News for 01 Septembert 2013

All the news for Sunday 1 September 2013

Japan finish fifth while Bangladesh takes seventh placing

IPOH: Japan finished in fifth place after securing a narrow 3-1 win over Oman in the 9th Asia Cup at the Azlan Shah Stadium. The Japanese were widely tipped to have it easy but it was far from it.

The Oman team fell behind to an early goal but that served to wake them up and soon had the Japanese back pedalling in defence, Oman managed an early equaliser in the second half but Japan found some reserve to nail the winner in the 61st minute. Shinji Kawauchi was the scored from the penalty corner set piece move.

It was Japan who took the early lead. Skipper Kei Kawakami was on target with a field goal in the eighth minute. But the Omanis then held them at bay to keep the score down at half time. When the second half started the Omanis surprised the Japanese with an equaliser. Bassim Rejab scored from the penalty corner in the 37th minute.

But the Oman heart was broken after Shinji’s goal in the 61st minuite. Kei then added a third goal in the 70th minute. Shinji was also picked as the man-of-the-match. Bangladesh finally won a match in the Asia Cup when they defeated Chinese Taipei 11-3 to clinch seventh place.

Pushkor Khisa and Md Mamunur Rahman Chayan scored four goals each for Bangladesh while the others were Muhammad Mainul Islam and Krishno Kumar and Rashel Mahmud (two). The scorers for the Chinese Taipei side were Hu Chun-che, Liu Ching Kun and Chen Yuan-Fan.

Bangladesh skipper Md Mamunur Rahman was named man-of-the-match.

Official Asia Cup site

Japan finish 5th, Bangladesh avoid wooden spoon in Asia Cup

Japan eked out a hard-fought 3-1 win over debutants Oman to finish fifth, while Bangladesh managed to avoid the wooden spoon by thrashing minnows Chinese Taipei 11-3 in the classification matches of the 9th Asia Cup hockey tournament on Saturday.

By virtue of this win, Japan finished a place higher than their sixth position during last edition of the event in 2009 while Bangladesh secured the seventh spot in the eight-nation tournament.

Playing under persistent drizzle and damp conditions, the 16th ranked Japanese had to toil hard for the entire duration of 70 minutes to earn a win against an opponent who are ranked 20 places below them in the FIH rankings.

For Japan, Kei Kawakami (8th, 70th minutes) scored two goals, while Shinji Kawauchi (61st) scored the other. Oman's lone goal came from a penalty stroke converted by -Rajab Basim Khatar in the 39th minute.

Earlier in the day, Bangladesh registered their first win the tournament by thrashing Chine Taipei 11-3 to finish seventh.

Bangladesh, who were below par in the tournament, scored four goals in the first half but changed gears after the break pumping in as many as seven goals to register a comprehensive win, their first in this edition of the eight-nation event.

For Bangladesh, captain Md Mamunur Rahman Chayan (32nd, 40th, 53rd, 63rd minutes) scored four goals including a hat-trick, while Pushkor Khisa also managed to register a hat-trick against his name scoring in the 26th, 29th and 68th minutes.

The other scorers for Bangladesh were Mohammad Mainul Islam (35th, 38th) and Rashel Mahmud (61st, 65th), who scored a brace each.

Debutants Chine Taipei reduced the margin of defeat through field goals from captain Hu Chun-Che (49th), Liu Ching Kun (51st) and Chen Yuan-Fan (69th).

In the bronze medal playoff match, Pakistan will take on hosts Malaysia while India will lock horns with South Korea in the summit clash on Sunday.

The Times of India

India confident of a trophy triumph

S. Thyagarajan

India's Vokkaliga Ramachandra Raghunath, front left, gestures after he scored the first goal against Malaysia, during the 9th men's Asia Cup field hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Friday. Photo:AP

Roelant Oltmans — the name evokes awe, pride and admiration. His contribution to enhancing the image and identity of the Dutch as a hockey super power is etched for posterity in the World Cup, Olympic Games and Champions Trophy records.

That a coach of such impeccable credentials is now guiding India enhances the feeling that our hockey is moving on the right path. There was scepticism when the team left for Ipoh with faint hopes and discernible fear of missing the World Cup and standing isolated from the elite countries.

And, it was not misplaced. Oltmans was under compulsion to select an inexperienced outfit. The principal attackers were on the injured list.

The sequence of events in the Asia Cup indicates a quantum leap. Oltmans’s perseverance and self-belief has piloted the team to be in line for the next World Cup and to a possible trophy triumph on Sunday.

India is the only team unbeaten in the competition. Its challenger in the final, defending champion Korea lost the pool match to India 2-0.

This will be India’s seventh final out of the nine so far, winning twice (2003 in Kuala Lumpur and 2007 at Chennai). In the last edition at Kuantan, India was fifth, the only time it missed the podium.

