All the news for Wednesday 21 September 2011
Kookaburras receive automatic Olympic Qualification after Fiji withdraw from the Oceania Cup
The Kookaburras have received automatic qualification to the 2012 London Olympics after Fiji today withdrew from the Oceania Cup-Olympic Qualifier which will be held in Hobart from October 6-9.
The Kookaburras, currently the number 1 team in the world, will now face New Zealand in a best of three series to decide who is the Oceania Cup champion.
With the top two teams in the Oceania federation receiving automatic Olympic qualification, both the Kookaburras and New Zealand can now set their sights on London. This is the same situation with the Hockeyroos and the New Zealand women’s team, with the Fijian women’s team also withdrawing from the Oceania Cup last month.
Both Fiji teams withdrew due to financial reasons.
Despite receiving automatic qualification to the Olympics, Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said there was still plenty to play for, with his team aiming to sharpen their skills leading into London 2012 after an inconsistent showing during their last international tournament in July.
“The fact that we will play New Zealand once more is good for the teams overall development. Any opportunity to play a quality team in the countdown to the Olympics must be used properly. We saw in our last tournament that we still have much to improve on and I will be looking for significant improvement from the players at the Oceania Cup,” said Charlesworth.
Thursday 6th October 2011
5.30pm Men New Zealand v Australia
7.30pm Women Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 8th October 2011
1.00pm Women New Zealand v Australia
3.00pm Men Australia v New Zealand
Sunday 9th October 2011
1.00pm Women Australia v New Zealand
3.30pm Men New Zealand v Australia
Hockey Australia media release
Australia, New Zealand qualify for Olympics
SYDNEY: The Australian and New Zealand men's hockey teams joined their female counterparts in making the London Olympics on Wednesday after Fiji pulled out of the Oceania Cup qualifying tournament.
The Fijian men were due to take on Australia and New Zealand in the five-day tournament beginning on October 5 in Tasmania, but withdrew because of "government and corporate financial restraints", organisers said.
The women's team announced their withdrawal last month.
The exit means world number one Australia and New Zealand qualify automatically for next year's Games.
Despite Fiji pulling out, the Oceania Cup will continue with Australia coach Ric Charlesworth saying there was still plenty to play for.
"The fact that we will play New Zealand once more is good for the team's overall development," he said.
"Any opportunity to play a quality team in the countdown to the Olympics must be used properly."
The Times of India
Black Sticks named for Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Hobart
The Black Sticks national coaches have named their teams for the 2011 Oceania Olympic Qualifier to be played in Hobart from 6-9 October, 2011.
The Oceania region has two Olympic allocations courtesy of world rankings for both men and women and with Fiji having pulled out it gives Australia and New Zealand automatic qualification to the London Olympics. The qualifier will now be a three test series between the two rival teams.
The national coaches say the qualifier will be more about getting further test experience against Australia and gaining valuable world ranking points.
Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager has named an experienced team, selecting the same 18 players who beat Australia in pool play and went on to win bronze at the 2011 Champions Trophy in July in Amsterdam.
“This will be a hard fought series against a top team - there is so much rivalry between these two sides. With us ranked sixth and Australia ranked seventh, we will need to win the series in order to hold our position,” says Hager.
Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod has chosen a very experienced men’s team with players like Phil Burrows, Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins – all who rack up a total 730 test caps. This will be the opportunity to take on world champions Australia, which will be invaluable in their build up to the Champions Trophy being held at North Harbour in early December.
“This Olympic qualifier forms a key component of our preparation towards Champions Trophy and will allow us to test our game against a world champion, gold medal team. Australia play with pace and aggression; they are clinical in attack and punish other teams for their errors. We will need to match their aggression and pace; increase our scoring opportunities and finish off the opportunities we create,” says McLeod.
Both teams will be Auckland based in the week prior to the Oceania Cup.
“To have the team centralised for a week will help us work on our set plays and game strategy before we leave for Hobart,” says McLeod.
The Black Sticks 2012 London Olympic teams will be announced in June next year.
Click here for the tournament schedule.
Both teams depart on Saturday 1 October – the Black Sticks Men at 4.35pm and the Black Sticks Women at 7.20am - from Auckland International Airport.
Download the team lists here
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Experienced Black Sticks squads for qualifiers
HARD FOUGHT: Anita Punt has been one of the Black Sticks in-form players. RODRIGO JARAMILLO
The Black Sticks men's and women's team coaches have named experienced squads for next month's Oceania Cup Olympic hockey qualifying series against their Australian counterparts in Hobart.
The Oceania region has two Olympic allocations courtesy of world rankings for both men and women and, with Fiji having pulled out, Australia and New Zealand will both automatically qualify for the London Olympics irrespective of the results in the three-test series'.
Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager has selected the same 18 players who beat Australia in pool play and went on to win bronze at the Champions Trophy in July in Amsterdam.
