All the news for Thursday 25 December 2008
Merry Christmas to all our readers
IHF’s gloomy days
By S. Thyagarajan
Any attempt to assess the year that was in competitive hockey engulfs the aficionado in an emotional melange. In every sense, the year 2008 was extraordinary, leaving one in a web of wonder. The year being very eventful, it is a question of where to begin. Should Germany’s triumph in Beijing, where it added the Olympic gold medal to its World Cup, gain precedence over other events? Or should it be the catastrophic failure of India to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in eight decades? Then there was the change of guard in the FIH (International Hockey Federation), with Leandro Negre of Spain edging out the charismatic Dutch lady, Els van Breda Vriesman; and the cataclysmic happenings in Indian hockey that saw an ad hoc committee replacing the IHF (Indian Hockey Federation).
Each of these events was quite significant. In the early part of the year, the new qualification format involving 18 teams for the three places for the Beijing Olympics caught the attention. Admittedly, it proved difficult for the established teams to finish on top. New Zealand pipped Argentina following a Hayden Shaw’s golden goal in the qualifiers in Auckland, while Great Britain knocked out eight-time Olympic champion India for a Beijing berth in the qualifying tournament in Santiago. In the third qualifying tournament in Gifu (Japan), Germany swamped the opposition to qualify for the Games and eventually ended up champion in Beijing.
The consequences of India’s elimination were devastating, no doubt. But what was noteworthy of the hockey competitions at the Beijing Olympics was that for the first time the women’s section featured 12 teams.
That none of the Asian nations — there were three in the fray — made it to the semifinals in the men’s competition only underscored the decline of the continent in the sport. If Australia, the defending champion, began as the favourite on the basis of its victory in the Champions Trophy in Rotterdam, the final results told another story. Australia succumbed to Spain by the odd goal in five, while the Netherlands, who looked like bulldozing the opposition in the early stages, capitulated to the power and precision of Germany.
Powered by a superb goal by the golden boy, Christopher Zeller, Germany defeated Spain in the final to regain the title it last won at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Australia, quite amazingly, pounded the Netherlands 6-2 for the third place. For the ageing Dutch side, with the inimitable Teun de Nooijer still holding fort with the support of the evergreen flicker, Taeke Takema, the fourth place finish was a humiliation of sorts, especially when compared with the Dutch women who regained the gold defeating China.
What was really shocking was the worst performance of the three Asian teams in the fray. South Korea slipped to sixth position, while Pakistan tumbled to eighth place, the nation’s poorest performance ever in the Olympics. China, a silver medal winner at the Asian Games, and which qualified for the Olympics as the host, finished 11th.
The silver lining for Asia was provided by the Chinese women’s team which performed beyond expectations. The home team conquered the defending champion, Germany, in the semifinals before going down to the Netherlands by a solitary goal.
Spain won the Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku, while the US emerged triumphant in Kazan. South Korea won the third qualifier in Victoria.
On a sour note, two Spanish women players tested positive, raising doubts over the team’s participation in Beijing. But nothing much came out of that.
Australia and Argentina clinched the men’s and women’s Champions Trophy in Rotterdam and Monchengladbach respectively. Australia accounted for Spain in the men’s final, while in the women’s event Argentina thrashed Germany 6-2, thanks mainly to the excellent performance of the Player of the Year, Luciana Aymar.
Interestingly for the Spanish men’s team, trained by the accomplished Maurits Hendriks, the year ended with two silver medals at the most important competitions, the Champions Trophy and the Olympics. But the nomination of Pablo Amat as the Player of the Year was some consolation for Spain.
Spain moved up to third place in the world rankings, with Germany and Australia taking the top two slots. India slipped to No. 11, while Pakistan was ranked No. 8. South Korea was ranked No. 5.
In the women’s section, the Netherlands moved up to No. 1, followed by Argentina, Germany and China.
If India was in focus, it was for wrong reasons. The disaster in Santiago had a chain reaction, leading to the replacement of Joaquim Carvalho as India’s coach and the ham-handed manner in which the Aussie stalwart, Ric Charlesworth, was humiliated as the technical consultant under the IOC-IHF-Special India Project, designed by the then FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman. As though these irritants were not enough, the sting operation conducted by the television channel, Aaj Tak, involving the IHF Secretary, Jothikumaran, led to a major shake-up. Jothikumaran resigned and soon after the IHF, headed by K. P. S. Gill, was suspended by the IOA on the recommendation of the FIH.
These unfortunate happenings overshadowed the euphoria of the Indian team winning the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad, thanks to the excellent individual performance of India’s best bet, Diwakar Ram, and the silver medal won by India at Ipoh in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. Apart from paving the way for the Asia Cup and facilitating a meeting of the FIH top brass and the AHF (Asian Hockey Federation), the ad hoc committee, appointed in place of the IHF, did precious little to structure the domestic circuit.
