All the news for Saturday 3 March 2012
Ireland 9 Czech Republic 0 (Men's Hockey)
Ireland comfortably overcame the Czech Republic 9 - 0 in the second of a three match series at the National Hockey Stadium in UCD tonight. Irelands intent was clear from the start with Mitch Darling opening the scoring within the first minute from open play. Michael Watt made it 2-0, 4 minutes later with some excellent interplay into the circle. Ireland continued to dominate the Czechs and were rewarded on 18 minutes with a superb reverse stick for Darlings second of the night. With the Irish team camped in the Czech half Timmy Cockram compounded the Czechs first half misery with a superb reverse stick from the edge of the circle to the make it 4- 0 at half time buzzer.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first with Ireland attacking the Czechs fragile defence and it was Darling who made it 5-0 and secured his hat trick on the 44th minute from open play. Another piece of fine interplay in the 49th minute takes Darlings tally to 4 for the night. Geoff McCabe celebrating his 100th cap made it 7 -0 as again the Czech defence was opened up by Irish quick passing. Jermyn and Conor Harte rounded off a forgettable night for the Czechs with two penalty corners on 60 minutes and 68 minutes respectively to end the match 9-0 in Irelands favour.
Ireland will take to the pitch once again tomorrow at 8pm in UCD as they continue preparations for the Electric Ireland FIH Road To London which begins on Saturday March 10th in UCD.
Ireland 9 (4) Darling(4 op) 1min, 18min 44min, 49 min Watt 5 min (op), Cockram 28 min (op) McCabe 54 min (op) Jermyn 60 mins (PC) C. Harte 68 min (pc)
Czech Rep 0 (0)
Irish Hockey Association media release
Malaysia 3 Wales 1
In a friendly at Cardiff last nite, Malaysia beat Wales with goals from Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Izwan Firdaus and Azlan Misron.
Andy Cornick scores for Wales in the 69th minute.
Next friendly to acclimatise for the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers will also be against Wales on March 5.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Marines down Badshahs
By Mihir Vasavda
Lessons learnt from the previous night and amendments made to the game, Mumbai Marines registered their first win of the World Series Hockey defeating Bhopal Badshahs 1-0 at the Mahindra Stadium here on Friday night.
Coming into the match after a demoralising 5-7 defeat at the hands of Pune Strykers, Mumbai looked a well-organised unit, especially at the back. The only goal of the match came in the 2th minute through Mumbai’s Australian import Troy Sutherland. Air India forward Joga Singh collected the ball from the midfield and passed it to Sutherland, who used his strength to bulldoze his way past two defenders, pick his spot and unleash a unstoppable hit to find the bottom corner.
Knowing the exploits of their defence on the previous night, Mumbai looked to widen the gap and give themselves some breathing space. The combination of Joga, Aijub Ekka, Hari Prasad, Devender Walmiki worked well for them and youngster Shanyl Balwanth too made a good impression. They managed to create a few good opportunities, but were undone by some poor finishing.
Lack of quality up front was also the main reason why Bhopal never managed to find the equaliser, despite enjoying some good spells of possession. Bhopal came into the match after pulling off an upset win over Chandigarh Comets in the opening match on Wednesday. However, their strikers gave Mumbai defenders that extra second to recover every time they found themselves in a spot.
The hosts will also take a lot of heart from the way they defended. South Africa’s Clyde Abrahams and Ajmer Singh, who plays for Air India on the domestic circuit, did not make too many errors. Skipper Adrian D’Souza, too, was rock-solid under the bars. After conceding seven goals the previous night, the India international gave a good account of himself, yelling instructions to his men and also showing good, quick reflexes. But his most important save came in the very last minute, when he made a decent save from a Sameer Dad drag-flick.
Earlier, hosts Delhi Wizards defeated Karnataka Lions 3-2. Wizards scored a goal each in the first three quarters through Vikramjeet Singh (2nd), Shakeel Abbasi (19th) and Rajpal Singh (51st). Dhanraj Pillay (36th) and Ravipal Singh (48th) scored for the Lions.
Mumbai Marines eke out a 1-0 win over Bhopal Badshahs
MUMBAI: There were 12 goals scored in the first match of the World Series Hockey in Mumbai on Thursday. The high number of goals in the game between hosts Mumbai Marines and Pune Strykers helped that game become entertaining.
On Friday though, it was a different story at the Mumbai Hockey Association ground. The quality of hockey dished out during the match between Mumbai Marines and Bhopal Badshahs was scrappy. In the end, the hosts scraped through 1-0. The only goal scored in the match, came in the 9th minute of the second quarter and it was struck by Aussie Troy Sutherland.
Thereafter, it was a tale of missed opportunities from both outfits. The other glaring issue was the fact that only eight short corners were earned by the either team. Three went to the hosts and five went in the favour of the Badshahs. None of the eight though were converted.
"In the last match against Strykers, we conceded as many as five goals," said Marines skipper Adrian D'Souza. And added: "But we had a long discussion and the outcome thereafter was to stay focused on the defense. I am really happy in the manner our defense thwarted the short corners that came their (Bhopal Badshahs) way."
