News for 27 February 2013

All the news for Wednesday 2013


Belarus stuns Ireland in 2-0 shutout in Valencia

Host Spain dominates the Czechs, 6-0



(Photo: SH Images 2013)

Reminder: All games from Valencia are being streamed live at: www.fhcv.tv

You can also enjoy behind-the scenes coverage on the FIH You Tube Page

Ireland – Belarus 0-2 (0-0 halftime)

The Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Valencia had its first major upset as top-seeded Ireland lost against fourth-seeded Belarus in a low-scoring 2-0 decision.

The loss is a big blow for the 14th-ranked Irish, who now find themselves virtually in a must-win position in their next two games against strong opponents Italy and Spain. For 21st-ranked Belarus, the victory keeps them surprisingly n the hunt for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals with four points in their first two games.

The game got off to a fairly lethargic start under sunny skies and perfect hockey conditions in Valencia. There was a lot of back-and-forth action in the neutral zone but very few scoring chances. The penalty corner chances were harmless and both sides lacked a sense of urgency.

The tempo started to change 10 minutes into the second half after Belarus had a near miss on a breakaway. The opportunity served as a wake-up call for both teams, who suddenly sparked to life for the remainder of the game. Belarus finally found the back of the new when Ryta Bakura defelcted in a peantly corner stroke to give Belarus the 1-0 lead.

Ireland tried to get the equalizer, but Belarus goalkeeper Maryna Navitskaya stood her ground and came up with a few big saves to thwart the Irish hopes.

"I would have to say that on a scale of one to ten, today was a ten for us," said an elated Navitskaya after the game. "We played very well and worked really hard and I'm very happy we won."

Belarus had a slew of penalty corners late in the game and finally sealed the win when Natstissia Syraezhka scooped up an errant shot on an initial flick and went to the far corner to put in the odd angle goal. The 2-0 goal sealed the victory for Belarus as they celebrated the big upset victory.

Spain – Czech Republic 6-0 (4-0 halftime)

Host Spain started its Hockey World League journey with a clear message that they are on a mission to go the Semi-Finals. The Spanish provided some big first-half fireworks here in Valencia, with a clear 6-0 victory over the Czech Republic.

The result was little surprise with the Spanish enjoying the home field advantage and sitting at #15 in the FIH World Ranking were playing on fresh legs against the #37 and lowest-seeded Czechs, who suffered a 4-1 loss against the Irish yesterday in a game that sapped a lot of energy.

Spain took an enormous 4-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of the game and switched into cruise control after that, happy to save energy for the big opponents that they will face later in the week.

All four of the Spanish goals came from different scorers and from the field. The strikes came at such a rapid pace that the Czechs barely had time to get back down field before the Spanish were already in position for another attempt. After initial flurry of goals, things settled down later in the half as the Czech managed to keep Spain scoreless until break, but Spain was well in control with a 4-0 lead at the half.

Spain played cat and mouse for most the second half but only added two goals in the last five minutes of action despite having total control over the second-half proceedings. The late markers brought the final to a solidly convincing 6-0 win.

The win gives second-seeded Spain three points in its first outing in Valencia, while the Czech Republic is still winless in its first two games. All teams are idle tomorrow before play resumes on Thursday.

If you’re starved for hockey action during the off day in Valencia, the good news is the men’s Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Rio kicks off tomorrow.

FIH site



Electric Ireland Irish Women beaten by Belarus

The Electric Ireland Irish Women's team suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belarus in their 2nd game at World League 2 in Valencia, Spain.

Ireland paid the price today for too many unforced errors and a lack of ability to finish off chances vs. a dogged & determined Belarus side. Belarus had the better of a first half without really creating many clear cut scoring opportunities. The Green Army were guilty on a number of occasions of turning the ball over in the middle of the field and failed to find any real rhythm to their play in the opening period. The sides headed for the break with the scores level at 0-0.

Ireland began the second half with renewed energy however in this period, it was the finishing in front of goal which made life difficult for the Green Army. Ireland managed to win a number of early short corners thanks to good play from UCD pair O'Flanagan & Evans to win penalty corners which Ireland couldn't convert. Ireland's turnover of the ball certainly improved in the half but one particular lapse of concentration saw Belarus nick the ball back and slide the ball just inches wide in a 1v1 with Ireland keeper Emma Gray.

Belarus edged themselves in front with 15 minutes to go when Batura deflected a penalty corner past the helpless Gray in the Irish goal. It was a body blow to the Green Army who kept working hard in an effort to pull back the deficit but the urgency & efficiency of their second half performance vs. Czech Republic yesterday was missing.

Belarus to their credit, kept their foot on the gas for the remaining minutes and extended their lead to 2-0 in the dying minutes following a succession of penalty corners that was eventually finished off by Strayezhka.

Speaking to hockey.ie following the game, Electric Ireland Irish Women's Coach Darren Smith said "we started tentatively and got a bit too anxious when we went behind. Penalty corners proved to be the difference, with the Belarus team converting two of theirs while our chances went a begging. We will have to do our homework well now to get a good result from our next match v Spain"

Ireland will have a 3 day break to recharge the batteries and put some work in on the training field before two crucial World League 2 games this weekend vs. Spain & Italy

Electric Ireland Irish Women Starting XI: E. Gray, N. Gray, Sargent, Atcheler, O'Flynn, Watkins, Symmons, Smyth, Evans, Speers, Jacob

Ireland 0
Belarus 2 (Batura, Strayezhka)

Irish Hockey Association media release



World League carnival arrives in Rio

Men’s Round 2 begins on Wednesday, women next Monday


Over the next two weeks, the vibrant Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro plays host to not one but two crucially important international tournaments as the FIH World League sets up stage in South America. 

Rio’s Deodoro Field Hockey Centre will be the venue for the Men’s and Women’s World League Round 2 events, with the men’s competition beginning on Wednesday (27 February) before the women’s equivalent gets underway next Monday (4th March 2013).

The men’s competition will feature Argentina (FIH World Ranking: 10), South Africa (12), Chile (25), USA (29), Brazil (33) and Trinidad & Tobago (34). The winner of the competition will secure a place in Round 3, while a second place finish could also be enough for a spot in the third phase of the World League. The full list of qualifiers will be announced upon the completion of the four men's Round 2 tournaments.

Top ranked Argentina will be considered by many as the favourites for the competition, something which is hardly a surprise considering their staggering recent run of form. Last December, the team were victorious on home soil in the Champions Challenge 1, a result which earned them a place in the next edition of the elite Champions Trophy. This was followed by a thoroughly dominant display in the South American Championships where they won all six of their matches, scoring 69 goals and conceding just five along the way.

