All the news for Thursday 21 June 2012
Nichols scores on home turf to lift US to victory over Argentina
NORFOLK, Va. – Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.) scored on her home turf to lift the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team to a 2-1 victory over No. 2 Argentina at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. this evening. The U.S. improves to a 1-0-1 record in the series with two matches remaining.
“The victory is really nice to get,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “As we all know this is our final preparation before the Olympics and I thought we learned some really good lessons today. I felt that we had an opportunity to maybe take the game out of the contest by scoring a couple of goals in the second half, but we didn’t do that. At the end, we made some poor decisions and allowed Argentina to get a goal. They are good lessons to learn now and certainly there is no doubt we are going to learn some more tomorrow against a quality opponent.”
Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa) put the U.S. on the boards first with a goal at the 20 minute mark. Selenski received a pass at the top of the circle from teammate Kayla Bashore Smedley (Shoesmakersville, Pa) and pushed the ball past Argentina’s goalkeeper.
“Kayla had some great elimination skills in the midfield and I was just trying to be an option in the circle for a pass,” said Selenski. She gave me the perfect pass at the top of the circle and I just pushed it into the corner of the cage.”
Argentina had two back-to-back corners and multiple scoring opportunities throughout the first half, but U.S. goalkeeper Amy Swensen (Grantville, Pa) made some critical saves to keep Argentina scoreless in the first half.
The U.S. earned a penalty corner with six minutes remaining in the first half. Nichols got the nod from Bodimeade on the sidelines that she was going to take the shot. She rocketed a drag flick into the net to increase the lead by two goals going into halftime.
“I got my head up at the last second to see the ball going into the net,” said Nichols. “Argentina doesn’t give up easy goals, you have to earn them and it was really exciting to score in front of a home crowd.”
Swensen continued to make great saves in the second half, only giving up one goal to the opponents in the 54th minute.
“We knew it would be a tough competition today with the heat and outside factors, but we really just focused on our performance and the steps we need to take to improve as we finalize our preparations for London,” said U.S. captain Lauren Crandall.
The U.S. will face Argentina tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. ET at Old Dominion University. The final match of the series will be played at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach on Saturday, June 23 and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.
USFHA media release
Hockey schedule changed after Australia complaints
Australia will now play Pakistan on Aug. 7 at 1045 local time instead of 0830, with the Netherlands v South Korea moving to the early slot. -Photo by AFP
London: The men’s Olympic hockey schedule has been revised after Australia complained about the number of early starts they had been handed in round-robin matches at the London Games.
The ‘Kookaburras’, medal favourites at the Games, had appealed to the sport’s world body after being assigned three 0830 starts in five matches.
Defending champions and second seeds Germany play all their games later in the day.
A spokeswoman for Games organisers LOCOG said changes had been made by the International Hockey Federation after discussions with all the parties involved.
Australia will now play Pakistan on Aug. 7 at 1045 local time instead of 0830, with the Netherlands v South Korea moving to the early slot.
“It is only right that it should be changed,” Australia men’s coach Ric Charlesworth, who had argued that the original schedule was unfair and disruptive, told the AAP.
“We were ready to handle whatever we were dealt, but this is certainly better. We always expected early games, but not three, and I am pleased it has been rectified.”
The Olympic men’s hockey competition takes place at the Riverbank Arena from July 30 to Aug. 11.
Black Sticks' Olympic schedule gets altered
The women's Black Sticks have been handed a kinder schedule for the Olympic Games following late changes by the London Olympic organising committee.
Yesterday LOCOG confirmed it was relenting to a complaint lodged by Australian men's hockey coach Ric Charlesworth.
Charlesworth, a former high performance boss of New Zealand Cricket, was unhappy his world number one side had been assigned three pool matches at 8.30am.
The women's Black Sticks were also facing three early morning games - which require the entire team to rise at 5.30am.
Both the Kiwi women and Australian men will now only face two early morning matches.
The Black Sticks' second match, against South Africa on July 31, will now be at 10.45am.
