News for 16 March 2013

All the news for Saturday 16 March 2013

India look for consolation win against Malaysia

IPOH (Malaysia): Out of contention for a podium finish, young Indian side led by Danish Mujtaba will hope to beat hosts Malaysia in the final round robin league encounter of 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament.

As far as the points table is concerned, title contenders Australia with eight points from four matches need only a draw against New Zealand to seal their place in the final.

For the 'Black Sticks' at six points, only a win will suffice to nose ahead of their traditional rivals.

Sitting pretty are the hosts Malaysia, with eight points and the advantage of knowing the equation to play their cards accordingly to clinch their deserved place in Sunday's summit clash.

India with three points from four matches at the best can qualify for a third-place play-off

India coach Michael Nobbs conceded that though outplayed by New Zealand, the team would strive their best to derive meaningful result from the last two matches (including play-off).

"Rallying behind a developmental side, I view every match as an opportunity to identify grey areas and work on to erase those. With 10 boys in the junior ranks, the event has served the purpose it intended for us.

"Try as they might, the boys just could not raise their level of game like the one against Pakistan. There are a lot of positives for the boys in their learning process. It takes time to translate the learning into results and patience is the key," added Nobbs.

Malaysia coach Paul Revingon said that the priority is to get back into the World Cup and the acid test for the boys will be the Asia Cup at Ipoh in August and the World Series in Johar Bahru.

All the same, Revington is wary of complacency creeping into the Malaysian team. The affable coach recalled the similar situation in the Champions Challenge-I in Argentina last December when Malaysia won four straight matches against Poland, South Korea, Canada and South Africa before succumbing to the Koreans (3-6) in the semifinals.

Precisely, the reason, Revington has asked the boys to keep their feet firmly on the ground and keep up the consistency till the finish.

"The present bunch is a tried and trusted one with the abilities to take on the best in the world. As the coach, the onus is on me to mould them for the desired results."

The Times of India

Easier path to final

Australia can do hosts a great favour by beating New Zealand


Saari Faizal takes a shot at goal against Pakistan on Thursday. The match ended 2-2. Pic by Supian Ahmad

WORLD No 2 Australia might just do Malaysia a favour when they play New Zealand in their final group match of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh today.

The equation is simple -- if Australia beat or hold New Zealand to a draw (6pm start), they will take Malaysia along with them into tomorrow's final, which would mean no pressure for the hosts when they take on India immediately after.

However, if New Zealand beat Australia, the Kiwis will play in the final, while Malaysia need to at least pull off a draw against India to shut the Aussies out.

In 22 editions of the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia have only made the final on three occasions -- 1985, 2007 and 2009 but played bridesmaids on all three occasions.

"It looks promising, but still, there are some areas which need urgent attention in our desire to improve the world rankings of Malaysia as well as qualify for the World Cup," said Malaysia coach Paul Revington.

That specific area is penalty corner conversions, which used to be Malaysia's strongest point in the past.

However, flickers Faizal Saari and Razie Rahim have been off form lately. Out of the 11 penalty corners won against Pakistan, Faizal scored one while Razie scored the other while nine went to waste and Pakistan walked away with a 2-2 draw.

"I will have to look at the recording to see what happened to the other nine penalty corners, and work to improve this area for the next assignments," said Revington.

India, languishing at the bottom of the six-team pool, will not be easy to beat but it might not come to that if Australia play to script.

New Straits Times

It all points to a M'sian-Aussie final in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup


Sweating it out: Chua Boon Huat (top left) and the Malaysian hockey players cool down after a training session. — SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star

IPOH: It all points to a Malaysia-Australia final in the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

But with the twists and turns that have taken place in the last few days, there is no doubt that defending champions New Zealand will have a say. They are the only team who can stop a Malaysia-Australia final.

The Kiwis play the Australians in the last match today and they need to win to make the final. If that happens, then the Malaysians will have to go and grab a draw with India in the last match to secure their place. Of course, this will put the Australians out of the final.

But if Australia draw or win, then they will go into the final and take Malaysia with them.

So, the scenario is clear for the final day of action in the preliminary round.

Malaysia and Australia could have secured their places in the final had they won on Thursday. But both teams were forced to a draw. Malaysia drew 2-2 with Pakistan while Australia were held 3-3 by South Korea.

Malaysia coach Paul Revington is not perturbed about the permutations involved in reaching the final.

“We have to go into the match with a positive attitude and try to win it. It does not matter what happens in the other matches. We must play our best and not depend on other results to get through.

“We have no intention of taking it easy against India,” he said.

Like Australia, Malaysia are also undefeated thus far.

Revington’s confidence has been buoyed by Malaysia’s performance against Pakistan. To him, it was the team’s best display since he took over last year.

“The performance was good and I appreciate the attitude of the players very much. They have done me proud and I am sure that we can improve on it,” he said.

But there are still some serious concerns for Revington as he looks to rebuild the Malaysian team into an attacking side.

“The players’ inability to hold on to a lead is a concern. We must know when to go into attack and when to hold out especially when you lead with six or seven minutes to go.

“At times, you need not attack at all costs. We have to bolster the defence and dig into the ground. That is a lesson to be learnt.

“Our penalty corners were not that effective although Faizal Saari and Mohamed Razie Rahim scored a goal each. We need to see where it went wrong. There were nine penalty corners in the match against Pakistan.

“But with each step we must learn and improve. Otherwise, we will go nowhere. For me, it is better we take it one match at a time,” he added.

