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News for 09 March 2015

All the news for Monday 9 March 2015

HWL R2 San Diego: O’Donoghue stars as Ireland emerge triumphant

Canada cruise to victory over Russia to seal 3rd place and seal berth in Olympic qualifiers

(Photo: © 2015 Paul Winstanley)

Player of the Tournament Shane O’Donoghue made his mark on the Hockey World League for the second day in succession by scoring the winner goal as Ireland (FIH World Ranking: 12) claimed a 2-1 triumph over Austria (WR: 18) in the final of the men’s Round 2 event in San Diego.

O’Donoghue, who scored both of the goals in Ireland’s 2-0 semi-final victory over Canada, fired home a 35th minute penalty corner to give the Green Machine a glorious 2-1 victory after early strikes from Mitch Darling and Austria’s Michael Körper left the scores locked at 1-1.

The tournament win was very much the icing on the cake for Ireland who, like Austria, had already sealed a safe passage through to the Olympic qualification phase of the Hockey World League by winning their respective semi-finals.

The one remaining ticket to the Hockey World League Semi-Finals was claimed by Canada (WR: 14), who produced a fine performance to overpower Russia (WR: 19) 4-1 in the 3rd place play-off match. Goals from Mark Pearson, Gabriel Ho-Garcia, Iain Smythe and Taylor Curran proved to be more than enough for the Canadians, with Igor Siniagin grabbing a consolation goal for the Russians late in the game.

Earlier in the day, Chile (WR: 25) took 5th place with a shoot-out victory against Italy (WR: 32), while tournament top scorer Pat Harris bagged a hat-trick to help host nation USA (WR: 27) to a 7th place finish thanks to a 5-3 triumph over Trinidad & Tobago (WR: 30). To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.

A total of nine qualification places for the HWL Semi-Finals are available in Round 2, with the top three finishers at each of the tournaments in Singapore (SIN), San Diego (USA) and Cape Town (RSA) all being certain to compete in the next phase. Ireland, Austria and Canada are joined by Malaysia, Poland and Japan, who all qualified for the HWL Semi-Finals thanks to top three finishes at the event in Singapore (SIN) earlier this year. To learn about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.

Complete tournament information from San Diego can be found on the official tournament microsite.

Final Standings:

1: Ireland - Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
2: Austria - Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
3: Canada - Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
4: Russia
5: Chile
6: Italy
7: USA
8: Trinidad & Tobago

Individual Awards:

Player of the Tournament: Shane O'Donoghue (IRL)
Top Scorer: Pat Harris (USA) - 7 goals
Young Player of the Tournament: Francesco Padovani (ITA)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: David Harte (IRL)

FIH site

Canada book last ticket for World League semi-finals
Yan Huckendubler, PAHF

Ireland won the Final against Austria (2-1), cherry on the cake for the two teams after already qualifying the day before for next round of the World League. Canada booked the last ticket available for the World League semi-final with a significant win over Russia (4-1).

In the lower tier, Chile were pushed all the way to shoot-outs by a valiant Italian team that were the good surprise of the competition, while the USA left the wooden spoon to Trinidad & Tobago after a high scoring match (5-3).

Individual Awards:
-        Top Goal-scorer: Pat Harris, USA, 7 goals
-        Player of the Tournament: Shane O'Donoghue, Ireland
-        Goal-keeper of the Tournament: David Harte, Ireland
-        Best Junior Player of the Tournament: Francesco Padovani, Italy

Final - Ireland vs. Austria: 2-1 (ht: 1-1)

The Final was the cherry on the cake for two teams having already qualified for the next round of the World League. The weather was perfect for hockey, sunny with a cool breeze, and Ireland were fast in action, Michael Darling scoring in the second minute of play after a run on the left and an energetic circle penetration. Austria were not to be outdone and scored on their first penalty-corner by Michael Körper in the 4th minute.

The offensive tone of the match was set and play was flowing back and forth at high speed, both teams displaying their skills and organization. The show was entertaining but with no further goal in the opening quarter. Both teams (and coaches) seemed to enjoy playing with less pressure than earlier in the competition. Tempo (and tempters) increased later in the period, but no more goals were scored and teams walked in the half-time break back-to-back (1-1).

Play was certainly balanced but Ireland took a slight advantage in the 35th minute when Shane O'Donoghue slotted a low penalty-corner in goal. Austria were quick to reply but David Harte stood tall in the Irish goal, first on a high penalty-corner flick then on the subsequent messy action in front of him. Ireland were progressively tightening the screw on the opposition and play was confined for long sequences in Austrian defensive territory.

Somehow, surprisingly for a match with not much at stake, tempters flared and Austria played two-men short for a while on a green and a yellow card. Ireland could however not capitalize and score stayed at 2-1 at the end of the third quarter. Ireland had a chance on a penalty-corner early in the last quarter but their triple layoff did not pay. They were however dominating the proceedings, making the Austrians run after their passes.

Austria had a last ditch effort with a penalty-corner with three minutes to go, but Michael Körper’s shot by countered by a running defender. Körper picked up a yellow card on the next action and Ireland immediately earned a penalty-corner. They tried again a fancy option, to no avail, but time was running out and the Irish were soon celebrating winning this competition, while both teams were of course satisfied to have reached their goal of qualifying for the semi-finals of the World League.

3rd-4th place - Canada vs. Russia: 4-1 (ht: 2-0)

Match for 3rd place was certainly the most important of the day, as the teams would not only compete for final ranking in the competition but mainly to grab the last berth on offer for the semi-finals of the World League.

Before the match, Canadian Adam Froese was honored for his 100th International Cap.

Both teams were nervous in the opening stages, careful not to expose themselves. Russia managed to penetrate a couple times the Canadian defense with aerial balls finding high forwards, but Dave Carter was steady in goal. Russia won a penalty-corner in the 8th minute, well defended by the Canadians.

The Russians were certainly more in the match than the Canadians in this opening quarter, creating many dangerous situations around the circle. However, it was the North Americans who scored first (by Mark Pearson), somewhat against the run of play on one of their incursions in Russian territory.

