All the news for Friday 5 May 2017
41 days to buck up.
By Jugjet Singh
FORTY-One days to the matches of their lives, but the hockey team is still half-baked.
And the way Malaysia has been playing in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, they will not qualify for the 2018 World Cup in India, unless there is a major attitude change.
For, Stephen van Huizen's men blew hot-and-cold when they drew 1-1 with Japan, lost 6-1 to Australia and 1-0 to both Britain and New Zealand.
Doomed to play in the fifth-sixth placing on Saturday, Malaysia complete their fixtures against India Friday.
In the World League Semifinals in London from June 15-25, Malaysia are in Group A with Olympic champions and World No 1 Argentina, England, South Korea and China.
Group B is made up of India, Pakistan, Scotland, Netherlands and Canada.
In London, Malaysia must finish top-four in the group stage to play in the quarter-finals, and then try and finish in the fifth-sixth bracket to book their spot in the World Cup.
It looks easy, as they only need to beat China and avoid heavy defeats in the hands of the other teams.
Van Huizen will have the toughest opener against Argentina (June 16) followed by England (June 17), South Korea (June 19) and the do-or-die against China (June 20),
In Ipoh, other than the Australian drubbing, Malaysia had higher number of penalty corners and 60 to 70 percent ball possession but bungled at the last pass.
A classic case was the 1-0 defeat against New Zealand, as Malaysia had five penalty corners and 70 percent possession but failed to score. The Kiwis only had one penalty corner and made it count.
Penalty corner flickers Razie Rahim, Shahril Saabah, Faizal Shaari and Najmi Jazlan were blunt as a butter knife, and Malaysia only scored two goals in four matches.
One by Razie and one by Faizal.
Least Malaysia forgets, they were held 2-2 by China in the final of the World League Round Two in Dhaka before winning gold in penalty shoot-out.
So China, with master coach Kim Sang Ryul as their consultant, will be looking to beat Malaysia as well in London as their ticket to the World Cup.
Van Huizen knows his team might meet India, if they make the crossover quarter-finals in London.
"We need to win the next two matches (against India and possibly Japan in the fifth-sixth) because India might just be our quarter-finals opponents in London," reasoned van Huizen.
And India will be gunning to beat Malaysia for a possible final slot on Saturday in Ipoh.
Time is against Malaysia, for 41 days, is all they have to change their mindset from losers to World Cup material.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Malaysia should leave everything on the field in final games
by S. Ramaguru
Road blocked: Captain Sukri Mutalib (right) being challenged by New Zealand’s Leo Mitai-Wells during their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match on Wednesday. Malaysia lost 1-0. — Bernama
IPOH: With nothing to lose, Malaysia should throw caution to the wind and take the fight to their opponents in their two remaining Sultan Azlan Shah Cup matches.
Malaysia will face Asian champions and world No. 6 India in their final group match today before playing in the classification match for fifth position against Japan tomorrow.
Malaysia have played four matches thus far – drawing one and losing three.
Malaysian team officials claimed that the players had performed well in the last four matches and were only let down by poor finishing.
Malaysia have a good set of forwards and also three good penalty corner flickers in Mohd Razie Rahim, Faizal Saari and Shaharil Saabah.
Woeful finishing aside, another problem plaguing the national team is the lack of coordination between the midfielders and forwards.
Fitri Saari is a classy player and can be very effective going forward. He needs to step up and lead the line.
Players like Faizal, Mohd Firhan Azhaari, Mohd Haziq Shamsul and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin are just as good, but their lack of understanding has made the team look disjointed.
Malaysia should adopt a more positive attitude – starting today – and take the fight all the way to the Indians.
There is no shame in losing by four goals if the performance level is high. The result will not take them into the third place playoff, but at least it will show everybody that they are truly prepared for the big time.
National head coach Stephen van Huizen expects India to come at full force against his team.
“They are eyeing a place in the final, so we expect them to come charging at us. We must be prepared,” said Stephen.
“Overall, we played some good hockey against New Zealand (despite losing 1-0) on Wednesday ... there were bad patches as well.
“We tried out several penalty corners moves ... some did not come off well. We will look into improving on this.”
India have beaten Malaysia 79 times out of their 112 meetings, with 18 draws.
All the six teams – including Australia, Japan and Britain – are using the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to prepare for the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in June (in London) and July (in Johannesburg).
The Star of Malaysia
Stats Speak: India needs victory by 2 goals difference or 3-2 wins against hosts to play Gold Medal match tomorrow
By B.G.Joshi(Sehore-Bhopal, India)
1994 Azlan Shah Cup Champions Great Britain (England) beats New Zealand 3-2. Now Brits have 10points, + 3 goals difference, 12 goals for and 9 goals against.
Now equation for India’s 8th entry in Gold medal match (20 appearances) is that India needs victory by 2 goals difference or 3-2 wins against hosts to play Gold Medal match tomorrow
India-Malaysia league match will commence today at 6:05 IST. India always has upper hand versus Malaysia.
