All the news for Wednesday 18 January 2012
Spain beat SA in second women’s hockey Test
JONATHAN COOK in Randburg
Spain took a 1-0 lead in the five-Test Investec International Series against the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team when they won the second Test 3-2 at Randburg Hockey Stadium Tuesday night. Sunday’s first Test ended 1-1.
SA opened the scoring after world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee’s 227th goal in 230 Test matches but Spain hit back through Barbara Malda and Gloria Comerma for a 2-1 half-time lead. After the changeover Rocio Ybarra extended Spain’s lead before Dirkie Chamberlain pulled one back seconds from the end.
Play swung to and fro in the first 20 minutes with Spain more threatening. However, the match exploded in the 22nd minute when Shelley Russell made a superb run down the left channel, broke into Spain’s circle and laid off an ideal pass for a perfectly positioned Coetzee and the world record goalscorer buried the ball into the backboard.
Yet all was undone when Comerma equalised three minutes later with a well-taken yet ultimately soft goal. A Marescia/Coetzee combination in the strike zone had the crowd clamouring for more but with seconds to half-time Spain won a turnover deep in the SA half and Malda made the most of it for the Spaniards to go into half-time with a 2-1 lead.
SA began stringing some nice moves together after the break and Chamberlain shot over the horizontal bar. Spanish captain Julia Menendez a hit a perfectly weighted through-ball to Raquel Huertas and the upshot was a penalty corner that Ybarra had oodles of time to convert (3-1).
With 12 left Spain’s superiority in the strike zone was shown when Huertas had acres of space to rip a shot that SA keeper Mariette Rix stick-saved superbly high to her right. Not to be outdone, Spanish number one Maria Lopez de Eguilaz stick-saved low to her right from Sulette Damons soon after. Then Olalla Pineiro sailed untouched in to the strike zone and Rix saved once again.
SA got a consolation goal when Coetzee made something out of an untidy penalty corner and her shot was delicately deflected in by Chamberlain for the 3-2 final scoreline.
The SA senior invitation team beat a SA junior invitation team 1-0 in the curtain-raiser.
The third Test is at 7 pm Thursday at Randburg with the curtain-raiser between the invitation sides at 5 pm.
SA Hockey Association media release
Sandeep Singh does an Aslam to rescue India from marauding Africans
Sandeep Singh rescued India with a last minute penalty corner goal as the second test went 2-1 in their favour for the hosts.
The vastly improved visitors deserved a draw if not a win.
Unlike yesterday the visitors were not jaded or disjointed, but were purposeful in their thrust, keeping Indian defence on defence.
The Africans rattled India in the second half, even got three penalty corners in succession, but could not send the ball inside the net. Regular goalie-captain Bharat Chetri was in particular in his elements, which later even drew applaud from the rival team’s coach.
Just two minutes were left the match to end when the worried Michael Nobbs made three substitutions including that of Sandeep Singh.
The ace defender, who today played upfront in sync with the coach’s policy of all-position hockey, got a godsend to save the test when his team mates got him a timely penalty corner.
Though India wasted two penalty corner before, it did not mess up this one, as, for a change, the pushed was was stopped dead. (Later the team told that side of the circle area is bumpy).
Sandeep Singh sent the ball into the corner of the net, and threw his hands up. Like Aslam Sher Khan -- who converted timely penalty corner in the 1975 World Cup in the dying moments of the semifinal -- this act saved India from the blues today.
India went up 1-0 two minutes before the half-time.
Youngster Chingelnsana Singh entering the goal scorer list fed by defender-turned forward Sandeep Singh.
The lead survived just 10 minutes. Louw Lance replied in style in the 43rd minute through a field goal after a counter attack.
India was lucky to survive many attacks of India in the second half. This session witnessed a full-pledged brand of attacking hockey, entertaining the sparse crowd.
In the end, Sandeep Singh made this day memorable with his last gasp goal.
For India which used to concede goals in the dying moments, today was different.
With two wins in as many as matches, India is poised to win the Series early.
Wednesday is rest day for Men while women resume their series against Azerbaijan.
Sandeep scores winner for India
Y. B. Sarangi
Sandeep Singh converted a 68th minute penalty corner as India recorded a 2-1 win over South Africa in the closely-fought second hockey Test at the National Stadium here on Tuesday.
The visitors, producing a better performance, gave India a run for its money before suffering their second loss in a row in the five-match series. The home side took the lead through Chinglensana Singh (33) while South Africa found the equaliser through Lance Louw (43rd).
South Africa surprised the host with its purposeful approach and attacking style. It kept the Indian defence busy with frequent invasions. However, an alert Bharat Chetri under the bar, along with Ignace Tirkey and Manjeet Kullu, thwarted the attempts.
200 for Khandekar
The Indian forwards, led by Tushar Khandekar (who was playing in his 200th international), returned the compliment but they too found it difficult to penetrate the rival circle. Strong marking helped the South Africans keep India at bay. Poor passing made matters worse for the host.
Dharamvir Singh wasted a fine opportunity created by S.K. Uthappa and Vikram Pillay from the left. The forward tried to beat the goalkeeper from an acute angle even as another striker — Mandeep Antil — stood unmarked inside the circle. Sandeep, after his forgettable showing as a defender, was sent upfield and it paid dividends. He penetrated the circle and passed the ball to Chinglensana, who made no mistake.
South Africa returned from the break with renewed vigour and earned three consecutive penalty corners. Eight minutes after half-time, Lowu scored off a rebound to draw parity.
