News for 09 March 2010

All the news for Tuesday 9 March 2010


Hero Honda World Cup

Day 9 - Monday 08-03-2010 16:35 Spain 2 : 0 England
Day 9 - Monday 08-03-2010 18:35 Australia 2 : 1
Pakistan
Day 9 - Monday 08-03-2010 20:35 South Africa 3 : 3
India
Pool B
Rank Teams Played Wins Draw Lost GF - GA GD Points
1 Australia 5 4 0 1 23 - 6 17 12
2 England 5 4 0 1 17 - 12 5 12
3 Spain 5 3 0 2 12 - 8 4 9
4 India 5 1 1 3 13 - 17 -4 4
5 South Africa 5 1 1 3 13 - 28 -15 4
6 Pakistan 5 1 0 4 9 - 16 -7 3



Australia and England through to semi-finals in Delhi


At the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 in Delhi, England suffered their first defeat of the competition at the hands of Spain (0-2) and Australia grabbed the lead of pool B with their victory over Pakistan (2-1), while South Africa produced another excellent performance to tie India (3-3).

Game 25 – Spain v. England: 2-0 (half-time: 1-0)

England, still unbeaten in this competition, were the first qualified for the semi-finals of this World Cup, while Spain, semi-finalists of the last three World Cups, needed to beat England, then count on Pakistan beating Australia later in the day, to have a chance to make their way to the final four on goal difference.

With less at stake, England started with not as much determination as usual and Pol AMAT, left alone in the circle, had a good chance around the 10th minute mark. This was the wake-up call England needed and they tightened the lines, putting more pressure on the Spanish circle but without creating much danger, including on a scrambled penalty-corner. James TINDALL had a long run, leaving two Spanish defenders flat-footed with a fake to penetrate the circle, but his final shot was weak and wide.

A quick combination in the circle earned England a penalty-corner but Ashley JACKSON, their remaining penalty-corner striker since Richard MANTELL’s injury, flicked it wide. Both teams, playing their fifth game in nine days, seemed physically tired, making multiple unforced errors. Spain earned a penalty-corner in the final minute of the period, after a collision between two English defenders, and Pau QUEMADA added a goal to his tally, Spain going into the break with a meagre one-goal lead.

The pace picked up in second half. Eduard TUBAU tried a difficult lob over James FAIR in the English goal but his ball ended up marginally too high. The game was flowing back and forth but was scarce in real chances until a superb collective Spanish movement in the 64th minute ended with three players arriving in front of James FAIR and Eduard TUBAU the last one to touch the ball for the second Spanish goal.

English could not react significantly and the lacklustre match ended with the three points for Spain.

Match facts (Spain v. England):

> Spain will play in the Final 5-6 on Friday, 12 March, unless PAK beat AUS by at least 13 goals.
> Spain have featured in the Final 5-6 three times winning on all three occasions beating ENG (3-0 in 1973), India (2-0 in1978) and Argentina (3-2 in 1986).
> Pau Quemada scored his 4th PC goal at Delhi 2010.
> Eduard Tubau scored his first goal in Delhi and his ninth in World Cup competition. Only Ignacio Escudé has scored more World Cup goals for Spain (11).
> This marked the first time England failed to score in a WC match since they fell 1-0 to Korea on 8 September 2006.
> England have now failed in score in 3 of 7 World Cup matches against Spain.
> Australia can now finish top in Pool A if they beat Pakistan.

Game 26 – Australia v. Pakistan: 2-1 (half-time: 0-1)

In the second game of the day, Australia had a chance to top the pool with a win, thanks to their goal difference boosted by their record win against South Africa (12-0). They were facing a Pakistani outfit struggling in this competition, with defeats at the hands of India, England and South Africa and a meagre win over Spain.

The Kookaburras were promptly in action and created a handful of chances in the opening five minutes but the final passes were lacking precision. Pakistan progressively became more dangerous after fifteen minutes of play, threatening Nathan BURGERS in the Australian goal in two occasions but they were most of the times confined in their defensive zone. Salman AKBAR was called into action a few times, including on two shots in quick succession from close range that he successfully deflected. Somewhat against the flow of play, Pakistan earned two penalty-corners in a row in the 24th minute and Sohail ABBAS slotted the second one in the top corner after hitting the crossbar on the first one.

Australia maintained a sustained pressure for the remainder of the period, however, despite having most of the ball possession, they could not generate any clear chance and Pakistan went into the break with their one-goal lead. The Kookaburras jumped into action as soon as play resumed and immediately equalized by Desmond ABBOTT with a powerful shot from the edge of the circle.

Play suddenly opened up with crowd pleasing movements sweeping across the field. The Pakistani forward, who have not showed much in this competition so far, were once again not combining well and the Green Shirts had to rely on penalty-corners. They had two chances on set pieces but Waseem AHMED then Sohail ABBAS were off target, as was Luke DOERNER as the other end.

With both teams eager to win, Australia to top the pool and Pakistan for pride, the last ten minutes were very intense and animated. Pakistan thought that they had forced another penalty-corner but it was denied by the video umpire, then Shakeel ABBASI had a huge chance alone at the top of the circle and sent his shot high in the crowd... The deadlock was only broken in the 68th minute by Desmond ABBOTT bursting forward to deflect a cross by Robert HAMMOND from the left, leaving the Green Shirts dejected after their forth defeat and Australia relieved to grab a last minute win despite a mediocre performance.

Match facts (Australia v. Pakistan):

> Australia beat Pakistan 2-1 to become group winner in Pool B, beating England on goal difference.
> This is Australia’s ninth semi-final berth. Only Germany has played more semi-final matches (10, excluding 2010).
> Pakistan will finish 5th or 6th in the Pool depending on the result of the South Africa – India match.
> Des Abbott scored twice to lift his WC total to four goals. He now joins Glenn Turner (AUS) as player with most field goals scored at Delhi 2010 (4).
> Sohail Abbas, Pakistan’s top goal scorer in WC competition is now on 18 goals. The all-time WC record stands at 26 goals and is held by Paul Litjens (NED). Amongst active players only Taeke Taekema (NED) has scored more goals (19).

Game 27 – South Africa v. India: 3-3 (half-time: 1-2)

The last game of pool B opposed South Africa and India, both with three losses and only one win. South  Africa were nevertheless in a positive mind after their historic win against Pakistan while India had lost three games in a row since their opening win against arch-rivals Pakistan. Unfortunately, the local crowd had lost some of its devoted patience for its team and the venue was only half full when it was overcrowded for the previous games of the host team.

South Africa started quickly, as usual, and had two good chances in the opening stages, first by Thornton McDADE with a powerful reverse stick shot saved by Adrian D'SOUZA in the Indian goal, then through a deflection from close range narrowly missed. The third opportunity was the good one and Lloyd NORRIS-JONES concluded a long run through the Indian defense with a powerful shot past the keeper to open the scoring. The African Champions continued on the same note, playing a completely different hockey than at the beginning of the competition, and missed a penalty-corner by a whisker.

Sarvanjit SINGH brought back his team level in the 17th minute after dribbling his way through the circle. This triggered a flurry of Indian attacks in front of the flag waving kop behind Erasmus PIETERSE in the South African goal. South Africa were clearly on their heels and managed to survive unscathed for a while, including on two penalty-corners scrambled by the stoppers, but Vikram PILLAY was well positioned just in front of the keeper to deflect a long pass and give the advantage to the local team.

South Africa nearly came back on the scoreboard with two spectacular moves, both concluded by deflections that had the keeper stranded but missed the top corner by inches. They nevertheless scored early after the break by Ian HALEY picking up the rebound of a penalty-corner shot stopped on the line by a defender.

India scored a third goal after a sumptuous series of passes that swept away the whole South African defense, however it was vehemently contested by the African Champions and subsequently annulled by the video-umpire with a penalty-corner allocated to South Africa at the other end! In a dramatic turn of event, Austin SMITH scored it and South Africa was suddenly leading again on the scoreboard! A long period of intense Indian pressure followed with all field players crammed in the South African 25m and some boiling hot situation in front of Erasmus PIETERSE. Gurwinder Singh CHANDI, Sarvanjit SINGH and Rajpal SINGH were very active on the right flank of the attack but time was passing and the South Africans were still hanging on for dear life. India missed a penalty-corner but Shivendra SINGH did not miss the chance to tie up the score from a wild scrum in front of the goal.

South Africa were only a few minutes away from completing a spectacular double win against Pakistan then India, only days after suffering a sobering defeat 0-12 at the hands of Australia. The tie put India in fourth place in Pool B, South Africa in fifth and relegated Pakistan to the 11th-12th place game.

Match facts (South Africa v. India):

> India finish four and qualify for the Final 7-8. This is their best WC result since 1994, when they finished fifth.
> India have never played in a Final 7-8 match in World Cup competition.
> South Africa, ranked 13th in the world, will play the Final 9-10. They will at least equal their best WC result ever which is 10th place in 1994.
> South Africa have now conceded 28 goals in five matches at Delhi 2010.
> India hold on to their unbeaten status in World Cup matches against South Africa: 1 win and 3 draws.
> Pakistan will play the Final 11-12, like they did in 1986 (11th), when they got their worst result in World Cup competition.

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

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 9 - Monday 8 March 2010

Spain v. England  2:0 (1:0)

ESP  35mn  Pau QUEMADA (PC)  1:0
ESP  64mn  Eduard TUBAU (FG)  2:0

Australia v. Pakistan  2:1 (0:1)
PAK  24mn  Sohail ABBAS (PC)  0:1
AUS  39mn  Desmond ABBOTT (FG)  1:1
AUS  68mn  Desmond ABBOTT (FG)  2:1

South Africa v. India  3:3 (1:2)

RSA   8mn  Lloyd NORRIS-JONES (FG)  1:0
IND  17mn  Sarvanjit SINGH (FG)  1:1
IND  24mn  Vikram PILLAY (FG)  1:2
RSA  39mn  Ian HALEY (PC)  2:2
RSA  47mn  Austin SMITH (PC)  3:2
IND  66mn  Shivendra SINGH (FG)  3:3

Pool Standings:

Pool A: 1) Netherlands 10 pts  2) Germany 8 pts  3) Korea 7pts  4) New Zealand 6 pts  5) Argentina 3 pts  6)  Canada 0 pt
Pool B: 1) Australia 12 pts (+17)  2) England 12 pts (+5)  3) Spain 9 pts  4) India 4 pts (-4)  5) South Africa 4 pts (-15)  6) Pakistan 3 pts

WorldHockey



India manages to pull off a draw

Australia assures itself of a semifinal berth; England suffers a reverse

S. Thyagarajan


PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT

TIMELY STRIKE:India's Shivendra Singh scores the equaliser against South Africa to make it 3-all in the World Cup on Monday.

New Delhi: It was a great escape in the end. In a nerve-wracking encounter, India managed to snatch a 3-3 draw against South Africa to come in line for a 7-8 place in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Monday.

Pathetic though in patches, the home team survived the scare of moving down to the 9-10 spot match after Shivendra Singh produced the equaliser four minutes before the hooter.

India finished in the fourth place on account of its better goal difference of minus 4 against the minus 15 of South Africa.

The work by the Indian defenders in the zone was shoddy throughout. That showed out within a few minutes when an unmarked Norris Jones darted in without a challenge and beat Adrian D'Souza hands down.

Bewildered by the turn of the tide early in the encounter, India forced the pace in the attack amidst a maze of errors. Even the mid-field was unsteady, not comprehending the speed of the rival attack.

India was lucky to get the equaliser midway through. Halappa did the spade work which was carried on by Prabhjot and culminated in Sarvanjit Singh netting.

Errors

India continued to wallow in a pool of errors arising out poor trapping by Sandeep Singh and even by the dependable Gurbaj Singh. A flunked up penalty corner — the second in a row — was rolled to Shivender Singh. He served the ball to Vikram Pillay, whose push from the top of the circle beat goal-keeper Erasamus Pieterse.

The suspense at the Indian end was clear every time when the South Africans attacked. The wobbly defence inspired little confidence. A deflection by Paul Blake missed the mark narrowly.

South Africa squared up neatly after the break from a penalty corner. Goalkeeper Adrian padded a powerful drive but Reid Ross tucked in the rebound. Confusion reigned when a combined move involving Chandi and Tushar ended with Sarvanjit placing the ball inside. But Eert Roel, the Dutch umpire, signalled a goal but the decision was disputed by the South Africans as the earlier video referral was still in progress. The goal was disallowed.

Another video referral penalty corner ended with South Africa forging ahead thanks to a rebound flick by Austin Smith.

As the tension rose to a crescendo, came the equaliser for India. A long range pass by Sandeep split the defence and ended in a scrimmage. Shivendra slotted in amidst vociferous cheers. Diwakar received an yellow card for a foul on Wade Paton.

Earlier, Australia, devoid of the sparkle which impaired the fluidity of attack and defensive work, managed to eke out a 2-1 victory against Pakistan and confirm its place in the semifinal. The Aussies trailed 0-1 at half-time.

The outcome and the goal difference of + 12 pushed Australia to the top of the group and England's +5. Both finished their engagements in the Pool with 12 points each.

But taken on the whole, it was a show the Aussies and their renowned coach, Ric Charlesworth, would like it be erased from memory.

It was a pity that Pakistan failed to emerge victorious notwithstanding a fairly impressive display. When Sohail Abbas struck late in the first half, it looked as though Pakistan would consolidate its dominance.

The attack led by Irfan Muhammad and supported well by Shakeel Abbasi maintained a good measure of pressure on the Aussie defenders who were shockingly tentative. Only in the second half did Australia show some authority in the rival zone. Dennis Abbott connected a drive from Liem De Young to score a spectacular goal and help Australia draw level.

Actually, if Abbasi had not failed with a sitter four minutes from end, the result could have been different. But it was Australia that emerged winner when Abbott gave the finishing touches to a long cross by Hammond.

Surprise result

Assured of a semifinal spot, England had no reason stretch. But the 0-2 reverse against Spain in the last match of the pool was a surprise. The verdict strengthened the position of Spain on the table and brought the team in line for a possible fifth place. There was a transparent lack of vibrancy in the English attack. But a filament of fluency was clear in the Spanish sallies led by Ed Tabau and Pau Quemada.

The combination forked up several moves and one of them almost ended in a goal in the early minutes.

Pau's shot off a pass from Tabau sailed away from the target.

However, close on time Quemada converted a penalty corner for the lead.

England had few moments to relish. A fine attempt by Jonty Clarke early in the second half almost ended in an equaliser but Ramon Alagre made a splendid goal-line save.

The results:

Pool B: India 3 (Sarvanjit Singh, Vikram Pillay, Shivendra Singh) drew with South Africa 3 (Norris Jones, Reid Ross, Austin Smith). HT 2-1.

Spain 2 (Pau Quemada, Eduard Tabau) bt England 0. HT 1-0.

Australia 2 (Desmond Abbott 2) bt Pakistan 1 (Sohail Abbas). HT 0-1.

Tuesday's matches:

Germany v New Zealand (4.35 p.m.); Netherlands v Korea (6.35 p.m.); Argentina v Canada (8.35 p.m.).

The Hindu



Draw against SA gives India space at 7th place decider

K. Arumugam


India survived numerous forays of South Africa and a few funny referrals, yet managed the much needed draw in their last pool match; the 3-3 result lnding India at fourth rank in pool B.

India will now play for 7th and 8th position on wed, a measurable improvement compared to India's 10th and 11th position in the last two editions.

India conceded an easy goal in the 8th minute to Llyod Norris-Jones, it was a beautiful solo that bemused Adrian D'Souza -- India scored a brace through Vand Shivender Siingh.

Fourth minute into the second half, Ian Haley equalized and then through a controversial penalty corner, which was obtained with a much delayed referral -- India scored a goal and then it was cancelled to accede to the referral -- captain Austin Smith gave the lead again.

