All the news for Monday 28 December 2009
Gorakhpur stun Pune
Nabha (Patiala), December 27 - The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. A hockey squad may have the greatest bunch of individual stars, but if they do not play together the club won’t be worth a dime.
This in essence sums up the performance dished out by North Eastern Railway (NER), Gorakhpur who put up a cohesive effort to rout BEG, Pune 3-0 through the sudden death on day one of the 34th All India Liberals hockey tournament which commenced at the government Ripudaman college ground here today.
The tourney commenced on a sombre note with the organisers paying tributes to their founder member and Senior vice president of theorganising committee M Dugala who passed away recently. If the Railmen put up a unified effort, BEG were guilty of playing a totally disjointed game although the goalless tie at the end of regulation time may tell a different story altogether.
NER could have gone up in the first half itself but Mohammad Kaleem’s reverse flick was well saved by a diving goalkeeper Jhirga Minz. The Gorakhpur outfit enjoyed territorial advantage in a major part of the second half but poor shooting by their forwards ensured that they could not take the all important lead.
Tied goalless at the end of regulation time, the railmen won the contest in the tie breaker with custodian Akhilesh Singh holding his nerves .
In the other match of the day, Dhudike XI packed enough power and punch to down a solid looking SAI, Patiala 2-1, with Sangram Singh scoring a peach of a goal in the dying minutes to take his team into the second round.
SAI, were well served by their forwards Bachitar Singh and Sukhdev Singh, both of whom did duty for the country in the junior Asian championship held at Macau last month, but fell by the wayside due to a totally inept performance in the second half.
World Cup Finals sides seek to play friendlies with national team
KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey team are in demand to play friendly matches over the next two months against teams taking part in the World Cup Finals in New Delhi.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusof, said yesterday that among those who have made requests for matches are India, Pakistan and South Korea.
But it is unlikely that Malaysia will be will be able to accommodate the teams because the national team had been disbanded after a World Cup qualifying tournament in New Zealand last November.
“For the moment, we are unable to play any friendly matches against any team,” said Hashim.
“Our priority is to complete the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and until after Feb 12, we will not have a national training squad in place. We will not disrupt the MHL and want the national players to focus on their club duties.”
The MHF are expected to name the national training squad the day after the Premier Division final slated for Feb 12.
Hashim added that India and Pakistan had invited the national team to play in their country while South Korea were willing to play matches in Malaysia.
The World Cup Finals are scheduled for Feb 28-March 13.
“We have informed the Koreans that we will be able to play matches after Feb 20 and we will wait and see if they are still keen to come,” said Hashim.
The target for the national team next year is the Guangzhou Asian Games in November. The tournament offers the champions an automatic berth in the 2012 London Olympics. Malaysia will also be involved in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.
Their first assignment for the year is the Asian Champions Trophy, which will be held in Ipoh in April followed by the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the same venue in June.
The Star of Malaysia
Tenaga fully recharged and raring to get back to action
TENAGA Nasional aim to put aside their two defeats and make a charge to the top of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
TNB were shocked 1-0 by Maybank and 3-2 by KL Hockey Club. Their only win was 3-1 against Sapura in the Charity Shield.
"My players can do much better, and since this league has a return leg, we hope to collect maximum points from next year onwards," said TNB coach Manjit Singh.
The MHL will resume on Jan 2 with matches being played on the Universiti Sains Malaysia synthetic pitch.
TNB will square off against Nur Insafi on Saturday, and UniKL-Ibil the next day.
"Even though we will be playing against teams at the bottom of the standings, we will have to bring out our best to collect six points as all the teams have had the luxury of training for two weeks," said Manjit.
The MHL has seen three matches played so far, with Maybank and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club collecting maximum points, and are only separated by goals scored.
However, Maybank and KLHC will square off on Saturday, and it is expected to be an explosive encounter.
"The MHL will travel out of the Klang Valley for the first time, and I hope that Penang hockey fans take this opportunity to watch top level hockey at their doorsteps," said Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary Hashim Yusoff.
The MHL will also travel to Johor Baru and Malacca in an attempt to attract more youths to the sport.
FIXTURES -- SATURDAY: Sapura v UniKL-Ibil (4.30pm), KL Hockey Club v Maybank (6.30pm), TNB v Nur Insafi (8.30pm).
SUNDAY: TNB v UniKL-Ibil (4.30pm), Maybank v Sapura (6.30pm), Nur Insafi v KL Hockey Club (8.30pm).
* All matches at the Universiti Sains Malaysia grounds.
New Straits Times
Weekend games will determine MHL title chasers
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: It will be a crucial weekend for all six teams in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) as competition reaches the halfway stage.
The league resumes on Saturday after a two-week break. And the teams are well aware that a defeat will set them back in their title chase.
