News for 07 March 2010

All the news for Sunday 7 March 2010


Hero Honda World Cup 2010

Day 7 - Saturday 06-03-2010 16:35 Australia 2 :0 Spain
Day 7 - Saturday 06-03-2010 18:35 South Africa 4 : 3 Pakistan
Day 7 - Saturday 06-03-2010 20:35 England 3 : 2
India
Pool B
Rank Teams Played Wins Draw Lost GF - GA GD Points
1 England 4 4 0 0 17 - 10 7 12
2 Australia 4 3 0 1 21 - 5 16 9
3 Spain 4 2 0 2 10 - 8 2 6
4 India 4 1 0 3 10 - 14 -4 3
5 Pakistan 4 1 0 3 8 - 14 -6 3
6 South Africa 4 1 0 3 10 - 25 -15 3

 



England in semi-final after dominating India in fiery atmosphere

At the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010, England booked their ticket for the semi-final by dominating the host India (3-2) in a fiery atmosphere in Delhi, South Africa achieved an historic win over Pakistan (4-3) and Australia rekindled their semi-final chances with a precious win over Spain (2-0).

Game 19 – Australia v. Spain: 2-0 (half-time: 1-0)

In this World Cup, Australia lost their opening game to England (2-3) but came back to beat India (5-2) and South Africa (12-0), while Spain beat South Africa (4-2) and India (5-2) but lost to Pakistan (1-2).

The game started under the Delhi blaring afternoon sun, but it did not seem to bother the Kookaburras who spent the first ten minutes peppering the Spanish goal. Grant SCHUBERT had a superb opportunity alone in front of the goal but lost the ball in his feet. Spain earned a penalty corner on their first counter-attack in the 7th minute, after intervention of the video-umpire, but the powerful high flick was wonderfully saved on the line by Kiel BROWN.

Both teams were keeping a tight marking in midfield and key players such as Jamie DWYER were kept under a close Spanish watch. Finally, Edward OCKENDEN forced a penalty-corner in the 20th minute and Luke DOERNER did not pass on the chance to open the scoring with a mid-height flick that beat Francisco CORTES in the Spanish goal. Spain scrambled two penalty-corners at the other end, then nearly scored when Eduard TUBAU stole a ball in midfield and arrived one-on-one with Nathan BURGERS, but the Australian keeper managed to push him aside enough for his shot to go off target.

Spain were given a penalty-corner in the dying seconds of the period, after another referral to the video-umpire, but it was saved again on the line, this time by Luke DOERNER, busy at both ends on penalty-corners. The Spaniards were saved by the post on a penalty-corner soon after the break, then scrambled two set pieces of their own. With time passing and the score still marginally in favor of the Kookaburras, Spain tried to push more but were repeatedly caught in the tight net thrown by the Australian midfield. Spain were also exposing more their defense to counter-attacks and  Jamie DWYER ran 75m after stealing a ball; he set up perfectly Kieran GOVERS on the second post but the ball eluded him.

Spain picked up a yellow card on the play and were subsequently pushed back on their heels for a while and Glenn TURNER added a second goal for the Kookaburras in the 60th minute after a lengthy series of passes that mystified the Spaniards. Spain pushed in the final minutes, with Australia happy to just hit the ball up field. The Spaniards scrambled two more penalty-corner chances and Australia bagged the three points of the win, avenging in the process their loss against Spain in the semi-finals of the 2008 Olympic Games (2-3) and taking a serious option for a semi-final berth.

Match Facts (Australia v. Spain):

> Glenn Turner (AUS) netted his fifth goal this tournament, to help Australia well on their way to a ninth successive WC semi-final berth.
> Luke Doerner (AUS) is now on 6 (PC) goals at Delhi 2010, as is Taeke Taekema (NED).
> The Australian record for most goals in a World Cup tournament is 12 by Ian Cooke in 1978 and Jay Stacy in 1998.
> Ramon Alegre became the first Spanish player to be shown a yellow card this tournament.
> Spain who were in the semi-finals in two of the last three WC tournaments (2006 and 1998) will find it extremely hard to reach the last four at Delhi 2010 with six points from four matches.
> Spain failed to convert any of the eight PCs awarded to them in this match.

Game 20 – South Africa v. Pakistan: 4-3 (half-time: 0-1)

South Africa was up to a difficult task in the second match of the day. Having lost their first three encounters against Spain, England and Australia, they were pitted against a Pakistani team with their backs to the wall after losing severely to India (1-4) on opening day then to England (2-5). As in their first two games, South Africa nearly opened the scoring on a penalty-corner in the second minute of play, but it was Rehan BUTT who emerged from a wild scrum in front of Erasmus PIETERSE to score the first goal in the 6th minute.

Oddly, the Green Shirts seemed satisfied with the meagre lead and played at half-pace for a while, trying to show their individual skills but repeatedly losing the balls on unforced errors. South Africa boldly took their chances upfront and defended well a few penalty-corners, including a Sohail ABBAS low flick that went to video-umpiring referral for confirmation of the call then invalidation of the goal.

Taine PATON exposed the porosity of the Pakistani defense in the 31st minute, stealing a ball outside the 25m and running unchallenged before sending high in the stands his shot, that had Salman AKBAR stranded. South Africa had a long period of domination, dictating the pace to a Pakistani team definitely unimpressive. The final minutes of the period were all South Africa and the Green Shirts were clearly happy to pass the ball around to count down the clock and go into the break with their scanty one-goal lead.

South Africa picked up the game where they had left it, forcing a penalty-corner in the 38th minute and scoring by Gareth CARR after a well executed combination that sent the Pakistani runners in no-man’s-land. The crowd, now happy to support the underdog against the Pakistani neighbours, had more reason to erupt in wild cheers when Ian HALEY batted the ball into the empty goal after the shot from Thornton McDADE was deflected high up in the air by Salman AKBAR. Incredibly, South Africa added another goal shortly after by Taine PATON, taking advantage of a completely disoriented Pakistani defense gasping for air.

The rout continued in the 54th minute, when Salman AKBAR saw Marvin HARPER arrive alone in front of him and propel a missile in net. 4-1 for South Africa and twelve minutes to go! The South Africans (and the gamblers) in the crowd would certainly not have dreamed such a scenario one hour before. South Africa, on the verge of an historic feat, were now fighting with tooth and nail to defend their lead against Pakistani players who had lost all concept of team play.

Erasmus PIETERSE stood tall in goal to thwart some desperate final assaults. Muhammad IMRAN and Waseem AHMED scored on penalty-corners, including one that needed to be taken three times with no time on the clock, but it was too little too late and the Green Shirts left the pitch dejected while the African Champions enjoyed a deserved standing ovation from the capacity crowd.

Match Facts (South Africa v. Pakistan):

> South Africa beat Pakistan 4-3 to end their 10-match winless streak in World Cup competition.
> This is South Africa’s first WC win since 2002 when they beat Belgium 5-4 in the match for 13th place.
> South Africa join Pakistan on three points in Pool B. India are also on three points but they are still to play England tonight.

Game 21 – England v. India: 3-2 (half-time: 1-0)

The marquis match of the day opposed England, still unbeaten in the competition after wins over Australia (3-2), South Africa (6-4) and Pakistan (5-2), to a an Indian outfit that gave hope to their whole country  when they opened the World Cup with a decisive victory over arch-rivals Pakistan (4-1), only to fall to Australia (2-5) and Spain (2-5). The pundits were divided in the approach to take (more individual runs? More dribbles one-on-one? More passes?) but the crowd certainly did not worry about these technicalities and was cheering unconditionally for their heroes.

The first chance was for Sandeep SINGH on penalty-corner but his low flick did not fool the English runners. He has been harshly criticized by the powerful local media for his poor shows in defense and his inefficiency on penalty-corners, the main reason he is on the team. India committed the same basic defensive mistake as against Spain, leaving James TINDALL unmarked on the far post to quietly deflect a hard pass from Nick CATLIN in the 16th minute. Shivendra SINGH, back in the team after serving a two-game suspension for an incident against Pakistan, arrived on his own at the top of the circle, but English keeper James FAIR was waiting for him and showed his class by pushing the attacker aside until his retreating defenders could take charge of him.

Shivendra SINGH scrambled another chance a few minutes later, hurrying too much his shot. Meanwhile, the European Champions were playing their collective game with poise and speed, both in defense and counter-attack. They defended another penalty-corner successfully, this time with BHARAT officiating and they went into the break with a meager, but precious, one-goal lead.

Second period started in a corrida atmosphere, with feet stomping, flag waving, chanting, shouting and cheering. To its credit and unlike in other sports and other parts of the world, the crowd was supporting its team enthusiastically but without any jeering for the English opponents, although there was understandably little applause when Ashley JACKSON, officiating in replacement of injured Richard MANTELL, slotted a penalty-corner out of reach of Adrian D'SOUZA in the 42nd minute.

Rajpal SINGH and  Sarvanjit SINGH tried to save the nation with deep solitary runs, but England scored again in the 47th minute by Ashley JACKSON, increasing their lead  to 3 goals. Pushed by the roaring crowd, the Indian forwards finally scored by Gurwinder Singh CHANDI deflecting from close range a hard cross from the right wing, then shortly after by Rajpal SINGH on the post to collect the ball at the conclusion of a superb Asian style counter-attack that started with a save by their keeper D'SOUZA.

The last ten minutes promised to be pure hell for England, with the whole Indian team in attack and the crowd acting as twelfth and even thirteenth player. England fought fiercely on every ball and managed to maintain their structure and strict individual marking. They got a reprieve when Sardar SINGH was showed a yellow card for a nasty tackle on Ashley JACKSON. The Indians were becoming totally desperate and unnecessarily rough and lost Gurbaj SINGH on another yellow card but nevertheless nearly equalized in the dying seconds of the match by Rajpal SINGH, missing a deflection tantalizingly close to the far post.

Match Facts (England v. India):

> England beat India 3-2 to become the first team at Delhi 2010 to qualify for the semi-finals.
> England have reached the semi-finals for the second time and for the first time since 1986 when they finished runners-up to Australia.
> England have now won their last 7 WC matches.
> Ashley Jackson’s 42nd minute PC goals marked the 150th goal for England in World Cup competition.
> Jackson has now scored in each of England’s four matches at Delhi 2010.
> India (-4), Pakistan (-6) and South Africa (-15) are all on three points from four matches, with one match to go in Pool B.

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 continues on Sunday in Delhi when Korea face Canada, New Zealand meet Argentina and Germany conclude the day against The Netherlands.

For additional information, pictures, video clips, official game sheets, and more, please check the special FIH event site @ http://www.worldhockey.org/worldcup/.

Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 (men) – Delhi, India
Results Day 7 - Saturday 6 March 2010

Australia v. Spain  2:0 (1:0)

AUS  20mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  1:0
AUS  60mn  Glenn TURNER (FG)  2:0

South Africa v. Pakistan  4:3 (0:1)
PAK   6mn  Rehan BUTT (FG)  0:1
RSA  38mn  Gareth CARR (PC)  1:1
RSA  41mn  Ian HALEY (FG)  2:1
RSA  46mn  Taine PATON (FG)  3:1
RSA  54mn  Marvin HARPER (FG)  4:1
PAK  68mn  Muhammad IMRAN (PC)  4:2
PAK  70+mn  Waseem AHMED (PC)  4:3

England v. India  3:2 (1:0)
ENG  16mn  James TINDALL (FG)  1:0
ENG  42mn  Ashley JACKSON (PC)  2:0
ENG  47mn  Ashley JACKSON (FG)  3:0
IND  54mn  Gurwinder Singh CHANDI (FG)  3:1
IND  57mn  Rajpal SINGH (FG)  3:2

Pool Standings:
Pool A: 1) Netherlands 9 pts  2) Germany 7 pts  3) New Zealand 6 pts  4) Korea 4pts  5) Argentina 0 pt (-5)  6)  Canada 0 pt (-13)
Pool B: 1) England 12 pts  2) Australia 9 pts  3) Spain 6 pts  4) India 3 pts (-4)  5) Pakistan 3 pts (-6) 6) South Africa 3 pts (-1)

WorldHockey



India's gritty show not good enough

S. Africa stuns Pakistan; Australia beats Spain

S. Thyagarajan


— Photo: R.V. Moorthy

TAKE THAT!James Tindell smashes England's opening goal past a helpless Indian goal-tender Adrian D'Souza.

New Delhi: India capitulated to England's method and mobility and slipped out of contention for a semifinal berth in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Saturday. England earned its spot with a commanding tally of 12 points after a fourth straight victory in Pool B.

A solitary win in four matches makes even a third place in the Pool virtually impossible for India. On Monday, the home team takes on South Africa, which produced a scintillating show against Pakistan earlier on Saturday to win 4-3.

Early forays

Every minute was relished by the capacity crowd. Launching a series of raids with Sardar Singh as the pivot, the Indians were clearly on a high almost throughout the first half. Forthright and feverish in their workouts, India's dominance at the rival end almost looked absolute.

England's defenders, very stubborn and well defined, smothered every sally with utmost composure. Ben Hawes at the right and Glenn Kirkham engaged the Indian attackers in clean and clever tackles and interceptions.

Sardar Singh's forward passes backed by the agile Vikram Pillay paved the way for the forwards to create openings. However, all they could do was create intense pressure but no goals. The few chances that came up were stopped neatly by goalkeeper James Fair.

Tindell on target

England's lead midway through came against the run of play. A crisp cross by Fox opened the zone for James Tindell, who delicately deflected the ball past goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza.

India had two penalty corners taken by Sandeep and Diwakar. Neither could split the rival guards. One electrifying run by Shivendra Singh raised ripples of excitement in the packed galleries in the first half.

India continued to press in the second half but the tenacity of the England's defenders was not affected. A firm angled shot by Rajpal missed the mark by inches.

It was England that struck again with Ashley Jackson producing a splendid penalty corner shot. England increased the leeway when Jackson capitalised on a goal-mouth scrimmage to slot in the third goal.

The one moment to relish for India came midway in the second half. A tailor-made centre by Gurbaj put Gurvinder Chandi in the right spot to narrow down the margin.

Shivendra then launched an attractive sally with Sarwanjit Singh which ended in Rajpal Singh pushing the ball into the boards.

However, India's brave show was insufficient to take it to victory or even share points.

Great comeback

Earlier, with a display that demonstrated fighting qualities and projected an infectious ardour, South Africa carved out a 4-3 victory over four-time champion Pakistan that stunned everyone.

It was an upset of the greatest magnitude. Trailing 0-1 at half-time, the South Africans produced a bright spell that floored the Pakistanis comprehensively. Inspired by skipper Austin Smith's splendid mid-field show, the South Africans peppered the rival defensive wall in a matter of minutes after the break.

Gareth Carr led the blitzkrieg with a thundering penalty corner and that was followed by a brilliant finish by Ian Haley. Minutes later came the third from Taine Paton and Marvin Harper netted a scorcher from the right to leave the seasoned Salman Akbar in a daze.

Humbled and humiliated, the Pakistanis were desperate to get back. The South African defenders gave little elbow room and only late in the match did they cave in.

Imran Muhammad slammed in a penalty corner three minutes from the end. With seconds left, Pakistan forced a penalty corner which slipped out of the regulation time. There were in all three attempts with the last one culminating in a goal after a shot by Waseem Ahmed.

The victory that Australia accomplished against Spain was anything but fluent. The consolation was the three points from the 2-0 victory, with a goal coming in each half.

That the Aussies were circumspect placed the tie in perspective. The frontline, despite the energetic workouts by Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner supported by Rob Hammond, saw the Spanish wall as a huge block.

Luke Doerner, the ever dependable penalty corner striker for the Aussies, fetched the lead which the team clung on to till late into the second half.

Spain leaned heavily on Pol Amat. If only the lanky striker had succeeded in capping the solo run he made late in the first half, the script could have been different.

The Aussies breathed a sigh of relief only when Turner struck.

The results: Pool B: Australia 2 (Luke Doerner, Glenn Turner) bt Spain 0. HT 1-0.

South Africa 4 (Gareth Carr, Ian Haley, Taine Paton, Marvin Harper) bt Pakistan 3 (Rehan Butt, Imran Muhammad, Waseem Ahmed). HT 0-1.

England 3 (James Tindell, Ashley Jackson 2) bt India 2 (Guruvinder Singh Chandi, Rajpal Singh). HT 1-0.

Sunday's matches: Korea vs. Canada (4.35 p.m.); New Zealand vs. Argentina (6.35 p.m.); Germany v Netherlands (8.35 p.m.) .

The Hindu



English summer in Delhi, SA and Australia other winners

K. Arumugam


England exhibited superb scoring skills and then a cool and collected temperament when things went against them, to earn the first right to be in the semifinals. The resurgent England overcame full-throated crowd to defeat India 2-3 in a pulsating match. England survived anxious moments and unrelenting Indian attacks before holding the slender margin of solitary goal till the hooter, to return to pavilion with full three points.