''This will be a hard fought series against a top team - there is so much rivalry between these two sides. With us ranked sixth and Australia ranked seventh, we will need to win the series in order to hold our position,'' he said, boasting a squad with an average of 70 international caps per player.
Black Sticks men's coach Shane McLeod has chosen a very experienced men's team with players such as Phil Burrows, Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins, who rack up a total of 730 test caps. The team has an average of 112 caps per player.
It will be an opportunity to take on world champions Australia, which will be invaluable in their build up to the Champions Trophy being held at North Harbour in early December.
Both coaches said the qualifiers, which run from October 6-9, will be more about getting further test experience against Australia and gaining valuable world ranking points.
Black Sticks women:-
Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor, Krystal Forgesson, Katie Glynn, Sally Rutherford, Alana Millington, Ella Gunson, Clarissa Eshuis, Lucy Talbot, Sam Harrison, Cathryn Finlayson, Gemma Flynn, Anna Thorpe, Sophie Devine, Charlotte Harrison, Bianca Russell, Stacey Michelsen, Anita Punt.
Black Sticks men:-
Andy Hayward, Simon Child, Blair Hopping, Dean Couzins, Blair Hilton, Bradley Shaw, Stephen Graham, Kyle Pontifex, Phillip Burrows, Blair Tarrant, Shea McAleese, Matt L'Huillier, Stephen Jenness, Richard Petherick, Hugo Inglis, Ben Collier, Steve Edwards, Nick Wilson.
Men’s National Field Hockey Team looking to defend their gold medal at the Pan American Games
Ottawa – Field Hockey Canada is pleased to announce the Men’s National Team nominated to the Canadian Olympic Committee to compete at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, October 14 – 30. This will be the first opportunity for Canada to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The Canadian Men enter the tournament as the top ranked Pan American team and are looking to defend their 1st place finish at the 2007 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“This opportunity represents the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment from our athletes and staff alike,” says Head Coach Robin D’Abreo. “Over the course of the last eight months we have been exposed to both Pan American and European based competition that I feel have prepared us well for the challenge ahead.”
This team represents a broad group of athletes, and solid leadership with a good amount of Pan American Games experience. It will be the fifth Games for veteran Rob Short and Team Captain Ken Pereira.
“I’m always excited to represent Canada at the Pan Ams,” says Pereira. “The team is looking forward to it, especially since this will be our first opportunity to qualify for London 2012. Those of us who have been to the Olympics want to go back – and we are excited for the new guys to experience what it’s like to compete in an Olympic qualifier. The summer has been great preparation and we are looking to peak physically and mentally in Guadalajara.
“I’m very pleased with the sixteen guys that have been selected to play for Team Canada. There is a good mix of young players and veterans. We also have an entire squad of guys behind us that have been training hard and pushing the whole team to a higher level.”
ATHLETES NOMINATED TO COMPETE FOR TEAM CANADA
1. David Carter (Vancouver, BC)
2. Adam Froese (Abbotsford, BC)
3. Jagdish Gill (Toronto, ON)
4. Matthew Guest (Vancouver, BC)
5. Richard Hildreth (Vancouver, BC)
6. David Jameson (Vancouver, BC)
7. Antoni Kindler (Vancouver, BC)
8. Mark Pearson (Tsawwassen, BC)
9. Ken Pereira (Unionville, ON)
10. Keegan Pereira (Ajax, ON)
11. Rob Short (Tsawwassen, BC)
12. Sukhwinder “Gabbar” Singh (Mississauga, ON)
13. Iain Smythe (Vancouver, BC)
14. Scott Tupper (Vancouver, BC)
15. Jesse Watson (North Vancouver, BC)
16. Philip Wright (Vancouver, BC)
Head Coach: Robin D’Abreo
Assistant Coach: Anthony Farry
Manager: Andrew Schouten
Sports Psychologist: Bruce Pinel
Physiotherapist: Bob Dunlop
Physician: Navin Prasad
Video: Inderpal Sehmbi
Field Hockey Canada media release
Preparatory camp for Aus tour begins
Fresh from the Asian Champions Trophy victory, Indian hockey team coach Michael Nobbs on Tuesday kick-started the preparatory camp for next month’s Australia tour with the focus on identifying the core group.
Thirty players touched base at the Sports Authority of India campus, Southern Centre here while the 18 who were part of the Indian team that triumphed in Ordos, China are expected to flow in by the weekend as Nobbs sets his eyes on forming the core group of 33 players -- three for every position.
Hockey India selectors will hold a one-day trials on September 26 to pick a 22-member squad for the tour of Down Under where they will play in two nine-a-side tournaments and a set of international friendlies. From October 12-19, the Indians will play a set of nine-a-side matches against Australia, then participate in four-nation nine-a-side tournament from Oct 20-23 involving hosts Australia, New Zealand and arch-rivals Pakistan.
Both these tournaments will be played at Perth. The Indians will then be involved in a series of friendlies (regular 11-a-side) against Australia, Pakistan, Korea and Australia 'A' at Busselton and Bunbury Oct 24-Nov 3.
