All the news for Wednesday 14 March 2012
After three days, no clear favorite in Dublin
Three teams still in the hunt for the ticket to London
Ireland 1, Korea 1
It was the first major test of the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament as unbeaten Ireland and Korea met in a highly-anticipated match. The game lived up to expectations has the squads battled for the full 70 minutes in a hard fought 1-1 draw.
Korea, ranked sixth in the FIH World Ranking and the favorite of this event, fell behind in the first half after Ireland’s David Ames scored the only goal of the period on a diving penalty corner tap in bringing the sell-out crowd to its feet.
Hyun Woo Nam has been the key to Korea’s offense and he was the player to get Korea on the board. After 41 minutes of frustration, Nam’s low shot evened the game at one and silenced the crowd. The teams battled throughout the rest of the half in the best end-to-end action that’s been seen at this tournament.
With seven minutes left in action there was a worrying moment when Ireland’s Conor Harte took a hit to the head and had to be led off the field on a stretcher. The Irish team tried to rally after the injury break, but couldn’t get past Korean goaltender Myung Ho Lee.
The outcome of today’s game leaves the field wide open for the top three teams at this Road to London tournament. Malaysia leads the pack with nine points in three games. But nipping at their heels are Korea and Ireland, which are also both unbeaten, but have fewer points because of today’s tie. The next big test for the top three teams will be on Thursday when Malaysia takes on Korea.
Russia 4, Chile 3
Russia netted its first win at this road to London tournament with a 4-3 victory over Chile. The win still leaves the coveted spot to London out of reach, but nevertheless, it was a moral victory for the 20th ranked Russians in the FIH World Ranking.
The game was up for grabs until Russia struck with two quick goals midway through the second half to bounce back for a 4-3 lead. Pavel Golubev and Alexander Zhirkov scored the critical answers to Chile’s second half surge and killed the momentum that Chile was building. The lead stood through a tense final minutes as Russia took its first points of the event.
Chile went on the board first after Ignacio Gajardo was in perfect position to tap in the ball after it bounced off the post. Three minutes later, Russia’s Aleksandr Platonov returned the favor after finding himself in perfect position to put in a rebound for the 1-1 goal. Platonov gave his team its first lead of the game two minutes later to send the teams into the warmth of the locker room at the break with Russia holding the one-goal lead.
Jan Richter and Alexis Berczely each scored two minutes apart to restore Chile’s lead making it a 3-2 affair, giving Chile the momentum, but Russia stayed composed setting up the go-ahead heroics and hanging on for the win.
Malaysia 5, Ukraine 1
Malaysia did its part to stay atop of the standings at the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament making easy work of Ukraine in a 5-1 victory. The win gives Malaysia three wins in three games and leaves the Ukraine looking for its first points at the event.
Perhaps it was the chilly weather in Dublin, but it took Malaysia awhile to warm up its offense, taking more than 25 minutes to score its first goal when Faizal Saari set up Tengku for the roof shot. The 2-0 goal came eight minutes later and was threaded between the legs of Ukrainian goaltender Vovodymr Kurbatov giving Malaysia the slim two-goal lead at the break.
Malaysia opened the second half scoring with its first penalty corner of the game 18 minutes into the half, but Ukraine bounced back with the surprising counter and put in its lone goal of the game to keep the Malaysians on their toes with a 3-1 game.
With seven minutes left in the game, Malaysia all but sealed the win with the 4-1 goal when Faizal put in the insurance marker. A penalty stroke goal in the last minute of action brought the final to 5-1.
Tomorrow all teams are off, and then on Thursday Malaysia has its first real test of the tournament against top-ranked Korea. Ukraine will look for its first win against Russia.
Ireland draw against Korea
Ireland took on the world number 6's and highest ranked team in this Electric Ireland FIH Road to London this evening in front of a packed stadium in UCD.
This was the first real test for Ireland after securing two good wins over the weekend (6-1 against Russia; 12-0 against Ukraine). The game opened up with some nervy moments from both defences but as they settled the match was played at a ferocious pace with end to end activity. Ireland secured the first penalty corner the intial drag was saved by Lee in goals but the rebound was put wide by Ireland. Minutes later Michael Watt laid up a great ball for Eugene Magee but Lee was on form and out of his goals to close down the pacy Magee.
Korea got their first real chance in the 19th securing a penalty corner but their efforts were flung wide. Keeper and man of the match David Harte was put to the test in the 29th minute when all 6ft 5" of him was called into action to get a toe to push wide the Korean shot.
Ireland finally broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when Timmy Cockram switched the set piece picking up David Ames to deflect in at the post to go 1-0 before half time.
Korea came out all gun's blazing in the second half and secured three consecutive penalty corners in the first 6 minutes, the third of which was lucky for them and Woo Hyun Shin who dragged home the equaliser.