But sport today is immune to sentiments or history. If India courts victory, which is not impossible given the team’s confidence, the World Cup qualification puzzle will be solved. India will be an automatic entry as the continental champion.

India’s strength has been the defenders’ consistency and their tenacity. This includes goalkeeper, Sreejesh, who seems to have learnt a great deal from South African goalkeeping coach Dave Staniforth. Sreejesh has conceded only one goal in four matches, a testimony to his form.

Commendation is due for the hard work by the three in the backline — Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Birendra Lakra. The midfield is marshalled magnificently by Sardar Singh with trusted allies Kothajit Singh, Dharamvir and Gurmail Singh.

In the forward line a veneer of unpredictability persists. Mandeep Singh is shaping well. But the 18-year-old has a long way to go before he blossoms into a formidable forward. Nikkin Thimmaiah has shown a lot of enterprise. But this line is yet to emerge as a lethal force to complement the effectiveness of penalty corner strikers Raghunath and Rupinder.

In venturing for the fourth win South Korea is facing another defining moment. Before the competition, its World Cup entry was confirmed after Argentina won the Pan American Games.

But as the coach, Shin Seok Kyo, noted it is the team’s desire to retain the trophy and make the grade as champion. With Paul Lissek as technical director, the Koreans must have hatched a strategy to turn the tables on India.

Korea’s strength is in penalty corners by Jang Jong and acceleration coupled with flawless trapping by everyone, notably Lee Nam Yong and Kang Moon.

However, India is just a step away from creating a historic moment.

Japan is fifth

Japan defeated Oman 3-1 to finish fifth, while Bangladesh finished seventh beating Chinese Taipei 11-3 in the classification matches.

The results: 7-8: Bangladesh 11(Khisa Pushkar 3, Manumur Rehman 4, Islam Mahmud Mainul 2, Muhamud Rashel 2) beat Chinese Taipei 3 (Hu Chen-Che, Liu Ching Kun, Chen Yuan-Fan).

5-6: Japan 3 (Kawakami Kei 2, Kawauchi Shinji) beat Oman 1 (Rajab Basim).

Sunday’s matches: (3-4): Malaysia v Pakistan (3-05 p.m.): Final: India v Korea (5-35 p.m. IST).

The Hindu

Asia Cup triumph would help bring back belief: Sardar

IPOH: The lows of Indian hockey have far outnumbered the highs in recent times, but captain Sardar Singh today said the "belief" could return if the team wins the ninth Asia Cup here tomorrow.

Sardar and drag-flicker V R Raghunath were the only members of the present team who were part of the Indian side which failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a massive low given that the country was an eight-time gold-medallist at the event.

The star midfielder said winning a major tournament was long due for Indian hockey and the Asia Cup triumph would infuse new "life" into the game back home.

"It's been long time that we didn't taste any good win or won a major tournament. The Asia Cup can bring belief among hockey lovers back on the Indian team," said Sardar.

"The Asia Cup title can motivate youngsters who are leaving the game and taking up other sports. I hope this win can infuse life back into Indian hockey. I hope this win can bring back smiles on the faces of Indian sports lovers. Indian hockey requires the Asia Cup title," he said.

India yesterday defeated Malaysia 2-0 to enter the final of the Asia Cup. In the summit clash, India will face defending champions South Korea, who shattered Pakistan's World Cup hopes with a 2-1 victory in the first semifinal.

"Indian hockey required this win (against Malaysia). But the best thing is continuing our winning run. The credit goes to all the young players. I know how hard and high intensity our training in the last 5-6 weeks has been. But still we are yet to achieve our main aim," said Sardar.

The Times of India

Hockey team needs to address shortcomings before WC: Olympians

NEW DELHI: The hockey fraternity on Saturday hailed Indian team's qualification for the next year's World Cup but cautioned that the side still need improvement in all areas to be a strong contender at The Hague, Netherlands.

Olympians Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh and Vasudevan Baskaran were all effusive in their praise for the team's inspiring performance in the ongoing Asia Cup, where they will lock horns against South Korea in the final on Sunday but also spelt out key challenges facing the relatively young Indian side.

"I feel happy for the team as their qualification will rebuild the Indian hockey history. But there are key issues engulfing the team and we need to quickly address them with not much time left for the World Cup. These include play consistent and controlled hockey, improve tactical skills, improve fitness level," Baskaran said.

"I believe we are as good as the top teams in the world. We are technically and skill wise sound but we also need to work on our defence and stop playing waiting game," he added.

Virtually assured of a World Cup berth, India defeated hosts Malaysia 2-0 on Friday night to enter the final of the 9th Asia Cup. The Koreans have already qualified for the World Cup while India and Malaysia have all but qualified for the quadrennial event as the first and second reserves.

