News for 03 March 2013

All the news for Sunday 3 March 2013


Argentina & South Africa march on

Duo make it 3 wins from 3 at Men's World League Round 2 in Rio



South Africa were 10-2 winners against Trinidad & Tobago on Day 3 of the Men's World League Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro.

World League Round 2 Men in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil reaches an exciting moment Sunday when world 10 Argentina meet world 12 South Africa in a match that could confirm the winners of the tournament, with Tuesday’s final round still to come.

The unbeaten South Africa men's hockey team beat Trinidad and Tobago 10-2 after leading 6-1 at half-time on Saturday, while in the early match the USA beat Brazil 5-0 after leading 4-0 at half-time and in the late game the unbeaten Argentina beat Chile 6-0 after leading 1-0 at half-time.

USA 5-0 BrazilThe USA had a productive first half against Brazil and were rewarded with field goals by Tyler Sundeen in the 11th minute, William Holt in the 13th minute, Manuel Martinez in the 17th minute and Holt once again in the 35th minute.

There were periods outside the three-goal blitz in seven minutes where Brazil more than held their own and could well have broken their tournament scoring duck.

With a key injury plaguing head coach Claudio Rocha and Bert Bunnik’s team, it was disappointing for this Brazilian squad that is still very much a work in progress.

The second half was also very encouraging for Brazil and after Mohan Gandhi’s goal in the 41st minute made it 5-0 to the USA that was the final scoreline as the next 29 minutes were even-stevens on the scoreboard.

Trinidad & Tobago 2-10 South Africa

Marcus James shocked SA in the fourth minute to open the scoring.

In the sixth minute Lloyd Norris-Jones drew SA level when he nailed a rocket reverse-stick rocket shot from an acute angle for a 51st goal in his 100th Test match (1-1).

In the 10th minute Pierre de Voux slapped into the net for his maiden Test match goal. Two minutes later Norris-Jones made a superb strike (3-1) as SA continued to switch the ball at pace. Then in the 14thminute midfielder Clint Panther finished off from close for 4-1.

The match evened out somewhat in the next 10 minutes until a De Voux snap-flick in the 24th minute made it 5-1 before Tim Drummond breached the hardworking T&T defence in the 27th minute for 6-1 at half-time.

Four minutes into the second half Julian Hykes to smash a first-time backhand for 7-1.

T&T won a penalty corner in the 45th minute but a spread-eagled Rassie Pieterse in goal was up for it while Atiba Whittington’s slap on the rebound was cleared off the line by Drummond.

Replacement keeper Gowan Jones also made a brilliant save in this match when he replaced Pieterse.

In the 54th minute, Matt Guise-Brown converted a penalty stroke; Miguel da Graca scored in the 55th minute Hykes in the 56th.

Christopher Scipio pulled one back for a valiant Trinidad & Tobago in the 57th for the 10-2 final scoreline.

Chile 0-6 Argentina

After the auspicious occasion that was the presentation to Chile’s Matias Amoroso on his 100th Test match, Argentina predictably gave Chile some early moments of awkwardness but the underdogs came back into the game when Sebastian Kapsch’s backhand went over the bar.

In the 16th minute Rodrigo Vila picked up a loose ball on the left but shot wide of the far post. Play swung from end to end with Chile giving as good as they got until the scoreboard finally came alive in the 20th minute when Nahuel Salis’s rasping strike beat goalkeeper Adrian Henriquez (1-0).

Henriquez recovered well to make some telling saves in the first half, while the Chilean defenders also did much to make head coach Diego Amoroso a proud mentor at half-time.

But in the 37th minute Lucas Rossi cracked in Argentina’s second goal for 2-0 while Matias Vila hit the post a minute later.

Keeper Henriquez and the Chilean defence continued to shine under heaps of pressure at times but in the 48th minute Lucas Vila intercepted and Matias Paredes finished off (3-0).

In the 53rd minute Guillermo Schickendantz took a shot and Paredes helped the ball over the line. With seven minutes left Augustin Mazzilli made it 5-0 and two minutes later Paredes scored from close to celebrate a memorable hat-trick.

FIH site



Fabulous SA hockey men turn on the charm against T&T in Rio

JONATHAN COOK in Rio de Janeiro



SCOREBOARD AND BODY LANGUAGE: South Africans (from left) Taine Paton, Julian Hykes and Miguel da Graca in contrast to T&T captain Darren Cowie. Photo: LU VALLIATI

The unbeaten South Africa men's hockey team beat Trinidad and Tobago 10-2 after leading 6-1 at half-time in the World League Round 2 match at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro Saturday.

It was a near-flawless performance and bodes well for their title hopes.

Marcus James shocked SA in the fourth minute to open the scoring (1-1).

In the sixth minute Lloyd Norris-Jones drew SA level when he nailed a rocket reverse-stick rocket shot from an acute angle at the top right of the strike zone for a 51st goal in his 100th Test match (1-1).

In the 10th minute SA built a stunning move down the right, the ball going through seven sticks before centre back Jethro Eustice provided the final assist and Pierre de Voux slapped into the net for his maiden Test match goal (2-1).

In the 12th minute Norris-Jones finished off another sublime move with a superb strike as SA continued to switch the ball at pace across the full width of the Astro and in the process overload the T&T defenders onto one side (3-1).

Then in the 14thminute the irrepressible midfielder Clint Panther finished off from close (4-1).

Three goals in just under five minutes signalled South Africa’s ability to turn on the charm almost at will and the challenge lies in maintaining this tempo, a high-octane brand of hockey that utilises the natural pace and athleticism of the men in green and gold.

The match evened out somewhat in the next 10 minutes until a De Voux snap-flick in the 25th minute after excellent SA preparation in the execution of the move made it 5-1.

The silky skills and intelligence of Tim Drummond enabled the classy midfielder to breach the defence in the 30th minute for a 6-1 half-time score.

Three minutes into the second half (38th minute) Austin Smith scythed through the left channel before teeing up Julian Hykes to smash a first-time backhand shot that clattered into the backboard (7-1).

As the rain came teeming dow, Ricky West and captain Rhett Halkett made superb flat-stick tackles as T&T threw everything into attack.

T&T won a penalty corner in the 45th minute but a spreadeagled Rassie Pieterse in goal was up for it while Atiba Whittington’s slap on the rebound was cleared off the line by Drummond.