Korea looked sure to take the lead bar for exellent keeping once again by Harte in goals which lead to an immediate counter attack by Ireland but despite great pace by Timmy Cockram he couldn't get the shot away.
Ireland had moments of pressure to soak up with a number of cards but they despite being at ten men on occassions they kept pace well.
Ireland will now face Chile on Thursday at 6pm when the action resumes (hockey.ie for more)
Ireland 1 (1) David Ames (28th minute PC)
Korea 1 (0) Woo Hyun Nam (41 minute PC)
Starting XI: David Harte (GK); John Jackson; Ronan Gormley; Michael Watt; Eugene Magee (Capt); Andy McConnell; Ian Sloan; Mitch Darling; David Ames; Paul Gleghorne; Conor Harte
Reserves (all used): Geoff McCabe; John Jermyn; Peter Caruth; Timmy Cockram; Stuart Loughrey.
Irish Hockey Association media release
Malaysia beat Ukraine
By JUGJET SINGH
DUBLIN: MALAYSIA missed 10 sitters but still went on to beat Ukraine 5-1 to keep their Olympic Qualifier campaign chugging along in cold Dublin.
It was not the kind of score one would expect against Ukraine at the University College Dublin grounds, but then Malaysia are not known as a high scoring team even when playing against weaker opponents.
Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj, who arrived yesterday to watch the Qualifier, said goals do not matter as Malaysia only need to win all their matches here.
"The goals did not come against Ukraine, but that is not a bad sign as Malaysia just need to keep winning their matches to make sure we play in the final.
"I know the players are capable of playing better, and they will not disappoint against South Korea and Ireland," said Dharmaraj.
Malaysia went in looking for early goals, but the Ukraine players parked themselves in numbers in their own semi-circle and defended stoutly to deny the Malaysian forwards.
Ireland had scored 12 goals against Ukraine, but they were in no mood to be whipped again, and played a defensive game.
Malaysia won their first penalty corner in the 12th minute, but Razie Rahim's flick was well stopped and Ukraine grew in confidence after that.
But it was a matter of time before Ukraine cracked, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin started the ball rolling with a cracking reverse-stick shot which crashed into the net in the 25th minute.
Hafifi Hafiz then took his tournament tally to three goals when he slammed home from close range in the 32nd minute, and Malaysia started to look more composed going into the breather.
Malaysia pressed ahead in the second half but still, the ball refused to go in as the forwards missed sitters while the penalty corners also failed to work.
But the fifth penalty corner finally sailed in, as Razie Rahim's low flick in the 49th minute made it 3-0.
A penalty stroke was awarded to Malaysia in the 69th minute, after Tengku Ahmad Tajudin was brought down in the semi-circle, and Shukri Mutalib scored form the spot for a 5-1 win.
New Straits Times
Malaysia cruise past Ukraine after another slow start
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia notched their third win in the Olympic hockey qualifier with a 5-1 victory over Ukraine at the UCD Stadium in Dublin.
The three points were what the Malaysians were gunning for and they got the result they wanted.
Now, they will face the top two teams — South Korea and Ireland — in the six-team round robin tournament. They play top seed South Korea tomorrow followed by Ireland on Saturday.
The top two teams in the round robin format will meet in the final on Sunday with the winner qualifying for the London Games in July.
Malaysia went into the match knowing that they had to prevail at all costs and also to pile up the goals after two earlier wins against Chile (5-1) and Russia (5-2).
Ukraine had lost their previous two matches 8-2 to South Korea and 12-0 to Ireland and were not expected to put up much of a fight.
Malaysia rested goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin and Mohamed Izzat Rahim. Youngster Fitri Saari got his first start and S. Kumar resumed his post in goal.
It proved to be a slow start again for the Malaysians. They had a 12th minute penalty corner to start with a bang but Mohamed Razie Rahim muffed the final shot.
Forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin came to the team’s rescue as he slotted home his first goal of the tournament in the 26th minute to calm the nerves.
Malaysia’s second goal came in the 32nd minute after they had missed with another penalty corner earlier through Mohamed Amin Rahim.
The scorer of the second goal from a field attempt was Hafifihafiz Hanafi. It was his third goal of the tournament, having also scored against Chile and Russia.
The score was 2-0 at half-time in favour of the Malaysians.
Malaysia’s ability to score in the penalty corners seemed to have deserted them. They had another penalty corner in the 44th minute which was also poorly executed.
Razie made amends for his earlier misses by scoring the third goal in the 49th minute from a set piece.
Malaysia began to relax and this gave Ukraine the opportunity to attack.
They earned a penalty corner of their own in the 57th minute and Volodymyr Buriatynskyi sent in a direct flick which had Kumar well beaten.
Three minutes later, Amin restored the three-goal lead when he scored from a penalty corner for his fifth goal of the tournament.
