News for 16 January 2012

All the news for Monday 16 January 2012


German hosts take both European indoor titles

Austrian men and Polish women take Bronze



Germany men celebrate their 2012 European indoor title. (Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

In the women's final of the 2012 EuroHockey Indoor Championships, Germany wrestled down Belarus on penalty strokes, while the German men dispatched the Czech Republic in their match for gold. Austria men and Poland women took the bronze. The Ukrainian and Spanish women as well as the Swiss and English men are relegated from Europe's top flight indoor competition.

In the men's final, big tournament favorites Germany struggled against surprise finalists Czech Republic in the first half, having advantages in the field against the fiercely fighting Czech but finding themselves incapable of creating danger. They couldn't score until late in the first half, and went into half time with a meager one goal lead, but a step up in pressure saw the Germans pull away after the break. With goals from team captain Tobias Hauke, Matthias Witthaus, Thilo Stralkowski and Benni Wess, the home team won the final 4:0 to bring the European nations title back to what is arguably the world's strongest indoor nation.

The women's final on the other hand was ultimately dramatic, decided only in a penalty stroke competition, when neither the regular 40 minutes nor extra time could separate the contenders. After a goalless first half, it looked like Belarus would run with the match, building a two goal lead through Yuliya Mikheichyk and Alesia Piotukh, but a double hit from Dinah Grote late in the second half tided Germany over into extra time. Both teams risked little in the following 2x5 minutes and the match had to be decided in a penalty stroke competition. Germany's goalkeeper and Leipzig native Karo Amm stepped up to the test and brought the Belarussian strikers to despair with her saves, opening up the way for Kerstin Holm to give her team the Bronze by converting her chance in the first round of sudden death strokes.

In the women's bronze medal match, Poland came out more courageous and dynamic than their Dutch counterparts, scoring twice in the first nine minutes, and never looked back, each goal from the Netherlands being matched with the suitable reply. The match ended 4:3 for a Polish side full of still young talent, with today's bronze medal promising a new strong contender in the world of top indoor hockey.

The men's bronze went to Austria, champions in 2010, who had a firm grip on their game against the Netherlands throughout the match. Two goals from Michael Körper in the first three minutes set the pace, and the Dutch couldn't find a way to bring the scores level again. Two more from Körper later in the match, and another from Dominik Monghy secured a 5:3 final score and third place for Austria.

The deciding round of matches in the men's relegation saw Russia overcome Switzerland in a fiercely contested match, scoring the winning goal from a penalty stroke only seconds from the final whistle. In the second encounter, England managed to defeat the already safe Spaniards, but a win with a one goal margin was not enough to avoid them dropping out of Europe's elite.

In the women's relegation pool, Austria unexpectedly cruised past Spain and the Czech Republic overcame the Ukraine, which resulted in today's winners being safe from relegation. Spain will have to compete in the B division in two years time, as do the Ukraine, whose descent will be especially bitter having come to Leipzig to defend their 2010 European crown.

The individual awards had Ashley Jackson from England and Irene Balek from Austria take the honors of the competition's topscorers, while the Czech Republic's Filip Neusser and Maryna Navitskaya from Belarus received the Best Goalkeeper awards. As Best Players of the Tournament, the media representatives present chose both German captains: Tobi Hauke for the men and Rebecca Landshut for the women.

Final Standings Men

1. Germany
2. Czech Republic
3. Austria
4. Netherlands
5. Spain
6. Russia
7. England
8. Switzerland

Final Standings Women

1. Germany
2. Belarus
3. Poland
4. Netherlands
5. Czech Republic
6. Austria
7. Spain
8. Ukraine

Classification Men

3/4th place: Austria - Netherlands 5:3 (2:1)
Final: Czech Republic - Germany 0:4 (0:1)

Classification  Women

3/4th place: Poland - Netherlands 4:3 (2:1)
Final: Belarus - Germany 2:2 (0:0) Penalty Strokes 2:3

Pool C Men

1. Spain - 6 points - 11:6 goals
2. Russia - 4 point - 13:13 goals
3. England - 4 point - 13:14 goals
4. Switzerland - 3 points - 7:11 goals

Spain - England 2:3 (1:1)
Switzerland - Russia 2:3 (1:2)

Pool C Women

1. Czech Republic - 5 points - 11:10 goals
2. Austria - 4 point - 9:8 goals
3. Spain - 4 points - 8:10 goals
4. Ukraine - 3 points - 11:11 goals

Austria - Spain 4:1 (1:1)
Ukraine - Czech Republic 4:5 (0:1)

FIH site



England win, but lose relegation battle


ENGLAND beat Spain in their best performance yet at the European Indoor Championships in Germany – but the 3-2 win was not quite enough to preserve top-flight status.

Sunday’s 3-2 win over Spain saw some great periods of play from England, but they finished third in the table – level on points with Russia but relegated by virtue of just one goal’s difference.

