All the news for Wednesday 28 June 2017
Australia and Netherlands win pools: Quarter-final line-up revealed
The quarter-final line-up came down to the final match of the final day of pool action at the FINTRO Hockey World League in Brussels. In pool A, with the Netherlands unbeaten in all their matches, the next three teams were scrapping for second and third spot. Eventually it was Korea who made second place after a 2-1 win over China, with Italy coming third and China in fourth.
Pool B saw an intriguing day of action with nothing decided until the final whistle of the day sounded. Spain needed to score four or more goals to move ahead of Belgium but, although they dominated the game, it was a step too far and so Australia won the pool, New Zealand took second, with Belgium third and Spain fourth.
China v Korea 2-1
Fast and furious hockey from two rival Asian teams as they both sought to finish as high as possible in pool A. In the end, two breakaway goals from the lower-ranked team sealed second place in the pool.
China (Hero FIH World Ranking 8) needed to win to avoid finishing fourth in the pool – which means an encounter with the pool B winners – while a win for Korea (WR: 9) would move them to second place and a quarter-final match against the third placed team in Pool B.
As expected in a match in which two closely-matched teams who have met on countless occasions, the match was characterised by a lot of hard work and energy by both teams, although there was little by way of shots or meaningful attacks in the circle.
At half-time, China's coach Wang Yang said he was looking for his team to counter-attack with more menace in the second half and his team worked hard to deliver.
The second half saw China really put Korea under attack and for much of the third quarter, China were mostly in Korea's defending end of the pitch.
Playing her 100th time for Korea, Lee Youngsil was at the heart of the Korea defence keeping the China attack at bay. Time and again the defender came away with the ball after some excellent interceptions.
As the third quarter drew to a close, China began to pile on the pressure. Zhang Xiaoxue jinked her way through the Korea defence to win a fourth penalty corner for her team. This was saved by Jang Soo Ji and Korea enjoyed a few seconds let-up from the relentless Chinese pressure. Then, in a move that was totally against the run of play, Korea took the lead through Cheon Seul Ki. Korea managed to break out of their half and a swift move saw them win a penalty corner. Cheon Seul Ki made no mistake as she fired the ball home.
This galvanised China and, at the start of the fourth quarter, Gu Bingfeng was on hand to smash the ball past Li Dongxiao to even the scores. The match seemed to be heading for a draw before Cheon Eunbi broke through the China defence to smash a reverse stick and very emphatic winner.
As she celebrated 100 caps, Lee Youngsil said that her team had really done their homework on the China team and had developed a successful game plan as a result.
New Zealand v Malaysia 1-0
New Zealand needed to win this fixture convincingly to challenge Australia at the top of pool B and they started in scintillating fashion when Olivia Merry smashed a goal within five minutes of the start of the game. Unfortunately for the Black Sticks, they were then met by an obdurate Malaysian defence determined to wipe out the memory of the earlier 9-0 loss to Belgium.
Malaysia are a side that has grown in this tournament and the game plan for the remaining 65 minutes was perfect. Brave defence, the confidence to run at their higher-ranked rivals, and an acrobatic display from Farah Yahya in goal was enough to stop the Black Sticks extending their lead.
Malaysia, ranked 22 in the Hero FIH World Rankings, were disciplined as they soaked up the pressure thrown at them by the world number five and head coach, Dhaarma Raj was delighted with his team's first half. "To be only 1-0 down and to have won a penalty corner against New Zealand after we lost 9-0 to Belgium, well that is a step-by-step improvement."
For New Zealand, Merry continued to probe the Malaysia defence and she was backed up by some hard running, particularly from Ella Gunson and Liz Thompson, but this was not their day.
Coach Mark Hager was his usual prosaic self after the game. "We are in the quarter-finals and we will get ready for the next game as usual. It doesn't matter who we face, we will worry about our game. There are some basics we need to get right but we are heading in the right direction."
Netherlands v Italy 5-0
An absolute cracker of a goal from captain Marloes Keetels gave Netherlands the lead in their match against fellow Europeans Italy.
As the current table toppers in pool A, the Netherlands could have been forgiven for taking their collective foot off the pace but head coach Alyson Annan is always looking for improvement, and so the Dutch lifted the tempo and put the pressure on the team ranked 16 in the Hero FIH World Rankings.
Despite some heroic defending by Italy, led by captain Chiara Tiddy, the Netherlands continued to create chances throughout the half. It was Margot van Geffen who was next to find her way onto the score-sheet. The defender turned midfielder took the ball wide and then cracked a reverse stick shot past Martine Chirico in the Italian goal.
"You should see her in training," laughed Maria Verschoor speaking after the game. "She is always striking them in like that."
Two goals in quick succession from Charlotte Vega and Maartje Krekelaar doubled the Dutch lead in the third quarter and, as the team in orange hit top gear Italy's main concern was to keep the Dutch out of the circle.
