News for 14 March 2013

All the news for Thursday 14 March 2013

Stay focused, warns Revington

Coach doesn't want players to take Pakistan lightly


Malaysian players celebrate Faizal Saari’s equaliser in their Azlan Shah Cup match against Australia on Tuesday. The match ended 1-1. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

MALAYSIA are just one match away from making the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, and that will be achieved by beating Pakistan today.

With seven points after three matches, the hosts must not throw away this golden opportunity, as their final group match against India would be a tougher hurdle to leap over.

Coach Paul Revington and the team were in a similar situation in the Champions Challenge I in Argentina last December where Malaysia won four straight matches against Poland (4-0), South Korea (4-2), Canada (4-2) and South Africa (4-1) before collapsing against the Koreans (6-3) in the semi-finals.

And that is why Revington has warned his players to keep their feet firmly on the ground, and be consistent in the next two matches.

"I am not only looking at wins in this tournament but also a consistent display in every match.

"We just have to remain focused and not let emotions get the better of our plans for the future," said Revington.

The South African said the present batch of players have the ability to take on the best in the world, and the coaching staff and management are only helping them realise it.

"Every player has his strength and weakness, and the coaching staff have been doing a great job in making them realise what they can do if they put their minds to it," said Revington.

The Azlan Shah Cup is just the beginning of Malaysia's plans to get back into the World Cup, while the true test of their mettle will be in the two qualifiers -- the Asia Cup which Ipoh will host, and the World Series which will be played in Johor Baru.

Revington knows that the Pakistanis are most dangerous when wounded, more so after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of India.

"Pakistan are also within a shot of making the final, and I am sure they would want to redeem their pride, and what better way than a strong display against Malaysia."

And that is exactly what Pakistan team manager Akhtar Rasool was thinking of when asked of his team's chances against Malaysia.

"Malaysia are playing well and are on a roll, making them difficult opponents.

"But we need a win just as badly, as we still have an outside chance of playing in the final, or at least it assures us of a decent podium finish," said Akhtar.

New Straits Times

Malaysia ready to face Asian champions in bid to qualify for final


Sheer joy: Malaysia’s Faizal Saari (left) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the equaliser against Australia in their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh on Tuesday. Local fans are expecting them to give another good account of themselves against Pakistan today. — SAIFUL BAHRI / The Star

IPOH: Malaysia need only three points from their remaining two matches to qualify for the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

And they have every chance of achieving it when they play Pakistan at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium today.

Two wins and a draw have put Malaysia on seven points with Australia who lead the standings on a better goal difference.

But coach Paul Revington has warned the players not to be complacent.

He said the two remaining matches against Pakistan and India are very tough and they cannot take a win for granted against either team.

“We will take it one match at a time but we are under no pressure whatsoever. We just have to remain focused and not let emotions get a hold of things,” said Revington.

“There is much work to be done and the success so far is due to the hard work put in by the players, coaching staff and the management. The players know they have the ability and the coaches are only helping them realise their potential. Thus the road is long and winding and this is just the beginning of a long journey as we seek to elevate the status of Malaysian hockey,” he added.

Malaysia have finished strongly in all the three matches played thus far and their wins over South Korea (3-2) and New Zealand (2-1) prove they have the skills to get the goals and hold off any fightback.

Against Australia, Malaysia’s defence held sway against penalty corner attempts and after that they went on to score the equaliser in the last minute to secure a 1-1 draw.

Revington agreed that there have been mistakes in the game that need to be rectified but pointed out that the commitment of the players cannot be questioned.

“Like I said, we go into every match wanting to win. It will be the same against Pakistan. We plan for each match differently and only make changes when there is a need to.

“Pakistan are down but not out. They would want to redeem their pride and what better way then a strong display against Malaysia,” said Revington.

Pakistan coach Akhtar Rasool admitted that Malaysia have the edge in the match as they are playing better than expected.

“The hosts are playing well and are on a roll. Thus they will be difficult opponents. But we need a win as we still have an outside chance of making the final, or at least it assures us of a decent finish,” said Akhtar.

“We were unlucky against India as we had the chances but could not put them away. But it is the result that matters in the end and I am confident of a decent outing against Malaysia.

“We need to review our strategy and avoid the mistakes made in the earlier games. There is no point in dominating a match or having numerous chances when you are on the losing side,” he added.

