All the news for Monday 2 July 2012
India beat France 4-0 in 2nd match, pocket Test series 2-0
NEW DELHI: India overcame a defensive France 4-0 to make a clean sweep in the two-match friendly Test series ahead of next month's London Olympics.
Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh converted two penalty corners in each half for the Indians, while VR Raghunath and Danish Mujtaba were the other goal-getters for the visitors in Le Touquet on Saturday, according to information received.
India had earlier defeated France 8-2 in the series opener in Ville.
With France opting to play all 11 men behind its 25-yard line for much of the time, it was a different experience for the Indian team than usual.
The team coped well with the challenge, creating more circle penetrations than the home side.
Also, the Indians got used to the blue turf which, despite being in use for a while now, was on the bouncier side.
Though France packed its defence, the Indian attack created opportunities that led to Raghunath's opening goal from a penalty corner strike.
Sandeep then scoring a penalty corner goal in each half before Danish deflecting a cross late in the second half to round off the tally.
India rested skipper Bharat Chetri, forward Shivendra Singh and rookies Nitin and Somanna.
Indian chief coach Michael Nobbs fielded a different combination upfront -- SV Sunil, Tushar Khandker and Birendra Lakra -- than in the first game.
The Indian team will have a rest day before travelling to the Spanish city of Santander tomorrow.
India will train for a fortnight in Santader before competing in a tri-nation tournament featuring Spain and Great Britain from July 14 to 18.
The Times of India
Hockey team finishes France tour on a high
BANGALORE: The Indian hockey team rounded off its tour to France with a 4-0 win over the home team on a blue pitch at Le Touquet on Sunday.
In a tough game where the French team played an 11-man defence, India scored via Sardar Singh (26 th), Sandeep Singh (35th, penalty corner), VR Raghunath (56 th, penalty corner) and Danish Mujtaba (64 th). Chief coach Michael Nobbs felt it was an average performance by the team with the Indians playing down to the hosts' level at times.
"The French had a different team today and a better plan. We spent too much time playing around the back when penetrating attack passes were a better option and could have resulted in more shots at goal. We could have done significantly more," Nobbs said about Saturday's game.
Sardar's spectacular reverse hit and Sandeep Singh's dragflick may have put India 2-0 up at the breather but it was only in the second half that India showed signs of domination.
The Indians, who had beaten France 8-2 in the first match on Thursday, leave for Spain on Monday . They are scheduled to play a three-nation tournament (Great Britain being the third team) from July 14-18 . Before that they will play two tests each against Spain and South Africa from July 5-11 .
Sandeep has fans in France
Sandeep Singh has his share of followers in France. This would have surprised the dragflicker himself but apparently he was the only recognisable face at Lille when the team had lost its way on Wednesday.
"Sandeep has his fans here already. Our driver managed to get us lost as we were going to the ground. We were already an hour late for training, So we stopped and asked some kids for direction. They flocked to Sandeep before telling us how to get to the ground. Sandeep was also much sought after at Le Touquet where his fans wanted his autograph. He is very well known it seems," Nobbs said.
The Times of India
Men claim Celtic Cup title
Ireland’s men claimed their fifth successive Celtic Cup crown in Lisburn today as they got the point they needed to top the four-team competition.
Despite bossing the vast majority of the tie, it was a laboured performance that almost came a cropper as Wales closed out the tie strongly.
Stephen Dowds’ first international goal broke the deadlock in the 51st minute with an innovative effort, punching the ball into the ground on his reverse, Eugene Magee’s five-metre free the creative source.
It was a just reward, finally breaking down the defences of the Welsh goalkeepers, David Kettle in the first half and Iwan Williams in the second period.
Six penalty corners went unconverted while Mikey Watt and Timmy Cockram created numerous openings but none further would go in.
It left Ireland open to a sucker-punch that should have come when Mark Whatling was unjustly denied an equaliser, the umpire too quick to pull play back for an earlier Irish infringement.
Huw Jones missed a gilt-edge chance soon after but Ireland were denied the three points when Joe Naughalty finished off a pitch length move with a sweetly taken finish.
