Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Spotlight.... Korea Men

In the Spotlight' is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today we take a closer look at the Korean men's national team.

The Basics:
Currently world number six, Korea’s men come into the tournament on 1490 points, just below Spain and ahead of New Zealand in the latest FIH World Ranking list. Their best showing in the competition came back in Sydney in 2000 when they took silver, only denied the top prize by the Netherlands on penalty strokes. They first played in the Olympics when hosting in Seoul in 1988 and have played in four more Games since then. In recent times, Korea finished sixth at the 2010 World Cup and were eighth and last in the 2011 Champion’s Trophy.

The Road to London:

Korea became the last side from the world’s top ten to claim their place at the Games, doing so in dramatic fashion. They edged out Ireland with a Nam Yong Lee goal – awarded on a video referral after initially being ruled out – inside the last ten seconds of their OQT final in Dublin. It secured a 3-2 victory. They had been thrown into the qualifiers by virtue of a fourth place finish at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Players to Watch:

Collective is king for Korea but there is a robust aggression and power in the forward manoeuvres of Lee Nam Yong who regularly takes on the point at the top of their front-line. Nam Hyun Woo has a graceful air, overlapping from either right or left back while the panel is packed with a wealth of experience with the volume of current players with over a century of caps numbering in double figures. Among them, You Hyo Sik has already led the line in two World Cups and two Olympics as a goal-hungry forward, following his father’s footsteps into the national team. Ho Seo Jong is another top-drawer performer, named on the FIH All Star team in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.


Shin Seok Kyo took over after the sixth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics from Cho Sung Jun. His tenure started well, gaining bronze in the 2009 Champions Trophy with victory over the Netherlands – Korea’s best result in nine years. A sixth place World Cup finish in 2010 was a par-showing but the past two years have seen the side keep up the pace and coach Shin has a big job to arrest a run of form which dropped Korea to fourth in Asia and last in the Champions Trophy last December. His tactical nous, though, was in evidence in the Olympic qualifier as his more aggressive setup helped turn the tide against Ireland, dominating the closing phases to ultimately secure their ticket to London.

Very much a team that works as a unit, their ability to apply a couple of different, effective presses was key to their progression to the Games as they squeezed the life out of Ireland in their ultimate qualifier in March. A high work-rate is a given for the Asian side and allows them to put in long stints of high presses to affect turnovers in advanced positions while their speed on the counter matches the method well. Goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho marshals a tight-knit defence packed with guts and likely never to shirk a full-blooded, diving tackle.


Blessed with pace up front, they look to be slightly shy on creativity and firepower in the final quarter, relying on corners and a rudimentary, crash ball style from play to eke out the vital scores. Cards for stick tackles can be an Achilles Heel, too.
Crystal Ball:
Reaching the heights of 2000 looks likely to be beyond the current vintage as their fifth place finish at the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in June and eighth at the Champions Trophy last December seem to portray. Nonetheless, they are capable of big results in one-off ties with their wealth of experience of the big stages. They could prove a bogey side throughout the group stages but whether they have enough nous to reach the medal positions looks a bridge too far.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Malaysian women 7-up

 NUR AISYAH YAACOB of Malaysia (yellow)
 NURASLINDA SAID of Malaysia (yellow)

MALAYSIA thrashed Singapore 7-0 in their opening Women’s Junior Asia Cup at the Queen Sirikit Stadium in Bangkok.
    The tournament also doubles up as a Junior World Cup qualifier, and three teams will advance from Bangkok.
     Malaysia have five senior players who have played with the senior outfit and they are Norashikin Halim, Norazlin Sumantri, Norizaidah Ibrahim, Raja Norsharina and Nurul Nabihah.
    And Norazlin started the goal-count in the second minute when she converted a penalty corner and then doubled the advantage with a field attempt in the 21st minute.
    The other goals were scored by Norhashikin Halim (27th) Hanis Nadiah (32nd, 35th), Nuraslinda Said (59th) and Raja Norsharina (64th).
     Malaysia are in Group A with China, India, Singapore  and Sri Lanka. Their next match is on Saturday against China.
     Group B consists of South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Pakistan.
      The last Junior Asia Cup was held in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, and Malaysia finished fifth.
     RESULTS: Group A -- India 16 Sri Lanka 0, Malaysia 7 Singapore 0; Group B: Japan 17 Pakistan 0, Thailand 0 Kazakhstan 1.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Germans pick 10 champions from 2008..

After winning the ERGO Masters in Düsseldorf ahead of the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, the German men's head coach Markus Weise announced his team for London yesterday.
     The list contains many big names, as well as ten Olympic Champions from Beijing 2008, who will be challenging the dominating Australian men to retain their titles: both Zeller brothers, both Wess brothers, Max Müller, Matthias Witthaus, Moritz Fürste, Tobias Hauke, Oliver Korn and goalkeeper Max Weinhold.

Weise said: "The fact that we can fill several positions doubly, with almost equivalent players, says a lot about the high quality, which we have in this squad. It is bitter to have to tell athletes who have done everything right that their big dream of the Olympic Games will not be fulfilled. We as the staff have not taken it lightly, and have gone back and forth a lot. At the end, when a decision between two players who are equally strong has to be taken, it is a decision by gut feeling. I am certain that we will have a very strong team in London that can challenge any of the world's top teams."

The team has a one week camp scheduled for early July, including two test matches with neighbours the Netherlands, before travelling to London after ten days of regeneration. Germany open their Olympic campaign on 30 July with their match against Belgium.

Olympic Squad: Max Weinhold (GK), Oskar Deecke, Florian Fuchs, Moritz Fürste, Martin Häner, Tobias Hauke, Oliver Korn, Maximilian Müller, Jan-Philipp Rabente, Thilo Stralkowski, Christopher Wesley, Benjamin Wess, Timo Wess, Matthias Witthaus, Christopher Zeller, Philipp Zeller
P Accreditations: Nicolas Jacobi (GK), Linus Butt

Source: German Hockey Association

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Only in good old England...

By Graham Smith

Bailiffs calling: Bristol University student Georgie Twigg, 21, spread the teaching of her final academic year over two so she could focus on a tough training schedule for the GB hockey team
    A young Olympic hopeful who took time out from her law degree to train for a place at the London 2012 games has been threatened by balliffs over council tax payments.
    Bristol University student Georgie Twigg, 21, spread the teaching of her final academic year over two so she could focus on a tough training schedule for the GB hockey team.
    But this loyalty to her country makes Miss Twigg the only part-time student in a house of six, in Clifton, Bristol - leaving her liable for a hefty council tax bill on a property in band E, totalling £1,500.
    Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax while they study, but as Miss Twigg only attends university for one day a week, she no longer qualifies for this bracket.
  Miss Twigg spends the other four days of her week training with her GB hockey team in Maidenhead, Berkshire - living in a property that she pays full council tax on.
    She received a court summons after returning from Argentina in February, where her GB hockey team won a silver medal at the Champions Trophy for the first time.
    Miss Twigg, who carried the Olympic torch through Clifton, Bristol, earlier this month, contacted Bristol City Council to ask to be treated as a student as she does not have the money to pay the bill - but her plea fell on deaf ears.
    The summons stated that because she was completing her final year in two years instead of one, she was classed as a part-time student and was no longer exempt from paying council tax, as full-time students are.
    Miss Twigg's parents wrote to the council, including to leader Simon Cook and chief executive Jan Ormondroyd to ask that she be made exempt due to her exceptional circumstances.
    But the council told the family there was nothing it could do and demanded the money.
    At the start of this month, just as she was about to take her final law exams, Miss Twigg received a notice of 'intended bailiff action'.
      Her father Robert Twigg, 57, said: 'We feel that Georgie has been penalised for trying to complete her studies while at the same time qualifying for the Olympic team.
     'It can't be right that this charge wouldn't have been put on her if she had opted out of such a fantastic opportunity.
     'Bristol City Council has been completely unsupportive and unreasonable - no-one seems to want to stick their head above the parapet and realise that these are exceptional circumstances - it just seems so wrong.'
     A spokesman for Bristol City Council said: ....'We have offered as reasonable terms as we can for the repayment of the debt incurred. It goes without saying that we wish her all the best at the Olympics.'