Ashley Jackson scored a goal apiece in the 42nd and 47th minute, while James Tindall punched the first goal.

Pakistan lost to South Africa 3-4, their first defeat at the hands of Africa in the history of World Cup, and Australia, despite struggling, came betrer of Spain (2-0). Luke Doerner and Glen Turner scored the Aussies.

When India trailed 0-3 midway through, Coach Brasa sent youngsters Sarwanjit Singh and Diwakar ram, and it helped to increase the tempo. It paid dividends.

First Baljit Singh Chandi and then Rajpal Singh scored, and the entire team held their famed rival on toes. However, Rajpal is guilty of missing a sitter early in the second half, and then in the dying moments.

"We deserved a point from this match, I am sorry I missed the pass given by Arjun", said Rajpal Singh. On the field, Shivender proved why he is a key player in the scheme of things.

He combined well with other forwards, younger ones indeed, to make the contest close one. In the dying moments, India suffered two temporary suspensions, one to Sardar Singh and the other to man-in-form Gurbaj Singh. "I agree the decision insofar as Sardar, he was in hurry to get the ball, but the one Gurbaj got was due to misunderstading from the umpires", coach Brasa said in a post match discussion.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan suffered a humilating loss against South Africa (3-4) while in the first match of day seven, Australia overcame stiff Spain 2-0.

With three wins and a loss, Australia is firmly moving towards the semifinal slot.

Four times World Cup winner Pakistan today was down 1-4 at one point of time before scoring a brace in the last two minutes.

It is infact Pakistan that took the lead in the 6th minute with a goal from Rehan Butt. Thereafter its spirited African side that dictated the terms, scoring four goals in the 38th, 41st, 46th and 54 th minute.

While lowly rated Africa was precise in shooting from inside the circle, Pakistan on the other hand was anything but precise.

Pakistan in the first half also suffered a goal reversed due to third umpire's referral.

Sloppy Pakistan forwards came alive for a brief spell late in the last five minutes, Imran md. scoring off teams 5th PC. At the stroke of 70th minute Pakistan survived a referral, and then went on to score the third goal off the third PC in the 70th minutes, played after the hooter.

Stick2Hockey.com



England qualify for semi-finals

England’s James Tindall (second from right) celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal during their match against India at the men’s Hockey World Cup in New Delhi yesterday. (Reuters)

European champions England stormed into the semi-finals of the men’s field hockey World Cup after 24 years with a 3-2 win over India yesterday.

James Tindall, Ashley Jackson and Nick Catlin put England 3-0 ahead by the 47th minute before Gurwinder Chandi and Rajpal Singh scored in a two-minute burst for the hosts late in the match.

England’s fourth successive win in group B took them to the knock-out rounds of the sport’s premier event for the first time since 1986 when they made the final at home in London.

“We obviously came here to reach the semi-finals, so one of our three goals has been achieved,” said English coach Jason Lee.

“Now we must enter the final and then win the World Cup. This is a sort of revival of English hockey. The first big step was beating Germany in the Euro final last year.”

Meanwhile, favourites Australia defeated Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain 2-1 to put themselves in line for the second semi-final spot from the group behind England.

The Kookaburras, who have nine points and a huge goal difference of plus-16, can only miss the bus if they lose to Pakistan by a big margin and Spain trounce England in the last group B matches on Monday.

Spain are lying third in the group with six points, while India, Pakistan and South Africa have three each.

Former champions Pakistan, already out of contention for the semi-finals, suffered an embarrassing 4-3 defeat at the hands of lowly South Africa.

Australia’s win through goals by Luke Doerner and Glenn Turner helped the Kookaburras avenge the 3-2 defeat at Spain’s hands in the Olympic semi-final at Beijing in 2008.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said he was delighted at the win, but slammed the umpires for awarding seven penalty corners to Spain.

“I am very angry at the umpiring today (Saturday),” he said. “Giving them seven penalty corners put a lot of pressure on our players. Some of them were just not warranted.

“Umpiring has been a problem for some years, but one expects better at a World Cup.”

South Africa, whose three previous defeats in the tournament included a record 12-0 drubbing by Australia, reserved their best hockey against Pakistan to record their first-ever World Cup win.

Rehan Butt’s first-half goal for Pakistan mattered little as the South Africans pumped in four goals in the space of 16 minutes through Gareth Carr, Ian Haley, Taine Paton and Marvin Harper.

Pakistan made the scoreline look better than the match suggested by scoring twice in the last four minutes through Mohamed Imran and Waseem Ahmed.

Gulf Times



World Cup semi final looms for Kookaburras

The Kookaburras have all but booked a spot in the semi finals at the 2010 World Cup, defeating Spain 2-0 overnight in India.

The win sees the Kookaburras secure second place on the points table of pool B, now one game ahead of Spain with a superior goal difference, with only one match remaining in the round matches.

Knowing a spot in the semi finals was on the line, the Kookaburras started the match strongly, making some genuine shots on goal in the opening ten minutes.

Striker Grant Schubert was handed a golden opportunity when he found himself alone in front of the goal, but couldnt control the ball and the score remained 0-0.

Spain themselves had an opportunity to score early in the match after being awarded a penalty corner at the seven minute mark, however the powerful flick was saved on the line by defender Kiel Brown.

An Eddie Ockenden forced penalty corner gave defender Luke Doerner an opportunity to extend his good form from the previous match against South Africa, with the Victorian converting his 6th penalty corner goal for the tournament and giving the Kookaburras the lead.

Spain were determined to hit back as soon as possible, and were awarded several penalty corners in the late stages of the first half, with their last one being saved by Luke Doerner on the goal line.

With time running out Spain took more chances with their counter attacks in order to get on the scoreboard, ultimately exposing their defense. After Spain received a yellow card the Kookaburras took advantage, with Glenn Turner scoring Australia's second goal at the 60 minute mark to hand the Kookaburras the victory.

Australia will next play Pakistan on Monday 8 March.

Kookaburras 2 Spain 0 (1-0 half time)

Hockey Australia media release



Aussies unstoppable as Spain go down tamely

V Narayan Swamy


NEW DELHI: "We will have to play for the fifth position." This declaration from Spanish coach Dani Martin was as disappointing as his team's show against Australia on Saturday.

The 2-0 loss not only virtually ended their hopes of making the semifinals from Group B in the Hockey World Cup but left a bitter taste in the mouth as they conceded defeat before making a match of it.

To be sure, Spain, with six points from four matches, aren't out of the race yet, at least mathematically. But to make that giant leap, they will have to pray for an Aussie loss to Pakistan in their final league match on Monday and hope that they defeat England by a colossal margin. In reality, though, that is mission impossible.

What went wrong on Saturday was easy to guess. Spain capitulated in the second half. Spain were inexplicably slow, pushing the ball to the flanks and working laboriously along the line. Yes, they did make an impact whenever they reached the circle, forcing in all eight penalty corners.

One man who could have made the difference - Eduard Tubau - was a passenger upfront. Pol Amat and Pau Quemada were also out of form. And that was quite a contrast when compared with their performance in the first half, where numerous chances, created with clinical work on the midfield by Miquel Delas and David Alegre, came dangerously close to fetching them the lead.

But then, they had a resolute Aussie defence and goalkeeper Nathan Burgers to contend with. Australia did not look too hassled, although coach Ric Charlesworth complained about poor umpiring in the tournament yet again. But they stood out in consistency and that fetched them rich dividends.

The first goal came in the 20th minute when Luke Doerner converted their first penalty corner. The other came 40 minutes later, Glenn Turner cleverly guiding home a Robert Hammond pass.

Later, in the press conference, the Australians were their typical selves, refusing to look ahead to the semifinals until they had completed their job in the league.

"We have the advantage as far as goal difference is concerned, but at this stage of the tournament that certainly does not guarantee a place in the semis," said Aussie skipper Jamie Dwyer. Charlesworth was disappointed with the umpiring decisions.

The Times of India



Aussies blank Spain, book semis spot

Devadyuti Das


New Delhi, March 6: Australia downed Olympic silver medallists Spain 2-0 in a Pool ‘B’ match to almost assure themselves a berth in the semifinals of the 12th Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday. Australia, who avenged their defeat at the hands of the same opponents in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, now have nine points from four matches while Spain only have six from the same number of games.

Penalty-corner specialist Luke Doerner, who is now the top scorer in the tournament with six goals, gave the Kookaburras the lead in the 20th minute converting the Australians’ first short-corner. Glenn Turner then struck in the 60th minute to seal the match for Australia.

It was however one of the most closely-fought contests in the tournament so far as the world’s number two and three teams showed there is not much separating them. Grant Schubert and Mark Knowles attacked in right earnest from both flanks and the European side were immediately pushed on the defensive.

Spain, however, were quick on the counter-attack with skipper Pol Amat charging into the Australian half in the eighth minute to earn the first penalty corner for the team. Pau Quemada took the short corner but keeper Nathan Burgers, who had a great game, was good enough to stop the ball on the line.

The inability of the Spanish side to convert any of their eight penalty-corner chances was one of the reasons of the predicament. Australia at the other end capitalised on their first one with Doerner shooting low to the right of the Spanish keeper Francisco Cortez to give his side the lead.

Spain’s best opportunity to score came when their start striker Eduard Tubau after controlling a scoop from the midfield charged down the Australian defence, dodged goalkeeper Burgers but sent his shot wide.

After being on the defensive in the first half, Spain came back with attacking intent after the break. Quemada was impressive up front but Spain’s finishing was found wanting. It was Australia’s turn to counter-attack and skipper Jamie Dwyer’s pace caught the Spanish defenders napping in the 51st minute. Dwyer passed to Grant Schubert but his cross missed Kieran Govers who was in front of the goal. The Aussies doubled their lead in the 60th minute with Desmond Abbott sending a superb cross to Robert Hammond on the left. As the Spanish keeper came out to cut Hammond’s angle he was unable to stop the unmarked Turner behind him, who slammed the ball into the open net.

“We are playing a very attacking form of hockey and other teams will find it hard to keep up with our pace. I think the team are now in a position they want to be,” Dwyer said after the match, which was also Australia’s fourth win over Spain in World Cup matches.

The Asian Age



Aus edge out Spain

Prabhjot Singh


Playing to a set game plan, Australia scored once in each half to edge out Spain 2-0 for their third win in four games to move a step closer to a berth in semifinals of the 12th Hero Honda World Cup Hockey Tournament at Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium here today. The win for Aussies comes as a sweet revenge for they had lost 1-3 to Spain in the 2006 World Cup in Munchengladbach. With their second defeat in four games, Spain are in a piquant situation as they are now left with a game against England. Possibility of their team making it to the semifinals is virtually non existent.

It was the sixth encounter between Australia and Spain in the World Cup. Australia has now won four times, lost once and drew once. Australia were on the offensive from the word go as they went for full court press as they do in basketball and even attempted to thwart 16-yard free hits. Spaniards are no novices and they gradually started digging their feet in to give Australians medicine for their own ailment.

In the ninth minute, Berbie Graeme got marching orders for bringing down Pol Amat and besides conceding a penalty corner. While Spain could not make use of any of the seven penalty comers they earned today, Australia on the other hand got their first goal from a penalty corner that makes the scorer Luke Doerner a strong contender for top scorer of the tournament award. His neat flick from the first penalty corner stuck the board in the 20th minute.

With a little bit of luck, Spain could have got the equaliser in the 31st minute. Nippy and speedy Eduaro Tubau in a dazzling display of controlled stick work wove past the entire Australian defence including the goalkeeper, but his shot from an acute angle zipped across the goalmouth. A good chance was lost. Even Australia had let go a good chance of consolidating the lead. Abbot made a gallant attempt from top of striking circle but found Cortes in the Spanish goal alert. One of the unusual scenes witnessed in the present day hockey - bully off - made this game memorable. Spain had asked for a video referral while the ball had already travelled to their territory. While the video umpire stood by field umpire’s decision, game was resumed with a bully off.

Australia had to wait till the 61st minute to consolidate their lead and assure themselves of maximum three points. It was Turner, who after a few pleasant and accurate exchange of passes amongst Australian forwards beat Cortes in the goal with a neat flick.

The Tribune



Australia edge past Spain 2-0, move closer towards semis

NEW DELHI: Australia continued with their impressive form after the initial hiccup and inched closer towards a semi-final spot beating Olympic silver medallist Spain 2-0 in a crucial Pool B match of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup on Saturday.

With this victory, Australia not only pocketed three vital points but also took revenge of their semi-final defeat at the hands of the Spaniards in Beijing Games.

Luke Doerner (20th) converted his sixth short corner of the tournament in the 20th minute and then Glenn Turner doubled the lead for the Aussies in the 60th minute.

The win almost assured Australia a place in the last-four stage and a draw against Pakistan in their last match on Monday would be more than enough for Ric Charlesworth's boys to secure their place in the semi-final.

Australia is in the most comfortable position in Pool B with a goal average 16 in their favour.

Spain, on the other hand, has no option but to win against England in their last match and then wait for the results of other matches of the pool.

The Aussies started from where they left against South Africa and got their first scoring opportunity in the sixth minute when Matthew Butturni dodged past several defenders to set up the ball for Grant Scubert, whose subsequent shot from top of the circle was brilliantly saved by Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes.

Spain soon responded back with a quick counter-attack, which resulted in their first penalty corner, but Pau Quemads's drag-flick was saved by Australia custodian Nathan Burgers.

World number three Australia first sounded the board when Doerner ably converted a short corner in the 20th minute.

Just three minutes from the interval, experienced Eduard Tubau got a golden opportunity to draw parity for Spain but, after outplaying Cortes, his shot from a narrow angle missed the goal by inches.

Australia could have been 2-0 up by half time but for a brilliant Cortes, who denied Desmond Abbott in the 34th minute, padding away his spin shot from top of the Dee.

Spain also wasted two more penalty corners, one of which came just 51 seconds from the break.

Trailing by a goal, Spain took attacking strategy right from the start of the second half, while Australia waited for some quick breakaways.

Spain mounted quite a few attacks on the Australian goal in the second but every time the Aussie defence stood tall to deny them success.

Spain's day can be summed up from the fact that they earned as many as seven short corners in the 70 minutes but failed to convert a single.

Just 10 minutes from the hooter, Australia drove the final nail in Spain's coffin when Turner found the back of the Spanish goal from a Robert Hammond's lay-off.

The Times of India



Australia make it three wins at men's hockey World Cup with 2-0 result


Favourites Australia defeated Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain 2-0 to move closer to a semi-final berth in the men'shockey World Cup.

The Kookaburras scored once in each half, with Luke Doerner converting a penalty corner in the 20th minute, before Glenn Turner increased the tally 10 minutes before the final whistle.

Doerner's sixth goal of the tournament helped him draw level with leading goalscorer Taeke Taekema of the Netherlands, while Turner scored his fifth.

Australia avenged the 3-2 defeat at Spain's hands in the Olympic semi-final at Beijing and took their points tally to nine from four matches in group B.

The Kookaburras will fancy their chances of taking the other semi-final spot from the group with a goal difference of plus-16 ahead of their last league match against Pakistan.

Spain are almost certainly out of the semi-final race with just six points from four matches.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said he was delighted at the win, but slammed the umpires for awarding seven penalty corners to Spain.

"I am very angry at the umpiring today,'' he said.

"Giving them seven penalty corners put a lot of pressure on our players. Some of them were just not warranted.

"Umpiring has been a problem for some years, but one expects better at a World Cup.''

Spanish coach Dani Martin conceded his team will now have to be content with playing classification matches.

"You don't deserve to be in the semi-final if you waste seven penalty corners,'' he said.

"We will now try to finish among the top six.

Fox Sports



‘Spain gave us a very tough fight ’

AGE CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi, March 6: Australia put a false start to the 12th Hockey World Cup campaign behind them to close in on a semifinals berth after their 2-0 victory over Spain in the Pool ‘B’ match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday. Skipper Jamie Dwyer was relieved to come through a gruelling contest unscathed.

“It was a tough match and both sides had plenty of opportunities. I am glad to come away with a victory and are now almost in the semifinals,” Dwyer said after the match.

Robert Hammond, who played a big role in Australia’s second goal, had a word of praise for Spain.

“Spain are a very good side and they gave us a very tough fight. The team are very satisfied that they could churn out a tough win. It has been a tennis-like scenario for us after losing the first match since we have to ensure that we win every game to progress,” Hammond said.

Spanish striker Pau Quemada was devastated after the loss. “We had plenty of chances in the match but failed to utilise any of them. It is very hard to win after you miss eight penalty-corners in the match.

“We always had a chance of reaching the semifinals but now have to depend of other results to progress. We’ll be watching India’s match and pray they beat England for us to have a chance,” Quemada said.