For his part, Badshahs' coach Vasudevan Baskaran didn't seem perturbed by the defeat. "We had a few injuries and I also tried out a few combinations. So, overall a 1-0 defeat is not all that bad," Baskaran said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Wizard skipper Rajpal Singh led from the front as they downed the fighting Karnataka Lions 3-2 for a winning start in the World Series Hockey in New Delhi. It seemed all but over for Lions after the second quarters when they were trailing 2-0, but the team led by veteran Arjun Halappa rallied superbly to level the score, their first goal coming on a pass from veteran Dhanraj Pillay. However, Rajpal sealed the issue with a fine field goal in the dying minutes.
The Times of India
Delhi Wizards off to a winning start
NEW DELHI: Skipper Rajpal Singh led from the front as Delhi Wizards downed the fighting Karnataka Lions 3-2 for a winning start in the World Series Hockey at the National Stadium on Friday.
It seemed all but over for Lions after the second quarters when they were trailing 2-0, but the team led by veteran Arjun Halappa rallied superbly to level the score, their first goal coming on a pass from veteran Dhanraj Pillay. However, Rajpal sealed the issue for the hosts with a fine field goal in the dying minutes.
Rajpal has come into this tournament with a point to prove. He was peeved for being ignored for the Olympic qualifiers which the hosts won a few days back. He played with a lot of fire in an apparent attempt to prove to the world that he's in perfect shape to play at the highest level. He tried hard to show with his performance that there's nothing wrong with his fitness, which was cited as one of the reasons for his omission from the qualifiers.
In tandem with fellow striker, Pakistan's Shakeel Abbasi, Rajpal created a lot of pressure on the rival defence. Their repeated onslaught helped the side earn a penalty corner which was converted by Vikramjeet Singh in the second minute of the match. Abbasi' struck 17 minutes later and made it 2-0 for the hosts.
Mercurial striker Pillay was clearly a shadow of his old self at the age of 43, but that did not deter him from helping his side reduce the margin in the 36th minute. A perfect pass ended with Jarnail Singh slamming home their first goal. Ravipal Singh's strike in the 48th minute ensured a close finish.
Rajpal, however, had other ideas. The striker got a soft ball inside the 'D' and slammed home the winner.
Lions, to some extent, had themselves to blame for the defeat. They missed out on scoring from several opportunities, including a series of penalty corners towards the end of the match.
The Times of India
This Walmiki can play too
Mumbai: As the younger brother of recent hockey international Yuvraj Walmiki, Devinder always had to match up to the reputation the elder sibling had established. Understandably, the breakfast-talk at the Walmiki household involved Yuvraj and Devinder discussing pre-match tactics while nights usually end in prolonged post-match assessments, all through their growing years.
However, after Hockey India barred the 48 Olympics probables from taking part in World Series Hockey, Devinder went ahead and joined the league while Yuvraj stayed away. Ever the concerned elder brother, Yuvraj tries to boost his confidence and reassure him that he will do well, says Devinder.
“He (Yuvraj) watches my game from home,” Devinder says sitting at the concrete stand of the BHA where he has virtually grown up. “It is the best platform for a player like me, who is trying to showcase his talent. Once you are shown on TV everybody can judge your game,” he says.
Making his own path
Life has changed for the struggling Walmiki family ever since Yuvraj made it to the national side. Now Devinder says it’s his turn to make it big and hopefully represent the country. He has been the Mumbai Marines’ sprint-machine in the past two games, with his incisive runs up front and whenever he’s gotten hold of possession, Devinder has made sure he dominates the opponents. It is clear that he wants to blaze his own path, and is not content to be known as Yuvraj’s brother.
“It’s obvious that when you have a player like Yuvraj at home, people will refer to you as his brother. But for me what is important is to make my own name. Let me be Devinder first, then Yuvraj’s brother,” he says.
Sutherland’s crucial strike
On Friday though, Tony Sutherland stole most of the limelight for his solitary strike which helped Mumbai Marines beat Bhopal Badshah, it was Devinder’s show that caught the eye. With the win, Mumbai opened their account in World Series Hockey but Devinder, adjudjed the man of the match said it was still early days. “What will be important is how we play our coming matches. We have a good unit with good players. It will be very important to set the tone and keep doing well,” said the boy with the long locks.
Delhi off to a winning start
Delhi Wizards defeated Karnataka Lions 3-2. Wizards scored a goal each in the first three quarters through Vikramjeet Singh (2nd minute), Pakistani forward Shakeel Abbasi (19th) and captain Rajpal Singh (51st). The Lions tried to force a comeback and scored two goals through Jarnail Singh (36th) and Ravipal Singh (48th).
Mumbai win 1-0
Mumbai Marines held on to a tense 1-0 win over Bhopal Bhadshahs. Mumbai overcame first quarter hiccups, upped the game in the second quarter and found the lead in the 25th minute through Troy Sutherland. However, Mumbai's defence survived late onslaught to win their first game.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Sher-e-Punjab vs Karnataka Lions in Jalandhar (5pm); Chandigarh Comets vs Chennai Cheetahs in Chandigarh (7pm); Delhi Wizards vs Pune Strykers in Delhi (9pm).
What the Papers Say Today - Stick2Hockey.com
Halappa, Rajpal fail to impress
Uthra G Chaturvedi:
New Delhi, Sat Mar 03 2012: A month ago, when the national team for the Olympic qualifiers was announced, eye brows were raised over the exclusion of former skippers Rajpal Singh and Arjun Halappa. Today as the two India discards led their respective team’s in a WSH game National Stadium, it was clear why the two seniors didn’t fit in coach Michael Nobbs’ scheme of things.
