News for 10 March 2013

All the news for Sunday 10 March 2013


World League shock as Uruguay stun Scotland

50th Ranked Uruguay triumph, while USA and T&T also win in Rio



Action from Uruguay's victory against Scotland in the World League Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Photo: FIH / Giselle Ouchana)

Uruguay produced the biggest shock so far in World League Round 2, with the 50th ranked South Americans recording a stunning victory against 19th ranked Scotland.

Uruguay’s 2-1 triumph over one of the tournament favourites has opened up the competition, with three teams still capable of claiming one of the top two promotion spots.

United States won the top of the table clash with Chile 2-1, a result which has given them a one point lead over Chile and a two point gap over the defeated Scots.

In the first encounter of the day, Trinidad & Tobago finally got themselves on the winning way with a 3-1 win over host side Brazil. Extended reports on each match can be found below.

Trinidad & Tobago 3-1 Brazil

Trinidad recorded their first win of the tournament with a 3-1 victory over host side Brazil.

The first half was evenly balanced in terms of possession with few chances to either side, but it was Trinidad who made the breakthrough in the 11th minute. An initial shot was blocked by the Brazilian goalkeeper but Avion Ashton followed up to sweep the rebound low into the net for the opener.   

Trinidad doubled their lead at their fourth penalty corner when Blair Wynne fired the ball high to the keeper`s right. Brazil earned their first penalty corner close to the interval but Petal Derry in the Trinidad goal made a fine diving save to deny the home favourites.

However, Brazil shocked the 27th ranked side by pulling a goal back through a penalty corner early in the second half, with the strike from the top of the circle being deflected past the keeper by captain Patricia Boos. The home side then pressed for the equaliser and certainly had their chances, with four further penalty corners in the period.

Brazil`s momentum was interrupted by a yellow card to Karolina Sluis before Trinidad had a goal ruled out after consultation by the umpires.  However, Trinidad did finally get their third in the final second of the match, Krizia Layne took advantage of the Brazilian goalkeeper`s failure to clear the danger and just had time to poke the ball home.

Chile 1-2 USA

USA kept their interest in qualification for Round 3 with a 2-1 win over a tenacious Chile side, and there was a tense finale at the end of the contest.

USA – who required a win to ensure their continued interest in a top two place to earn qualification to the third round – dominated proceedings in the first half but failed to convert pressure into goals.

After a stalemate first ten minutes, USA were unlucky not to take lead when the Chilean defence failed to clear the danger and Katie O`Donnell hit the post with the goalkeeper beaten.  Continued American pressure saw the Chilean defence living dangerously, and it took a brilliant goal-line save by Camilla Caram on her 100th cap to prevent USA taking the lead.   Craig Parnham`s team then wasted two penalty corners in their quest for that illusive opening goal.

Towards the end of the half Chile suddenly appeared as an attacking force, Andrea Greene just failed to get on the end of a cross and they made nothing of their first penalty corner.

USA made a lively start to the second half and within four minutes they took the lead. Emily Wold was allowed to move into the circle totally unopposed and fired a low shot into the net.   The Americans continued to dominate and should have gone further ahead but Katie O`Donnell and Melissa Gonzalez both missed open goals.  

A dour midfield contest developed with several green cards, but the Americans stole a 2-0 lead with four minutes left, Melissa Gonzalez scored a low shot after the initial penalty corner had broken down, and the contest seemed over.   But back came Chile with two penalty corners, with Camilla Caram scoring from the second PC with a powerful low shot.   But the strike proved too little too late as the Americans comfortably ran down the clock.

Uruguay 2-1 Scotland

Uruguay made a mockery of the world rankings in the final match of the day, with 50th ranked team producing the shock of the tournament by beating 19th ranked Scotland 2-1. The result has opened up the race for the coveted top two places and qualification for Round 3 of the World League.

The Scots had most of the pressure throughout the game, but Uruguay were always dangerous on the break, and that was the pattern throughout.   Uruguay defended in depth, a tactic that frustrated the lively Scottish forwards. Against the run of play, the Uruguayans opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Janine Stanley deflected a penalty corner strike past the Scottish goalkeeper.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first, with Scotland applying pressure while Uruguay looked to capitalise on the counter-attack. Scotland`s chances fell to Nikki Kidd and Nikki Lloyd, but no breakthrough was achieved. In fact, it was Uruguay who doubled their advantage when they won a penalty corner thanks to another breakaway, with Ana Lucia de Maria forcing the ball home following a goal-mouth scramble.

The Scots finally had some luck when Uruguay goalkeeper Rossana Passelle turned a cross from Linda Clement into her own goal to reduce the deficit. Although the Scots mounted a few late flurries in the final four minutes, their own goal proved simply to be a consolation as Uruguay comfortably held out.

FIH site



Scotland suffer setback against Uruguay


Scotland Captain Linda Clement got a consolation goal for the national side, credit: Pedro Montiero

Scotland must beat Chile tomorrow in their final FIH World League Round 2 match after suffering a 2-1 setback at the hands of Uruguay in Rio today.

A 2-1 win for USA over the Chileans earlier in the day means the Scots now sit in third place outside the qualification spots for Round 3. Nothing less than a win tomorrow will do for the national side.

Amidst temperatures soaring well past the 40 degrees mark in the Brazilian capital, Scotland produced their poorest performance of the tournament so far.  An early penalty corner looked promising, but the ball broke to Holly Cram whose shot missed the target.

The game descended into a midfield stalemate, but the Scots had another chance to take the lead, this time Ali Bell`s cross found Vikki Bunce whose snap shot went wide.   Although the Scottish players continued to dominate, Uruguay defended well in depth and no clear-cut chances emerged.

Although underdogs, it was Uruguay who took the lead in the 27th minute; Gordon Shepherd’s side were caught in a breakaway, and at the resulting penalty corner Uruguay found the net from a deflection off Janine Stanley.

It was all Scotland in the second half as they pushed for the equaliser but Uruguay were always dangerous in the break.   Nikki Kidd had early chances, including a drag flick from a penalty corner, then a snap shot well saved by the goalkeeper, and Nikki Lloyd brought the best out of the keeper.

But it was Uruguay who doubled their lead, at a breakaway they won a penalty corner and at the resulting scramble forced the ball over the line by Patricia Campos.

With 15 minutes left, the Scots gained a lifeline from a fortunate deflection that found the back of the net, Linda Clement getting the consolation goal.   Scotland pressed for the equaliser but luck deserted them and Uruguay held out for an unexpected victory.


