All the news for Friday 13 March 2015
Azeri a close call but semi-final Saturday sees SA play China
JONATHAN COOK at Hartleyvale
It looked to be a cakewalk in the first half at Hartleyvale in Cape Town Thursday night when the South Africa men’s hockey team were 3-0 up against Azerbaijan, but the day’s last quarter-final of the Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 tournament changed dramatically after that.
Azerbaijan fought back to trail 3-2 and there were some anxious moments before the final whistle sounded.
It was unconvincing but SA are through to Saturday’s semi-finals where they are to meet China at a still-to-be-confirmed 4.15pm while France will take on Egypt at 2pm.
Concerted SA pressure resulted in striker Julian Hykes winning a penalty corner decision in the fifth minute and the Durban boy, SA striker Taine Paton - relishing his 100th Test match – injected the PC pass but defender Matt Guise-Brown’s effort from the top of the strike zone was blunted by the determined Azeri defence.
A minute later (sixth) centre back Austin Smith flashed SA’s second PC high into the net, the power behind the drag-flick being generated with deceptive ease (1-0).
SA kept pressing hard but Azeri broke away in the 11th and Muhammad Tofeeg unfurled a rasping reverse-stick shot that Rassie Pieterse saved with assurance.
Seconds from the close of the first quarter (15th minute) a visionary square-pass left from midfielder Clint Panther found Smith whose play won a PC, which he finished off with aplomb (2-0).
Seconds in the second quarter, SA appealed in vain for a goal from field play but Egyptian umpire Sherif Elamari and Chinese colleague Zhinan Tao weren’t moved. Four more opportunities weren’t finished off until the 28th when Natius Malgraff had time and space enough to coolly draw Azeri captain and goalkeeper Vladimir Avdonin off his line before pulling the ball left and popping it into the empty net (3-0).
Panther came close soon after half-time and in the 38th midfielder Dan Sibbald’s diagonal pass from the left almost brought joy for striker Keenan Horne. SA kept on the attack but Azeri weren’t done yet and Shahbaz Ali pulled one back two minutes from the end (43rd minute) of the third quarter (3-1).
Despite SA’s continued pressure the proud Azeri knew they still had a sniff and in the 48th it was Ali, once again from the left, who this time brought the men in red and black within one goal of drawing level (3-2).
Eight minutes from time Smith let fly with a PC drag-flick that flashed over the crossbar as SA sought to put space between them and the underdogs. Imran Zai was inspirational in the heart of the Azeri defence and got his side out of dire straits a host of times.
The home fans’ hearts were in their mouths with six left when Ali and Tofeeg combined superbly but Pieterse was up for the challenge.
The earlier quarter-finals were high-scoring affairs, the third of which saw a super-motivated Switzerland deserving better than a 5-3 defeat to unbeaten France.
Rassie Pieterse (GK), Dylan Swanepoel, Austin Smith (capt), Rhett Halkett, Matt Guise-Brown, Jet Eustice, Clint Panther, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton, Pierre de Voux, Julian Hykes. Rolling subs: Gowan Jones (GK), Dan Bell, Robin Jones, Dan Sibbald, Natius Malgraff, Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher.
China 6 Czech Republic 2; Egypt 7 Belarus 1; France 5 Switzerland 3; South Africa 3 Azerbaijan 2.
(Times tbc): 14h00 France vs Egypt; 16h15 South Africa vs China.
The 5th to 8th cross-pool playoffs: 09h30 Azerbaijan vs Czech Republic; 11h45 Belarus vs Switzerland
SUNDAY’S MEDAL MATCHES
14h00 (bronze); 16h15 (gold/silver)
(7/8th) 09h30; (5th/6th) 11h45.
SA Hockey Association media release
India spank Singapore 10-0, to face Thailand in HWL R2 semis
NEW DELHI: Vandana Katariya scored four goals, including a hat-trick as India continued its impressive run and spanked lowly Singapore 10-0 to storm into the semifinals of the Hero FIH Women's World League Round 2 on Thursday.
Vandana (17th minute, 48th, 56th, 57th) scored four field goals, while Poonam Rani (4th), Navjot Kaur (6th), Anupa Barla (19th), Deepika (32nd), Rani Rampal (35th) and Jaspreet Kaur (51st) also registered their names in the scoresheet to steamroll the hapless Singapore girls in the one-sided quarterfinal encounter at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
In other quarterfinals of the day, Malaysia defeated Ghana 2-0, Thailand got the better of Kazakhstan 4-3 in a thrilling encounter, while Poland thrashed Russia 4-2.
In the first quarterfinal of the day, Malaysia scored two goals through a penalty corner conversion by Norazlin Sumantri (3rd minute) and Hanis Onn (25th) to progress to the last four round.