In the 52nd minute, great control and layoff by Miguel da Graca on the right-hand baseline saw Jonty Robinson upended in the strike zone by an overzealous defender and SA earned a penalty stroke that Matt Guise-Brown converted (8-1).

Taine Paton then fed Da Graca who slapped in at the near post for 9-1 in the 55th minute. In the 56th minute Hykes drilled a full-blast backhand into the backboard as SA proved they can be ruthless and relentless all in one (10-1).

Christopher Scipio pulled one back in the 57th (10-2).

SA meet favourites and world number 10 Argentina at 4 pm (SA time) Sunday.

SA Hockey Association media release



South Africa squashes ‘Calypso Stickmen’ hopes

Nigel Simon


T&T’s hopes of advancing as one of the top two teams from the Second Round of FIH World Hockey League qualifiers was ended yesterday after they suffered a come-from-behind 10-2 mauling to world 12th ranked South Africa at the Deodoro Field Hockey Centre, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.

The 34th world ranked “Calypso Stickmen” led by 28-year-old Darren Cowie entered the match with a 0-2 record after losses to   Argentina, 9-2 and Chile 4-0 on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

South Africa, meanwhile had registered comprehensive victories over host Brazil (9-0) and USA (6-1) led by Clint Panther and Lloyd Norris-Jones with four goals each in their first two matches.

However, playing for survival in the tournament, the Glen  “Fido” Francis-coached T&T stunned South Africa when Marcus James  opened the scoring in the fourth minute. But two minutes later, Norris-Jones drew South Africa level when he nailed a rocket reverse-stick rocket shot from an acute angle for a 51st goal in his 100th Test match past goalkeeper Andrey Rocke

In the tenth minute Jean-Pierre de Voux slapped into the net for his maiden goal and two minutes later Norris-Jones made a superb strike for a 3-1 advantage as South AFrica continued to switch the ball at pace. Then in the 14th minute midfielder Clint Panther finished off from close range for 4-1 cushion.

The match evened out somewhat in the over the next ten minutes until a De Voux snap-flicked in a fifth in the 24th minute before Timothy Drummond breached the hardworking T&T defence in the 27th minute for 6-1 at half-time score.

Four minutes into the second half Julian Hykes smashed in a first-time backhand for 7-1 lead after which T&T created an opening from a penalty-corner in the 45th minute which goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse did well to deny Atiba Whittington’s, with the rebound being cleared by Drummond off the line.

Replacement keeper Gowan Jones also made a brilliant save in this match when he replaced Pieterse before South Africa resumed its scoring via Matthew Guise-Brown, with a converted penalty stroke (54th), Miguel da Graca (55th) and Hykes, a minute later while 

Christopher Scipio got a second for T&T in the 57th for a 10-2 final scoreline. With the win, South Africa improved to nine points from three matches, the same as Argentina which crushed Chile 6-0 to lead the six-team round-robin table on goal-difference. In the other match, USA blanked host Brazil 5-0 to get its first points in three matches with William Holt scoring twice.

Today, T&T will go after its first points of the tournament when it faces 29th ranked USA in the opening match from 8am while top-two South Africa and Argentina square off from 10am followed by Brazil and Chile at 11.30 pm.

Tuesday, the tournament will conclude, with Chile versus South Africa, Argentina against USA and T&T coming up against host and 33rd ranked Brazil from 1.30pm. At the end of the series, the top two teams will advance to the Third Round or the  World League men’s semi-finals, which will take place in Rotterdam, Holland from June 13 to 23, and in Johor Bahru, Malaysia from June 29-July 7.

Yesterday’s Results

USA 5 (William Holt 13th, 35th, Tyler Ronald Sundeen 11th, Manuel Alan Martinez 17th, Mohan Aron Gandhi 41st) vs Brazil 0
South Africa 10 (Lloyd Norris-Jones 6th, 12th, Jean-Pierre De Voux 10th, 24th, Julian Hykes 39th, 56th, Clinton Panther 14th, Timothy Drummond 27th, Matthew Guise-Brown 54th pen, Miguel Da Graca 55th) vs T&T 2 (Marcus James 4th, Christopher Scipio 57th)
Argentina 6 (Matias Paredes 48th, 53rd, 65th, Nahuel Salis 20th, Lucas Rafael Ross 37th, Augustin Mazzilli 63rd) vs Chile 0

Standings

Teams P W D L F A Pts
Argentina 3 3 0 0 25 2 9
South Africa 3 3 0 0 24 3 9
Chile 3 2 0 1 5 6 6
USA 3 1 0 2 6 7 3
T&T 3 0 0 3 4 23 0
Brazil 3 0 0 3 0 24 0

Today’s Matches
USA vs T&T, 8 am
South Africa vs Argentina, 10 am
Brazil vs Chile, 12.30 pm

The Trinidad Guardian



U.S. Men earn shutout victory over host Brazil

Four players contribute to Team USA's 5-0 victory


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL –  Fans braved the rain to see the U.S. take on Brazil this morning on the third day of competition at the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA struck four times in the first half en route to a 5-0 victory over the host nation. Four players were in the scoring column contributing to today’s shutout victory, including Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Cali.), Manny Martinez (San Diego, Cali.), Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Cali.) and Will Holt (Camarillo, Cali.).

“I think the first half was very clinical. We were at a forty percent strike rate which is fantastic and a good improvement from our previous matches,” said head coach Chris Clements. “I think we played well to conditions as the field was very slow and slippery due to the rain overnight. Although we only scored one goal in the second half, I think we controlled the match well and it was more about players getting to certain positions and personnel seeing more minutes in the game.”

Rain overnight and drizzles throughout the match made conditions on the field slippery and small puddles slowed the pace of the ball through the midfield. Despite the dreary weather and less than perfect playing conditions, Team USA came out confident and on attack, pressuring Brazil’s defense and challenging their goal. The early domination paid off with a goal by Sundeen in the ninth minute. The U.S. capitalized on another opportunity moments later with a field goal by Holt. Martinez shortly followed, recording a third goal for the U.S. and giving Team USA a comfortable 3-0 lead fifteen minutes into the first half.

