News for 24 August 2013

All the news for Saturday 24 August 2013


Germany & Belgium storm into men’s Euro final

Olympic champions set for epic battle against high-flying hosts

Stephen Findlater



Oskar Deecke wheels away in celebration after scoring Germany's fifth goal against The Netherlands. (Photo: European Hockey Federation / Frank Uijlenbroek)

Friday was men’s semi-final day at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, and it proved to be a truly memorable one for Olympic champions Germany and host nation Belgium.

Germany remain on course for a sixth European title as they saw off their fierce rivals and fellow London 2012 Olympic finalists the Netherlands 5-3 in the first semi-final, while in-form Belgium sealed their place in Sunday’s final thanks to a stunning 3-0 victory over England in front of a thrilled massive home crowd in Boom. The Netherlands and England will fight it out for the Bronze medal.

Earlier in the day, in Pool C playing for fifth place, Poland had defeated the Czech Republic and Spain had sailed past Ireland.

Semi Final 1: Netherlands – Germany 3-5 (2-1)

Germany remain on course for a sixth European title as they saw off their fierce rivals and fellow London 2012 Olympic finalists the Netherlands 5-3 in the first semi-final.

They did the hard way, coming from a goal behind at half-time following two Mink van der Weerden penalty corner rockets that had cancelled out Tobias Hauke’s goal in the 29th minute. Thilo Stralkowski got Germany level for a second time in the 44th minute when he thumped in a bouncing ball on his reverse after an incisive run by Mats Grambusch.

It started his side’s excellent turnaround that built further momentum when Grambusch applied a beautiful behind-the-back touch to a crash ball from Florian Fuchs. With Germany in front for the first time, they extended the margin to two goals in the 60th minute. Again, Grambusch was the scorer this time when he slid onto a penalty corner push, lifting the ball over Jaap Stockmann.

Billy Bakker gave the game a lively finish when he adroitly lifted the ball before bouncing it past Nicolas Jacobi. It made it 4-3 with five minutes to go and Tim Jenniskens thought he had won a last minute corner for his side to potentially equalise. But the call was waved away by the umpire with the video review providing no further help for the Dutch. Germany marauded up the pitch and Oskar Deecke calmly flicked in to complete a stunning tie with a lovely goal.

Semi Final 2: Belgium – England 3-0 (1-0)

Belgium are in line for their best ever finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships as they comprehensively out-played England in the second semi-final in front of a fervent crowd in Boom.

They took the lead in the 20th minute as Florent van Aubel was set free down the right and his perfect cross found the dive of birthday boy Thomas Briels, his deflection going up and over George Pinner.

They pressed for the remainder of the half but it was their sole reward for a dominant performance. Loick Luypaert flicked another effort wide while Briels hit the crossbar, though it was unlikely to count as he had made the ball dangerous in the build-up.

For England's part they had one corner charged down while Vincent Vanasch saved well from Tom Carson in the ninth minute from the pick of their chances.

But Belgium extended their lead to 2-0 in the 44th minute when Simon Gougnard dodged around a couple of tackles down the left wing before flipping the ball across goal. It fell invitingly for Jerome Truyens who smashed it through the reeling defence into the goal.

And the game was put out of sight in the 53rd minute as Dan Fox sat out his second suspension of the half. Arthur van Doren's slap into a crowded circle created the havoc and van Aubel was on hand to fire home.

From there, they pulled out some of the party tricks with van Aubel and van Doren producing some outrageous moments of skill, much to the delight of the capacity audience.

Pool C: Spain - Ireland 4-0 (2-0)

Two goals in each half saw Spain move into a very strong in Pool C in the race for fifth place, beating Ireland 4-0 at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships.

Xavi Lleonart got them up and running with a sharp rebound in the seventh minute after his initial run was taken on by Alex Casasayas, drawing David Harte into a fine save. Gabriel Dabanch’s drag-flick squeezed through the Irish defences to make it 2-0 in the 19th minute as Spain produced one of their most fluid spells of the tournament to date. Edi Tubau flicked in another corner a minute into the second period from a switch move and Andres Mir closed out the win with 17 minutes to go when left unmarked in the circle.

It puts Spain on six points and, with a healthy goal difference in their favour, only a heavy defeat to Poland can see them relegated. Ireland, meanwhile, will find out their final equation early on Sunday morning.

Pool C: Czech Republic - Poland 1-4 (0-1)

Poland gave themselves a chance of avoiding relegation back to the second tier of the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships as their four-star first half performance saw off the Czech Republic.
They built a healthy lead and while the Czechs improved after half-time, it was too little too late. Bartosz Zywiczka got his side up and running with a great run and strike from the edge of the circle before Piotr Kozlowski extended the margin in the 21st minute with a devilish corner strike.  Dariusz Rachwalski netted soon after Krystian Makowski's close range shot was saved into hit path. Makowski then applied an accurate push for a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Stepan Bernatek did get one back for the Czech Republic with eight minutes to go but it was little more than a consolation goal. It means the Czechs return to the second tier while Poland face a game against Spain on Sunday morning that will decide their fate.

To follow the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships in more detail, please visit www.trifinanceeurohockey2013.be or www.eurohockey.org.

The FIH You Tube channel will be providing live streaming of all of this weekend’s medal matches, giving a global audience the chance to watch the finest hockey that Europe has to offer*. More information about this can be found by clicking here.

European Hockey Federation media release



It's shoot-out semi-finals at the women's Trifinance EuroHockey Championships

Germany defeat Belgium and England edge out the Netherlands



Kim Platten celebrates Germany's semi-final success (Photo: EHF / Frank Uijlenbroek)

Today's semi-final day for the women ended with a big bang surprise result as England defeated current European champions from the Netherlands. The first semi-final had confirmed Germany as a finalist after a win over Belgium. In Pool C, Spain slipped past Ireland and Scotland picked up a win against Belarus with the narrowest of margins.