Earlier, despite playing their best match Pakistan conceded a late goal to Austrlia to lose its fourth match and thus finished at the bottom of the table, it will now play for 11th place decider.

Australia's quicksilver goal obtained barely two minutes before hooter upset the applecart of Pakistan who were deserved a draw against the mighty side. Pakistan certainly played its best game today. After Sohail Abbas scored in the 24th minute, Desmond Abbott equlized, and it seemed the match will meander to draw, the Australian set piece came in to play.

A over head pass across the Pak circle -- yes across the circle - a forward took the hit-in, which was neatly deflected by Desmond. This goal coming two minutes before the hooter, dashed the hopes of Pakistan's hopes of a honourbale last match.

In the first match on Day 9, Spain scored a brace to hand over England its first defeat in five matches.

Spain thus finished third in Pool B and will now play for 5th placing.

India finished 11th last time, therefore, coming in the bracket of 7th or 8th is a progress, whatever quantum it might be.

Stick2Hockey.com



Australia on top as England lose to Spain


Pakistan hockey player Shakeel Abbasi (left) in action against Australian hockey player Fergus Kavanagh (second from left) as others looks on during their World Cup 2010 match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi yesterday. (AFP

Favourites Australia sweated to a 2-1 win over Pakistan yesterday to join England in the semi-finals from group B in the men’s field hockey World Cup.

Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas put a rejuvenated Pakistan ahead in the 24th minute, before Desmond Abbott scored twice in the second half to clinch victory for the Kookaburras.

European champions England, who had won all four previous matches, crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain in their last match.

Pau Quemada convered a penalty corner in the 35th minute and Eduard Tubau increased the margin six minutes before the end against an English team already assured of a semi-final berth.

Both England and Australia ended the league on 12 points each, but the Kookaburras took top spot in the group by virtue of a superior goal difference of plus-17 against their rivals’ plus-5.

Spain finished third in the group with nine points and ensure themselves a top-six finish in the tournament.

Pakistan, with one win and four defeats, were left with three points.

India and South Africa, who also have three points each, clash in the final league match later on Monday.

The two semi-final spots from group A will be decided after today’s last round.

England captain Barry Middleton rued his team’s first loss in the tournament.

“We let ourselves down today,” he said. “We did not play at our enegry levels and it proved that if we dump our game we can be disappointing.

“We let our standards slip, but I hope it was only a one-off going into the semi-finals.”

Spanish coach Dani Martin admitted the loss to Pakistan earlier in the league ruined the semi-final hopes of his team.

“That defeat hurt us,” he said. “Otherwise we would be celebrating right now. I don’t think we played to our potential in this tournament.”

Australian captain Jamie Dwyer said the match against Pakistan gave them an opportunity to try the reserves.

“It was not a great game, but it is nice to finish at the top of the group,” he said.

“But a semi-final is a different competition altogether. You can’t afford to have a bad day. Th opponents we face will be tough to beat, whoever they are.”

India and South Africa finished 3-3 in the last Pool B match. Lloyd Norris-Jones put the visitors ahead, before the Indians raised the tempo to strike through Sarvanjit Singh and Diwakar Ram to put India 2-1 at the half time.

But South Africa bounced back with strikes from Justin Reid-Ross and Austin Smith through penalty corners and went 3-2 up.

Shivendra Singh scored the equaliser in the dying moments to darw the match 3-3.

Gulf Times



England lose to spain in final Pool B fixture before Thursday's semi finals


In their final Pool B fixture and with a World Cup semi final berth already secured, England’s men went down 2-0 to Spain on Monday afternoon after late goals in either half from Pau Quemada and Eduard Tubau gave the 2008 Olympic silver medallists third win of the tournament.

Going into the match England had enjoyed their best ever start to a World Cup but were always likely to be challenged by the side ranked third in the world, three places higher than Jason Lee’s squad.  For Spain, the match was about putting pressure on free-scoring Australia should the Kookaburras slip up against Pakistan in the day’s second match.

The last meeting between the two sides at a world level competition came at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne in December 2009 when Spain ran out 5-2 winners to claim fifth place while they also met in January in Cadiz in a two match test series, which finished 1-0 to Spain after a 2-2 draw in the opening match.

With Spain unlikely to leapfrog Australia and England safely through to the semi finals the opening ten minutes were rather uneventful before Spain had the game’s first sight at goal.  Driving along the baseline, Pau Quemada pulled the ball back for Roc Oliva but the Spaniard’s shot across goal evaded both the goal and his waiting teammate Pol Amat on the back post.

England’s first opportunity came in the 12th minute after good work from Bowdon’s Alastair Brogdon down the right.  Cutting inside along the baseline the 22 year old found the foot of a Spanish defender in front of the near post resulting in a penalty corner.  Unfortunately for England, the set piece broke down between Adam Dixon and Ashley Jackson at the top of the circle and the opportunity to test Francisco Cortes was gone.

Just over midway through the half Spain passed up two good chances to open the scoring.  First, after Ed Tubau had drawn goalkeeper James Fair out he squared the ball to the onrushing Quemada but with the goal at his mercy he could only direct the ball into the side netting.  A minute later Cannock’s Fair pulled off a good save with his left glove from Amat after the Spanish captain had beaten Richard Smith at the top of the circle.

Not long after, James Tindall’s mazy run through two defenders inside the 23 metre area created the space for a shot but he mishit his effort and it bobbled wide of Cortes’ left post.

In the 24th minute England were awarded their second penalty corner of the match, which Ashley Jackson flicked wide after an unsuccessful team referral to the video umpire by Spain.

After a relatively open spell, England were beginning to enjoy the better possession and Richard Alexander had the next chance on goal.  After combining well with World Young Player of the Year Ashley Jackson on the right of the Spanish circle, Alexander swivelled and fired a powerful shot towards the back post.  Unfortunately for England, the Surbiton man’s shot went under the body his captain Barry Middleton at the back post and off the back line.

With just a minute of the half remaining England fell behind to Pau Quemada’s penalty corner effort.  A mix up in the English defence with Jackson and Dixon colliding led to James Fair having to make a save and as his clearance rose up into the body of the nearest defender umpire Satinder Kumar awarded Spain their first penalty corner.  From the top of the circle Quemada flicked low to Fair’s left, hitting the backboard to give Spain a 1-0 lead at the break.

Within five minutes of the restart Pol Amat was demonstrating the skills that made him the 2008 World Player of the Year.  Driving almost effortlessly through the left channel he passed three English players before being brought to a halt by Beeston’s Ali Wilson inside the circle.

On 43 minutes and at the other end, Reading’s Jonty Clarke did well to pick up a loose ball inside the Spanish circle.  Despite being forced right he fired off a shot to the back post which, although it ended up in the goal, did not count having come off the body of the sliding Richard Alexander. 

Spain had an opportunity to double their lead after 48 minutes when Eduard Tubau latched onto a long aerial pass downfield but his lob over the advancing James Fair also beat the cross bar by some margin and it remained 1-0.

Knowing that a draw would ensure England top Pool B, Ashley Jackson and Nick Catlin began to lead England’s press for an equaliser from midfield.  With 20 minutes remaining England were enjoying significant possession in their opponents’ half of the field and Reading’s Iain Mackay came close to an equaliser soon after.  Ben Hawes’ ball through the top of the circle deflected off the stick of a defender and into the path of Mackay on the inside left.  Reacting quickly he got off a sweep shot that ended the wrong side of the post, hitting the near side netting and Spain breathed a sigh of relief.

In the 57th minute James Tindall’s run set up Rob Moore inside the circle but with his back to goal the Surbiton man’s control of the bobbling ball let him down.

Entering the final ten minutes Spain sank deeper, content to hit England on the counter, and that was how they scored their second goal.  Ed Tubau broke through the middle of the field, holding off a challenge from Glenn Kirkham before slipping the ball left to Quemada.  Quemada returned the ball to the onrushing Tubau immediately, eliminating James Fair in the England goal, and Tubau was left with the simple task of running the ball home to give Spain a two goal lead.

The second goal effectively ended hopes of an England comeback and with the exception of a Spanish penalty corner, which was well charged down by the English runners, the match drew uneventfully to its conclusion.

After the match, team manager Andy Halliday admitted that England had not been at their best:  “To be honest, we were disappointing today; we lacked energy.  To compete with Spain, who are the Olympic silver medalists, you have to be at the top of your game and we weren’t.”

Looking ahead to Thursday’s semi final, the opponents for which will be known on Tuesday afternoon, Halliday believes on their day England should not be fearful of anyone: “We’re capable of beating any of the four sides who could qualify from Pool A but we’ll just have to wait and see.  Two days rest between now and the semi final will do us good.”

The semi finals take place on Thursday at 12:35 and 14:35 GMT.  England will play one of the Netherlands, Germany, Korea or New Zealand depending on the results from Pool A on Tuesday.

Whatever the result on Thursday, England will also be in action on Saturday in either the bronze or gold medal match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Delhi.

SPAIN 2 (1)

Pau Quemada 34 (PC)               
Eduard Tubau 64 (F)                  

ENGLAND 0 (0)

-

Squad v Spain

Started


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

Substitutes Used

Richard Alexander (Surbiton)
Nick Catlin (Loughborough Students)
Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster)
Iain Mackay (Reading)
James Tindall (Surbiton)

Did Not Play

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

England Hockey Board Media release



Lacklustre England's unbeaten run in Hockey World Cup ended by Spain

Cathy Harris, Delhi


It was just as well England had already booked their place in Thursday’s semi-final after they turned in their worst display of the tournament today, losing 2-0 to Spain, who ended England's unbeaten run in the World Cup.

The Olympic silver-medallists scored late goals in each half against a lacklustre England team who failed to find the target with a single shot in the contest.

James Tindall and Richard Alexander both fizzed shots inches wide of the post and Iain Mackay hit the side-netting with an opportunist effort from a Ben Hawes cross in the second-half.

Barry Middleton, England’s captain, said: ”It was very disappointing. We let our standards slip and we were poor. But when you don’t put the effort and the work in you’ll get beaten, especially by a team as good as Spain.”

Jason Lee, the head coach, was equally subdued, adding: “I think we’d better just draw a line under that performance.”

England had hoped to finish in Pool B on a high and judge themselves against a quality team but they now enter the semi-finals knowing that a much improved showing is called for. It will be their first appearance in the last four since 1986 when London hosted the event.

Australia, who beat England 2-1 in the 1986 final, edged England into second place in the group after snatching a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Pakistan.

Neither side knows who their opponents will be, with the Netherlands, Germany, Korea and New Zealand still very much in the hunt going into their final Pool A matches on Tuesday.

Iain Mackay, the England forward, who broke his nose and needed seven stitches in his forehead in an incident in the India match, played despite suffering considerable pain when he ran.

Born in England to a Scottish father, he said:”We wanted to play as hard as we could but the Spanish sat very deep and slowed the tempo down making it difficult to create chances. But we’ll have fresh legs by the semi-final and we’ll certainly play a lot better.”

James Fair, the goalkeeper, again pulled off some superb reflex saves to keep England in the contest, but he was beaten by a fierce low shot by Pau Quemada at a 35th minute penalty corner, and six minutes from time, Eduard Tubau finished off a sweeping counter-attack to seal the scoreline.

The Times



Spain spoil England's unbeaten record

Spain 2 England 0


Spain spoiled England's unbeaten record at the Hockey World Cup with a 2-0 win in New Delhi.

Spain made an assured start to proceedings and, with England a man down after Barry Middleton was shown a green card, came close to taking the lead through Pau Quemada but James Fair saved.

England soon settled and began to create the better chances as Ashley Jackson fired wide after Middleton had won a penalty corner before Richard Alexander's cross evaded the England attackers.

But England paid for their failure to take those chances as Spain made the most of a penalty corner with Quemada flicking the ball past Fair for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Things could have got worse for England when Edi Tubau raced clear after some nice build-up play, but his attempt to lob Fair sailed just off target.

Iain McKay, playing with a broken nose, came close to getting England back on level terms but his flick, after latching onto a loose ball, flew just wide.

Spain secured the win seven minutes from time after a poor pass gifted them possession. Tubau pounced on the loose ball and linked up well with Quemada before tapping the ball into an empty net.

England team manager Andy Halliday admitted his side had not been at their best but is confident they will bounce back in the semi-finals on Thursday.

"To be honest, we were disappointing today, we lacked energy," he said.

"To compete with Spain, who are the Olympic silver medallists, you have to be at the top of your game and we weren't.

"We're capable of beating any of the four sides who could qualify from Pool A but we'll just have to wait and see. Two days' rest between now and the semi-final will do us good."

The Telegraph



Spain beat England in the hockey World Cup in Delhi

TV Coverage: Live coverage of England's semi-final at 1235 GMT on the BBC Red Button on Thursday, 11 March.

By Sean Chaney


England lost their 100% record at the World Cup after losing 2-0 to Spain, but were already guaranteed a semi-final spot after four straight wins.

Jason Lee's men go through as runners-up after Australia beat Pakistan 2-1 to top Pool B on goal difference.

Pau Quemada deservedly put Spain in front on the stroke of half-time after firing home from a penalty corner.

England could not find an equaliser and Ed Tubau wrapped up the win in Delhi with a late breakaway score.

England are now likely to face either the Netherlands or Olympic champions Germany in the first of Thursday's semi-finals at 1235 GMT, but Korea and New Zealand are still in with a chance of making the knockout stages.

"We're capable of beating any of the four sides who could qualify from Pool A," said England team manager Andy Halliday.

"But we will just have to wait and see. Two days rest between now and the semi-final will do us good," he added.

Korea and New Zealand are the other two countries still with a chance of making the last four.

It is the first time England have reached the semi-finals of a World Cup since they hosted the event in 1986.

England lost in the final to Australia that year, before going on to win Olympic gold in South Korea in 1988.

But the European champions will need to improve on Monday's lacklustre display against Spain if they are to make an impact in the rest of the tournament.

England spurned two penalty corner chances in the first half and failed to really work Spanish goalkeeper Albert Sala.

James Tindall burst through the Spanish defence after 23 minutes but his mazy dribble came to nothing when he pulled his weak shot wide.

Richard Alexander then fizzed a first-half effort across the face of the Spanish goal but England captain Barry Middleton could not connect at the back post.

After the break England's best chance came when Iain Mackay got his stick onto Ben Hawes' effort but the deflection took the ball into the side-netting.

"To be honest, we were disappointing; we lacked energy," said England team manager Andy Halliday.

"To compete with Spain, who are the Olympic silver medallists, you have to be at the top of your game and we were not."

The defeat means England end the group stages with a record of four wins and one defeat.

In the final match in Pool B South Africa and hosts India played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in Delhi.

The draw meant that India finished fourth in the table, ahead of South Africa on goal difference with Pakistan in sixth place.

England: Fair, Dixon, Hawes, Smith, Wilson, Jackson, Kirkham, Middleton (capt), Brogdon, Clarke, Moore.

Substitutes: Alexander, Catlin, Fox, Mackay, Tindall.

BBC Sport



Spain halt England winning spree

M.S.Unnikrishnan


Olympic runners-up Spain gave England a taste of their own medicine when they stunned the European champions with a goal in either half to post a 2-0 victory in a Group A match of the 12th Hero Honda FIH World Cup Hockey Championship at the National Stadium here today.

England suffered their first defeat in five matches though they have ensured a place in the last four with 12 points while Spain recorded their third win in five matches to take their points tally to nine to put themselves with an outside chance of a semifinal berth.

Australia also have nine points from four matches, and their record 12-0 victory against South Africa has given their goal tally a big push which will stand them in good stead if they have to fight with Spain on goal difference. To come back to the match, Spain played no frills game with a fine attacking display though their scoring chances were few and far between.