“That was probably the best performance of the tournament from us,” said Head Coach Andy Halliday afterwards. “We played some very good hockey but at this level you have to put your chances away.

“We had four corners and three goals disallowed for various reasons. If we had scored any of those it would have been a very different outcome.”

The final day unfolded in dramatic fashion. Russia and Switzerland were drawing in the final minute of their game, which meant England only had to win against Spain by any margin to survive the drop.

However, a goal from the Russians with 12 seconds remaining meant England had to win by two or more.

The Spaniards drew first blood with Juan Lianz scoring from open play after just eight minutes, but England were back level with Ashley Jackson scoring after nine minutes from a penalty stroke, awarded for a deliberate foul while shooting.

Knowing they needed goals, England resorted to a kicking back and pulled off their goalkeeper, but it backfired with Jorge Rodriguez scoring on 34 minutes.

Jackson netted his second on 39 minutes and Nick Catlin scored the winner on 40 minutes, against from open play with just five seconds left.

However, it was not quite enough to preserve their top flight status.

* Against the Russians on Saturday England looked down and out and were trailing 4-0 before Ashley Jackson popped up with a goal in the last minute of the first half to give England a glimmer of hope.

Another three unanswered goals from the Russians gave them a 7-1 lead, but England hit back again with Adam Dixon Nick Catlin scoring on 27 and 28 minutes.

Russia added an eighth goal to make it 8-3 with ten minutes remaining but England were not finished yet, and Ashley Jackson left them stunned with five goals in the last ten minutes to salvage a draw for England.

But against the Swiss, England struggled.

Their rivals were 2-0 ahead at half time, and doubled their lead with further strikes to take a 4-0 lead on 26 minutes.

Jonty Clarke and Richard Smith added goals on 34 and 36 minutes, but it was too little too late for England who are still searching for their first win.

* England lost out 5-7 in their opening match against the Netherlands on Friday, but scraped a 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic later in the day courtesy of a late goal from Hampstead & Westminster's Dan Fox.

“The result against the Dutch was slightly disappointing,” said coach Andy Halliday. “We had enough chances and possession to win.

“And against the Czechs we left it late to score, but we knew they would sit deep and defend, and their goalkeeper kept them in the game with some very good saves.”

England had led for much of the second half against The Netherlands and looked set for a deserved victory, but three goals in the final four minutes saw the men in orange snatch the win.

Two early goals from the Netherlands put England on the back foot, but they hit back with Adam Dixon scoring a rebound after Ashley Jackson’s flick had been saved on the line after 14 minutes.

Netherlands extended their lead with a third goal on 16 minutes – despite Nick Brothers getting a touch. However, England battled back in style with Jackson scoring on 19 and 20 minutes – from a penalty stroke and open play respectively, his final goal going in with just four seconds remaining.

He completed his hat-trick two minutes after play resumed, and Jonty Clarke made it 5-3 the next minute.

However, the Nertherlands hit back with goals on 30, 36, 37 and 39 minutes to spoil England’s hopes. They had pulled goalkeeper Brothers off and put an extra man up front, but the plan backfired with a Netherlands counter-attack for their final goal.

But the Netherlands were to go on to lose to Russia in their second match, while England secured their first points with a 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic.

The match saw lots of chances for both sides, but no goals came until the 30th minute when the Czechs took the lead.

Knowing that they face being shunted to Pool C and a fight against relegation, England pulled off their goalkeeper once again, and this time it worked with Dan Fox scoring on 39 minutes to save the day.

 

Pool A

Pl

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Germany

3

3

0

0

22

4

18

9

Austria

3

2

0

1

10

4

6

6

Spain

3

1

0

2

8

18

-10

3

Switzerland

3

0

0

3

4

18

-14

0

Pool B

Pl

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Czech Rep

3

1

2

0

5

4

1

5

Netherlands

3

1

1

1

11

10

1

4

Russia

3

1

1

1

12

12

0

4

England

3

0

2

1

14

16

-2

2

Pool C

Pl

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Spain

3

2

0

1

11

6

5

6

Russia

3

1

1

1

13

13

0

4

England

3

1

1

1

13

14

-1

4

Switzerland

3

1

0

2

7

11

-4

3

England Hockey Board Media release



Scots relegated in Europeans

EUROPEAN INDOOR NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIPS 11 - LIGNANO (ITALY)  -  FRIDAY 13TH - SUNDAY 15TH  JANUARY 2012

SCOTLAND 1  SLOVAKIA 2


Scotland unfortunately came bottom of the relegation pool after losing 2-1 to Slovakia in the final match of the European Indoor Nations Championships in Lignano and will play in the third division in two years time.

Even before their final game against Slovakia, the Scots knew their fate as Italy managed a 2-2 draw with Belarus, ensuring both sides survival.