A new helmsman for the FIH at the fag end of the year triggered a bit of unease within the hockey community. The exit of Els van Breda Vriesman after eight years at the helm was somewhat unexpected. Quite a few loose ends surfaced in the wake of this incident and one of them pertained to the continuation of the Special India Project.
The hockey fraternity mourned the death of Brig. Manzoor Hussain Atif, former Olympian, selector and administrator from Pakistan during the first week of December. Whether one agreed with him or not on various issues, that he was an influential figure from the continent in the council of world hockey cannot be doubted.
Introspection into hockey in 2008 leaves a chronicler in a mood of scepticism, if not in a state of despair.
Hockey Girls Return Home to a rousing welcome
By Sharad Deep
Lucknow: Dec. 23: Tuesday brought in some good news for hockey aficionados. After some impressive showing at the fifth U-21 Women Junior Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur, the Indian girls returned home to a rousing welcome, late on Monday.
The Indian girls not only claimed the bronze meal int eh event but also booked a berth for th 6th Junior Women's Junior World Cup scheduled to be held in Boston in August.
"We are capable enough of making it to the semifinals of the world meet," coach GS Bhangu told Hindustan Times on Tuesday. "But, before that we need to work hard on physical fitness. Though, I feel we have improved our penalty corner conversions."
"Our aim at Asia Cup was to play an attacking and tactical game against the teams like China, Korea and Singapore in group matches, and that paid rich dividend," Bangu added.
The coach felt that the girls shouldn t be considered for the senior team trials as it would distrub their preparations for the Junior World Cup.
Top teams enter NBP Gold Cup Hockey quarters
From our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Top teams made it to the quarter-finals of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Gold Cup Hockey Tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore on Wednesday.
National Bank, Steel Mills, Army, Port Qasim and PIA all confirmed their places in the top eight.
National Bank beat Pakistan Steel Mills 7-0. At the end of the first half the score was 3-0. Haseem Khan scored three goals in the 17th, 61st and 69th minutes while Imran Warsi netted a goal on penalty corner in the 6th minute.
Tariq Aziz, Akhtar Ali and Shakeel Abbasi scored one goal each in the 9th, 63rd and 68th minutes, respectively.
Port Qasim outplayed WAPDA 2-1. At the end of the first half the match was tied at 1-1. Both goals from Port Qasim were banged home by Shabbir Khan in the 15th and 53rd minutes while Rehan Butt scored the only goal from WAPDA in the 34th minute on a penalty stroke.
WAPDA got eight penalty corners in the match but they did not succeeded to score a goal.
Army got the better of Sindh 7-0. At half time the score was 3-0. Azhar Iqbal scored two goals in the 45th and 67th minutes, while Muhammad Arshad, Kashif, Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Imran and Muhammad Ramzan scored one goal each in the 16th, 26th, 35th, 50th (pc) and 66th minutes, respectively.
Railways beat Punjab by 3-1. At the end of the first half the score was 3-0. Jameel Khan, M Rohan and Akbar Ali scored one goal each from Railways on penalty corners in the 2nd, 13th and 30th minutes, respectively, while the only goal for Punjab was netted by Bilal Bashir in the 50th minute.
PIA edged out Balochistan by 4-2. At the end of the first half the score was 2-0 in favour of PIA. Waqas Akbar of PIA netted two goals in the 8th and 24th (pc) minutes, while M Zubair scored a brace for PIA in the 49th (pc) and 50th minutes. For Balochistan, Jamal and Wasif scored one goal each in the 11th and 57th (ps) minutes, respectively.
The match between Habib Bank and PAF ended in a 2-2 draw. At the end of the first half the score was 2-1 in favour of PAF. Saeed Shah and Imran Hafeez of PAF netted one goal each in the 22nd and 26th (pc) minutes, while Nasir Shahzad and Saleem Khalid of HBL scored one goal each in the 19th and 45th minutes, respectively.
The News International
NBP, Steel Mills, Army, Port Qasim and PIA in quarters
LAHORE: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Army, Port Qasim and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) moved into the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup Hockey Tournament after winning their respective matches at the National Stadium here on Wednesday. NBP gave a hockey lesson to Steel Mills with 7-0 thrashing. The bankers were leading 3-0 at half time. Port Qasim outplayed Pakistan WAPDA 2-1. Both teams were 1-1 at half time. Army routed Sindh 7-0 before enjoying 3-0 lead at lemon break. Pakistan Railways beat Punjab 3-1, scoring their all the three goals in the first half. PIA beat Balochistan 4-2. PIA were leading 2-0 after conclusion of the first half. The match between Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) ended in a 2-2 draw. The airmen were leading 2-1 at half time.