The score-line reflects the Dutch domination but does not do justice to the determination of the Italians to play their own style of hockey. The team moved the ball swiftly and forced the Netherlands to work hard for the win. Chirico made some crucial and acrobatic saves, including one from a fierce penalty corner strike, there was nothing the 'keeper could do about Vega's sharp follow-up which made it 5-0 to the world's number one team.
Netherland's captain Marloes Keetels gave her reaction after the game: "That was a decent performance but we are still lacking scoring chances. The defence is doing very well because no-one has scored against us - now we need to work on getting into scoring positions."
Belgium v Spain 0-1
The final match of Day Five was a feisty and fast-paced affair between two European teams who have been developing at pace in recent seasons. Spain started the sharper, the team taking the game to the home team and really pressuring the Belgium defence.
It was Spain who drew first blood, in the 24th minute, as Berta Bonastre deflected a penalty corner to give the Spanish a fighting chance of finishing above New Zealand in the pool and avoiding a meeting with the Netherlands.
The Belgium Red Panthers came back time and again but found Maria Ruiz in the Spanish goal on the top of her game. A quick attack sparked by an intercept in midfield resulted in a shot for Anne-Sophie Weyns, but again Ruiz was up to the challenge and cleared cleanly. Pauline Leclef also put Ruiz under pressure when the Red Panthers again went on the search for a goal but her shot, though powerful, was not enough to challenge the Red Sticks 'keeper.
Despite having more possession and more scoring opportunities, the final result means Spain finished fourth in Pool B and will meet the Netherlands. Belgium will face Korea, who finished second in pool A.
Match schedule Thursday 29 June
11:00 SCO v MAS
13:15 NZL v ITA
15:30 AUS v CHN
17:45 NED v ESP
20:00 KOR v BEL
Kiwis eye quarters after Malaysia win
Photo: Planet Hockey
The Vantage Black Sticks Women have switched focus to the quarter finals after defeating Malaysia 1-0 in their final pool game at the World League Semi Final in Brussels.
New Zealand dominated all facets of the match from start to finish but were let down by their finishing on attack.
The Kiwis had an incredible 33 shots at goal and 11 penalty corners but were only able to convert once against the plucky Malaysian defence.
Striker Olivia Merry scored the lone goal after breaking away on a solo run and shooting from the top of the circle, following up on an initial save by the keeper to smash home on a second attempt.
Head coach Mark Hager said it was disappointing to come away with such a low conversion rate from their efforts.
“I thought we were pretty disappointing today. Malaysia put us under pressure but we created plenty of goal shots and corners, we just weren’t clinical enough,” he said.
“The pool round is over now and we’re looking ahead to the quarter finals which is all that counts.
“We need to get our basics right, we’re not quite switched on and hence we didn’t end up putting more in the back of the net today.”
The Vantage Black Sticks finished second in Pool B, setting up a quarter final against Italy at 11:15pm on Thursday (NZT) with live coverage on SKY Sport.
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS 1: (Olivia Merry)
Halftime: New Zealand 1-0
The Vantage Black Sticks are set to play host to the FIH Women's World League Final, which will see the best eight teams in the world descend on Auckland from 17-26 November this year.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Black Sticks women defeat Malaysia but miss chance to boost goal difference
Olivia Merry (right) scored her second goal of World Hockey League Semifinal tournament in New Zealand's 1-0 victory over Malaysia. GETTY IMAGES
The Black Sticks women recorded their third win at the FIH World League Semifinal in Brussels, Belgium, but it wasn't the type of win that would have pleased coach Mark Hager.
New Zealand dominated Malaysia in all aspects in their final pool match on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) but were only rewarded with one goal in the shutout win, which is likely to consign them to third in Pool B and a tougher quarterfinal.
The Black Sticks will have to wait for the final two matches to learn their quarterfinal opponent.
They currently sit in second in Pool B behind Australia on goal difference. Hosts Belgium lost 1-0 to Spain, meaning a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday (Friday NZT) against Italy.
Head coach Mark Hager said it was disappointing to come away with such a low conversion rate from their efforts.
"I thought we were pretty disappointing today. Malaysia put us under pressure but we created plenty of goal shots and corners, we just weren't clinical enough," he said.
"The pool round is over now and we're looking ahead to the quarter finals which is all that counts.
"We need to get our basics right, we're not quite switched on and hence we didn't end up putting more in the back of the net today."
Olivia Merry scored for the second time at the tournament, finding the back of the cage in the fifth minute. Merry, who also scored the match-winner in New Zealand's 1-0 victory over Spain, recovered the rebound from her powerful shot at the edge of the circle and slammed the ball past Malaysia's goalkeeper.
The Kiwis, who were targeting a big win to boost their goal differential, outshot Malaysia 17-2 and controlled 75 per cent of possession in a dominating performance.
