News for 28 December 2013

All the news for Saturday 28 December 2013

Play Begins at 4th Annual Grove Menzieshill Invitational

The U.S. Men’s Indoor Squad will begin play at the Grove Menzieshill Invitational in Dundee, Scotland on December 28. The squad’s first match will be against Inverleith Hockey Club at 10:50 a.m. GMT. During the course of the tournament, Team USA will also face Grove Menzieshill Hockey Club, Wales and Scotland.

The Grove Menzieshill Invitational is in its fourth year and serves as excellent preparation for upcoming events in the New Year, such as the 2014 Pan American Indoor Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The invitational also fosters youth development and will be hosting a youth hockey festival on the morning of Friday, December 27. In the afternoon, Head U.S. Indoor Coach Andrew Thornton will be hosting a coaching clinic for U16 players. Scotland National Team players Linda Clement and Gavin Byers will also be hosting an U18 coaching clinic with Great Britain player Ali Bell. Sunday, December 29 will feature games with U10 and U12 teams followed by tournament championship games.

Following the Grove Menzieshill Invitational, the U.S. Men’s Indoor Squad will be competing in the 27th Leipzig Messestadt Cup in Leipzig, Germany from January 3-5, 2014. In February, they will then compete at the Big Apple Invitational in Feasterville, Pa.

For updates on Team USA’s matches, regularly check

USFHA media release

Preparatory Camp for World League Final to begin on Dec 28

NEW DELHI: The training camp of the Indian senior men core probables for the World Hockey League Final to be held in the capital from January 10-18 will begin at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday.

India is placed in Pool A with Germany, England and New Zealand, while Australia, Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina are placed in Pool B.

India will open its campaign against England on January 10 followed by New Zealand on January 11 and Germany on January 13.

Playing against all top teams of the World in this tournament will be good exposure for the Indian Men Hockey team prior to their preparations for the FIH Men's World Cup to be held in The Hague, Netherlands from May 31 to June 15.

The 28 senior men core probables will be part of the preparatory camp.

The List of Probables is as under: Goalkeepers: 1. PR Sreejesh 2. PT Rao 3. Harjot Singh Defenders: 4. Harbir Singh Sandhu 5. Rupinder Pal Singh 6. V R Raghunath 7. Birendra Lakra 8. Gurmail Singh 9. Amit Rohidas 10. Kothajit Singh Khadangbam 11. Gurjinder Singh

Midfielders: 12. S K Uthappa 13. M B Aiyappa 14. Dharamvir Singh 15. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam 16. Sardar Singh 17. Manpreet Singh 18. Danish Mujtaba 19. Satbir Singh

Forwards: 20. Nikkin Thimmaiah 21. Nithin Thimmaiah 22. S V Sunil 23. Mandeep Singh 24. Akashdeep Singh 25. Ramandeep Singh 26. Gurwinder Singh Chandi 27. Affan Yousuf 28. Yuvraj Walmiki.

The Times of India

Pakistan hockey sinks to new low in dismal year 2013

Failure to qualify for World Cup 2014 overshadows Pakistan’s victory at Asian Champions Trophy

By Muhammad Ali

The only consolation for Pakistan hockey in the dismal year 2013 was that they retained the Asian Champions Trophy title after defeating Japan in the final at Kakamigahara in Japan in November. Defending champions Pakistan had enjoyed a smooth campaign as they defeated Oman (8-0), China (5-1) and Malaysia (1-0) before facing a challenging task against India. However, their archrivals were pipped 5-4 as the Greenshirts successfully booked their berth in the final and later defended the title. That was the sum of our ‘achievements’ in a sport in which once we were the top dogs in the world.

But what shocked and dismayed all and sundry was when for the first time in the history of hockey, Pakistan, four times world champions, failed to qualify for the World Cup 2014. Pakistan’s hopes were dashed when they were beaten 2-1 by South Korea in the quarter-final of the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia in August. It will be the first time in 42 years that Pakistan hockey will not be seen in action in the World Cup 2014 to be held in the Netherlands. Pakistan won the inaugural competition in 1971 and triumphed again in 1978, 1982 and 1994. Former Olympians termed it the ‘darkest day’ in Pakistan’s sporting history, and they were very much right in their observation. It has now become clear even to the most partisan of their supporters that Pakistan hockey is indeed headed nowhere other than the dumps.

Prior to the Asia Cup, the World Hockey League (WHL), also in Malaysia, gave a golden opportunity to three-time Olympic gold medallists Pakistan. This qualifying competition was handing out three slots for the World Cup 2014, but South Korea outplayed Pakistan 4-3 in the quarter-finals. No doubt, this World Cup qualification failure was a national tragedy for a country that remained up in the clouds for more than three decades. Throughout the year, more often the results had been embarrassing to say the least with the Greenshirts struggling to win against second tier teams.