Head to head of India-Malaysia are:
In AZ Cup
Three-way tussle to join Australia in Sultan Azlan Shah final
IPOH: Australia are as good as in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The defending champions, chasing their 10th title here, lead the six-team standings with 10 points.
They will wrap up their fixtures against Japan at the Azlan Shah Stadium here today.
That leaves three teams – India, Britain and New Zealand, all on seven points – to battle it out for the other spot in the final.
In today’s other matches, India will play Malaysia while New Zealand will face Britain.
India, Britain and New Zealand would need big wins to deny Australia a place in the final.
Realistically, though, that’s a tall order.
Although Australian head coach Colin Batch prefers to play down his team’s chances, it’s hard to see how Japan can stop them.
“Japan never stop looking for goals and are fast on the counter. They are playing really good hockey and are a very exciting team to watch,” he said.
“But we need the points to confirm our place in the final, so we are not going to let them beat us.
“We are wary of their threat and it will be important that we stay focused.”
Batch surely knows how to mould a winning team, having led the Kiwis to the title in 2012 and 2015. Surely, he has a few tricks up his sleeve against Japan.
The match between world No. 7 Britain and No. 8 New Zealand is set to be a close affair.
The winners of this match will have to wait until after the India-Malaysia match to know their fate.
“We still have a chance to move up and play in the final, but it all depends on our last match against Britain,” said New Zealand coach Darren Smith.
“Even a win will not guarantee us a place. It will depend on India’s match with Malaysia. Britain are in a similar situation.”
The Star of Malaysia
Familiar foes between India and final
Indian Hockey team (Photo : Hockey India Twitter)
IPOH: India were in the exact position last year as well. They needed a win against Malaysia to reach the final. What followed was breathtaking. The Men In Blue eviscerated the hosts in thrilling fashion. Two goals in the first seven minutes silenced the crowd and from then on, it was a question of how many they would end up with.
It finished 6-1 and Roelant Oltmans will be hoping for a similar performance. The Dutch coach said they wouldn’t take the hosts lightly even though they haven’t been up to scratch. “I will start my focus on Malaysia on Thursday,” he said. “They are a good Asian side, you can’t take any team lightly in the world.”
Malaysia coach conceded they are out of the reckoning for medal spots but said he will take the encounter to further learn about his team before the World League Semifinal. While Great Britain and New Zealand are also in the mix to finish in second place, India’s job is easier as they will know what is to be done to qualify as they play last.
Friday fixtures (all IST): Great Britain vs New Zealand (1.35 pm), Australia vs Japan (3.35 pm), Malaysia vs India (6.05 pm).
New Indian Express
What’s going on with the Speedy Tigers?
Photo Credit: NST
Malaysia’s fortunes at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup went from bad to worse yesterday after they succumbed to their third defeat of the tournament, losing 0-1 to New Zealand in what was a rather frustrating affair.
Despite introducing Hafizuddin Othman in place of S. Kumar in between their sticks, Malaysia were unable to turn on the style as New Zealand sealed a narrow win, courtesy of Kane Russell’s 25th minute goal.
According to Van Huizen, his men deserved all three points against the Kiwis. “When you look at the result, the graph might show a downward trend. But for me, the last two matches have been good and showed that my men played their best,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
“We failed to take our chances … that was the difference. Credit to the Kiwis for their defensive play. We have two more matches to go, we will try to get it right,” he added.
Where are the goals?
But the bigger concern comes in the form of Malaysia’s inability to find the back of the net. Across all four matches that the Speedy Tigers have been involved in thus far, they’ve only scored a total of two goals. Comparatively, they’ve conceded 9 goals in four matches, including the six they let in against Australia, earlier this week. Against New Zealand, Stephen van Huizen’s men were guilty of not converting any of their seven penalty corners during the match.
The concern elevates to a higher level when you juxtapose their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup form to the fact that they were impressive in two test matches against the Kiwis, before the tournament. Van Huizen’s charges won the first one 8-2, before drawing the second one 3-3.
The 0-1 defeat against New Zealand effectively ended Malaysia’s hopes of sneaking into the 3rd-4th classification match, despite having one more match to play against India on Friday. Regardless of the outcome of that clash, Malaysia will now compete against Japan in the 5th-6th classification match on Saturday.
The Fourth Official
Match Schedule Announced For World League In Johannesburg
Today the FIH revealed the match schedule for the upcoming World League in Johannesburg. Both the Green Army and the Green Machine will depart for South Africa to play against the world's best this July (8th-22nd) with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Click here for the official tournament website.
The Green Army have a tough opening fixture against world number 11 Japan, a ranking that perhaps doesn't reflect their ability as they recently beat Australia, New Zealand and USA in the Hawkes Bay Cup with those 3 opponents sitting 4th, 5th and 6th in the world respectively. The girls in green will then face Olympic Bronze medalists Germany, and Poland before a 3 day break which then see's them round out their pool games against world number 2 England.
