News for 22 February 2013

All the news for Friday 22 February 2013

Dharamvir Singh shoots India to narrow win over Ireland

Bangladesh close in on top two; China see off Fiji

Stephen Findlater

India edged past Ireland on day three (Photo: Cameraworx)

Men’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013, day three round-up

Ireland – India 2-3 (half-time: 1-1)

Dharamvir Singh’s superb backhand shot handed India a prized win over main men’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013 rivals Ireland to go clear at the top of the group after day three.

It shaded a titanic tussle which saw precious little daylight between the sides throughout. The hosts hit their stride earlier in the tie and, from their fourth penalty corner, Rupinder Pal Singh found the bottom corner. Ireland steadied, though, and were back on terms in the 27th minute. It was an unorthodox move as the ball was slipped left to Conor Harte who turned on his left and slotted home for parity which lasted until the second half.

India started the second half in the ascendancy and retook the lead from VR Raghunath’s ripper of a drag-flick, picking out the glove side this time. The pendulum swung once more back Ireland’s way and a very nice transfer out to the left to Eugene Magee opened up the space for him to fire home from a narrow angle.

That came with 20 minutes remaining and plenty of chances for either side to win it. Ireland’s chances were mainly from the corners but India’s speed on the counter-attack was a sight to behold and the clincher came with 14 minutes left. Mandeep Singh was cut loose down the left and he picked out Dharamvir Singh at the top of the circle from where he found a route through David Harte. There were more chances to make the game safe but the towering goalkeeper stood tall to keep out Danish Mujtaba and SV Sunil while PR Sreejesh denied Magee’s drive.

In a nerve-wracking denouement, Ireland won three penalty corners in the closing two minutes but none yielded a goal and so they now sit second in the table, level with China and Bangladesh while India are three points clear.

Fiji – China 1-4 (half-time: 0-1)

Fiji put in a huge defensive performance to give China, ranked 51 places above them, a huge fright before the world number 19 side eventually prevailed. They scored two penalty corners in the last 11 minutes to get out of a sticky situation on day three of the men’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013.

After two double-fugure defeats, Adrian Smith’s diving touch garnered the Pacific islanders their first goal of the competition, making it 1-2 in the 55th minute to have the side dreaming of a potential draw. But flicks from Mi Ji and Tao Li eased China’s nerves and saw them claim their second win of the campaign having seen off Oman on day one. They hit the front 13 minutes in when they evaded three loose baseline tackles and Yanjun Su pounced on the loose ball for his second goal of the tournament, lifting over Eric Niumata.

Fiji, though, had shown they were ready for the fight, Leevan Dutta pumping an effort into the sideboard while they also earned a pair of penalty corners. China, though, were controlling most of the ball but got few shots off from play.

Su doubled their lead from a 37th minute corner – their fourth of the game – but it was cancelled out when Fiji worked a clever switch left to Fabiano Rupeni and he reverted the ball back to player of the match Smith to guide home. China settled, though, won a couple of late set pieces and saw the win home.

Bangladesh – Oman 4-1 (half-time: 0-0)

High on confidence from their victory over China, Bangladesh notched their second win of the men’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013 in Delhi with a sterling second half show against Oman. Chances were scarce in the first half with neither side able to break the deadlock.

But Bangladesh wasted little time in the second period, twin strikers Rashel Mahmud and Puskor Khisa combining once again. The former arrowed a reverse-stick cross into the latter’s path and he added the necessary touch. Sheikh Md Nannu slammed in the second whilst moving away from goal, a sweet back foot shot in the 51st minute while Rashel Mahmud extended the lead to three with a drag-flick.

On the swivel, Oman’s Anwar Juman Saad pulled one back with five minutes to go from a corner move but Bangladesh warded off any revivial hopes when Mahmud’s sharp volley rebounded for Mohammad Moinul Islam to tap in.

FIH site

Russia steal point from Japan as India go top

Top seeds leave it late to salvage result; Malaysia back in the mix

Stephen Findlater

Russia pushed Japan all the way on day three in Delhi (Photo: Cameraworx)

Women’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013, day three round-up

Russia – Japan 1-1 (half-time: 1-0), Japan claim winning draw 3-2 on penalties

Russia came within 45 seconds of a famous win over world number nine side Japan only for Sachimi Iwao to nick in a dainty deflection to Aki Mitsuhashi’s free to tie up matters in the final minute of this Hero Hockey World League Round Two tie.

To compile the Russian woes, Japan earned the bonus point with a winning draw, Rika Komazawa coolly out-thinking Oxana Serezhkina for the vital goal in a 3-2 shoot-out success.

It salvaged a tricky situation for the tournament top seeds who fell behind to a brilliant Tamara Ivanova effort, twisting and turning in the circle before unleashing an unstoppable rising backhand shot. From there, the Russians defended robustly and kept out six penalty corners while Serezhkina made a number of fine saves.

The pick of them came from Kaya Fukano’s high shot, palming the ball dramatically away to safety. It looked like they were on course for victory that would have opened up the group entirely until the last minute when Mitsuhashi picked out Iwao to break their hearts.

In the shoot-out, the sides were neck-and-neck until the fifth round, both scoring in the first and third rounds and missing in the second and fourth series, leaving it locked at 2-2.

But Komazawa’s tight skills eventually put the Russian goalkeeper off balance and she slotted in. Ivanova could not match the feat as Ryoko Oie dived to sweep the ball to safety and a welcome bonus.

Malaysia – Kazakhstan 3-1 (Half-time: 3-0)

A first half blitz from Malaysia saw them get their Hero Hockey World League Round Two hopes back on track as they saw off Kazakhstan to move closer to the top of the table.

For the Kazakhs, they had late joy when Vera Domashinova scored their first goal of the tournament, sparking the loudest cheer of the game in the 68th minute. But, by that stage, Malaysia had the game wrapped up as they built a 3-0 half-time lead.

Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani scored from a penalty corner in the fourth minute and a further two goals in a six minute spell just before the interval set them on the road to success. Norhasikin Halim doubled the advantage while Nor Azlin Sumantri netted a classy third, racing through down the right and sliding the ball under Guzal Bakhavaddin.

The second half was more even with Kazakhstan coming back into the tie with Guinara Imangaliyeva and Natalya Gataulina going close but Malaysia were always in control bar the late concession.

Fiji – India 0-10 (half-time: 0-4)

India shot to the top of the women’s Hero Hockey World League Round Two 2013 group in Delhi with a comprehensive victory over Fiji, moving a point clear of top seeds Japan in the rankings.

It was a well judged performance, not conceding a single shot in the tie while they earned a series of penalty corners to create the chances despite a packed circle in the first half.  From this avenue, Soundraya Yendala cracked home a switch-right in the seventh minute from their third corner.

Namita Toppo added the next with a powerful hit before Roselin Dung Dung got the first goal from play with a near post touch. Rani scrambled in a fourth before the half time break and they scarcely slowed the tempo in the second period.

It was 5-0 soon after the sides resumed via Navjot Kaur and it was six from a peach of a team move, created down the right baseline and finished off once more by Dung Dung. Jaspreet Kaur added a set piece double, one from a penalty stroke, the other a corner, got her second and Chanchan Devi Thokchom was another to get on the score sheet.

For her efforts in keeping the score down, Fiji goalkeeper Susana Mudunatagi was awarded the player of the match award.

It was 5-0 soon after the sides resumed and six from a peach of a team move, created down the right baseline and finished off once more by Dung Dung. Jaspreet Kaur added a set piece double, one from a penalty stroke, the other a corner, got her second and Chanchan Devi Thokchom was another to get on the score sheet.

FIH site

India struggles to beat Ireland

s2h team

The hosts India took lead twice only to surrender and then Dharamvir Singh latched on to a minus pass from Mandeep Singh to provide India the third goal that stood test of time for India to garner full points in what was billed as the final of the 6-Nation Hockey World League Round 2 in India today on Thursday.