Daily Mail

Project 2013's Europe Tour...

THE Project 2013 squad will get an early boost when they  travel to Europe and play a series of matches against  European Junior World Cup Qualifier teams.
    Malaysia has already qualified for the Junior World Cup, to  be held in November next year in New Delhi, after they  became champions in the Malacca Junior Asia Cup.
   “I will be taking at least 20 players who will be eligible to  play in the Junior World Cup next year, and leave out those  who helped in the Junior Asia Cup but will be overage for New  Delhi,” said Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj.
   Traveling at the end of July, the first stop will be Valencia,  Spain, where they will play two matches against Spain  Juniors, two against France Juniors, two against Belgium  Juniors, and one against a Netherlands Division One side.
    After that, they depart for Poland where two matches will  be played against the Polish juniors and then the seniors.
    “The timing is just right as we will play teams who will be  preparing for the European Juniors Nations Championship  (a World Cup Qualifier starting on July 26) and so we are  assured of playing quality matches,” said Dharmaraj.
     However, after they return and play in the Sultan of Johor  Cup, Dharmaraj will include the six players who will be  overage for the World Cup.
   “I need the six players to keep the Sultan of Johor Cup  trophy in Malaysia. As the defending champions, we must  have the best players available for the second edition.
    “We still have ample time to prepare the Junior World Cup  players, and in the 2013 Sultan of Johor Cup which is  expected to be held one month before the Junior World Cup,  I will get a chance to field the World Cup proper team,” said  Dharmaraj.
    On tour attachments for his charges: “Faizal (Saari) has  already secured a spot with Athletico Madrid and will play in  the European Hockey League. And 16 other players also have  been selected to join European Clubs, but it all depends on  when the MHC (Malaysia Hockey Confederation) decide to  hold the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League).
   “The calendar for the MHL this year is still not out yet, and  if it clashes with the EHL, then we will not be able to send  juniors to Europe attachments, as they already have con tracts with clubs in Malaysia,” said Dharmaraj.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Women's Champions Challenge 1 in Dublin

The FIH is pleased to announce that the 2012 edition of the Women’s Hockey Champions Challenge 1 will be held in Dublin, Ireland from 29 September to 7 October, and to see Irish Hockey build on the enthusiasm and legacy of two successful tournaments hosted in the last 12 months, the Women's Electric Ireland Champions Challenge 1 last year, and the Olympic qualifying event hosted in Dublin earlier this year.
The teams qualified to participate in the event are Australia, Belgium, India, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain and the United States. The eight teams will be competing in two pools of four, with the winner of the event eventually securing one available place in the Women's Hockey Champions Trophy 2014, to be played in Argentina, where the winners will join the already qualified teams from Argentina, England, Netherlands, Germany and Japan. Two further contenders will be assigned invitational places at a later date by the FIH Executive Board.

Commenting on the impending event, Chief Executive Angus Kirkland said, "IHA is delighted to have been awarded this prestigious event. The event allows us to build on the profile generated from the Electric Ireland FIH Road To London, hosted in March and being in season, we look forward to welcoming hockey fans to the National Stadium in UCD. With four Olympic teams, it will be a superb showcase of top class hockey and it provides a wonderful opportunity for our team to showcase their talents to a home audience."
Director of High Performance Dave Passmore was also looking forward to the event, saying " We are delighted to be hosting this event building on the success and broader benefit of the hosting of the Men's Electric Ireland FIH Road To London this year. With such a high standard of opposition, coming so soon after the London Olympics, this should be an exciting and high quality event. Falling at the start of the club season, our ladies will be keen to replicate the form they showed going into the OQT final in March and demonstrate some fast flowing hockey for the Irish public. "

More details on the event will follow in due course.
Tournament Dates: 29 September to 7 October, 2012
Tournament Venue: National Hockey Stadium, UCD, Dublin, Ireland

Current World Rankings of the participating teams:
7th - Australia
10th - USA
11th - Spain
12th - South Africa
13th - India
14th - Ireland
16th - Belgium
18th - Scotland

Friday, June 22, 2012

Signed, sealed and delivered...

By T.N.Alagesh

WINDS OF CHANGE: Tengku Abdullah confirms South  African as head coach.

STARTING July, former Ireland hockey team coach, Paul  Revington will take over as the head coach of the national  senior hockey team with the Champions Challenge 1 in  Argentina later this year being his first assignment.
     Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku  Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who confirmed the appoint ment, said former Malaysian international Arul Selvaraj will  be roped in to assist Revington.
     Tengku Abdullah said the duo have verbally agreed to  chart the future of the national team and all the details,  including their contracts will be ironed out soon.
    “Both Revington and his assistant Arul are expected to  start their coaching duties next month and their first test will  be the Champions Challenge 1 in November before the World  Cup Qualifiers next year"
     “We hope their signing will bring changes to Malaysian  hockey especially after the national team’s recent dip in form  and failure to qualify for major tournaments, “ he told  reporters in Kuantan yesterday.
     He said MHC also plans to have a bigger pool of players for  national duty and Revington will be given a freehand to pick  the players from the Malaysia Hockey League in September  and Razak Cup tournament.
     “The coaches will also look into the possibility to expand  the training squad and maybe have two national teams. We  want the juniors to give priority to the Junior World Cup in  New Delhi next year while the seniors can focus on other  tournaments,” he said adding it would however depend on  the pool of players.
     Revington’s appointment has put an end to speculation on  the candidate to replace Tai Beng Hai, who last led the team  to a sixth place finish in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last  month.
    The former South Africa and Ireland head coach brings  with him a wealth of experience, including guiding South  Africa to the 2004 Olympic Games and 2006 World Cup.
  Arul teamed up with Revington to coach South Africa, and  the duo later joined Ireland in 2008.
     In the past, Malaysia have been coached by Australian  Terry Walsh, Germans Lissek and Volker Knapp.  
    Tai Beng Hai has been appointed as the CoachinG Director,  to oversee junior development as well as handle a junior side  until 2021.

Arul waiting to sign...

ARUL Selvaraj (pic) is just waiting to sign on the dotted line to  join the Malaysian coaching circle, as he has already met  National Sports Council (NSC) officials a few days back and  discussed terms with them.
    When contacted yesterday: “Yes, I have met with officials  from the NSC and we discussed terms but not the KPI yet, as  it is still early stages.”
    Arul is tipped to be the next assistant coach to South  African Paul Revington, who was also down in Kuala Lumpur  recently to discuss with Malaysian Hockey Confederation  (MHC) officials.
    “I do not know what transpired when Paul met hockey  officials, but he has left the country. I’m still around until  August, as I took leave from my club to come home for  holidays,” said Arul.
    After Tai Beng Hai failed to take Malaysia into the  Olympics, the MHC started a serious hunt for a foreign coach  to change the country’s hockey fortunes.
   With South Africa, Revington coached for three years and  the South Africans moved up to 10th from 14th in the world  rankings, and have now qualified for the London Olympics.  South Africa, under Revington, also played in the 2004  Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.
    As for former national coach Tai Beng Hai, he has been  appointed Coaching Director to oversee junior development  until 2021.
    Revington and Arul were with Ireland, who also failed to  qualify for London as they lost to South Korea in the final.
    “I can’t comment too much about this matter yet because I  am still waiting for a reply from the relevant bodies. However,  it would be good to be back in Malaysia after being away for  a long time,” said Arul.
    Arul left for South Africa after his attachment with Paul  Lissek, and was assistant to Revington. Both of them then  moved to Ireland in 2008, and are said to have caught the  attention of the MHC because of their dedication and com mitment.
    Revington’s contract with the Irish team ends this month,  while Arul will have to sort out matters with his club Three  Rock Rovers HC.
   “I have informed club officials on my discussions in  Malaysia, and if I get a contract, it will not be a problem to get  a release form my club and concentrate on Malaysia,” said  Arul.