Canada had two penalty-corners in the opening minute of second quarter but Scott Tupper’s flicks were saved on the line. Gabriel Ho-Garcia however scored on the following action and the Canadian fans in the stands started to breathe easier. The Russians reacted well and forced a penalty-corner, but to no avail. They were the ones nervous now, and received a green and a yellow card, giving away another penalty-corner to Canada, but Marat Gafarov in the Russian goal saved for the fourth time Tupper’s low flick.

It was not a day for the penalty-corner specialists as Russia missed another opportunity to a fast running defender, and half-time was reached with the tenuous but precious two-goal lead for Canada.

Play was locked in midfield for a while at the beginning of second half, then suddenly opened up. Russia had a chance on a cross that rolled tantalizingly in front of the empty net before been cleared, then David Carter in the Canadian goal stood tall on a violent shot from close range,

but the Russians received a yellow card to follow and the Canadians had some breathing room for a while. They took advantage to score their third goal by Iain Smythe, building a more comfortable cushion at the end of third quarter.

The Canadians knew that the fourth quarter would be hard, with the Russians throwing at them everything they had left, but they maintained their structure and composure in front of the intense pressure. Russia hit the post on a penalty-corner in the 50th minute and, with time ticking down on the clock, too slow for the Canadians but too fast for the Russians, tension became palpable on the pitch and on the team benches.

Just when it seemed that the Canadians were starting to run out of steam, Taylor Curran added a fourth goal for what looked like an unsurmountable lead. Canada had to play the final minutes short on a yellow card and Russia pulled one goal back by Igor Siniagin with three minutes to go, but it was too little too late and the Canadians were soon celebrating the win and their tickets for the semi-finals of the World League.

5th-6th place -  Italy vs. Chile: 1-1 (ht: 1-1 + shoot-outs: 0-3)

The match was revenge from pool play when Italy surprised Chile (2-1). The Italians had already achieved an excellent tournament, but seemed keen to do even better and boldly controlled the initial phases of the match, playing some positive hockey around the Chilean circle. Alfredo Mella, in goal for Chile in this match, was under pressure but kept his team in the game, giving them time to settle down and organize.

In the Californian sun cooled down by a pleasant breeze, the match was entertaining, with chances at both ends. First penalty-corner of the match was for Chile after a rare incursion in the Italian defensive territory, but it was well defended by Francesco Padovani, in fine form during this whole competition.

The match continued animated in second period, and Italy earned a penalty-corner after a long run by Agustin Nunez on the right wing. Chile, already short on a green card, lost a defender too eager to run, and Thomas Keenan scored in the 35th minute the long awaited goal, celebrated by the Italian fans in surprising number on the sideline. This certainly boosted the Chileans and they immediately forced a penalty-corner of their own and Nicolas Renz made no mistake to slot the ball high in goal to level the score.

Both teams were alternating aerial balls and long rushes and play was swinging wildly from one end to the other. Tempters were also starting to heat up and umpires needed to stop play to cool down the players. The two teams were still deadlocked at the end of third quarter, with the feeling that the result could swing for the team better able to maintain composure.

Everybody was eager to make the difference before the dreaded shoot-out competition. Chile had the best chance to score but Francesco Padovani saved his team once again. With yellow cards raining left and right in the final minutes of the match, no more goals were scored and the matter had to be settled in a shoot-out competition.

One Italian shooter hit the crossbar and two shot wide, giving the fifth place to Chile. Italy can however be very satisfied by their performance in this competition: not only were they competitive in every game (their initial team goal) but they finished two notches above their entry ranking.

7th-8th place - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA: 3-5 (ht: 0-2)

The two teams last met in an official competition for the bronze medal of the 2013 Pan American Cup, with a happy ending for the Trinidadians who conquered their first ever Pan American medals.

USA were quick in action in the early morning coolness and controlled the initial stages of the match. They were rewarded for their hard work in the 12th minute when Tyler Sundeen managed to beat Ron Alexander for the only goal of first quarter. The Americans doubled their tally in the 17th minute after a long ball found Christian Linney alone at the top of the circle for a clinical reverse stick finish.

Kwan Browne tried to inject some speed in the Caribbean attacks but the Americans were canvassing the pitch tightly and fighting for every ball, so the Trinidadians could not find a way through and the half-time break was reached with the 2-goal advantage for the Americans.

Both teams built up chances in third quarter but the spectators had to wait for the 41st minute to see another goal, when Akim Toussaint turned his defender and slotted a powerful reverse shot out of reach of Christopher Rea in the American goal to reduce the gap to one goal. This boosted the USA and they replied just before the end of the quarter by Pat Harris, well positioned to tap in a perfect cross by William Holt.

Trinidad & Tobago had a chance on a penalty-corner early in fourth quarter but Browne’s flick was deflected wide. They were more successful in the 54th minute when Shaquille Daniel deflected their next penalty-corner just in front of the goal-keeper to reduce once again the gap to one unit. It did not last long, as Pat Harris scored his second goal of the match on the next action!

The seesaw continued when Shaquille Daniel deflecting again a penalty-corner. Trinidad & Tobago pushed desperately in the final minutes, but depleted their defense and Pat Harris completed his hat-trick in the final minute of play for a 5-3 American win.

The home team USA took the 7th spot of their event, leaving the wooden spoon to Trinidad & Tobago, both teams finishing one level lower than their entry ranking.

Final Standings:
1) Ireland         Qualified for World League semi-finals
2) Austria         Qualified for World League semi-finals
3) Canada       Qualified for World League semi-finals
4) Russia
5) Chile
6) Italy
7) USA
8) Trinidad & Tobago