Liam Brignull almost won it at the death, too, but dithered allowing debutant goalkeeper Ian Hughes to shut down the chance.
Following wins over Scotland and South Africa, the draw meant Ireland won the competition with seven points one clear of the Africans who closed their campaign with a crackerjack 6-5 win over the Scots.
Men’s Celtic Cup
Ireland 1 (Stephen Dowds) Wales 1 (Joe Naughalty)
Ireland: I Hughes, J Jackson, K Carroll, M Watt, E Magee, B McCandless, D Hobbs, J Bell, T Cockram, J Bruton, C Harte
Subs: D Carson, P Brown, J Lynch, S Dowds, J Jermyn
Wales: D Kettle, J Naughalty, L Prosser, A Cornick, M Whatling, R Gay, H Jones, A Seimann, M Shaw, B Edge
Subs: I Williams, L Brignull, R McNaught-Barrington, J Kyriakides, A Humphreys
Irish Hockey Association media release
Women defeat Wales in final day of Celtic Cup 2012
Ireland’s women claimed silver at the Women’s Celtic Cup as Denis Pritchard recorded his first victory since taking over as interim coach of the side.
They ousted Wales 3-1 at Comber Road this afternoon, showing an edge in class over the world number 27 side on a day when Chloe Watkins earned her 50th cap.
Skipper Alex Speers got her side off to the perfect start with a delightful goal, created by the left-wing trickery of Aine Connery who drew in three players before laying off to Emma Clarke.
On the left baseline, Clarke threaded a great ball to Speers in front of goal whose first touch took the ball away from keeper Anna Morris and her second tapped in for a fourth minute lead.
From there, chances came and went but no further changes in the score accrued until the second half. Nikki Symmons cracked home a low bullet through Morris’s defences eight minutes after the interval from the right of the circle.
All but down and out, the Welsh visitors showed their best hockey of the weekend in the closing phases with Sophie Robinson and Leah Wilkinson causing problems, allowing Phoebe Richards to grab a 66th minute lifeline.
But Anna O’Flanagan coolly finished off a fine solo effort a minute later to confirm the win. Scotland had won the title a day earlier with two wins from two games, beating Wales 3-0 to add to their 2-1 win over Ireland on Friday.
Women’s Celtic Cup
Ireland 3 (A Speers, N Symmons, A O’Flanagan) Wales 1 (P Richards)
Ireland: P Smithwick, M Harvey, M Crowley, C Sargent, E Clarke, A Speers, S McCay, A Connery, N Symmons, N Atcheler, S Quinn
Subs: G Pinder, E Gray, N Evans, C Watkins, A O’Flanagan
Wales: A Morris, A Brooks, T Evans, L Pugh-Bevan, S Robinson, A Naughalty, L Sugar, L Wilkinson, B Fisher, K Budd, E Mumford
Subs: S French, S Jones, E Griffiths, A Welsford, P Richards
Women’s Celtic Cup
Results: Scotland 3 (H Cram, N Kidd, S Judge) Wales 0; Ireland 3 (A Speers, N Symmons, A O’Flanagan) Wales 1 (P Richards)
Standings: 1. Scotland 6pts (+4) 2. Ireland 3pts (+1) 3. Wales 0pts (-5)
Irish Hockey Association media release
SA hockey men made to work hard for victory over Scots
PJ VAN ROOYEN in Northern Ireland
The South African men's hockey team were pushed all the way by Scotland, holding on for a 6-5 win in their final match of the Celtic Cup in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on Sunday.
In a match featuring a brace from both Ian Haley and Lloyd Norris Jones, three penalty strokes and two yellow cards, Dan Coultas stole the show by scoring all five of Scotland's goals.
SA coach Gregg Clark rested captain Austin Smith and Jonty Robinson for their second successive match, while they recovered from flu, with Wade Paton again taking charge.
The South Africans opened the scoring in the eight minute, through Thornton McDade who was bundled over by Scottish goalkeeper Alan Dick but managed to squeeze the ball past him after a solid build-up from the SA midfield.
McDade's strike opened the floodgates as the South Africans scored three goals in as many minutes through a superb Ian Haley brace and a goal from Lloyd Norris-Jones.