The Asian Age



Charlesworth unhappy with umpiring

Sports Reporter


NEW DELHI: Australian coach Ric Charlesworth was furious about the “umpiring errors” in his team's crucial match against Spain at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Saturday. Charlesworth had also raised objections against the ‘poor' standard of umpiring in Australia's first match against England.

After the hard-fought win against Spain, he said, “Of the seven penalty corners against us, three were bad decisions and I am very angry about it. These factors are forcing us to play better.”

Charlesworth said the wrong choice of the video referral prevented his side from challenging the umpiring decisions later.

“This is one of the problems with the game. When so many players fight it out in a little space, it becomes very, very difficult for the umpires. I have great sympathy for the umpires,” the Aussie said.

Charlesworth, who asked Graham Reid to handle the Australian team on his behalf and watched the match from the stands, demanded review of the referral system. “These things hurt you. It needs to improve, it should be polished. But I support it,” he said.

Spanish coach Martin Dani admitted that his team was out of the race for the semifinals after the defeat. “Now we want to finish in the next best place,” Dani said, agreeing that the loss to Pakistan had proved costly.

Big turnaround

South Africa's 4-3 victory over Pakistan was a big turnaround for the African nation, which had suffered a humiliating 0-12 loss to Australia. “We cannot hold on to that for a long time. Today we were much more disciplined,” South African coach Gregg Clark, said.

Pakistan's star drag-flicker Sohail Abbas said his team had not put up a well-coordinated effort. He was unhappy with his own form too.

The Hindu



"We could have lost due to refereeing"

Australia might have won the tie against Spain but coach Ric Charlesworth had a lot to say about the match officials.

By Adarsh Vinay


Despite a 2-0 win over third-ranked Spain that virtually guarantees them a place in the semifinals, Australian coach Ric Charlesworth was not happy with the referees. Many decisions went against his team, which he felt could have hampered their chances in another game.

“We were the victim of some bad referring today (Saturday). Out of the eight short corners that were given against us, three were poor decisions. Fortunately for us, we managed to win. Another day, those mistakes from the umpires could have cost us.”

The video referrals are being used on a trial basis in the tournament. Charlesworth said that he was in support of the system but added that it needed to be improved. “It is a good thing. But it needs a lot of modification. Like in cricket, there need to be more pictures, more camera angles. The game also needs to be simplified.”

Click here for image gallery

Speaking about the match, Australia captain Jamie Dwyer said, “I am very happy with the win against a tough opposition. The win takes us closer to a semifinal spot.”

The Australians had many chances but only converted two. Dwyer said his team had work to do but wasn’t too concerned. “Even against England, we had 28 shots and still lost. Today also we had many chances and just finished two. But we won today and more importantly, we kept a clean sheet. We need to work on our finishing,” the 30-year-old said.

Spain captain Rodrigo Garza was disappointed with his team’s inability to convert penalty corners. “Australia were stronger than us. But we held them 1-0 for 60 minutes. We had plenty of chances. We also had eight penalty corners. If we had converted just one of them then the result probably would have been different,” said the 30-year-old.

ESPNStar.com



South Africa crush Pakistan's semifinal dreams in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: Pakistan slumped to their worst defeat in the tournament when a lowly South Africa stunned the Asian giants 4-3 in a must-win Pool B match to shatter their semifinal dreams at the hockey World Cup on Saturday.

Saturday's defeat was also Pakistan's first-ever loss at the hands of world number 13 South Africa in the international arena.

On the other hand, South Africa not only pocketed full three points in the tournament but also registered their first World Cup win since they defeated Belgium 5-4 in 2002.

Gareth Carr (38th minute), Ian Haley (42nd), Taine Paton (47th) and Marvin Harper (55th) scored for South Africa, while Rehan Butt (5th), Imran Muhammad (68th) and Waseem Ahmed (70+3) were the scorers for Pakistan.

The match started on a pacy note with both South Africa and Pakistan going for attack from the onset.

They might have come into the match as underdogs with three successive defeats under their belt, but South Africans gave Pakistan a run for their money in the opening half.

The 0-12 drubbing at the hands of Australia seemed to have made the South Africans more determined to prove a point or two before the hockey fraternity.

The South Africans got an opportunity to score in the second minute when they earned their first penalty corner but failed to beat Salman Akbar on the Pakistani goal.

It was Pakistan who scored the first goal three minutes later when experienced striker Butt pushed the ball over the goal-line past South Africa custodian Erasmus Pieterse after a great run down the baseline.

The goal seemed to have rejuvenated the Pakistani side as they press forward for another and in the effort earned three penalty corners, including two on the trot.

On one such occasion ace drag-flicker Sohail Abbas converted but his goal was disallowed by the video umpire after South Africa called for referral claiming that the ball was not stopped properly.

From there on it was all South Africa as they made continuous raids into the Pakistani citadel in search of the equaliser.

Despite several chances in the dying moments of the opening half, South Africa failed to score courtesy a vigilant Pakistan custodian Akbar.

Down by a goal, the South Africans came out a rejuvenated lot after the lemon-break and not only drew parity but also scored two more goals in a span of just nine minutes.

Three minutes into the second half, South Africa earned their fourth penalty corner of the match and Carr made no mistake in sending his drag-flick into the Pakistan goal.

Pakistan hardly recovered from the shock, Haley made it 2-1 in favour of South Africa in the 42nd minute, volleying the ball into the empty goal and five minutes later a diving Paton scored a terrific goal to shut any comeback hopes for Pakistan.

As if that was not enough, the South Africans scored another through Harper when he smashed home the bouncing ball from top of the circle in the 55th minute, summing up yet another horrific day for Pakistan custodian Akbar.

Pakistan, however, pulled two back in the final moments of the match when they earned three short corners in succession through Imran and Waseem.

Pakistan will next play title favourites Australia in their inconsequential final pool encounter on March 8 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The Times of India



Proteas stun Pak, record first win

M.S.Unnikrishnan


South Africa bounced back from a goal down to spoil the party for Pakistan as they scored a 4-3 victory to notch up their first victory in Group B of the 12th Hero Honda FIH World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here. South Africa, who had lost their previous three matches to Spain, England and Australia conceding 22 goals and scoring six, let in two more goals but added four more, though the victory did not mean anything to the African team.

The defeat, however, spelt doom for Pakistan who are now out of the fight for the fifth place, after losing three of their four matches.

South Africa put up a spirited fight back and at one stage led 4-1, but Pakistan added two goals in the final three minutes to ran the South African close, though it was no consolation for the four-time title holders, and once the giants of the sport.

Pakistan mounted a series of attacks, and Shakeel Abbasi stood out with his dribbling skills. But South Africa were equally determined to deny Pakistan goals as their defence stood out to nip the Pakistan sallies mostly at the top of the dee, or inside the circle. Pakistan expectedly took the lead in the sixth minute when Rehan Butt found the target after a goalmouth scramble. It looked like a comfortable sailing for Pakistan when they “scored” a second goal in the 22nd minute by Sohail Abbas off their second penalty corner.

The scoreboard showed Pakistan leading 2-0. But South Africa asked for referral and the television umpired negated the goal as the ball off the penalty push was stopped on the line of the dee, and not outside it, as is the rule. So “robbed” off a goal, Pakistan were pushed into a defensive mode by South Africa who were charged up in the final few minutes of the first half, forcing two penalty corners in succession.

South Africa returned from the interval all charged up and equalised three minutes into the second half when Gareth Carr scooped in off their fourth penalty corner. Then they scored two superb field goals in the next nine minutes through Ian Haley and Taine Paton to take a 3-1 lead.

Marvin Harper made it 4-1 with yet another remarkable field goal eight minutes later. Pakistan made a late surge to force two penalty corners in the space of two minutes, the last coming just seconds before the final hooter, to score through Mohammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed.

Pakistan realised late to give variation in their penalty corner strikes, instead of depending solely on Rehan Butt, but by then time ran out on them to repair the damage. Pakistan also realised that holding on to the ball, displaying their dribbling skills, was no way to play even against South Africa, as the African champions disposed them before they could give logical finish to the threatening raids.

The Tribune



SA hockey team bounces back with victory against Pakistan

The South African hockey team has bounced back from Thursday's 12-0 loss to Australia with a 4-3 victory over Pakistan in the men's field hockey World Cup in New Delhi.

It is the South African's first win in the competition since Belgium eight years ago. Pakistan opened the scoring with a goal early in the first half and the scored remained 1-0 throughout the half. The Springboks came back strongly after the break, finding the back of the net four times. The Pakistanis fought back with two consolation goals off penalty corners just before the finish, but the South Africans had already sealed victory and their first points in the competition.

Meanwhile, European hockey champions England clinched a semi-final place in the men's World Cup by beating India 3-2 yesterday. Ashley Jackson hit two goals after James Tindall had opened the scoring in the Pool B match at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium. Elsewhere, tournament favourites Australia defeated Spain 2-0 to close in on a semi-final spot.

In-form Luke Doerner scored from a penalty corner to put world number two Australia 1-0 up in the 20th minute against Olympic silver medalists Spain. Glenn Turner was also on target in the 60th as former champions Australia recorded their third victory in four matches in Pool B. Australia, who won a record 10th Champions Trophy in December, thumped South Africa by a record 12-0 margin in their previous match.

SABC News



SA beat Pakistan in redeemer

New Delhi - South Africa earned their first victory at the field hockey World Cup on Saturday by beating Pakistan 4-2.

Both South Africa and Pakistan have been eliminated from the knockout round after only winning one of their first four matches.

Pakistan opened the scoring in the fifth minute through striker Rehan Butt to lead 1-0 at halftime. But Gareth Carr equalised in the 38th minute on a penalty corner before field goals from Ian Haley, Tanie Paton and Marvin Harper gave South Africa a 4-1 lead.

Pakistan pulled back two goals in the last three minutes on penalty corners through Muhammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed.

Earlier, title favourites Australia moved closer to the semifinals by defeating Spain 2-0.

Independent Online



SA shatter Pakistan’s semifinal dreams

AGE CORRESPONDEN


New Delh, March 6: South Africa shocked four-time World Cup champions Pakistan 4-3 in a Pool ‘B’ match to notch up their first points in the 12th Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday. The Proteas snapped a seven-match losing streak in the quadrennial event and posted their first win in 10 World Cup matches.

Gareth Carr (38th), Ian Haley (41st), Taine Paton (46th) and Marvin Harper (54th) were the goalscorers for the South Africans. For Pakistan, Rehan Butt (6th) gave the side the early lead while Muhammad Imran (68th) and Waseem Ahmed (70th) struck late in the match, but it was too little, too late.

The Pakistanis set the early pace in the match. Shakeel Abbasi mounted the first attack in the fifth minute but it was striker Butt who put the team in the lead pushing the ball past South African keeper Erasmus Pieterse in the sixth minute.

Pakistan thought they were up 2-0 in the 23rd minute courtesy a Sohail Abbas dragflick but the video umpire upheld South Africa’s claim that ball was stopped before the line as the teams went into the break with Pakistan leading 1-0.

The South African defence thwarted Pakistan attacks splendidly and equalised three minutes after the break with Carr finally managing to convert a penalty corner after six attempts in this tournament. Haley then shocked the Asian giants volleying a Thornton McDade cross into the empty net in the 41st minute. Paton added to Pakistan’s misery by diving into a cross from outside the circle and scooping it to the top of the net in the 46th minute and Harper topped it off eight minutes later.

Pakistan got two late goals back but couldn’t hide the fact that they were truly outclassed in the contest. The failure of Abbas, who is the team’s leading goalscorer in World Cup matches with 17, to convert a single penalty-corner in four attempts hurt the former champions badly.

“We showed character today. The defence was not holding its own in the last few games. But today, they played splendidly. If not the best, this is one of the best wins for South Africa,” skipper Austin Smith said after the match.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan said it was one of the worst defeats for the nation. “This is the worst we have played in a long time. We played very badly in the second half. We did not click as a team. Full credit goes to the South African team who played well especially in the second half,” Khan said.

South Africa are now in a position to better their best showing in the World Cup, which was a 10th place finish in the 1994 edition. Pakistan are just ahead of the Proteas on goal difference.

The Asian Age



Greenshirts stumble again

Aussies settle score with Spain as England march into semis with 3-2 win over India


NEW DELHI: Former champions Pakistan suffered an embarrassing 4-3 defeat at the hands of lowly South Africa in a World Cup Group B match here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

South Africa, whose three previous defeats in the tournament included a record 12-0 drubbing by Australia, reserved their best hockey against Pakistan, already out of contention for a place in the semifinals.

Rehan Butt’s first-half goal for Pakistan mattered little as the South Africans pumped in four goals in the space of 16 minutes after resumption.

Gareth Carr opened the scoring for the African champions in the 38th minute, before Ian Haley, Taine Paton and Marvin Harper increased the margin.

Pakistan made the scoreline look better than the match suggested by scoring twice in the last four minutes through Muhammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed.

Pakistan and South Africa were left with three points each from four matches.

Favourites Australia defeated Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain 2-1 to move closer to a semifinal berth in the World Cup.

The Australians scored once in each half, with Luke Doerner converting a penalty corner in the 20th minute, before Glenn Turner increased the tally 10 minutes before the final whistle.

Doerner’s sixth goal of the tournament helped him draw level with leading goalscorer Taeke Taekema of the Netherlands, while Turner scored his fifth.

The Kookaburras avenged the 3-2 defeat at Spain’s hands in the Olympic semifinal at Beijing and took their points tally to nine from four matches in the group. European champions England, who already have nine points from three games, will become the first team to qualify for the semifinals if they avoid defeat against hosts India later on Saturday.

The Kookaburras will fancy their chances of taking the other semi-final spot from the group with a goal difference of plus-16 ahead of their last league match against Pakistan on Monday.

Spain are almost certainly out of the semifinal race with just six points from four matches.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said he was delighted at the win, but slammed the umpires for awarding seven penalty corners to Spain.

“I am very angry at the umpiring today (Saturday),” he said. “Giving them seven penalty corners put a lot of pressure on our players. Some of them were just not warranted.

“Umpiring has been a problem for some years, but one expects better at a World Cup.”

In the last match of the day, England continued their brilliant run in the event with a 3-2 triumph over hosts India. It was their fourth win a row for the European champions, who have confirmed their place in the semifinals.

The News International



"There was no baggage of 12-0 loss"

A beaming South African coach Gregg Clark said the team had left behind their 12-0 drubbing ahead of the Pakistan clash.

By Rajarshi Gupta


The Proteas stunned Pakistan 4-3 in a Pool B encounter at the National Stadium on Saturday, barely two days after being humiliated 12-0 by Australia.

However, coach Clark said the side showed ‘massive character’ to force a turnaround against the Pakistanis.

“We did a lot of hard talking, saw a lot of video analysis and discussed where we made those mistakes. There was absolutely no baggage of the 12-0 loss against the Australians when the guys walked in this evening.”

"The boys were hungry after losing three games and you could see it in their body language tonight. They wanted to win.”

The South Africans had gone down to Spain, England and Australia before tonight’s clash against the sub-continental giants. No one had given the Africans any hope but Clark was determined to see his wards pull off an upset in front of a capacity crowd.

Meanwhile, his Pakistani counterpart, Shahid Khan Ali seemed gutted after what he termed was ‘the worst loss’ of his career.

“We played poorly, very poorly. There can be no other explanation for our loss. The South Africans were leading us by 4-1 and catching up with them with just 15 minutes left was a tall ask.”

Ali, however, said he had no plans of resigning despite the upset. “Why should I resign? I never made any tall claims before coming to the tournament. The fact is that the seniors did not perform well and we need to look at how they execute their roles over the next game.”

It might all be a little too late for the Pakistanis, who had gone down in their first game to India before winning the next against England.

ESPNStar.com



"Crowd support helped us"

Speaking exclusively to espnstar.com, South African striker Gareth Carr said the crowd support overwhelmed his team against Pakistan.

By Rajarshi Gupta


Carr, who converted a penalty corner for South Africa to draw level in the 38th minute was amused by the ‘massive support’ the Proteas got by default.

“It helped us a lot, really. It always helps when you have a sizeable number egging you on.”

The stands had started to fill ahead of India’s game against England and the anti-Pakistan rants from the home supporters played into the Africans’ hands.

Carr, much like his coach, stressed that the team had not changed much despite the 12-0 thrashing against Australia.

“What we did realise is that we were not playing well enough in the second half. The first two games against Spain and England were close. Yes, the one against Australia was a disaster but we were not bogged down.”

Click here for image gallery

With their semi-final hopes virtually dashed, Carr is targeting another three points against India on Monday.

“We want to finish with three points, which will not be easy, considering that our next match is against India, who will get all the home support then.”