Karnataka Lions skipper Halappa was missing the spark that always made him such a delight to watch, and Delhi Wizard captain Rajpal, though he scored the winning goal, failed to shine. Halappa was expected to create all the moves, carving out gaps and feeding the forwards. There were a couple of flashes of brilliance — one of which resulted in the team’s second goal — but they were few and far between.
Given that the opposition he was up against was nowhere near international standards, his performance was even more disappointing. “It was not a great match but we have 13 more games to go and hopefully the team will pick up steam and coordination,” was all Halappa was willing to say.
Rajpal, on the other hand, was slightly better off. It helped that he had the electric Shakeel Abbasi for support. His own performance, however, was not something expected from a player who, till a few month ago, was leading the national side. Rajpal had said that he was looking at WSH as a platform to prove his fitness to the national selectors but if his first outing on the field in over three months was any indication, he has a long way to go.
PHF should back players featuring in WSH: Islah
KARACHI: Calling the World Series of Hockey (WSH) a good way of popularising hockey in Asia, Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui has advised the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to support the players participating in it.
“They are giving 40 million Indian rupees to the winners, 20 to the runners-up and 10 each to the third-position as well as the fourth position teams. The 58 players participating in this league from all over the world are also making between Rs4 to 6 million. Sure, the league carries major incentives and attraction for hockey players. They have hardly ever experienced something as big before. What can be better than that?” Islah, Pakistan’s most successful hockey captain to date, asked while speaking to Dawn on Thursday.
“I remember I was the Pakistan team’s manager/coach in 2007 when we were featuring in the Asia Cup in Chennai. That’s when Indian film actor Sunil Shetty flew all the way from Mumbai just to see me with a hockey proposal. He wanted to do something big for hockey and said he could find major sponsors if we agreed to a bilateral series with India with one match in Lahore and one in Chandigarh,” Islah informed.
“I liked his idea very much and even phoned our federation president of the time about it. But the federation put it off for later,” he continued.
“Shetty deserves all credit to have come up with such a big league. The WSH is the outcome of years of hard work by India to popularise hockey in Asia. We were more focussed on lucrative cricket leagues here but it is good to see so much money coming into hockey now. Hockey leagues were more of a European thing but it has now come to India, and this at a time when Asian morale in the game was going down,” Islah pointed out.
“I ask the current PHF officials have they been able to popularise the game like this in the four years that they have been at the helm of affairs here? Our hockey players don’t even have regular jobs. Have they been able to secure their future? Not having done any of that, I ask the PHF on what basis are they threatening the seven players, opting to play in the WSH, of suspension?” Islah fumed.
“Okay fine, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi have skipped camp but the five others there, namely, Zeeshan Ashraf, Adnan, Waseem Ahmed, Imran Warsi and Tariq Aziz are not even playing for Pakistan anymore. And with the PHF imposing restrictions on players above the age of 30 to play in domestic events, too, what future do they have left in hockey? The PHF has no right to stand in their way? It’s not as if they own them or anything,” he reasoned.
“My advice to the PHF would be to support these boys instead of stopping them from taking part in the WSH. In fact, they should write to the FIH to give them permission to play in this league. If they really mean well, they should look into safeguarding their players’ future instead of obstructing it,” Islah concluded.
Islah asks PHF to support players featuring in WSH
KARACHI: Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui suggested the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to support the players participating in it the World Series of Hockey (WSH) being held in India.
Praising the organizers, he said that holding the WSH is a good way of popularising hockey in Asia,.
“I liked his idea very much and even phoned our federation president of the time about it. But the federation put it off for later,” he added.
The former Pakistan captain said that the hockey leagues was being played in India at a time when Asian morale in the game was going down.
Islahuddin said he had asked the present PHF officials to popularise the game like WSH in four years but they did not respond.
He said that our hockey players do not even have regular jobs. They have not been able to secure their future. “I ask the PHF on what basis are they threatening the seven players, opting to play in the WSH, of suspension?” Islah said.
Islah advised the PHF to support these boys instead of stopping them from taking part in the WSH.
The News International
HI should learn from BCCI how to treat senior players: Rajpal
NEW DELHI: Deeply hurt on being ignored from the list of Olympic probables, former hockey captain Rajpal Singh on Monday fired a salvo at Hockey India (HI), saying they should take a cue from the Indian cricket board as to how to treat the senior players.
"I am really hurt on being ignored but certainly not shocked. This kind of treatment sets a bad precedent as junior players in the team do not get the amount of guidance they need," said Rajpal.
"Look at the BCCI, senior India players Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are not scoring runs in Australia but the cricket board has not dropped them because their is a way to treat the senior players.
"This is not the way to treat a senior player like Arjun Halappa. It gives a wrong signal to the youngsters as it may demotivate them," the 28-year-old forward told media persons on the sidelines of a promotional event.
Rajpal and former skipper Halappa were on Monday left out of the list of 48 probables announced by Hockey India for the London Olympics starting from July 27.
Rajpal and Halappa were among the 32 probables for the qualifiers but later the former was axed while the latter was named as a standby in the pruned 18-member squad.
The national selectors announced the names of the probables within hours of India qualifying for the Olympics after their 8-1 victory over France in the final of the qualifying tournament on Sunday.
Rajpal, however, ruled out any retirement talks following the snub and said that he is in no mood to quit the game.