HBL vs Sindh
Navy vs Balochistan
Army vs PAF
Port Qasim vs Railways
WAPDA vs Punjab.
The Daily Times
Inaugural Asian Champions Trophy Hockey in Pakistan
From Abdul Mohi Shah
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan introduces yet another idea in hockey, winning the rights to host the first ever Asian Champions Trophy later next year.
It was Pakistan that initiated the Champions Trophy and hosted the first two events in the late seventies.
Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Asif Bajwa, who returned home after attending the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) meeting in Malaysia, confirmed that the first ever Asian Champions Trophy will he held in Pakistan later next year.
“As was the case in the past, the idea was initiated by Pakistan and the AHF has awarded the hosting rights of the first ever Asian Champions Trophy to PHF. If all goes well, the inaugural event will be held in Lahore or Karachi in after 2009 Ramzanul Mubarik.”
Bajwa was confident that the event would be held as planned. “I hope by the time the dates of the event would draw nearer, we would be in a position to hold the event in a befitting matter.”
A member of the 1994 World Cup winning team, Bajwa said leading Asian teams have confirmed participation in the event. “We also want India in the event and hope that the situation would be back to normal by the time the event starts.”
In another development, the AHF has accepted Pakistan request of representation in all the eleven committees of the body. “We did not have representation in a single AHF committee earlier. However, now we have succeeded in convincing the AHF to give us the due representation. We would be having the representation in all the eleven committees,” he said.
The PHF secretary had also taken up the Pakistan-India series matter with the Indian counter part.
“Since we have decided to host the series on neutral place, efforts are being made to set to final dates of the series. However, at this point of time, it looks almost impossible to play against India at anywhere. Though both countries federation are serious on playing the series, the dates will be finalised once both governments give go ahead.”
Bajwa disclosed that two more Asian countries have accepted the Pakistan invitation for friendly series. “I cannot disclose names of the countries and once the situation improves we would invite these teams to play in Pakistan, most probably in the first half of 2009.”
The AHF has also accepted another PHF proposal and that is to initiate a lifetime achievement award. “The first ever lifetime achievement award would be given to late Brig MH Atif. The late secretary PHF has been considered as an icon not nationally but at the international level as well.
“The first ever AHF lifetime achievement award would be given to Brig Atif for his tremendous services and contribution for the game at international level.”
Malaysia and Egypt are to host the junior hockey teams early next year. “Juniors are to compete in a tourney in Malaysia in March while Egypt has also invited the team to compete in a four-nation event in April.”
PHF is set to initiate regional academies at the ten different centre of the country. “The trials to select the academy teams will be held from January 1-7 and after selection of players, academies at all 12 centres would be given go ahead.”
The News International
Pakistan to host First Asian Hockey Champions Trophy
LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will host the first ever Asian Hockey Champions Trophy next year with an aim to develop hockey in Asia. Addressing a press conference at the National Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday, PHF president Qasim Zia said the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) had welcomed the idea of the PHF to start an elite Asian Champions Trophy on the pattern of Champions Trophy World Hockey Tournament that was also introduced by Pakistan way back in 1978. Also present on the occasion were PHF general secretary Muhammad Asif Bajwa and International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) manager coaching development Tayyab Ikram.
Qasim, who attended the AHF Congress and Council meetings held recently in Kuala Lumpur, said the AHF had appreciated the idea and allocated the inaugural edition to Pakistan. “This is a big honour for us and the event will be organised after summer season next year,” he added. He said the AHF has also allocated the qualifying rounds of the World Junior World Cup for Women 2010 to Pakistan. “The allocation of two international tournaments shows the AHF’s confidence in Pakistan. And we are thankful to the Asian body for this kind gesture.”
He said soon Pakistan would have representation in all twelve committees of the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) due to the efforts of the PHF. “It is first time the AHF has agreed to give representation to Pakistan in its all committees. We convinced the AHF to give Pakistan maximum representation in its committees,” he said.
To a question, he said he was satisfied with the performance of the women’s hockey team that finished 8th in the Asia Junior Cup in Malaysia. “It is too early to expect good results from them as the team is in the process of rebuilding. We have decided to give our national senior and junior women’s hockey teams an ample opportunity to play competitive hockey home and abroad.” He said the PHF would start its hockey revival programme with the holding of open trials for all eleven regional academies. He said the provincial selection committees had been formed to supervise the trials from January first to seven.
