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News for 03 July 2017

All the news for Monday 3 July 2017

Netherlands crowned champions in Brussels: Australia take fifth Hockey World Cup spot

The Netherlands took first place at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals after a patient but accomplished performance against China. For their part, the team ranked eighth in the world played their part in a spectacle worthy of a final.

The match was tightly contested and a showcase for some of the most skilful players in the game. It was a game where top scorer Caia van Maasakker was able to show off her ability to strike with pinpoint accuracy and China's captain Cui Qiuxia demonstrated why she was the pick of the experts when it came to Player of the Tournament.

It is also worth noting that this was an event that was also a showcase for a consistently high level of umpiring.

The final between Netherlands and China started nervously with both teams testing each other. The Chinese have improved steadily throughout the tournament, while the Netherlands have played consistently well without ever hitting top form.

The Dutch were the first to find their rhythm with Caia van Maasakker's shot being well chased down by Ou Zixia. The next penalty corner shot from van Maasakker flew towards the top corner and Li Dongxiao was forced to make a flying leap to save the ball. The Dutch continued to pile on the pressure in the second quarter, with captain Marloes Keetels coming close to breaking the deadlock towards the end of the second quarter with a testing shot.

The second half began in much the same way. The Dutch continued to push and probe, searching for a way through the Chinese defence but, despite a huge disparity in attacking moves, the Netherlands could not find a way through. China's own attacking moves came largely through quick breaks down either side of the pitch, with Zhang Xiaoxue in particular looking dangerous. Anne Veenendaal in the Netherlands goal was forced to make a desperate save as the ball popped unexpectedly up in front of her after Wang Na took a shot. It was the tournament's eventual leading goal scorer, van Maasakker who broke the deadlock. Ironically, the penalty corner shot fell to her after a scuffed shot at the top of the circle and the tall defender swept home with precision. Seconds later a fabulous ball across the circle from Kitty van Male almost found Malou Pheninckx in lots of space. The ball just evaded Pheninckx's stick and ran to safety. Xan de Waard then joined in the action, with a run across the pitch into the China circle. Her subsequent shot flew wide and China were able to regroup.

The match, by this stage, was far from one-way traffic. Although the Netherlands had far more shots on target, China were making their own moves up the field. The innovative play and keen running of the Chinese midfield gave the Netherlands plenty to think about and there is little doubt that China are a team that has medal-winning ambitions. The way they grew as a unit during this tournament is a sign of the potential within the national team. However, this match was all about the winning ways of the Netherlands. Van Maasakker's second goal was also from a slightly misplaced penalty corner, this time, the shot bounced in off a defender and wrong-footed Li Dongxiao. 

7/8th place

Spain v Belgium 1-1 (Spain 4-1 penalty shootout)

This was an open game between two well-matched European rivals. Both teams are in the development stage but equally, both sides have shown throughout the course of the tournament that they are not too far off competing with the top teams. Fast breaks, two competitive defensive units and cohesive tactics have seen both the Red Sticks and the Red Lions pose questions to higher ranked teams.

During this match, things remained tight. The first quarter saw Belgium as possibly the stronger of the two teams, with Maria Ruiz in the Spanish goal being called into action more times than her Belgium counterpart. The second quarter however, belonged to Spain. Some good work by Belen Iglesias down the left-hand side of the pitch started the move. Her cross was deflected skywards for Lucia Jimenez to bat home past Aisling D'Hooghe. Two further penalty corners offered the Spanish side scoring opportunities but D'Hooghe and her defence stood firm.

The second half saw Belgium pushing higher as they sought the all important equaliser. Two penalty corners in the third quarter saw the Belgium's working hard to restore the balance but Spain were determined to hold on to the lead. Belgium finally broke through with a penalty corner from Louise Versavel. The fierce shot sent the match to shoot-out, Belgium's third of the tournament. Unfortunately it was not third time lucky and a very clinical Spanish team were convincing winners.

A disappointed Stephanie Vanden Borre said: "Overall our game was better than yesterday. Unfortunately we didn't capitalise on goal scoring chances. But we played hard and kept our momentum to score. The shootout was another disappointment."

Spain's Berta Bonastre said: "Sport can be beautiful, yesterday we lost the shoot-out, today we won. Yesterday I missed, but I am a stubborn person so, when the coach asked me, I said 'yes', and I scored. We were maybe a little bit better than Belgium today and, in a game like today, we won on details. i think we are a little bit more experienced than Belgium in tournament situations."

