News for 29 November 2013

All the news for Friday 29 November 2013


Argentina HWL Final – two days to go

Pool A Preview: Netherlands, England, Germany & Korea gearing up for title challenge



Netherlands superstar Maartje Paumen will be aiming to fire her team to glory in the Argentina Hockey World League Final, which begins on Saturday in San Miguel de Tucuman. (Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

The thrilling finale of the inaugural women’s Hockey World League gets underway this weekend in the Argentine city of San Miguel de Tucuman.

The tournament features eight of the finest women’s international teams in the world and is the culmination of a journey which began back in August 2012 when the first rounds of the Hockey World League were played.

Thousands of fans are expected to attend the matches in Argentina, with a global audience of millions following the action on television or via the live streaming provided on the FIH You Tube channel. It promises to be an absolutely sensational event; the perfect way to bring the curtain down on a superb year of women’s international hockey.

In the first of two event previews, we take a look at the teams that will do battle in Pool A: the Netherlands, England, Germany and Korea. Our preview for Pool B, which features tournament hosts Argentina, Oceania rivals New Zealand and Australia as well as 2008 Olympic Silver medallists China, will be published on Friday.

POOL A
Netherlands

Current FIH World Ranking: 2
How they qualified: 2nd place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: The Netherlands have long been one of the most dominant forces in world hockey, and in recent years have claimed many of the biggest prizes in the game. They are the Olympic Gold medallists from both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, and are certain to be among the frontrunners for the Hockey World League crown.  The side contains a number of the world’s finest players including Ellen Hoog and captain fantastic Maartje Paumen, who was named FIH Player of the Year both in 2011 and 2012. Although the team will be missing several key players through injury including Naomi van As, Kim Lammers and Eva de Goede, it goes without saying that they will be serious title contenders in Tucuman.

England
Current FIH World Ranking: 3
How they qualified: 2nd place – Investec Hockey World League Semi Final, London (ENG)
About the team:  It has been yet another superb year for England. The team captained by legendary defender Kate Richardson-Walsh were Silver medallists at the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations Championships and will be looking to round off the year in style by claiming Gold at the Argentina Hockey World League Final in Tucuman.  The squad contains a number of Great Britain team which grabbed Olympic Bronze at the London 2012 Games, including brilliant midfielder Helen Richardson-Walsh and livewire striker Alex Danson.

Germany
Current FIH World Ranking: 6
How they qualified: 1st place – Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team:  Following the retirement of legendary striker Natascha Keller at the end of the London 2012 Olympics, many wondered how the team would cope without their Olympic Gold medal-winning superstar. However, if the last 12 months are anything to go by, the post-Keller era is shaping up to be something very special indeed. The team coached by Jamilon Mülders have been in remarkable form in 2013, winning the HWL Semi Final event in Rotterdam ahead of hosts and world number 1 the Netherlands before claiming the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations Championship in the summer. They truly are one of the most in form teams in world hockey, and will be determined to take the glory in Tucuman.  

Korea
Current FIH World Ranking: 8
How they qualified: 3rd place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team:  The ever-competitive Korea come into the Hockey World League Finals in Tucuman on the back of a year full of solid performances. A third place finish in the HWL Semi Final in Rotterdam was followed by a Silver medal in the Asian Cup continental championship. Korea are known for being one of the most well-organised international sides in the game, and on their day they are capable of giving any team a run for their money. Striker Park Mi Hyun is their star player, but fellow forward Kim Jong Eun and penalty corner star Cheon Seul Ki are more than capable of making valuable contributions to the Korean cause.

To see the complete squad lists for all of the teams competing in the Argentina Hockey World League Final, please click here. To see the match schedule, click here.

FIH site



Women's World League Final Preview


England walk out with Australia for the Final at the Investec World League

Before the first match of the tournament is played on Saturday against Korea, we take a look at how England's women's team has fared against their upcoming opponents in their previous matches.

England have been placed in Pool A for the Argentina World League Finals along with the Netherlands, Germany and Korea. While the Netherlands is currently ranked No. 1 by the FIH, England is the next highest ranked in the pool at 4th. The German team follows closely behind at 5th, while Korea comes in at the bottom of the pool, and the tournament, ranked 8th.

England's senior women haven't faced Korea in an official tournament since 2011 in Amstelveen, which was brought to a 2-2 draw. Going further back the two teams have see-sawed between wins, draws and losses, with Korea taking the edge by one win. However, with both of the Richardson-Walsh pair and Sally Walton in the team, all of whom have scored against Korea in the past, the girls should be able to even things out with a win on Saturday at 12:00 - though it certainly won't be easy.

At the same time on 1 December England face the Netherlands, which will undoubtedly prove to be a tough second match. After almost 80 matches,  England has only won a little over a quarter of them, with nearly a quarter again being brought to draws - including their latest meeting in Boom at the Trifinance EuroHockey Championships. The match was won after a tense shootout, and as England won't have such luck this time around (no shootouts in the opening round) they'll have to play for the win to take the maximum points.

In the last of England's pool games they'll have to square up against Germany. With a recent Championship defeat at the hands of Germany fresh in the England team's minds, they'll likely bring everything they have to make sure they aren't forced into the same situation. With a squad containing every player who scored against Germany in the past three years, they should be in a good position to do so at 14:30 on 3 December.

After the pool matches, the teams will go on to play different teams from Pool B dependant on how they scored after three games. As we can't know who will play who until the last pool game is over on Tuesday, we'll just run through all the potential opponents from Pool B.