Pool C: Spain v Ireland 1-0 (1-0)

Spain and Ireland started the day off with the first of the relegation pool encounters. In a closely contested encounter, Spain were able to gain an advantage midway through the first half with a Berta Bonastre goal, which proved the decisive strike at the end of the match.

Spain protected their lead well in a game of few dangerous situations at either end, and with two wins to their name in Pool C are certain of avoiding relegation for 2015.

Pool C: Belarus – Scotland 2-3  (0-3)

The second pool C match started off with Scotland dominating the proceedings and building up a three goal lead until halftime. Holly Cram first got the Scots onto the scoreboard with a penalty corner conversion in the 22nd minute, with Alison Howie and Vikki Bunce adding two more.

The second half however was an entirely different story, as Volha Shyntar converted a penalty corner and Yuliya Mikheichyk made good use of a penalty stroke. It wasn't enough for an equalizer however, and the Scotswomen bagged important three points in the race for safety in Pool C.

Semi-final: Germany - Belgium 2-2 (1-1) 2-0 SO

Forcing a penalty shootout with a last minute equalizer, Germany showed maximum efficiency and crushed the Red Panthers final hopes.

In an exciting and highly entertaining fast-paced match, Eileen Hoffmann set germany ahead in the first half deflecting a long ball, but Jill Boon ensured a balanced halftime score with a touch-in at the other end.

After the break, Belgium soon went ahead through Charlotte De Vos, and for half an hour, the Red Panthers not only held on to their lead, but rather created a number of excellent opportunities to win by a wider margin. Failing to make their chances count, the Belgians were dealt a blow in the shape of the match's first penalty corner for Germany with less than two minutes on the clock, which Marie Mävers finished off.

The late goal had a visible impact on the young Belgian team who crumbled under the pressure and could not challenge Germany in the shoot-out decider. Germany celebrated their fifth consecutive EuroHockey Championships final, while Belgium will be disputing the match for Bronze on Saturday.

Semi-final: Netherlands - England 1-1 (0-0) 2-3 SO

The final match of the day determined the other finalist of the women's competition at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, and after the second shoot-out in as many matches, England celebrated their first Euro final in 22 years.

In the first half, the Netherlands had scores of opportunities, mostly in the shape of penalty corners, but could not make their chances count. On the contrary, the Dutch were unfortunate to give away the lead at the other end when an unluckily deflected ball resulted in an own goal. Fallen behind, the world number one shifted up a gear however, and soon restored balance with a goal from Eva de Goede.

Things got heated at the end of the match, with three yellow cards in the last three minutes, but neither team was able to force a decision, and the second semi-final had to be decided in a shoot-out too. After two early successes from England, the Netherlands turned the shoot-out around just in time to force sudden death pairs, but it was Helen Richardson who finally tipped the scales in England's favor, pushing the current champions out of a European Championships final for the first time since 1991.

Saturday's women's final will thus pit Germany against England, while the Netherlands will take on Belgium for Bronze.

FIH site



England men to contest EuroHockey bronze


George Pinner is dejected after England lose to Belgium in their EuroHockey Semi-Final

England left everything out on the pitch tonight, but it just wasn't enough as they came up against a Belgian side in superb form. With one goal before half-time and two in the second, the host side took the victory 3-0 and will play Germany in the EuroHockey Final on Sunday. England will battle it out against the Netherlands for the bronze medal.

The game was played at an incredible tempo as both sides pushed hard early on for a break through. Belgium have been the in-form team of 2013, despite their ranking of number 9 in the world, and they showed why as their attacking play threatened England at every opportunity. The hosts were rewarded for their smart play in the 20th minute when a great ball in from Florent van Aubel was expertly deflected past George Pinner by a diving Thomas Briels to make it 1-0. The remainder of the half continued to entertain the packed Belgium crowd as both sides played world class hockey. It was Belgium however, who went in to the break with the advantage.

In the second half, Belgium pushed England back on to the defensive foot early on and it remained that way for much of the 35 minutes. They added two more goals to their score line; Jerome Truyens with the first, a free shot in the circle in the 44th minute and then Florent van Aubel made it 3-0 just 8 minutes later. There were half chances for David Condon, Barry Middleton and Tom Carson, but England couldn’t convert. At three goals down it proved impossible for England to get back into the game and Belgium booked their place in the final.

The result means that England will now face the Netherlands in the bronze medal match at 12:30 on Sunday after they were beaten 5-3 by Germany earlier in evening.

The match marked Dan Fox’s 50th appearance for England.

Speaking after the game England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, "I think it was a reality check for us tonight, Belgium played really well and deserved the victory to take them to the final. They scored at key times when it was still tight and they managed to take the game away from us. As a team we are some distance away from getting the results that Belgium have had recently, beating the likes of Germany and Australia."

Adding his thoughts on the Netherlands bronze medal match on Sunday, Crutchley added, "I'm really proud of the boys to get into the top four, I said before the tournament that was our primary objective and we've achieved that. We've played the Netherlands a lot recently and we've just come out on the wrong side of those games, but they have been really close battles. It will be great to play them again on Sunday for a medal."

Speaking after the game England Captain Barry Middleton reflected on England's performance and overall position in world hockey, "Belgium played really well tonight and deserve to be in the final on Sunday. It was an unbelievable atmosphere to play in. I think if you look at their squad they have been together for a number of years now and are playing their best hockey with some really experienced and talented guys.”

“Our squad now compared to what it was a year ago is so different, we've gone from averaging around 150-200 combined caps to somewhere more like 50. It's a big change for us and without Ashley Jackson, Mark Gleghorne and Harry Martin we’re missing some key players. I know that this squad has a lot more to give and in a couple of years I'm confident we can match where Belgium are playing at the moment, but we need to give ourselves that time. Making the top four here is a really good achievement."

BELGIUM 3 (1)
Thomas Briels 20 (FG)
Jerome Truyens 44 (FG)
Florent van Aubel 52 (FG)

ENGLAND 0 (0)

Click here to read the full match report.

