News for 22 July 2013

All the news for Monday 22 July 2013


Ghana host Kenya in memory of President Mills


The late President John Evans Atta Mills

The Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) will officially launch the hockey segment of the of the extensive programme to mark the first year anniversary of the demise of President John Evans Atta Mills at the National Hockey Stadium on Monday at 10 a.m.

Ghana is expected to play host to old foes from Kenya, in the male and female divisions, as well as Accra XI, remnant of the senior national team, over four days in a crunch competition.

According to the programme released by the chairman of the Planning Committee for the matches, Frank Awuku, the preliminary matches will push off on Wednesday after a memorial ceremony at the Asomdwe Park at the Castle Osu, where the late president was buried.

The sitting President, John Mahama, is expected to perform the ceremonial push-off and also witness the tournament and interact with the guests.

Ghana’s seniors (veterans), most of whom were playmates of the late President, would engage in a half-day gala next Saturday to precede the final between Ghana and Kenya.

The late President Mills was one of Ghana’s finest hockey players, who featured for the nation at different levels. He was a member of the Veterans Club until his death.

Three months after ascending to the Presidency, the late Prof. Mills constructed Ghana’s first ever and only hockey stadium in 2009 to host the Hockey Cup of Nations.

The Kenyans will arrive on Monday.

GhanaWeb



Kenya cancels Ghana tour in hockey

Kenya has cancelled a planned tour of Ghana to play in build-up matches in hockey ahead of the Africa Nations Cup tournament, which will be staged in Nairobi from September 26 to October 6.

Risham Bains, Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Chairman confirmed Sunday that the teams - men and women - which were due to depart this week to Accra, will have to stay and use local facilities to train.

He said the teams will also have to schedule local friendly matches to gauge their preparedness ahead of the championships.

"The trip is off. The government has not released the funds and we have no choice but to pull out," said Bains.

The tournament, which is organized by the Ghana Hockey Federation, is being held to commemorate the first anniversary of Ghana's late president John Atta Mills, a former hockey player himself, who was in forefront to support the sport development in his country and Africa at large.

The national teams planned trip to Accra Ghana was aborted as the government, which had earlier promised to sponsor the trip pulled out.

The men's team comprises of players who have been in the team since 2011 was keen to build up a strong side capable of stunning the continent's giants during the Africa Nations Cup in Nairobi.

Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Uganda are some of the top teams that will be competing in the tournament.

"We have talent but we lack international exposure and the invitation from Ghana was meant to give our teams seriously challenge, which is important in our preparations for the main competition. Kenyan teams need to get that extra mile and qualification to the World Cup," said Kenya men team captain Davis Wanangwe.

Lack of international exposure has been Kenya's main undoing and with no funds, the country will continue to remain in the shadows of South Africa and Ghana, who have dominated the sport.

"What we need is quality training. We are playing at home and the foreign teams are doing their best to beat us. We need the support we can have," said Pauline Naise, the team's top striker.

South Africa have been dominating the men's African Cup of Nations for a long while now. They have won this event for the six consecutive times since cornering glory in the 1993 edition in Nairobi. Egypt have won it twice while Ghana won it once. The men edition will be marking its 10th edition.

In the women's edition, now marking its seventh, South Africa have hold the sway, winning the championship for six consecutive times with Zimbabwe winning it once.

But Kenya also stands a big chance to win, especially now that they are hosting the tournament.

The inaugural men's African Cup of Nations was held in Cairo, Egypt, where Ghana won the crown. The inaugural women's African Cup of Nations was held in Harare, Zimbabwe with the host claiming the title.

Bulawayo in Zimbabwe hosted the last tournament in 2011 with South Africa edging out Egypt 1-0 to claim the title in men's category. The women's title went to South Africa, who thumped Kenya 5-0.

Africa will use the event to select its teams to the 2014 hockey World Cup, which is slated for The Hague, Netherlands.

Kenya Team

Men - James Kayieko, Linus Sang (goalkeepers), Richard Birir, Brian Saina, Samuel Ounga, Wilson Otieno, Constant Wakhura, Kenneth Nyongesa (defenders), Willis Okeyo, Oliver Echenje, Felix Okoth, Samuel Wokila, Allan Iningu, Brian Musasia, Leon Magomere (midfielders), Davis Wanangwe, George Mutira, Moses Cheplaiti, Francis Esikuri, Zack Aura (forwards).