PAHF Media release

Gold in San Diego for Green Machine

Player of the tournament Shane O’Donoghue was once again the goal-scoring hero as his 35th  minute goal saw Ireland beat Austria 2-1 in San Diego, capping a superb week with a sixth successive victory.
As a result of Craig Fulton’s side’s impressive exploits, they will travel to World League round three in Buenos Aires, Argentina in June to compete for an Olympic berth – the primary goal from this tournament.
They did in style, winning the competition with a perfect record, scoring 29 times and conceding just five goals. They also won all the players awards with O’Donoghue, with six key goals, the tournament’s top man while David Harte got the goalkeeper prize.
Ireland’s semi-final win over Canada meant the pressure was off to some extent with qualification for the next phase of the competition assured and they duly got off to a flyer in the final. Mitch Darling scored when he got on the end of Conor Harte’s searching pass for a second minute lead.
It only lasted a short while, though, as Michael Korper roofed Austria’s second penalty corner with just four minutes on the clock as the sides played a much more open tie than when they met in the group stages.
Darling and Bruce McCandless went close to restoring the Irish lead, the former hitting the side-netting early in the second quarter. Austria, meanwhile, were sitting half-court and playing on the break and looked dangerous on the counter, drawing the best from David Harte.
The tie soon got fractious with Chris Cargo, Kirk Shimmins, Patrick Stanzl and Bartosz Szmidt spending time in the sin-bin before half-time. Three more players shipped green cards in the third quarter while Leon Thornblom took a yellow for a foul on Peter Caruth.
Ireland retook the lead during this phase from a penalty corner that Conor Harte dummied, allowing the ball to be switched to O’Donoghue who shot through Michael Mantler’s defences.
David Harte saved an Austrian corner at the far end to retain the narrow lead going into the final quarter. Ireland let one corner slip before Austria got a set piece chance to level the game with four minutes to go but Korper's effort was brilliantly charged down.
Both sides ended with ten men as Korper and Alan Sothern were shown yellow cards down the final stretch as Ireland closed out the tournament victory.
They can now look forward to a shot at Olympic qualification in Argentina where they will be part of a ten-team tournament with potentially six tickets to Rio de Janeiro on the line.

Ireland 2 (Mitch Darling, Shane O’Donoghue) Austria 1 (Michael Korper)
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, A Sothern, E Magee, M Darling, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S O’Donoghue
Subs: J Bell, S Dowds, P Caruth, K Shimmins, B McCandless, D Carlisle
Austria: M Mantler, F Zeidler, S Eitenberger, M Korper, D Frohlich, B Szmidt, B Stanzl, F Steyrer, R Bele, M Minar, D Uher
Subs: M Podpera, A Bele, P Schmidt, L Thornblom, P Stanzl, J Heimans

Irish Hockey Association media release

Canada bests Russia and earns spot at World League 3

Canadians finish third at World League 2, Russians fourth

Shaheed Devji

In a rematch between Pool B's top two teams, the Canadian Men's National Field Hockey Team defeated Russia 4-1 to take 3rd place at World League Round 2 on Sunday at World League Round 2 in Chula Vista, California.

With the win, Canada finishes also earns a spot in World League Round 3 in June, where the top six teams can qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Two teams met last Sunday in pool play with Russia edging the Canadians 2-1 after Canada led for the majority of the match and arguably was the better team.

The game began with tight defense from both sides, neither wanting to give up the all important first goal.

The first big chance of the game came on a Russian penalty corner when Canadian keeper David Carter was forced to make a great save to keep the game scoreless.

The first card of the game was issued to Canadian Mark Pearson in the ninth minute. It didn't cost Canada, in fact Pearson's exuberance was rewarded minutes later when he netted the game's first goal in the twelvth minute to give Canada the 1-0 after the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Canada was given a penalty corner and added to their lead.

The first attempt was thwarted by Russian keeper Evgeny Mokrousov, but persistence from the Canadians resulted in Gabriel Ho-Garcia finding the back of the net for the first time in the tournament to give Canada a two-goal lead after seventeen minutes.

Before halftime, Canada had a great chance to add to its lead when two Russians were given cards in the 20th minute.

With the advantage, Canada managed to earn a penalty corner but Mokrousov was able to close the door and keep the Russians only two behind at half.

Canada defended well in the third quarter and was rewarded with another goal in the fortieth minute.

Iain Smythe, who has been a steady offensive contributor throughout the tournament, added his third of the competition on a field goal to give Canada a seemingly insurmountable lead with twenty minutes to play.

Russia had opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the fourth and final quarter. A penalty corner with ten minutes to play was rung off the post behind Carter and the score remained 3-0.

Taylor Curran scored Canada's final goal of the match in the fifty-fifth minute, while Russia's lone goal was scored by Igor Siniagin in th the fifty-eighth.

Also of note, Canadian defender Adam Froese played in his 100th international match for Canada.

Canada's victory gives them a spot in World League Round 3 in Argentina in June. They will now have two chances to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The first is to place in the top six at World League Round 3 and the second is by winning gold at the upcoming Pan American Games in Toronto this summer.

Field Hockey Canada media release

 A Pitch Victory and Harris' Hat Trick Highlight Team USA's Final World League Match

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The U.S. Men’s National Team sealed their final game of Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 competition with a concrete 5-3 win over Trinidad and Tobago. The premier event brought eight international rosters together to Team USA’s backyard at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. During the span of the six day tournament, the young squad lived out positive progress with each match; today wasn’t an outlier.

“It was amazing to host this event,” said USMNT athlete Tom McCarthy (East Windsor, Conn.). “Although we didn’t get the desired event placement, overall we put in some great performances during the week. We’re closing the gap to the next step with concentration and focus.”

Meeting Trinidad and Tobago for the second time in this event, USA’s composure was evident as they were able to dominate the first 15 minutes. Passes between players were crisp, stops were flawless, and USA was able to keep the ball on their attacking side. United States’ Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) was the first to strike in the 12th minute of play, cranking the ball into the corner of the goal off of a reverse shot and lighting up the scoreboard for the first time in the game.

In the second quarter, the USMNT held poise under spurts of high voltage offense from Trinidad and Tobago. Team USA’s Adam Miller (Panama City, Fla.) was able to feed the ball to Christian Linney (San Diego, Calif.) who fired a profitable reverse chip into the back of the cage in the 17th minute of play to create a score of USA 2, Trinidad and Tobago 0. Goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.), along with the rest of USA’s defense,  was able to work together and keep the ball out of key dangerous areas.

The second half began with Trinidad and Tobago hungry to generate more attack opportunities. In the 41st minute Akim Toussaint sent a ball on cage past the goal line to get onto the scoreboard. With tenacity, the United States responded in the 45th minute when USA's Captain Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) slammed a ball into the cage making the score USA 3, Trinidad and Tobago 1 going into the fourth quarter. The game flow shifted again to Trinidad and Tobago’s attacking end with Shaquille Daniel’s beeline shot on target where a fellow teammate was able to tip the ball over USA's keeper for a goal. As Trinidad and Tobago started closing the differential, Harris perfectly positioned himself in the attack end to further the goal gap in the 55th minute. Daniel was able to recreate the same score scenario in the 57th minute with a goal. Not content with that potential match report, Harris located in the sweet spot drove a ball into the net at the 59th minute to earn a hat trick and write a score of USA 5, Trinidad and Tobago’s 3. The USMNT finished in seventh place for tournament standings.

