All the news for Friday 2 January 2009
Pakistan hints at sending hockey team to India
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday hinted that it might send the national hockey team to India for a four-nation tournament despite the fact that India had pulled out its cricket team from a bilateral series.
“We are still considering sending our hockey team to India for the four-nation tournament but the decision will be taken in the wake of relations between the countries in coming days,” federal sports minister Pir Aftab Shah Jillani told reporters after chairing a meeting of the sports ministry and the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) here yesterday.
Jillani said his office was in close contact with the foreign office and the Pakistan High Commission in India and the final decision would be announced in a couple of days. “I have spoken to Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Shahid Malik and discussed the situation with him. We are closely monitoring the decreasing tension between the countries,” he added.
He said Pakistan would take all steps to ease the tensions instead of increasing the temperature but the security of national players would be the prime objective. “We will ensure security first before sending any team to India,” he replied to a question.
The minister, however, said that Pakistan could not ask India to send its cricket team to Pakistan because the series had already been cancelled.
The Daily Times
PHF keen to play hockey in India, govt to take final decision
KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation on Thursday said although it's keen to send the national team to India for a four-nation tournament later this month, a final decision on the tour would be taken by the Foreign Ministry.
PHF president Qasim Zia met sports ministry officials in Islamabad before announcing that the government and foreign office would take a final decision on sending the hockey team to India.
"We want to send our team to India because we feel it can help reduce the tensions between the two countries," Zia, an elected member of the ruling Pakistan People Party, said.
"We personally feel that sporting ties need to continue between Pakistan and India but the matter is in the hands of the government and foreign office," he added.
Pakistan is among three nations India invited to play in a double league invitational tournament in Jalandhar and Chandigarh in January.
Following the Mumbai terror attacks, the organisers reportedly are not very keen to host the Pakistan team and have apparently already made some alternate arrangements.
Zia, however, expressed his ignorance of any such move. "So far we have heard nothing of this sort from them," he said.
Sports Minister Aftab Shah Jillani said Thursday's meeting was held to finalise a summary to be sent to the government.
"There is a feeling that the security of our players might be of concern if they go to India now," he said.
"We don't want to mix politics and sports but the Indians set the wrong example by canceling their cricket team's tour to Pakistan. So we have to be careful while deciding on a policy of having sporting ties with India," he said.
The Times of India
New Zealand likely to replace Pakistan in Punjab Gold Cup
NEW DELHI: New Zealand is likely to replace Pakistan in the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament to be held in Chandigarh and Jalandhar from January 31.
Although, they are yet to confirm their participation for the tournament, former Olympian and Director of Punjab Sports Department Pargat Singh said in all likelihood, the Kiwis would replace Pakistan.
"Most probably New Zealand will replace Pakistan in the tournament. We have made invited them through ad-hoc committee and we are expecting an official confirmation within a day or two," Pargat said.
Pakistan were supposed to join Germany, the Netherlands and host India for the double-leg tournament but chances of their participation look slim after the Mumbai terror attacks strained the sporting ties between the two nations and India called off their cricket team's tour to Pakistan.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Thursday expressed keen interest to send the national team to India but said a final decision on the matter would be taken by the Foreign Ministry.
Though it's yet to be officially announced, the ad-hoc committee for Indian hockey virtually confirmed that Pakistan is out of the tournament.
"Pakistan is unlikely to tour India for the Punjab Gold Cup. We have discussed the matter with the Foreign Ministry as at the end of the day we are the sufferers of the Mumbai attacks," a member of the committee said.
Apart from New Zealand, invitations have been sent to a few other international teams, he said.
"We have already approached five or six nations as a replacement for Pakistan and we are waiting for responses from them. Some of them are little bothered about traveling to India after the Mumbai attacks."
The Times of India
New Zealand to replace Pakistan in Gold Cup
V Narayan Swamy, TNN
BANGALORE: New Zealand will replace Pakistan as the fourth team in the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament in Chandigarh, bringing to an end the uncertainty and speculation that threatened to mar the run-up to the four-nation event.
Punjab sports director Pargat Singh told TOI that the Black Sticks had confirmed their participation. "We are glad New Zealand accepted our invitation. We were keen on getting a good replacement for Pakistan and New Zealand, with all their top players in the squad, will make the competition even tougher."
The decision also sets at rest the question of Pakistan's participation in the January 31-February event. Ever since the Mumbai terror attacks, which led to the cancellation of the cricket team's tour to Pakistan, the opinion that India ought to severe sporting ties with their neighbour has pervaded government circles.