They perhaps did not believe in quantity, but quality, as their two goals came off superb efforts. Dependable Pau Quemada converted their first penalty corner with a neat flick just on the stroke of half time. The second goal, which came 24th minutes into the second session, also had the touch of Quemada as he and Eduard Tubau took the ball into the dee after a passing bout before Tubau connected with a firm touch.

Captain Pol Amat, who played as a mid-field general, setting up the moves and then falling back to defend, was aptly adjudged the man of the match. In a fast-paced contest with crisp, short passes, England found the going tough as the Spanish players gave them very little room to work up their moves. Yet, Iain Mackay used the wing to mount a few furious moves and two of which almost spelt danger to the Spanish goal. In the 21st minute, Mackay failed to cash in on a fine cross from Ben Hawes. Two minutes later, Mackay set up a cross for Rob Moore who moved in for the kill, but before he could unleash a firm shot, he was zeroed in on by the defenders to dispossess.

England also wasted two penalty corners they earned in the firs half while Spain converted one of the two. When it comes to England and World Cup, Spain seem to put their best put forward as it was their fifth World Cup victory over England in seven meetings. They lost one and drew one, and in the 2009 Champions Trophy in Australia, Spain had triumphed over England 5-2.

The Tribune



Too little, too late for Spaniards

Satya Siddharth Rath


NEW DELHI: Spain finally came good, managing to sneak through the English defence twice with optimum results, but in the end it was too little, too late. England, despite their 0-2 loss, make it to the semifinals of the Hero Honda World Cup along with Australia from Pool B.

The match, as expected, never rose to the heights one normally expects from a clash between two European powerhouses. While England had already booked a last-four berth after their 3-2 win over India, their fourth successive win in the tournament, Spanish hopes were more or less over.

While the European champions completed their league engagements with 12 points from five games, the Spaniards could garner just nine from as many matches. Pau Quemada converted Spain's third penalty corner just seconds before the halfway mark and Eduard Tubau made a fine solo effort to increase the tally in the 64th minute. Only, the win came in a losing cause.

The Times of India



Spain end England's unbeaten run in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: Olympic silver medallist Spain continued their domination over England in the hockey World Cup, defeating the European champions 2-0 in their last pool match at the 12th edition of the mega-event on Monday.

With this win, Spain registered their fifth victory over England out of seven World Cup matches the two teams have played so far. The Englishmen finished on the winning side only once while one game ended without result.

Pau Quemada (35th minute) and Eduard Tubau (64th) scored the goals for Spain at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and almost sealed their third position in the Pool B with nine points.

The victory, however, came too late for Spain as it did very little to brighten their semi-final hopes.

England were already through to the last-four stage of the tournament prior to the match with four wins out of their five matches and most likely title favourites Australia will join them as they have a better goal average than the Spaniards and also a game at hand.

In order to progress to the semis, Spain first needed to beat England by a huge margin and hope that Pakistan prevail over Australia by a big score.

But that was not to be. The victory, however, assured Spain a place in the fifth-sixth play-off match on Friday unless Pakistan beat Australia by a margin of 13 goals, which is highly unlikely.

The encounter was a dull and boring one. The first half was a slow pace affair with both the teams playing long balls at the back in search of a way through the opponent's midfield.

England got the first scoring chance of the match in the 13th minute when they earned their first penalty corner, but the European champions squandered the opportunity as they failed to stop the ball properly.

Spain replied back soon with two opportunities but on first occasion Tubau missed the empty goal by inches and then captain Pol Amat's shot from short distance was saved by England goalkeeper James Fair.

England was off-colour with set pieces today as they squandered their second short corner when Ashley Jackson drag-flick went wide of the Spanish goal.

Spain, however, broke the deadlock in the final minute of the opening half when Quemada sounded the board from his side's first penalty corner to go into the breather with a 1-0 lead.

Already through to the semi-finals, the Englishmen were in no mood to invest much in the encounter and lacked the zeal and enthusiasm which was visible in their earlier four encounters.

The second half was no different as it hardly witnessed any breathtaking action. The way England approached the match it was clear that they took the game lightly having already sealed their semi-final berth.

England got a chance to level the score in the 53rd minute but Iain Mackay's deflection from a cross from outside the circle was well saved by Francisco Cortes in the Spanish goal.

Had it not been for James Fair, the margin of defeat could have been more for England as the custodian brilliantly saved a powerful Juan Lainz Abaitua shot from top of the circle.

Spain, however, doubled their lead in the 64th minute when Tubau scored after a nice one-two with Quemada.

Four minutes from the hooter, Spain got their second penalty corner but this time Quemada faltered with his flick.

The Times of India



It's a mental victory: Spanish coach Dani

Sports Reporter


NEW DELHI: Spanish coach Martin Dani described his team's 2-0 win against England as a mental victory.

Dani said it took the monkey off his team's back after a much better performance handed the English side its first defeat in the World Cup here on Monday.

“There was pressure on us, we were fighting against ourselves. We are happy now,” the Spain coach said.

For Dani, it was more of a mental victory than tactical. “This has improved our mental condition. From the next game, we will play with a different feeling,” he said, adding the other day Spain had also played well to beat host India.

Poor show

England skipper Barry Middleton did not hesitate in admitting that his side performed poorly.

“We showed if we do not play well and do not put our energy, we do not win. Spain is an Olympic silver medallist and they played better,” Middleton said.

Coach Jason Lee also praised Spain for its performance and said now the focus for England would be the semifinals.

Despite the 1-2 loss to Australia, Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan drew positives from the team's last pool match.

“Everybody had thought that it would a one-sided game. But it was one of the best games we had played. We did not give Australia any space in the midfield, we did not give any loose balls. All credit to defence,” he said.

Improving

Shahid, who said Pakistan lost as it had missed some open chances, was happy that the side showed signs of improvement.

“Out team has the potential to upset any big side. But we lack consistency. It is heartening that we revived after losing a few games,” Shahid said.

Dwyer all praise

Australian skipper Jamie Dwyer also appreciated Pakistan's effort. “Their passing and trapping was lot better than us,” he said.

Coach Ric Charlesworth said his side never underestimated Pakistan, which had defeated a team like Spain. “They could have upset us. It could easily have been a draw,” he said.

Charlesworth said his side needed to improve its ability to finish moves nicely.

The Hindu



"We lacked energy on the pitch"

England coach Jason Lee admits that his team paid the price for their lack of energy on the field against the Spaniards.

By Anshul Baijal


England coach Jason Lee lamented his team's listless performance that inflicted their first defeat of the tournament when Spain overcame the European Champions on Monday evening. "I am disappointed after losing the game. We wanted to put up a fight but we lacked energy," he said.

The Three Lions, who have already booked a place in the semifinals, looked completely out of sorts and Lee believes it was important to test themselves against a tough opposition before the knockout round. "We wanted to see how good we are against a team like Spain. We did not play to our potential. They will always make you pay if you do not play your best game," said Lee.

Click here for image gallery

Meanwhile, his Spain counterpart Dani Martin was happy with the way his team played. "For us the most important thing was to keep our heads up high after the loss to Australia and I am happy with the way the players have responded," he said.

Spaniards are already out of contention for a semifinal berth and Martin believes it was important to win the game to get their confidence back. "This win was important for us. We will take this confidence into the next game," said Martin.

Spain have suffered two losses in the 12-nation tournament, including a shock defeat against Pakistan, but Spain coach believes his team has improved from their first game. "We just had one bad game against Pakistan. We played a good game against India and put up a good fight against Australia, but unfortunately we face an early exit," concluded the Spaniard.

ESPNStar.com



We were 'switched off': England captain

NEW DELHI: After being blanked by Spain in Monday's match, England captain Barry Middleton said his team did not play to its potential as they were already assured of a semi-final place in the hockey World Cup.

"We expected Spain would come hard on us but somehow we did not play well today. May be we were switched off or a bit relaxed. It was disappointing we would have wanted to go to the semi-final with an all win record," he said after his side lost 0-2 to Spain in their last Pool B match.

Middleton, however, said his side, through to last-four stage with 12 points, was not concerned of their opponents in the semi-final on March 11.

"We are not concerned of which side we will face in the semi-final. It is the same, all the sides in this World Cup are all good sides."

Asked whether the absence of playmaker Richard Mantell, due to injury, affected his side's performance on Monday, he said, "No doubt, Richard is one of the best distributors of the ball in the world. But we have very good players who can come in his place. It is not about Richard's absence but about not playing well today."

"We tried hard to get the goals and come back into the match but could not. Credit to Spain they played a very good game," Middleton added.

With Monday's win Spain are third in Pool B and captain Pol Amat said they are aiming to finish fifth and qualify for this year's Champions Trophy in Germany.

"It is a disappointment that we could not reach the semi-final but at least we can now qualify for the Champions Trophy. Our target now is to win the fifth-sixth position play-off and qualify for the Champions Trophy," said Amat.

The Times of India



Kookaburras finish on top of Pool B

Two goals to Des Abbott has seen the Kookaburras finish on top of Pool B and qualify for the semi finals at the 2010 World Cup in India, defeating Pakistan 2-1 in their final pool match of the tournament.

Despite controlling the majority of the play, including 30 circle penetrations to 9, the Kookaburras were forced to do it the hard way, trailing at the half time break by one goal.

Following his three goal haul against South Africa, Jamie Dwyer began this match in similar form and was a constant target for the Kookaburras in the circle during the beginning of the match.

However after producing several shots on goal for no result, the Kookaburras were made to pay when Pakistan advanced on one of their few attacks on goal, converting a penalty corner at the 24 minute mark to gain the lead.

Playing for nothing other than pride given that they entered the match unable to gain a place in the semi finals, Pakistan began the second half determined to cause an upset win.

Unfortunately for them Kookaburras striker Des Abbott had other plans, controlling a pass in the circle, pushing the ball to space and firing the ball into the back of the net to equal the score.

Pakistan continually looked to catch the Kookaburras off guard, trying to generate a counter attack at any opportunity. However the Kookaburras were well lead by youngster Matthew Butturini in defence and repelled any attacks.

As the second half continued and both teams failed to score from penalty corner attempts, it appeared as though the match was heading towards a draw.

However Des Abbott again broke the hearts of the Pakistan players, producing a classy deflection off a pass from Rob Hammond to beat the goalkeeper with only two minutes remaining, handing the Kookaburras the victory.

The Kookaburras will now await results from Pool A to be played on Tuesday 9 March to determine who they will face in their semi final.

Kookaburras 2 Pakistan 1 (0-1 half time)

Goals – Pak Abbas 24m PC, Aus Abbott 38m FG/ 68m FG

Hockey Australia media release



Australia overcome Pakistan, top Group B

Biswajyoti Brahma


NEW DELHI: For a change, Pakistan came to their last league encounter of the World Cup without any practice and even without watching the video of Australian players. And the tactics almost worked.

Pakistan lost a close match 2-1 against a powerhouse team but came up with probably their best performances in the event so far. Pakistan made the Aussies sweat in a match where they took the lead in the 24th minute through penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas. Desmond Abbott helped Australia equalise in the 39th minute but after that Pakistan held up their rivals almost till the last minutes. And just as a draw seemed inevitable, Abbott scored just two minutes before the hooter.

Thus, Australia became the second team to reach the semifinals from Group B, alongwith England. Both teams finished their league engagements with 12 points Australia topped the table due to a superior goal difference. Pakistan's good show came quite late in the tournament as they are now destined to finish as one of the bottom teams.

"We could have won the match, but for missed chances. We must be consistent as far as our performance is concerned. You just can't play good hockey one day and average on another day at this level," said Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan.

The Times of India



Australia beat Pakistan to reach hockey World Cup semi

Tournament favourites Australia have advanced into the semifinals of the men's hockey World Cup after they beat Pakistan 2-1 in a pulsating match to finish top of Pool B.

Desmond Abbott scored twice as Australia completed their matches in the six-team pool, finishing level with England on 12 points but topping the group on goal difference.

European champions England, who pulled off a surprise 3-2 victory over Australia in the opening match, lost 2-0 to Spain at the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium for their first defeat in the competition.

Pau Quemada and Eduard Tubau scored for Olympic silver medallists Spain who finished third in the group on nine points. India meet South Africa in the day's final match.

Sohail Abbas put Pakistan ahead against Australia, who won a 10th Champions Trophy in December, in the 24th minute through a penalty corner.

Abbott scored the equaliser three minutes into the second half and netted again shortly before the final whistle.

Stuff



Australia down careless Pak

Vaibhav Sharma


What is the stuff champions are really made of? Grit? Flair? Substance? One major factor is perseverance. Australia, the team that recorded the biggest winning margin in a World Cup game, fought out till the last minute to down a careless Pakistan team 2-1 during their FIH Hero Honda World Cup match in New Delhi today.

Pakistan scored first to the delight of their supporters in the stadium. Sohail Abbas was the man on the money again as he scored through a penalty corner. The Pakistan defence had been shaky against the Proteas, but they kept their positions and apart from the occasional foray ahead, never compromised the opening exchanges. It was looking as if the Asian giants were out to redeem some of the lost pride.

But the Australians are dreaded not just for their high-octane game, but also for their ability to fight hard. After the Pakistanis had taken lead in the 24th minute, they hit back in the 38th minute when Desmond Abbott scored a well struck field goal, after some fine stick work down the left flank. It was just one moment, where the Pakistan defence switched off, but it proved enough for the burly Australian striker to thump the ball in past Salman Akbar.

But Pakistan did not brood over the lapse and kept up the efforts to make the most of their chances. The dominating play of the Aussies, a trademark all through the World Cup, was nowhere to be seen during the first half as Pakistan did not break shape and remained water-tight in defence. Both teams went in level at the breather.

The second half started with the Australians making constant forays in the Pakistan area. There was more urgency to their play and the wings kept moving to stretch the Pakistan mid-field. There were moments when it looked that Pakistan would be able to hit out with some speedy counter moves, but it remained a deadlock for long enough.

Then with just four minutes to go, Shakeel Abbassi got what was pretty much the chance of the match when after some wonderful skill down the right flank, the Pakistan players opened up the Australian defence. Shakeel was left alone at the centre of the 16-yard circle and all he had to do was beat the goalkeeper. But he took a shot without taking a first touch to stop the ball, and hit wide above the goal. The miss looked like one that would make the Pakistan team pay and that was exactly what happened.

With just two minutes to go, it was Desmond Abbott again who was at the helm of a flowing move to strike the ball again.

The blow came late enough to cause a few Pakistan shoulders to drop. Australia held on to go to 12 points and reinforce their claim as one of the hottest title contenders. Pakistan, on the other hand, might feel done in late, but as the old saying goes, ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings’. This time the ‘fat lady’ was just not in tune with the men in green.

The Tribune



Australia beat Pakistan to qualify for semis in hockey World Cup

NEW DELHI: Favourites Australia sweated to a 2-1 win over Pakistan on Monday to join England in the semi-finals from group B in the men's field hockey World Cup.

Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas put a rejuvenated Pakistan ahead in the 24th minute, before Desmond Abbott scored twice in the second half to clinch victory for the Kookaburras.

European champions England, who had won all four previous matches, crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain in their last match.

Pau Quemada convered a penalty corner in the 35th minute and Eduard Tubau increased the margin six minutes before the end against an English team already assured of a semi-final berth.

Both England and Australia ended the league on 12 points each, but the Kookaburras took top spot in the group by virtue of a superior goal difference of plus-17 against their rivals' plus-5.

Spain finished third in the group with nine points and ensure themselves a top-six finish in the tournament.

Pakistan, with one win and four defeats, were left with three points.

India and South Africa, who also have three points each, clash in the final league match later on Monday.