Scotland were always chasing the game in this final encounter and fell behind to a Slovakian penalty corner in 11 minutes.  The contest was effectively over when Slovakia doubled their lead mid-way through the second half, leaving Ross McPherson`s open play goal to be little more than a consolation.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Last-gasp SA goal level first Test match against Spain

JONATHAN COOK in Randburg



South Africa captain Marsha Marescia congratulates Lauren Penny on her debut goal during the 1-1 draw against Spain in the first of the five-Test Investec International Series at Randburg Hockey Stadium Sunday. Photo: Reg Caldecott

A debut goal by striker Lauren Penny four minutes from the end saved the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team’s blushes as they drew the first of the five-Test Investec International Series 1-1 against Spain at Randburg Hockey Stadium Sunday.

South Africa had more than their fair share of chances but could not find the target and it appeared that Olalla Pineiro’s neat field goal after 23 minutes would be the winner. Spain, too, could have scored more than once, but they at least forced keeper Mariette Rix into making saves more often.

World number 11 Spain started well, moving the ball fluidly, and SA captain Marsha Marescia made a number of crucial interventions in defence. In the eighth minute, Tarryn Bright freed Marescia for the first shot of the match, but Spain came closest to opening the scoring soon after.

SA central defender Kate Woods celebrated her 150th Test cap while for Penny, who has been living and playing in England, it was also a special day.

Midway, world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee got in a strong shot and another soon after following good work by Jade Mayne, who got in a shot of her own minutes later; then Dirkie Chamberlain went just past the far post.

However, Spain scored against the run of play with a well-taken Pineiro field goal 12 minutes from the break (1-0). A great ball down the line led to the first penalty corner but Marescia cleared and not long after saved a near-certain goal on the post.

Five minutes after the changeover Mayne shot wide of the far post, a good opportunity, but a determined SA won their first and only PC with 21 minutes to go. However, Coetzee’s power shot after the corner set-up was initially bungled went wide. Marescia broke right a little later but shot wide.

Rix saved from Gloria Comerma with eight left but four minutes later the girls in gold equalised when Penny finished off at the far post after Bright had cut through decisively. Soon after, Chamberlain’s reverse-stick shot flew over the crossbar.

SA will need a much-improved effort in the second Test against the Spaniards at 7 pm at Randburg Tuesday.

In the curtain-raiser, the SA Senior Invitation team beat SA Junior Invitation 4-3. Tuesday’s curtain-raiser is at 5 pm.

Meanwhile, the SA men’s team begin their five-Test series against India in Delhi Monday.

SA Hockey Association media release



Old and new in Investec SA women’s hockey team to face Spain

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team to face Spain at 2 pm Sunday in the first of the five-Test Investec International Series at Randburg Hockey Stadium this week has a new face in former Cape Town schoolgirl Lauren Penny, who has been living and playing in England for a number of years.

The SA team also includes world record goalscorer and 2011 World All Stars striker Pietie Coetzee who was rested for the two Four Nations tournaments in Argentina last month, where captain Marsha Marescia’s side reached the gold medal match against world champions Argentina in both events.

Penny has scored seven goals in her last three games for top club Slough in the Investec Women’s Premier League in England and 31 in just over three seasons. She has attracted the attention of the England selectors but Investec SA head coach Giles Bonnet got in first and invited her to the national camp that finished in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The 34 players at national camp have been cut to 24 for world number 12 South Africa’s series against world number 11 Spain and Penny’s combination with Coetzee up front will be watched with interest against a side to whom SA have lost on the last three occasions

The SA team contains four KZN Coastal Raiders players, six from Western Province, two from Free State, four from Northern Blues, four from Southern Gauteng, two from North West, one for Eastern Province and one from an English club.

TEAMS

Investec South Africa: Jade Mayne, Lenise Marais, Kelly Madsen, Cindy Botha (KZN Coastal Raiders), Kate Woods,  Kathleen Taylor, Mariette Rix, Shelley Russell, Illse Davids, Tarryn Bright (WP), Lesle-Ann George, Tanya Britz (Free State), Nicolene Terblanche, Sanani Mangisa, Kim Hubach, Dirkie Chamberlain (Northern Blues), Marsha Marescia (capt), Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, Bernadette Coston, Pietie Coetzee (Southern Gauteng), Celia Evans, Sulette Damons (North West), Liesel Dorothy (EP), Lauren Penny (Slough, England). Head coach: Giles Bonnet.

Spain: Maria Lopez de Eguilaz, Julia Menendez (capt), Rocio Ybarra, Maria Lopez, Andrea Puig, Berta Bonastre, Carlo Petchame, Marta Prat, Paul Dabanch, Barbara Malda, Raquel Huertas, Pilar Sanchez, Anabel Flores, Maria Tost, Lola Riera, Olalla Pineiro, Isabel Barguno, Xantal Gine, Beatriz Perez, Gloria Comerma, Georgina Oliva. Head coach: Salvador Indurain.