Scotland & Giffnock defender Kaz Marshall evades the attentions of the Uruguay forward, credit: Pedro Montiero

Scottish Hockey Union media release



U.S Women’s Field Hockey Team in strong position to advance to World League Round


Team USA spoiled Chile’s perfect record with a 2-1 victory this afternoon

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was sweltering conditions again today and arguably the hottest day yet at the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Temperatures soared to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit as the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team battled the heat and Chile, coming away with a crucial 2-1 victory. The win puts Team USA in strong position to advance to World League Round 3.

“We knew we needed to come out and get a result today,” said midfielder Katelyn Falgowski. “It wasn’t always pretty but we executed our game plan and got the job done in tough conditions.”  

“I think today’s performance was what it needed to be,” said head coach Craig Parnham. “The conditions were difficult today, the hottest we have played in yet. We would have preferred to play better and there are things we need to work on but ultimately today was about getting a result.”

Despite controlling the majority of the match against Chile, Team USA struggled to find the back of the net in a scoreless first half performance. Defensively the U.S. was strong at spoiling Chile’s limited scoring opportunities.

"It's pleasing that we continue to create a number of very good scoring opportunities but at the moment we just are not converting," Parnham said. "The players are working hard and trying to do the right things. I am pleased with our endeavor and we just now need to be a little bit more clinical.”

Emily Wold (Freehold, N.J.) was quick to put Team USA on the board after halftime, recording the second goal of her national team career in the 38th minute. Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) added a security goal in the 66th minute with a great shot to the corner of the cage.

Chile earned four penalty corners throughout the match and capitalized on the fourth, closing the gap on Team USA’s 2-0 lead in the 67th minute. However, two goals for the U.S. proved to be enough today to blemish Chile’s perfect record in the tournament.

The win puts the U.S. in the top two, dependent on the outcome of the final match today between Scotland and Uruguay. The U.S. will face Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow in the final match of the tournament. Trinidad has had a difficult World League Round 2 campaign, producing their first win this morning against Brazil.

“The win today puts us in strong position,” said Parnham. “We have been watching Trinidad and Tobago all week and will be well prepared for them tomorrow. Our focus remains on qualifying for World League Round 3 it will be a big step for this group and it is important we get there to expose a number of players to that level of hockey.”

USFHA media release



Pakistan edge New Zealand



It was a wet start to the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as rain disrupted proceedings, forcing the organisors to move all games by 30 minutes.

And when play got underway. Pakistan edged defending champions New Zealand 4-3 in an exciting tie that saw New Zealand coming from three goals down to equalise but succumbed to a Muhammad Imran hattrick eventually.

"It was a good performance despite the fact that we lost the match as the players showed great determination despite being 3-0 down at one stage," sad New Zealand coach Colin Batch.

"It will be interesting against Malaysia tomorrow as we played them twice already this week but this is the one that counts, and we aim to win it this time around.

"The noise level affected the players and I expect it to be higher tmorrow and the players need to adapt."

Pakistan took the lead in the 19th minute as Muhammad Imran converted a penalty corner, his waist high flick giving NZ keeper Devon Manchester no chance whatsoever.

Hardly had the cheers died down that Pakistan struck again, this time Muhammad Waqas breaking through on the right, drawing out Manchester before squaring it to Abdul Haseem Khan who had the simplest of tasks slotting into the empty goal to put Pakistan 2-0 up in the 21st minute.

Imran then took his personal tally to two goals as he once again converted a penalty corner in the 28th minute to put Pakistan 3-0 ahead.

New Zealand reduced the deficit via their third penalty corner as the drag push by Kane Russel in the 30th minute sailed under the despairing dive of Imran Butt.

With Pakistan opting to defend their lead, New Zealand laid siege to the Pakistan goal and were duly rewarded.

Blair Tarrant weaved his magic in the semi circle, dodging past two defenders before slotting the ball past Imran to put New Zealand within a goal of Pakistan in the 52nd minute.

And three minutes later Andy Hayward made no mistake from New Zealand's fourth penalty corner to put his team on level terms.

Just when many though that Pakistan were doomed, Imran stepped up to complete his hattrick in the 58th minute to give his team a 4-3 lead.

And this time Pakistan held on to it to bag all three points.

"Though New Zealand came back from three goals down, our players showed good composure and held their nerves," said Pakistan coach Akhtar Rasool.

"It is a good win but we made things difficult for ourselves and should not allow this to happen again.

"Australia are an entirely different proposition and I look forward to that match."

Official Sultan Azlan Shah Cup site



Australia deny India



Australia defeated India 4-3 in their opening match of the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.

Australia were clearly the better side although playing with five players making their debut.

"We played relatively well given the fact that five players were making their debut and it is a first as a coach for me," said Australian coach Ric Charlesworth.

"But India were gifted two penalty corners and this is why we need video referrals and I am all for it.

"Playing Pakistan tomorrow will not be easy as they have the best side here, but Malaysians have their full side if I may add.

"But we lost Tim Bates through injury and he will no longer take part in the tournament."

For India coach Michael Nobbs, the fact that he had 10 players who could feature in the Junior World Cup gave him hope that Indian hockey is on the right track.

"We lost the match in the first five minutes of the second half and this all boils down to inexperience," said Nobbs.

"It was a commendable performance nonetheless and its a good learning curve for the youngsters.

Australia were awarded their first penalty corner in the 19th minute but Timothy Deavin failed to get his drag flick off the ground.

Though Australia created a few chances, the agile Indian keeper PR Sreejesh kept them at bay with fantastic saves.

Sreejesh was finally beaten in the 24th minute as he padded away a Deavin penalty corner attempt only for the lurking Matt Ghodes to hammer the rebound into the roof of the net to give Australia a well deserved lead.

Australia held on to their lead till the halftime hooter as India played aimlessly for the rest of the first half.

The Aussies got off to a good start in the second half as a penalty corner in the 38th minute was finished off by Glenn Simpson.

A minute later it was 3-0 for Australia as Matt Ghodes deflected in a hot at the far post and India were stunned.

Off their next attack India were awarded a penalty corner and Rupinderpal Singh made no mistake to reduce the deficit in the 40th minute to 3-1.

Mandeep Singh could have reduce the deficit in the 50th minute but skied the ball infront of goal.

But India were not to be denied as Malak Singh scored the second in the very next minute, his shot sailing in under the pad of Aussie keeper George Bazely from an acute angle.

Australia did not take long to restore their two goal advantage but were a shade lucky.

Robert Hammond played a penalty corner push to Trent Mitton whose deft touch beat Sreejesh.

Rupinderpal on the goal line could have stopped the ball but opted to play a cricket stroke which missed the ball nd Australia were 4-2 up in the 53rd minute.

Though Rupinderpal scored in the 68th minute, it was too late for India to salvage anything from the match.