That said, Argentina are certainly not nailed on to win this event, and will have to overcome some very stern challenges from the likes of South Africa and Chile. South Africa were not at their best during the Champions Challenge 1 and could only manage a 7th place finish, but a recent 3-0 friendly victory over Chile suggests that they are hitting form just at the right time.   Chile have also shown great form in recent weeks, marked by their second place finish in the South American Championships. Their narrow 4-3 final defeat at the hands of Argentina provides solid evidence that they are a force to be reckoned with here in Rio. 

The USA bring a youthful squad to Brazil, with three uncapped players – Johnny Orozco, Spencer Reed and Kanwarpreet Sidhu – joining the five fresh faces who played their debut tournament at Round 1 in Chula Vista. USA were winners of that event, and will be hoping to upset the rankings during Round 2.

Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago are the two lowest ranked sides in the competition, but certainly should not be underestimated. The rapidly improving Brazilians claimed a superb third place finish in the recent South American Championships, an achievement that they will be aiming to surpass in front of their supporters in the stands at the Deodoro Field Hockey Centre. Trinidad & Tobago were winners of the World League Round 1 event in Port of Spain, where they finished ahead of fellow Round 2 competitors Chile. The Chileans sit nine places above T&T in the FIH World Rankings, showing once again that nothing is a foregone conclusion in the World League.   

The Men’s World League Round 2 tournament gets underway on Wednesday (27 February) and will feature all six teams in action. The competition begins at 09:00 (UTC / GMT -3) when South Africa and host nation Brazil go head to head before Argentina do battle with Trinidad & Tobago at 11:00. The final match of the day is a clash between Chile and USA, which takes place at 15.30. To see a complete list of fixtures for the tournament, please click here.

The Women’s World League Round 2 event begins on Monday 4th March and will feature USA (FIH World Ranking: 10), Chile (18), Scotland (19), Trinidad & Tobago (27), Uruguay (50) and host nation Brazil (51). The two highest finishers in this tournament are guaranteed a place in Round 3.

London 2012 Olympic participants USA will go into the competition as strong favourites, but Chile and Scotland are two sides that will be determined to grab the silverware in Rio. This will be the Chilean women’s first taste of the World League and will certainly be keen to leave a lasting impression. Scotland’s third place finish at the Round 1 event in Prague may seem uninspiring, but their statistics in that tournament tell a different story. The team achieved four wins from their five matches, which put them level on points with both Belarus and Italy but into third due to a marginally inferior goal difference.

50th ranked Uruguay were hugely impressive during Round 1 in Port of Spain, achieving a second place finish despite entering the competition as the fourth highest ranked team in the tournament. 41st ranked Barbados and 27th placed Trinidad & Tobago, who are also competing here in Rio, both fell to a Uruguayan team that has immense potential and will surely rise rapidly through the rankings over the coming years.  Host nation Brazil maybe the lowest ranked team in the competition, but a fourth place finish at the recent South American Championships will give them great hope ahead of this event. 

To see a complete list of fixtures for this tournament, please click here.

You can keep up to speed on all the developments from the tournaments on the FIH website, which will be regularly updated with the latest news, results and league tables.  You can find the information at the following links.

World League Round 2 – Men

World League Round 2 - Women

FIH site



SA hockey men in countdown phase for World League opening match

JONATHAN COOK in Rio de Janeiro


The South Africa men's hockey team head coach Charlie Pereira was satisfied with the 3-0 win over Chile in the World League Round 2 warm-up match at the Deodora in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday night (SA time) and can't wait for his charges to get to grips with Brazil in the opening WLR2 match at 2 pm (SA time) Wednesday.

"Yes, I was impressed with our structure, we are working hard at setting up a platform from which we can counter-attack, our shape was good and that's when you create lots of chances, like we did against Chile," Pereira said.

With the score 0-0 at half-time, though, and Chile having survived a number of shots on goal, Pereira was a touch uncomfortable.

"I had a word with the lads at half-time, said we had done the hard work but scored no goals and on a day like that the opposition can get one chance and win, but in the second half we did the business."

After the changeover SA scored action goals through Julian Hykes in the 40th minute, Pierre de Voux (DU-VO) in the 51st and Clint Panther in the 58th.

Pereira said the team would take a close look at the video of Brazil's friendly against the USA before digesting the footage of SA's match against Chile, while the rest of Tuesday's preparation would include team sessions.

"We will spend time looking at areas we can improve on."

The option of another training session was also possible.

"But I also want the lads to rest up as there are five Test matches in the next seven days and they need to stay fresh both mentally and physically."

Rio's sapping heat and humidity can be a real leveller - and fitness on every level will be key - but the indications were clear Monday that the South African lads are ready.

SA Hockey Association media release



SA hockey men ready and rested for Brazil match in Rio

JONATHAN COOK in Rio de Janeiro



New SA captain Rhett Halkett will be renewing acquaintances with Brazil's Afonso Motta when the sides meet in the opening Test match of the World League Round 2 event at 2 pm (SA time) in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday. Photo: KOUICHI TAKAMORI

The South Africa men’s hockey team are rested and raring to get into Wednesday’s 2 pm (SA time) opening match against host nation Brazil in the World League Round 2 event at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro.

Video sessions of the Brazil versus USA friendly in Rio as well as SA’s 3-0 warm-up match against Chile on Monday were the order of the day Tuesday, as well as plenty of rest, a couple of team sessions and an early night’s sleep.

World number 12 SA also beat world number 29 the USA 3-0 in a friendly last Saturday and with the win over Chile, head coach Charlie Pereira is pleased with the way the team is gelling.

“Our playing pattern is developing nicely and with it we are creating plenty of goal shots,” Pereira said in between sessions at the team hotel Tuesday.

“The spirit in the team is great and it is also gratifying to see how well the new lads are fitting in and putting it together on the training pitch and during match time.”

Of course, friendlies and the real deal are worlds apart and 25th-ranked Chile are widely seen as the dark horses behind hot favourites and recent Champions Challenge winners Argentina, the world’s 10th ranked team, and second favourites South Africa for the top two positions in Rio that will take those fortunate teams into the World League semi-finals.

SA’s clashes with the big, physical Trinidad and Tobago side, ranked 34th, are never easy, while in Brazil the men in green and gold will face a young, willing side that is ranked 33rd in the world and a relatively unknown factor under seasoned former Netherlands high performance director Bert Bunnik.

For SA there are a number of firsts: Defender Rhett Halkett will lead the team for the first time, while there are first Test caps for Ollie Whiteley (25), Ashlin Freddy (23), the 26-year-old Pierre de Voux, 23-year-old Jethro Eustice and Gowan Jones (23).