The 15th ranked Ireland proved a tough nut to crack for India, and almost came to equalizing again but for some poor penalty corner finish in the last five minutes of the game.

Rupinder Pal struck in the 16th minute after India wasting a couple of penalty corner. Ireland's Connor Harte annulled in 11 minutes later.

India again took the lead, again through penalty corner off the stick of Raghunath in the 39th minute.

Ireland did not take it, went on full stream which game them full dividends when Eugene Magee, the most experienced of the Irish lot, connected a cross to bring the score on par.

Even as the Irish seemed to cruise along a draw, Dharamvir stunned the otherwise inform goalie David Harte, hitting from the edge of the circle, after Mandeep did all the spadework.

India now tops the table with 9 points, third win in as many as points.

Olympian Dharamvir Singh was adjudged the Best Player of the Match.

India overcomes Irish challenge

Y. B. Sarangi

Ecstatic: Dharamveer Singh celebrates after scoring the winner. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

India overcame some nerve-wracking moments and a stiff Irish challenge to post a 3-2 win in the second round men’s competition of the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) at the National Stadium here on Thursday.

With its third victory on the trot, the home team remained seated at the top of the table with nine points. The 15th-ranked Ireland, placed four slots below the host, was static at the second position with six points.

Tipped as the best match of the event, the India-Ireland clash had all the ingredients of a quality entertainer. Ireland unleashed its physical, fast-paced and well-coordinated game to test India’s resilience.

Led by the superb Sardar Singh, the home team replied with equal intensity to win back possessions and craft several raids.

India garnered five penalty corners in the first-half and scored off the fourth one to open its account in the 15th minute. Rupinderpal Singh launched a grounder to defeat rival goalkeeper David Harte.

The Irish team, which hardly gave a loose pass, applied pressure in the later half of the opening period to earn three short corners in quick succession. Conor Harte scored the equalizer with a reverse flick following a variation off the team’s third penalty corner.

The host attacked with renewed vigour after the change of ends and restored its lead within four minutes. V.R. Raghunath had no problem in hitting the target from India’s first penalty corner after the break.

However, Ireland again levelled the scores amid some quick exchange of attacks. An unchallenged Eugene Magee’s reverse hit from the left stunned the Indian defence in the 51st minute.

The home side answered back with a fine goal from Dharamvir Singh. Teenager Mandeep Singh took the ball into the circle and overcame an Irishman to release it for Dharamvir to finish off the move.

India showed signs of nerve in the closing moments to concede three penalty corners, including two in the last two minutes. However, it managed to ward off the Irish threat and prevented the match from going into the penalty shootout.

The results: China 4 (Yanjun Su 13, 37, Mi Ji 60, Tao Li 69) bt Fiji 1 (Adrian Smith 55); Bangladesh 4 (Pushkor Khisa 38, Sheikh Mohd. Nannu 51, Mahmud Rashel 60, Mohd. Moinul Islam 68) bt Oman 1 (Anwar Saad Jumman 65); India 3 (Rupinderpal Singh 16, V.R. Raghunath 39, Dharamvir Singh 56) bt Ireland 2 (Conor Harte 27, Eugene Magee 51).

The Hindu

Gritty Ireland make Indians struggle

By Ritu Sejwal

NEW DELHI: The Indian men were stretched to the limit and they struggled to overcome a fighting Ireland 3-2 in their Hero Hockey World League match at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Rupinder Pal Singh, 'man of the match' Dharamvir Singh and VR Raghunath were the scorers for India while Eugene Magee and Conor Harte scored for Ireland.

Ireland played a compact game, denying the men in blue early success. It took India 15 minutes to breach the Irish defence when Rupinder scored through a penalty corner.

Ireland hit back to earn three penalty corners in succession and equalised when Harte converted the third PC.

Both teams returned stronger in the second half and it was India who edged ahead when Raghunath converted a penalty corner. The hosts could have gone scored another soon as captain Sardar Singh launched a counter-attack but the forwards failed to capitalise.

It was a midfield tussle for possession from there on and Ireland once again equalised as Magee caught the Indian defence napping.

Stung, the Indians stepped up the attacks and found the lead once again (56th minute). Young Mandeep Singh dribbled his way into the Irish circle and found Dharamvir who slammed it home. Minutes later SV Sunil got past three and shot at the goal but was denied by the goalkeeper.

Ireland forced three penalty corners in the dying minutes but failed to make them count. "We should have scored more. Ireland play a set pattern. We need to work on our finishing," India coach Michael Nobbs said.

China beat Fiji 4-1 while Bangladesh defeated Oman 4-1.

Women blank Fiji 10-0

Indian women blanked a much lower-ranked Fiji 10-0 in their second round match. The Indians scored in the seventh minute when Soundarya Yendala deflected home a penalty corner. After that, goals kept coming regularly. Rani Rampal (22nd, 61st minute), Roselin Dung Dung (15th, 45th) and Jaspreet Kaur (59th, 69th) scored two goals each while Namita Toppo, Chanchan Devi and Navjot Kaur added a goal each.

India next face Japan.

The Times of India

Ireland lose out in epic battle with India

Ireland Men's Hockey Team were involved in a thrilling game today in New Delhi which sadly saw Andrew Meredith's side beaten 3-2 by hosts India at World League 2. The Green Machine clawed themselves back into the game twice in both halves but it wasn't enough to shade the close fought encounter against an experienced Indian team.

The game started at blistering pace, the quickest seen at this World League 2 tournament to date, with India in particular looking dangerous in the early encounters and forcing a number of early penalty corners. In the 16th minute, the hosts managed to get their noses in front when Rupinder finally converted India's 4th penalty corner of the game. Ireland fought back strongly in the first half to try to regain a foot hold in the game but were always weary of the quick counter attacks of India. The Green Machine finally got on level terms themselves though in the 26th minute following good work from Magee & Carson to win successive penalty corners before Ireland's Conor Harte swept home a majestic equaliser. With the tide slowly changing in Ireland's favour and the two sides now sharing possession equally the half time hooter quickly sounded with the teams locked at 1-1.

The second half began as frantic as the first half with both sides going close with early chances. India again proved deadly from penalty corner situations as Raghunath stuck expertly past David Harte in the Irish goal to re-establish the lead for the hosts as early as the 5th minute of the second half. Less than a minute from conceding, Ireland Goalkeeper David Harte was called into action yet again to make a vital save to keep Ireland handing on to the Indian coat tails.

The Green Machine have strong resolve though and once again forced themselves back into contention when Ireland's record caps holder Eugene Magee converted a penalty corner to level the game up again at 2-2 in the 50th minute. The stage was set for an end to end frantic finish and both sides didn't disappoint the biggest crowd of the tournament to date.

India for the 3rd time edged in front when a great counter attacking move was finished off by Dharamvir Singh in the 58th minute to make it 3-2. There were half chances for both sides in the remaining 12 minutes of play but it was right at the death when it appeared Ireland might have been able to force a 3rd equalizer and send the game to penalty stokes. With seconds remaining on the clock, first Conor Harte and then Shane O'Donohue had chances to convert Ireland's last two penalty corners of the game but sadly neither effort could find the target.

And so it finished 3-2 to hosts India despite a spirited & skillful Ireland performance for the large majority of the game. Ireland will now have a day to recover before returning to action vs. Oman on Saturday before the likely crunch game vs. China on Sunday in the race to finish 2nd in the group. Ireland currently sit second in the table, level with China and Bangladesh while India are three points clear.