Even top officials in the IOA's ad-hoc committee said they were against inviting Pakistan to the tournament. In fact, the decision to look for another team for the Punjab tournament was virtually based on this premise. What also apparently goaded the ad-hoc committee, which helped the organisers rope in New Zealand, was the statement by the Pakistani bureaucracy that they weren't too keen on continuing sporting ties with India. A few days later, IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi announced that the country was indeed looking for a replacement for Pakistan.
"Hockey New Zealand were only too glad to play in the tournament," committee sources told TOI. "Obviously, they haven't toured India in a long time and the exposure would suit them fine. The tour would be bilateral as India are scheduled to visit New Zealand for a four-test series in February-March."
Teams in the fray: Germany (world ranking 1), the Netherlands (4), New Zealand (7), India (11).
The Times of India
Jalandhar dropped as venue for four-nation event
The four-nation Punjab Gold Cup will now be a single-leg event with the organizers dropping Jalandhar as a venue. The reason being attributed is the astro-turf at the Surjeet Singh Memorial Stadium that could nt be changed because of infighting between government departments.
Accordingly to sources in Punjab hockey, the astro-turf could not be replaced because of the dispute over the choice of artificial turf. A committee appointed by the Chief Minister had preferred the synthetic granule-based German made astro-turf to the outdated nylon-fibre turf.
What the Papers Say Today - Stick2Hockey.com
Chandigarh to witness top class hockey action
Prabhjot Singh, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 1 - With New Zealand nearly confirming its participation as a replacement for Pakistan, decks have been cleared for the four-nation double leg hockey tournament here. The tournament, to be organised by the Punjab Sports Department, will now feature Olympic champions Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and hosts India.
Originally, India wanted Pakistan to participate in the tournament. But the fallout of Mumbai blasts saw India withholding its invite to the Pakistan Hockey Federation and instead turning to both New Zealand and Australia. The chief executive of New Zealand hockey, Ramesh Patel, himself an Olympian, has promised to send the team subject to availability of players currently busy in playing the Netherlands Hockey League.
Since the Netherlands is sending its team, players from New Zealand will in all probability be released later this week or early next week. The double-leg four-nation tournament will fill in the gap created by the discontinuation of the Indian Premier League. Chandigarh had been playing host to the IPL for the last couple of years. Incidentally, the four-nation tournament will be conducted on almost the same dates on which the IPL matches used to be played here.
Chandigarh is also going to benefit from the Punjab government’s failure to replace the worn out Astroturf of Surjit Singh Randhawa Hockey Stadium at Burlton Park in Jalandhar. Originally, the Punjab Sports Department wanted the second leg and finals to be played at Jalandhar. But now all the matches will be played at the Sector 42 stadium here.
The dates that have been provisionally cleared by the International Hockey Federation are January 31 to February 9 with rest days on February 2, 5 and 8 and the final scheduled for February 9. “It will be a prize money tournament where each of the participating team will be eligible for either winners and runners up money or a minimum participation fee,” says Pargat Singh revealing that he was hoping to hear from Ramesh Patel by end of this week.
Meanwhile, the Indian probables that are attending a camp in Bhopal will go to Argentina to play a series of Test matches before the double-leg four-nation meet in Chandigarh.
Prabhakaran passes away
CHENNAI: V. Prabhakaran, elder brother of Olympian V. Baskaran and a former centre-forward of the State hockey team, passed away here on Thursday. He was 61.
A striker gifted with the power to shoot from every conceivable angle inside the circle, Prabhakaran played for the State for over a decade and a half, and also donned the national colours against Gemany and France in Tests in 1975-76.
Prabhakaran, who played for State Bank as the principal striker for over two decades, is survived by wife.
Baskaran’s two other brothers — V. Jeyasekaran and V. Vasikaran — had passed away a few months ago.
Players and coaches celebrate Bangkok triumph's 10th anniversary
BANGALORE: It was a team that comprised of 'over-the-hill' players, a team that had got the Indian Hockey Federation's goat only because it had re alised the virtues of collective effort. And, it was the team that endured several pitfalls before it reached Bangkok. This was Team India which won the 1998 Asiad hockey gold.
Thirty-two years was too a long time for anyone in that group to even remember India's previous Asiad triumph in 1966. For that matter, none of the players was born then. Yet, when the moment dawned on them at the Queen Sirikit stadium, it was nostalgia that flowed. Bangkok had seen India create history yet again. And, as the same pages of history tell us, it wasn't a smooth ride.