Official Sultan Azlan Shah Cup site



Malaysia stun Korea



The parking bays were full, and the Azlan Shah Stadium was reverberating with deafening sounds of vuvuzalas as the fans cheered Malaysia to start on the right footing.

The prayers were answered as two late goals by veteran Chua Boon Huat, playing in his 11th Azlan Shah Cup gave them a 3-2 win.

There were some magical early moments, only for the final connect to go haywire as experienced players like Chua Boon Huat, his 11th Azlan Shah Cup, missed.

And after 12 minutes, coach Paul Revington brought in Baljit Singh to defend and Faisal Saari and to attack, together with Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, as the Koreans looked like they had settled issues with their jittrey start.

In the 18th minute, Malaysia were down to nine-men as Baljit and Mohd Razie Rahim, both defenders, were shown the green card but the Koreans could not capatalise on the situation.

Malaysia finally won their first penalty corner in the 20th minute when Shukri Mutalib was brought down by Lee Seung Hoon.

The Korean runners were focused on Razie, the No 1 flicker, but the ball was pushed towards Faisal who almost tore the netting for the first goal of the tournament.

After that Malaysia slowed the pace to disrupt the Korean style of play.

The second half was all Korea as they piled the pressure on the Malaysian defence. And they were duly rewarded in the 57th minute when Nam Hyun Woo sent his drag flick past a despairing dive of Malaysian keeper S. Kumar.

Suddenly Korea managed to weave through the Malaysian defence with relative ease and could have led had it not been the agility of Kumar who denied Hyun Hye Sung the very next minute.

Chua then struck with two goals within the space of a minute through neat finishing to give Malaysia a great start.

He first struck in the 68th minute with a deft reverse stick hit to give Malaysia a 2-1 lead only for Yon Sung Hoon to draw Korea level within a few seconds.

But Chua was not to be denied his moment of glory as his deflection from six yards out in the 69th minute gave Malaysia all three points.

Official Sultan Azlan Shah Cup site



Boon Huat the hero

By JUGJET SINGH



Malaysia’s Muhammad Marhan Mohd Jalil tries to dribble past South Korean defenders in their Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh yesterday. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

MALAYSIA needed the tonic from 11-time Azlan Shah Cup veteran Chua Boon Huat to beat South Korea 3-2 in a highly entertaining match in Ipoh yesterday.

After taking the lead, Malaysia allowed Korea to claw back, and Chua's brace saved the blushes for the hosts.

The parking bays were full, and the Azlan Shah Stadium was reverberating with deafening sounds of vuvuzelas as the fans cheered Malaysia on to start on the right footing.

There were some magical early moments, only for the final connection to go haywire as experienced players like Chua Boon Huat, his 11th Azlan Shah Cup, missed.

After 12 minutes, coach Paul Revington brought in Baljit Singh to defend and attackers Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, as the Koreans looked like they had settled issues with their jittery start.

By the 18th minute, Malaysia were down to nine men as Baljit and Razie Rahim, both defenders, were shown the green card but the Koreans could not capitalise on the situation.

Malaysia finally won their first penalty corner in the 20th minute when Shukri Mutalib was brought down by Lee Seung Hoon.

The Korean runners were focused on Razie, the No 1 flicker, but the ball was pushed towards Faizal Shaari who almost tore the netting for their first goal of the tournament.

And as the half-time hooter blew, Malaysia had the lion's share of possession but only one goal to show, while the Koreans did not even win a single penalty corner or a shot at goal.

After the restart, Malaysia were again blunt in finishing off their chances, while the Koreans had started making inroads by the 50th minute.

The script changed in the 57th minute when Korea won their first penalty corner and Nam Hyun Woo made it count to equalise.

Boon Huat almost saved the day with a reverse stick goal in the 68th minute only to see Yoon Sung Hoon equalise in the 69th minute.

But Boon Huat, refused to share points and deflected the winner in the 70th minute to send the crowd into wild celebrations.

Malaysia coach Paul Revington said: "It was certainly a pleasing three points, but not a very pleasing performance. We played well in the first 35 minutes, and then gave away the balls too easily in the second half.

"However, the last five minutes of the match belonged to us and this is a welcome chance from the past where we normally give away easy goals in the tail end of the match."

In another match, World No 2 Australia struggled to beat India, even after taking a 3-0 lead, only to win by a slim 4-3 margin.

Australia created an early cushion with goals from Matt Ghodes (24th, 39th) and Glenn Simpson (38th) and even though India fought back gallantly, Trent Mitton's 53rd minute goal denied them.

The India goals were scored by Rupinder Pal Singh (40th, 68th) and Malak Singh (51st).

Malaysia play New Zealand today, and Kiwi coach Colin Batch said: "It will be interesting against Malaysia tomorrow (today) as we played them twice already this week (NZ won 3-2 then lost 3-2) but this is the one that counts, and we aim to win it this time around.

"The noise level affected the players and I expect it to be higher tomorrow and the players need to adapt."

In the first match of the day, Pakistan beat defending champions New Zealand 4-3.

A hat-trick from Muhammad Imran (19th, 28th, 58th) and Abdul Haseem Khan's (21st) goal handed them the three points.

New Zealand, down 3-0, fought back to level at 3-3 with goals Kane Russel (30th), Blair Tarrant (52nd) and Andy Hayward (56th); but Pakistan ruled the day.

New Straits Times



India go down to Australia in opening match

IPOH (Malaysia): A young Indian side put up a spirited fight before going down 3-4 to six-time champions Australia in the opening encounter of the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament on Saturday.

India, who have fielded a second string side did challenge their superior opponents but conceding two goals within two minutes of the second half became the turning point of the game.

For Australia, Matt Gohdes scored in 24th and 39th minute while Glenn Simpson (39th minute) and Trent Milton (53rd) were the other scorers.

Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh converted both the penalty corners in the 40th and 68th minute while Malak Singh scored a brilliant field goal from an acute angle in the 51st minute.

The winners lead 1-0 at the break. Australia took control of the game within the first 10 minutes during which Indian goalkeeper P Sreejesh effected a couple of smart saves when Tim Bates took a few of shots.

However, the Indian defence finally caved in the 24th minute when the Aussies got their first penalty corner.

While Sreejesh saved the hit, Gohdes who had pushed the ball, snapped it hard from the rebound to give his team a 1-0 lead.

The Aussies started with a bang in the second half as they got two goals within two minutes. First it was a penalty corner, which Glenn Simpson converted with the Indian defence being sold a dummy by one of the Australian players standing in the opposition striking circle.

Before the Indians could get their acts together, it became 3-0 as Gohdesh got his second goal in the 39th minute.