Speaking after the game, Ireland coach Andrew Meredith told "It was a massive game for us, and you could see that from the effort, commitment and self-belief shown by the players on the field. We wanted the 3 points today, we worked to capacity, and we created enough opportunities to tie the game up if not win it

Meredith continued ‘ India started the game better than us, although we did not play poorly, but they certainly had the better initial 12 minutes. I thought we then adjusted pretty well, and had some very long periods were we managed and controlled the game. After conceding  a couple of corners that were generated through lapses in concentration early in the game, the series of 3 offensive corners in the last 4 minutes became the critical phase, which we were not able to convert on, and that is what ultimately cost us the points today.'

WORLD LEAGUE 2, New Delhi, India

Ireland 2
(Conor Harte, Eugene Magee)
India 3 (Rupinder, Raghunath, Dharamvir Singh)

Irish Hockey Association media release

Lacklustre India prevail over Ireland 3-2 in Hockey World League

NEW DELHI: A lacklustre India had to sweat it out before pipping Ireland 3-2 for their third consecutive win in the men's competition of the Hero Hockey World League at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Thursday.

The Indians had to go through some anxious moments in the final minutes of the game to register the win, which consolidated their position at the top of the standings with nine points from three victories.

Rupinder Pal Singh (16th minute) and vice-captain V R Raghunath (39th) converted two penalty corners for India, but it was striker Dharamvir Singh, who scored the all-important winner for the hosts in the 56th minute of the game.

For the Irishmen, Conor Harte (27th) and Eugene Magee (51st) were the goal-getters.

The Indians were nowhere close to their best as they lacked in coordination and looked tired even as the Irishmen showcased fine exhibition in defending.

The Indians dominated the early share of exchanges and pressed hard for goals from the onset, only to be denied by a stubborn Irish backline.

The Indians were also not upto the mark with their penalty corner conversion rate as they could utilise just two out of the six set pieces they earned in the game.

It took India 16 minutes and four penalty corners to break the deadlock when Rupinder beat the Irish goalkeeper David Harte with a powerful low flick.

The Irishmen, however, drew parity 11 minutes later, from their third penalty corner, which they earned in quick succession. Conor scored with a reverse hit after the visitors went for variation.

With the scoreline locked at 1-1, the Indians came out all guns blazing after the change of ends, mounting numerous raids into the rival citadel, which though were thwarted by an alert Irish defence.

After missing three penalty corners, ace drag-flicker Raghunath finally came to the party, converting India's sixth and final set piece just four minutes into the second half.

But the Indians were once again in for a shock as Ireland equalised in the 51st minute, much to the disappointment of the sparse crowd present at the stadium.

Dharamvir saved the day for his side and ensured full point from the game when he scored with a reverse hit from top of the D after he was brilliantly set up by Mandeep Singh.

Thereafter, the Irishmen went all out in search of the equaliser and gave India a few scares when they earned three penalty corners in succession in the final minute of the game. They, though, wasted all, much to the relief of the home team.

After a much-needed rest on Friday, India will play China on Saturday, while the second-placed Irishmen will be up against lowly Oman.

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs lamented his forwards' inability to score more goals against Ireland.

"We should have scored more goals today because we got plenty of opportunities. We knew Ireland would give us tough fight as they are a top ranked team and most of their players either play in the Dutch or German league," he said.

"We have to be cautious against China because they are an unpredictable side," Nobbs said.

The Times of India

Indian women win, but glitches remain

Fiji goalkeeper is ‘Player of the Match’

Uthra Ganesan

BIG WIN: India managed to beat Fiji 10-0 despite a patchy performance, to win its third match in a row.

The Fijian teams have been the favourite punching bags in the Hockey World League round two here.

Though the Indian women managed to score a 10-0 win over the 59th ranked team for their third victory on the trot, the hosts were patchy in their game.

It wasn’t the opposition that created problems for India, but its own inconsistency. India earned 13 penalty corners and wasted 10.

Two of them were not even stopped. Two more were disallowed, and a field goal, too, was cancelled.

The ball entered the Indian half for the first time in the 30th minute, and the Indian striking circle in the 35th, so the Indian defence was hardly tested.

But the Indian forward line certainly was.

Fiji was able to fend off a dozen scoring chances; its goalkeeper brought off half a dozen on her own, and even though its inexperience leaked goals, it was not entirely humiliated.

No wonder, goalkeeper Susana Mudunatagi was named the Player of the Match despite her team’s loss.

India next plays Japan and Russia, the strongest teams in the fray besides the host.

India will need to raise its game in the remaining matches if it hopes to advance to the next round.

In other matches of the day, 33-ranked Kazakhstan scored its first goal in the tournament but lost 1-3 to Malaysia, while ninth-ranked Japan beat Russia 3-2 via penalty strokes after being tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.

The results:

India 10 (Soundarya Yendala, Namita Toppo, Roselin Dung Dung 2, Rani Rampal 2, Navjot Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur 2, Chanchan Devi) bt Fiji 0; Malaysia 3 (Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani, Norhasikin Halim, Nor Azlin Sumantri) bt Kazakhstan 1 (Vera Domashneva); Japan 4-3 Russia on penalties.

The Hindu

Indian women demolish lowly Fiji 10-0 in Hockey World League

NEW DELHI: It rained goals as Indian women mauled minnows Fiji 10-0 to register their third consecutive win in the women's competition of the Hero Hockey World League on Thursday.

Unlike their last match against Malaysia, the Indians looked more organised and purposeful today at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Roselin Dung Dung (15th minute, 45th), Rani Rampal (22nd, 61st) and Jaspreet Kaur (59th, 69th) scored two goals apiece, while Soundarya Yendala (7th), Namita Toppo (11th), Navjot Kaur (38th) and Chanchan Devi (66th) sounded the board once each for the 12th ranked Indians.

As the rankings suggest, the 59th ranked Fiji girls turned out to be a complete mismatch for the home team that took control of the proceedings from the word go, and enjoyed it throughout the entire duration of 70 minutes.

Such was India's domination that they pumped in as many as four goals in the first 22 minutes as the Fijians found it difficult to stop the home team's continuous onslaught.

After the change of ends, India scored six more goals, four of which came in the last 11 minutes of the game, to register a convincing victory.

The Indians displayed coordinated and structured hockey as they managed to score as many as six goals through field efforts, while the remaining three strikes came of penalty corners and one of the penalty stroke was converted by Jaspreet in the 59th minute.

The Indian eves had defeated Kazakhstan 8-0 and Malaysia 3-0 in their first two games.

By virtue of three straight wins, India lead the standings with nine points, a point above higher-ranked Japan, who are placed second.

A tough encounter awaits Indian women on Friday as they take on the ninth ranked Japan in a decisive match.

India coach Neil Hawgood was visibly satisfied with his wards' performance after their ordinary show against Malaysia in the previous game.

"We have improved quite a lot from the last game, but we need to do more hard work. We took today's match as a preparation for the big game against Japan tomorrow," he said.

In the day's other matches in the women's competition, ninth ranked Japan edged out lowly Russia 3-2 via tie-breaker after both the teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time, while Malaysia defeated Kazakhstan 3-1.

The Times of India

Smith not happy with umpires

Mereseini Marau In New Delhi, India

The Fiji team in action during their game against India. Picture: PENI TOTOKA

ADRIAN Smith's style of hockey has been very impressive that even the Irish coach Andrew Meredith made a special mention about it at the Hero Hockey World League Round 2.

Smith has been one of the outstanding players in the team so far.

"He's been exceptional," said Meredith.

"He played a very good game and so are some of the other players."

National coach Hector Smith Sr said his younger son Adrian and John Ah Tong played their best game.

"The rest of the boys did play very well too even though we were losing," he said.

Smith Jr attributed his top form to the exposure he had while playing hockey for a season in New Zealand.

Smith played for the Auckland Indians and joined the national team for training right after they played the finals in New Zealand.

"We played a good game and I thank my teammates for outstanding performance," he said.