England’s men have a rest day tomorrow before their bronze medal match against the Netherlands on Sunday at 12:30 (UK time).

Meanwhile, England’s women will go for gold tomorrow as they take on Germany in the 2013 EuroHockey Final at 3:00pm (UK time). This match will be shown live on the BBC Red Button and online.

For more information about the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships please visit the official website www.trifinanceeurohockey2013.be

England Hockey Board Media release



Ireland 0-4 Spain (m) European Hockey Championships

Ireland's GreenMachine hockey team lost 4-0 to Spain in the final stages of the European Hockey Championships, Ireland are currently in Pool C battling it out for rankings 5-8th and will face the Czech Rep in their final game this Sunday 8am Irish Time.

Ireland opened the game with the first penalty corner of the encounter on the 4 minute mark but a mistrap led to a goal mouth scramble - Eugene Magee finally converting but after a video referral the goal was overturned for coming off an Irish arm en route to the Spanish net.

Despite dominating early attacking play Spain were first off the goal scoring mark with a great display of pace along the back line laying back for Lleonart to shoot home giving Spain a 1-0 advantage.

Spain doubled their lead in the 20th minute with a penalty corner conversion from Dabanch. Ireland continued in their attacking style but despite three corner chances and playing around in the Spanish circle - Spain held strong marshalled by an excellent Cortes in goals to keep their 2-0 lead in tact at the break.

Ireland were immediately placed on the back foot when Spain secured a penalty corner just 3 minutes in and a fine execution of the routine gave Eduard Tubau the chance to drag home for Spain's third goal. Ireland immediately upped the pace with Mitch Darling getting away a chance off the back foot but the shot flew wide of the target.  Spain put the game beyond Ireland's reach with just  17 minutes left as Andres Mir found himself one to one with David Harte in goals but his sweep cleared over the diving keeper making it Spain 4; Ireland 0.

Ireland continued in vein goal hunting until the final whistle but on a day where Ireland looked more tired than their counterparts it was not to be. Ireland will now do battle with the Czech Republic in a in their final encounter of this tournament at  8am (Irish Time) Sunday 25th August.

Commenting after the match Coach Andrew Meredith said "In the first 15 minute we played with good structure and managed the game pretty well. After that we struggled to match them physically and started to have mental lapses, producing easy overturns and quite simply were not good enough against an on-form Spain who played very well in their Belgium game."

"We also lacked the good individual performances which had defined our tournament up until this game. Despite the loss we have to look to take as much out of the game as we can, as games against this calibre of opposition are critical in our development process for our young group moving towards the qualification process for our young group moving towards the qualification process for Rio."

"We hope that we can secure support to enable the program to play the extra 15-20 games per year against the quality opposition that the top nations play in order to continue the growth shown at this tournament and support the young talent we have in Ireland."

Ireland 0 (0)
Spain 4 (2) X Lleonart 8m op; G Dabanch 20m pc; Eduard Tubau 38m pc; A Mir 53m op

Current Standing Pool C:
Spain - Pts 6 (GD +9)
Poland - Pts 3 (GD +2)
Ireland - Pts  (GD -2)
Czech Rep - Pts 0 (GD -8)

IRELAND Starting XI David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley, Mikie Watt, Chris Cargo, Eugene Magee, Peter Caruth, Bruce McCandless, Conor Harte, Peter Brown, Shane O'Donoghue

SPAIN Starting XI Q Cortes, S Enrique, R Romeu, R Alegre, X Lleonart, A Mir, M Salles, A Casasayas, M Terraza, D Alegre, P Quemada

Irish Hockey Association media release



Asia Cup Preview

Playing in the Asia Cup has now become a mere formality for Malaysia after they virtually secured a place in the 2014 World Cup via their fifth place finish at the World League in Johor Baru last month and results of continental championships that went in their favour.

Malaysia are currently second reserves, behind Spain who should confirm their berth upon the conclusion of the European championships.  A Korean triumph in Ipoh will assure Malaysia the final berth failing which it has to wait till November for the conclusion of the Oceania championships to ink its spot as Australia and New Zealand are destined to become champions.

But that will not stop coach Paul Revington to plot a first Asia Cup triumph for Malaysia whose best finish was a bronze in Chennai in 2007.

It is the fourth time in nine editions that Malaysia are playing host to the Asia Cup, having hosted the two previous editions in Kuala Lumpur (1999 and 2003) with the other in Kuantan (2009).

With the champions gaining direct entry into the World Cup at The Hague, Holland next year, the fact that either India or Pakistan can make the cut makes it all the more intriguing. The two countries have never missed the World cup since its inauguration in 1971.

“It is a very good feeling knowing you have pretty much qualified for the World Cup before your continental championship. I will not pretend otherwise,” conceded Revington.

“I am able to separate this fantastic feeling with the reality of the Asia Cup and performing well in this event and achieving what we have set out to do ten months ago.

“It is a tall order. However this squad has the ability to win the event. We have set very bold goals and objectives for the period to date, and although we have not won every event like we set out to achieve,” clarified Revington.

“But they have also enjoyed consistent performances and results through setting the bar high.”

Revington said that the selection of players was taking into account the various tournaments Malaysia were set to participate but experience was a key factor in his decision to select Jivan Mohan over youngster Nor Hizzat Sumantri.

“We have used all 17/18 players every other event so this should not change for the Asia Cup,” clarified Revington.

“Like the late Chua Boon Huat, Jivan Mohan has experience and strengths that add enormous value to the current team. Nor Hizzat is a very talented player with a very bright future for Malaysia too.” 

Malaysia will open their campaign against lowly Chinese Taipei on Saturday and take on the might of Pakistan on Sunday. And the likes of ace strikers Faizal Saari, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tg Jalil plus penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie Rahim will be looked upon to secure a big win before the Pakistan match.