5/6th place

Italy v Australia 1-3

Australia may not have had the tournament they would have wished for, but the world number four side and Oceania champions made certain they would be present at the 2018 World Cup with a strong display against a talented and progressive Italian team.

Frederica Carta gave Italy the lead in the all-important 5/6th place play-off match against Australia. If the Hockeyroos were expecting a defensive or tentative start from the team ranked 12 places below them, then the Italians clearly hadn't read the script. Carta's goal was a well-taken penalty corner that came from some aggressive attacking runs from the team in blue.

Kathryn Slattery scored the equaliser in the second quarter, minutes after she had mis-hit a clear-cut scoring opportunity when she was free with only Martina Chirico to beat. Slattery made no mistake second time round, her goal was a cracker of a shot.

For the Italian team, Lara Oviedo was creating problems for the Australian defence as she proved herself willing to run at players in the defensive circle. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, Laura Barden and the energetic Edwina Bone were creating their own havoc as they weaved their way around the Italian defence.

Madi Ratcliffe's powerful penalty corner strike was nearly the difference between the two sides in the third quarter but the shot was narrowly wide. Minutes later, the Hockeyroo's fourth penalty corner was turned away by the excellent Martina Chirico while, her captain, Chiara Tiddy, stepped up and saved the next bullet of a shot from crossing the line. Having weathered this storm, Italy pushed up the pitch and applied pressure of their own, but the relentless pressure from Australia was soon resumed, this time Emily Smith was the player testing Chirico's reactions.

It took the final quarter for Australia to find a way through the stubborn Italian defence. Georgina Morgan continued to press her claim to be the tournament's top scorer as she fired home a shot that flew between Chirico and Tiddy. The third goal was a sure indication that sometimes the most direct route is the most effective. The ball fell to Madi Ratcliffe, whose first time shot put the game beyond Italy's reach and secured her team's place at the 2018 World Cup in London.

Georgina Morgan, speaking to the local organising committee reporter Melanie Kreusch, said: "The first half was tough, the goal from Italy was a shock. We had made loads of chances but failed to take them.

"We bounced back in the second half. We have loved this tournament - we are rebuilding from after the 2016 Olympics so this is a young team and this has been a great chance to put ourselves against some top opposition. We are upset we didn't qualify for the Hockey World League Final but this is a good end to our campaign." 

3/4th place

Korea v New Zealand 1-3

The first half was very much one-way traffic with New Zealand in the driving seat but, as has been the case for many teams at this tournament, they were unable to convert circle incursions into goals.

Korea' s few attacks in the first half of the match were the result of counter-attacks as the midfield attempted to find Cheon Seul Ki or Cheon Eunbi, who revolved as Korea's lone striker. In the second half, Korea came out with a much more attacking mindset. The change in tempo pushed the Black Sticks back and for the first part of the half, Korea were the team piling on the pressure.

Suddenly the New Zealand players found themselves harried when in possession and needing to chase hard when Korea had the ball as their players joined the attack in numbers. New Zealand were nearly made to pay as the quarter drew to an end. An intercept in front of the Black Sticks circle released Cheon Seul Ki and her rasping pass was tantalisingly close to Cho Hyejin's stick. A strike by Olivia Merry signalled New Zealand's determination to take bronze at this event but Jang Soo Ji was up to the challenge and cleared from that shot and the follow-up. In a swift change of end, Cho Hyejin again was just one step from connecting with a cross.

It was all action in the final 10 minutes as the ball travelled from end-to-end. A New Zealand penalty corner was beautifully run down by the Korea defence and then a penalty corner to Korea – their first of the match – was wasted as the slip was mis-struck. The deadlock was finally broken when Brooke Neal got hold of a penalty corner and rifled it home past Jang Soo Ji.

After the game, New Zealand's Samantha Harrison said: "Today's game was a mental game, and the physical nature of it made it even more so. We had to keep going until the end of the match.

"This tournament has been a great experience," she added, "We have been here for a month and some of the girls have been taking exams and that is all pressure for the players to cope with as well. We are a young squad, so these are all things we can learn from."

The captain of Korea, Kim Jongeun, said: "We always really enjoy coming to Europe because it is a very different style of play and we can learn a lot from it. We will now increase the level of our training between now and the Hockey World League Final."