It was a year when the country had plummeted to the eighth position in the Utrecht World Cup. The Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur saw them hit another roadblock with the semifinal loss to Malaysia. The customary hack-and-sack methods of the IHF only added to the woes before one man decided he would have to take control.
"I was the IHF's coaching committee chairman then," said former India captain MP Ganesh. "When the IHF asked me to choose a coach to succeed V Baskaran, I opted for MK Kaushik." Kaushik's entry was marked by derision and distrust. The first comment as he went about choosing players - including Sandeep Somesh and goalkeepers Ashish Ballal and AB Subbaiah, who had announced his retirement after he was dropped for the World Cup - was that he was putting together a dad's army.
But the resolve that Kaushik showed in standing by these players was admirable. "Kaushik came to my house to request me to return to hockey," says Subbaiah. "I had quit in disgust. But the coach was so earnest that I couldn't say no."
Then came the task of team building. Training at SAI South Centre was an unmixed blessing as Ganesh was in direct charge. Each aspect was taken care of. More importantly, the seniors were an integral part of strategising, leading to ideas that actually worked and a happy situation where the players were made to feel wanted. "It was one of the best teams I have played for," says Ashish Ballal. "There are plenty of happy memories. I wouldn't say there were no differences of opinion but that only helped in making us sharper. The rivalry was intense but positive. Each goal scored by one player only pushed the other to get another. All this was made possible only because we had Kaushik. He was too keen that we felt and stayed united. There was his personal touch to the team-building efforts."
This, coupled with tense moments when skipper Dhanraj Pillay came perilously close to being ejected from the camp after run-ins with the team management added enough spice to hockey lore.
"The league phase was easy. I would say beating Korea twice in the tournament (in the league and in the final) was a great achievement," Sandeep said.
In the final, Kaushik brought two major changes in the roles of Md Riaz and Sandeep. Riaz, the inside right, was asked to control the midfield while Sandeep, the central midfielder, was asked to mark Korean marauder Song Seung-Tae. "I wasn't very happy at my own decision. But Sandeep was a player always ready to adapt to the coach's needs," says Kaushik. "As a centre-half, Sandeep was always a constructive player. But I wanted him to play destructive hockey on that day by shadowing Song. He did it beautifully."
The 1-1 score line at extra-time and Ballal's two heroic saves in the shootout are still discussed in hockey circles but what is not mentioned in the same breath is the 'stunner' that a nervous Mukesh Kumar managed in the fourth push. Aiming at the roof of the net, he lunged forward only to prod the ball to bounce harmlessly on the turf towards the goal. Apparently, the anti-climax caught the South Korean goalkeeper on the wrong foot!
"Quite a contrast, if you compare the way Ballal and Subbaiah studied video tapes of the Korean penalty strokes and the way many of our players, including Dhanraj, shied away from the penalty shootout. In the end, the four who volunteered - Riaz, Dhillon, Ramandeep and Mukesh - delivered," said Kaushik.
What the Papers Say Today - Stick2Hockey.com
Hockey trials on January 3 and 4
BANGALORE: The Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF) will hold trials on January 3 and 4 to select the junior and senior teams for international tournaments in the coming weeks.
A 16-member junior team will be chosen for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival from January 14 to 18, a four-nation tournament which will also see hosts Australia, US and England in action. Another 22-member senior squad will fly out to Santiago for a four-nation from January 16. The meet also has Italy, Argentina and Chile in the fray. The Indians will then move to Argentina for a four-test series from January 24 to 29.
The Indian men's team too has planned similar tours to both Australia and Argentina around the same time. The four sessions of the trials will be attended by IWHF president Vidya Stokes, technical director MP Ganesh, selectors Harbinder Singh and Rajbir Rai and govt nominee Roopa Saini.
The Times of India
Ad-hoc committee to put system in place
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Chennai: The ad-hockey committee of Tamil Nadu Hockey Association, which met here on Wednesday, decided to put a system in place to give talented players from the State their due. The ad-hoc committee's first task is to select a fair Tamil Nadu team for the National Games in Jharkhand (hockey events in Ranchi) in the second week of February.
"We all felt we would be able to do a fair job in selecting the side," said Aziz, the convener of the committee. Olympian V Baskaran and women's association secretary Renuka Lakshmi are the other members.