However, the man who did the star turn for his side on Saturday said it was unfair to expect more from such a young team in any case.

“If you look at the other teams, they combine 80 to 90 caps, whereas we are very young, at just 22 to 23. We don’t even have a player, who has played 90 games.”

South Africa’s turnaround this evening has been an inspiration for India to tidy up. What they do (trailing England by a goal at half-time) will shape future hockey dreams in India.

ESPNStar.com



Pakistan go down vs SA

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi: Pakistani prestige in the hockey World Cup took a huge hit on Saturday with a 3-4 defeat to lowly South Africa in a sensational match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

The defeat also ended whatever little chances Pakistan had of entering the semi-finals. Of the four matches they have played so far, Pakistan have lost three, the solitary win coming against Spain.

In the day’s first match, favourites Australia defeated Olympic silver medallists Spain 2-0 to take their points tally to nine in Pool B and stay firmly in the race for a place in the semi-finals.

Leading by a Rehan Butt goal at half time, Pakistan conceded four goals in a span of 16 minutes for one of their worst defeats in decades.

In the first match, the Aussies opened the scoring from the first penalty corner, which they earned in the 20th minute. Luke Doerner slammed a grounder that hit the board like a bullet.

Spanish ’keeper Francisco Cortes perhaps could have saved the second goal, scored by Glenn Turner in the 65th minute. Turner, who struck twice against India, was near Cortes when he received the ball from the left. Surprisingly, Cortes did not close the gap and allowed Turner to turn it goalwards.

The win takes Australia to nine points from four matches while Spain are stuck on six.

Interestingly, Australia coach Ric Charlesworth was not at the bench and it was left to Graham Reid to manage the show.

“He was looking to have a different view from a different angle,” said midfielder Robert Hammond.

SUNDAY’S MATCHES

Pool A: South Korea vs Canada (4.35pm); New Zealand vs Argentina (6.35pm); Germany vs The Netherlands (8.35pm)

The Telegraph, India



Performance against South Africa worst ever: Pakistan coach


South African hockey player Gareth Carr(C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Pakistan during their World Cup 2010 match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on March 6, 2010 as Pakistani hockey captain Zeeshan Ashraf (L) looks on. -Photo by AFP

A visibly hurt Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan made it clear that the performance of the seniors in the side was under scrutiny and blamed them for the team's debacle at the hockey World Cup in New Delhi, India.

Pakistan has managed to win just one out of the four games that they have played so far and a loss against the minnows South Africa today made matters worse for the green shirts.

Shahid claimed that the performance of the seniors was way below par and the loss against the Proteas today was the worst ever that he had seen in his entire career.

“The performance of the seniors is definitely under question and I have never seen Pakistan perform in the manner in which they did today against South Africa,” Shahid said after his team's 3-4 loss.

“This is the worst I have seen Pakistan play, both as player and as coach,” the former goalkeeper said.

“Once we are back in Pakistan, we will analyse all the aspects and the reasons for our defeats, but yes, it was surely disappointing to lose today. It's not any one player who can be singled out but the whole team did not perform well,” he regretted.

The coach was, however, confident that he would be able to retain his job, the term for which was until the Asia Cup.

“My tenure is until Asia Cup and I am sure that I will continue till then.”

Shahid admitted that the South Africans outclassed Pakistan in the second half although but claimed that a goal by the green shirts in the first session, which was disallowed, was one of the reasons the side completely lost focus.

“The goal that we scored in the first half was disallowed and had it been given in our favour, we would have went into the half-time with a 2-0 lead.

“But South Africa played well in the second half and completely outclassed us. They took a 4-1 lead and it is always difficult to reduce such a massive lead in 15 minutes,'' he added.

Dawn



Worst game ever in long time, but will not quit: Shahid Ali

NEW DELHI: After suffering the first international defeat against South Africa to end their hockey World Cup semi-final hopes, Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan on Saturday conceded that the match was the worst in his playing and coaching career.

Pakistan lost 3-4 to South Africa in their penultimate Pool B match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, which ended any hopes of a semi-final berth and Shahid said it was a forgettable performance by his men.

"It was a disappointing match particularly the second half. It was the worst in my coaching career as well as during my playing days. Some four-five senior players were recalled to the team but there are question mark on their performance. We could not have played worst than this," a dejected Shahid said after the match.

Senior players, including drag flick expert Sohail Abbas, midfielder Waseem Ahmed and forward Shakeel Abbasi, were recalled to strengthen the World Cup team.

Shahid, however, rejected any thoughts of resigning from the post after the debacle and said he would continue at the helm till the Asian Games later this year.

"Why should I resign? I have been given the job till the Asian Games. We will analyse after the World Cup what went wrong in the tournament," he said.

The Pakistan coach felt that the goal which was disallowed (from a penalty corner) after his side was leading 1-0 could have turned the game in their favour.

"It was a clean goal. It was stopped properly and Sohail (Abbas) scored it. But I don't know what the video umpire had thought. Had it been a goal we would have been 2-0 up and the fate of the game would have been changed. I am though not complaining as I don't want to speak about umpiring decisions," he said.

Shahid was also disappointed by the performance of drag- flicker Sohail Abbas.

"We had high expectations from him but somehow he did not score many goals," he said.

Sohail, on his part, said he was disappointed by his and team's performance but felt he did not get too many penalty corners to show his prowess.

"I am disappointed with my performance. But I did not get many penalty corners to score. We were disallowed a goal today from my penalty corner. I though it was a goal and had we were up 2-0 the result would have been different," he said.

The Times of India



It’s Pakistan hockey’s darkest day, says Islah

By our correspondent


KARACHI: Islahuddin Siddiqui, the former Pakistan captain, on Saturday said that the national team’s disappointing 3-4 World Cup defeat against South Africa is the darkest chapter in the country’s hockey history.

“It’s the darkest day in our hockey’s history,” Islah told ‘The News’ in an interview. “We have lost against a lowly team which was hammered 12-0 by Australia just a couple of days back. It’s unbelievable,” added Islah, who was captain of the victorious Pakistan team that won the 1978 World Cup.

Pakistan’s title campaign in the World Cup is over following defeats against India, England and South Africa. Their horrible show came after the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) made tall claims that their team will play well in the competition.

Islah blamed Pakistan’s team management for its failure to get the best out of the national players.

“Our coaching staff has failed totally. We didn’t have any strategy for any of the matches we’ve played so far. We won against Spain but it was because they (Spain) played badly in that match,” he said.

“Our boys have been found lacking in all areas. They are short on stamina and physical fitness. Our senior players, on whom we were relying heavily, were exposed.”

Islah questioned the team management’s decision to stick with senior goalie Salman Ahmed in spite of his failure against England who beat Pakistan 5-2.

“Salman was awfully out of form. He conceded four goals against India and five against England. He also let a weak team like South Africa score four more against us. I’m surprised why the team officials decided against trying out (reserve goalie) Nasir Ahmed,” he stressed.

Nasir has plenty of international experience as he is Pakistan’s first-choice goalkeeper whenever Salman is unavailable for national duty.

Describing the defeat as a huge debacle, Islah said that the PHF shouldn’t have made hollow promises.

“The PHF is responsible for this debacle too. It made hollow promises that our team has achieved improvement but the ground reality is that our team stands nowhere when it comes to major events.”

Islah said that the current team management got almost two years to prepare the players but still failed to achieve its targets.

“After almost two years, this management has failed to come out with a proper formation. They have also failed to improve the players’ fitness. It’s pretty visible that it has failed completely in its task to help our team improve.”

The News International



Pak hockey captain apologises to nation for poor World Cup show

Karachi: Disappointed over his team’s deplorable performance in the ongoing Hockey World Cup in New Delhi, Pakistan hockey captain Zeeshan Ashraf hasapologised to the nation for its poor show.

Pakistan’s dream of making it to the semi final of the tournament were shattered on Saturday when it was defeated by minnows South Africa 4-3. It may be noted that Australia had crushed South Africa 12-0 in a league match of the tournament a couple of days ago.

Talking to Geo News over telephone from New Delhi, Ashraf apologised for the pitiable performance, and promised an improved effort in future assignments.

For Pakistan, the 1994 World Champions, this World Cup has turned to be the worst, as the side has won only one game against Spain. It had also lost its opening match against arch-rivals India 4-1.

DNA



No succour for sorry Pakistan

Biswajyoti Brahma


NEW DELHI: "We can't play any worse than this," admitted Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan after his side was outplayed 4-3 by South Africa in a Pool B match of the Hero Honda World Cup on Saturday.

The defeat, their third in four matches, ended Pakistan's flickering hopes of reaching the semifinals.

Pakistan's loss came against a side who were drubbed 12-0 by Australia just two days back. But to their credit, the South Africans put the disappointment behind and played some inspired hockey to earn their first points of the tournament.

Pakistan took the lead in the 6th minute through Rehan Butt but that was all they could do in the first half even though chances came their way. They looked far from convincing in their approach and probably also paid the price for underestimating their rivals.

After the break, South Africa returned a completely different team. They slammed home four goals in a span of 16 minutes taking advantage of a sloppy Pakistani defence. Goals by Gareth Carr (38th minute), Ian Haley (41st), Taine Paton (46th) and Marvin Harper (54th) made it difficult for Pakistan to bounce back in the match. And while Pakistan did strike two late blows through Muhammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed, it did not suffice.

A disappointed Khan said after the match that they lost the match in the second half. "Everything was going okay for us in the first half. The video umpire also disallowed a goal which I think was a clear one."

The Times of India



Improve in fitness to catch up with Europeans, Australia: Rasool

NEW DELHI: World Cup most decorated Pakistani player Akhtar Rasool on Saturday dismissed talks of any demise of "Asian hockey" but conceded his country and India have lagged behind the Europeans and Australia.

Rasool, who won three World Cup gold and a silver, said India and Pakistan do not need to change much of their playing style but need improvement in fitness by leaps and bounds.

"No, it's (Asian hockey) not dead. We should not have any inferiority complexion against the Australians or the Europeans. No doubt we are lagging behind in every aspect of the game, be it defence or attacking," said Rasool who had come here for the ongoing World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

"What we need to improve is the fitness level. It is the key to play with speed as the Australians are doing. You need to be fit to play fast-paced game for 70 minutes and not a few minutes. That is the aspect India and Pakistan are lagging behind. You need to be fit to train for nine hours a day to catch up the Europeans and Australians," he said.

Rasool, who won World Cup gold in 1971, 1978 and 1982 and silver in 1975, felt both India and Pakistan should utilise the services of former greats to bring back the past glory but said he was not against foreign coaches.

"We teach hockey to the world and now coaches from other countries are being appointed. There is nothing wrong in this if we improve our hockey," he said.

The former captain said India and Pakistan should play more and more international matches between themselves.

"Moreover, we should play more matches against Australia. I am saying this because Australia are the fittest and most aggressive and attacking team in the world. By playing against them more often we can measure our fitness and keep on improving on the aspect of the game," he said.

Rasool said wherever he had gone to India he was given a warm reception.

"I got warm reception wherever I go in India. In 1999, I had gone to Chennai and there the spectators clapped for me for five minutes. It was wonderful feeling," he said.

The Times of India



England reach first World CUp semi final in 24 years

In testing circumstances, England’s men’s hockey team qualified for their first World Cup semi final in 24 years and extended their best ever start to a World Cup tournament as they beat hosts India in Delhi on Saturday.  Goals from Surbiton’s James Tindall and two from World Young Player of the Year Ashley Jackson and Loughborough Students’ Nick Catlin were enough to put England into the semi finals with one pool match still to play.

Australia’s 2-0 victory over Spain in the day’s first match meant that Jason Lee’s squad went into the match knowing a draw would be enough to put them into the last four but they faced a battle against a team that had the support of a capacity partisan home crowd.

Before the game, much of the build up focused on the loss of England’s man of steel Richard Mantell following his dislocation and fracture injury sustained against Pakistan on Thursday.  Dan Fox came back into the squad to replace Mantell with Ben Hawes joining Richard Smith at the heart of the defence.

The near 16000 strong crowd began the match cheering every Indian touch and their voices rose to a crescendo in just the third minute when they believed India had opened the scoring.  However, the touch into the English goal had come from Beeston’s Adam Dixon as he got in ahead of the waiting foward to defend a cross from Arjun Halappa.

Reading forward Jonty Clarke tested Indian goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza a minute later but the goalkeeper stood up to clear with his feet.  Not long after, he watched as Ashley Jackson flashed a powerful low reverse stick effort wide after pouncing on a defensive mistake inside the 23 metre area.

Initially, England appeared content to sit in as India pressed them inside their half and the hosts won their first corner of the game in the 11th minute after a bobbling ball hit the foot of Dan Fox.  To the obvious disappointment of the home fans the corner broke down.

On 14 minutes Reading’s Iain Mackay left the field to receive treatment after he was caught in the face by the stick on an Indian player but two minutes later the reigning European Champions were ahead.

Loughborough Students’ Nick Catlin was given time on the left from where he cut inside and played a pass into the circle which Richard Alexander deflected towards the back post.  Waiting in space at the back was Alexander’s Surbiton colleague James Tindall who was left with time to make sure of his finish as he quietened the crowd with his third goal of the tournament to give England the lead.

Immediately after the re-start, Rob Moore could have doubled England’s lead as he latched on to a bouncing through ball inside the circle but Adrian D’Souza was out quickly to block the Surbiton forward’s shot and Tindall’s follow up flew over the bar.

Looking for a way back into the game the Indians began to lash the ball into the English circle.  On 19 minutes a raised ball did end up beyond goalkeeper James Fair but the umpires had already blown for the danger as it entered the circle at height.

Just over a quarter of the way through the match and the game was still being played at a frenetic pace.  At the other end, HGC’s Barry Middleton found his way through the Indian defence and onto the right baseline where he looked to pick out the diving Rob Moore on the far post.  But for the intervention of D’Souza at full stretch he might have succeeded but the goalkeeper’s touch was just enough to take the ball over the stick of Moore.

Shivrenda Singh’s break upfield then caused the back pedalling English defence a problem.  Chased by Dan Fox, the Indian number 18 broke into the right hand side of the English circle where he was met by the advancing James Fair.  As Fair went to ground it looked as though Shivrenda would level the score but the Cannock goalkeeper recovered excellently to block the shot at point black range on the dive.

Just before the half hour mark James Tindall wasted a glorious opportunity to score another after Richard Alexander found him in space inside the circle.  With time and space to pick his shot, he snatched at it and blazed over, much to the relief of the hosts’ defence who had left him unmarked.

Aside from a couple of quick Indian breaks, England’s pressure was looking promising.  With 30 minutes on the clock Barry Middleton and Alastair Brogdon combined well inside the circle where Brogdon’s shot forced D’Souza into a save.

The last action of the half came at England’s end where India were awarded a second penalty corner after the ball came up off the stick of Ben Hawes.  Diwakar’s first contribution to the match was to flick low down the centre of the goal but Fair blocked with his legs and reacted quickest to clear the ball with his foot before the follow up.

1-0 to England at half time and a position that would put them through to Thursday’s semi finals if things stayed that way.

As in the first period, India began the second half on the front foot, forcing England to defend in numbers.  Rajpal Singh almost brought India level with four minutes of the half played when he received the ball on the penalty spot and held off Richard Smith to spin and push a shot narrowly wide of the base of James Fair’s right post.

That miss was to cost India dearly just over two minutes later.

At the other end England were awarded their only penalty corner of the match.  With no Richard Mantell, England turned to Ashley Jackson who had scored in each of England’s matches in Delhi.  From Glenn Kirkham’s push out the World Young Player of the Year flicked high and hard to the glove side of Adrian D’Souza where the ball hit the back of the net half a metre inside the top of the post.  2-0 England and a real blow to the home team.

A combination of good advantage in the circle and sloppy defending led to England’s third goal after five minutes later.  After Richard Alexander had been fouled the ball fell to Reading’s Mackay.  With the umpire calling the advantage, Mackay’s shot to the near post came off Ashley Jackon’s stick and landed back into the middle of the circle.  With Nick Catlin battling for the ball the Indian defender looked to clear the danger, only to see his pass come off his teammate and into the goal.  With 22 year old Jackson the last English player to touch the ball, the HGC midfielder was credited as the scorer, giving him his second of the match.

Reading forward Jonty Clarke, a hero for England against Pakistan on Thursday, received a green card for backchat to the umpire in the 49th minute and soon after, Ben Hawes was allowed to carry the ball through the middle of the park, where he entered the top of the circle under pressure from Dhananjay Mahadik.  The Surbiton defender still managed to get off a shot which Adrian D’Souza saved unconvincingly with his left glove.

Roared on during every attack by the crowd which had found its voice again, India pulled one back in the 54th minute through Gurwinder Singh Chandi.  A cross from the right was touched on at the front post by Saranjit Singh with the deflection taking the ball to Chandi on the back post where he slotted home beyond the outstretched stick of the diving Fair.