"Hockey is my passion as I want to play the game in any form whether it is for my state, my employer or the country. But playing for the country will always remain the ultimate thing for any sportsperson," said Rajpal adding that he would continue playing Hockey as long as his body supports him.
Rajpal made his international debut in 2005 and led the team in the finals of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2010 when India were declared joint winners with South Korea. The striker has 147 international caps to his name and 52 goals.
The Times of India
Riaz salutes steely Sardar
Mohammed Riaz is delighted to have played a small part in Indian hockey team’s victorious campaign in the Olympic qualifiers.
The Arjuna awardee and former Indian star was an assistant to national coach Michael Nobbs. Riaz, one of the finest centre-halves the country has produced in the last 25 years, was in charge of sharpening the skills — strategic and technical — of midfielders.
Riaz reflected on India’s glorious performance in New Delhi. “There was pressure on our boys before the final as it was a do-or-die match. We were unstoppable after we broke the deadlock. Sandeep Singh, Sardar Singh, S.V. Sunil and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh were outstanding against France.
Everybody in the camp was relieved to get the monkey off our back. After the Beijing disaster, missing another Olympics was unthinkable,” he said.
The Olympian said thorough preparations helped the team pull it off in the qualifiers. “We worked hard in the camp. Nothing was left to chance.
Exercise physiologist David John ensured that all the players attained their peak fitness ahead of the qualifiers. Booking the Olympic ticket is a reward for our planning and preparation,” he added.
Riaz doffed his hat off to Nobbs. “He is a fantastic professional without a big ego. Nobbs remains calm under extreme pressure. He respects other people’s views.
The Australian has done a great service to Indian hockey by laying stress on attacking style. We play attractive as well as effective hockey these days,” he said.
The Air India officer paid tribute to the contributions of Sardar. “He is a colossus on the field. I haven’t seen a more complete midfielder in recent times.
Sardar has everything — skill, power, balance, pace and strength — to excel at the highest level. He is a world-class talent. I’m an admirer of his bullet-like long passes.
Even though he is a centre-half, he never hesitates to fall back to help his team-mates. To put it simply, Sardar is an asset to Indian hockey,” he added.
It was drag-flicker Sandeep who hogged the limelight through his five goals in the final. India had never been as productive in penalty corners as they were in the memorable final.
The strapping Sandeep converted five of the six chances he got and V.R. Raghunath made optimum use of the only opportunity that came his way.
Riaz said Sandeep is at the peak of his prowess in penalty corners.
“He doesn’t miss many these days. At the same time, we should not forget that his real tests will come against top teams such as Australia, Germany and the Netherlands,” he added.
What the Papers Say Today - Stick2Hockey.com
NEHRU-SAIL: CRA Sonepat overwhelms Bhopal College
Top two teams in Pool B – Jamia Milia Islami, Dlehi and Al Ameen College, Bangalore, played out an exciting draw in the fourth day of the ongoing Nehru-SAIL Champion Colleges Cup here in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Local outfit Jamia asserted well in the first half and got the reward for all the hard work. Munish Rana struck firmly off a penalty corner in the 29th minute to put his aside ahead, and then played well in the defence to safeguard his team’s citadel.
Jamia’s fortress fell in the 47th minute as the team from Bangalore would assert with numerous attack upfront and frequent circle penetration.
The efforts bore fruit when Darshan converted the stroke.
Quite in contrast, the first match of the day was one sided. Delhi’s neighbourhood team CRA College, Sonepat pulverized Jawaharlal Nehru Post Graduate College Bh0pal 5-2. Its Bhopal who took the lead after holding the marauding forwards at bay till 33rd minute.
The Delhi team scored all its goals in the second half, which included three goals from Naveen Sangwan. He scored in the 37th, 51st and 62nd minutes. Other scorers for the winning side are Nikhil, Gagandeep Singh and Jitender Antil. For the losing side Vikas Choudhury and Sarfaraz Ahamed struck Tomorrow’s fixture MARCH 3, 2012 – SATURDAY Match: 11 01.00 PM A Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar V/s Municipal College, Rourkela
Match: 12 03.00 PM C DAV College, Jalandhar V/s Annamalai University (T.N.)
Number of gaps to be plugged, very little time
By Mihir Vasavda
Indian hockey seems to be going forward, but the qualifiers might not give an accurate picture of what awaits the team in London; there are gaps to be plugged and coach Nobbs has very little time.
Just as in football, formations speak a lot of a team’s psyche in hockey. It provides structure to the game and defines roles for the players. As former India coach Jose Brasa once explained, “It’s not just about placing 11 random men on the field; it’s about how and where you position them. That wins and loses you matches.”
Till the 1980 Olympics, India predominantly used the 5-3-2 formation (contrary to the football definition of 5-3-2, in hockey it implies 5 forwards, 3 midfielders and 2 defenders). India, during those days, was known for its flair; for its attacking brand of hockey. This was an era when India was still a force to be reckoned with. But then the rules changed and the playing surface went from natural to artificial. The change in technical aspects of the game meant India had to tinker their original style, settling for a rather defensive 4-4-2 system from the 1984 Olympics onwards, aping the European style of play. Alas, India never really managed to match their rivals and were outclassed in all departments: technique, stamina and strength.
Hence, the transition in this Indian team excites many, especially the former players. It’s after ages they have seen an Indian team play hockey the way they played — where the only way to win a match is seen by scoring goals and where back passes are a strict no-no. This is the reason, perhaps, that in the last couple of weeks, India have fallen in love with the game all over again.