Logan’s London 1908 Olympic Gold Medal

Gerald Logan (b. 29 December 1879) played hockey for England at the London 1908 Olympic Games, scoring 3 goals in England’s 8 – 1 win over Ireland in the Final. His Gold medal has been loaned to The National Hockey Museum by his great nephew, Nigel Bates.
     The Gold medal was left to Nigel by Gerald Logan’s wife, Alix, in her will as he was the only member of the family that played hockey.
    Nigel Bates is currently living in Cayman Islands and is the Vice President of Cayman Islands Hockey Club. He played for St Albans Hockey Club and Broxbourne Hockey Club before moving to Cayman Islands 9 years ago.
   The Medal was brought to the National Hockey Museum (NHM) today by Nigel’s parents and the Museum were able to show them the Team sheets of Gerald Logan’s 9 appearances for England between 1906 and 1909. Gerald played for South, Surrey and Hampstead Hockey Club. NHM presented Mr & Mrs Bates a Team Photo of England Team of 1906 taken before England v Scotland match.

National Hockey Museum

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the Spotlight.... German women

In the Spotlight is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today we take a closer look at the German women's national team.
The Basics:
Germany are currently ranked third in the world, despite the fact that they have been struggling to finish in the top three in the last few years, finishing fourth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the 2010 FIH World Cup in Rosario as well as the FIH Champions Trophy tournaments in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Their last title came in 2007 when they won the European Championship in Manchester. Their biggest success is the Olympic gold medal they won in Athens 2004.

The Road to London:
Germany qualified for the Olympics as runners-up of the 2011 European Championship held in Mönchengladbach. They defeated Spain 2-1 in the Semifinal to celebrate their London ticket in front of a home crowd at the HockeyPark. Germany lost the Final 0-3 to the Olympic Champions from the Netherlands.
Players to Watch:
Even though she is the oldest player in the squad, 34-year-old Natascha Keller is still the key player in the German team. Keller has played more than 400 (indoor and outdoor) matches for Germany to become the first ever woman to achieve such a feat. The striker from Berlin has scored 203 goals so far. “Taschi” became the fourth member of the Keller dynasty to win a hockey medal in Olympic competition when Germany took the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Keller’s grandfather Erwin won silver in 1936 in Berlin, her father Carsten won gold at Munich in 1972, her older brother Andreas claimed silver in both Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 before winning gold in Barcelona in 1992. Keller’s younger brother Florian won gold in Beijing in 2008. 32-year-old Fanny Rinne is another key player worth watching. Keller and Rinne have announced their retirement after the London Games which will be Keller’s fifth and Rinne’s fourth Olympic appearance.

45-year-old Michael Behrmann has been the head coach of the German women since 2006 when Markus Weise moved over to the men’s program. Before Behrmann was in charge of the U21 women's team. Behrmann was born in Hamburg but his family soon moved to Munich where he started playing hockey, and finished his diploma in Physical Education at TU Munich. In 2000 he moved back to Hamburg. His only title came in 2007 when he won the European Championship in Manchester, his debut year as the senior women’s head coach.
The strength of the German team is that they stick together as a team. Their team is a mixture out of the three remaining 2004 Gold Medallists Natascha Keller, Fanny Rinne, and Mandy Haase, experienced international players such as Christina Schütze, Janne Müller-Wieland, Maike Stöckel, Julia Müller and Nina Hasselmann as well as young talented players like Anke Brockmann, Celine Wilde, Lisa Hahn, Marie Mävers or Kristina Hillmann. Yvonne Frank is an established goalkeeper. The two forwards Eileen Hoffmann and Janine Beermann as well as defender Julia Karwatzky surprisingly didn't make the final cut.

Germany miss a world-class flicker at penalty corners. They generally play a number of variations because the first shot on goal is not their strongest weapon. However, coach Behrmann thinks that Germany are able to surprise with their diversity: “Keller, Rinne or Müller can take the corner. We have also practised many different variations which makes it difficult for opponents to anticipate what we do.” When playing the top teams, Germany often have a slow start, conceding early goals which makes the match an uphill battle.
Crystal Ball:
Germany have been working hard to perform well at the London Olympics, and are on a fitness level they have never reached before. The team's first goal clearly is to reach the Semifinals, and once there, the German ladies will give everything not to finish fourth again. “We know that we attack from an underdog position”, coach Behrmann says.

In the Spotlight.... Spain Men

In the Spotlight is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today, we feature the Spanish men's national team.
The Basics:
Spain’s results took a dip after the 2008 departure of Dutch maestro Maurits Hendriks who during his tenure led the team to an Olympic silver medal and World Cup bronze, as well as 4 Champions Trophy podium finishes including the team’s first ever title. In the post-Hendriks era, Spain have since finished 5th in the World Cup and 2 Champions Trophies, and hit bottom finishing 6th at the 2011 European continental championships – their worst finish within the continent since 1995. A mere 4 months later however, a virtually identical group of players finished second in last December’s Champions Trophy, their first medal-winning finish in a world level event since the 2008 Olympics. The big question will be whether this silver medal is a fluke or heralds a resurgence of Spanish hockey.

The Road to London:
Spain emerged as the lucky loser in the qualification process for London 2012: having missed out on direct qualification with a dismal 6th place finish in Europe’s 2011 continental tournament, they were the highest ranked team in the world not yet qualified when the South African Olympic Committee decided to forego the ticket their men’s team had won in the continental qualifier and send them into the FIH qualification process instead. The open ticket fell to Spain, greatly relieved to be spared a trip to a Qualifier with its dose of uncertainty and extra expenses.
Players to Watch:
Team captain Santi Freixa is not only one of the world’s top players for his stick skills and powerful game, but is also the epitome of leadership with a limitless passion for the game and unwavering faith in the possibility of success. Known for being highly emotional, Freixa leaves it all out on the field, and has the charisma to pull the rest of his team with him, making the Spanish men another one of the teams you should never celebrate a win against until they’re on the bus home. Joining Freixa in the squad’s prime forward line are temperamental and fierce Edi Tubau and lightning fast Pol Amat, who at 34 years old still simply outruns the vast majority of his opponents.

Dani Martin has been the head coach for the Spanish men for close to 4 years now, having taken on the difficult task of following in the footsteps of the successful Dutchman Maurits Hendriks after the Beijing Olympics. Under Hendriks, Martin served as an assistant for years while also coaching one of Spain’s top clubs, Atlètic Terrassa during that time – a club that brought forward some of Spain’s biggest stars of today, including Santi Freixa, Roc Oliva and Sergi Enrique. 
Spain plays a forward-oriented, fast-paced game, geared towards their world class strikers, but can also rely on a strong and experienced defense around Ramón Alegre, Sergi Enrique and goalkeeper Quico Cortes. With a less organized, more creative brand of hockey than some of their counterparts, the Spaniards are more difficult to predict, and have been known to score impossible goals.

Despite being able to hold their own against the world’s best sides, the Spaniards are prone to a certain inconsistency in their results, as evidenced for example in the 2010 World Cup, where the rogue group stage defeat at the hands of ultimately last placed Pakistan cost them a place in the semifinals and saw them finish in 5th place. Also, while Spain has some good penalty corner flickers, they lack the absolute specialist that several of their opponents have.
Crystal Ball:
Spain is a strong contender for the semi-finals, but it won’t be an easy feat, as Dani Martin recognized in a recent interview: “Australia is one of the most powerful in the world, and a clear rival to get to the semis.  Against Great Britain, the matches are always very open, and I am certain that our encounter will be very intense, but we also have the experience like from the World Cup which reminds us that all teams can take points off us. We are at the Games, and you have to work hard to get into the semis.” The stakes are high for Spain, one of the few countries with only one team in the Games, as after their women’s failure to qualify, funding and resources for the next few years may well depend heavily on their final ranking.

