News for 01 June 2012

All the news for Friday 1 June 2012


India caught between agony and ecstasy

S. Thyagarajan



Michael Nobbs, the chief coach, with Gurbaj Singh, and assistant coach, Md. Riaz as the team limbers up for the match in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament now in progress at Ipoh. Photo: S.Thyagarajan

It has been an amalgam of agony and ecstasy. On the threshold of a bronze medal, and facing a thin chance of even making it to Sunday’s final the guessing game for India continues in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament.

The nine point tally after the league engagements gives India a myriad of options. But the players will have to sit on the grand stand on Saturday and watch intently how the final set of matches rolls out.

The prospect of India figuring in the final emerges if Malaysia inflicts a 2-0 defeat on Argentina. Britain, with eight points, can hope only for a bronze even if it beats Pakistan on Saturday. A reverse can spell a disaster.

Korea can shock Britain provided it registers a big victory against the leader, New Zealand, with an impressive goal difference.

These calibrations and calculations are fascinating. They invest the Saturday’s schedule with more than ordinary significance.

From India’s standpoint, there is a lot to debate. Its three victories have come against Asian outfits. That means, the team is yet to overcome the challenges posed by non-Asian combinations, be it New Zealand and Argentina or even Britain.

It may be argued that India could have earned full points, or at least drawn against Britain and Argentina. The Indians flunked in the final minutes making the coach, Michael Nobbs, reiterating he was “more angry than disappointed.”

Mere proficiency is part of the battle if it is not backed by consistency. The Indians have the former trait in abundance. But they are unable to come up with two matches in similar style and system.

Even against Pakistan on Thursday, the players, barring Birendra Lakra and Sardar Singh and to an extent, Kothajit, the rest were lethargic.

The heartbeat for the team management must have soared alarmingly every time when the Pakistanis swarmed the circle. Fortunately, Chetri was in fine for under the bar.

Therefore, it goes without saying and seldom goes without being said, that unless the link between the layers function with perfect cohesion courting victory will become a chance than a reward for tactical and technical excellence.

The frontline and the back line fell into frequent errors. Neither Sandeep nor Raghunath did themselves any credit for tackles and interceptions.

A lot was expected out of Sunil, Tushar and Shivendra in the front line. But their brilliance had been evanescent. Uthappa, Danish and Dharamvir work with enthusiasm and enterprise. Yuvaraj Walmiki is a huge disappointment.

Subjected as they were to the intense pressure, the performance level of goal-keepers Chetri and Sreejesh, can be classified as good.

Notwithstanding the reverse against Great Britain, the Kiwis top the table. Assured of the first final in the event, they take on Korea tomorrow riding on the crest of confidence.

Admittedly, they worked hard. Professional, programmed and perfectly synchronized in attack and defense, the Kiwis are the best on view.

The undulations in the performance graph of Great Britain should give coach Jason Lee sleepless nights till the home Olympics. The highest rated in the field here, the British squad played far, far below its known, or advertised, potential. A bronze, which Britain is likely to take home, will not be commensurate with its stature or efficiency level.

The pugnacity and fortitude displayed by Argentina after two successive defeats are a lesson to many. How quickly the team can change fortunes of a match was crystal clear when playing t India. In a matter of seconds the verdict was pulled out of the opponent.

The Koreans are a pale shadow of their past. It is difficult to fathom how and why they have slithered down the corridor of non-excellence.

On the contrary, the Malaysians, thanks to Saaris, Misron, Rahim and Razie, have captured the imagination. They may even hit gold in the next Asian Games if the present form is sustained.

Down in the dumps with three points, the Pakistanis deserve a lot of commiseration. It is not as if the squad is weak or deficient in skills, but inexperience shows out in every match.

The convulsions in the administration as also the revolt by the seniors who opted for WSH are having a definite impact

Both coach Akhtar Rasool, a world class mid-fielder who led Pakistan to the trophy triumph in 1982 World Cup at Bombay, and skipper Sohail Abbas, a stalwart in his own right, are at a loss of words in the post match briefings to convey their anguish over the disappointing performances.

The defeat against India in the final minute of the contest was understandably was too hard to stomach.

Table of Points: New Zealand: Played 5, Won 4, Lost 1, Drawn 0, Goals for 18, Goals against 17, Points 12; Argentina 5-3-0-2-14-16-9; India 6-3-0-3-12-15-9; Britain 5-2-2-1-11-10-8; Korea 5-1-2-2-10-8-5; Malaysia 5-1-2-2-10-13-5; Pakistan 5-1-0-4-8-14-3.

Saturday’s matches: Korea v New Zealand (1-35 p.m. IST); Pakistan v Britain (3-35 p.m.); Malaysia v Argentina (6-35 p.m.)

The Hindu



Sunil's late winner helps India overcome Pakistan

S. Thyagarajan



Strike one: Sandeep Singh of India about to score from a penalty corner against Pakistan.

The clock showed 1:27s. That moment crystallised India's pulsating 2-1 victory over Pakistan before the hooter. The gangling S.V. Sunil hoisted that match-winning goal in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Thursday.

The celebrations triggered by this superb effort need not be portrayed in detail.

Devoid of usual the romance and aesthetics that are part and parcel of an India-Pakistan encounter, the 152nd meeting produced very little to touch the heart, or to bring a lump in your throat. It was a close, unsentimental, tight match on a rain soaked pitch.

To wax eloquent over the verdict is superfluous. The Indians were palpably uncomfortable in the underfoot conditions. There were errors galore. During some phases, the Indians were over circumspect and ponderous.

It was the defenders who were gallant. They managed to guard seven penalty corners — four in the first half — before yielding the equalizer to Sohail Abbas on resumption.

Outstanding in the defence was Birendra Lakra. Notwithstanding a head injury sustained early in the contest, he stood like a bastion effecting neat interceptions and clearances.

It was Birendra's adroit forward pass following an interception that set Sardar Singh on that winning move in the final minute. Sardar waltzed his way and served a lovely pass to Sunil who found the boards with a deceptive shot to beat Imran Shah all ends up.

If Birendra richly deserved his man-of-the-match award, no less praiseworthy was the performance of goal-keeper Chetri.

Barring that solecism, being beaten by a grounder from Sohail, Chetri's work under the bar was adept, athletic and amazing.

Another defender who impressed was the left-half Kothajit Singh. This youngster displayed the gumption to go in for touch tackles and clipped off many a menacing move.

The frontline did not distinguish itself. Shivendra was listless, and so were Tushar and Walmiki. Even Sunil, the ultimate hero of the day, was not in his best element till that momentous moment.

For all the good work in the Indian defence, the Pakistani forwards managed to exert constant pressure. Umar Butta on the right and Haseem Khan from the centre caused a handful of suspenseful moments. Zubair contributed his share to the attack which looked like scoring at any time.

India's first penalty corner surfaced close on half-time. Sandeep Singh produced a stunner of a drag-flick with aplomb to hoist the lead. But for the major part of the second half, Pakistan dictated terms. It restored parity through Sohail Abbas.

The Indians were still at the receiving end with Pakistan surging in repeatedly. The latter had two more penalty corners. But in the closing minutes, India forced two penalty corners which were well defended by the Pakistan's custodian Imran Shah.

“India beat Pakistan and we deserved it,” observed Michael Nobbs. He emphasized that India had indeed played well and was disappointed over the denial of a penalty corner by the New Zealand umpire, David Tomilinson.

Palpably depressed the Pakistani coach, Akbtar Rasool attributed the defeat to the inexperience of the newcomers. He was optimistic that the team would overcome the deficiencies before the Olympics. Skipper Sohail Abbas echoed a similar sentiment.