While the Green Machine begin their campaign against hosts South Africa, ranked 15th, on July 9th before meeting Olympic silver medallist Belgium 2 days later. Their third match is against Egypt with their final pool game against a formidable German side who sit 3rd in the world.
Pool A Pool B
Japan South Africa
|July 8, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
JPN - IRL
GER - POL
USA - CHI
RSA - IND
|July 10, 2017||Pool B||12:00||
ARG - CHI
GER - IRL
ENG - POL
USA - IND
|July 12, 2017||Pool B||12:00||
IND - CHI
IRL - POL
JPN - ENG
RSA - ARG
|July 14, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
POL - JPN
CHI - RSA
USA - ARG
GER - ENG
|July 16, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
JPN - GER
ENG - IRL
RSA - USA
ARG - IND
|July 18, 2017||QF||11:15||-|
|July 20, 2017||9th/10th Place||10:00||-|
|5 / 8 Place||12:15||-|
|5 / 8 Place||14:30||-|
|July 22, 2017||7th/8th Place||11:15||-|
|July 23, 2017||3rd/4th Place||11:00||-|
Pool A Pool B
New Zealand Belgium
Spain South Africa
|July 9, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
NZL - FRA
ESP - JPN
BEL - EGY
RSA - IRL
|July 11, 2017||Pool B||12:00||
GER - EGY
AUS - FRA
NZL - JPN
BEL - IRL
|July 13, 2017||Pool B||12:00||
IRL - EGY
JPN - FRA
ESP - AUS
RSA - GER
|July 15, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
FRA - ESP
NZL - AUS
EGY - RSA
BEL - GER
|July 17, 2017||Pool A||12:00||
AUS - JPN
ESP - NZL
GER - IRL
RSA - BEL
|July 19, 2017||QF||11:15||-|
|July 21, 2017||9th/10th Place||10:00||-|
|5 / 8 Place||12:15||-|
|5 / 8 Place||14:30||-|
|July 22, 2017||7th/8th Place||15:45||-|
|5th - 6th Place||18:00||-|
|July 23, 2017||3rd/4th Place||13:15||-|
Australia push ahead at Trans-Tasman Masters
Photo: Bex Charteris, CMGSPORT
It was a day of mixed results for the New Zealand Masters sides as Australia pushed further ahead in the race for the Trans-Tasman Masters Challenge trophy in Whangarei on Wednesday.
The sun was shining once again at the Whangarei Hockey Centre, with the 35+ Men getting things underway on the Currie Electrical turf at 12pm. After a close encounter on day one, hopes were high for the Kiwi Men. Despite the Kiwis’ best efforts, Australia proved too strong on the day running out 8-2 winners. Nick Lampp and Andrew Nation scoring New Zealand’s two goals.
The Men’s 40+ and Men’s 45+ sides also found the going tough on Wednesday, with the 40+ team going down 5-0 and the 45+ team falling 3-1. Mark Gill finding the back of the net for the 45+ team in the final quarter as the side looked to mount a comeback, however time ran out despite a number of good opportunities.
The Women’s 35+ team were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw, with the New Zealand ladies having the chance to seize the upper hand in their second game on Turf 3 on Thursday.
News was better for the 40+ Women and 50+ Men, both scoring resounding victories to set themselves up well for the week. After a frustrating 1-1 draw on Tuesday, the 40+ Women have put themselves in pole position to secure the 40+ series after goals from Vicky Ward, Veronica Hay and Kelly Rowlingson saw the side secure a 3-0 victory.
A hat-trick from captain Brett Butcher, including two neatly taken penalty strokes, saw the 50+ Men dominate Australia and score a 5-0 victory. Kevin Johnson and Craig Brett adding the other two.
Day three sees a full round of nine games at the Whangarei Hockey Centre – with the highlights including opportunities for the 50+, 55+ and 60+ Women to secure series victories with win’s tomorrow.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Seniors trounce Development Squad 5-0 in Triangular Hockey
In the Pakistan Hockey Federation's triangular series, like the opening match, today's match also went according to the script.
At the Johar Town Hockey Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan Seniors, who had defeated Pakistan Whites 2-0 yesterday, routed Development Squad, the least experienced of the three sides.
The seniors notched five goals without reply.
Aleem Bilal and Arslan Qadir both had a brace while skipper Haseem Khan netted the other goal.
It was 2-0 at the half time.
On Friday, Pakistan Whites play the Development Squad.
PHF Media release
Rani Rampal to lead Indian women's hockey team in a five-Test series against New Zealand
Rani Rampal will lead India's women's hockey team in New Zealand. Twitter/@imranirampal
New Delhi: Striker Rani Rampal will be leading a 20 -member Indian women's hockey team in a five-Test series against New Zealand in Midlands, starting 14 May.