While they did not agree with the style of umpiring in their match against Ireland, Smith said they enjoyed that game and hoped they would do better in their game against China and their remaining matches.

The Fiji Times

War dance before a game of hockey? It's true

Jaspreet Sahni

"It's spelled see eye bee eye (Cibi), but pronounced thimbi." I erred, "Cibi?" and was quickly corrected. "No, no! Thimbi," he stressed and then schooled me again - until my phonetics satisfied him.

Hector Smith, the captain of the Fiji hockey team, merrily told me about the war dance his team performs before every match. His team had just been hammered 13-0 by Ireland, but he wasn't flustered. "This is big learning experience for Fiji," he said, before continuing to talk about Cibi.

"It's a tradition in Fiji - before you go for any sort of test or competition. It's meant to motivate and get you ready for a fight," Smith said of the war dance, as he stood shoulder to shoulder besides his father, Hector Smith. The father and son share the same name.

"But we don't seek any divine help by doing this," Smith Sr put my next question to rest before I could ask. "We believe in improving our skills and play attacking hockey." 16-0 and 13-0. Surely they don't defend, just attack.

Cibi has made more headlines than anything else Fiji have done in the FIH World League at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium so far. "It has definitely lifted our spirits since we started doing this," Smith Jr stoned the silence.

My next question, after an "Okay."

"Since when are you doing this?" (The original version of Cibi has been performed by the Fiji rugby team since 1939.)

"We were taught this in 2005. One of the Fiji basketball players came and taught this to us," Smith Jr replied, but didn't know the name of the player. "Coach, do you know who taught this to your boys?" I turned to Smith Sr. "No, I can't recall." Case closed.

"It's unfortunate we haven't been able to convert the few chances we have got. But we strive to keep improving," Very few chances, Smith Sr should have said. But he was successful in diverting my attention from Cibi to hockey.

We continued.

"So is it just you two in the Smith family who play hockey?" This time Smith Jr stepped forward to reply. "No. My brother Alsace Smith is in the team as well and my mother Senimili Smith is the manager of the team." I doubled up as a fan now.

"Father, mother and their two sons part of the same team. That's unheard of," I addressed Smith Sr in a state of surprise. "No, my daughter too plays for the women's national team. But had to take a break from this event as she is pregnant." Make that five.

"I started playing hockey with a mangrove stick and some fruit as a ball." Surely I had strummed Smith Sr's nostalgic chord. "Then when I had kids, I taught them as well. Then my wife got involved and became interested in the game's administrative arm," he went on.

Cibi, pronounced thimbi, was left behind and the Smiths had taken over.

IBNLive Sports

Malaysia down Kazakhstan

THE Malaysian women beat Kazakhstan 3-1 to keep their hopes alive in Round Two of the World Hockey League in New Delhi, India, yesterday.

Malaysia had started the tournament by beating Russia also 3-1, but then went down 3-0 to favourites India.

The win yesterday was made possible with goals from Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani (fourth), Norhasikin Halim (27th) and Nor Azlin Sumantri (33rd). The Kazakhstan goal was scored by Verain Domashneva the 68th minute.

Today, Nasihin Nubli's charges play Fiji, where they are almost assured of three points, making the match against Japan on Sunday the decider for Malaysia.

New Straits Times

Malaysia down Kazakhstan to keep semis hopes alive


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women’s hockey team kept alive their slim hopes of a place in the semi-finals of the World League with a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi yesterday.

It was Malaysia’s second win, giving them six points from three matches. They upset Russia (3-1) before losing to hosts India (3-0).

Malaysia have two more matches remaining against winless Fiji today and top seeds Japan on Sunday. They have to win both matches if they harbour any hopes of finishing in the top two to qualify for the semi-finals of the World League in June or July.

Malaysia, ranked 22nd in the world, went for the jugular against Kazakhstan and were rewarded as early as the fourth minute through a penalty corner goal by Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani. Two more goals by Norhasikin Halim (27th) and Nor Azlin Sumantri (33rd) gave Malaysia a comfortable 3-0 half-time lead.

After the breather, Malaysia kept up the pressure but failed to increase the lead. Kazakhstan, ranked 33rd in the world, managed to score a consolation goal through Vera Domashneva in the 68th minute.

National coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli was not too pleased with his team’s performance despite the win.

“We missed too many sitters. Our forwards need to be more accurate once they are in the semi-circle. I hope that they will score more goals against Fiji tomorrow,” said Nasihin in a telephone interview.

Japan lead the standings after beating Russia 3-2 in a penalty shooutout for their third consecutive win. Both teams battled to a 1-1 deadlock in regulation time.

The Star of Malaysia

`Bob' comes into own as senior

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

New Delhi: In the last two years, drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh has bided his time on the sidelines. With senior penalty corner specialists Sandeep Singh and V.R.Raghunath doing well for India and almost a certainty in the playing XI, the 6 feet 4 inch tall Rupinderpal did all he could to brush up his skills — both in defence and on drag-flicks.

In between, he made the most of whatever chances that came his way.

“That was a learning period for me. Sandeep has always been the country’s best and I have learnt a lot from him,” says Rupinderpal, who was drafted as a regular member following Sandeep’s below par show at the 2012 London Games.

That the two have always been close friends did not affect their on-field competition. “I am enjoying my new role. It is good when people place their trust in you and you prove them right. Now, everyone looks up to me as a senior defender in the national team and expectations are high.

“Sandeep might not be there in the team right now, but he can always be back. For me, that is a positive and keeps me motivated. I know everyone is watching how I will fare in his absence and it could decide my future,” said the Faridkot based Rupinderpal, known as ‘Bob’ to team mates and family.

“But rather than worry about it, I plan to be positive and give my best.” In the last few years, India have seen dependable drag-flickers in the form of Sandeep and Raghunath, but the performance has never been backed by solid defensive work.

“True,” said Rupinderpal.

“One has to be a complete player in modern hockey and the defence bit cannot be overlooked.

“For me, that is my-single minded focus. Defence is one part of the game that I am working hard on and take regular advice from (former India player) Jugraj Singh on penalty corner variations and tricks,” said the 22-year old who was named the man of the match in India’s 16-0 rout of Fiji in their opening match of World League Round 2 here on Monday.

Cash awards for Hockey World League's top players

NEW DELHI: Title sponsor of the Hockey World league Round II, Hero MotoCorp, today announced cash awards for the Player of the Tournament and top-scorer of the event, for both men and women.

"The Hero Player of the Tournament will be awarded Rs 2,00,000 and the Hero Top Scorer will receive Rs 1,00,000," the organisers said in a statement.

The tournament is currently being held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and will conclude on February 24.

Participating teams:

Men: India, Ireland, Bangladesh, China, Oman, Fiji

Women: India, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Fiji.

The Times of India

Parnham selects team to compete in Brazil for World League Round 2

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach, Craig Parnham, set to make debut with Team USA

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Craig Parnham today announced the 18-player roster that will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament, March 4-10. Among the group of selected players are nine 2012 U.S. Olympians, including, Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Claire Laubach (Centreville, Va.), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.) and sister Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.).

Parnham, who was appointed head coach of the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team in January, will be coaching in his first tournament with Team USA. Over the last several weeks, Parnham reviewed and evaluated the majority of athletes in the national program at two training camps held at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Cali. and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. The training camp on the east coast, held late last week, afforded players with college commitments the opportunity to meet and train under Parnham prior to selection.

“I made a deliberate and conscious effort to see all the players in the program, and now that process is complete, I believe we have selected the right squad to represent the U.S. at World League Round 2,” said Parnham.