India has completed the league part with nine points from six matches.

Whether it can still aim for a podium finish largely depends on the outcome of matches slated for Saturday.

Marred by persistent rain neither Korea nor Great Britain did precious little to be described as praiseworthy. The match meandered in a prosaic fashion and seldom rose beyond the notch of mediocrity.

If anything, the Koreans probed the rival area with a modicum of consistency. They hit the lead late in the first half when Yoon Sung Hoon. Britain, quite unexpectedly, showed no sign of urgency and struggled to get the moves to fall into a pattern.

Britain's equalizer emerged midway in the first half through Jonty Clarke who latched on to a pass by Harry Martin. The team however missed a chance to forge ahead consequent to a scramble in front of the Korean goal. Richard Alexnder, who got possession of the ball, flicked it over the post.

Britain has eight points from five matches with a match remaining against Pakistan on Saturday while Korea with five points takes on New Zealand in the last league match.

New Zealand with 12 points from five matches has ensured a place in the final for the first time after beating Malaysia 4-1.

Friday is a rest day.

The results: Korea 1 (Yoon Sung Hoon) drew with Great Britain 1 (Jonty Clarke); India 2 (Sandeep Singh, S.V. Sunil) bt Pakistan 1 (Sohail Abbas); New Zealand 4 (Ryan Archibald, Shea Mcaleese, Nick Wilson, Shay Neal) bt Malaysia 1 (Hanafi Hafiz).

The Hindu



Sluggish yet India prove costly for Pakistan

K Arumugam


India clinched cliff-hanger of a contest against Pakistan 2-1 with savior of an athletic goal emanating from agile and alert SV Sunil in its last pool match here in Ipoh.

Penalty corners, expertise or lack of it, played a big role in the whole game though the end results came out of gem of a field effort from Sunil.

This is India's third win in six matches; the nine points it accrued will well help them to play for bronze, which would depend on various other results, as all other six teams have to play a match in their pool on Saturday.

On the other hand, Pakistan has to come out with its best in its last match, and then hope for Malaysia lose out again so that it did not have to finish the last.

India took the lead through Sandeep Singh in the 31st minute – he otherwise too played a shade better than what he was in the tournament till then -- and then veteran Sohail Abbas annulled it with the team’s fifth penalty corner ten minutes before the hooter.

Pakistan forwards kept the Indian defence on back foot throughout the second half after India trooped out of the field with a goal in their kitty at half time. A subdued Sardar Singh, ably assisted by Birendra Lakra and young Manpreet and Raghunath withered many Pakistan attacks, especially from Zubair Ahd, Rizwan Jr and ever-improving Haseem Khan.

Even as the match was meandering towards a dame draw, which would be a fitting result for the game, Birendra Lakra braved a Pakistan attempt at goal, and then wore down a couple of chasers before parting the ball to Sardar Singh in the left flank. The rest is history.

Even as the ball almost seemed slipped out of the circle, Sunil trapped a neat cross from Sardar, after set up by Gurbaj Singh, and drew otherwise alert goalie Imran Shah before diving and sending a perfect push that landed across the goal cage.

Just one minute and 27 seconds was left in the clock, and then India played out the remainder of the time to safeguard the narrow margin.

The match did not rise to the expected level, perhaps the heavy turf, owing to heavy downpour in the day held the pace in check.

The first half was played on even keel, though India got three penalty corners in that spell. Tushar Khandker summoned all his experience – he is playing his sixth Azlan Shah Cup here -- helped India to get couple of penalty corners.

Both sides showed no acumen at penalty corners, even as Bharat Chetri and Imran Shah, the goalies, stood out in their work outs.

Birendra Lakra was the hero of the day, he got so officially too.

Stick2Hockey.com



Last-gasp goal gives India win over Pakistan

IPOH: S. V. Sonil scored in the last minute to give India a hard-fought 2-1 win over arch rivals and Asian Games champions Pakistan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday.

It was India’s 49th win over Pakistan in the 152nd match between the two countries.

India completed their fixtures with nine points from three wins and three defeats while it was Pakistan’s fourth defeat.

They are at the bottom of the standings and take on Britain tomorrow in their last match.

Yesterday’s match started on a slow note. But it was the Pakistan team that looked more dangerous.

They earned two penalty corners in the first 14 minutes of the match but Shafqat Rasool and Sohail Abbas failed to convert.

Sandeep Singh gave India the lead from a penalty corner set-piece.

His powerful flick sailed past Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah.

Pakistan got their equaliser through Sohail in the 60th minute from a penalty corner hit.

India regained the lead from a counter attack which saw Sardar Singh’s through pass well connected into goal by Sunil in the 69th minute.

The Star of Malaysia



India ride on Sunil strike to down Pakistan

BANGALORE: SV Sunil struck in the dying moments as India downed Pakistan 2-1 in a pulsating encounter at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Thursday.

But the win may have come a little too late as India ended their campaign with nine points from six games. Two other teams — Argentina (nine points from five matches) and Great Britain (eight points from five) — stand a better chance of making the final against New Zealand, who reached the title round on Thursday with a 4-1 rout of Malaysia.

The Black Sticks are on 12 points with a match to go against Korea on Saturday. Friday is a rest day.

Striker Sunil, who has returned a mixed bag of late, dived to guide the ball into the goal in the 69th minute after Sardar Singh created the opening with a superb pass.

Sandeep Singh scored India's first goal in the 30th minute off a penalty corner but Pakistan found parity when Sohail Abbas returned the compliment with a firm shot in the 59th minute.

Chief coach Michael Nobbs said he had focused on a few extra training sessions to sharpen the players' finishing skills which paid dividends in the game against Pakistan.

"We have been playing well and not finishing. We made more of an effort to rectify this by some extra training sessions which helped," he told TOI.

"It was a typical hard-fought match against Pakistan, the first half we were dominant and were unlucky not to have scored more.

The second half mostly belonged to Pakistan. They had a few shots on goal but goalkeeper Bharat Chetri and the defense were solid and we held them to solitary goal," the Aussie said.

"Our attacks in the second half were fewer but had more potency and we earned more shots and penalty corners. Some brilliant play by Birendra Lakra and Sardar and a wonderful diving goal by Sunil sealed the victory for us. We deserved the victory," he added.

The Indians get a two-day break before the classification matches and final on Sunday.

Results: India 2 (Sandeep Singh 31st, SV Sunil 69th) bt Pakistan 1 (Sohail Abbas 61st). Great Britain 1 (Jonty Clarke 50) bt South Korea 1 (Yoon Sung Hoon 22nd). New Zealand 4 (Ryan Archibald 5, Shea McAleese 16, Nick Wilson 33, Shay Neal 61) bt Malaysia 1 (Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi 45).

The Times of India



India sneak past Pakistan



IPOH - India relied on a penultimate-minute goal by striker SV Sunil as they beat archrivals Pakistan 2-1 in a thrilling match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Thursday.

New Zealand also booked their place in the final after beating Malaysia 4-1 at the Azlan Shah Stadium. The win, New Zealand’s fourth in five matches, gave the Kiwis 12 points while Argentina with nine points are second while India who have also nine points are third with an inferior goal difference.

In tonight’s match, Malaysia who had beaten Pakistan 3-2 yesterday, found themselves trailing 0-3 by the first half with goals from Ryan Archibald (5th min), Shea Mcaleese (16th min) and Nick Wilson (32nd min). The start of the second half raised the hope of Malaysian fans who had come in droves, when Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi’s solo effort reduced the deficit to 3-1.