Aziz said the committee met in the presence of the Tamil Nadu Olympic Association officials to chalk out a clear work schedule for hockey in the State. "The problem was that even some of the districts did not have a proper association in place,"said Aziz.
"The TNOA felt the ad-hockey committee is the right choice as two associations claimed majority in the State and cases were going on in the courts. Until such time they are over and proper elections held, the TNOA felt the ad-hockey committee should run the affairs of the body."
What the Papers Say Today - Stick2Hockey.com
Still no assistant secretary, general manager
By Jugjet Singh
THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have yet to name an assistant secretary or have a general Manager after holding their Biennial General Meeting in October last year.
Before the elections, N. Krishnan was assistant to Hashim Yusoff, but he was not named to continue his duties, as newly elected president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had said that another candidate will be named soon.
But is has been two months since, and the MHF are running without an assistant secretary or a general manager.
“No, we have not named an assistant to Hashim, and neither do we have a general manager.
“This is because Tengku Abdullah had said that he will name the assistant secretary, while we have requested for a general manager from the NSC (National Sports Council), but have yet to receive any recommendations,” said MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad.
The MHF previously had K. Paramasivam as their general manager, but after Raja Nazrin Shah moved out of hockey, the post has been left vacant since 2006.
On another matter, Azmi said preparations for the Junior World Cup are running smoothly.
“I recently met the players and had a talk with them, and they were in great spirits. Even though there are still some aspects lacking in players, I am confident the coach (K. Rajan) will be able to overcome them before the middle of next year,” said Azmi.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup on June 7-21, with 20 teams competing for the title last won by Argentina in 2004.
The 20 teams which have qualified for the World Cup are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Players’ fitness is Beng Hai priority
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey team will resume training on Monday and the first order of business will be a fitness test on the players.
All the 34 players from the previous training squad have been retained and they will again be tested by the National Sports Institute (NSI), who have records of the results of tests done on them four months ago.
Chief interim coach Tai Beng Hai (pic) said that all the players would be given the chance to prove their worth to retain their places in the team.
“The early phase of training will be on the fitness aspect and the results of the tests will give us an idea of what to expect from the players,” he said yesterday.
Beng Hai will be assisted by Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan. They will handle the team until the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) hire a foreign coach on a long-term basis.
“We will not make any judgments on the players just yet. We want them to complete the physical training first. That is crucial as they do not have much time to prepare for the two assignments lined up over the next five months,” said Beng Hai.
The team will play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from April 3-12 and then the Asia Cup in Dubai from May 8-13. The Asia Cup is also a qualifying event for the 2010 World Cup Finals and the champions will gain an automatic berth.
The MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmed, said that the interim coaches would get a free hand to handle the training programme for the team as they deemed fit.
“Until the foreign coach comes in, the interim coaches will get the job done their way and follow their own programme. The players need to get back to work immediately and we do not want to waste time,” he said.
Azmi added that none of the players in the training squad had informed the MHF that they wanted out.
“We expect all the players from the previous squad to check in for training on Monday. If there are any injuries or players who have special needs, we will deal with them when they come in,” he said.
The Star of Malaysia
MHF scrap plan for friendly meet in Johor Baru
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have discarded the plan to stage a four-nation hockey tournament in Johor Baru to test facilities for the Junior World Cup Finals, which they will co-host with Singapore in June.
The MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmed, said that they were cancelling the tournament scheduled for March for financial reasons.
“It is going to cost us a lot of money to bring teams here and at the end of it, they will benefit at our expense,” he said.
“Our team will not be short on training at the venue because we plan to move their base there in March.
“Instead of spending money on a four-nation tournament, we can get our team to go on an European tour for some quality practice matches.”
The four-nation tournament with matches also played in Singapore was proposed by the previous MHF council after a meeting with the co-hosts. Singapore are now likely to stage a “trial run” on their own.
Azmi added that the stadium in Taman Daya in Johor Baru should be fully ready by March.
“We are willing to accommodate foreign teams to come to Johor Baru for training or Test matches. For us, the main thing is cost and we need to be prudent about it,” he said.
The Junior World Cup Finals from June 7-21 involve 20 teams and Malaysia and Singapore will each host two groups of the preliminary rounds. The semi-finals and final will be played in Johor Baru.
Meanwhile, Azmi said that they would be taking 26 players to Sydney for several friendly matches and also the four-nation Australian Youth Olympic Festival tournament scheduled for Jan 14-18.
On their return from Australia, the team will have a one-month commando-style training stint in Lumut.
The Star of Malaysia