Black Sticks coach Mark Hager has welcomed the revised schedule, but says it doesn't significantly change New Zealand's preparations.
"The good thing about it is we don't so many 5.30am starts now, that's quite pleasing," Hager told Fairfax Media.
"We'll now be able to wake up about 7 o'clock, as opposed to 5.30am.
"But for me it doesn't really change much, it just means we get a bit of a sleep in ahead of the second game.
"We're simulating match times here in New Zealand before we head off, that will still need to be done to see what works, and what doesn't, in terms of preparation and sleeping patterns."
Some nations, including hosts Great Britain and the United States, have avoided all of the 8.30am pool phase starts.
In the Spotlight.... German women
A closer look at the 24 teams competing at the Olympics
Germany will need to stay a step ahead of the top tier teams to have Olympic success. (Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)
In the Spotlight is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today we take a closer look at the German women's national team.
Germany are currently ranked third in the world, despite the fact that they have been struggling to finish in the top three in the last few years, finishing fourth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the 2010 FIH World Cup in Rosario as well as the FIH Champions Trophy tournaments in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Their last title came in 2007 when they won the European Championship in Manchester. Their biggest success is the Olympic gold medal they won in Athens 2004.
The Road to London:
Germany qualified for the Olympics as runners-up of the 2011 European Championship held in Mönchengladbach. They defeated Spain 2-1 in the Semifinal to celebrate their London ticket in front of a home crowd at the HockeyPark. Germany lost the Final 0-3 to the Olympic Champions from the Netherlands.
Players to Watch:
Even though she is the oldest player in the squad, 34-year-old Natascha Keller is still the key player in the German team. Keller has played more than 400 (indoor and outdoor) matches for Germany to become the first ever woman to achieve such a feat. The striker from Berlin has scored 203 goals so far. “Taschi” became the fourth member of the Keller dynasty to win a hockey medal in Olympic competition when Germany took the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Keller’s grandfather Erwin won silver in 1936 in Berlin, her father Carsten won gold at Munich in 1972, her older brother Andreas claimed silver in both Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 before winning gold in Barcelona in 1992. Keller’s younger brother Florian won gold in Beijing in 2008. 32-year-old Fanny Rinne is another key player worth watching. Keller and Rinne have announced their retirement after the London Games which will be Keller’s fifth and Rinne’s fourth Olympic appearance.
45-year-old Michael Behrmann has been the head coach of the German women since 2006 when Markus Weise moved over to the men’s program. Before Behrmann was in charge of the U21 women's team. Behrmann was born in Hamburg but his family soon moved to Munich where he started playing hockey, and finished his diploma in Physical Education at TU Munich. In 2000 he moved back to Hamburg. His only title came in 2007 when he won the European Championship in Manchester, his debut year as the senior women’s head coach.
The strength of the German team is that they stick together as a team. Their team is a mixture out of the three remaining 2004 Gold Medallists Natascha Keller, Fanny Rinne, and Mandy Haase, experienced international players such as Christina Schütze, Janne Müller-Wieland, Maike Stöckel, Julia Müller and Nina Hasselmann as well as young talented players like Anke Brockmann, Celine Wilde, Lisa Hahn, Marie Mävers or Kristina Hillmann. Yvonne Frank is an established goalkeeper. The two forwards Eileen Hoffmann and Janine Beermann as well as defender Julia Karwatzky surprisingly didn't make the final cut.
Germany miss a world-class flicker at penalty corners. They generally play a number of variations because the first shot on goal is not their strongest weapon. However, coach Behrmann thinks that Germany are able to surprise with their diversity: “Keller, Rinne or Müller can take the corner. We have also practised many different variations which makes it difficult for opponents to anticipate what we do.” When playing the top teams, Germany often have a slow start, conceding early goals which makes the match an uphill battle.
Germany have been working hard to perform well at the London Olympics, and are on a fitness level they have never reached before. The team's first goal clearly is to reach the Semifinals, and once there, the German ladies will give everything not to finish fourth again. “We know that we attack from an underdog position”, coach Behrmann says.