Sunil made a diving effort to push the ball into the goal in the 69th minute to clinch the issue for India and keep themselves in the hunt for a podium finish. Sardar Singh created the opening with his defence-splitting pass to the right and Sunil capitalised on the chance.

India, who are already out of contention for a final berth, had earlier opened the scoring in the 30th minute through Sandeep Singh’s penalty corner conversion while Pakistan equalised through a penalty corner goal by skipper Sohail Abbas in the 59th minute.

The victory gave India a chance to stay in the hunt for the bronze medal match. India collected nine points from their six round-robin league matches and now await the other results to know who would be their opponent in the playoffs for final positions.

In a match devoid of many openings for field goals, Pakistan had the first look at the Indian goal in the 13th minute when unmarked Shafqat Rasool received a cross from right on top of circle, but failed to beat goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with his reverse hit. Pakistan then forced two penalty corners in the next minute, but the Indian defence stood firm.

Not many goal-bearing moves were produced by either teams and then Indian strikers finally exerted pressure to earn a penalty corner that was converted by Sandeep, who sent a rising drag-flick into the net to put India ahead in the half-hour mark.

A minute later, Shivendra failed to trap Tushar Khandekar’s defence-splitting cross from left. Pakistan then forced two penalty corners in the last two minutes of the first half, but failed to cause any danger in the absence of ace penalty corner shooter Sohail Abbas who was off the pitch.

India earned their second penalty corner three minutes into the second half but also failed to cause any trouble with Sandeep not there to take the shot. Abbas was back to take Pakistan’s next penalty corner and saw his low shot being deflected out in the 45th minute. He made amends in the next penalty corner that came in the 59th minute by sending a grounder into the boards.

India’s defence came under a lot of pressure for 10 minutes in the second half as Pakistani strikers repeatedly broke through. India went out looking for a late goal and forced their last penalty corner in the 67th minute, but Sandeep’s rising shot was blocked by a defender.

Two minutes later, when a draw seemed on the horizon, Sardar’s defence splitting pass from the centre created an opening that was converted by Sunil, who dived forward to push the ball in. Pakistan have just three points from five games, having lost four successive matches after starting with a victory over Argentina.

Earlier, South Korea held Great Britain to a 1-1 draw, a result that severely affected favourites Great Britain’s chances of making it to the final. Great Britain now have eight points from five games, while South Korea have five from as many matches. New Zealand and Argentina, the other main contenders, have nine points each.

South Korea took the lead in the 23rd minute as Yoon Sung-Hoon picked up a long diagonal ball on top of the circle and beat the defence with a fine shot. Great Britain pressed hard and equalised in the 50th minute through Jonty Clarke’s dazzling goal after receiving a pass from Ashley Jackson inside the circle.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup standings

Teams    P    W    D    L    GF    GA    GD    Pts


New Zealand    5    4    0    1    18    7    11    12

Argentina    5    3    0    2    14    16    -2    9

India    6    3    0    3    12    15    -3    9

Great Britain    5    2    2    1    11    10    1    8

Korea    5    1    2    2    10    8    2    5

Malaysia    5    1    2    2    10    13    -3    5

Pakistan    5    1    0    4    8    14    -6    3

The Nation



India beat Pakistan 2-1 in Azlan Shah Cup

IPOH (Malaysia): India relied on a penultimate-minute goal by striker SV Sunil as they beat archrivals Pakistan 2-1 in a thrilling match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Thursday.

Sunil made a diving effort to push the ball into the goal in the 69th minute to clinch the issue for India and keep themselves in the hunt for a podium finish. Sardar Singh created the opening with his defence-splitting pass to the right and Sunil capitalised on the chance.

India, who are already out of contention for a final berth, had earlier opened the scoring in the 30th minute through Sandeep Singh's penalty corner conversion while Pakistan equalised through a penalty corner goal by skipper Sohail Abbas in the 59th minute.

The victory gave India a chance to stay in the hunt for the bronze medal match. India collected nine points from their six round-robin league matches and now await the other results to know who would be their opponent in the playoffs for final positions.

In a match devoid of many openings for field goals, Pakistan had the first look at the Indian goal in the 13th minute when unmarked Shafqat Rasool received a cross from right on top of circle, but failed to beat goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with his reverse hit. Pakistan then forced two penalty corners in the next minute, but the Indian defence stood firm.

Not many goal-bearing moves were produced by either teams and then Indian strikers finally exerted pressure to earn a penalty corner that was converted by Sandeep, who sent a rising drag-flick into the net to put India ahead in the half-hour mark.

A minute later, Shivendra failed to trap Tushar Khandekar's defence-splitting cross from left.

Pakistan then forced two penalty corners in the last two minutes of the first half, but failed to cause any danger in the absence of ace penalty corner shooter Sohail Abbas who was off the pitch.

India earned their second penalty corner three minutes into the second half but also failed to cause any trouble with Sandeep not there to take the shot.

Abbas was back to take Pakistan's next penalty corner and saw his low shot being deflected out in the 45th minute. He made amends in the next penalty corner that came in the 59th minute by sending a grounder into the boards.

India's defence came under a lot of pressure for 10 minutes in the second half as Pakistani strikers repeatedly broke through.

India went out looking for a late goal and forced their last penalty corner in the 67th minute, but Sandeep's rising shot was blocked by a defender.

Two minutes later, when a draw seemed on the horizon, Sardar's defence splitting pass from the centre created an opening that was converted by Sunil, who dived forward to push the ball in.

Pakistan have just three points from five games, having lost four successive matches after starting with a victory over Argentina.

Earlier, South Korea held Great Britain to a 1-1 draw, a result that severely affected favourites Great Britain's chances of making it to the final.

Great Britain now have eight points from five games, while South Korea have five from as many matches. New Zealand and Argentina, the other main contenders, have nine points each.

South Korea took the lead in the 23rd minute as Yoon Sung-Hoon picked up a long diagonal ball on top of the circle and beat the defence with a fine shot.

Great Britain pressed hard and equalised in the 50th minute through Jonty Clarke's dazzling goal after receiving a pass from Ashley Jackson inside the circle.

New Zealand entered the final of the Azlan Shah Cup for the first time after they defeated hosts Malaysia 4-1 on Thursday. Continuing to lead the team standings, New Zealand have taken their tally to 12 points from five matches.

New Zealand's opponents for the final will be known only on Friday after Argentina and Great Britain play their last matches of the round-robin league. Argentina currently have nine points from five matches, while Great Britain are on eight points from five games.

Dominating the match against Malaysia, Ryan Archibald opened the scoring in the fifth minute for the Kiwis, followed by Shea Mcaleese (16th minute), Nick Wilson (33rd) and Shay Neal (61st). Malaysia scored a consolation goal through Hafifi Hafiz in the 45th minute.

The Times of India



We deserve to win over Pakistan: Michael Nobbs

IPOH ( MALAYSIA): India hockey coach Michael Nobbs was on Thursday delighted with his side's performance in the 2-1 victory over Pakistan, saying that his boys played better than their arch-rivals in the match to keep themselves in the race for a bronze medal in the Azlan Shah Cup tournament.

India clinched victory through a 69th minute goal from striker S V Sunil who dived forward to push the ball into the goal after receiving a defence-splitting pass from Sardar Singh inside the circle.

The victory kept India in the hunt for a bronze medal. India finished their six round-robin league matches with nine points from three victories.

"We deserved the victory and I'm happy at the way the boys played today. We tightened our defence, but we could have made better use of the chances we got upfront," said Nobbs.

"We're in with a chance of getting the bronze here, and that should be a motivation for the boys. The boys have played a tough tournament in hot and humid conditions and we now have two days of rest before the last game," he said.