Final standings

1 Netherlands
2 China
3 New Zealand
4 Korea
5 Australia
6 Italy
7 Spain
8 Belgium
9 Scotland
10 Malaysia

Individual awards

Top Scorer: Caia van Maasakker (NED)
Best Goalkeeper: Martina Chirico (ITA)
Best Junior Player: Laura Nunnink (NED)
Best Player: Cui Qiuxia (CHN)

FIH site

Black Sticks claim bronze at World League

Photo: Planet Hockey

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have won the bronze medal after defeating Korea 1-0 at the World League Semi Final in Brussels.

It was a tight game with very few chances for either side, but defender Brooke Neal provided the pivotal strike with a penalty corner flick just six minutes from fulltime.

New Zealand held much of the possession throughout the contest but couldn’t hit all cylinders in the attacking half against the defensive Koreans.

Head coach Mark Hager said it wasn’t their best performance of the tournament, but pleasing to come away with the result.

“I think we were all feeling a bit flat after yesterday [penalty shoot-out loss to the Dutch], and I don’t think we’ve got over it yet,” he said.

“Sometimes that happens in sport and you need to be resilient so I was happy that we were able to get that late goal and win the game.

“On the whole I think we need to be a bit fitter and work on our attacking skills leading into Oceania Cup and the World League Final later this year.”

The Kiwis come away from the tournament with a record of five wins, one loss and a draw (lost on penalty shoot-out), with a stellar defensive record of just two goals scored against.

The bronze medal finish earns the Vantage Black Sticks valuable world ranking points as well as qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London.

New Zealand also qualified for the FIH Women’s World League Final in Auckland from 17-26 November, although they were already an automatic inclusion as the host nation.

The Netherlands, China and Korea will join New Zealand at the World League Final, while the top four finishers at the World League Semi Final in Johannesburg will also book a spot.

Halftime: 0-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks women win bronze at World League Semifinal

New Zealand's Brooke Neal celebrates scoring the winning goal against South Korea. GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks women's solid defence has once again shone through as they won bronze at the World League Semifinal.

The 1-0 win over South Korea in Brussels on Monday morning (NZ time) was their fifth clean sheet in seven matches at the tournament.

With such a strong showing at the back, all they needed was Brooke Neal's penalty corner flick six minutes from fulltime to grab the win in what was a tight game of few clear-cut chances.

New Zealand's Kelsey Smith and South Korea's Hyejin Cho battle for possession on Monday. GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand held much of the possession throughout the contest but couldn't hit all cylinders in the attacking half against the defensive Koreans.

The result followed the heartbreak of Sunday's shoot-out loss to the Netherlands, where the Black Sticks looked to have snatched a famous victory.

New Zealand's Liz Thompson of New Zealand keeps her eye on the ball on Monday. GETTY IMAGES

Samantha Charlton scored what would have been the game winner on the final attempt of the first round of shootouts, but while the Kiwis celebrated, the Netherlands called for a video referral, which showed Charlton's shot crossed the line .2 of a second after the eight second clock expired and the call was reversed.

The Dutch went on to win the shoot-out 5-4 and beat China in Monday's gold medal match 2-0.

Head coach Mark Hager said it wasn't their best performance of the tournament, but pleasing to come away with the result.

"I think we were all feeling a bit flat after yesterday [penalty shoot-out loss to the Dutch], and I don't think we've got over it yet," he said.

"Sometimes that happens in sport and you need to be resilient so I was happy that we were able to get that late goal and win the game.

"On the whole I think we need to be a bit fitter and work on our attacking skills leading into Oceania Cup and the World League Final later this year."

The bronze medal finish earns the Black Sticks valuable world ranking points as well as qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London.

New Zealand also qualified for the FIH Women's World League Final in Auckland from 17-26 November, although they were already an automatic inclusion as the host nation.

The Netherlands, China and Korea will join New Zealand at the World League Final, while the top four finishers at the World League Semi Final in Johannesburg will also book a spot.


Black Sticks 1 (Brooke Neal) South Korea 0. HT: 0-0.


Bronze medal winning Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry still rues shootout loss


Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry says penalty shootouts are an area her side needs to improve on when it comes to tournament deciders. Martin Hunter / www.photosport.nz

Star Black Sticks strike forward Olivia Merry was relieved with her side's bronze finish at the World League women's hockey semi finals, despite coming so close to the final this week.

After coming to terms with a disappointing penalty shootout 5-4 loss against world number one the Netherlands, the Black Sticks got themselves up to win against South Korea, 1-0 on Monday morning.

Merry said the team was still feeling flat after the loss, but she was proud of the way they dealt to the South Koreans.