India are last in the standings but they are certainly no pushovers. They are desperate for a win to try and secure a spot in the third placing playoffs.

The all-Oceania match between New Zealand and Australia will also be keenly contested.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch, who was assistant coach to the Australian national team previously, said: “Our rivalry dates back to several decades and each match is a tough encounter. It will be the same tomorrow. With a final berth at stake, both teams want to win. I expect a good match and one that will be of high quality.”

The Star of Malaysia

Shahrun sings praises of Revington

SKIPPER Shahrun Nabil has played under several coaches since making his debut in the 2005 Junior World Cup, but feels Paul Revington has the most practical approach.

"The coach is fast changing our mindset, which used to be a big problem because many of us did not believe in ourselves.

"Slowly, he has made us forget our ranking, as well as the ranking of the team who we will play and this has given us the confidence needed to pull off upsets," said Shahrun.

Shahrun, 28, with 190 caps, was a fighter from the start, but now looks more composed than when first met in 2005.

Malaysia, then under coach Sarjit Singh, were just 60 days shy of the World Cup and sitting on the bench with the fingers of his right hand fully bandaged was Shahrun Nabil.

"It is a sprain of the middle finger," said Shahrun then, but he still insisted on traveling to Europe a few days later to play against club sides, and one training match against the Netherlands national juniors at the Junior World Cup venue.

That was the spirit he had eight years ago, but it somehow fizzled out as the years went by as coaches came and went, but the fire is back in the skipper and his men, and they might just make the impossible possible by first qualifying for Malaysia's fourth final, and then making a dash for the elusive Cup.

New Straits Times

Pakistan all set for bronze medal play-off

Pakistan would have to play their best as they tackle South Korea for ensuring their eligibility for the third-fourth position match. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: After losing the race for the final, Pakistan are hoping to remain in contention for the bronze medal as they meet South Korea in their last league match at the Azlan Shah Cup today in Ipoh.

With four points from as many matches, Pakistan need a victory over the Koreans to finish at least on the fourth spot and become eligible for the third-fourth position match to be played on the final day of the tournament.

If Pakistan manage a win over their Asian counterparts, they are likely to meet a team among the top three – Australia (eight points), Malaysia (eight) and New Zealand (six).

A draw in the match will involve calculations of goal difference to decide the fourth finisher between Korea and Pakistan. On the other hand, India have no chance to qualify for the bronze medal play-off as they have just three points to their credit.

Pakistan’s chief coach Akhtar Rasool said he was hoping for a good performance from his team in the last league match.

“The players are motivated for the match,” Rasool told The Express Tribune.  “They played well in the draw against Malaysia. That match provided much needed confidence to the players after defeats to Australia and India.

“The youngsters are charged up and I am confident they will show more improvement against the Koreans. Definitely we are hoping for a third finish.”

However, the former Olympian said it will be a tough task for his side to beat the Koreans.

“They (South Korea) have lifted their game and will be a tough team to reckon with. They put up an impressive show in their 3-3 draw against Australia.

“We will definitely have to work very hard against them to avoid mistakes that could cost us the game.”

Finalists yet to be decided

Meanwhile, the finalists are also to be decided today with Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia in contention.

Australia and Malaysia are in the driving seat, both with eight points. However, Australia have a superior goal difference of eight while Malaysia are on two.

A win for New Zealand and a Malaysian defeat will see the two Oceania countries contesting the final.

The Express Tribune

Pakistan hockey’s downfall continues

By Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey, which once enjoyed tremendous success and had secured all the titles under their belts, is now fast on decline trend. Pakistan had won 20 gold medals since 1948 to 2000, but since 2000 till date green shirts had just managed to win two gold medals, one in Asian Champions Trophy and the other in Asian Games.

Pakistan hockey is going through the worst times as team lacks consistency since long. It seems the PHF lack clear vision and had so far failed to carve out satisfactory results despite getting huge grants from government. PHF president Qasim Zia and secretary Asif Bajwa should finally accept now the responsibility of team's poor showings in almost every event.

Pakistan had entered Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with high hopes, as other participating teams had sent almost new faces. The green shirts had a great chance to lift this title, as there was only one new face in the Pakistan squad. But after hardly managing to beat holders New Zealand 4-3, Pakistan lost badly to Kookaburras, losing the match with a big 6-0 margin. The decline continued in the next match, as green shirts were easily beaten by arch-rivals India 3-1. Pakistan somehow managed to hold on the hosts Malaysia 2-2 but that result was not enough to book their place in the final.

The ever-alarming goal-conceding ratio continued in the event as Pakistan team conceded 14 goals and just managed to score 7. Goalkeeping department is a source of major concern since long, but the team management never bothered to address this area of grave concern. Same conditions apply on defence. Pakistan's defence is arguably the weakest in all the top hockey playing nations. It’s true this event is of no significance as far as overall teams standings are concern, as this is an invitational event, but at least green shirts should have prepared well for this event, as hockey World Cup would be held next year in Holland. The PHF has completely failed to find a suitable replacement for ace short-corner specialist Sohail Abbas and even they could not find some strikers, who could replace Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt.

Zia and Bajwa should set their egos aside and immediately convene a meeting with former hockey greats and try to find out ways and means to put green shirts back on winning ways and that too without wasting any further time.

The PHF must work to find and groom grassroots level talent and only setting up academies at all major centres could do that.

If the current situation persists, the time is not far away when Pakistan would find it really difficult to even select team for international events rather than thinking of winning them. Head coach Akhtar Rasool has failed to achieve consistent results. He can't win matches by shouting from the side-line. He should work closely with video analysts and use latest ways and means to prepare the squad according to fast changing conditions of the game.