Ashley Jackson then forced D’Souza into a diving save down the middle of the goal as he broke into the top of the circle and two minutes later, from a blistering counter attack, India reduced the deficit to one.  Shivrenda Singh’s pass inside from the left channel found Sarwanjit Singh in space on the penalty spot and he in turn found Rajpal on the back post to pull it back to 3-2.

The Indian ‘keeper was again in the thick of it following the goal as he thwarted Jackson again on the floor.

Under pressure from an Indian team on a mission with the support of their countrymen, England’s players demonstrated superb commitment with both Richard Alexander and Ben Hawes launching tackles and clearances with full length dives.

England’s captain Barry Middleton, who had led by example throughout and who was named Man of the Match, found his path along the baseline blocked by D’Souza in the 66th minute.

In the final four minutes of the game India’s exuberance earned them two yellow cards, Sardar Singh and Gurbaj Singh both finishing the match by the technical table.

With less than 60 seconds remaining and still pressing for an equaliser, India squandered an opportunity on the back post with the goal gaping and England survived to counter where Glenn Kirkham put his effort wide.

As the final hooter went England’s inspirational captain Barry Middleton raised his arms in triumph, celebrating leading his country to its first World Cup semi final since 1986 and with it, meeting coach Jason Lee’s pre-tournament target of a top four placing.

Speaking immediately after the game, England captain Barry Middleton said, “it hasn’t really sunk in yet.  Reaching the semi finals is unbelievable!  That was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in and I’m just so proud of our players.”

Head Coach Jason Lee was also quick to heap praise on his squad: “It’s a fantastic achievement for this group.  They’ve worked so hard to achieve it and fully deserve a place in the semi finals.

“They had to dig deep and it was a gutsy second half display but the team spirit within this group is obvious to see.  We’re very pleased for the players.”

The win keeps England on top of Pool B, with a maximum 12 points from their first four matches.  With the top two sides in each pool going through to the semi finals, third placed Spain are now unable to catch England, even if they defeat them on Monday morning.  That match gets underway at 11:05 GMT.

ENGLAND 3 (1)

James Tindall 16 (F)                   
Ashley Jackson 42, 47 (PC, F)                  

INDIA 2 (0)

Gurwinder Singh Chandi 54 (F)               
Rajpal Singh 57 (F)

Squad v India

Started


James Fair (Cannock)
Adam Dixon (Beeston)
Ben Hawes (Surbiton)
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students)
Alistair Wilson (Beeston)
Ashley Jackson (HGC)
Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead)
Rob Moore (Surbiton)
Barry Middleton (C) (HGC)
James Tindall (Surbiton)
Jonty Clarke (Reading)

Substitutes Used

Richard Alexander (Surbiton)
Alasdair Brogdon (Bowdon)
Nick Catlin (Loughborough Students)
Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster)
Iain Mackay (Reading)

Did Not Play

Nick Brothers (Reading)
Richard Mantell (Reading) – withdrawn injured

England Hockey Board Media release



England beat India to reach semis

England beat India 3-2 to maintain their 100% record from four matches and reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

James Tindall scored after 16 minutes to put England 1-0 up at half-time.

Ashley Jackson's scorching shot from the edge of the area doubled their lead before Nick Catlin grabbed the third.

The hosts fought back well with goals from Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Rajpal Singh, but England, who play Spain on Monday before Thursday's semi, held on.

Victory maintains England's dominant form at the tournament, providing further optimism that they can match or surpass their achievement of 1986, when they lost in the final to Australia, two years before going on to win Olympic gold in 1988.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," said captain Barry Middleton. "Reaching the semi-finals is unbelievable.

"That was one of the best games I've ever been involved in and I'm just so proud of our players."

Defeat put India out of contention after their third defeat of the competition.

The hosts had their fair share of chances, however, and should have drawn level right at the death but Singh missed a clear opportunity on the goal-line.

England, the European champions, proved more clinical, taking their chances well either side of the break.

Tindall was central to England's attack, scoring his third of the tournament in the first half.

Jackson was also busy throughout and scored for the fourth game in a row with a smartly-taken finish from a penalty corner after 43 minutes.

Catlin stroked home four minutes later with some help from the Indian defence.

Chandi and Singh capitalised on some smart counter-attacking by India to haul them back into contention, but they were unable to level the game as England closed out well.

"We obviously came here to reach the semi-finals, so one of our three goals has been achieved," said English coach Jason Lee.

"Now we must enter the final and then win the World Cup.

"This is a sort of revival of English hockey. The first big step was beating Germany in the Euro final last year."

Meanwhile, favourites Australia earlier beat Olympic silver-medallists Spain 2-1 to put themselves in line for the second semi-final spot in the group.

The Kookaburras lie three points behind England and can only miss out if they lose to Pakistan by a big margin and Spain hammer England in the last group B matches on Monday.

BBC Sport



England pile on India’s misery

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


New Delhi, March 6: Indian hockey’s sob story continued with the Men in Blue losing yet again, this time 2-3 to Euro champions England in their Pool B Hockey World Cup encounter at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here on Saturday.

India put up a spirited show in the second half, but it was too late. Strikers Gurwinder Singh Chandi and skipper Rajpal Singh struck in the span of three minutes late in the second half, and the 16,000 capacity crowd were up on their feet.

The home team threatened to turn the game on its head, but nerves got the better of them in the last five minutes.

Trailing 2-3, the Indians attacked relentlessly in a bid to equalise and also indulged in body play that saw them reduced to nine men — Sardara Singh and Gurbaj Singh earning yellow cards in the 67th and 69th minutes. The English made full use of the lapses and succeeded in keeping the charging Indians in check.

Jason Lee and his boys continued their unbeaten run and have now become the first team to book their berth in the last-four stage. No praise is too high for the team who played without three of their main players on the day.

The absence of robust defender Richard Mantell seemed to have no effect on the Euro champions, who played to a plan. Adam Dixon and Richard Smith stepped up and did a decent job throughout.

England made their intentions clear from the beginning. The team took a mere five minutes to settle down and showed no signs of backing down thereafter.

The midfield held its own and did not let any Indian attack develop from the centre. Sardara, the team’s backbone here, had two markers following him everywhere and was completely shackled. The Indian attacks were restricted to the flanks, and it unsettled their gameplan.

England broke through in the 16th minute. Unmarked striker James Tindall deflected a precise cross from Nick Catlin. It took the Indian defenceline a moment to realise what had happened, as England went up 1-0.

That put a spring in England’s step and the attacks came in waves, putting the defence under great pressure. The Indians had their moments early on — Arjun Halappa’s superb solo run in the 13th minute, a splendid cross from Bharat Chikara that failed to find a striker, Shivendra going within touching distance of the Dee in the 23rd minute — but none that could be converted into a goal.

England, on the other hand, were quick on counter-attacks. The sizeable crowd had their hearts in their mouth with Lee’s men missing atleast half a dozen chances.

Drag-flicker Ashley Jackson was a livewire on the field, and struck two amazing goals in the second half to make life difficult for the home team. He first beautifully converted a penalty corner in the 42nd minute, and followed it up with a field goal five minutes later to put his team in a comfortable position.

Skipper Barry Middleton dazzled with his stick work and was a thorn in the Indian defence throughout.

India take on South Africa in their last encounter on Monday.

The Asian Age



England qualify for World Cup semi-finals

NEW DELHI: European hockey champions England clinched a semi-final place in the men's World Cup by beating India 3-2 on Saturday.

Ashley Jackson hit two goals after James Tindall had opened the scoring in the Pool B match at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

Elsewhere, tournament favourites Australia defeated Spain 2-0 to close in on a semi-final spot.

In-form Luke Doerner scored from a penalty corner to put world number two Australia 1-0 up in the 20th minute against Olympic silver medallists Spain.

Glenn Turner was also on target in the 60th as former champions Australia recorded their third victory in four matches in Pool B.

Australia, who won a record 10th Champions Trophy in December, thumped South Africa by a record 12-0 margin in their previous match.

The Times of India



India out of semi-finals contention, lose 2-3 to England

NEW DELHI: India's marginal hopes of entering the semi-finals of the hockey World Cup went up in smoke as England thrashed the home team 3-2 to secure their place in the last-four stage of the mega-event on Saturday.

The defeat not only saw India go out of contention for the semi-final race but the hosts also registered their third straight loss in the tournament after having bruised an equally unimpressive Pakistan 4-1 in their tournament opener.

With four wins from as many matches, England are through to the last-four stage of the tournament and will take on Spain in their inconsequential last pool match on Monday, while India will play South Africa.

Ashley Jackson (42nd and 47th minutes) and James Tindall (16th) of England continued their good show in the tournament, while Gurvinder Singh Chandi (54th) and captain Rajpal Singh (58th) scored for India at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

India lacked the hunger for victory after their back-to-back defeats and looked like a club side in front of their home crowd, committing numerous errors in the all departments of the game.

The Indians seemed to have not learnt from their mistakes in the last two matches as they kept on giving open spaces to their opponents inside their circle.

India's ball-control and trapping was awful. To add to it, the defence, for the third consecutive day, faltered.

Dhanjay Mahadik and Sandeep Singh were guilty of giving away the ball to their opponents on more than one occasion.

The mid-field was no better - not only they failed to co-ordinate between the defence and the forward-line, they also lost ball-control at crucial junctures.

However, what was heartening in India's performance was their fighting spirit as they fought till the last breath to dig out at least something from the encounter.

In contrast, England showed their intention from the very beginning of the match as they came up with their first scoring chance as early as in the sixth minute.

For most part of the first half, England caught the Indian defence napping with their one-touch passes.

Jackson came up with two reverse stick shots but on first occasion Indian custodian Adrian D'Souza denied him, and then the English striker shot wide.

Indians too had plenty of scoring chances in the opening period but the Prabhjot Singh-led forward-line failed to live up to the expectations.

India earned two penalty corners in the first half but Sandeep squandered the first chance and then English goalkeeper James Fair denied Mahadik.

India yet again conceded a soft goal when Tushar Khandekar was caught off-guard by Nick Catlin, whose precise cross from the right was easily deflected home by an unmarked Tindall in the 16th minute.

A lonely Shivendra Singh, who returned on Saturday after a two-match suspension, got a golden opportunity to equalise but failed to put the ball into the net with only Fair to beat.

Trailing by a goal, India came all out attacking in the second period with Rajpal squandering a great chance from a Gurbaj Singh cross.

To add insult to India's injury, England doubled their lead in the 42nd minute when Jackson's drag-flick found the right upper corner of Indian goal.

Five minutes later, England scored another easy goal through Jackson again to stamp their authority in the match.

Even though they were down by three goals, the Indians were in no mood to give up their fight as they pressed hard and finally succeeded in the 54th minute when Gurwinder deflected home the ball off Gurbaj's nice hard cross.

Four minutes later, the hosts pulled another back through Rajpal, who made no mistake this time after he was set by a beautiful combination of Shivendra and Sarvanjit Singh.

India went all out in search of the equaliser in the dying moments of the match but it was all they could manage.

The hosts are now languishing at the fourth position in Pool B tally with only three points in their kitty out of the four matches they have played so far.

The Times of India



India out of semifinal race

Prabhjot Singh


Missing a last minute sitter, India went down fighting to pool leaders England 2-3 in an absorbing and action-packed game in the 12th Hero Honda World Cup Hockey Tournament at Major Dhyan National Hockey Stadium here tonight.

England and the Netherlands are the only unbeaten teams in the tournament so far. While England had four wins to aggregate maximum 12 points, the Netherlands have three wins from as many matches to log maximum of nine points.

The win makes England first team to enter semifinals while India continues to totter in the bottom half of the pool with just one win and three defeats. The home team is left with a game against South Africa that shocked Pakistan 4-3 for their first ever win in the World Cup.

In the final stages, when India were trying desperately for equaliser, two of their dependable halfbacks, Sardar Singh and Gurbaj Singh, were cooling their heels on the sidelines for being shown yellow card.

Playing with nine men for the last four minutes, India were lucky not to concede any further goal as England made a determined effort in the last 20 seconds. But their last attempt at the Indian goal was far off the target.

Now India, Pakistan and South Africa with one win and three defeats each will have to wait for their last pool games to decide which one of them moves to the top eight group. Pakistan has a match against Australia on Monday.

Long before the India-England match started, the stadium had almost filled to its three-fourth capacity with an enthusiastic Saturday night crowd that chanted for home team’s win. Finally when the game ended, those still in the stands did clap for the victorious English team in a rare gesture of sportsmanship.

India had rested goalkeeper Sreejesh and Deepak Thakur and also did not include skipper Rajpal Singh in the starting XI. Though it was one of the best displays by the home team as each and every member played to his capacity, yet it was not enough against one of the strongest teams in the tournament.

England exhibited not only dynamics of a scientifically planned game but also had the enthusiastic Indians contained with tight marking. Though Indians showed glimpses of their first day performance against Pakistan, yet the spark needed to convert half chances into goals was missing.

Not only in the last minute but earlier in the game too, Rajpal, who played well otherwise, missed a sitter. Both Sandeep and Mahadik could not make use of the penalty corners that came their way.

At one stage, it looked as if England will run up a big win, as it did against Pakistan. Leading by James Tindall’s first half goal, England swelled the lead to 3-0 with goals from Jackson in the 42nd minute and Catlin in the 47th minute.

It was at this stage that India in a splendid recovery saw Gurwinder Chandi calmly putting the ball home of a cross from Gurbaj and skipper Rajpal making no mistake from a centre sent by Sarwanjit. Even in the last match against Spain, Chandi and Rajpal were the scorers.

The Tribune



Weak End

Uthra G. Chaturvedi


March 6 will remain Indian hockey’s date to forget. After a disastrous Olympic qualifier campaign culminated against England in 2008 on this date, India’s meagre, mathematical hopes in the 2010 World Cup were also finally extinguished — by England again — with a 3-2 loss in their pool B match on Saturday.

It was a game of missed opportunities, and England came out winners by virtue of having missed fewer chances. They also proved their credentials all over again, keeping their unbeaten run in the tournament going with four wins out of four and retaining the top spot in the group.

They were without their key defender and penalty corner expert, Richard Mantell, but found a more than worthy replacement in Richard Smith for the first task and the ever reliable Ben Hawes and Ashley Jackson for the second. Jackson had been the man to watch out for, having been the key playmaker for England through this tournament, and he shouldered the additional responsibility, including that of falling back to defend, beautifully. With captain Barry Middleton and Glenn Kirkham in the middle, Jackson kept the supply lines upfront always open.

Upfront, they had James Tindall. The tall striker from Surbiton has been England’s main scorer so far, and he reaffirmed that reputation. Not only did he score England’s second goal, he was also instrumental in earning the penalty corner that gave them the first and set up Nick Catlin for the third.

For the hosts, this would perhaps rank with the game against Spain in terms of lost chances. Shivendra Singh was back, but the quickest player in the Indian ranks was often left all alone, searching for someone to pass the ball to. One particular moment stands out — in the 25th minute, snatching the ball from an English defender, Shivendra made a run for it all the way from the half-line, beating a couple of opponents on the way, only to find himself all alone inside the D, waiting for his team mates to catch up. By then, he was surrounded by three defenders and the goalkeeper, and decided to take a shot himself and missed by a whisker.

It was not an isolated case. India tried to win penalty corners, but managed only two and failed in both. Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh and Vikram Pillay kept putting the ball inside the circle till the very last minute from every possible angle, and Rajpal Singh, Sarwanjit Singh, Gurwinder Chandi and Prabhjot Singh kept pushing it out or wide, the last such blooper coming with 30 seconds left on the clock. The Indian defence put up a much better show, but they were always going to find it tough in the face of a determined attack and lack of support upfront.

There was a flurry of action in the middle of the second half — between the 15th and 25th minutes — when India pumped in two quick goals by Rajpal and Chandi, who, ironically, missed the maximum chances. But it was never going to be enough.

England play a zonal game, and they did that much better than the hosts. They also were more accurate in their passing and quicker on the counters, regrouping much faster than India. The only reason they failed to score more than three goals was Adrian D’Souza under the bar, who brought off some impressive saves.

England will be preparing for their semi-final clash now while India will possibly play for the 7th spot, since they cannot overtake Spain for the third spot in the league unless the Spaniards lose their last match and India pump in at least a dozen goals against South Africa. On current form, that looks unlikely.

Indian Express



India's spunk not enough

Alok Sinha


NEW DELHI: As expected, it was a bruising encounter. England wanted to seal the semifinal berth and India wanted to keep their hopes of breaking into the elite six alive. The result at the end said England 3, India 2. England got what they wanted and India were left wondering what could have been.