Australia win against early start

SYDNEY — The Australian men's field hockey team has won an appeal after the world's number one side was handed three early morning starts in their group matches at the London Olympics.
   Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth was furious when the draw gave his team three 8:30am games, which he said would require players to wake up at 5:00am in a major disruption to their daily tournament routine.
   At the same time, main rivals Germany avoided the early timeslot altogether in the opposite group.
   Hockey Australia fired in an official protest and the Federation of International Hockey said Wednesday it has re-scheduled Australia v Pakistan on August 7 from 8:30am to 10:45am.
   South Korea against the Netherlands will be switched to the earlier start.
   "We always expected early games, but not three, and I am pleased it has been rectified," said Charlesworth.
    Hockey Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said it was a matter the organisation, its coaches and players felt "very strongly about".
    "We are pleased that our position has been considered and that an appropriate adjustment has been made," he said.
    Australia have dominated international men's field hockey since Charlesworth took charge of the national team in 2009 and are strongly fancied for the gold medal in London.

Google News

Revington's the choice

CHARTING FORTUNES: South African to be assisted by Selvaraj
SOUTH African Paul Revington and former Malaysian international Arul Selvaraj have been given the task of reviving hockey in the country.
    The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) yesterday held meetings with both the coaches, who are presently in Kuala Lumpur, but the positive outcome is being kept under wraps as MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah wants to make the official announcement in a few days' time.
    Revington and his assistant Arul first teamed up to coach South Africa, and later joined Ireland in 2008 with the target of taking the Irish into the London Olympics.
   However, Ireland lost to South Korea in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier and Revington threw in the towel. He will now helm Malaysia's senior squad.
   An MHC official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "Our president has met Revington and is happy with the coach's determination and commitment. He (Revington) will chart Malaysia's senior future starting with the Champions Challenge I (in Argentina in November) and then the World Cup Qualifier next year."
    Arul, a former national player, has had stints under German Paul Lissek but then left for South Africa, and then Ireland and is now back in Malaysia with his long-time mentor Revington.
    With South Africa, Revington coached for three years and the South Africans moved up to 10th from 14th in the world rankings, and have now qualified for the London Olympics. South Africa, under Revington, also played in the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.
    As for former national coach Tai Beng Hai, he has been appointed Coaching Director to oversee junior development until 2021.
    "I can't make any comments over the latest developments because I have yet to receive any appointment letter from the MHC. I will wait for the paperwork before commenting," said Beng Hai.
    Beng Hai's resume includes the Invercargill World Cup Qualifier silver as well as the Asian Games silver, but he failed to take Malaysia into the Olympics or the World Cup.
    Arul, when met in Dublin during the Olympic Qualifier, had said: "I have been working in Ireland for the last five years, and if possible, I would like to handle the Malaysian team once more."
    In the past, the Malaysian seniors have been coached by Australian Terry Walsh, Germans Lissek and Volker Knapp and now have a South African. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

16 proud Kookaburras..

 After years of preparation and countless hours of training, 16 players have been selected to represent the Australian men’s hockey team at the Olympics. Six experienced athletes will travel to London for the Games with ten players who will make their Olympic debut and realise a life-long dream.
    The Kookaburras took home bronze from Beijing four years ago but for the world number one team, it's gold they want in London.
   Head Coach Ric Charlesworth said while the past week had been stressful for selectors, his thoughts were with the exceptionally talented players that had missed out. “It is our job to make judgements about balance and covering every base but in the end there are players that are unlucky,” he said. “This has been a long process over 12 months and many factors were considered.”
    The Kookaburras leadership group will be led by five time World Player of the Year, Jamie Dwyer and will include Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Eddie Ockenden and Fergus Kavanagh.
    Star striker Des Abbott will be joined in the team by his cousin Joel Carroll, who has filled the opening on the backline, after Graeme Begbie suffered a serious knee injury in May. “Joel earned his spot in the team through consistent performances this year. At the start of the year he was probably outside the 16, so he played his way into the team,” Charlesworth said.
    Young striker Matt Gohdes, who is Jamie Dwyer’s first cousin and drag flick specialist Kieran Govers are exciting prospects and are expected to be key players to watch in London. “Both played well at last year’s Champions Trophy and have progressed solidly and Kieran will be an option drag flicking on penalty Corners alongside Chris Ciriello,” he said.
   Midfielder Tim Deavin will join fellow Tasmanian Ockenden in the line-up in his first Games. “We really need his energy, he is a workhorse and we rely on his creative play in midfield,” Charlesworth said.
    Goal scoring machine Glenn Turner had hip surgery last year to give him-self the best chance of selection, which has paid dividends.
    Goal keeper Nathan Burgers has now cemented his place as the number one keeper in the team after a strong challenge from George Bazeley and Andrew Charter. “He has a huge responsibility and a very important role and I hope he feels like there’s a lot of work to be done yet,” Charlesworth said.
    The fight for selection is not over yet however, as two reserves will be picked and there are injury clouds over others. “There is still a contest on for the other two spots and the final squad doesn’t have to be handed over until July,” Charlesworth said. The extra six players that will compete in a three test series in Cairns next week against New Zealand will still be vying for a trip to London. “With our recent injury history, there is some doubt this will be the final 16 we take,” he said.
    Matthew Swann, Simon Orchard, Liam De Young and Matthew Butturini will travel to Cairns to participate in the team's preparation but won’t play due to their injuries.

Olympic Team:

Des Abbott, Nathan Burgers, Matthew Butturini, Joel Carroll, Chris Ciriello, Tim Deavin, Liam De Young, Jamie Dwyer, Matt Gohdes, Kieran Govers, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Matthew Swann, Glenn Turner

Source: Hockey Australia Press Release

Sunday, June 17, 2012

MHC Executive Borad stalemate

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) executive board meeting yesterday could not come to any conclusive decision on hiring a foreign coach to replace Tai Beng Hai.
  The Board deliberated on the matter, but said they needed at least two more weeks to decided on the foreign coach.
  "There was no decision taken on a replacement for Tai Beng Hai, as the president (Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah) said that more time was needed to find a replacement coach," said senior vice-president Dr S. Shamala.
  After Beng Hai failed to take Malaysia into the Olympics, the MHC went on a hunt for a foreign replacement.
  The front-runner among the foreign coaches is Paul  Revington of South Africa, who last coached the Irish team to  the silver medal in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier.
   And he might just being in his trusted lieutenant Arul  Selvaraj, a former Malaysian international who was assistant  to Paul in Ireland.
   The other possible candidate to replace Beng Hai is  Australian Paul Gaudoin.
  On the future of Beng Hai: "He has been given the mandate by the Executive Board to do development work, and will be in charge of the Project 2021 team," said Shamala.
  And for the Project 2017 team, the Board decided on Lim Chiow Chuan and Lailin Abu Hassan as coaches.
  "The Board also could not come to an agreement on whether to accept the resignation of Hashim Yusof (the former MHF secretary and later an office-bearer) as the president said that the matter should be left to his discretion at a later date," said Shamala.
  However, the Board did decide that the Asia Cup next year, would be held in October as to accommodate the Junior World Cup which would be held in November.
  "No other major decisions were taken by the Board, as many of the matters needed more deliberation time," said Shamala.

Memoirs of Mr Hockey

THE launch of the Memoirs of Mr Hockey, by Datuk G. Vijayanathan (pic), was officiated by Tun Ahmah Sarji at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
  Viji, as he is popularly known, was the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary for 26 years and also a world No 1 umpire from 1973-1976.
  He is also famed for umpiring the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup final between India and Pakistan and awarded the 'controversial' goal to India which handed them the World Cup on a 2-1 score.
  "It is indeed a honour to have served hockey for such a long span, and I dedicate this book, written from my experience in the sport for over six decades, to my late wife of 51 years, Rajaletchmy, and my two daughters," said Viji.
   The 638-page book on his memoirs not only covers his family life, but to a greater extent, includes what he learnt, achieved and parted on and off the field.
  The book launch was atended by close to 500 of his friends, as well as hockey players from the 1975 World Cup squad.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Germany beat Pakistan 2-0

KARACHI: Germany beat Pakistan 2-0 in the second match of the two-match hockey test series in Cologne, Germany on Thursday.
     The victory levelled the series 1-1. Pakistan beat Germany 4-3 in the first match with all four goals scored by captain Sohail Abbas.
   Pakistan are in Europe to prepare for the London Olympics and have already played Belgium and Germany. The Greenshirts will now be traveling to Holland for the last phase of the tour.