The Daily Times
Defenders Baljit and Amin vying for top scorer award
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: Ernst and Young’s Baljit Singh Sarjab and Tenaga Nasional’s Mohd Amin Rahim are in the race for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) top scorer’s award.
Both the national defenders have scored 12 goals each — from penalty corners.
The 21-year-old Baljit, who has 36 international caps to his credit, gets the chance to increase his tally in the final against Sapura at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
He was the hero for Ernst and Young in the semi-final second-leg match against Maybank last Sunday, scoring the golden goal in the 76th minute to give the Division One champions a 3-2 aggregate win.
Tenaga, meanwhile, will bank on veteran Amin to deliver the goals against Maybank in the playoff for third place at the same venue on Saturday.
Ernst and Young will be out to nail the overall title after failing at the final hurdle on five previous occasions.
“I want to score on Saturday to help my team win the overall title for the first time. I also wants to win the top scorer’s award for the first time in MHL,” said Baljit, who has been with Ernst and Young since 2003.
Baljit has emerged as the top scorer before in other domestic competitions. He scored 23 goals for Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to earn the award in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) in 2006. In Division One of the Razak Cup last year, he scored 12 goals to help Johor win the title.
Ernst and Young will be gunning for a third title this season after their success in Division One of the MHL and the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament.
They will be playing against Sapura for the third time in the MHL. In the two matches in the leagues, they beat Sapura 2-1 and 2-0 and Baljit scored one of the goals in the first match.
“I am the top scorer of the team and in the final, the pressure will be on me to deliver goals,’’ said Baljit, who scored only one goal in the MHL last season.
The 28-year-old Amin said that he was disappointed for failing to help defending overall champions Tenaga reach the final.
“My mission now is to help Tenaga finish third and also to become the top scorer for the second time in the MHL,’’ said Amin, who was tops with 30 goals for Ernst and Young in 2006.
The Star of Malaysia
Maybank to lose Fadzil’s service for playoff
KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank will not have the services of defender Mohd Fadzli Anuar in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) third-place playoff match against Tenaga Nasional at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Johorean will be getting married on the same day.
Coach S. Velappan said that Fadzli played exceptionally well against league champions Ernst and Young in the semi-final second-leg match last Sunday and his absence against Tenaga would be sorely felt.
“The final and third-place playoff matches were initially scheduled for Dec 21 and Fadzli set Dec 27 as his wedding date. But at the draw, the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) changed the date because of a clash with the Asean University Games (Dec 15-21),’’ Velappan said.
Velappan said that Abdul Sukur Adam would take over Fadzli’s role in defence. The other defenders in the team are K. Gobinathan, Engku Abdul Malik Engku Mohamed and Azrul Effendy Bistaman.
He added that Maybank were unlucky to lose to Ernst and Young in the semi-finals.
“We lost the first-leg match 1-2 but fought back to level the aggregate score at 2-2 in the second leg, only to concede a golden goal. My players are all fired up to get the better of Tenaga to finish third,’’ said Velappan.
The two matches in the league between Maybank and Tenaga both ended in 2-2 draws. The Tigers finished fourth in Division One and Tenaga were placed one rung above.
“We expect another tough match on Saturday. But the pressure will be on Tenaga as they have to salvage some pride after failing in the defence of the overall title,’’ said Velappan.
The Star of Malaysia
Sibling rivalry adds spice to script
By Ajitpal Singh
FAMILY ties will come to the fore when Sapura play Ernst & Young in the MHL-TNB Cup final at the KLHA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Sapura will have two pairs of brothers Keevan and Logan Raj and Jiwa and Jiwan Mohan while E&Y have the Misron siblings, Azlan and Azli.
To make it even more interesting, the head coaches of both teams are also brothers -- Sapura's K. Enbaraj and E&Y's Muhd Dharma Raj Abdullah.
E&Y, the league champions, are featuring in their seventh final and interestingly, they have yet to lift the overall title while Sapura are aiming for their third title in four years.
They won in 2005 and 2006.
E&Y, powered by a host of national players, will start as favourites as they defeated Sapura 2-1 and 2-0 in the league.
"I suppose a sibling rivalry is on the cards between me and my brother. I'm in my first year with Sapura, while Dharma Raj has vast experience as a coach," said Enbaraj yesterday.
"It will be sweet if my team can get the better of his. My players are training very hard for the final. I'm confident they will play to their ability and strength."
The champions will receive RM25,000 while the runners-up RM10,000.
The final will be beamed live over Astro's channel 811.
FIXTURES: Saturday -- Third placing: Tenaga Nasional v Maybank (3pm); Final: Ernst & Young v Sapura (5.30pm).
(Both matches at the KLHA Stadium in Jalan Pantai).
New Straits Times