Michael Nobbs has rolled back the years, bringing back the old fashioned 5-4-2 — a style Australia adapted from India and used to power their way to the top of the world. “It was endearing to see that. It reminded us of the way we used to play,” says Ajit Pal Singh, who captained India in the 1975 World Cup - the last major silverware India have won. “But I am more interested to see whether the coach will persist with the same strategies against tougher oppositions in bigger tournaments.”
The coach, indeed, has his task cut out. The quality of hockey at the qualifiers last week was a gross misrepresentation of what awaits India in London. India scored 44 goals in the five matches they played last week and made an average of 45 circle penetrations in each match, a flattering stat, no doubt. But there are too many holes to plug for Nobbs in the overall game play and too little time to do that. That’s the reason, perhaps, why he is sounding cautious even as the expectations from his wards for the London Games soar.
“Deep defence continues to be a worry. We didn’t manage a single clean sheet, which - considering the strength of our opponents — is a bit disappointing,” Ajit Pal adds.
While Sandeep Singh still continues to be unreliable at the back, Nobbs had Ignace Tirkey playing in deep defence. The defenders were caught out of position on numerous occasions and remain guilty of making naive errors. “You could see Sardara dropping back time and again to bail out the defence, something he did so efficiently earlier,” says former captain Pargat Singh.
Drag-flick continues to be India’s main strength. In Sandeep, VR Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh, Nobbs has multiple options at his disposal. But the problem is the over-reliance on penalty corners. For field goals, the side has laid emphasis on exploiting its new-found speed and attack on the counters. A well thought-out, neatly manufactured field goal wasn’t scored even once. “While speed has been a revelation of this Indian side, to beat the best teams in the world, we will have to be fitter. We have to play street-smart hockey and shouldn’t rely only on counter-attacks and penalty corners,” says Ajit Pal.
Pargat says: “India need men who can think quickly on the field and be more creative. Right now, we have only the likes of Sardara, Sunil and Tushar (Khandker) doing that. If the opposition succeeds in dominating the midfield and taking control of the game, we will be in trouble.”
Says a member of the coaching staff: “We have been working hard but there hasn’t been much progress in terms of quality since we played the Champions Challenge. We are improving gradually but the country shouldn’t expect wonders in London. We are targeting a top six finish. If we manage that, it’ll be nice.”
India’s record against top teams like Australia, Germany and Netherlands in the recent years has been dismal. In fact, during a tour of Australia late last year and also during the Champions Challenge tournament last year, the same Indian side was left humiliated by Australia and Pakistan.
Against tight defences and tougher opponents, India may find the going tough. And Nobbs has 146 days to work it out!
Wait for next Olympics to see true India: Michael Nobbs
By Chander Shekhar Luthra
Michael Nobbs tells Chander Shekhar Luthra that India must not have unrealistic expectations from its hockey team at the London Games
You seem to be pretty relaxed, don’t you? How did you achieve this feat in six months?
Well, I surely deserve some relaxed moments. But this is only for a few days before we start afresh our mission for the London Olympics. I am satisfied because I am working with a beautiful bunch of players. I have enjoyed every bit of the time training with them. The 8-1 victory in the finals must have given great relief to the Indian hockey fans. They could feel we are on the right track.
What was the plan?
Well, it involved re-training the players in Asian style as opposed to European style (which Indians were following under Spanish coach Jose Brasa’s tenure). That was the difficult part, for we had a single group playing European style whereas the rest had the traditional Indian style. The quality of the players was the key here. It worked because they have great ability. That was the one shining light in the whole thing — they could be moulded quickly because of their ability. But not only we had to get them fit, we had to up their nutritional level and work on critical areas such as sports and physiology. So, a lot of hard work had gone into just getting to the qualifying stage.
Was rotating the players key to success?
Yes. We play so hard that it’s difficult to sustain that pace for longer than six to nine minutes. You then need to rest them in such a way that you take a player off and the opponents realise that the replacement is coming equally hard at them.
There had been dissent over some issues last year. Did you have to put your foot down?
Yes and no. It’s a matter of trusting each other. You’ve to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about. Most of the players I’ve coached have not gone earlier to the Olympics as well as the World Cup. So my credibility as a player and coach stands. Still you have to demonstrate to the players that you know your job. The only way to do that is by winning and showing that my plans work.
Was the pressure more on you given that you omitted players such as Rajpal Singh?
I am not here to play politics; I am here to help India regain their lost pride in the world of hockey. Yes, I’ve had to make really hard decisions but then I have not shown favours to others either. It was purely on performance and fitness. There was nothing personal in it. So, in the process, I might have hurt a few feelings. But then I am the one who has to take the call, with the help of my support staff and selectors obviously.
You’ve talked about increasing the pool of players. How will you do that?
I want to increase the number of players who can play at that level. The main problem is that if you pick 18 players and get an injury, you’re in all sorts of trouble. God forbid, say Sardar Singh is injured, who’s going to replace him? You can’t replace him anyway, but you’ve got to have an adequate backup for that position. Gurbaj Singh got injured — who are you going to replace him with? Fortunately, Birendra Lakra is also a world-class player. So we have two players we can change, and there must be more of them.
We have to build another group of players, so that we have three options for every position. Then we have two teams, which should ideally be competitive against each other. We’re a fair way off from there.