A missed penalty corner opportunity held the U.S. at 3-0 until the final minute when Holt logged a second goal from a textbook pass by Mike Barminski (Ventura, Cali.).

The second half saw less scoring, but still a solid performance for Team USA who controlled the majority of the remaining thirty-five minutes. Gandhi added a fifth field goal for the U.S. in the 40th minute to close out the scoring and lock in the 5-0 victory. 

Clements said the win today was very important, not only for Team USA’s record in the tournament but also for team morale. Kevin Barber (Camarillo, Cali.) said the team didn’t have a choice and a win today was a must.

“We had to win this game and we did,” said Barber. “Now we just need to stay focused and continue improving. We’ve played Trinidad and Tobago a bunch of times and they seem to be missing a couple of their key players here. Regardless, they are fast and talented so we are certainly not going to underestimate them.”

“I definitely think we have the ability to get another win tomorrow. By no means will it be easy and I think we still need to make sure we are not complacent. Today’s win is history and right now we need to focus and prepare for the next match,” Clements said.

Following the U.S. match, South Africa defeated Trinidad and Tobago with a final score of 9-2. The final match of the day is still to come and will be a battle between Argentina and Chile.

The U.S. will take on Trinidad and Tobago for their fourth match of the tournament tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. local time. Team USA will conclude the tournament against Argentina on Tuesday, March 5 at 11:00 a.m. The top two teams automatically advance to World League Round 3 and become one step closer to the 2014 World Cup.

USFHA media release



Get ready for a showdown in Valencia tomorrow

Four teams have a chance for WL Semi-Final berth



(Photo: SH Images 2013)

Ireland – Spain 1-0 (halftime 1-0)


It was the closest thing to a winner takes all game yet at the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament when Ireland and Spain met in a critical match-up. In the end Ireland came away with the important three points, essentially keeping their hopes for a top-two finish alive

With Belarus playing the role of Cinderella so far, it has left the two top-seeded teams fighting for survival. #14 Ireland suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of Belarus earlier, while #16 Spain ceded a point to Italy in a shootout yesterday, making the race for Round 3 very tight.

Spain pulled out all the stops for today’s game against Irish, even bringing in a mini-marching band, but it was to no avail as the Irish played a conservative, well thought-out game against a Spanish team that go increasingly desperate the longer the scoreboard was stuck on zero.

Audrey O’Flynn was the first to score in the back-and-forth first half. She took advantage of a penalty stroke and easily struck gold with 11 minutes left in the first half to give the Irish the 1-0 advantage. The lead stood through the half, despite a few late penalty corner chances for the Spanish.

Spain applied heavy pressure in the second half, but the Irish defense stood its ground through some tense moments.

The win pulls the Irish even with Italy in the standings; both teams have six points. Belarus, which was idle today, leads the pack with seven points, while Spain finds itself in the unenviable position of trailing the leading trio with five points. Any one of the four teams can still qualify for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals tomorrow. The early game is Italy vs. Ireland and the finale of the tournament will feature Spain against Belarus.

Italy 8, Czech Republic 0 (halftime 3-0)

Italy did what it had to do to stay in the hunt for a Hockey World League Semi-Final spot after earning an 8-0 win against the Czech Republic. The win gives the Italians six points in three games, enough to keep their hopes alive in the wacky round robin standings in Valencia.

It was clear from the first whistle that the Italians were the better team. They scored a penalty corner in just the third minute of action and never looked back from there. Most of the game was played in front of the Czech net and the fatigued Czech team, playing their fourth straight game, gave up at least a dozen penalty corner chances, which the Italians took full advantage of, netting six of their eight goals on short corners.

The bright spot of the half came when Czech goalie Stepanka Smidova made a save on a penalty stroke chance. But there was little she could do to stop the 2-0 goal, which Alissia Padalino fired in mid-half. Dallia Mireabella closed the half with a streaking goal from the field in the last minute to give the Italians a comfortable lead at the break.

Agata Wybieralska got things rolling in the second half for Italy, scoring her second penalty corner goal of the day. With a 4-0 lead and the three points well in hand, Italy continued to cruise, putting in another four goals and getting two additional players on the scoresheet.

Italy now has a win, a shootout win and a shootout loss in their first three outings and have one game remaining against top-seeded Ireland. The Czechs go home from Valencia without a win in their four-game World League Round 2 experience.

FIH site



O'Flynn fires Ireland past Spain

The Electric Ireland Irish Women's team gained a hugely valuable win over World League 2 hosts Spain in Valencia today to set up a winner takes all encounter with Italy tomorrow.

A much improved Ireland put in an excellent professional performance to get their World League 3 qualification hopes back on track following Tuesday's loss to Belarus. The rain of the previous few days in Valencia disappeared and the sun was back out as Ireland started the game brightly against a team they had already faced 3 times in the last 3 weeks at a training camp in the same venue in preparation for the tournament.

Ireland had lost those first two training camp encounters but the final game resulted in a 1-0 win and it was that score line that saw Ireland overcome Spain again on this occasion with Hermes' Audrey O'Flynn grabbing the crucial goal via a penalty stroke late on in an evenly contested first half. It was no more than the Green Army deserved as they fought for every ball and created good scoring opportunities with the Green Army having effective possession throughout. Ireland defended well against the couple of penalty corners Spain acquired in the first half and took the 1-0 lead into the break.

The Green Army's second half performance was one that lived up to the ‘Fighting Irish' description often given to Irish sports teams. In truth, had Ireland managed to convert their chances and earn more penalty corners the game could have been made safe earlier but as it went, the Green Army had to defend resolutely to hold on to their early 1-0 lead. Irish Captain Alex Speers lead by example as usual while keeper Emma Gray showed her class yet again to deny Spain any chance to bring the game level. It was nail biting stuff towards the end but the resilient overall performance of the Green Army deservedly saw them run out 1-0 winners.

Speaking to hockey.ie following the game, a delighted Electric Ireland Irish Women's Coach Darren Smith said "Our possession rate was significantly better both from the back and in the attacking end. In the second half, although Spain had opportunities, our composure and ability to suck up pressure was impressive. On a day when we needed a result, it was hugely satisfying to get one"

The result leaves Ireland in pole position to qualify for World League 3. A win against Italy who Ireland face tomorrow at 10am Irish Time in their final game, would guarantee the Green Army's progress.