The two semi-final spots from group A will be decided after Tuesday's last round.

England captain Barry Middleton rued his team's first loss in the tournament.

"We let ourselves down today," he said. "We did not play at our enegry levels and it proved that if we dump our game we can be disappointing.

"We let our standards slip, but I hope it was only a one-off going into the semi-finals."

Spanish coach Dani Martin admitted the loss to Pakistan earlier in the league ruined the semi-final hopes of his team.

"That defeat hurt us," he said. "Otherwise we would be celebrating right now. I don't think we played to our potential in this tournament."

Australian captain Jamie Dwyer said the match against Pakistan gave them an opportunity to try the reserves.

"It was not a great game, but it is nice to finish at the top of the group," he said.

"But a semi-final is a different competition altogether. You can't afford to have a bad day. Th opponents we face will be tough to beat, whoever they are."

Abbas said Pakistan lacked consistency.

"We play well one day, and very bad the next day," he said. "The team lacks co-ordination. There is a lot of hard work ahead for us."

The Times of India



Pakistan finish last in Pool B

Aussies down Greenshirts 2-1; Spain end England’s unbeaten run


NEW DELHI: Favourites Australia sweated to a 2-1 win over Pakistan on Monday to join England in the semifinals while India’s 3-3 draw with South Africa condemned the Greenshirts to sixth place in Pool B in the men’s Hockey World Cup.

Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas put a rejuvenated Pakistan ahead in the 24th minute, before Desmond Abbott scored twice in the second half to clinch victory for the Kookaburras.

European champions England, who had won all four previous matches, crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain in their last match. Pau Quemada convered a penalty corner in the 35th minute and Eduard Tubau increased the margin six minutes before the end against an English team already assured of a semifinal berth.

Both England and Australia ended the league on 12 points each, but the Kookaburras took top spot in the group by virtue of a superior goal difference of plus-17 against their rivals’ plus-5.Spain finished third in the group with nine points to ensure themselves a top-six finish in the tournament.

Hosts India claimed the fourth spot after a thrilling 3-3 draw with South Africa, who finished fifth and relegated Pakistan to sixth place. After Lloyd Norris-Jones had put South Africa ahead in the seventh minute, Sarvanjit Singh and Diwakar Ram struck in quick succession to give India a 2-1 lead at the interval.

South Africa, who had beaten Pakistan earlier in the league, made it 3-2 through Justin Reid-Ross and captain Austin Smith, before Shivendra Singh equalised for India four minutes from the end.

India and South Africa both ended with four points, but the hosts had a better goal difference of minus-4 and compared to the Africans’ minus-15.

Australian captain Jamie Dwyer said the match against Pakistan gave them an opportunity to try the reserves. “It was not a great game, but it is nice to finish at the top of the group,” he said.

“But a semifinal is a different competition altogether. You can’t afford to have a bad day. The opponents we face will be tough to beat, whoever they are.” Abbas said Pakistan lacked consistency. “We play well one day, and very bad the next day,” he said. “The team lacks co-ordination. There is a lot of hard work ahead for us.”

The News International



Pakistan lose to Australia 1-2 in last league match of Hockey World Cup

Australia on Monday evening struggled back in second half to beat Pakistan 2-1 in last league match of Pool B in Hockey World Cup.Pakistan was leading by one goal in the first half when Sohail Abbas scored goal in 23rd minute.But in the second half Desmond Abbott scored in the 38th and 67th minutes to guide the Australians to the semi-final.

Pakistan had the major share of success over Australia in the World Cups before this match, having won three and lost two in their six meetings.

Desperate to win the last league match, Pakistani players went all out against rivals but could not break the Australian crowded defence.

Goal keeper Salman Akbar foiled several Australian attempts to beat him.

Pakistan earned penalty corner in the 21st minute, the first drag-flick from veteran Sohail Abbas struck the cross bar. But he did not falter the next time and put his team ahead in the 23rd minute (1-0).

Desmond Abbott had nearly scored the equaliser but his reverse hit went over the cross bar in the 27th minute and Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf then foiled Lian de Young’s plans to draw level.

In the second half Abbott from a pass from Keil Brown scored the equaliser in the 38th minute.

Within the next five minutes, Pakistan were awarded two penalty corners but Sohail Abbas failed boththe times.

Just at the fag end of the match, Abbott deflected one into goal sealing the fate of the match in their favour.

With this defeat, Pakistan lost four matches out of five in Pool B.

Pakistan emerged victorious against Spain 2-1 only.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Pakistan hockey team a paradox: Charlesworth

NEW DELHI: Pakistan are a paradox who can lose to unheralded teams and upset top sides in their day, feels legendary player and current Australian coach Ric Charlesworth.

Australia came back from one-goal down and scored a late winner in their 2-1 win over Pakistan and Charlesworth said he was not surprised by Pakistan's performance as they are always a tough team to beat.

"When I analyse the statistics of the Pool B, I noticed that Pakistan has done very well. They had even beaten a strong Spain. But it is a paradox they can lose to a weak team and can do really well against a top side," Charlesworth said after the match.

"I know they lost to South Africa but that was due to 15 minutes of madness. I think Pakistan will lose once in 20 matches to South Africa. Against India two penalty corner shots hit the crossbar and just three centimetres below would have been goals," the Australian said.

Charlesworth conceded the match could have been a draw but said his team was the dominant side.

"They scored the first goal and that lifted their game. But in the whole match, Pakistan were able to enter our striking circle just 12 or so times while we had more than 25. But we have to do more in the semi-finals," he said.

He said there was no preference which side Pool A toppers Australia want to face in the semi-finals.

"We wanted to be in the semi-finals and we are now there. Who we meet in the semi-finals does not matter. We are a good team and we have no problem in playing any team in the semi-finals," said Charlesworth.

Captain Jamie Dwyer conceded that his side had not played the best game they are capable of but hoped that they would lift their game in the final-four stage.

"Of course, we did not play our best today. As a team and as individuals we were not at our best. May be we were through to the semi-finals that played a part," he said.

"But semi-finals are a different level of competition and we would be lifting our game. We are ready to play any team in the semi-finals," said the 2009 FIH World Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Zeshan Ashraf said his side deserved a draw but still happy with the 1-2 result.

"We played very well today though we are disappointed with the overall performance in the World Cup. Australia are one of the top teams in the world and coming up with a very good performance against them was very satisfying," he said.

"We missed quite a few scoring chances and we deserved a draw," he added.

Drag-flicker Sohail Abbas conceded lack of consistency has been a long-time problem for Pakistan.

"We can beat any side in our day but it is true we are inconsistent as we had lost to South Africa. But it is part of the game and we have to move on. We played really well today and I could contribute for the side," he added.

The Times of India



"Pakistan played like Europeans"

A visibly surprised Australia coach Ric Charlesworth credited the Pakistanis for matching Aussies in their own attacking game.

By Bhagya Ayyavoo


Australian coach Ric Charlesworth admitted he was taken aback by the killer instinct of the Pakistan players on Monday evening. When Pakistan played the hot favourites in their last group match after a demoralising loss to minnows South Africa in their previous tie, they looked a different unit from what they have been so far in the tournament.

The Aussie coach said the Green Shirts surprised him by the way they attacked on the field, "It was a paradox that Pakistan were attacking more and we were on the defence and played an offensive game. They were like the Europeans players on the pitch tonight"

He added the Kookaburras were quite wary of the four-time world champions despite their flop show in the hockey World Cup, "We didn't underestimate Pakistan. In this situation we could have relaxed. But they beat Spain earlier, so we never underestimated them."

Speaking of the missed chances, the Aussie coach was not too pleased with his team that failed to make its chances count. "We had 12 chances and they had four or five. We missed too many. It could have easily been a draw. But, we were just able to pull one towards the end to get out of it.  We have been working on our ability to finish. We've a lot of work to do."

Though pleased with his team's 2-1 victory that helped it top the Pool B table, Aussie skipper Mark Knowles agreed with his coach that they have a lot to work to do as they enter the semifinals, "It was an interesting end. We have finished at the top which is nice. We're looking tough. This is a good group. At this stage it's nice. But we have a lot to improve."

At the Pakistan camp, coach Shahid Ali Khan did most of the talking at the post-match press conference. Khan admitted consistency has now become a perennial problem for his team, "Consistency from our players continues to be an issue. But, it was pleasing to see the boys so confident on the field tonight. We were motivated to do well in this match. So, we devised a strategy to be defensive against them. We looked good to win, but they got one in the last few minutes." Too close, yet too far for the Pakistanis!

ESPNStar.com



SA out of Hockey World Cup top 8 but earn Commonwealth Games berth

JONATHAN COOK


South Africa's Ian Haley and Taine Paton at the Hockey World Cup. Photo: ALEX MASTERS (FIH)

SOUTH Africa came agonisingly close to making history at an emotion-charged National Hockey Stadium in Delhi, India Monday night.

A pumped-up SA were five minutes away from a dramatic World Cup victory when India's Shivendra Singh made it 3-3 after finishing superbly following a goalmouth scramble.

Victory in what was a gripping encounter would have left SA in fourth place in Pool B, qualifying man-of the-match and SA captain Austin Smith's men for the seventh-place playoff. World number 13 SA have never finished higher than 10th.

Nevertheless, the gutsy draw with 12th ranked India ensures SA will play for ninth place Friday, likely against eighth-ranked New Zealand, and the opportunity for their best-ever World Cup placing.

And the 3-3 scoreline ultimately fulfils Sascoc's (SA Sports Congress and Olympic Committee) requirements of a top-five finish amongst the seven Commonwealth Games countries at the World Cup, as SA cannot finish lower than fifth, with Australia, England, India and possibly New Zealand ending above them. Pakistan and Canada will play for 11th spot in Delhi.

And whatever that ninth/10th place result may be, SA are guaranteed to move up at least three places to reach world hockey's top 10.

SA opened the scoring in the eighth minute Monday night when great work initiated by striker Ian Haley eventually saw strike partner Lloyd Norris-Jones slicing through India's defenders before unleashing a backboard-breaker that left goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza rooted to the spot.

India equalised midway through the first half when a turnover enabled Sarvjanit Singh to make no mistake.

With the roar from the vociferous crowd rising every time India made headway, the momentum shifted and regular raids down the left wing saw the outstanding Shivendra set up Diwakar following a penalty corner that went wrong, and the goal gave the home country a 2-1 lead 11 minutes from half-time.

It could well have been the men's version of hit hockey movie Chak de India (Go India) about the said country's women's squad, such was the enthusiasm of the home side's supporters at their team's success, but SA weren't done yet and three minutes after the changeover a brilliant turn and dribble in minimal space up the left-hand baseline by striker Marvin Harper earned his team a PC and Justin Reid-Ross eventually scored after a clever pass from the visually aware Haley.

A bit later, high drama unfolded in what was a two-goal turnaround when Harper correctly appealed for a PC only to be ignored by Scottish umpire and birthday boy Ged Curran, and India netted a beauty on the fast break straight after.

The SA players appealed in the most passionate manner possible and after much uncertainty and discussion, the decision on South Africa's original PC claim was given the green light by another Scot, TV umpire Andy Mair.

And from that PC, Smith slapped Gareth Carr's slip-left high into the net to give the ecstatic SA team and their small band of fans a 3-2 lead.

Stung by the outcome, India swarmed forward in wave after wave of free-flowing forays into enemy territory and despite a desperation SA appeal against a PC that was awarded by Dutch umpire Roel van Eert, Shivendra netted the third and final equaliser to round up what was, on balance, a reasonably fair outcome of a wonderful advert for hockey.

Results: Australia 2 Pakistan 1; Spain 2 England 0; SA (1) 3 (Lloyd Norris-Jones, Justin Reid-Ross, Austin Smith) India (2) 3 (Sarvjanit Singh, Diwakar, Shivendra Singh).

Final Pool B log: all played 5 (goal difference, points): 1. Australia (+17GD, 12 pts); 2. England (+5GD, 12 pts); 3. Spain (+4GD, 9 pts); 4. India (-4GD, 4 pts); 5. South Africa (-15GD, 4 pts); 6. Pakistan (-7GD, 3 pts).

Tuesday's Pool A fixtures: Germany vs New Zealand; Netherlands vs South Korea; Canada vs Argentina.

SA Hockey World



Irony of sport shines through as India salvages a point

G. Rajaraman


The irony of sport – and indeed life itself – was never too apparent than in India’s last two games in the Hero Honda FIH World Cup. On Saturday, India lost to a game England that it should have drawn, if not won. On Monday, it was left thanking its stars after a 3-3 draw with a Shivendra Singh goal in the dying minutes to figure in the play-off for the seventh place.

It would be an understatement to say that India dominated much of the match – throwing in a number of attackers to raid the South African circle, playing a bit more aggressively than it did in the past few games. And yet, for a large part of the second half, it did not seem to find that one nudge that would slot the ball home – until just five minutes were left for the final whistle.

The irony was showcased tellingly when India earned its second penalty corner in the first half. For the second time running, Arjun Halappa was unable to stop the ball for Sandeep Singh to try and drag-flick it. But, he recovered to be able to pass the ball to an unmarked Diwakar Ram whose powerful drive went in off goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse’s pads to earn India a 2-1 lead.

We had a greater dose of such a paradox when India scored a fabulous goal when Sarvanjit Singh capped a delightful bout of passing but that had to be disallowed since South Africa had asked for a video referral and secured a penalty corner. The irony was greater because India’s coach Jose Brasa had said a couple of days ago that umpires must not stop play for referrals.

And it became more stark when the video referral paid dividends for South Africa and it was awarded a penalty corner. Lloyd Madsen made no mistake with converting that and pushing his team 3-2 ahead 13 minutes into the second half. The crowd could not believe that India’s goal had been reversed and South Africa given the chance to take the lead.

It was the quarter-hour spell after that which reinforced the cruel irony. India virtually pitched camp in the South African half and did everything but score. The ball was deflected in to the goal twice but on both occasions, the only sticks it connected in the scoring circle were South African and the wild cheer from the home fans were only false alarms.

I was a bit surprised that with the forwards not finding the scoring touch, Brasa did not try the unusual but not unique tactic of making a defender play inside the rival circle to try and deflect the ball in to the goal. Time after time, Rajpal Singh, Prabhjot Singh and Gurwinder Singh Chandi did not make contact with the crosses and yet no innovation was tried.

For quite some time, the threat of having to finish fifth in the group behind South Africa and play-off for the ninth place were looming large. And then, the stadium heaved a collective sigh of relief before bursting out in applause when Shivendra Singh pounced on a rebound off Pieterse’s pads and reverse flicked it in to salvage a draw.

Indeed, the irony was never more apparent.

Stick2Hockey.com



India show spirit and fight at Hockey World Cup

Alok Sinha


NEW DELHI: It was a match that will be remembered as one India should have won but did not. It was also a match that will raise a fresh question mark over the TV referral system.

India, who saw a goal being reverted and another disallowed, still managed to hold South Africa 3-3 in their last group B match of the World Cup. The one crucial point ensured that they will now play for the 7-8th position. And that should make the team feel better at the end of a match they dominated.

Both teams finished with four points each but India have a better goal difference of -4 as compared to South Africa’s -12. The draw also pushed Pakistan to the bottom of the pool.

The South Africans come out a determined lot. They are not ranked among the top 12 in the world and a win would have ensured them a promotion into the top-eight bracket. That was enough motivation. They played tough, they played hard and also played smart but they ran into an equally determined Blue Sticks who were also determined to at least end the group stages on a winning note.

'It was a fast-paced match, with India dominating almost all through. However, like in other games, India blinked first as South Africa went ahead through Lloyd Norris-Jones. The Indians then stepped up the tempo. It was clear from their tactics that for a change, they were not looking for penalty corners but goals.