However, that did not translate into goals as they squandered two tap-in chances at the far post with the goal wide open and also went 0-for-11 on penalty corners. Brooke Neal, who scored twice on PCs in the 2-0 victory over Australia, whistled a low shot just outside the right post with the closest chance.
The Black Sticks allowed only one goal in pool play, coming in a 1-0 loss to hosts Belgium, who had also only allowed one through three matches. The Netherlands have not allowed a goal in three matches.
New Zealand, as hosts, have already qualified for the 2016-17 Hockey World League Final in Auckland from November 17-26, with seven other places available in the two Semifinal tournaments.
New Zealand 1 (Olivia Merry)
Malaysia notch fourth defeat with loss to New Zealand
by Aftar Singh
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia lost 1-0 to New Zealand in the Group B match of the women's World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Brussels on Tuesday.
Olivia Merry netted the only goal of the match in the fifth minute.
It was Malaysia's fourth-straight defeat and saw the team finish last in the group.
World No. 22 Malaysia will now face world No. 17 Scotland in the play-off for ninth place at the Fullon Stadium on Thursday.
The Star of Malaysia
Fulton Names World League Squad
The Green Machine squad for World League in Johannesburg has today been announced by head coach Craig Fulton. The side closely resembles the successful World League 2 panel but adds in the experience of Olympians Alan Sothern and John Jackson. Indeed, the squad is a balanced mix of exciting young talent and several players now over the 200-cap milestone.
Ireland go into the tournament as the 5th highest ranked side indicating that a World Cup qualification spot is very much in reach. Qualification for the 2018 event has been expanded to 16 teams. The 16 teams will be comprised of India as World Cup hosts, 5 Continental champions and 10 highest placed National Associations in the Semi-Finals of World League (Johannesburg & London) not qualified under the first 2 criteria.
The Green Machine face hosts South Africa in their opening fixture in the prime-time evening slot on the first day of the men’s competition. Encounters between the sides are historically always close with Ireland winning 3 of the last 5 matches while the remaining 2 ended in draws. A trickier task awaits in the second fixture against world number 5 Belgium, though a 2-2 stalemate was the result of their encounter at the 2015 Eurohockey Championships. Egypt follow after that before the pool stages conclude with a fixture against Germany, a side the Green Machine recently conquered in the Hamburg Masters.
Speaking about the squad and upcoming tournament, Fulton said “We are looking forward to World League in Johannesburg, the obvious goal for us is to qualify for the World Cup and finish as high as possible in the tournament. The selected team has a nice blend of youth and experience, and the whole squad has been working really hard to get to this point. The team is in a good place and we’re looking forward to winning our preparation in South Africa next week”.
All matches will be shown live on BT Sport.
David Harte (GK)
Jamie Carr (GK)
Shane O Donoghue
Pool A Pool B
Australia (2) Germany (3)
New Zealand (8) Belgium (5)
Spain (10) South Africa (15)
Japan (16) Ireland (9)
France (17) Egypt (19)
Irish Hockey Association media release
Wits ready to host Hockey World League
Johannesburg - Wits University has proclaimed its readiness to host 20 hockey national teams, for both men and women categories, in the upcoming 2017 Hockey World League semi-final meeting which kicks off next Saturday.
The 20-team event will comprise of two South African teams - men and women - with the likes of Argentina, Australia, Germany and Belgium who are all in the world’s top 5 men rankings.
The games will be played at Wits Hockey Turf at the university’s Education Campus in Parktown between July, 8 and 23.
Adrian Carter, the head of Wits Sport, said they ready, willing and able to host the world.
“It’s been a cooperative effort from all our stakeholders in making sure that we tick all the boxes from safety to medical and other organisational components of a sporting event of this magnitude. We’ve never done anything like this. This is the major event in the history of Wits Sport as far as I can remember. We are delighted to contribute to the beautiful game of hockey and that our facilities are able to attract international events to South Africa,” said Carter.
The university’s hockey turf, built in 2013, is one of the few turfs in the country that meets the International Hockey Federations’ (FIH) rudiments and it was for that reason that the facility was awarded the honour to host the event.
Carter said this hockey spectacular will leave a legacy behind for future sports stars to benefit from.
“It’s going to raise our sport profile as Wits Sport and as a country. And the income generated from it will go straight into a programme that we will be launching on the 17th of August this year which is going to offer great opportunities for young South Africans,” said Carter.
Carter said the further details of the programme will be communicated on the day of the launch.
Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Japan, Ireland, France, Egypt and South Africa.
Ireland, India, Poland, England, Argentina, USA, Germany, Japan, China and South Africa.