The Nation

Parliament denounces Pakistan, hockey series axed

India hit back on Friday at Pakistan after it denounced Afzal Guru's execution, with parliament passing a resolution against Islamabad and the government axing a bilateral hockey series.

Ruling and opposition MPs showed some rare unanimity in both houses as they passed resolution rejecting the Pakistani national assembly's motion against the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

"This house totally rejects the resolution passed by the national assembly of Pakistan March 14," said the resolution, read out in the Lok Sabha by Speaker Meira Kumar and in the Rajya Sabha by Chairman M. Hamid Ansari.

"The house rejects interference in the internal affairs of India and calls upon the national assembly of Pakistan to desist from acts of support for extremists and terrorists," it said.

Both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders spoke out strongly against Pakistan.

BJP's Arun Jaitley said the Pakistani resolution was an "official stamp of approval" on the 2001 attack on Indian parliament that almost sparked a war between India and Pakistan.

He called for an end to a dialogues with Pakistan. "Not only is this an interference in the internal affairs of India but this is an approval of the worst terror attack on India."

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the Indian resolution would give a clear message to Islamabad.

Until now, Pakistan, which supports the separatist campaign in Jammu and Kashmir, had refrained from commenting on the Feb 9 execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, for plotting the parliament attack.

But Islamabad acted as separatists stepped up protests in the Kashmir Valley demanding the return of Afzal Guru's body, buried in the Tihar Jail in New Delhi where he was executed in secrecy.

Simultaneously, India cancelled a hockey series with Pakistan slated for April-May. Hockey India and the Pakistan Hockey Federation had planned the two-leg series after seven years.

Pakistan were to play a five-match series in India April 5-15. India were to tour Pakistan, for five matches, from April 23.

Sporting ties between the two countries were snapped after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack by Pakistanis.

Outside parliament, the BJP asked India to scale down diplomatic ties with Pakistan.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said: "The BJP firmly believes that almost all terrorist activities in India are sponsored by Pakistan."

The latest developments took India-Pakistan ties to another low after January when New Delhi accused the Pakistani military of brutally killing two Indian soldiers on the Jammu and Kashmir border.

Manmohan Singh had then warned that there can be no business as usual in bilateral relations.

And on Wednesday, terrorists said to be from Pakistan carried out the first suicide attack in some three years in Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley killing five Indian troopers.

"The BJP demands that India's diplomatic relations with Pakistan should be immediately scaled down," Rajnath Singh said.

The parliament resolution said: "The ... entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan, is and shall always be an integral part of India."


India puts hockey series with Pakistan on hold

NEW DELHI: The India-Pakistan hockey series, scheduled to be held in India from April 5, has been postponed due to the growing political tension between the two countries. This development came just a day after the Pakistan Parliament passed a resolution against the execution of Afzal Guru and two days after 5 CRPF jawans were killed in Srinagar on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at the behest of the government of India, Hockey India (HI) officials said. However, when asked, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told reporters he had no knowledge of any cancellation.

Hockey India (HI) confirmed the postponement on Friday afternoon, saying it has been asked by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to do so. "We got the permission from the sports ministry and the home ministry but MEA sent a fax to us on Thursday evening, asking us to postpone the series," HI secretary Narinder Batra told TOI.

"We would have loved the series to take place but not at the cost of the respect and dignity of our nation," he added.

"That is not my information. Nobody is going to ask me to cancel or not to cancel. But as far as I am concerned, I have no such information... may be some elements of the tournament have been shifted. But I don't have any information that anything has been cancelled," Khurshid told reporters. Despite Khurshid's denial, government sources told TOI that the decision was taken at the top level.

The Times of India

Sports ties are part of CBMs: Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Responding India's cancellation of a bilateral hockey series and delays in implementing a new visa agreement, Pakistan on Friday said sporting ties are a part of confidence building measures, which are required for peace between the between the two countries.

The Pakistan hockey team was scheduled to tour India in mid-April for five Test matches, followed by a return visit by India.

But India's foreign ministry refused to clear the series, a day after the Pakistan Parliament passed a resolution against Afzal Guru's execution.

Reacting to the news, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said, "Pakistan believes that in the larger interest of maintaining peace between Pakistan and India, sustained and uninterrupted implementation of confidence-building process, including sports events, is required."

"Sports, cultural events and people-to-people contacts build trust and confidence between the two sides, he said.

The Pakistan government remains fully committed to the peace process and composite dialogue with India, including enhanced people-to-people contacts and friendly exchanges, Chaudhry said.

The Times of India

India- Pakistan camp in Ipoh disappointed on Series cancellation

Ipoh, 15 March 2013: The cancellation of the India-Hockey series scheduled to start from April 5 this year came as a shock to the players and officials of India and Pakistan, who are taking part in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament here on Friday.

The 10-match series to be held in both the countries at different venues to provide a chance for the Asian giants to meet frequently is said to be rejected by the External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India.

Indian coach Michael Nobbs said: “It is very sad to hear the news. India and Pakistan provide high quality of hockey and the public around the world are willing to watch these games. The Indo-Pak series is always a platform for Asian brand of hockey and everyone will be missing it, if the tour is cancelled."

Pakistan manager and former great Akthar Rasool was having a chat with the Indian coach and the players at the Gala dinner hosted by Sultan Azlan Shah and he hoped that the series is only postponed.