A multitude of sins in management, selection and coaching always got covered up through one cliché or the other. Ignored were the slips in the selection and the secretive manipulation that go behind the scenes for personal gains and self-aggrandisment, with constructive criticism always a poor second to the waving of the flag. The statements given by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) top officials in the national media after the team’s insipid performances were aimed at to make people believe that the national outfit were doing well, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The fact was that the way things were being conducted, the days ahead were anything but that.

What more disturbing and mind-boggling was that the PHF defied the Olympic Charter shamelessly and failed to enter the Commonwealth Games 2014 by the deadline by siding with an unlawful and unconstitutional National Olympic Committee, and resultantly the Greenshirts were out of the Glasgow Games 2014. And this happened barely after a month after the Greenshirts failed to qualify for the FIH World Cup 2014. Although Pakistan would be sending athletes to compete in other sports at the Commonwealth Games 2014, the PHF ignored the International Olympic Committee-backed National Olympic Committee, headed by Lt Gen (r) Syed Arif Hasan, because it relied heavily on the state-run Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and consequently showed no interest in sending an entry to Glasgow 2014.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) had given Pakistan an additional month beyond the original August 16 deadline to submit an entry but the Pakistan Olympic Committee (POA) did not receive the required assurances from the PHF to submit an application. Unfortunately common sense did not prevail. The POA did everything they could to get the PHF to work with them but it simply did not happen. Pakistan finished sixth at the last Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010, while their best ever finish was a silver medal at Melbourne 2006 Games.

Pakistan hockey stars withdrawn from India League:  The year did not start on a good note for Pakistan as their nine players were withdrawn from a new Hockey India League (HIL) and told to go back home in the wake of protests following border tension between the archrivals in January. None of the Pakistan players featured in the opening match of the HIL in New Delhi. The 34-match HIL, sanctioned by the sport’s world governing body – FIH– featured top stars from around the world playing for five city-based franchises till February 10.

India cancels hockey series with Pakistan: In March, India cancelled the bilateral hockey series with Pakistan slated for April-May. Both Hockey India (HI) and the PHF had planned a two-legged bilateral series after seven years. Pakistan were scheduled to play a five-match series in India April 5-15. India were then slated to tour the neighbours for the second leg of the series, also comprising five matches, from April 23.

Poor performance at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Pakistan participated in the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in March and gave very poor performance. India defeated Pakistan 4-2 in Ipoh to take the fifth spot. Like the previous year 2012, Pakistan finished last in the tournament.

Pakistan slip to eighth in world rankings: After a disappointing performance at the World Hockey League, Pakistan plunged to eighth in FIH rankings released in July. Pakistan, who were placed sixth in the previous ranking, slipped two places after the national team finished seventh in the World Hockey League.

PHF secretary Asif Bajwa quits: In September, PHF secretary general Mohammad Asif Bajwa resigned from his post while federation’s president Qasim Zia and head coach Akhtar Rasool preferred to hold on to their posts despite their poor performance at the office during the past five years. Bajwa tendered his resignation at the PHF executive board meeting. The PHF president accepted the secretary’s resignation and immediately announced Rana Mujahid as his replacement till the completion of the elections process of the national federation. Bajwa told media that during his five-year tenure he tried his best to bring back the lost glory of national hockey. However, Bajwa neither elaborated upon the reasons behind his decision to resign nor did he mention the series of setbacks and failures during his tenure which include the Pakistan team’s miserable showing in the 2010 World Cup where they finished 12th out of 12 teams and their ordinary faring in the London 2012 Games where they ended up a poor seventh. Pakistan a
lso squandered the opportunity of qualifying for the World Cup in the World Hockey League in Malaysia where they again ended up at 7th spot. And the last straw was the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup 2014 when they fell short of lifting the Asia Cup in Malaysia.

Head coach Akhtar also resigns over failures: Following Bajwa’s footsteps, head coach Akhtar also resigned from his post over the failures of the national team. Akhtar, who had been the coach for over a year, said he had tendered his resignation after consulting his friends. Akhtar miserably failed to inculcate self-belief and optimism in the national players. The hockey great, who had left hockey since long and doesn’t have any know how about the modern day hockey, raised many an eyebrow when he took over the coaching assignment. Akhtar was never in a good physical condition and lacked the agility of the modern day coaches and managers who were involved with the players throughout the match as well as practice and strategising sessions.

Election of new PHF management: At the fag end of the year, the PHF saw a complete overhaul in its administrative set-up. With PHF president Qasim Zia deciding not to contest the elections, former Olympians Akhtar and Mujahid were elected unopposed as president and secretary general of the PHF for a term of four years. As no individuals, except Akhtar and Mujahid, had filed the nomination papers to contest election for the covted posts, they were elected unopposed. As no competition in the elections was witnessed, prominent former Olympians like Islahuddin Siddiqui, Shahnaz Sheikh, Samiullah Khan along with others had termed the PHF elections bogus.