SPAIN SERIES

Sunday 15th January - Match 1 / 14:00
Tuesday 17th - Match 2 / 19:00
Thursday 19th  - Match 3 / 19:00
Saturday 21st  - Match 4 / 14:00
Sunday 22nd  - Match 5 / 14:00

SA Hockey Association media release



Australia defeats USA, 1-0


Photo: Wally Nell


CHULA VISTA, CA- The USA Women's National Team fell to the No. 7 world ranked Australian Team this afternoon, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. Despite an even and scoreless match heading into the second half, Australia was able score on USA's goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa) to take the 1-0 victory. With the win, Australia improves to a 1-0-1 record in the series.

Australia's lone goal was scored in the 40th minute by Georgia Nanscawen, after a defensive error coming out of the backfield. Australia took advantage of USA's slip-up and captialized with a shot to the corner of Kintzer's cage.

Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, VA) fired a shot past Australia's keeper on a penalty corner, but the goal was reviewed and disallowed. Kintzer's solid performance in goal earned her Player of the Match.

"I thought we competed very well," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "We didn't handle the ball as well as yesterday, and we were punished by an error coming out of the defense that led to Australia's goal. I am pleased that we were able to elevate our intensity and apply pressure in the last ten minutes of the match. Unfortunately, we saw no return for that pressure. We will continue to expose players to this level of competition as part of our development, adding to the depth of the Olympic Squad."

The series will continue on Tuesday, January 17 at 1pm. The final match of the series will be played on Wednesday, January 18, also at 1pm. Following the conclusion of the series, Australia will travel to Argentina to continue their preparations for the Olympic Games. The USA will remain in Chula Vista, CA until late February, when the team will depart for a Four Nations tournament in Spain.

USFHA media release

 



Seniors salvage some pride

By Jugjet Singh


THE Malaysian seniors salvaged some pride when they beat China 4-2 in the third friendly match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Two more friendlies are slated for tomorrow and Wednesday, and Malaysia need to win both to keep a psychological advantage over China in future tournaments.

Coach Tai Beng Hai's men played much better than the first two defeats, but still muffed sitters and went into the breather trailing the visitors.

The seniors lost the first match 2-1 and the second 4-1 before China were beaten 6-2 by the Project 2013 side on Saturday.

And while the Malaysian seniors enjoyed two rest days, China played back-to-back against Project 2013 and then the seniors yesterday, but were still the more spirited side.

China scored off their first penalty corner in the 26th minute yesterday, and like in the previous two matches, went into the dressing room to plot another win.

However, Malaysia won their third penalty corner in the 47th minute, and this time Amin Rahim made no mistake with a low flick.

China immediately mounted an attack after the restart but were stopped at the top of the Malaysian semi-circle, and a counter saw the ball reach Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin at the China goal and he cooly slotted home a reverse stick in the 50th minute.

And that was the tonic needed for Firhan Ashaari to score the third in the 55th off a goalmouth melee.

Malaysia then got their fourth off a botched penalty corner which was salvaged by defender Razie Rahim with a powerful hit in the 61st minute.

China pulled one back in the 64th minute, but the score stood at 4-2 in favour of Malaysia.

New Straits Times



Malaysia defeat a tired-looking China

By S. RAMAGURU



Where did it go?: Hafifihafiz Hanafi (right) on the ground and looking up to see if he had scored after being tripped by a Chinese defender. Also looking on is midfielder Kelvinder Singh.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia finally beat China in the third friendly match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

But except for the 4-2 scoreline there was nothing to shout about Malaysia’s win.

The Malaysians’ performance was still below par but this time they at least tried hard to win. Three of the goals came from the penalty corner set-piece moves.

Malaysia lost the first two friendlies by 2-1 and 4-1 margins. And yesterday’s victory must have been a great relief especially after coming under fire for their insipid display in the two earlier matches.

On the other hand, the Chinese were probably tired as it was their fourth match here. On Saturday they played against the Project 2013 squad and lost 2-6.

Malaysia again decided to use S. Kumar in goal and rested Roslan Jamaluddin.

Once again, the homesters were slow off the block and laboured to get the ball into the China D despite having more possession of the ball.

They also squandered the two penalty corners that came their way.

It was no surprise that China took the lead when Liu Yi Xian scored from a penalty corner in the 26th minute.

Malaysia were more aggressive when the second half started and tearned their third penalty corner of the match. This time Mohamed Amin Rahim send a low flick which had goalkeeper Su Rifeng beaten all the way in the 47th minute.

Three minutes later Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin finally got into the scoring act with a field goal.

The goal was really inspiring as Malaysia began to dominate play and deservingly scored again through Mohamed Firhan Azhaari in the 55th minute.

The home team went further ahead from another penalty corner with Mohmed Razie Rahim slotting the ball in after taking advantage of the confusion over an injury to a China player.

China scored their second goal in the 64th minute off a Song Yi penalty corner. By then both teams were just going through the paces just waiting for the clock to wind down to end the match.

The final two matches will be played on tomorrow and Wednesday.

The Star of Malaysia



Indian women start on winning note

Ritu Sejwal


NEW DELHI: Returning from a seven-week layoff due to injury, Soundarya showed no sign of rustiness as she helped India beat Azerbaijan 3-0 in the first hockey 'test' at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium on Sunday.