Women - Josephine Ataro, Ruth Njoki, Caroline Ngarachu (goalkeepers), Betsy Ommala, Flavian Mutiva, Terry Juma, Lucy Wangeci, Benazir Omotto, Rachael Ousa, Lorraine Nondi (defenders), Caroline Guchu, Jane Ofula, Audrey Omaido and Glenis Namasake, Lilian Aura, Laura Gichau, Anne Wabusya (midfielders), Jackie Mwangi, Tracy Nungari, Barbara Simiyu, Anita Agunda, Nancy Jepchumba, Pauline Naise (forwards).

Global Times



Wazalendo lose as Orange drench Mt. Kenya 22-0 during KHU Premier League match

By ELIZABETH MBURUGU


Nairobi,Kenya: Kenya Police extended their winning streak to four with a pulsating 4-2 victory over Wazalendo.

It was the first loss for Wazalendo this season

In a thrilling fast paced match played at Nairobi City Park Stadium, Police showed their hunger for victory from the onset as they eyed revenge for last year’s 1-0 beating by Wazalendo.

The law enforcers went up in the 20th minute through Samuel Wokila, who was set up by Kevin Otieno from a layback pass flicked by Francis Esikuri.

Vincent Otieno’s 42nd minute own goal leveled the score and breathed life back into Wazalendo fighting spirit.

However, that was short lived as two minutes later Samuel Oungo scored after he pounced on Felix Okoth’s short corner to put the police up. Felix Okoth scored a superb field goal in the 56th minute to better their chances of getting their fifth victory of the season.

New hope

Two minutes later James Mwangi scored a second for the hard fighting Wazalendo reviving their hopes of catching up with Police.

Moses Cheplait made sure his name was on the score sheet and so were the maximum points when he netted in the 70th minute.

Wazalendo coach Fidelis Kimanzi said: “We played well, fought hard but luck was not on our side. We had more chances but wasted them. Police had fewer chances but utilised them.”

In the women league, Orange Telkom gave Mount Kenya University a beating to remember. Orange netted 22 times, the highest score in the league, with the student side failing to impact for a 22-0 win. Orange hold unbeaten reign this season. Orange have scored 46 times in last three matches.

Enemy at bay

Elsewhere, Kisumu Bay were not welcoming to their visitors JKUAT routing  them 4-1 in the men national league match. Calvins Otieno netted the four goals for Bay club while Isaac Nandukule scored one  for JKUAT.

Meanwhile, the planned trip by national teams to Accra, Ghana, has been aborted after the Government, which had pledged to sponsor it pulled out.

The teams were to play in a tournament in commemoration of the first anniversary of the death of Ghana’s president the Late John Atta Mills, who was a former hockey player. Mills  did much to enhance hockey development in Ghana, Africa and the world in general.

Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) and players had welcomed the idea to tour Ghana and play some build up matches as part of the Kenya teams preparation for the upcoming Africa Nations Cup in Nairobi in September.

Now the team has to train locally for the event, which starts on September 26 to October 6.

The Standard Online



Rondebosch boys and Somerset College girls take hockey titles

JONATHAN COOK



Somerset College, 2013 Girls winners.Photo PHILIP GROBLER (PLATE PICTURES)

It took a total of 109 matches over four frenetic days of non-stop action with goals galore for the winners of the Cape Town Under-18 International Schools/Clubs Hockey Festival to be decided – and it all happened on a glorious Sunday afternoon in front of a big crowd at Hartleyvale stadium.

Rondebosch edged Paul Roos Gimnasium 2-1 in a pulsating boys’ final while Somerset College retained their crown with a heart-stopping 4-3 win over Stellenberg in the girls’ gold medal match.

Last year’s winners, Wynberg, beat Kennemer Lyceum of The Netherlands 4-1 in the boys’ bronze medal match while the girls’ third place went to surprise packets Windhoek High School, who won a nail-biting penalty shootout 2-1 after the scores were locked at 0-0 after extra-time.