Later in the day, the Thai girls put up a spirited show to eke out a narrow win over Kazakhstan.
For Thailand, Boonta Duangurai (10th), Kanyanut Nakpolkrung (21st), Tikhamporn Sakunpithak (41st) and Sirikwan Wongkeaw (47th) were the goal scorers while Kazakhstan's goals came from the sticks of Natalya Sazontova (22nd), Vera Domashneva (26th) and Irina Dobrioglo (50th).
In the third last eight match between Poland and Russia, the Polish girls raced to a 4-0 lead through goals from Oriana Walasek (6th), Natalia Wisniewska (27th), Marlena Rybacha (40th) and Magdalena Zagajska (49th) before Russia pulled two back from the sticks of Marina Fedorova (55th) and Kristina Shumilina (59th).
While India will face Thailand in the first semifinal on Saturday, Poland will be up against Malaysia in the other last four round match.
The Times of India
Indian test await dream team Thailand
Indian test await dream team Thailand in the Saturday semifinals of the Hockey World League Round 2 with India thumping Singapore 10-0 while Thailand denting fighting Kazakhstan 4-3 in the quarterfinals today.
Friday is rest day
13th ranked India put past 10 goals against Singapore in the fourth quarters played in the late evening at the Major Dhyan Chand hockey stadium.
Vandana Kataria, who had six goals against her name, added a whopping four more goals today to take her personal tally to 10.
She also scored four goals in the first match against Ghana
Vandana struck goals in the 17, 48, 56 and 57th minutes while Poonam Rani (4th min), Navjot Kaur (6th min), Anupa Barla 22nd min, Deepika 17th min, Rani Ramphal and Jaspreet Kaur scored a goal apiece. 43rd ranked Thailand, which earlier in the day stunned Kazakhstan in a 4-3 duel will engage India in the semifinal while Poland, which beat Russia, will engage Malaysia in the other semifinal
A dream semifinal for Thailand
HWL R2 QF2: A lowly ranked Thailand defeated fighting Kazakstan 4-3 in a nail biting quarterfinal to enter their dream semfinal of the HWL R2 in Delhi.
The second quarterfinal was competitive compared to dull first quarters between Malaysia and distant Ghana.
Kazak almost scored in the 8th minute but Thailand’s goalie Jesdapon Tongsun twice stopped the shots of Olga Khonina. In the next minute, Thailand got a penalty corner, first in the match in a fast counter attack. The executioner’s ball just hit the goalie, but the rebound was tapped in by Thai girl boonta Duangurai s to post the first lead.
Fitter Kazak waged many forays then on but the Thai defence stood ground In the 17th min, Vera of Kazak again came close to scoring, but defender Supansa Samano cleared the danger with a strong reverse.
Thais, however could not be contained for long. Six minutes in to the second quarter, a midfield attack led to a melee of which Thai took the second lead through Kanyanut Nakpolkrung (2-0).
Then came a flurry of attacks from the Kazaks which saw both the leads neutralized.
Goalie of Thailand was poor in clearances, and this was utilized by the Kazaks in two successive penalty corners they obtained in the space of three minutes between 22nd and 24th minutes. First, after captain Natalya Gatualina unleased a shot, goalie came forward to block it but waiting Natalya Sazontova bounced on to second rebound to send the ball to the right of already flat-fallen goalie.
Vera Domashneva connected a rebound of her own shot in the next penalty corner to end the Thai’s second lead too (2-2.)
Once in the 40th and 46th minutes Thailand struck through ultimate Player of the Match Sakunpithak and Sirikwan Wongkeaw, taking the scoreline to 4-2, it seemed the semifinal slot is their, but Kazak came again with threatening moves, and was unlucky not to even out. It wasted at least six penalty corners in the last quarter.
In between in the 50th minute Kazhak girls reduced the margin (3-4) through Irina Dobrioglo, and then came close to scoring many times, but Thais stood strong to upset Kazak and enter a dream semis under the Korean coach Yong Wook Bae.
Malaysian Coach: We are winning and it is all that matters
Malaysia ensures smooth way forward with a 2-0 win over fighting Ghana in the first quarterfinal of the ongoing Hockey World League Round 2 here in New Delhi. Malaysia, winner of the R1, has thus ensured its semifinal berth.
Malaysian girls were in no hurry to score today, and were ritualistic in approach after taking 2-0 lead early
Malaysia struck off a penalty corner through Norazlin Sumantri in the third minute and an avalanche of further goals were expected, but the next and the last came five minutes before the half time.
Hanis Onn accounted for the field goal. Malaysia, which scored 8 goals in its first outing against Kazhakstan in the all important ladder towards Rio Olympics, had to slow down its scoring prowess as the tournament progressed.