Even as some of her teammates lacked the rhythm required at the highest level, Soundarya came up with an impressive show, first setting up a goal in the 19th minute, which was successfully converted by teammate Anuradha Devi, and then going on to score off a penalty corner in the 51st minute.

In the second half, Azerbaijan came back stronger, but failed to get past the Indian defence. The Indians sealed the match in the 62nd minute when Joydeep Kaur, also back to the squad after nursing an injury, converted a penalty corner.

"The girls had only two weeks of intense training before coming here. Having won the first match, we want to play the same team tomorrow as well to see how the girls are performing in back-to-back matches," coach CR Kumar said.

The Times of India



India eves beat Azerbaijan 3-0 in 1st Test

NEW DELHI: Indian eves' preparation for the next month's Olympic qualifiers kicked off in style as they defeated Azerbaijan 3-0 in the first hockey Test at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, on Sunday.

The hosts, ranked 13th in the world, were by far the dominant side on display and scored through Anuradha Devi (19th minute), Soundarya (51st) and Joydeep Kaur (62nd) to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

The Indians created most of their opportunities from the left-flank with Soundarya and Jasjeet Kaur combining well.

The 15th ranked Azerbaijan side, on the other hand, lacked purpose in their attacks, which were far and few.

As expected, it was the home team which scored first when an unmarked Anuradha tapped in Soundarya's measured pass from the right flank.

The Indians then stepped up the pressure on the Azerbaijan defence which resulted in two penalty corners (22nd minute and 34th) in the first period, but they squandered both to go into the breather with a 1-0 cushion.

The scenario was no different after the change of ends as it was the home which controlled the possession.

India's penalty corner conversion also improved in the second half as they utilised both their set pieces.

India earned their third short corner in the 50th minute and Soundarya made no mistake in deflecting home captain Asunta Lakra's hit.

Joydeep then finished off the scoreline for the home team when she converted India's fourth and final penalty corner, eight minutes from the hooter with a fierce shot to which Azerbaijan goalkeeper Viktoriya had no answer.

The second Test between the two sides will be played on Monday.

Even though India coach C R Kumar was contended with the result of the match, he rued the lack of rhythm and intensity among the girls.

"With the available resources, I am happy with the performance of the team. But we didn't find the expected rhythm," he said after the game.

"In the qualifiers we will play back-to-back matches, so I will field the same team tomorrow to check their stamina and rhythm."

He also informed that keeping in mind the Olympic qualifiers, there will be a trial session for the players on Tuesday ahead of the third Test and it will be witnessed by the national selectors.

The Times of India



India win but lack the finishing touches

Navneet Singh


Indian women blanked Azerbaijan 3-0 in the inaugural Test of the four-match series on Sunday, but the team's basic problem — lack of finishing inside the circle — persisted during the 70 minutes of play. The home team, playing in front of empty stands, missed at least half-a-dozen scoring opportunities in the first half, and an equal number in the second session, indicating a lot needs to be done if these girls aim to achieve the London Olympic berth.

Chief coach CR Kumar admitted to the flaws, saying, “We are working on those issue.”

But he didn't divulge how long it would take to make the forward line more potent. “Some players are coming back from injuries. They will take time to regain peak fitness,” he said.

Despite dominating the contest, the home team took 22 minutes to score its first goal, with Anuradha Devi sounding the boards.

Cashing in on penalty corners

The Indians then cashed in on two penalty-corners in the second half to increase the winning margin. Soundarya converted in the 51st minute, while Joydeep Kaur made no mistake in 62nd minute.

The team will play its second match on Monday.

The men's team will begin its five-match series against South Africa from Monday, and chief coach, Michael Nobbs, exuded confidence, saying, it was a trial to test the skills of the players.

“The players are fit. It would be a good opportunity for the probables to prove their worth,” he said.

The absence of midfielder Gurbaj Singh, who is nursing an injury, wouldn't affect the team strategy, said the coach, adding, “We have a replacement for him.”

Going through their paces

The South Africans went through their paces silently on Sunday, as there were no spectators at the stadium.

Barring a handful of federation officials, empty stands for the women's match and the SA team's practice session, were enough indication that there are few takers for hockey in the country.

Hockey India secretary-general, Narinder Batra, said, he had sent invitations to schools and colleges in the city. "I am surprised no one came," was all he said.

Hindustan Times



India set for South Africa test

Biswajyoti Brahma


NEW DELHI: Beware of a South African backlash. Coach Michael Nobbs must be telling this to his wards when India take on the African champions in a five-match hockey series in the Capital stating from Monday.

The series is important from Nobbs' point of view as it would give him a chance to test his combinations ahead of next month's Olympic qualifiers at the same venue.

However, he would be a little worried as well. When the two sides last met, India had played the spoilsport by denying South Africa a place in the Olympics - by beating them in the Champions Challenge semifinals in Johannesburg last month.