Pakistan finish poor ninth at Junior World Cup: Pakistan finished poor ninth at the Junior World Cup played in India in December. A below-par India lost to Pakistan via tie-breaker to finish 10th. India managed to draw the match beyond the regulation period with a 1-1 score line. Pakistan prevailed 4-2 in the penalty shootouts. Germany won the Junior World Cup after they defeated underdogs France in the final 5-2. The Netherlands defeated Malaysia 5-1 for bronze medal.

Former Olympians protest slump in hockey: In the third week of December, former Pakistan hockey Olympians protested in front of Parliament in Islamabad in a desperate bid to revive the former world-beating country’s struggling fortunes. They demonstrated in the hope that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would step in and help reverse the team’s decline. “We thought of staging a protest at the Parliament because this is the place where our voices can reach Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” said Shahnaz Sheikh, a member of Pakistan’s 1978 World Cup winning team. “We will protest again early next month at the parliament and continue until the Prime Minister addresses the situation,” he added. “The federation officials are politicised ... hockey should be free from politics,” said Sami Ullah. “It is high time that we save our national game and we request the Prime Minister to take stringent measures to restore the pride in the game,” said Sami.

Not much hope in 2014: No sporting federation is a bed of roses, especially one that carries the aspirations of the nation. In Pakistan hockey, one is witnessing that whenever the Greenshirts lose a tournament, an unwarranted overhaul takes place and merit runs poor second to personal whims. One is surprised to observe that the PHF ignores the fact that the change of command in no way promises success, planning does. But we are not a nation of sage souls. Rather we indulge in thoughtless decisions. If changing a manager or a coach after every defeat or bad performance had been the best remedy, Pakistan would have been champions. Unfortunately, the technical understanding of issues is always ignored, and it triggers a rot.

Despite all the available resources and hefty funds in the last one year, the PHF failed to put hockey back on track and get the desired results. Pakistanis have an emotional connection with hockey; the older generation still talks and recall with great delight the spellbinding achievements of the past. While the present generation only has tales of the past to live on. Their love or connection with hockey is only going to be strengthened when they actually see the return of the lost glory.

The need of the hour is to bring Pakistan hockey into line with the rest, best and the latest aspects of modern hockey as the game has changed a lot in recent years. Even the best of players cannot win without strategic strength as all team games need to have excellent preemptive and offensive strategies worked out scientifically. And for that we need those persons at the helm of affairs who are thorough professionals with solution to the predicament. Only then the elusive triumphs will replace the current tragedies that demean the team once basking in Olympic golds and world crowns.

But with the game of musical chairs in the national federation, the future looks not that bright. That face-saving victory in Japan aside, the year 2013 was a most forgetful year for Pakistan hockey. What is worse, it seems to be on an irrevocable downward slide. And realistically speaking, one should not harbour any hopes of the national team doing any better or revive themselves to their former glory in 2014.

The writer is Sports Editor at Daily Times

The Daily Times

National Hockey C’ship semis today

LAHORE – The semi-finals of the 60th NBP National Hockey Championship will be played here at the Johar Hockey Stadium today (Saturday). In the first semi-final, PIA will face SSGC at 11am while Wapda will take on NBP in the second semi-final at 2 pm. Earlier on Friday, three matches were played to decide the positions of the last five teams. In the first match, PTV defeated HEC 4-2 to get the ninth position. Navy outclassed Police 4-1 in the second match and secured the seventh position. The last match for the fifth position between Army and PQA was full of thrill which Army won by 5-3 and also won the fifth position.

The Nation

Record number of teams in MJHL

THE Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL), which starts next month, has attracted a record 31 teams with 13 making their debuts.

The debutants are KLSS Juniors-MSSSWP Juniors, Kuala Lumpur, MSSD Larut Matang & Selama, Perak, Kota Star Association, Kedah, Permatang Juniors, Selangor, SMK Dato Bentara Luar (Batu Pahat),SMK Dato Penggawa Barat (Pontian), Politeknik Johor Baru, SMK Syed Hassan (Perlis) and Felda Hockey Academy.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee will decide on the league's format in Bukit Jalil today.

The league, initiated in 1995, is scheduled on Jan 10-March 9 and all states, except Sabah and Sarawak, will be represented.

"We need to look at the format as placing teams in two groups in Division Two will mean a total of 132 matches," said MHC competitions committee chairman M. Gobinathan yesterday.

"We have several options and will discuss them tomorrow (today)."