Highest ranked in their pool (No. 2) and tournament hosts Argentina will likely do well in their matches, cheered on by a home crowd and accustomed to the Argentinean heat. In their last meeting with England they were beaten 4-2, much to the delight of the English supporters at the Investec World League Semi Final, but England will have to pull out all of the stops if they find themselves facing Argentina again - of all the matches they've played together, Argentina have won half.

Then there's New Zealand, 3rd in the rankings and a force to be reckoned with if England have to play them. While England have won more matches than they've lost, they've proven quite evenly matched in terms of number of goals scored/conceded, with a difference of only four. Ashleigh Ball is England's only player in the current squad to have scored against New Zealand in the past seven years with a goal in Delhi at the Commonwealth Games, but we've no doubt some of the squad's new players will be able to prove their worth here.

Skipping down a few world-rankings brings us to the other Antipodean squad in the tournament, Australia. 6th in the world, Australia has always proven a challenging opponent, and having played them four times in the past year we have a good idea of just how hard playing them in this tournament will be. With previous scorers Hollie Webb, Sophie Bray and Susie Gilbert all on the team, they will be looking to break the pattern this time around after an even split of draws and losses in 2013.

Right behind them and last in Pool B is China, 7th in the FIH World Rankings and the team that England have played against the least at 16 matches. In the last three games (going back three years) England has won twice, one of those being in Argentina. With a precedent being set, England should have high hopes if they face China again this year, but having won as often as they've drawn they shouldn't rest on their laurels. Helen Richardson Walsh and Hannah Macleod are the players to watch here, as they both contributed to the past two wins.

England Hockey Board Media release



Michelsen believes ‘underdog’ mentality will help



The Black Sticks Women are aware of how tough the World League Final in Tucuman, Argentina is going to be but star midfielder Stacey Michelsen knows her side will give it absolutely everything they’ve got.

Michelsen is one of four key Black Sticks who are unavailable and she says that although there are some new players and some top teams to beat, they have been the underdogs before and come away with great results.

“The thing is that the team know how tough it is to play against the top eight, and it makes you prepare well. We have often been the underdogs, and it gives you that extra fight to go out there and give it everything – that is one of the strengths of this team,” says Michelsen.

Michelsen, who is studying law and commerce at Auckland University,  believes that another key strength of Mark Hager’s side is their conditioning, and recent fitness tests back this up.

“The team’s fitness is one of the pleasing things – we are really hard-working, and especially in the heat [up to 45 degrees Celsius], if the girls are extremely fit it will be a huge help.”

Michelsen has been out of action for the last six months due to a knee cartilage tear she picked up during the Four Nations Tournament in New Zealand in April.

“The recovery is going well, it’s just a slow process. The aim is to be back running in the next few weeks, pick up the stick in January and then be good to go in February.”

Although she would love to be in the stands in Tucuman supporting the team, Michelsen will be watching each game from home in Whangarei.

“It will be exciting hockey, you can expect the Black Sticks to continue to play a fast attacking style and that will make for some really good games for Kiwis to watch.”

The Black Sticks Women play their first game against China at 10.30am this Sunday and it will be LIVE on Sky Sport 1. They then face Argentina at 1pm on Monday 2 December before playing Australia at 10.30am on Wednesday.

CLICK HERE for the Black Sticks match schedule and team list.

CLICK HERE to read about the format of the World League Final.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Petrea Webster is Black Sticks' big improver

BRENDON EGAN



SOLID PERFORMER: Petrea Webster has cemented her place in the Black Sticks' side with some steady performances in 2013. PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

Two years after making her Black Sticks' debut, Petrea Webster appears to have finally established herself in the national squad.

The 25-year-old midfielder was one of the unlucky ones to miss out when coach Mark Hager named his 16-strong squad for last year's London Olympics.

Webster said while it was disappointing it provided her with a chance to assess her game and work out what areas she needed to finetune.

Over the past 12 months, Webster has been one of the biggest improvers in the New Zealand women's setup and is now a key component in the middle of the turf with her pace, aerobic fitness and distribution skills.

Webster put her development this year down to a sharper training ethic and more time in the gym. She felt like she belonged in international hockey, which was not always the case in her early games with the side.

"I'm feeling a lot more confident and getting a lot more gametime, which is great," she said.

"I've shaken those nerves off. I don't feel as stressed on the ball as I did back in 2011. It's nice to have a bit of consistency."

Webster and the Black Sticks begin their World League final campaign in Argentina on Sunday against China. The Black Sticks last played the Chinese in a series in Beijing in May last year, winning two of the three games. The Chinese are always an unpredictable outfit and are dangerous from penalty corner situations.

New Zealand will be eager to start the tournament strongly against China with hosts Argentina and Australia also in their group.

"It's going to be extremely tight. Every game is going to be a must-win for us," Webster said.

"A medal in this tournament would be ideal. I think we can definitely get there."

Black Sticks' captain Kayla Sharland said she had been impressed by Webster's growth as a player in 2013 and believed she had taken her play to another level.

"She's been going really well. She's getting more opportunities and is taking them.

"She has a really high workrate. One thing about 'P' is she always chases back hard and often gets a lot of steals for us."

The North Harbour product balances hockey with her fulltime position as a physical education teacher at Carmel College on the North Shore.

Webster admitted it was difficult trying to give everything she had to both, but said the school was extremely supportive of her hockey.

Next year, the Black Sticks' women face a jampacked schedule with the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy.

She would be taking some time off her job to focus on hockey. Webster said it was hard not to look ahead and be excited about the 2014 season.

"It will be a huge year and will be busy and challenging. It will be the biggest year of hockey for me. I've got to put everything into it."