Tengku Ahmad was brought down in the D in the 68th minute and a penalty stroke was awarded to Malaysia. Mohamed Shukri Mutalib converted for the team’s fifth goal.
The Star of Malaysia
Baljit has his fans in Dublin
LANKY Baljit Singh is Malaysia's pillar in defence, and his long reach has stopped many goal-bound shots during the 120 matches he has played for the country.
And the unassuming player has found more fame in Dublin, as the legion of Malaysian fans root for him everytime he is on the ball.
However, being the most recognisable face among Malaysians in Dublin has only made him more determined to help goalkeeper S. Kumar keep a clean slate.
"I am also surprised with the support I have been receiving here. It is really wonderful to hear the fans shout my name every time I get the ball, but it also means I have to be more careful and not make any mistakes as I am the last man before Kumar," said Baljit.
"We have let in three goals after two matches and all were from counter-attacks after my teammates were caught in the opponents' half attempting a full press. This must be avoided at all cost, when we play South Korea and Ireland," he added.
Baljit feels that the Irish are the most dangerous side in this tournament.
"I have played against the Irish and Koreans many times over the years and find that while the Koreans are still dangerous, the Irish are a more organised side in this tournament."
But having said that, the experienced defender is confident that both the Irish and Koreans are not invincible.
"We have been preparing for the two tough matches for a long time now, and after playing three relatively easy games, I believe Malaysia will be ready to tackle both the tough matches."
New Straits Times
Tengku hits a bad patch
By Jugjet Singh
TENGKU Ahmad Tajuddin was named as the Best Player against Russia, but he himself is perplexed on how the selection was done.
He was shocked, and almost annoyed with the tag, as he felt he did not do enough to help Malaysia beat the Russians 6-2.
"I don't know why I was selected as the Best Player, as I really was not at my best in that match," said the 26-year-old striker with 130 caps.
It was a frank assessment of himself, as Tengku Ahmad was a pale shadow the entire match, except for the part where he combined with Faizal Saari to win a penalty stroke.
"For me, it is very simple as I do not find it important to win individual awards as we need to play as a team to win matches. Also, I am not too fussy about winning by scoring field or penalty corner goals, as all we need here is a clear win," said Tengku Ahmad.
He normally gets his name on the scoreboard in almost every other match, but in Dublin, he has not been his usual self.
"My job is simple; if I can't score, I need to win a penalty corner for my mates, and that is just what I have been doing in Dublin. And it has worked wonders, as our penalty corner flickers are on fire here."
Malaysia scored off eight penalty corners, one penalty stroke and two field goals off Hafifi Hafiz and it is only a matter of time before Tengku Ahmad, or Zidane as he is known among friends, claims a few goals for himself.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Live Streaming from Ireland
All Road to London games can be viewed live
Hockey fans from Malaysia, Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Chile and Ireland can follow all the action from the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament live through online streaming of games.
The Irish Hockey Association is offering live streaming of all games in addition to a daily highight package. Daily passes can be bought for five dollars and a pass for the entire week costs 15 dollars.
Visit www.hockey.ie/olympic_livestream.cfm to sign up now!
Black Sticks draw with Argentina to keep series alive
The women's Black Sticks have snatched a well-deserved, last-gasp 1-1 draw against Argentina in Auckland tonight.
After losing Monday's opening match of the four-test series, Mark Hager's side returned with a great fight at North Harbour Hockey Stadium.
They got off to the worst possible start however, when Delfina Merino slotted the visitors into a second-minute lead, catching Hager's side on the hop.
The Black Sticks toiled endlessly for the equaliser, dominating possession, hitting the post and forcing five penalty corners.
And with second choice Argentine goalkeeper, Laura Andrea del Colle, on a cat-like night between the posts - producing three superb reaction saves, which on another night could have seen New Zealand easily level the series - it seemed like the Black Sticks would have to settle for another defeat.
But with series victory slipping away, Cathryn Finlayson finally got just deserts for a hard-working Kiwi performance, smashing home into the roof of the net two minutes from time.
Struggling for form of late, the Black Sticks were aggressive all night and clearly wanted to attack the world's second ranked women's team.
But despite enjoying the lion's share of possession, particularly in the second half, New Zealand couldn't turn pressure into points on the scoreboard for an agonising amount of time.
Katie Glynn's third-minute effort, which struck the post before being hacked to safety, seemed the closest the Black Sticks would get to breaching del Colle's line.
But, despite salvaging the draw, Black Sticks coach Hager is sure to remain annoyed by a lack of cutting edge in front of goal.
His side were also guilty of wasting five penalty corners - three in the first-half and two in the second 35 minutes.
In comparison, Argentina weren't able to force any and rarely threatened after scoring.
With New Zealand pushing for a first half equaliser, Argentina seemed content to soak up the pressure and counter-attack whenever the opportunity presented itself.
To their credit, a scrambling Black Sticks defence did well to rush back and snuff out the potent attack of the South Americans on most occasions.