The 20-odd players are clearly much better than the rest, with the caveat that I’ve not seen enough players in India. We must have some fantastic players around the country.
The team is now playing as a well-knit unit…
I want the players to put their heart and soul in the team. In the final, Sandeep was scoring five goals; he was on the field because of lack of rotation. It could have been Raghu too. But Raghu and all others on the bench were supporting him and the team. Not once had anyone come to me and said, “I should be on.”
How are you looking at the London Olympics?
The next four months will be more than difficult, not impossible. We are expected to win the medal but that’s unrealistic. It’s not impossible but far from reality now. How far we can get, we’ll know as we get closer to the Olympics.
Olympics bring out the best in everybody. Test events are practice run, the real test will be the Olympics. I don’t know if four months are enough to achieve what we want to. Five years — next Olympics is in Brazil — is the goal we have set for ourselves.
Teams will be wary of Sandeep Singh at the Games: Sohail Abbas
When Sandeep Singh was accidentally shot at on his arm in 2006, I feared India had lost a future star. For a drag-flicker, having strong arms is of utmost importance to succeed at the international stage. That’s how we generate the power in our flicks. He was merely 20 then, but his exploits at the junior level had proven that he was the one to watch out for in the future.
Six years later, with Olympic rings tattooed on that same arm, he has ensured that India returns to the event after missing out in 2008. That speaks a lot about his character.
In the last couple of decades, I’ve enjoyed watching Jugraj Singh the most. He’s also a good friend of mine. I can definitely see the kind of impact Jugraj, now India’s drag-flick coach, is having on Sandeep.
Though I couldn’t watch the Olympic qualifiers because of my training schedule, I read that Sandeep scored 16 goals in the tournament - all through penalty corners - including five in the final. The consistency with which Sandeep has been scoring for India is really impressive. And it’s not just his deadly drag-flicks. Banda penalties save bhi kar leta hai (he also save penalties). Very few drag-flickers actually do that.
His cross-field passes are powerful and accurate. So he is valuable for India in more ways than one.
For a drag-flicker, it is important to get the right combination and try variations. Goalkeepers these days use ball machines at practice to tackle drag-flick situations during matches. Hence, their reflexes have been extremely good; they can easily cut the angles to make life difficult for the scorer. Hence, a drag-flicker has to be quick and must have variations. Also, he should be able to dodge the body and be smart in picking his spot.
The drag-flicker has to outthink the goalkeeper. That’s what I did. If a goalkeeper is short, he is expecting me to hit the ball over him. So I always tried to hit it low into a corner, making it difficult for him to save.
These tricks work against top teams like Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. Hence, I would like to see more variations from Sandeep. It’s not just the goals you score, it’s also how you get them. I am sure he understands these nuances and will display what he has up his sleeves at the biggest stage in London. I know I will be wary of a player of his calibre if India and Pakistan play each other at the Olympics. I am sure most teams will be.
I have heard people complaining about his conversion rate, he himself has said he would like to improve it. But that’s one thing that will get better with experience. At the international level, even 50 per cent conversion rate is good enough. It is very difficult to achieve that as well. It all comes down to experience and how you handle pressure.
Sandeep is still young; with time he will mature. Right now, he is in the form of his life. My only advice to him is to work hard, carry on with the same form. I’ll pray that he achieves more success in the Olympics for India!
Pakistan’s Sohail Abbas is considered to be one of the best drag-flickers of all time and is currently the highest goal scorer in world hockey. He spoke to Mihir Vasavda
Sandeep showcases his acting skills
Sandeep Singh celebrate with highest scorers trophy after beating France 8-1 goals during the Olympic qualifier in New Delhi. File photo
After an impressive outing in the Hockey Olympic qualifier, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh is all set to showcase his acting skills on the silver screen.
Sandeep, apparently has done a guest appreance in a Punjabi movie, ‘Aaj de Ranjhe’, directed by Bollywood cinematographer Manmohan Singh.
Sandeep, who has scored staggering 16 goals in the recently-concluded Olympic qualifiers, including five goals in the final match, which helped India book a berth in the upcoming London Games, said he enjoyed working in a movie.
“The main lead in the film, Gurpreet Guggi, is my friend and I could not turn down his request,” said Sandeep.
“I really enjoyed the experience (of working in films). I have a small role where I am playing Sandeep Singh only,” he added.
Asked if he has any Bollywood aspirations also, Sandeep said, “Hockey is my first love and I devote most of my time to hockey only. But if I get time I won’t mind working in films too.”
Former hockey captain Dilip Tirkey had earlier featured in an Oriya film.
Sandeep Singh will go places
He has wowed his countrymen and raised their hopes with an impeccable performance in the Olympic qualifiers recently. Sandeep Singh will live up to the massive expectations.
The drag flick demon has his personal planets in Virgo, Aquarius and Pisces. Virgo makes him a perfectionist while Pisces gives him the art of deception and Aquarius the bravery to meet challenging situations. He has Uranus and ‘Planet-Y’, a powerful exoplanet, placed in the strongest points in his horoscope. This robust phenomenon would make him a superstar in hockey and help him achieve many distinctions.
The penalty corner specialist will carry his form into the London Olympics as well. Expect him to generate further mass hysteria and attention on hockey with his exemplary performances in London. The goal machine will indeed become one of the top scorers of the tournament. His exploits would definitely give an impetus to India’s chances for a medal. Sandeep’s performances would be particularly phenomenal against stronger and fancied teams as he would star in a few major upsets.