In the 41st minute, India managed to get their first short corner which Rupinder Pal converted. His drag flick was a powerful one which didn't give the Aussie defence a chance.

In the 51st minute, talented Malak scored the best out of the seven goals in the match. Receiving a pass from the top of the 'D', the player raced down the right wing and from an acute angle beat the Aussie goalkeeper, who had closed in on the near post.

With scoreline reading 2-3, one expected Michael Nobbs' boys to go all out for the elusive equaliser but the Australians used all their experience to increase their lead against the run of play.

As the pressure increased on the Aussie defence, they went on the counter and earned a penalty corner with the Indian defenders faltering for an umpteenth time on the day.

Finally, when Rupinder Pal got his second and team's third goal, it was too late in the day and the Australians managed to hold on to their slender lead and logged home three points.

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs said he had enough reasons to be pleased with the performance of his wards.

"Australia's two goals early in the second half unsettled us. But I am happy with the way the boys fought back and managed to narrow the gap," Nobbs said.

"We brought a development squad here and I am satisfied with the performance of the team against Australia today."

India's captain in this tournament, Danish Mujtaba endorsed the view of his coach and said they have learnt valuable lessons from today's performance against Australia.

"A few areas the team has to work upon. But Rupinder was terrific with penalty corner conversions today," he said.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth did not look entirely pleased with his side's performance.

"A hard lesson for the youngsters. The inexperience showed when we gifted two goals to India," Charlesworth said.

"Penalty corners are critical and conceding those in tandem almost spelt doom for us."

Charlesworth also said that losing Timothy Bates due to a stomach cramp midway through the first half unsettled the composition of his side.

The Times of India



India lose 3-4 to Australia

India lost 3-4 to Australia in their opening match of the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Malyasia on Saturday.

India made a valiant effort to come back into the game after going 0-3 down but Trent Mitton's 53rd minute strike proved to be the difference between the two teams.

Australia started the brighter of the two and earned a penalty corner in the 19th minute but Timothy Deavin'sdrag flick was intercepted Manpreet.

Australia attacked with great fervour and created quite a few chances but India's goalkeeper PR Sreejesh kept them at bay with fantastic saves.

Sreejesh, though, was finally beaten in the 24th minute as he padded away a Deavin penalty corner attempt only for the lurking Matt Ghodes to hammer the rebound into the roof of the net to give Australia a well deserved lead.

India lacked creativity in the first half and created few chances but fortunately still went into the break trailing by just one.

The Aussies though got off to a flying start in the second with Glenn Simpson finishing off a penalty corner in the 38th minute to give his team a two goal lead.

There was no let-up for the India defence as Matt Ghodes got the third for Australia only a minute later.

Rupinderpal Singh reduced the deficit scoring India's first goal in the tournament in the 40th minute.

Mandeep Singh missed a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit further but inexplicably missed in front of an open goal.

But India were not to be denied as Malak Singh scored the second in the very next minute, his shot sailing in under the pad of Aussie keeper George Bazely from an acute angle.

Australia did not take long to restore their two goal advantage but were a shade lucky.

Robert Hammond played a penalty corner push to Trent Mitton whose deft touch beat Sreejesh.

Though Rupinderpal scored his brace in the 68th minute, it was too late for India to salvage anything from the match.

India next play South Korea on Sunday.

DNA



DANISH MUJTABA: Two quick goals were the turning point

B.David




Captain Danish Mujtaba, though happy the way his team fought back in the match against Australia in the Azlan Shah opener, is in tune with his coach's views, and felt there were valuable lessons for his team.

"A few areas the team has to work out and two goals in quick time was the turning point,'' he said after the match.

He was happy at the two other goals India struck through Rupinder.

Danish, evidently happy at the two scorching penalty corner conversions of defender Rupinder Pal Singh, said these two goals mirrored our fight back spirit.

Australia was just a goal ahead till the half time, but struck a brace of goals within two minutes after lemon break. Danish, while considering this as the turning point, praised Rupinder Pal, who made 2 goals out of 2 penalty corners.

However, Australia coach was not happy with his team despite winning

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said that the margin of his side's 4-3 win over India does not really portray the Aussie grip over the match.

"It should have been better than that. Our youngsters learnt a hard lesson. You can never become complacent despite your lead and the inexperience showed in gifting two soft goals to India'', said the former Australian great.

"Penalty corners are critical and conceding those in tandem almost spelt doom for us,'' said Charlesworth. "Both the penalty corners were doubtful and both were converted. These things happen.So one should never relax as mistakes like that can change the complexion of the game,'' he felt.

Not having their main stay Timothy Bates due to stomach cramps midway through the first half did unsettle the composition of the Aussies.

Indian coach Michael Nobbs said he had enough reasons to be pleased at the fightback coming back strongly to narrow the gap.

"The boys played brilliant hockey. It is the youngest team here. We are building a new team and it is baptism by fire for these youngsters. Considering that 10 out of them will be playing the Junior World Cup for India augurs well," he said.

Stick2Hockey.com



Imran treble helps Pakistan register thrilling win



Skipper Imran scored an impressive hat-trick to help Pakistan kick off their Azlan Shah Cup campaign in style yesterday. Photo: FILE AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran led from the front as he scored a hat-trick that helped his side pip defending champions New Zealand 4-3 in the opening match of the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday.

“Though New Zealand came back from three goals down, our players showed good composure and held on to their nerves,” said Pakistan coach Akhtar Rasool. “It is a good win, but again we made things difficult for ourselves and should not allow this to happen again.”

The start of the tournament was disrupted by showers forcing the organisers to move all the matches 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled play.

The greenshirts pushed for an opening right from the start and were rewarded for their efforts when Imran converted a penalty corner in the 19th minute.

Pakistan changed gears from there on by playing aggressively which helped them double their lead just two minutes later, when forward Abdul Haseem Khan tapped in an empty goal with assistance from winger Muhammad Waqas Sharif.

Leading 2-0, Pakistan were in no mood to show mercy as they increased their lead in the 28th minute when Imran scored from another penalty corner. At this stage, it was curtains for New Zealand but they pulled one back against the run of play as Kane Russel scored on the half-hour mark.

New Zealand went into the break with some hopes of a fightback and returned with a more meaningful display as Blair Tarrant weaved his magic in the semi circle, dodging past two defenders before slotting the ball past Imran Butt to cut down his team’s deficit to just one. Three minutes later Andy Hayward made no mistake from New Zealand’s fourth penalty corner to put his team on level terms.

But Imran shattered the Kiwis’ dream of a victory by scoring the ultimate winner in the 58th minute and Pakistan held onto their lead till the end to bag important three points.