Olivia Merry (R) of New Zealand celebrates with her team mates after scoring against Spain in Brussels this week. GETTY IMAGES

"I guess after the disappointment of yesterday we were pretty flat this morning so to pick up the bronze is pretty special."

"We've played in so many third and fourth playoffs so it is nice to come out on top of one of those. People don't understand how hard it is to mentally pick up in those situations under pressure."

The win against South Korea followed the heartbreak of Sunday's shoot-out loss where the Black Sticks looked to have snatched a famous victory.

Samantha Charlton scored what would have been the game winner on the final attempt of the first round of shootouts, but while the Kiwis celebrated, the Netherlands called for a video referral, which showed Charlton's shot crossed the line 0.2 of a second after the eight second clock expired and the call was reversed.

The Dutch went on to win the shoot-out 5-4 and beat China in Monday's gold medal match 2-0.

"Some say we were unlucky and others say we actually won it," said Merry.

The Black Sticks women have often bowed out second place when it comes to penalty shoot outs in crucial matches, missing out on bronze at the London Olympics also to the Netherlands. Merry said there seemed to be a "hex' on the side when it come to winning those.

"It's not through lack of trying. We definitely train for it [penalty shootouts] a lot, as we are known to lose them a lot."

Merry's first attempt in the shootout on Monday went in to the goal, however she missed her second, which she was devastated by.

"Every one of those count and every one is crucial. You do second guess yourself."

Merry had a standout tournament scoring several times up front to help with wins over Spain, Italy and Australia. The Canterbury forward was happy with her form, although said the tournament was just a building block for the World League finals to be played in New Zealand in November.

The bronze medal finish earns the Black Sticks valuable world ranking points as well as qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London.

The team will now have three weeks away from the turf, before coming back together as a team and picking up in the National Hockey League tournament to be held in Wellington in September.

This year all Black Sticks are required to play NHL, which will be a rare opportunity for punters to see the international players up against each other for their respective provinces.


Hockeyroos qualify for 2018 World Cup after defeating Italy 3 -1

Place 5th at World League Semi-Finals

Holly MacNeil

The Hockeyroos have qualified for the 2018 World Cup and finished in fifth place at the World League Semi-Final today after defeating Italy 3 – 1 in the 5th v 6th place game at the World League Semi-Final in Brussels, Belgium.

With just under five minutes to go in the first quarter Italy were awarded the first chance to score through a penalty corner. Score they did, with the ball flicked hard into the back of the net by Federica Carta.

Seconds into the second quarter and Renee Taylor intercepted the ball with an aerial trap, passing to Jordyn Holzberger who ran the ball down the pitch and into the circle before making a shot on goal which narrowly missed.

It was in the 22nd minute of play that Australia levelled the score with a field goal from Kathryn Slattery tapping straight into goal after work down the pitch from Jordyn Holzberger.

A penalty corner opportunity for the Hockeyroos with seven minutes to go in the third went just wide and the score remained at 1 all. Two more penalty corner opportunities followed up, however Italy’s defence were well prepared and blocked all attempts.

Australia edged into the lead for the first time in the game in the 48th minute with a penalty corner goal flicked into the net by Georgie Morgan, giving the Hockeyroos a one goal advantage with twelve minutes of play remaining.

With five minutes of play remaining Jordyn Holzberger took a shot on goal, the ball was defended by the Italian keeper, however Madi Ratcliffe came through and scored on the deflection giving Australia a 3 – 1 lead that would take them over the line to finish 5th at the World League Semi-Final.

Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said: “It’s pleasing to have ensured qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

“We expected Italy to be tough and they were, whilst we didn’t play as well as we would have liked it was nice to grind out a win in a pretty tough environment. I think we’ll get some character building through that as well.”

Kathryn Slattery 22 (FG)
Georgie Morgan 48 (PC)
Madi Ratcliffe 55 (FG)

ITALY 1 (1)
Federica Carta 11 (PC) 

Hockeyroos team v Italy
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Laura Barden (Kew, VIC) 37/5
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 127/11
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD) 22/2
Rachael Lynch (Melbourne, VIC) 165/0
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 119/9
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW) 66/16
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 205/37
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 77/29
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 179/68
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD) 27/0
Georgia Wilson (Mahogany Creek, WA) 9/0

Used Substitutes
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *plays for ACT 143/3
Jacqui Day (Mountain Creek, QLD) 16/0
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *plays for QLD 26/6
Kate Hanna (Constitution Hill, NSW) 25/1
Jordyn Holzberger (Ipswich, QLD) 54/5
Madeleine Ratcliffe (Warnambool, VIC) 19/5

Unused Substitutes
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW) 18/0

Hockey Australia media release

Green Army in confident mood for World Cup qualification bid

Irish women’s coach Graham Shaw. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Graham Shaw’s Irish women’s team jetted out to Johannesburg last Thursday evening in confident mood but wary not to get “carried away” by recent results in the final countdown for the World League Semi-Finals.