Haley opened his account 15 minutes into the game after latching onto a wayward shot from Julian Hykes, before unleashing a strike of his own with Dick stranded behind a wall of defenders.
Scotland had barely regrouped when Haley doubled his tally after picking up a pass in the area, finding the net with a simple deflection as Dick stood no chance from close range.
The South African engine room continued to work tirelessly as the tourists pushed for another goal after showing fine form throughout the opening period.
A vital challenge from defender Lloyd Madsen turned defence into attack as McDade led Lloyd Norris-Jones to a clear route to goal with only Dick to beat, as the striker scored his second goal of the tour.
Scotland did well to pull one back with seconds left before the break, with Coultas scoring from the Scots' first penalty corner.
The Scottish side looked the better team as the second period got underway, as they looked to close the gap.
Coultas proved to be a major thorn in the South Africans' side as he scored a second penalty corner five minutes into the second stanza.
The Scottish defender completed his hat-trick six minutes later from a penalty stroke, sending SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse the wrong way as he netted a well taken stroke from the spot, before scoring his fourth of the afternoon four minutes later as Scotland drew level at 4-4.
SA regained their lead a minute later when Norris-Jones grabbed his second of the afternoon after losing his marker in the Scottish area, shooting into the bottom left of the net.
The match looked set to remain at 5-4 but an infringement in the Scottish area allowed Andrew Cronje - who missed a penalty stroke against Ireland on Thursday - to convert from the spot, extending his side's lead to 6-4.
Coultas was to have the last say of the match, however, as he rounded off his fifth goal, through another penalty stroke, with Pieterse receiving a yellow card for a foul in the area.
SA Press Association (SAPA)
SA Hockey Association media release
The more the better, says SA men’s hockey team stand-in skipper Wade Paton
PJ VAN ROOYEN in Northern Ireland
South African midfielder Wade Paton believes the more hockey the national team plays, the better they will get come the end of their European tour and the start of the London Olympics later this month.
Paton, the stand-in captain after regular skipper Austin Smith fell ill, led his side to a 5-0 victory over Wales in a dominant display as they secured their first win in the Celtic Cup in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.
"To score the five goals and keep a clean sheet was awesome for us," Paton said. "The guys are slowly hitting their straps and the game against Scotland [SA's next opponent on Sunday] will be another good one."
After losing to hosts Ireland in the tournament opener, the South Africans bounced back, beating a Welsh outfit that failed to trouble their opponents.
Paton admitted the team would have to improve on their first outing, particularly at the Olympics, where losing the first game of the tournament would mean a difficult road to the knockout stages.
"If yesterday [Friday] had been our first game of the Olympics, it would have been against Australia, and you can't defend the way we did against Ireland, against them," Paton said. "You have to take your chances, which is exactly what happened against the Irish.
"We'll put it down to not having played too much hockey [in the last two months] and by the time the Games start, we would have had eight test matches and two friendlies together, so in the first game [of the Olympics], we know we will be better."
South Africa enjoyed a totally dominant afternoon against Wales, with goals coming from Julian Hykes – who scored a brace – Paton, Andrew Cronje and Justin Reid-Ross.
Hykes was pleased to finally get on the scoresheet after a long wait, and he was glad the team had upped their efforts against the Welsh.
"It's long overdue. It has been seven games since I last scored," Hykes said. "We were more composed today and we played well to come back from the Ireland loss."
SA Press Association (SAPA)
SA Hockey Association media release
SA hockey women’s busy pre-Olympic tour to Holland, England and Germany
The South Africa women’s hockey team fly to Amsterdam Tuesday night for their final tour before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
It’s a gruelling trip with seven Test matches against London 2012 teams in three different countries. There will also be 28 hours of training sessions in between.
They players have just been through a 17-day physical training phase in Johannesburg and Cape Town under the guidance of the team’s Dutch physical trainer Jan Stappenbelt.
Starting on Thursday, head coach Giles Bonnet’s team will play two unofficial Test matches against world number one and reigning Beijing 2008 Olympic Games champions Holland in Arnhem.