Pakistan will play against Australia today, and Akhtar stated that the favourites were an entirely different challenge and the match would be even more interesting than the opening one.

The Express Tribune

 



Black Sticks edged by Pakistan in Azlan opener


Blair Tarrant in action at the Champions Trophy in Australia

Despite a valiant second half comeback the Black Sticks Men have been defeated 4-3 by Pakistan in their opening game of the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia on Saturday night.

The Kiwis started strongly but were punished for a flat patch midway through the first half with Pakistan scoring three unanswered goals in the space of 10 minutes.

Kane Russell finally got the Black Sticks back in the game, converting a penalty corner just minutes before the whistle to make the score 3-1 at halftime.

The Black Sticks continued their momentum after the break with Blair Tarrant (52nd minute) and Andy Hayward (56th minute) both scoring in quick succession to level the game at 3-all with 20 minutes still to play.

But just minutes later Muhammad Imran delivered his hat-trick goal to edge Pakistan back into the lead. It was a lead that New Zealand couldn’t erase despite desperate efforts on attack.

Although the narrow loss will be hard to take, the young New Zealand side without several veteran players has plenty of positives to take away from the game.

Black Sticks head coach Colin Batch was pleased with the grit shown by his players to fight their way back into the game.

“It was a good performance despite the fact that we lost the match as the players showed great determination despite being 3-0 down at one stage," Batch said.

“It will be interesting against Malaysia tomorrow as we played them twice already this week but this is the one that counts, and we aim to win it this time around.

“The noise level affected the players today and I expect it to be higher tomorrow so we need to adapt.”

The Black Sticks next face Malaysia in the tournament at 1:00am on Monday, and the game will be screened live on SKY Sport 3.

New Zealand 3 (Kane Russell, Andy Hayward, Blair Tarrant)
Pakistan 4 (Muhammad Imran, Adbul Haseem Khan)
Halftime: Pakistan 3-1

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Pakistan edge past New Zealand in Azlan Shah opener

IPOH (Malaysia): Pakistan edged past defending champions New Zealand 4-3 in the opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey Tournament on Saturday.

Pakistan were helped by three goals from their captain Imran Muhammad who converted penalty corners in the 19th, 28th and 58th minutes.

The other goal came from Hazeen Khan Abdul in the 21st minute.

For the losers, Russell Kane converted a penalty corner in the 30th minute, Tarrant Blair scored a field goal in the 52nd minute. Besides, a penalty corner conversion came from defender Hayward Andy in the 56th minute.

Pakistan coach Akhtar Rafeel said that he was pleased with the result because coming from a cold place in New Zealand where the team was playing some practice games, to suddenly playing in hot conditions was difficult.

"It was tough match to beat the defending champions. Captain Imran Muhammad made the difference. It can only get better from now on," he said.

Imran Muhammad said he was happy to play his part in the team's victory.

"It was a team effort and this win is surely a morale booster for the tough contest ahead," said Imran.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said although the loss was a setback, he saw the positives. He appreciated the way his team came back from 0-3 to make it 3-3 and labelled it as a commendable achievement.

"Three youngsters were drafted into the side and they made good use of opportunities thrust upon them," he said.

Batch added that the squad had five youngsters in the 18+ age group and said he was looking forward to a better team effort in the remaining matches.

In the final match of the day, hosts Malaysia rode on Chua Boon Huat's late goals to beat Korea 3-2.

Huat struck in the 68th and 69th minutes through field efforts after Saari Faizal opened the hosts' tally by converting a penalty corner in the 10th minute.

For Korea, Nam Hyun Woo scored from a penalty corner in the 57th minute while Yuan Sung Hoon scored a field goal in the 68th minute.

Malaysia's goalkeeper Jamanuddin Roslan had a fine day in office as he came up with numerous smart saves to stop the rampaging Koreans in the second half.

The Times of India



Pakistan begin Azlan Shah campaign with win over NZ

IPOH: Pakistan opened their 2013 Azlan Shah Cup campaign with a win over defending champions New Zealand, edging them 4-3 on Saturday in Ipoh, Malaysia.

World champion Australia also started off on a winning note with a 4-3 win over India as they aim for their seventh cup title, while host Malaysia defeated South Korea 3-2 in a close match.

Pakistan turned on the flair in the first half to defeat New Zealand in their opening encounter, which was delayed due to a heavy downpour.

It could all have gone wrong for the Pakistanis when they allowed the Kiwis to fight back in the second half and draw level at 3-3.

But skipper Muhammad Imran had other ideas as he scored a hat-trick in the match, including the winner, to get them full points in the six-nation tournament. The other goal came from Abdul Haseem Khan from a field attempt.

New Zealand’s goals came through Kane Russell and then two quick goals by Blair Tarrant and Andy Wayward.

Pakistan chief coach Akhtar Rasool said he felt his team would further improve in the next match as he rebuilds it with four new players.

“Opening matches are always difficult, and we came through with a win,” he said.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said he was “not disappointed at all” despite the loss.

“The players are learning and their ability to comeback is a plus point,” he said.

The Australians took a 3-0 lead, but then almost allowed the Indians to come back into the match with a sloppy display in the second half. Still, the world number two prevailed with some good last-minute defending.

Matt Gohdes scored a penalty corner and a field goal, while Glenn Simpson was on target with a drag flick from the set piece move. Trent Mitton scored in the 53rd minute.

The Indians hit back with two goals through Rupinder Pal Singh, who later produced another penalty corner goal, and Malak Singh.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth blasted his players for the sloppy play in the second half.

“Penalty corners are very crucial nowadays,” he said. “We need to look at this aspect and learn from it.”

Dawn



Satisfied Akhtar Rasool to tighten the midfield

B.David


Pakistan overcame fighting New Zealand 4-3 in the opening match of 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, and the team is relishing the success. However, Pakistan team coach Akhtar Rasool, while expressing satisfaction, said that the team was a bit unsettled by the weather but felt good with the way the tournament began for the team.

"We are very happy that we beat New Zealand in a tough match. Kiwis played very well. We have four new players in the squad and despite that it was a great effort by the team. After leading comfortably, the midfield crumbled for about 10 to 15 minutes allowing them to fight back. But our penalty corners clicked today and we are confident of doing well in the other matches," he said.

Captain Imran Muhammad, who struck a hat-trick of goals, said he was happy to play his part in the win.

"It was a team effort and this win is surely a morale booster for the tough contest ahead."

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said that even though the loss was a setback, he saw the positive side of three youngsters getting drafted into the side and making good use of opportunities thrust upon them. He added that the squad had five youngsters of 18 years age and said that he looks forward to a better team effort in the remaining matches.