MHC Executive Board might name coach...

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation’s (MHC) second  Executive Board meeting today would discuss a myriad  of  issues, with the most crucial being the appointment of a  foreign coach.
   Also hot on the agenda would be the calendar, as MHC have  to juggle tournaments in the Malaysia Hockey League, the  Sultan of Johor Cup, the Champions Challenge I, Razak Cup  and the 2013 Asia Cup.
    And then there is also the proposed attachment of juniors  for overseas leagues.
    If the calendar is not done properly, there would again be  the conflict of club versus country, and not to mention the  difficulty in releasing junior players for overseas attach ments if they clash with the local and international tour naments.
    “Yes, there are so many things to discuss and iron out in the  meeting. The coaches appointment would also be touched,  and maybe a solution will be found at the end of the meeting,”  said MHC secretary Johari Aziz.
    Current national coach Tai Beng Hai might find himself as  the Director of Coaching, or coaching the age-group.
    The front-runner among the foreign coaches is Paul  Revington of South Africa, who last coached the Irish team to  the silver medal in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier.
   And he might just being in his trusted lieutenant Arul  Selvaraj, a former Malaysian international who was assistant  to Paul in Ireland.
   The other possible candidate to replace Beng Hai is  Australian Paul Gaudoin.
    The calendar discussion could turn out to be sticky, as MHC  moved the Razak Cup to September, and the Malaysia Hockey  League can only start after that.
     And in November while the Juniors play in the Sultan of  Johor Cup, there is an overlapping with the senior side for the   Champions Challenge 1 in Argentina.
    And if the calendar is not drawn out right, it could turn out  to be a messy affair as club versus country, and local  tournaments versus overseas attachments could turn into a  bloody battle.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sohail beat Germany 4-3

EDITIR'S NOTE: We all know how the Germans hate to lose, be it a tournament, friendly or Test.\

COLOGNE: Pakistan beat Germany by 4-3 in the first test match of the two-test match series, hailing its first victory of the ongoing European tour in Cologne, Germany, DawnNews reported on Wednesday.
Captain Sohail Abbas scored all four of Pakistan’s goal in a victory which broke the Greenshirts’ losing streak of six consecutive defeats.
Pakistan are in Europe to prepare for the London Olympics with matches against Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
The second test match between the two teams will be played on Thursday at 1500 PST (Pakistan Standard Time).


Luciana Aymar Argies flagbearer

Hockey superstar Luciana Aymar (pic) was announced today as the flagbearer by her National Olympic Committee, set to lead her country's delegation in the Opening Ceremony of the upcoming Olympic Games in London in 44 days' time.
Aymar, who is competing in her 4th Olympic Games and turns 35 on the day of the Olympic Final, is hoping to lead her team, the current World Champions and Champions Trophy holders, to the Olympic gold and thereby the only honor that is missing in her vast collection of team and individual distinctions - in what is presumed to be her last big international appearance in hockey.
The Magician, as she is nicknamed in Argentina, had previously expressed her desire to fill the flagbearer role, saying "I am fighting for the dream of being the flagbearer because I always liked being there, at the front, with the Argentine colors. I would love to be the flagbearer, I dream of that a lot of the days. It would be a very big honor and a very gratifying moment as an athlete, and as a woman. Hopefully, it will be given to me, I would be delighted with all my heart."
The final vote was between 4 candidates: Luciana Aymar, 2008 Olympic gold medalist cyclist Walter Pérez, tennis player Juan Martín Del Potro and NBA basketball star Luis Scola. Aymar had been considered the favorite before the vote and went on to beat out the other four contenders in a secret vote amongst representatives of the 21 different disciplines Argentina participates in, to follow in the footsteps of Emanuel Ginóbili, considered the best Argentinean basketball player in history, who led the Argentine delegation at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The team captain of the Leonas will be the sixth female flagbearer for Argentina in history, and the first woman since judoka Carolina Mariani at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Aymar had previously served as the flagbearer for her country at the 2007 Panamerican Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In the Spotlight… Argentina Women

In the Spotlight is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days.

The Basics:
The Argentinean Women are currently 2nd in the FIH World Rankings, only a handful of points behind The Netherlands, the team they beat in the final of the 2010 World Cup in Rosario. They have regularly stood on the podium at world events over the past twelve years, winning the World Cup twice (2002 and 2010), finishing 3rd in 2006, collecting Olympic medals in 2000 (silver), 2004 (bronze) and 2008 (bronze again), and winning five Champions Trophies. However, the South Americans only qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games through the back door, after a shock defeat at the hands of the USA in the final of the Pan American Games.
The Road to London:
After their World Cup triumph at home in Rosario, the Argentinean Women could have imagined that the 2011 Pan American Games would be the usual formality for them, having never previously lost a match in continental competition before. With some of their key players performing under their par, they were surprised by a well-organized USA team who snatched the only ticket for London. The World Champions were only saved from having to play in an Olympic Qualifier when the South African Olympic Committee refused the direct qualification earned by its team and the spot was given to the South Americans, as the top ranked not yet qualified team.
Players to Watch:
Las Leonas would probably not be where they are without the stunning talent of Luciana Aymar. FIH Player of the Year an incredible seven times, her influence on the Argentinean team is undeniable: when she is at the top her form, as in Rosario for the World Cup, she is a permanent threat for the opposition, scoring goals or delivering sumptuous passes to her forwards; when she is not as sharp, as in Guadalajara for the Pan American games, the whole team slows down a notch.
Argentina can also count on the fierce penalty-corners of Noel Barrionuevo and the speedy runs and clever positioning in front of the goal of Carla Rebecchi.
42-year-old Carlos Retegui played for the Argentinean men’s team for 17 years and is a triple Olympian himself. After his playing career, he turned to coaching, and during a one year stint with the Argentine men led them to Champions trophy bronze in 2008. In early 2009, “Chapa” Retegui switched to the women’s team, and led them to victory in the Champions Trophy in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and to their World Cup triumph at home in 2010.
Spectators the world over have enjoyed the spectacular attacking style developed by Las Leonas. With Luciana Aymar in the role of conductor, all players are talented virtuosi comfortable performing technical moves at high speed. With Rosario Luchetti, Carla Rebecchi, and of course Luciana Aymar, they have many players who can make the difference up-front and score, overwhelming an opposing defense.
When they force penalty-corners, they can count on the powerful flick of Noel Barrionuevo, reliably efficient as for example during the World Cup (with 6 goals).
The overall performance of Argentina depends very much on the individual form of Aymar and Barrionuevo. There are also concerns about their defense, who struggled during the Pan American Games, suffering 4 goals in the final against the USA (including 3 field goals), and will be further weakened by the absence of Belen Succi, their goalkeeper at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 World Cup, who will miss the trip to London due to pregnancy. On the other hand, the return of Mercedes Margalot, a veteran of 3 Olympic Games, could possibly bring back some much needed experience and stability in the defensive department.
Crystal Ball:
Argentina might not be as dominant as they were two years ago when they conquered the World Cup, but they have enough talent and experience to be a strong contender in London. In what could be her last participation at a world level event, Luciana Aymar will want to finish her long and illustrious career on a high note, and Las Leonas could very well be in the semi-finals in London, and possibly once again on the Olympic podium.