Then it’s two unofficial Tests against world number four and 2012 Champions Trophy silver medallists Great Britain in London. The Great Britain games are at their training centre, Bisham Abbey, as the Olympic Games facilities are now in lockdown, and that was the reason why SA played GB on the Olympic pitch in an unofficial Test that was the first match on their May/June tour and also had two training sessions there.
After the GB matches, captain Marsha Marescia’s team head to Bremen and a Four Nations series of official Test matches against hosts and world number three Germany, world number six New Zealand and world 16 Belgium; the last match on July 15.
After the Belgium Test match in Bremen, the team fly back to SA and join the Team South Africa contingent of athletes that is heading to London shortly after.
Bonnet is planning on two training games once the players are settled in the Olympic Village; against world number nine Japan on July 25 and world number five China on July 27 at the Riverbank Arena, the official Olympic Games hockey stadium.
Monday is just four weeks ahead of SA’s opening game at London 2012 against world champions Argentina. At a collective 2000-plus Test caps, this is undoubtedly the most well-prepared and experienced SA team in history and the outcome at the Riverbank Arena at London 2012’s Olympic Park will be of much interest.
Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Tarryn Bright, Kathleen Taylor, Shelley Russell, Illse Davids, Lauren Penny (all Western Province); Dirkie Chamberlain, Nicolene Terblanche, Sanani Mangisa (all Northern Blues); Marsha Marescia (capt), Pietie Coetzee, Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Jen Wilson, Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders); Lesle-Ann George (Free State); Sulette Damons (North West). Management: Giles Bonnet (head coach), Les Galloway (manager), Fabian Gregory (assistant coach), Carla Lodewijks (physio), Adrian Carolan (video), Phil Estourgie (specialist trainer), Sheldon Rostron (goalkeeper coach), Gijs Ten Kate (peak performance coach), Jan Stappenbelt (physical trainer).
SA pre-Olympics matches (SA time): vs Holland (4 pm, July 5); vs Holland (11 am, July 6); vs Great Britain (12 noon, July 9); vs Great Britain (7 pm, July 10); vs Germany (7.45 pm, July 12); vs New Zealand (4 pm, July 14); vs Belgium (12 noon, July 15); vs Japan (July 25); vs China (July 27).
SA Hockey Association media release
In the Spotlight... Japan Women
A closer look at the 24 teams in the 2012 Olympics
The Japanese women celebrate their third consecutive appearance in the Olympics. (Photo: Stanislas Brochier)
'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 feature the Japanese women's national team.
The Japanese women weigh in at ninth in the FIH World Ranking, and are the third-highest ranked team from Asia, behind China and Korea. At the Games, they will play in Group B where they will meet both their Asian rivals in addition to the Netherlands, Great Britain and Belgium. Japan has a modest Olympic history, playing in only the two last games where they finished 10th in Beijing and eighth in Athens. But since their last Olympic appearance, the Japanese women have had two of their strongest showings on the international stage. The first was winning the Champions Challenge 1 in June 2011 in Dublin earning the right to move up to the Champions Trophy where their second success was a strong fifth-place finish. As a fun fact, Japan recently jumped on the nickname train, and are called ‘Sakura’ which means Cherry Blossom.
The Road to London:
Japan convincingly won the third and final women’s qualification tournament on home soil in Kakamigahara with a 5-1 victory in the final game against Azerbaijan. The Japanese women were under intense pressure and media scrutiny during the event and weathered the storm with grace. The only blip on the radar during the six-games was a 0-0 draw against Chile.
Players to Watch:
At 41 years of age, Akemi Kato will be not only the oldest player in the women’s hockey tournament, but also among the oldest athletes at the Games. But don’t be fooled, Kato is able to keep up with Japan’s speedy squad while brining the experience of nearly 400 caps to the table. Kaori Fujio and Rika Komazawa provide a nice one-two punch on offense. Fujio has exception scoring skills from the field, while Komazawa is strong on the penalty corner. Fujio, Komazawa, Kato and Sachimi Iwao have played for Japan in all three of their Olympic appearances.
Zenjiro Yasuda has guided the Japanese through their last few successful years. With each passing event, the team is stronger as evidenced through their rise in both the standings and the FIH event schedule. The veteran coach always speaks humbly of his squad before matches and puts little stock in pre-game standings or hype.