Defender Sushila Chanu will be Rani's deputy during the series. Sushila is making a comeback after nearly eight months of rehabilitation due to an injury.
The team is a blend of youth and experience with the defence line comprising Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Sushila and drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur.
Savita is the first goalkeeper of the squad. Savita had a fantastic outing at the Women's Hockey World League Round 2 where she was adjudged the 'Goalkeeper of the tournament'.
Rajani Etimarpu will travel as the second goal keeper in the team.
The midfield will be formed by the experienced Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Reena Khokar. The forwardline features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika and Anupa Barla.
The Senior women's team have had a great start to the new season with some remarkable wins.
They kicked off the year with an emphatic five-match Test series win against Belarus. The team returned victorious from the Women's Hockey World League Round 2 beating Chile in the final and securing their berth for the World League Semi Final in June.
Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, the newly-appointed chief coach for the Indian women's team, is confident the New Zealand tour will help the team gain the required exposure ahead of important tournament lined up in June.
"The goal of the tour is to play well against a higher ranked team and experience on what level we are now. If we can execute the plans we have focused on through the camp, I am confident we can notch up good results. Doing well against a team like New Zealand will bring a lot of confidence to the team," expressed Marijne.
The team has been put through the grind in a 21-day camp at SAI, Bengaluru where the team trains three session a day.
Marijne says the emphasis was on fitness and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard has been working with the team one session each day.
"The focus of the camp was on fitness, improving individual technique as well as developing our defensive structure."
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu ;
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (VC), Namita Toppo;
Midfielders: Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Reena Khokar;
Forwards: Rani (Captain), Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika, Anupa Barla.
Sushila Chanu back in National women’s hockey team
Rani Rampal to lead women’s team in New Zealand
Sushila Chanu returned to the National women’s hockey team after a lengthy injury-forced absence as India announced its squad for the tour of New Zealand here on Thursday.
India is set to play a five-match Test series against the Kiwis, starting on May 14 in Pukekohe.
Sushila, who spent eight months out after undergoing surgery on her injured knee following the Olympics, has been named vice-captain.
“It was a difficult period for me, but the injury is not on my mind now. I’m confident and ready to play,” she said.
India will continue to be led by Rani Rampal, who captained the side to victory in the Hockey World League Round 2 event in Canada last month.
The New Zealand series will be a vital outing for India as it prepares for the Women’s Hockey World League semifinal, to be held in Johannesburg in July.
The team has spent the last three weeks training at the SAI here. “The goal of the tour is to play well against a higher ranked team and experience on what level we are now,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
The squad: Rani Rampal (capt.), Rajani Etimarpu, Savita Punia, Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Namita Toppo, Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Reena Khokar, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika, and Anupa Barla.
Varsity Hockey bends the rules to double the thrill
Interval activities during the university of free state and the university of Pretoria varsity hockey at UJ Hockey field Johannesburg Photo by: SASPA
Power Plays, pink balls, bonus points and ‘sportainment’ – Varsity Sports is about innovation and breaking the mould of sport. In 2017 Varsity Hockey in South Africa will double the reward for players and double the entertainment for fans.
Varsity Cup introduced nine-point and seven-point tries in 2016, rewarding running rugby and tries beginning with play deep inside a team’s own half. In 2017 Varsity Hockey will do something similar.
In addition to the Power Play rule seen in previous seasons of Varsity Hockey, whereby each team can select to implement a two-minute period where goals count two and the opposition must bench two players, field goals will now count two.
Teams scoring field goals (goals from open play) will receive twice the reward, as goals count two. Penalty strokes and penalty corners will still count as one, except during a Power Play (note: a field goal scored during a power play still counts two and not four). And there are still no draws in Varsity Hockey – matches drawn after regular time go straight into a penalty shootout where players attempt to dribble past goal keepers starting outside the D.
“We’re excited to announce this Varsity Hockey rule change for the 2017 season,” said Varsity Hockey Code Manager, Jana Arlow. “By awarding two goals to a team scoring a field goal, we hope to encourage an entertaining brand of hockey for spectators, while offering something unique for the players too.
“Matches will now also be contested right until the final whistle even if a team is two or three goals down.”
So look forward to matches going down to the wire, even when teams are trailing by two or three. Keep an eye and ear out for the intense two-minute Power Plays as teams defend with nine players while their opponents look to score double.
Don’t miss the live DJs, giant hockey game at half time, penalty shootouts, Mugg and Bean coffee and snacks and the finest hockey talent in the country.
Varsity Sports media release
Hoare says 2016 learning experience key for Wimbledon
Wimbledon’s Michael Hoare said his club drew huge lessons from their first EHL experience against Amsterdam in 2016 to power their way to the FINAL4.
They beat UHC Hamburg 3-1 in the KO16 before edging out Mannheimer HC in a shoot-out after normal time ended 2-2.