The boys’ Player of the Tournament was Bjorn Sorensen of Rondebosch with the superb Zubayr Hamza winning the Goalscorer award, while the goalkeeper award went to Rob McKinley of Wynberg.

The girls’ Player of the Tournament was won by Somerset College’s Natasha Rootenberg with the goalkeeper accolade going to her team-mate, Jade Batchelor. Top goalscorer also went Somerset’s way, with Kaira Day pinging more strikes into the back of the net than anyone else in the girls’ section.

Unsurprisingly, the girls’ team spirit award was won by Bancroft School of North London while the boys’ accolade was won by Windhoek Gimnasium who supported their girls’ team in commendable fashion.


Rondebosch 2013 Boys winners. Photo PHILIP GROBLER (PLATE PICTURES)

Rondebosch led 2-0 at half-time in the boys’ title match, the well-worked goals going to Tayo Walbrugh and Zubayr Hamza. Paul Roos had a much better second half and Perryn Uys pulled one back with a snappy penalty corner variation.

The Stellenbosch lads strove mightily for the equaliser in the final quarter of this exciting boys’ final but it was not to be and the winning trophy was Rondebosch’s.

Somerset College led 2-1 at half-time in the girls’ gold medal encounter with the strikes going to Ambar van der Wath and Megan Engelbrecht. Stellenberg hit back with a goal by Kaylen du Toit.

Although the second half was more to Stellenberg’s liking, the girls from Somerset West went 3-1 through Kaira Day. Megan Donald then cleared off the goalline for Somerset before Megan Grobbelaar hit the perfect strike for 3-2. And it was Grobbelaar who set the Stellenberg supporters alight with the 3-3 equaliser soon after.

Stellenberg’s Elandri van Aardt hit the post with four minutes left but Somerset had the last say when Kaira Day slotted the winner with just 59 seconds left on the clock to ensure the title stays with Somerset College.

This festival was again a triumph of planning and organisation on the part of Festival director and founder Chris Brothers and his remarkable TEAM Sports crew. The Western Province Hockey Union were outstanding in their support, while Pete le Grange was professionalism personified as Tournament director.

FINALS DAY RESULTS AND FINAL CLASSIFICATION

Sunday 21st  July Finals Day

 

Match

No

Time

Type

Venue

Fixture

Result

91

08h30

Girls

Hartleyvale A

Pinelands HS v Windhoek Gim

2 -0

92

08h30

Girls

Hartleyvale B

Pates Grammar v Como Sec

2 -3

93

08h30

Boys

WPCC A

Windhoek Gim v Pearson HS

0 -1

94

08h30

Boys

WPCC B

Somerset College v Hugenot HS

4 -0

95

10h00

Boys

Hartleyvale A

Stellenberg HS v Paarl BHS

2 -3

96

10h00

Girls

Hartleyvale B

Rhenish GHS v St Cyprian's School

2 -4

97

10h00

Girls

WPCC A

Parel Vallei HS v Bellville HS

4 -3

98

10h00

Girls

WPCC B

Outeniqua HS v Bancroft School

1 -0

99

11h30

Boys

Hartleyvale A

Potchestroom Gim v Outeniqua HS

1 -3

100

11h30

Boys

Hartleyvale B

Paarl Gim v Pinelands HS

3 -1

101

11h30

Boys

WPCC A

DF Malan HS v Parel Vallei HS

0 -2

102

11h30

Girls

WPCC B

Potchestroom Gim v Pearson HS

0 -3

109

13h00

Girls

Hartleyvale A

Chispite School v Windhoek HS

1 -2

103

13h00

Boys

Hartleyvale B

NSW Bushrangers v Como Sec College

1 -2

105

13h00

Girls

WPCC A

Pretoria GHS v Paarl Gim

1 -0

106

14h30

Girls

Hartleyvale A

Stellenberg HS v Somerset College

3 -4

107

14h30

Boys

Hartleyvale B

Wynberg BHS v Kennemer Lyceum

4 -1

108

16h00

Boys

Hartleyvale A

Rondebosch BHS v Paul Roos

2 -1

104

13h00

Girls

WPCC B

NSW Bushrangers v Bloemhof GHS

2 -1

2013 U/18 Cape Town International Schools / Clubs Hockey Festival
Final Classification

POSITION:

SCHOOL / CLUB:

BOYS

1.