With the stadium packed with shouting, screaming fans once again, India walked in with purpose, keen to bridge the gap that the Europeans have steadfastly held on to. But what started with hope, turned into a battle for survival for India.

Like in the earlier two games, they conceded an early goal and then played catch-up. Down 0-1 at half time, despite having more of ball possession, they came back fighting in the second, only to see England's Ashley Jackson slot their first penalty corner home to make it 2-0. And soon after, it was 3-0, a melee inside Indian circle giving Jackson the opportunity to slip it past a helpless Adrian D'Souza and a host of Indian defenders.

It was here that a brave fightback happened. The Indians went for broke, diving, tackling, chasing and harassing the nippy Englishmen all over the turf. Those were a maddening 20 minutes. It was hockey at its racy best: with continuous attacks and counter-attacks. With the Indians coming at England's throat with such ferocity, something had to give way. It did.

Gurbaz Singh snatched the ball at the halfline in the 54th minute and raced down the right flank with bounding steps. He unleashed a cracker that went straight to a waiting Gurwinder Singh Chandi. The young sardar slotted it home without fuss. 1-3 and the crowd was going wild.

Soon after, Adrian made two brilliant saves and India moved up again in a counter, changing flanks to confuse the English defenders. It was a superb move that ended with a Shivendra Singh pass to Sarwanjit who flicked it towards Rajpal Singh to do the damage. 2-3. In the 57th minute. England were rattled and the noise inside the stadium was deafening.

After that, India kept up the tempo, looking for that equalizer that would have given the perfect finish to the Saturday night story. However, after a nail-biting 13 minutes of pulsating Indian charge, England managed to walk away with yet another win, their fourth straight here which made them the first team to enter the Hero Honda World Cup semifinals.

So, what emerged in the final analysis? The match showed that India have the heart to fight, they have some players who can match the best but they lack in finishing skills. First, penalty corners: India got two in the first half and both were saved by England, Sandeep Singh and Diwakar Ram failing to make the drag flicks count. England got just one and they converted.

Indian midfield yet again had a good game, with Gurbaz excelling on the right and Sardar Singh and Arjun Halappa giving England enough jitters. However, the forwards, who also fought hard, could have converted a few chances - in both halves. India had five scoring chances in the first half and failed to get a single goal. That made a huge difference.

The heartening bit was the improvement in defence. The Indians did a lot of running, closing down gaps. However, they would have once again realized that no mistake goes unpunished at this stage. India's task was made tougher in the last five minutes when Gurbaz and Sardar Singh were shown yellow cards.

They now have South Africa on the cards. They have to win it to avoid ending up in the 9-12 bracket. Saturday's performance should give them heart for that challenge.

The Times of India



Dream over after a nightmarish show

JAYDEEP BASU

A dejected India coach Jose Brasa. Picture by Prem Singh


New Delhi: The Indian hockey team once again failed to live up to the expectations of the passionate fans, going down 2-3 to England in their penultimate pool B match of the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Saturday.

With the win, England became the first team to enter the semi-finals from pool B with 12 points from four matches. Australia are favourites to take the second spot from the group although Spain too have an outside chance of making the grade.

Down 0-3 by the 47th minute at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, India added some excitement to the encounter when they scored two quick goals in the 54th and 57th minutes through Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Rajpal Singh, respectively, but it wasn’t enough to take the match away from the European champions, who scored through James Tindall (20th) and Ashley Jackson (42nd and 47th). The partisan crowd lived in false hope for some time before their enthusiasm died down.

This was India’s third defeat in four matches and they will not figure in the World Cup semi-finals for the ninth consecutive time. The last time India made the semi-finals was in 1975 when they bagged their only world title in Kuala Lumpur.

Saturday’s defeat was yet another repetition of India’s inability to bring cohesion into their attacks in front of the rival goalmouth. Even an experienced player like Rajpal was no different. He worked hard in the midfield but faltered in execution. Early in the second half, he had an open goal in front but completely messed it up. At the fag end too, when the deficit was again just a goal, Rajpal muffed a clear chance. That first miss was surely the turning point of the match since England, who were leading 1-0 at that time, scored two quick goals in the next few minutes.

The World Cup at home was also a pointer to the fact that India are lagging way behind the leaders of the game on the world stage. All India have managed so far is the win against Pakistan. It did satisfy the fans but in reality, did not take the team anywhere.

To say that India’s lack of class was evident against England would not exactly be an exaggeration. As India coach Jose Brasa himself said, England have been building a core group of players for the 2012 London Olympics. They looked better than India in all departments of the game.

In speed and fitness, India remained far behind most of their rivals.

If the home team looked a ragged lot against the Australians, they were no better against Spain and England. Brasa admitted it when he said: “We are yet not prepared to play against the top quality teams. We have tried to develop ourselves in the last seven months. It will surely take time.”

The defence also remained a constant source of trouble for India. Sandeep Singh and Dhananjay Mahadik were touted as match winners but neither could they score from penalty corners nor prevent soft goals.

The Telegraph, India



We are improving: Brasa

Sports Reporter


NEW DELHI: Despite the 2-3 loss to England , India coach Jose Brasa said the team had put up a better performance than its previous match (against Spain).

“We played the same level of hockey we had played against Pakistan and Australia. The players are improving everyday,” said Brasa.

He said India deserved to draw the match. “We made some mistakes. The first goal was like the second goal we conceded against Spain. But things are not easy enough to learn in a short time,” he said.

Need for exposure

Once again Brasa underlined that the players' inexperience could be overcome by playing more matches.

Brasa claimed that the side had improved a lot since he had taken over. “I had said many months ago that our target was the 2010 Asian Games. Seven months is a short time (for the players) to adjust to the changes,” he said.

The coach did not agree that the players should be axed on account of the team's poor showing in one tournament.

England coach Jason Lee was happy with his players for sticking to the plan and assuring a berth for the team in the semifinals.

“We thought it will go to the last game (for us) to reach the semis. But we executed our game very well,” he said.

Skipper Barry Middleton drew satisfaction from the fact that his side was improving with each match.

The Hindu



We can't match best sides in just seven months: Brasa

NEW DELHI: Set to play for the bottom half positions in the 12-team hockey World Cup, India coach Jose Brasa on Saturday said the country would not have played at the same level of top teams in just seven months of preparation.

Brasa, who took up the reigns in June last year, said he was happy with the performance of the side considering the lack of experience and absence of international matches in the build-up to the tournament.

"I am happy with the performance of the team. We are improving since the time I took up the job. We would not have matched the best teams in the world in just seven months of preparation. We were close to the best teams in this World Cup and that is the positive we will take from this event," he said after India lost narrowly (2-3) to England in their penultimate Pool B match.

"We played well today... better than against Spain, at the same level against Pakistan and Australia. We deserved a draw today. Had Rajpal Singh scored in the last minute we could have got a point. We now have to play for the seventh- eighth position," added Brasa who had aimed for a semifinal berth for the team before the tournament.

Brasa, who was appointed as India coach later this year, said he has no plans to change his mind and quit after the World Cup performance.

"I am continuing (at the job). I am happy because the team is improving. We did not have any international match except for the Champions Challenge I (in December last year) in the build-up to the World Cup. We are a learning side and our target is to do well in the Asian Games," he said.

He said India were done in by the first goal and failure to convert the (two) penalty corners.

"We did not learn from the past mistake against Spain. The first goal we conceded was similar to the one Spain scored against us. If you commit these kind of mistakes at the top level competitions you have to pay for it.

"But all these cannot be changed in a short time. We need many more matches at the top level to rectify all these mistakes. We did not have that in the build-up to the World Cup. Seven months is too short to sort out those things and without playing international matches," said the experienced coach.

Brasa said he would not take the South Africa lightly against whom India will play their last Pool B match on March 8.

"South Africa are a very good side. They played very well against Pakistan, Spain and England. It will not be an easy match for us against them.

"It is not going to be easy against any side in a World Cup. Had we been in Pool A it would have been tough as there also the teams are strong," Brasa said.

The Times of India



Brasa: No wholesale changes required

Indian coach Jose Brasa has come out in support of the Indian players, saying that despite their World Cup hopes getting over, the current players should be given a long run.

By Prateek Srivastava


"We should stick to this squad. The players are improving by the day and that is very encouraging. Making a lot of changes is not a way forward," Brasa said after the England match which India lost narrowly 3-2 to be out of the reckoning for the semifinals.

"We now need more international matches. The more we play, the more we will get better," he added.

The Spaniard also believes the Indian team was unlucky to come out empty-handed against the European champions on Saturday night. "I am happy with the way the team played. We played a lot better than we did against Spain in the last match. I think we were unlucky to not get a point," he said.

Brasa also conceded that if it had not been for a few mistakes they could have very well come out on top. "We made a few mistakes in the match and they cost us dear. Attacking from the left side in the first half also did not work for us. If we had played slightly better, we could have beaten England," he said.

"This was out best match since the Pakistan match," he added.

On being out of trophy contention he remarked, "I never said that we were going to win the Cup. We are on the learning curve. It is heartening that that the players have shown so much improvement over the last few days."

His counterpart English coach Jason Lee on the other hand was happy to make it to semis but said his team needed to work on its execution. "I am really happy to have made it to the semis. But at the same time I must admit that our execution was not up to the mark today.

"In the last 15 minutes or so we were absolutely out of order and that is something we have to shake off as quickly as possible," he said.

India play their last league match against South Africa on Monday while England will be facing Spain.

ESPNStar.com



Am ready to walk out: Brasa

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


New Delhi: Chief coach Jose Brasa Saturday said he was satisfied with India’s World Cup performance despite three defeats in four matches so far.

“I am ready to walk out with a smile if I am asked to,” said Brasa. “The team have improved in the last seven months. We have lost to Australia, Spain and England, but I believe we are now among the top teams in the world.”

Lack of match practice, Brasa said, was India’s only problem. “We need to play more official tournaments in order to improve.

In many months, this is the only tournament we got to play. It’s a pity that we are not there in the Champions Trophy. We would have gone far ahead had we played that tournament,” said the Spaniard.

The match against England, Brasa claimed, could have gone either way. “Once again we conceded soft goals. In the second half, we had our chances but couldn’t convert them.

“England have been playing in that style for 30 years, we have started it only six months ago. It would take time. The boys have done very well and I am proud of them,” he commented.

England captain Barry Middleton said his team shouldn’t have conceded the second-half goals. “Actually, we let ourselves down. We wanted to win in a clinical fashion but then conceded goals. We should have scored a couple of goals more.”

The Telegraph, India



Sporting Rivalry between India and England hockey

K. Arumugam


Sports without rivalry is food without salt. Hockey, despite being a lone, virtual amateur paradise, is not without its share of such rivalries.

For long, even now, the hockey world thinks India-Pakistan contests are the ones that deserve this tag.

They are right, and it will remain so.

However, the first rivalry in hockey is not when a German team was overdosed with alcoholic drinks so that they had to miss out an Olympic final. If at all, it deserved to be categorized as the joking phase of early hockey.

It is Indian and English hockey that’s hockey world’s first genuine rivalry.

It was there in the pre-independent era and then came back in the 80s to haunt India. A rivalry that continues endure even now.

But unfortunately it lasted for almost three decades even both of them not meeting on the turf!

When the first Indian team landed in England it was received by none other than pre-Dhyan Chand era’s Dhyan Chand, Stanley Shoveller – who got the British two Olympic gold.

Indian team played Folkstone Festival giving a glimpse of what the stuff they are made of. This has sent shivers down the spine of the British, who were than our political masters.

British or England hockey teams abstained from Olympics till it had to host the Olympics and the unavoidable clash of England and India took place, where India beat them comprehensively 4-0 in the London Olympics final.

In the 60s down to mid 70s, the English avoided India as much as possible, never able to put it across India, though Germany and Holland came close to beating India, and even doing it on odd occasions.

Its almost after 50 years since India first played its first International, England could defeat India, it was in the late 70s.

In the 80s, when the Indians were clueless how to convert penalty corners which they earned in numbers in that spell, it was the English teams that came to haunt the Indians.

India was a draw away from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and were goalless till the half time. Then came the Sean Kerley’s feat and India lost the tie at 0-3.

In the 80s and till mid 90s, it was England that had taken India’s slot in the top six of the world.

Not to be undone, and asirony would have it, both the rivals were in the same Olympic Qualifiers two years ago. A member of the Seoul Olympics when we lost the semis slot to the British team -- Faulkner – was there as Performance Manager, and must have been happy to see his team moves into the Olympic groom.

Now that stakes are high for India at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, the time for either team to showcase the traditional rivalry.

If one still feels English - India rivalry on hockey turfs are less, ask any Indian expatriate -- there around one hundred of them in Delhi right now to support India - what's their choice.

The emotions ran high for them, whenever Indian teams take on the English.

They are not much bothered on the outcome of India-Pak as much as

Stick2Hockey.com



‘Mathematician’ Lissek plans German collapse

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


5-2-3. This is no ordinary number.

The combination is considered to be the secret behind Germany’s rise in world hockey and was followed by famed coach Paul Lissek.

Known as the ‘ mathematician’ in hockey circles, Lissek is the man who popularised defensive hockey, the style the Europeans adopted to cut down Asian supremacy. Explains Lissek, “The 5-2-3 system is just a description of five players who work in the defence. Two defenders are placed in the half-position (left and right), one full-back, one spare-man moving in front of three defenders and a centre-half with defensive and attacking tasks. These are specialised positions, and once adept the players have the ability to cut down the strongest of attack lines.

“The midfield has two offensive midfielders (in traditional system you called them inside right and inside left), while the attack comprises of three forwards,” said Lissek, who worked with the German team for almost a decade before passing the mantel to Bernhard Peters.

“I am a FIH Master Coach but I never considered myself as a master of a specific system like 5-2-3. I have given by scripture my interpretation about the system.

“Any system depends on the quality of players and its specific interpretation.

“Germany, during my time as the head coach, were lucky to have a great number of top-class players, who were able to interpret their play in different positions very well.”

Interestingly, Lissek is assisting Australia in the Hockey World Cup here, on special request from top coach Ric Charlesworth. And if experts are to be believed, Lissek is Charlesworth’s key to unlock the defensive Germans, a team who had snatched the title from the Kookaburras in the last two editions of the World Cup.

“Paul brings in a lot of information for us. We hired him in July 2009 when we began preparing for the World Cup.

“He is very useful and brings in a lot of knowledge. We can learn from anybody and everybody,” said Charlesworth when asked about Lissek’s role.

Said Lissek, “My role with the Australian team is that of a coach consultant.

“I am working mainly with the head coach, discussing matches, tactical aspects of the team, some individual work with players like analysing performances.”

The game has undergone a sea change over the years. Skills no longer guarantee success as teams rely on power and precision in an era of cut-throat competition.

Said Lissek, “Hockey has developed like other sports. It must be considered as a high-level international sport where all factors of play are important and equal. Nutrition, physiology, psychology and other parts of sports science are important as well.”

Lissek, who has also coached Malaysia, was tipped to take over as the Indian coach a few years back. “India is a wonderful country with a great history of hockey. The Indian players have demonstrated the skills in a specific technical and attractive way. There are many reasons why India lost contact with the top hockey nations.

“After 2006 I was seriously interested to work in India as the head coach. Unfortunately my negotiations with the Indian Hockey Federation was interrupted and till today I don’t know why.”

He has in the past been associated with India coach Jose Brasa, and feels the Spaniard can make a world of difference to this lot.

“My friend Jose Brasa is an experienced coach who knows all the skills of training and tactical work to improve the team and to bring it to highest international level.

The Asian Age



Holland look to seal semis berth

Manuja Veerappa


New Delhi: With the lethal combination of Taeke Taekema, Tuen de Nooijer and the in-form Roger Hofman, an enviable 12 to 1 goal differential and a clean slate with nine points after three games, the Netherlands have refused to go Dutch with their opponents and have so far remained on top of Pool A in the FIH hockey World Cup here.

On Sunday, the Dutch will dare defending champions Germany to stop their unchallenged march towards a semi-finals berth in a crucial tie.

One would think German morale would be high after a 6-0 win over Canada on Thursday. But hard-to-please coach Markus Weise was far from happy with his teams result.

Armed with a drawing board under his arm, he got down to business soon after the match.

“I wasn’t unhappy with the result, but I’m unhappy with the performance. In the second half we forgot how we wanted to play.

“It was a good day for the goalkeeper, otherwise we would have had a bad day,” Weise said after his team’s win over Canada.

Weise who believes his team are a mixture of youth and experience said there were various reasons for him not being happy with his team’s performance.

“There are times when 2-3 players are doing their job and they even end up compensating for 4-5 players who are not up to the mark.

“That makes the team a little unpredictable,” he said.

Going by the flair with which Argentina played against Germany and New Zealand against Korea a cracker of a match can be expected between the two.