A seasoned, balanced India

EXPERIENCED DUO: As expected, striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi (in picture) and defender Ignace Tirkey are back. But this would be of token value unless they can translate their experience into results. Photo: S. Subramanium

ANY dissection of India's 16-member hockey squad for the London Olympiad is superfluous. Apart from minor changes, the core stays. The selectors have refrained from indulging in any fanciful exercise.
   Gurvinder Singh Chandi and Ignace Tirkey are back. That was expected. The duo enhances the experience quotient. But this is of token value.
    Unless it is translated into improving consistency, the international cap figures will reflect only a statistical calibration.
    Appalling inconsistency cost India a higher finish at Ipoh.
   The fluctuations were startling. They ranged from brilliance to blasé. Coach Michael Nobbs went through painful moments.
    There is now a greater balance. Chandi and Ignace can bridge the loopholes.
    Both are seasoned with enough international exposure.
    Competition at the Olympic-level is more than an exhibition of individual skills. Success depends on how well the forces are marshalled to overcome the opponent tactically.
More resilience

To accomplish this, the team must strive to elevate its defence and attack notches above than what was noted at Ipoh.
    Importantly, more resilience is needed in the area of defence which crumbled even before meagre force.
   Goalkeepers Chetri, who leads the team, and Sreejesh require more support from the defenders. Of the two, Chetri displays composure and confidence. Sreejesh, on the contrary, is prone to be erratic and desperate.
    In the defence, a lot rests on Ignace, who, along with Sandeep Singh, figured in the 2004 Athens Olympics. A wing-half turned defender under Nobbs, he thrives on his inherent proficiency in trapping and tackling. His penchant to dribble out of trouble from the circle has been exemplary.
    The same cannot be said of Sandeep or Raghunath. They do not come off well in interceptions. But, both possess lethal penalty corner hits. Sandeep, especially, is the danger man for any goalkeeper.
Sheet anchor

It is on the cumulative strength of the midfield that the entire team is pegged. Sardar Singh is the sheet anchor in this. His improvisation is charming to behold. Accuracy is the essence of his approach.
   With such an outstanding pivot, the half-line can work wonders, provided the response from the rest is matching.
   The efficiency levels of Gurbaj Singh and Birendra Lakra are attractive enough to improve the quality in this line. Sidelining Kothajit raises eyebrows; so does the retention of Manpreet Singh.
   The efficacy of the midfield is again linked to the cohesion and thrust of the frontline.
   Everyone in the attack is as good as the other. But the weak point is the finish. All of them were guilty of frittering away chances during the last tournament.
   Tushar, Sunil, Shivendra and Chandi are delightful ball players. But flunking at the goal-end after fashioning a sparkling surge is heart-rending. Scoring opportunities will be very few in high-profile competitions involving well-structured set of defenders.
   Tucking in goals against them require cent per cent perfection.
    How much sharpness can Nobbs inject into the attack in the time remaining before the Games is difficult to visualise.
   The preparatory camps, as well as the tours to France and Spain, provide a splendid opportunity to fine-tune every layer.
   The players cannot grumble for want of opportunities or financial rewards. Now, it is time for them to match the hopes and aspirations of the hockey fraternity praying for a semifinal berth in London.
   The team: Goalkeepers: Bharath Chetri (capt.), P.R. Sreejesh. Defenders: Sandeep Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Ignace Tirkey. Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh. Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker, Dharamvir Singh, S.K. Uthappa. Stand-byes: Sarvanjit Singh, Kothajit Singh.

The Hindu

Former Pakistan greats protest..

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former Olympians Tuesday launched a protest against the country's hockey federation claiming its policies were hampering the future of the national team.
    Dozens of protesters, including former players and others led by four Olympians Naveed Alam, Mansoor Ahmad, Saleem Nazim and Mohammad Saglain, gathered in front of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) head office in the eastern city of Lahore.
   They raised slogans against the PHF officials, alleging that they are responsible for the miserable performance of the national team in the recently concluded Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
   The Olympians also demanded the removal of the incumbent management of the federation, Xinhua reported.
   Alam announced that they would continue the protest for the next five days and would force the government to appoint a new body.
   According to Alam, if the government does not take action to remove the PHF officials they would appeal in the Supreme Court.
   One of the PHF officials alleged that the Alam group had no sincerity for the betterment of the game and they only wanted to disturb the team's preparations for the London Olympics.
    Pakistan could win only their first match against Argentina in the recently concluded Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia and were beaten in five successive matches by New Zealand, South Korea, Malaysia, India and Britain.
   Former player Manzoor Junior said: "I am very disappointed with the team's performance. It showed the true face of the squad to the hockey lovers who want to see Pakistan regaining lost glory in hockey."
    Pakistan are on a European tour to play some practice matches ahead of the London Olympics.

The Times of India

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Argentina men for London

Lombi trims the team to the final 16 for the Olympics

Argentina men's coach, Pablo Lombi, today announced the 16 players that will represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics.
Among the highlights of the announcement is the inclusion of the Villa brothers: Rodrigo, Luke and Matthew, the captain of the Argentine team. Also of note is that U21 standout Gonzalo Peillat made the final cut.
Argentina will start it's Olympic quest on July 30th with a tough test against Great Britain. In Group A, the Argentina men will also meet Pakistan, Australia, Spain and South Africa. The final 16 players, with two alternates is listed below:

1 Vivaldi, Juan Manuel
2 Ibarra, Pedro
3 Bergner, Ignacio
4 Brunet, Manuel
5 Lopez, Juan Martin
6 Peillat, Gonzalo
7 Rey, Lucas
8 Vila, Matias
9 Rossi, Lucas
10 Mazzilli, Agustin
11 Vila, Lucas
12 Vila, Rodrigo
13 Paredes, Matias
14 Cammareri, Lucas
15 Callioni, Facundo
16 Montelli, Santiago
17 Espinosa, Juan Tomas
18 Gonzalez, Matias
Souce: CAF Press Release

New Zealand banks on experience

New Zealand celebrates its first Azlan Shah title (Photo: Vino John)
New Zealand will take its most experienced hockey team ever to the London Olympic Games starting next month.
  The Black Sticks men’s team of 16 players selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee today includes four three-time Olympians and nine players who will make their second appearance at an Olympics.
  Three of the team – striker Phil Burrows, midfielder Ryan Archibald, and defender and captain Dean Couzins – have also amassed more 250 caps for their country while defender Blair Hopping is just one off that mark with 249 caps.
  Couzins, Burrows, Hopping and goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex will all be attending their third Olympics while Archibald would also be in that group had he not missed Athens with injury.
  Another two team members – Simon Child and Shea McAleese – have more than 150 caps in the black strip, while five others including Pontifex have more than 100 matches under their belt.
   New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general and selector Kereyn Smith says she is proud to have announced the 16 players today. “It’s an experienced team and an exciting one too,” she said. “Put the team together and you’ve got significant Olympic Games experience, not to mention international caps. The recent win at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup just adds to the excitement surrounding this team.”
  Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod said deciding on the final 16, with fellow selectors Grant Edwards and Peter Miskimmin, was made even tougher after winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia earlier this month. “It became a luxury problem with so many players performing at the top of their game in Malaysia. In the end it came down to getting the balance right in the midfield and the flexibility of players to slot into a number of positions. It’s incredibly hard for those who missed out.”
  Canterbury midfielder Nick Haig and Midlands defender Richard Petherick have both made the Olympic team after not being selected for last year’s Champions Trophy in Auckland. “Richard is playing with confidence and confirmed his selection with his performance in Malaysia while Nick provides the flexibility to cover both left and right half,” said McLeod.
  He added that despite the Azlan Shah success and the wealth of experience in the side, the players had their feet on the ground in terms of their medal chances in London. “We’re doing things really well but we know that the Olympics are another two steps up and this is just the beginning. The players now have to put their lives on hold, with the Olympics their only priority.”
  Midfielder Arun Panchia and goalkeeper Hamish McGregor will both head to London with the team but will be based outside the Olympic village. If one of the 16 Olympic team members is injured, either Panchia or McGregor will be called on as a permanent replacement for the injured player.
  The Black Sticks men, ranked seventh in the world, head to Cairns on Sunday for a three test series against world No. 1 Australia. The three matches on 22, 23 and 26 June will be the team’s last before they depart for Europe on 6 July for Olympic warm-up matches.
  High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Alex Baumann added his congratulations to the team today. He says his organisation has been delighted to help the Black Sticks Men’s team prepare for the London Olympics.  “We’ve put in more than $1.1 million in funding this year into the team’s high performance programme, as well as providing specialists to work with the team on strength and conditioning, nutrition and other aspects of their training and preparation.” While New Zealand has fielded a men’s hockey team at the majority of Olympic Games since Melbourne 1956, New Zealand has won just one Olympic hockey medal – gold against Australia in 1976 at Montreal where the sport was played for the first time on artificial turf.
Source: New Zealand Hockey Release