When goalkeeper Amelia Gibson was called upon, she produced two excellent saves, one from point blank range.
New Zealand began the second half from where they left the first, pressing Argentina with Anita Punt and world young player of the year Stacey Michelson both looking sharp.
Finlayson had a well-struck cross-goal shot turned away in the 50th minute and with Punt and Michelson, looked dangerous in the New Zealand midfield.
At least on a night of missed chances, New Zealand were able to stop the reigning Champions Trophy holders from putting the series beyond them.
Test three of the series is at Auckland's Lloyd Elsmore Park on Friday, with the series wrapping up at North Harbour Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
Hockey Test Event tickets on sale Thursday
Tickets for hockey's Olympic test event, the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament, will go on sale to the public at 10am on Thursday 15 March, exclusively from Ticketmaster.
As a sponsor of London 2012, Visa (debit, credit, prepaid) is the only card accepted for online ticket sales for this London Prepares series event.
Spectators of all ages will need a ticket and children aged 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
London 2012 Olympic Games hockey stadium artist's renderingThe Visa International Invitational Tournament will feature current world champions, 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 London 2012 Games.
The men’s tournament will also feature India, winners of eight Olympic gold medals while China, the women’s silver medallists from Beijing, and Korea, also take part in the women’s event.
The tournament will give these top teams the chance to compete at a London 2012 venue ahead of the Games. It will also allow spectators the chance to visit the Olympic Park and see world-class sporting action.
Each team will play one match against each other in the preliminary phase from 2–5 May . There will be a rest day for the teams on Friday 4 May.
The first and second place teams will then play each other in the final on Sunday 6 May and the third and fourth place teams will play off for the final ranking positions.
Wednesday 2 May - session 1
11:00-12:30 Argentina v China (women's preliminary)
13:15-14:45 Great Britain v Korea (women's preliminary)
Wednesday 2 May - session 2
16:15-17:45 Australia v India (men's preliminary)
18:30-20:00 Great Britain v Germany (men's preliminary)
Thursday 3 May - session 1
11:00-12:30 Argentina v Korea (women's preliminary)
13:15-14:45 China v Great Britain (women's preliminary)
Thursday 3 May - session 2
16:15-17:45 Germany v Australia (men's preliminary)
18:30-20:00 Great Britain v India (men's preliminary)
Saturday 5 May - session 1
09:30-11:00 China v Korea (women's preliminary)
11:45-13:15 Great Britain v Argentina (women's preliminary)
Saturday 5 May - session 2
14:45-16:15 Germany v India (men's preliminary)
17:00-18:30 Australia v Great Britain (men's preliminary)
Sunday 6 May - session 1
09:30-11:00 Women's 3rd v 4th match
12:15-14:15 Women's Final
Sunday 6 May - session 2
16:45-17:45 Men's 3rd v 4th match
18:30-20:30 Men's Final
England Hockey Board Media release
Sacked Mukesh lashes out at Hockey India
There cannot be a worse humiliation: Mukesh Kumar. File photo
Triple Olympian Nandnuri Mukesh Kumar is 'disgusted' at what he feels is a second humiliation within a space of six months when he was sacked as the chief coach of the Junior Indian hockey team.
It may be recalled here that the Hyderabad-based renowned right-winger of yesteryears had to beat hasty retreat after he landed up in Bangalore last October to take up the same assignment but was told at the reception that another gentleman Harendra Singh was appointed in his place. A startled Mukesh flew home within hours.
"Now this second ill-treatment. I just cannot understand the logic behind these moves by the Hockey India. When they approached me a few weeks ago, I told the gentlemen concerned that I would be taking up the chief coach of junior India team only if I am given the tenure till the next Junior World Cup in 2013," Mukesh explained in a chat with 'The Hindu'.
"And, after assuring me that I will be in charge of the team, now I come to know through the media that I am not wanted and Baljit Singh Saini was named in my place. There cannot be a worse humiliation," says the Indian Airlines officer.
"The fact that I did not show too much of interest in being the assistant coach (an understudy for Michael Nobbs) for the senior India team as that would mean displacing my good friend and a well-set Mohd Riaz, is proof that I was very keen to take care of the juniors," Mukesh explained.
"I am terribly disappointed with the manner I am being treated. There has to be some courtesy and the fact that I was not even informed personally really hurt me," he pointed out.
"I wonder whether the Hockey India is any different from the Indian Hockey Federation under KPS Gill if these kind of actions are any indication," he observed.
The 42-year-old Mukesh said to a query that Hockey India is now hinting at giving him a key post in the Development Council of HI. "But I am not keen as I feel for my age and being fit, I think the junior India coach should be more appropriate," he said.
He also pointed out that in the six-nation Johor Bahru Cup where junior India team finished fourth under his guidance. the team scored the highest number of field goals - 16. "You cannot expect to work wonders in the space of three weeks. If that is the yardstick many other coaches too should have been sacked," Mukesh felt.