Bilal Mahmood’s Quadruple Made it Easy for Tanvir Dar Hockey Academy in the End
Dar HA’s second game in Germany was against the First team of HC Essen 99.
By Ijaz Chaudhry
The Pakistani lads dominated the proceedings for the better part of the game and comfortably led 3-0 at the interval. The Lahore based academy was given a scare when the HC Essen converted two penalty corners in the first 12 minutes of the second half to reduce the lead to the bare minimum. However, the Dar HA immediately regained the supremacy and entered the opponents’ circle almost at will. They added two more goals to emerge 5-2 winners when the final hooter sounded.
Star of the day was their outstanding forward, Bilal Mahmood, regarded as one of the finest emerging talents in Pakistan hockey. All four of his goals were wonderful striker finishes; the beauty and maturity of them belied his tender age.
Once again, the visitors from Pakistan erred at the start and conceded a penalty corner in the second minute, frittered away by the Essen HC due to faulty stoppage. Dar HA soon went ahead (4th minute) as a long ball from near the circle was given a beautiful touch by Bilal leaving the goal keeper bewildered. The lead was doubled in the eighth minute when the second PC was converted- a dummy ball was slipped to Salman at the top of the circle who sounded the board with a forceful and angular hit. Up and down game was witnessed over the next 10 minutes without threat to either goal.
The visitors upped the gear and repeatedly raided the opponents’ danger area. A number of chances came their way and they went ahead 3-0 in the 23rd minute when a parallel pass from right was calmly put into the net by the ever alert Bilal. The game slowed down a bit and HC Essen tried to fight back. They got a PC in the 32nd minutes but couldn’t open their account before the half time.
The first five minutes after the resumption saw the German club making determined efforts and had the first goal through their fourth PC- Spaeker,s strong high flick was unstoppable. Dar HA reestablished their hold and squandered at least four good opportunities. The match was given an exciting turn when the HC Essen made it 2-3 in the 12th minute against the run of play. Again the goal came through a PC and again it was Spaeker who anticipated well a rebound coming off an onrushing defender.
The remaining 20 minutes of the match were all Dar HA. They had a number of opportunities: penalty corners as well as open play. Bilal Mahmood’s neat finshes meant at least two chances didn’t go wasted. He twice struck from the top of the circle to find the target (25th & 28th minute), one of them was an excellent back hander. Thus the match ended 5-2.
Tanvir Dar HA, Pakistan: 5 (Bilal Mahmood 4, Salman 1)
HC Essen 99, Germany: 2 (Spaeker)
Ijaz Cahudhry writes on hockey and other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: http://www.sportscorrespondent.info/
Dar HA win in Germany
LAHORE – Abid Bhatti steered Dar Hockey Academy to 7-1 victory over German club in the first match in Germany.
Abid smashed three goals while Waseem netted two and Asad and Bilal had one each.
Meanwhile, Dar Hockey Academy president and Olympian Tauqeer Dar and CEO of German company Dar Investment and Finance (DIF) Anjum Dar signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which DIF CEO has agreed to be the main sponsor of the academy.
As a first step, the DIF is bearing the hotel expenses of the academy’s officials in Germany and have also taken the responsibility to provide halal Islamic food to all the players and the officials of the touring squad.
SA hockey men ready for tour
The South African men's hockey team look forward to getting back on the field after more than a month of training, defender Rhet Halkett said on Wednesday.
The national men's side begin their final preparations ahead the London Olympics when they depart for Europe on Monday.
“We've been training hard in the gym and pushing each other, so I think the guys will be excited to be on the field again,” Halkett said.
“For us it's a time to gel together and time to get back to the field, enjoying playing for SA.
“The most exciting thing for us is the chance to play some international hockey before we go to the Olympics.”
The South Africans will take part in the four-day Celtic Cup tournament – along with Ireland, Scotland and Wales – starting on June 28 at the Lisnagarvey Hockey Club in Ireland.