It just struck just three goals against Russia and five against neighbours Singapore.
Two-nil verdict today was the least margin in its four encounters here.
However, coach Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim is satisfied with today's result
"We are winning, that's all it matters. More importantly, we haven't conceded a single goal so far and it is important as we take another step towards Rio Olympics", he said
On reducing margin, he attributed to the increasing competition
"Other teams are improving and fighting hard", he reasoned.
Malaysia in semi-finals
Photo credit: FIH
THE Malaysian women's team claimed a semis spot in the World League Round Two when they edged Ghana 2-0 at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi yesterday.
Coach Nasihin Nubli's charges found the fast running Ghana players too hot to handle, even though Norazlin Sumantri scored a third minute penalty corner goal.
The second goal only came in the 25th minute off a Hanis Onn field attempt, after which Ghana packed their defence and kept the score-line low.
Malaysia will now play either Poland of Russia in the semis. (match later today).
"We went in expecting a tough match after Ghana showed their resilience in the last Group A match against Poland (Poland won 4-0). And even though the scoreline is not impressive, I believe my charges will not disappoint in the semi-finals after a day's rest," said Nasihin.
Only two teams in New Delhi qualify automatically to World League Semi-finals which is the last chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The third team will be the highest rankled side which finishes bronze medallist in the various WL Round Two.
For the record, the Malaysian women have never qualified for the WL Semi-finals: "This is our best chance to play in the WL Semi-finals, and we are not about to give away a ticket to the semi-finals without putting up a fierce fight," said Nasihin.
The good news for Nasihin is that his charges have scored 18 goals in four matches and have yet to let in a single goal.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Malaysia made to work before defeating minnows Ghana in World Hockey League
By Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Trust Malaysian teams to make things difficult for themselves.
Take the Malaysia women’s hockey team for example.
They made heavy weather of minnows Ghana before prevailing 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals of the women’s World Hockey League Round Two at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.
World No. 21 and second seeds Malaysia scored from their first penalty corner – converted by Norazlin Sumantri – in the third minute, sparking hopes of a goal rush.
Instead, Malaysia had to wait until the 25th minute before getting the second goal, off a field attempt by Hanis Nadiah Onn.
It was her third goal of the tournament.
Coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli admitted that the forwards were a letdown.
“The forwards are clearly disappointed. We dominated the match and created many chances ... but we just couldn’t get it right,” he said.
“Ghana also defended in numbers and this made things difficult for us.”
He was, however, satisfied with his defenders.
“We have not conceded a goal in all four matches ... that’s a good sign.
“The important thing is that we’ve qualified for the semi-finals.
“We have a rest day tomorrow and we’ll focus on our semi-final match. We need to win the match to seal our place in the World League Semi-Finals (in either Belgium or Argentina in June).”
The Star of Malaysia
Can anyone stop home favourites Ireland?
Top ranked hosts target Olympic qualifiers at UDG Healthcare PLC Hockey World League Round 2 event in Dublin
Megan Frazer (Photo: FIH/Rodrigo Jaramillo)
The third and final Round 2 event of the women’s Hockey World League begins in Dublin this weekend, with eight nations set to fight it out for the chance to compete in the Olympic qualification phase of the competition.
The UDG Healthcare PLC Hockey World League Round 2 event, which takes place between Saturday 14th and Sunday 22nd of March, will see Belarus, Chile, Canada, Ukraine, Austria, Lithuania, Turkey and host nation Ireland all targeting a top two finish in order to guarantee a place in the HWL Semi-Finals, where places at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are on offer.
Host nation Ireland (FIH World Ranking: 14) are the top ranked team in the tournament and are strong favourites to emerge top of Pool A, where they face Canada (WR: 22), Ukraine (WR: 25) and Turkey (WR: 36). Ireland have named an enormously experienced squad with goalkeeper Emma Gray, Cliodhna Sargent, Emma Smyth, Shirley McCay and Chloe Watkins all having surpassed 100 international appearances marker. Canada – comprehensive winners of the HWL Round 1 event in Guadalajara (MEX) last September – are expected to be Ireland’s biggest rivals in the Pool, while both Ukraine, who finished second at 2014’s Round 1 tournament in Siauliai (LTU), and Turkey are definitely not teams to be taken lightly.
Arguably Ireland’s biggest threat to glory on home soil comes from Belarus (WR: 18), who compete alongside Chile (WR: 20), Austria (WR: 27) and Lithuania (WR: 34) in Pool B. The Belarusians were in great form in Siauliai last year, storming to a first place finish ahead of Pool A rivals Ukraine and Pool B opponents Lithuania. Chile and Austria, who finished second at the HWL Round 1 event in Hradec Kralove (CZE), are also both more than capable of making a big impression in Dublin.