Nobbs is also trying to get a one-metre width goal post for this camp at SAI which would be used in the two tournaments in Australia. “I am trying to get the new goals made,” said Nobbs. “I have been told that a carpenter would come down and look at how we can get a set of goals made. I hope it happens quickly.”
The coach also said that the probables of 30 would be divided into three teams of 10 each and they would square off against each other in a nine-a-side match on Wednesday.
The teams will be captained by Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandker and Arjun Halappa -- although the injured trio will not play -- and have chosen to be named India, Australia and New Zealand. “The boys chose India, Australia and New Zealand quickly.
They refused to name their teams after Pakistan. I had offered it to them saying that Pakistan too would be playing the nine-a-side four-nation Super Series event in Perth along with us and the other two teams,” laughed Nobbs.
Indian hockey team ready for Australia tour
BANGALORE: That Pakistan continue to be India's bitter rivals was again established at the national hockey camp on Tuesday.
The incident, which had the players and the chief coach Michael Nobbs enjoy a moment of banter, occurred when the probables were divided into three groups of 10 each for a match scheduled for Wednesday.
Nobbs, who wants the players to imbibe the rules of nine-a-side hockey for the upcoming tour of Australia, formed the teams and offered the names of Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan, obviously to inject some competitive edge to the matches.
"The boys chose India, Australia and New Zealand quickly. But none of them were ready to name their team after Pakistan. I had offered it to them saying Pakistan too would be playing the nine-a-side four-nation Super Series event in Perth along with us and the other two teams," said Nobbs, apparently amused by the players' steadfastness. In any case, the three teams will be headed by Arjun Halappa, Tushar Khandker and Shivendra Singh, all of them injured but on the mend.
"Arjun and Tushar may play tomorrow in our little super series but Shivendra will stay out as he hasn't fully recovered from his injury. I plan to discuss the rules with them and would expect them to explain it to their teams," Nobbs, who too will turn out for one of the teams, said. The three captains will be responsible for how well the team understands the new rules and executes them on the field. They will also motivate the team - quite a challenge as they wouldn't be playing the games. This is one of Nobbs' exercises to identify leaders among the probables.
The teams play a round-robin and the top two will face-off in the final. The winners get the following morning off.
The Times of India
Lift the ban Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh; leave the selection choice to coach.
My Last Word: Indian hockey of late is operating in a complex situation. And it is becoming more complex each passing day. Cases from sessions court to Supreme Court, a chaotic administration at top to top it all, loyalty of players being questioned by each warring faction and such other unavoidables leave everybody confused, oblivious of what is going on in Indian hockey.
But for the financial support of the government, hockey would have long been rendered orphaned. Thankfully, with the kind of infrastructure, financial benevolence the government is providing, we live to hear good news here and there.
First and foremost good thing we are happy about is, we have a foreign coach who speaks wisdom, and people who count seem to listen to him. A fringe benefit of this is Ordos. This victory, despite not shown live on channels, have struck a chord with all of Indians. We savoured the victory, congrats coach, your staff, the team.
Victories are what we need, and we have one at Ordos. India was third in Asia roughly a year ago with the bronze at the Asian Games. In the same company of rivals, India is now number one. No one can deny the improvement and its significance to the survival of hockey in India.
However, there are hard facts before us. One cannot bypass the fact that a coach is not a magician, who within just six weeks of training would have started bringing gold. Even the coach will agree to this reality. It’s long way to go for India in almost all areas of the game. Ordos at best is a motivating factor towards that target.
Unfortunately, we Indians tend to exaggerate things we like, all hockey victories therefore tell us a different historical trend. We went so overboard after 1975 World Cup, it was followed by first ever 7th position in the Olympics a year later. You can go on adding to this. 2007 Asia Cup win — where we beat Korea 7-2 in the final -- was followed by Chile OQ within four months. So, there is a necessity to value the victories to its true perspectives so that we will be either complacent or over-confident.
How many ranking points do the Ordos victory giv us? So that we can also move up in the FIH Ranking Chart? An Asian Games bronze last year gave us 250 4anking points, Asia Cup gold in 2007 gave us 1000 points
The ACT in Ordos give us no ranking points. Just like Afro-Asian Games in 2003 it is an ornamental tournament, whose second edition even may not take place,though we wish it becomes a regular event. The mere fact that ACT doesnot have ranking points should put things in proper perspective. The Asian Champions Trophy,by all means, is a small tournament that brings not even single point with respect to nations’ ranking.
Therefore, it is nobody’s point that India has found a strong core group for future tasks. Neither the euphoria the Ordos created nor the success of some great individual players there should give us an impression that Indian hockey is well-settled. No, not at all. Coach Michael Nobbs himself has reasonably evaluated the success and explained the shortcomings especially with respect to penalty corner scenario. Therefore, coming to the point, the case of banning Sardar and Sandeep should be viewed.