They will then face Ireland and Belgium in a four-day Test series starting on July 2.
The SA squad complete their European tour with a trip to Santander where they will play two Tests against India and one Test against hosts Spain, who have been drawn in the same group as the South Africans for the Games.
Halkett said it was encouraging to be able to play against the Spanish outfit before they square up against them at the Olympics, as it gave the management team some much needed information about their European counterparts.
“It's good to be able to play against a strong Spanish side,” he said.
“We will look to take as much as we can from that game and to put ourselves in a good place before meeting them in London.”
The South Africans have quietly been going about their preparations, having recently completed a strength and conditioning camp in Bloemfontein.
They last played a match at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Japan in May.
Halkett said the team reacted well to the training camp, having been put through their paces by Dr Derick Coetzee.
“Doc Derick really pushed us hard but we could immediately see the benefits,” Halkett said.
“To see the benefit of all the hard work we've put in is fantastic. Now it's time to go back to hockey.
“Playing these Tests is a chance to put the last details into place before we go off to the real deal (London Olympics) next month.”
Black Sticks Men keen to take on world champions Australia
National coach Shane McLeod says a three-test series against the world champions Australia will be a good test for the newly announced Black Sticks Men’s Olympic team.
The 18 strong-side has been training in Cairns for the last week and is using the tests against Australia as part of their build up for the London Olympics.
“It is the first time that the team has been together without the distraction of selection. We know who will play in each position now, so this week we have been able to go into much more detail with each player about exactly what their role is and the style we are wanting to play,” says McLeod.
With Australia announcing their Olympic side just two days ago, McLeod is under no illusion that this series will be a tough contest with both teams likely to play a fast, physical game.
“They will test us and play at a pace that requires the guys to think and problem solve under pressure. Both are newly named teams that have a high work rate and have the ability to score goals often, so it should be a tightly fought series.”
McLeod says that playing against our higher ranked trans-Tasman rivals will give the Black Sticks another opportunity to identify what needs to be improved before they start their Olympic campaign on the 30 July.
Seventh ranked New Zealand does not meet Australia in pool play, but faces other Pool B opponents Germany, Netherlands, Korea, India and Belgium.
Their first test is tomorrow night, with the two other games on Saturday and Sunday. All tests are at 8pm (NZ time).
The New Zealand swim team, who are currently in Cairns, will go to tomorrow night’s game to support the Black Sticks. The New Zealand swimmers were meant to be going to Canberra for an Olympic warm-up meet, but it was cancelled after two Australian water-polo players and a coach contracted whooping cough.
Hawke’s Bay is the Principal Partner of the Black Sticks Men and Women.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Beijing flop to inspire, says Kookaburras hockey star Jamie Dywer
All or nothing- Jamie Dwyer is doing whatever it takes to win gold in London. Picture- Herald Sun Source: Herald Sun
HOCKEY superstar Jamie Dwyer will use the pain of Australia's failed 2008 Olympics campaign as motivation for the upcoming London Games.
The Kookaburras were left heartbroken after suffering a 3-2 semi-final defeat to Spain at the Beijing Games, with Dwyer and his teammates forced to settle for bronze.
Australia, under the guidance of master coach Ric Charlesworth, are hot favourites to take home the gold in London.
But Dwyer said the team must take an aggressive approach into matches if they are to live up to their potential.
"The loss to Spain was the worst game I've experienced in my life. I'll do everything I can not to get the same result this time,'' Dwyer said.
"It definitely gives you a little bit of motivation, that's for sure.
"One thing I learned from that game is to go out there and play the game to win, not to be on the back foot.
"Jump on the front foot and really go for it. That's the attitude I'm going to take into this Olympic Games."
Dwyer, a five-time world player of the year, is confident of shaking off a minor leg complaint to take part in the upcoming three-match series against New Zealand in Cairns.
But fellow veteran Liam De Young is set to miss the series as he builds up his fitness.
De Young, a two-time Olympian , tore his hamstring at training three weeks ago, but is on track to take his place in London.