India will not know their opponents for their last match until Friday as several teams are in with a chance to feature in the top four of the round-robin league standings.

Nobbs expressed his displeasure at the umpiring in the tournament, which he termed "sub-standard".

"We should have got another penalty corner when Sandeep's shot hit a defender, but the decision was changed," he said.

Before Sunil's goal settled the issue, India had opened the scoring in the 30th minute through Sandeep's penalty corner conversion, while Pakistan equalised through a penalty corner goal by skipper Sohail Abbas in the 59th minute.

Pakistan team manager Akhtar Rasool was disappointed with the number of chances missed by his strikers.

"We lost due to a late goal, but this was our best match of the tournament," said Rasool, a former World Cup-winning captain.

"We kept missing chances despite repeated attacks. But this is a young team that will improve with more experience," he said.

The Times of India



Pakistan lose to India 2-1 in Azlan Shah Cup


India Sarvanjit Singh (L) and Pakistan’s Abdul Haseem Khan collide during their match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. -Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan’s lacklustre performance resulted in a 2-1 loss to India on Thursday at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Pakistan, who are already out of the tournament, squandered several chances as they fell to their fourth defeat in the tournament in which they were the losing finalists against Australia last year.

India opened the scoring through a penalty corner scored by Sandeep Singh in the 30th minute but could not sustain their lead as Pakistan’s captain Sohail Abbas equalised through a penalty corner in the 60th minute. However, India fought back and Sunil scored the winner just before full time, making the score 2-1.

Pakistan started the tournament well, beating Argentina 4-2 but could not maintain their winning form and lost the rest of their matches against South Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia and India.

Dawn



Black Sticks Men secure spot in final

The Black Sticks Men have secured a spot in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after a 4-1 victory over hosts Malaysia early this morning.

The Kiwis still have one more round robin match to play against Korea tomorrow night (NZ time) but with four wins from their five games they have already booked their spot in the final.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod said his side asked a lot of the Malaysian defence today.

"We maintained possession well and created a lot of opportunities which we finished with some very good goals.”

In front of a vocal home crowd, the Black Sticks stamped their mark on the match early to lead 3-0 at halftime.

Veteran Ryan Archibald opened the scoring after five minutes with a piece of individual brilliance while Shea McAleese slotted in the second at the 16 minute mark.

Nick Wilson made it three just before the break when he tapped in a great cross from Ben Collier.

A second half revival from Malaysia saw the hosts peg one back to 3-1 but a Shay Neal goal in the 61st minute enabled the Kiwis to comfortably hold on for the win.

McAleese was named man of the match but Collier also impressed with his strong work rate and errorless performance.

In Monday morning’s final, the Black Sticks are expected to face either Argentina, who they beat 5-2, or Great Britain, who they went down 2-1 to yesterday.

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

RESULT
New Zealand 4 (Ryan Archibald, Shea McAleese, Nick Wilson, Shay Neal) Malaysia 1. HT: 3-0.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



New Zealand pack off hosts with first-half blitz

By AFTAR SINGH



It’s mine: New Zealand’s Brad Shaw trying to take the ball away from Malaysia’s Faizal Saari during their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh Thursday. — RONNIE CHIN / The Star.

IPOH: New Zealand booked their place in the final with an impressive first-half display to outplay Malaysia 4-1 in the seven-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament yesterday.

It was the first time the Kiwis qualified for the final in this tournament since its inception in 1983.

The Kiwis have 12 points from four wins and one defeat, with one match left to play against South Korea tomorrow.

For Malaysia it was their second defeat in five matches.

They have five points and will wrap up the fixtures against Argentina tomorrow.

As usual, Malaysia got off to a slow start and for the third time in the tournament, they conceded two early goals. The team had only two shots at goal in the first 35 minutes.

The Kiwis, on the other hand, dominated the match from the start and took the lead in the fifth minute.

Ryan Archibald beat two defenders in the D before pushing the ball past goalkeeper S. Kumar.

Three minutes later, New Zealand earned their first penalty corner but Andy Hayward’s flick was well stopped by Kumar.

In the 12th minute, Mohd Rahmadan Rosli failed to connect with the ball into goal off a through pass by Mohd Shahrun Nabil.

And four minutes later, Shea Mcaleese put his name on the score sheet when he connected with Nick Wilson’s cross into goal.

Malaysia’s strike force, led by Faizal Saari, hardly made an impact in the first half. They were all guilty of losing the ball inside their opponents’ semi-circle.

Malaysia earned their first penalty corner in the 33rd minute but Faizal’s flick was pushed away by defender Dean Couzins.

A minute later, the Kiwis went three up. Mcleese’s reverse stick cross from the left was deflected into goal by Wilson.

Malaysia pushed forward in search of goals after the breather and they were finally rewarded in the 45th minute.

Hafifihafiz Hanafi collected a long pass from Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and then beat a defender before slamming the ball through goalkeeper Kyle Ponifex’s pads and into goal.

Hungry for more goals, Malaysia charged forward and Faizal came close in the 50th minute but his reverse stick attempt was well saved by Ponifex.

Malaysia kept up the pressure and almost reduced the deficit in the 60th minute from a reverse stick attempt by Mohd Fitri Saari which was again stopped by Pontifex.

However, it was all over for Malaysia a minute later, when Inglis Hugo’s cross from close range was well connected into goal by Shay Neal.

National coach Tai Beng Hai said his players were a letdown in the first half.

“The players also lost possession of the ball easily and made the same errors in defence. They only tried to come back late in the second-half,” said a disappointed Beng Hai.

New Zealand coach Shane Mcleod was delighted with his team’s performance.

“I enjoy watching the game as the Malaysians played well too. It is also nice to have qualified for the final. My team are progressing well ahead of the Olympics,” said Mcleod.

The Star of Malaysia



Black Sticks down hosts to reach Sultan final

FRED WOODCOCK


The New Zealand men's hockey team have secured a spot in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after a 4-1 victory over hosts Malaysia.

The Kiwis still have one more round-robin match to play, against Korea tomorrow night, but with four wins from five matches they have already booked a final berth.

They are expected to face either Argentina - New Zealand were 5-2 winners against the South Americans earlier in the tournament - or Great Britain, who beat the Kiwis 2-1 yesterday, in Monday's final.

New Zealand have never finished better than third at the tournament.

In front of a vocal home crowd this morning (NZT), the Black Sticks stamped their mark on the match against Malyasia early to lead 3-0 at halftime.

Veteran Ryan Archibald opened the scoring after five minutes with a piece of individual brilliance while Shea McAleese slotted in the second at the 16-minute mark. Nick Wilson made it three just before the break when he tapped in a great cross from Ben Collier.

A second half revival from Malaysia saw the hosts peg one back to 3-1 but a Shay Neal goal in the 61st minute enabled the Kiwis to comfortably hold on for the win.

McAleese was named man of the match but Collier also impressed with his strong workrate and error-free performance.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod was pleased with the questions his team asked of the Malyasian defence.

"We maintained possession well and created a lot of opportunities which we finished with some very good goals," he said.

Former champions India defeated Asian Games winners and arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 but their chances to reach the final have virtually gone with only one more day of preliminaries to play.

India's win over Pakistan was their 50th in 152 meetings and was a morale booster with Pakistan, last year's runners-up, facing their worst performance ever in the cup as they have fallen to the bottom of the table.

Earlier, favourites Britain were held to a 1-1 draw by South Korea.

Britain have eight points, and they play Pakistan Saturday, while South Korea with five points will meet the Black Sticks.

India have nine points and have no more fixtures.