In the dying minutes, India earned two penalty corners. Sandeep utilised the second corner, sending home a low drag-flick. India's chief coach Michael Nobbs said sending Sandeep upfield was tried even in Australia. “This will make him versatile,” said Nobbs.
The result: India 2 (Chinglensana Singh, Sandeep Singh) bt South Africa 1 (Lance Louw).
Sandeep sets up India's win against South Africa
NEW DELHI: India played an intense, attacking game to overcome a spirited challenge from South Africa and win the second hockey 'Test' 2-1 on Tuesday.
At a time when the hosts were struggling to get past the rival defence, despite playing aggressively, defender Sandeep Singh took the game to a different level when he almost scored a field goal in the 33rd minute. Well, instead of taking the final hit himself, he smartly set it up.
The Indian drag flick star grabbed the ball just outside the rival circle after an infringement on Chingelnsana Singh and swiftly dribbled past three players before passing it on to his junior teammate from Manipur who just had to tap the ball in.
Sandeep, who was on the field for about 30 minutes in the match, was not done yet. As the clocked ticked away after the South Africans equalised in the 43rd minute through Lance Loew to raise the prospect of a draw, the player from Punjab sounded the board with his favourite shot - the scorching flick.
After failing to capitalise from two earlier penalty corners, India earned their third barely four minutes to go for the hooter. Sandeep simply lapped it up.
"This is not the first time that Sandeep has played up front. We have tried him up front earlier in Australia. We want to make him a versatile player," coach Michael Nobbs said.
Watching Sandeep in awe was none other than Dilip Tirkey, a defender himself and now a national selector. "I have never seen him go that far on the ground. He's doing really well," said Tirkey of his former teammate.
India had to fight hard to take a 2-0 lead in the series - they won the first 'Test' on Monday - as the South Africans came up with a much better display. If the visitors had erred on Monday, they showed a lot of resilience on Tuesday. Their defence was so tight that the rampaging Indians found it difficult to breach it.
"We played 80 per cent better than what it was yesterday," South Africa's coach Gregg Clark said. "It was a much better show, but at the same time disappointing that we lost."
India made as many as nine changes in their squad for the match today. "This particular combination had not played together before, so you could see some unforced errors during the match," Nobbs said.
The South Africans, on their part, rued the fact that they allowed India to run away with the match by conceding late goals in both the halves.
"We have to make sure that we do not let in soft goals like these," defender Lloyd Madsen said.
The Times of India
India eke out 2-1 win over South Africa in 2nd Test
NEW DELHI: Star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh converted a late penalty corner to hand India a 2-1 win over South Africa in the second hockey Test on Tuesday.
By virtue of this win, India now leads the five-Test series 2-0. The home team had on Monday defeated South Africa 4-0 in the series opener.
The Indians scored their goals late in both the halves through Chingelsana Singh (33rd minute) and Sandeep (68th), while Lance Louw (43rd) was the lone goal getter for South Africa at the Dhyan Chand national stadium.
Despite the win, the Indians were far from impressive and looked scrappy throughout the 70 minutes.
As expected India coach Michael Nobbs made nine changes in the starting line-up and gave the captain's armband to Tushar Khandekar, who played his 200th international match, in place of Sardara Singh, who was rested.
The changes seemed to have disturbed the home team's rhythm as the Indians looked rusty and out of sorts for most part of the opening period.
Contrary to yesterday's first Test, the Indians lacked sting in their attack and the lack of co-ordination between the mid-field and forward line was quite evidently visible.
The Indians were also found wanting at short corner conversions as they utilised one out of the three they earned.
The South Africans, on the other hand, came out with more purpose and displayed impressive hockey from the onset but what did them in was the finishing of their strikers.
The visitors created their first scoring chance in the ninth minute and if not for Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chetri, who played today in place of P R Sreejesh, the home team could have conceded the advantage early.
An agile Chetri denied South Africa the lead when he blocked Llyod Norris Jones' hit from close range.
The Indians, on the other hand, created their first real scoring chance in the 30th minute but young Dharamvir Singh shot wide from close range after he was set up by a one-two from S K Uthappa and Vikram Pillay.
India, however, managed to go into the breather with a 1-0 lead when Chingelsana Singh scored in the 33rd minute following some brilliant stick work by Sandeep.
Soon after the change of ends, India got their first penalty corner but V S Vinay failed to stop Tushar's push.
Down by a goal, South Africa came all-out attacking in the second period.
The visitors put the Indian defence under immense pressure with continuous raids which earned them three back-to-back short corners just after the breather, but they wasted all the opportunities.
But the tourists restored parity in the 43rd minute when Lance Louw scored from a goal-mouth melee.
Thereafter, South Africa played better hockey for most part of the second half and created a lot of scoring opportunities but their forwards failed the finishing touch.
India managed to eke out the victory just two minutes from the hooter when Sandeep scored with a powerful flick from their third and final short corner.
Nobbs, however, was far from impressed with the performance of the team.
"We were not thorough enough today. We made a lot of unforced errors and we were lucky to get out," he said.
"Today I made nine changes and this particular combination has not played together. We are trying to build our base but at the same time we are trying not to lose also."
He also lauded Sandeep's performance, whom the Australian played at the top today.
"Sandeep is much more mobile now and he is proving to be quite versatile."
Meanwhile, South Africa coach Gregg Clark was utterly disappointed with the result of the match as he feels his wards played much better hockey today than the Indians.
"It was a much better performance from us. We created a lot of chances, but just couldn't score. I am very disappointed with the result," Clark said.
"I feel our performance has improved by 80 per cent."