London 2012 captain Austin Smith, at 109 Test matches South Africa’s most capped player, will not lead the team for the first time in his last 62 appearances.

Head coach Charlie Pereira opted for Halkett for Rio as midfield maestro and World All Stars representative Smith missed the national camp in Cape Town at the end of January due to his involvement at the time with the Hockey India League title-winning Ranchi Rhinos.

It is also a first appearance for Pereira as head coach, which he has been joking is his 50th Test match cap as well, the former SA vice-captain and midfield general having played 49 times for his country in the early 1990s.

It would also be invaluable for SA’s chances should they get their World League campaign off to a winning start in the first match.

SA WLR2 MATCHES (SA time)
Wed 27 Feb vs Brazil (2 pm)
Thurs 28 Feb vs USA (4 pm)
Sat 2 Mar vs Trinidad & Tobago (4 pm)
Sun 3 Mar vs Argentina (4 pm)
Tues 5 Mar vs Chile (2 pm)

SOUTH AFRICA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM


Miguel da Graca, Clint Panther, Ricky West, Oliver Whiteley, Rassie Pieterse (all Southern Gauteng); Lloyd Norris-Jones, Craig Haley, Ashlin Freddy, Austin Smith, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province); Taine Paton, Tim Drummond, Gowan Jones (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Jethro Eustice (KZN Inland); Jonty Robinson, Rhett Halkett (capt), Matt Guise-Brown (all Northern Blues); Julian Hykes (North West).

Management - Head Coach: Charlie Pereira. Manager: Anton van Rooyen. Trainers: Pierre le Roux and Craig Fulton. Physical Conditioning Coach: Rob van Ginkel. Video Analyst: Mo Malebye. Physio: Megyn Robertson.

SA Hockey Association media release

 



Pereira impressed by SA hockey men

Coach Charlie Pereira is pleased with the form of the SA men's hockey team ahead of their opening World League Round Two match against Brazil.

Johannesburg – Coach Charlie Pereira is pleased with the form of the SA men's hockey team ahead of their opening World League Round Two match against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday.

The South Africans beat Chile 3-0 in a warm-up match on Monday.

“I was impressed with our structure,” Pereira said on Tuesday.

“We are working hard at setting up a platform from which we can counter-attack, our shape was good and that's when you create lots of chances, like we did against Chile.”

With the scores level at half-time, and Chile having survived a number of shots on goal, Pereira was a touch uncomfortable.

“I had a word with the lads at half-time and said we had done the hard work but scored no goals,” he said.

“On a day like that the opposition can get one chance and win, but in the second half we did the business.”

Bouncing back in the second period, South Africa scored goals through Julian Hykes in the 40th minute, Pierre de Voux in the 51st and Clint Panther in the 58th.

Pereira said the team would take a close look at the video of Brazil's friendly against the United States ahead of their clash.

“We will spend time looking at areas we can improve on,” Pereira said.

“But I also want the lads to rest up as there are five Test matches in the next seven days and they need to stay fresh both mentally and physically.”

After taking on Brazil in the round robin of the global league, South Africa will face the US, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina and Chile

Independent Online



T&T hockey men battle Argentina in World League

Nigel Simon



T&T’s Darren Cowie, right, fends off a challenge from Chile’s Alexis Berczely in their FIH Hockey World League Round One Men’s qualifier at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, on November 16, 2012. T&T won 2-1 on their way to topping the four-team round-robin group which also involved Barbados and Venezuela with maximum nine points. Photo courtesy Pan American Hockey Federation

T&T senior men’s hockey squad led by 28-year-old Darren Cowie will resume its quest for a World Hockey League finals spot when it meets South American champions and London Olympic Games tenth-placed finishers Argentina in the second match of the opening day of the Second Round of FIH World Hockey League from 10 am in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, today.

In addition to the world tenth-ranked Argentines, the world 34th-ranked “Calypso Stickmen” will also meet 12th-ranked South Africa, 25th Chile, 29th USA, and host Brazil, which is ranked 33rd, in the round-robin series. The local squad, coached by former national goalkeeper Glen “Fido” Francis, qualified for the second round of the competition by topping its four-team round-robin series against 25th ranked Chile, Barbados and Venezuela with maximum nine points after 2-1, 3-1 and 9-2 victories on home soil at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, last November.

However, Shaquille Daniel, who was part of that all-conquering team is unavailable due to school commitments, while four other players who were in contention for selection on the final squad are also out due to work or school commitments. They include Fire Service recruit Kiel Murray, Alan Henderson, Andrew Vieira and England-based former national captain Kwandwayne Browne, who is currently employed as player/manager at his club Canterbury club in the England Hockey League Premiership Division.

Despite the absence of Browne and the other players, Francis, prior to the team’s departure for Rio, remained optimistic of his team’s chances against the likes of the sport’s powerhouses. “It’s going to be difficult, we know that, but realistically we have a chance of a top-three finish. It will mean taking positive results from teams ranked higher than us, but we’ve done it before. I’m confident of it.”

The Argentines will enter the clash with T&T high on confidence as well having won the recently-contested South American Championship with victory over Chile in the final—4-3—in Santiago, Chile, led by top scorer Lucas Villa and Player of the Tournament Guillermo Schickendantz, who are both in the current squad, as well. In the lead-up to the final, the Argentines dominated their opponents beating Peru (19-0), Paraguay (19-1), Brazil (10-1), Chile (6-0) and Uruguay (11-0) for an impressive maximum 15-point haul in the round robin, 65 goals scored and two against.

The Chileans, meanwhile, defeated Paraguay (17-0), Uruguay (8-0), Peru (14-1) and Brazil (3-0) while the other results for the “Samba Boys” in the round robin were a 5-0 win over Paraguay, 1-1 with Peru and a 1-2 loss versus Uruguay before whipping Peru 4-1 for the bronze. Both finalists used the tournament as preparation for the World League Round Two in Rio de Janeiro, while Brazil’s men kept working towards Rio 2016 as Olympic Games host. Today, the Americans will open the tournament against Chile from 8 am while Chile and USA meet in today’s final match from 2.30 pm.

At the end of the six-team round-robin series the top two teams will automatically advance to World League Round Three to be held in July/August.