After three matches, Maybank and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) have taken a six-point lead over their rivals. But it is not a wide margin of advantage and a clearer picture of the title contenders will emerge after this weekend’s matches.
Maybank coach S. Vellapan said: “I believe that all six teams are still in with a chance to win the league title.”
Different ends: Maybank’s Nor Ikhram Sulaiman (centre) and Nur Insafi’s Kul Bhushan Vashist (right) chasing the ball during their Premier Division match at the Tun Razak Stadium recently. Maybank lead the division on goal difference while Nur Insafi are bottom.
The former international admitted that his teams were the surprise leaders but felt that they have what it takes to be the champions.
“We have a young team but our investment in younger players is bearing fruit. Experience will also count and it is here that Sapura, Tenaga Nasional and KLHC have abundance of it. So I expect some close matches this weekend as all the teams will be gunning for full points in their two matches,” said Vellapan.
The MHL carnival league goes to Penang for matches at the USM Stadium. Tenaga and Sapura have three points each while Nur Insafi and newcomers Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have a point each.
KLHC coach R. Vivekanandan said: “This weekend could well be the turning points for the teams. There is no doubt that teams must win their two matches to stay on track for the title.
“We are in for tough times. We are not playing as well as we should, given our experience. But I believe that the two-week break would have helped us,” he said.
Sapura coach S. Prakash felt that tactical strength would be important as teams were equally balanced at this stage.
“The staying power and the ability to out think your opponents will be crucial in securing a win. We have seen some surprise results and I believe that for us, the weekend is a make or break in the title run-in,” he said.
Nur Insafi with 14 foreign players in their ranks have been a disappointment – managing a draw with UniKL.
But coach S. Tatchana Murthy remains confident that they can turn around their performance at home in Penang.
“We know where the problem lies and have been working on it. All the foreigners in the team are good players but they had yet to click as a team. I feel we will start winning in Penang. That will put us back in the running for the league title,” he said.
In fact, Nur Insafi have on their list 16 foreign players but Pakistani Mohamed Nadeem and Egyptian Karim Mohamed have yet to arrive.
The Star of Malaysia
No champions yet
By Oscar Pilipili
With 2009 drawing to an end, Kenyan hockey lovers will have to wait a little longer to know who the national champions are.
For the second season in a row, hockey competition will stretch to the following year.
The league could not end since the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) suspended the programme to pave way for African Clubs Championship that ended at City Park Stadium last week.
Kenya stepped in at the last minute to host the event after initial hosts Uganda withdrew citing lack of funds.
With the league still on there is little to write home about teams and their performance.
The key highlight of the year thus remains suspension of three officials by the KHU in a move that drew mixed reactions within the hockey fraternity.
The KHU suspended secretary general Peter Kiruma for what they described as non-performance and claims of being alcoholic.
Other suspended officials were umpires Martin Milla and Avtar Singh. All the officials are still serving their suspension and the KHU is mum on the next cause of action.
The other key highlight was a bold move by Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) to form a parallel league primarily for university teams.
United States International University Africa women and Strathmore men won the inaugural league that ended last November.
The school scene remained competitive with the surprise package of the national secondary school championship St Mary’s Lwak and St Anthony’s emerging girls’ and boys’ champions at Kangaru, Embu last August.
September’s East African Secondary School Games held in Fort Portal, Uganda were a success for Kenyan teams that swept the boards with a 1-2-3 finish in both boys’ and girls’ categories.
St Cecilia Misikhu (girls) and Friends School Kamusinga (boys) finished runners-up at the national championships but rose to the occasion to win the East African Games.
December saw the African Cup of Clubs Championship come to City Park Stadium, Nairobi.
Kenyan women prevailed with Telkom Orange and Sliders winning gold and silver.
It was an Egyptian affair in the men’s category as Sharkia and Eastern Company finished first and second.
Kenya champions Kisumu Simba finished third and Green Sharks fifth in the men’s category that attracted six teams.
By winning the African crown Telkom and Sharkia qualified to represent Africa at the inaugural 2010 World Clubs Championships in Singapore.
Overall it has been a successful year , and the next 12 months look to be just as exciting. Telkom will be hoping to make an impact at the World Clubs Championship in Singapore.
The Standard Online
Clear signs of Pakistan's hockey revival emerge amid controversies
By Shazia Hasan
If there was anything to cheer about in sports besides our triumph on the cricket field in the World T20, it was hockey’s slow but steady progress towards the goal of regaining its lost glory.
Like excellent on-field team work, every pass was taken and pushed towards the net with sincere hope to achieve success.
Looking for a direct berth in the World Cup by winning the Asia Cup in May, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) finally selected the confident 44-year-old former Olympian goalkeeper Shahid Ali Khan as chief coach. Secretary Asif Bajwa, too, took on an added responsibility as the national team’s manager. This was announced by the federation President Qasim Zia at their Executive Board’s meeting on Feb 13.