In the women’s Hockey World League, a total of seven qualification places for the HWL Semi-Finals are available from the Round 2 events in Montevideo (URU), New Delhi (IND) and Dublin (IRL). The reason for seven rather nine qualifiers is because both Spain and Belgium, two nations ranked between 12-19 at the time of seeking entries, are hosting Semi-Final tournaments later this year and have therefore already qualified.
The top two finishers from Montevideo, New Delhi and Dublin are certain to qualify for the Semi-Finals, being joined by the highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events. Italy and Uruguay recently confirmed their places in the Semi-Finals with a top two finish at the event in Montevideo, while Azerbaijan face a nervous wait until the end of the Round 2 events before knowing if they are the highest ranked of the third placed finishers. To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.
You can keep track of the tournament in Dublin on the official tournament microsite.
Nations Cup: Key Battles
Nicolas Jacobi thwarts Barry Middleton
The Nations Cup is almost upon us. Hockey fans up and down the country have been buying tickets in their droves in order to watch the best of British face off against the Olympic Champions, Germany. Undoubtedly it will be a spectacular match with some high class hockey on display, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the key battles which could decide the match.
George Pinner vs. Nicolas Jacobi.
These two goalkeepers have made a name for themselves as being amongst the best in the world. Pinner was nominated in the recent FIH World Goalkeeper of the year category and Jacobi picked up a Champions Trophy gold medal in Bhubaneshwar in the last few months. The German stopper has carved a reputation as a hard man to beat, especially from penalty corners. Jacobi’s ability at set pieces may prove crucial as he comes up against Ashley Jackson, one of the finest penalty corner exponents around. Pinner too, is no slouch. Having made the No1 jersey his own, he has gone from strength to strength. His giant frame, his confidence and his agility will all need to be in full effect if Great Britain are to keep Germany’s array of attacking options at bay.
Barry Middleton vs. Tobias Hauke.
Hauke won the FIH World Player of the Year award in 2013 and has grown his collection of honours to quite an impressive haul. Two Olympic gold medals, two Champions Trophy gold medals and a raft of other honours, there isn’t much the Harvestehuder man hasn’t won. He operates in a unique role which has him dictating the play from deep positions, almost as a quarterback, with the freedom to burst forwards at will, showcasing his excellent skills as well as his ability to pick the right pass at the right time. Hauke is a class act.
Up against him is Great Britain skipper Barry Middleton. The Holcombe man is well respected across the globe and widely regarded as one of his country’s true world class talents. Middleton has an incredible engine, seemingly able to maintain the same level of intensity throughout an entire game. He manages to marry that endurance with some outstanding technical ability and his link up play with Ashley Jackson is at times, almost telepathic. Great Britain look to him and other teams fear him.
Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton in close quarters
Ashley Jackson vs. Moritz Fürste.
Fürste, the FIH World Player of the Year in 2012 has a hockey CV that stands head and shoulders above most in the world game. He missed this year’s World Cup through injury, but was back to help his team to the Champions Trophy title in December. He has also helped himself to two Olympic Gold medals (2008 and 2012) a World Cup Winners medal (2006) not to mention his three Euro Hockey League titles (2008, 2010 and 2012). Fürste is graceful, yet powerful with incredible technique and eye for goal. Another supreme German talent.
Jackson just gets better and better. The 2009 FIH World Young Player of the Year has matured into one of the best players around. Nominated in this year’s FIH World Player of the Year category, Jackson is now England and Great Britain’s combined top scorer with 112 international goals. The East Grinstead man enjoyed a fine Hockey India League, captaining the Ranchi Rays to the title, winning the player of the tournament award and the top scorer award. Goals aren’t all Jackson has, however. His ability to beat a man, his vision, passing and link up with his teammates are second to none. He is a real stand out performer for his side and deserves his recognition as one of the best around.
Mo Furste and Tobias Hauke in penalty corner action
There are plenty of other incredible players ready to take the field when Great Britain take on Germany at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in April.
England Hockey Board Media release
Two more Great Britain internationals announced
Brogdon scores against Australia
This summer of hockey is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is set to play host to some of the very best international talents our sport has to offer.
We are now delighted to announce two further matches with two exciting nations – Great Britain Women v Japan and Great Britain Men v Australia.
On 26 April 2015, Great Britain’s women will play together for the first time on home soil since that glorious summer of 2012, this time against Japan in the Investec Private Bank International, at Lee Valley. The Investec Private Bank International has replaced the four-nation Investec London Cup, which will no longer be going ahead in May due to insurmountable scheduling difficulties.