Rondebosch

2.

Paul Roos

3.

Wynberg

4.

Kennemer Lyceum

5.

Como Secondary College

6.

NSW Bushrangers

7.

Paarl Gim

8.

Pinelands High School

9.

Parel Vallei High School

10.

DF Malan High School

11.

Outeniqua High School

12.

Potchefstroom Gim

13.

Pearson High School

14.

Windhoek Gim

15.

Paarl Boys High School

16.

Stellenberg High School

17.

Somerset College

18.

Huguenot High School

GIRLS

1.

Somerset College

2.

Stellenberg

3.

Windhoek High School

4.

Chisipite Schools

5.

Pretoria Girls High School

6.

Paarl Gim

7.

NSW Bushrangers

8.

Bloemhof Girls High School

9.

Parel Vallei High School

10.

Bellville High School

11.

Pearson High School

12.

Potchefstroom Gim

13.

St Cyprian’s School

14.

Rhenish Girls High School

15.

Outeniqua High School

16.

Bancroft School

17.

Pinelands High School

18.

Windhoek Gim

19.

Como Secondary College

20.

Pates Grammar School

Cape Town Under-18 International Schools/Clubs Hockey Festival media release



Suva bags titles

Zanzeer Singh


SUVA dominated the Aloesi Johns Memorial hockey tournament in Lautoka, Fiji yesterday. The Capital City side bagged both the men's and women's titles.

The men's final went down to the wire and was decided on penalty strokes. Suva beat Lautoka B 4-3.

Lautoka B scored in the first half through tournament organiser Martin Coffin. Hector Smith Jr equalised for the visitors in the second spell forcing the match to be decided via penalty strokes.

In the semifinals Suva beat Ba 3-0 while Lautoka B defeated Nadi 3-1.

In the third and fourth place playoffs Nadi beat Ba 1-0. In the fifth and sixth place playoffs Lautoka A defeated Sigatoka 1-0.

In the women's final Suva defeated Nadi B 2-0.

Loretta Flee and Rebecca Lemeki scored the goals.

In the semifinal Suva hammered Nadi A 4-0 while Nadi B beat Lautoka 2-0. In the third and fourth place playoffs Nadi A beat Lautoka 1-0.

The winners received $300 each while runners-up got $150 in both divisions.

Coffin said a cheque of $2230 was given by their major sponsor Fiji National Sports Commission.

He said the two-day event was a success.

"We are grateful to the Fiji National Sports Commission for sponsoring the tournament for the first time," Coffin said.

"There were some excellent hockey on display during the tournament."

The Fiji Times



Coming along just fine

ELITE PHASE: 1Mas programme hoping to produce players capable of winning Asian Games gold

By Jugjet Singh


Initiated by Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah in December 2010, the 1Mas Hockey Programme is now moving from grassroots into  elite phase.

The objective is to produce players that will win the first Asian Games gold medal for the country.

Currently, there are about 1,500 under-16 boys and girls training at 14 centres nationwide, and soon it will identify the best and take them to a higher level.

1Mas Hockey Programme steering committee deputy chairman Datuk R. Yogeswaran said yesterday that even though some of the centres are not as active as they would like them to be, and the participation of other races than Malays is lacking, work is being done to remedy these areas.

"After almost three years, some of the centres have become less active as the number of players has dwindled.

"We are also having problems attracting Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and other races to join our programme.

"What we have done is to hit these centres where it hurts most by cutting their allocation until their report card shows better marks.

"The name of the programme itself suggests that we welcome all races, but to date the participation of the Malays has been great but the other races shy away," said Yogeswaran.

Nonetheless, the programme coordinators in some states like Penang have taken their own initiative to move into Tamil schools to get a bigger pool.

"Some states like Malacca, Johor and Penang have started their own initiatives to attract the other races and we welcome this initiative as we want the participation of all races.

"And now, from a wide base, we have started programmes like goalkeepers centralised training with professional coaches as well as other camps to bring the best players from around the country to play and train under coaches who can take them to a higher level."