Batch was happy that the rains helped to cool down things in the middle. He was appreciative of the way the Kiwis came back from 0-3 to make it 3-3 and labelled it as a commendable achievement.

Players who made Senior International Debut:
For New Zealand 2.Cory Bennet
7. Nick Ross
14 Jared Panchia

For Pakistan
10 Muhammad Imran Junior 17 Tasawar Abbas
18 Muhammad Irfan Junior

Stick2Hockey.com



Faux Pax of the day

Barry Dancer looks to rebuild Korea


(Throughout this story instead of Australian Barry Dancer, read German Paul Lissek!)

IPOH: Coaching national hockey teams is a passion for Australian greats.

Following his illustrious peers, former Australian coach Barry Dancer has taken over the job of rebuilding the Korean national team.

Speaking ahead of the opening day's encounter against Malaysia, Barry said he is only four-week old and needs more time to build a team to confidently say that it can match the best in the world.

Acceding that along with Malaysia, Korea is the side with a wealth of experience, Dancer said he would not like to ring in too many changes in the composition and in the style of play.

"The Asians have their pattern and style of play which is effective against teams playing in a similar line of thinking," he said.

That the boys are hard-working and willing to take that extra grind has helped Barry settle down quickly in his new role.

Touching 70, Barry said a good show by the Koreans in the Sultan Azlan Shah is imperative for him to look at future goals.

Presently ranked eighth in the world, Barry said Korea would do well to improvise and hold its own in the face of sterner tests from the opposition.

Meanwhile, Tournament Director Gary Marsh looked forward to an interesting edition.

In his first assignment at SAS hockey, Marsh said the blue astro-turf is a spectators' delight, only the second occasion after the London Olympics that an international hockey tournament is being played in the eye-friendly turf.

With over two decades of experience as an, Marsh said he would not like to pick any one match as the most exciting or the most difficult.

"That way in my eyes, two teams are out in the middle and nothing more than that. It hardly mattered to me whether I officiated an ordinary league match or an international where the bearing of the results had a say on the ultimate winners."

The Times of India



Paul Lissek coach of Korea

s2h team




Paul Lissek may not be as pompous as the other coaches but the German who coached his country to men's Olympic gold was as passionate as ever.

He is here as the coach of South Korean team as he has taken over the job of rebuilding their national men's team.

Speaking before the opening day's encounter against Malaysia, Paul Lissek said that he is only four-weeks old and needs a little longer time to build a team to confidently say that it can match the best in the world.

"Korea is a strong side in Asia, and am happy to be associated with them, and am learning many things there afresh", the German said

Only two teams have brought full strength teams here: the hosts Malaysia and Korea.

Korea might have been pipped in the opening match but the coach says they have a ``wealth of experience and is the team to watch. They are dark horses here," Lissek said.

"I am not making any sudden or too many changes in the composition and style of play. I am working with the coaches who are with the team for long. The Asians have their pattern and style of play which is effective against teams playing in a similar style. That the boys are hard working and willing to take that extra grind has helped," he said.

On the opening days' last match, Korea went down 3-2 to Malaysia.

Paul Lissek for long resided in Malaysia, and served Malaysian hockey first as its senior team coach, and then as consultant.

Paul was the coach when Malaysia won the Asian Games bronze and Commonwealth Games Silver i the late 90s.

Stick2Hockey.com



Indian manager fails to turn up in Ipoh

s2h team


Ipoh (Malaysia): In a sudden development Hockey India's Performance Director Roelant Oltmans has been named manager of the Indian squad that take part in the Azlan Shah Cup.

Hockey India has nominated Shailendra Srivasta of Uttar Pradesh for the job, but surprisingly he could not make it to the city in time.

As per the norms of the tournament, Manager has to attend Tournament Director's meeting a day before the actual start of the game. India therefore had to nominate someone to meet the crisis.

The the Director of High Performance Coaching, Oltmans will be the manager of the Indian team for the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament starting here today.

Hockey India has appointed Sports Secretary Dr. Shailendra Srivastava as manager of the team. The Uttar Pradesh Sports Department gave him permission to leave country a couple of days ago, it seems still other formalities would need some more time. According to sources here, he is expected here only on March 12.

Its really poor management as each staff with the team is expected to perform a specific job, and now the Performance Director had to perform the role of manager!

Stick2Hockey.com



Its the World Cup or bust

By Vijesh Rai


MALAYSIA began yet another Azlan Shah Cup campaign yesterday and as depressing as this may sound, the odds are that the title will most likely remain in foreign hands when the tournament ends next Sunday.

Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Pakistan and India are ranked higher than Malaysia for a reason -- they are simply better teams and the national squad could well finish bottom of the pool in their home tourney.

It will be a bitter pill to swallow but one, if the lessons learnt are put to good use, that may result in a happy ending for Malaysia.

Lest we forget, the target is qualification for next year's World Cup, a tournament Malaysia have not featured in since the 2002 edition which was held in Kuala Lumpur.

In fact, Malaysia have not featured alongside the world's best for more than a decade now as the last appearance in the Olympics was in Sydney 2000.

This wait, obviously, must end and this point would have been stressed to Revington when he was first hired.

Some will say that the South African is a brave man as several foreign coaches had previously turned down the job, forcing the Malaysian Hockey Confederation to place its faith in locals.

Revington, however, was up to the challenge and he has proven that he is willing to go against public opinion in his search for the best players.

Several veterans, whose international careers seemed over under previous coaches, have been given a second lease of life and may find themselves in Revington's World Cup qualifying plans if they prove themselves.

That is what the former Ireland coach will be looking for from his players in the Azlan Shah Cup -- the willingness to fight for Malaysia till the end.

Malaysia have two chances to seal World Cup qualification -- via the World League or the Asia Cup -- and some of the teams they will face in the Azlan Shah Cup will be their direct rivals for the berths that will be at stake.

Even if the Azlan Shah Cup proves to be beyond reach for another year, the Malaysian players must show courage and score psychological points.

They mustn't roll over, as many previous national teams have done, when the going gets tough as another World Cup without Malaysia's involvement will be a disaster.

The Azlan Shah Cup is the perfect platform for Malaysian hockey to take the first step towards rejoining the elite and this chance must not be wasted for if it is, then they may not be a way back forever.

New Straits Times



Junior World Cup will be actual test for youngsters: Oltmans

IPOH: Indian hockey team's manager Roelant Oltmans feels that this developmental side will face even sterner tests when they will be pitted against better opponents in the Junior World Cup as well as the Junior Asia Cup to be held at the same venue, in August.

Conceding that the results cannot be achieved overnight and not hazarding a guess as to the team finishing in the podium, Oltmans said, "The team has to do a lot better to convert the potential into the all-important facet of winning."