T&T men’s hockey squad:
Darren Cowie (captain), Marcus James, Michael O’Connor II, Akim Toussaint, Karlos Stephen, Christopher Scipio, Shane Legerton, Andrey Rocke, Mickell Pierre, Nicholas Grant, Dwain Quan Chan, Aidan De Gannes, Terrance Baptiste, Atiba Whittington, Stefan Mouttet, Solomon Eccles, Ishmael Campbell, Joel Bodkin.
Technical staff: Cindy Martin-Faustin (head of delegation, male and female), Glenn Francis (coach), Chad Pedro (IT), Nicholas Baldeosingh (IT), Karielle De Bique (physiotherapist, male and female), Kamasha Robertson (psychologist, male and female), Kirth David (manager), Mac Allister Estrada (massage therapist, male) and Nku Davis (umpire)

Tournament schedule:
Today

South Africa vs Brazil, 8 am
Argentiva vs T&T, 10 am
Chile vs USA, 2.30 pm

Tomorrow
Argentina vs Brazil, 8 am
South Africa vs USA, 10 am
T&T vs Chile, 2.30 pm

Saturday
USA vs Brazil, 8 am
T&T vs South Africa, 10 am
Chile vs Argentina, 2.30 pm

Sunday
USA vs T&T, 8 am
South Africa vs Argentina, 10 am
Brazil vs Chile, 12.30 pm

Tuesday
Chile vs South Africa, 8 am
Argentina vs USA, 10 am
Brazil vs T&T, 2.30 pm

The Trinidad Guardian



Black Sticks secure thrilling 4-1 win


Rose Keddell sweeps the ball away

The Black Sticks Women achieved the near impossible today, beating Argentina 4-1 on home soil in Rosario in their third test of the five test series.

From the 21 times that the two teams have met in the last ten years, this is only the third time the Black Sticks have pulled off a win.

“We are pretty satisfied with that performance.  We started a little bit slow and were under the pump quite a bit early on, Bianca Russell [goalkeeper] kept us in the game in the first 10-15 minutes,” says Hager.

“After that, we upped the tempo and increased our chances to score and ultimately converted. It was a really fast paced game which was good,” says Hager.

A 1-0 New Zealand lead at half time was a good start thanks to Katie Glynn scoring from a penalty corner late in the first half.

The game quickened in the second half and despite the home crowd chants, two green cards and increasing pressure from the Olympic silver medallists, the young Black Sticks side continued to attack and score.

Ten minutes into the second half, the speedy Anita Punt picked up the ball at the half way mark and got it around defenders, into the goal circle and passed the keeper.  The score line then stretched to 3-0 when Krystal Forgesson made the most of a penalty corner variation - receiving from Punt and flicking it high into the net.

Argentina finally got what they were after when Giselle Juárez converted a penalty corner making it 3-1.

Punt continued to make her influence on the game when she scored the fourth and final goal of the match from a penalty corner flick.

The stand out players today were Punt, Forgesson and Russell who played her 50th international test today. Captaining the side was Gemma Flynn.

The Black Sticks have tomorrow off before they play their fourth match on Friday 1 March at 1pm (NZ time).

RESULT
New Zealand 4 (Katie Glynn, Anita Punt x2, Krystal Forgesson) Argentina 1 (Giselle Juarez). HT: 1-0

Previous results against Argentina Women (including today’s game)

Total won: 8
Total lost: 29
Total draw: 12

In the last ten years:

Won: 3
Lost: 15
Draw: 3

The last game the Black Sticks Women won against Argentina was on 29 March 2011. It was played at North Harbour Hockey and was the final game in a three test series.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Black Sticks stun Argentina


Katie Glynn of the Black Sticks. Photo / Getty Images.

The Black Sticks Women achieved the near impossible today, beating Argentina 4-1 on home soil in Rosario in their third test of the five test series.

From the 21 times that the two teams have met in the last ten years, this is only the third time the Black Sticks have pulled off a win.

"We are pretty satisfied with that performance. We started a little bit slow and were under the pump quite a bit early on, Bianca Russell [goalkeeper] kept us in the game in the first 10-15 minutes," says Hager.

"After that, we upped the tempo and increased our chances to score and ultimately converted. It was a really fast paced game which was good," says Hager.

A 1-0 New Zealand lead at half time was a good start thanks to Katie Glynn scoring from a penalty corner late in the first half.

The game quickened in the second half and despite the home crowd chants, two green cards and increasing pressure from the Olympic silver medallists, the young Black Sticks side continued to attack and score.

Ten minutes into the second half, the speedy Anita Punt picked up the ball at the half way mark and got it around defenders, into the goal circle and passed the keeper.

The score line then stretched to 3-0 when Krystal Forgesson made the most of a penalty corner variation - receiving from Punt and flicking it high into the net.

Argentina finally got what they were after when Giselle Juárez converted a penalty corner making it 3-1.

Punt continued to make her influence on the game when she scored the fourth and final goal of the match from a penalty corner flick.

The stand out players today were Punt, Forgesson and Russell who played her 50th international test today. Captaining the side was Gemma Flynn.

The Black Sticks have tomorrow off before they play their fourth match on Friday 1 March at 1pm (NZ time).

RESULT
New Zealand 4 (Katie Glynn, Anita Punt x2, Krystal Forgesson) Argentina 1 (Giselle Juarez). HT: 1-0

The New Zealand Herald



Black Sticks upset Argentina in Rosario

The women's Black Sticks have emphatically upset Olympic silver medallists Argentina 4-1 in the third test in Rosario to level five-match hockey series at 1-1.

New Zealand, fielding several inexperienced young players, struck through Katie Glynn before halftime then Anita Punt and Krystal Forgesson added another two quick goals soon after the break to stun the hosts.

Punt then secured a double as New Zealand celebrated goalkeeper Bianca Russell's 50th match in fine style.

World No 2 Argentina were missing star player Luciana Aymar but still boasted many of the team which claimed the silver medal at last year's Olympics.

It's just New Zealand's eighth win in 49 matches against Argentina, their third victory in 21 matches during the past decade, and their first win since a 2-1 triumph at North Harbour two years ago. It follows a 4-1 loss and 1-1 draw in the first two matches of the series.

The fourth test is on Friday.

Stuff



Indian hockey in Azlan Shah controversy

NEW DELHI: At a time when hockey is struggling to regain its lost glory, sports officials on Tuesday came close to ensuring that India missed the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia next month - all because of some inflated egos and poor co-ordination.

Players and officials were stunned on Tuesday afternoon when Hockey India (HI) announced its decision to pull out of the Azlan Shah event after receiving a letter from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) which said the government will not bear any cost for the tournament.

"The only obligation to the government for this tour was to cover the airfare cost of the team but in the sanction given by SAI it is clearly mentioned that government is not covering any cost," an HI statement said.

Better sense, however, prevailed in the evening when the sports ministry stepped in, paving the way for the team to take part in the tournament - a Category A event in world body's calendar - which they have won five times in the past.

The development came just two days after the security in-charge of the National Stadium, which comes under the SAI, was arrested and released on bail after HI officials filed a complaint accusing the man of misbehaving with them on Sunday, the final day of the Hockey World League (WHL).