Stuff



Burras beat Kiwis

Aussie U21 men beat New Zealand counterparts 6-1 in Perth


Australia’s under 21 men, the Burras, saw off New Zealand’s Junior Black Sticks with a 6-1 victory in the first of two matches in Perth on Thursday as both countries prepare for the Junior World Cup.

Despite the comprehensive score there was little in the half time tally to indicate the goal-fest second half to come. Cameron Joyce (SA) put the Burras ahead at the break through a penalty corner late in the first period before a quick-fire double in the opening ten minutes of the second half put the Burras well on track. Kane Posselt (QLD) and Tyler Cowley (VIC) both found the net from open play with Joyce adding his second – Australia’s fourth – soon after with a thunderous penalty corner.

Aaron Kershaw (NSW) netted the Burras' fifth goal from another penalty corner before New Zealand pulled a goal back. But there was still plenty in the Australian tank as Cowley rounded off the scoring for 6-1.

Afterwards, Junior Head Coach Paul Gaudoin said, “It was pleasing to score a few goals today but there’s lots of room for improvement. Our basic skills weren’t where they needed to be but overall the signs are promising. Tomorrow, we have another game and we’ll use that to work on improving things in our attacking and defensive thirds."

And speaking about the two week camp the squad is undertaking before departing for India on Sunday, Gaudoin added: “The boys are being worked very hard but we’ve also managed to give them a bit of down time to help with the team bonding. It’s important because they don’t normally train together and they’ve been brought here for this two weeks before the Junior World Cup. It’s been a balanced two weeks; we try to fit in as much as we can without overloading them.”

The two teams meet again on Friday afternoon (5:15pm AWST / 8:15pm AEDT) before departing next week to Delhi for the start of the Junior World Cup.

BURRAS 6 (1)
Cameron Joyce 3,46 (PC,PC)
Kane Posselt 37 (F)
Tyler Cowley 43,63 (F,F)
Aaron Kershaw 56 (PC)

NEW ZEALAND 1 (0)
Nicholas Woods 58 (PC)

Burras U21 men’s squad for Junior World Cup
6-15 December 2013, New Delhi, India
Started

Simon Borger (Cairns, QLD)
Andrew Butturini (GK) (Burringbar, QLD)
Matthew Dawson (Central Coast, NSW)
Justin Douglas (Townsville, QLD)
Casey Hammond (Melbourne, VIC)
Aaron Kershaw (Goulburn, NSW)
Luke Noblett (Sydney, NSW)
Flynn Ogilvie (Woonona, NSW)
Kane Posselt (Atherton, QLD)
Jayshaan Randhawa (Eltham, VIC)
Dylan Wotherspoon (Mulwillumbah, QLD)

Used Substitute
Robert Bell (Brisbane, QLD)
Edward Chittleborough (GK) (Blackwood, SA)
Tyler Cowley (South Morang, VIC)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Cameron Joyce (Port Pirie, SA)
Frank Main (Perth, WA)
Aidan Rintala (Townsville, QLD)

Burras’ Fixtures, Junior World Cup
(all times are local in New Delhi, which is 5.5 hours behind AEDT / 2.5 hours behind AWST)
Friday 6 December – 14:00 – Burras v Argentina (Pool B)
Saturday 7 December – 14:00 – Burras v Spain (Pool B)
Monday 9 December – 16:00 – Burras v France (Pool B)
Thursday 12 December – tbc – Quarter  Final or 9-16 classification
Friday 13 December – tbc – Semi Final or 5-8 classification
Saturday 14 December – tbc – 9-16 classification
Sunday 15 December – tbc – Medal matches or 5-8 classification

Hockey Australia media release



England U21 men’s squad announced for Junior World Cup

Head Coach Jon Bleby names 18 athletes ahead of opening game against South Africa on Friday 6 December



England's Luke Taylor celebrates scoring against Malaysia earlier this year in the NOW Pensions Nations Plate. (Photo: Ady Kerry / England Hockey)

Ahead of the Hero Hockey Junior World Cup in India, which starts on Friday 6 December, England U21 men’s head coach Jon Bleby has named a squad of 18 athletes.

Two members of the squad are already among the ranks of the senior England international squad; Captain Andy Bull (East Grinstead) and Phil Roper (Wimbledon) have both earned caps for their country and will no doubt bring invaluable experience to the line-up.

Loughborough University leads the way for club representatives with four athletes named in the squad; Rob Farrington, Daniel Faulkner, Harry Gibson and Jonty Griffiths. There are also call ups for three from Sheffield Hallam and two each from Surbiton, Beeston, University of Birmingham and East Grinstead.

The Surbiton pairing named in the squad are brothers, Jonny and James Gall. James joins his older brother Jonny in the selected 18 after being called up to the U21 squad following strong performances for England U18s earlier this year.

Head Coach, Bleby, will be hoping to build on England’s result at the last Junior Hockey World Cup where they finished 16th under the charge of David Ralph, now a senior England assistant coach alongside Bleby. That squad had some familiar names in it, including Nick Catlin and Ben Arnold.

Speaking of the challenge ahead, Bleby said, “Preparation for the World Cup has gone well. Back in August we came out on top in a three match series against Malaysia up at Wakefield in the NOW: Pensions Nations Plate. Following that, we had several training games against Germany and France as well as the Sultan of Johor Cup in September, which took place in Malaysia and was great preparation for the athletes to play in the type of climate we will experience in India.”