"On paper, the relatively younger side with the likes of Mandeep Singh should do well on a turf akin to their ones at home."

Oltmans said that for an all-round show which matters in the end, he will try to rung in a few changes in the overall structure and the pattern of play.

As the Director Coach of High Performance, and among the elite six of FIH, Oltmans said that modern hockey is all about adapting to the strength, conditions and a bit of home work in getting the inputs of the opposition right.

In a tight packed calendar year, Oltmans said there are no immediate targets for the Indian team.

"There are some rough edges which has to be polished and with his assignment just for this edition," Oltmans said that on paper, the team is evenly matched with the likes of Australia and other fancied teams.

The Times of India



Ranchi to make hockey history

Morabadi astroturf stadium awaits Indo-Pak tie in April

SANTOSH K. KIRO



Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and wife Nusrat at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer on Saturday. (Reuters)

Ranchi, March 9: Ranchi is set to make sporting history by becoming one of the venues of the India-Pakistan field hockey bilateral series in April, months after its Hockey India League (HIL) triumph.

It also marks the international debut for Astroturf Hockey Stadium, Morabadi, one of the chosen venues for the two Asian hockey giants and traditional rivals, though the exact date of the match has not been revealed.

Pakistan will play five matches in Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar between April 5-15. Then, India is scheduled to cross the border to play another five ties in Lahore, Faisalabad, Karachi and Sialkot from April 23 onwards.

The India-Pakistan bilateral hockey series — the first after 2006 — is another significant step to normalise sporting relations between the two nations after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Cricket, too, has played a key role – right from the first Test series in 1951-52 when Pakistan visited India. After suspension of bilateral cricketing ties some five years ago, the Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) again hosted three ODIs and two T20s with Pakistan in India in 2012-13.

In the last one held at Firoze Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi, India beat Pakistan by 10 runs. But Pakistan won the ODI series 2-1, while the T20 was a draw at 1-1.

The April hockey tie is also a major feather in Ranchi’s cap. The success of HIL and Rhino Rhinos and the spontaneous craze among residents for hockey have all worked in its favour.

Some dozen Pakistan players were scheduled to play at Morabadi astroturf stadium during HIL matches between January 14 and February 10. Diplomatic tremors shelved it.

But when Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation officials met to finalise details of this historic tie on the sidelines of an Asian Hockey Federation meeting in Malaysia in February-end, Hockey Jharkhand members lobbied hard with the Centre for a match.

“We are pleased that Hockey India has chosen Ranchi as one of the five national venues where the India-Pakistan hockey series will be played in April. We will come to know the schedule soon,” Suresh Singh, Hockey Jharkhand senior official, told The Telegraph.

Hockey Jharkhand officials are yet to work out logistics. “The number of tickets, their price slabs and from when and where they would be sold are details that are still awaited,” said an official.

But the state sports department has started the groundwork to increase the capacity of the 5,500-seater astroturf hockey stadium by another 3,000.

“I have ordered an estimate for the stadium revamp project. After this, we will engage architects for a recce and they will draw up a blueprint for the stadium’s possible expansion,” A.K. Singh, state sports secretary, told The Telegraph.

“This apart, facilities like rooms with attached bathrooms for tournament director and match umpires and facilities for dope test should also be created,” a Hockey Jharkhand official said, adding such facilities were required for international stadiums.

After the India-Pakistan match, Morabadi will host the junior national girls tourney from April 19 to May 1, where players from 22 hockey playing states will gather.

Hockey Jharkhand

Jharkhand’s hockey calendar is full. The state will be taking part in Junior National Hockey Meet for boys and girls from April 3-8 in Navgaon (Assam), Women’s Hockey Meet from April 18-30 in Lucknow (UP) and Junior Boys Hockey Meet from May 27 to June 6 in Sonipat (Haryana).

The schedule was finalised in Ranchi today at the first meeting of Hockey Jharkhand, chaired by Narinder Batra, secretary general of Hockey India, in the presence of former national and international players from the state, including Olympians Silvanus Dungdung, Manohar Topno, Biswasi Purty, Dashrath Mahto, Ashrita Lakra and Helan Soy.

The Telegraph, India



Reading women beat Bowdon Hightown to bolster play-off ambitions



Alex Danson

Reading took a big step towards securing their play off place with a 2-1 victory over fifth-placed Bowdon Hightown in the Investec Women’s Premier Division on Saturday.

Reading got off to a perfect start as Kate Walsh powered home from a short corner. But Bowdon Hightown hit back before the break through Sally Walton, setting up a tense second half.

It was GB Olympic ace Alex Danson (pictured) who scored the all-important winner just two minutes after the restart. It boosted Reading’s play-off hopes, but left Bowdon’s chances clinging by a thread.

League leaders Canterbury rolled out another superb performance with a 5-1 win at University of Birmingham. It was the usual suspects on target for Canterbury with Eliza Brett and Jade Mayne both helping themselves to two goals, while Sarah Kerly grabbed the other.

Leicester made sure they didn’t let up in their battle for the play-off as they fired seven goals past Sutton Coldfield.

Julia Karwatzky was the star of the show as she clipped in three goals from short corners. Katie Long found the target twice and Leicester are now second in the league on goal difference.

Surbiton drew 3-3 with Clifton but are still in a strong position to qualify for the play-offs as they also play on Sunday.

At the bottom of the table, Slough dug deep to claim their first win of the season thanks to two goals from Amy Turnbull which helped them win 3-1 over fellow strugglers Olton and West Warwickshire.

It means Slough live to fight another day, but are still favourites to go down.

Harleston Magpies still top the Investec Conference East after a 2-0 win over Old Loughtonians. Beeston are still storming away with the Investec Conference North with Hollie Webb cracking three goals to take her total for the season to 10.

And in the Investec Conference West Buckingham remain unbeaten with their latest win, an 8-0 hiding of Taunton Vale. They have now scored 54 goals and only conceded seven.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (March 9 2013):

Investec Premier Division:
Olton and West Warwickshire 1, Slough 3; University of Birmingham 1, Canterbury 5; Leicester 7, Sutton Coldfield 2; Reading 2, Bowdon Hightown 1; Surbiton 3, Clifton 3.

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

Investec Conference North: Loughborough Students 7, Liverpool Sefton 0; Ben Rhydding 1, Whitley Bay & Tynemouth 3; Brooklands Poynton 2, Cannock 1; University of Durham 0, Wakefield 1; Beeston 4, Doncaster 0.

Investec Conference West: Stourport 2, Trojans 1; Gloucester 2, Bristol Firebrands 0; Barnes Hounslow Ealing 1, Swansea 0; Buckingham 8, Taunton Vale 0; Staines 0, Isca 6.