“I wish it is only a postponement and not cancellation. I always said that India and Pakistan should play more matches. The 10-match series would have done wonders for our game and also to build the confidence among the teams,’’ he said.

“When was the president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, my first job was to start talks with the then Indian Hockey Federation chief, KPS Gill, to start the series. We lost no time to start the friendly series after a long time. It was in 1998. The two countries need more exposure which will help them revive their hockey tradition,’’ he added.

“I feel the governments should keep politics aside and let the series go on,’’ was his parting shot.

Pakistan skipper Muhammad Imran said: “It is very disappointing to learn that the series is cancelled."

Narinder Batra: "Am not disappointed"

Hockey India General Secretary Narinder Batra, whose brain wave now jinxed India-Pak series is, takes the things on its stride when he dwelt the issue of cancellation of the series.

“We received intimation from External affairs to postpone the series. Since, we don’t have a window right now, it effectively means cancellation. Yes, the developments in the last couple of days and the reaction of the government across the border, I tend to support this decision of cancellation of the tour.”

In sync with the national mood, he feels that respect and dignity of the country are the things at stake right now and those cannot be compromised in any way.

“I am not disappointed because of this cancellation. Nowhere in the world anybody will compromise respect and dignity. The way events have unfolded in the last few days, offer us no right climate to hold series of this kind".

"I think the political establishment on the other side needs to understand one thing clear: You cannot have soft exchanges when you show humiliation and disrespect. If such kinds of series do not happen, they don’t happen. That's all. So I can’t help it now.”

Hockey community welcomes Government's refusal for Indo-Pak series.

Unlike a lot many previous occasion -- where hockey community always stood for sporting ties between India and Pakistan -- mood is totally against the proposed hockey series now.

Dhanraj Pillay, who led India in the 1998 Series when present pak team manager Akhtar Rasool was the PHF president is forthright in his views:

"In the present circumstance government's decision is unavoidable, it’s a good decision because our Army, which is at the borders, face continuous firing. Government of India, therefore, has no other option that refuse permission to Hockey India for the series.”

Arjun Halappa, who made his international debut in a tournament in which Pakistan participated -- PM Gold Cup, Dhaka, asserts country comes first. “From the point of view of the nation and its security, it’s a correct decision. I know sport is important but end of the day citizen take precedence over sports. Country comes first. I think government has taken good decision. A lot of things are happening right now like Afzal Guru (hanging and its aftermath), terroristd attack in J&K etc etc. India-Pak Series will be a bad sign for our Army who safe-guard us at the border. It will send a wrong signal. I think we should stand by our protectors, that’s the most important thing right now.”

Arjuna awardee, and commentator, Jagbir Singh, too echoes Pillay's and Arjun's.

"It’s a welcome move. When we talk about sports and we talk about the sportsmanship and the atmosphere around it should conform that. Now this is not the case. Atmosphere now is not friendly. We may call this as a promotional series for hockey in India or Asia but I don’t see any reasons- any reasons at all why we should be playing in such an atmosphere.”

Indo-Pak hockey series cancellation fine for boys: Michael Nobbs

IPOH: India hockey coach Michael Nobbs on Friday said he was looking forward to the upcoming home-and-away bilateral hockey series against Pakistan but now that the Indian government has decided to call it off, he was left with a mixed feeling.

The Indian government on Friday called off the bilateral hockey series on security grounds, and while Nobbs felt that the 10-match series could have been postponed and not cancelled, but he insisted it could be good for the boys who already have a tight packed calendar.

"I hoped that the 10-match series on either side of the border will be postponed and not cancelled. The India-Pakistan hockey matches are followed keenly by hockey buffs and I had looked forward to the series," he said.

"But in a way it would be fine for the boys as they have a tight packed calendar with the World Cup qualifier and the Asia Cup not far away," Nobbs added.

Pakistan team chief coach Akhtar Rasool, however, was left disappointed as his boys had looked forward to the series, which was scheduled to start on April 5.

However, both Nobbs and Rasool hoped that the series would get underway soon.

The Times of India

Our fans will miss some good Asian hockey: Raghunath tells NDTV

Soumitra Bose

Veteran Indian dragflicker says sport is defenseless against political turbulence and the genuine fan is at the receiving end.

New Delhi:  The Indian government's decision to cancel Pakistan's hockey tour of India in April has disappointed senior Indian star V.R. Raghunath and generally, the entire sport fraternity. In an exclusive chat with from Bengaluru on Friday afternoon, Raghunath said "sport was defenseless against any political issues and the average fan has to bear the brunt."

In wake of the suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar on Wednesday and the uneasy political climate between the Indian and Pakistani government around Afzal Guru's hanging in Delhi last month, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday cancelled the bilateral series between the two nations in April.

"It's disappointing because we as a team were looking forward to the series and it would have been a good way to prepare for the FIH World League 3," said Raghunath.

Raghunath feels hockey was striking the right chord after India and Pakistan played a ODI and T20 cricket series earlier this year. "Cricket showed the way and hockey picked it up, but when the political climate is not very good, Hockey India can do very little," the burly penalty corner specialist said.

Supporting the MEA decision, Hockey India chief Narinder Batra has said: "Sports can't be seen in isolation, as nothing is more important than the country's pride and dignity. We were expecting crowds as it's India versus Pakistan, but that's not more important than India's pride."

Pakistan and India last played a bilateral hockey series in 2006 -- three matches in each country. Pakistan won three and lost one while the remaining two were drawn. On similar lines, Pakistan were to play five Test matches in India between April 5-15 in Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar.