Stuff



Black Sticks men secure spot in final

By Dan Richardson


New Zealand's Brad Shaw, left, battles for the ball with Malaysia's Faisal Saari. Photo / AP


The Black Sticks men secured a spot in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after a 4-1 victory over hosts Malaysia overnight.

The Kiwis still have one more round-robin match to play against Korea tomorrow night but with four wins from their five games they have already booked their spot in the final.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod said his side asked a lot of the Malaysian defence.

"We maintained possession well and created a lot of opportunities which we finished with some very good goals."

In front of a vocal home crowd, the Black Sticks stamped their mark on the match early to lead 3-0 at halftime.

Veteran Ryan Archibald opened the scoring after five minutes with a piece of individual brilliance while Shea McAleese slotted in the second at the 16-minute mark.

Nick Wilson made it three just before the break when he tapped in a great cross from Ben Collier.

A second-half revival from Malaysia saw the hosts peg one back to 3-1 but a Shay Neal goal in the 61st minute enabled the Kiwis to comfortably hold on for the win.

McAleese was named man of the match but Collier also impressed with his strong work rate and errorless performance.

In Monday morning's final, the Black Sticks are expected to face either Argentina, who they beat 5-2, or Great Britain, who they went down 2-1 to yesterday.

New Zealand 4 (Ryan Archibald, Shea McAleese, Nick Wilson, Shay Neal) Malaysia 1. HT: 3-0.

The New Zealand Herald



New Zealand reach Sultan Azlan Shah final

IPOH (Malaysia): New Zealand on Thursday booked their first ever appearance in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a crushing 4-1 win over hosts Malaysia, while India defeated rivals Pakistan 2-1.

The Kiwis had the game all but sewn up by half-time, racing to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Ryan Archibald, Shea McAleese and Nick Wilson.

The Malaysians pulled a goal back through Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi in the 45th minute to give them a glimmer of hope but the match was eventually put beyond their reach with a Shay Neal goal to make it 4-1.

Malaysia's defeat means they cannot qualify for the final as they are four points behind second place Argentina who they meet in the final round.

The South Americans will be vying to add to their nine points to secure the right to play New Zealand, who have previously never made it further than third place, in the tournament which is an important warm-up for the London Olympics.

Former champions India defeated Asian Games winners and arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 but their chances to reach the final have virtually gone with only one more day of preliminary round matches on Saturday.

India's win over Pakistan was their 50th in 152 meetings and was a morale booster with Pakistan, last year's runners-up, facing their worst performance ever in the cup as they have fallen to the bottom of the table.

Pakistan team manager Akhtar Rasool said it was not his side's day.

"India was fortunate to score in the final minute, and it was a momentary lapse in concentration that cost us dearly," he said.

"We have always maintained that we are here to learn and correct our mistakes ahead of the Olympics... We just have to be patient."

There was no fancy play by either side in the match played under a steady drizzle. Sandeep Singh gave India the lead when they were awarded a penalty corner in the 31st minute.

Pakistan dominated the start of second half but their finishing was woefully off for the most part until they equalised in the 61st minute when Sohail Abbas sent a low drag flick into the goal.

But just as the match was heading for a draw, Sunil Sowmarpet scored in the 69th minute, giving India a crucial win.

"We deserve the win based on our performance and discipline in defence," Indian coach Michael Nobbs said. "The timely tackles and tactical discipline helped us through this match."

Earlier, favourites Britain were held to a 1-1 draw by South Korea.

South Korea opened the scoring through Yoon Sung-Hoon. But a goal by Jonty Clarke in the 50th minute followed.

Britain have eight points, and they play Pakistan Saturday, while South Korea with five points will meet New Zealand ahead of the final Sunday.

India have nine points and have no more fixtures.

The Times of India



Great Britain draw with Korea to set-up tense finale

In the penultimate game of the preliminary stages at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Great Britain faced Korea knowing that a win would take them to the top of the standings in Malaysia.  Korea came into the game in sixth place hoping to move up the table to fight it out for the higher placings on Sunday.  As it was both sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the searing heat.

The first half saw very few clear cut chances for either side. Korea had the majority of the possession and scored the solitary goal of the half thanks to Yoon Sung Hoon who fired home from the top of the circle.  Great Britain came out refreshed and dominated significant spells of the second half with Reading’s Jonty Clarke evening up the score line in the 50th minute with a fantastic solo effort.

The story of the match was two goalkeepers playing at the very top of their games; Great Britain and Cannock’s James Fair made two world class saves in the first and final minutes and Korea’s Myung Ho Lee kept his side in the game on numerous occasions in the second half.

Speaking after the game, Great Britain Head Coach Jason Lee said, “It was a much better second half than first and I’m really pleased with the quality of play we managed to produce. The players gave absolutely everything and that was clear to see at the end of the game when many of them collapsed with fatigue.”

Being the first match of the day the game was played in very humid and wet conditions with the temperate over 30 degrees Celsius.

Korea started the game very brightly with their initial attack forcing two top class saves from Fair in Great Britain’s goal before the clock had even registered one minute.  Although the first minute promised much there was relatively little goal mouth action in the early stages of the match, both sides showed good build up play but couldn’t capitalise with the final ball.

As the new substitutions rolled on, Great Britain, playing in white shirts with blue shorts and socks, took a little while to settle and Korea enjoyed the majority of the possession. With 13 minutes left to play in the first half Yoon Sung Hoon wrong footed Wimbledon’s Ben Hawes at the top of the circle he hit his shot well and it flew past Fair whose valiant effort to push it wide with his glove was not successful.

Korea looked comfortable with their one goal advantage and although Great Britain did enjoy some good periods of play in the closing minutes of the half their circle penetrations were kept to a minimum.  Korea on the other hand looked far more dangerous on the break; Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith and Hampstead and Westminster’s Dan Fox both made vital tackles to keep Great Britain within a goal of Korea as the half time hooter sounded.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first and Korea had two penalty corners within the first five minutes, however they were unable to convert either of the chances.  As the rain started to pour down the conditions became even more difficult.

Although Korea looked in control early on Great Britain did not panic and as they began to build up their play their attacks started to look more threatening. Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin was initially denied by Lee in Korea’s goal after some good build up play but seconds later the breakthrough came and the score line was evened. East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson passed a disguised shot through the Korean defence to Clarke at the top of the circle who took the ball away from the approaching defender and hit a blistering shot which flew past Lee in goal.

Korea immediately attacked at the other end and won their third penalty corner of the game, but again they were not able to convert their chance.  The game was opening up and the next chance fell to East Grinstead’s Barry Middleton when he got a touch on a long range ball which had been fired into the circle right in front of the Korean keeper who made a fantastic save to push Middleton’s attempt wide. 

With 13 minutes to go Korea were reduced to 10 men following a yellow card and Great Britain made the most of their one man advantage with a handful of chances.  Surbiton’s Richard Alexander would have expected to score as he found himself with an open goal after Lee was beaten, but his shot went over the crossbar.  The next chance came moments later when Clarke, again in the thick of the action, pulled a reverse stick shot at goal from the narrowest of angles only to see his attempt saved by Lee onto the near post.  Harry Martin couldn’t get a stick to the rebound as it came back into play.

Great Britain continued to dominate and gave absolutely everything trying to find the winning goal.  Hawes made a great run into the circle and created his own space to get a shot away, but again Lee came up with the goods to keep his side in the game.

Both teams looked exhausted in the final minute, but Fair had to be alert as he was called upon to stop a final Korean attack.

Speaking after the game, Great Britain Team Manager Andy Halliday said, “We showed a lot of character tonight and the players gave absolutely everything out there on the pitch. We needed to take the chances we had in the second half and must convert more against Pakistan when we play them on Saturday.”