Malaysia and Pakistan have locked horns on numerous occasions and the Asian champions were always a class above the Malaysians. But with most teams coming to this tournament with a mixture of old and young hands, it is pretty much a level playing field. However, given the great run by Malaysia, the players should approach the Pakistan match with a positive attitude.

Malaysia match winners in Chua Boon Huat, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Faizal Saari and others like Mohamed Shahrun Nabil and Azlan Misron have contributed to the attack. In goalkeeper S. Kumar the team have a confident man between the posts.

Thus a supreme effort against Pakistan will do them a world of good. If they get to the final with a match in hand, that will be a record of sorts.

For the record, Malaysia made the finals in this tournament in 1985, 2007 and 2009 but came out second best in all three occasions.

The Star of Malaysia

Kumar looking forward to stop penalty corner specialist Mohamed Imran

IPOH: Malaysia hockey goalkeeper S. Kumar is relishing the chance to pit his skills against Pakistan’s top penalty corner flicker Mohamed Imran.

Kumar believes that he can stop the Pakistan dangerman in their crucial clash today.

“Imran is a good drag flicker with a lot of power. I have played against him in international matches and also in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL). So I have good knowledge of his prowess. But this does not mean he is not effective. As a goalkeeper I want to play against the best and come out on top. That is the challenge for me,” said Kumar.

Kumar played in all three matches in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and has conceded four goals. Against Australia, he was in top form during the penalty corner set piece moves and that has given him a confident booster. The Aussies had nine penalty corners but failed to beat Kumar.

Imran, on the other hand, scored a hat-trick in the opening match against New Zealand but was ineffective against Australia and India.

Imran said that they had chances in the previous two matches as well but their executions were off target.

“There need to be some adjustment but I am confident that our penalty corners will work. Perhaps against Malaysia,” said Imran.

Imran, who is also the skipper of the team, is all set to take over from their veteran and legendary penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas who is on the verge of retirement.

Local fans will remember Imran as he played for Sapura in the MHL last year. He is likely to return to play in the MHL later this month but will probably join double champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC).

“It is likely that I will play for KLHC but for now my focus is on the present tournament. I want to lead Pakistan to victory over Malaysia.

They have a good goalkeeper in Kumar so beating him would be good for me and my team,” said Imran.

“I hope to score from set piece tomorrow (today),” he added.

Kumar, on the other hand, has another fight on his hands.

He had a slight hamstring pull before the Australia match and then got hit on the throat during the match. He feels that the injury is not that bad and he will be able to take to the field.

“It may not be that big a problem as it is being looked into by the team doctor. I want to make sure that Malaysia win the match and will not take anything for granted,” said Kumar.

The Star of Malaysia

Pakistan face Malaysia in fight for survival

By Fawad Hussain

According to Malaysia coach, Pakistan still pose a significant threat despite having lost important matches previously. PHOTO: MEHMOOD QURESHI/EXPRESS

KARACHI: After suffering two back-to-back defeats, Pakistan are desperate to overcome hosts Malaysia in a must-win game in the Azlan Shah Cup tournament today in Ipoh.

Pakistan kicked off their campaign with a victory over defending champions New Zealand, but then embarrassing losses to Australia and India forced them to slip to the bottom of the points table in the six-nation event.

With just three points to their credit, a loss or even a draw will take Pakistan out of contention for playing in the final.

“Our only target now is to win at all costs,” Pakistan’s chief coach Akhtar Rasool told The Express Tribune. “We are looking for a place in the final as there is still a possibility that we may finish on the podium.”

So far, Malaysia are enjoying a good tournament as they are yet to be beaten in the competition. They are placed second behind Australia with wins against South Korea and New Zealand and a draw against the world champions.

Rasool, a former Olympian, felt it will not be an easy task for his charges to overcome the hosts.

“They (Malaysia) are an in-form team and playing good hockey. We’ll have to work hard against them as they have proved themselves tough opponents in the tournament.”

However, Rasool hoped his team was capable of bouncing back in the tournament.

“We are not playing too badly. The players in the team mainly constitute youngsters who play well on the field but lack skills in finishing and in defence.

“If we manage to bring improvement in these departments, we have a chance of getting maximum points against Malaysia. I am hopeful that the team will not repeat their mistakes and will secure victory.”