Japan has amazing speed and a high fitness level that allows them to push their opponents to brink. Their discipline and reserve both on and off the field is impressive to behold, meaning they are likely one of the teams least likely to be affected by the massive media hype around the games. The team has even been known to bow to its opponent after each match, regardless of the outcome. Japan has also a solid three or four players that can be counted on to score, making it tough to cover them on defense.
When the Japanese women’s team is on, they are precise, quick, and nearly unstoppable – the teams at the last FIH Champions Trophy in Argentina learned this lesson the hard way. But when Japan is off, they simply don’t function, as evidenced by the scoreless tie against Chile at the qualifier. Japan has to make sure its offense is in top form and avoid a rollercoaster performance – it’s one thing to pull out of a funk at a qualification tournament, but entirely another to perk up in the middle of the Olympics.
The Japanese women’s program is on an upswing, but is likely a good Olympic cycle away from threatening to take a place on the podium. That being said, the Japanese are poised to pull off at least one major upset and should thrive in the Asian-heavy Pool A, giving them their best possible chance to go for a Cinderella surprise appearance in the semi-finals.
Dutch Olympic team finalized with a few surprises
Taekema and Hertzberger left off the final list
The Dutch men look ahead to London with a new look to the team. (Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)
The Dutch men’s team announcement for the Olympics was one of the most highly-anticipated with many questions looming over the fate of its star players. And today’s final decision did not disappoint in terms of drama with big name stars Taeke Taekema and Jeroen Hertzberger left off the roster.
Taekema has played 239 games for the Dutch, while Hertzberger has been on the squad for every major international event since 2007. Just last week Hertzberger said in an interview that he expected to be named to the Olympic squad. Taekema's fate was a little less certain after he was left off the team ealier in the year for a handful of test series.
Also not making the cut were Quirijn Caspers and Seve van Ass, son of head coach Paul van Ass. But it was good news for veteran standout Teun de Nooijer, who made his debut back on the team in last week’s test match against Great Britain after almost eight weeks of being sidelined with injuries. He made the cut and will join the Dutch team in London.
For de Nooijer and the other 15 players making the cut, it is time to focus on the Games that lie ahead and try not to focus on the team omissions, but rather the squad’s potential less than a month from today.
Dutch 2012 Olympic Team
Sander Baart (OZ), Billy Bakker (Amsterdam), Marcel Balkestein (OZ), Floris Evers (Amsterdam), Rogier Hofman (Bloemendaal), Robert van der Horst (Rotterdam), Wouter Jolie (Bloemendaal), Robbert Kemperman (Rot-Weis Köln), Teun de Nooijer (Bloemendaal), Jaap Stockmann [GK] (Bloemendaal), Valentin Verga (Amsterdam), Klaas Vermeulen (Amsterdam), Bob de Voogd (OZ), Mink van der Weerden (OZ), Roderick Weusthof (Rotterdam), Sander de Wijn (Kampong).
Reserves: Tim Jenniskens (NED), Pirmin Blaak [GK] (Rotterdam).
Abbas retains captaincy for London Games
By Fawad Hussain
PHF announces 20-man squad as senior quartet returns for Olympics. PHOTO: FILE EXPRESS
KARACHI: Sohail Abbas will lead the Greenshirts at this year’s London Olympics as the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) decided to retain the penalty-corner specialist as captain while announcing the squad for the mega event.
Amid the return of senior players, confusion surrounded the appointment of the captain but the PHF decided to stick to Sohail, who led the team at the Azlan Shah Cup and the Europe tour. The PHF also included former captains Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Imran, Rehan Butt and Waseem Ahmed in the 20-man squad. The PHF will now shortlist the members to 18 in a week’s time.
Waqas Sharif will be Sohail’s deputy despite the presence of the senior players.
Akbar fails to find a place
However, experienced goal-keeper Salman Akbar was named among the standby options after being recalled in the preliminary squad.
The selection committee, headed by Hanif Khan, announced the team following trials in Abbottabad. Akbar was overlooked after the committee decided to rely on young goal-keepers — Imran Shah and Imran Butt.