"It feels really good. I'm raring to play," De Young said.
"I'm just being held back a little bit. With the bigger picture in mind, I'm OK with that.''
Hockey star Anne Panter walks away from car crash
By Ollie Williams BBC Olympic sports reporter
Anne Panter. Photo Getty Images
A top British hockey player has walked away from a serious car crash just one month from her home Olympic Games.
Anne Panter, 28, flipped her car after a tyre blew on Berkshire's A404 while driving home from training last week.
She revealed to BBC Sport: "I went off the road into the trees, hit the trees and flipped two or three times before landing back out on the inside lane.
"I was fine. I was fairly shaken up, but I had no injuries. Lucky doesn't even describe it, really."
This is the second major car accident involving the Northamptonshire star, who has been picked to play in her second Olympic Games this summer.
The first, in 2003, kept her out of the sport for two years and set in motion a train of events which saw her career blighted by injury for eight years.
"Back in 2003 I had a serious car accident on the M4, an eight-car pile-up," recalled Panter.
"I went into the back of the car in front and then a car came into the back of me, which pushed me under the car in front, so its wheels were on my roof. I was really lucky but I badly injured my ankle and was out for about 18 months.
"After that, in training, someone hooked their stick around my ankle. I ruptured a ligament and that was the onset of a lot of ongoing knee injuries until the beginning of 2011, when I started playing again."
Danny Kerry, the British women's coach, told BBC Sport: "The blood runs cold most training sessions between now and the Games - your heart's in your mouth hoping nobody takes a nasty collision or gets hit with a stick or a ball.
"[But] you forget there's a life they have outside hockey that involves cars. Fortunately Anne's come out unscathed from this one.
"First, you're genuinely scared for the athlete and hoping they're OK. Then you move on to 'can they play hockey?' rather than just 'are they OK?'.
"Then you start to think: 'That's twice that's happened to Anne. Maybe we have to look at her driving a bit.' You move to humour but I haven't got that far yet with Anne, I think it might not go down too well."
Panter says she suffered mild whiplash in the wake of her latest accident, which closed the A404 for a time last Wednesday, but was otherwise unharmed.
"It all feels surreal now," she said. "The police cordoned off the road and all I was concerned about was trying to find my phone - but everything from my car was everywhere on the road. We found it on the other side of the carriageway, smashed.
"One of the boys, Richard Mantell, was driving along the road back from training and ended up taking me back home.
"I haven't slept that well since. But I was back driving on Sunday - I thought it was best to get straight back on it."
'You have a lot of time to think'
Anne Panter remembers the thoughts that went through her head during the crash:
"It's funny, you have a lot of time to think. I was definitely conscious throughout and it went in slow motion.
"When the car's losing control, you're thinking a few expletives and about trying to control the car. Once it hit the trees and started going upside down, I was still scared but there was calm - I can't do anything, whatever's going to happen will happen.
"As I went upside down, I had the thought in my head: 'This is how it feels to be upside-down in a car that's rolling.'
"And I had another thought: it would all be slightly ironic, given my injuries started off with a car crash and then I had a big comeback, to then end it with a big car crash. But I was fine."
Crista Cullen allays injury concerns
Crista Cullen insists she has totally recovered from her ankle injury and is ready to play her part in Team GB's quest to win Olympic gold in London.
The Boston-born Leicester Ladies defender, 26, sustained the injury at the Olympic 2012 test event in May and missed the Investec London Cup in June.
But Cullen told BBC Lincolnshire: "It was frustrating but I am back on the pitch now and in full training.
"There are no concerns. I will be fully fit come the Games."
Cullen rolled her ankle when scoring the second of her two penalty corner goals in the 2-0 win over world champions Argentina at the Olympic Park.
She added: "It was a frustrating time but you can only manage it as best you can and try to stay positive.
"We have a great medical team who supported me through the whole process so I am confident that I will be fine at the start of the Games."