Gobinathan said those who fail to submit their team list and pay the entry fee today will be omitted from the league.

New Straits Times

UniKL start as favourites in Junior Hockey League

By Aftar Singh

SSTMI-Thunderbolt are the defending champions of the MHC-Milo-Junior Hockey League. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt of Johor have played down their chances of bagging their fourth consecutive double in the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

Their coach Wan Roslan Wan Abdul Rahman said although they have retained 13 players from the victorious squad, it would be tough for them to retain the league and overall titles in the Under-19 league.

“Arch-rivals UniKL (Universiti Kuala Lumpur), who finished as runners-up in the last three years have beefed up their squad and will be the team to beat.

“They have roped in midfielder Mohd Azwar (Abdul Rahman), who was in the initial national junior team before he was dropped from the Junior World Cup,” said Wan Roslan.

SSTMI-Thunderbolt edged UniKL 1-0 in the final for the Milo Cup in March with Mohd Shahril Saabah scoring the winning goal off a penalty corner.

Shahril, who featured in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi recently, will not be eligible to play as he has turned 20.

Wan Roslan said their training have been affected because their turf in Bandar Penawar is currently under renovation and would only be ready by end of next year.

“We have to train at Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru and it takes us one hour to travel from Bandar Penawar to the venue.

“We will be more than happy if we can win at least one of the titles in the MJHL,” added Wan Roslan, who has been coaching the sports school since 2002.

A record of 31 teams will feature in the MJHL next month and Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competition committee will have a meeting on Saturday in Bukit Jalil to decide on the format and the teams who will compete in Division One and Division Two.

The Star of Malaysia

MHC warning: Show up for meeting or be dropped

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee have issued a stern warning to the teams for the 2014 MHC-MILO Junior Hockey League.

Teams who fail to attend the manager’s meeting or fail to submit their team lists on Saturday will be thrown out of the competition.

The decision to take a stricter stand was made at the committee’s meeting on Monday.

The team manager’s meeting is set for Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit jalil.

MHC competitions committee chairman and vice president M. Gobinathan said they do not want teams to complaint later that they were not aware of the rules and format of the competition.

“If teams do not submit their team list, entry fee or fail to turn up for the meeting as scheduled, then we have no choice but to leave them out.”

“In the past we have had teams who do not attend the meeting and later complained that they were not aware of the rules or guidelines,” he said.

This time they have had more than a month to confirm their team lists.

Closing of entries was on Dec 2.

On Saturday’s meeting the competitions committee will decide on the format for the new season. A record 31 teams have entered for the tournament, which was initiated in 1995.

Gobinathan said that while the large number of entries augurs well for the sport, it has however placed the MHC in a bind as the tournament will have to be completed by March 9 as the MSSM meet will be held two weeks later.

With the MJHL commencing on Jan 10, there are only some eight weekends for the competition to run and a break for Thaipusam (Jan 17) and Chinese New Year (Jan 31 and Feb 1).

“We need to look at the format as placing the teams in two pools in Division Two will mean a total of 132 matches at league stage alone,” said Gobinathan.

“We have several options to consider and will discuss it prior to the managers’ meeting. If the teams want an open draw then we will conduct it at the meeting itself.

“It is thus important that all team managers be present as we do not want them to raise any issues later.

“At the same time we want managers to be more responsible and not claim ignorance during the course of the competition.

Last year a total of 28 teams took part. Eight teams played in Division One while the other 20 were placed in two groups in Division Two.

Teams from all states in the peninsular are participating in the new season with Sabah and Sarawak missing out on the action.

Johor has the largest number of entries with six, followed by Kuala Lumpur (five), Perak (four), Penang and Selangor (three each), Pahang, Perlis and Negri Sembilan (two) while Malacca, Terengganu and Kelantan are fielding one team.

Teams making their debut in the tournament next year are KLSS Juniors-MSSS WP Juniors, Kuala Lumpur, MSSD Larut Matang and Selama, Perak, Persatuan Hoki Kota Star, Kedah, Permatang Juniors, Selangor, SMK Dato Bentara Luar Batu Pahat, SMK Dato Penggawa Barat Pontian, Politeknik Johor Baru, SMK Syed Hassan Perlis and Felda Hockey Academy Pahang.

The Star of Malaysia

Irish Hockey Announcement

Irish Hockey has today announced that the relationship between National Men’s Coach, Andrew Meredith, and the IHA will be discontinued at the end of December 2013.

The decision was by mutual consent after discussions were held between Irish Hockey and Andrew .

Irish Hockey would like to thank Andrew for his contribution over the last 14 Months and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.

The men’s team will now operate under the interim control of Mick McKinnon, current assistant National Men’s coach, and Jonny Caren, national U21 Mens Coach, until a new appointment is made.

Irish Hockey Association media release