Another legendary hockey player, Zafar Iqbal said playing in the World Cup is entirely different from playing in the Asian circuit.

"The boys need to work hard on their attack and defence. If you don't play in the big tournaments, it would not going to help your game. India should look to win the World Cup rather than just taking part. Playing there is an altogether different proposition but I believe with experienced players joining back the team, it will be a good mix," said Iqbal.

"The teams which participated in the London Olympics will be there in the World Cup and we all know what had happened to the Indian side there (finished 12th). There is a need to balance out the team with experience and on the mental toughness and fitness," he added.

Iqbal also praised interim coach Roelant Oltmans and said "he is one of the best coaches available in the world".

"India have played well in the tournament. Oltmans is a very good coach. He brought unity and team spirit back among the players. He did a good job with the team," he said.

Iqbal, however, rued the fact that Pakistan will not feature in the World Cup since it started in Barcelona back in 1971.

"They won the World Cup four times and if they are not there, it's disappointing not only for their country but for the World hockey. It's a sad news for the Asian region. India and Pakistan in a tournament always make for an exciting hockey," he said.

Baskaran said, "It's bad for the world hockey that a good Asian country is not part of the World Cup."

Ajit Pal said India should immediately start preparing for the World Cup and address their shortcomings.

"It's a happy news for hockey lovers of the country. We should look for lifting the Asia Cup trophy. Oltmans should start preparing the team for the World Cup. It's not a good situation where India always have to go through qualifiers and not securing a direct berth to major competitions," he said.

The Times of India

Predictable till the end

REGIMENTAL: Malaysia’s inability to vary penalty corners costs them heavily in Asia Cup


Bangladesh’s Mohammad Mainul Islam (right) and Taiwan’s Chen Chih-Hsiang vie for the ball in their Asia Cup seventh-eighth placing match in Ipoh yesterday. AP pic

MALAYSIA paid the price for being stereotype and regimental in their  approach against India in their Asia Cup semi-final at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.

The 2-0 defeat has now relegated Paul Revington's men to battle Pakistan for the bronze medal.

Stereotype to the hilt in penalty corners, all 25 that they won in the four matches in Ipoh were direct flick attempts by either Razie Rahim of Faizal Saari.

There was never a single set-piece attempt, which had resulted in many goals in previous tournaments including the World League Semi-finals.

And the fact that Malaysia have the services of drag flick coach Adel Fuentes of Argentina might have some influence on the decision to do away with indirect attempts, where normally the goals come after deflections from either Azlan Misron or Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's sticks.

The team were also regimental in their attack, where the forwards kept missing sitters after receiving crosses from the right, or left.

There was never an attempt to change the attacking plan in the entire 70 minutes against India.

"Definitely disappointed with the outcome of the match, and even though we have already qualified for the World Cup, we were looking for the Asia Cup gold medal before starting against India.

"We missed too many chances, and were relegated to the bronze medal match for missing sitters," said Revington.

India coach Roelant Oltmans summed up the difference between his team and Malaysia.

"After South Korea beat Pakistan in the first semi-final, we knew to a certain degree that we had already qualified for the World Cup, well, unless Papua New Guinea or Samoa beat New Zealand and Australia to the Oceania Cup title.

"But I thought that is a different tournament and we had the Asia Cup semi-finals to play for after that. And I could sense in the pre-match meeting that my players wanted to win the semi-final badly, and they achieved it with precision attacking," said Roelant.

Precision was the word, as India scored off their first penalty corner, and the second attempt was a rare counter-attack break which caught all the outfield Malaysian players in the Indian half -- and goalkeeper S.Kumar was outnumbered.

On the other hand, at least 10 sitters came Malaysia's way, but the forwards bungled them all by taking wild shots and even wilder swings.

Yes, Malaysia have qualified for the Netherlands World Cup next year after a 12-year hiatus, but the buildup must start with the Asia Cup bronze today.

After which, Revington must prepare his team to avoid embarrassing hammerings, like the 6-0 against Germany in the World League.

New Straits Times

Contrasting fortunes for Saari brothers in Ipoh


IPOH: The two Saari brothers have been experiencing mixed fortunes in the Asia Cup hockey competition here.

Twenty-year-old Mohd Fitri Saari has been playing consistently well in midfield and attack.

But it is the form of 22-year-old Faizal (pic), who is the more experienced forward, that’s been baffling.

Faizal, who will be playing for Berlin HC in the German League next month, was a big letdown in the 2-0 semi-final loss to India on Friday.

Faizal, who has been capped 122 times, not only wasted several gilt-edged chances during the match, he also looked tired and was completely off-form.

There are even some who claim that his mind is not on the game but on his girlfriend.