Electric Ireland Irish Women Starting XI: E. Gray, N. Gray, Sargent, O'Flynn, McCarthy, Smyth, Symmons, Daly, Evans, Connery, Jacob

WORLD LEAGUE 2, VALENCIA

Ireland 1 (O'Flynn)
Spain 0

Irish Hockey Association media release



Black Sticks left empty after series defeat

By Michael Brown


The New Zealand women's hockey side weren't supposed to seriously threaten a full-strength Argentina on their five-match tour of South America but in the end they were left with an "emptiness'' after falling agonisingly short.

Argentina won the fifth and final match 1-0 today, taking the series 2-1 (there were two draws), but will count themselves lucky.

The Olympic silver medallists came under intense pressure from the Black Sticks in the fifth match, particularly in the second half, and will thank goalkeeper Florencia Mutio for pulling off a number of spectacular saves. New Zealand dominated with 11 shots on goal to Argentina's four and Katie Glynn also hit the crossbar in the first half.

The two teams are going through considerably different phases.

Argentina have a new coach since the Olympic but fielded 13 of the 16 who played in London, including seven-time world player of the year Luciana Aymar.

In contrast, New Zealand coach Mark Hager was able to call on eight of his Olympians with a number of experienced players either having retired or on a break and he chose to blood a number of newcomers as he plots success at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

They went to Argentina with side with an average age of 22 and average caps of 55, which was boosted significantly by four centurions and one double centurion. They exceeded all expectations, except perhaps their own, and beat Argentina for the first time in South America.

"One of the things about this group, they have really developed a hatred of losing,'' Hager said. ``When we lose, there's a real emptiness for a few days. We will reflect on this series and, to be honest, we did pretty well. We had a lot of young kids playing for the first time against a team like this.

"Normally nerves and the speed of the game is too much for the young kids but the pleasing thing is they didn't look out of place out there.

"Unfortunately, the luck didn't go our way but I can't fault how the girls played today. We were a bit apprehensive in the first half but really took it to them in the second. What we have to do is learn how to win those games instead of being on the wrong side of the ledger.''

They will get a good chance when New Zealand host Argentina, the US and Korea in two four nations tournaments in Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga from April 10-21.

Argentina 1 (Delfina Merino) New Zealand 0. HT: 1-0.

The New Zealand Herald



Young Black Sticks put experienced players under pressure

By Michael Brown



Pippa Hayward of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.

A batch of experienced players had been warned beforehand they were taking a risk by opting for a break from playing for the New Zealand women's hockey side, and that has been brought into sharp relief after the Black Sticks' impressive showing in Argentina last week.

Argentina won the fifth and final test 1-0 to take the series 2-1 - there were two draws - but a young and inexperienced New Zealand side showed they were the equal of a full-strength Argentina who won silver at last Olympic Games. The Black Sticks, who are ranked third in the world after narrowly missing out on a medal in London, had also never beaten Argentina in South America let alone win a series.

In the end, they probably could and should have won the final match and, with it, the series after dominating for long periods on Saturday but couldn't find a way through resolute Argentina goalkeeper Florencia Mutio. The Black Sticks had 11 shots to Argentina's four and Katie Glynn hit the crossbar in the first half.

A handful of experienced players including captain Kayla Sharland, Krystal Forgesson, Emily Naylor and goalkeeper Bianca Russell opted for a break after the London Olympics but Forgesson, Naylor and Russell all returned for the Argentina series.

Sharland and Charlotte Harrison, who played against India but made herself unavailable for Argentina to travel and play in Belgium, come back into consideration for next month's two four nations tournament against Argentina (ranked No 2), Korea (8) and the US (10) in Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga but coach Mark Hager said the current squad had the inside running.

One possible solution to ensure all players get a chance is for Hager to name different squads for the two four nations tournaments, in the same way he approached the four nations tournament last year.

"It was a risk for some players to take a break," Hager said. "You always have to be careful as a player. There are times you need a break but there are also times when you take that break and a young kid comes in and performs really well.

"We will review this series when we go back and name our group for the four nations in the next couple of weeks. We have a couple of senior players who weren't here but will be available for selection but the kids who played Argentina will hold a bit of an advantage when it comes to selection because they performed really well against the [Olympic] silver medallists."

A number of those were players who had less than 20 international caps, including Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Cassandra Reid and Bridget Blackwood as well as 19-year-old midfielder Julia King, who narrowly missed out on the Olympic squad.

The average age of the side is 22 and Hager is trying to implement a different game plan based more on pressing higher and taking on defenders one-on-one and an accent on mobile and athletic players.

"We have always wanted to play an attacking style of hockey and believe a lot of the young ones we have picked have the athleticism and ability to play the game we want to play now," Hager said. "If we can progress that and keep it going, I think it will help in the future.

"But it's consistency. We don't want to be one-hit wonders if we can help it and want to play well in the four nations. That's the unanswered question at the moment."

The New Zealand Herald



Black Sticks keen for rematch with Argentina

Black Sticks women's hockey coach Mark Hager is eagerly awaiting April's rematch with Argentina in New Zealand after being pipped by the South Americans yesterday.

New Zealand lost the deciding fifth test in Rosario 1-0 with Delfina Merino scoring Argentina's winner in the 27th minute.

That gave Argentina, the Olympic silver medallists, a 2-1 series victory with two of the tests drawn.

Disappointed at missing an opportunity to claim only New Zealand's third series win over Argentina, Hager was at least able to point to the positives from a tour where he used a young lineup with a great deal of success after reassessing things following their London exploits.

"Overall, this has been a really pleasing tour. We needed to score goals from the chances that we created, but a tour like this is fantastic development for new younger players in the team. It's been really positive," Hager said.

"The good thing is that Argentina are coming to New Zealand in April to play us again in the Four Nations tournament, along with United States and Korea, so it will be game-on again then. If we get good vocal home crowds along to watch us, that could make that little bit of difference to our performance."

The Blacks Sticks put in a strong second half yesterday without any reward.

They forced three penalty corners, including one right on fulltime, as they dominated.

"It was similar to the last game in that we had a messy first half and Argentina put us under pressure, but in the second half we were much more controlled and we had many chances to score and win the game," Hager said, labelling captain Katie Gllynn, Krystal Forgesson and Cassandra Reid as the standout players in this final match.