“Chinese-Taipei is a relatively unknown entity for me. However we will ensure we focus on our Malaysian strengths for this game and at the same time respect any opponent we come up against,” added Revington.

But it is the battle royale between arch rivals India and Pakistan that all eyes will be focussed on. One thing is certain, only one team will make it to The Hague.

Fixtures

Saturday

1605 - India v Oman
1805 - Pakistan v Japan
2005 - Malaysia v Chinese-Taipei

Sunday
1605 - Korea v Bangladesh
1805 - Japan v Chinese Taipei
2005- - Pakistan v Malaysia

Past Results:

1982 Karachi

Champion: Pakistan.
Malaysia finished 4th

1985 Dhaka
Champion: Pakistan
Malaysia finished 5th’

1989 New Delhi
Champion: Pakistan
Malaysia finished 6th

1994 Hiroshima
Champion: Korea
Malaysia finished 4th

1999 Kuala Lumpur
Champion: Korea
Malaysia finished 4th

2003 Kuala Lumpur
Champion: India
Malaysia finished 5th

2007 Chennai
Champion: India
Malaysia finished 3rd

2009 Kuantan
Champion: Korea
Malaysia finished 4th

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Roslan feels the emptiness

Having been room-mates when on national assignments for the past 15 years with the late Chua Boon Huat, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin is truly missing his company.

The Asia Cup in Ipoh, which commences this Saturday, is the first time that the two will not be rooming together after Chua’s untimely demise in a fatal accident on August 1.

And Roslan misses the banter that the duo used to share, although he is now sharing a room with skipper Mohd Shahrun Nabil.

“I feel emptiness as he was full of life. We hardly switch on the television as we used to talk a lot when in the room. The only time we watched TV was when Manchester United plays as we are ardent fans,” said Roslan.

“I do miss him a lot for he was like a brother to me. We shared a lot together, reflecting on life in most of our conversations. He had so many things that he wanted to do and gave me good advise as well.

“Not having him around anymore has affected me and I think of him daily. I pray that his soul will rest in peace as I offer daily prayers for him.”

Roslan and Chua were the only two players in the current national squad to have played in the World Cup, having been selected by former coach Paul Lissek to don the national colours in the 2002 Kuala Lumpur.

“I remember when we were interviewed together before the World League, Chua had said that he will play as long as the nation needed his servcices. But then fate decided otherwise and I am determined to play until the World Cup next year to realise his dream,” added Roslan.

“Though we have virtually qualified for the World Cup, we aim to finish as champions. There is no pressure on us now so maybe that will allow the players to express themselves on the pitch and raise their game so that the win can be dedicated to our brother Chua.”

Rosaln said that while India and Pakistan will be going all out to secure a spot in next year’s World Cup, one should not discount the challenge of Japan and South Korea as well.

“The Koreans play for pride and despite already qualifying I believe they want to win the Asia Cup as well to improve their rankings,” said Roslan.

“And Japan proved that they are no pushover with their stunning display in the World League where we needed a shoot out win to take the fifth spot.”

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Asia Cup gets underway today

S. Thyagarajan



brainstorming: Indian hockey team at a training session in Kuala Lumpur.

Never before has the Asia Cup assumed the significance and suspense as this chapter nine set to roll in to hockey history here on Saturday. What makes it a fascinating exercise is emerging windows opening up for the World Cup.

Labelled as the event to identify the continental contestant for the summit at The Hague next year, the unfolding drama this week may throw up chances for more than one qualifier from the continent.

Korea, the defending champion, tumbled into the World Cup cluster thanks to Argentina snuffing out the challenge from Canada in the Pan American Cup. Korea was the first reserve to get on to the bandwagon.

The possibility of Spain, the second reserve, coming into the World Cup may be determined this week-end at the European Cup. Three Asian outfits-Malaysia, India and Pakistan-are in line in that order; each with a distinct possibility of ensuring a passage to The Hague.

Exciting as the permutations and combinations are, the focus is bound on the team that eventually climbs to the top of the podium for cornering the automatic qualifier berth from Asia.

Korea won the Asian Championships Cup last at Kuantan (Malaysia) in 2009. That it will leave nothing untried to retain the trophy need not be ever-emphasised.  A reverse may shatter Koreans’ morale.

Malaysia, India and Pakistan will aim to take the top spot. At least, for Malaysia and India there is a glimmer of hope linked to the outcome of the Oceania championship. Australia and New Zealand have already qualified from HWL. 

Pakistan is left with no option but to win here to escape the humiliation of missing the prestigious event for the first time since inception in 1971. A desperate administration after the team’s poor show in HWL semi-finals- it finished seventh at Johor—has roped in all the senior players, including the retired goal-keeper Salman Akbar, to regain the title and put to rest all criticism and condemnation back home.

There is no need to exaggerate the importance of this event for India. The fear of failing to make it to the World Cup is genuine. Compelled by circumstances for fielding a new-look squad, a filament of unpredictability is inevitable. The untested frontline is a huge gamble. The mid-field, manned by the indefatigable Sardar Singh, is capable of handling constant pressure. The squad relies on the conversion of penalty corners by Raghunath and Ravinderpal Singh.

Devastated by the recent death of the seasoned Chua Boon in a tragic auto accident, Malaysia is making a strong bid to re-enter the World Cup scene after 2002. The top of the podium finish is the goal for the locals under the guidance of South African coach, Paul Revington.

There is also a hint of complacency arising out of the expected results in the European and Oceania continental championships. As the third reserve along with Spain, the home team is looking forward to clinch a berth. Malaysia participated in WC as host in 2002.

When the ball rolls on the blue synthetic pitch today with India engaging Oman in its opening gambit in pool B, it is not easy to predict how many fingers will be kept crossed across the continent till the final result on September 1.

The Pools: A: Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Chinese Taipei

B: Korea, India, Bangladesh and Oman.

Saturday’s programme: India v Oman (1-35 p.m. IST); Pakistan v Japan (3-35 p.m.); Malaysia v Chinese Taipei (5-35 p.m.)