Funding with government money is not a problem for this unique programme which aims to have a standard national training curriculum so that when players are ready to knock on the doors of the various national age-group teams, they will have the same style of play.

The 1Mas under-16 team tasted their first success when they won the FHE Cup in Perth, Australia in 2011, and the silver this year.

And now, they have even been entrusted to train and field a team for the Four-Nation in Mannheim, Germany.

Malaysia's under-16 side were silver medallist in 2010 when they lost to Germany but they did beat the Netherlands and Belgium.

But over the last two editions, haphazard selection saw them being whipped by the European sides.

"We have been entrusted to train the next side for Mannheim, and after 50 years on the job, I can safely say that I have spotted many interesting talent in this 1Mas elite side.

"We will have a strong side for the Germany Four-Nation next year," said Yogeswaran.

New Straits Times



Strong young talent named in Under-18 squads


Pictured: Alex Hanham of North Harbour

The 2013/14 TigerTurf U18 Men’s and Women’s squads have been named following the National Under-18 Tournament in Hamilton.

A dominant performance from the Midlands Men, which saw them sweep through unbeaten at the tournament and win the final, has resulted in seven of their players gaining selection.

This year’s runners up Canterbury have four players named in the men’s squad of 30.

CLICK HERE to view the 2013/14 TigerTurf U18 Men’s Squad

The women’s squad is well balanced across all eight regions.

Tournament winners Auckland have five players in the women’s squad of 32, while six Midlands players impressed the selectors.

CLICK HERE to view the 2013/14 TigerTurf U18 Women’s Squad

The TigerTurf U18 Men and Women are part of the Sir Owen G. Glenn Future Black Sticks programme.

The programme is a key component of Hockey New Zealand’s high performance programme as it produces the next generation of Black Sticks, and includes training and development camps, coaching and individualised programmes and international competition.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Harbour's Kosoof set for NHL swansong



North Harbour stalwart Dave Kosoof is set for what will be his 15th and final Ford National Hockey League campaign.

The former Black Sticks striker has been part of North Harbour’s four NHL title winning drives and has decided to lay down his stick in front of a home crowd following next month’s tournament at North Harbour Hockey Stadium.

“I love representing North Harbour – always have and always will. It will be tough to say goodbye but it’s just become too hard keeping up with these young fellas at trainings and during the tournament itself,” he said.

“This is going to be the swansong, and having it at home was a big factor in trying to play again this year. There’s nothing better than playing at home in front of your family and friends.

Kosoof, who played 149 tests for the Black Sticks from 2000-2009, is focussing on this year as just another NHL campaign but admits once the action gets underway the fact that it will be his last time will be in the back of his mind.

Kosoof adds to a talented North Harbour side with plenty of youth mixed in with old heads like himself, Jan Peterson and Harley Kopa.

Harbour have four players currently in the National Squad (Cory Bennett, George Muir, James Coughlan, Steven Edwards) while Richard Joyce is in the Development Squad.

“It feels just like another national league campaign now that I’m part of the programme but in the back of my mind I know it’ll be the last year for me at this level.

“We have a young team but they’re full of confidence and that’s a great thing, they the push us older guys to train really hard.

“I’ve always taken great pride in wearing the Harbour colours and we’ll do everything we can to come away with that Challenge Shield.”

Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2013 Ford NHL are across various locations from August 10-11 with all remaining rounds hosted at North Harbour Hockey Stadium from August 17-25. This year’s National Senior Tournament will also be contested at the same time as the NHL.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



German hockey player sets up base in Rajasthan to coach children

Swati Vashishtha


Dausa (Rajasthan): A professional hockey player from Germany has taken it upon herself to teach the sport to children in Rajasthan's Dausa district. Andrea Thurmshirn is the hockey coach for children at Garh Himmat Singh, Dausa.

For Andrea the village was same as it was in a picture book but she had to face the language hurdle. "The village was like in a picture book... And I thought in Germany kids are so overloaded with activities and here there was nothing so I got them some hockey sticks just so they could have some fun with them... But they stood staring, they didn't know what to do with them. I couldn't speak their language and they couldn't understand English," she said.