HI bosses alleged that SAI's decision on Tuesday was in retaliation of the police complaint made against the security personnel. SAI bosses, however, dismissed the claims.

They said the refusal to pay the airfare was purely a budgetary decision. "We have an annual budget of Rs.5.94 crore for Hockey India but they crossed it. We have already spent Rs.11.27 crore.

This is why SAI didn't clear the case and forwarded it to us," sports ministry secretary PK Deb said.

With Malaysia bearing most of the expenses, the invitational tournament would cost India a little over Rs 30 lakh out of which, according to HI, the ministry will now pay 49 per cent towards air fare and the rest will be borne by HI.

What's shocking is that SAI waited till Tuesday to convey its decision to HI despite the fact that the government has always paid for the airfare of the Indian contingent for this tournament.

HI too wasted little time in announcing the pullout, which was surprising since they it could have afforded to send the team on its own, considering the crores they receive from sponsors.

The Times of India



Indian team pull-out averted

A last-minute intervention by the Secretary, Union Sports Ministry, helped avoid India’s pull-out from the Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Tuesday.

Hockey India had announced the withdrawal of the team from the tournament to be played in Ipoh, Malaysia, from March 9 to 17 because of lack of funding by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) but by late afternoon on Tuesday, the government intervened to sort things out.

After SAI granted HI clearance at “no cost to government”, the latter announced that it was pulling out of the tournament but a meeting between SAI Director-General Gopal Krishna and Union Sports Secretary P.K. Deb helped resolve the issue.

The government would bear the expenses towards air fare, baggage and insurance, leaving the rest of the expenditure for HI to handle, as had been proposed earlier.

‘Retaliatory’ gesture

In his reaction initially to SAI clearing the team without even paying for the air fare, Batra had alleged that it was a “retaliatory” gesture by SAI since he had filed a police complaint against the security officer at the National Stadium on Sunday last, leading to the arrest of the security officer. He was later released on bail.

A SAI official rebutted Batra’s accusation and stated that SAI’s decision initially had nothing to do with the incident and it was based on what had been decided at the “annual calendar and training and competition” meeting held on October 5 last.

The official said that the Azlan Shah tournament was never part of the funding agreed upon at that meeting, though Batra had a different story to tell and challenged SAI to produce the minutes of the meeting.

Batra said that the government had always borne air fare expenses and this time also SAI was requested to foot the bill.

Batra said out of the total expenditure of around Rs. 30-35 lakh needed to field the team in the Ipoh tournament, SAI was supposed to bear only the air fare that would come to about Rs. 12-15 lakh.

The SAI official, however, said that its component of the expenditure would come to around Rs. 25 lakh.

SAI had apparently scaled down the allocation for hockey following its budget having overshot the initially-approved figure, leaving it with a total of Rs. 11.77 crore in the current financial year.

HI was told to manage its entire programme within that allocation.

The Hindu



Out-dia become In-dia after five hours..

Contrary to news reports filtering out of India, it can now be confirmed that India will participate in the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup that commences on March 9 at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.

The confirmation that Hockey India has resolved its issues with the Government of India was made via an email sewnt by Elena Norman, the Chief Executive of Hockey India to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation minutes ago.

The email reads as follows:

"We have just received confirmation from the Government of India, that the necessary financial sanction of the team has been received.

"As such the Senior Men National Hockey Team shall be participating in the 22nd Sultan of Azlan Shah tournament starting from 9 – 17 March 2013.

"The team will be arriving as scheduled on 3 March 2013, and we apologise any inconvenience caused."

Elena Norman
Chief Executive Officer
Hockey India.


Earlier there was news that Hockey India had issued a Press Release stating that they were withdrawing from the tournament.

"We are relieved that India will be coming and are happy that things worked out well in the end. It was a worrying few hours for us and I thank Hockey India and the Government of India for kindly agreeing to send their team," said Dato Abdul Rahim Md Ariff, the Chairman of the Organising Committee and Malaysian Hockey Confederation Vice President.

Official Sultan Azlan Shah Cup site

Headline from Jugjet Singh's
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey



Sports ministry clears Azlan Shah trip; warns HI on budget

NEW DELHI: The sports ministry on Tuesday overruled the Sports Authority of India's decision not to clear Indian men hockey team's trip to the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a stern warning to Hockey India (HI) not to overshoot its budget in future.

The sports ministry's decision came minutes after HI withdrew the team from the 22nd edition of the tournament after the SAI refused to pick the airfare tab for the tournament to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia March 9-17.

Sports secretary Pradip Kumar Deb said that the ministry has cleared the trip after the case was forwarded by SAI, which had refused to sanction the trip citing budget issues.

"We have an annual budget of Rs 5.94 crores for Hockey India, but they crossed it and we have already spent Rs 11.27 crores. So SAI didn't clear the case and forwarded it to us. I have cleared the trip since Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a top tournament and the team will get good exposure," said Deb.

"But we have warned HI that in future they should not cross the budget," he added.

HI said SAI has made it clear that the men's team will play the tournament at no cost to government.

"Hockey India has been forced to withdraw its participation from the tournament. Government has always covered the airfare of the team for this tournament till date," HI said in a statement.

India are five-time champions in the tournament. They finished third in the last edition in 2012 and were joint winners in 2010 with South Korea. They were winners in 2009 as well.

The tournament will provide India the much needed exposure of playing against higher-ranked teams like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Korea.

Earlier this month, HI selectors and government observer had announced the team that would be led by Danish Mujtaba. The team is undergoing training here with the prior sanction of the SAI.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament is an A-Grade tournament sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The Times of India



SAI refuses to bear airfare, India withdraw from Azlan Shah

NEW DELHI: Five-time champions India were on Tuesday forced to withdraw from next month's prestigious Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament after the Sports Authority of India refused to bear the travel expenditure of the national team.

According to reliable source in Hockey India, SAI DG Gopal Krishan has refused to clear the airfare of the team, citing inflated budget.

"We have withdrawn the national team from the Azlan Shah Cup after the government refused to bear the to and fro airfares stating that we have exceeded the budget," a reliable source said on conditions of anonymity.

"It is an unfortunate incident as it is the SAI who has given us the go-ahead to hold the national camp for this tournament here. And now they are saying no.

"It is demoralising for the players. The government just had to bear the airfares as all other expenditures, including lodging and food during the tournament were supposed to be taken care by the local organisers," he said.

On part of SAI, a senior official informed that the proposal submitted by the Hockey India was overshooting the specific budget earmarked for the tour.

"We can't provide the airfares as we have certain limits that we can't exceed," the official said in defence.