England have been drawn against South Africa, New Zealand and Malaysia in their pool and it is sure to be a tough group, however the squad are looking forward to the challenge. Bleby added, “We’ve set goals as a group and are focussing on performing to the maximum of our capabilities. We’re looking to perform with consistently high standards throughout the tournament and build on the experiences we’ve had this year.”

Hero Hockey Junior World Cup England U21 men’s squad

Name - Club


James Albery - Cambridge City
Nick Bandurak - Cannock
Andy Bull (C) - East Grinstead
Brendan Creed - Sheffield Hallam
Arjan Drayton-Chana - Sheffield Hallam
Rob Farrington - Loughborough Students
Daniel Faulkner - Loughborough Students
Sam French - University of Birmingham
James Gall - Surbiton
Jonny Gall - Surbiton
Harry Gibson (GK) - Loughborough Students
David Goodfield - Sheffield Hallam
Jonty Griffiths - Loughborough Students
Tom Pinnegar (GK) - University of Birmingham
Chris Proctor - Beeston
Phil Roper - Wimbledon
Joe Sharp - Beeston
Luke Taylor - East Grinstead

Travelling reserves

Will Byas (University of Birmingham)
Tom Morris (University of Birmingham)

England Hockey Board Media release



Injury aside, the Juniors more concerned with cold weather

by S. Ramaguru



Midfielder Mohd Azri Hassan.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Juniors suffered an injury scare earlier in the week when midfielder Mohd Azri Hassan limped off after a practice match with the SEA Games trainees.

But the team management is confident that Azri’s injury is minor and that he’ll be fully fit by Sunday, when the team leave for New Delhi to compete in the Junior World Cup (Dec 6-15).

The final squad of 18 players checked in on Thursday evening after being given a three-day break from Tuesday to spend time with their families before the departure.

“Azri will undergo a check-up to make sure he is fully recovered. The injury does not look bad but we warned him to take precautions during the short break,” said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi, who added that the players were all in high spirits.

The team are also bracing for the cold weather in New Delhi.

“We know it will be cold at this time of the year in New Delhi. So, in some ways, we are prepared for it. We have ensured that the players bring ample warm clothing and also don termal wear during the matches,” said Mirnawan.

“Although the temperature of around 17°C-18°C is tolerable, it is the win that will be difficult to handle. But we have told the players what to expect and there is nothing we can do about the weather.

“The players have to stay focused and get on with the job.”

Hockey officials in New Delhi have confirmed that it’s getting colder there and that the temperature in the evening is in the region of 16°C.

Malaysia play their opening match – against New Zealand on Dec 6 at 4pm (6.30pm Malaysian time). Their other two group matches are at 6pm (8.30pm Malaysian time).

The national team have lined up a friendly against Germany on Tuesday.

“From what I understand, it’s a little warmer in the afternoon. The evenings are colder. But then, like I said, we are aware of this and the players need not worry too much about it,” said Mirnawan, who pointed out that they had gone to Brisbane in August when it was cold and had a taste of the weather conditions there.

“So, the players have a good idea of what to expect. Anyway, we have five days to get acclimatised to the conditions and make the necessary adjustments.”

The Star of Malaysia



Seven UniKL players join Junior World Cup squad

by S. Ramaguru



Mohd Hafiz Zainol (left) is one of the seven UniKL players to join the Junior World Cup squad.

KUALA LUMPUR: It must have been pleasing to Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) that seven of their players are in the final 18-man squad for the hockey Junior World Cup, which will be played in New Delhi from Dec 6-15.

The seven are G. Kavin Karthik, Mohd Nor Aqmal Abdul Ghaffar (defender); Meor Mohd Azuan, Mohd Haziq Samsul, Mohd Azri Hassan (midfielder); Mohd Rashid Baharom and Mohd Hafiz Zainol (forward).

UniKL were formed in 2010, with a number of players from the Project 2013 training squad forming the core group.

UniKL team manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim is happy to see his players in the final squad.

“These are good players ... I see them as future stars of Malaysian hockey. Our plan when forming the junior team was to provide the platform for talented players to continue playing at the highest level in the domestic competitions and to have a structured coaching set-up,” he said.

“I’m sure that the selection of the seven players will spur us to take in more youngsters for long-term development.”

UniKL also had a hand in grooming five other players who have made it to the Junior World Cup. Joel van Huizen, Mohd Zulhairi Hashim, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Faiz Helmi Mohd Jali and Mohd Syamim Yusof had represented UniKL before joining other clubs.

But it is not UniKL alone who should be proud for most of the players selected for the Junior World Cup also come from the two project schools – Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar (now known as SSTMI).

The Project 2013 team was a four-year programme run by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) in collaboration with the National Sports Council (NSC).

National Juniors team manager Mirnawan Nawawi praised the clubs, especially UniKL, for hiring the younger players and for helping MHC with their development efforts.

“UniKL take over the sports schools’ duty ends. Once the players from these sports schools have finished their education, they need to continue playing at the highest level. In that sense, UniKL provide these players the platform,” he said.

Mirnawan is confident that the 18 players selected have the potential to do well in New Delhi.

Malaysia are in Group D of the 16-team tournament with England, South Africa and New Zealand.

Mirnawan urged the other clubs to emulate UniKL’s efforts in providing playing opportunities for school leavers to play in the domestic competitions and improve their game.

The Star of Malaysia



Money no distraction for Ramandeep Singh

Chander Shekhar Luthra


After attracting highest bid at HIL auction, 20-year-old says winning Junior World Cup is only thing on his mind.

The countdown for the Junior Hockey World Cup began with the announcement of the Indian squad for the December 6 to 15 event. However, the star attraction will be Ramandeep Singh, who last week won the highest bid in the Hockey India League auction.