The Times of India
Titbits Here and there: South Africa – India Test Series
Tushar Khandkar was today’s captain. Hockey India announced it is his 200th match. He was lucky to be a winner today as India dragged to near draw. So, in the press meet, a journalist asked, ‘were you under tension India was not winning almost’. Tushar announced in his inimitable style: “Whether I lead or play 200th match, it hardly matters. We play every match for winning. We were certainly not under tension, take it from me”.
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When couple of minutes remained for the hooter, as the match score stood 1-1, Michael Nobbs made three substitutions, one was Sandeep Singh. India a got its last of its third penalty corner, and this man scored.
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Vikas Sharma was warming up on the sidelines when one fan all of a sudden started addressing him as ‘Panditji’. He smiled and replied in short. Vikas is from Meerut, there are some hometown fans here, they call him ‘Panditji’.
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“India made seven changes to the side, still they defeated you, what is your opinion”, South African coach was asked. Pat came the reply: “The new players are Ignace Tirkey, Vikram Pillay. Don’t you know they played more than 200 matches each?”
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Indian goalie Bharat Chetri was moving towards dressing room without dropping it in the box before breaking for lemon time. Technical bench rushed to him and got it. “What do you think, I will change it in the dressing room’, asked smiling Chetri politely.
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Who cheer the Indian team most vociferously? A group of boys who sport cricket jersey and with bats. Yes, they are school boys training for cricket in the complex. They really enjoy hockey, and it is nice see many of them regularly come and see hockey. Hope cricket baiters read this. Some of them get excited whenever India attacks and stand up and cheer the team full throat.
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There were lot of television people for the India-South Africa opener. Hardly a few turned up for yesterday. Incidentally, with the Doordarsan telecasting live from second day onwards, one happens to see Kukoo Walia, Jagbir Singh, Md. Ghouse and Anupam Ghulati cris-cross the vital areas as they are commentators.
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Women hockey team wanted to watch men’s world cup, but could not. At least now they turn up regularly to see Indian men’s in action. All these girls sit on one side of the stadium and support their counter parts with enthusiasm. Nice to see there two great former stars goalie Tingu and midfielder Sumrai Tete. What a player they were all?
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It has gone awry twice. Even as team line up, as the announcer sounds playing of national anthem, Indian one either low in sound or too high. On the other hand, the national anthem of Azerbaijan is so long that one feels two other nations' could have been accomodated in that time frame!
Welcome break for the players
It was a welcome break for the Indian women on Tuesday after the back-to-back Tests against Azerbaijan.
Some of the players, including a few seniors who are making a comeback after a lay-off, are trying to get fully fit for the Olympic qualifier next month.
In the first two Tests, youngsters like Poonam Rani, Ritu Rani and Anuradha Devi showed good form and spirit as India won both the Tests convincingly. The experienced campaigners — Saba Anjum, Soundarya and Jasjeet Kaur Handa — too got a chance to assess themselves.
The margin of victory (3-0 and 2-1) does not clearly reflect the superiority of the Indians in both contests. Another heartening factor was the fine control and distribution displayed by the midfield, where centre-half Asunta Lakra and left-half Kirandeep excelled.
Areas of concern
However, one of the major concerns for the host would be the poor rate of penalty corner conversion. In the second match, India could score just once off the eight corners it earned. Poor finishing is another area the team needs to work on.
Coach C.R. Kumar, keeping in mind the qualifier, does not want to push the girls too hard in the current series. “We cannot peak twice in a short period of time. We need to peak at the time of the qualifier,” he said.
Kumar said he would like to give exposure to as many players as possible in the remaining two games.
'Will be a dream come true to make it to the qualifiers squad'
Harpreet Kaur Lamba
With the pressure of making the cut for the Olympic qualifiers intensifying, Indian hockey probables are leaving no stone unturned to impress the selectors.
Two such players are forward S.K. Uthappa and defender Harbir Singh, who played their first international match on Monday. The youngsters impressed against the 12th-ranked South Africans, and are biding their time as the countdown for the qualifiers begin.
Harbir, who plays for Punjab and Sind Bank and comes from Taran Taran in Punjab, said the “experience of playing in front of the home crowd was something different”.
“I had no clue about my debut. The coach came to me on the morning of the match and said I would be playing. Even though there was pressure to perform, I knew I could not have give up on the opportunity,” Harbir said.
The youngster was an able foil to experienced defenders Sandeep Singh and V.R. Raghnuath, and at a time when defence is India’s Achilles heel, he is hoping to make it count.
“I was satisfied with my game. I was fielded for a long time and it added to my confidence. I am looking to play in the remaining matches too.
“If given an opportunity for the qualifiers, it would be a dream come true,” he said,
Uthappa, who played his second match on the day, said the different in playing domestic and India was huge.
“It has been two good days for me. I am lucky to get a chance to play ahead of the qualifiers and be in the reckoning,” said the Bengaluru-based Uthappa.
“More than pressure, it was about living up to the team and my own expectations. I am prepared to give my all.”
The Asian Age
Jillaroos hold skills session in India
The Australian High Commission in New Delhi, India has held several sports clinics and capacity building sessions to improve the skills of participants and to strengthen grassroots organisations' abilities to use sport as a tool in their work.
Talented young sports players and coaches in India have joined with some of Australia’s top sporting teams to develop their skills and support community development initiatives, as part of a series of sports clinics held in the region in recent months.
Outreach and skills development through Hockey Players from the Australian under-21 women’s hockey team, the Jillaroos, hosted a hockey clinic for under-privileged girls at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. The team took time out of their busy training and playing schedule to attend the clinic with 12 girls chosen from different socio-cultural backgrounds and communities in the region.