Then, on 13 June it is the turn of the men once more as Great Britain aim to strike the first blow in a busy summer of Ashes sporting clashes taking on World Champions and old foes, Australia.
Tickets for the Investec Private Bank International and the GB vs. Australia game will go on sale next week, on Tuesday 17 March 2015, so be sure to visit www.Englandhockey.co.uk/tickets to get the hottest ticket in town.
Richardson-Walsh and Co Poised for a penalty corner at the London Cup
April is packed with plenty of action, as we hold the NOW: Pensions Men’s League Finals and the Investec Women’s League Finals as well as the Nations Cup on 14 April. Great Britain will battle it out with Olympic Champions and Champions Trophy holders, Germany to get their hands on the Nations Cup crown. Tickets are already selling fast as world class international hockey returns to the site of the London 2012 Olympics.
England Hockey Board Media release
Southgate face relegation rivals
Southgate goalkeeper Allan Dick makes a save v Beeston. Credit Simon Parker
SOUTHGATE face relegation rivals Hampstead and Westminster and Canterbury this weekend as the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League Premier Division heads for a thrilling conclusion.
Their fate is in their own hands as they face fellow London side Hampstead and Westminster in a re-arranged match on Saturday, before also hosting Canterbury 24 hours later.
All three teams are in the relegation zone and could technically finish bottom and go down. However, given the relative goal differences it would take some large scores for Hampstead and Westminster to finish there.
Ninth place brings with it a place in the play-offs with the three Conference winners and if results go against them Brooklands MU, who face Surbiton, could also face that fate.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” said Southgate coach Jonty Robinson. “We knew that there was a good chance that it would boil down to this. The fixture list has worked well for us, especially when you look at the other guys around us in the table who are playing some bigger teams.
“We’ve got some guys unavailable for this weekend, but we will still have a really competitive, strong team. And it’s great playing both games at home. We’ve for a fantastic set-up and a very vocal support, so it will make a big difference for us.”
And following the Southgate clash, Hampstead and Westminster are back on the road on Sunday when they travel to Wimbledon, who will want to preserve third spot and gain a better draw in the play-offs, which this year are being staged at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
Elsewhere leaders East Grinstead are at home against Reading. They are level on points with Surbiton. Surbiton would need to overturn a goal difference deficit of four to pip them for top spot which comes with a place in next season’s EuroHockey League. Fourth-placed Beeston host Cannock as they bid to catch Wimbledon.
In the NOW: Pensions Conference West, title rivals Cardiff and Met and Team Bath Buccaneers go into a decisive final day level on points. Cardiff, who have a vastly superior goal difference, go to Cheltenham, while Bath travel to relegated Whitchurch.
Elsewhere, Barford Tigers make the short trip to the University of Birmingham as they bid to avoid the relegation play offs. If they win then Indian Gymkhana or University of Exeter could slip to ninth.
Champions Bowdon host rock-bottom Belper in the NOW: Pensions Conference North as they aim to stay unbeaten. The visitors must win to stand any chance of avoiding automatic relegation as they try to overhaul second-bottom Leek.
In the NOW: Pensions Conference East champions Holcombe smashed the 100-goal barrier last week and go to West Herts looking to keep their unbeaten tag.
Bottom club Old Loughtonians who have been in the league since its inception in 1988, go to Cambridge City as one of three teams that could be relegated or face play offs. Richmond and Teddington are also fighting to avoid the drop.
NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 14 2015)
NOW: Pensions Premier Division
Southgate v Hampstead and Westminster 12:00
NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 15 2015)
NOW: Pensions Premier Division
Surbiton v Brooklands MU 14:00
Beeston v Cannock 14:00
East Grinstead v Reading 14:00
Southgate v Canterbury 14:00
Wimbledon v Hampstead and Westminster 14:00
NOW: Pensions Conference West
Guildford v University of Exeter 14:00
Indian Gymkhana v Fareham 14:00
Whitchurch v Team Bath Buccaneers 14:00
University of Birmingham v Barford Tigers 14:00
Cheltenham v Cardiff and Met 14:00
NOW: Pensions Conference North
Wakefield v Sheffield Hallam 14:00
Leek v Loughborough Students 14:00
Bowdon v Belper 14:00
Deeside Ramblers v Olton and West Warwicks 14:00
University of Durham v Doncaster 14:00
NOW: Pensions Conference East
Brighton and Hove v Richmond 14:00
Oxted v Chichester Priory Park 14:00
West Herts v Holcombe 14:00
Cambridge City v Old Loughtonians 14:00
Bromley and Beckenham v Teddington 14:00
England Hockey Board Media release
Holcombe's fate in their own hands
Holcombe's Lucy Wood v Buckingham, Oct 2014. Credit Andy Smith
Holcombe head to local rivals Canterbury in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday, aiming to secure the final spot in the play-offs with a victory.