As the No. 10 ranked team in the world, the U.S. received an automatic entry into World League Round 2. The top two teams from World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will automatically advance to World League Round 3 and become one step closer to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

The six team round robin tournament features No. 18 Chile, No. 19 Scotland, No. 27 Trinidad & Tobago, No. 50 Uruguay and No. 55 Brazil. As the top ranked team, the U.S. could consider themselves positioned as favorites to advance to World League 3. However, Parnham is aware that in a tournament environment nothing is guaranteed and that performance will need to precede results. Team USA will face host nation Brazil in the opening match on March 4, followed by Uruguay. Next up the U.S. will face Scotland and Chile before closing out the tournament against Trinidad and Tobago on March 10.

“Brazil is a little bit of an unknown to us, but they have recently invested in coaching to position themselves for Olympic participation in 2016,” Parnham said. “Uruguay has had good results and close matches against Argentina in recent months which would suggest their playing style allows them to compete with some of the best teams in the world. Trinidad and Tobago have some talented players and Chile and Scotland are both experienced teams who will come in to the tournament with a good amount of preparation. Each team will provide challenges in different areas.”

Two athletes, Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) and Emily Wold (Freehold, N.J.), will look to earn their first cap with the national team, while two-time Olympian and national team veteran, Dawson, hopes to record her 200th cap, a milestone achieved by only a handful of U.S. field hockey athletes.

The goal is to qualify for the next stage of the World League tournament – Round 3 to be held in June 2013. Team USA’s world ranking would suggest advancement to World League Round 3, however, Parnham, in his infancy with Team USA, recognizes there will be kinks to work out and challenges to overcome.

“It would be a nice start for us to get up and running quickly and come away from Brazil having had a successful tournament and qualified for the next stage. However, should it not work out, there will be other opportunities for us to qualify for the World Cup,” Parnham said. 

For more information on World League Round 2, including schedule, results, news and more, visit the World League Round 2 event page on Join the conversation @USAFieldHockey #World_League2.

U.S. Women’s World League Round 2 roster: Torrie Albini (Escondido, Cali.), Megan Beamesderfer, Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa.), Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa.), Claire Laubach (Centreville, Va.), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Lauren Pfeiffer (Mt. Laurel, N.J.), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Alesha Widdal (Whitney Point, N.Y.), Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.), Emily Wold (Freehold, N.J.)

USFHA media release

Leandro Negre: “Will talk to IHF only with conditions hereafter

FIH President Leandro Negre is obviously frustrated over the fact that the tussle between two factions of Indian hockey eludes a compromise despite he is talking to IHF on freewheeling type on several times. Hereafter, he says, will engage into dialogue with the IHF only on certain conditions. The visiting dignitary talks freely on many other issues with Shashank Gupta.

“We want to have tournaments in cities other than capital of the country,” said FIH President Leanrdo Negre, in an exclusive chat with Emphasizing that the decision resides with Hockey India, Negre told this website that whenever you hold a sport outside the capital city that is when you build the spectator base for that game.

“This is true for any game, any country. This is what we advised Hockey India. For example, holding an international tournament in Chandigarh will be fantastic and the number of spectators will surely increase,” he asserted.

Visully delighted on witnessing the minnows Fiji scoring a goal in the ongoing Hero Hockey World League Round 2 – this was 71-ranked Fiji’s first goal in the tournament – Negre made his point:

“That is how Hockey gets promoted. This goal will have a lot of importance for Fijian fans, back in Fiji. It doesn’t matter if spectators are not there but we have to open the door to everyone to make it to the higher levels. In this tournament, everyone can start from the beginning.”

Talking about the tussle between Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), the FIH President seemed to be running out of time and patience.

“This is my 16th visit to India and I have met officials from IHF each time. At times we were close, we made a number of proposals and it’s a pity that there is no will from their side to solve any topic. When you don’t have a will, you don’t move forward. It’s only a personal ego battle between them.”

Even further, he candidly confessed: “Yes, I can be frustrated but that’s a part of my responsibility. But I don’t feel obligated to talk to them anymore. From here onwards, but there will be some conditions to talk,” said Negre sending out a tuft message to the out-of-power federation (IHF).

“Their position is becoming weaker by the day and the progress of Hockey in India isn’t helping them either. From our side, it’s clear: FIH’s future is with Hockey India,” told the Spaniard maintaining FIH’s position on this issue.

On the topic of Field Hockey being considered to be dropped from 2020 Olympics Games, Negre said, “We were surprised, definitely. If you would have seen the response that Field Hockey got at the 2012 London Olympics, then it can’t be like this. But, it has a few positive things too. We (the Hockey fraternity) need to stay awake and can’t be too sleepy. You always have the possibility to improve.”

It is apparent that Negre shares an excellent relationship with NarinderBatra, the Secretary-General of Hockey India. “We are in full appreciation of Mr. Batra’s work. He has done a fantastic job. It’s because of him Hockey in India has come to this level. We (both) have been talking for a while now about Club Hockey World Cup. In this, may be the top two teams of the Hockey India League will participate.”

Negre also hinted that apart from Junior World Cup (Men) in the end of 2013, followed by subsequent round of Hockey World League, there will be more tournaments in India.

“For us, apart from Holland which is the main focus for both Men and Women’s tournaments, India is the focus for Men’s tournament and Argentina for Women. We will be allocating our best tournaments to these countries,” revealed Negre, clearly pointing out that Indian Hockey fans will have much to cheer in the years to come.

What's the need of a foreign coach: Ajit Pal

By Amit Sampat

NAGPUR: On the field, he has spent over 35 years and off the field after retirement, he is still an active official. Having spent his entire life for the national game, Ajit Pal Singh, who led India to their only World Cup Hockey Championship triumph in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur, has seen many ups and downs that Indian hockey has gone through.

On a day-long visit to the Orange City, the former Olympian analyzed the ways to bring back the glory days for Indian hockey. The soft-spoken 66-year-old dribbled the volley of questions posed by the media on Thursday.

In his inaugural speech to the 400 delegates attending the international conference of sports and exercise psychology, Ajit Pal asked, "For most of our Indian teams, we import doctors, psychologists and support staff from other countries and spend millions on them. Why can't we find any one in India? The US and China are far more ahead as they use their own resources, so why can't we?"

With the Indian team hitting the nadir at the London Olympics, the popularity of hockey at home was on the wane and it appeared as if this was the end of the road for the national game. Though the selectors brought in some changes in the team which resulted in India finishing fourth in the Champions Trophy in Australia, but for a much better result in the years to come, Ajit Pal has his own doubts.

Asked whether Michael Nobbs should be removed as the India coach, he said, "It's not me to decide. But if India are not getting success after spending so much, then what's the need of a foreign coach?"

He further added, "We hired foreign coaches because they have gone through the system of producing top players and as far as India is concerned we do have many great players who can be successful coaches too. Having failed to understand the local culture, a foreign coach cannot interpret that an Indian player look up to him as a father figure and that's where they struggle."

For a better future ahead, Ajit Pal wants the artificial turf at the grassroots, "We need to provide turf to a local player so that he can develop his muscles according to the astro turf so we need to develop infrastructure for a better future."

On the power tussle between Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), he said, "Self interest was the only reason which brought the game down. Hockey is my life and if any one is working for its good then I will support it. With the recently concluded Hockey India League (HIL), our players got the much needed exposure."

"Hockey India is trying to make things happen in a positive way. With HIL, in addition to money, the HI brought world's best current hockey stars to play with their Indian counterparts. It was a good turnaround and is the first step to revive the game. The FIH should also be credited for that," signed off Ajit Pal with a ray of hope.

The Times of India

Threat of Olympic axe was a wake-up call for us: Negre

NEW DELHI: The International Hockey Federation said that it was taken by "surprise" by the scare the game had to go through regarding its Olympic status, with its president Leandro Negre saying that the threat to omit the sport from the Games is a wake-up call for the body.