India, who won the Azlan Shah Cup five times (1985, 1991, 1995, 2009, 2010), were the bronze medallist in the last edition of tournament.

Keeping in mind the FIH Junior World Cup to be held in the country later this year, India had opted to field a young, new-look squad under Danish Mujataba for this year's Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from March 9 to 17.

Apart from India, the other participating nations in this year's Azlan Shah Cup are arch-rivals Pakistan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and hosts Malaysia.

Incidentally, the government's sudden move to derail the national hockey team's trip to Malaysia came a day after HI accused the security staffs of SAI-controlled Major Dhyan Chand Stadium of abusing its officials.

The Times of India



Hockey India has NO business to withdraw from Azlan Shah Cup

K Arumugam

In a shocking development, Hockey India has decided to withdraw Indian team from Azlan Shah Cup, which was to start in early next month.

Hockey India, in a press statement, has blamed Government of India for sanctioning the team at no cost basis.

It is really saddening on the part of both, government of India and Hockey India to bring situation to this pass. Both seemed to have forgotten the fact that India has entered the tournament, and the decision will put a question mark on us.

The team, to be led by Danish Mujtaba, is essentially a development one, and is crucial to develop a strong team for the next year's World Cup, and to play in the relevant Hockey World League.

In normal course, government sanctions tours for Azlan Shah. We are not aware why it chose the way it did now. Government can be excused because it has been supporting all age groups national teams so far. Its history is impeccable.

Even if government fails to clear once in the long run, is it not the role of the national body to take care of hockey interests?

Hockey India's blunt mail that it is forced to withdraw national team, is a bad rank decision, a knee jerk reaction to an important decision.

Hockey India has money for many things, but not for this crucial tour.

Its worthwhile to mention here the organizers bear the cost of boarding and lodging for all the teams

So, how much money is the obstacle now for the national team to cancel a participation?

Hardly Rs. 7-8 lacs.

The airfare for return ticket at the maximum is, Rs.25k per person. Indian contingent with 18 players and 6 supporting staff would cost about 7-8 lacs.

Honestly speaking, the ticket cost is still less.

www.stick2hockey.com has booked last week a return ticket for its reporter for Kuala Lumpur to cover the event, for far less than this amount.

Last heard: Government has agreed to loosen its purse, Indian team will go to IPOH for sure now.

Stick2Hockey.com



Copy of Communication by HI Secretary to DG SAI

s2h team


Verbatim reproduction of copy of communication between Narinder Batra, Secretary General, Hockey India, to Director General, Sports Authority of India.

Editor's Note: This issue is now settled, as concerned Ministry has intervened and cleared the tour.


Sir,

Refer my telecon with you today at 2.19 P.M. regarding India Men Team tour for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in IPOH Malaysia, where SAI is to only bear the cost of airfare and rest other costs of inland travel, hotel and food costs are borne by the hosts. The proposal for the same was given SAI in January, 2013 and after which the team selection was done, based on which SAI approved the camp in Delhi.

You have very kindly informed me that SAI does not have funds to fund for the air travel of the India Men’s Team for this tournament and hence the tour may be cancelled.

Keeping your kind views in mind, we have no other option but to withdraw the participation of India Men Senior Team from Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in IPOH Malaysia from 9 March, 2013 to 17 March, 2013 and the team was supposed to leave on 3 March, 2013 for which SAI had given permission to conduct the camp in Delhi and which is currently going on. This is a very important and a prestigious tournament where besides India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Korea, New Zealand and Australia were participating and playing again these countries is very important for the rebuilding of our team.

We wish to sincerely thank you Sir for your support for Hockey and hope it continued in same manner as it was in the past for development and improvement of our National Game in the same manner as shooting where SAI has increased the budget from 10 crores to 20 crores by 100%.

Regards
(NARINDER BATRA)

There is no need for, you, Roelant Oltmans (High Performance Director HI), Michael Nobbs (Men’s Hockey Coach), Neil Howgood (Women’s Hockey Coach) and Jason Konrath (Exercise Physiologist) to feel let down or disheartened.

We made a police complaint against a SAI Security Official on 24.02.2013 and this kind of retaliatory action was on expected lines, but we have many well wishers in our country for our National Game who feel for the game from their heart and I am sure those people in government and outside will help hockey for sure.

Stick2Hockey.com



When money matters

By Chander Shekhar Luthra


The suspense over Indian hockey team’s participation in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament ended with the sports ministry giving a special permission to Hockey India (HI).

The issue was resolved on Tuesday evening with a word of caution from the sports ministry to HI to bring in “more discipline” in its financial matters.

Earlier in the day, HI said that India had been forced to withdraw from the March 9-17 tournament. The news spread like fire, causing much dismay and disappointment among the hockey circles.

“HI jumped to conclusions too early,” said sports secretary Pradeep K Deb. “I was told by DG Sports Authority of India that HI has already spent much more than what was allocated to them by the government. However, I asked the DG SAI to make funds available for this tournament as this is a very important tournament for our country.”

But a senior HI official put the blame on SAI and linked this entire episode to the ugly scenes witnessed last week between the security staff at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, which is under SAI, and the HI officials. “The security personnel misbehaved with our officials under the influence of alcohol. When we complained about this to senior SAI officials, no action was taken and the blame was put on our officials,” the official said.

Whatever be the truth, DNA has learnt that HI was allocated Rs5.94 crore for its yearly budget. But it has already exceeded the budget by spending around Rs11.27 crore.

“My only advice to HI is to be a little more disciplined in money matters in the future. And we’ve already conveyed this in writing,” said Deb.

SAI will only be paying the airfares for the team while the remaining expenditure will be borne by HI. A senior HI official, however, termed this incident as unfortunate and demoralising for the players. “It was SAI who gave us permission to go ahead with the camp for this tournament in Delhi earlier. And, by saying no at the last moment could demoralise the team. How can our players do well without participating in tourneys abroad?” he said.

DNA



Good the issue ended early: Danish Mujtaba

Indian hockey team captain Danish Mujtaba was pleased that Tuesday’s episode ended quickly. “The controversy got over within a few hours, so it is good news,” Danish told DNA from New Delhi. “Fortunately, the controversy ended much before it could have affected our preparations for the tournament.”

It will be the first time Danish will lead the national side. He will lead a young team that may not have the experience of playing in big tournament.

But Danish said that the young players have the confidence of turning things over.

“We are not short on confidence. We will obviously go to the tournament with the aim to win matches. We will have a lot to learn,” he said.

DNA



PM asks Qasim to focus on promotion of national game

Staff Report


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday directed the president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to focus on promoting the national game and work for the welfare of players.