Currently fourth, Holcombe could seal their place in the Finals Weekend at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park next month if they can win at Polo Farm and other results go in their favour.
But with just two wins from their last five matches Holcombe’s form is patchy, while Canterbury have won their last six matches and conceded just two goals in the process.
“We’re still a new developing team in this league, whereas Canterbury are well established, so the pressure is more on them because they have a reputation to uphold,” said Holcombe coach Kevin Johnson.
“Some weeks we’ve not been on top of our game and other weeks we play some great hockey, so who knows how it will go? With derby matches like Canterbury things often don’t go as you might expect because of external influences.”
Elsewhere Reading travel to Buckingham in search of points to keep their play-off dreams alive, while ninth-placed Buckingham need a win to stave off the threat of the play-offs.
Beaten by Canterbury last week, Leicester host bottom club Beeston as they try to stay in contention for the Finals Weekend. University of Birmingham who travel to Clifton looking for points to keep their top four hopes alive.
Bowdon Hightown are at home against leaders Surbiton and they will be trying to stay ahead of Buckingham and retain their top flight status.
Leaders Wakefield play Loughborough Students at College Grove in the Investec Conference North and need just one point to secure the title, while second-placed Brooklands Poynton go to Sutton Coldfield.
At the other end of the table, Liverpool Sefton take on Kendal knowing a win would put them ahead of the Cumbrians on goal difference in the battle to avoid the relegation play-offs.
In the Investec Conference West, there are four teams fighting to avoid getting drawn into the relegation play-offs. Bristol Firebrands and Oxford Hawks are not safe, and they play each other on Saturday. Meanwhile, Olton and West Warwicks are at home against high-flying Swansea City Champions Slough visit Cheltenham who are relegated after a season in the league.
Bedford need to win both their remaining matches if they are to avoid the relegation play-offs in the Investec Conference East. However, this Saturday they travel to champions East Grinstead. Meanwhile, bottom of the table Horsham go to St Albans.
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 14 2015)
Investec Premier Division
Buckingham v Reading 12:00
Clifton v University of Birmingham 13:00
Bowdon Hightown v Surbiton 13:45
Leicester v Beeston 14:00
Canterbury v Holcombe 17:00
Investec Conference West
Olton and West Warwicks v Swansea City 12:00
Bristol Firebrands v Oxford Hawks 12:00
Isca v Gloucester City 12:00
Stourport v Trojans 12:00
Cheltenham v Slough 12:30
Investec Conference North
University of Durham v Ben Rhydding 12:00
Liverpool Sefton v Kendal 12:30
Wakefield v Loughborough Students 13:00
Cannock v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 14:00
Sutton Coldfield v Brooklands Poynton 14:00
Investec Conference East
St Albans v Horhsam 13:00
East Grinstead v Bedford 13:30
Maidenhead v Ipswich 13:30
Sevenoaks v Harleston Magpies 13:30
Chelmsford v Wimbledon 14:00
England Hockey Board Media release
The Road to Lee Valley: Women's Semi-Final Preview
Steve Rixon Clifton Coach
This weekend is the semi-final of the Investec Women’s Cup with two mouth watering ties shaping up in prospect. We take a look at the contenders hoping to make that all-important final step on the Road to Lee Valley.
Clifton vs. Bowdon Hightown.
This tie is an all Investec Premier Division clash as Clifton, flying high in the top division in third place, take on Bowdon Hightown, who currently sit eighth.
It’s been a season of contrasts for the two sides as Clifton have lost just twice in the league this time out, whilst Hightown are still trying to ward off the threat of relegation with two games to go.
Bowdon have tasted success this season however, being crowned Hockey 5s Champions at the start of the year after a fantastic indoor campaign whilst the cup has provided a welcome distraction from their trials and tribulations in the league.
First up they beat Sutton Coldfield 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw, before seeing off Premier Division rivals Leicester, 2-1 and then Conference North outfit Brooklands Poynton 3-1 in the last round.
Bowdon have plenty of quality in their ranks with the legendary Tina Cullen leading the forward line. Up-and-coming star Holly Hunt, recently named Hockey Writers Club Young Player of the Year looks like she has learnt plenty from her illustrious strike partner and is definitely one to watch. Lisa-Emma Crewe has weighed in with some important goals of late and Amy Tennant is a rock between the posts.
Canterbury's Susie Rowe challenges Bowdon's Holly Hunt, Feb 8 2014
Clifton are flying this season. The side dubbed the Silent Assassins are not so silent these days, qualifying for the Championship Playoffs once again after a series of excellent displays which has seen them lose just twice in the league.