Armed Forces women gun down title
Armed Forces lifted the Raja Noora Ashikin Cup for the first time in the history of the competition when they defeated Malacca 3-0 in the final at the Seremban 2 Hockey Stadium.
  It was a final that pitted the experience of the Armed Forces against the youthful exuberance of the Malacca side, who were a last minute entry into the tournament.
  In the end experience won but the Malacca side can stand proud as they made the final of two national championships within a space of two weeks. For in early June the Malacca girls had won the National Indoor Championship for the Raja Ashman Cup.
  As for Armed Forces, the women squad lifted a trophy that had eluded them for seven editions. Their men squad had earlier ended a barren run for Armed Forces since the 1982 Razak Cup triumph by winning the National Indoor Tournament for men on June 2.
  Armed Forces played a tight game at the back, opting for a four-player defence with Juliani Mohamma Din orchestrating the attack from midfield with skipper Nadia Abdul Rahman.
   Despite being awarded three penalty corners early in the match, Nurul Asyadah Ahmad Shapawi failed to find the mark.
  Malacca could not play their free flowing style of hockey that got them into the final as missing from the line-up was key defender Nur Atikah Shari who had to sit for her university examinations.
  Thus Ayu Malina Zainuddin and Nor Aisyah Yaacob had to shoulder more defensive duties.
  With Armed Forces dominating play, it was a matter of time before they scored. And the first goal duly came in the 24th minute through Izzuin Ismail.
  Malacca had barely recovered from that when Nadia struck in the 27th minute giving Armed Forces a 2-0 lead.
  Try as they did in the second half, Malacca could not breach the tight defence of Armed Forces and having to play three matches within 36 hours put paid to any chances of a fightback.
A penalty corner converted by Juliani in the 68th minute sealed the win and title for Armed Forces.
  Meanwhile KL Sukma finished third after defeating Terengganu 3-0.
  Goals for KL were scored by Herni Japlee in the 6th minute and Norazlin Sumantri, who netted a brace in the 11th and 32nd minutes.


3/4th Placing

KL Sukma 3 Terengganu 0


Armed Forces 3 Malacca 0

Roll of Honour

Fairplay: Sarawak
Top Scorer: Suzana Mohd Nasir (Armed Forces_ - 10 goals
Most Promising Player: Herni Japlee (Kuala Lumpur)
Best Goalkeeper: Norafini Kamaruddin (Kedah)
Player of the Match: Juliani Mohamma Din (Armed Forces)

In the Spotlight.... Australia men

A closer look at the 24 teams in the London Olympics

In the Spotlight is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today we feature the Australian men's national team.
The Basics:
The Australian men are currently top in the FIH World Ranking with 2188 points, a full 200 points ahead of nearest rival, Germany. They have played in all but one (1980) Olympic Games since first entering in 1956. After three silver medals, they finally struck gold in 2004 in Athens and have also won two bronze medals in their 13 entries. They are the current World Cup, Champions Trophy and Oceania Cup holders following a stellar run in 2010 and 2011. For trivia lovers, if Australia does win the Olympic Gold Medal, it will become the first-ever nation to hold the maximum number of FIH World Ranking points available, an incredible feat and a nod to their dominance in the last cycle of events.

The Road to London:
With Oceania’s quota of Olympic qualifiers increased to two and the withdrawal of all other nations bar New Zealand, Australia was a virtual automatic qualifier. For good measure, they won the three game series against the Black Sticks with a 6-1 result in game three to claim a seventh consecutive Oceania Cup.

Players to Watch:
While Australia has a multi-faceted selection of stars, Jamie Dwyer is the obvious one that shines brightest with his remarkable control and trickery, carried out at top speed. The esteem he is held in by his peers has seen him voted FIH World Player of the Year for the past three years and five times in total and he has won everything in the game, the 2004 Olympic title and the 2010 World Cup the pinnacles.

A four-time Olympian as a player and two-time gold medalist as coach of the Hockeyroos, Ric Chalesworth is aiming to complete the full boat from the men’s coaching perspective since taking over the Kookaburras in 2009. A hockey international and highest level cricketer, Charlesworth earned a myriad of awards in his playing days, chief among them the Australian Order of Merit and induction into the country’s sporting Hall of Fame. As a hockey player, he won World Cup gold 1986 in London, adding top-scorer gong and player of the tournament to boot. His best Olympic performance as a player came in 1976 in Montreal with a silver medal and his success translated into the coaching sphere. From 1993-2000, he coached Australia’s women to back-to-back Olympic titles and two World Cup crowns. His tenure as men’s coach looks to be going the same way, winning the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi, the Commonwealth Games and three Champions Trophy titles. Gold at the Games would provide an extraordinary cap on a remarkable life in sport. Aside from his impressive sporting career, Charlesworth is also a qualified doctor and served as a Member of Parliament in Australia between 1983 and 1993.

Their ability to impose a lightning quick tempo on more sedate opponents has raised the bar in recent years and a settled squad with the likes of Eddie Ockenden, Des Abbott and Simon Orchard to the fore and Dwyer as the fulcrum, there are plenty of angles of attack. At corner time, Chris Ciriello and Luke Doerner provide powerful options in a formidable line-up.

It’s never easy to go into any event as the favourite, but add the element of the Olympics and you have a pressure cooker situation. Other teams have nothing to lose chasing down the Number One team in the world. Australia will definitely be the hunted prey, and with the nation hosting the next big FIH event, the Champions Trophy in December in Melbourne, the necessity to succeed in London will be doubled.

Crystal Ball:
Four successive Champions Trophy wins and a World Cup win leading into the competition points to that status and anything less than gold can be seen as potential unfulfilled. Great Britain look to be their main threat in the group stages while Germany have shown an ability to best the Aussies but they will most likely need to oust Charlesworth’s hordes – either in the final or semi-final – if they are to win gold.

India announce Olympic team

After a two day selection camp last week, Hockey India today announced their team for the 2012 Olympic Games next month in London.
   As expected, there were no major surprises, with the team almost identical to the one that competed at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, in which India won a bronze medal amongst a strong field of mostly fellow Olympic competitors. Goalkeeper Bharat Chetri has been selected to lead the team as captain, with Indian hockey's superstar midfielder Sardar Singh supporting as vice-captain.
   Other players moving forward from the bronze team are penalty corner specialists Sandeep Singh and VR Ragunath, midfielders Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurbaj Singh as well as forwards Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker, SV Sunil, Dharamvir Singh and SK Uthappa. Replacing Yuvraj Walmiki and Rupinderpal Singh, who are the two players from to the Azlan Shah team missing out, are veteran defender Ignace Tirkey and forward Gurwinder Singh Chandi.
   In an interesting move, head coach Michael Nobbs has also decided to include the team's second goalkeeper, PR Sreejesh, in the core 16 player squad, while the tendency amongst the rest of the participating teams so far has been to include only one goalkeeper. The two P-accredited athletes for India - available only in case of serious and permanently incapacitating injury to anther athlete - will be Sarwanjeet Singh and Kothajit Singh.
  The Indian team is set to travel to Europe at the end of the month for a busy three week programme of preparation for the Olympic Hockey Tournament. After playing two test matches against France in Lille, India move on to the Spanish city of Santander, where they will play two tests each against South Africa and Spain, before taking part in a three nations event with Spain and Great Britain.
  Source: Hockey India Release