Questioned what will be his future course of action, a visibly disappointed Mukesh is not sure whether he would be keen to even entertain any fresh suggestions from Hockey India.
Mukesh Kumar sacked twice in six months, Saini takes over as junior coach
BANGALORE: Mukesh Kumar is in the news for the wrong reasons again. He has been sacked for the second time in six months as the head coach of the junior national team for reasons best known to Hockey India (HI).
Mukesh, who trained the juniors for just one tournament in Johor Bahru in November last year, has made way for Baljit Singh Saini, who was assistant to chief coach Michael Nobbs in the senior camp last year.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Mukesh ever since he evinced interest in coaching the junior team last year. He was promised the job by the coaching committee of HI but was told to work under Harendra Singh when he landed in Bangalore for the camp in September.
The triple Olympian, had quit the national camp just hours after he landed at Sports Authority of India in Bangalore, saying he could never work under Harendra.
"This is the second time I have been treated shabbily by the federation," Mukesh told TOI.
"The first time they brought in Harendra Singh although I had been originally appointed the chief coach for juniors. They accommodated me after Harendra quit the camp. Now, they have brought in Baljit Saini."
Mukesh said he had better credentials for the job when compared to Saini. "I have played more than 300 internationals, three Olympics, two World Cups and two Asian Games. Isn't my experience as player more than his? I also heard MK Kaushik was being approached at one point in time. He would have been a better choice," he said.
Mukesh felt he was the shown the door because he had demanded the 'best team' for the six-nation tournament in Johor Bahru.
"I am sure I have been sacked because I was straightforward and did not agree with the selectors when the team was being finalized. I told them I wanted the best team and there were a few players who were not the best."
The team finished fourth in the tournament but Mukesh said he had just 20 days to get the boys ready. "Harendra was in charge for the first 10 days," he pointed out.
On his return, Mukesh was told that although he had enough knowledge to impart to the players, he didn't quite know how to present it.
"I was told to join the senior team as assistant to Nobbs or become a selector. But I was not interested. Right from the time I was interviewed by HI last year, I told them I wanted to be the coach of juniors because I knew I could contribute towards improving their basics. That's what we did at the first camp with some success. I was keen on being the coach until the next World Cup."
Mukesh said that HI hadn't bothered to inform him that he was no more in the scheme of things.
"It is sad but true. I realized I was not wanted when I tried to call them to convey my interest in watching the recent junior Nationals in Pune. I was keen on picking fresh talent. But there was no reply from their end. I think we have returned to the days when coaches were being sacked every month. It is sad for Indian hockey," he said.
Meanwhile, HI secretary general Narinder Batra clarified that Mukesh would be given a bigger role. "Mukesh has not been dropped," he said. "I spoke to him 15 days back and told him that he would be in charge of the coaching and development committee."
Mukesh said no such offer was made.
The Times of India
Mukesh furious with HI
Three-time Olympian Mukesh Kumar is not a happy man. After a nasty surprise at the Sports Authority of India Southern Centre a few months ago, there has been another surprise for this once-feared forward.
Earlier, Kumar had found out that Harendra Singh had been given charge of the junior team and he had not been informed of the development. He left the SAI campus immediately. And now, Jugraj Singh, Sandeep Sangwan and Baljit Singh Saini have been named as the coaches for the junior team. With the camp set to begin in two days, Mukesh says he has not been told that he will not be coaching the juniors.
“I have been insulted by Hockey India for the second time. Some time back, they brought in Harendra Singh although I had been originally appointed as the chief coach of the juniors. They put me in after Harendra quit the camp. Now, Saini has been brought in,” he said, questioning what criteria had been used to choose Saini.
“I have represented India in more than 300 international matches, three Olympic Games, two World Cups and two Asiads. I should not be getting this kind of treatment. Till today, Hockey India has not told me that I have been sacked,” Mukesh said.
Meanwhile, Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said that Mukesh has not been dropped. “I told him that he would be in charge of the coaching and development committee,” he said.
India to participate in hockey tourney in Pakistan
LAHORE: The Indian hockey team will participate in a three-nation tournament to be held next month, the Pakistan Hockey Federation has claimed.
Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Asif Bajwa said India and Malaysia had both sent their confirmations for the tourney which would be held in April.
"We had also invited South Africa and Argentina for the event but have got no positive response from them. But the biggest news for us is that India has confirmed it will come for the event," he said.
The PHF secretary said they had been told that Hockey India had been given clearance by the government to travel to Pakistan for the event.
"The tournament will be another big step towards reviving international hockey in Pakistan after the tour by China last December for the Test series," he said.
The tournament, according to the PHF, will serve as perfect preparation for the London Olympic Games.
Pakistan, India and Malaysia will also be taking part in the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in April.