“We can play with all of these teams at the tournament and our match against Austria proved that,” said Head Coach Chris Clements. “Unfortunately, we didn’t finish where we wanted to but our process, our planning and our performance is of that level and it needs to be there for every minute of every match. We have a very talented young team and with being the youngest team here you have to learn lessons along the way. We’ll keep doing everything within our power that is necessary to continue with positive steps forward.”

Continue to follow the U.S. Men’s National Team as they buildup to the Pan American Games hosted in Toronto this July on usafieldhockey.com. #HWL2015 #RoadToRio

USFHA media release

USA condemns Calypso Stickmen to eighth

T&T’s Nicholas Triston Grant and Italian Augustin Nunez challenge each other for the ball at the FIH World Hockey League Round Two qualifiers in Chula Vista Olympic Training Centre, San Diego, California, on Saturday. T&T lost 2-1.

T&T’s national hockey team ended at the bottom of the eight-team standings, following a 5-3 loss to USA in their seventh spot playoff when the FIH World Hockey League Men’s Round Two qualifiers concluded at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Centre, San Diego, California, yesterday.

Beaten in their five previous matches in the competition, by Russia (6-1), USA (7-1) and Canada (3-0) in Pool B round-robin play as well as 12-2 by Ireland in the quarterfinals, and 2-1 by Italy in the losers semifinal, the Solomon Eccles-captained T&T squad was hopeful of ending the tournament on a hight.

However, the Americans, had other ideas and took early control with a goal from Tyler Sundeen in the 12th minute to lead 1-0 at the end of the first quarter while five minutes into the second quarter, Christian Linney made it 2-0 which his team took into the half.

T&T, managed to pull a goal back in the 41st minute, but American standout, Pat Harris restored his team’s two-goal cushion with a 45th minute goal.

Shaquille Daniel provided T&T with some hope when he cut the lead to 3-2 in the 54th minute, but within seconds, Harris got his second of the match for the host to lead 4-2.

Three minutes later, Daniel also notched his second for the world 30th ranked T&T to trail 4-3, but hopes of a late rally were dashed with Harris completing his hat-trick two minutes after which his team ran down the final minute of regulation time to seal seventh spot.

In the battle for fifth spot, Chile got the better of Italy 2-0 via penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Thomas Keenan put the Europeans ahead in the 35th minute, but Nicolas Renz drew the South Americans levels, and in the shoot-out, Ricardo Achondo and Felipe Eggers converted for the winners while Keenan, Daniele Cioli and Alexis Berczely were off target for Italy.

Last night, in the finals, Ireland came up against Austria, with both teams already assure of qualification to the Hockey World League semi-finals (Round Three), where coveted berths at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are up for grabs, while Canada and Russia met for third, and the other available spot to the next round.

This after Ireland blanked Canada 2-0 and Austria outlasted Russia 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 regulation-time draw on Saturday night.

Malaysia, Poland and Japan have all qualified for the HWL semifinals thanks to top three finishes at the event in Singapore (SIN) earlier this year.

The remaining qualifiers involving host South Africa, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France and Switzerland flicked off Saturday in Cape Town until March 15.

The Trinidad Guardian

SA hockey men edge Egypt in 5-goal thriller

JONATHAN COOK at Hartleyvale

SA midfielder Clint Panther leaves Egypt's Karim Atef (4) and Ashraf Said (15) in his wake. ACTION PIX

In an action-packed Test match that oozed class and huge endeavour, the SA men’s hockey team outlasted arch-continental rivals Egypt 3-2 at Hartleyvale in Cape Town Sunday to go top of Pool A in the Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 tournament.

SA earned two log points on Saturday against China, one for the enthralling 4-4 draw and another for winning the penalty shootout 4-3. In International Hockey Federation (FIH) events there has to be a winner in each match.

Amastokkestokke meet Switzerland in their last Pool A match on Tuesday at 6.30pm and a solid win will ensure they finish top of the pool and set up what should in practice be a relatively straight forward Thursday quarter-final against the bottom team in Pool B, which is likely to be Azerbaijan.

SA carved open a hatful of opportunities in each of the four chukkas of 15 minutes apiece as they ran and passed with a purpose that was markedly improved for the China match. Egypt were not far off the mark either and it made for a fiercely competitive Africa continent derby.

After strikers Taine Paton, Julian Hykes and Pierre de Voux had made their presence felt with electrifying combination play, defender Rhett Halkett stepped up to slot home from the penalty spot in sixth ,minute, leaving keeper Mohamed Gamal with no chance.

Gamal was a rock in goal for Egypt during this absorbing clash and on the stroke of the first quarter’s end he foiled a Clint Panther combination play with Paton. The SA defenders also had their hands full at times and Dylan Swanepoel and Matt Guise-Brown, the outside halves, were called on to make crucial interventions, as were their team-mates on a number of occasions during the match.

Rassie Pieterse in the SA goal also made several top-class saves as shots flew in at all angles during the match. Hykes and fellow front-man Shannon Boucher tested Gamal further as SA went into the halfway stage 1-0 up.

Time Drummond and Paton put Egypt under pressure before Hykes unleashed a piledriver to out SA 2-0 up in the 37th minute. But three minutes from the third quarter being wrapped up (42nd minute) Hamada Atef struck from a penalty corner (2-1).

Not 40 seconds into the fourth and final chukka (47th minute) SA launched yet another attack and Paton, faced with two equally promising passing options, slipped the ball left to De Voux who finished with aplomb (3-1).

But virtually from the re-start Egypt were again within striking distance when Waleed Mohamed finished in great style (3-2).

There was drama aplenty in the closing stages with SA feeling aggrieved at some decisions that might have had significant consequences on the outcome, but Amastokkestokke held firm.


Pool B
Belarus 4 Azerbaijan 3
France 4 Czech Republic 0.

Pool A:
China 5 Switzerland 1
South Africa 3 Egypt 2.

