sanchez.

Amsterdam’s only EHL medal came in 2010 when they won Bronze. Rotterdam are the only team who have ever beaten Amsterdam in EHL competition as AH&BC are unbeaten in 12 of their 14 EHL matches. In the 2010 Semi Finals they went down 3-4 to Rotterdam in the Wagener Stadion, in 2009’s Quarter Final they lost on penalties.

Rotterdam claimed medals in all three of the EHL tournaments that they have participated in, Bronze in 2008 and 2009 and Silver in 2010. Rotterdam have the EHL all time top scorer in their squad. Dutch international Jeroen Hertzberger scored 26 goals in Rotterdam’s three EHL appearances. He leads it from Ronald Brouwer (24) and Guillermo "Willy" Schickendantz (20).

UHC is the most successful as well as most experienced team in EHL history, having played 25 EHL matches in total and having won the title in 2008 and 2010. They also claimed Silver in 2009. Uhlenhorst have never lost a Semi Final in EHL competition.

The Wagener Stadium has played host to some of the biggest international events in hockey, including the 1973 Men’s Hockey World Cup, the 1986 Women’s Hockey World Cup, the EuroHockey Nations Championship in both 1983 and 2009, the EHL Final Four in 2010 as well as numerous FIH Champions Trophy events.

Founded in 1892, Amsterdamsche Hockey & Bandy Club is the oldest hockey club in The Netherlands. After a period which saw various relocations, the club finally settled in the ‘Amsterdamse Bos’ around the Wagener Stadium in 1938.

Detailed tournament information such as the schedule, live-streaming, previews, tickets, teams and officials and even more is available on www.ehlhockey.tv , the official website of the Euro Hockey League.

Euro Hockey League media release



Scotland U16 girls in Germany

Scotland U16 Girls travel to Mannheim this weekend for three international matches against hosts Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Head Coach Bill Robson has named eighteen players in his squad, including Watsonians HC quartet Catriona McLellan, Claire Hill, Gina Ramsay, Lucy Ramsay, and Clydedale Western trio Anna Crawford, Fiona Burnet, Rosie Shanks.

Robson was keen to emphasise that the players' development was his priority, not the outcome of the three matches:

"These games will be a tough examination for the players, particularly as they will face three of the top European nations over the course of the weekend", he said.

"However, the performance of the players is our focus, not the results. This will be a steep learning curve but if the players aim to perform to their full abilities and the targets we have set, the experience will bear fruit for the future. Any success on the pitch we achieve will be an additional bonus."

Match Schedule:

26 May, Scotland v Germany

27 May, Scotland v Netherlands

28 May, Scotland v Belgium

Scotland U16 Girls: Anna Crawford (Hutchesons' Grammer, Clydesdale Western), Catriona McLellan (George Watsons College, Watsonians), Christina Farrar (Strathallan School, Perthshire HC), Claire Hill (Kelso High School, Watsonians), Eilidh Thomson (George Watsons College, Inverleith HC), Emily Newlands (Borders Fjordhus), Erin Gilchrist (High School of Glasgow, Western Wildcats), Fiona Burnet (High School of Glasgow, Clydesale Western), Gina Ramsay (Kelso High School, Watsonians HC), Jessica Ross (Morgan Academy, Dundee Wanderers), Katie Devlin (High School of Glasgow, Western Wildcats), Katie Hibbert (Robert Gordons College, Granite City Wanderers), Kerry-Anne Hastings (Mary Erskine School, CALA Edinburgh), Lucy Ramsay (Kelso High School, Watsonians), Inch Megan (Strathallan School), Millie Brown (Fettes College, CALA Edinburgh), Rosie Shanks (Craigholme, Clydesdale Western), Zoe Sinclair (Wellington, Ayr HC)

Scottish Hockey Union media release