Stuff



Canterbury tighten Premier Division grip


Mel Clewlow, Canterbury

Canterbury tightened their grip on the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division with an impressive win at Clifton on Saturday.

It took Mel Clewlow no time at all to open the scoring, slotting the opener in almost from the start. Sarah Kerly added a second after four minutes and Jade Mayne hit the third after 13 minutes.

Clifton managed to stem the flow until the 63rd minute when Eliza Brett capped the display with the fourth and final goal.

Olton and West Warwickshire took a step towards survival with a thrilling 5-4 win over Sutton Coldfield.

Olton led 3-1 after quarter of an hour, and at the break were 4-3 ahead. They opened up a two-goal lead with Emma McCabe scoring on 44 minutes, and although Sutton Coldfield’s Sarah Mills pulled one back with nine minutes remaining it was not quite enough to avoid defeat.

Fifth-placed Bowdon Hightown kept pressure on the top four as they strolled to a comfortable 5-0 win over bottom club Slough.

Tina Cullen broke the deadlock in the 19th minute and further goals came from Nat Wray, Hannah Pike, Clare Parkhill and Charlotte Hartley. This latest defeat leaves Slough with just one point in 15 games.

Surbiton still hold onto fourth spot by goal difference after a narrow win over University of Birmingham. Emma Batten hit the only goal in a 1-0 victory.

Harleston Magpies remain top of the Investec Conference East after a 3-1 win over Chelmsford. Angie Wheelhouse was on target twice.

Buckingham dropped points for the first time this season, chalking up a 2-2 draw against Swansea in the Investec Conference West. But their place in the promotion play-offs was secured several weeks ago.

And in the Investec Conference North, Beeston remain top after recording their 13th win of the campaign. This time, their opponents were strugglers Liverpool Sefton. The Nottinghamshire side won 4-0 with goals from Kira Schmitz, Hannah Wraith, Erica Sanders and Sophie Robinson.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (March 2 2013):

Investec Premier Division:
Clifton 0, Canterbury 4; Bowdon Hightown 5, Slough 0; Surbiton 1, University of Birmingham 0; Sutton Coldfield 4, Olton and West Warwickshire 5.

Investec Conference East: Oxford Hawks 2, St Albans 0; Harleston Magpies 3, Chelmsford 1; Old Loughtonians 2, Sevenoaks 1; Horsham 1, Wimbledon 4; Ipswich 7, Bromley and Beckenham 2.

Investec Conference North: Doncaster 0, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 2; Liverpool Sefton 0, Beeston 4; Loughborough Students 5, Ben Rhydding 0; University of Durham 1, Brooklands Poynton 0; Wakefield Bradford 2, Cannock 0.

Investec Conference West: Gloucester City 4, Isca 6; Barnes Hounslow Ealing 3, Bristol Firebrands 3; Swansea 2, Buckingham 2; Taunton Vale 0, Trojans 5; Staines 2, Stourport 3.

England Hockey Board Media release



Kelburne strengthen their advantage at Scottish league summit

Glynhill Hotel Kelburne consolidated their position at the top of the Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 following a 6-3 win over Inverleith at Bellahouston today.

The defending champions moved two points ahead of closest challengers Grange, who were held to a 1-1 draw at Forthback by third place Grove Menzieshill. With a game in hand over the Edinburgh outfit, Kelburne look in a strong position to clinch another Division 1 title.

Colin Clarke's side stay a point ahead of Grove Menzieshill in the fight for the second European qualification spot.

Meanwhile, Vishal Marwaha’s Western Wildcats recorded a significant 3-1 away win over Watsonians at Forrester High School, meaning they are assured of finishing in the top five this season.

However, Inverleith will now be sweating on the outcome of PSL Team Sport Clydesale’s match against Edinburgh University at Peffermill on Sunday; a win for John McKnight’s side will enable the Titwood outfit to snatch the remaining slot in the top five of the league.

In Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2, McWhinney Uddingston moved within range of second place and the play-off spot with a convincing 3-0 win over league leaders Dundee Wanderers at Holy Cross School.

The Lanarkshire side trail Falkirk GHG, who were 3-2 winners over Glasgow University earlier today, by seven points but have a game in hand over their promotion rivals and can shorten the gap to four points with a win.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen GSFP also kept pace with the teams in the top half of the table with an emphatic 6-1 win over CALA Edinburgh, while St.Andrew’s University also brushed aside Granite City Wanderers by an identical 6-1 scoreline.

At the bottom, Highland gave themselves a massive boost in the fight to beat the drop with an important 4-3 win over Stepps at Bught Park. However, their elation was slightly tempered with the news that relegation contenders Dundee University scored a 4-1 win at home to Alpha Data Carnegie.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Wildcats fighting back after win over Inverleith Ladies

Western Wildcats dragged themselves right back into contention with the teams aiming to avoid the drop from the Women’s Aberdeeen Asset Management National League Division 1 with a crucial 2-0 away win over fellow strugglers Inverleith Ladies at Edinburgh Academy today.

As a result, the teams in the bottom half of Division 1 are only separated by a narrow five point margin and there is a real relegation scrap on the cards when the top league resumes for the post-split fixtures in two weeks’ time.

GHK Ladies maintained their position at the top of the Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 with an excellent 5-0 win over second bottom Glasgow University.

Watsonians moved four points clear of nearest rivals Granite City Wanderers in second place with a 4-2 home win over city rivals Erskine Stewart’s Melville FP. Meanwhile, the Aberdonians suffered a 4-1 away defeat at the hands of Hillhead Ladies, who moved up to fourth place in the division courtesy of the victory at Jordanhill.

Haddington Ladies eased their relegation fears with a great 3-2 win away to Borders Fjordhus Rievers, while Waverley Inveresk Trinity’s battle to beat the drop to Division 3 is looking tougher by the week. The Edinburgh outfit played out a 0-0 draw with Highland at Bangholm.

In Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3, AAM Merlins Gordonians extended their lead at the top to eleven points with a narrow 1-0 home win over Aberdeen University.  Dundee University leapfrogged Stirling University into second place with a convincing 4-1 win away to Bon Accord MBC.