She first met children when she came visiting here with her business partner as a tour operator in 2010. Since then she has come a long way and so have the children. Driven by children's enthusiasm, she has now set up a base here to work with them.

Besides teaching hockey, she also teaches English to children. "She teaches us doubling in the morning and tells us things like where to strike while playing. She also teaches us English. Before I began playing hockey I would do dishes at home after school and help my mother," said Shivani Sahu, one of the student.

But it has not been easy for her. Firstly, it was not easy to convince the parents to send their children to learn hockey and then she had to discipline them who would disappear without notice especially during the harvest season.

Andrea's family and friends also questioned her why is she doing all this and she said she is doing this for children. "My family and friends ask me everyday why the hell are you doing this but I do it for the kids. They're doing very well and that makes it worth it. They have a bright future! We'll grow a big hockey armada here," she said.

Her next hurdle now is to convince a neighbouring village to help mount an Astroturf that Germany has donated. But she is optimistic that with some funds they will be able to lease farm land to put it up.

IBNLive



New coach, renewed hope for hockey players

By Fawad Hussain



Zaman’s utmost priority as coach of the national hockey team will be to win the upcoming Asia Cup and ensure Pakistan’s qualification for next year’s World Cup. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Tahir Zaman is set to take over as national hockey coach as the training camp for next month’s Asia Cup begins today at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore.

An International Hockey Federation (FIH) affiliated coach, Zaman has replaced Hanif Khan, who was axed following the team’s failure at the Hockey World League (HWL). The Greenshirts finished seventh in the eight-nation tournament, missing out on a top-three finish that would have guaranteed them a place at next year’s World Cup in the Netherlands.

Following the failure, the Asia Cup, scheduled to start on August 24 in Ipoh, Malaysia, has become a must win event for the four-time champions.

Zaman said he had devised a comprehensive plan to prepare players in the best possible manner for the crucial tournament.

“We’ll work to raise players’ fitness and skills,” the coach told The Express Tribune. “I don’t have a magic wand but I will give it my best and utilise all my expertise to bring about the required improvement.

“The main focus on the field during the training camp will be on penalty-corners, defence and finishing.”

Despite heavy rain in Lahore, the coach said there was going to be no change in the schedule and expected the presence of all the 25 players at the camp on the opening day today.

The training camp will be held in three sessions daily – physical training (morning), power training (afternoon) and hockey drills (evening) – with a day off after three days, added the coach.

Players hopeful of success under Zaman


Majority of the current team members backed the decision to promote Zaman as head coach, terming it a positive step for the team’s chances at the Asia Cup.

“Tahir is among the best coaches Pakistan has,” said Waseem Ahmed, the senior most player in the team.

“Hanif deserves a lot of praise for his services as he was a great player. But the game has evolved and it’s not the same as it was decades ago.

“We needed a modern coach and in this sense, Tahir was the best choice because he is a qualified FIH coach.

“I hope the team will show significant improvement in the Asia Cup.”

However, another senior player requesting anonymity said Zaman was a good choice, but the timing of the change was not ideal.

“We are heading for an important tournament in which we have no choice but to win. Now a coach will come with his own plans and that may hurt consistency which can have a negative impact.

“However, I feel Tahir has the ability to raise our level and mentor the side to a title-winning triumph in the Asia Cup”.

The Express Tribune



Hockey horrors

Emmad Hameed



Pakistan are dangerously close to sitting out the 2014 World Cup unless they annex the Asia Cup next month. -File photo

It seems that Pakistan hockey is set to complete a full circle; the 1994 world champions with a total of four World Cup trophies in their showcase are set to follow their abysmal 2010 wooden spoon showing with sitting out the tournament in 2014, unless the Green Shirts conjure up their spirit of old and annex the Asia Cup next month.

The recently-concluded Hockey World League (qualification round for World Cup) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, was a golden opportunity for Pakistan to book a place in the second-biggest hockey competition of all and after a steady and hopeful start the first hurdle in the knockout phase proved too much for them. The Green Shirts who made a string of comebacks in the first round were on the receiving end of one as the Koreans mustered up a stunning show from two goals down to edge out the former world champions 4-3 in the quarter-finals.