Malaysia wary of Pakistan’s possible resurgence

Meanwhile, Malaysia only need one win from their remaining two fixtures to book their place in the final but are wary of a potential challenge from Pakistan.

The team’s coach Paul Revington said the greenshirts are a dangerous side when wounded.

“We will plan the game accordingly and not rush into doing something that could prove fatal to our hopes,” said Revington, according to the tournament’s website.

“Pakistan are still in with a chance for a place in the final, and I am sure they would want to redeem their pride. What better way to do so than a strong display against Malaysia?”

The coach added that despite the team’s unbeaten run, much was left to achieve the target.

“There is much work to be done and the success so far is due to hard work put in by the players, coaching staff and the management.”

Team needs combined effort: Shahnaz  

Meanwhile, former hockey great Shahnaz Sheikh said Pakistan can make a comeback in the tournament by displaying a combined effort.

“We are focusing too much on individual game,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune.

“Our players who are mainly youngsters do not have those skills and speed yet. The team management must devise a strategy that will work best for pairs or trios in defence to get much-needed improvement in these departments.”

The Express Tribune

Pakistan face Malaysia today in Azlan Shah Cup

IPOH  – Pakistan will take on Malaysia today (Thursday) in all important tie and will try to firm their grip on the thin hope for making it to the final. After two consecutive losses against Australia and India and having a goal difference of -7, it would be an uphill task for the green shirts to play the gold match, as they are going to face a resurgent Malaysian side which is still unbeatable in the tournament.

On the other hand, Malaysia are just one win away from making it to final as they sit on a good position with seven points, second to the other unbeaten side Australia in the standings on goal difference.

Pakistan coach Akhtar Rasool knows that they still have an outside chance to make it to the final and wanted his players to overcome their shortcomings quickly to avail this chance.

"The hosts are playing well and are on a roll. Thus they will be difficult opponents. But we need a win as we still have an outside chance of making the final, or at least it assures us of a decent podium finish," said Akhtar. "We were unlucky against India as we had the chances but could not put them away. But its results that matter in the end and I am confident of a decent result against Malaysia."

Malaysia are optimistic of making the final but at the same time coach Paul Revington remains cautious as he warned his players to keep their heads firmly screwed on their shoulders as there is still two tough matches to overcome.And they need to win one of their two remaining matches - against Pakistan and India on Saturday to make it through to Sunday's final, where their likely opponent will be Australia.

Revington, though glad with his team's unbeaten run, is not ready to rest on his laurels just yet. And he probably is mindful of the jibe by Australian coach Ric Charlesworth who said this to the media after the match; "The Malaysians celebrated as if they have won the tournament. And they are talking about the final. There are still two matches to be played and anything is possible," said Charlesworth.

It was a fair statement by Charlesworth who brought his file to the table to underline the fact that Australia could have buried the Malaysians had his players been sharper in the semicircle. "We had some 30 odd penetrations and could have scored half a dozen goals had it not been for the keeper. And mind you Malaysia has only five or six players that have played less than 100 internationals," contends the Aussie in trying to justify the draw.

But putting aside the snide remarks, Revington is well aware of the fact that Pakistan and India are no easy foes, and a drop in guard could well be fatal to their aspirations. "We will take it one match at a time and are under no pressure whatsoever. We just have to remain focused and net let emotions get a hold of things," said Revington."

There is much work to be done and the success so far is due to hard work put in by the players, coaching staff and the management. The players knew that they had the ability and the coaches are only helping them realise their potential. Thus the road is long and winding and this is just the beginning of a long journey as we seek to elevate the status of Malaysia hockey."

Revington knows that the Pakistanis are most dangerous when wounded, more so after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of India. "We will plan the game accordingly and not rush into doing something that could prova fatal to our hopes," added Revington. "Pakistan too are in with a chance for a place in the final, and I am sure they would want to redeem their pride, what better than a strong display against Malaysia."

The Nation

Losing against weaker Indian side unacceptable: Islah

Shazia Hasan

-Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Winning and losing are a part of the game but losing from a weaker side is not acceptable, says Islahuddin Siddiqui.

Speaking to Dawn on Tuesday soon after Pakistan lost to arch-rivals India 1-3 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, the former Pakistan captain and coach pointed out that the Green Shirts were playing against a weak team ranked 11 in the world while Pakistan itself is ranked fifth.