Wins over top ten ranked Germany and Korea in Berlin showed their growing belief that they can push toward a first World Cup appearance since 2002.

Next Saturday, they will meet Japan in their opening game in the first of their group games – the others are against England, Poland and Germany – with just one of the five sides getting eliminated after the group stage.

After that, the competition enters knock-out mode with quarter-finals and classification matches to follow. The top five sides will formally earn a place at the 2018 World Cup though sixth and seventh are more than likely to also suffice depending on who wins the continental championships.

Speaking ahead of the side’s departure, Shaw said that preparation on the pitch has “been ideal” in terms of combating the different styles they will come up against with Asian and European opponents on the menu.

“You don’t want to look too much into the results pre-tournament but we certainly grew as a group and it was a good team-building week away with positive results building confidence.

“It’s the performance and the process we are more interested in. That seems to be in a good place right now. Beating teams in the top 10 in the world gives you that belief that, on any given day, if we perform to our best, we feel we can be a real threat to any team in the world right now.”

The green army have continued their upward surge despite enduring the ongoing unavailability of captain Megan Frazer due to knee cruciate ligament problems. Cliodhna Sargent, Naomi Carroll and Rebecca Barry added to the unavailable list since January with only Deirdre Duke on the credit side following her shoulder injury.

“The aim in 2015 after missing out on Olympic qualification was to rebuild the squad so we’re not relying on 18 or 19 players. Ideally, we wanted a squad of up to 28 we feel can play at world level competitions.

“It’s obviously disappointing not to pick from a full panel, we’ve shown the depth in our squad to select an 18 that shows how much we have grown as a group. Yes, we can take players of that calibre out of it and still produce a strong squad and feel confident of qualifying.”

It has meant a new captain with Katie Mullan wearing the armband for this tournament. Her winning goals against Korea and Germany show she is relishing the role, especially at the head of the attack.

“We’ve looked at Katie in midfield as well, both in defensive and attacking roles there, but we feel she brings a real level of aggression to the forward line. It sets the tone for us from the front.

“We like to press aggressively and quite high up the pitch. She’s the ideal person to do it. She’s played in many different lines and her defensive side of the game is normal to her. And she knows where the goal is so, for the immediate future, you will see her in the forward line.”

In Malaysia, the armband was passed between four players. Mullan alone will wear in South Africa but Shaw says that does not mean she will be flying solo in the leadership stakes with a group of six players sharing responsibility.

“You don’t need an armband to have a voice in our team. We expect everyone to express their feelings throughout the group; that’s how we grow and move on. While it’s a title and an armband to be worn, its not to say other people wouldn’t share the leadership roles.”

The injuries have also opened the door for Sinead Loughran to make a world ranking tournament debut. The 26-year-old former Mount Anville student is something of a late bloomer, making her first inroads into the national panel in 2016 with last minute call-up for the Hawkes Bay Cup.

It followed four years in the US, reaching the final four of the NCAA championship with UNC Tar Heels, including three defeats in the final.

Shaw says her “physical ability” gives the side a huge asset: “She really asks questions of opponents by her physical effort around the pitch, both from a defensive point of view and also on the counter-attack.

“She had the highest of the fitness scores and her style suits the international game perfectly. She presses aggressively and you wouldn’t want to mark her man-on-man because of the ground she covers.”

The coach adds that Loughran’s spell before Christmas in Munich playing in the Bundesliga gave her an extra impetus.

“Moving across for Germany for that three months really taught her about her game and maybe a little about herself as a person. She came home, trained really well with the group and fully deserved her spot.

Katie Mullan will don the armband for Ireland throughout the tournament. Pic: Adrian Boehm

“For players like Sinead, when they come in [to the Irish panel] a bit older – not at 18 or 19 – it can take a bit of time to adjust and see where your style fits in.

“It’s taken her a little bit of time; she got a taste of it [in 2016]. I think she now knows where her strengths lie within the international game and she’s trying to apply them.”

In the last World League Semi-Final in 2015, Ireland came within a whisker of a ticket to Rio but were left agonisingly short of seeing off China in a crucial quarter-final, the width of a post in the shoot-out ending their Olympic hopes.