The qualifying competition was handing out three slots for the quadrennial tournament hence it was an ideal opportunity for Pakistan to book their place in an event they have dominated in the years gone by. Once again though the players went through an apparent ‘brain freeze’ with veteran Shakeel Abbasi missing out on a penalty stroke towards the end of the match. The team was a goal down at this juncture and the squandered opportunity never returned sealing Pakistan’s fate with a touch of cruelty.

The team management blamed the absence of seniors Waseem Ahmed and Rashid besides the lack of finishing by the forwards as the primary reasons for the disappointment.

One feels that head coach Akhtar Rasool once again is trying to dodge the bullet rather than owning the failure of his team. The hockey great has had his fair share of critics since he took over coaching of the national team last year.

Many believe that he is not in the greatest physical condition and lacks the agility of the modern day coaches/managers who are involved with the players throughout the match as well as practice and strategising sessions.

Akhtar Rasool and his now sacked lieutenant Hanif Khan have been through a rough patch to say the least as the disappointing results of the national team have taken a toll. While Hanif has had the axe fall on him, Akhtar Rasool has been retained. Many believe his influence at the national level more than his coaching pedigree helped in his retention for the Asia Cup.

‘Players aren’t learning’

When asked about the abject performance, Hanif was candid in his response. “I wish I knew what the problem was in Johar Bahru the team was creating chances but simply failed to convert them in goals, what can the management do?

“Over the years the same problem has been plaguing us yet it seems that the players aren’t learning. The plan is in place and one should question the coach if the opportunities are not being created. If they are being created yet not being utilised there isn’t much that one can do.”

Hanif agreed that the performance of the defence left a lot to be desired. He feels that the two goalkeepers, Imran Butt and Imran Shah, are not good enough at the international level and some urgent steps need to be taken in this regard.

“The Pakistan Hockey Federation [PHF] needs to start a camp for goalkeepers in Karachi and Lahore. We need to identify a back-up lot since the two Imrans have simply not delivered. Ahmed Alam the former goal-keeping coach worked really hard on the duo, however, they do not have the class to compete at the international level and often fail to perform, especially in pressure situations.”

Hanif is also critical of PHF’s apparent lack of interest in promoting hockey. He feels that the current domestic structure is well below the standards elsewhere in the world and as a result the bench strength for the senior team is almost non-existent.

“The so-called academies have failed to produce talent, we need not shy away from the facts, there is a real dearth of hockey talent in the country. The need of the hour is to invest in the domestic hockey scene, club hockey needs to be revived. Unless we step up to the plate and realise what the problems are we would be living in a fool’s paradise as no magic wand is in sight.”

Can a new coach change things?

The former goal-scoring machine claimed that he was ready to hand over the reins of the team but feels that his replacement, Tahir Zaman, is not going to deliver either.

“What will the replacement management or coach [Tahir Zaman] do? I don’t think that in the current hockey set-up that is in place in the country results can differ much. We need to overhaul our policies if we are to achieve the desired results.”

The secretary of PHF Asif Bajwa acknowledged the effort put in by Hanif Khan. However he clarified that the decision to oust the former forward was made on the basis of reports received by the head coach and after a thorough assessment of his performances in recent months.

“Hanif Khan has been a tremendous servant of Pakistan hockey, and just like any outgoing official he is aggrieved at this ouster. We have not shunned him completely and in due course we will offer him another role that we feel he can be good at. We retained Akhtar Rasool since we believe he can make a good combination with Tahir Zaman and take the team forward. Let us all unite since this is a critical phase for the team and we are making our plans keeping national interests in mind,” says Bajwa.

Meanwhile, Tahir Zaman, who is currently one amongst a handful of certified coaches available in the country, feels that all efforts must be made to ensure that Pakistan books its place in the World Cup. He thinks that the current pool of players have to deliver at the continental event.

“These players who took part in the Hockey World League have to deliver at the Asia Cup. I want to help make a plan for them that will ensure a 100pc performance. We have a short span of time before the tournament, hence all our energies should be channeled towards the eventual goal.”

Tahir, a member of the 1994 World Cup-winning team, added that he had a specific role in Johor Bahru; he was working as a consultant and was providing feedback to the management on different teams and their strategies based on his vast experience and exposure at the international level.