No player is innocent in India. No player is above himself in India. These are the ground realities. Because, he lives in a particular environment where he only knows his survival tools. A player will not be a saint when all the people he has to deal with are not so. Any coach who plans long career in India, which Nobss would, have to live with these realities. When Dhanraj Pillay and Jude Felix skipped the inconsequential 1993 Austria Cup, people went overboard and questioned their patriotism, proposed ban etc, but later they went on play for another decade, atleat Pillay. Unlike in many other countries, players here are brought to the turf promising a job and better life. Nothing else. Patriotic impulse comes later. ‘No one is above the team’ sells where honesty and sincerity exist in all spheres, not expected only with the players’ segment as happens in India. This is a vexed amateur vs professionalism issue. One stray case of Sardar-Sundeep cannot solve it, any case.
Therefore, the question of banning Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh need to be approached, afresh. My first objection to the banning is, timing. It could have been done after the tournament. Second objection is, those Indians who vehemently proposed ban are those who have been byword and synonimous for indiscipline during their playing times. I may be subjective here, and even this view could be questioned, I agree. But one cannot ignore another reality. The same people who advocate ban now, riding on the shoulders of the genuinely indignant new coach, will desert him if a phone comes from top. They will not hesitate to desert the coach and put all the blame on the coach. I am not the one who will believe the apostle of today’s discipline will not succumb to extraneous pressures.
We have seen enough on this count -- Tejbir Singh’s case is still fresh in mind. He was banned for two years, but when a chief coach was changed, Tejbir came into the national team shortly. His ban having never been officially withdrawn!! If, for argument sake, India fails at OQ, the set of administrators and cronies will point fingers at the coach. They won’t even hesitate to take action against coach for banning top players. You never know what will happen in India if somebody else’s survival comes into question.
That’s why I in the beginning mentioned Indian hockey works in a strange complex milieu. Thirdly, Sandeep and Sardar are stars. Can in cricket, for instance, any of the top ten player could have ever been banned, so silently, so quickly? Hockey has no stars, let us not insult our stars. It would discourage young generation of players.
Does this mean indiscipline should be allowed? No not at all. What am telling is, they cannot be banned just because we won at Ordos. Because, the significance of Ordos lies in its inherent catalyst role rather than reflecting neither our true field strength nor a measure of progress we made.We can’t say we have got suitable replacements for the duo. Yes, the duo ‘lied’, which no coach worth his salt will ever approve of, but such incidents will not be alone or exceptional, likely to surface again and again because of the confusing hockey situation in India. Let the time come for WSH, we will have even worse scenario.
So, we should focus and consider long term interests of hockey. Even beyond OQ. While the importance of discipline should get its true ascent, the overall contemporary atmosphere should not be further muddied by perpetuating the ban.
Therefore, I am constrained to look at the problem in its two facets. First, administratively and secondly from technical point of view.
Administratively, let the ban be lifted. It’s awesome to exclude the players of stature of Sardar and Sundeep even from domestic scene. Technically, it should be the discretion of coach, coach alone, to decide whether he needs their services for the country or not.
Since we believe Nobbs is a hockey brain, mature enough, accountable, it is he who will alone take decision as to the duo will be part of his future team or not.
Sandeep, Sardar likely to return to national fold
Uthra G Chaturvedi
Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh, termed as “repeat offenders” by Hockey India and banned for two years for indiscipline, are likely to be given one last chance to revive their international career.
The two are slated to appear before a disciplinary panel in the capital on Wednesday and, according to sources, the federation will most likely allow them to come back into the national fold but with a set of conditions — their selection to the team would be dependant on their performances in the trials with chief coach Michael Nobbs taking a final call and a two-year probation period where any offence will result in an automatic ban.
“Both Sandeep and Sardar had already sent in their appeal against the ban to Hockey India last week and sought a personal meeting with HI secretary general Narinder Batra. They have also apologised for their conduct and promised not to repeat it,” a top federation official told The indian Express. “They are world class players, there is not doubt about that. And with the Olympic qualifiers looming, the federation wants to leave no stone unturned,” the official added.
Sandeep and Sardar had been banned after walking out of the national team just days before departure for the Asian Champions Trophy last month, citing “not being in the right frame of mind”. In their absence, VR Raghunath and Vikas Sharma were drafted in as replacements and both impressed Nobbs during the title win in ACT. Nobbs has already made it clear that it would be tough for Sandeep and Sardar to return and they will have to earn their places back.
Before this, the duo had also failed to appear for trials for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament (because of commitments in the Belgium league) and then left the camp without permission to attend a promotional event for the WSH, but apologised every time.
Indian girls beat China 4-2, enter U-18 Asia Cup semis
NEW DELHI: India outplayed China 4-2 to register their third win on the trot and advance to the semifinals of the Girls U-18 Asia Cup hockey tournament in Bangkok on Tuesday.
India, who led 2-0 at half time, scored through Navjot Kaur (11th minute), Lilima Minz (34th), Poonam Rani (49th) and Anupa Barla (66th).