"A cancellation means the hockey fan is denied of watching some good Asian hockey. At a time when India and Pakistan have lost their hold on international hockey, such a series would have been a great boost," said Olympian Raghunath, adding: "Playing a series like this on a neutral ground is not the same as playing in your own country and in front of your own fans."

Hoping the political tension would soon be "drag-flicked", Raghunath hoped that the series against Pakistan becomes a "reality."

"As players we remain great friends. We meet them in international tournaments and there is no tension there. Hope hockey can ease the political troubles," Raghunath signed off.


Bilateral series cancellation: Pakistan consider boycotting Junior World Cup

By Fawad Hussain

While the PHF fumed over India’s decision to cancel the bilateral series, some former Pakistan’s Olympians were of the opinion that the matches had never looked possible in the first place. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Irked by India’s cancellation of the bilateral series, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has said it will not send the national team next door to play until there is a change in attitude from the neighbouring country.

The PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, who was dejected at the series cancellation, also hinted at a possible withdrawal of the Pakistan team from the Junior World Cup which is to be held in India later this year.

According to details, Hockey India, after being denied permission by its government on security grounds, cancelled the home-and-away series with Pakistan, which was scheduled for next month.

The much-anticipated series, which was expected to revive bilateral ties after seven years, was confirmed earlier this month with PHF releasing the schedule for the series.

Pakistan were supposed to travel to India first from April 5 to 15. India’s return trip was planned from April 23 to May 2 in Karachi, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Lahore.

PHF angry with India move

Meanwhile, the PHF slammed the Indian government’s decision not to permit the India team to tour Pakistan with Bajwa saying politics should not be mixed with sports.

“It’s very disappointing,” said the PHF secretary. “The Indian government’s attitude is damaging for sports.

“They always refuse to fulfill their commitment. This is very sad for sports fans of both countries who want to see both teams in action.

“The PHF has always fulfilled its commitment gracefully but now we’ll have to reconsider our ties with India.

“We will also not send our national team there until they come to Pakistan,” said the PHF secretary before hinting on a possible withdrawal from the Junior World Cup.

“We may pull out from the event. The PHF board and the government will have a final say on this.”

Mixed reaction from Olympians

The series cancellation between the two countries drew mixed reactions from former Olympians.

“The series never looked possible,” Samiullah Khan said. “It wasn’t an appropriate time to finalise the series considering the political situation between the governments.

However, Olympian Khwaja Junaid expressed disappointment on the series cancellation.

“It was a treat for fans for both countries and now they will be deprived of that.

“It’s not appropriate to involve politics in sports.

“The series could have played a vital role in the promotion of the game in both countries which were powerhouses of the game in past.”

The Express Tribune

PHF furious over ‘attitude’ of Indian Government, threatens to pull out of Junior World Cup

Pakistan-India hockey series cancelled as tensions mount

By Muhammad Ali

LAHORE: Pakistan-India sporting events took yet another blow on Friday when the Indian hockey team’s visit to Pakistan was cancelled due to security reasons and growing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The two neighbouring countries had planned to play a 10-match series in India and Pakistan. Pakistan were due to visit cities in India from April 5-15 and the Indian hockey team were to tour different cities of Pakistan from April 23. The series would have revived the bilateral hockey ties between the traditional rivals after nearly seven years. A snooker series between Pakistan and India was postponed earlier this month on March 5 based on safety and security grounds as well. It was to be the first series featuring the two countries since 2005.

Addressing a news conference here at National Hockey Stadium, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary general Muhammad Asif Bajwa said that refusal of Indian Government to send its team to Pakistan had ruined the bilateral hockey series that was to be played next month. “The Indian Government’s negative attitude has suspended this series and it is quite unfortunate for hockey in the sub-continent,” he blasted. “Sports give a message of peace. And through sporting events people of different nations come closer. But the decision of the Indian Government has damaged the cause of hockey in the region,” he said.

He deplored the decision and threatened to pull out of the Junior World Cup to be staged across the border in December this year. “We could stop our team from participating in the Junior World Cup,” stated Bajwa. The Junior World Cup is being held under the auspices of the International Hockey Federation, which could take action against Pakistan for not participating. “We condemn India’s policy of mixing politics with sport and if they continue to do so it will be a big loss for hockey fans and for hockey in Asia,” Bajwa said. “We will not play the hockey series on a neutral venue and now, if they agree to play a hockey series in the future, then India will have to tour us first,” the former Olympian maintained.

The cancellation of sports has now become the latest victim of tensions between the two countries. Five Indian paramilitary police were killed in an ambush on Wednesday in Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-administered part of the territory. Indian officials have said the attackers – who were themselves shot dead – appeared to have come from Pakistan, despite denials from Islamabad. The Indian Government has also been angered by a resolution passed by the Pakistan parliament on Thursday, denouncing the recent hanging in New Delhi of a Kashmiri separatist convicted of plotting an attack on the Indian Parliament.

Several Pakistani hockey stars were also forced to pull out of the inaugural Indian Hockey League in January following a spate of killings across the de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides last played a bilateral field hockey series in 2006 although they recently faced off in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Ipoh in Malaysia. The countries have won 11 Olympic field hockey titles between them and dominated the hockey arena for decades, with India winning eight and Pakistan three.

The Daily Times

Pakistan Hockey Federation threatens to pull out from Junior World Cup after cancellation of bilateral hockey series

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has threatened to pull out of the Junior World Cup to be staged across the India-Pakistan border in December this year after the Indian government cancelled the visit of the Indian team to Pakistan for the 10-match bilateral series, due to security reasons and growing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

However, the International Hockey Federation, which is hosting the Junior World Cup, can take action against Pakistan if it does not participate in the tournament, the Daily Times reports.