My Day on a Plate: Kate Walsh, GB women’s hockey captain
Kate Walsh, the captain of the GB women's hockey team, reveals what she eats during training for the London 2012 Olympics.
7:00AM BST 21 Jun 2012
7am Berry muesli with fat-free yogurt, blueberries and agave nectar, plus pineapple juice.
8.30am First training session starts with technical work, using the ball in a small area. It's low-intensity so I don't need more carbs; I just mix Powerade with my water.
11am Lunchtime. I made roast chicken at the weekend so have the leftovers in a wrap with lettuce, tomato, avocado and hummus. Wholegrain yogurt.
2.30pm High-intensity training now, with lots of long-distance sprinting and match strategies. It's full-on.
3.30pm Halfway through I swallow a sachet of energy-boosting gel. In the Olympics we'll be playing seven games in 11 days, so I eat little and often.
4.30pm Protein shake as soon as I finish.
5.30pm Once home it's best not to sit down, otherwise I'll never get up again! Grilled salmon topped with sesame seeds and stir-fried pak-choi and asparagus in soy sauce, lime and manuka honey.
8.30pm Cup of tea and more yogurt or oat biscuits.
NIGEL DENBY, dietician
Kate's training makes it a tall order to meet her energy requirements by food alone, so she needs supplements. Naturally sweetened muesli, oat biscuits and hummus all supply slow, drip-feed energy. Agave nectar for sweetening and wraps instead of sliced bread reduce the glycaemic load and help maintain good, steady blood-sugar levels.
Gerald Logan’s London 1908 Olympic Gold Medal
Gerald Logan (b. 29 December 1879) played hockey for England at the London 1908 Olympic Games, scoring 3 goals in England’s 8 – 1 win over Ireland in the Final. His Gold medal has been loaned to The National Hockey Museum by his great nephew, Nigel Bates.
The Gold medal was left to Nigel by Gerald Logan’s wife, Alix, in her will as he was the only member of the family that played hockey.
Nigel Bates is currently living in Cayman Islands and is the Vice President of Cayman Islands Hockey Club. He played for St Albans Hockey Club and Broxbourne Hockey Club before moving to Cayman Islands 9 years ago.
The Medal was brought to the National Hockey Museum (NHM) today by Nigel’s parents and the Museum were able to show them the Team sheets of Gerald Logan’s 9 appearances for England between 1906 and 1909. Gerald played for South, Surrey and Hampstead Hockey Club. NHM presented Mr & Mrs Bates a Team Photo of England Team of 1906 taken before England v Scotland match.
National Hockey Museum
HI officials protest John's appointment
New Delhi: Several senior hockey officials have written to Hockey India, protesting against the appointment of Australian David Ian John as the manager of the Indian team for the London Olympic Games. David John was hired by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), at the recommendation of chief coach Michael Nobbs as the exercise physiologist of the Indian team. Instead of allowing him to do the job for which he has been hired, John has been given the task of being the manager of the hockey team for London.
“Sixty-four years after India became independent, we have the ignominy of appointing an Australian citizen as the manager of the Indian team. Such a thing had not happened even when India was under the British rule,” a top Hockey India source told The Tribune.
The source pointed out that even when India were under the British rule, and the Indian Hockey Federation was headed by British Army officer, Maj. Ian Burn Murdoch, the captain and manager for the 1928 (Jai Pal Singh-captain), 1932 (Lal Shah Bukhari) and 1936 (Dhyan Chand) Olympic Games, were all Indians. “Even the National Anthem (God Save the King) was British, but the British did not foist a foreigner, neither as captain nor as manager, of the Indian team,” added the source.
The appointment of David John has created strong resentment among Hockey India officials “as the job entails the role of an ambassador of the country, upholding our values and culture, which a foreign will not be able to do”.
Interestingly, Hockey India, which will hold a reception to the Olympic-bound hockey squad here on June 24 morning, has convened an Executive Committee meeting at 4 pm to discuss the matter.