Jillaroos captain Karri McMahon said it was fantastic to share her skills with the girls.‘There are a lot of talented young players here,’ McMahon said. The clinic involved skills development and a hockey game between the Australian and local girls and was coordinated by Hockey Australia and Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP) partner, the Magic Bus India Foundation.
About the areas of work
The sports clinic forms part of the non-government foundation’s work with under-privileged children, and teaches them the importance of outdoor sports, gender equality and basic hygiene. Magic Bus India Foundation General Manager of Operations, Arish Syed, said their focus is sport for development outcomes.
Hockey Australia media release
Second draw for Team USA in Australian series
CHULA VISTA, CA – A late goal by Australia denied Team USA of a victory this afternoon at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. With a 1-1 draw today, Australia remains the leader of the series with one win. Team USA has the opportunity to tie the series with a victory tomorrow in the final match.
“We were targeting our start and trying to be a little more secure with our ball handling, and we were able to score early,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “I thought we could have gotten one or more two goals at that stage, but we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities. When you are playing teams that are going to the Olympics and you don’t put goals away, then they are going to come back and punish you for it and that’s what happened.”
Michelle Cesan (Harding, NJ) scored in the fifth minute to take an early lead, after receiving a pass in front of the cage from teammate Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, NC).
“It definitely helped to score early,” says Cesan. “It was one of our goals as a team to get a good head start and we did that by scoring in the first five minutes of play.”
A solid performance by Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa) in goal and a defensive save by Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, VA) kept the Australians from scoring in the first half. Despite an early domination, Team USA was unable to add an insurance goal and entered the second half with only a one goal advantage.
It seemed that the match would go in favor of Team USA, but a score tallied in the 60th minute by Australia’s Kellie White, evened the match at 1-1.
“This is a tough phase for us,” said Bodimeade. “We’re training through this series and it is difficult being the third test match, but that is what we need to go through in order to be successful in London. Tomorrow is another opportunity for us and every game is vital going forward. There will be opportunities for different players to continue to develop and push for Olympic selection.”
Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, VA) and Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, NY) both reached a milestone today by competing in their 50th international match. Both Taylor and Gonzalez boast a Pan American gold medal and are looking to be part of the 16-member Olympic squad that will be announced in June.
Team USA will face Australia tomorrow at 1:00pm PT for the final match of the series.
USFHA media release
Jackson on a downer
By Graham Wilson
ENGLAND could not hold on to their top-flight status in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships despite the efforts of Great Britain striker Ashley Jackson.
Jackson, who will be a big medal player for Britain in the London Olympics, scored 11 goals in Leipzig, Germany, to take his international indoor tally to 31 in 17 games but, cruelly, England were relegated, along with Switzerland, by a goal difference of one.
England lost their opening clash against Holland 7-5, drew 1-1 with the Czech Republic and 8-8 against Russia, lost 4-2 to Switzerland and beat Spain 3-2 in their final play-off match.
Against Russia, England were 7-1 down and then 8-3 down until Jackson scored five goals in the last 10 minutes. Germany were crowned European champions after beating the Czech Republic 4-0 in the final.
Jackson will be back in action for his East Grinstead club, who will be out to retain their national indoor title at the Maxifuel Super Sixes in London’s Wembley Arena on Sunday, January 29.
They first must overcome Reading with Bowdon playing Beeston.
Reading’s women’s team also made the Wembley finals. They beat the holders Bowdon Hightown 3-2 while 2010 champions Leicester, with GB forward Katy Long scoring four goals, beat Sutton Coldfield 7-3.
The winners represent England in Europe next season.
World's best announced for Olympic test event
Great Britain men and women joined by top class hockey line-up
The visually striking hockey pitches within the Olympic Park. (Photo: FIH / Olympic Delivery Authority / Getty Images)
Some of the world’s best hockey teams have been announced to play in the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament, a test event for London 2012 and part of the London Prepares series. The announcement was made at the Hockey Writers' Club Awards Luncheon, which took place at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, London on Tuesday 17th February.
The event, which will take place at the Riverbank Arena from 2-6 May 2012 in the Olympic Park, will feature the men’s Australian and German teams who are currently ranked number one and two in the world, the current women’s World Champions, Argentina, as well as both the men’s and women’s British teams as they prepare for the Games.
The tournament will also feature a men’s team from India, women’s teams from China and Korea and will give all eight teams the chance to compete in a tournament for the first time in the Olympic Park. The Riverbank Arena, a temporary venue, will be fully completed and will host up to 60,000 spectators over the eight sessions of the tournament.
The Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament will be used by London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) to test key operations ahead of the Games. This will be the first time spectators have been in the Riverbank Arena, so spectator flows will form a key part of testing. The field of play and video referral, timing, scoring and results systems will also be tested at the event as well as the workforce. Athletes and technical officials will also be able to familiarise themselves and test their operations ahead of the Games.
David Luckes, Head of Sport Competition at LOCOG said: “The Riverbank Arena is one of the most striking venues in the Olympic Park with its blue and pink pitches and it is vital that we run an event which will test our field of play, the venue and our workforce before the Games. We are delighted to have been able to secure such a strong line-up of team’s for the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament and offer the spectators the chance to see world class hockey in the Olympic Park just a few months before the Games.”
Leandro Negre, President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) added: “This is an exciting time for the FIH to see the Riverbank Arena and the blue pitches in use for the first time in senior international competition. With just three months to go to the Olympics, the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament will provide a taste of what is to come, with hockey of the highest quality.”