The Hindu



India’s young guns in hockey have their task cut out

Indervir Grewal


Chandigarh - The Indian hockey team faces a do-or-die situation – it has to win the Asia Cup to qualify for next year’s World Cup – and going by its record there is a greater possibility of it buckling under the pressure again.

Though, interim chief coach Roland Oltmans has shown confidence in his young team’s ability to handle the pressure, the burden of not qualifying for a premier tournament like the world cup is bound to shake the confidence of any team.

India were in the same situation in 2008 when they had to win the qualifying tournament for the Olympics after missing out on an automatic berth. The possibility of failing to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in the history of the event put immense pressure on the team, and it lost in the final to England.

Rajpal Singh, who has seen this kind of pressure being part of the 2008 team, believes that a certain amount of pressure is required to perform. “I think some amount of pressure keeps you motivated. But this is a very young team and how they handle that pressure will be the key. It is up to the coach how he helps his team cope with the pressure.”

Rajpal, who believes that the semifinal will the most important match of the tournament, said that the string of injuries that has afflicted the team could affect its chances.

“It will be tough for India. They are missing good players such as Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Danish Mujtaba and Sunil.”

But, the pressure faced by the team, according to Rajpal, could help this inexperienced team give its best. “Sometimes in a do-or-die situation, when there is no other option, you give your all.” “But the important thing is that they don’t let their emotions affect their performance. They will have to control their emotions and not let them affect their game tactically. This is where the coach will play an important role.”

India will start their campaign against Oman on Saturday, and, with the other teams in their pool being Korea and Bangladesh, it is likely that they will reach the semifinal stage. With a possibility that the team could face Pakistan in the semifinal, emotions could play a big role.

“As I said the semifinal will be the most important match and if we play Pakistan then emotions will be very high. This is a young team and how they handle that pressure and control their emotions will be significant.”

Schedule

Pool A: Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, Chinese-Taipei
Pool B: South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Oman
Saturday: India vs Oman-1.35 pm
Monday: India vs S Korea-5.35 pm
Wednesday: India vs Bangladesh - 5.35 pm
August 30: Semifinal 1: 5.05 pm; Semis 2: 5.35 pm
September 1: Final 5.35 pm

Format: The eight-team competition will see teams divided into Pool A and B consisting four each. The top two finishers form each of the pool at the end of the league stage will face each other in the semis.

Live: ESPN Star Sports

The Tribune



Unfit Sardar ruled out Asia Cup opener against Oman

IPOH (Malaysia): Indian hockey team were dealt a severe blow ahead of their opening Asia Cup group league encounter against minnows Oman after skipper Sardar Singh was declared unfit as he is recovering from viral fever.

Sardar, who was hospitalized for running temperature along with throat infection, was discharged on Thursday and even trained with the other members of the team on Friday but India's interim coach Roelant Oltmans is in no mood to take any risk ahead of crucial upcoming encounters.

"Sardar is well now. He was discharged yesterday, but he won't play (against Oman) tomorrow. His fitness is not of the required level. If I let him play tomorrow, he may fall sick again," Oltmans, who is also the High Performance Director of Hockey India, said after the team's practice session at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.

Sardar, however, is hopeful of spending at least some time in the turf tomorrow to get a feel.

"I have recovered now but still there is some weakness. I don't know what plans the coach has but I will speak to him and see if I can get to play for 10 minutes tomorrow," Sardar said.

Meanwhile, Oltmans cautioned his wards against complacency against Oman and said he is just looking for a winning start on Saturday.

The Dutchman feels that Oman will play a defensive game aand it will be a test of character for his young forwardline to breach the opposition defence.

"To be honest, we all know Oman is not in the top 20 in the world but we have seen that it is very difficult to play against teams who are defending. Oman will play defensive hockey.

"For us, it is more about making sure that our performance is good. I am not really searching for many goals. I really don't care if we win by a goal or by a big margin. At the end of the day, what is important is a winning start," Oltmans said.

Oltmans feels that one should take Oman lightly at their own peril.

"We can't take any opponent lightly. We have to respect every opponent. They (Oman) has a German coach now. The most important thing is to win and we want to win with a good performance," he said.

"We will also look to get better in every match so that our best performance comes up in the final."

Oltmans is also happy with the preparation of his team and said it is now time to deliver.

"We had two good practice games against Malaysia and Japan. We drew 1-1 with Malaysia and beat Japan 4-0," he said.

"We know more or less what we can expect out here. Condition wise it is hot, humid and it will be like that. Turf is little bit different because the Astroturf is nylon turf. It is faster than most of the other turfs. So it was good to practice a lot on it. I think we have done what we wanted to do.

"Especially, in our last practice game, the team showed really good possessional skills. Now it is time to show on the ground what how we have prepared in the past six weeks," Oltmans signed off.

The Times of India



Under-pressure India eye morale-boosting opener against Oman

IPOH: The ignominy of missing out on a World Cup berth looming large over its head, an under-pressure Indian men's hockey team would be hoping to open its campaign in the ninth Asia Cup with a morale-boosting win over minnows Oman in Pool B, on Saturday.

Well aware that it is their last chance to qualify for 2014 FIH World Cup, the Indians cannot afford to let their guards down at any moment as nothing short of a victory in the continental championship can book their ticket to next year's quadrennial event in The Hague, Netherlands.

For the eight-time Olympic champions India and neighbours Pakistan, the Asia Cup is a do-or-die tournament as one of them faces the prospect of missing out on a World Cup berth for the first time since the launch of the tournament in 1971.

Defending champions South Korea, however, can heave a sigh of relief as they recently became the eighth team to qualify for the World Cup after being promoted from first reserves to guaranteed participants, courtesy Argentina's title win in the Pan American continental championship.

India would also be looking to obliterate the memories of their disappointing performance in the last edition of the Asia Cup held in Kuantan, Malaysia in 2009, where they finished a disappointing fifth in a seven-team contest.