Pool A:
1 South Africa 5pts (goal difference +1);
2 China 4pts (GD+4)
3 Egypt 3pts (GD+3);
4 Switzerland 0pts (GD -8).

Pool B:
1 France 6pts (GD+8)
2 Czech Republic 3pts (GD-2)
3 Belarus 3pts (GD-3);
4 Azerbaijan 0pts (GD-5).

Pool B: France vs Belarus (11h45); Azerbaijan vs Czech Republic (14h00).
Pool A: China vs Egypt (16h15); South Africa vs Switzerland (18h30).

SA Hockey Association media release

India struggles past Poland

Uthra Ganesan

India's Poonam Rani (15) slotted home a rebound in the 26th minute in the match against Poland in the Hero Hockey World League. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

India struggled to get past a defensive Poland, registering a 2-0 victory in its second match of the Hero Hockey World League round two at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday.

India was on the attack from the start, but the attempts were off-target. Deep Grace Ekka had a good opportunity in the 12th minute but her first strike was deflected by Polish goalkeeper Marta Kucharska, and her second rebounded off the post.

Vandana Katariya opened the scoring with a backhand shot from the top of the striking circle a minute later. Poonam Rani doubled the lead in the 26th, slotting in a rebound after Amandeep Kaur’s shot from the left was blocked by Marta. But thereafter, there was little to excite in the game.

After a dominating 13-0 victory against Ghana on Saturday, India looked a completely different side, disjointed and seemingly unfocussed in the proceedings. Playing in constant drizzle, World No. 13 India committed numerous errors throughout the game, missing sitters in front of the goal and mis-passing in the middle to make heavy weather of the lower-ranked Poles. Ranked 26th, Poland was expected to provide little resistance, but surprised with some gritty defending.

Marta brought off some good saves even as the Indians were profligate with their chances.

Poland, on the other hand, made little effort to try and score, relying on the occasional counter-attack to get a look-in.

In fact, Poland earned the first penalty corner of the match in the 10th minute through a counter-attack, but frittered the chance as the drag-flicker pushed over the cage.

Coach Roelant Oltmans played both goalkeepers — Rajani and Savita — for two quarters each, but neither was tested. India earned its only penalty corner of the match two minutes from time, but Jaspreet Kaur’s weak shot was easily saved by Marta.

With Monday being a rest day, India will look to regroup for its final league match against Thailand, which beat Ghana 3-1 in its second league match, on Tuesday.

In Group B, Malaysia registered a 3-0 win over Russia while Vera Domashneva's twin strikes helped Kazakhstan win its first points in the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Singapore.

The results: Group A: India 2 (Vandana Katariya, Poonam Rani) bt Poland 0; Thailand 3 (Chantree Yungyuen 2, Kornkanok Sanpoung) bt Ghana 1 (Georgina Sam).

Group B: Kazakhstan 4 (Vera Domashneva 2, Natalya Sazontova, Olga Khonina) bt Singapore 0; Malaysia 3 (Juliani Din, Fazilla Sylvester Silin, Hanis Onn) bt Russia 0.

The Hindu

Indian women beat Poland 2-0 in Hockey World League Round 2

NEW DELHI: Indian women's hockey team notched up their second consecutive win in the FIH World League Round 2 with a 2-0 victory over Poland at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Sunday.

Vandana Katariya and Poonam Rani scored a goal each for India in their second league match. The home side had mauled Ghana 13-0 in their opening match on Saturday.

The game displayed a set of fearless performances by both the teams and in the initial minutes itself, Poland was awarded with the first penalty corner of the game.

The girls made clever attempts to convert the opportunity but failed to capitalize it. On the other hand, India opened the first quarter on the front foot showing some strength and dynamism and Vandana Katariya smacked the ball hard with a deflection and scored the first goal of the match in the 13th minute of the game taking a 1-0 lead.

Maintaining the same momentum in the second quarter, India started with the proceedings and tried to create scoring opportunities by surrounding the D of the opponents.

While both the teams made desperate attempts to put themselves into the frame, Poland team displayed good coordination trying to close the gaps by holding on to the possession of the ball.

India took an advantage of the counter attack and it was Poonam Rani who took the reception and stroked in a field goal in the 26th minute and doubled the lead to 2-0.

With the change of both the ends, Poland tried to put in continuous pressure but was unable to break down the resolute defence of the Indian team. Indian girls made constant efforts to stop the ball from the right flank and showcased wonderful interception throughout the match.

India was seen on the dominating side right through the beginning but unfortunately failed to convert the scoring opportunities on the couple of occasions. As both the teams were unable to score any goals, the score remained stagnant at 2-0 by the end of the third quarter.

Entering into the last quarter of the game, the two teams were seen in action playing the game tactically. In search of scooping the ball into the net and opening their account, Poland kept on chasing the ball and restricted the Indian eves to add any further goals to their tally.

Very successful in defying the Indian attack, the Poland goalie displayed her beautiful bit of goalkeeping and held back the Indian eves to score any goals further.

The polished defence of Indian team kept the scores intact and did not allow Poland to score any goals thus, marking a well deserved win for India over Poland 2-0.

Poland captain Marlena Rybacha said, "We knew it would be a hard game against India as they are a very strong team and must have had a good preparation for this tournament. We conceded two goals in the first half but we gave a good fight in the second half. We are happy that we played a better game today and that we are progressing with every match. Our focus is on one game at a time and in the next match with Ghana we will try and score more goals."

Speaking after beating Poland, Indian captain Ritu Rani said, "We are happy to have won the game and if we win the next as well, we will be at the top of the pool which will be a good motivation. Our defence played well as we restricted Poland from scoring any goals. However we missed on the attaching side and scored only two goals. Our focus will be to get more penalty corner opportunities and will work on the mistakes committed today to make our attack even stronger in the next match."

The Times of India

Soundarya completes 100th appearance for India

NEW DELHI: Soundarya Yendala completed her 100th appearance for the Indian women's National team during their match against Poland in the ongoing Hero FIH Hockey World League Round 2 at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday.

With this she becomes the fifth player in the current team to have played in 100 or more matches for India. She joins captain Ritu Rani, Poonam Rani, Vandana Kataria and Deepika in this exclusive club.

Soundarya has been a key player for the Indian team over the past few years and has been instrumental in the side's good performances.