Brett Garrard switches sides on Surbiton players with stint as Germany women’s assistant coach
BY ROD GILMOUR
Surbiton Ladies HC
Germany women have heightened the rivalry with defending champions England following the news that Brett Garrard will join Jami Mulders as assistant coach for this summer’s EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam.
Garrard, who coaches domestic champions Surbiton, agreed to join England’s group rivals on a short-term contract, The Hockey Paper understands.
He will start his role at the Four Nations event ahead of the EuroHockey tournament in August.
England will likely have five Surbiton players in their line-up as they bid to defend their title from 2015, won on a thrilling shoot out against Holland in London.
“I’m looking forward to it and it will be nice to see them in that environment,” said Garrard. “This is the first time I’ve been able to commit to a senior team and it’s great to go to a major tournament.”
Garrard will assist Mulders, who coached Germany to Olympic bronze, with the pair having first played against each other 20 years ago.
Garrard has been pivotal behind Surbiton ladies’ rise to become English hockey’s most successful team in the last four years.
Surbiton’s Hannah Martin, right, could come up against her club coach at the Euros (PA)
They won an unprecedented 53 matches over a three-year period until February when Leicester ended the run. But they still went on to become double champions last season.
The Germany job will represent Garrard’s first senior international coaching role – he did coach Scotland under-21’s for a short time – after retiring from international hockey in 2008.
Garrard added: “I want to enjoy the summer and the challenge that comes with it. If opportunities come on the back of it then great.”
England will play the team known as Die Danas in their second group stage game on August 20.
England play their first match against Ireland on August 19, which will mark one year since Team GB’s historic Olympic women’s hockey gold.
Danny Kerry’s side then play Scotland in their final round robin clash.
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The Hockey Paper
Masters Sweep To Victory In Home Nations
Ireland won 3 of the 4 Home Nations titles in which they were competing in their most successful competition ever - at Over 40s, Over 45s and Over 50s in an excellently organised tournament at Three Rock Rovers.
Having beaten Scotland 1-0 on Saturday (match report attached), the Irish Over 40s went on to beat Wales 3-0 on Sunday through an awesome Siobhan Collins hat-trick, and with 3 wins from 3 matches retained their Home Nations title on home turf. This was followed by the Irish Over 45s who impressed by beating England 2-1 in their final game on Sunday, also chalking up 3 wins from 3, Anne Young and Kathryn Henderson with the goals.
The high scoring Irish Over 50s also won their title beating Wales 6-1, with Cathy Walsh getting 2 goals, and Kathy Shaw, Roly Burke, Julie Doak and Ali Pigott on the score sheet (match report attached). Having drawn with England on the Saturday they needed to await the result of the England v Scotland game before being sure of taking the title. England had to beat Scotland by 4 goals and in the event won 2-1 giving the Irish 50s a Home Nations title. Over the 3 days of the tournament the Irish Over 50s team scored 13 goals and conceded just 2.
The Irish Over 55s found the going tougher and narrowly lost out to a strong Scottish side 2-3, with Dympna Hill and Frances Keegan getting the Irish goals (match report attached). This was the first time Ireland have competed at Over 55s level in the Home Nations and the team improved over the course of the weekend.
England, Scotland and Australia played in an Over 60s group which was won by England.
This is the 10th year Ireland have competed in the women's masters home nations, in their first year they sent an Over 40s team to Swansea in 2007. Four of the players on that team - Ali Pigott (the initiator of women's masters hockey in Ireland), Ash Schutte, Sinead Guilfoyle, and Maura O'Neill - played in the 2017 Home Nations tournament, and Nikki Cullen who played in Swansea is now managing the Irish Over 45s.
Well done to all the players, coaches, managers, umpires, organising committee, volunteers and Three Rock Rovers in what was a very successful tournament on and off the field.
Irish Hockey Association media release
Winning the Games gold is priority now, says Van Huizen
SEPANG: The national men’s hockey squad are ready to shift their focus to winning the gold medal at the KL SEA Games this August.
The team are still on cloud nine after finishing in the top four of the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in London to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India.
Apart from the KL Games, to be held from Aug 19-30, the national team will also compete in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from Oct 14-22.
“As we have qualified for the World Cup, the Asia Cup is no longer a ‘must-win’ tournament. Winning the SEA Games gold medal is the priority now,” national coach Stephen van Huizen (pic) told reporters after arriving with the team at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from London yesterday.
He said that he would conduct a post-mortem on the team’s performance in London in about two weeks’ time.
He also explained that not all the 18 players who featured in London would be in the SEA Games squad.
“We have a pool of 40 players and we won’t be relying on 18 who played in London. They’ve worked very hard and sacrificed their Hari Raya celebrations. They are tired – physically and mentally.
“Some had to skip their studies due to preparations for the World Hockey League. We will rotate them and prepare for the three major tournaments next year,” he said.