Furious over the attitude of the Indian government, PHF secretary general Muhammad Asif Bajwa said that they will only agree to play a hockey series with India in the future if India tours them first, adding that the negative attitude of the Indian government has suspended the hockey series and has damaged the cause of hockey in the sub-continent.

Stating that sports are a messenger of peace and brings closer people of different nations, Bajwa said that the PHF condemned India’s policy of mixing politics with sport and added that they will not play the hockey series on a neutral venue now.

The Indian hockey team was to tour different cities of Pakistan from April 23 and Pakistan was due to visit cities in India from April 5-15 for the series which would have revived the bilateral hockey ties between the traditional rivals after nearly seven years.

The cancellation of the series came in the wake of renewed tensions between the two countries after five Indian paramilitary police were killed in an ambush in Srinagar by militants, whom Indian officials have suspected of being from Pakistan, despite denials from Islamabad, the report added.


Pereira happy with progression of SA men

FORMER national hockey player Charlie Pereira has gone full circle and is now the South African coach. Here are excerpts from an interview with Graeme Joffe on Sportsfire.

GRAEME JOFFE: We talking hockey with new South African men’s coach, Charlie Pereira – also a former national team player himself. You’ve just recently returned from a successful world league stint in Brazil. The boys must be happy with their performances?

Yes, we are thrilled. We qualified for round three of the world championships, the semifinals. And then we meet the real big boys and that’s where we want to play.

GJ: South Africa had a must win game in the end and the boys delivered in a 6-1 win over Chile.

Yes, we played really well in that last game. It was like a cup final for us and a World Cup final for Chile. It was important to be able to qualify so there was quite a bit of pressure but I told the lads “today we see who has character and they came through”.

GJ: Good to get a feel of the playing conditions in Brazil now, if the team qualifies for the Olympics in Rio in 2016?

The location will be the same but not the venue. It was in bad condition and we had never played on a pitch like that in South Africa, not even a Premier League game. So, it was rather contentious. But we had gone all that way, you have to play. It was astro but it was very slippery.

What happens with astro if water lies on it for a long time, it creates a fungi and you can only get rid of that by cleaning it with high pressure hosing or vacuum cleaning and they don’t have the equipment.

GJ: Looking ahead to the semifinals in Malaysia in June. Will you guys have a couple training camps ahead of that?

We hope so. We still battling financially you know, been the case for a number of years. We’ve been invited to Argentina for a tournament and we need to go there but you know it all depends on how much money we’ve got in the kitty.

GJ: Hockey in South Africa seems to be so well run from an administration point of view; there’s a lot of passion, real hockey people involved. Sponsors like Investec and Spar have thrown their weight behind the sport but not easy for a team sport and when you go on a tour – a squad of at least 20 with medical staff as well.

That’s right, I mean we had 25 people go to Rio – 18 players and seven on the management side – and it costs a million rand plus. So, these tours aren’t cheap and the South African Hockey Association is still an amateur run body reliant on a lot of funding. Investec has come on board but they sponsor the ladies side not the men. So, we are desperate for a sponsor.

GJ: Hockey worldwide getting more attention with the advent of the India League, similar to that of the IPL in cricket.

It is and it was televised on SuperSport, all the games. It ran for about six weeks, it was terrific hockey to watch and all the top players in the world. So, hockey is getting a larger profile.

GJ: Your playing days – it all started in Windhoek?

My last four years of schooling were in Windhoek and that’s where I learned to play hockey.

GJ: Only player from Namibia to make the South African schools side. Did you feel like a quota player?

Yes, being Portuguese I might see it that way.

GJ: You played for Southerns, Northerns and Midlands and 49 official Tests for South Africa. What sticks out as the highlight for you?

I think making the South Afircan schools side was the real highlight for me. Coming from a Windhoek school and we generally struggled in that tournament. So, to make that side was great and then I always wanted to play for Southerns because they used to tour Windhoek as a provincial side and play our national side and I liked the style of hockey they played.

GJ: And the South African national team, you guys had some really great players and legends of the game.

Yes, we did, gee whiskers. I mean David and Lindsay Reid-Ross, Paddy and Trevor Madsen, Mandy Yachad, Giles Bonnet, the list goes on.

GJ: You were also a national convenor of selectors. So, you’ve always been close to the game?

I have been. I took a break after the Sydney Olympics and wasn’t involved for about 10 years but it’s good to be back.

GJ: Giles doing a great job with the women’s side?

He is, what an operation he runs. I mean those women can compete with the top sides in the world now you know. They beat Australia in Cape Town recently in that Investec challenge. They lost to the Netherlands 4-2 in the final but I mean it was close at one stage, 3-2. The Dutch are the Olympic champions.

GJ: You’ve got two kids, either of them playing hockey?

Both of them play hockey and are loving the game.

GJ: Finally, hockey in South Africa is on the rise despite the limited resources. What would be your dream solution?

Look if we had R10-million in the bank tomorrow we would ensure qualification to the World Cup next year and we’ll be on our way to the Olympics in Rio in 2016. It’s all about having enough time to train and play against the top ten sides.

Catch Sportsfire with Graeme Joffe on Radio Today on Monday and Thursday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on 1485AM and DSTV audio channel 169. Also streaming worldwide on Follow Joffe on Twitter @joffersmyboy.