Tickets will be on sale for the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament in early spring.
The Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament will take place in the Olympic Park at the same time as six other Olympic test events. This will form part of LOCOG’s testing of spectator flows in the Park.
Schedule for Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament:
Wednesday 2 May
11.00-12.30 Argentina v China – Women’s Preliminaries
13.15-14.45 Great Britain v Korea – Women’s Preliminaries
16.15-17.45 Australia v India – Men’s Preliminaries
18.30-20.00 Great Britain v Germany – Men’s Preliminaries
Thursday 3 May
11.00-12.30 Argentina v Korea – Women’s Preliminaries
13.15-14.45 China v Great Britain - Women’s Preliminaries
16.15-17.45 Germany v Australia – Men’s Preliminaries
18.30-20.00 Great Britain v India – Men’s Preliminaries
Friday 4 May
Saturday 5 May
09.30-11.00 China v Korea – Women’s Preliminaries
11.45-13.15 Great Britain v Argentina - Women’s Preliminaries
14.45-16.15 Germany v India – Men’s Preliminaries
17.00-18.30 Australia v Great Britain – Men’s Preliminaries
Sunday 6 May
09.30-11.00 3rd v 4th – Women’s 3 v 4 Match
12.15-14.15 1st v 2nd - Women’s Final Match
15.45-17.45 3rd v 4th – Men’s 3 v 4 Match
18.30-20.30 1st v 2nd – Men’s Final Match
About Riverbank Arena:
The Riverbank Arena is a temporary stadium based at the northern end of the Olympic Park. The centre will be the only fully outdoor venue with seating for 16,000 spectators who will enjoy stunning views south across the Olympic Park.
The complex includes two pitches, one for competition and one for warm up. The main pitch will stage all of the 76 Olympic hockey matches which will be spread over 14 days of competition from 29 July to 11 August. There will be over 380 competitors from 24 teams competing in the men’s and women’s competitions.
The Riverbank Arena will also be used to host both the 5 and 7-a-side Paralympic Football Competitions. The warm up pitch at the Riverbank Arena will host the 5-a-side competition. The main pitch will host the 7-a-side competition. Competition runs from 31 August – 9 September 2012.
After the Games, the temporary arena will be dismantled and elements will be moved to Eton Manor in the north of the Olympic Park which will offer multi-purpose sport and leisure facilities including two hockey competition pitches.
Great Britain Hockey media release
Great Britain Hockey to host world's best in Olympic Test event
By Telegraph staff
Final preparations: Great Britain men and women will host a four-day Olympic Test event at the Riverbank Arena in May
Great Britain men and women will play host to the world's top sides at the Riverbank Arena in a five-day Olympic Test event in May to continue their preparations for this summer's Games.
World No 1 Australia, defending Olympic champions Germany and India are the three sides confirmed as the opposition for Jason Lee's men's squad while the women will face world champions Argentina, China and Korea.
The tournament, which will run from the May 2-6, will be the first hockey event to be held at the Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park which will host up to 60,000 spectators across the eight sessions of the competition.
Lee welcomed the announcement and said his squad were relishing the chance to take on Australia.
"The exciting one for us was to play Australia at home," he said. "We know they will be in our group at the Olympics and being from the other side of the world we don't get much chance to see them or play against them.
"Germany are of a very high standard and play a different way to Australia and so that contrast will help us and to face an Asian side gives us three distinctly different styles.
"The home advantage we have is for the crowd to get behind us and we know it is down to us to play in a style which will get them cheering us on."
Delighted with the tournament's confirmation, Leandro Negre, president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said: “This is an exciting time for the FIH to see the Riverbank Arena and the blue pitches in use for the first time in senior international competition.
"With just three months to go to the Olympics, the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament will provide a taste of what is to come, with hockey of the highest quality.”
Black Sticks Men in Hawke’s Bay for training camp – come and meet them!
After a successful Champions Trophy last December, the Black Sticks Men’s squad is back together and in Hawke’s Bay this week for a six day camp that includes a heavy schedule of on-turf trainings as well as gym and pool sessions.
“With the players having a break from the turf over summer, it is great to be back in Hawke’s Bay and have the team together and focused on hockey for the week – it will be a big six months for the squad as they build to the Olympics,” says Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod.
In a unique sponsorship initiative announced in September last year, a group of 23 Hawke’s Bay business leaders have invested their money and rallied the support of the Hawke’s Bay community to back the Black Sticks Men and Women on their quest to be the best at the 2012 London Olympics.
“It has been really evident that Hawke’s Bay is right behind us on our journey to London. For the community to help facilitate a training camp with the full squad is a great way to start an Olympic year,” says vice captain and Hawke’s Bay local Shea McAleese.
As part of the week there is an open invitation to come along and watch their training session at Park Island Recreation Ground (Clyde Jeffrey Drive, Napier) this Thursday from 4-6pm and then meet the players afterwards.
Hawke’s Bay Hockey will be opening their bar and light snacks will be available from 6-8pm. The players will be there to sign autographs and have photographs taken. It is the last time that the squad will be training in Hawke’s Bay before the London Olympics – so don’t miss out!
Following this week’s camp, the Black Sticks Men will play practice games against Japan in Auckland in late January and then they play a five test series against Korea in Auckland in early February.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Thorpe and Burrows retire from Black Sticks Women’s team
Black Sticks Anna Thorpe (aged 27) and Jan Burrows (aged 28) have announced their retirement from the Black Sticks, both saying it is one of the most difficult decisions they have ever had to make.