Having worked with different coaches in Malaysia for three years prior to this new responsibility, Shahid had earned enough experience to be able to aim high. And thus began the rebuilding of the Pakistan hockey team.
The 11 hockey academies, set up by the federation to train school children in the sport, also started work from the beginning of the year. For this they hired a Dutch consultant, Wouter Tazelaar, on a two-year contract to prepare the syllabus and courses for the academy coaches.
Meanwhile, Pakistan were scheduled to play in a quadrangular hockey series in Chandigarh and Jalandhar, India, in January but were disallowed by the Federal Ministry of Sports.
The PHF then prepared to welcome the Malaysian hockey team to Pakistan in the second week of February, but the tour could not materialise when Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) turned down their invitation citing internal problems. So Pakistan entered the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia without much practice.
With the Junior World Cup (June, Singapore) also looming, the PHF replaced team coach Qamar Ibrahim with Khwaja Mohammad Junaid while Danish Kaleem and Ahmad Alam remained on the posts of assistant coaches. A busy programme was charted out for the colts with tournaments in Malaysia, Egypt and Germany before the big event.
The five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in April saw Zeeshan Ashraf being named captain of the national squad. The team finished fourth in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Stepping out of retirement, Sohail Abbas reported back to the Pakistan side for the Asia Cup along with the other three seniors Waseem Ahmed, Rehan Butt and goalkeeper Salman Akbar, who playing in foreign leagues were all in good practice.
Talented junior players Shafqat Rasool and Fareed Ahmed were upgraded to the senior squad and a fine blend of experience and youth in the form of some new players, including the 19-year-old centre-forward Haseem Khan, helped the team perform beyond expectations in the Asia Cup. However, despite reaching the final, they lost to South Korea 0-1 in a close game. The loss led to Pakistan being asked to play in the World Cup qualifiers later in the year.
On the other hand, the juniors reached the final of the four-nation Invitational Junior Hockey Tournament in Malaysia but lost to India in a key game. Their next assignment was in Egypt for the Five-nation Junior Hockey Tournament, which was won in style by the green shirts.
Next up was the Junior World Cup. For it Shafqat Rasool, after playing with the national team in the Asia Cup, was sent back to the junior side. But the team ended up fifth in the mega event.
This was also the time when the PHF withdrew Islahuddin Siddiqui’s name from the Rules Board and Col Mudassar Asghar’s from the Competition Committee while nominating five other individuals, namely, Hasan Sardar for the Athletes Committee, Rana Mujahid for the Rule Board in place of Islah, Asif Bajwa for the Competition Committee in place of Mudassar, Shahbaz Sr for the Development and Coaching Committee, Pervaiz Bhindara for the Marketing Committee of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Meanwhile, Pakistan also lost the seat in the Rules Board as FIH picked former Indian captain Pargat Singh instead of the new nominee Rana Mujahid.
A big controversy rocked national hockey when former coach Naveed Alam and former goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmad accused PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa for tarnishing the game’s image and for his alleged involvement in all kinds of scandals including smuggling individuals to foreign countries.
While Naveed unsuccessfully tried to hide behind the controversies to save his skin in a funds row during the tour of Europe, Mansoor blamed Bajwa for involving him in unlawful activities that earned him a criminal record. The hue and cry raised also prompted the NA Standing Committee on Sports to summon the PHF secretary to explain his side, which he did while clearing his name.
For making false accusations, both Naveed and Mansoor were finally banned from hockey activities for life by President Qasim Zia at the PHF’s Executive Board meeting.
A short series in England saw Pakistan replacing Kamran Ashraf with Shahbaz Jr as the assistant coach after the former wasn’t being able to do full justice to the job. The series was won by the green shirts 2-0 by winning two matches and drawing the third.
Former captain Mohammad Saqlain was asked by PHF to retire from the game and accept a junior team coaching job. The federation had also planned a retirement party in Saqlain’s honour at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore, but the maverick player chose to go to the press to blast federation’s Secretary Asif Bajwa for creating the ugly scenario.
The federation then decided to take back its generous offer and issued Saqlain a show-cause notice.
In another notable development, midfielder Tariq Aziz had to be sent home from the national hockey camp amid suspicions of doping after the injured player admitted taking certain painkillers on his own in order to hide his injury from the coach and selectors.
Preparations for the qualifiers also resulted in the PHF’s postponing the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy that was to be played in Pakistan around the time the team had to go play in the qualifiers.
Also the PHF brought in a third coach Olympian Shafqat Malik to work with Shahbaz Jr under Chief Coach Shahid Ali Khan. With no team wanting to play here, the PHF kept the boys busy in several domestic events throughout the year in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.
In a significant development, FIH President Leonardo Negre visited Pakistan in October to show his support in promoting hockey in Asia, especially in Pakistan.