Expect the Arjuna Award recipient to scale greater heights between 2012 and 2016. He would be the leading light in some major tournament victories, including an extraordinary 2014 World Cup.The Haryanvi will also make an excellent captain. He will win many tournaments and go down in history as one of the most successful captains of modern Indian hockey. He had once suffered an accidental gunshot injury but his successes would be a definite shot in the arm for the fortunes of Indian hockey.
—Lobo is a city-based astrologer
Third final for same two teams
Thunderbolts’ Muhammad Firhan Ashaari (in red) goes through the MBI Anderson defence in their Milo Cup semi-final clash at the Bukit Jalil Stadium yesterday. Thunderbolts won 10-1. Pic by Nashairi Mohd Nawi
UNIKL Young Guns will square off against SSTMI Thunderbolts for the third straight season to decide who lift the Milo Cup at the Azlan Shah Stadium tomorrow.
Yesterday, UniKL Young Guns were held to a 2-2 draw by Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) but booked their final ticket on a 5-3 aggregate.
However, BJSS have only themselves to blame, as they led 2-0 but caved in, in the final 15 minutes.
Division One champions Thunderbolts were the more aggressive side yesterday as they demolished MBI Anderson 10-1, for a 15-3 aggregate win.
On his team's chances in the final, UniKL manager Amir Azhar said: "If we play like we did today (yesterday) against Thunderbolts, we will be slaughtered at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh."
The UniKL-BJSS play was centred around the midfield until the 22nd minute penalty corner which was tucked in by Azrul Hasbullah to put BJSS ahead.
BJSS almost drew level in the 25th minute when Zizi Azwan was presented with a golden opportunity with only the goalkeeper to beat but he pushed the ball straight into Fitri Jasni.
And BJSS were again rewarded in the 46th minute when Hafif Elkan scored, also off a penalty corner.
However, that attempt at goal woke up UniKL and strikes from N. Kaatigan (53rd) and Nor Azrul Rahman (58th) were enough to take them into the final, as they had beaten BJSS 3-1 in the first leg.
As for Thunderbolts, their goals were scored by Shahril Saabah who got his hat-trick in the 40th, 43rd and 54th minutes to take his tally to 18.
The other goals were scored by Firhan Ashaari (25th, 64th and 65th), Hafiz Seleman (2nd, 37th), Sufi Ismat (19th) and Ahmad Alif Nazaruddin (57th).
Akmal Mohd Tajuddin (51st) scored the consolation goal for the Ipoh team.
RESULTS -- Semi-finals, return leg:
UniKL 2 Bukit Jalil SS 2 (UniKL win 5-3 on aggregate)
MBI Anderson 1 SSTMI Thunderbolts 10 (Thunderbolts win 15-3 on aggregate).
TOMORROW -- Final: UniKL v SSTMI Thunderbolts (6pm); Third-Fourth: Bukit Jalil Sports School v MBI Anderson (4pm).
(Both matches at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Bukit Jalil).
New Straits Times
Thunderbolt and UniKL set up a repeat title match after contrasting wins
By AFTAR SINGH
Thwarted: UniKL’s Muhd Syafiq Zulzairin’s (centre) run is blocked by two BJSS players during their semi-final second leg match at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday. – SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Defending overall champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have set up a repeat Milo Cup final at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh tomorrow.
Division One champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt hammered hapless MBI-Anderson 10-1 in the second-leg of the semi-finals for a 15-3 aggregate win.
UniKL, who lost to SSTMI-Thunderbolt on penalty strokes in last year’s final, were taken to the limit by Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) before booking their place in the final.
UniKL, who won the first leg 3-1, found themselves trailing 2-0 before fighting back to level the score at 2-2 and qualify for the final on a 5-3 aggregate.
Former five-time double champions BJSS only have themselves to blame for throwing away the lead by conceding two goals in the last 15 minutes.
BJSS, who needed to win by three clear goals to qualify for the final, took the lead through Mohd Azrul Hasbullah off a penalty corner in the 22nd minute.
They kept up the pressure to score a second goal off another penalty corner by Mohd Hafif Elkan in the 46th minute for a 3-3 aggregate.
That jolted UniKL and they pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute when N. Kaatigan struck from their second penalty corner.
Five minutes later, Nor Azrul Abdul Rahman scored from the top of the D to level the score for the day and restore UniKL’s two-goal advantage.
UniKL team manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim was furious with his team’s performance.
“We put ourselves under unnecessary pressure by allowing BJSS to take a 2-0 lead. Luckily, we managed to score two goals to qualify for the final,” said Amir.
“If we play like this in the final we will be slaughtered by Thunderbolt.”
The other semi-final was a foregone conclusion, no thanks to SSTMI-Thunderbolt’s 5-2 first-leg win.
It was another one-sided game yesterday. The match ended four minutes earlier – in the 66th minute – due to heavy rain and lightning.
Forward Mohd Shahril Saabah scored a hat-trick in the 40th, 43rd and 54th minutes and is the top scorer with 18 goals – three more than team-mate Sufi Ismat.
Mohd Firhan Ashaari, who was dropped from the national team for the Olympic qualifier in Dublin, also had a hat-trick (25th, 64th and 65th).