Twenty-year-old Ramandeep says he has no idea of what to do with the $81,000 that he pocketed. His immediate aim is to do well in the JWC and win the gold medal for his ailing uncle, Kashmir Singh.

It was to his uncle that Ramandeep made his first call after he was told about the price he got at the auction. “My uncle is the one who inspired me to become hockey player along with my mother and sister. His condition was grave when I joined camp for the World Cup. I didn’t know whether I will be able to see him again,” he says.

“So, the moment I came to know about the auction, through my coach Baljit sir, I immediately dialled my uncle to share my happiness with him. He was so happy to hear this that his condition has improved since.”

With JWC few days away, Ramandeep says he is praying his uncle lives to see “his team lifting the Cup”.

“My focus is on giving my best for the country. Lot of people in my family have made sacrifices to bring me here. Now that I’ve been recognised at this level, I just want to help my team win World Cup,” he says.

The journey so far has not been smooth for Ramandeep. Being discarded from the national team a year ago after aligning with the break-away World Series Hockey (WSH), he was in tears watching his teammates being picked up by the HIL franchisees.

“I knew it that my time will come. It was hard to digest that I was not picked up by any team last time around. Now that this tension is over, my focus is to do well for my country in the World Cup,” he says.

Ask Ramandeep about how he celebrates his new-found stardom? He replies with folded hands. “I’m not a star. In fact, no one in hockey is a star. It’s a team game and we need to support each other to win matches.

“I am working hard on my defence in the ongoing camp. Till now, I only used to concentrate on scoring goals but modern hockey concept is different. I’m learning fast and hopefully, I will be able to help my team win this tourney,” he said

DNA



PHF likely to revive selection committee

KARACHI: The new Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is considering reviving the national selection committee that was abolished last year, with the decision likely to be expected in December.

The PHF dissolved the selection committee in October 2012 with the idea to bring the team’s selection process at par with that of other major hockey playing countries.

However, according to a top PHF official, the new management was considering reversing the decision.

“The new management is mulling over a system for the selection of players that includes the selection committee,” the official told The Express Tribune.

“The plan is to engage both selectors and the team management who can work together towards building a formidable pool of players.

“Various Olympians will be contacted for the task and a decision may be made next month.”

The previous selection committee comprised Olympian Hanif Khan (chief selector), Arshad Chaudhry and Khalid Bashir.

The official also hinted at retaining Tahir Zaman as team’s head coach under whom Pakistan recently won the Asian Champions Trophy title.

“Although, Tahir has been associated with the team for a while, his first stint as head coach was successful. There is hardly any chance that the management will bring a foreign coach for the national team.”

Meanwhile, the two practice matches between the senior and junior hockey teams will take place at the Johar Hockey stadium in Lahore’s Johar Town Friday and Saturday.

The Express Tribune



Edinburgh University aim to upset league leaders Glynhill Kelburne

Aberdeen Asset Management Men’s National League Division 1


League leaders Glynhill Kelburne will look to maintain their six point lead at the top of the Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division One with a win against Edinburgh University on Saturday.  Whilst they sit comfortably at the top of the table, Ralph’s men have shown some vulnerability at times this season.  The students have players that are capable of troubling the Paisley side if they can execute their game plan successfully.  For Moodie’s men to prevail they will have to contain the Christie brothers and internationalists Lee Morton and Michael Bremner.

A Dundee derby this weekend as we see Dundee’s top two teams, Dundee Wanderers and Grove Menzieshill, clash on Tayside.  Menzieshill will start the match as favourites having gotten back to winning ways in a crucial match against PSL Team Sports Clydesdale last weekend.  Dundee Wanderers by contrast have only picked up one win this season, over Grange back in September.  Despite their low points tally, Wanderers are a difficult team to beat and will be keen to have the bragging rights over their city rivals come full time.  A closer encounter than earlier in the season where Menzieshill prevailed 6-2, but a win for Anderson’s men nonetheless.

At the top end of the table second placed Hillhead travel east to face fifth placed Grange in what promises to be a classic encounter.  Grange will be keen to avenge a 4-1 defeat to Hillhead earlier in the season, a scoreline symptomatic of a slow start by the Stags.  Grange have recovered their form since then and with games in hand can go level on points with their opponents if results go in their favour.  Hillhead coach Keith Joss is happy with his team’s form going into the match; “Grange will be a stern test but I have been happy with recent performances and I am confident that we have the players to win the match.”  A win for Hillhead would see them continue to pressure leaders Glynhill Kelburne and maintain their push for the play offs.

Aberdeen welcome Western Wildcats to Counteswells on Saturday.  Whilst on paper a win for Western may seem like a formality, it will be far from easy.  Gordonians have been unlucky not to add to their points tally this season with six matches lost by a single goal, the highlight a thrilling 5-4 loss to Glynhill Kelburne.  These close fought matches are testimony to the young side’s discipline and resolve.  Both teams can score goals, so the key battle will be in defence.  Western Captain Peter Martin is aware of the challenge facing his side. “Gordonians are a better team than their league position suggests so we know it will be a difficult game.”  A tight match which could go either way.

PSL Team Sport Clydesdale face an on form Inverleith at Titwood on Saturday, only to aware that a win is a must if they are to maintain their hopes of a top four finish this season.  John McKnight’s men have failed to win in their last five outings, with draws particularly damaging to their points tally.  Inverleith by contrast have recaptured some form, undefeated in their last three matches with wins against Edinburgh University and Gordonians as highlights.  Although a top four finish is beyond them, Inverleith will be keen to continue to their recent return to form with the indoor season only weeks away.  Another closely fought match in which Clydesdale’s greater need for a win may prove decisive.