Thursday, June 7, 2012

US women dream of Olympic gold

Kathleen O'Donnell and Lauren Crandall pose for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- When the players on the U.S. women’s field hockey team think about London, their minds are on winning a gold medal. After all, Team USA has never won a gold medal in field hockey in the Games and these women would like to rewrite history. And, no doubt, they have their minds set on the X’s and O’s of their top opponents.
    With Kate Middleton promoting their sport in London, Team USA players hope to generate extra publicity
   But when it comes to these Games, there is a special X factor: the potential presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
    With the Games being in London this summer and with Middleton being a former high school field hockey player (and captain) who just so happens to be an ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games, U.S. players are hoping their sport will receive more than its usual share of publicity this summer.
    Middleton visited with Great Britain’s field hockey team last month and photos of the Duchess swinging a field hockey stick landed in places such as People magazine. When Middleton sports a certain designer’s dress, that style quickly becomes the latest fashion, so it’s only natural that field hockey players hope the Duchess’ touch will be golden in their sport, too.
    As U.S. field hockey coach Lee Bodimeade said, “You can’t buy this kind of publicity. Maybe we should get the Obama girls some sticks, too.”
    Middleton’s allegiance, obviously, will be with Great Britain, but her aura around the sport has won over Team USA players.
    “I’m so excited for these Games,” said Katie O’Donnell, a star forward for Team USA, who noted that Middleton even displayed good field hockey form. “Kate Middleton is so popular. I think people are going to watch.”
    “It’s huge for the sport,” added Katelyn Falgowski, a midfielder who made her Olympic debut in Beijing and is expected to be on the team again this summer in London. “Everyone follows her. I mean, who doesn’t? She’s the girl next door and she plays field hockey. That’s great.”
    Unfortunately for Team USA players, their potential brush with British royalty will have to wait just a bit longer. While Middleton was celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this week, the U.S. field hockey players were busy training and competing in the Women’s National Championship at the University of Maryland.

USFHA media release

Britain apologises to South Africa

All smiles: Kate Walsh of Great Britain (L) and Marsha Marescia of South Africa pose with the Investec London Cup Photo: ACTION IMAGES 

SOUTH Africa have received an official apology from Great Britain Hockey after the apartheid anthem Die Stem was mistakenly played prior to yesterday's match at the London Cup.
    In a letter to tournament organisers, Marissa Langeni, chief executive of the South African Hockey Association, said the country "watched with disbelief as our team stood through what clearly was a most embarrassing and uncomfortable experience".
    South Africa's women went on to beat the hosts 3-1 in their opening game and GB Hockey have moved swiftly to apologise for the administrative mistake.
   "Great Britain Hockey, the organiser of the Investec London Cup, offers a full and unreserved apology to the South African women's hockey team and their supporters for mistakenly playing the wrong national anthem before South Africa's match with Great Britain on Tuesday afternoon," chief executive Sally Munday said.
   "The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event.
   "Standard procedure would be to check anthems to be played with visiting teams in advance, however, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility.
   "Great Britain Hockey and its contractor appreciate the sensitive nature of this unfortunate mistake and we apologise unreservedly for the offence caused.
   "The correct anthem will be played before all of South Africa's remaining matches, beginning with the team's second fixture against Germany on Wednesday evening."
   Langeni said she felt the incident clouded what had been a great day for the team.
   "We are extremely disappointed that an administrative blunder has been the source of much embarrassment for our team and all South Africans," she said in a statement prior to the apology.
   "The anthem played caused our team much discomfort as they stood not knowing what to do with themselves.
    "This incident has robbed our team of what should have been a moment of pride."

   The Telegraph

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hail Andy Hayward!

In the final of the 21st Azlan Shah Cup, New Zealand beat Argentina 1-0, courtesy of an Andy Hayward 18th minute goal, to claim their first gold medal in the 21st Edition.
   RESULTS: Final -- Argentina 0 New Zealand 1; Third-Fourth:  Britain 1 India 3; Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia 2 South Korea 3.

Sandeep hands India bronze

In the bronze fight, India beat Olympic hosts Britain 3-1 courtesy of Sandeep Singh’s brilliance for their fifth third placing in the Azlan Shah Cup.
    Ashley Jackson gave Britain the lead in the 35th minute when he scored his sixth goal of the tournament,
    However, the second half was all India as Shivendra Singh levelled in the 43rd minute, while Sandeep Singh gave them the lead off a 52nd minute penalty corner.
    Britain gambled by removing their goalkeeper and substituting him with a kicking-back in the last five minutes of the match,
   But Sandeep punished them further when he flicked from his own semi-circle into Britain’s semi-circle where a waiting Tushar Khandker scored the easiest goal of the tournament in the 68th minute.
   RESULTS: Final -- Argentina x New Zealand x; Third-Fourth:  Britain 1 India 3; Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia 2 South Korea 3.

Too cold, too hot, too much...

NOT much has changed in two months, as Malaysia again fell 3-2 to South Korea albeit in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh this time around.
    Finishing sixth out of seven teams is not the issue here as seven juniors were inserted into the team, and naturally some of them froze on the big stage.
    Malaysia, for the record, also lost 3-2 to South Korea in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier in March and the first Korean goal was scored in the fourth minute then.
   In Ipoh yesterday, the Koreans scored their first goal in the first minute of the match courtesy of Hyun Hue Sang.
    Hafifi Hafiz equalised in the 17th minute, but the Koreans raced ahead with goals two goals in a span of eight minutes when Jong-Hyun scored off a penalty corner flick in 42nd minute while You Hyo-sik scored from close range in the 50th minute to give the Koreans a 3-1 lead.
    Faizal Saari, 21, slotted in his fifth goal of the tournament in the 64th minute but the Koreans held on to victory.
    The most amazing part of this drama was the press conference where outgoing Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai blamed the weather, and his forwards.
   “It was also difficult for my players to play in the humid weather (3.30pm start). They also tend to lose the ball easily in the match,” said Beng hai.
    In Dublin, it was too cold when the Koreans won, and now in Malaysia, it is too hot but still the Koreans won.
    RESULTS: Final -- Argentina x New Zealand x; Third-Fourth:  Britain x India x; Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia 2 South Korea 3.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Malaysia hand it to Argentina

MALAYSIA will play South Korea in the fifth-sixth classification match in the Azlan Shah Cup, courtesy of Britain.
   The final will be between 2008 champions Argentina, and first time finalists New Zealand.
   Malaysia were already assured of a fifth-sixth placing match against South Korea when Britain beat Pakistan 2-1 in an earlier match.
   Coach Tai Beng Hai’s men then had the golden pick of either allowing Argentina or Britain to play in the final.
   Malaysia needed to beat Argentina to hand the final ticket to Britain, and a defeat will see Argentina play New Zealand.
  And they chose to go down tamely 1-0 to Argentina.
  The first 10 minutes of the match saw Argentina dominating, but missing sitters, while Malaysian strikers return the hospitality at the other end.
   The combinations of Faizal Saari and Firhan Ashaari, as well as Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Hafifi Hafiz failed to break the deadlock as the score stood at 0-0 at the break.
     And after the re-start, Argentina made it count off their second penalty corner in the 40th minute, when Pedro Ibarra low push deflected off Baljit Singh’s stick and sailed between S. Kumar’s pads.
    That solitary goal was enough to take Argentina into the final against New Zealand. For the record, Argentina were champions in 2008, while New Zealand have yet to lay their hands on the trophy.
     Meanwhile New Zealand, who had already qualified for the final before playing South Korea, kept their energy and allowed the Koreans to collect three points off Jang Jong Hyun’s 69th minute attempt.

                        P  W  D  L  F  A  PTS

N ZEALAND    6   4   0    2    18      8      12
ARGENTINA   6   4    0    2     15    16     12
BRITAIN         6   3   2    1      13     11     11
INDIA             6   3    0    3     12     15      9
S KOREA        6   2    2    2      11      8      8
MALAYSIA      6   1    2    3     10      14     5
PAKISTAN      6   1    0    5     9       16      3

 RESULTS: South Korea 1 New Zealand 0, Britain 2 Pakistan 1, Argentina 1 Malaysia 0.
   TODAY: Final -- Argentina v New Zealand (8.35pm); Third-Fourth:  Britain v India (6.05pm); Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia v South Korea (3.30pm).