Tomorrow is a rest day for the players ahead of the final preliminary games on Saturday.  Today’s result means that Great Britain must win their next match against Pakistan at 09:05 BST on Saturday and rely on other results going their way if they are to make the final.

British sports fans have another opportunity to cheer on the GB next week as Great Britain’s women’s team hosts the Investec London Cup in Chiswick from 5-10 June.  Tickets are still available by visiting www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk/investeclondoncup

GREAT BRITAIN 1 (0)

Jonty Clarke (FG) 50

KOREA 1 (1)


Yoon Sung Hoon (FG) 22

GREAT BRITAIN MEN’S SQUAD v KOREA (caps and goals on the attached)

Name (Club) Position Started


James Fair (Cannock) Goalkeeper
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Defender
Ali Wilson (Beeston) Defender
Iain Lewers (East Grinstead) Defender
Ben Hawes (Wimbledon) Defender/Midfielder
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) Midfielder
Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) Midfielder
Harry Martin (Old Loughtonians) Midfielder
Iain Mackay (Reading) Midfielder
Barry Middleton (East Grinstead) Midfielder/Forward
Rob Moore (Surbiton) Midfielder/Forward

Substitutes

Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster) Defender
Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Defender/Midfielder
Nick Catlin (Reading) Midfielder/Forward
Matt Daly (Surbiton) Forward
Jonty Clarke (Reading) Forward

Did Not Play


Adam Dixon (Beeston) Defender/Midfielder
James Tindall (Surbiton) Forward

Great Britain Hockey media release



GB men's hockey team draw with South Korea at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup


Goal-scorer: Jonty Clake shoots and scores against South Korea Photo: AFP

A 1-1 draw with South Korea leaves Great Britain needing to win their last round-robin match and hoping other results go their way if they are to reach the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

In humid, energy-sapping conditions, GB went behind in the 22nd minute when Yoon Sung Hoon wrong-footed Wimbledon defender Ben Hawes to fire in a shot which goalkeeper James Fair could not keep out despite getting a hand to.

Midway through the second half Reading's Jonty Clarke smashed the equaliser past Myung Ho Lee from Ashley Jackson's pass.

Captain Barry Middleton was then denied by the Korea goalkeeper before Surbiton midfielder Richard Alexander blazed over when faced with an open goal. Clarke had a shot tipped on to the post.

"It was a much better second half than first and I'm really pleased with the quality of play we managed to produce," said coach Jason Lee, who earlier this week suggested that poor form would see Britain missing out on a medal at the Olympics.

"The players gave absolutely everything and that was clear to see at the end of the game when many of them collapsed with fatigue."

Great Britain face bottom side Pakistan on Saturday needing a victory and most likely requiring Argentina to drop points against the hosts if they are to reach the final.

The Telegraph



South Korea kill Britain’s hopes of making the final

IPOH: Britain blew their chance of qualifying for the final after they only managed a 1-1 draw with South Korea in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday.

Britain, ranked fourth in the world, have eight points from two wins, a draw and two defeats. They will wrap up their fixtures against Pakistan tomorrow.

The Koreans, who have five points from five matches, will face New Zealand in their last match tomorrow.

Argentina, who have nine points in five matches, have a good chance of reaching the final. The Pan American champions need to collect full points against Malaysia tomorrow.

The floodlights had to be switched on at 4.15pm as it was cloudy and it was the Koreans who shone as they almost took the lead in the very first minute.

Yeo Woon-kon put Oh Dae-keun through but his deflected shot was saved by goalkeeper James Fair.

But Fair was beaten in the 22nd minute when Yong Sung-hoon collected a long pass from Kang Moon-kyu to slam the ball home.

Compared to the aggressive Koreans, the British were lethargic and hardly made any attempt at goal in the first 35 minutes.

After the breather, SouthKorea could have increased their lead but muffed penalty corners in the 38th and 39th minutes.

Britain equalised off a counter attack in the 51st minute.

Jonty Clarke scored from the top D off a pass from Ashley Jackson.

A minute later, the Koreans earned their third penalty corner but Nam Hyun-woo flicked the ball wide.

Jang Jong-hyun had a golden chance to score the winning goal in the last minute but his shot from close range was saved by Fair.

The Star of Malaysia



Black Sticks lose final match in series


The standout player in the Black Sticks side was experienced midfielder/defender Emily Naylor. Photo / Getty Images.

The Black Sticks Women have concluded their third and final match against China in Beijing today with a 1-0 loss.

The loss lacked the spark of the previous two wins, with the team never quite getting out of the starting blocks in the first half. Their game however, picked up in the second half.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said although the team created more chances to score in the second half, it was a disappointing performance with the frequent loss of possession and turnovers.

"We lacked midfield control today and then in the end, were really quite lucky to come away with only a 1-0 defeat."

Chinese player Zhao (#21) was the only goal scorer of the match, claiming a field goal in the 23rd minute. Another opportunity came for the Chinese side in the 26th minute; however they failed to convert missing a penalty stroke.

The standout player in the Black Sticks side was experienced midfielder/defender Emily Naylor who put in a solid performance picking up the loose ball against a strong attacking side and marshaling the team's defense well.

It was also striker Charlotte Harrison's 150th test cap for the Black Sticks.

"I was chuffed to reach the 150th milestone, but clearly would have preferred to win the game today," says Harrison.

The Black Sticks now head to Taeneung to play four matches against Korea. Their first match will be played as an unofficial friendly match on 3 June at 18:30 NZ time.

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

RESULT
China 1. FG, New Zealand 0. HT: 1-0.


The New Zealand Herald



Black Sticks women go down 1-0 to China

The Black Sticks women have lost their third and final match against China in Beijing today.

After winning the first two hit-outs of the three-match series, a lackluster performance saw the Black Sticks go down 1-0 to the world No 5 ranked team.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said although the team created more chances to score in the second half, it was a disappointing performance with the frequent loss of possession and turnovers.

"We lacked midfield control today and then in the end, were really quite lucky to come away with only a 1-0 defeat."

China scored the only goal of the match in the first half, claiming a field goal in the 23rd minute. Another opportunity came for the Chinese side in the 26th minute but they failed to convert, missing a penalty stroke.

The Black Sticks now head to Taeneung to play four matches against Korea. Their first match will be played as an unofficial friendly on June 3 at 6.30pm (NZT).

Stuff



Hockeyroos begin London tour with a draw

The Hockeyroos got their first taste of the Olympic track when they battled out a 0-0 draw with Great Britain in London last night.

It was the first outing of their European Tour which focuses on the Investec London Cup next week but also includes Test matches against their British hosts and Germany. The London Cup is a six-nation event which features Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, Holland, Germany and Ireland.

The tournament takes place in Chiswick, West London, while the Olympics are being held in the east of the city but coach Adam Commens is hoping his side will get more than the one chance to play on the Olympic surface.

“We’ll get confirmation in the coming days, but we are hoping to play our two Tests against Germany at Olympic Park,” he said. “The venue is very impressive and whilst the pitch is a little bouncy in one direction, according to the GB team it seems to have improved significantly since the men’s Test event.”

The new blue pitch caused some controversy when it was unveiled for the men’s practice tournament with Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth suggesting it needed frequent use. However, it was not an issue yesterday as the Hockeyroos shook off their jet-lag with an effort which earned praise from coach Commens.

Although neither side could find a route to goal – or earn a penalty corner - Commens reckoned his team had done well, dominating the first half before sharing the spoils in a more even second period.