Their cup run has taken in wins over Slough (via a walkover), University of Birmingham (1-0) and Gloucester City (2-0). Clifton have won the cup twice before with their last final appearance coming in 2004-05 when they were defeated by Leicester. Their side now is famed for their incredible work ethic and their superb levels of fitness but they are also an extremely talented group. Joie Leigh is in scintillating form this season having broken into the international set up, whilst Els Mansell continues to pose a threat up front. Claire Thomas, a summer signing from Isca has proved a fine addition, chipping in with her share of goals, too.
With plenty of excellent attacking threats on the pitch it should be an exciting clash.
Loughborough Students vs. Surbiton.
It’s not quite David vs. Goliath but Loughborough Students are the only remaining side from outside the Premier Division whilst Surbiton have so far swept all before them, remaining undefeated in the league this season on their way to the top of the pile.
Surbiton are the cup holders and have progressed without too much alarm, seeing off Hampstead and Westminster in a repeat of last year’s final, 5-0 before beating Holcombe and Oxford Hawks 3-1 and 2-0 respectively.
A team full of stars their international contingent has swelled to four as well as a scattering of ex-internationals and some top class rising talent. Under the tutelage of Brett Garrard, Surbiton have become a real force in the domestic game. They can score plenty of goals and with the likes of Jenna Woolven, Sarah Page, Rebecca Herbert and Julia King bearing down on goal, it is a line up to be feared.
Loughborough celebrate scoring
Loughborough are the competition’s Cinderella story in many ways. A side that has competed well in the North Conference, currently sitting in fifth place, they have found the one-off, never-say-die nature of the cup to be to their liking.
They have dumped out Premier League outfits Beeston and Buckingham both by virtue of penalty shootouts and have also despatched Tulse Hill and Dulwich 6-1.
A hard-working side bursting with talent they have a goal threat which will not come as a surprise to their illustrious opponents: Ellie Tait, who has scored six times in the cup this season and 17 times in the league, is a former Surbiton player who bagged a hat-trick when the two sides met in the competition last year. Although Tait’s treble ultimately proved in vain in a 4-3 loss, Surbiton will be acutely aware of what she is capable of.
They are far from a one-woman team, however with a cluster of youth internationals and talented players, including Captain Kim Leiper, goalkeeper Laura Myers and Welsh international Beth Bingham all part of a very promising squad. They will be going in with no fear and hoping to spring a surprise to make it to the final at Lee Valley.
England Hockey Board Media release
Fuerste "thrilled to be back" in the EHL
The Euro Hockey League’s most decorated club, UHC Hamburg return to the competition this year after a couple of years absence and are gunning for a fourth title with talisman Moritz Fuerste “thrilled to be back”.
“We love the EHL,” Fuerste told the EHL website. “Most of our best hockey memories go back to Holland and the EHL tournaments. We have played four finals in six years and we want to go there!”
UHC have just completed a phase of their second preseason of the 2014/15 campaign in the Netherlands where they drew with Amsterdam, Pinoke and HGC.
The EHL, though, marks their first club competitive action of 2015 with the German league’s winter pause continuing until mid-April.
The Hamburg side will play in a tournament in Mülheim next week. With most of their club rivals from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and England already deep into their league competitions, Fuerste sees the situation as a gift and a curse.
“It’s definitely tough not competing in the league before the EHL but it is the first time in years that we have been able to work together with the whole team for a couple of weeks. Usually the internationals weren't part of the prep camps and training sessions.”
To that end, the versatile Fuerste is back on home turf after a busy winter, under-pinning Germany’s run to the Champions Trophy in December in Bhubaneswar, claiming a silver medal at the indoor World Cup before taking part in a warm-weather training camp in South Africa.
Despite all the jet-setting, Fuerste says there is nothing like being back with his home club.
“This is my home and the team is just guys I grew up with as well as youngsters who are fighting their way up. India was fun, but this is beyond.”
Next on UHC’s agenda is a date with Russian champions Dinamo Kazan, a side that Fuerste knows to be wary of.
“I played them once in the EHL and lost with Club de Campo so we are fully aware of their strengths. We will not underestimate them this time that's for sure!
“We want to stay in the competition as long as possible. Apparently I have no other plans for the Easter weekend this year!”
Euro Hockey League media release
Former champs MBPJ believe they can overcome two-goal deficit in Milo Cup
By Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) are down, but not out.
Not when there’s still 70 minutes of action left – in the return leg of the Milo Cup semi-finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday.
The PJ team, winners of the Milo Cup in 2007, lost 2-0 to Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in the first leg at the same venue on Wednesday.