Looking back on the weekend, Hoare told the EHL website: “We learned a lot from playing against Amsterdam last year. We played well in that game but fell a little bit short at the end.
“That experience really helped in this tournament and we knew we would have a good chance against UHC Hamburg if we put in a performance. Once we did that, we were very confident going into the Mannheimer game. Everyone spoke brilliantly over the weekend and it was a real team effort.”
The outcome was that they became the first English club to reach the FINAL4 since Reading in 2011 but he felt his side fully deserved to win through despite the close run game against Mannheim.
“I knew it had been a while; I didn’t realise it was all the way back in 2011!” Hoare added. “I felt we were the better team and could have won in normal time against Mannheimer.
“But the lads in the shoot-out were brilliant, scoring every one while James Bailey was brilliant. We have got a good record in shoot-outs before it in the English league and were pretty confident going into them.”
“To be honest, [James] didn’t have loads to do in the games but he really stepped up in the shoot-out and really enjoys them. He was waiting for his time to shine; I think he was unfortunate not to get two saves in the shoot-out but it’s always nice to win it ourselves rather than them make the mistake."
Euro Hockey League media release
Play off Saturday: huge matches ahead of Sunday’s Grand Finals
The Scottish league and cup competitions are done and dusted - Bromac Kelburne (men) and Edinburgh University (women) have already completed their respective doubles - now it is places in Europe for next season that are up for grabs and the same two sides are out to try and take the treble at the Grand Finals at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre on Sunday.
At the other end of the spectrum this weekend also sees the relegation play-offs with the losing sides over the two days consigned to National League 2 competition next season.
There is no doubting Gordon Shepherd`s determination for the top European spot for Kelburne. "It`s very important for us to be competing in the EHL," said Shepherd. "It`s nice to already have a European place, but we want the top place."
But it is a tough weekend`s action for Shepherd`s charges, they take on Western Wildcats on Saturday, and if victorious the Paisley side will be up against the winner of the Grange and Grove Menzieshill confrontation.
On paper the Wildcats` tussle may seem a good one for Kelburne, the league results were 4-0 and 4-1 in favour of the champions, but Harry Dunlop`s young pack had an impressive end to the season, a fact recognised by Shepherd.
"I`m confident we can win the two games but respect will be given to the Wildcats, firstly they have been playing well in the second half of the season, and secondly they have proved that they can not only compete with but beat the top teams in the league."
It was the Wildcats` recent 3-2 win over Grange that put paid to the Edinburgh side`s league aspirations - proving they are a side that can upset the odds.
Wildcats also finished the season with some silverware, last weekend they won the Plate competition with a convincing 4-1 win over Watsonians.
While the Wildcats have finished off the season`s activities with some style, it is still difficult to offset the Kelburne bandwagon.
The champions were back in swashbuckling form in last weekend`s Scottish Cup final, after an initial sticky spell they swept Grange aside with a well-deserved 5-2 win.
Shepherd said: "I was delighted with the way the team played on Saturday to complete the double, but that is now history and it`s all about what`s ahead of us that matters."
Grange`s tussles with Grove Menzieshill this season have resembled the tales of the unexpected, and so the outcome of this weekend`s semi-final remains a little unclear.
The Taysiders dominated the first league encounter and strolled into a commanding three-goal lead, only to allow Grange back into the contest and grab a 3-3 draw in the final ten minutes.
Grange were the more purposeful side in the return league fixture, a double by Luke Cranney and others by Greg Hopkinson and Callum Milne from the spot provided a 4-1 win.
It was certainly no contest in the cup semi-final as the Edinburgh side romped to an astounding 8-1 victory.
However, that is all history now, what perhaps matters more is how Grange will recover from their league and cup reversal. If David Knipe`s charges are still off colour, Grove Menzieshill are just the side to take advantage.
After all, that is precisely what happened last year, the Taysiders made it to the final and secured their place in Europe, and that at the expense of Grange.
Edinburgh University will be anxious to grasp the top women`s European spot this year having lost out to an Ailsa Wyllie goal against Grove Menzieshill twelve months ago.
Sam Judge`s successful outfit are up against fourth placed Wildcats at home on Saturday and must be considered favourites to progress to Sunday`s final.
However, the champions were held to a 1-1 draw at Auchenhowie early in the season, and only a very late penalty corner strike by Judge saved their blushes.
However, the return was a bit more emphatic, Edinburgh won 4-1 at Peffermill, Judge scored twice while Ellie Hutcheson and Louise Campbell got the others.
Although the students only won the league on the last day of the campaign and won the Scottish Cup by 2-1, they have been the most consistent team over the season, only defeated on one occasion. It would therefore be a major upset if they did not complete the treble.
In contrast, the other semi-final between Milne Craig Clydesdale Western and Grove Menzieshill is anybody`s guess - there seems little to choose between the sides.
League form confirms that, in the closing weeks of the campaign the Taysiders were well in command to win the opening tussle 4-1, but Western retaliated with a 4-2 victory the following weekend.