Considering the huge demand at stake, it would prove be a Herculean task for India to finish at the top of the podium.

To add to it, the failure to qualify for the World Cup will be a big embarrassment for the Indians who will be desperate to avoid the 2008 Beijing Olympics debacle.

However, the road to the semifinals should not be much of a problem for India. They are placed in a relatively easy Pool B along side Korea, Bangladesh and Oman while Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia and Chinese-Taipei complete the Pool A line-up.

India are expected to start as overwhelming favourites against Oman at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here, and a comprehensive win will undoubtedly lift the team's spirit ahead of its tough second pool encounter against title holders Korea on August 26. The Indians will round off their pool engagements against Bangladesh on August 28.

Injuries to some key players in the build up to the tournament did not help India either. Plagued by injuries, India were forced to field a young but depleted 18-member squad under inspirational Sardar Singh for the Asia Cup.

India's forwardline resembles a depleted look in the absence of Danish Mujtaba, S V Sunil, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Akashdeep Singh -- all of whom are out of the tournament due to injuries.

In Ramandeep Singh and Nikin Thimmaiah the Indian forwardline has two debutants. Other strikers -- Nithin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh and Malak Singh -- too do not have much experience under their belt.

The Indian mid-field, led by Sardar, has a lot more experience and will be the key to success.

The backline, however, remains India's perennial problem and it would be interesting to see how the likes of V R Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh, debutant Amit Rohidas, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurmail Singh fare in such pressure situations.

Under the goalpost, P R Sreejesh too will feel extra burden having been handed over the vice-captain's role from Raghunath.

It also remains to be seen how the Indians adopt a new style of hockey -- quite different from what they have been playing under former chief coach Michael Nobbs of Australia.

After Nobbs' ouster, the Indian men's team is under the watchful eyes of legendary Dutchman Roelant Oltmans, who is doubling up as Hockey India's High Performance Director as well as interim coach.

So, it will be the first real test for Oltmans and the Dutchman too seemed up for the challenge.

Oltmans is doing his bid to take the pressure off his wards and said being the interim coach he would be solely responsible for India's performance in the Asia Cup.

"I'll be responsible for the team's performance but at the same time I'm confident also," Oltmans had said.

"We have prepared ourselves in the best possible manner in the short period of time we had. We can assure all that we will give our 100 per cent every single minute and in every single game we play.

"If we are able to produce good performances on a consistent basis there (in Ipoh), we can win the tournament," he insisted.

In Pool A, Pakistan will open their campaign against Japan, while hosts Malaysia will face Chinese Taipei in the last match of the opening day.

For records, Pakistan and Korea have won the Asia Cup three times each, while India have won it twice at Kuala Lumpur in 2003 and at Chennai in 2007.

The Times of India



Oltmans gets good luck message from team physio

MALAYSIA: As Roelant Oltmans gets ready to face the toughest challenge of his stint with Indian hockey so far, the Dutchman got a much-needed good luck message from the team's physio Shrikant Iyengar just hours before India's Asia Cup opener against Oman on Saturday.

Oltmans, who is also the High Performance director of Hockey India, is presently the interim coach of the Indian men's team for the all-important eight-nation Asia Cup after Australian Michael Nobbs unceremonious ouster.

The Asia Cup, starting on Saturday, is Oltmans first real test as India will have to win the competition to qualify for next year's World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

"As we embark on a new challenge rest assured that it would only be an addition to the numerous achievements of your life. As an Indian I thank you today doing the great job for the country and the game. Good luck and best wishes. Your physio," Shrikant wrote in his message to Oltmans sent along with a flower bouquet.

Asked what made him sent the coach a good luck message, Shrikant said, "It is my way of thanking him for his tireless job of preparing the team for the Asia Cup over the last six weeks. It is a very important tournament for us and we all need every bit of wishes from wherever possible."

After having failed to secure a direct berth in the World Cup through the FIH World League Round 3 in Rotterdam, India now face a must-win situation in the Asia Cup, failing which they face the prospect of missing out on a chance to play in the quadrennial tournament for the first time since the launch of the mega-event in 1971.

However, the road to the semifinals should not be much of a problem for India as they are placed in a relatively easy Pool B along side Korea, Bangladesh and Oman while Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Chinese-Taipei are in Pool A.

India will open their campaign against minnows Oman on Saturday at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium. The Sardar Singh-led side will face title holders Korea on August 26 followed by their last pool match against Bangladesh on August 28.

The Times of India



Doctor Naik set to join Indian team before Korea tie

MALAYSIA: The Indian hockey team's wait for a specialist doctor has finally come to an end as B K Nayak is all set to join the squad ahead of the side's second Asia Cup Pool 'B' match against Korea on August 26.

Nayak, who has been a regular member of the hockey support staff since 2009, did not travel with the team to Ipoh after his employer, Indian Army refused to release him for the August 24 to September 1 assignment.

To make matters worse, just before the start of the tournament, India captain captain Sardar Singh was forced to be hospitalised here due to high fever and throat infection.

With no doctor with the side, Sardar's treatment was delayed initially as the team management did not want to prescribe him medicines without consulting a specialist.

But now with Naik expected to join the squad on Sunday, the team management can heave a sigh of relief.

"We have come to know that Dr Naik has been released. He is expected to join the team on Sunday. He will miss our first game against Oman tomorrow but for sure he will be there before Korea game," India's interim coach Roelant Oltmans said here.

"We somehow managed Sardar's illness but it is always good to have a doctor with the team as he knows the medical history of the players very well," he said.

When contacted Dr Naik, he said that although he is yet to get the green signal from the Army but things are moving in the positive direction.

He said if everything goes as per plan, he will reach Ipoh by Sunday evening.

"Talks are on between Hockey India and the Army and things are looking bright. My tickets are already booked for Sunday morning flight and I hope to be there by Sunday evening," Naik said from Dehradun, where he is posted in the Indian Military Academy.