An excited Soundarya said, "It is a great honour to represent the country and to be able to do it for 100 times is an incredible feeling. However, the main focus right now is qualifying for the next round and eventually qualifying for the Rio Olympics, that is the ultimate dream of each and every player at the moment."

Congratulating Soundarya Yendala on the occasion, Secretary General Hockey India Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad said, "With players like Soundarya Yendala in the team it is a big honour for all of us and I take the utmost pride in congratulating Soundarya Yendala on her feat of completing 100 caps. We hope to see more of these outstanding performances by her in the days ahead."

Soundarya has played some memorable games for India and helped India win some crucial matches. This year is very crucial for India and Soundarya will have to play an important role for the side to do well and qualify for the 2016 Olympics at Rio.

The Times of India

Thailand win 3-1 against Ghana in Women's HWL Round 2

NEW DELHI: Thailand defeated Ghana 3-1 in a Pool A match to script their first victory of the FIH Women's Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday.

For Thailand Chantree Yungyuen opened the scoring in the 14th minute by converting a penalty corner before Kornkanok Sanpoung (32nd) doubled the lead in the third quarter.

But in the very next minute, Georgina Sam (33rd) pulled one back for Ghana from a penalty stroke.

Yungyuen (60th) converted her second penalty corner of the day in the final minute of the match to restore Thailand's lead.

Thailand, who had lost to Poland 1-4 in their opening match, will now play hosts India on Tuesday while Ghana will face Poland.

The Times of India

Malaysia beat Russia 3-0 in Women's HWL Round 2

NEW DELHI: Malaysia defeated Russia 3-0 to register their second consecutive victory at the Hero FIH Women's World League Round 2 here on Sunday.

Malaysia scored all their goals after halftime as both the teams matched each other in the opening 30 minutes of the Pool B game.

After a barren first half, Hanis Onn broke the deadlock for Malaysia in the 37th minute with a field goal.

Juliani Din (40th) doubled Malaysia's lead three minutes later by converting a penalty corner before Fazilla Sylvester Silin scored another field goal a minute from the final hotter to round off the tally.

Malaysia had earlier defeated Kazakhstan 8-0 in their tournament opener.

Malaysia will next play Singapore on Tuesday, while Russia will face Kazakhstan.

The Times of India

Super show from Malaysian women

By Jugjet Singh

Photo credit: FIH

MALAYSIAN women's hockey team continued their super run in the World League Round Two when they beat Russia 3-0 at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi yesterday.

The victory, which came at the back of an 8-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan, virtually handed Malaysia the top spot in Group B.

Their final pool opponents are Singapore who they meet on Thursday, and going by form that match should be a double digit win for coach Nasihin Nubli's girls.

Yesterday Singapore were beaten 4-0 by Kazakhstan, and a win on Tuesday will give Malaysia the top spot in Group B and their likely cross-over opponents in the quarter-finals will be either Ghana or Thailand.

At half-time, the game was deadlocked, but a field goal from Hanis Onn in the 37th minute gave Malaysia the boost they were looking for, and three minutes later Juliani Din converted a penalty corner for a comfortable lead.

And with just two minutes left in the match, seasoned campaigner Fazilla Sylvester Silin, 27, made sure with a field goal and Malaysia sailed away with a 3-0 win.

"There were some really tense moments as both teams failed to break the deadlock by the end of the second quarter, but a field goal by young and talented Hanis (18-years-old) gave us some breathing space to march forward in numbers and win the match," said Nasihin.

Russia proved to be strong opponents, but the Malaysian ladies were in their element yesterday.

"There was determination and players kept motivating each other during the match, and I see this as a big progress in the ladies game. We have a rest day after which we meet Singapore, and we will play for three more points to top Group B for an easier opponent in the quarter-finals," said Nasihin. 

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Malaysia get second win in World Hockey League

By S. Ramaguru

The Malaysia women's hockey team walk off the pitch after beating Russia 3-0 in their second group match in the World Hockey League Round Two tournament in New Delhi on Sunday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia were made to toil by Russia before winning 3-0 in the women’s World Hockey League Second Round at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.

It was Malaysia’s second win in Group B, giving them the maximum six points and the lead in the group.  They will play winless Singapore on Tuesday to complete their preliminary round fixtures.

Having whipped Kazakhstan 8-0 in their opening match on Saturday, Malaysia’s confidence was sky high. But the Russians put up a strong defensive wall to frustrate the Malaysians.

It took 37 minutes before Malaysia broke the deadlock through a field goal by Hannis Onn.

Juliani Din then added the second in the 40th minute followed by Fazilla Sylvester Silin one minute from the end. Both were also field goals.

Russia have one win from their 7-0 rout of Singapore on Saturday. They now need a draw against Kazakhstan on Tuesday to ensure they finish second in the group.

National coach Mohamed Nasihin Nubli said the Russians proved to be a tough nut to crack.

“We were a little nervous in the first two quarters. But once Hannis got the opening goal, the team settled down nicely.

“We are now focusing on the next match against Singapore. We will not take them for granted although they have lost twice. We want to top the group and have an easier game in the quarter-finals,” said Nasihin.

Nasihin also praised the defenders for yet another clean sheet.

“Overall, team work was good and we have to keep that up.

“All our goals thus far are from field attempts. It would be nice to get some from the penalty corners as well,” he added.

The Star of Malaysia

Dragons lose ground to leading quartet

Dragons lost ground in the race for the playoff places in the Belgian Audi Hockey League as they drew 3-3 with Oree while each of the top four won their games.

Missing star men Florent van Aubel and Arthur van Doren (pictured), Dragons fell behind by two goals as Ignacio Bergner netted twice. Mathew Cobbaert turned the game around to help Dragons lead 3-2 until Luca Masso equalised and it was almost even better for Oree but Bergner was denied a third by the crossbar.

Daring were comfortable 4-1 winners over Braxgata. Tanguy Cosyns scored twice with Jof Cosyns and Inaki Alvarez on the mark before Diego Arana got a consolation goal with four minutes to go.

The Waterloo Ducks were handsome 5-1 winners over Beerschot with Quentin van Lierde (twice), Antoine Kina, Gauthier Boccard(pc) and Nicolas Vandiest doing the damage.

Leuven stay four points clear at the top thanks to their 4-3 win over Herakles with Pau Quemada netting the winning goal in the 69th minute.