That tournament and the subsequent debrief have given Shaw and his team some crucial lessons about how to manage the highs and lows of the event.

The format this time around allows for more rest days – because it runs concurrently with the men’s event – and more direct planning for each opponent.

“There’s a lot more rest time which gives a bit more time to rest, recover and refocus on each game. It’s a different environment to playing two days in a row which limits preparation time.

“This gives more time to debrief and prepare for the next opposition. If we can perform in each game, we can get a result against anybody.”

** All matches will be broadcast on BT Sport; you can see the exact channels here: http://sport.bt.com/tv-guide-01363810618853

** In the lead-up to the World League semi-final, we will have interviews with Roisin Upton, Katie Mullan, Conor Harte and Craig Fulton on The Hook.

Ireland squad for Hockey World League semi-final (Johannesburg, July 8-23): G O’Flanagan (Railway Union), H Matthews (Loreto), Z Wilson (Harvestehuder THC), S McCay (Ulster Elks), L Colvin (Loreto), L Tice (UCD), C Watkins (Hermes-Monkstown), K Mullan (UCD), G Pinder (UCD), A O’Flanagan (Hermes-Monkstown), S Loughran (Hermes-Monkstown), N Evans (Hermes-Monkstown), N Daly (Muckross), D Duke (UCD), E Beatty (KHC Dragons), R Upton (Cork Harlequins), Y O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), A McFerran (University of Louisville)

Hockey World League
Pool A: England, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Poland
Pool B: Argentina, USA, South Africa, India, Chile

Schedule (times local)
July 8: Ireland v Japan, 12pm
July 10: Ireland v Germany, 2pm
July 12: Ireland v Poland, 2pm
July 16: Ireland v England, 2pm
July 18-23: Classification matches

The Hook

Two wins from two as Scotland U21 Men beat Ireland in Belfast

Scotland U21 Men made it two wins from two against Ireland this weekend with a 2-1 victory in Belfast.

The Scots were quick out the blocks had a very good opening to the match, but it was Ireland who opened the scoring from a penalty corner.

Scotland equalised within two minutes of going behind when Cameron Golden scored with a reverse stick shot to level the scores.

Scotland looked the better team throughout the first quarter, playing some good hockey and looking dangerous.

The second quarter was an entirely different story. It was “backs to the wall” for Scotland as Ireland came out all guns blazing. The Scots defended well however, and when called upon James Carrie in the Scotland goal made some excellent saves to keep the score level at half time.

After half time Scotland was in the ascendancy once more and took advantage of their dominance when they took a 2-1 lead.

Joe McConnell sent a crash ball into the D and Rob Harwood was on hand to score his second of the weekend to put Scotland in the driving seat.

Just as they did in the second quarter, Ireland came out flying for the fourth quarter and again found Scotland resolute at the back. Ireland went to kicking back as the game reached a conclusion and they very nearly grasped a late equaliser at the death of the match. The ball flashed across the Scotland goal but no Irish stick could get on the end of it to equalise.

Scotland then ran out as deserved winners winning both games of the series.

Scotland U21 Men’s Head Coach Graham Moodie said, “There’s a lot of character in this squad and I’m absolutely delighted to achieve back-to-back wins against a very good Ireland team. We were under the cosh at times but dug deep, defended well, and took our chances.

“To claim two wins from our first two proper games, is very good. The players deserve a pat on the back for their efforts.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

England under 16 boys narrowly defeated in Germany

England U16 Boys

England under 16 Boys were narrowly beaten 1-0 in their three-match away series with Germany under 16 Boys in Cologne.

The first two matches were both draws before the hosts took the final game 4-0 to win the well contested series between the sides.

A scoreless opening game saw some good hockey and fine saves from both sides with Louis Wrenn in the England goal making a standout save from a penalty corner.

The second match was a six goal thriller with Alex Pendle, Matthew White and Josh Gravestock all on the score sheet in a 3-3 draw. Germany ran into an early lead before England responded to lead 3-1 but the hosts battled back and levelled in the final minute.

Four late goals in the final game saw Germany race to a 4-0 win and ultimately take the series but on the whole it was another close contest between the sides, three of Germany’s goals coming in the final quarter as England pushed to get back into the game.

Reflecting on the series, England under 16’s head coach said: “At the international level, the ability to perform at the best of your ability in every game is paramount and the experience of these games will be valuable in the development of the players and the team in many areas as we look to building a test series against Belgium as well the 6 nations event on Nottingham.”