Even younger brother Fitri seems to think so, although he didn’t really say it.

“It’s disappointing that we failed to qualify for the final after missing a number of sitters against India.

“We created a lot of chances against India but my brother (Faizal) just failed to score from the opportunities he had in front of goal.

“He was off form and I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” said Fitri, who was on excellent form in the match against India.

He chased after every ball and made some through passes to Faizal, who could not even stop the ball.

Fitri, who has 57 international caps, hopes that the team can bounce back to beat Pakistan in the third placing playoff.

Pakistan also suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to defending champions South Korea in the semi-finals on Friday.

With that defeat, Pakistan’s hopes of featuring in the 2014 World Cup is over. It will be the first time that Pakistan won’t be featuring in the World Cup since 1971.

Fitri believes that Pakistan, having missed out on next year’s World Cup, will surely go all out to redeem their battered pride.

“It’s never easy playing against Pakistan ... more so when they will be trying to make amends for missing out on the World Cup for the first since its inception. They also have a good penalty corner flicker in Muhammad Imran and also very skilful players,” said Fitri.

Malaysia played Pakistan twice in the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru in July. In the group match, Malaysia led 4-1 before Pakistan hit back with three second-half goals to level the score.

In the classification match for the fifth to eighth placing, Malaysia defeated Pakistan 3-1.

With the home ground advantage and fan support, Malaysia should be able to emulate their 2007 feat of winning the bronze medal in Chennai.

The Star of Malaysia

Coach Tahir quits after Pakistan’s debacle in Asia Cup


IPOH: Tahir Zaman will resign as Pakistan coach once the Asia Cup hockey tournament ends today – just one month after taking over.

The former international was appointed national coach on July 15 to replace Hanif Khan, who was axed after Pakistan’s dismal performance in the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru last month.

Pakistan finished seventh in the eight-team competition.

Tahir is hugely disappointed to see Pakistan failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since its inception in Barcelona in 1971.

The 44-year-old former national skipper and hockey legend describes it as “a disaster for the national team and hockey in Pakistan”.

“There is no point in me training the team after our failure in the Asia Cup,” he said.

Four-time World Cup winners Pakistan needed to win the Asia Cup here to book a place in the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Holland.

But Pakistan, three-time Asia Cup champions, lost to defending champions South Korea 2-1 in the semi-finals on Friday.

Pakistan will face Malaysia for the bronze medal match today.

Tahir, a member of the Pakistan team who won the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, said that the Pakistan Hockey Federation needed to draw up a long-term development programme to improve the team’s standard.

“We used to dominate world hockey ... but today we are struggling to even qualify for the World Cup.

“We also need to work on our poor penalty corner conversion rate,” said Tahir, who also warned that they will still give their best against Malaysia in the playoff for the bronze medal today.

“Although the players are feeling down after losing to South Korea in the semi-finals, I am confident they will give their best to finish on the podium.”

The Star of Malaysia

“Our national sport has died”

Three-time Olympic gold medallists, Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010. -Photo by AFP

ACHI: Former Olympians and fans Saturday mourned the darkest day in Pakistan's sporting history after the former field hockey titans failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever.

Pakistan went down 2-1 to South Korea in the Asia Cup semi-final in Malaysia on Friday, a tournament they needed to win to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.

Pakistan won the inaugural competition in 1971 and triumphed again in 1978, 1982 and 1994.

Three-time Olympic gold medallists, Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010.

Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh said he felt heart-broken at hockey's downfall.

“Why I am alive to see this day?” said Shaikh, vice-captain of Pakistan's triumphant 1978 World Cup team.

“It's sad, sad and sad, we have seen this day when the masters of hockey have come to this stage.”

Shaikh said the government must replace the current hockey federation leadership.

“It's time we have a change at the top, until and unless we do that it would be impossible to change our hockey fortune,” said Shaikh, also a qualified coach.

Hanif Khan, a member of country's last Olympic gold medal winning team in 1984, said Pakistan hockey had gone back 25 years.

“Now when we don't play with the top 12 teams of the world in the World Cup, where will our team stand? They will be 25 years back at the international level,” said Khan, under whose coaching Pakistan finished seventh in the first World Cup qualifiers in July this year.

Sports analyst Ejaz Chaudhry said the hockey team's failure was a “national tragedy”.

“We have ruled the hockey world but the current set-up of the federation has brought us at the lowest point, it's a national tragedy,” said Chaudhry.

Fans on the streets chanted slogans against the Pakistan Hockey Federation and the team.

“Shame,” shouted Ali Iqbal Gujjar while recording his views on television in Faisalabad.

“Our national sport has died, we must sack all those who are responsible for this.”