The Times of India
Counter attacks & comebacks – the mantra of Bridgestone WSH
New Delhi: When Mumbai Marines take on Sher-E-Punjab at the spanking MHA Mahindra Stadium on Wednesday night, it will be the 27th match of the inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey. Over the past fortnight, the first-ever World Series for hockey has witnessed some brilliant solo performances, exhilarating action and stunning fightbacks. Overall till now, there have been seven instances of a team coming back from behind to win, and surprisingly, Pune Strykers features in two of them and also managed to draw one match from 0-3 situation against title contenders, Sher-E-Punjab.
The Strykers’ terrific comeback against Mumbai Marines in the initial stage of the Bridgestone WSH is being seen as hockey’s equivalent to the ‘six minutes madness’ of the iconic Liverpool-AC Milan UEFA Champions League final in 2005. The Strykers slugged it out for 70 minutes against the Marines until only one team remained standing. Trailing 3-4 at half-time, the Strykers went on to score thrice in a span of six minutes towards the end, shocking their opponent 7-5. It wasn’t a fluke as the Strykers staged another brilliant fightback, this time against Delhi Wizards, whom they beat 3-1 after trailing 0-1 at halftime.
The Strykers’ knack for winning matches from behind has inspired the other teams. Chandigarh Comets had a slow start in the tournament but they packed extra ounces of energy in their recent showings – beat Adrian D’Souza’s Mumbai Marines 5-2 after being down 0-2 initially. It doesn’t imply that the Marines are the tournament’s favourite punching bag. The Mumbai-based team stunned pre-tournament favourites Karnataka Lions 2-1 after trailing 0-1 till halftime. In a previous match, Brent Livermore’s Chennai Cheetahs turned the tables on Delhi Wizards, stunning them with four goals in the second half after trailing 2-1 initially.
Bhopal Badshahs, who are leading the points tally after playing seven matches, boasts of the most formidable defence while Chennai Cheetahs have conceded the maximum number of goals. Badshahs’ goalkeeper Baljeet Singh, who was turned down for the Indian national camp due to an eye injury, has impressed the most amongst the goalkeepers in the fray. The goal average per match in the tournament may be 5+, but the Badshahs have conceded just 11 goals in seven games. On the other hand, the Cheetahs have been generous in conceding 25 goals till now. The action resumes on Wednesday with high-voltage clashes between the Wizards and Comets in Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium while Marines take on Shers in their own backyard. Tune in to Neo Sport and Neo Cricket for the live coverage at 7pm and 9pm respectively.
Schedule for March 14: Mumbai Marines vs Sher-E-Punjab at 7pm; Delhi Wizards vs Chandigarh Comets at 9pm.
World Seris Hockey website
Devender Walmiki enters the drag race for Marines
MUMBAI: One of the biggest weapons in modern hockey finds no practitioners in the Mumbai Marines outfit in the World Series Hockey. The Marines take on Sher-e-Punjab in a WSH match at the MHA Mahindra Stadium on Wednesday with virtually no drag-flicker in the ranks.
So what do they do -- create a drag-flicker out of the ranks. Devender Walmiki has been undergoing training to do what is essentially a specialists' job.
"We missed out on two drag-flickers in the first round of draft," said team captain Adrian D'Souza. "But we have done reasonably well in our matches without variations," says Adrian.
Necessity is the mother of invention and not surprisingly, Mumbai have been trying to groom Devender Walmiki. "Coach Andrew Meredith and the team has been trying to train him. He is also working hard on converting penalty corners."
Adrian feels the lack of a specialist drag-flicker gives the team a chance to groom one and it provides for a pleasant surprise. "If by the end of the league, Devender is ready, it not only bodes well for Mumbai Marines, it could also benefit Indian hockey."
Despite the lack of a specialist, Marines have done well and stand fourth in the table with three victories from six games and one draw. Their opponents for Wednesday, Shers are one spot ahead in the table.
Devender himself feels good about the fact that the coach chose him for the task. "He has been very helpful and encouraging. He trained me for five days and by the third game in the WSH, I scored from a direct hit," says the midfielder.
"Hopefully, my success rate will increase by the end of the WSH," he says.
Devender is excited by his new status. "I would definitely try and keep up the practice. I have not reached anywhere close to the levels of training that the classical drag flicker does. The likes of Sandeep Singh or V R Raghunath put in 100 to 150 hits everyday. I am just learning the first few lessons."
He is also excited that it adds to his skills. "It adds another dimension to my game, I can have a new calling card," says Devender.
The Times of India
Spotlight on hockey has been beneficial: Gagan Ajit
MUMBAI: Olympian Gagan Ajit Singh, who has staged a comeback to competitive hockey after four years, is happy that the country's national game, down in the doldrums in the not too distant past, is showing signs of improvement.