The Times of India



Pakistan begin Asia Cup quest today

By Fawad Hussain



Captain Mohammad Imran will lead his side in the tournament that will decide Pakistan’s fate for the World Cup next year. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The ninth edition of the hockey Asia Cup begins today in Malaysia, with Pakistan battling to avoid disqualification from the World Cup.

In order to attain the objective, the national team’s task is to achieve the Asia Cup, as anything less would lead to their simultaneous exit from the global event next year.

Drawn in Group A along with Japan, Chinese Taipei and hosts Malaysia, Pakistan are set to meet Japan in their opening fixture today.

Group B includes India, Bangladesh, Oman and defending champions South Korea. India will take on Oman while the hosts meet Chinese Taipei in the other match of the inaugural day.

Pakistan have maintained a good record at the Asian level for the past few years, winning a gold medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 and the title at Asian Champions Trophy last December.

However, the Asia Cup has not been a lucky event for Pakistan as the title has eluded the three-time champions since 1989.

“It’s definitely a tough challenge,” coach Tahir Zaman told The Express Tribune from Ipoh, ahead of the team’s opening match. “We have never missed the World Cup before and it is on the mind of every team member. We are under pressure to perform and win the title.

“The other teams excluding South Korea [already qualified] also face a must-win scenario so it won’t be easy going for us.”

‘Japan a tough side to beat’

The coach termed the opening game against Japan a tough encounter. “We’ll have to go all-out in every match as we are not in a position to slog. Japan are an in-form team as they played well against Korea and Malaysia at the Hockey World League recently.”

However, the Olympian said his team was ready for the tournament. “We have a good build-up with our wins over Myanmar and Bangladesh in the warm-up games where we accumulated 27 goals combined.

“On the eve of the match, we will make a thorough video analysis of Japan. We will also check our mistakes in practice games as other teams must have also watched our play.”

Butt fears consequences in case of failure

Meanwhile, former captain Rehan Butt is concerned about the team’s prospects of reaching the World Cup.

The seasoned striker, who is currently associated with the national U16 team as its coach, said the team’s failure to the win the Asia Cup will have a negative impact on the game’s future.

“Pakistan will be under pressure as they have not won the tournament since 24 years,” said Butt. “The team will face tough competition from India and Malaysia as South Korea are already through.”

However, Butt hoped that a balanced mixture of experience and talent in the team would ensure victory for the greenshirts.

The Express Tribune

 



Pakistan face stiff challenge in Asia Cup

KARACHI - M Imran’s Pakistan team will be facing their stiffest challenge as they take on Japan in their opening match in 9th men’s Asia Cup Hockey Tournament which explodes into action in Ipoh (Malaysia) on Saturday.

Pioneer of launching Asia Cup in Karachi in 1982, Pakistan is drawn in pool ‘A’ with Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, Chinese Taipei while pool ‘B’ consist of South Korea, India, Bangladesh and Oman.

Both Pakistan and India will look to scale the hockey summit in Asia once again and in the process earn themselves a place in the next year’s World Cup being held in the Netherlands.

Pakistan had the honour of clinching the first three editions of the championship in 1982, 1985 and 1989 before sliding down. They lost to Korea by solitary goal in last edition at Kuantan (Malaysia) in 2009.

Despite Pakistan and India’s impressive track record in the continental event, it will be a wide open with fast rising Malaysia and defending champion Korea. Real contest will start in semi-final as India, Pakistan, Korea and hosts Malaysia are firm favourites to reach the knock-out rounds. Pakistan missed a golden opportunity to qualify for the Asia Cup after disappointing performances in Sultan Azlan held at same venue a couple of month ago.

After group round robin league matches, top two teams form each pool will qualify for the last-four grade. Pakistan will play their toughest match against Malaysia on Sunday.

“We are mentally and physically ready for the task ahead to win the title. It will not an easy ride but are hoping boys to deliver their best,” manager cum chief-coach Akhtar Rasool said. Olympian Tahir Zaman has taken over as the new coach in place of Olympian Hanif Khan, who was sacked by Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on different pretext.

Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, England, South Korea and hosts the Netherlands have qualified for the World Cup. Only 12 teams will qualify for the World Cup.

The Nation



18-member women hockey squad named

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team management has announced 18-member squad for the Asian Women Challenge Hockey Tournament which will be played in Bangkok from September 8.

Addressing a press conference at Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium on Friday, head coach M Usman, manager Parveen Sikander Gul and assistant manager Waheed Mirza announced the names of the squad.

Amina Mir will lead the team while Nadia Kazim Ali will be her deputy. The other members are Rizwana Yasmeen, Maria Saeed (goalkeeper), Ishrat Abbas, Asma Ashraf, Shahida Rana, Zakia Nawaz, Marium Mansha, Nafeesa Anwer, Hina Kanwal, Madia Manzoor, Asqa Mumtaz, Ambreen Arshad, Shukria Rasheed, Maria Sabir, Afshan Naureen and Iqra Javed.

Pakistan women team will leave for Bangkok on August 29.

The Nation



Western Province versus Southern Gauteng for SA women’s hockey title

JONATHAN COOK in Port Elizabeth


Saturday’s finalists were decided on day four of the SA Women’s Hockey Interprovincial Tournament on the KC March Astro in Port Elizabeth Friday.

Last year’s silver medallists Western Province beat North West 4-1 in a fast-paced first semi-final that had thrills and spills galore, while in the late game reigning champions Southern Gauteng beat Northern Blues 4-0 thanks to a first-half goal by 2004 Athens Olympian Tsoanelo Pholo and three more after the changeover by Sammy Prost, Catherine McNulty and Robyn Johnson for the 4-0 final scoreline.

Saturday’s gold medal title match between WP and Southern Gauteng flicks off at 8 pm, preceded by the bronze medal match at 6 pm between North West and Northern Blues.