Leopold moved three points clear of Dragons in fourth place with a 3-2 win over Antwerp. Racing beat Wellington 3-2 in the other game with Jerome Truyens scoring two of the goals.

Euro Hockey League media release

Time running out in relegation battle

Ashley Jackson and Mark Gleghorne poised to shoot from a penalty corner for East Grinstead, 21092014 Credit Ann Needle

THE battle against relegation from the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League Premier Division reached a crucial stage on Sunday, with just four points now separating the bottom four teams.

Canterbury had to do without their first choice keeper for much of their game, eventually losing to East Grinstead and dropping to the bottom of the table, while fellow strugglers Hampstead and Westminster lost by just one goal to high-flying Surbiton.

And although Southgate lost 2-0 at Cannock, their goal better goal difference meant they climbed up to ninth.

Canterbury lost out 9-4 to leaders East Grinstead, but had led 2-0 after seven minutes with Craig Boyne scoring in the third minute and Matt Burton-Bowen making it 2-0 four minutes later.

However, Canterbury keeper Chris Wyver was struggling with illness and East Grinstead soon struck back with Ashley Jackson completing a hat-trick in the 25th minute, and by the break it was 5-2 to East Grinstead.

Wyver was unable to continue in the second half, forcing Canterbury to use a kicking back before using an outfield player to mind the net. East Grinstead scored four more to secure the win.

Hampstead and Westminster lost 2-1 at home to Surbiton with Chris Grassick and Alan Forsyth on target for the visitors, while Jacob Bullock scored Hampstead’s only goal.

Wimbledon put on a great performance to beat Reading 5-1, with Phil Roper leading the scoring with a brace.

And on Saturday Beeston beat Brooklands Manchester University 2-1 with goals from Sam Ward and Adam Dixon.

The four teams to compete in the play-offs at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London have already been confirmed as East Grinstead, Surbiton, Wimbledon and Beeston.

NOW: Pensions Conference West

The NOW: Pensions Conference West championship will go right down to the wire after leaders Cardiff and Met could only draw 2-2 against Indian Gymkhana.

Second-placed Team Bath Buccaneers won 2-1 at of University of Birmingham to leave the top two sides level on 44 points.

Luke Hakwer’s brace wasn’t enough for Cardiff to take victory with Jagdeep Gill matching him for Indian Gymkhana.

Meanwhile, a Tim Davenport double was enough to give the Buccaneers victory and move them level on points with their rivals.

University of Exeter beat relegated Whitchurch 4-0, and Barford Tigers look likely to face relegation play-offs after losing 3-0 to Cheltenham. Indian Gymkhana are just one point above them after their draw. Guildford beat Fareham 3-2.

NOW: Pensions Conference North

Leek took a big step towards survival with a 3-1 defeat of hosts Doncaster in the NOW: Pensions Conference North, courtesy of goals from Paul Nixon, Nathan Smith and Ian Schulz.

Bottom club Belper find themselves in grave danger after their 3-2 loss to Deeside Ramblers. They must now overcome unbeaten champions Bowdon to have any hope of squeezing into the relegation play-off spot.

Bowdon showed that they are in no mood to let up despite being crowned champions, beating Loughborough Students 5-0. A Liam Ansell brace helped Sheffield Hallam to a 4-2 win over University of Durham and Wakefield beat Olton and West Warwicks 3-2.

NOW: Pensions Conference East

It’s tight at the bottom of the NOW: Pensions Conference East with Richmond, Teddington and Old Loughtonians all battling relegation.

Teddington moved off the bottom with a 3-3 draw against West Herts and Old Loughtonians took their place after losing 4-1 to Oxted. Richmond are third from bottom and lost 4-2 to Cambridge City.

Unbeaten Holcombe showed just how strong they are this year, beating second-placed Bromley and Beckenham 9-1. Gareth Andrew scored four and Holcombe have now scored 102 goals this season.

In the other game of the day, Ben Creese scored twice as Brighton and Hove beat Chichester Priory Park 4-1.

NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 7 2015):

NOW: Pensions Men's Premier Division: Brooklands Manchester University 1, Beeston 2.

NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 8 2015):

NOW: Pensions Men's Premier Division: Canterbury 4, East Grinstead 9; Hampstead and Westminster 1, Surbiton 2; Cannock 2, Southgate 0; Reading 1, Wimbledon 5.

NOW: Pensions Men's Conference West: University of Exeter 4, Whitchurch 0; Team Bath Buccaneers 2, University of Birmingham 1; Barford Tigers 0, Cheltenham 3; Cardiff and Met 2, Indian Gymkhana 2; Fareham 2, Guildford 3.

NOW: Pensions Men's Conference North: Olton and West Warwicks 2, Wakefield 3; Sheffield Hallam 4, University of Durham 2; Belper 2, Deeside Ramblers 3; Doncaster 1, Leek 3; Loughborough Students 0, Bowdon 5.

NOW: Pensions Men's Conference East: Teddington 3, West Herts 3; Richmond 2, Cambridge City 4; Chichester Priory Park 1, Bright and Hove 4; Old Loughtonians 1, Oxted 4; Holcombe 9, Bromley and Beckenham 1.

England Hockey Board Media release

PJCC struggle, others cruise into semis

By Jugjet Singh

AS EXPECTED, all four Division One teams advanced into the semi-finals of the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League, with league champions SSTMI Thunderbolts the clear favourites to march into the final as well.

SSTMI Thunderbolts will face their counterparts SSP-MSP Thunderbolts in the last-four, and the final ticket is as good as theirs.

SSTMI Thunderbolts advanced on a 16-1 aggregate when they whipped 1Mas Perlis in the return leg yesterday.

In the other quarters, UniKL beat Nur Insafi-Penang HA 5-1 for 8-1 aggregate; SSP-MSP Thunderbolts were held 2-2 by Bukit Jalil SS Juniors but advanced 8-3 on aggregate while Petaling Jaya City Council were held to a 1-1 draw by SMKDBL PHJ, but PJCC advanced on a 4-2 aggregate.

The only Division One side that had to endure some nervy moments were PJCC , and now they have to prove their worth when they play UniKL Young Guns in the semis on March 11.