The goalscorers for China were Song Xia Oming (60th) and Liang Xue (63rd).
With the victory, India are on top of the Pool B with nine points from three successive wins.
India had earlier routed Kazakhstan 12-0 and Sri Lanka 13-0 and they take on Malaysia in their last pool match on Thursday before playing the semifinals on Friday.
India dominated over China throughout the match and began with a flourish with accurate passes and interceptions.
The Indian forwards led by skipper Poonam Rani and supported by diminutive Neha Goyal and Anupa Barla kept the Chinese defenders busy with raids inside the striking circle at regular intervals.
The Indian deep defenders Jaspreet Kaur and Sandeep Kaur were rock-solid as did goalkeeper Bigen Soy who blocked some Chinese forays in the second half.
India earned five penalty corners as against seven by China.
After India had established a 3-0 lead by the 49th minute, they slowed down a bit and that allowed China to fire in two goals.
However, Anupa Barla scored another goal to seal the match for India.
The Times of India
KLHC warned against complacency
THE Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) are wary of the threat from UiTM in today's TNB-MHL Premier League match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Despite winning their opener against Tenaga Nasional 2-1 last weekend, the defending champions are well aware of the pitfalls should they take UiTM lightly.
Team manager George Koshy has warned his players against taking anything for granted.
"UiTM is a vastly improved side from last season and this was evident in their match against UniKL where they created several chances to force a 1-1 draw," said Koshy yesterday.
"We will not take them lightly as they can pose problems. But we are better overall and should take all three points as we have an all round side that are not only skilful but experienced as well.
KLHC played well in patches against TNB but it was the penalty corner department that caused some raised eyebrows amongst their officials.
UiTM have Qatar players in the likes of Muhammad Rizwan, Sheraz Ali Rafaqat Ali, Tariq Nazir Ahmad, Sami Ullah Saleem Mohammad and Muhammad Sohail Muhammad Mustafa.
And they make up for their lack of experience through hard running and a never-say-die attitude and this is where KLHC have to be cautious.
New Straits Times
Maybank open campaign against their nemesis Sapura
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Maybank face the litmus test when they take on table toppers and favourites Sapura in the opening Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
Last season, the Tigers lost all their four matches to Sapura – two league and two in the knockout stage.
And coach Wallace Tan admitted that they would face another tough task against Sapura, who were overall runners-up last season.
“We struggled in the league last season and we have to work really hard to give our best against Sapura.
“We had a few weeks of training and hope to put up a much better performance this year,” said the former national coach.
Last year, the Tigers were stunned by unfancied Armed Forces and finished a disappointing sixth in the nine-team Premier Division.
They qualified for the quarter-finals only to lose to Sapura by a big margin.
There is good and bad news for the Tigers this season. They are happy that former national forward Suhaimi Ibrahim, who missed the MHL last season due to injury, will be back in action.
However, the bad news is that they will not have the services of former national defender and penalty corner specialist K. Gobinathan, who has retired.
Gobinathan is the assistant coach of Malaysia’s Project 2013 squad.
The Tigers will be led by national forward Hafifihafiz Hanafi and national trainee Shahrin Mohamed.
Wallace said that they would be playing eight matches and every match was important towards their bid to qualify for the knockout stage.
“I hope my players will be able to click well to put up a strong challenge in the league,” said Wallace, who will also be banking on Hairul Nizam Abdul Rani to deliver the goals from penalty corners.
Yayasan Negri Sembilan (YNS), meanwhile, are confident of getting the better of Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in their Premier Division match today.
YNS coach K. Rajan said that UniKL were not as strong as last season.
“UniKL are an inexperienced side as they comprise mostly youngsters and they don’t have a playmaker to lead them. There is also a wide gap in defence and we hope to exploit that.
“However, we are not going to take them lightly and will be going all out to get our second win in the league,” said Rajan.
YNS came from a goal down to defeat Nur Insafi Penang 2-1 while UniKL were held to a 1-1 draw by UiTM on Sunday.
The Star of Malaysia
Sapura coach wants improvement
UP THE ANTE: Sapura's players, like Azreen Rizal Nasir (left), will be expected to perform better as the season progresses
KUALA LUMPUR: "Sapura must buck up!"
Those were the words of Sapura coach I. Vikneswaran ahead of their match against Maybank.
The bankers, also known as the "Tigers", had the luxury of watching the other teams in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last weekend as they were not scheduled to compete.
"They have seen us play and will surely have a plan to counter our threats. Their coach Wallace Tan is a great tactician. He will surely have tricks up his sleeves to surprise us," said Vikneswaran.
"They have also reinforced their team with several players and could be harder to beat this year."
Maybank have made several signings this season, with former UniKL marksman Mohd Zulhairi Hashim joining the ranks. With the return of Suhaimi Hashim and national forward Mohd Hafifihafiz Hanafi from injury, Maybank have a team that can trouble defences.