“It was a good start to the tour,” he said. “We created some very good opportunities and were unlucky not to score. Although we didn’t win the match, we were satisfied with our performance and will look to make some improvements in the attacking circle for the next match.”

The Hockeyroos play Britain again today (Fri), this time at Bisham Abbey.

Hockeyroos 0 v Great Britain 0

Hockey Australia media release



SA Women's Hockey Superstars arrive

JONATHAN COOK in Glasgow



Double Olympian Kate Woods returns to the SA team against Scotland in Glasgow Friday. Photo: AFSAR BEG

Two of the Investec South Africa women's hockey team's superstars, double Olympians Kate Woods and world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, arrived in Glasgow Thursday and joined the team in an extensive workout at Clydesdale Hockey Club ahead of Friday's 8.30 am (SA time) fourth Test against Scotland.

Both looked fresh and relaxed and were immediately throwing themselves with enthusiasm into the core exercises and running drills under the direction of one of head coach Giles Bonnet's group of trainers. Phil Estourgie of Holland.

SA are 2-0 up in the five-Test series and should go 3-0 up Friday, although Scotland captain Linda Clement and number one goalkeeper Amy Gibson will return after missing Scotland's 4-2 third Test defeat on Wednesday night. The first Test last Sunday ended 2-2 and last Monday's second Test saw SA beat Scotland 2-1.

World number 18 Scotland are at a disadvantage without their four London 2012-bound Great Britain squad members, who Bonnet described as "phenomenal hockey players". The world's 12th-ranked SA squad are now at full strength, although striker Lauren Penny is nursing a shoulder injury and undergoing daily treatment.

QuipuTV are providing “live” free-to-air online streaming of the Test matchesand it is globally available through the Scottish Hockey and QuipuTV websites,as well as facebook.com/quiputvand Twitter at #SASCOhockey which provides SA fans with ample choice to followthe fourth and fifth Tests of the five-Test series; at 8.30 pm (SA time) Fridayand 3.30 pm Saturday.

SA Hockey Association media release



Injured Penny awaits her fate

By Mike Haymonds


SLOUGH Hockey Club striker Lauren Penny suffered a shoulder injury at a training camp with South Africa in Amsterdam last week, putting her Olympic dream in doubt.

Penny, 25, won her first international cap in January and scored on her debut.

She has been included in an 18-strong Olympic squad, which will be reduced to 16, with two reserves, on July 4 but, as the injury usually takes 4-6 weeks to heal, her place in the final 16 is in jeopardy. 

Penny told the Express: "The disadvantage is that I won't be playing any matches before they make a decision so it's out of my hands now."

Slough midfielder Ashleigh Ball, 26, celebrated her selection for the Great Britain Olympic squad with a goal in her side's 5-1 win over South Africa in a training game at the Riverside Arena in the Olympic Park. GB won a second match with the Africans 3-0 at Bisham Abbey the following day.

Like Ball, her Slough club-mate Nicola White, 24, was involved in both matches.

GB continued their Olympic build-up with two training games against Australia, yesterday (a 0-0 draw) in the Olympic Park and today at Bisham Abbey.

Next week three Slough players will be at the Investec London Cup at the University of Westminster sports ground in Chiswick. Slough's Olympians Ball and White will be joined by Hannah Bowe, 25, who is in the Ireland squad.

This second edition of the London Cup features five women’s teams qualified for the London Olympics – Australia, world-ranked No.7, Germany (3), Olympic champions Netherlands (1), South Africa (12) and hosts Great Britain (4) – and Ireland (14) who will be a Games absentee.

For the first five the London Cup is their last tournament before the Olympics while Ireland are preparing for the Champions Challenge 1 in Catania, Italy, in September.

Great Britain begin the tournament on Tuesday against South Africa, followed by Germany on Thursday.

Semi-finals are on Saturday with classification matches on Sunday.

Tickets for the Investec London Cup are available via www.ticketzonebooking.co.uk or 0844 499 3222

Slough Express



Hockey coach wowed by torch honour

By Ian Dipple



Louise King with her nephew Sam Malin, seven, at the torch relay event in Hereford.

A HOCKEY coach from Redditch has described carrying the Olympic Torch as a ‘once in a lifetime experience’.

Louise King was given the honour of taking the flame through the centre of Hereford last Thursday (May 24) cheered on by thousands of people.

She told the Standard: “It was amazing, I think wow sums it up. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.

“To see so many people out in Hereford supporting the relay and cheering the torchbearers on was very emotional. Several friends and family were in Hereford on the day which made my ‘moment to shine’ even more special and knowing that many more would be watching via the live webcam including my friend Dawn Stofko, who nominated me and lives in the US, was just fantastic.”

Louise is junior coach and club secretary at Redditch Hockey Club and not only does she help out on the field but fund-raises as well.

The torch is today (Friday) making its way from Bolton to Liverpool and will take in locations in Northern Ireland, Scotland the North East, North West and Lincolnshire before returning to Worcestershire on July 1 when it will come through Redditch.

It will arrive in town centre about 9.45am. It will then be carried from Grove Street, up Alcester Street, through Church Green, down Unicorn Hill, up Plymouth Road and through Evesham Road in Headless Cross where it will finish for a short section.

The relay will then continue through the Astwood Bank section starting on Evesham Road at the junction with Dagtail Lane and ending on The Ridgeway.

t will then travel to Alcester where the torch will be picked up at Birmingham Road and carried along School Road, Henley Street, High Street, Swan Street and Evesham Street before the torch continues its route onto Evesham.

Redditch Standard



Leicester Ladies stars can inspire next generation

Having four Leicester Ladies in the Great Britain Olympic squad will inspire the next generation of girls at the club to aspire to achieve success, believes club president Sarah Treanor.

Leicester players Crista Cullen, Anne Panter, Chloe Rogers and Hannah Macleod are all in the 16-strong squad that has been tipped to win a medal in London this summer.

Treanor said it was fantastic for the club to have a quarter of the Great Britain squad in their domestic ranks.

"For a club like us it is massive, especially as a lot of them have been members of the club for a long time, come through and progressed through to international standard," said Treanor.

"As role models the work ethic they display, the training and the effort and commitment they put in cannot be faulted.

"For any aspiring sportsman or woman they are brilliant role models. Let's hope they are rewarded with gold medals."

For Cullen, Rogers and Panter, this is their second Olympic Games, but for 27-year-old Macleod this will be her first and she can't contain her excitement.

"After training together for three years you have an expectation of what is going to happen but even then you don't believe it when you get that email and your name is on the list," she said.

"I was just outside the squad four years ago but I have been involved in every major competition for England and Great Britain for the last three years and it is just amazing to be involved in an Olympics."

Panter, who has battled back from a knee injury to compete in London, said an Olympic medal would be the ultimate prize.

"It is incredibly special to be involved," said the 28-year-old.

"In a sport like hockey the Olympics is the pinnacle. To compete not just any Olympics but at your home Olympics is extra special. Also, it is an Olympics where we are realistic medal contenders.

"It is so exciting and what every hockey player dreams about. We all feel very lucky to get this opportunity."

Cullen, 26, said success in London would give hockey a boost in this country.

"Hockey doesn't necessarily get the crowds we would love, so to have that excitement and the fact that people want to watch any Olympic sport where Great Britain are competing in, not just the hockey fan, means we will get new fans and get young girls interested in hockey again," she said.

Rogers, 27, hopes all four of them can become inspirations for their younger Leicester team-mates.

"It is a massive boost for the club and, hopefully, the young players who get a chance to train and play with the GB players will realise they can make an Olympic squad like the four of us if they work hard and play for Leicester," she said.