"The World Series (WSH) is good for Indian hockey. Hockey is continuously in the news for the last three months starting with the Olympic qualifiers' camp, then the Olympic qualifiers (held in Delhi last month) and now the World Series that began as soon as the qualifiers ended," said the former India frontliner, representing Sher-E-Punjab in the event.
WSH commenced on February 29 after the qualifiers ended on February 26, with India becoming victorious and earning a berth to the upcoming London Olympics.
"Like cricket, something or the other is happening in hockey which is good for the game. WSH is a very good platform for the players they can play here and perform," said Gagan Ajit, who played for India in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games, thus emulating the feat of his father Ajit Singh who played in the 1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal Games.
The 31-year-old player is happy to have linked up with his erstwhile India teammates Prabhjot Singh, the team's captain, and Deepak Thakur under coach Rajinder Singh - who guided India to the title in the 2001 Junior World Cup at Hobart, Tasmania.
"We played under the same coach and have a good understanding," said Gagan Ajit, who is to play against Mumbai Marines tomorrow at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium after a decade.
"I will be playing here after many years, played here last in 2002. I was out of the game but used to train at the (police) academy in Jalandhar and we have a (artificial) turf at our ground," said the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Punjab Police.
Gagan Ajit was sad that the current India players were not turning out for the franchises they had signed for after Hockey India (HI) announced a national camp.
But he was confident the tussle between HI and its rival Indian Hockey Federation, that is organising WSH in partnership with Nimbus Sport, would come to an end.
"There should not have been a problem in all players playing here but there is a different perspective from one side (HI). But I think a time will come when this is sorted out as everyone wants the betterment of hockey.
"How soon, I cannot say as some of the things are pending in the High Court now."
The former international felt that the home and away format of WSH, absent from its defunct predecessor Premier Hockey League (PHL), has brought the fans back to the game.
"PHL was also very good but unfortunately lasted only for three years. There was no home and away games which WSH has which is a very good thing as all cities are involved. The spectators are involved; they are watching their team playing the away game and coming to watch and support them in home games, which is very good."
He said old timers like his own father welcomed the WSH. "When they (former players) came to know they felt very happy, felt these kinds of things should happen which were not there during their days. (They felt) players should get money as it involves lot of hard work. They are happy players are getting good payment for training hard and playing."
Looking forward to tomorrow's game and the tournament, he said all eight teams were more or less equal.
"Bombay (Mumbai Marines) is a good team ... they did not start well but are now playing well. Pune (Strykers) is a very balanced team. I think all eight teams are equal.
"The pace is good. Two days ago when Bombay (Mumbai Marines) played against Delhi (Wizards), it was a very fast game. Everyone is playing fast and it is beneficial to Indian hockey," he added.
The Times of India
Malacca through to q-finals
By Ajitpal Singh
MALACCA, Selangor and Johor have qualified for the Boys' Under-18 quarter-finals of the Malaysian School Sports Council (MSSM) competition following impressive victories at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Malacca, who beat defending champions Perak 3-1 on Monday, yesterday hammered Pahang 4-0 to top Group A.
Penalty corner specialist Muhd Nur Alif scored from set-pieces in the 12th and 61st minutes while Mohd Firdaus added a brace in the 19th and 56th minutes.
"We have beaten the defending champions and also topped our group but we should not be over-confident in the knockout stage," said Malacca coach Azwan Ramli yesterday.
"I have a young team comprising mostly Under-16 players from Malacca High School and they are the same batch that reached the quarter-finals of last year's edition.
"We are actually rebuilding the Malacca team from scratch and so far everything is going as planned. Our target is the semi-finals." Azwan said his players, however, need to work on their marking and other tactics before tomorrow's quarter-finals.
Perak and Pahang will play for the second spot in Group A today.
In Group D, Penang and Selangor have advanced to the last eight after recording their second straight victory.
Penang, who thumped Sarawak 12-1 on Monday, were given a tough fight by Johor before prevailing 5-3 while Selangor eased past Sarawak 6-1.
The Penang side scored through Mohd Rahimi (11th, 17th, 63rd), Mohd Fitri (27th) and Mohd Azwar (41st) while Mohd Amirul (33rd, 59th) and Mohd Nazlan (10th) replied for Johor.
Nazirul Mubin scored a hat-trick in Selangor's impressive win over Sarawak to take his tally to five goals in the tournament.
RESULTS: Boys' Under-18-- Group A: Malacca 4 Pahang 0; Group B: Kelantan 3 Negri Sembilan 2; Group C: Kedah 5 Perlis 0; Group D: Penang 5 Johor 3, Selangor 6 Sarawak 1;
Under-12: Group A: Negri Sembilan 0 Selangor 5; Group B: Pahang 0 Kelantan 2, Perlis 4 Labuan 0; Group C: Sabah 1 Penang 2, Malacca 4 Sarawak 0; Group D: Terengganu 0 Johor 0, Perak 5 Kedah 0.