Sapura had beaten Maybank comfortably, winning 2-0 in the away tie and handing the Tigers a 4-0 whopping in the return match last season. However, the format of the competition is different this year.
"We cannot be complacent and think the outcome will be the same again. My boys have lots to improve on after the last game. We have always improved as the season progresses," said Vikneswaran.
Grove Menzieshill still favourites at Titwood
It is five seasons since Milne Craig Western had their hands on the Subway national league championship, and if the Glasgow side have any aspirations to end Grove Menzieshill`s recent monopoly, they must take something from weekend`s head to head at Titwood.
Neil Menzies, Western`s coach, is under no illusions. "I think Grove clearly start the season firm favourites to win the league, and I believe that we can close the gap on Grove, but we will have to be at our very best to get a result out of the game."
Western have won the title a record 19 times since its inception in 1983, but last season the Titwood squad fell from grace and finished a lowly fourth in the table. In addition, they have lost their international striker Sam Judge to player/coach at Edinburgh University while Robyn Collins and Heather Howie have also moved away. On the plus side, goalkeeper Amy Gibson returns to action after missing most of last season through injury.
"Clearly we have some key individuals in the squad, but our main strength is when we pull together as a team," said Menzies. "Our youngsters are a year older, more experienced and physically fitter which is encouraging, but if we can put the defensive frailties of last season behind us, then we can capitalise on our attacking potential."
Grove have also lost a couple of players, internationalists Becky Merchant and striker Nikki Kidd are playing abroad, but new captain Ailsa Wyllie is still confident of success. Last season`s results would support that, the Taysiders won the opening fixture an astonishing 8-1 and then 4-0 in the return game.
"You know that you are always turning up to play a hard game when you have Western. We would never underestimate their ability and will prepare to play our game like we do every week. Our experience as a squad and key playmakers within the team are our key strengths." said Wyllie.
Menzies is convinced that Western have turned the corner and on a good day his squad is capable of taking the points from Grove, but his charges will certainly have to put the shackles on the likes of Ali Bell, Linda Clement, Louise Carroll from the set piece, and Wyllie herself if his boast can become reality.
VWS Dundee Wanderers, second in last season`s table, have yet to set the heather on fire with a narrow 3-2 win over Western Wildcats and a 2-2 draw with Glynhill Kelburne, but coach Iain Strachan will be looking for a convincing victory over Grange to get his league challenge firmly underway. Strachan will have learned not to things for granted, last season Wanderers won the first fixture with a convincing 4-0 scoreline, but despite a Vikki Bunce hat-trick the Taysiders could only manage a 4-4 draw with the Edinburgh side.
Elsewhere the results are not so certain. It could be a close call between Kelburne and Giffnock at Bellahouston, although last weekend four goals from Rhona Simpson and another two by Kareena Marshall saw off GHK 6-1. Edinburgh University open their account against CALA Edinburgh and newly promoted GHK take on Western Wildcats.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Wildcats twin predators worry Coles
Western Wildcats` twin predators Scott McCartney and Douglas Simpson have been identified as lethal by Glynhill Kelburne manager Harry Coles in the game of the day at Bellahouston in the Subway national league.
There is evidence to support Coles` hypothesis, the striking duo have already scored six goals between them in the two league games so far, and in last season`s Scottish Cup final McCartney found the net twice and Simpson once as the Wildcats got their claws on the trophy with a 5-4 win over the Paisley outfit.
"I certainly don`t think we have been firing on all cylinders in our opening two games, ball retention in the middle of the pitch could be better whilst up front we have to be more clinical in front of goal, especially against our old rivals who are capable of rattling in the goals," said Coles.
Kelburne undoubtedly have players with goal scoring potential, Alan Forsyth already has doubles in the two games so far, while the Christie brothers Michael and Jonny, Gareth Hall along with set piece experts Mark Ralph and Willie Marshall were all regular contributors last season.
The Wildcats were a little off colour last year and finished only fourth in the championship, but there is a renewed freshness under new coach Vishal Marwaha. The Wildcats should have close to a full pack with the return of Joe Simpson and Rhury Smith from suspension, although there is a lingering fitness doubt over veteran defender Andrew Sewnauth.
"We are trying to integrate some younger players into the team, and I feel they are learning quickly and doing well. We made some errors against CALA last week, but that was an improvement on the previous outing, so we are heading in the right direction," said Marwaha. "But Kelburne are still the team to beat, they are favourites for the league, so we will have to be on top of our game to win."
Inverleith coach Stephen McCurry has a full dossier on this weekend`s opponents Grove Menzieshill, only a few years ago he was a player and then coach at the `Hill.
"Billy McPherson and Bruce Cuthill would work a lot on structure and the importance of this, having watched Menzieshill play Grange last weekend, I still see them as a well structured, well disciplined side. Today`s game will be a very hard one for us," said McCurry.
The Dundonians may only have a single point so far in the competition, but they drew 3-3 with Western Wildcats and then last weekend threw away a 3-1 lead against Grange to finally succumb 4-3.