This is Leicestershire



Ladies' hockey deal extended

Pukka Pies has extended its sponsorship of national hockey champions Leicester Ladies for a fifth year.

The club completed an indoor and outdoor national title double last season and the sponsorship extension will give them a solid platform on which to continue their dominance of the English game.

Mr Tim Storer, co-managing director of Syston-based Pukka Pies, announced the deal at a reception attended by Leicester's four Great Britain Olympic squad members – Crista Cullen, Anne Panter, Chloe Rogers and Hannah Macleod.

Mr Storer said: "During our five-year partnership with Leicester Ladies, they have delivered tremendous success both on and off the field.

"On the pitch they have established themselves as the number-one club in England and represented the city of Leicester and their country with great distinction in European competition.

"They also do a fantastic job in the community, encouraging young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and participate actively in sport."

Sarah Treanor, president of Leicester Ladies, said: "Quite simply, Pukka's investment enables us to compete successfully at the highest level.

"Their level of support is invaluable to us and also enables us to operate a club structure with five senior teams and hockey for all age groups from the age of seven."

Pukka Pies make more than 60 million pies and savories a year at its factory at The Halfcroft, Syston, and this year unveiled a £7 million extension.

This is Leicestershire



Stall elections: HC to MHA

Sudheendra Tripathi


MUMBAI: "We are doing what we are doing, for the love of the game," is a pathetic run-of-the-mill proclamation made often by officials associated with India's national sport — hockey. While some (barely a handful) go about their jobs earnestly, there are scores who cause irreparable damage by letting their egos rule.

The Mumbai Hockey Association's (MHA) managing committee versus the city's former players' battle is a classic case. Almost two and half years since Mumbai's hockey players put forth a request to be admitted as members of the MHA, officials have not paid any heed, leave alone discuss the possibility of granting former and current hockey players membership of the MHA and subsequently, voting rights.

Despite reminders from players and reprimands from the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and the Maharashtra Government, MHA officials have stood their ground.

So, the players who are being represented by Murali Agniswar, a former national player, had no choice but to move court.

"MHA officials are treating us like dirt," says Agniswar. "It has been more than two and a half years since we proposed for memberships, but nothing has come out of it so far.

"We had to take the course of the law to wake them up from their slumber," says Agniswar, who after filing a petition in the Mumbai High Court, has managed to stall the MHA elections, which have to be completed by the June end.

But before moving court, the players did all that they could to present their case objectively. They had also approached the IHF for help. IHF for their part, sought an explanation from the MHA and had recommended that the parties arrive at an amicable solution.

MHA officials, however, in a reply to the IHF's letter dated April 22, expressed their inability to accommodate more members.

The IHF then in its reply (copies of the entire correspondence are available with the TOI) strongly reprimanded the MHA officials. The IHF in their letter, signed by honorary general secretary, Ashok Mathur, were curious to know if the MHA did actually get the necessary sanctions for carrying out non-hockey related activities, like renting premises for weddings, functions, etc.

The IHF also brought to MHA's notice that the issue was an old one and implicated that MHA officials deliberately delayed proceedings to accommodate more members. The letter also said that the actions of the MHA officials have brought disrepute and embarrassment not only to the players, but also the IHF, the sole governing body of hockey in India.

The Times of India



Team for Tomorrow: Rachel Dawson

By Doug Williams



Rachel Dawson

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- The boys and girls gathered in front of Rachel Dawson Tuesday night didn’t really know who she was or what sport she played.

They hadn’t seen her play a game on TV and they certainly never had seen the funny-looking stick she was holding.

Yet, it didn’t matter. Though they squiggled and squirmed in their seats as she spoke, the 50-some youngsters and their parents at the South Bay YMCA Family Kari Lyn Sutherland Gymnastics Center and Sports Complex kept their eyes on Dawson, who captured their attention with her enthusiasm and energy.

Dawson, 26, the captain of the U.S. women’s field hockey team that will be playing at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer, was speaking to the kids in her first outing as an ambassador for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Team for Tomorrow Program.

The midfielder talked to them about her family, her life in sports, how field hockey has been her passion since the age of 12, the Olympic Games, what it takes to be great and the three things she believes are necessary to unlock the greatness inside each person.

Later, she signed autographs, posed for pictures with the kids and gave a field hockey skills demonstration on an indoor basketball court.

All the time, she spoke directly to the kids, singling them out by name and offering encouragement.

“Do you all want to be great?” she asked the children, who of course all answered “yes.”  “Do you all believe you have greatness already inside you? Do you believe me that you have greatness already inside you?”

Dawson, who trains with her team at the nearby Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, is a former University of North Carolina standout from New Jersey. In 2007, she won the Honda Cup as the nation’s top collegiate player. In 2008, she was on the U.S. Olympic Team that finished eighth in Beijing.

She told the children that to unlock their greatness — in whatever they choose to pursue — she believes they need to do three things:

• Fuel their bodies with proper nutrition and rest so they “can attack the day” and do their best.

• “Explore your mind.” Imagine possibilities and follow them. “See where it can take you,” she said.

• “Celebrate yourself.” Choose what you wish to do and what makes you happy, then “share your greatness with others and celebrate it.”

Dawson used herself as an example, telling the kids she grew up in house filled with eight children, and how she fell in love with field hockey because of an older sister who went out for field hockey when she couldn’t do what she really wanted—to be a cheerleader. But once her sister found field hockey, she excelled at it, and five younger sisters followed her into the sport.

Dawson explained to the kids at the YMCA that field hockey “changed her life” and gave her something in which she could pursue greatness. In turn, it gave her opportunities she couldn’t have ever imagined.

As an ambassador for the Team for Tomorrow Program, Dawson is hoping she can deliver a message that will help open doors for youngsters, just as doors were opened for her.

She knew the kids didn’t know anything about her sport. In fact, even after speaking for several minutes about her experiences, one little boy asked, “What’s field hockey?” But to Dawson, that didn’t matter.

“I don’t think it’s so much about field hockey as it is just about the Olympic movement, what the Olympics means,” she said after the hour-long session. “There’s a deeper meaning to sports. It’s not just about winning or losing, but it’s about, you know, testing yourself and seeing how good you can be and learning about yourself.”

This was Dawson’s first public outing as an ambassador for the program, which has been in existence since 2008. Twelve U.S. athletes, including Dawson, are participating in the Team for Tomorrow program.

“This is my first opportunity,” she said. “I’m really open to doing this as much as possible. I think it’s great for sport in general, and also for the sport of field hockey.”

After speaking to the kids and signing autographs, Dawson passed out field hockey sticks and demonstrated how they’re used. On a basketball court, she let them use the sticks and set them up in drills to move the ball across the court.

Finally, she set up a goal and stood in as a goaltender to let the kids take shots. As each scored on her — usually with the last of their three tries — the kids raised their arms in triumph and high-fived their friends.

With the Opening Ceremony for the London Games less than two months away, Dawson and her teammates will be focusing more on training and fine-tuning as they hope to win a medal for the first time in 28 years.

The American women have had a tough time in recent Olympic Games, finishing last in 2008 after failing to qualify for the Games in 2004, 2000 and 1992. In 1984, Team USA earned a bronze medal in Los Angeles.

However, the United States beat the world’s No. 1 team, Argentina, to win the Pan American Games in November in Mexico and earn an automatic invitation to these Olympic Games.

Dawson, the American team captain, says her only real expectation in London is that she will work her tail off.

“We have our work cut out for us,” she said. “We’re ranked 10th in the world. To qualify for the Olympics we beat the No. 1 team in the world, so there’s definitely the potential there to do great things, but it’s going to be about delivering the performance on any given day.”

USFHA media release