Girls' Under-18 -- Group A: Johor 4 Sarawak 0; Group B: Penang 1 Sabah 0; Group C: Kedah 0 Kuala Lumpur 4, Malacca 5 Perlis 0; Group D: Perak 2 Kelantan 0, Negri Sembilan 2 Pahang 0;
Under-12 -- Group A: Perak 5 Pahang 1; Group B: Johor 2 Selangor 2; Group C: Perlis 0 Sarawak 3, Kuala Lumpur 1 Negri Sembilan 0; Group D: Malacca 1 Kedah 4, Penang 0 Sabah 1.
New Straits Times
Selangor U-18 hockey team looking good
By JOEL ALEXANDER
KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor coach Yazid Ahmad is confident his team will beat Penang today in the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Under-18 hockey tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Selangor thumped Sarawak 6-1 in their Group C match yesterday but Yazid feels they can do much better. Field goals and penalty corners from Nazirul Mubin Zebidi (4th, 19th, 55th), Md Noor Khairul Azri (29th), Muhammad Norikhwan (33rd) and Muhammad Izzat Ikmal (50th) handed Selangor their convincing victory. Sarawak got their only goal through a penalty corner taken by Jilan Anak Seman at the 12th minute.
The Star of Malaysia
Schools are a bane
Sport is being killed at the grassroots, says Maninderjit
by Vijhay Vick
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) do not depend on national schools meets to provide talent. Instead, they have their own system in place to produce future national players.
“The 1Mas programme was initiated to cater for the school-going age groups as they need to play hockey consistently,” said MHC secretary Maninderjit Singh.
“The format for school tournaments is not sufficient or even taken seriously. They lack competition which is critical for development.”
1Mas caters for three age-groups — U-12, U-14 and U-16. There are 20 centres for boys and nine for girls throughout the country with an average of 60 players in each of these centres.
In addition, MHC have a Project 2017 squad, comprising of players in the 15-17 age group. These players are being prepared for the 2017 Junior World Cup.
“These are our efforts to create a larger pool of players. The school meets do not work. They have defeated the purpose of producing talent because too many compromises have been made.
“In the past, school hockey teams used to travel to other schools for matches in competitions that are held over a long period of time but now, everything is completed within a week at one location,” he added.
Mailsports highlighted yesterday that Kuala Lumpur were yet to conduct their zone and state level school meets despite sending a team to the ongoing national meet.
They opted for an open selection on Feb 6 as the KL sports unit were not able to have the zone and state level competition earlier due to a lack of fields and this year’s national meet being brought forward from May.
However, most other states have completed zone and state level competitions, allowing their players to progress to national level, ensuring that they get the most out of the game.
Maninderjit pointed out the ideal concept for sports in schools should be at three levels. While at the national and state levels, there are sports schools and project schools, the same formula has not been applied at district level.
“As far as I know, there are supposed to be training centres in the districts but that has not happened for hockey,” added Maninderjit.
The secret to success for the Nepean Nighthawks: community
The Nepean Nighthawks are the fastest growing field hockey club in Ontario, Canada. The club that started with ten kids four years ago now has over 200 boys and girls participating in their junior program. What is the secret to their success? According to co-founder Sandeep Chopra - it’s all about youth and community.
When the Nighthawks began offering youth programs, kids were able to get involved with field hockey as early as age ten. Many athletes are not exposed to field hockey until high school, at which point they have already developed strong relationships within other sports.
“Even if athletes pick up field hockey in high school, their family doesn’t know anything about the sport and they have no relationship to the field hockey community,” says Chopra. “When we pushed the age limits down at our club, we enabled athletes and families to develop a community. Kids started bringing siblings and friends, and truly began developing a life-long relationship with field hockey.”
While the Nighthawks are one of the largest youth field hockey programs in Ontario, they are relatively small when compared to the colossal ice hockey or soccer clubs. The smaller size of the Nepean Nighthawks is actually one of factors that attract many families to field hockey.
“Kids don’t get lost in our program and there is a close knit, sense of belonging at the club,” says Chopra. “The atmosphere creates a place where kids take ownership of their team and club. There is a sense of pride.”
In June that pride was boosted when the Nighthawks were able to spend a day with their Honourary Captain – field hockey legend Ken Pereira. Many young athletes were inspired by the two-time Olympian and current record holder of the Most International Caps played for Canada. The opportunity for beginners to interact with stars like Pereira is another example of what the close-knit field hockey community offers.
As the Nepean Nighthawks introduce kids to field hockey, they introduce them to a sport they can participate in throughout their lives. We look forward to watching many of these young athletes go on to compete for their schools, clubs and provinces. And we will watch as some reach the highest levels of competition where they will play for their country on the international stage. The path to the podium truly begins in programs like the Nepean Nighthawks.
Click here to view the Nighthawks Facebook page.
Field Hockey Canada media release