The three major tournaments next year are the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast, Australia) in April and the Asian Games (Jakarta) in August, which offers an automatic berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Star of Malaysia
PR Sreejesh out of action for 5 months, to miss Asia Cup hockey
PR Sreejesh, who was missed by the team in the just- concluded Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, went under the knife earlier this month in Mumbai after he sustained a ligament tear in his right knee during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April-May.
Chief coach of the Indian hockey team, Roelant Oltmans (L), with PR Sreejesh.(PTI)
India’s numero uno hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will be out of action for at least five months following a knee surgery, which effectively means he will miss the Asia Cup to be held in Dhaka in October this year.
Sreejesh, who was badly missed by the team in the just- concluded Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, went under the knife earlier this month in Mumbai after he sustained a ligament tear in his right knee during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April-May this year.
According to India hockey’s high Performance Director David John, Sreejesh will take at least five months to return to full fitness, which means he has a bright chance of playing in the year-ending Hockey World League Final, to be held in Bhubaneswar in December.
“We missed Sreejesh badly. Vikas Dahiya and Akash Chikte are young and they are no match for top goalkeepers of the world. We need to develop our second line of keepers in the next six months.
“Sreejesh is out of action. He underwent a surgery under Dr Anant Joshi 10 days back in Mumbai and he will need at least 5 to 6 months to return to full fitness,” John told PTI.
“Sreejesh will definitely miss the Asia Cup but we will try our best to make him fully fit before the all-important Hockey World League Final in December. But it also give us time to work with and develop our reserve keepers,” he said.
Being the High Performance Director, John has analysed India’s lacklustre outing in the HWL Semi-Final in London.
“We need to work on our defence. We need to find some faster defenders because in London we were caught in counter attacks by Malaysia and Canada for lack of speed,” he said.
“We also need to work on our conversions. Throughout the tournament we had far more opportunities in and around opposition circle, we had far more chances. We had high number of circle penetrations. We need to improve our efficiency in scoring,” John added.
By just stating that the Indian team needs faster defenders, John has literally hinted at the end of VR Raghunath’s international career.
“Raghu is not the fastest and as I said speed in defence is a big problem for us. We had left out Raghu from the last core probables list but a new list will be made soon after the Senior Nationals. But at present Rupinder (Pal Singh) and Harmanpreet (Singh) are a good battery,” the Australian said.
John, however, ruled out any radical changes in the structure of the team and the support staff in the aftermath of HWL Semi-Finals performance.
He said just like any other tournament, a review meeting on the performance will be held next week and the coaches, including chief coach Roelant Oltmans will have to answer some tough questions.
“We will have a review meeting next week after we receive the coach’s report, which generally comes within 48 hours. It’s a routine exercise which is held after every tournament. But definitely some tough questions will be asked,” John said.
“(But) I don’t think there is going to be any changes because a team needs stability over a period of time.”
Oltmans will not be a part of the meeting as he will be travelling straight to The Netherlands from London for a short break.
The players will also enjoy a break before assembling for the national camp again on July 12.
Indian hockey needs to stop talking about the process and start winning trophies
The team must feel bad and remember that they will play the HWL Finals this year and the World Cup in 2018 only because they are the hosts.
Indian hockey needs to stop talking about the process and start winning trophies. Image credit: Hockey India via Facebook
London: Where Hockey India is concerned, enough said about the “process”. It was the same before the Rio Olympics last year – building towards a top-five finish. But, it came a cropper. India finished fourth in the group stage, thanked the format for reaching the quarters, lost there and finished eighth. Alarmingly, it’s following a similar trend towards the 2018 World Cup next year: following a “process” with pot holes that they still can’t manage to drive past.
Lost to Malaysia, lost to Canada, failed to reach the semi-finals – a poor sixth-place finish at the Hockey World League Semi-final was surely not on Hockey India’s list of objectives. And the reasons for a jaded performance must be inspected.
Things weren’t too bad until the pool stage, where India lost only to the tournament winners and a much superior Netherlands. Before that, they had beaten Scotland, Canada and Pakistan comfortably to secure a place in the quarters. Then came two close 2-3 defeats – first to Malaysia in the quarterfinals and then to Canada in 5/6 playoff game. And with that came some tough questions.
Struggle against underdogs
It was like distributing World Cup invitations to Malaysia and Canada. Ramandeep Singh missed a last-minute goalmouth chance against Malaysia and India could convert only 2 out of 10 penalty corners against Canada.
Is it the pressure of knockouts that gets to Indian players? At least the recent trend suggests so. In May India lost to Malaysia at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in a game they had to win to reach the final. Two months later, the same happened in London.
Losing to Netherlands is digestible, because everyone who understands hockey knows India still aren’t there when compared to teams like the Dutch, Germany and Australia. With Argentina and Belgium having a foot inside that group, the task for India is only getting tougher. And it will become a race against time if India can’t sort themselves out against teams ranked below them, while the management keeps harping about the ‘process’.