Hockey just about managed to avoid the axe after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mulled removing the game from the Olympic programme in 2020, before eventually deciding against it.

Wrestling, instead, was one of the eight sports, which were dropped from the core group of Olympic sports in the 2020 Games in IOC' executive council meeting in Lausanne earlier this month.

"The news that hockey was in the danger zone was a big surprise for us because nobody was expecting such a move," Negre told reporters on the sidelines of the Hero Hockey World League on Thursday.

"But it is a wake-up call for us. The official report has not been finalised yet. It will be finalised in May and from this report we will know our strengths and weaknesses. But hockey continues to remain very strong," he added.

"We are still looking for more information. But the threat is good for us because we don't like to be in a position where we were caught sleeping."

Asked about the development of the game in smaller nations, Negre said the world body was working hard to make hockey popular world wide and the ongoing Hockey World League is a step in that direction.

Negre was particularly pleased with the performance of Bangladesh in the ongoing HWL Round 2, where they stunned higher-ranked China on Wednesday.

"The FIH is not only taking care of top level but also the ground level. The HWL is a step towards that. The HWL has opened up doors for the development of the game in smaller nations," he said.

"Bangladesh is an example of that. I will like to see Bangladesh in the Champions Trophy in a couple of year's time," Negre added.

The FIH president also said that it will request the hockey federations of both India and Pakistan to hold one of the matches of their proposed bilateral series in Dhaka.

"I will talk to both Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation and see whether they can hold at least one match in Dhaka, which will be a big boost for the development of the game in Bangladesh," Negre said.

The Times of India

Pakistan Hockey coach Ahmed Alam quits

LAHORE: Former Olympian goalkeeper Ahmed Alam has tendered resignation as coach of the national hockey team, citing family commitments.

He will quit after the end of the ongoing session of the national training camp at the National Hockey Stadium.

Talking to Dawn, Alam said he was resigning only because of family commitments and he had no differences with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

Alam had been with the PHF as junior and senior team coach for the last five years. He joined the senior team after the London Olympics.

During his tenure as goalkeeping coach Pakistan won bronze medal in the last Champions Trophy in Melbourne, Australia and later a gold medal in the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, Qatar.

Meanwhile, when contacted, PHF secretary Asif Bajwa told Dawn that Alam was facing some problems in maintaining his association with the national team due to family responsibilities.

Bajwa said Alam rendered great services during his tenure and he would be welcome whenever available.


Hockey coach Ahmad Alam quits

Staff Report

LAHORE: Former Olympian goalkeeper Ahmad Alam has tendered resignation as coach of the national hockey team, citing ‘family commitments’ He will quit after the end of the ongoing session of the national training camp at the National Hockey Stadium.

Alam said he was resigning only because of family commitments and he had no differences with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

Alam had been with the PHF as junior and senior team coach for the last five years. He joined the senior team after the London Olympics.

During his tenure as goalkeeping coach Pakistan won bronze medal in the last Champions Trophy in Melbourne, Australia and later a gold medal in the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, Qatar.

Meanwhile, PHF secretary general Asif Bajwa said that Alam was facing some problems in maintaining his association with the national team due to family responsibilities.

Bajwa said Alam rendered great services during his tenure and he would be welcome whenever available.

The Daily Times

PHF to avoid media ‘distraction’

KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has restricted media presence at the camp for the Azlan Shah Cup to ensure uninterrupted proceedings during training sessions, underway at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore.

The PHF took the decision after a request from the team management, which was unhappy and felt the random timings of the media for coverage was hurting preparations for the forthcoming tournament.

According to the federation’s press release, the media will be allowed to witness the proceedings for half an hour between 3pm to 3:30pm.

“We want players to concentrate on training,” Pakistan coach Hanif Khan told The Express Tribune. “The media’s presence in random timings was distracting players as well as the coaches. We want to concentrate on our training sessions and that was the only reason behind our request.”

The tournament will be played in Ipoh, Malaysia from March 9-17 and will be the first international assignment for the greenshirts this year. The event also includes defending champions New Zealand, Australia, India, South Korea and hosts Malaysia.

PHF mulls replacement for goal-keepers coach

Meanwhile, the PHF was mulling over replacement for goal-keeping coach Ahmed Alam who resigned from the post, citing family commitments.

According to a PHF official, the federation was yet to decide on a replacement.

“We are considering options,” said the official. “We cannot say for sure whether we will be able to get a new coach for the Azlan Shah Cup or not.”

Alam joined the senior team after the London Olympics and was a part of the team that won bronze medal in the Champions Trophy last December before claiming the gold medal in the Asian Champions Trophy.

The Express Tribune

Grove Menzieshill in European competition

Grove Menzieshill have a European agenda this weekend when they compete at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Wettingen, Switzerland.

Head Coach Charlotte Jones’ side will face Cambrai HC (France), HK Zrinjevac (Croatia) and hosts HC Rotweiss Wettingen (Switzerland) in Pool B of the competition, which runs from 22-24 February.

MSC Sumchanka (Ukraine), HF Lorenzoni (Italy), HC Dinamo Elektrostal (Russia) and Slagelse HC (Denmark) will contest the Pool A matches.

The first target for the Dundee outfit is to finish within the top two places of Pool B in order to progress to the promotion pool, where places in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Cup are up for grabs for the Trophy winners and runners-up. Friday and Saturday morning’s matches will go some way to determining how they will progress.

For the full match schedule, results and pool standings please visit the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy website.

Grove Menzieshill squad:

1 Debra McLeod
2 Chantal Guillot
3 Susan Roberts
4 Bethan Mann
5 Jaclyn Duncan
6 Louise Campbell
7 Annika Arthur
8 Katie Robertson
9 Katrina Cameron
10 Laura Aitkenhead
11 Louise Baxter
12 Louise Carroll
13 Jilly Bell
14 Hazel Hall
15 Karin Belch
17 Susan Graham

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Leicester Ladies ready for the occasion

Nic White Leicester Indoor

Leicester Ladies go into this weekend’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup in Vienna with a real sense of occasion. Two years ago the East Midlands club competed in the second tier of the European competition and they got a real taste for it. On that occasion however they missed out on promotion by the narrowest of margins on goal difference to Scottish side Dundee Wanderers.

Just last weekend, East Grinstead’s men took the title at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy tournament in the same venue and while a similar result in the top tier of the women’s competition might seem unlikely given the strength of the Germans, the girls in orange are thoroughly looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Leicester’s Vanessa Hawkins told the England Hockey website: “The team is feeling confident of putting on a good show, if not a little apprehensive. We’re very excited to playing in this prestigious tournament. We had a positive indoor season topping the Maxifuel Super Sixes Premier Division table, and although we didn’t make it to the final this year we learnt a lot from our playoff semi final defeat.”

As Hawkins points out, no club from outside of Germany has ever won the European women’s indoor title and it’s hard to look beyond them as favourites in Vienna.  “We feel Rot-Weiss Koln will be the team to beat this weekend. They have a lot of pressure on their shoulders as a non-German club has never won this competition. We’re looking forward to facing them in our third pool match.” 

Leicester face the Germans in the first match on Saturday morning (08:00 GMT). By that stage the East Midlands side will have faced Spain's Club de Campo (Friday, 10:40 GMT) and Gintra Strekte Uni of Lithuania (14:30 GMT) and will know exactly what’s required of them. Good results in their opening fixtures would give them the opportunity to progress to the top four pool, Pool C. Teams in Pool D, which will feature the sides finishing third and fourth in their opening pools, will play off to avoid the drop.

The Leicester skipper identifies the returning goalkeeper Maddie Hinch as key to her side’s hope. Hinch has recently returned from South Africa, where she attracted the plaudits for a string of good performances for England at the Investec Challenge. “Maddie Hinch is a key player for us,” admitted Hawkins. “Her speed, agility and natural talent as a goalkeeper resonate to the indoor game, allowing her to dominate the defensive circle.  Nic White (pictured) and Katie Long are also lively players, creating opportunities and causing trouble in attack. And our England indoor stars Kerry Williams and Hannah Smith are really the backbone of our defence.”