Nobbs would be aware that South Africa would be keen to make amends by winning the series and in the process deal a psychological blow to the hosts ahead of the qualifiers.

The series would also provide Nobbs with a chance to work on some problems that the team was facing. "We have been playing attacking hockey and it's going to remain that way in this series. But when you play this way, you expose the defence a bit. We are working on fixing this problem," the Australian told reporters.

The match will start at five in the evening at the National stadium and entry to the venue is free for spectators.

The Times of India



Indian men take on SA

Principal Correspondent


The Indian men's hockey team, with its focus on next month's Olympic qualifier, will face South Africa in a five-match Test series, starting at the National Stadium here from Monday.

The preparatory series will primarily provide an opportunity to chief coach Michael Nobbs to assess the youngsters toiling hard in the ongoing camp in match situations. It will also present occasions to sort out the areas of concern — the major one being the habit of conceding last minute goals.

The Hindu



India look to test bench strength against SA

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


In the last decade, South Africa have managed to beat an Indian hockey team only once, but it would be irony at its best when the two teams clash at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Monday.

If all would have gone as planned, the Proteas would have been preparing for the London Games at the moment. South Africa beat Egypt 1-0 in the final of the African Olympic qualifier last year, but a last minute "pull-out" by their home Olympic Committee all but dashed their hopes.

"Prove yourself against better opponents," said the SA authorities, forcing the team to give up on their Olympic berth and compete in yet another qualifier. The decision ensured a place for Spain, who were next best on the rankings, at the 2012 Games.

South Africa skipper Austin Smith had a wry smile on his face as he addressed reporters here on Sunday. "It was frustrating.. very frustrating," said Smith. "Our Olympic Committee does not think highly of the level of hockey in Africa and wanted us to beat better opposition, if we were to compete at the Games.

"But I am glad that things are still in our hands. I believe we can do it again when we play the qualifiers in Japan."

For India, the series opens up the opourtunity to test the pool of 31 players before the Olympic qualifiers, besides fine-tuning the glitches.

Said chief coach Michael Nobbs, "Each player will get an equal chance in the series against South Africa. Some players are a certainty (for the qualifiers) but we have to find out who works best with the rest, say in a defence or the forward line.

"It is important to win too and the players will be up to the task."

Defender Rupinderpal Singh and forward Yuvraj Walmiki will miss out on the first three matches as they are still recovering from injuries, while striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi will be benched to ensure he serves out his five-match ban before the February event.

Defence, in particular, is a worry area for the hosts, who have conceded soft goals in their last three tournaments.

Nobbs, however, could not come up with a satisfactory reply when asked about the same. "We have been focusing on attacking hockey, and very often, when you play aggressively, the defence is left exposed.

"We have induced specific drills for defence and will look to tighten it in this one month."

The teams last met in the Champions Challenge in Johannesburg last month, with India emerging the winner on both occasions.

The Asian Age



Nobbs to pick best 18 players for Olympic qualifier from SA series


NEW DELHI: Indian men's hockey team chief coach Michael Nobbs on Sunday said the upcoming five-match Test series against South Africa is "extremely important" as it will provide him the platform to handpick the best 18 players of the country for next month's London Olympic qualifiers.

With eight-time champions India failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nobbs is aware of the enormous task he has undertaken and so he is eyeing the series against South Africa to try out his strategies ahead of the Olympic qualifiers to be held from February 18-26.

"We are eyeing this series as trials to pick the team for the Olympic qualifying tournament. We will try out different combinations, different teams and pick the best team," the Australian told reporters in the pre-match press conference ahead of the first Test against South Africa on Monday.

"This series is extremely important for us because we want to pick the best 18 players for the qualifiers," Nobbs added.

"Everyone is going to get an opportunity in the series against South Africa. We will try out lots of new things in this series."

Asked whether performances in the five-Test series would be the sole criteria for securing a place in the team for the Olympic qualifiers, Nobbs said, "Not necessarily but probably."

Citing the example of Gurbaz Singh, who has been ruled out for the upcoming Test series due to a knee injury which he sustained during the preparatory camp, the coach said the midfielder is too good a player to be ignored if he is fit.

"Gurbaz has got a second degree strain and he needs 3 weeks rest. But I told him whenever he is fit I will bring him. He is a class player," Nobbs said.

He also stressed on the need to tighten up India's defensive line in the series, which has taken a beating under pressure on numerous occasions in the recent past.

"We have changed our style to attacking hockey but when we play attacking hockey it also exposes our defence. It stretches our defence. We have to fix this problem but it will take some time," Nobbs said.

In the world rankings, India (10th) might be placed ahead of South Africa (12th), but Nobbs said the Proteas are too good side to be judged by numbers.

"South Africa are very good side. They have a quality team and they have shown that during the Champions Challenge tournament," he insisted.

"They will also try to hone their skills and pick the best team for their Olympic qualifiers."