“I have said many times before that we go from three different tournaments with different players (pool of 33): Azlan Shah, here and the tour in August. After that we will come with the 18 players that will be the strongest team during the Asia Cup and the HWL Finals. So let’s wait and see,” said an adamant Roelant Oltmans.
But where the coach must introspect is that it will do no good to the confidence of India as a team, whatever the squad, if we don’t win enough. Of course, India have climbed up to No. 6 and left other Asian teams well behind, but the trophies at world stage are still missing.
But as it happened in the defeat against Canada, having 20 shots at goal and converting just two isn’t a show of superiority. Canada had just four shots at goal and three of those went in. That’s what wins you matches.
Of India’s 25 goals in the tournament, 13 came in one-sided contests against a poor Pakistan, who India beat twice in the tournament: 7-1 and 6-1.
Comparison to the junior team
It will make for an interesting case study comparing the difference in approach of Harendra Singh, former Junior India coach, and Oltmans. Harendra, like Oltmans now, also had a pool of players to groom from 2014 to 2016. But while Harendra did that quietly in a chair, the recent Oltmans appears like a man who has crushed paper balls all around him. In simple language, he appears confused.
At one instance he admitted of complacency in London with a place in the HWL Finals and World Cup assured for India as hosts, and the other he denied that outright.
To sample that, compare the following set of statements.
After defeat against Malaysia:
“Somewhere deep, far away, you know you have already qualified.”
After defeat against Canada:
“I totally don’t agree with that. It’s nonsense what you are saying.”
As things stand right now, it shows Harendra knew what he was doing and had his plan-book neatly organised. Oltmans has, of late, looked disorganised, confused and all at sea with due respect to the tactical acumen of the Dutchman.
It will be no salvation or redemption for Oltmans or the team to win the Asia Cup in October, where India’s superiority over every team, except Malaysia, is almost set in stone. But if they can repeat their podium finish from last HWL this December, that will be counted as progress, not the favourable statistics that Oltmans keeps reminding after every embarrassing loss.
How the players fared
Mandeep Singh, player of the tournament at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, had a tournament to forget with just two goals in 7 matches. Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh showed a lot of promise with six and five goals respectively, but failed to deliver when it mattered the most.
If there’s one forward who looks to be on his way out for the next tour, it’s SV Sunil, who remained a shadow of himself in London.
Full-back Harmanpreet Singh ended with six penalty-corner goals, and India had seven conversions in all from 25 PCs. But the dragflicker seemed overburdened in the end, missing Rupinder Pal Singh and VR Raghunath. Rupinder flew back from London with an injury while Raghunath is mysteriously not in the pool of 33 players.
In the midfield, captain Manpreet Singh stood out, while junior World Cup-winning captain Harjeet Singh’s performance remained a flash-in-the-pan. Where India were dealt a blow was when Sardar Singh was called for questioning at a police station, following an old complaint by his former girlfriend and alleged fiancée, the British-Indian hockey player Ashpal Bhogal.
It seemingly took the sting out of Sardar’s game. The veteran, who was making his presence felt until the 7-1 win against Pakistan, went off the boil with a lot of non-hockey stuff weighing on his mind.
The weakened Indian post, with regular captain and star goalkeeper PR Sreejesh also recuperating, held itself well until the pressure matches. Custodians Akash Chikte and Vikas Dahiya made ample statements to contest for a place as Sreejesh’s backup in the dugout.
“It’s good to see because everyone in India was very much concerned the moment Sreejesh got injured in Malaysia,” said Oltmans. “What will happen? Do we have any young keepers who can replace him? These boys (Chikte and Dahiya) have shown that they have the talent, not the experience yet, to replace him. That’s what they are doing.”
Introspection. What went wrong? Why it went wrong? What’s required to correct it? It’s important that these telling defeats aren’t forgotten as “part of the process” and those in power and good books are not allowed to find scapegoats to secure their cushy jobs. Winning is part of the process. Learning is part of the process. Learn from the defeats but don’t accept them.
And the team must feel bad and be mindful that they will play the HWL Finals this year and the World Cup in 2018 only because they are the hosts. It wasn’t earned on the field.
Butali Sugar Warriors prey on Chase Sailors at City Park
By BRIAN YONGA
Butali Sugar Warriors' Vincent Odhiambo (right) battles for the ball with Parkroad Badgers' Brian Shilton during their Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League match on June 3, 2017 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Butali Sugar Warriors will be out to bounce back to winning ways then they take on Chase Sailors in a mid-week Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League match at the City Park Stadium, Nairobi.
The 2015 champions drew 0-0 with second placed Greensharks on Saturday, missing the chance to move into second spot and also close the gap on runaway leaders Kenya Police.
The draw left the lakeside side in third place with 26 points, eight behind Police.