Air India will play PSB in the Ranjit Cup final tomorrow

K Arumugam

When Jagroop Singh equalized a Vikas Pillay’s early goal, it was felt that Air Force may force a dramatic results against the much more acclaimed, Air India, but as later events proved, it was not to be.

This is the story of first semifinal of the seventh Maharaja Ranjit Singh Cup on the penultimate day at Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi.

Despite ageing Air India mustered enough energy and enterprise to pump two more goals, each through veteran VS Vinaya and AB Cheeyana to defeat young Air Force 3-1. Air India struck all the goals in the first half, and then rolled the time out with patient ball play.

On the other hand, Punjab and Sind Bank in the other semifinal overcame rising temperature and increasing challenge of Army XI led by Ignace Tirkey to save its reputation of leading domestic team and ensure a narrow 2-1 win.

Karamjit Singh and junior international Ramandeep Singh struck a piece while Igance gently tapped in in a melee to give the semblance of fight back.

Like in the first semifinals, all the goals were posted in the first half, the second turned out to be a motion leisurely followed.

Air India will take on PSB in the final 15 hrs.

KLHC on a signing spree

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) yesterday confirmed that they had signed five Pakistani and one Australian players to boost their Malaysia Hockey League chances.

The double champions, who started as Ernst and Young with foreign signings but then went local in 2005, were forced to look beyond Malaysian shores after six of their players left for Terengganu.

"Terengganu's offer of at least RM7,000 per month (12-month contract) was simply too good to resist and I lost six players to them. That's why I had to secure foreign help to defend our titles," said KLHC team manager George Koshy, who is also the national team manager for the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup.

The five Pakistani players are penalty corner flicker and skipper Mohammed Imran, Wassem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Akhtar Ali and Umar Bhutta. The Australian is Tim Deavon.

The MHL starts on March 22, and the early indications are that Tenaga Nasional and Terengganu will start as favourites.

"I believe Tenaga Nasional are the best side this season, as not only have they retained all their players, but have also included good midfielders in Marhan Jalil and Ramadhan Rosli.

"TNB are also an all-round side with a good goalkeeper in S. Kumar and I believe KLHC might just be fighting for the second spot this year," said Koshy.

The other teams in the Premier Division are Maybank, Sapura, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and Nur Insafi.

The seven teams in Division One are Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI), Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), Uniten-KPT, UiTM, Sunday 2030, Ipoh City Council (MBI) and TNB-Thunderbolt.

New Straits Times

Young Smith takes up hockey offer

Mereseini Marau In New Delhi, India

The Smiths ... Hector Jr, Adrian and dad, Hector Sr, in New Delhi. Picture: PENI TOTOKA

After his outstanding performance in the Hockey World League Round 2 in New Delhi late last month, top Fijian hockey player Adrian Smith has secured another overseas contract.

Smith will be leaving for Melbourne in Australia at the end of this month to play for the Brunswick Hockey Club.

"I'm very excited, they have a very good offer," Smith said.

"I can't wait to go and play more international hockey.

"I really learnt a lot when I played in Auckland last season and I'm looking forward to this one."

He displayed top-form hockey when playing against top international teams in India.

His skills and flair when playing in the World League were recognised when he was awarded Player of the Match against China, even though they lost.

During an interview in New Delhi, Smith said he initially had two offers which he was discussing with his parents.

"One is in New Zealand and another one in Australia but I have to discuss it with my parents because they are the ones who support me even though I'm working.

"Whichever will give me a good offer I will take it."

His mum, Senimili Smith, said they saw how playing hockey overseas had impacted on their youngest son's life.

"He was playing in Auckland last season and right after playing the finals for two divisions there, he came and joined the men's team preparing for this World League," she said.

"Looking at how he's playing, we can tell that his overseas exposure really helped a lot."

"So we are advising him on what to look for when offered contracts, because at times they just go and play and we have to pay for the expenses."

His dad and national head coach Hector Smith said Adrian would go out of his comfort zone when it came to the sport they all loved — hockey.

"In primary school, he had to go and play for another team from another school because his school was not playing hockey in the weekly competition."

The Fiji Times

Aertv partner with IHA for Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cups

The Irish Hockey Association is delighted to announce that they will partner with Irish online TV platform Aertv to provide free live web streaming of the Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup Finals on 24th March 2013. The live coverage will commence at 1:00pm with streaming of the Men's Final followed by the Electric Ireland Women's Final at 3:15pm

Speaking to, Irish Hockey Association CEO, Mike Heskin said ‘We are delighted to be able partner with Aertv to bring free live coverage of the prestigious Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup Finals to a much wider audience of sports fans. The Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup is a hugely exciting weekend in the Irish Hockey calendar and it's fantastic that fans of hockey wherever they are in the world will be able to log on and experience the special atmosphere the fans of the participating clubs always generate. We hope that those who can't be with us on the day in person will enjoy the coverage'

Orlagh Marnane, Senior Producer with Aertv said "We are very excited to broadcast the Irish Senior Cup live on Aertv for the first time. There is a huge appetite for hockey both home and abroad but at the moment it is not receiving much TV coverage. Aertv are currently best placed to help Irish Hockey change this by broadcasting a big event, like the Irish Senior Cup, live on a platform that combines TV, online, mobile and social media."

Access to the free live steaming of Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup Final will be available at

Irish Hockey Association media release

Gordonians and Hillhead aiming to avoid play-off fight

In Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1, AAM Gordonians and AMN Hillhead go head to head in a crucial fixture at Countesswells (14.30) on Saturday, which will have implications for the league positions at the foot of the table.