The fact that Western secured second spot by a single point is of no real relevance any more, it is the direct clash between the sides on Saturday that will decide which team plays in Europe next season.
The scenario at this weekend`s relegation play-offs is fairly straightforward, three sides will survive to play in the top flight next season, while the losing team will join Gordonians in division two.
The men’s clash between Watsonians and Clydesdale is an intriguing occasion, the former started the campaign brightly then fell away, while the latter only really picked up some form in the closing couple of weeks of the campaign.
The recent head-to-head certainly gives little away, it finished a goalless draw at Titwood.
The other semi-final confrontation brings together Inverleith, a side used to the win ethic in the lower ranks, and Hillhead who only won one of their final 11 games in the first division.
But Stuart Neave, Inverleith`s coach, is too long in the tooth to take anything for granted, in reality the reverse.
"Given how competitive it was at the bottom of National League 1 at the end of the season, any play-off game is going to be closely contested," Neave said.
"Our immediate task is Saturday's game against Hillhead and we will be focusing on improving our performance, especially against more challenging opposition."
Inverleith lost out on automatic promotion to Dundee Wanderers, but their statistics are nonetheless impressive, 16 wins out of 20 games and 135 goals in the process.
The losers of the semi-finals still have a chance of avoiding the drop in Sunday`s final play-off match.
In the women`s relegation contest it is Grange that have emerged from the second division and they are up against a Kelburne side that finished their league campaign with three victories in the last six games. This could be a tough call for the aspiring Edinburgh side. But is a match that is sure to bring drama to an already tight play-off Saturday.
The other semi-final brings together Erskine Stewart`s Melville and Hillhead, with the former perhaps the favourites for this one. The Edinburgh side finished six points ahead of Hillhead in the table and also won both head to heads 4-1.
Photos by Duncan Gray and Mark Pugh
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Kenya Police ride on mastery of set pieces
By BRIAN YONGA
Kenya Police players celebrate a goal during their Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men's Premier League match against Parklands Club at City Park Stadium on April 22, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Successful conversion of set pieces has contributed to Kenya Police’s impressive start to the Kenya Hockey Union start this season.
Police chalked up their seventh straight win on Wednesday evening in a 5-1 mauling of Kenyatta University Vultures in a mid-week encounter. The result saw Police top the standings with 21 points, maintaining their 100 per cent record this season.
It was Police’s third match in six days and the law enforcers have clearly underlined their intentions of winning back the title they last won in 2013.
However, it is their impressive conversion of short corners that has given them an edge over their opponents. Out of the 23 goals they have scored so far, 20 of them have come from short corners, underlining their prowess in the set pieces.
And Kenya Police’s stand-in coach Patrick Mugambi is determined to take full advantage of the opportunities to ensure his side reclaim the gong.
“We will continue to lay emphasis on set pieces which we are good at, especially short corners. We would like to keep this winning streak going on and see where it leads us,” he stressed.
The tactician has however termed it premature the talk of his team being the favourites for the title.
“There are a lot of matches to play and most teams have played very few matches therefore we just have to keep doing our bit in winning matches,” he added. Police are yet to face champions Strathmore University and Butali Sugar Warriors and results against those two sides will paint a clear picture of their title credentials.
In Wednesday’s encounter, Police went ahead after just 11 minutes with Amos Barkibirir firing in the opener through a well taken field goal. The students were however levelled minutes later, taking advantage of some sloppy defending as Lawrence Makhasa sounded the board after a penalty corner.
But Police, who finished third last season, intensified their attacks in the final quarter hitting four goals in the space of 15 minutes to secure another impressive success. Skipper Brian Saina, Samuel Wokila, Titus Kimutai and Felix Okoth all got their names in the score sheet to maintain their team’s unbeaten run.
Police are four points clear of second-placed Greensharks, who have played a game more. Champions Strathmore, who have played five matches are ninth after only one win. Butali are one place up.
Hockey board considers weekend club tourneys
Turf displacement forces adjustments
By Mark Pouchet
The Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) is proposing to host a series of weekend club tournaments until the arrival of the new TT $1.3m turf, currently being manufactured by Germany-based manufacturer and installer of synthetic sport surfaces, Polytan.
Last evening, the TTHB's competition committee was expected to meet with club representatives and make their proposal for a new outdoor schedule, running from May until December this year. To date, the TTHB has decided against starting their outdoor season, which usually begins in January but was postponed this year because of the hosting of the March 25-April 2 FIH Men's World League Round 2.
“Our thinking is now that the major tournaments for the Men's and the Ladies are over,” TTHB president Douglas Camacho said, “there is a meeting today (yesterday) to determine the structure going forward from now until the end of December and what tournaments internationally and locally we want to take part in and then the idea is until the turf is raised we will run weekend tournaments so the teams and the national teams could train in the week and then we run a division of a tournament, another the following week and so on. Once clubs ratify it today (yesterday) we are good to go.” Camacho said.