St.Andrew’s University have moved into the relative security of mid-table after a 1-0 win over Strathclyde University, while Ayr Ladies remain at the foot of the table following a goalless draw at home to Aberdeen Ladies.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



SSTMI start favourites

CLASSIC ENCOUNTER: Fans are in for a treat as they can expect a free flowing game

By JUGJET SINGH


TENGKU Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) are confident, while UniKL Young Guns are happy to play the underdogs in the Junior Hockey League Milo Cup final at National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Both the teams, and their coaches, are no strangers as they will be meeting each other in the fourth consecutive Milo Cup final since 2010.

UniKL won the first encounter, but SSTMI (then known as Bandar Penawar Sports School) came back strongly in the last two finals and are the favourites for a hat-trick of titles.

"We beat them in the League (3-2) even though we did not have our best who were recovering from injuries. For the final, we have the full squad, and that is why I am confident that my players are ready to lift their third Milo Cup title," said SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.

STMI were hit badly when four of their players were involved with motorbike accidents in the middle of the league.

Amirul Aideed and Azwar Rahman were the worst hit and were out for action for two weeks, while Firdaus Omar and Ridzwan Azmi continued playing with some barely healed scars.

"That is when we lost to Anderson (3-2) and also struggled to beat UniKL in our last league match to seal the League title," said Wan Rahman.

It was a seven-goal thriller when the two met, and today is expected to be no different as free flowing hockey will be played.

"We will be going in as the underdogs as we not only lost to SSTMI in the last two finals, but also in the League this season," said UniKL coach Faiz Isa.

"It was very difficult to swallow our first Milo Cup defeat to SSTMI in 2011, and the next year we fell again and the feeling was really bad.

"I have motivated my players and hopefully, we will be celebrating after the 70 minutes are over this season," said Faiz.

TODAY -- Final: Tengku Mahkota Ismail SS v UniKL Young Guns (8pm); Third-Fourth: SSTMI Juniors v Andersons (6pm).

Both matches at the National Hockey Stadium, Pitch II, in Bukit Jalil.

New Straits Times



Thunderbolt and UniKL banking on their star duos

By S. RAMAGURU


KUALA LUMPUR: SSTMI-Thunderbolt and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) are each pinning their hopes on two of their players to try and win the overall title in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League final at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

UniKL will depend on top scorer Mohd Shafiq Zulzairin (14 goals) and penalty corner flicker Mohd Hafiz Elkan while Thunderbolt will be banking on forward Mohd Azwar Abdul Rahman and midfielder Mohd Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad, who are back in the team after recovering from a motorcycle accident in January.

Thunderbolt coach Wan Mohamed Roslan said that the team “are much better with them around”.

“We lost to UniKL in the league without these two players. I don’t expect it to be easy but I believe we have the material to win this time. We’re looking at winning our third overall title,” he said.

Amirol, who has been with Thunderbolt for the last six years, is a member of the Project 2013 squad while Azwar, who joined Thun­der­bolt last season, is in the Project 2017 squad.

UniKL coach K. Embaraj is just as upbeat about his team’s chances with the presence of Shafiq and Hafiz.

“Of course, they’ll need the support of their team-mates. We’re lucky like them (Thunderbolt) that we too have a full squad to choose from,” said Embaraj.

“Shafiq is good at field goals while Hafiz is good at penalty corner flicks.

“But we also need to be careful not to give away penalty corners. Thunderbolt have a good offensive battery and that’ll be crucial. Our defensive set-up for penalty corners is very important.”

Embaraj, however, was quick to admit that Thunderbolt held the edge based on the number of titles they have won since 2010.

For the record, Thunderbolt have two league titles – 2010 and 2012 – and two overall crowns – 2011 and 2012. UniKL have only two titles – overall in 2010 and league in 2011.

“Thunderbolt are certainly the favourites if you look at what they’ve won.

“But we’ve grown from strength to strength and have a fair idea of what they can do,” said Embaraj.

“For me, the main thing is to plan and play your game rather than worry too much about what your opponents will come up with.

“Early goals will be crucial too. That’ll give the team an extra edge as it will heap pressure on the other team.”

The Star of Malaysia



Azlan Shah Cup is a platform for developing junior players: Nobbs


A file photo of India's chief hockey coach Michael Nobbs.

India’s chief hockey coach Michael Nobbs does not have high expectations from his squad in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia but said that the tournament would serve as an ideal platform for identifying players for the Junior World Cup scheduled later this year.

With an aim to build a strong reserve pool, India has fielded a squad full of juniors for the Azlan Shah Cup and rested six of its senior players, including regular skipper Sardar Singh.

Nobbs said the main idea behind this decision to field an under-strength team was to prepare the youngsters for the FIH Junior World Cup to be held in India later this year.

“We had some objectives in mind when we selected the team for the Azlan Shah Cup. Our main aim is to build a strong team for the Junior World Cup, and this can be achieved only by giving as much international exposure as possible to the junior players,” Nobbs told PTI before leaving for Ipoh, Malaysia.

Tough international hockey

“Mandeep’s (Singh) performance in the Hockey World League is a prime example of the fact that junior players need development. Mandeep found international hockey tougher than Hockey India League. He has got talent but requires development,” he said.

Nobbs said junior team coach Baljit Saini will also be accompanying the team for the Azlan Shah Cup.

Nobbs said with a long season ahead, it was also imperative to give rest to some of the already-exhausted senior players.

The Hindu



PHF, HI meeting gets delayed

KARACHI: The fate of the India-Pakistan series remains undecided as Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Qasim Zia said an expected meeting with their Indian counterparts Hockey India (HI) officials got delayed.

According to Zia, who is in Kuala Lumpur along with Secretary Asif Bajwa, the meeting with HI officials was scheduled after the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) session, which ended late yesterday evening.

He also revealed that the agenda for the PHF was to make sure that the India-Pakistan series should take place in time, while no other country has approached Pakistan at the AHF meeting for a bilateral series so far.

“The meeting with the India officials may take place any moment,” Zia told The Express Tribune. “Although the AHF meeting had a different agenda altogether, our focus is to talk about the series with India as it is the only bilateral series with any country on the cards this year so far.”

The PHF and HI had signed an agreement on the bilateral series from 2013 to 2018 annually. Pakistan were scheduled to visit India this month to play five matches whereas India was to play the second leg in Pakistan; however, political tensions between the neighboring countries forced the federations to delay the series.