With the field still open for a semifinals slot in this pool New Zealand will seek to garner three full points against the South Americans, who are already out of the reckoning, having lost all their three outings so far.

Argentina will seek to salvage some pride with a win against the Kiwis. But to do that they will have to get past the sturdy defensive trio of Ryan Archibald, Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins.

The Koreas, who seemed totally out of sorts and gawky in their previous match, could collect full points against Canada, who will find it hard to match the pace of the Asian giants. Canada who are one of the oldest sides at the event, will have to strangle the Korean defence.

It will be interesting to see how old warhorses like Rob Short and Ken Pereira will cope with Korea’ pace.

The Asian Age



The boys won't shave till the job is over, says Weise

Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI: Germany may have entrusted the arduous task of defending the World Cup hockey title mostly to young turks but coach Markus Weise feels the team has to first seal a place in the semifinals before looking ahead.

“The boys are not going to shave their beards till the job is over,” revealed Weise before adding that Australia was indeed the team to beat.

“If we were to play Australia in a series, we may not have won. But in the World Cup, you play a team once, or twice. And on the given day, any result is possible.”

Weise was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of an informal get together hosted by the German Ambassador Thomas Matussek on Saturday.

The evening also saw panel discussion on the present state of hockey in the two countries. The five-member panel comprised the German captain Maximillian Muller, coach Weise, Ambassador Matussek along with former Indian Olympians Zafar Iqbal and Pargat Singh.

Later, Matussek said sport had great potential to bring nations together and foster friendship. “Like cricket in India, soccer is the mass-sport in Germany. As a result, hockey has to fight for attention,” said the friendly Matussek, who took over charge in November last year.

Young team

Weise, the articulate coach of the current World and Olympic champion team, said, “The team that won the Olympic gold was a different one. This young team has the potential to be a strong side.

“This potential may not be visible in the next one week. The results here may not reflect the potential of this team. But for us in Germany, the Olympics is more important than World Cup. Hopefully, we'll have a strong team in 2012 London Olympics.”

About his impressions of the present Indian team, Weise said, “I have not seen any of the live games involving India here. But whatever action I could catch on television, I think the team adopted the European style very well in the match against Pakistan.

Taking five goals against Australia was no shame because many teams have suffered more. Against Spain, I felt the Indian defence had an unenviable task. It was unfair to expect Sandeep Singh to mark one of the best forwards in the game.

“I am looking at Indian hockey from a distance. In our country, the hockey players have to be more ambitious to excel and attract government funding. So players wanting to play the game professionally, strive a lot harder.

“Like in Germany, if you have a pool of around 30 players with a mix of a few exceptional talents, some not-so-talented and mostly average players, I think you can build a good team in three years. But then, I don't know how it works in your country.”

Earlier, Sports Minister M.S. Gill, in his speech, spoke about the excitement generated for hockey due to the ongoing World Cup, his love the sport and how everyone wanted India to fare better after two successive losses.

The Hindu



Desperate India aim to end losing streak against South Africa in the hockey World Cup

New Delhi: Out of contention for a top-five finish after three consecutive defeats, India would be desperate to end their losing streak when they take on lowly but spirited South Africa in their last pool B match of the hockey World Cup here tomorrow.

A win against South Africa tomorrow will not only give the ardent hockey fans something to cheer about but also secure India's place in the seventh-eighth place play-off match, which would definitely be a considerable improvement from their 11th place finish in the 2006 World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany.

However, achieving it won't be a cake-walk as South Africa are on a high after registering their first-ever victory in the World Cup.

After stunning Pakistan 4-3 in their last match, the Proteas would be looking for another upset and going by their performance in the last encounter, the possibility is not a distant dream.

The Indians don't seem to have learnt from their past mistakes as for the third consecutive match, the home team committed the same blunders which put paid to their hopes in the tournament.

The Indian defence yet again crumbled under pressure and on more than one occasion found itself in a hole. Like in the earlier two games, the home team was on the back-foot from the beginning after conceding early soft goals.

The Indians left plenty of open spaces in the field, man-to-man marking seemed to have gone for a toss. To add to it, horrible trapping, mindless passing and unnecessary dribbling continued unabated. And if they continue the same, a rude shock may await them tomorrow in the form of South Africa.

While Sandeep Singh and Dhanjay Mahadik continued to be failures in penalty corner conversions. But Gurbaz Singh, Arjun Halappa and captain Rajpal Singh will look to carry on their good showing against the South Africans.

"We did not learn from the past mistakes against Spain. The first goal we conceded was similar to the one Spain scored against us. If you commit these kind of mistakes at the top level competitions you have to pay for it.

"But all these cannot be changed in a short time.We need many more matches at the top level to rectify all these mistakes. We did not have that in the build-up to the World Cup. Seven months is too short to sort out those things and without playing international matches," India coach Jose Brasa had said.

However, there are some positives that India can draw from the England encounter.

The Indian mid-field yet again dished out a fine performance with Gurbaz Singh being outstanding on the right and giving him due support were Arjun Halappa and Sardar Singh.

The forward-line also picked up their pieces and looked menacing against the English but what they lacked was finishing. But the most notable thing, which the Indians have earned in this tournament, is their fighting spirit.

"We are improving with every match. In every match, the boys fought till the last breath," Brasa said.

On the other hand, by virtue of their victory over Pakistan, South Africa yesterday proved that they are not here just to add up the numbers.

With the win against Pakistan, the South Africans have already achieved what they aimed for in this tournament.

They have nothing to lose and only to gain from the India encounter, which would definitely be more than enough motivation for them to come out full throttle against the Indians.

India coach Brasa too admitted that the Proteas would be a tough team to compete against.

"South Africa is a very good side. They played very well against Pakistan, Spain and England. It will not be an easy match for us against them," he said.

DNA



Take cue from cricket for better video referral: Ric

NEW DELHI: Himself a first class cricketer for eight years, legendary Australian hockey player and now national team coach in ongoing World Cup, Ric Charlesworth on Saturday called for the use of more technology in deciding the penalty corners by taking cue from cricket.

Charlesworth, a left-hand opening batsman, said he was all for continuing the newly introduced video umpire referral system but it should make improvements by using more cameras to have footage from different angles.

"I am all for it (video umpire referral) but it needs improvement. Cricket in the last 10 years has made a lot of improvement and video umpires in that game now use footage from different angles to take a particular decision. This can be done in hockey also," he said after Australia beat Spain 2-0 in their penultimate Pool A match.

"This (such improvement) will simplify the game and the work of umpires. Otherwise, the space is very small and lots of players are there (in the striking circle) and you have only footages from one or two angles for the video umpire to decide," added Charlesworth.

Charlesworth, who had played 47 first class matches for Western Australia from 1972 to 1980 with 2327 runs under his belt, said Spain "wrongly" got a penalty corner after video referral though actually the stick of one of his players was checked by an opposition player (Spanish striker Pol Amat).

"Pol Amat fell down after a contest for the ball but it as he who actually held the stick of one of my defenders. Penalty corner was given (by field umpire) and we asked for a video umpire referral.

"We lost the referral but that was due to video umpire not have footage from different angles," said Charlesworth who is a 1986 World Cup winner.

Australian captain Jamie Dwyer gave up a thumbs up to the Indian World Cup organisers for the facilities here.

"The facilities here are great. The stadium, the crowd and the atmosphere are simply great. Personally, I love coming to India as it is a great place to play hockey," said Dwyer who last played in the Champions Trophy in India in 2005 before this World Cup.

Meanwhile, Spanish coach Martin Dani conceded that his side's chances for a semifinal berth are over and they would look for a fifth-place finish now.

"Our chance is over and we will play for fifth place. The 1-2 loss against Pakistan did us in," he said.

Star player Amat said except for the 5-2 defeat of India, Spain did not play to their potential.

"It is disappointing to be virtually out of semi-final. Except for the match against India we did not play our best," he said.

The Times of India



Going beyond rules and regulations

Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI: Was umpire Andy Mair right in seeking information from the video umpire, and subsequently acting on it, about an infringement committed by an Argentinean player against a German in Friday's World Cup match?

Strictly going by the regulations for this tournament and the general FIH tournament regulations (2009), he was not. “Referrals shall only relate to whether or not a goal has been legally scored.” So says the FIH tournament regulations for video referrals for the ongoing World Cup.

“The match umpires may refer decisions to the video umpire when they are not convinced that they have taken, or are able to take, the correct decision relating to the awarding or disallowing of goals”

The Scottish umpire, having apparently missed the shirt number of the Argentine who brought down a German forward, with his stick, inside his 25-yard area, sought the number from video umpire Colin Hutchinson, and after getting that information, promptly showed Ibarra the yellow card.

Indian official Muneer Mohammed, who was the judge for the match, explained that umpires had been told to take advantage of the video referrals to clarify their doubts without stopping play.

The Hindu



Nurturing hockey the Aussie way

AGE CORRESPONDENT


New Delh, March 6: He is one of the three Australian captains at the 12th Hockey World Cup, better known as ‘General’ to his teammate. Defender Mark Knowles, 25, has been a rock in the Kookaburra defence since his debut in January 2004.

He has now made it is job to nurture the next line of Aussie hockey players, and translated it into a business as well. From a small town of about 70,000 people called Rockhampton in Queensland, Knowles and close mate Jamie Dwyer (the other Aussie skipper) have started a successful junior coaching business called 1&9. They hold coaching clinics for youngsters aged between 12 and 18 in and around Queensland.

“It’s our way of giving back some to the game that we have come to love. We conduct around 15 clinics with about 50 children in each which comes to around 750 throughout Queensland,” Knowles told this newspaper.

It is interesting to note that their firm is named as the jersey numbers they wear for the Kookaburras — Dwyer (No. 1) and Knowles (No. 9).

“We are delighted with the talent that exists in our country. It is our endeavour to bring more promising players into the game,” he added.

Knowles also has his sights on Holland as he has been part of the HC Rotterdam club since 2006. “We are planning to start some clinics in Holland as well whether me and Dwyer are playing. We’ll initially organise it for children in the age-group of 12 to 14,” the Aussie skipper said.

On his unusual nickname ‘General’, he said, “I have been stuck with this name for a while now. It started off in my junior days as my mates felt I was playing like a ‘General’ and they started calling me that,” the man also known as ‘Knowlesy’ in the team said.

The Aussie skipper feels the loss to England was a wake-up call for the Kookaburras. “The loss opened our eyes and we began concentrating and practising harder. But after a few wins under our belt now we are back on track,” he said.

On his other interests apart from hockey, he said, “I am a huge Manchester United fan and love football. But hockey was the most popular sport in the neighbourhood where I grew up, so I decided to take up the sport.”

The Asian Age



Pakistan look ahead, start with a foreign coach

Prabhjot Singh writes from New Delhi


Automatic qualifier for 2012 London Olympic games will be the Guangzhou Asian Games champion. Other teams from Asia aspiring for an Olympic berth will have to go through the rigmaroles of the Olympic qualifiers. As of now besides India and Pakistan, contenders for a ticket to London will also include South Korea, Malaysia and China.

Since the performance of India, Pakistan and Korea in the ongoing 12th World Cup has been below expectations of their respective team managements, planning has already started for the future in general and the Olympic games in particular. Pakistan is seeking help of some of its friends in world hockey to locate an experienced international coach who can fine-tune the present team by working on its weaknesses and sharpen its strong points to turn it into Asian Games champion.

Former goalkeeper Shahid Ali Khan is presently the chief coach of Pakistan. Incidentally, the Pakistan Hockey Federation is currently headed by an Olympian and former international player Qasim Zia. Zia is using good offices of former Malaysian coach and Olympian Sarjit Singh to rope in a European coach.

“Yes, Pakistan is looking for a foreign coach and I am trying to help them,” says Sarjit Singh, refusing to divulge any further details. He says that new coach of the Malaysian team, after he gave up, has been his previous colleague and deputy.

He feels that China may not be a strong contender as he predicts Pakistan-Korea final giving India an outside chance of making to the Asian games final. It may be pertinent to mention here that in the 2008 Olympic Games, India had failed to qualify for the first time in 80 years. India had lost the Olympic qualifier final to Great Britain in Chile.

In the 2006 Asian games in Doha, India had failed to make the semifinal grade for the first time since hockey was introduced. The only interest left for Asian teams in the World Cup here is a chance to qualify for the elite Champions Trophy. Team finishing fifth here will definitely qualify.

A number of foreign coaches, exploring possibilities of signing contracts, are here. World Cup is an opportunity that brings the top notch not only among players, umpires, but also coaches, physical trainers and others associated with team managements.

India will have to wait till the elections to Hockey India are held. The International Hockey Federation that wanted this process to be completed by November last year has now extended the deadline till May this year because of some litigations and problems in granting affiliation to genuine and left out units. It will depend upon the new team whether to continue with the present chief coach, Jose Brasa, or look for someone else for future assignments of Indian team.

The Tribune



Ad-hocism must end in India, Pakistan: FIH

NEW DELHI: Ad-hocism must end in India and Pakistan if hockey is to progress at international level, says Tayyab Ikram, International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) director of coaching.

Ikram, a Pakistani who is aware of the way the game is run in the two countries, said both should take a different approach to be back among top hockey playing nations.

“Both countries are important for FIH because international hockey is incomplete without India and Pakistan. Both countries have to approach the game differently now,” he told newsmen on sidelines of Hockey World Cup here.

“From running of the organisation to appointment of coaches, everything in India and Pakistan is run in an ad hoc way. But things have to improve. Despite a rich history, hockey is not an institution in these two countries. Top teams like the Netherlands will slip down to World No.20, but hockey will still be an institution for them.”

Ikram feels India and Pakistan have the potential and talent but that does not reflect in their world rankings. “In FIH we have a High Performance Input unit which was set up in 2006-07 basically for tier II countries. We tried to help India and Pakistan with this unit, but till now they are yet to use it in a full-fledged way.”

“This unit can really help both the countries to improve the game at grassroots. We have to change training hours of coaches and players into quality hours. Both countries need to increase their pool of players for national team. Today they have just 60-70 players in a pool for national team. It is simply not enough. Ask any coach in India or Pakistan about their second XI, and they will struggle to name it,” he added.

Dawn



Expert Comments

By Bodapati David


The Indian hockey team is a goldmine. Living hockey legend and the preset Australian hockey coach Ric Charlesworth may have missed a heart beat when India beat Pakistan. The prime-time, show-piece encounter on the inaugural day of the 12th Hero Honda Men’s World Cup Hockey Tournament whipped up emotions and raised visions of reviving the glorious past of Indian hockey. Alas, it was not to be as the 8-time Olympic gold medalists came crashing down to earth in the next match where the wounded Kangaroos, with Ric at the helm, handed out a comprehensive drubbing. The euphoria generated by the Media died too soon. And the Spanish Armada, too, made light of the Victory against Pakistan, by thrashing them and exposing their tactical and technical deficiencies which are being sorted out by another Spaniard, Jose Brasa, who is the foreign coach of India for this important assignment.

However, it would be unfair to the coach who seemed to have put the team on the right track. But like Charlesworth, who had a brief but unpleasant stint with the Indian team, he too is facing difficulties in understanding the dynamics of Indian sports set-up, where administrators, governments who pay for the team’s expenses and the coach’s salary, former players and Olympians, media, technical experts and finally the players themselves spinning in different directions. Under such professional atmosphere any coach who takes up position with the Indian Hockey team, or for that matter any Indian team, needs to be more than a professional. Just being a professional, like Charlesworth, will only increases the pressure and stress and if one cannot handle that, it would show on his coaching faculties.

As a journalist who is keeping tab on the Indian team, there are a numerous incidents that can be quoted which have psychologically and physically drained the Indian team but leaving aside all these negatives, let us see why the Indian team is a gold mine. Indians have amazing ball-control skills. They have a passion for hockey. They play an attacking game. The huge amount of player-base available in the country is perhaps the best in the world. No other country has such huge pool of talented players from which the Indian team is chosen. It is a challenge to any selection committee. If there are stories in the media that a particular panel is partial, it can be safely concluded that players with equal skills, equal talent, equal physical fitness abilities, equal in all aspects that are looked for, are eliminated because for every position we have ample choice of eligible players, who play at the highest level. For generations, we find many unsung heroes, who might have gone on to win Olympic gold medals, but they could not enter the Indian team. One opportunity missed, because of a bad selection policy or because of an injury and a life-time chance is gone and one has to remain just and ex-indian international and the Olympian tag eludes for life time. So players work hard for years and keep themselves fit and avoid injuries to be on the world stage for an Olympics or a World Cup. These are the two greatest events for any sportsman.