The Tobago-based Paradise Hockey Club had offered to host mini-tournaments in Tobago until the TTHB confirmed the functioning of at least one of the turfs when the TTHB can again formulate a regular match schedule.
“It is something to ensure people continue to have the opportunity to train and to play in competitions, which we believe will be well received,” Camacho explained, “I think people like the idea too of more finite tournaments, playing four to five games we will probably shorten the games to 30 minutes for a more intense competition and have a great day or two of hockey. So between May and June, while the turf is going through the process we will have constant little competitions every weekend. That's the plan.”
The former TTOC president added that the TTHB is also likely to bring forward their indoor season to run from August to September ahead of the FIH World Indoor Qualifiers in Guyana in October.
Camacho said the turf is currently being manufactured and the TTHB is in constant contact with Polytan so that it can co-ordinate the transfer of the existing turf at Tacarigua to Petrotrin and the installation of the new turf at the National Hockey Centre.
“They are standing by for when they know it (the turf) is being shipped to come in. The hope is they start to do the preparation work in Point A Pierre before the turf arrives,” Camacho said.
That work includes preparing the Petrotrin sub-base. Sub-base preparation work, including repair and levelling of the underlay which includes a base of rubberised pellets, will be carried out at Tacarigua when the turf is actually shipped from Germany. That is when the old carpet will be rolled up and transported to Petrotrin.
“Once it is on the sea we will know when it is likely to arrive in T&T and we will then be able to have minimum downtime because hopefully by that stage Petrotrin will be playable and the national teams and so on could be training and then they put down the new turf on prepared sub-base in Tacarigua and eventually the FIH Lab will come to certify if for 5-7 years,” Camacho said.
Trinidad & Tobago Express
Namdhari XI to face Mumbai in final
Chandigarh: Namdhari XI entered the final of the boys’ sub-junior hockey National Championship (Division B) after beating Bengal 2-1 in Bengaluru today.
In the final, Namdhari XI will face Mumbai School Sports Association, who beat Rajasthan 5-1.
Akashdeep Singh opened the scoring for Namdhari XI in the 41st minute with a penalty corner conversion. They extended their advantage with a penalty corner conversion by Surpreet Singh in the 54th minute. Within a minute, though, Bengal struck back. But Namdhari XI kept their composure to seal the victory.
Easy wins for Punjab, Haryana girls
Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana registered comfortable wins on the opening day of the women’s junior National Championship (Division A) in Bhopal today.
Chandigarh beat Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd 4-1 in Pool A. Poonam Olla (18th minute), Kavita (20th), Amritpal Kaur (31st) and Shalu Mann (45th) scored for Chandigarh.
Punjab beat Hockey Patiala 3-1 in Pool A. Gurkamalpreet Kaur scored a quick brace (30th, 32nd) in their victory. Hockey Patiala’s goal was scored by Mitali in the 69th minute.
In Pool B, Haryana outclassed Chhattisgarh 19-0. Reet (15th, 20th, 29th, 38th, 42nd) and Amandeep Kaur (5th, 8th, 24th, 34th) scored hat-tricks.
In Pool C, Hockey Coorg beat Delhi 2-0, while Jharkhand beat Karnataka 5-3. In Pool D, Odisha beat Tamil Nadu 3-0.
Defending champs SSTMI still in with a shout to retain title
KUALA LUMPUR: The Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) have not given up hope on retaining the Division One title of the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
The Johor Sports School have 16 points from seven matches – two points behind leaders Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) in the 10-team Division One.
Both the teams have two matches left to play this weekend.
Defending overall champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS)-Thunderbolt are third with 15 points and Pahang Hockey Academy (AHP)-MSP-Thunderbolt are fourth with 14 points.
MBPJ will face AHP-MSP-Thunderbolt at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today before wrapping up their fixtures against BJSS at the MBPJ Stadium on Sunday.
SSTMI, who are gunning for their sixth consecutive league title, face Olak-Nurinsafi at home today before taking on SMK Datuk Bentara Luar of Johor at Batu Pahat on Sunday.
SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Abdul Rahman admitted that MBPJ “are favourites to win the league title”.
“But it won’t be easy for them as they have two tough opponents ahead – the Pahang and BJSS teams,” said Wan Roslan.
“We will go all out to collect full points against Olak tomorrow ... by which time we will know more about our chances of retaining the title. If MBPJ lose to the Pahang team, then it will put us in a good position heading into our last match.”
AHP-MSP-Thunderbolt coach Muhd Sufian Mohd wants his team to beat MBPJ “so that we can finish better than last year’s fourth placing”.
MBPJ coach Mohd Harfizi Baharom is aware that both the Thunderbolt teams – AHP-MSP and BJSS – could spoil their chances of winning the league title.
“Both the teams will be out to beat us so that SSTMI Thunderbolt can have a better chance of retaining the title,” said Harfizi.