England Hockey Board Media release



Wins for Kelburne & Grange prolongs title battle


Both Glynhill Hotel Kelburne and Grange were winners in the top half of Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 today as the title race hurtles towards its conclusion in the coming weeks.

The defending champions cruised to a 6-1 win over PSL Team Sport Clydesdale at Bellahouston to maintain their two point lead over their Edinburgh rivals and their position at the top of table.

Grange recorded an impressive 3-1 win away to Western Wildcats at Auchenhowie to increase their lead over Grove Menzieshill to four points and strengthen their hold on the second European qualification spot.

Meanwhile, both Inverleith and Edinburgh University eased away from the teams at the foot of the table following comfortable wins this afternoon. The Purple Robes defeated Watsonians 5-2 in a local derby to cement their status in the division for next season, while Edinburgh University won 4-2 away to AAM Gordonians at Rubislaw.

Graham Moodie’s side play Hillhead on Sunday and could ensure their status in the top flight next season with a home win. Gordonians travel to Edinburgh to face Inverleith tomorrow in a must win contest.

In Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2, CALA Edinburgh climbed out of the relegation zone with a crucial 5-2 home win over bottom club Highland at Meggetland today.

Replacing the Edinburgh outfit is Alpha Data Carnegie, who slipped into the bottom two after a narrow 4-3 defeat away to Granite City Wanderers.

Both Dundee University and Stepps will also be looking nervously towards the foot of the division after losses to Aberdeen GSFP (3-1) and Falkirk GHG (4-3), respectively.

At the top, Dundee Wanderers remain eight points clear of Falkirk after a home 2-1 victory over St.Andrew’s University. McWhinney Uddingston move up to third after a comprehensive 5-1 win over Glasgow University.

There are three matches in Division 2 tomorrow; Falkirk host CALA Edinburgh, Dundee University are at home to local rivals Dundee Wanderers, and Glasgow University face a trip to Aberdeen to play Granite City Wanderers.

There is a new leader at the top of Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3 after Erskine Stewart’s Melville took advantage of the 3-3 draw between Harris Academy and FMGM Monarchs to move into pole position with an emphatic 9-2 win over Perthshire.

Ayr also moved one place up the table to fourth after an ardent 8-2 success over Giffnock.

In the bottom half, Chapman Motherwell recorded their first win of the season in style with six goals against Stirling Wanderers in 6-1 win.

Waverley Inveresk Trinity lost 6-2 to Strathclyde University, while 2020 Renewables Greenock and Stirling University shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

Tomorrow, Esrkine Stewart’s Melville travel to Tayside for a clash with third place FMGM Monarchs. Second place Harris Academy play Giffnock, while Aberdeen University host Ayr.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

 



GHK maintain lead at top of second division

GHK Ladies maintained their lead at the top of the Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 after strolling to a 5-0 away win over Haddington Ladies today.

However, Watsonians remain only two points behind the Glasgow outfit after they defeated capital rivals Waverley Inveresk Trinity 2-0 at home.

Erskine Stewart’s Melville retain an outside chance of promotion after a 4-1 win over Hillhead Ladies at Inverleith, which moves them up to third place after Granite City Wanderers went down 2-0 to relegation threatened Glasgow University.

Highland and Borders Fjordhus Rievers took a point each from their 1-1 draw.

In Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3, AAM Merlins Gordonians moved ten points clear of Dundee University after a 3-0 away win over Aberdeen Ladies, while the students from Tayside could only manage a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen University.

Stirling University dropped to fourth in the table after suffering a 4-2 loss to St.Andrew’s University. Bon Accord MBC and Strathclyde University played out an entertaining 4-4 draw while Stirling Wanderers beat basement side Ayr Ladies 2-1.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Now, skill is passe

Harpreet Kaur Lamba



Passing and dribbling will be limited as strikers look to unleash full-blooded shots into the 'Dee' with the solitary aim of a deflection to reap the benefits of own goal rule.

In an effort to make the game faster and more attractive, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has introduced several new laws in the last five years. Among them, the most recent is the own goal rule, that allows a goal to stand even if it comes off a defender's stick and even if the ball is hit from outside the striking circle.

The rule, which has been made a `mandatory experiment' for all big competitions since Jan. 1 this year, has evoked a largely negative response. While many top players believe that it is robbing the game of skill and encouraging dangerous play, former German assistant coach Andrew Meredith feels that “it could even kill someone on the field some day.“

“The own goal rule has to be changed. I am sick of seeing players smash the ball into the circle all through a game. Bring back skill,“ was five-times FIH Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer's view during the recent Hockey India League.

The Australian's observation was shared by Germany's Olympic gold medal winning goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi. “I am not a fan of this rule.

The first reason is that shots hit into the Dee are often so fast that you have to decide to save or leave the ball before your defender touches it if he goes for the ball.

“If you wait until the point of the deflection (or no deflection) you don't have a chance to save it. This leads to many strange goals.

“The second reason is that it has changed the style of play. Goals have to be earned by good passing and individual skills and not by randomly hitting a ball into the Dee and hoping that someone gets a touch,“ says Jacobi.

The recent HIL saw Punjab The recent HIL saw Punja Warriors striker S.V. Sunil getting hit on the jaw during one such attempt by the opposition team. The 24-year old suffered five stitches and was ruled out for a match.

“There is definitely a risk. Sunil was hit in his face by a ball that was supposed to be slapped in the circle,“ said Jacobi.

Australian-born Meredith, who now coaches the Ireland team, says the rule needs modification. “It is easier for non-hockey people to understand it. But it is encouraging the players to smash the ball into the circle, which is what they have changed the rule for. It needs to be modified,” he said.

The world body, keen to raise the profile of the game both financially and in terms of viewership, however, defends the changes.

“Rule changes are not done randomly,“ says FIH master coach Tayyab Ikram. “We keep in mind the spectator interest, who sometimes does not understand the sport.

Many a time a hit is taken inside the Dee and it finds the net and people ask why it isn’t a goal.

“Times are changing and hockey has to keep up to it. Personally I am not a fan of this rule, but I still support it because changes help a game grow. Also, I do not agree when any player says it's dangerous.“

FIH president Leandro Negre says the rule will be reviewed by the end of this year and “could even be abolished“ if the reports are too negative. “In the beginning, I too was apprehensive about the rule.

But we tried it in a few tournaments and the response of the spectators was positive. “It is a mandatory experiment for a period of 12 months, as are all FIH rules, and we will assess it by the end of this year.

There will be reports and feedback from the umpires, rules board, coaches, players and even spectators.

The Deccan Chronicle