Aberdeen Asset Management Women’s National League Division 1

With a place in the top four out of reach for both GHK and Watsonians, both team’s attention will now turn to  improving their performances and building up confidence as they prepare for the challenges of a relegation pool.  Of the two teams, both of whom were promoted from National League Two last season, GHK have been the most successful in terms on points on the board, with three wins.  Watsonians, however, have demonstrated real grit in recent weeks with close fought defeats against higher placed opposition.  This promises to be a very closely fought match, for which the winner will take huge confidence looking forward.

Life does not get any easier for Grange ladies who are once again marooned at the bottom of the table having been deducted three points for an administrative misdemeanour.  They do, however, have an opportunity to jump up to as high as eighth if they can beat Western Wildcats at home on Saturday.  The last time the two sides met Western were comfortable winners 3-1 at Auchenhowie.  Grange have recovered their form since then and with home advantage will be looking for a result in this bottom of the table clash.

If Glynhill Kelburne are to make an unlikely charge for the top four they must win at home to Edinburgh University on Saturday.  Twelve points adrift with five games remaining, it is still mathematically possible for the Paisley outfit to make the play offs. Edinburgh University meanwhile will be looking to pressure the second place currently occupied by Milne Craig Clydesdale Western, and will be confident of three points having beaten Glynhill Kelburne  4-0 in Edinburgh earlier in the season.

At the top end of the table fourth placed Dundee Wanderers welcome title challengers Milne Craig Clydesdale Western to Mayfield.  Other than defeats to top side Grove Menzieshill and points dropped against Edinburgh University, both sides have been on a good run of form and will go into Saturday’s fixture with confidence.  Earlier in the season Western were comfortable 5-2 winners in Glasgow.  Winning in Dundee may be less straightforward for Neil Menzies’ team though, as they look to keep in touch with high flying Grove Menzieshill.

The final match of the weekend pits last season’s champions and runaway leaders Grove Menzieshill against CALA Edinburgh.  CALA Edinburgh side have seen massive improvements in the last month climbing from the lower reaches of the league to mid table with wins against Western Wildcats and Glynhill Kelburne worthy of note.  Whilst they are resigned to the relegation pool, a good performance against Grove Menzieshill will be in their sights as they focus on challenges ahead.  Menzieshill, by contrast will be looking to add to their impressive goal tally, with anything short of three points seen as a failure for the rampant Dundee side.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Ireland’s Keeper Harte Selected for Pro' Indian Hockey



Ireland’s Goal Keeper David Harte has been selected by the Dabur Mumbai Magicians for the professional hockey tournament, the Hockey India League. The Hockey Indian league is entering its second season and will begin on January 23rd culminating into the finals on February 23rd 2014.

The auction included 154 players from around the world of which 49 were picked up by the six franchises, players came from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, Ireland, England, South Africa and India with a total spend of USD 1.37 million. The highest player going for 81,000 USD (Ramandeep Singh for Uttar Pradesh Wizards).

David Harte who is the first Irish man to be selected for this tournament was delighted at his selection commenting “I am absolutely delighted to have been selected by the Dabur Mumbai Magicians for the second season of the Hockey India League. After watching it last year it was something that I wanted to try and get into, so to be picked as Ireland's first representative feels fantastic and it is something I am very proud of!

An opportunity to play in a fanatical hockey country like India for the 5 or so weeks is something I am very excited about. Add to that touring around six different cities, the packed stadiums, screaming fans and world class players that will be present make for perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.

I would like to thank my hockey club SV Kampong and my school, the International School Utrecht for allowing me the chance to fulfil this unique experience and supporting me in my decision to go. Also I need to thank my national coach, Andrew, for his support and backing to play in the Hockey India League.”

The Ireland Men’s Coach Andrew Meredith was quick to extend his support for his keeper “It’s a fantastic opportunity for David, which has been driven by the outstanding performances and consistency shown over the last few years. He has been continually recognised and rewarded as one of the world’s elite keepers winning various awards, and to participate in a professional league will be a great test for him. To play in India, and spend 6 weeks in a hockey culture inside a country where viewing figures are consistently over 40 million people for Hockey, will give him a great platform to compete with the world’s elite, which I have no question that he will embrace and excel in as Ireland's sole representative for this edition. Mumbai is a great city with a very strong Hockey history and tradition, and it will be an absolute experience of a lifetime for him.”

Meredith went onto comment about how this fits in with his commitments to Ireland “From the perspective of the National Senior Program, I am of course fully supportive of his participation given the intense competitive environment he will be in for 6 weeks,

And it gives me the opportunity to look at alternatives in the goalkeeping department, and in particular, look at rewarding David Fitzgerald for his valuable contribution to the team over the last 12 months, and his outstanding performances when he has been given opportunities.”

“We are very fortunate to be in the position where we have 2 World Class keepers, and while David Harte is playing in the HIL, it provides me with the opportunity to experiment and reward another keeper putting in the hard work and consistent performances.”

Irish Hockey Association media release



Status Quo Maintained in Hong Kong Premier Hockey

By Bill Cox



Sohail Abbas of Punjab-A holding off Shaheen-A attackers during their match at Happy Valley on Sunday Nov 24, 2013. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)

All matches went to expectation in the Hong Kong Hockey Association Premier Division fixtures on Sunday Nov 24 with wins for all teams in the top half of the standings.

The Khalsa-A match against Elite-A and HKFC-A against KNS were particularly one-sided with 13-1 and 8-0 wins respectively, while Valley-A beat HKFC-B 4-1.