Meanwhile, South Africa captain Austin Martin has termed as "frustrating" their National Olympic Committee's decision to withdraw their direct entry from London Olympics even after emerging as champions in the African contingent.

South Africa defeated Egypt 1-0 in the African nations' tournament to qualify for the London Games, but the South African Olympic Committee feels their Continental championship is of below standard, and instead asked the team to go through the qualifiers.

"It was frustrating because I though we have done enough (to play in the Olympics). But it is still very much in our hands. I hope we can do it again," was Smith's reply when asked about the decision of his Olympic committee.

"I agree the competition in Africa is not that strong but it is improving. To beat Egypt in the final was difficult and we give full value to our qualification but unfortunately our Olympic committee things differently."

Smith said the Test series against India is of immense significance for the visitors as they are also eying the matches to prepare for their Olympic qualification tournament to be held Kakamigahara, Japan from April 25 to May 6.

South Africa team's head coach Gregg Clark also agreed with his skipper and said the series would be a great opportunity for him to test his bench strength.

"We are taking the series very seriously. We still need to qualify for the Olympics and it will be an excellent preparation for us," he said.

Asked whether the tourists are looking at the series as a revenge rubber as it was India who beat them in the semi-final of the Champions Challenge I tournament in Johannesburg, Clark said, "We don't see it that way, but obviously there is a lot at stake for both the teams."

Interestingly, the defeat in the semi-final of the Champions Challenge hurt the Proteas badly as it cost them their direct entry in the London Olympics as per the criteria set by the South African Olympic Committee.

The Times of India

 



Would like to join Bollywood: Walmiki

Harpreet Kaur Lamba


It just took one goal to carry Yuvraj Walmiki from the world of obscurity to those of his dreams.

All of 22, debutant striker Walmiki became the toast of the nation when he helped India lift the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy hockey in China last year, beating Pakistan 4-2 in the final.

It brought India their first title triumph in more than a year, and with it, electricity to the Walmiki household.

Based in Mumbai for the 40 years, the Walmikis’ 16x16 shanty on Marine Drive saw many visitors on that day. And even as his mother struggled to gather money to distribute sweets, Walmiki’s reception – more than 2,500 people had gathered to receive the youngster – underlined that he had achieved something special.

The forward is now keen to represent the nation for “at least a decade” and bring many such moments in Indian hockey. The Mumbaite talks about his love for the game, his dream to represent India at the Olympic Games, and acting in a Bollywood movie some day.

Earliest sporting memory: I have never had a TV at my home to watch any sporting action. But Sachin Tendulkar was a regular visitor to the building where I stay. Our home is in a garage place and his car was always parked in front of our home. Thousands of people would gather to see him for a few minutes, and that fascinated me. I used to wonder if I too could become famous by playing a sport.

Sports played: Hockey, cricket, football

Most memorable sporting moment:
When I scored against Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy final

Worst sporting moment: Losing to Belgium in the Champions Challenge final in South Africa

Questions most asked by the public/press: How you feel after getting name and fame?

Sporting heroes: Dhanraj Pillay (hockey) and Yuvraj Singh (cricket)

Favourite venues: Australia, South Africa

Other sport you would pay the most to see:
Football and lawn tennis

What if not a hockey player? I will love, and may be someday even try, to join Bollywood.

Biggest regret: Should have taken job with ONGC when they offered it.

Who would you most like to invite to dinner and why? Yuvraj Singh, because I get inspired by his name. I want the world to know that there is a Yuvraj in hockey too.

Person you learnt most from: My parents

How will you like to be remembered? Goal scorer, a cute and charming boy

Other interests in your life: Want to learn to play guitar

What do you never leave home without? My mother’s kisses and mobile phone

A habit you wish to get rid of:
I don’t like my lean body, wish to get muscles.

Favourite actors: Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif

Any superstition? I don’t believe in them

Funniest fan letter/proposal? There are many girls who send me letters. It is always funny and sweet to read them.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Keep playing for India, winning a medal at the Olympics and want to get into World XI team

What’s the one thing that frightens you most? Love

Sporting motto: Team spirit is everything

The Asian Age



Hockey players wait for award

NEW DELHI: After they had won the Asian Champions Trophy in September last year, national hockey players were promised cash awards by many state governments.

But they are still waiting for the money.

"We don't play for the country for money. But if somebody has promised something, it should be given players," said captain Bharat Chetri.

He recalled that governments of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab had announced cash rewards.

The only award they have got is from the sports ministry which has already distributed Rs 1.5 lakh each of the players.

The Times of India



Players yet to receive cash awards

Principal Correspondent


Indian hockey captain Bharat Chetri said the players were yet to receive the cash awards announced by various state governments following the side's title win in the Asian Champions Trophy last year.

Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh had announced cash awards for the hockey players following their fine performance in the inaugural continental event in September last. “No state has given any money. The team gets demotivated when they promise something and do not give it,” Chetri told reporters on Sunday.