Only six months out from the London Olympics, coach Mark Hager says the maturity and strong training ethos that Thorpe and Burrows brought to the side will be missed by everyone in the team.
“Hockey is not a professional sport. Anna and Jan have been juggling full time careers as well as their hockey and that can be really tough. You know when the time is right to retire and although we will all miss them, I support them in their decision,” says Hager.
Burrows and Thorpe grew up in Whangarei, playing in the same school team at Kamo Intermediate and in the First Eleven at Kamo High School.
With 55 test caps to her name, Thorpe has been in the team that won the 2009 FIH Champions Challenge, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games when they brought home silver, and last year was a key player in the 2011 FIH Champions Trophy team that claimed the bronze.
“The memory that stands out is that trip to South Africa for the Champions Challenge. It was my first time travelling with the team and to win was amazing and really the beginning of the team’s success. Mark had just taken over as coach and the team started to believe that we could rise in the rankings,” says Thorpe.
With the team about to take on the world’s best at the FIH Champions Trophy next week in Argentina, Thorpe says it will be a real test to gauge where they are positioned and what the team’s focus will be in the next six months.
“I have high hopes for the team. I will be cheering so loud from Whangarei that they will hear me on the turf at the London Olympics! They are such a talented group of people – the players and the management. I will miss seeing them 3-4 times a week, they are like family to me,” says Thorpe.
“I had been considering retiring for a couple of months. I knew that if I was contemplating whether I should continue or not, that I wasn’t fully committed and I can’t do that to the team in an Olympic year,” says Thorpe.
As the full-time Head Teacher at Comrie Park Kindergarten in Whangarei, Thorpe is looking forward to concentrating more on her career. “The kindergarten has been so supportive and understanding in the last three years of my hockey commitments, it will be great to now have the time to give 100 percent to my job,” says Thorpe.
For Burrows she felt that having missed selection for this year’s FIH Champions Trophy, it was going to be a tough road to break into the 16-player Olympic side.
“After being in and out of selections over the past year, when I missed selection for this year’s Champions Trophy, I had a good chat with Mark and spent the summer thinking about if I could fully commit to the programme in such a busy and important year for the squad and decided it was time to hang up the stick on international hockey,” says Burrows who is full time Marketing Manager at New Zealand Golf.
“When Mark selected me in the squad sixteen months ago I wanted to give it a good shot and try to get to London, I feel I have given it my best and am now looking forward to being able to concentrate on work and a career as juggling both was a big challenge!” says Burrows.
Hager says Burrow’s outstanding fitness levels and work ethic was admired by the team and she was never afraid of going that extra mile.
“I will miss the girls and being a part of a high performance environment. The way that Mark has structured the programme and his organisation means that it was very special to be part of, and I have no doubt they will do well in the next six months,” says Burrows who has tickets to all the Black Sticks Men’s and Women’s games at this year’s Olympics.
Burrows thinks that at times it may be hard sitting in the stadium in London and not being on the turf, but she is still very excited about being there to support the team knowing she helped them on their journey.
Despite not wearing the silver fern, Thorpe and Burrows will still play club and regional hockey. Thorpe plays for Maungakaramea Club and for Northland in the National Hockey League (NHL). Likewise, Burrows will continue to play for Somerville Hockey Club and in Auckland’s NHL team.
The retirement of Burrows and Thorpe, has given Petrea Webster (aged 23) and Melody Cooper (aged 28) the opportunity to join the 2012 National Squad and be given a shot at Olympic selection.
Webster was in the 2011 National Squad and has eight international test caps, which includes playing in the 2011 Argentina test series at North Harbour.
Cooper (nee Rowe) has been based in Australia as captain of South Australia’s Southern Suns, leading the team to victory at the 2011 Australian Hockey League (AHL). She will move across to Auckland and centralise with the Black Sticks squad in late February.
“The selection panel believe that Cooper, as an experienced senior player will add value to the group both on and off the field. Kayla Sharland and Clarissa Eshuis played with Melody in the Australian Hockey League in 2011 and Melody played with a number of Black Sticks in the 2011 NHL competition for the Central Region,” says Hager.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Black Sticks duo make difficult retirement decisions
Black Sticks Anna Thorpe and Jan Burrows have announced their retirement from international hockey, saying it is one of the most difficult decisions they have ever had to make.
Six months out from the London Olympics, New Zealand women's coach Mark Hager said the maturity and strong training ethos that Thorpe and Burrows brought to the side will be missed.
"Hockey is not a professional sport. Anna and Jan have been juggling full time careers as well as their hockey and that can be really tough. You know when the time is right to retire and although we will all miss them, I support them in their decision," Hager said.
Burrows, 28, and Thorpe, 27, grew up in Whangarei, playing in the same school team at Kamo Intermediate and in the first XI at Kamo High School.
With 55 test caps to her name, Thorpe was in the team that won the 2009 Champions Challenge, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games when they brought home silver, and last year was a key player in the Champions Trophy team that claimed the bronze.
"The memory that stands out is that trip to South Africa for the Champions Challenge. It was my first time travelling with the team and to win was amazing and really the beginning of the teams success. Mark had just taken over as coach and the team started to believe that we could rise in the rankings," Thorpe said.
"I have high hopes for the team. I will be cheering so loud from Whangarei that they will hear me on the turf at the London Olympics. I will miss seeing them 3-4 times a week, they are like family to me.
"I knew that if I was contemplating whether I should continue or not, that I wasn't fully committed and I can't do that to the team in an Olympic year."