“It should have been an easy win for us,” Islah said. “After all no other country has come to this tournament with a more experienced team than Pakistan has. Then we also have the same Asian hockey playing style, and are far better than them,” he said.

“Then we also had the lead when we scored the first goal by converting a penalty corner in the sixth minute. But in the very same minute, India, too, restored parity by getting a penalty corner and converting it, too. Tit for tat! We couldn’t even keep the lead for a minute,” he regretted.

“The team management should have realised at that point that the opponent was playing well today and changed their game plan. But they didn’t do that and India scored again to establish their lead,” he added.

“Meanwhile, Pakistan maintained their missing. The Green Shirts got eight penalty corners out of which they converted only one and India got just one and hit the target,” Islah pointed out.

“Pakistan’s passing was also faulty. They couldn’t pass the ball to a team member on so many occasions due to which there were counter attacks, which our defence failed to block,” he said.

“On the whole India kept grip on the match. The first 20 minutes did see Pakistan keep most of the ball possession but the situation was reversed later with India keeping the possession in the second half,” he observed.

“It was also sad to see our players indulging in individual game than play as a team,” he added.

“So in three matches so far, Pakistan has scored five goals while conceding 12 with a win and two losses. The poor performance points a finger at Pakistan’s defence.

“Pakistan’s two deep defenders or fullbacks are not covering each other. They have to improve their marking while the forwards need to improve on their scoring power if they want to win their coming matches against Korea and hosts Malaysia,” he concluded.


‘Failure to capitalise on PCs cost Pakistan dearly’

Mohammad Yaqoob

Pakistan hockey team during a practice session. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/

LAHORE: Poor performance by defence line, goalkeeper and failure to capitalise on penalty-corners resulted in a 3-1 routing of Pakistan at the hands of arch-rivals India in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Tuesday in Ipoh.

Olympian Arshad Chaudhary, former member of the national selection committee, expressed these views while talking to Dawn.

“Pakistan team kept the ball for comparatively long time and got a number of chances to score, but they wasted all  opportunities due to poor finishing,” he said.

“Our defence line failed to stop Indian forwards from staging the onslaught which needs immediate improvement.

“Coaches have to work on the goalkeeper as he is looking out of focus after playing well in the recently held back-to-back tournaments,” he maintained.

Arshad said playing against India had always been a game of nerves, but on Tuesday the boys didn’t look mentally strong.

“Our forwards were about to score field goals on many occasions but at least four times they fell ahead of the rival goalie instead of trying to put the ball into the cage, which showed their mental weakness in this crucial match,” he further said.

Arshad said Pakistan had made a fine start cashing in on the first penalty-corner but despite taking an early lead, they bowed to the Indian pressure.

Lamenting poor performance of captain Mohammad Imran and others in converting the short-corners, the former Olympian said: “In modern hockey, no team can win matches without converting penalty-corners, which the boys missed six times out of seven that paved the way for their defeat.”

Talking about the youngsters, Arshad said though Pakistan had inducted four youngsters into the squad to test different combination before starting final preparations for the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, performance of these youngsters was not up to the mark.


India face New Zealand in another must-win match of Azlan Shah Cup

IPOH: Their campaign back on track after the morale-boosting win over arch-rivals Pakistan, India cannot afford to relax as they face another must-win situation against defending champions New Zealand on Thursday to stay alive in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.

The Indians would also hope for the lady luck to smile on them as their stay in the competition also depends upon the results of other round-robin group matches.

Not only for the Indians, Thursday's duel is also a must-win one for the Black Sticks.

With three points from as many games, India are presently lying in the fourth position in the team standings behind top-placed Australia (7 points), hosts Malaysia (7) and New Zealand (3).

Malaysia's 1-1 draw against six-time champions Australia last night has made life difficult for other four competing teams.

The first drawn game between the two unbeaten teams of the tournament has meant that other aspirants will have to wait with bated breath and hope that Australia and Malaysia does not end up on the winning side in their respective next matches against Korea and Pakistan on Thursday.

A win for Australia and Malaysia will take them to 10 points, beyond the reach of India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Korea, who all have one win under their belt, and victories in their next two games will not be enough as they can at best reach nine points.

The Indians only had themselves to blame to be in such a precarious position as they had suffered close defeats in their opening two encounters against Australia (3-4) and Korea (1-2).