England Hockey Board Media release

Oceania Cup Match Schedule Announced for October 11 - 15

Holly MacNeil

The match schedule for the 2017 Oceania Cup to be held in Sydney this October has been announced. The competition which will run from 11 – 15 October will see the national men’s and women’s teams from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea compete to take out the Cup.

The Oceania Cup is a major competition in the national competition schedule with the winner automatically qualifying for the 2018 World Cup; the women’s World Cup to take place in London in July 2018 and the men’s to take place in India in November 2018.

Each nation will play each other in the pool rounds before the top two ranked nations face off in the gold medal match for not only the glory of the Oceania Cup title, but to qualify for the World Cup.

Secretary of the Oceania Hockey Federation, Bob Claxton said: “The Oceania Cup is one of the biggest and most important events for Oceania hockey. Not only does it showcase some fantastic hockey, but it also pits arch-rivals Australia and New Zealand against one another, and gives all teams the chance to qualify for the World Cup in 2018.

“With the addition of the Hockey5s, the Oceania Cup will truly have something on offer for everyone to enjoy.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the Oceania Cup had been secured for Sydney by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

“The Oceania Cup will attract visitors from around Australia and the world to see the best players in the region go head-to-head for the title of Oceania Champions. With a World Cup qualifying spot also on the line, the competition promises to be fierce,” said Mr Marshall.
“I encourage all hockey fans to get along to this great event in October and experience everything Sydney has to offer.”

The playing schedule for the newly introduced Hockey5s which will take place in conjunction with the Oceania Cup will be released at a later date.

Hockey Australia interim chief executive Ben Hartung commented: “We are delighted to be hosting the 2017 Oceania Cup, including the newly introduced Hockey5s, in Sydney this year. It’s set to be an exciting event and we would encourage all hockey and sport lovers to come along and enjoy the world class hockey which will be on display.”

Supported by Destination NSW, the Oceania Cup will bring hundreds of competitors, spectators and hockey enthusiasts together to celebrate Oceania hockey. Without the support of Destination NSW, this important event in the hockey calendar would not be possible.

Tickets for the Oceania Cup will go on sale on Monday July 24. Details on where you can get tickets will be released shortly on the Hockey Australia website: www.hockey.org.au/oceaniacup

2017 Oceania Cup Match Schedule:
Pool Phase: Play each team once
Final Phase: 1st v 2nd in Gold Medal Match. No match for 3rd ranked team.

Wednesday, October 11
Women's PNG v NZ 6:00pm
Men's AUS v PNG 8:00pm

Thursday, October 12
Women's AUS v PNG 6:00pm
Men's NZ v AUS 8:00pm

Friday, October 13

Saturday, October 14
Men's PNG v NZ 3:00pm
Women's NZ v AUS 5:00pm

Sunday, October 15
Women's gold medal match 1st v 2nd 3:00pm
Men's gold medal match 1st v 2nd 5:30pm

Hockey Australia media release

Lessons for Indian team from Hockey World League

NEW DELHI: Despite thrashing arch rivals Pakistan twice by big margins, the Indian team's campaign at the recently concluded Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals in London was largely a disappointing experience.

The team finished at a disappointing sixth position after an embarrassing 2-3 loss to minnows Canada in the play-off for the fifth spot.

Prior to that, the eight-time Olympic champions were handed a shock 2-3 defeat by Malaysia. Although not among the top teams in the world by a big margin, Malaysia have proved to be a difficult team for India several times in the past and this tournament was no different.

The only redeeming feature of India's campaign were the two massive wins over Pakistan.

The two sub-continent teams first met in a Pool B clash in which India inflicted a 7-1 humiliation on Pakistan -- their biggest win over their bitter rivals till now. They next met in a classification match for the fifth to eight spots in which India outclassed Pakistan by a 6-1 margin.

In both matches, the contrast in playing styles and quality of the two teams were stark.

Pakistan are still stuck with the classic Asian style which Indian players used to employ not too long ago. Their tendency of dribbling too much, too many long balls and leaving gaping holes in the defence while going on the attack is strikingly similar to what their counterparts across the border used to do till around a decade ago.

They also easily lost the ball in midfield and the co-ordination between the midfielders and forwards could do with some improvement.

The Indians, on the other hand, have moved closer towards achieving a successful blend of Asian and European styles. The transformation had gathered pace under former India coach Michael Knobbs.

The Indian players now tend to maintain better possession in midfield and the build up play has also improved.