And with the crunch Butali-Police showdown set for Saturday, Godfrey Wakachunga’s charges cannot afford to drop any further points as they seek to reclaim the title. They come up against a Chase side that is also struggling to string a run of wins this season.
It will be the first meeting between the two sides since the Sailors got promoted to the top flight last year.
The Bankers have only won twice in nine games and lie a distant tenth with 10 points and could badly do with the three points this evening.
They lost 2- 1 to Nakuru in their last outing on June 17. Butali coach Wakachunga has called for a response from his charges, warning that anything short of a win will spell doom on their title ambitions.
“Our title rivals are not dropping points and that puts the pressure on us to win all games. The game against Greensharks was tough and we are disappointed we didn’t win but we have got to bounce back and keep our ambitions alive,” the tactician said.
“A win will give us confidence ahead of the match against Police and I know the players are ready to bounce back,” he added.
Butali's attacking midfielder Brian Musasia is a doubt after picking an injury during the Sharks match.
Emmanuel Simuyu will lead the attack assisted by Frank Wanangwe with Lawrence Okubasu and Seth Oburu operating on either wings. A win will see Butali leaprog Sharks into second place.
Chase coach William Oketch, a former Butali player, will hope his knowledge on his former club will be able to help his charges.
“Butali have talented players who can create chances from nowhere, we therefore need to disrupt their game plan and put pressure on their defence,” Oketch said.
“We have drawn a lot of matches and I hope that trend can end against Butali.”
International George Mutira's pace could pose a problem for the Butali defence marshalled by Kenneth Nyongesa and Saidi Okwemba.
Weatherhead's Kasasa eyeing Ugandan league title
Peter Elolu and Benon Lukyamuzi’s efforts saved the day for the team
By Kasozi Balikuddembe
Weatherhead players in action against Simba. Photo by Kasozi Balikuddembe
Vincet Kasasa is one man determined to build a rich profile with Weatherhead Hockey team.
Things are unfolding pretty well for the coach player who has been with the club for the past three years.
At the start of this year’s hockey season, he was able to secure the Weatherhead Open, a title that has been the holy grail for the club for so many years.
It turned out to be a historic achievement for the club which won it for the first time in a year when they were celebrating 20 years of existence.
Weatherhead, crafted in memory of Henry Walter Weatherhead, the first head teacher at Kings College Budo was started by Old Budonians in 1997.
After clinching the Weatherhead Open earlier this month Kasasa then embarked on the audacious task of going after the National Hockey League, a trophy they have only won once; in 2011.
He was however taken aback by the team’s league loss in the opener against Kampala, a side they had beaten in the Weatherhead Open final 4-2 on penalties.
Nonetheless, they managed to make amends, recovering from their first loss to beat defending champions Wananchi 2-0 Saturday at the National Hockey Field in Lugogo.
Peter Elolu and Benon Lukyamuzi’s efforts saved the day for the team.
“The boys followed a winning script, holding off smart Wananchi attackers, reading their moves and at the end we managed to neutralize them. The team is now really riding high on confidence and hopefully we can now build a stable run in the league” Kasasa told New Vision.
He strongly believes they are cut out to present a strong challenge this season.
Kampala 4 Simba 0
Weatherhead 2 Wanachi 0
Weatherhead 4 Kampala 1
Deliverance Church 4 Rhinos 3
The New Vision
Alex Danson launches her own Hockey Academy
Alex Danson Hockey Academy
England women's hockey captain and Great Britain Olympic gold medallist Alex Danson has launched her own academy with the aim of engaging 10,000 children with hockey over the next three years.
Around 200 school children attended a hockey session at Paddington Recreational Ground to mark the launch with Alex performing a skills demonstration before the group enjoyed a full hockey session.
The Alex Danson Hockey Academy will work to engage children aged 7-11 with hockey by introducing sessions into 500 primary schools and hosting 100 hockey camps in Everyone Active centres.
Everyone Active and Alex have teamed up to introduce the innovative hockey programme with the aim of giving more children the opportunity to get active by offering access to fun, engaging training sessions and expert coaches.
At the launch Alex described her feelings, she said: “It feels a bit surreal, I have two passions which are playing hockey and getting people to play hockey. It’s a sport that has changed my life and I have loved being a part of it.
“I was very lucky to be introduced to the game quite young and I just want as many young people to have that opportunity as possible.
“I love this game and I’ve been playing it for as long as I can remember. It’s given me so much in my life aside from the obvious things, the Olympics were phenomenal being with the team in Rio was amazing, but one of the most special things was coming back to 10,000 new people playing hockey.”
Keep up to date with news and announcements around the Alex Danson Hockey Academy by following @AlexDansonHA on Twitter.
England Hockey Board Media release
Back to Hockey for Alison
Sports broadcaster and journalist Alison Mitchell tells us her journey of picking up a stick and getting back to hockey.