Hockey needs new leadership

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey entered its worst ever phase after the four-time world hockey champions failed to even qualify for the prestigious Hockey World Cup 2014 to be held next year in Netherlands, as the green shirts were beaten 2-1 by South Koreans in the semi-final of the 9th Asia Cup at Ipoh, Malaysia.

It was for the first time in 42 years that Pakistan hockey team would not be seen in action in the Hockey World Cup and no one else but the present PHF high command should be held responsible for destroying Pakistan hockey and bringing such embracement to the national game.

The last five years or so of Qasim Zia’s era has just brought frustration and agony for the hockey lovers. During his tenure, Pakistan hockey team failed to lift even a single major event, with the only exception of Asia Cup gold.

The current management can't blame poor results for lack of funds, as no one in the history of Pakistan hockey had managed to take such huge amount of funds which were given to Qasim Zia and company. Despite all the available resources and hefty amount of funds, the PHF top brass wasted national exchequer on foreign coach as well as they had wasted precious time in European tours and take the team to new lows.

It is arguably the worst day in the history of Pakistan hockey, as once the powerhouse of world and Asia is now nowhere in even Asia. The PHF president and secretary never paid any heed to the suggestions of former hockey greats, who had been warning them from day one but they gave deaf ear to hockey greats’ suggestions therefore Pakistanis had to see the darkest day in the history of Pakistan hockey.

After consistent poor performances in major events, it was all left on winning the Asia Cup to qualify for the hockey world cup. The team management had made tall claims after each and every tournament and kept on changing their priorities. After loss in one major event, they set the target of winning the second and the targets kept on changing with each defeat and the day finally arrived when there is no target left to achieve, as the green shirts were left to pack their luggage and book a ticket towards homeland returning empty-handed.

Ever since the appointment of Akhtar Rasool, eyebrows were raised and well wishers of hockey demanded Qasim to reconsider this decision, as Rasool could hardly move and he had left hockey since long and doesn't have any know how about the modern day hockey, but Qasim never paid any heed to these suggestions and warnings, which resulted in disgraceful defeat and ouster from hockey world cup.

Already too much precious time has been wasted by giving so much liberty and space to Qasim and company. Now it is the time these incumbent persons must be sent home to stand any chance of reviving the fortunes of hockey. Any further delay on part of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif will spell more disaster and the day is not far when the young generation may stop playing hockey and this beautiful game, which is also the national game of Pakistan, will only be remembered in history books.

The Nation

Former Pak hockey players demand sacking of PHF officials

KARACHI: Former players on Saturday called for the sacking of Pakistan Hockey Federation officials after the country failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in history.

As the beleaguered PHF officials tried to cope with Pakistan hockey's one of the darkest hours, Olympians and fans have called for immediate changes in the hockey body.

"I don't understand why the president and secretary of the PHF are taking so long to resign. What more do we have to bear before they step down or are be sacked?" asked former Olympian and captain Shahnaz Sheikh.

Hockey remains Pakistan's national game despite cricket overtaking it as the most popular sport in the country.

But Friday's loss to South Korea in the semifinals of the Asia Cup ended Pakistan's chances of qualifying for the marquee event to be played in The Hague, Netherlands.

Pakistan needed to win the Asia Cup title to qualify for the mega event.

"What is heartbreaking is that now all the other top Asian hockey nations like India, Korea and Malaysia are in the World Cup and we are out," Sheikh said.

Former captain and Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed said it was a black day for world hockey that a World Cup would be played without Pakistan.

"I don't want to get into a blame game but the bottom line is our hockey standards have gone down and the current PHF setup has had five to four years to do their best and they have not taken us forward. So changes must be made now," Ahmed said.

Pakistan won its last major title in 1994 when they lifted the World Cup under Ahmed at Sydney.

Former captain Islahuddin, who was part of two World Cup title wins for Pakistan, said he was appalled at what had happened.

"The warning signs have been there for long now but the PHF officials didn't pay heed. Changing the coaches all the time and relying on aged senior players all led to this debacle," Islahuddin said, adding that Pakistan has been losing its hockey identity.

"It is a black day for Pakistan hockey and the Prime Minister who is chief patron of the PHF must now intervene and set things right," former Olympian Hanif Khan, who was national team coach until recently, said.

PHF president Qasim Zia and secretary Asif Bajwa have come under fire from all quarters for the national team's failure.

In the tenure of the current PHF dispensation, Pakistan hockey has seen the lows of finishing 12th in the 2010 World Cup in India, seventh in the Commonwealth Games 2010, eighth in the 2012 Olympics and seventh in the Azlan Shah and World Hockey league.

The only notable success has come when the team won the 2010 Asian Games in China and the Asian Champions Trophy last year and finished with bronze in the last CT in Australia.