KCC-A’s match against Pak-A; and Punjab-A to Shaheen, were the closest encounters of the day.

Shaheen-A have been given some of the top clubs serious trouble this season and their match against the star-studded Punjab-A outfit was awaited with some anticipation. Shaheen now have the confidence to take on these top clubs and are not overawed by the occasion. With their two top-flight experienced players Asghar and Arif Ali leading the way, they took the fight to Punjab—also, all of their youngsters played a part in making the match entertaining and enjoyable.

Sohail Abbas was on target with his penalty corners and opened the scoring for Punjab, but Arif Ali also showed his competence in this skill to even the score for Shaheen to 1-1.

Abbas converted another penalty corner and Waseem Ahmad picked up a long up-field ball to make the score 3-1. Another score for Punjab close to half time took the score to 4-1 in their favour.

Shaheen started the second half well and a hard hit towards goal, from a free hit from just outside the circle, was neatly deflected goal-wards by Yu Chi Wai to make the score 4-2. Punjab extended the score with two field goals to take Punjab’s score to 6-2. A final penalty corner by Shaheen reduced the deficit to 6-3.

Arif Ali in particular played excellent hockey for Shaheen marshalling his forces well and making several impressive runs into opposing territory. But everyone watching must have been impressed with Abbas who controlled the Punjab defence with calm assuredness and his distribution decisions, control and accuracy were impeccable—a real privilege to see superior talent such as this on the pitch and great for the youngsters to see top class hockey in action.

The KCC-A to Pak-A match was expected to be fairly close. Although KCC-A stayed ahead they had a bad period in the second half when they lost a couple of goals and looked in danger of losing the match; but, with some good goal keeping and a late goal, they just stayed in front to win 5-4. With the game almost slipping from their grasp, there was quite a lot of soul searching in the post match discussion.

Standings

HKFC-A remain top of the standings on 21 points, Punjab-A are second on 19 and Khalsa-A are on 17.

Valley join SSSC-A on 15 points jumping ahead of Shaheen who remain on 13.

The bottom half of the table shows KCC-A, SSSC-B and HKFC-B all on 6 points, KNS-A and Pak-A are on 3 and Elite-A are still struggling to record a point.

Next Matches

The big matches of this coming weekend Sunday Dec 1 are the clashes between HKFC-A and Punjab-A, and Khalsa-A against SSSC-A.

The Epoch Times



Hockey chiefs show HKFA how to deal with pitch invaders

Zero tolerance is required from ruling bodies to show fans and players that this type of behaviour is unacceptable

William Lai



Match officials can rely on rules to prevent confrontations with fans during pitch invasions at top level, but in lower leagues there is scant security. Photo: AP

Full marks to the Hong Kong Hockey Association for giving 110 per cent in protecting the image of their game following dreadful scenes caused by players and pitch invaders recently.

"This is a very serious offence and we wanted to send a strong message that we will not tolerate this," said Richard Mak, chairman of the HKHA men's section committee. "We regret that this incident took place as it has hurt the reputation of the sport and embarrassed hockey."

By acting swiftly, openly and decisively - in handing a four-match ban to a player from Khalsa who incited spectators and players with a rude gesture, two-match bans to Singh Sabha Sports Club (SSSC) across all divisions whose players invaded the pitch, and following up with India hockey officials on players who may also have been sanctioned in other jurisdictions - the HKHA has demonstrated zero tolerance to any dubious behaviour that brings the game of hockey into disrepute.

Revealingly, a comparison with the actions taken by the Hong Kong Football Association toward similar incidents cannot be more stark. Perhaps important lessons can be learned here.

Obviously, at the highest levels of Hong Kong soccer, pitch invaders who want to cause trouble, disrupt proceedings and protest against players or match officials will be instantly zapped. This is because everyone knows there are TV cameras, security personnel and perimeter fences that all help to guard against potentially dangerous intruders. It is extremely rare to see pitch invasions in Division One and international matches in Hong Kong.

But at the lower levels of local soccer, where the pitches share the same scant security measures as hockey competitions, pitch invasions and mass confrontations occur more often than they should. Crucially, it is at these amateur and youth levels where the HKFA must show zero tolerance to troublemakers and send strong messages to clubs. The HKHA's recent sanctions did this effectively. However, more often than not the HKFA fails in this, preferring instead to turn a blind eye to any misdemeanour, misconduct and miscreant that tarnishes the image of the game.

In fact, there are plenty of stories about pitch invaders and confrontations causing problems at the lower levels of Hong Kong soccer. Rational Ref has heard of incidents from many players, coaches and match officials regarding fighting or abuse during and after matches, and sometimes even before matches.

Last season, Rational Ref was subjected to a pitch invader during a HKFA Division Two match at the Hong Kong Football Club. The HKFA could have easily identified the miscreant or else sanction the club, but instead chose its customary soft option of sweeping the incident under the carpet. It is not rocket science. Any pitch invader has a connection or vested interest with the people involved in the match (otherwise, why would they become involved?). The HKHA's investigations into their incident substantiate this.

Therefore, weak punitive actions only serve to encourage future pitch invasions since the general perception is that the competition organiser is uninterested in getting involved with tough disciplinary measures. Subsequently, confrontations on soccer pitches will continue unabated. It is the main reason why, as seen in many amateur leagues around the world, there have been increases in physical confrontations and violence that have even resulted in fatalities to players and match officials. Ultimately, the image of the game suffers.