“I feel it was only a publicity stunt because it has been four months since the announcement,” he added.

The Hindu



Loughborough Overhaul St Albans



Loughborough Students overhauled St Albans to finish the weekend at the top of the Maxifuel Super Sixes Men’s Division One.

Doncaster won all four of their games over the weekend and they also jump ahead of St Albans, leaving the Hertfordshire team third in the table.

After starting the weekend badly with a disheartening 8-0 defeat at the hands Bournville followed by a 6-6 draw with Havant, St Albans were hoping to turn things around on the Sunday and started brightly with a 6-1 victory over Brooklands.

This set up the tie of the day with the Hertfordshire side facing a free-scoring Loughborough team. The contest didn’t disappoint with the two sides trading blows in a 12 goal spectacular.

Chris Griffiths opened the scoring in the first minute and Samuel Ward added a second after three minutes. And then after eight minutes, St Albans replied through Glenn Webster.

Loughborough took a 4-2 lead to the break and the game carried on in the same vein in the second period with Griffiths and Ward both going on to score hat-tricks.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first, ending with Loughborough outscoring their rivals 4-2. The match ended 8-4 and saw Loughborough top the table.

In their second match of the day, Loughborough played out a 4-4 draw against fifth-placed Brooklands with Griffiths and Ward among the goals again.

They finished the day with 20 points, three ahead of Doncaster who will be extremely pleased with their work this weekend.

The South Yorkshire side started their Sunday with a 7-3 win over Barford Tigers. True to their name, the Tigers put up a fight in the second half and at the break, it was honours even with a goal apiece.

Tim Shelley had given Doncaster the lead before Ravi Virdi hit the equaliser. But in the second half, Doncaster came out intent on recording all three points and really took the game to Barford.

Although they scored two further goals themselves, Barford couldn’t stop the Yorkshiremen from scoring six, with Tim Shelley getting four.

The table makes for worrying reading for everyone involved with Stourport - they have lost all of their games so far and have a -42 goal difference already.

England Hockey Board Media release



Double win put Univ of Birmingham top


Sophie Bray - Univ of Birmingham


The University of Birmingham managed to win both their Sunday games in the Maxifuel Super Sixes Women’s Division One, leaving them top of the table.

Following on from a win and a draw in yesterday’s fixtures, they took on a struggling Chelmsford side in the first tie of the day and ran out 4-0 winners.

A Laura Bainbridge strike sandwiched between two Sophie Bray goals took the half time score to 3-0 and then just after the break Bray (pictured above) rounded off a fine display with a fourth. Chelmsford are desperately seeking their first point and find themselves rock bottom of the table.

In their other match of the day, they beat Sevenoaks 4-2 and yet again it was Bray who was the catalyst scoring all four in a dazzling three minute period of the first half.

Heather Batten and Sarah Bolton reduced the deficit on the stroke of half time in an attempt to put together a second half comeback for Sevenoaks but it wasn’t to be and they end the weekend sitting seventh in the table.

Olton and West Warwick and Firebrands maintained their push on top spot with maximum points on Sunday and only a goal difference of three separates them with Olton in second and Firebrands in third.

Alexa Thomas, Georgie Field and Sian French provided the firepower to take Firebrands to victory in their encounter against East Grinstead and they went on to win 6-3.

In the division’s final game of the day, Firebrands met Wakefield Bradford who sit fourth in the table, four points below them.

Wakefield Bradford would have been hoping to make a dent in that lead but it was Firebrands who ran out winners in a closely contested affair.

Wakefield’s Danielle O’Neal broke the deadlock in the ninth minute with a goal from open play. But the prolific Georgie Field equalised in the 14th minute and struck again in the 16th to make her team favourites at half time. Firebrands drove home their advantage in the second half as Field hit her third of the game to wrap up the points.

England Hockey Board Media release



Ards take the title in Golden Goal

Hermes had taken a 1-0 lead into half time when McGillp got a delightful touch to McComish pass into the circle in the 13th minute. Ards equalised in the 23rd minute from a second phase PC by Bennett but Hermes were in front again in the 26th minute after some lovely play between Hoban Logan and Orla Patton with the latter finishing to put Hermes 2-1 up. Ards were level when Chloe Brown finished high with 8 minutes left on the clock. Both teams had chances with Hermes best chance w PC on the full time hooter but good defence saved the day for Ards,

The game went into golden goal with both sides going all out for the winner but both goalkeepers were not to be beaten. Ards were awarded a PC on the half time hooter and up stepped Bennett to score the winner and the title to Ards.

Irish Hockey Association media release



TRR retain indoor title


Three Rock experience was the key factor in their 5-1 victory over NICS. They went into half time leading by 4-0 and went 5 up in the 23 minute. NICS worked very hard and were rewarded with a goal of their own through Piestley from the penalty spot in the 25th minute. The goal scorers for Rovers were 2 for Canning and 1 a piece for McConnell, Huet and Phelie Magure,

Irish Hockey Association media release