IHF suspends Daljit Singh Chouhan
MUMBAI: The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) has unanimously decided to suspend Convener of the Mumbai Hockey Association's (MHA) Umpiring Committee, Daljit Singh Chouhan for three years and has also stripped him off his National Umpires' Badge with immediate effect.
According to the IHF, Chouhan had tried to sabotage the IHF-conducted senior hockey nationals for men held at Churchgate's Mahindra Stadium between May 21 and 28, 2012.
It was alleged that Chouhan, despite being the Convener of MHA's Umpires' Committee, had threatened officials to not officiate in the tournament. The matter was reported to the IHF, which had sought an explanation from Chouhan. Despite a couple of reminders, Chouhan did not reply.
IHF's executive committee which has taken an extremely serious view of this matter, then decided to unanimously hand out the suspension when the committee met in the Capital on June 17.
The Times of India
Indian star Sardar Singh keen to play in MHL
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: India’s Sardar Singh, rated as one of the world’s best defenders, is keen to play in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) scheduled to start in October.
Sardar, who has 150 international caps, said he had heard many interesting things about the MHL which is regarded as one of Asia’s top leagues.
“Many Indian and Pakistani players have featured in the MHL and that shows its quality,” said Sardar, who is a deputy superintendent of police in Haryana state.
“It provides good competition for players like me, who can play in any position. I’m willing to play for any team interested in signing me on.”
Among the top Indian players who have featured in the MHL are 1975 World Cup skipper Ajitpal Singh, Pargat Singh, Jude Felix, Mukesh Khanna and Len Aiyappa.
Sardar said his main priority now is to help India finish among the top six in the Olympics.
The Punjab-born Sardar, an accomplished all-rounder, was named in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) All Stars team the last two years.
The lanky player matured from a forward to centre-half, a position he relished before he was asked to become a defender.
He was also named as the best player in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
Sardar, who is the vice-captain of the Indian team, has good dribbling skills and an eye for goal.
India, ranked 10th in the world, stunned No. 4 Britain 3-1 to finish third in the tournament.
Sardar, who turns 26 on July 15, will lead India in the London Olympics where they are drawn in Group B with Germany, Holland, South Korea, New Zealand and Belgium.
Group A comprises defending champions Australia, Spain, Britain, Argentina, Pakistan and South Africa.
India, eight-time Olympic champions, last won the gold in Moscow 1980.
The Star of Malaysia
Sultan of Johor Cup hockey tourney to be held earlier
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Johor Cup has been brought forward by two weeks so that it does not clash with the FIH Champions Challenge I in Argentina from Nov 24-Dec 2.
The new dates for the Under-21 international meet in Johor Baru are Nov 8-18.
Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president Manjit Majid Abdullah said yesterday that they had already made plans to have the Sultan of Johor Cup earlier when they learnt that the Champions Challenge I was being held at the same time.
The senior team will be playing in Argentina and a number of the juniors players from the Project 2013 team are likely to be involved.
Manjit added that the Sultan of Johor Cup for 2013 will be held in September as the Junior World Cup is slated for November.
“We have decided to fix the dates for both years early so that there is no clash with other assignments,” he explained.
Manjit said five countries have already confirmed entry for the seven-team tournament. Besides Malaysia, the others are India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand. The organisers are still waiting for word from Holland and Argentina.
“The Argentines had earlier declined the invitation as it clashed with the Champions Challenge I. But now that we have changed the dates they might want to come.
“We do have some other teams on the invite list,” he said.
Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan took part last year. South Korea also played but are put on the list this time.
Manjit, who is also the coaching committee chairman, said the MHC would only officialy launch the Project 2017 team after the Junior World Cup next year.
“I want to clarify that Lim Chiow Chuan and Lailin Abu Hassan are interim coaches of the team as the project currently comes under the IMas programme. The full-time coaches for the team will be named once we have launched the project,” he said.
“That will be next year. Our junior projects take a four-year cycle as they are funded by the National Sports Council (NSC).
“They will not fund two projects at the same time. There has been some confusion over the matter.”
The Star of Malaysia