“So, we will take it one match at a time.”
The Star of Malaysia
England U16 Girls enjoy 3-0 series win over Ulster U17 Girls
U16 Girls England
England U16 girls recorded three wins in three days over Ulster U17 girls with several players making their first international appearances.
Vicki McCabe netted three goals in the three games as the team made some great strides.
The first contest was a strong 4-2 victory with McCabe, Renee Ojikutu, Jika Nyirenda and Olivia Hamilton all getting on the score sheet.
A resounding 5-0 win in the second match sealed the series as McCabe was again on the score sheet as were Annabel Bennett, Rebecca Daniel and Sophie Hamilton.
The team made sure of a 3-0 series win with a hard-fought win in the final encounter with Rose Winter scoring the winner from a penalty corner.
England U16 girls’ coach John Bell said: “Several players were making their first international appearance so it took some time for the squad to settle.
But they continued to make some positives gains in addition to those seen coming out of the Holland trip.”
“There was a focus around variation in attacking play and some penalty corner routines which provided a consistent threat to the Ulster goal.”
England Hockey Board Media release
Hudson Stewart enjoying new hobby as fashion model
Pressure, performance, spotlight.
These are all things that elite athletes have to deal with regularly. So it’s no surprise that Men’s National Team defender Hudson Stewart has seemingly found another calling that requires excellence in those areas.
It also requires a certain type of genetic makeup, or more simply put – good looks.
Last year, Stewart added modelling to his resume, which already featured a diverse range of skillsets and experiences including being a University trained Engineer, an international field hockey player, and a bartender.
“Some people will get nervous, some people will get confident,” says the 27 year-old native of Vancouver, British Columbia. “There’s some people with more experience, less experience. So it’s pretty analogous to a sports team.
“You all have to be in tune with timing, everyone has to try and walk at the same pace. Everyone is wearing different clothing, but you’re still part of the team for the designer. And you want to do your best job for the designer.”
Spoken like a true team player. And its was in fact Stewart’s other team, his co-workers, who encouraged him to explore modelling last September. And when he made the decision to, things came together as quickly as they possibly could have.
“One week I submitted some photos to a few agencies in town just to see what was going on. And I heard back from one and I met with the agent a week later and that day he got an email regarding Vancouver fashion week,” he explains.
“So he took a couple snapshots of me and sent my photo to the organizers at Vancouver Fashion Week and he heard back later that day that they wanted me to be for the show the next week.”
And just like in sports, a little practice doesn’t hurt.
“Luckily we were able to practice walking on the runaway so you can hit your marks, you can get your timing, your pace down, so when you actually do it you’re not going to look like a sloth or a cheetah walking down the runway.”
It seems he’s doing just fine.
Since his first show, Stewart walked in the Spring/Summer edition of Vancouver Fashion Week earlier this year, and then in Bridal Fashion Week, where he showcased Indian wedding-wear. He has also booked gigs for stock photos, for which he gets paid.
“It’s cool to kind of be like ‘oh yeah, I’ve been paid for modelling,’” he says.
And while he has no plans to quit his day (or night) job as a bartender, or put his field hockey aspirations on hold for a career in modelling, Stewart is keen to stick with what he calls his cool new hobby and see where it goes.
“I haven’t had the need to make any serious decisions, like am I going to Europe, or should I travel – nothing like that so far,” he explains.
“So, in the future, however far ahead that is, I may pursue it but right now I’m just enjoying life.”
For more photos of Stewart on the runway, follow him on Instagram.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Obituary: Gerald Wilkinson
01/09/1934 – 17/04/2017
England Hockey is sad to report the passing of former international captain and Masters Hockey pioneer Gerald Wilkinson at the age of 82.
Gerald represented England for many years at over 40s, 60s, 65s, 70s and 75s. His biggest achievement came in 1998 when he captained England to a 4-1 win over the Netherlands in the inaugural Over 60s World Cup in Utrecht.
He also enjoyed a long club career representing Deeside Ramblers, Salisbury, Wimbledon, Guildford, Southgate, Witham and Chelmsford as well as a host on invitational clubs.
In 1995 he was a founder of the LX club for Over 60s, the forerunner of the England Masters and Grand Masters teams.
He was also a founder member of the Angels touring club, which played on their inaugural tour of the USA and Bermuda in 1963 and subsequently played in over 50 countries across all five continents.
He played hockey on the day of his wedding at Chelmsford HC and then went on a seven-week honeymoon on tour with the Angels, taking in Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and USA.
His sporting prowess was not confined to hockey. He also had success in athletics as the multiple British Over 60s long jump champion from 2000-2016.
Gerald also came fourth in the Over 80s World Championship in Lyon in 2015 and held the British indoor and outdoor record for the Over 80s in 2015 with a leap of 3.51m for the event.
Our condolences go out to his wife Birgit and his sons Ben and Phil.
England Hockey Board Media release