In contrast, Inverleith have won both their games against CALA Edinburgh and Greaves Clydesdale and presently sit second in the table to Kelburne.
McCurry said: " It was a very good result for us to beat Clydesdale 2-0 and the players worked very hard, especially in the last eight minutes when Adam McKenzie got a yellow card. We all agreed afterwards it was a very workmanlike performance."
Menzieshill just took the honours last season, they won the opener 4-3, then drew the return 2-2, and the Edinburgh side will have to look out for the set piece expertise of Gavin Tomlinson who notched four of the goals.
Although Grange left it late against Menzieshill last week, captain Rob Barr would hope for a clearer victory against VWS Dundee Wanderers on Tayside. Last season the Edinburgh recorded convincing 6-2 and 3-0 victories over Wanderers, and it would be a surprise if this fixture did not end with a similar conclusion.
Elsewhere, Graham Moodie led Edinburgh University enter the fray for the first time this season against Greaves Clydesdale at Peffermill. Newly promoted CALA will hope to break their duck against AMN Hillhead. So far, CALA have lost 3-2 to Inverleith and 4-2 to Western, but were far from disgraced in either game, consequently coach Neil Allan will be looking for his first points in the top flight. But the Glasgow side will be no pushover, even after a couple of outings they look to be steadily improving under coach Keith Joss.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Under 18 cup qualifiers
CALA Edinburgh, Watsonians, Clydesdale and Western Wildcats progressed into the semi-final stages of the girls under 18 Scottish Cup after coming through the league stages on Sunday.
The contest was keenest at Hutchesons` Grammar School where Clydesdale finished in pole position from the Wildcats by just two goals after both teams finished level on seven points. The opening game of the day symbolised the closeness of the contest between the two sides, in the first half Alice McArthur opened the scoring for the Wildcats only for Fiona Burnet to equalise, there was no further scoring and the game ended 1-1
Inverleith emerged as a contestant for qualification when they beat Perthshire 6-0 with doubles each for Lucy Robinson, Sarah Jamieson and Claire Laverty. In their next game strikes from Jamieson and Laverty gave the Edinburgh side a 2-1 lead over the Western at the interval. But the Wildcats clawed their way back into the fray in the second half and emerged 3-2 winners, McArthur and Katy Devlin finding the net.
Now Inverleith had to beat high-flying Clydesdale, who had just seen off Perthshire 9-0 in the game before, to have a chance of qualification. The Glasgow side looked the stronger and took the lead through Caitlin Girdwood, Emma McGregor equalised for Inverleith, but just on the break Fiona Burnett scored with a low shot at a penalty corner to give Clydesdale a narrow 2-1 half-time lead. The balance remained the same when Holly Steiger and Eilidh Thomson scored for Clydesdale and Inverleith respectively in less than a minute. Then Clydesdale`s Caitlin Girdwood emerged as the heroine of the occasion, her two goals in the closing seven minutes clinched the result 5-2 and her own hat-trick.
Western Wildcats sealed their qualification with a nine goal victory over Perthshire, Alice McArthur notched five, Dani Gibson got a hat-trick and Radhika Chaudhuri got the other.
At Peffermill Watsonians reached the semi-finals with back to back victories over CALA Edinburgh 2-1 and Strathallan 5-2. CALA took second spot with a 3-0 win over Strathallan in the final game.
The boy`s competition was diluted with the late withdrawal of four teams. Consequently, the remaining sides Watsonians, Clydesdale, Aberdeen GS, Gordonians and Glenalmond went through to the quarter finals unopposed. However, at the Aberdeen Sports Village, Glenalmond won the tournament on the difference of a single goal from Aberdeen GS after the two sides fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw and both beat Gordonians in their other game. In the only meaningful contest at Forthbank, Inverleith emerged top with straight wins against Hillhead (3-1), Strathallan (2-1) and CALA Edinburgh (5-1). The other qualifiers were Strathallan and CALA who both eliminated Hillhead.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Turning point in Pakistan hockey
By Zakir Hussain Syed
Now is the critical turning point in Pakistan hockey and unless decisions that have futuristic impact are taken, Pakistan hockey will lose the upward improvement it has shown during the last one year. During this period Pakistan played in five international tournaments, winning two including the Asian Games gold medal in Guangzhou, finalists in two more and performing poorly in a four-nation tournament in Holland. Such performance by any international team can be termed satisfactory especially after a long span of failures and successive poor performances. Pakistan’s last position in the World Cup in New Delhi was the worst ranking in our hockey history and to lift our team from that depressing position was a gigantic task especially when other top teams have been progressing in the elite level.