Another problem with "parks soccer" is that players can approach match officials at any time. Instead of accepting the referees' decisions, players even incorrectly believe that they can question match officials and expect an answer. During and immediately after a match, some players lack the cognitive acuity to realise that they are reacting according to their emotions and biased viewpoint, instead of being able to hold a rational, composed and mature perspective. They cannot stop, insisting that they are "only asking a question" as they continuously badger the referee.

This is the reason why there is at least a two-hour, post-match buffer timeout between match officials, and the players and coaches at the highest levels. But this is impossible in the lower HKFA divisions and amateur leagues. Even in some of the amateur leagues in Hong Kong, there is a crassness where match officials have to approach teams to collect their match fees or sign mutual forms, usually immediately after the final whistle. This means match officials face encounters with players and coaches, where emotionally charged individuals from the losing side can potentially let fly with bitterness, verbal abuse and even physical violence.

The paucity of security measures at the amateur level can even lead to match officials being influenced to behave more leniently at the expense of correctly applying the rules. With the HKHA incident, hockey umpire Duncan Mackay said: "We decided not to give [Harpreet] a yellow card for we felt that would only inflame the situation and that wouldn't have been helpful to anyone".

This also happens at lower levels of soccer. Referees who know they should send off players may consciously choose to back down from this decision because, as Mackay stated, the situation may become more inflamed. While this is perfectly understandable, Rational Ref does not agree with this stance unless the competition organiser has officially endorsed this. The best solution in protecting the image of the game is zero tolerance.

A final note

There was another concussion incident last weekend, this time in the K-League. Colombian Mauricio Molina of FC Seoul had a "triple header" as he met the ball in the penalty area from a deep cross. After heading the ball, Molina's head also came into contact with the head of opposing Busan defender Kim Eung-jin and the clenched fists of Busan goalkeeper kim Gi-yong, which knocked him unconscious temporarily. Fortunately, he regained consciousness and later resumed play.

By law, it was a foul on Molina and therefore should have been a penalty kick to FC Seoul. This type of incident happens occasionally when a player jumps to head the ball, and after winning the ball is forcefully contacted by an opposition player who arrives late. Anywhere else on the pitch and referees do not hesitate to award a free kick. Rational Ref would like referees to be stronger and award these fouls in the penalty area too.

It is also a great idea for match officials, players and coaches to learn basic first aid skills. At the highest levels, there are medical personnel on hand, but at the amateur and youth levels there is no guarantee that medical staff are present.

South China Morning Post



Former Malaysian great dies

By Jugjet Singh


FORMER Malaysian hockey goalkeeper Mohd Fadzil Hadi, 52, died at the Selayang hospital yesterday.

Fadzil is best remembered for helping Malaysia finish fourth in the 1982 Junior World Cup at the Tun Razak Stadium.

Fadzil started his hockey career while with Tunku Besar Secondary School (TBS) in Tampin, Negri Sembilan, where he was coached by the late S. Sivapathasundram.

He was the first choice keeper in the TBS Under-18 team, and after the Junior World Cup, went on to represent Police, Negri Sembilan and United Asian Bank in the Malaysia Hockey League.

Sarjit Singh, the 1982 Junior World Cup skipper, paid tribute to the bubbly goalkeeper.

"He was the live-wire of the team and even in the worst of situations, he could always crack a joke or make a gesture which would lighten up the team's mood.

"Fadzil was a personal friend, and he always gave his best when between the posts. My condolences to his family," said Sarjit.

Sarjit added that on his day, Fadzil was the hardest man to beat.

"I remember him as a really happy man off the pitch, but very serious and stubborn when padded-up. And on his day, he was almost impossible to beat even in one-on-one situations.

"And remember, back then, goalkeepers were not padded like they are today, and one had to be brave to face the ball at high speed in thin paddings," said Sarjit.

And when he went for national seniors training under coach Datuk Sri Shanmuganathan in 1987-1988, former international M.A. Sambu remembers him for his "tomato" look.

"He was a little on the heavy side, but he really had determination in training and was never one to give up. I became friends with him when he joined the national seniors training under Sri Shan and back then, fitness training was a 'killer'.

"But Fadzil always managed to make us smile after a long hard day in training, and was a gem of a guy," said Sambu.

Media Prima chairman Datuk Johan Jaaffar said on Twitter: "Ebullient, exuberant, funny - to the family, a jester - formerly one of Malaysia's best hockey goalkeepers."

New Straits Times



Fadzil, you will be missed

Former national juniors keeper Mohd Fadzil Hadi passed away today after suffering a stroke a week ago.

The 52 year old breathed his last at 7.20am at the Selayang Hospital.

Fadzil, a product of the Tunku Besar Secondary School was a member of the 1982 Junior World Cup Squad that finished fourth.

During school Fadzil nearly gave up hockey after hit in the face with the ball that left him with a black eye. Though his parents forbade him from playing, Fadzil was determined and formed a healthy rivalry against Zahar Epi in donning the colours of Negri Sembilan.

"He was a jovial person, so full of life and always cracking jokes to keep us cheerful," said Soon Mustafa Karim, his team mate from the 82 squad.

Fadzil then went on to join the Police Force, and his ability was well respected.

"He was brave in one to one situations and was a trusted player in the final line of defense," said Dato Ow Soon Kooi who played in the PDRM team with Fadzil.

Fadzil then joined United Asian Bank ( CIMB ) and played in the Malaysian Hockey League till he retired in 1989.

Malaysia has lost one of its hockey stars who not only touched the hearts of any through his heroics in goal but also his humour off the pitch.

Fadzil was laid to rest at the Jalan Kuching Muslim Cemetery after the Zohor prayers.

MalaysianHockey.com.my