Meanwhile, according to national coach Hanif Khan, the series with India would help revive the dying interest of the people in the sport.

“India-Pakistan matches are always big” said Khan. “I believe that if the series goes forward, it will revive the fans’ interest. Right now everyone talks about cricket but the series with India will probably bring back the old fervor for the game in the people. It will remind everyone that hockey is the national sport of our country.”

The Express Tribune



India, Pakistan set to revive bilateral hockey series

ISLAMABAD: After two months of political tensions, India and Pakistan are set to bring back normalcy in the field of sports with the revival of the bilateral hockey series between the two feuding neighbours which is being planned for March-April.

Top officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), including president Qasim Zia and secretary Asif Bajwa, are scheduled to meet Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra to finalise the plans for the bilateral series during the Asian Hockey Federation meeting at Kuala Lumpur, the Express Tribune reports.

Bajwa said that the revival of the series was in the interest of both the countries and added that the PHF was looking forward to it.

However, a PHF official said that the body may persuade HI officials to send their team first as they fear that the Indian government might hinder their return visit after Pakistan's tour.

The official further said there was also a possibility that the two bodies could agree to financial compensations in millions for a team in case it withdraws from making the return trip, adding that the schedule of the series will be announced once both bodies reach a consensus on the changes in the contract.

Recently, Pakistan confirmed that India will be coming over for a snooker series in late March.

In December last year, the two counterparts signed an agreement that would see them hold Pakistan-India bilateral Test series between 2013 to 2018, which became doubtful due to political tensions and were aggravated further when the Pakistan players had to return without playing the inaugural Hockey India League due to security threats, the report added.

The Times of India



Sardar wins top Asian award

THE Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) held its mid term Congress in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and presented the AHF Players' awards to the 2011 season winners.

Sardar Singh of India was picked as the Best Player for 2011. He was also named the player of the tournament for the 2010 and 2012 Azlan Shah Cup.

Rika Komazawa of Japan was named as the Women Player of the Year.

The AHF Youth Player of the year award went to Muhamad Rizwan of Pakistan while the women youth player award went to Ritu Rani of India.

However, none of the recipients attended the function and were represented by their respective officials.

AFH secretary general Tan Sri P. Alagendra said: "Asian hockey is on the rise and we have players to match the best in the world.

"However, we still need to do more in Asia and reviving club tournaments is a vital aspect towards the development of the sport in Asia.

"We also have to pay more emphasis to indoor hockey and AHF looks towards ways and means to get more teams to play in this tournaments," said Alagendra.

On the AHF-MHC Raja Ashman Academy, Alagendra said: "It has progressed well and we have two courses lined up during the Azlan Shah Cup next week.

"Umpires and coaches will undergo training to equip them better in carrying out their tasks. We also welcome teams to use the academy for purpose of preparing teams for regional competitions."

New Straits Times



Sardar now Asian Player of the Year

s2h team


Indian jewel in the crown Sardar Singh is proud winner of the Asian Player of the year for 2012.

Asian Hockey Federation, in its congress now going in Malaysia, has declared him as the Best Player of the Asia.

Veteran forward Rika Komazowa of Japan, who was recently in India participating in the Hockey World League has been declared Best Women Player for 2012.

Sardar Singh has been in the limelight in the last two years with his extra-ordinary game skills and its fitting he got the coveted award

He has been declared Player of the tournament of huge popular Hockey India League (rs.25 lacs), following which another title came calling in the Hockey World League. He was honoured as the Best Player of the tournament (rs.2 lac) too.

Kumar Subramaniam of Malaysia, who represented Ranchi Rhinos in the Hockey India League was last year's winner.

Its also double delight for India, as Ritu Rani has been declared AHF Youth player for the same year.

Pakistan's Md. Rizwan Jr gets the same award for men

Basic Data source: Malaysian Hockey blogspot run by journalist Satwant Dhaliwal

Stick2Hockey.com



Danish Mujtaba: When he loaned money to his brother Hamza

Tazeen Qureshy




Some players want limelight. Some others shun. There are others who don’t know they are so. They just focus on game, as nothing else count. Newly appointed Indian captain Danish Mujtaba belongs to the last category. The young heart will lead Indian challenge at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which starts late next week in Malaysia.

Before the nation turns to him for captain’s perspective, before the field goings on consume away the news space, www.stick2hockey.com turn to him and his mentor- brother Hamza Mujtaba to dig out those etc moments that make up Danish -- as he is to the family and to the world.

Indian hope in Ipoh, Danish is not a dasher either on or off the turf, but a polite impact maker whatever he does. A definite darling of all the coaches under whom he happened to train, Danish has come a long to bring his hockey family into the limelight. His elder brother Hamza Mujtaba, whose footsteps Danish scrupulously followed before making his own footprint, joins s2h with abandon joy to let us more about the new leader.

Here is Danish Mujtaba for you.

And, first things first.

Danish Mujtaba is not only elated but also feel honored to lead India.

“When my coach (Michael Nobbs) rang me and gave the news it felt nice, very nice. Its a great moment for me, for my family. Hope to live up to the responsibility bestowed upon me,” excited Danish said after much prodding, after a strenuous work out in the national stadium on Thursday.

“We have a very young side this year. But, everyone is supportive and we make a good team.”

It’s a fitting elevation for the 24-year old Allahabadi, who had an amazing start to this year. Ever since he commenced his international career 6,7 years ago, every year has been remarkably so. Danish dazzled for Delhi Waveriders in the hugely popular Hockey India League in January-February. With a goal here, there, when needed and being omnipresent on the turf which needed his services to the hilt, he did his part well to propel the team to complete success. Then came the World hockey League Round 2, where he was convincing too, even landing on the podium to receive ‘Player of the Match’ against his twin strikes that settled the Bangladesh fire before it engulfed India as the neighbour would turn the table and strike first in the unexpectedly tough encounter that India had to endure in its last engagement in the R2 FIH tournament.

Playing to potential, and giving hundred percent to the team’s cause came naturally to Danish, as this is what he learnt from early days since taking up the stick.

Danish’s tryst with hockey began early. He was led in his pursuit of hockey by his brother Hamza Mujtaba, an established hockey player himself (He played in the last South Asian Federation Games).