But it’s not all about the big names. In Carmen Simpson, Jo Hunter and Josie Inverdale the Pukkas, as they’re known, have three talented stars of the future who will be called upon to play their part in Austria.

And Hawkins acknowledges the support of the team’s sponsors who have helped back the club in its European campaign. “We’ve had great support from the likes of Pukka Pies, Grays, Precision Training and local businesses in Leicester,” says Hawkins. “Without all of this we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we do. And the media too has been superb. Ian Stringer from BBC Leicester is travelling with the team and will be reporting on each game.”

Follow Leicester’s European indoor campaign via the SV Arminen website.

On Twitter, use #EHICVienna. Follow @svarminen for live match tweets.

England Hockey Board Media release

East Grinstead target outdoor success

East Grinstead

HAVING already been crowned the National and European indoor champions, East Grinstead men turn their attentions to the outdoor game this weekend with a double-header weekend in the Men’s Hockey League.

After struggling in the early stages of the season, East Grinstead find themselves seventh in the table facing matches against leaders Beeston and Hampstead and Westminster on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

But in one of the closest finishes for several seasons every team in the Premier Division is still in with a chance of a top four spot and a place in the end of season play-offs.

Just six points separate second to eighth in the table, and East Grinstead manager Matt Jones said: “The middle of the table is very condensed, and that makes it very interesting for the spectators and players alike. I think it will go right down to the wire with so many teams in the running.

“We want to use the immensely positive momentum we’ve created with winning the indoor league for the fifth year in a row, and now also the EuroHockey Trophy just last weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of players available to us now who weren’t around at the start of the season, and home advantage helps, especially after the busy itinerary and travelling we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.”

Also on Saturday is the re-arranged clash between Canterbury and Reading, while Sunday sees Beeston host Midlands rivals Loughborough Students in the first of a series of showpiece matches being especially promoted by the clubs and England Hockey.

Third and fourth play each other in the Cannock v Surbiton match, while the bottom two do battle with Brooklands Manchester University hosting Southgate.

Elsewhere, Teddington and Oxted do battle on Saturday afternoon in the Conference East. Fourth and third respectively, the promotion hopes of both sides rely heavily on winning the match and keeping the heat on the top two.

Leaders Wimbledon host Indian Gymkhana, while second-placed Holcombe go to the City of Peterborough.

In the Conference West, second-placed University of Exeter go to third-placed Team Bath Buccaneers, while leaders Guildford entertain bottom club Bristol Firebrands.

And Bowdon will be aiming to consolidate top spot in the Conference North when they entertain Olton and West Warwickshire, while second-placed Sheffield Hallam host Leek on Saturday evening.

Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 23 2013)

Premier Division
East Grinstead v Beeston 12:30
Canterbury v Reading 14:00

Conference East
Teddington v Oxted 15:00

Conference North
Sheffield Hallam v Leek 18:30

Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, February 24 2013)

Premier Division

Beeston v Loughborough Students 14:00
Brooklands MU v Southgate 14:00
East Grinstead v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Cannock v Surbiton 14:30

Conference East
Cambridge City v Richmond 12:30
Bromley & Beckenham v Old Loughtonians 13:00
City of Peterborough v Holcombe 13:00
Wimbledon v Indian Gymkhana 13:30

Conference North
Univ of Durham v Wakefield 13:30
Belper v Khalsa (Warks) 14:00
Bowdon v Olton & West Warwicks 14:00
Doncaster v Preston 14:00

Conference West
Guildford v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Cheltenham v Havant 13:00
Team Bath Buccaneers v Univ of Exeter 13:00
Whitchurch v Univ of Birmingham 13:00
Fareham v Cardiff & UWIC 13:30

England Hockey Board Media release

Play-Off march continues in Investec Premier Division

Jade Mayne Canterbury

HAVING drawn with second-placed Leicester last weekend, Canterbury face another tough test against third-placed Reading in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday.

Currently unbeaten in the league this season, Canterbury are just one point ahead of Leicester. Victory over Reading could see Canterbury become the first side to cement their spot in the end of season play-offs.

“We’re quite confident,” said Canterbury coach Nick Clark. “But realistically all the top teams have got five difficult games to go – we’ve got Reading, and we’ve got to go to Clifton and Birmingham, and we lost at Clifton last season. It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s one game at a time.”

Reading draw 5-5 with Canterbury earlier in the season, and Clark added: “The previous game saw two very different sides, as we both had players missing, so we won’t place too much important on past results.”

Clark praised Slough’s commitment during their 5-2 win last weekend, and the Berkshire side will continue their battle against relegation when they entertain Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

Fifth in the table, Bowdon Hightown go to Olton and West Warwickshire as they bid to make the play-offs, while University of Birmingham host Clifton.

In the Investec Conference East, leaders Harleston Magpies had their lead cut to just two points when they lost out 4-1 at Ipswich last weekend, and they will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they go to St Albans on Saturday.

Leaders Beeston entertain third-placed Loughborough Students in the Investec Conference North, while second-placed University of Durham travel to North East rivals Whitley Bay and Tynemouth.

And in the Investec Conference West, runaway leaders Buckingham face second-placed Gloucester City.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 23 2013)

Investec Premier Division

Slough v Sutton Coldfield 11:30
Canterbury v Reading 11:45
Olton & West Warwicks v Bowdon Hightown 12:00
Univ of Birmingham v Clifton 12:30

Investec Conference East
Bromley & Beckenham v Old Loughtonians 14:00
Chelmsford v Ipswich 14:00
Wimbledon v Oxford Hawks 14:00
St Albans v Harleston Magpies 15:00
Sevenoaks v Horsham 17:00

Investec Conference North
Beeston v Loughborough Students 12:00
Brooklands Poynton v Wakefield Bradford 12:00
Whitley Bay & Tynemouth v Univ of Durham 12:30
Ben Rhydding v Liverpool Sefton 13:30
Cannock v Doncaster 13:30

Investec Conference West
Bristol Firebrands v Taunton Vale 11:30
Buckingham v Gloucester City 12:00
Swansea City v Staines 12:00
Trojans v Barnes Hounslow Ealing 12:00
Isca v Stourport 12:30

England Hockey Board Media release

Crucial weekend

It is the quarterfinal weekend for teams involved in the knockout stage of the MHC-MILO-NSC Junior Hockey League as they fight it out for the coveted MILO Cup, the pride of Junior Hockey in Malaysia. And all the eight teams harbour hopes of inching closer to the trophy when the dust settles after the two leg quarterfinals tomorrow and Sunday.

There are some interesting ties in the quarterfinals with the most balanced being between MBI Anderson and PHK-MSS Kelantan. There is little to separate these two teams and the tie is expected to be a closely contested one. Kelantan are a robust side, with several players showing good individual skills, but their tendency to lose their composure when chips are down is something they need to sort out. The will sorely feel the absence of play maker Muhammad Ashraf Mohd Noor.

MBI-Anderson have shown that they have quality but sorely lack consistency. No team will treat them with kids gloves as they have inflicted defeat on double champions SSTMI, they only team to take full points off the Southerners for the past two years. The first leg will be at Ipoh with the second in Kuala Terengganu, a surprise given that Kelantan played all their home matches at Alor Star.

Another interesting match-up is between UniKL Young Guns and Malacca High School. In their league meeting though UniKL Young Guns triumphed 4-1, they were a goal down at halftime. And this clearly indicates that MHS are no pushovers and should not be taken lightly.