"We faced some difficult moments as it rained and our opponents had the backing of the crowd at their own turf (Batu Pahat). They had nothing to lose so they kept pushing forward and were good in defense as well," said PJCC team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail.

PJCC took the lead after 25 minutes when Fahrul Razi converted a penalty corner, but Khairul Jainal equalised from open play in the 54th minute and the score stood till the end.

RESULTS: Quarterfinals second leg-- 1Mas Perlis 1 SSTMI Thunderbolts 6 (Thunderbolts win 16-1 on aggregate).

BJSS Juniors 2 SSP-MSP Thunderbolts 2 (Thunderbolts win 8-3 on aggregate).

SMKDBL PHJ 1 Petaling Jaya City Council 1 (PJCC win 4-2 on aggregate).

Nur Insafi-Penang HA 1 UniKL Young Guns 5 (UniKL win 8-1 on aggregate).

March 11: Semi-finals first leg: SSTMI Thunderbolts v SSP-MSP Thunderbolts; Petaling Jaya City Council v UniKL Young Guns.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

No upsets in MJHL 2nd leg quarter-finals

By S. Ramaguru

Pahang SS-Thunderbolt captain Mohamad Izuan Azhar shoots past BJSS' Mohd Naquiddin Mohd Fauzi during the Malaysian Junior Hockey League quarter-final 2nd leg match in Jalan Pantai on Sunday. - GLENN GUAN/The STAR

KUALA LUMPUR: As expected, all the four Division One teams cruised into the semi-finals of the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

Defending champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt led the way with a 6-1 triumph over 1MAS Perlis in the quarter-finals second-leg match at the Kangar Hockey Stadium yesterday for a massive 16-1 aggregate win.

Joining them in the last four are Pahang SS-Thunderbolt, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).

Pahang SS drew 2-2 with BJSS Juniors at the Education Ministry Turf in Jalan Pantai to advance with an 8-3 aggregate. MBPJ also drew their match, 1-1 with SMK Datuk Bentara Luar (SMKDBL) for a 4-2 aggregate win at the SMKDBL Hockey Turf in Johor Baru.

The other match played at the Sungai Petani Hockey Stadium saw UniKL whipping Nur Insafi 5-1 to sail through on an 8-1 aggregate win.

SSTMI will face Pahang SS in the first leg of the semi-finals on Wednesday. The other semi-final, also on Wednesday, is between MBPJ and UniKL.

Having won 10-0 in the first leg at the same venue on Friday, SSTMI fielded a number of their reserves on Sunday. But they still packed too much power for the Perlis outfit.

It was 1MAS-Perlis who took the lead through Mohamed Hanif Saad in the fourth minute. But SSTMI regained their composure to score through Mohamed Firdaus Omar (two), Mohamed Alif Syazwan, Mohamed Husaini Hussin, Mohamed Amirul Hamizan and Misniwan Gusni.

SSTMI team manager Adam Izamry Idrus was delighted with another easy win.

“Now we have to focus on the next task at hand. We are happy that the players all got a game and it will help them to settle down quickly. The semi-finals will be a different story. We’ll use the next two days to recover from our exertions,” said Adam.

The Star of Malaysia

Parklands reach Nairobi hockey semis

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Dr Ribeiro Parklands School beat Highway 6-2 to book a semi-final place in the hunt for Nairobi Secondary Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) hockey title.

Parklands joined defending champions Lenana School who had qualified for the semifinals earlier on and Nairobi School who earned a 3-1 win over Starehe Boys.

The fourth semifinalist will be decided in pool A when third placed Upper Hill meet Starehe who are second with four points this weekend. A win for either team will see the victor in the semis while a draw will favour Starehe as they will remain second with five points, two more than Upper Hill.

Parklands head coach Eric Nyamweya told FeverPitch that their main objective this season is to play in the nationals. "We want to be in the nationals, we have been working on it since we were bundled out of the race last year at the county level."

He said being in the semis is a great improvement and proof that their strategies are working as they finished sixth in the county last year.

In the girls' category, St Georges and Ngara entered the quarter-finals following a successful weekend out. St Georges laboured at the weekend to win all their matches. St Georges and Ngara join champions Moi Girls Nairobi, Pangani, Hillcrest, Buruburu, Mt Larvena and Parklands Arya in the knockout stage

The Standard Online

Orange splashes out Sh15.5m on Telkom hockey

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Orange Telkom donates shs. 15,500,000 to Orange Hockey team.Orange Hockey team from left Coach Jos Openda, captain Betsy Ommala, defender Lucy Wachira receives a cheque of shs. 15,500,000 from Orange Telkom Chief Executive Officer Vincent Lopay(sec.r) as Ministry of Sports , Culture and Arts Director of Administration Wenlas Ong'ayo(3rd r.) and Kenya Hockey Union Jane Nyamogo looks on during a party hosted for the ladies at Heron hotel, Nairobi. ON 08/03/15 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Orange Telkom reaffirmed its commitment to hockey when they signed a new Sh15.5 million sponsorship package for its club ahead of the 2015 Kenya Hockey Union League and Africa Cup of Clubs Championships.

The sponsorship is way up from the Sh5.8 million windfall they received last year. The cash will be largely spent on Orange Telkom's continental title defence and the local league.

Orange Telkom CEO Vincent Lobry said they picked women's hockey from other sports disciplines "after our women proved a force to reckon with in Africa".

"We chose to take a unique way to sponsor sports and hockey in particular. We want to look different and I am grateful that our women have not disappointed. They have flown the national flag in continental competitions," said Lobry.

It was good news for team coach Jos Openda, the Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) coach of the year, who said the sponsorship was good for team, which bagged the 2014 Soya team of the year title.

"We are delighted as a team for the increase in sponsorship. That will motivate our players to perform better this year. We are the only team that's semi-professional and bear in mind that no other team pays out allowances as we do," said Openda.

"The ball is now in our court. It is upon us to prove our might. The company has done its part," he added.

Betsy Ommalla, the team skipper, said they had their eyes trained on retaining the African crown. "We are seriously preparing to defend our Africa Cup of Club Championships title. We are determined to secure our eighth Africa title and the 18th national title," said Ommalla.

Orange Telkom had an impressive run in 2014, winning the continental title with a 7-0 thrashing of hosts BAC of Zimbabwe.

The Standard Online

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