However, there are several aspects where the Indians need to improve a lot. Penalty corner conversion will be the top agenda on the list.

The Indians lack too much variations in their penalty corners and the conversion rate is really poor when compared to Australia and the top European teams.

The typical 'desi' style of taking penalty corners is to blast the ball with full power towards the rival goal. Accuracy and variations are not really our strong points.

While this approach does fetch results on a few occasions, it is not too effective against the top teams who excel in rushing the stopper and hitter and cramping them for space.

The fact that the Indians converted only seven of the 27 penalty corners they earned over the course of the tournament indicates the amount of improvement they have to achieve in order to match the top teams.

The match against Holland also exposed the gap between Indians and European players in terms of tactical expertise. On too many occasions, the Indians were caught on the wrong foot whole going on the attack as the speedy Dutch counter-attacks caused the defence all sorts of problems.

The finishing was also poor during the matches against Holland, Malaysia and Canada with many of the half chances being wasted.

The poor performance at the HWL Semi-Final will not have too much of an effect on the Indian team as they have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Odisha by dint of being the hosts.

All the matches of the 2018 World Cup will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar from November 24 to December 16.

The Indians have a little less than 18 months to sort out their problems if they want to avoid another disappointing performance in a major tournament — this time in front of their home fans.

The Times of India

Surprising to see Shahbaz blame players: Mudassar

Mohammad Yaqoob

LAHORE: Former Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary retired Col Mudassar Asghar expressed his surprise over the press statement of incumbent PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior who criticized the performance of the Pakistan team in the recently-concluded World Hockey League in London.

“It is very surprising for me that the secretary instead of taking responsibility of the team’s poor showing is blaming players,” Mudassar said.

“Look, as PHF secretary and president Shahbaz and retired Brig Sajjad Khokhar, respectively, took decisions of appointing the selection committee, head coach and other team officials. Now both should be held to account for the team’s poor showing,” maintained the former PHF secretary.

“How Shahbaz as PHF secretary could even say that he is not happy with the performance, for he is the one who has made everyone unhappy,” remarked Mudassar.

“Instead of answering the nation over the team’s pathetic showing, he has set out to shout at the national team,” he added.

The Pakistan team was rising when the incumbent PHF set-up took charge in 2015 because they had played the Champions Trophy final in India and had also defeated India in the semi-finals, but, he added, the team faced decline during the tenure of current PHF set-up.

“The performance of the national team during the last almost two years, instead of being on the rise, has declined for which the PHF and its officials are responsible,” the ex-secretary of the PHF maintained.

“I will request the prime minister to have a look at the affairs of hockey as the situation has become more alarming,” Mudassar said.

He also criticized the PHF for taking the decision of not sending the team to the Champions Trophy on the special invitation of the FIH.

“Instead of giving international exposure to the players through toughest events like Champions Trophy, the PHF took a wrong decision of keeping players away from it. “The team was not sent at the pretext of preparing players for big events but the recent poor showing speaks volumes about their preparation,” he said.


Former hockey captain Ghazanfar Ali to represent England senior team in World Cup 2018

Ghazanfar Ali

Former Pakistan hockey captain and center-half Ghazanfar Ali has been selected to represent England’s 35+ hockey team in the World Cup scheduled to be held in Spain next year.

Ghazanfar Ali, who represented Pakistan in 245 international matches and is also a former Olympian, is the first ever Pakistani athlete to be selected in England 35+ team for the World Cup, which would take place from July 27-August 5, 2018 in Barcelona.

A graduate of the Punjab University, Ghazanfar Ali broke into the Pakistan junior side in 1997 and got promoted to the senior team in 2000. He represented Pakistan in the 2002 and 2006 Hockey World Cup as well as the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2002 Asian Games. He also led Pakistan hockey team during the 2006 Champions Trophy.

Ghazanfar Ali will represent England 35+ hockey team in World Cup 2018

Ghazanfar Ali settled in England 10 years ago and became eligible to play for England after acquiring British nationality. Continuing to serve hockey, he is also part of central contract with the England hockey coaching development.

Speaking about his selection in the England team, Ghazanfar Ali said the feat is an honour for him and Pakistan.

“I am honoured to be the first Pakistani to be selected for England 35+ team which will be participating in the World Cup next year. I will try my best to live up to the expectations,” he said.

In 2012, Ghazanfar Ali also became the first Pakistani to be awarded the prestigious ‘Roll of Honour’ award for his services to the game both as a player and coach by the Trafford Sports Council, Manchester, UK.

Geo TV

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