Blend of experience and youth
Pakistan coach Khwaja Junaid termed the team as a mixture of talented junior and experienced players, saying the combination will increase Pakistan’s chances of reaching the podium.
“The selection was made after assessing various aspects,” Junaid told The Express Tribune. “Recent performances and their forms and fitness were assessed. The players who fulfilled the criteria were selected. The squad is a combination of junior and senior players and the return of experienced members is a good sign.”
Commenting on Akbar’s snub, Junaid said the other selected goal keepers deserved the place more. “Akbar failed to meet the required level of selection. There was tight competition in which Shah and Butt emerged on top.”
He added that Sohail was retained as captain following an impressive run in Europe.
“Sohail was impressive in Europe after the Azlan Shah Cup. He has also been retained to maintain continuity as changing a captain just before the Olympics could have caused a negative impact. “
Meanwhile, team manager Akhtar Rasool called for support ahead of the mega event. “I will ask the critics to put forward their recommendations. Their advice will be considered for the team’s betterment.”
Shahnaz slams ‘flawed selection’
However, criticism already started with Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh slamming the PHF. “I see many blunders,” said the legendary player. “Sohail didn’t play at the 2008 Olympics and now he’s in the team. The selectors should have opted for penalty-corner expert Imran Warsi who is in very good form.” Shahnaz added that the team’s average age after the return of the seniors increased and this would hamper Pakistan’s chances.
S Abbas, I Shah, I Butt, M Imran, K Shah, M Irfan, Rizwan Junior, F Ahmed, R Mehmood, M Tauseeq, W Ahmed, W Sharif, U Bhutta, H Khan, S Abbasi, M Zubair, Rizwan Senior, S Rasool, R Butt, A Shan
“Sohail has been retained to maintain continuity as changing a captain just before the Olympics could have caused a negative impact. The squad is a combination of junior and senior players and the mixture will be a good combination.”
“I see many blunders in team selection. Sohail didn’t play at the 2008 Olympics and now he’s in the team. The selectors should have opted for penalty-corner expert Imran Warsi who is in very good form.”
The Express Tribune
PHF recalls Rehan, Waseem and Abbasi to 20-member squad
Sohail to lead Pakistan at London Olympics
LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has named penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas to lead Pakistan’s hockey squad in the upcoming London Olympics, the only sport where the country harbours any realistic hopes of a medal in the Summer Games. A 20-member squad was named after one-day trials, watched by selectors Hanif Khan, Khalid Basher and Arshad Chudhary, at Abbottabad Hockey Stadium on Sunday. PHF president Qasim Zia, secretary general Mohammad Asif Bajwa and chief coach Akhtar Rasool were also present during the trials.
The 35-year-old Sohail was retained as captain despite Pakistan’s poor finish in last place at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May this year in Ipoh, Malaysia. The 20-man squad will be trimmed to 18 by the team management next week before Pakistan fly to London for the Games starting on July 27. Pakistan’s recent poor performance forced selectors to recall senior players Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmed and Shakeel Abbasi who featured in a rebel hockey league in India which threatened their places for the Olympics. “We have included seniors so that the Pakistan team can benefit from their experience,” chief selector Hanif Khan said. “We tried some juniors recently and now this squad for the Olympics is a combination of juniors and seniors.” Hanif said the team was selected after consultation with the captain and the coach.
Three-times Olympic champions and with four times world champions Pakistan have slumped at international level after poor planning and with talent becoming increasingly scarce. They finished at their worst-ever eighth position in the last Olympics in Beijing four years ago, and then slumped to the 12th and last position in the 2010 World Cup in India.
PHF chief Qasim was very much optimistic about the team’s performance at forthcoming London Olympics. “When I took over charge of the PHF, my targets were the Asian Games and the London Olympics. In the Asian Games Pakistan did well and positively in the London Olympic result will be surprising,” he maintained. Qasim said the selectors picked up best available lot after a long term planning. Chief coach Akhtar said that they were going to London with high hopes.