A win for either side would ease concerns about finishing in the Division 1/2 play-off position and both teams are confident ahead of the weekend encounter.

Keith Joss, AMN Hillhead Head Coach, said, “In terms of Saturday’s game, we will be approaching this game as any other, intent on producing a winning performance. We are not concerned about our current league position and have in no way 'struggled' in any match so far this season. We know that we have the tools to trouble all the teams in the league, and look forward to locking horns with AAM Gordonians as we always enjoy the matches against each other.”

AAM Gordonians are coming into the match off the back of a determined 5-3 away win over Inverleith last weekend and their Head Coach Craig Harper is in a bullish mood, “The boys are feeling in great spirits after a well fought win against Inverleith.  The levels of determination and desire to come back from 2-0 down on Sunday were great and we produced some very good hockey.  We are hoping to take this positive feeling into a big home game on Saturday.

“We may be second bottom but we know we have the quality to get higher up the table and finish outside of the play off place.  We know we have the quality in the squad to get positive results in the next two games to take us up the table.

“The game against Hillhead will be a tough game but if we play to our full potential then I know we have the ability to get the 3 points.  Hillhead are well organised and have some very high quality players who can score lots of goals.  We will need to be very good defensively and take our chances when they come our way.”

Elsewhere, a win for Watsonians against Edinburgh University at Peffermill (12.00) is paramount if they are to hve any chance of avoiding relegation to Division 2. They languish six points behind both AMN Hillhead and AAM Gordonians, leaving them with a tough ask to maintain their Division 1 status.

Grove Menzieshill can keep the pressure on Grange in the fight for second place and European qualification is they can defeat Western Wildcats at DISC (14.30). Chris Anderson’s side are four points behind with a game in hand and win for the Dundonians would keep them in contention.

Meanwhile, Grange travel to Titwood (14.30) to face PSL Team Sport Clydesdale and win for Colin Clarke’s side would elevate them one point above defending champions and current league leaders Glynhill Hotel Kelburne, albeit having played two games more than the Paisley outfit.

League frontrunners Dundee Wanderers can extend their lead at the top of Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 to eight points over second place Falkirk GHG if they can overcome Granite City Wanderers at Mayfield Park (14.30).

McWhinney Uddingston will be confident of continuing their recent good form with an away win at CALA Edinburgh (Meggetland, 15.30), although a win for the home team could potentially lift them further away from the relegation zone.

Alpha Data Carnegie travel west to play Glasgow University (Garscube, 13.00) knowing that a defeat could impact on their chances of staying within touching distance of the teams occupying the bottom half of the division.

Similarly, Highland would significantly boost their chances of avoiding relegation if they can beat Dundee University at Riverside Park (15.30)

There is one game in Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3, where there is a local derby between Stirling Wanderers and Stirling University at Forthbank (15.30).

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Grove Menzieshill in pole position

Grove Menzieshill will be looking to continue their 100% win record at the top of the Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 when they travel to Auchenhowie to play Western Wildcats on Saturday (13.30).

The league leaders are closing in on another league title and currently sit five points ahead of second place Edinburgh University, who face a local derby against CALA Edinburgh at Meggetland (14.00).

Hot on the heels of Edinburgh University for second place and the European qualification spot are Milne Craig Clydesdale Western, who travel east to Edinburgh to play Grange EL at Peffermill (16.30).

There are two fixtures in Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2, where the outcomes could have implications for the positions in the bottom half of the league.

A win for Highland at home to basement side Waverley Inveresk Trinity (Bught Park, 13.30) would greatly boost their pursuit of evading the trapdoor to Division 3, while Glasgow University also face a crunch game against Borders Fjordhus Rievers at Garscube (11.30).

AAM Merlins Gordonians can take a big step towards winning the Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3 title this weekend with a win over Stirling Wanderers at Countesswells on Saturday (14.00).

The leaders sit ten points ahead of second place Dundee University, who travel north to the Granite City to play Aberdeen Ladies at Rubislaw (12.00), and a win for the students will keep them in a strong position for promotion.

As a result, Aberdeen University will need to target securing three points away to Bon Accord MBC (12.00, Rubislaw) if they are to stay within touching distance of their university rivals and stay in the promotion race.

Finally, the bottom two go head to head on Saturday, when Strathclyde University host Ayr Ladies at Millerston (12.30).

Scottish Hockey Union media release

COE Teams compete in Girls 9 A-Side tournament

Matches start at 2pm on UBC’s Wright Field

Three of Field Hockey Canada’s Centres of Excellence Teams will go head to head today in the FHC COE Girls 9 A-Side tournament.  Six matches will take place at UBC’s Wright Field this afternoon, with the first match at 2:00pm PT.  Check out the full schedule for the double round robin tournament below.  The public is free to attend and cheer on their local COE Team!

Today’s matches will be played on a full field, and each game will be 35 minutes in duration, consisting of two 17.5 minute halves.  Each team will have 8 field players and a goalie on the field.  There will be a winner for each game – a team can win in regulation time or through a shootout competition if the score is tied at the end of regulation.

Team Tamanawis will look to defend their victory at last month's COE 7 A-Side Invitational. 

FHC would like to thank Ford Canada for their generous support of today’s COE Tournament! 

2:00pm UVic vs Ambleside
2:50pm Tamanawis vs UVic
3:40pm Tamanawis vs Ambleside
4:30pm Ambleside vs UVic
5:20pm UVic vs Tamanawis
6:10pm Ambleside vs Tamanawis

Field Hockey Canada media release