The Prime Minister was talking to PHF chief Qasim Zia who called upon him at the PM House here. The Prime Minister said sports were the most effective tools to positively utilize the energies of youth.

He said his government had done a lot for promotion of healthy activities like sports in the last five years. Qasim briefed the Prime Minister on the affairs of the PHF and discussed future plans chalked out to promote hockey in the country.

The Daily Times



Malaysia rewarded for saving grace


For coming to the rescue of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) several times, the world body is paying tribute by offering Malaysia to host at least one international event per year commencing from 2013.

In announcing this FIH President Leandro Negre said that the Malaysian Hockey Confederation had often assisted FIH at the eleventh hour, the latest being the Semi Finals of the World Hockey League this June.

"When Germany withdrew, the FIH was looking for a host and this was communicated to Malaysia and they had no hesitation to offer to host the event," said Negre who met the Malaysian media in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

"In the past when we had to find a replacement host for the Champions Trophy due to the reluctance of teams to go to Pakistan, it was Malaysia that helped saved the day as well.

"In the past we have had this arrangement of hosting at least one event with India and Netherlands. And from next year Malaysia will be included as well. It is not because they rescued us but also the fact that this country has tremendous faciliies for hockey."

The semis of the world league to be held from June 29 to July 7 in Johor Baru will feature Germany, South Korea, Pakistan, England and Malaysia. Three other teams will be determined by the FIH after the Round Two competition comes to an end.

The other semi final of the WorlD league will be played in Netherlands from June 12.

Malaysia is bidding to host the 2014 Champions Challenge 1 and going by what Negre revealed should have no problems securing the tournament when a decision is made by the FIH this September.

Negre said that the FIH was also appreciative of the fact that HRH Sultan Azlan Shah has been holding the Azlan Shah cup for the past 22 years and it was such a terrific tournament that has seen top teams participate.

"We at FIH are always looking forward to the Azlan shah cup and hopefully there will be a permanent slot in the world calendar of events," added Negre.

"Currently the window available is from june to August and this I am sure will be receptive to all teams, especially in Europe.

"Thus our hope is that the organisors of the annual Sultan Azlan Shah will try identify a permanent month for the tournament to be organised so that teams from Europe will be able to participate."

The Azlan Shah Cup is normally held in May but this time around it has been moved to March as the World League semis are in June while the Asia Cup, the World Cup Qualifier is in August.

The FIH President also touched on the 2018 World Cup stating that 16 teams will particiate and that he hoped in future World Cup the numbers can be increased to 24 teams.

"Ublike football, we are unable to fix a permanent month for the World Cup due to the climate between the northern and southern hemisphere," added Negre.

"But the members of FIH need to address this and come out with a solution that is acceptable to all for the betterment of the sport."

Negre also touched on the match fixing and doping scandals that have engulfed other sports like football and cycling.

"Football is football and cycling is cycling. And in that same breath hockey is hockey. We never faced a problem with regards to match fixing and hopefully will never have too," said Negre.

"Even in doping it has never been a case of performance enhancing drugs as no one player can change the game when relying on such drugs in team sports. But we have had doping cases and thankfully it was all cases of recreational usage and not performance enhancing.

"We have stringent rules and will continue to monitor for such activities and hopefully hockey does not have these issues."

Malaysian Hockey blogspot

 



Semis expected to be close affairs



The first leg semi finals of the MILO Cup will be played on Wednesday and the usual suspects are likely to dominate proceedings.

Defending double champions, Tengku Mahkota Sports School (SSTMI) and UniKL Young Guns are expected to ease past their opponents, MBI-Anderson and SSTMI Juniors respectively with relative ease in the two leg semis, the second which will be on Friday.

But it is not the action on the field that will be of interest as the four teams are expected to clock lots of kilometers before Sunday’s final.

SSTMI host MBI Anderson in Johor Baru before travelling up north to Ipoh and if the make the final, back to Kuala Lumpur.

And similiarly UniKL Young Guns will hosts SSTMI Juniors in Kuala Lumpur before moving down south for the second leg on Friday, after which they need to scurry back to Kuala Lumpur for Sunday’s final.

Thus, whichever two teams actually make Sunday’s final, they will both be a beaten a battle weary sides no thanks to all the travelling over a five day period.

The underdogs SSTMI Juniors will find it tough against UniKL Young Guns in the first leg semi-finals as UniKL hold a psychological advantage having defeated SSTMI Juniors 6-2 in the league

"Even though we expected to meet PJCC in the semifinals, and were planning to avenge our 0-1 defeat to them in the league, SSTMI Juniors sprung a surprise to book a date with us," said UniKL Hockey Club acting president Amir Azhar Ibrahim.

However, Amir cautioned his side: "SSTMI Juniors have come a long way since we beat them in the League, and they can challenge UniKL in every department as they did to PJCC in the quarters.

"I expect them to come fully prepared to face the Young Guns as they also enjoy the vast experience and tactical knowledge of Tenaga Nasional coaching setup as what their senior team receive.

"We are aware of that and will have the full squad (suspension and injury free) ready for the challenge in the home leg tomorrow (today). We will try to capitalise on the home turf advantage before we travel to Johor on Friday for the return leg".

And on the same yardstick, Anderson had beaten SSTMI 3-2 in the League, to become the only side that had taken three points off the Johor school in the last three seasons.

As for SSTMI coach  Wan Roslan Wan Rahman, the shock defeat to Anderson in the League is nothing to worry about as the teams face each other on a new frontier.

"That (the defeat) was when we were bogged down by travel fatigue and playing non stop as the fixtures were drawn up in such a way. Also, we did not have two key players who were injured then.

"However, my side are ready for a home run as the injured players have recovered, and we are fresh after a good rest," said Wan Roslan.

Fixtures

WEDNESDAY

Semi-finals (First Leg)


Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School v MBI Anderson (Taman Daya, 5pm)

UniKL Young Guns v SSTMI Juniors (National Stadium Pitch II, 5pm).

FRIDAY:

Semi-finals (Second Leg)


MBI- Anderson v Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm)

SSTMI Juniors v UniKL Young Guns (Taman Daya, 5pm).

Unofficial MJHL site



Gritty Johor sides out to make history

By Jugjet Singh


TWO Johor teams will be out to create history in the Junior Hockey League Milo Cup semi-finals today, but only one of the Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School sides are expected to make the final.

SSTMI Juniors will find the going tough against UniKL Young Guns in their first leg semi-final today, while it would be relatively easier for the school's senior side SSTMI, who will meet Anderson of Ipoh, in the other semi-final.

If history is to be used as a yardstick, then UniKL are going to cruise into the last four as they beat SSTMI Juniors 6-2 in the League.