The only problem was that they yet again relied on attack from the flanks which fizzled out inside the circle. The equalizer came when they decided to cut in through the middle and a brilliant pass by Arjun Halappa to Prabhjot finally reached Sarwanjit who shot home.

The second India goal came as Shivendra Singh, who failed to stop the penalty corner push, retrieved the ball and passed on top of the circle to Diwakar whose hit was deflected in by Vikram Pillay.

South Africa equalized immediately after halftime through an indirect penalty corner sequence. It was here that the match came alive. Pressing on, India moved up in a counter-attack and Tushar slotted home after a brilliant move involving Rajpal Singh and Gurwinder Chandi.

The umpire pointed to the halfline, indicating the goal but South Africa protested. After a long, heated debate, they succeeded in getting a referral, which disallowed India’s goal and awarded a penalty corner to South Africa instead for a foul inside the Indian circle which happened before the counter-attack. The South Africans scored, going ahead 3-2.

It simply didn’t make sense for a while as the scoreboard read 3-2 in India’s favour and soon 3-2 in South Africa’s. The crowd roared its disapproval and it’s obvious that referral rules will have to be spelt out better.

If the umpire failed to see the foul and South Africa did not complain immediately, then a goal being disallowed later would have surely led to a lot of heartburn in the Indian camp. It happened again five minutes later when another Indian goal was disallowed after it was referred to the TV umpire.

The equalizer came in the dying minutes when Shivendra scored to ensure that India would avoid the 9-12 bracket for the first time in years.

The Times of India



India held by SA after controversial video referral disallows the hosts a goal in the 45th minute

Vaibhav Sharma


Legendary sportsman John Tudor had once said, “Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything, except over technology”. If you haven’t had the chance to get a first-hand experience of the same, you should have been at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi when India took on South Africa.

While the game was high-paced, and provided enough actions and six goals to the spectators, the defining moment of the game was when in the 45th minute India’s goal was disallowed by the referee after a South African appeal.

While the game ended 3-3, keeping India’s unbeaten record against the Proteas in the World Cup intact, it must have left India with a bitter taste. The way the hosts have played through the World Cup has been really uninspiring, and this match, despite not generating an enthusiastic public response, had some reputation points riding on it.

India started the game on the back foot as South Africa came out with all guns blazing. And then in the 7th minute, Lloyd Norris Jones shot from the edge of the circle to beat Adrian D’Souza and give Proteas the lead. The partisan crowd in the stadium went quite for a while as India were found wanting for the nth time during the past week.

There is a certain defensive shakiness to India’s play that has been the core reason for the defeats during the course of the tournament. But while they have been leaking goals, scoring hasn’t been the biggest issue to deal with.

And so in the 17th minute, Sarwanjit dribbled his way through and slammed the ball past the goalkeeper. Then again in the 25th minute, it was Diwakar Ram’s turn to score for the hosts. After a penalty corner was goofed up, Diwakar was at the end of a pass from outside the circle and simply tapped the ball in. The hosts went in for the breather with a wafer thin lead.

The second half started with the South Africans once again dominating opening play. In the 38th minute they won a penalty corner and this time, Justin Reid was at the end of a brilliantly worked PC, to simply deflect the ball in. At 2-2 it was game on once again.

Then came the moment that this game will be remembered by. In the 45th minute, South Africa broke down the right wing and the ball hit Vikram Pillay on the arm, but the referee gave a free hit to India. The hosts broke quickly, and well-worked combination play between Gurwinder Singh Chandi and skipper Rajpal Singh made Sarvanjit Singh’s task on the far post to push the ball over the goalline, relatively easy.

But South Africa protested for the Pillay blow and the video umpire confirmed the appeal. The Indian goal gave way to a South African penalty corner, and subsequently the Proteas took the lead through South African captain Austin Smith.

India were feeling the heat of another possible defeat, but maybe the optimism in the cheering crowd’s voice finally rubbed on to them and in the 65th miunute, Shivendra Singh scored from close range to direct the ball into the roof of the net. The equaliser came, but the winner didn’t.

While the draw means India will be fighting for the 7-8th place and South Africa will have to slug it for 9-10th position. It also means that Pakistan will be fighting it out for the 11-12th place.

The Tribune



India make a point in drawn game

Uthra G Chaturvedi


Shivendra Singh celebrates after equalising for India against South Africa.

The stadium wasn't quite full but the crowd was no less vocal. And the Indian team gave them something to cheer about, earning a draw against South Africa in their last Pool B match to remain fourth in the league table and retain their spot in the 7th-8th place playoff.

It was a closely fought game where the Indians managed to hang on, as they battled against not only their opponents but also some poor umpiring.

They started off well. India seemed to be playing for a win as they attacked from the first minute of the game. But as has happened so often in the tournament, they left glaring gaps in their defence. One such error saw Lloyd Norris-Jones make a solo run from the half line, to beat goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza in a one-on-one to put South Africa up 1-0.

Thereafter, the tide turned. Arjun Halappa, playing the game of his life, was again on the prowl, seeking the slightest gap to push the ball into the striking circle. One such move gave India the equaliser midway through the first half.

Sardar Singh, the impressive, underrated centre-half, showed exquisite skill with the stick, weaving past the physically superior South African midfielders and defenders. Gurbaj Singh too had his moments in the game. India went into break with a slender lead after Diwakar Ram slotted in a rebound off a penalty corner.

But the match changed course in the 45th and 46th minutes. South Africa made a counter-attack at the end of which a ball from Julian Hykes’ stick hit Vikram Pillay in the striking circle. With the referee not blowing the whistle, the game continued.

Counter-attack

This triggered an Indian counter-attack that involved quick passes between Gurvinder Chandi and Tushar Khandker. The beautiful move ended with Sarwanjit Singh finding the net.

As the crowd was celebrating the goal, the South Africans were protesting for the foul made by Pillay a minute back. Umpire Ged Curran referred to the video umpire — not to question the validity of the Indian goal but, heeding South African protests, to seek whether the Pillay obstruction merited a penalty corner for South Africa. The referral favoured South Africa and they put one past D'Souza.

Despite the heartbreak and confusion, India could still have won. Unlike earlier, this team did not give up. Instead, the Indians decided to go full steam to put everything beyond doubt, every player doing his bit to not only level scores but earn three full points. There were at least six chances to score in the last 15 minutes, but Prabhjot Singh missed two sitters within two minutes, Shivendra Singh finally putting one in four minutes from time to earn India one point.

India will now play either New Zealand or Korea in the playoff, their best finish since ending fifth in 1994.

Indian Express



Saving grace for India in the hockey World Cup

C Rajshekhar Rao


New Delhi: The tune played before India’s match had been changed from the original ‘chak de India’ to ‘all is well’. Though the older tune had failed to inspire the home side enough in previous matches and this one may not yet signify the state of hockey in the country, it was still not bad that India ensured a play-off for the seventh place in the FIH Hero Honda World Cup.

India were held to a 3-3 draw by South Africa in the last pool B match in front of spectators whosenumbers had declined as the team were no longer in the reckoning for a semifinal spot. But as it turned out, it was one of the more exciting matches featuring India, who did well enough to avoid defeat in their last outing.

The result meant that both teams were tied on four points, with India being placed fourth in the group because of a goal difference of minus four, 11 more than the opponents’. Pakistan finished last in the pool.

“Playing for the seventh and eighth spots is not bad. We finished 11th last time and are currently ranked 12th, so we can say that we have stepped up the ladder a little,” said coach Harendra Singh about India, who now await the final round of pool A matches on Tuesday to know who finishes an equivalent fourth there.

The first session saw South Africa start strongly, a goal from Lloyd Norris-Jones in the 10th minute pepping the team up. However, India took control slowly, and the balance of exchanges shifted to the home side. Prabjhot Singh made a fine pass from just inside the ‘D’ to Sarwanjit Singh, who dribbled past a defender to put the ball in neatly in the 17th minute. Diwakar Ram scored following a messed up penalty-corner attempt 16 minutes later and India went into the break with a 2-1 lead.

The second session was an action-packed one. There were moves and counter-moves, appeals and referrals, hits and misses. The engrossing battle was set up with an equaliser from Justin Reid-Ross.

However, India got to see an absurd side of the referral rule when a goal was denied to them after a splendid move between Tushar Khandeker, Rajpal Singh and Gurwinder Singh Chandi, which saw Sarwanjit put the ball in.

The South Africans had already asked for a referral and the Indian goal was disallowed as officials saw a previous move by South Africa and decided to award a penalty-corner for an Indian foul.

That short corner led to another one and captain Austin Smith put South Africa 3-2 ahead. “We were a bit surprised by the decision but there was nothing wrong with it and we don’t plan to lodge any protest for that,” said captain Rajpal Singh.

India did not give up, mounting attack after attack. Finally, a shot from Khandeker put Shivendra Singh in a position to produce the equaliser. India then saw off the dying minutes without more danger.

DNA



India draw South Africa 3-3, finish 4th in Pool B

NEW DELHI: Shivendra Singh saved the day for India with a timely equaliser as the home team played out a 3-3 draw against South Africa in a controversial match to finish fourth in Pool B of the hockey World Cup on Monday.

With this draw India ended their pool proceedings with four points, behind Australia, England and Spain.

The hosts will now face the fourth placed team of Pool A for the seventh-eighth play-off match on Friday.

Although South Africa have same points as India, they finished in the fifth position due to goal difference while Pakistan find themselves at the bottom in the sixth place.

Sarwanjit Singh (18th minute), Diwakar (24th) and Shivendra (66th) scored for the hosts while Lloyd Norris-Jones (seventh), Ian Haley (38th) and skipper Austin Smith (47th) found the net for the South Africans.

The result of the match could have been in India's favour if not for the newly-introduced video referral system, which ruled out a hosts' goal.

When teams were locked 2-2, the video referral played spoilsport as Sarwanjit's second goal of the match was disallowed after he was nicely set up by a beautiful one-two from captain Rajpal Singh and Gurwinder Singh Chandi.

The video umpire disallowed the goal after South Africa protested for a foot foul at the other end of the pitch and in turn awarded a penalty corner to the Proteas.

To make it for worse for India, rival skipper Austin Smith scored from the subsequent short corner to make it 3-2 in favour of South Africa.

From there on the Indians worked hard for the all-important equaliser and found it just five minutes from the hooter through Shivendra who chipped the ball past the South Africa goal-line from a close range to earn precious one point for the hosts.

Earlier, rejuvenated by their 3-2 win over Pakistan, South Africa displayed attractive attacking hockey early on, thereby putting Indian defense under immense pressure at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

Indian could have been a goal down as early as in the opening minute of the match but for goalkeeper Adrain D'souza who tipped away Thornton McDade's powerful reverse stick shot.

South Africa's persistent pressure resulted in their first strike in the seventh minute with Indian defense yet again conceding a soft goal.

An unmarked Lloyd Norris-Jones scored for South Africa from top of the circle after dodging past a few Indian players with his fast-paced run from the mid-field.

However, that was all South Africa could manage in the opening half as from there on it all Indian as the home team pressed hard for the equaliser.

India's persistent pressure from both the flanks finally resulted in two goals in a span of nine minutes.

Sarwanjit drew parity with his first goal of the tournament in the 17th minute and nine minutes later, Diwakar made it 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

Indian earned their second penalty corner but failed to capitalise on it as Shivendra failed to stop the ball.

He, however, made amends for the mistake when he regained the possession of the ball and slammed a pass from outside the circle which was ably deflected home by Diwakar.

Trailing by a goal at the half way mark, the South Africans mounted pressure on the Indian citadel and leveled the scores three minutes into the second period through Justin Reid-Ross who pushed the ball over the goalline from close range.

Inspite of having three dragflickers in the side in Sandeep Singh, Diwakar and Dhananjay Mahadik, for the fourth consecutive day the Indians were off-colour with penalty corners as they failed to convert a single out of the three they earned.

However, what was heartening for the Men In Blue was the one-two passes between the mid-field and forwardline.

The Times of India



India holds SA hockey team to 3-all draw


India scored a late goal to earn a 3-3 draw against South Africa at the Hockey World Cup in New Delhi. India led 2-1 at half-time. The Proteas have been eliminated from the knock out round after losing their first three games.

Tournament favourites Australia advanced into the semi-finals of the men's hockey World Cup after beating Pakistan 2-1 in a pulsating match to finish top of Pool B. Desmond Abbott scored twice as Australia completed their matches in the six-team pool, finishing level with England on 12 points but topping the group on goal difference.

European champions England, who pulled off a surprise 3-2 victory over Australia in the opening match, lost 2-0 to Spain at the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium for their first defeat in the competition. Pau Quemada and Eduard Tubau scored for Olympic silver medallists Spain who finished third in the group on nine points.

Sohail Abbas put Pakistan ahead against Australia, who won a 10th Champions Trophy in December, in the 24th minute through a penalty corner. Abbott scored the equaliser three minutes into the second half and netted again shortly before the final whistle.

SABC News



Brasa angry at SA's controversial third goal

NEW DELHI: India coach Jose Brasa lashed at match officials for awarding the South Africans their third goal in a controversial manner in their 3-3 draw in a World Cup match.

In the 46th minute of the last Pool B match, Sarvanjit Singh sounded the opposition goal but South Africa appealed for a foul inside the Indian striking circle and the field umpires referred the matter to the video umpire.

To the shock of the Indians, the video umpire not only disallowed the Indian goal but also awarded a penalty corner in favour of South Africa who scored their goal from it.

A fuming Brasa said at the first instance the foul was committed by a South African player by raising his stick high over Vikram Pillay's head and then the umpires allowed the referral, long after the Indians had scored.

"We were told at the meeting before the World Cup that the referral should be immediately after an alleged foul but South Africa did it after we counterattacked and scored. That is not fair," he said after the match.

"Moreover, it was not a foul at all by the Indians and there should not have been a penalty corner. It was the South African player who was resorting to dangerous play by raising his stick high over Vikram Pillay and then hitting his stick.

"The video umpire should have said that sorry your (South Africans') appeal could not be upheld and so the Indian goal stands. But the South Africans were given their third goal," lamented the Spaniard.

"Quite a few other decisions went against us. But to the credit of the boys they overcame all problems and came back strongly to draw the match. I am happy with their performance. We are now playing for seventh-eight position and that is a big improvement as we are 12th ranked now," Brasa said.

Even the South African captain Austin Smith said that the field umpires and the video umpire could have said that their appeal for referral could not be sustained.

"We were lucky to have scored the (third) goal and got a draw. The umpire could have just said that we had taken too long to appeal for referral," he said when asked about his view on the matter.

Brasa, however, made it clear that India will not appeal for the "wrong" decisions made by the umpires.

"There is no question of victimisation of India and we are not going to make a formal complaint. We thought that the umpires had made mistakes that is it. They might be thinking that they are right," he said.

He, however, said he was all for the video referral system but it should be able to take correct decisions.

"I am not against the video referral. I am not saying that it should be scrapped. It is good but it should do 'justice' to the teams," he said.

Brasa also did not take it kindly to the technical officials refusing to water the ploygrass turf before the India match.

"The pitch was not watered after the second game and when I wanted the pitch to be watered the technical officials said no. They are the boss but I don't know the reason why. Because of that we could not stop the two penalty corners we got in the first half as the pitch was dry.

"At the breather, the pitch was watered and there was no problem for the South Africans to stop the ball and they scored their (controversial) third goal from a penalty corner.

"It was Indian water and Indian pitch and we were not allowed to use our water," quipped Brasa in a lighter vein.

He also revealed that goalkeeper Sreejesh Raveendran has been ruled out for three months due to a back injury.

"This morning we came to know that he has a back problem. He has been advised three-week rest. We will start training four weeks after the World Cup and by that time he will be all right.