Mohd Hafiz Seleman (2nd, 37th), Mohd Sufi Ismat (19th) and Ahmad Alif Nazaruddin (57th) were the other scorers for SSTMI-Thunderbolt.
Mohd Akmal Mohd Tajuddin (51st) scored the consolation goal for the Ipoh team.
The Star of Malaysia
Tickets on sale for KO16 Rotterdam
Huge crowds expected at Euro Hockey League’s showpiece event
H.C. Rotterdam and Netherlands star striker Jeroen Hertzberger (Photo: Euro Hockey League / Frank Uijlenbroek)
The Euro Hockey League and the European Hockey Federation are pleased to announce that tickets for KO16 in Rotterdam (6-9 April 2012) are available for purchase via the EHL’s online ticket sales site. The event will witness sixteen of Europe’s best club teams reduced to the four Semi Finalists over four days of intense competition.
The opening match on Friday morning will see Beeston HC (ENG) facing last year’s silver medallists Club de Campo from Madrid (ESP). That game is followed by an exciting meeting between double EHL champions UHC Hamburg (GER) against Spain’s Real Club de Polo de Barcelona. In the afternoon, Dutch champions Amsterdam H&BC will do battle with Dinamo Kazan of Russia. The day’s entertainment will be completed by the encounter between Teun de Nooijer’s HC Bloemendaal (NED) and Spanish champions Atletic Terrassa, the home club of Spanish international striker Santi Freixa.
Saturday morning begins with English champions East Grinstead facing French Champions CA Montrouge, a team that have reached the Knock-Out phase for the very first time. With experienced international players such as Barry Middleton, Glenn Kirkham and Ashley Jackson amongst their ranks East Grinstead are the big favourites to march into KO8. Belgian champions KHC Dragons – a team which defeated Jeroen Hertzberger’s H.C. Rotterdam 5-4 to win Pool E at Round 1.2 – take on Dinamo Elektrostal from Russia.
The encounter between German league runners up Uhlenhorst Mülheim and the hosts H.C. Rotterdam (NED) is expected to be a thrilling contest that will surely be played in front of a sell-out crowd. The final match of the KO16 phase will be played between German Champions Club an der Alster and Reading HC (ENG), who claimed the Bronze medal in last year’s Euro Hockey League competition. Reading is the home club of Great Britain internationals Richard and Simon Mantell, Jonty Clarke, Ian MacKay and outstanding goalkeeper Nick Brothers.
The tournament Quarter Finals will be played on Sunday and Monday.
Online tickets will not only be cheaper than at the venue box office but will also guarantee entry for what will surely be a sell-out. We strongly recommend purchasing in advance to guarantee your entry into this stunning event.
More information about the tournament can be found on www.ehlhockey.tv, the official website of the Euro Hockey League.
Euro Hockey League media release
Martin announces retirement from US Men's National Team program
COLORADO SPRINGS, C.O. – Jarred Martin (Saratoga Springs, NY), long-time starting forward on the Men’s National Team has officially announced his retirement from the Men's program. During his twelve year stint with the National Team, Martin traveled to over 25 countries on four continents representing the red, white and blue.
“Jarred will truly be missed by the program,” said Chris Clements, Men’s National Team Head Coach. “His exemplarily attitude towards playing and training is hard to match. His passion to play at the highest level for so long must be commended and I wish Jarred all the best for his time on the sideline where I know he already has and will have as much of an influence on matches as when he did when he was on the field.”
Martin debuted his career with the National Team in 2000 and has played in 104 international matches over the last twelve years. Martin earned his 100th cap in the opening match of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and joined teammates Patrick Cota (San Francisco, CA), Shawn Nakamura (Thousand Oaks, CA) and only a handful of other past National Team members in achieving the milestone. Martin was a squad member of three Pan American Cups, two Pan American Games, a World Cup and an Olympic Qualifier.
“My National Team career has honestly changed my life,” said Martin. “I have been fortunate enough to find a sport that I truly love and field hockey will forever be a part of my life in some form. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world and have played with and against some of the best players in the world.”
“On the international scene Jarred was an extremely gifted hockey player possessing high-end elimination and physiological capabilities,” said Nick Conway, former Men’s National Team Head Coach. “He has, for many years, been a critical component in the teams attacking structure combining his trusted target play for others to play off with his instinctive penetrative skills. His experience, goals and strong defensive intensity will be tough to replace and he should be commended for his significant contribution to the development of the men's program throughout his 104 International caps.”
Martin plans to continue to stay involved in the sport, but from the sidelines. Martin has been an Assistant Coach at Duke University and a valuable asset to the Blue Devils program for the past six seasons. Martin has helped guide the program to two NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2008.
In addition to coaching at Duke, Martin is also an Assistant Coach of the USA Under-17 National Squad. Martin will travel to Canada for four test matches in early April with the U-17 squad.
“When I started in 2000 I had no idea it would be 2012 and I would still be here, but it shows how many amazing people there are in the USA Program,” said Martin.
“Jarred was capable of scoring timely goals and creating goal shots against all opponents and I would expect that a few Pan American defenders will sleep a little easier with the news of his international retirement,” said Conway.
Martin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Albany and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2005.
USFHA media release
Job opening at the FIH
Sport Coordinator (Officials and Competitions)
The FIH is looking add a Sport Coordinator for Officials and Comeptitions to its team. The job is based in Lausanne, Switzerland and would start as soon as possible. The deadline for applying for the position is March 16.
For more details about the position, please click here