And using the same yardstick, Anderson had beaten SSTMI 3-2 in the League to become the only side to take three points off the Johor school in the last three seasons.

But it would be foolish to judge the semi-finals, using history as SSTMI went on to win the League title, while SSTMI Juniors edged Division One runners-up Petaling Jaya City Council 8-7 on aggregate to reach this stage.

Both the Sports Schools teams have shown they have gritty players.

"Even though we expected to meet PJCC in the semi-finals, and were planning to avenge our 1-0 defeat to them in the league, SSTMI Juniors sprang a surprise to book a date with us," said UniKL Hockey Club acting president Amir Azhar Ibrahim.

However, Amir cautioned his side. "SSTMI Juniors have come a long way since we beat them in the League and they can challenge UniKL in every department as they did to PJCC in the quarters," he said.

"I expect them to come fully prepared to face the Young Guns as they also enjoy the vast experience and tactical knowledge of Tenaga Nasional coaching set-up as what their senior team had received.

"We are aware of that and will have the full squad (suspension and injury-free) ready for the challenge in the home leg tomorrow (today).

"We will try to capitalise on the home advantage before we travel to Johor on Friday for the return leg."

SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman said that the shock defeat to Anderson in the League was nothing to worry about as the teams face each other with clean slates.

"That (the defeat) was when we were suffering from travel fatigue due to playing non stop as the fixtures were drawn up in such a way.

"Also, we did not have two key players who were injured then," said Wan Roslan.

"However, my side are ready for a home run as the injured players have recovered and we are fresh after a good rest."

TODAY -- S-finals (1st leg): Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School v Andersons (Taman Daya, 5pm); UniKL v SSTMI Juniors (National Stadium Pitch II, 5pm).

FRIDAY -- 2nd leg: Andersons v Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm); SSTMI Juniors v UniKL (Taman Daya, 5pm).

New Straits Times



Leading scorer Syafiq puts his team above everything else

By AFTAR SINGH


KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) forward Mohd Syafiq Zulzairin won the best player award in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League (MJHL) last season and is currently the top scorer in the Under-19 league with 10 goals.

But it’s the team that come first. Everything else, he says, is secondary.

“Helping UniKL win the overall title is more important than me bagging the top scorer’s award,” said the skipper.

“Last year, I was named the best player in the league but I was disappointed when we didn’t win any silverware. We finished as runners-up in Division One and lost in the final for the overall title,” said the Sentul-born Syafiq, who helped UniKL bag the league title in 2011. Last season, Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt bagged the double.

“This season we finished a disappointing third in the league. But my team-mates and I have vowed to give our best to qualify for the final and win the overall title,” said Syafiq, who will turn 19 on Oct 5.

UniKL will face SSTMI Juniors in the first-leg of the semi-finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today. The return leg will be played at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru on Friday.

UniKL had hammered SSTMI Juniors 6-2 in the league but Syafiq said that won’t lull them into complacency.

“SSTMI Juniors ousted former champions MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council) in the quarter-finals ... they’ll definitely go all out to get the better of us. So, we have to be cautious,” said Syafiq, who was delighted to be called up to join the Project 2013 training squad two weeks ago.

He hopes to keep on improving and earn a place in the Junior World Cup, which will be held in Chandigarh, India, from Dec 5-16.

SSTMI Juniors coach Mohd Shafiq Nordin, meanwhile, admitted that they would start as the underdogs against UniKL.

“Ten of my boys are making their MJHL debut ... so, reaching the semi-finals is already a bonus for us. Our initial target was to make the quarter-finals,” said Shafiq.

The other semi-final pits Thunderbolt, who won the Division One title, against MBI-Anderson.

The Star of Malaysia



Olympic Bronze Medallist Laura Bartlett announces her retirement from international hockey


Laura Bartlett (right)

Scottish Hockey today confirmed that Scotland and Great Britain star Laura Bartlett has retired from international hockey.

The 2011 BOA Athlete of the Year won 107 international caps in total, appearing for Scotland 57 times and representing Great Britain on 50 occasions.

Commenting on her decision to retire, Bartlett said, “I have had an amazing journey as a hockey player with both Scotland and Great Britain, making many friends along the way. Being part of three Olympic cycles has been fantastic and all the hard work was rewarded last summer when the GB team won the Bronze Medal at London 2012.

“However, I have the made the decision to step away from hockey and focus on a career outside of the sport. I am entering a new phase of my life where I have a new job that I wish to concentrate on and put my efforts into building a career.

“I would like to thank all the coaches, players and managers who have supported me throughout my international career and wish both the Scotland and Great Britain teams the very best of luck for future competitions.”


Laura Bartlett

The former Milne Craig Clydesdale Western midfielder’s international hockey highlights include being called up to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, a second place finish and silver medal at the FIH Champions Trophy in Argentina last year, and starring as an ever-present in Danny Kerry’s bronze medal winning Great Britain side at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Bartlett last played for Scotland in 2011, helping the national side to the EuroHockey Nations Championship II title in Poland and a bronze medal at the FIH Champions Challenge in Ireland, where her successful sudden death penalty defeated a much fancied Spanish side. She was also awarded Player of the Tournament following a number of excellent performances.

Scotland Women Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said, “Laura will be a huge loss to Scotland and she played some amazing hockey when she represented the national side. She was a great role model to the players within the squad and an absolute privilege to coach.

“On behalf of Scottish Hockey, I would like to say thank you to Laura and wish her the very best in her future career.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Hockey joy

Mereseini Marau, In New Delhi India



Top prize ... Susana Mudunatagi (standing fourth from left) holding her trophy with her teammates. Picture by: Peni Totoka

SUSANA Mudunatagi was named the best goalkeeper for women in the Hero Hockey World League Round 2.

Even though the national side did not score any goals or register any win from the week-long tournament in New Delhi, Mudunatagi's hard work at the Fiji goalmouth was recognised.

The 22-year-old from Vuaki in Yasawa said her sacrifice for two years had finally paid off.

Mudunatagi who only started playing senior hockey in 2011 was on cloud nine saying being awarded the best in a tournament as big as the World League was something she would never forget in her hockey life.

She attributed her success to her parents and her namesake who had been there for her all the time.

But all her ecstasy from this trip will be over by the time she touches down in Nadi where reality of looking for a job awaits her.

"I have to look for a job that will help me play hockey."

National coach Shaun Corrie said the team was proud of Mudunatagi's achievement.

"We didn't win any games, but to have Susana being named goalkeeper of the tournament is something we are proud of."

Corrie said Mudunatagi used to train with the men's team during her preparation for this tournament.

She was named player of the match when Fiji lost to India 0-10.

Adrian Smith was named player of the match even though Fiji lost to China.

The Fiji Times