MBPJ coach Azlansaufi Ahmad Sufian, however, believes that his side can overcome the two-goal deficit provided his forwards make full use of their chances, unlike in the first leg.
“We had our chances (in the first leg) and the result could have easily gone our way ... but the forwards let us down,” he said.
“I hope our forwards will step up to the plate for the return leg.
“The tie is not over yet. If my players can perform up to expectations, and take their chances well, we can turn it around.
“I have faith in my players. After all, we’ve done it before – when we came back from 3-0 down to beat favourites BJSS (Bukit Jalil Sports School) to lift the overall title in the 2007 final.”
UniKL probably know it too and coach I. Vickneswaran has warned his men not to be complacent despite the two-goal lead.
“Anyone who thinks we’ve qualified for the final is wrong ... we’re nowhere near, yet,” he said.
“Those who filled in the shoes of our missing players did very well in the first leg.
“MBPJ put up a good fight but were unlucky. I expect them to come back stronger and cause us trouble.”
UniKL should be stronger for the return leg today as they will welcome back two key players – Norsyafiq Sumantri and Norikhwan Nor Rahman.
Norsyafiq sat out the first leg after collecting eight demerit points while Norikhwan missed it as he had to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
Defending champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt are expected to cruise into the final for the fifth consecutive time as they hold a comfortable 5-1 lead over their juniors Pahang SS-Thunderbolt.
The final will be held at the National Hockey Stadium on Sunday.
The Star of Malaysia
Strathmore Scorpions snap up Naise from USIU
By BRIAN YONGA
USIU's Pauline Naise in action during a past league match. Naise has joined league giants Strathmore Scorpions for an undisclosed fee. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) league giants Strathmore Scorpions have signed Kenyan international forward Pauline Naise from United States International University-Africa (USIU) Spartans for an undisclosed fee.
Naise becomes the second player to sign for last season’s league runners up after Margaret Rotich crossed over to the Scorpions from arch-rivals Telkom Orange in February ahead of the new season which begins at the end of March.
Scorpions coach Meshack Senge confirmed the move terming it a statement of intent on their title ambitions on both the domestic and continental front.
“She (Naise) has had exemplary performances for both her club and country over the last few years and we are glad to have her on board.
“She will definitely help us as we challenge for the league title and also the continental club championship,” an elated Senge told Nation Sport on Wednesday.
Strathmore will be hoping to go a step better than the last two seasons where they have come second to bitter rivals Orange.
They also lost to the league champions in the African Club Championship final in Kampala, Uganda last January.
USIU coach James Mwangi expressed confidence that Naise would be an instant hit at hr new club.
“Naise has been with us for five years and was one of our outstanding players at the club. We wish her well,” he said.
Naise, 21, was the top scorer during last year’s World league one series held in Nairobi helping Kenya advance to the second round. She will now expected to partner Gilly Okumu, who was the league’s top scorer last season, in the Strathmore attack.
Strathmore lost 3-2 on penalties to Orange in the women’s final last term after rallying from two goals down to take the game to penalties.
The league will resort to a home and away format this season changing from the pool format that was used last season.
Recruiting: Senior Selector
Hockey Australia welcomes expressions of interest for men's National Senior Selector
Hockey Australia (HA), through the High Performance Director (HPD), is currently seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified candidates for the vacant role of HA board-appointed National Senior Men’s Selector.
The primary role of this important position is to work with the Men’s Head Coach and Assistant Coaches to identify and select national senior and development squads/teams for international development and benchmark competition, including the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games. Additionally, the senior selector also consults and works cooperatively with two national youth selectors, thus ensuring coordinated whole-of-pathway athlete assessment and high integrity selection processes.
As a HA board-appointed selector, you will be expected to drive and contribute to a selection process and outcomes that reflect Hockey Australia’s values of leadership, excellence, integrity and inclusion. Along with the High Performance Director, you will also ensure that the HA National Selection Policy is applied and adhered to, and that processes and actions in all matters pertaining to selection are carried out with a high level of professionalism and confidentiality.
Candidates will ideally have a strong understanding of the men’s national program and international men’s hockey, with selection and/or coaching experience at a minimum of Australian Hockey League level also seen as highly beneficial. While there is some flexibility, you must be available to travel and attend a range of assessment events and competitions, maintaining strong working relationships with all relevant parties. Critical to this position and as a key responsibility to the board is your ability to remain impartial and objective in your thinking and views.
This is an honorary position with HA covering all costs to attend identified selection events/activities and agreed out of pocket expenses associated with you carrying out your duties. You are accountable to the HA Board, Chief Executive and High Performance Director.
Expressions of Interest Close: 27 March 2015
Hockey Australia media release