"Moreover, Deepak Thakur had an elbow injury while doing practice yesterday, which was very painful. So he did not play today. Shivendra (who had a nasty stamping on the head by a South African) will be all right," he said.

Brasa conceded that the left side has been a problem for the side and the team management will have to sort this out after the World Cup.

Captain Rajpal Singh also rued the controversial third goal awarded to South Africa.

"The players had discussed before the match that what would happen if the referral appeal takes a long time after an alleged foul. But it happened today to us. The rules are not clear but it happens," he said.

The Times of India



Brasa: We have taken forward strides

India coach Jose Brasa believes the team has improved a lot and seventh-eighth finish is a proof of that.

By Anshul Baijal


India coach Jose Brasa was satisfied with his team's performance after they drew their last league game against South Africa to finish fourth in Group B. "We have got the result we were looking for. We will be now be fighting for a seventh place finish, that clearly shows we have made improvements," he said.

Brasa was furious over a bizarre TV referral. South Africa were awarded a bizarre penalty corner, which not only denied India a goal but switched the game to other end. The hosts ended up conceding a goal which changed the scoreline from 3-2 to 2-3 in South Africa's favour.

"We were clearly told that the referral should be taken immediately and not after so long. We won the ball and scored and then they asked for a referral. That is not how we were told the referral should be done," Brasa said.

One of India's main problems in the past has been conceding late goals and Brasa believes the players have shown in this World Cup that they can last for the entire length of the match. "We can hold up for 70 minutes now. We not only defend well during the end of the game, but also push forward and put pressure on the other team throughout the game," the Spaniard said.

India's inability finish chances has cost them dear in the tournament, but captain Rajpal Singh believes the strikers have done a good job. "I don't think there is any problem with the forward line. We have been clicking well. There have been occasions where we have been unlucky, but that happens," said Rajpal.

"Even today our strikers were on the button, but South Africa keeper (Erasmus Pieterse) was very good. He made some very good saves," added Rajpal.

ESPNStar.com



"The ban had made me desperate"

Indian striker Shivender Singh tells espnstar.com that he was frustrated to see his team lose as he served out a ban.

By Rajarshi Gupta


The nation had broken into an uproar when India's number 18, Shivendra Singh, had been handed out a two match ban (initially a three-match suspension) after the FIH decided he was overtly aggressive in India's victory against Pakistan.

Former players and India coach Jose Brasa were furious with the world body's decision while a few went to the extent of suggesting mischief in the high corridors of power.

The man in the centre of the storm was getting edgy as he saw his team lose once chance after another: "I was desperate to come back and play. Serving out the ban was frustrating, especially when I knew I had done nothing wrong.

The body gets used to working in a particular way and when you have to sit out for two matches, it upsets the entire rhythm. I think my team missed me in the most crucial stages of the tournament."

Shivendra was candid enough to add that India might well have been sitting in the last four after Monday night had he played out all of the hosts' matches in the World Cup.

"When a main player is forced to sit out, it affects the entire balance of the team, the plans and the strategy."

However, the man who scored India's opening and closing goals of the league stages in the ongoing World Cup seemed content that the side was getting a chance to improve their 12th rank in the world.

"We finished fourth in the Pool and hopefully we can win our next engagement (Final 7-8) and end up seventh. That will be a big boost for us.

"The coach (Brasa) has been working very hard with us and everybody in the team has executed his plans well. We are moving forward and by the Commonwealth Games should be a major force."

Monday night was just as dramatic for Shivendra, who was undoubtedly the darling of the crowd, as he charged around the field, setting up the second goal for his team before netting one in himself. A rough tackle from an enthusiastic South African player notwithstanding, the striker looked fine.

Shivendra is a torchbearer and at a time when Indian hockey needs to seek out daylight at the end of the tunnel, no one else could have assumed a more vital role.

ESPNStar.com



Sandeep's and Prabhjot's no show hurt India in hockey World Cup: Ashok Kumar

NEW DELHI: Former hockey captain Ashok Kumar feels a couple of senior players in the Indian side were off-colour in the ongoing hockey World Cup and injecting young blood in the team is the need of the hour.

Ashok said drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and forward Prabhjot Singh were not up to the mark, which made things difficult for India.

"After the retirement of Dilip Tirkey the defence is shaky. Sandeep is a very good drag flicker. He converts 50 per cent of penalty corners. But a full back does not do only penalty corner conversion job.

"You have to tackle well and retrieve the ball after losing possession. He is lacking in those things," Ashok, member of India's 1975 World Cup winning squad, told reporters.

"Prabhjot Singh has lost his speed and not many moves came from the left side. In our time, we had Mukesh Kumar at the right who is seen everywhere, running here and there," said Ashok, son of legendary Dhyan Chand.

He said India should groom younger players and play them at the right time if the country wants to revive hockey.

"Only two or three players of the 2001 Junior World Cup winning squad is playing in the current senior side. May be Prabhjot and Deepak Thakur. Where are they (the junior players) gone. You have to groom young players and select them in the senior side," he said.

"Start grooming talented 14-year-olds now and after six- seven years they can graduate to the senior side," Ashok added.

The former skipper also wants more transparency in the selection process and other matters like the team tactics.

"The selection process should be more transparent. The performance of players in selection trial should carry weight," Ashok opined.

Asked about his view on coach Jose Brasa's comments that India lack experience and he would not have created a miracle in just seven months, Ashok said, "You play good hockey if your hand executes the message of the brain properly. You need to execute the plans put in place. That did not happen in India's case in this World Cup."

The Times of India



Indians skillful but lack organisation, planning: Jorge Lombi

NEW DELHI: They may have come a cropper in the World Cup but Indian hockey players are the most skillful in the world and all they need to become a force to reckon with internationally is planning and organisation, feels legendary Argentine drag-flicker Jorge Lombi.

Lombi has high regards for India coach Jose Brasa, having played under him in Madrid's Clube de Campo and said the Spaniard has introduced the Indians to modern day hockey.

"I have played a lot against the Indians. The Indian players during my time were good but the entire philosophy of the game has changed now," Lombi, who is presently the assistant coach of Argentina, told PTI on the sidelines of the hockey World Cup here.

"The Indians are one of the most skillful players in the world, but the players during my time didn't know about their specific roles in the team. They lacked organisation. But the current Indian players are different. They know their roles in the side.

"Only skill does not count, you also have to organise and plan things. After taking up India coach's job, Brasa has organised the Indian players. He has made changes in their playing style which is necessary to compete against present day top teams," he said.

Incidentally, Lombi was part of the Clube de Campo side that won back-to-back European Club Championship in 2004-05.

"I have learnt a lot from Brasa. I was a member of the Clube de Campo team that won two European Club Championships and Brasa was the coach. He is a very experienced and smart coach. India will benefit from his association," said Lombi, who represented his country in three Olympics starting 1996 Atlanta Games.

As a matter of fact, Jorge Lombi is an assistant to his older sibling Pablo Lombi in the Argentina support staff but the junior Lombi has no second thoughts about taking up the chief coach's post once his brother calls it a day.

"We don't have any family tradition of playing hockey. It happened that an uncle introduced us to hockey and we got interest in the game. Both of us first started playing in a local club. We later played for the country together and are now coach and assistant coach of the team," said the 38-year-old Lombi, who overtook his brother in popularity stakes, becoming one of the highest goal-scorers for his country with 297 goals.

"We are professionals but he (Pablo) is the boss, so I just obey his instructions. I played in the national team for 16 years so I bring experience to him. But I will be more than happy to be the chief coach once Pablo quits," he said.

"I started coaching just two years ago with the Spain women's team as a penalty corner specialist. My coaching career has long way to go," added the the former short corner expert, who was the top-scorer at the Sydney Olympics.

The Times of India



India's hockey future is linked to their team's success: Oltmans

NEW DELHI: Dutch hockey legend Roelant Oltmans is pained to see hockey World Cup being played in a big stadium with small crowds.

Oltmans, who is here as a part of a delegation of the Netherlands Olympic Committee, feels people will fill the stands only if the national team does well internationally.

"It is a pity that these days people don't come to the stadium to see hockey. During my playing days I have never seen such thin crowd in a hockey match and that, too, in a World Cup," Oltmans said.

"You can't blame the spectators. They will not come here to see the national team lose. It is very important for the national team to do well in such major international tournaments."

And the same applies to India, Oltmans pointed out.

"It is not possible for India to recover the ground they have lost. Now they should concentrate on the national team so that its success can regenerate the interest in the game in the country," he said.

The Dutchman also said the Indian players have to work hard on their fitness if they want to succeed playing the European style of hockey.

"Indians were late to take to synthetic turf. That's a big mistake. The European countries have done exceedingly well on turf. There is no denying the fact that Indians are skillful but they have to work hard on their fitness," he said.

Oltmans feels Spaniard Jose Brasa is the best man to help Indian hockey.

"No one expected India to win the World Cup. Let's be practical about it. Brasa can't do miracles in seven months. Give him time to mould the team as he is well versed with the European style."

The Times of India



The Netherlands, Germany look to seal semi-final berths


NEW DELHI: Defending champions Germany would look for an outright win against New Zealand in their last pool A match on Tuesday to book a semi-final berth in the hockey World Cup.

Germany played their best game of the World Cup on Sunday against European rivals the Netherlands in their 2-2 drawn match after beginning the tournament with a draw against a plucky South Korea.

The Maximillian Muller-led side made a remarkable comeback after one-goal deficit before veteran Dutch captain Teun de Nooijer denied them a victory which would have booked them a semi-final spot.

On current form, the Germans should not have much problem to beat New Zealand but they can't be complacent against a side, which had beaten South Korea.

With eight points -- from two wins and two draws -- Germany will reach the semi-finals with even a draw against New Zealand (six points) if the Netherlands beat South Korea (seven points).

But they would not want to leave it to the Dutch-Korea match and would want to do it by themselves.

German captain Muller said they would look to maintain their standard against Dutch to qualify for the semi-finals.

"We are looking forward to playing same hockey (as displayed against the Dutch) against New Zealand. We are in a good position to make it to the semi-finals," he said.

German coach Markus Weise said his young team has displayed their best hockey of the World Cup against the Dutch and would go for a win against New Zealand.

"I am very happy with the performance (against the Netherlands). It was our best game of the tournament so far. Our goal is to reach the semi-finals which is not certain. We will have to win against New Zealand," he said.

Three-time champions the Netherlands are almost assured of a semi-final spot after three wins and a draw. With a goal difference of 11, they may be in trouble only in case they lose by five-goal margin against Korea on Tuesday.

Unbeaten so far, the Dutch would like to end their pool engagements on a high with a win though the plucky Koreans would go all out.

The Koreans can also still go through if they beat the Dutch and New Zealand draw with or beat England in the second match of the day.

The last game of the day -- between Canada and Argentina -- would be of just an academic affair. Canada, yet to open their account, are almost certain to end at the bottom of Pool A and play for the wooden spoon classification match even if they beat Argentina (three points) on Tuesday.

Canada have minus 20 goal difference and they have to beat Argentina (goal difference minus four), who had defeated New Zealand on Sunday to record their first win, by 16-goal margin to finish fifth in the six-team pool.

The Times of India



de Nooijer reposes faith in Dutch team

Y.B. Sarangi


— Photo: AFP

MAINSTAY:With 16 years of international experience, Teun de Nooijer is the fulcrum around whom the Dutch team functions.


NEW DELHI: In his 16-year-old career, Teun de Nooijer has seen the rise and decline of Dutch hockey. Now, in the last phase of his illustrious journey, the Netherlands captain thinks it is possible for his team to reclaim the top slot in the world.

“When I started in 1994, it was a great experience to be playing with the likes of Bovelander and Marc Dallisen. We got the second place. It was a nice experience,” de Nooijer told The Hindu in an interaction organised by the Dutch Embassy here on Monday.

Major achievements

“There were some major achievements — gold medals in 1996 and 2000 Olympics and 1998 World Cup. The World Cup win at Utrecht before the home crowd was a great experience. Some 18,000-20,000 people cheering, it was a big circus.

“In the Sydney Olympics (2000), we were the team to beat,” he reminisced.

de Nooijer has the distinction of winning the FIH Player of the Year award three times (2003, 2005, 2006).

With the rise of Australia and Germany, the Dutch lost their supremacy in the years to come. de Nooijer agreed that a few reputed names of the current side might not hang around for a long time.

However, he was optimistic that his team had the reserves to march ahead.

Nice mix

“It is a nice mixture of young and experienced players. We have 10-11 players who can go on for a long time,” he added.

On his role changing over the years from a rookie forward to a seasoned member of the side, de Nooijer said, “when I had started, I was a left-winger. Then I played as a centre striker, then a left mid-fielder.

“Now I am playing as a striker. Apart from scoring, my job is to keep more ball possession and help others score goals.”

Physically demanding

In a physically demanding sport, it is not easy to carry on for so long. However, for de Nooijer, who has played over 400 international matches, fitness has never been an issue.

“It is not difficult for me to run and train. I train through the winter and rains,” he said.

Deeply-rooted

Hockey is so deeply rooted in his life that de Nooijer cannot think of life without the sport. Soon to be 35, the five-time World Cupper aims at continuing his tryst with hockey even after calling it quits.

“After this (the ongoing World Cup), I want to play club hockey for two years — that is till 2012. After that, may be I will go for coaching. Already I am coaching my daughter (nine-year-old Philine) and want to do something,” said de Nooijer, married to former German international and 1996 Atlanta Olympian Philippa Suxdorf.

The other thing he wants is to write a book. Ask him when it will hit the stands, he says, “May be after one year.”

The Hindu



Foreign talent causes dilemma

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: Is the vibrant Dutch league working against the country's fortunes in the world game?

The league has attracted 50-odd players from overseas, 26 of whom are playing in the ongoing FIH World Cup. And that includes the cream of international hockey, with names like Australian superstar Jamie Dwyer, the Villa brothers Lucas and Mathias of Argentina even Pakistanis Sohail Abbas and Waseem Ahmed.

The flip side of such a celebration of class, however, has been worrying some sections of the Dutch administration. Questions have been asked about foreign players blocking young home talents making it to the top. The Dutch drought when it comes to global titles the World Cup and Olympics now almost a decade old and the question has grown louder with the last such gold medal coming at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Ties Kruize, the legend whose career spanned five World Cups, for one believes it's a problem. "Yes, it is harmful. Clubs came together to restrict the number of foreign players to three but some of them did not sign the agreement," he said.

According to European Union rules, European players are free to work wherever they want and this legislation comes in the way of those conscious of protecting hockey talent in the Netherlands.

"We have a lot of young talent in the Netherlands but with foreign players taking many of the main positions in the teams, it is difficult for them to find a place," Kruize explained.

But Jan Albers, president of the KNHB (the Dutch hockey association) has a different view. "That's an easy excuse," he said. "We have 12 teams and that works out to 216 players. If you say we have 50 players, there are still 166 positions to fill and a good chance for our young players to come through," he asserted.

Albers said the Dutch association can do very little about it in any case. The clubs have to take a decision themselves and given the EU rules, there's little that we can do to limit the number of foreign players per club, he said.

He did agree, however, that foreign players take back a lot from Dutch hockey and strengthen their national teams. The Netherlands play South Korea on Tuesday in a key game to determine a semifinal spot in Pool A. The Koreans have had a few players in the Dutch top league in recent times.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Asian Cup and Games champions have dominated the Dutch in recent years including two wins in the Melbourne Champions Trophy and one in the last World Cup which doomed the Dutch to the minor placings. Gagan Ajit Singh and Dilip Tirkey are two India players who sampled the Hoofdklasse with rich dividends.

The Times of India



Zing when we’re winning

By Martin Samuel


HASN’T the hockey been wonderful? No, not that North American snooze-fest on ice that the BBC thought was so fascinating last week: the game with no rules and no form. I’m talking real hockey, field hockey, the sport that England are really rather good at.