The team did win the Asian title in China in late 2010 however to secure direct qualification for the London Games and give a boost to confidence. “We have high hopes with the team,” said Hanif, a member of Pakistan’s gold medal winning team in the 1986 Los Angeles Olympics. “If they finish on the victory podium it would be as good as a gold medal, if they finish between 4-6 it would be worth the hard work.” Pakistan also won Olympic gold medals in 1960 and 1968 but their last Olympic medal in 1992 when they picked up bronze in Barcelona.
Pakistan are in Group A along with Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Argentina and South Africa. Defending champions Germany are in Group B, which also includes Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand, India and Belgium. Pakistan athletes will also compete in athletics, swimming and shooting through wild card entries, but they have no serious medal hopes in those sports.
Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Muhammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas (captain), Syed Kashif Shah, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, Muhammad Tousiq, Waseem Ahmed, Muhammad Waqas (vice captain), Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Muhammad Rizwan Senior, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Muhammad Zubair and Ali Shan.
Stand-byes: Salman Akbar, Khalid Bhatti, Aamir Shahzad, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Muhammad Dilber and Tasawar Abbas.
Officials: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (manager/head coach), Khawaja Muhammad Junaid (coach), Ajmal Khan Lodhi and Shahid Ali Khan (assistant coaches), Faiz-ur-Rahman (physiotherapist) and Muhammad Nadeem Khan Lodhi (video-analyst).
The Daily Times
PHF announces tentative squad for London Olympics
PESHAWAR: A 20-member tentative hockey team for the London Olympics was announced on Sunday by Chairman Selection Committee Hanif Khan with the choice of Akhter Rasool as the Chief Coach .
The committee decided to drop two players.
President Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Qasim Zia, Secretary PHF Asif Bajwa were also present during the trial. Sohail Abbas was named as captain while Waqas Sahreef as Vice Captain.
Final probables for the team were goal-keepers, Imran Shah and Imran Butt, Full backs, Muhammad Irfan, Suhail Abbas, Kashif Shah and Muhammad Imran. Half-Backs are Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, Touseeq and Waseem Aahmed. The forwards consisted of Muhammad Waqas Shareef, Umer Boota, Shakeel Abbasi, Husseen Khan, Muhammad Zubair, Rizwan Senior, Shafqat Rasool, Rehan Butt and Ali Shan.
Hanif Khan said that team is selected after consultation with team captain, coach and selectors as there was tough competition among players and final squad of 16 players to be named after 10-day practice session to be held at Abbottabad.
President PHF Zia was very much optimistic about the team’s performance at forthcoming London Olympics and said that when he took over charge of PHF, he made target of Asian Games and also Olympic where in Asian Pakistan did well and positively in London Olympic, result will be surprising and up to their expectations as in last Olympics Pakistan stood at 7th place but this time it will be in top four.
Zia said that currently this is and best available lot in Pakistan which they got after long term planning and majority of the players are young and these all come through academies which are effectively working.
He pointed out that among the current lot, majority of the players are 22 to 25 years and he hoped that future is our and nation will once again see our glories of the past.
PHF names 20-man hockey team for Olympics
By Mohsin Ali
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation chief selector Hanif Khan on Sunday announced 20-member Pakistan Hockey team for the London Olympics after the 6-day trials held in Abbottabad Hockey Stadium.
While talking exclusively with this correspondent manager Khawaja Junaid said that the main reason for announcing the 20 names instead of 18, because of tough competition during the trials and they requested to the federation and selection committee to extend the trials for one week and they have excepted our request and they would drop 2 players prior to departure to London.
Ace plenty corner specialist Sohail Abbas has been retained as captain of Pakistan hockey team while following are the other 19 players:
Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Kashif Shah, M Imran, M Irfan, Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, M Tauseeq, Waseem Ahmed, M Waqas, M Umer Bhutta, Abdul Haseem Khan, M Rizwan Senior, Shafqat Rasool, Rehan Butt, Ali Shan, Shakeel Abbasi and M Zubair.
FT will be the team to beat
By Jugjet Singh
THE Federal Territories men's hockey team will be gunning for their sixth consecutive Malaysia Games title in Kuantan from Thursday.
And FT are dead serious as they had sent their team on a playing tour Down Under last month to prepare for the Malaysia Games.