After the Asian Games in Guangzhou, I had made three suggestions in one of my writings. The first recommendation suggested that, this success notwithstanding, it was time for the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to take a decision about the future role of aging senior players like Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Salman Akbar though I felt that perhaps Salman could last another year. My second recommendation pertained to immediate grooming of a second penalty corner specialist to replace Sohail. Sohail was still scoring goals but his average of conversion was no longer the same. If you keep on giving one penalty corner specialist the chance to take each and every penalty corner, he would be able to convert a few. However the biggest worry about Sohail was that he had slowed down considerably in defense and was becoming a liability. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and our failure to convert seven penalty corners in the final of inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in China was a proof of that failure. Pakistan should have won the Asian Champions Trophy. The greenshirts missed 7 penalty corners in the final against India, their forward line missed many opportunities that came their way and it seemed that they were not aware of the new penalty shootout rule.
My third recommendation pertained to prodigious missing by Pakistan forwards including the most seasoned ones. I had suggested that a crash programme and a scientific strategy should be developed to improve their goal scoring. The PHF has now convened a meeting of all stakeholders including the team management and coaches to discuss these issues and review the overall performance of the team. As I said above, this should have been done after Guangzhou Asiad.
I had also said that playing against top class teams after a long gap in the wilderness of ordinary teams is not going to be easy. It goes to Pakistan team’s credit that they had performed well against teams like England and Australia but their performance against top European teams still requires lot of improvement. The upcoming Champions Trophy in New Zealand and the tour of Australia before that should reduce that margin though it is still not going to be easy.
Perhaps the most heartening part is that we have a number of talented youngsters coming up who in due course will fill the gaps left by seniors. Fortunately Wasim Ahmad in defense and Shakeel Abbasi in the forward line have performed outstandingly and it is around them that the nucleus for Olympic Games could be built. The key element at this stage, however, is that the PHF should be very clear and objective in its decision making. We cannot expect to win every time we compete in a tournament. The focus of planning by the PHF should be to build a world class team for future international commitments. It takes time. Some critics don’t miss an opportunity to have a go at the PHF whenever the team loses. They forget that Pakistan hockey won its first Olympic Gold after 13 years of hard work at a time when the basic structure we inherited at independence was strong and highly efficient. Even the best teams in the world have fluctuations in their performance. However, in the end, it is their structural competence supported by scientific grassroots development that enables them to achieve excellence. I would also like to take this opportunity to strongly recommend that Indo-Pakistan hockey series should be revived as urgently as possible and both Indian and Pakistani governments should join hands to remove diplomatic and security hurdles in the way of revival of such a series urgently. This revival will help both countries immensely.
(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)
The Daily Times
Why is singer Sukhwinder Singh upset?
By Priya Sugathan
Singer Sukhwinder Singh is upset with the treatment meted out to the Indian hockey team after their win at the prestigious Asian Champions Trophy tournament. It takes a while to register that the singer is fuming over sports, not music. But there it is.
"When I heard about the insulting amount (Rs25000) offered by the association after winning such a prestigious series by our team, I was so angry. Although the government did intervene to make it a little better, but it's just not enough," Sukhwinder says adding that he now wants to do his bit for them –to hold a fund-raising charity show in October.
"As a performer, I'm offering my services free for the event. The condition being that the amount of my fee and certain percentage of the profits go to the players directly," he said. The singer plans to rope in other well-known singers for the show.
Now, the burning question – why would a singer like him get worked up over hockey? "I am a sportsperson," says Sukhwinder, whose enviable vocal prowess has earned him a distinct place in Bollywood singing. "If I had not become a singer, I would have become an athlete. Hockey, wrestling and running has been my passion from the beginning," informs the singer, who sang the popular title song for hockey-centric film Chak De.
FIH Hockey Monthly Episode 78 now online
Action, interviews and news from around the hockey world
Each month, FIH Hockey Monthly gives you the chance to watch the best hockey action and features from around the world free of charge, and Episode 78 is now available for your viewing pleasure.
This month’s episode features a full round-up of the action the EuroHockey Nations Championship in Monchengladbach, Germany where a number of teams reserved their places at the London 2012 Olympics.
South African goalscoring star Pietie Coetzee is also featured in the show, reflecting on her incredible achievement of becoming the highest scoring women’s international player in the history of the game.
The episode also includes an interview with legendary Spain striker Edi Tubau as well as a feature on how the Germany men’s team has embraced change as their young guns aim to defend their Olympic title.
To see the video, please visit the FIH You Tube Channel by clicking here.
African Federation election results
FIH President Leandro Negre (left) was in attendance at the Congress. (Photo: FIH / Africa Hockey Federation)
The African Hockey Federation (AfHF) held its 18th Meeting of Congress in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on Friday September 9, 2011 during which an election of Office Bearers for the Federation was conducted.
The following individuals will constitute the Executive Board of the Federation for the next four year period:
Seif Ahmed (EGY)
Senior Vice President
Steve Jaspan (RSA)
Second Vice President
Resham Bains (KEN)
Clare Digby (RSA)
Honorary Secretary General
Nii Quaye-Kumah (GHA)
Ginny Ross (ZIM)
Kamal Ghallali (MOR)