The Times of India

Prime Minister urged to sack PHF management

Pakistan mourns hockey ‘tragedy’

Staff Report

KARACHI: Former Olympians and fans Saturday mourned the ‘darkest day’ in Pakistan’s sporting history after the former hockey titans failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever. Pakistan went down 2-1 to South Korea in the Asia Cup semifinal in Malaysia on Friday, a tournament they needed to win to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands. Former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui said their downfall was ‘tragic.’ “This is the darkest day in our sports in general and hockey in particular,” Islahuddin said. “This will be the first time that we will miss the World Cup, a tournament which Pakistan introduced in 1971.”

Pakistan won the inaugural competition in 1971 and triumphed again in 1978, 1982 and 1994. Islahuddin said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should address the crisis in hockey, which is the country’s national sport although overshadowed by cricket. “This federation is working since 2008 and we came eighth in the Beijing Olympics, 12th, last in the 2010 World Cup, seventh in the London Olympics 2012 and now out of the 2014 World Cup,” said Islahuddin, under whom Pakistan won their last Asia Cup title, way back in 1989. “The prime minister is addressing all the problems faced by Pakistan and this is the right time to change people at the helm because we cannot go worse than this,” he said.

Three-time Olympic gold medallists Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010. Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh said he felt heart-broken at hockey’s downfall. “Why I am alive to see this day?” said Sheikh, vice-captain of Pakistan’s triumphant 1978 World Cup team. “It’s sad, sad and sad, we have seen this day when the masters of hockey have come to this stage.” Sheikh said the government must replace the current hockey federation leadership. “It’s time we have a change at the top, until and unless we do that it would be impossible to change our hockey fortune,” said Sheikh, also a qualified coach.

Hanif Khan, a member of country’s last Olympic gold medal winning team in 1984, said Pakistan hockey had gone back 25 years. “Now when we don’t play with the top 12 teams of the world in the World Cup, where will our team stand? They will be 25 years back at the international level,” said Khan, under whose coaching Pakistan finished seventh in the first World Cup qualifiers in July this year. Sports analyst Ejaz Chaudhry said the hockey team’s failure was a ‘national tragedy’. “We have ruled the hockey world but the current set-up of the federation has brought us at the lowest point, it’s a national tragedy,” said Chaudhry. Fans on the streets chanted slogans against the Pakistan Hockey Federation and the team. ‘Shame,’ shouted Ali Iqbal Gujjar while recording his views on television in Faisalabad. “Our national sport has died, we must sack all those who are responsible for this.”

The Daily Times

Jacques le Roux Western Province’s solid gold hero in BDO Men's Interprov final


A superb display of goalkeeping by Tuffy Western Province’s Jacques le Roux inspired the hosts to unseat reigning champions Southern Gauteng 1-0 in the final of the BDO Men’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town Saturday.

Matt Botha hit the winner in the 63rd minute after a flick-on by Lungi Tsolekile from Cuan Burton-Moore’s pass and Southerns threw caution to the wind in substituting captain and outstanding goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse for an extra field player in the last four minutes but three chances to the Johannesburg lads could not be converted and the trophy moves to Cape Town.

Le Roux made good as well as great saves from Julian Hykes, Nick Gonsalves, Dean Symons, Gareth Heyns, Clinton Panther and Brandon Panther, but Pieterse was also immense in denying Craig Haley and Lloyd Norris-Jones on more than one occasion.

However, WP also came closest to scoring when a Norris-Jones shot hit the post, while Southerns vice-captain Dylan Coombes was superb in saving on the goalline from a penalty corner drag-flick by Province captain Andrew Cronje.

WP, who on balance deserved the title, had the better of the first half, but Southerns came back into the game after the changeover.

It was an unforgettable day for WP in more ways than one, as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Northern Blues 4-3 in the unfinished semi-final early Saturday morning.

Friday’s night’s second semi-final stopped after 28 minutes and moved to the B pitch, this after Pretoria’s Blues had stormed into a 3-0 lead. The alarming downpour that had rendered the stadium surface unplayable then proceeded to force a postponement of the match five minutes into the second half on Pitch B, at which point WP had pulled a goal back.

The semi-final resumed at University of Cape Town at 8 am Saturday and Province produced high-quality hockey in the remaining 30 minutes. And again it was Matt Botha – in the last minute – who scored the winner – for a stunning 4-3 victory.

Seven hours later they faced Southerns for the gold medal and did it again.


A Section (11th/12th) Free State 7 KZN Mynahs 5; (9/10) WP Peninsula 4 North West 3; (7/8) KZN Inland 3 Eastern Province 2; (5/6) South Africa U21 12 Witwatersrand 1; (3/4) KZN Raiders 2 Northern Blues 0; (Final) Tuffy Western Province 1 Southern Gauteng 0.