And with national juniors Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Amir Farid Fuzi, Syamim Yusof, Norhizzat Sumantri, Aslam Hanafiah and second choice keeper Shahrul Azaddin on their roster, FT are set to dominate again.
The men open their campaign against Negri Sembilan on Friday. In the 2010 Malaysia Games final, FT edged hosts Malacca 1-0.
"We are in a tougher group but going by the preparations put in, including the tour Down Under to play club sides, FT should win their sixth consecutive gold medal," said Kuala Lumpur HA secretary V. Rajamanickam.
In the women's tournament, Johor will be the team to watch again.
In Malacca two years ago, Johor took the gold when they beat Pahang 4-2 on penalties after the match ended 0-0.
MEN -- Group A: Federal Territories, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan, Selangor, Kedah, Negri Sembilan; Group B: Malacca, Penang, Perlis, Sarawak, Johor, Pahang.
WOMEN -- Group A: Johor, Penang, Sarawak, Perak, Selangor, Malacca; Group B: Pahang, Terengganu, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Federal Territories, Kelantan.
New Straits Times
’Chak de’ moment: Hockey as passion
New Delhi: With a swift flick of the hockey stick, the ball whizzes past the padded up goalie. The victors let out a loud cheer, and even the vanquished applaud.
The players are not pros but their passion for hockey is infectious, bringing as it does on weekends a group of professionals and businessmen from different walks of life in an otherwise cricket-crazy city. And their love for the game, once called India's national sport, was further fuelled when they realised they could play at Delhi stadiums where champions have battled for coveted international or national trophies.
"I was at Binsar (Uttarakhand) two days ago when I got the message about a game. We packed our bags and headed home the same day," J.S. Chhatwal, a businessman who owns four showrooms dealing in curtains in Malviya Nagar in south Delhi.
He is so passionate for the game that whenever he has to play in the morning, he opens his showrooms late.
His friend Nikhil Nayyar, a lawyer, who has been playing hockey for the past 12 years, said the game helps him relax after a week of mental dueling in the Supreme Court.
"I enjoy this intense physical exercise. It relaxes me and prepares me for the hectic days ahead," Nayyar told IANS.
This band of 20 professionals and businessmen got together because of their love of the game over 10 years ago and come rain and shine they stand together to indulge in their love for hockey.
"Some of us knew each other because we were in the same profession. It was the passion for hockey that led us to meet other likeminded people. Thus was born our group. We all meet socially on rare ocassions, but the game keeps us together," said Delhi High Court lawyer Uttam Datt.
"It all started at Siri Fort sports complex where we still play regularly. But now, every couple of weekends, we hire a stadium and play on a full-fledged competitive field," he added.
Datt, who had stopped playing for some years because of the back problem he sustained during a game, started again when he heard that the group is getting a chance to play at stadiums like Major DhyanChand National Stadium, that was one of the venues for the Commonwealth Games. The group is particularly excited about being able to play on a professional turf in a stadium which has hosted international matches. One such weekend match at Major Dhyanchand National Stadium comes for over Rs. 15,000.
However, the price is worth it, said Harshdeep, a businessman.
"I have been playing hockey for several years now. It's much more exciting to be on a synthetic turf. The game gets faster. I am hooked to it," he said.
The hockey turf is quite different from a football turf and allows for increased pace of the ball and stick maneuverability.
Shahab Ahmed, a physiotherapist by profession, said that while some of them have played the sport at a professional level, the experience was not a requirement as much as a love for the game.
And even those who had played the sport on a professional level but lost touch after beginning their careers, come to play in order to regain that connection with the game and the field.
One of them is Ahmed. "I used to play at state and national level, before returning to Delhi, after which, I lost touch with the game. But now, I play regularly."
However, he agreed that the essential ingredient was passion, not experience.
"We were earlier playing at the Sri Fort grounds. We stopped in between because it was being renovated. But, now I am excited we are playing at the real grounds," Ahmed told IANS.
All of us come together to play regularly. Even the businessmen amongst us, find time on weekends to come and play," said Niki Kantawala, another lawyer, who plays hockey over the weekends without fail.
For all of them, hockey is their 'chak de' moment that adds zing in their everyday humdrum lives.