As the fulltime teacher at Comrie Park Kindergarten in Whangarei, Thorpe is looking forward to concentrating more on her career.
For Burrows, she felt that having missed selection for this year's Champions Trophy, it was going to be a tough road to break into the 16-player Olympic side.
"I had a good chat with Mark and spent the summer thinking about if I could fully commit to the programme in such a busy and important year for the squad and decided it was time to hang up the stick on international hockey," said Burrows, who is the marketing manager at New Zealand Golf.
"When Mark selected me in the squad 16 months ago I wanted to give it a good shot and try to get to London. I feel I have given it my best and am now looking forward to being able to concentrate on work and a career as juggling both was a big challenge."
Despite not wearing the silver fern, Thorpe and Burrows will still play club and regional hockey.
The retirement of Burrows and Thorpe, has given Petrea Webster, 23, and Melody Cooper, 28, the opportunity to join the national squad.
Webster was in the 2011 national squad and has eight international test caps. Cooper (nee Rowe) has been based in Australia as captain of South Australia's Southern Suns, leading the team to victory at the 2011 Australian Hockey League (AHL). She will move across to Auckland and centralise with the Black Sticks squad in late February.
Watch the video captured by yours truly where His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah, the life president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation takes the national coaches to task on the performance of the team in the match against China, which incidentally Malaysia won 2-0.
Rather then write about it, I leave it to the readers to make their own assumptions, from issues ranging to coaching methods, them declining help and also not having the winning mentality.
I must add that it was indeed rare to get HRH to speak on the fortunes on the team but when he speaks his mind, its earth shattering.
And talking about MHF, it was sad that no MHF official was present at the stadium to receive HRH Sultan Azlan Shah.
Although HRH may have decided at the last hour to witness the match, the fact that only K. Krishnan, a staff of the MHF office was present. He was accompanied by Lt. Kol B. Muthukumar in receiving Tuanku, the other office bearers of MHF missing.
A quick phone call by the Tuanku's aide to NSC Director General Dato Zolkples Embong saw the DG leaving a meeting to attend to Tuanku, a noble act given that MHF officials and the office was empty at 5.00pm, sans Krishnan.
Malaysian Hockey blogspot
Sultan Azlan takes coaches to task
By Ajitpal Singh
Malaysia’s Kelvinder Singh (right) attempts to get past China’s Tianjun in their friendly yesterday. Malaysia won 2-0. Pic by Supian Ahmad
FORMER Malaysian Hockey Federation president Sultan Azlan Shah took the national coaches to task and jokingly said he would "hang them" if the national team fail to qualify for the London Olympics.
Sultan Azlan met national coach Tai Beng Hai, assistant coach Nur Saiful Zaini, team manager George Koshy and National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong in a meeting which lasted about 20 minutes, after Malaysia's 2-0 victory over China in an international friendly at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
"Not good enough... all aspects, especially penalty corners... they tend to make mistakes in the circle, and whenever they claim for a foul, they shout 'kaki, kaki, kaki'. But when they attack, they don't push the ball onto the legs of their opponents to earn corners," said Sultan Azlan, also the president of the Asian Hockey Federation, yesterday.
"The coaches should be trained, not the players. I wanted to bring in help but the coaches refused."
Malaysia have been drawn with South Korea, Ireland, Russia, Ukraine and Chile in Olympic Qualifiers in London on March 10-18.
"An acquaintance of mine, Nick Holden, offered the services of a South African who was formerly coaching the Irish team but our coaches declined.
"They (national coaches) also did not want the help of Paul (Lissek). In this situation, we should use all the help we can get. They said they can handle. The team better qualify or I will hang them," he added jokingly.
Sultan Azlan then summoned Zolkples, and the NSC head later confirmed that the coaches had declined the offer of assistance from the two coaches.
Asked about the team's qualification chances, Sultan Azlan said: "Korea are there and we cannot discount Ireland, it is going to be difficult.
"The team must have a winning attitude... they must play to win... like Tiger Woods. It is all in the head," said Sultan Azlan.
In yesterday's friendly, Malaysia scored in each half in their 2-0 victory over China. The scorers were Razie Rahim (15th) and Firhan Ashaari (69th).
The team face China in their fifth and final friendly at the same venue today at 6pm.
New Straits Times
Sultan Azlan slams coaches for turning down his offer of help
By AFTAR SINGH
I will hang them (coaches) if the national team do not qualify for the London Olympics. The coaches need training more than the players. —SULTAN AZLAN SHAH
KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president Sultan Azlan Shah took the national hockey team’s coaches to task after watching Malaysia’s fourth friendly against China at the National Hockey Stadium in Buklit Jalil yesterday.
Sultan Azlan, who is also the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president, jokingly said: I will hang them (coaches) if the national team do not qualify for the London Olympics. The coaches need training more than the players.”
He also had a heart-to-heart talk with national coach Tai Beng Hai, assistant coach Nor Saiful Zaini and team manager George Koshy. Also present was National Sports Council (NSC) Director-General Datuk Zolkples Embong.
Sultan Azlan, who is also life president of the now defunct MHF, was apparently very unhappy with the coaches who turned down his offer to help the national team qualify for the Olympics.
The MHF were dissolved on Dec 17 and the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) took over as the governing body of hockey as of January this year.
“An acquaintance of mine, Nick Holden from South Africa, knows a former Ireland coach who is willing to help out but our coaches did not take up his offer.
“I also want to bring back former national coach Paul (Lissek) to help but the coaches don’t want his services either.”
Zolkple, confirmed that our coaches did not want the duo’s help.