B Section: (5th) Namibia; (3/4) EP Settlers 2 SA Country Districts 2 (Settlers won penalty shootout 4-2); (Final) Western Province Disas 2 Border 1.

SA Hockey Association media release

Ventures too strong in Fiji League

Zanzeer Singh

DEFENDING men's champions Ventures made a bright start during the FMF Inter Club Hockey Championship thrashing Rockefellers 7-0 at the Nadovu ground in Lautoka yesterday.

Ventures proved too strong for the young Lautoka club side.

James Saqacala scored two goals in the match. The other goals were scored by Leevan Dutta, Fetua Nokoise, Walter Heritage, Sam Veitamana and Joela Saini.

The Rockefellers also lost to Mates 0-2.

A new winner will be crowned in the women's division after Ventures failed to turn up.

Results: Women: Marist 2 Rebels 0, Jetsetters 5 Lautoka Old Girls 0. Men: Pool One: Mates 2 Rockefellers 0, Ventures 7 Rockefellers 0; Pool Two: Falcons 3 Marist 3, Falcons 0 Stingers 2, Marist 4 Rebels 4, Stingers win by default against Rebels.

The Fiji Times

Bowden’s goal lifts Connecticut against Stanford

Sophie Bowden, left, scored her second career game-winning goal against Stanford Saturday. Connecticut Athletics

Friday: No. 1 North Carolina 2, Lock Haven 1

Behind goals from junior Samantha Travers and sophomore Casey DiNardo, North Carolina opened its 2013 season Friday afternoon with a 2-1 win at Lock Haven. Playing at the Lady Eagles’ Charlotte E. Smith Field, the No. 1 Tar Heels trailed 1-0 early but fought back to start the season off with a win.

Lock Haven’s goal came in the eighth minute of play, on the team’s only penalty corner of the day. After UNC goalkeeper Sassi Ammer saved the initial shot on the play, senior Kelly Harsch knocked in a rebound to put her team up 1-0. Those two shots were the Lady Eagles’ only shots in the game.

The Tar Heels scored with no time remaining on the first-half clock after drawing a penalty corner as the period wound down. Travers powered in a direct shot for the goal, assisted by junior Loren Shealy on the push-in and sophomore Emily Wold on the stick stop.

Saturday: No. 2 Maryland 8, New Hampshire 4

Maryland used balanced scoring and numerous offensive threats as it cruised past No. 20 New Hampshire 8-4 in its season opener in Temple’s Conference Cup in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

Seven Terrapins scored in the match, with senior Jill Witmer scoring twice. Freshman Mieke Hayn and sophomore Anna Dessove each added a goal and two assists. As a team, Maryland dominated offensively, outshooting the Wildcats 29-11.

Junior preseason All-ACC selection Maxine Fluharty scored the Terrapins’ first goal of the season about six minutes in when she put back Witmer’s shot that was saved. Hayn notched her first career goal and made it 2-0 six minutes later when she took it all the way in from the right side and scored.

New Hampshire got on the board in the 24th minute when Megan Bozek made a penalty shot.

The Terrapins answered back with three goals in the next three minutes to make it 5-1. Witmer, also a preseason All-ACC honoree, started the flurry when she deflected in a pass from the left side to make it 3-1. Junior Katie Gerzabek added the fourth Terps’ goal about a minute later. Witmer struck again 70 seconds later off another feed from Hayn on the left side to make it 5-1.

Saturday: No. 4 Connecticut 2, Stanford 1 (2OT)

Sophomore Sophie Bowden scored the second goal of her career to lead  Connecticut  to a 2-1 double-overtime victory against No. 12 Stanford on Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto, Calif.  The contest was the season opener for both teams.

Bowden has come up big against Stanford as both of her two career goals have come against Stanford and both were scored in game-winning fashion.

Junior forward Anne Jeute, who was forced to sit out the entire 2012 season due to injury after being honored as a second-team All-American in 2011, scored UConn’s first goal after she tipped in a shot attempt from sophomore Roisin Upton.

The two teams remained scoreless for the next 61 minutes until the Cardinal was finally able to get on the board.  Jessica Chisholm took a feed from Kelsey Harbin and knotted the score up at the 66:26 mark.

The two teams went back-and-forth for the next 23 minutes until Bowden’s strike from the left wing clinched UConn’s 11th consecutive win in a season opener.

All-American goaltender Sarah Mansfield made seven saves to help secure the victory, running her career record to 55-12.

Friday: No. 5 Syracuse 5, Quinnipiac 1

Syracuse claimed victory in its first game of the season, defeating Quinnipiac 5-1 at the Asics Invitational on Friday afternoon. The Orange had a near shutout, holding the Bobcats off for 70 minutes before allowing a score off of a penalty corner with zero minutes on the clock.