Have you been watching it? No, of course you haven’t. The BBC devotes hours to events in which British participation is something of a joke, but the Hockey World Cup is only available on channel 789 if you have Sky. Zing TV.

By night the place to go for Bollywood and music programming aimed at the young, urban, Indian; by day, home of the 2010 Hockey World Cup.

England went into this as European champions, having defeated Germany, world champions and ranked No1. Yet this team, and its achievements, have been criminally ignored by the BBC and our major specialist sports channels.

Ranked sixth in the world, England have overcome horrid injury problems and a tough group to record four straight wins and qualify for the semi-finals with a match to spare.

Their last victory knocked the hosts, India, out of the tournament; their first defeated the favourites, Australia, 3-2. Australia promptly scored 17 goals in their next two games.

If England beat Spain today they will top group B. Either way they are through. Instead of mimicking the revolting ‘Own The Podium’ campaign fromVancouver – as if the essence of an Olympics is to invite the world to your country and then crush them – it would be nice to simply celebrate an England team doing rather well.

It would not have been too expensive to cover England at the Hockey World Cup and no doubt the BBC will find the resources to be in New Delhi for that woeful school sports day known as the Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, if you want to watch a decent England team, a fast-moving skilful and exciting sport – and hear some pretty funky tunes between matches, too – head for Zing TV. And no Matthew Pinsent, either. Bonus.

Daily Mail



Hockey no more a crowd puller

Prabhjot Singh


Holding of a prestigious tournament like World Cup has failed to enthuse Delhiites. If the historic Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium gets filled up on alternate days, it is more because of matches of the home team. Security, non-availability of tickets and insipid performance by the Indian team in the recent past may be the contributing factors for poor response from local population to this fortnight-long mega event.

Even ad blitzkrieg featuring Bollywood and sports stars has been of little help. Those coming regularly to watch all games are ardent lovers of the game belonging to the strong Indian overseas community. On a day when India is not playing, at least every third spectator in the stands is an overseas Indian. Amazingly, even Olympians and international players of yesteryears based in Delhi and National Capital Region, too, have been keeping away from the event.

Among the regulars are Balbir Singh Senior, Balbir Singh (Services), Harcharan Singh, HJS Chimni, Aslam Sher Khan, Pargat Singh, Sukhvir Grewal, Ashok Kumar, Syed Ali, Zafar Iqbal, Jalaluddin, MP Singh, Jagdeep Singh Gill, Jugraj Singh and a few others.

Former left winger Thoiba Singh, now associated with administration of the sport in the Northeast, was also spotted some days ago. Not many of the former office-bearers of the Indian Hockey Federation, including KPS Gill, Inder Mohan Mahajan, Ashwani Kumar, Raghuvendra Prasad and K. Jothikumaran, have evinced any interest in the World Cup.

Overseas visitors include Shiv Jagday (former national coach of both the US and Canada), Sarjit Singh (former captain and coach of Malaysia), Akhtar Rasool and Sardar Hassan (both former captains of Pakistan). Olympian Avtar Singh (Kenya), one of finest fullbacks belonging to overseas Indian community is also regular. Dr Joginder Singh, who retired as an orthopaedician in Germany, and had been honorary physician of Indian team for last 30 years, too, watches all the games with his wife, daughter and son-in-law who incidentally is the President of a major hockey club in Germany.

Those who arrived late include Michael Kindo, one of greatest fullbacks tribal India has produced. Manager of the Netherlands team, Ties Kruize, had played the 1981-82 World Cup in Mumbai. Those still not noticed include Horst Vein, popularly known as mother of all hockey coaches. Paul Lissek, who played in the 1975 World Cup, has been here as a part of Team Australia.

Other day when the National Press Club of India held a reception for visiting Pakistani and other foreign journalists, commentator Jasdev Singh recalled his long association with the game. Only broadcaster and commentator to receive the Olympic order besides getting country’s highest Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards, Jasdev Singh was visibly upset for not being invited to witness the World Cup.

Though now men and women hockey bodies have merged, the ongoing World Cup appears to be all males domain. Not many of former women Olympians or international players are to be seen here. Amrit Bose, former Secretary of Women’s Hockey Federation, is perhaps an exception.

The Tribune



FIH official broadcaster contradicts Charlesworth on referrals

NEW DELHI: FIH official broadcaster on Monday contradicted Australian coach Ric Charlesworth, saying that the video umpire has footages shot from 11 angles to take a correct decision.

Charlesworth had said after his side's 2-0 win over Spain on March 6 that it would be better if the video umpire had footages from different angles so that a correct decision is made in referrals.

Official FIH TV commentator and broadcasting consultant David Christison said that 11 cameras are being used in this hockey World Cup so that the video umpire can see as to what actually happened at the field.

"We have 11 cameras on the field and the video umpire can see footages from 11 angles if he wants. But normally four or five frames are enough to take a decision. If he wants more he can have shots from 11 angles," Christison said at the broadcasting centre from where the footages are relayed to the video umpire's room.

"Ric (Charlesworth) might be knowing this but he was not happy as he did not like certain decisions which went against his side," Christison, an Australian, said.

"Six cameras are stationed along the 100-yard long main entry side of the stadium -- two near the centre line, one near a team bench, one near the left corner and one in between the centre line and the corner on each half," said Christison who was awarded a Diploma of Merit by the FIH for his contribution as official TV commentator in 2006.

One camera each is stationed behind the two goalposts, another at the centre line of the opposite stand and one camera each in between the corner flag and goalpost on each side.

"Camera numbers two and seven, which are stationed at the centre-line can take 100 frames per second. These two provide super slo-mo footages. The other nine can shoot at 25 frames per second," Christison said.

He said not all the footages from the 11 cameras are shown on the giant screen at the stadium but the video umpire can have all the shots from 11 angles.

The video umpire's room has a four screen electronic equipment and each screen is connected to specific cameras.

"Four shots which gives the best view of the actual incident is first provided on the four screens for the video umpire to take a decision. If he thinks the four shots are enough to take a decision that is it.

"If he wants more shots we provide him the other shots," explained Christison, a well-known hockey expert who has done commentary in several top-flight competitions in Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy.

"The four screens are connected to specific cameras. For example the first screen connects to camera numbers three and four. The second, third and fourth connect to three cameras each," he said.

The Times of India



Video referral system bizarre: South African captain

NEW DELHI: The new video referral system at the Hockey World Cup was again the centre of controversy with South African captain Austin Smith calling it "bizarre" and not "perfect".

Though it was South Africa who benefited from the referral when field umpires - Roel van Eert of the Netherlands and Ged Curran of Scotland- disallowed hosts' goal in the 45th minute following a referral sought by the visitors, who claimed they had earned a penalty corner before India's goal-bound move.

South Africa's appeal was upheld by the video umpire Andy Mair and they converted the penalty corner to go 3-2 up.

"It is bizarre. The system is not perfect, the ball had come off an Indian player's stick on to the body, we were trying to defend Indian counter-attack as well as go for the referral, not sure if the umpire heard us. There is a flaw and it need to be ironed out," Smith said,

"There is also a need to be clear how long a play can go on after a team asks for a referral."

Smith said his team played a good game and they were lucky to split points with India.

"We did well in the first half. India pushed us back in the later part of the second half. We were lucky to get a point out of it. It is tough playing in such an environment."

South African coach Gregg Clark agreed with his captain. "It was a strange situation but ultimately the right decision was made. It is important that correct decisions are taken."

"We were fortunate to get a draw from the match. We gave away the possession far too much. The result is flattering for us."

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth has been among others to criticise the referral system in the World Cup.

The Times of India



Why this mockery?

Prabhjot Singh


Is video referral really making a mockery of a game of skills? Hockey fans, umpires and technical officials have been stunned by the manner India has been denied the third goal it legitimately scored because opponents woke up from slumber to ask for a referral for an infringement that had taken place at the other end of the playfield.

The Tribune (World Cup Diary) had raised this pertinent point. And today, the hosts were made to pay a major price for this new system. It is the second time India has suffered. First it was two-match suspension slapped on Shivendra Singh in a post match suo moto action by the Tournament Director.

“It is mockery of the system,” says Rajinder Gandhi, a retired national umpire and now a judge on the national panel of Hockey India. “How such a thing could be allowed. There has to be some time limit before a video referral can be demanded. You cannot allow unlimited time for video referral.”

“By disallowing a legitimate field goal India had scored, umpires went back to a sequence that had taken place almost 30 seconds earlier. The video umpire took cognizance of that, awarded a penalty corner to South Africa from which a goal was scored. Instead of India taking 3-2 lead, it was other way. Indian goal was disallowed and South African protest upheld,” says an agitated Rajinder Gandhi.

“I have been trying to get in touch with the management of Team India to suggest to them to lodge a formal protest and demand a debate on the problems that are being encountered after introduction of this rule here. Instead the International Hockey Federation should have waited for a while, studied its implications, and sought views from umpires, judges and technical officers before using this in the sport’s highest tournament, the World Cup. Several other international umpires, technical officials, including Tarlok Singh Bhullar, Harbans Singh and others want a review of the video referral.

The Tribune



Controversy over referrals, dry pitch

Errol D'Cruz


NEW DELHI: India coach Jose Brasa was pleased with his team's performance after the draw with South Africa on Monday.

"In spite of the problems we faced today, I am glad we have achieved the result to place us where we wanted to be, and that is to play for seventh position," the Spaniard said.

Brasa explained that his request to have the pitch watered was turned down by the technical director, resulting in difficulty in stopping the ball during both penalty corners earned in the fast half. "The pitch was too dry," said Brasa.

The second problem concerned a bizarre TV referral incident that not only denied India a goal but switched play to the other end, ending in the hosts conceding a goal which changed the scoreline from 3-2 to 2-3.

"First of all the TV referral asked by the South Africans took too long. It was used only after we scored a goal, which the umpire signaled as one. That is not how we were told the referral should be done," Brasa said. "Actually, it should not have been a penalty corner awarded to South Africa. The ball was played dangerously on to the body of Vikram Pillay," he added.

Asked whether the TV referral should be scrapped, Brasa said, "No. Referrals are good and it is important that a correct decision is given."

South Africa captain Austin Smith agreed that the incident relating to the TV referral was bizarre. "There is a flaw in the system and we should come to a sort of decision in terms of how much play should go on before a referral can be used," he said.

The Times of India



David Faulkner feeling the spirit of '86

By Graham Wilson


THE World Cup holds a very special place in David Faulkner’s heart and as he watched England fall to their first defeat of the tournament against Spain in Delhi yesterday, he could not help but cast his mind back to 1986.

Faulkner was the centre-back in the great England team who, as Great Britain, went on to win Olympic gold in Seoul in 1988.

Two years earlier in London, Faulkner was the mainstay at the back while Paul Barber fired in penalty corners and striker Sean Kerly had the opposition by the “Sean and curlies” as they beat Holland in the pool matches and West Germany in the semi-finals before losing 2-1 to Australia in the final.

Faulkner is now England director of performance and has seen the game evolve beyond recognition – except that Holland, Germany and Australia are still up there with the best in the world and England are once again a force to be reckoned with under the astute eye of their down-to-earth coach Jason Lee.

With London 2012 the spur, England won the European championship last summer and qualified for the World Cup semi-finals in Delhi with a game to spare – which is why the 2-0 defeat by Spain carried little meaning, except that Australia overtook them at the top of the group with a 2-1 win over Pakistan so England will play the top finishers in the opposing pool.

Lee’s men have already beaten Australia in their opening match last Sunday, despatched South Africa and Pakistan and knocked out hosts India.

It is all still to play for in the other group with Holland and holders Germany leading and Korea and New Zealand in the mix for today’s last pool matches before Thursday’s semi-finals. “I remember we were 2-0 down against Germany and we came back to win 3-2 in extra-time at Willesden,” said Faulkner.

“I remember the BBC coverage – Football Focus was cancelled – and then the marvellous crowds, even the ticket touts, and how the game was talked about all over the country.”

The sport has changed fundamentally since then, from an 11-man game with one or two substitutions similar to football to a 16-man squad with 50-odd roll-on substitutions. Players stay on for a maximum eight minutes before being replaced to get the oxygen back into their legs. The self-pass rule from a foul has made the game even faster.

“This is the most talented group we have ever had,” said Faulkner. “Five years ago we were fighting relegation in the Europeans. This group have grown up together and finally we are in the top four for the first time since 1988.” That group includes captain Barry Middleton and his sidekick, world youth player of the year Ashley Jackson of the Dutch club HGC.

On their shoulders – particularly Jackson’s corner flick – rests England’s chances with the squad having lost three players through injury, including defender and corner striker Richard Mantell who has flown home to have surgery on a broken fibula today.

“What has impressed me is the spirit in the camp and the fantastic way the group has dealt with three major injuries, especially Mantell’s,” said Faulkner. “Also, the security issue here is one we have all had to cope with but a lot of our players have never been to this part of the world before.

“There are more police sometimes than the crowd. And the crowds will be disappointing on Thursday because India are not in contention.

“Our target was to reach the top four, maybe come back with a medal, but I am not going to put a colour on it.”

Goalkeeper James Fair, who kept at bay the free-scoring Australians, has been putting in sterling displays for England.

He had to watch from the stands at the Beijing Olympics as Great Britain’s stand-by stopper, but in the Europeans he was goalkeeper of the tournament.

He said: “We can go all the way, whether it is the Dutch, Germany or the Koreans in the semi-finals.

“We have done well against all of them recently and have beaten them. Against Spain, we were disappointed we did not play with the same intensity.

“But we have two days’ rest now and if we can regain that intensity and put away our chances we can win gold.”

Faulkner added: “It is important we consistently make the semi-finals of these major tournaments. We don’t care who we meet.” As in 1986, Australia in the final, then.

Daily Express



Richard Mantell: Win Cup for me

Mantell suffered a dislocated ankle in an accidental clash

By Daily Express Reporter


RICHARD Mantell told his England team-mates yesterday to go on and win the World Cup for him after he flew home injured.

Penalty corner specialist Mantell suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle in an accidental clash in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Pakistan in Delhi.

He arrived home on Saturday knowing England are through to the semi-finals for the first time since the 1986 World Cup in London, after edging out hosts India 3-2 to keep their unbeaten record in the group stages and qualify for Thursday’s semi-finals with a game to spare.

Their final pool match is against Olympic silver medallists Spain today – just when Mantell will be undergoing surgery in London. He said of his ordeal: “The Pakistani forward was sliding to get a deflection down my post and he went straight through my ankle.

“It wasn’t malicious but one of those injuries you don’t see very often in our game. It was horrible. I felt it click. It’s not very nice to see your foot pointing in the wrong direction.”

Mantell will be out for six to nine months and will miss the Commonwealth Games, also in Delhi, in October.

Goals from Surbiton’s James Tindall, world young player of the year Ashley Jackson and Loughborough Students’ Nick Catlin were enough to put England through against India in front of 16,000 fans.

Daily Express



Vogels makes goalkeeping look all too simple

NEW DELHI: Fourteen years is a long career in sport. More so, if you are a hockey goalkeeper. But the Dutch great Guus Vogels makes the job look all too easy because his philosophy is simple.

"Goalkeeping is fun," says Vogels, breaking into a laughter, minutes after the Netherlands were involved in easily the best game of the World Cup, against defending champions Germany. There was no trace of any stress on his face even after standing up to bullet-like strikes.

Vogels has been the star attraction in every match the Dutch played here. He turns 35 on March 26, but his acrobatic saves and reflexes belie his age. When the action is in the Dutch goalmouth, there is palpable excitement whether any strike can beat him or how well would he negotiate with a difficult situation.