Malaysia, who are preparing for the Olympic qualifier in Dublin from March 10-18, played a pathetic game against China but still managed to win 2-0 in the fourth test match yesterday.
Defender Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim gave Malaysia the lead from the first penalty corner in the 15th minute before Mohd Firhan Ashaari scored in the 69th from a field goal.
It was Malaysia’s second win of the five-match series. They lost the first two matches (2-1) and (4-1) before winning the third (4-2).
The two teams will square off in the fifth and final match today at 6pm.
When asked about the current team, Sultan Azlan said they were not good enough.
“They are not good in all aspects especially in penalty corners. Every time when the opponents are in their D, they claim for leg faults (kaki, kaki, kaki). When they are in the opponents semi-circle the players are not hitting the ball onto the opponents’ legs,” he said .
Sultan Azlan said that the players must have the “winning attitude”.
“They must play to win like golfing great Tiger Woods. They must use their heads.”
Asked about the chances of qualifying for the Olympics, Sultan Azlan said it is going to be tough.
“It is not going to be easy against South Korea and Ireland in the qualifier,” said Sultan Azlan.
Malaysia failed to qualify for the last two Olympics in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). They last played in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The Star of Malaysia
MBPJ eye scalp of champs UniKL
KUALA LUMPUR: Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) believe they have a solid team capable of upsetting defending league champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in the opening match of the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium tomorrow.
MBPJ coach Paul Raj said they are happy to play favourites UniKL in their opening match.
“The first match is always tough but my boys are all fired up to turn the tables on the university team.
“Although UniKL are well prepared, as they have been training for the last three months and have retained six players from last year’s squad, I believe we can pull off a surprise win over them,” said Paul.
He said their target is a top-three finish in Division One.
“We have made many changes and have roped in Razak Cupper T. Ganeisha, who will not only marshal the defence but also deliver goals from penalty corner flicks”.
Ganeisha, a Project 2013 squad trainee, was in the national team who retained the SEA Cup in Myanmar last month.
Defender Ganeisha scored seven penalty corner goals to help Negri Sembilan win the Razak Cup Division Two title in Malacca last August. He was also the top scorer of the meet.
Paul said that they have also recruited Ganeisha’s younger brother Atikisha to add more bite in midfield.
“I have another set of brothers Mubir and Ariff Zebedi, who are skilful players to add more strength in attack.
“I also have four players from Kelantan and another four from Penang to beef up the team’s strength in all departments after our miserable outing in the MJHL last year,” said Paul.
MBPJ, who won the overall title in 2006, failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the MJHL for the first time last year after finishing a disappointing seventh in the 10-team Division One.
Paul, who guided debutants Sabah to the Division Two title in 2010, was hired by MBPJ to chart their fortunes this season.
Paul said that they would play a tactical game against UniKL to hopefully collect full points.
“Nothing is impossible. The pressure will be on UniKL to live up their status as the league champions,” said Paul.
UniKL made their debut in the MJHL in 2009.
They finished runners-up to Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS) in Division One but beat them in the final to win the overall title in 2010.
Last year they won the Division One title but lost the overall title to BPSS.
The Star of Malaysia
UniKL targeting clean sweep
By Ajitpal Singh
UNIVERSITI Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) Young Guns are out to win every title in the National Junior Hockey League (NJHL) which starts tomorrow.
UniKL won the overall title in their debut season in 2010 and the following year, were league champions and runners-up in the knockout competition.
The university side, however, are bracing for a tough season ahead as only six players from last year's squad are eligible to play.
Manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim said 16 players would be making their debut for his team.
"We are, however, very confident with the new players we have this year. I believe we can challenge for both the trophies," said Amir yesterday.
The young side started their preparation last October and also participated in the Kuala Lumpur Division One league where they picked up wins over senior sides Sapura and Tenaga Nasional Berhad to finish fourth.
Former international K. Enbaraj will coach the team with assistants M. Nadarajan and S. Selvaraju.
UniKL have 22 players in their squad with six under the national team's various project squads. The youngest player is 16-year-old goalkeeper Shukor Shafie.
"Besides the four project 2013 players (Shazrul Imran Nazli, Haifz Zainol, Aslam Mohd Hanafiah and Haziq Samsul) others to watch this season, I believe, are 19-year-old utility player Taufik Hamid, Khairul Naim Johari, Syafiq Zulzairin and N. Kaatigan," said Amir.
On the team's rivals, Amir singled out Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School-Thunderbolts (formerly known as Bandar Penawar Sports School), Bukit Jalil Sports School and Petaling Jaya City Council as his team's biggest challengers.
"We, however, must be wary of debutants Sapura, a Division Two side, who I believe will make a huge impact in the knock-out competition," he added.
FIXTURES -- Tomorrow -- Division One: SSTMI-Thunderbolts v SSTMI JNRS (Taman Daya Hockey Stadium); BJSS v BJSS Jnrs (Education Ministry Pitch, Pantai); UNIKL v MBPJ (KL Hockey Stadium).
Division Two -- Group A: Kedah HA v KHA-MSN Kedah (Alor Star Stadium; 3.30pm); Polimas Kedah v Nur Insafi (Alor Star Stadium); Anderson Jnrs v Kelantan HA-MSSK (Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium); MSS Penang-USM Jnrs v Sapura (USM Stadium).
Group B: Tunaa Pahang v MSP-Yayasan Pahang (Sukpa Stadium; 4pm); Malacca High School v Bato Pahat-Johor HA (Malacca Stadium; 4pm).
New Straits Times