“Reports about a tussle between me and Hanif Bhai are baseless. We were working in a cordial atmosphere. My job was to give them input on various aspects, the final decision-making was their prerogative. I did not intervene in their decision-making and am sure Akhtar Bhai and Hanif Bhai were comfortable in their roles.”

Tahir concurred with Hanif Khan’s views on goalkeeping. He thinks that the only way forward is to create competition for the pivotal spot. “If the junior team management gives us positive feedback on goalkeepers like Mazhar Abbas, we will induct them in our training camps. It goes without saying that our defence of short corners, especially the goalkeeping has left a lot to be desired. We need to work hard on this aspect if we are to do any good in the Asia Cup.”

Olympians reunite to oust PHF management While Tahir and the PHF hierarchy are making one last-ditch effort to redeem themselves, a group of former Olympians who have been strong critics of the PHF have once again joined hands in their quest to oust the present regime.

Led by Shahnaz Sheikh the group includes stalwarts like Islahuddin Siddiqui, Samiullah, Qamar Ibrahim, Qamar Zia, Rashid ul Hassan, Waseem Feroz, Shahbaz Senior amongst others. The group feels that PHF’s top honchos, Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa, have failed to deliver and should be held accountable for the ordinary performances of the national team that is now on the brink of missing out on the World Cup tournament for the first time in their prolific hockey history.

Shahnaz and his group are once again approaching the government and want intervention by the prime minister to what they feel is the absolutely necessary step in order to protect the legacy of the national sport.

“Forget the Hockey World League, what has the federation delivered in the last five years? Where do we stand now? We won four out of the first eight World Cups. Now after finishing in an ignominious last position in 2010 we are set to miss out on the next one barring a miracle. Who is responsible for this mess and why are they not being held accountable for the plummeting standard of the game?” questioned a seemingly perturbed Shahnaz.

He added that the federation’s academies have been nothing more than an eyewash and stringent measures across the country are the only hope of saving the national sport from a complete collapse.

“PHF claims that 19 academies are operational all over the country, but we want to know what is the result? What have these academies achieved over the years? The talent pool seems to be decreasing by the minute and unfortunately we don’t see the officials raising their hands and accepting their failure. They need to make way for different people and accept that their tenure has been nothing but failure for the sport in the country.”

Shahnaz also feels that the team management needs to be replaced. He dismissed Hanif Khan’s notion that a new set of coaches and manager also can’t do much with the present lot.

“Let new people take over the reins of hockey, especially the senior team. We are confident of delivering and would take some urgent steps to improve our standing in the game which has taken a massive hit in the last few years.”

Nothing less than a win in the final of the Asia Cup to take place in Ipoh, Malaysia, from Aug 24 can book their place for Netherlands in 2014.

One doesn’t know what the outcome of the Olympians ‘campaign’ is going to be, however, it goes without saying that a combined effort from all quarters is imperative. An average hockey fan doesn’t care who is running the affairs, he wants results on the field and unfortunately the results have been steadily veering from bad to worse.

It is pertinent to mention here that the duo of Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa have been stating for long that they are here to reclaim the lost glory of Pakistan hockey. Unfortunately, other than the Asian Games gold medal in 2010, the claims have remained mere claims. More often the results have been embarrassing to say the least with the Green Shirts struggling to win against second tier teams like Malaysia, Korea, India, England, New Zealand, etc.

The super powers of world hockey — Australia, Germany and the Netherlands — have made the Green Shirts their favourite whipping boys off late with Australia not settling in for anything less than tennis score-like thrashings.

A dying legacy

Pakistanis have an emotional connection with hockey; the older generation still talks and recall with great delight the spellbinding achievements of the past. The Green Shirts have been easily the most successful team in the sport winning three Olympic golds, four World Cups, three Champions Trophy titles and countless medals at the Asian level.

On the flip side, the present generation only has tales of the past to live on. Their love or connection with hockey is only going to be strengthened when they actually see the return of the lost glory. The present regime needs to finally deliver or relinquish their charge for the ones who claim that they have the solution to the predicament and are set to sort it all out!

Dawn