Meanwhile, the tournament is set for another epic battle for Eastern Cape domination when Border, who beat Eastern Province 4-0 in Pool A on Wednesday - the highest margin in history – tackle their arch-rivals at 4 pm Saturday in the playoff for fifth and sixth places.

Friday’s gripping cross-pool playoffs saw a Toni Marks strike in the 59th minute give EP a 1-0 win over Free State, while Border edged the hapless KZN Coastal Raiders 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the scores were locked 0-0 at full-time.

In the Friday’s first semi-final, North West’s Investec South Africa women’s hockey team striker Sulette Damons set the pulses racing with a backhand that hit the post after seven minutes. Soon after, Amoré de Wet had her effort miraculously saved on the goalline by WP stalwart Leigh Boardman.

In the 10th minute former national junior sprint champion Damons opened the scoring when a blistering 40-metre run blew defenders away before the sharpshooter cracked the ball into the backboard (1-0).

After concerted pressure, favourites WP equalised when experienced former SA striker Farah Fredericks conjured up a stunning slice of skill to convert a botched penalty corner.

The teams turned around with the score still 1-1 and in the 42nd minute Fredericks drew on experience and deft stickwork to coolly slip the ball past the keeper following a goalmouth skirmish (2-1).

In the 58th minute the irrepressible Fredericks made her mark once again when she fired in a backhand pass that was converted by Rosie Lombard (3-1).

Fredericks rubbed salt into the wound with her hat-trick goal, which concluded a dream match for the Maties veteran and booked a place in Saturday’s 8 pm trophy match.

KZN Inland, who earned a deserved 2-1 win over a gutsy Eastern Province Settlers in the semi-finals of the B Section, will play Witwatersrand, the other B Section side with a 100% win record, in the tournament’s lower-tier final at 2 pm Saturday.

SATURDAY CLASSIFICATION MATCHES
(KC March Astro unless stated)

A Section

(Seventh/eighth) Free State vs KZN Coastal Raiders (12 pm)
(Fifth/sixth) Eastern Province vs Border (4 pm)
(Bronze medal match) North West vs Northern Blues (6 pm)
(Title match) Western Province vs Southern Gauteng (8 pm)

B Section
(7/8) Southern Cape vs SA Country Districts A (8 am)
(5/6) KZN Mynahs vs SA Country Districts B (10 am)
(3/4) EP Settlers vs Mpumalanga (Westering High School 2 pm)
(Final) KZN Inland vs Witwatersrand (2 pm)

FRIDAY CROSS-POOL RESULTS

A Section

(5/8) EP 1 Free State 0; Border 0 KZN Raiders 0 (Border won 3-2 on penalty shootout)
(1/4) WP 4 North West 1; Southern Gauteng 4 Northern Blues 0

B Section
(5/8) KZN Mynahs 6 Southern Cape 0; SA Country Districts B 2 SA Country Districts A 1
(1/4): KZN Inland 2 EP Settlers 1; Witwatersrand 3 Mpumalanga 1

SA Hockey Association media release



Inglis puts Southern into Ford NHL final


Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

A sublime effort from Black Sticks striker Hugo Inglis guided the Southern Dogs to a 4-0 win over the Canterbury Cavaliers to book a spot in tomorrow’s Ford National Hockey League final.

Inglis played his best game of the tournament thus far and was near unstoppable, scoring all four of his side’s goals. He is currently the men’s leading goalscorer with 14 in the tournament.

Southern will play Auckland in a replay of last year’s final after the Aucklanders defeated Midlands 2-1 in the second semi-final of the day.

Simon Egerton opened the scoring with a well worked field goal and Dwayne Rowsell added another from a penalty corner.

On the women’s side of the draw, Midlands scored a late goal to take a 2-1 win over last year’s title winners the Canterbury Cats.

Goals from Renee Ashton (Midlands) and Carissa McGregor (Canterbury) saw the game locked up and headed towards a penalty shoot-out before Katie Long deflected a great ball into the back of the net to seal the result.

Midlands will play Capital in tomorrow’s final after their thrilling 3-2 victory over favourites Auckland.

The game was goal for goal before Anita Punt put Capital in front with a second half rocket into the top of the net on her reverse stick.

It is the first time the Capital women have made the Ford NHL final in more than five years, while the result ends Auckland’s streak of three straight final appearances.

WOMEN’S FINAL (12.30pm) – Midlands v Capital
MEN’S FINAL (3.10pm) – Southern v Auckland

CLICK HERE for full results, finals day schedule and top goal scorers

FORD NHL RESULTS – SEMI-FINALS DAY
SATURDAY 24 AUGUST

MEN


NORTH HARBOUR 5: (James Coughlan 2, Joseph Bartholomew, Brennan Alexander-Parker, Own Goal)
CENTRAL MAVERICKS 1: (Joe Reardon)

SEMI-FINAL 1
SOUTHERN DOGS 4: (Hugo Inglis 4)
CANTERBURY CAVALIERS 0

TRUST HOUSE CAPITAL 5: (Matt L’Huillier 2, Jacob Smith, Alex Shaw, Phil Burrows)
MARSDEN COVE NORTHLAND 2: (Gauthier Boccard, Mark Thorne)

SEMI-FINAL 2
AUCKLAND FURY 2: (Simon Egerton, Dwayne Rowsell)
BAYLEYS MIDLANDS 1: (Nick Budgeon)

WOMEN

SEMI-FINAL 1

BAYLEYS MIDLANDS 2: (Katie Long)
CANTERBURY CATS 1: (Carissa McGregor)

NORTH HARBOUR 2: (Kate McCaw, Tori Taylor)
SOUTHERN STORM 0

SEMI-FINAL 2
TRUST HOUSE CAPITAL 3: (Carlijn Welten 2, Anita Punt)
AUCKLAND FURY 2: (Monique Wilson, Danielle Sutherland)

CENTRAL MYSTICKS 3: (Kayla Sharland 2, Emily Naylor)
MARK CROMIE NORTHLAND 2: (Carli Michelsen 2)

Hockey New Zealand Media release