In order to get the green shirts into more practice before the World Cup qualifiers, the federation planned a tour of Europe comprising Tests in France, Poland and Belgium, which couldn’t happen when the national team failed to get Schengen visas on time. The team eventually flew straight to Lille, France, on Oct 25, for the qualifiers without much practice. Thankfully they won the qualifiers on Nov 8 by beating Japan 3-1 to make it to next year’s World Cup.
More reason to cheer appeared in the form of the colts, comprising mostly of boys picked from the Super League in September, coming home from Yangon, Myanmar, with the AHF U-18 Junior Asia Cup title.
The success in the qualifiers saw the nation associating too many hopes with the national team for its next assignment the Champion’s Challenge Cup-I, another qualifier but for the 2010 Champions Trophy, an event that Pakistan started but hasn’t been able to play in due to its bad show at other events throughout the year. But although Pakistan made it to the final of the event played in Salta, Argentina, in December, they lost to New Zealand by 1-3 to sit out the third Champion’s Trophy in a row.
While the team awaits its next all-important assignment, the Hockey World Cup in India in Feb-March 2010, the fans and critics keep their fingers crossed in hope of the game’s revival.
A year to regroup and rebuild
After being stoned and grilled last year for failing to make it to the Beijing Olympics, Indian hockey started 2009 on a cautious note. And who can blame them, afterall the national game was in grave danger of hitting rock bottom - on and off the field
The year was seen as a chance to rebuild the team and bring it back to its former-fearsome-stage. Many changes took place in the administration part of it as well, some logical, and some not so.
The Indian team had been virtually sitting idle for the latter part of 2008 as the best in the world were busy with Olympics preparations. And so 2009 was basically used as a way to regroup and rebuild by playing as many international matches as they can and bringing in some foriegn expertise to the field. Spain's Jose Brasa's name was mooted for the coach's post. But for the first four months of 2009, Harendra Singh was the coach-in-charge.
The team showed minor signs of recovery when they reached the finals of Punjab Gold Cup in February, but lost to Netherlands in the four-nation tournament which also included New Zealand and Olympic champion Germany. Some went ga-ga saying the sport has finally seen the end of the dark days, but some felt it was too soon to say anything.
Then India won the Azlan Shah Hockey tournament after a gap of 13 years beating Malaysia in the finals. If anything, the sight of captain Sandeep Singh kissing the golden trophy brought hope to many in the country.
Around May, Jose Brasa was officially appointed as the Indian coach. The Spainard shifted the the training centre of the national team from Bangalore to Pune's Balewadi stadium and was quick to get to work, with focus being on three major events in 2010 - World Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. But of course, it's difficult for a foreigner to handle things in this country and Brasa was constantly found fuming about work not being completed 'on time'. Throughout the year, he had to take media's help to get what he wanted for his team - right from water on the field to heart-rate monitering machines for the players.
Brasa sought to bring in the typical European-power-game into Indian's traditionally skill-based style of playing. But barely a month ago, it seemed like the tough-talking coach had earned the ire of some senior players of the team, and the danger of a mutiny was looming large when Hockey India president AK Mattoo stepped in to broker peace.
India toured Canade for a seven match series, winning it 6-0, and recently reached the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge under captaincy of Rajpal Singh in Argentina this month where they were stopped by Pakistan. But while India was regaining its footing, the administration body was trying to do the same with no luck.
Halfway through the year, the five-member adhoc body -which had been looking after the sport after the Hockey Federation of India (under KPS Gill) was disbanded - was also dissolved and the Indian Olympic Association formed 'Hockey India'. The move was also triggered because of the world body’s deadline to form an elected unified national body or risk losing the hosting rights of World Cup 2010 in Delhi. But even now, many states are crying foul saying that it is not an elected body.
FREAK INCIDENT INJURES BALJIT
Goalkeeper Baljit Singh was injured in the eye while practicing in Pune following a freak incident. He was practicing with golf balls and he was hit by one in the eye as it passed through the visor of his helmet. Baljit went through surgery in USA and is still recovering from it. His place in the team was taken by Adrian D Souza.
DILEEP TIRKEY BREAKS RECORD
Dileep Tirkey became the most capped player in the world during the Azlan Shah tournament with 401 international appearences. Dileep had made his debut as a 17-year-old in 1995 and has never been dropped from the Indian sqaud.
WOMEN’S TEAM FLOURISHES
Indian women's team finished runners-up in the Women's Asia Cup held in Thailand in October, losing to China in the final. But this performace earned them a place in the 2010 Women's world cup which will be held in Argentina.
INDIA WIN JUNIOR ASIA CUP
India staged a dramatic fightback to retain the Junior Asia Cup hockey title with a pulsating 3-2 victory over South Korea, relying on ace drag flicker Diwakar Ram’s brilliance. Diwakar also gained a ticket to the senior national team after this.