More so the fact that UniKL will be handicapped as both Muhammad Azrul Hasbullah and Meor Muhammad Azuan Hasan will have to serve out a one match suspension having collected enough demerit points to warrant a suspesion.

"The first leg is vital to our hopes as not only must we win the match but also hold a healthy lead going into the second leg this Sunday. MHS are a well balanced side but we have enough strength to overcome them. It is a question of taking our chances as we have been goal shy and this has affected our chances of winning the league title," said UniKL team manager Mohd Faiz Isa.

"Over the past two weeks the players have shown a good commitment in training and are raring to go. Our redemption begins tomorrow and the players are all fired up."

Petaling Jaya Municipal Council with take on SSTMI Juniors in the third quarterfinal at the National Hockey Stadium and should do enough to make the semis as they have a talented bunch of youngsters that were unlucky to miss out of the league title due to goal difference.

But with two key players out, PJCC might find the going tougher then they anticipate. Mohamad Khairol Shafik Kasim is suspended for three matches after picking up two yellow cards in their final league encounter against SSTMI Thunderbolts while Muhammad Asraf Zulzali will have to sit out two more matches after getting a red card against Malacca High School.

First Leg - 22 February 2013

SSTMI v KL Sports School - Taman Daya JB

MBI Anderson v PHK-MSS Kelantan - Azlan Shah Stadium

UniKL Young Guns v Malacca High School - NHS Pitch 1

Petaling Jaya CC v SSTMI Juniors - NHS Pitch 2

Unofficial MJHL site

Odds stacked against

KLSSMILO CUP: SSTMI simply too strong for them


Kuala Lumpur Sports School striker Jagveen Singh (right) celebrates after scoring the winner against Kelantan in the Division Two final. KLSS won 2-1 and Jagveen is among the players to look out for in their Milo Cup quarter-final clash against Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School today.

DIVISION One champions Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) will be the clear favourites when they play Kuala Lumpur Sports School (KLSS) in the first leg of the Milo Cup quarter-finals at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru today.

However, 2012 double champions are not invincible as Anderson of Ipoh showed when they beat them 3-2 in a league match.

SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman, however, believes it was that defeat that will motivate his players to retain the Milo Cup.

"That was the wake-up call that my players needed as complacency was setting into our game.

"Now that we have retained one title, we will be gunning for the Milo Cup by going all out in the first leg," said Wan Roslan.

League runners-up Petaling Jaya City Council will meet SSTMI Juniors at the National Hockey Stadium, and even though they will not have two key players for both legs, they still have enough fire-power to advance to the semi-finals.

PJCC will not have Khairol Shafik Kasim, suspended for three matches after picking up two yellow cards in their final league encounter against SSTMI while Asraf Zulzali will miss two matches after being sent off against Malacca High School.

The most balanced tie is between Anderson and Kelantan, as there is little to separate the two teams.

Kelantan lost play-maker Ashraf Mohamed Noor to a red card, but have many other talented players who can turn the tide on Anderson.

However, Kelantan play robust hockey and tend to lose their cool when the chips are down, while Anderson have matured as the league progressed.

The last quarter-final tie is between UniKL Young Guns and Malacca High School, with the form book favouring the university side.

UniKL will also play with a handicap, as Azrul Hasbullah and Meor Azuan Hasan will be watching the first leg from the stands after collecting maximum demerit points.

TODAY -- Q-finals, 1st leg:Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School v KL Sports School (Taman Daya, 5pm); Anderson v Kelantan (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm); UniKL Young Guns v Malacca High School (National Stadium Pitch I, 5pm); Petaling Jaya CC v SSTMI Juniors (National Stadium Pitch II, 5pm).

New Straits Times

Don’t expect any shock wins in quarter-finals


KUALA LUMPUR: No surprises are expected when the knockout stage of the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League gets under way today.

The top three Division teams – SSTMI-Thunderbolt, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) – are expected to waltz through their two-leg quarter-final ties.

If there is one match that could go either way then it’s the tie between MSS Kelantan and MBI-Anderson. There is little to separate these two teams. MSS Kelantan are a robust side with several players showing good individual skills, but their tendency to lose their composure when the chips are down is something they need to sort out. They will, however, sorely feel the absence of playmaker Mohamed Ashraf Mohd Noor who is under a one-match suspension.

MBI-Anderson have shown that they have the quality. Their only problem is their lack of consistency. On their day, they are a team to reckon with as double champions Thunderbolt found out to their detriment. MBI-Anderson are the only team to take full points off Thunderbolt for the past two seasons.

The first leg will be in Ipoh with the second match in Kuala Terengganu. The choice of Kuala Terengganu as home venue is a surprise since Kelantan had used Alor Setar as their home venue for all their league matches.

The UniKL-Malacca High School tie is also expected to be a close affair although the KL team enjoy the edge with their better all-round play.

“We beat Malacca High School in the league, but it’s a different ball game in the last eight,” said UniKL team manager Mohamed Faiz Isa.

“They are not an easy side to beat. Our only advantage is playing the first match at home. We look forward to an interesting knockout stage as we want to salvage the season by trying to win at least one title. We have been preparing well since the end of the league. Hopefully, it is enough to take us through to the next round,” he added.

UniKL, however, will be without two keys players – Mohamed Azrul Hasbullah and Meor Muhammad Azuan Hasan – due to a one-match suspension.

“We will try to secure a healthy lead going into the second leg on Sunday. We must avoid a repeat of our profligacy in the league matches,” said Faiz.

MBPJ are another team with experienced players suspended for the clash against SSTMI-Juniors. But they have a talented bunch of youngsters and only missed out on the league title on goal difference to Thunderbolt.

Mohamad Khairol Shafik Kasim has to serve a three-match suspension while Mohamed Asraf Zulzali will have to sit out both legs of the quarter-finals. Both players picked up red cards in their last league match.

MBPJ assistant team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail believes the absence of the two players will not affect the team.

“Our task is to win and move on to the final. Our main concern is travelling for the away match. Playing at Taman Daya in Johor Baru is very troublesome and tiring. Our players need to recover quickly after the first leg,” said Zainal.

Division One winners Thunderbolt face Division Two champions KL Sports School (KLSS) in the clash of the champions. Thunderbolt, however, are too formidable and should not have any problems making the last four.

KLSS, however, will take heart that MBI-Anderson did beat Thunderbolt and are banking on an upset win.

Said KLSS team manager Zainal Ariffin: “The odds are heavily stacked against us. We will give it our best shot as we have nothing to lose.

“The first leg will be vital as we cannot let them score a big win. So, getting a good result in the first leg is crucial.”

The Star of Malaysia

Coaching Webinar opens a world of opportunity

The FIH successfully launched a new Coaching Development tool as it introduced the Coaching Webinar in India during the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 tournament. The first-of-its-kind FIH Coaching Webinar course included the participants from the FIH Hockey India High Performance Coaching Course, which is being conducted in New Delhi.

FIH President Leandro Negre was impressed with the project, saying, “this is an effective way for coaches to learn and develop. With minimal time and money investment, the participants can gain vast knowledge.”

FIH Master Coach Tayyab Ikram addressed the group of coaches through via webcam and was supported with various video clips to enhance the learning experience. In the future it is hoped that the concept of presenting and sharing information from distance can reach a multitude of coaches across the globe.

“This is a perfect example of advancing technology giving development projects a much wider reach at a much lower cost,” said FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather. “This is hopefully the first of many such initiatives.”

The Webinar also promotes a transfer of knowledge as it was demonstrated how Games Analysis can be conducted by sharing footage on line. The successful launch also observed the interactive tools to discuss High performance Coaching contents.

Tayyab Ikram said that besides its Global approach FIH would like to reach 200 Coaches in India as trial by the end of this year and introduce this concept throughout India via webinar where coaches in groups could participate from different parts of India at the same time.

FIH site