Vogels has not only been the best goalkeeper on view, but also one of the best players in the tournament, providing immense joy to the sparse crowd.

"I try to make it more exciting for the crowd which comes to watch a good competition," Vogels, proud owner of two Olympics and four Champions Trophy gold medals, said.

Vogels, who started his international career in 1996, was part of the Dutch squad that won the gold medal at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics and the first-choice goalkeeper at the Athens Games where they won the silver.

Vogels, who declared this would be his last shot at becoming a World Champion, has summoned all his experience to add the Cup to his list of laurels.

"Yes, I want to finish with a World Cup gold, that is the motivation. But I have always given my best to my team and it is no different here.

"I am patient and sharp. I am making the right moves and my anticipation is good. I am satisfied with what I am doing for my team."

"I have been the side's number one goalkeeper for 10 years. I have reached a level where I know what I have to do and what my team expects of me," says Vogels modestly when asked whether he rates his showing here as his best.

Has a goalkeeper's job become more difficult as every rule change is aimed at scoring more goals?

"But, it also means more work for the goalkeepers, more opportunities for us," Vogels says.

"The rule changes have made the game fast-paced. There are more goals after the new self-pass rule. It has made the job of a goalkeeper more challenging."

As for his longevity in the game, Vogels attributes it to the technological advancement.

"In all the years I have been playing, there has been tremendous improvement in the protective gears with the technological advancement. I remember goalkeeper using bamboo sticks as leg guards. Now we have more protection and there are fewer injuries. I am lucky to be playing for so long."

Vogels, a role model for many young goalkeepers, is impressed with several goalkeepers.

"There are quite a few I have been impressed with, England goalkeeper James Fair and Argentina's Juan Thomas Espinosa, to name offhand."

The Times of India



Fate of senior players to be decided next week

Pakistan hockey think-tank to consider various steps to help team bounce back in this year’s Asian Games in China

By Khalid Hussain


KARACHI: Pakistan’s hockey chiefs will sit down in Lahore soon after the World Cup to take a decision over the future of their misfiring senior players.

Well-placed sources in the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) told ‘The News’ on Monday that the national hockey think-tank will meet at the PHF headquarters next week to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind their team’s poor showing in the World Cup which is under progress in New Delhi.

Though the PHF chiefs will be deliberating on various issues, the focus is likely to be on the burning question: To retain or not to retain the team’s senior players for Pakistan’s next big hockey assignment — the Asian Games.

Pakistan flopped miserably in the Hockey World Cup as they began with a shock 1-4 defeat against hosts India and then went on to lose against England and minnows South Africa to fall out of contention for the semifinals. They lost their last Pool B game against Australia 2-1 and finished the league stage with just one win — against Spain — from five matches.

While their poor performance ignited scathing criticism from all quarters, the boys who came under the most intense fire were the team’s senior players — Sohail Abbas, captain Zeeshan Ashraf, midfielder Waseem Ahmed, striker Rehan Butt and goalie Salman Akber.

The five of them were supposed to shoulder Pakistan’s campaign in the 12-nation spectacle but failed to live up to expectations. Sohail, the world renowned drag-flicker, began the competition as the international hockey’s most prolific scorer. But he failed to make his presence felt in the competition.

Waseem, an influential midfielder, had to play the role of the team’s playmaker but he has been mostly out of touch. Waseem’s below-par showing is being seen by many as one of the major reasons behind Pakistan’s poor showing in New Delhi.

Skipper Zeeshan Ashraf also failed to come out with the sort of performance that was needed to beef up the brittle Pakistani defence while Rehan Butt was unable to find his golden form in big games like the one against India. Salman Akber has been largely unimpressive and has at times allowed opponents to score goals at will.

“The Pakistan hockey think-tank, which will meet in Lahore soon after the World Cup, will analyze the team’s performance during what is expected to be a marathon meeting,” said a source. “It will be focusing on the performance of the senior players, who’ve failed to do well in the World Cup. There are indications that some of them might be ignored for future assignments,” said a source.

“Whenever our team loses in a major international event, its management is almost always shown the door,” said another source. “But the players, who are equally responsible for the losses, are spared. They always come back and fail again. There are chances that this time the axe will fall on them,” added the source.

However, there could be disagreement on chopping off the senior players from the national team. It’s a pretty busy year for the national team which will be featuring in three international events before competing in the Asian Games in China in November.

Pakistan will take part in the Asian Champions Trophy in Ipoh in April before participating in the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy also to be staged in the same Malaysian city early this summer. In October, Pakistan will feature in the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi before the all-important Asian Games.

Some of the PHF officials and coaching staff are unsure over whether they would be able to raise a strong team for these events after axing all of the players who’ve failed to impress much in the World Cup.

“It is true that Pakistan didn’t play well in the World Cup,” said a PHF official who spoke to ‘The News’ on the condition of anonymity. “But the problem is that you can’t just destroy the team by kicking out all the experienced players because there isn’t enough bench strength,” he said.

“It will be wiser if the PHF took one step at a time and rebuild the team over a sufficient time frame instead of rushing things because that could prove to be counter productive,” he said. It remains to be seen whether the meeting, that will be chaired by PHF president Qasim Zia will vote in favour of sweeping changes in the national team for the Asian Games buildup or opt for the “one step at a time approach”.

The News International



Sardar pained by woeful show

NEW DELHI: Hassan Sardar is shocked and was finding it hard to believe that Pakistan had lost to South Africa on Saturday. “It’s the darkest day in our hockey history. I am still at a loss for words. How could they go down to a team like South Africa?” the legend wondered aloud.

The 51-year-old, who is also the chief selector of Pakistan hockey, admitted he had never seen the national side play so bad. “They have been playing like this right through this tournament. If players like Sohail Abbas and Rehan Butt let you down, what more can you expect?”

One of the greatest ever centre-forwards of all time, Sardar was the man behind India’s 1-7 surrender to Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games final at this very venue, the Dhyan Chand National Stadium. “I think the credit for that win should also go to Shahid Ali Khan (the then Pakistan goalkeeper). He made many crucial saves. India didn’t play that bad as has been made out to be. Anyway, it’s a different feeling altogether to be back here.”

Being the chief selector, shouldn’t he share the blame too? “I had picked the best possible side. But I am not the one to play for them. They have shocked and saddened me with their performance,” Sardar added.

He, however, had some encouraging words for the Indians. “I don’t think they are playing that bad. They look a much improved side. I think they are creating the chances but finishing has been a problem,” he signed off.

The News International



Sohail Abbas has no plans to retire soon

NEW DELHI: World's highest goal scorer and Pakistan's famed drag flicker Sohail Abbas says he has no plans to retire soon, his lacklustre showing in the Hockey World Cup notwtihstanding.

Sohail feels he still has a few more years of hockey and he would like to serve his country.

"I have no plans to retire. I think I still have some years left in me. So I want to serve my country as long as I can," the 34-year-old Sohail told mediapersons on Monday soon after the four-time Cup winners went down 1-2 to Australia to wrap up their Pool B engagements with only three points.

Sohail was not at his best in the tournament and just could not get his act right while executing his penalty-corner hits or drag flicks, greatly affecting Pakistan's prospects.

However, he attributed the team's dismal showing to fatigue.

"We have been playing continuosly for the last six month. So the players were fatigued and that led to the drop in the performance levels."

Sohail also refused to accept that his fitness levels have gone down.

"I am very happy with my fitness in this World Cup. I have played four World Cups. In fact, fitness wise it has been one of my best-ever. So I want to continue playing," he said.

Asked whether there will be pressure on him to retire after the team's poor showing here, he said: "If the federation does not want me, then it is a different thing. I cannot comment on that."

Sohail said despite his best efforts luck was not on his side.

"I gave my best in the tournament. Some of the strikes came back from the post. You can't help when these things happen. I do not have a magic stick," he said.

The Times of India



“Pee Wee” Bhana

BY TERRY MADDAFORD in New Delhi


North Harbour striker Priyesh Bhana is loving every minute of this World Cup. No surprise in that, afterall he is playing for the second time in the land of his forefathers and in a country where hockey battles with cricket as the country’s most popular sport.

Given his Indian roots, Bhana, 25, has been singled out for added attention by the supporters and local media.. He relishes that and also being able to share the occasion with his family.

And, he can count on more of that support when he runs out in the early hours of tomorrow morning for the Black Sticks’ last pool match against defending champions Germany knowing they must win to have any chance of progressing after losing to Argentina, the lowest-ranked team here, 1-0 early yesterday morning.

Bhana’s grandparents were born in India living a couple of hours south of Mumbai before they immigrated to New Zealand almost a century ago.

“My dad was born in New Zealand and my mum in Zambia. They got married in England and I was born in Hawera,” said Bhana who also speaks Gujarti as that was his grandmother’s native tongue. “Now my brother lives in Melbourne but they are all here now. That is special.”

Just as special as making his Black Sticks debut against India at last year’s Punjab Gold Cup in Chandigarh where New Zealand lost 2-0 in that opening game but went on to beat Germany 3-2 in their last game of the tournament.

Bhana, “Pee Wee” to his hockey mates might not possess the same scoring skills as some of those, like Simon Child and Phil Burrows, he has played alongside but makes up for that with his pace and non-stop running.

Playing on hockey’s biggest stage is a world apart from his first days as a four-year-old when, stick in hand, he played in the backyard of the family’s Hawera home.

“Dad played soccer for Taranaki but he never pushed me to follow him,” said Bhana who went on to captain the Hawera High School first X1 for three years leading them to three successive Taranaki secondary school titles.

Like other players, including another Taranaki product and Black Sticks team-mate Ben Collier, Bhana was coerced in to moving north by then East Coast Bays player-coach, and now Black Sticks assistant coach, Darren Smith to play in the North Harbour competition.

“I was studying at Massey University in Palmerston North so thought why not,” said Bhana who has completed his Bachelor of Science and is now, with a Prime Minister’s Scholarship, continuing his studies.

He played professionally in Belgium in 2008-09 and has had offers to return.

“I will probably go back after the Commonwealth Games but will eventually finish up back in New Zealand.

“It is great to play hockey here in a hockey-mad country,” said Bhana who added that he and team-mate Arun Panchia had been singled out for a really warm welcome by appreciative supporters. “You can’t help but love it.”

PRIYESH BHANA

DOB: July 6, 1984
Born: Hawera
School: Hawera HS
International debut: v India January 09
Caps: 20
Goals: 4

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Mir Ranjan exorcises ghosts of the past

Satya Siddharth Rath


NEW DELHI: Mir Ranjan Negi was at the Dhyan Chand stadium on Monday to watch the India-South Africa game. This was only his second visit to this venue, after that infamous 1982 Asian Games final between India and Pakistan which India lost 1-7.

Negi was the goalkeeper in that match. Since that fateful day, he has always avoided coming. "I came here only once before, during the shooting of Chak De India. The old structure was in place then. They have really converted it into a grand venue, at par with the best in the world. It's an unbelievable feeling to be here, so many things come into the mind immediately." His eyes filled up.

"But it would have been great had India performed a little better. I think our defence has been a problem. They have let in easy goals. There has been some change in the team's approach, but it will take some more time to match world standards," he added.

The Times of India



"Regret missing India-Pakistan tie"

Besotted by the ‘electrifying atmosphere’, Mir Ranjan Negi tells espnstar.com what he should not have done last on Holi eve.

By Rajarshi Gupta


Twenty-eight years since the fateful Asian Games loss against Pakistan, former Indian goal-keeper has brushed aside the bitter memories of the 1-7 loss.

What followed had rocked his world, forcing Negi into seclusion. Certain sections in the media and critics accused him of accepting bribes from Pakistan and letting in those goals on purpose. The keeper's humiliation that had unfolded rather mercilessly found inspiration in a Bollywood blockbuster ‘Chak de India', a film that had been shot in the Dhyan Chand National Stadium, venue of the 12th Hockey World Cup.

"That was the last time I had come to the ground- to shoot for the film. This is the first World Cup game I came to watch this year and I regret not being here to see India beat Pakistan," said Negi ahead of India's clash against South Africa.

"We beat them hands down; I should have been here to witness that. The 1982 game is well and truly a thing of the past for me, especially after we beat them so comprehensively a few days back.

"This is sensational and I had not expected so many people to be here to cheer the team on. When we were shooting Chak de India, I had only imagined what it would be like to see India play in front of packed stands.

"Now that I see it unfolding, I get Goosebumps. Look at the crowd, they are unbelievable."

It was after all the same ground where it all started to go wrong for him. India's arch-rivals had thudded in seven goals and Negi was made the scapegoat of an embarrassing defeat. However, he holds no grudges anymore.

"That chapter is behind me. It feels wonderful and I feel proud that we trounced Pakistan in the World Cup in the same venue after nearly 30 years. This is special," said a beaming Negi as he greeted old acquaintances in the VIP stand.

The ruthless criticism is something the goalie seemed to have taken in his stride for as he pointed out "Nothing seems to bring out India-Pakistan rivalry in more glory than a hockey match.

"The pressure is so intense between these two hockey teams, you know. There is so much history that you tend to get more patriotic during a game of hockey than a match of cricket. It just happens."

Negi might have forgiven those cynics from the past but he has some new grudges. He was furious with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for ‘needlessly' banning Shivendra Singh for two matches in the World Cup, following an apparent unfair tackle in India's victory against Pakistan.

"In my opinion, the FIH did a disservice to world hockey by banning Shivender. The Indians had got off to a sensational start and the ground was on fire. Even now, that the hosts are out of semi-final contention, we have a near capacity crowd. Trust me, no where else in the world will you find such an atmosphere in a hockey field.

Had India gone through to the last four with Shivender around, it would have done wonders to the game in this part of the world."

Negi, his dignity regained and firmly in place, went back to his seat after the national anthem had played. This was a new Indian team he was looking at, a team that miles to go but without the burden of imposed dishonour.

ESPNStar.com



Stadium rent demand has IOA seeing red

NEW DELHI: Is the Sports Authority of India (SAI) justified in asking the organisers of the ongoing hockey World Cup to foot Rs 85 lakh towards using its facilities at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium?

While SAI says there's nothing wrong in it, an Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official, who is part of the governing council of the World Cup organising committee, said, "We were never told we would have to pay rent to SAI for using the stadium.

"This was news to me. I have also been told that they will also charge us for other events in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. Who knows, they might also next demand rent for holding the CWG.

"In any case, we have yet to receive any communication, from SAI or the sports ministry. As far as I know, there should be no charges for events such as the World Cup. But let the papers reach us first, then we shall take a call," he added.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH), which is the joint organiser, have washed their hands off the issue. "This is something for the IOA to respond to," said FIH media officer Arjen Meijer.

A senior sports ministry official, while admitting that no written agreement was signed between SAI and the event organisers, said it was but natural that the IOA should pay for using the services.

The Times of India



Hockey Jharkhand not to participate in Olympic Association meeting


Jamshedpur: Hockey Jharkhand today directed its affiliated district committees not to take part in a meeting convened by the Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) in connection with formation of Hockey Jharkhand.

Describing the meeting convened by JOA on March 16 at Ranchi as "unconstitutional", Pir Mohammad, general secretary of Hockey Jharkhand, in a press statement here today stated that a letter in this regard sent to Hockey Jharkhand by JOA on February 23 was received by it today, which was in itself a mockery as the letter has taken over a fortnight's time to reach its destination.

Pir Mohammad said Hockey Jharkhand headed by TP Sinha, an advisor to former Jharkhand governor K Shankarnarayanan, was already formed and was affiliated by Hockey India on the recommendations of JOA in December last year.

When Hockey Jharkhand headed by Sinha has already been formed in the state, what was the relevance of calling a meeting to discuss about its formation, he asked while directing its district committees not to take part in the meeting which has nothing to do with Hockey Jharkhand.

DNA