Recalling their childhood days, elder Mujtaba says, “Our grandfather and maternal uncle used to play hockey. So, our interest in hockey was obvious. Initially, my elder brother Shariq and I started playing hockey. Danish was about 2-3 years at that time.”

Danish adds: “As a kid, I never got toys to play. I only had hockey sticks of all sizes at my place. If we purchased newspapers, it was only to get hockey news; if we had a television set, it was only to watch hockey matches. That was the kind of exposure we had for hockey at home,” he says with a twinkle in his eyes.

When Hamza joined Sports College, Lucknow in 1995, Danish was just seven years old. Four years later, the elder Mujtaba paved his way to join the Delhi based Air India Academy where Waverriders’ coach AK Bansal was there to hone his skills. Soon, he landed up in the Indian Oil team, for whom he still continues to play. These successes came much later in his life. As a beginner in hockey, Danish idealized ‘Hamza bhai’ while growing up. He followed his footsteps almost madly. He wanted play hockey first like his elder, enroll in the same Sports College where Hamza would, and then the same academy, SAI-Air India National Hockey Academy.

“Danish being the youngest child in our family, he was pampered a lot. However, right from the beginning, he has been a shy guy, may be a big introvert. He is not open talking to people especially girls. He runs away from girls,” Hamza laughs off.

Danish made his junior international debut under coach AK Bansal. In 2009, he got a call to join a senior camp under the then newly-appointed coach Jose Brasa. For a couple of matches, he was not given a chance in the playing eleven, but gradually ensured his elevation. There has been no stopping since then. In fact the big bash for the Mujtaba came in 2010 when Danish played the World Cup and later when he was selected for the 2012 Olympics.

“I cannot explain what a matter of joy it was to the entire family when the news of Danish’s selection for the last Olympics broke. Our family has been associated with hockey for a long time but nobody ever played Olympics. Danish is the first Olympian of our family. The fact that he will be called as ‘Olympian Danish’ all his life is the best thing we could have ever expected. Plus he becoming the captain for Azlan Shah is like an icing on the cake. We will always be thankful to the Almighty for all that he has given us,” says visibly elated elder Mujtaba.

So, what interests our Mr. Captain other than hockey?

Danish himself responds.

“I take up everything that comes my way. However, I like tennis, swimming and flying kites. In fact, my ammi (mother) always had a grudge against my kites as I would often bunk studies just to fly kites the whole day”.

Hamza also has an interesting episode about his Olympian brother.

“When I was leaving for Delhi to join the Air India Academy, the money my mother gave me was insufficient for my stay there. Around that time, Danish had with him some Rs. 400 as he had just got a school scholarship. He loaned all the money to me. That was very generous of him.” And did Hamza return the loan?

“After I got a job, I bought him new clothes and returned the amount. But Danish would not take it. I could have never repaid the amount in one go. So, I used to save coins in a piggy bank and would like to give it to him once it was full. But he would not accept anyway each time I offered. Though, today by the grace of God, we have earned way too ahead.”

After 14 years, Danish too remembers the incident vividly. “I never wanted him to return the money. Simply because I gave him when he needed, and with god's grace I had that money that time".

What we see on turf, how our players entertain and that kind of stuff, doesn't come just like that. There is history of hearts behind every player's origin and growth, as Hamza-Danish's loan episode vouchsafes.

This is exactly the foundation on which our castle of Indian hockey is raised, and that's why the game connects to people of this country.

Stick2Hockey.com



Affan Yousaff takes Bhopal college to final



Young sensation Affan Yousaff continues to dazzle in the blue Riband of Indian colleges hockey being played at Gwalior at present.

Student-star Affan Yousuff lived upto his top billing to take Jawaharlal Nehru College, Bhopal, to the Sunday final of the 20th SAIL-Nehru College Championship being held in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.

Affan’s timely twin strikes helped his college beat fighting Al Ameen College of Bangalore. Affan plays for Indian Oil Corporation team nowadays and used all his skills to steer his team to success on Saturday.

On the other semifnal, which went one sided, was dominated by Rourkela’s Municipal College as it outpaced reigning champions DAV Jalandhar 5-1.

The second semifinal played under floodlights turned out to be the toast of the much acclaimed championship, as it went down the wire.

Bhopal college was sitting pretty with a goal from Vikas Chaudhury which he struck in the first half. Affan added another in the 54th minute, but 61st minute reply from the visiting side electrified the crowd. Even after Affan added another on in the 65th minute, Bangalore team did not give up, struck one in the dying minutes of the game.

Bhopal survived the scare to meet the Municipal College tomorrow.

Earlier in the first semis, Jalandhar team proved to be sitting duck for the team from Eastern part of India.

Deepak Kullu’s brace and a goal from Rabindra Kujur gave 3-1 lead for the wining side, and in the second half Sunil Topno and Nobin Kullu added further to consign Jalandhar team to dustbin.

Accordingly to Kukoo Walia, organizing Secretary, the final will be telecast live.

“I am trying for the hardline match Live also”, he said.

The hardline match will be played 14 hrs while the final at 16 hrs.

Stick2Hockey.com



Swap beat Sjal in hockey match

LAHORE – Sports Writers Association of Punjab (SWAP) scored a hard earned 1-0 win over Sports Journalists Association of Lahore (SJAL) in an exhibition match here at the outer ground of National Stadium on Saturday.

Pakistan hockey team head coach and manager Akhtar Rasool was the chief guest on the occasion and both the teams were introduced to him before the start of the match. The only goal of the match was scored by  Shahzad Malik.

Speaking on the occasion, Akhtar termed the match a very positive activity to keep them in good trim. “By playing hockey, they will be knowing the technical aspects of the game to make their expert opinions balanced,” he said. “We welcome positive criticism on the good or bad performance of the team and we believe that mediamen’s constructive opinion or criticism help us in improving our national team’s performance.”

He said Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was endeavouring to put hockey at the right track and the present team management was taking every measure to boost the performance of the team by improving skills and techniques of the players. He urged the sports journalists to keep playing hockey and other sports on regular basis to improve their health standards. He accepted the proposal of SJAL to become its hockey patron and said he would provide necessary facilities for arranging hockey matches between the sports journalists.

The Nation