But for India, the immediate task is to beat New Zealand on Thursday and hope that Pakistan get the better of Malaysia in the final match of the day.

If Australia and Malaysia manage to win their respective matches on Thursday, Saturday's final round-robin matches will be rendered inconsequential.

The Indians, however, got their act together just in time by registering a morale-boosting win over Pakistan after the successive defeats.

India put up a spirited display to down Pakistan 3-1 on Tuesday, and the victory undoubtedly will raise the confidence of the Danish Mujtaba-led young side.

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs said that he is not ready to look beyond Thursday's New Zealand match.

"True, the boys lifted the quality of play against Pakistan when it mattered. Still there are a few grey areas we need the polish. New Zealand's flair is different from the Asian brand and the Indians have to be on their toes to match them in speed," Nobbs said ahead of Thursday's crucial game.

If India manage to win on Thursday and results of other matches turn in their favour, then stakes would be high in their last round-robin match against Malaysia on Saturday.

The Times of India

How a singular New Zealand defeat changed the course of Indian hockey

K Arumugam

India-New Zealand line up for the last pool match in 2011, without knowing this result will have indelible consequence on Indian hockey.

This story is not about India losing a test match in 1926 to New Zealand in its historic first ever foreign tour.

Its not about history no GenNext hockey fan is concerned about.

Its about what happened two years ago that changed the course of current hockey.

Almost at a moment the powers that be were almost decided something which they had to revert.

New Zealand is historically a hard nut to crack a fact Indian hockey is aware of.

History of their contacts reveal the fact that the Kiwis always put India on mat in crucial matches.

But even that was not the reason why the course of Indian hockey took a turn, about turn it was, as it happened in 2011.

At the end of 2010, the first genuine foreign coach of India, Jose Brasa, was almost eased out.

The administration, adhoc committee or Hockey India, or whatever surrogacy it was, had developed a distaste for foreign coach, simply because they spoke their mind.

Who can forget Brasa’s quote: “Technology changes faster than Sports Authority of India’s slow mode of equipment purchase”.

And then, “Batra has ruined my life, am living in prison like situation”.

And what not.

So, like Ric Charlesworth before, Brasa turned villain for ruling class.

Then, how come we have a flurry of foreign coaches now? Which event triggered it all?

Its here the role of New Zealand, unwittingly, comes to the fore. After Brasa’s contract was not renewed, his a year long stay in India came to an unceremonious end.

His deputy Harendra Singh was promoted to the mantle of national coaching, almost like Minister of State with independent charge type.

Though he had handled well other tasks before such as Punjab Gold Cup, test-match tours, Air Asia Asia Cup and Azlan Shah Cup (2009, gold), the 2011 Azlan Shah Cup came in for close scrutiny than ever before.

Because, a country obsessed against foreign coaches saw in him the last savior of domestic coaches. After all, he won Silver at Chandigarh and gold at Ipoh 2009.

In that crucial outing in 2011, his team opened well. After a narrow -- yet another 2-3 – defeat at the hands of Korea, India beat Great Britian 3-1, and drew Ric Chrlesworth's Australia 1-1.

The icing on the cake was 5-2 rout of Malaysia. It was indeed India's defending champions stuff.

It was a long drawn out 7-team event, and needed a lot of energy and enthusiasm to sustain for more success.

The team lacked, lot its stream.

Even before the shock of losing to Pakistan (1-3) was not got over, New Zealand stunned India.

Not just a defeat, it was a 3-7 drubbing after 2-2 at halftime.

NZ pumped five goals after Gurwinder Chandi put one to give India a lead in the 41st minute.

Andrew Hayward struck a brace, with Matt l’Hullier, Shay Neal and Blair Hilton adding a goal apiece.

This put the Indian coach on mat. The defeat was blown out of proportion and the call for foreign coach again hogged the boardrooms and limelight. The very fact that India was the defending champions and finished fourth counted heavily against his otherwise commendable credits.

Of all the persons, Pargat Singh -- an anti-foreign coach advocate in his entire career -- played a deciding role in convincing his new friend in Narindra Batra and Co. -- that flourished for about 4,5 months in the fallout of Vidhaya Stokes winning the HI elections - to change their mind, and go for a foreign coach.

Pargat should have in the outset appointed a Performance Director, who would have done the rest. But what happened in India was rude reverse.