Quinnipiac recorded the first shot of the game but Syracuse fired back within one minute of play when Emma Russell netted the first Orange goal of the season. Leonie Geyer, who is credited with an assist on the play, took the shot and Russell was able to deflect it in to take an early 1-0 lead after 3:11 minutes of play.

A penalty corner in the middle of the first half set the offense up to gain a 2-0 advantage over the Bobcats. Jordan Page inserted the penalty corner and Geyer got a shot off, which went wide, but was able to track down her own shot and pass to Lauren Brooks, who scored with 17:52 left in the first half.

Friday: No. 6 Penn State 3, No. 8 Old Dominion 1

Penn State began its season with a tough road match against No. 8 Old Dominion on Friday evening. The Lions staged a three-goal second-half comeback after trailing 1-0 at the break to grab the win in the season opener.

After many threats, the Nittany Lions evened the score at 1-1 in the 56th minute off a run from Taylor Herold. Herold, a junior, cut in from the left side of the box and wove her way through to the front of the goal and calmly finished past the keeper to level the game.

Herold’s goal sparked the Nittany Lion attack, as Penn State scored the go-ahead goal just minutes later off a penalty corner. Senior Whitney Reddig sent the ball into Laura Gebhart, who set up Brittany Grzywacz’s strike that found the back of the net to put Penn State on top at 2-1 with about 12 minutes remaining.

Six minutes later the Lions struck again. Gebhart sent a pass into the middle of the circle from the right side and found Ashtin Klingler, who poked the ball past the keeper to cement the Penn State victory. Old Dominion was the first to get on the score sheet, as Kelsey Smither scored the game’s opening goal in the 15th minute to give the hosts the early lead.

Friday: No. 7 Virginia 3, Louisville 2

Virginia opened the 2013 season with a 3-2 victory against Louisville on Friday night in Charlottesville.

A pair of freshmen making their collegiate debuts accounted for two of the Cavalier goals. Riley Tata scored the first goal of the season for Virginia, tapping in a long pass from senior Elly Buckley just under two minutes into the game on her first touch of the game. Caligh Foust scored Virginia’s third goal a little more than 10 minutes into the second period, dribbling to the right side of the goal and knocking the shot past the Cardinal keeper.

A pair of seniors, Buckley and Carissa Vittese, scored the Cavaliers second goal with a little more than five minutes into the second half, which broke up a 1-1 tie. Vittese was at the top of the circle to take a shot off a penalty corner insertion. Instead of shooting, she passed to Buckley in front of the net.

Buckley finished the game with a goal, an assist and also notched a defensive save in the first half. Senior Katie Robinson also made a defensive save in the frantic first period.

Saturday: No. 14 Massachusetts 3, No. 9 Michigan 2

Michigan dropped its 2013 season opener, falling to No. 14 Massachusetts 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at the Maine Field Hockey Complex. The Wolverines led at the halftime break, before UMass surged ahead with two goals in the opening five minutes of the second half.

Massachusetts surged ahead early in the second half with two goals in the first five minutes of play. Brooke Sabia netted both goals for the Minutewomen, coming at the 35:53 mark and again at 39:28, to steal away the lead.

The Minutewomen struck first, scoring on their first corner opportunity at the 9:27 mark, but Michigan responded with goals from senior captain Rachael Mack and senior Michelle Roberts to carry a narrow 2-1 advantage at halftime.

Mack scored on the direct shot off Michigan’s second corner of the contest, at 13:27, blasting a hard shot past the feet of UMass goalkeeper Sam Carlino. Ainsley McCallister and Leslie Smith  earned assists on the stop and the push, respectively.

Roberts gave Michigan the lead late in the half, at 26:51, after a strong transfer play through midfield. Smith crossed a hard ball into the circle, where Roberts redirected it into the left corner of the cage. It was the 10th goal of Roberts’ career.

Friday: No. 10 Duke 4, Indiana 0

Senior Emmie Le Marchand tallied two goals and graduate student Cherry Seaborn and junior Jessica Buttinger added one each to highlight 10th-ranked Duke’s season-opening victory against Indiana Friday afternoon at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. The Blue Devils downed the Hoosiers by a 4-0 score after outshooting the visiting squad 17-12 for the match.

Duke’s four goals were the most in a season opener since 2005, when the program opened the fall with a 7-0 win over Louisville Aug. 27 on the road. Friday’s win also marked the Blue Devils’ first shutout in a season opener since 2009.

Le Marchand started the scoring for Duke two minutes into the game, finding the back of the cage from close range to give the Blue Devils the early advantage. The squad added to its lead toward the end of the half, as Seaborn dove to touch in a ball in at the post on a feed from junior midfielder Abby Beltrani.