I honestly can't remember exactly when I last played hockey prior to going to the Back to Hockey session at Chiswick HC, but my stick definitely hadn't been touched for at least 10 years. I had to retrieve my stick bag from my parent's house, and the stick, which, being about 15 years old is wooden of course, was still fine to use, as were shin pads (fairly new when I last played..) and I still had a myriad of socks from various school, county, uni, club teams. I threw out the old gum shield(!) and treated myself to a new pair of astros. So I'm committed now!
I went to one Back to Hockey session with a friend, which was at the end of the season, then I heard about the mixed Summer League, which is perfect for having fun, getting back playing, and meeting new hockey people as well. I'd forgot what it's like to have that instant thing in common, and was surprised how immediately I felt at home in the familiar surroundings of an AstroTurf pitch, kit bags and balls. It was like having a huge hug.
It all came about through bumping into an old Uni hockey friend of mine who had moved into my area. She mentioned she'd been to a session - and did I fancy going along.
A number of old hockey friends had come out of the woodwork and we'd all been in touch on Facebook when the GB women won gold in Rio. I had the good fortune of presenting from the hockey for BBC Radio 5 Live for both the GB semi and the final, and the obvious excitement aside, watching hockey at close quarters again made me wish I was out there and I realised how much I've missed it, as it was a massive part of my life from age 14 to 23.
I first played hockey at Wellingborough School - my first coach was Helen Birch - and I quickly graduated to the 1st XI, playing later under Cath Irvin as coach. Ex GB & Olympian hockey athlete Anne Panter - a few years below me - joined the 1st XI as soon as she hit the Senior school. She was always a stand out player in our team!
I progressed through the Northamptonshire County age group sides from U14 to U21, played in the Midland Regional Devt Squad at one point, then went to Uni and played 1st XI for the University of Nottingham and captained the club. When I did my postgrad journalism course I joined Falmouth Town HC, and when I got my first job at the BBC in Leicester, I joined Leicester Fyffes (as they were then) and started in the 2nd XI. Unfortunately, my work on the sport desk at the BBC meant working shifts and I soon started missing midweek training for a late shift, then working on Saturdays, so I dropped into the 3rds but still couldn't commit enough, and would end up filling in with the 4ths, which I just didn't get much out of. I eventually moved to London, and then started touring with cricket for 5Live/TMS, and I never joined another hockey club because I just wasn't ever available on a regular basis. Work had no routine and was often at weekends, or I was just away.
So there you have it! I've signed up for Summer League and at £30 I think that's great value, even though, regrettably, I think I'll still only make 3 Weds nights between and the end of June because of the Champions Trophy and Women's World Cup. But at least I've got involved and I'm connected now. And most importantly, I LOVED it!
England Hockey Board Media release
Passing of Peter Byng, umpire appointments secretary in the English Midlands
It is with great sadness that we have to advise that Peter Byng passed away on Saturday 17th June after a long battle with cancer.
Peter had been the appointments Secretary of Birmingham Counties HUA and Men’s Appointments Secretary of Midland Counties HUA (and more latterly MRHUA) for more than thirty years prior to his retirement at the end of the 2013/14 season. He was an Umpire Assessor and Selector at both County and Regional level for many years until ill heath forced him to retire at the end of 2016. He had great understanding of all umpiring matters and during this time he offered help, support and guidance to many umpires.
Peter also served as President of both BCHUA (1996-98) and MRHUA (2002-04), combining these additional duties alongside those of Appointment Secretary.
Peter undertook his duties with equanimity and only the occasional grumble – usually about a late cry-off from an umpire! - and fought his battle with cancer with the same fortitude and grace.
Peter's funeral service will be held at 10AM on Thursday 29th June, at St. Michael's Church, Silverstone, NN12 8UW. The funeral will be followed by a burial in the churchyard and reception in the church rooms. No flowers please, donations to St. Michael's church can be made here
England Hockey Board Media release
Vale Merv Crossman
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mervyn Crossman on Tuesday, 20 June 2017. Merv was a dual Australian Hockey Olympian and Townsville resident.
He made his international debut at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where he played all nine games and was a renowned penalty corner hitter scoring 6 goals for Australia at these Olympics. Merv also represented his country at the 1964 Olympic Games where Australia won the Bronze Medal.
Merv was the 166th player to represent Australia and played 32 times for Australia at the senior level, scoring 8 goals. He first took on a leadership role at the FIH Tournament in Ahmedabad, where he was vice captain.
Hockey Australia Board & Staff wish to express our gratitude for Merv's contribution to hockey. On behalf of the entire hockey community, our sincere condolences are offered to the family of Merv Crossman.
Source: Statistics provided by historians Richard Aggiss and John Sanders from the Hockey Australia History Project
Hockey Australia media release