Coach was appointed, physios came and gone, and then Performance Director was found.

Now, the foreign phobia has reached such an extent that if rain comes during a match there is a foreigner in India to hold umbrella to cover the head of our VIPs!

All because, those five goals that New Zealand pumped in in the second half of the sixth match for India two summers ago.

This Indian collapse saw the exit of Harendra, who was definitely growing in stature till then and then ENTER foreign coaches.

As India takes on New Zealand tomorrow, its 2011 result cannot but be reminisced, as it has indirectly led to change in colour and contour of Indian hockey forever thereafter.

Repair works on at hockey stadium

By Sunil Subbaiah

BANGALORE: Three years after the Karnataka State Hockey Association ( KSHA) stadium turf was re-laid by Dutch firm Greenfields for Rs 1.91 crore, the surface is already showing signs of wear and tear.

The run-off area around the playing field and the area adjoining the backline have been adversely affected along with the turf inside the goal and the line marks thanks to the sheer volume of matches played.

Hockey Karnataka secretary AB Subbaiah felt the entire turf had to be replaced as he felt patchwork at this point in time would mean a big difference in texture and colour. The former India custodian is also planning to appeal to the Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS), which had entered into a deal with the Dutch firm, to heed his call.

"I heard the turf has come with a seven-year warranty. We should try to get the entire surface changed," he felt.

Subbaiah was reacting to the work that is currently going on at the stadium. On DYSS' direction, the re-laying of the run-off area and work on line marking is already on.

"We have already asked the company's representatives to replace the worn-out areas and help us in maintenance as the turf is still under warranty period. The saffron-coloured run-off area will be temporarily replaced with green turf. We are awaiting a fresh consignment of the saffron-coloured turf and once it arrives, the original colour would be restored," DYSS sources said.

The Times of India

Coaching trio appointed to England Hockey performance team

Jon Bleby, Craig Keegan & David Ralph appointed as asst. coaches

Following a comprehensive external recruitment process, England Hockey is delighted to announce that Jon Bleby, Craig Keegan and David Ralph have been appointed to the role of assistant coaches to work with the England men’s and women’s squads.

In a slight shift away from recent practice the three new appointments will see Bleby, Keegan and Ralph working across both the men’s and women’s squads for the 2013-2016 Olympic cycle. The trio will join Karen Brown to complete the assistant coach team and together they will support head coaches Jason Lee [women] and Bobby Crutchley [men].

During this time they will work to prepare the squads for all international competitions taking in the 2013 and 2015 European Championships and the 2014 World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Their first major tournaments will be the women’s Investec World League Semi Final in Chiswick, London 22-30 June and the men’s World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru in Malaysia, 29 June – 7 July.

Speaking about the new appointments Danny Kerry, England Hockey Performance Director, said: "I am delighted with the blend of coaches we have selected for the programmes moving forward. The quality and depth of candidates interviewed was significant. David Ralph, Craig Keegan and Jon Bleby each come with their own unique qualities and they all share the belief and ambition of what we can achieve together.”

Following the Olympic Games last summer England Hockey’s performance team has gone through a transition period with staff members progressing onto new exciting roles both internally and externally. With some familiar faces settling into top performance roles, everyone is looking forward to begin working with the squads in April.

Adding his thoughts to the new look team, Kerry said, “We will be looking to use our national coaching workforce in a unique way over this coming cycle and I believe this will benefit both the programmes and the development of the coaches. I am excited about what this new coaching team will deliver."

Jon Bleby

At just 33, Jon Bleby is the youngest of the new recruits, however with 91 caps for England and Great Britain, an Olympic Games and numerous coaching achievements already under his belt, he is certainly no stranger to the international hockey scene.

After retiring from playing international hockey in 2008 Bleby started out as an assistant coach to both the Loughborough Students MHC and the England Under 18 boys National Age Group Squad. In just five years he has gone on to lead the England U18 boys to victory at both the Easter Four Nations Tournament and the UK School Games.

Commenting on his new appointment Bleby said, “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be taking up the position of assistant coach and cannot wait to work with the new coaching team and players. There are many exciting challenges ahead and I am really looking forward to giving the role my very best efforts."