India’s ranking might be very low, but it’s the gold mine of a talent makes India one of the most-feared teams every time they enter a competition. Even if they are ranked 99th in the world, every top team, including the Numero Uno, will fear India when they meet them. They are so unpredictable and matched with their stick skills they pose a serious danger to every team that prides in their tactics and strategies, their methodology and efficiency. This one aspect also pits them as a dark-horse in every tournament. But alas, soon we are losing that tag too. If things continue to go the way they are going, India will find it extremely difficult to join the elite again. Time has come for us to learn from our former students who have surpassed us and now the ``fear of India’’ is slowly fading. Coaches no more treat us with respect and it is very easy to chalk out a strategy, if the psyche of the Indian players remains the same, soon it will die.

Many might not like a post-mortem report or a review after just three matches but my humble attempt is to understand what the Indian team needs to do to stay in the tournament. With no hopes for a semifinal berth and only an outside chance, hoping others to lose, is not the way any player would like. Still beating England, who denied us a chance to play in the Olympics for the first time two years ago, is very important even if we have beat them in a smaller tournament after the forgettable Chile Olympic qualifier. A mishap that Indians fans will never forgive or forget. Winning the last match, too, is important. Only if we win both the matches, the outside chance can help us bring the luck provided we win both the matches and others lose. But the tournament is still open and we should make sure that we fight to enter 5th to 8th place grouping. Sometimes, the amazing crowd support eggs us to do entertaining things and our attacking style brings the crowd on to their feet but strategic hockey or defensive play might not please the crowd but may win us matches. For the crowd and the rest of the country, the tournament is as good as over but the players should realize that it is not so for them. If we enter semifinals, by a stroke of luck, we will still fight for the cup. But to be more pragmatic, the team should pool together and not lose heart. A fifth place for a 12th ranked team is still a good achievement. Many a time, India finishes in the bottom half after threatening to make it to the semifinals. After losing a chance to enter the last-four stage, the Indians get dis-heartened and it shows on the performance for lower-placing matches. But our future and the rankings for the next two years and will be determined by our performance here. World Cup and Olympics are two tournaments where we have to show that we are much better than our ranking.

Some lessons to be learnt and I am sure, the Indian Coach is looking into these aspects to keep up the mood in the team. There was a huge hullabullah when an Indian player was suspended for the dangerous play on the field. The mistake might have not caused injury to anyone, but had it been a serious bleeding injury, no one would have protested. But such punishments are important and the international Federation, like any other sports Federation in the world, treats safety as one of the important factors that promotes the sport. And hockey needs them too. Indian players, especially from northern India learn as part of their nurturing, these intimidating tactics and they continue even when they are playing for India. Unlearning them is very important and no national coach will waste his time on trivia like these. Players should understand that these immoral tactics cannot be hidden from umpires of international standards where assistance from TV is immense. The TV umpire, who decides after watching the replay while the game is stalled, is a permanent fixture whether we like it or not. These tricks will not only harm the player’s reputation but an yellow card or a suspension will affect the team’s chances very badly as they spoil the psychological state of mind of the team apart from reducing the numbers from which the coach can opt for different strategies. The other silly mistake, the Indian team had made in this tournament is ``to continue play’’ after whistle is blown. These kinds of mistakes are not seen on a stage like World Cup by even minnows. Players who represent a country are expected to follow basic rules. I will leave comments on Development Coaching and High-performance coaching for another day.

Some of the Indian players who have acquired high-degree of modern European tactics have also been committing these silly errors which are dealt by only a development coach. But the first three matches have also displayed the amazing transformation the Indian team has undergone under coach Brasa in the last eight months.

Coach Brasa had managed to bring some qualities in the Indian team which was last seen only during the regime of Cedric D’Souza. Off-the-ball running, making use of the flanks, accurate passes, less unforced errors, releasing the ball on time, running into open spaces in the circle and effective marking, not just man-to-man marking, are some of the features which the Indian team displayed in glimpses during the India-Pakistan matches and the later two encounters with Australia and Spain. But we could not match with the top teams is a `given’ and the result proves it. Pakistan still plays the Asian style of hockey and only when we can mix the Indian skills with European tactics, India can once again rule the roost at the international level. Coach Brasa rightly said, that he needs another 18 months and hope the Indian government or the federation does not lose confidence in him after this World Cup.

I will conclude with a couple of examples. The Indian team today has used the `aerial pass’ or the `scoop’ in Indian parlance, very less and held possession of ball when used, except for an occasional miss. A couple of years back, the same pass was used more than a dozen times and 80 per cent of the time we used to lose possession of ball. Counter attack, as we call it, or a turn over in European language, is one of the potent weapons the European teams or even the Aussies use, to turn the tide. We too have used it but we are still succumbing to it when the opponents use it. Employing some of these ``unconsciously’’ and moving into the right place at the right time and taking risk on the field is not just an innovative or imaginative thing anymore. It is a trained trait which is imbibed after continuous drills in the camps and if one can bring these to the field, there is no reason why the Indian team should remain in doldrums for long. Bravo Brasa! Go India Go!!!

Stick2Hockey.com



Catching up with the youngest teen on the Canadian Boys team – Taylor Curran

By Cecilia-Carter Smith


I’m impressed. He’s 17 years old – still in high school - and a member of Canada’s senior men’s national field hockey team. He’s playing hooky to play hockey in Delhi, India at the Hero Honda FIH World Cup. With permission, of course.

Taylor Curran is bright. And lessons learned at the FIH World Cup will far exceed lessons learned in the classroom. I’m certain Taylor and his family agree.

Taylor is a mature, grounded young man who clearly understands process. “The important part about events like this (FIH World Cup) is not a particular moment but, rather the entire experience,” said the North Vancouver’s Argyle Secondary School student. “The World Cup is all about learning and the experience.

“I’m just going to try to understand, and evaluate everything that happens, and learn what I can (from the experience). I’m hoping that the lessons I learn in this World Cup will help me in the future with the senior team, as well as the upcoming junior team.”

The experience of the FIH World Cup opening game between rivals India and Pakistan has been a memorable one for the team’s youngest member. “The India-Pakistan game that we watched (as a team) was a highlight,” said the North Van. resident. “The stadium was packed with a noisy, rowdy Indian crowd. It was an unbelievable atmosphere unlike anything I have ever seen at a hockey game.”

Curran remembers going to UBC as a youngster to watch Canada play Chile in a series of games. “I was absolutely blown away by the speed of the game, the skill of the players, and the level of hockey.

“I looked up to a lot of players that I’m playing with (especially Rob & Kenny). It’s really amazing for me to be playing with these same guys at that same level only a few years later.”

The prospective UBC student added, “Making the (senior national) team was a huge highlight (for me) as well as making the San Diego Tour and this World Cup. And – scoring my first international goal (against US  in my 23rd game) was a huge highlight, too but, also a big relief (because it took so long).”

Said the engaging Curran, “Obviously, my 1st cap (3-2 win over Russia) was an important moment, too.”

Taylor commented on the Australian national team's resounding 12-0 victory over South Africa. "Our loss to Australia sorta makes us feel a bit better. You knew if anyone could beat the record for most goals scored it would the Aussies. They're great goalscorers, plus they never seem to shut down."

Taylor Curran is running with some mighty cool company in India. But, back at Argyle Secondary School he has connections to some very famous faces, too: Bryan Adams, Jason Priestley, Paul Kariya, and Brett Hull are all alum of North Vancouver’s Argyle Seconday School. Famous connections indeed.

Field Hockey Canada media release



Cash-strapped Canada live their passion

Devadyuti Das


New Delhi, March 6: The men in fiery red jerseys from Canada may not have set the pitch on fire at the World Cup, but their tale of making ends meet and raising funds to reach New Delhi is sure to warm hearts.

While the best teams in the world focused on preparations and the Indian team kept themselves busy with their fight for justice, members of the Canadian team were busy selling T-shirts in between training for the World Cup.

Revealing the daunting task of raising funds, Canada’s skipper, of Indian origin Ken Pereira told this newspaper, “It is very difficult for field hockey players in Canada. While there is sizeable patronage for ice-hockey there are very few takers for field hockey. We have to manage funds on our own when we play tournaments.” Pereira, who makes a living by playing in the Dutch league said, they were short of funds for the trip to New Delhi.

“Playing hockey in our country means a lot of sacrifice. Most often we all land up paying from our pockets when we play abroad. It happened even when we played the Champions Challenge in Argentina.

“This time we put the money together by hosting send-off dinners for ourselves and selling T-shirts. It was senior team member Rob Short’s idea. We got our national team T-shirts done and each one of took responsibility too sell it by word of mouth and we also put it up social networking websites. The response for the T-shirts priced around $25 was good,” Pereira said.

The word hockey for most Canadians begins and ends with ice-hockey. To popularise a sport, which is predominantly based in the English-speaking or Indian dominated parts of Canada is no mean task.

“The concept of hockey is very different in Canada where the focus is on ice hockey. Compared to other countries we are very few in number. The domestic circuit too isn’t very happening, but nevertheless we play with the same passion,” said Pereira.

Pereira who plunged into ice hockey at the age of three, was a late bloomer in field hockey at 16. He took up the sport when a cousin from Uganda started a U-21 hockey in Toronto.

With his father from Karnataka and mother from Mumbai, Pereira has strong Indian connections and is looking forward to visiting Goa. “Playing in a country where my parents were born is very special. I’m eager to visit Goa where I still have cousins. I’ve been there before and I love the beaches there. I’m hoping to go there again soon,” said the 37-year-old.

The Asian Age



Canadian player sells shirts to play with pride

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: Ken Pereira would've been presented a shirt with pomp and splendour had he stuck to ice hockey. But the veteran Canadian playmaker with 302 caps ends up selling shirts. Reason? Making money to fund his trip to the Hero Honda FIH World Cup in New Delhi.

"Field hockey is not very big in Canada," Pereira, who made his debut in 1995, said. "So, we've got to dig deep into our pockets to make our trips abroad possible especially since weve no great rivalry in North America and have to travel to Europe or Asia."

Pereira, whose parents hail from Goa, sold shirts like the rest of the team. They were the Canadian colours, red and with the Maple Leaf imprinted costing $30 each as they planned for the New Delhi campaign.

"I was on the lower end of the scale," he said. "I don't know too many people in Vancouver (on the west coast) where field hockey is centred as I live in Toronto," he said. "Guess I sold about 30 shirts." It could all have been different had Pereira, 36, stuck to ice hockey, the big sport in Canada. "I played ice hockey till I was 17," he said.

Canada qualified for the World Cup by beating the US in the final of the Pan American championship in Santiago, Chile, once again making sacrifices of the monetary kind.

"Life is tough for a Canadian field hockey player. I have to be away in Vancouver and I can count the number of days I spend at home in Toronto especially since I also play for HGC in the Dutch league," he said. And it's tough having a girlfriend he said even finding one. "Now that I have one, it's mainly just emails, text messages and telephone calls," he said in a lighter vein.

The Times of India



Perfect baptism for Shepherd

Goals from Vikki Bunce and Laura Bartlett gave newly appointed coach Gordon Shepherd the ideal baptism as Scotland beat France 2-1 in their opening match in the Celtic Cup in Nice.

Early pressure was rewarded when a Holly Cram penalty corner volley was illegally stopped on the line by a French defender and Bunce celebrated her 100th cap by scoring from the spot.

Linda Clement and Bunce opened up the French defence but the letter`s effort went just wide of the target.  The French were back in business when a set piece shot was deflected past keeper Carmin Dow just before the interval.

The Scots continued to press in the second period, Bartlett`s solo run and shot was deflected wide of the target and then a double assault by Cram and Sam Judge brought the best out of the French keeper.

The winner came from a Scots breakaway at a French penalty corner.  Bunce, Ailsa Robertson and Aimee Clark were involve in the build-up, the latter`s cross took out the keeper and Bartlett was left to roll the ball home.

Lynne Dick, Scotland`s manager, said: “I was delighted with the win, especially for Gordon, the winner came straight from the training ground, but we still have a way to go before the World Cup Qualifier at the end of next month.”

With Ireland beating France 3-2 on Friday, the Scots must now win against Ireland today to take the Celtic Cup for the fourth time in a row.

On the domestic front, Greaves Clydesdale produced an insipid performance in front of their home crowd to lose 1-0 to a stuffy Grange outfit in the Subway national league.   The only goal came just before the interval when Wei Adams deflected home a cross from Phil Sully.  Grange continued to dominate proceedings and had the luxury of missing from the spot as Rob Barr`s poor effort was easily stopped by keeper Stuart Brown.

The Glynhill Kelburne bandwagon continues to roll along as Inverleith left Ballahouston on the wrong end of a 7-2 thumping.  Michael Bremner and Jonny Christie (2) gave the Buddies a 3-0 half-time lead.  The avalanche continued unabated after the interval as Mark Ralph, Gareth Hall, Bremner again and Alan Forsyth scored with Callum Milne and John Martin getting late consolations for Inverleith.

In the relegation pool Dundee Wanderers thumped Watsonians 4-0 with goals from Steven Glass, Allan Law, Ross Glashan and Paul Dailly while WebEnergy Hillhead beat Stepps by the same score, Mike Marshall picked up a hat-trick and Mike Dornan got the other.  Aberdeen Asset Management halted Edinburgh University`s run of success with a 2-1 win in the North East.

In the women`s Presidents Cup Milne Craig Western were held to a 2-2 draw by Giffnock.  Louise Fleming and Elaine Brierley scored for the East Renfrewshire outfit while Nilcoa Pitticus and Ailsa Young replied for Western.

Hillhead advanced their cause to avoid the drop by beating Highland InveRoss 2-1 in the lower pool of the first division.  Grange kept their unbeaten record with a 3-1 away win at GHK.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Korea upset Hockeyroos

A large crowd watched a high powered, even first half at Duracraft Hockey Stadium in Perth.

Australia had the first break in the 7th minute when Amy Korner brought the ball down the left wing and crossed to Emily Hurtz who powered home a tomahawk into the top left hand corner.

Another penalty corner to Australia a few minutes later was saved first by goalie Jang Soo Ji and although picked up by Hope Munro was again pushed wide.

Korea had just as many penetrations and Park Mi Hyun had a cracking tomahawk well saved by Rachael Lynch. A Korean penalty immediately after was a near perfect drag flick that hit the top post.

The game swung from end to end and Ashley Nelson brought the ball down the right, scooped it over a stick and orchestrated a penalty corner. A hard hit by Shelly Liddelow was saved by the goalie.

Australia seemed to have a little more freedom in attack and Munro and Catriona Bailey-Price looked dangerous.

With 6 minutes to go in the half a well timed pass to Park Mi Hyun was deflected by her to even the score. Almost immediately Australia had a penalty corner saved by the goalie.

With two minutes to go three Australian players brought the ball forward in the circle, all nearly scoring with the last lunge by Ashley Nelson deflected out. With thirty seconds to go Korner had only the goalie to beat but Park Jeong Sook deflected the ball away with a full body dive.

In the second half Australia had renewed energy and within two minutes a clever variation to the penalty corner was deflected in by Amy Korner.

Korea quickly had it at their end and two penalties and both were bravely saved the first Fiona Johnson. The third was well flicked by Lee Soo Kyung to even the score 2-2.

Soon after another penalty corner is again saved by the first runner Johnson, however the second was powered into the bottom right by Lee Soo Kyung.

Korea looked in control for the rest of the game. With ten minutes to go and in a narrow escape a cross to Kim Jong Hee was deflected just above the roof of the goal.

Korea (3) defeated AUSTRALIA (2)

Half Time Korea (1) AUSTRALIA (1)

Goals: Australia: Emily Hurtz FG 7 min, Amy Korner PC 37 min Korea: Park Mi Hyun min FG 29 min; Lee Soo Kyung PC 43 min; Lee Soo Kyung PC 49 min

Hockey Australia media release



Row as cops storm hockey final

By AYUMBA AYODI


Protests and poor umpiring put a blot on a thrilling match as Kenya Police scored a controversial equaliser and a sudden death goal to beat a gallant Wazalendo 3-2 on Saturday and storm hockey Premier League final.

Lerthagic Police, who upheld their unbeaten run this season, will now face an enterprising and youthful Strathmore University.

The varsity students on Saturday beat Nixon Nyangaga’s Green Sharks 2-1 to secure their maiden final slot. The students have displayed great skill this season.

Raided from both flanks


Veteran umpire Pradeep Giddie just had an awful day in the office. He earned the wrath of an awesome Wazalendo side when he missed two crucial calls that handed Kenya Police victory.

Wazalendo, who were leading 2-1, never relaxed as they continued raiding Police’s arsenal from both flanks.

Easy short corner

In the process, Brian Saina of Police cleared the ball with his leg but Giddie failed to make the call and instead, waved play on.

Police cashed in on the confusion to push the ball forward and snatched an easy short corner when Wazalendo tried to wade off the assault.

Willis Okeyo was swift with the short corner as Cheplait was to smash the ball home to grab the equaliser for Police with three minutes to time to send the game to sudden death.

Daily Nation