Craig Keegan

Born in Burnie, Tasmania in Australia, Craig Keegan represented his state on the field for over a decade before moving to England when he was 26 to take up a player/coach role with Beeston Hockey Club. With a reputation as an attacking midfielder, Keegan topped the goal scoring tables in the English Leagues and in his role as coach he enjoyed great success, achieving consecutive promotions with both Beeston and Belper.

In 2008 England Hockey appointed Keegan head coach of the National Performance Centre in Loughborough and he has since gone on to coach both the mens and womens National Age Groups Squads as an assistant and head coach. Last year Keegan led his Under 21 women’s side to a bronze medal at the European Championships.

Keegan is delighted to be given the opportunity to join the senior coaching team, “I very much feel we have an outstanding squad of players to work with, some have a huge amount of experience, whereas other players are new to the programme and have great potential.  I see this as an opportunity for us to further develop and challenge the good work done over the last few years.”

David Ralph

The third member of the newly appointed team of coaches is former Scottish international David Ralph who notched up 126 appearances for his country as well as playing club hockey for Premier Division sides East Grinstead and Loughborough Students.

Originally appointed as assistant coach to Jason Lee for Loughborough Students MHC in 1999 and more recently in 2006 as England Under 21 mens assistant coach under Bobby Crutchley, Ralph already has experience of working with England’s two head coaches.

After taking over from Lee as head coach at Loughborough in 2003 he led his team to National Indoor success four times and he also replaced Crutchley in 2007 to head up the England Under 21 men's team until 2011 taking them to two Junior European Championships and a Junior World Cup.

Reflecting on his appointment, Ralph said: “I am delighted and honoured to be joining the coaching team and I am looking forward to working with the players. I know we face some tough challenges ahead but I relish the opportunity I have been given to play my part in the team. I would also like to thank Loughborough University for the support they have shown me over the years.”

The assistant coaches will start their new roles with England Hockey when the international squads return to training in April.

England Hockey Board Media release

Fergus Kavanagh Signs New Sponsorship Deal

Fergus has joined fellow Kookaburra Tim Deavin to take up the sponsorship deal which will see him join the Western Australian based company set up by a group on men in Perth, one of which is his own brother.

Kavanagh has quickly climbed up the ranks in the World Champion Kookaburras, since debuting at the 2007 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on May 5th.

A key defender in the Kookaburras line-up, Kavanagh has won a medal at every major international hockey tournament since 2008.


Olympic Games
2008 Beijing – bronze
2012 London – bronze

World Cup
2010 Delhi – Gold

Champions Trophy
2008 Rotterdam – Gold
2009 Melbourne – Gold
2010 Monchengladbach – Gold
2011 Auckland – Gold
2012 Melbourne – Gold

Commonwealth Games
2010 Delhi - Gold

Kavanagh was also a key member of the Ranchi Rhinos team who claimed victory in the inaugural Hockey India League played in January 2013. The lone Australian was named Ranchi Player of the Tournament by his peers.

Hockey Australia media release

ACT Academy of Sport Head Coach Appointed

Stephanie Andrews named Head coach of ACTAS Hockey Program

After an extensive recruitment process, ACTAS in partnership with Hockey Australia (HA) and Hockey ACT (HACT), are pleased to announce the appointment of Stephanie Andrews as the Head Coach of the ACTAS Hockey Program and national training centre.

Steph has a good level deal of coaching experience in both WA and ACT Hockey roles and is well known to the national hockey network. She has already been successful in enhancing the ACT’s Emerging Talent Squad (Tier 5) and implementing HACT’s development activities effectively underpinning the ACTAS Program.

On top of Steph’s Head and Assistant coaching experiences across ACT and/or WA U15’s, U18’s, U21’s and AHL teams, she has also held lead roles with the HA National Future’s program.  Importantly, she also brings to the role an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm.

Steph is currently the ACT Women’s U21 State Team Coach and has been an ACTAS Assistant Coach since her arrival in Canberra as the HACT Program’s Coordinator.

During her playing and then coaching tenure in WA and as a WAIS athlete she developed strong links within the Hockey Australia network and as such is well placed to identify and develop ACT and surrounding region talent for selection to national squads and teams in the lead up to Rio and beyond.

Steph has an established working relationship with ACTAS Performance Service Staff having recently served as caretaker Head Coach of the ACTAS program.

On behalf of ACTAS, HA and HACT Management we  officially welcome Steph to the role which she will commence after the upcoming National U21’s campaign later this month.

Hockey Australia media release