Monday, May 14, 2012

Britan squad for Azlan Shah Cup

The Great Britain men’s hockey squad has been announced ahead of the forthcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.  The seven team invitational tournament will be Great Britain’s last competition ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
    Jason Lee’s squad contains two changes to the 18 man group that competed at the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament – the Olympic Test Event – at the beginning of the month.  Captain Barry Middleton is restored alongside Surbiton’s Beijing Olympian Matt Daly, who returns to competitive action after a six month absence through injury.
   Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin and Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith have both been included.  The pair have been passed fit after undergoing treatment for facial injuries sustained during the Olympic Test Event.
    Matt DalyDaly (right) hasn’t played competitive international hockey since late 2011.  The 28 year old played for England at the EuroHockey Nations Championships in Monchengladbach in August, where he was part of the team that won the bronze medal, scoring against Ireland and the Netherlands.  He subsequently played in a series of practice matches before sustaining a knee injury prior to the Champions Trophy.  The Surbiton forward has an excellent goal scoring record that has seen him find the net 57 times in 142 international appearances.
   Speaking about Daly’s selection, Head Coach Jason Lee said, “It is great that Matt is back playing and potentially available for Olympic selection.  Someone with his goal scoring ability and history in international hockey should be very competitive if fit and able to come into form over the next couple of months. I’m sure he will be rusty to start with as he has only been back working with a stick and ball for a week after many months out.”
    Speaking about the tournament and how it fits into Great Britain’s Olympic preparations Lee continued, “The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is an excellent opportunity to practice the type of tournament hockey we will experience at the Olympics and we will be approaching it with the intention of winning it - the same as our approach for the Olympics.  The tournament has seven high quality teams, six of which will be at the Olympics, and it includes a number of teams that we rarely get to play.
    “The climate of Malaysia will be testing for our athletes, although we will complete a short acclimation programme before we leave, which will hopefully make it easier for the players to cope in the first few games.
    “It is likely that the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will be used to complete the Olympic selection process, although our focus whilst there will be entirely on the team’s performance and the attempt to win the tournament.”
    The tournament will be played on a blue surface similar to that installed at the Riverbank Arena on London’s Olympic Park.  Great Britain’s men are the top ranked side for the 11 day invitational tournament that features New Zealand, Korea, India, Pakistan, Argentina and the hosts Malaysia.  New Zealand’s Black Sticks are the Commonwealth Games bronze medallists while Argentina’s men won the 2011 Pan American Games hockey tournament in October 2011.  Three of the competing teams, Pakistan, Malaysia and India, filled the three medal spots at the 2010 Asian Games and most recently India won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Delhi in February.  Great Britain twice beat India at the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament. At the Champions Trophy in December 2011, Great Britain beat Pakistan 2-1 and Korea 4-3.
   Great Britain won the bronze medal at the 2011 tournament, finishing third behind winners Australia and runners-up Pakistan.  GB beat New Zealand 4-1 in the bronze medal playoff.
     Great Britain Men's Squad for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Name (Club) Position [Home Nation] Great Britain Caps/Great Britain Goals - Home Nation Caps/Home Nation Goals - Age
Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Midfielder/Defender [England] 52/6 - 130/13 - 30
Nick Catlin (Reading) Midfielder/Forward [England] 13/3 - 45/3 - 23
Jonty Clarke (Reading) Forward [England] 48/12 - 138/28 - 31
Matt Daly (Surbiton) Forward [England] 43/12 - 95/44 - 28
Adam Dixon (Beeston) Defender/Midfielder [England] 23/0 - 58/2 - 25
James Fair (Cannock) Goalkeeper [England] 31/0 - 87/0 - 31
Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster) Defender [England] 11/0 - 23/0 - 29
Ben Hawes (Wimbledon) Defender/Midfielder [England] 82/19 - 125/25 - 31
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) Midfielder [England] 55/20 - 71/49 - 24
Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) Midfielder [England] 62/5 - 145/7 - 29
Iain Lewers (East Grinstead) Defender [England] 21/0 - 15/1 - 28
Iain Mackay (Reading) Midfielder [England] 24/1 - 63/11 - 27
Harry Martin (Old Loughtonians) Midfielder [England] 19/2 - 8/0 - 19
Barry Middleton (East Grinstead) Midfielder/Forward [England] 89/30 - 159/43 - 28
Rob Moore (Surbiton) Midfielder/Forward [England] 75/20 - 148/19 - 30
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Defender [England] 13/4 - 64/7 - 24
James Tindall (Surbiton) Forward [England] 59/21 - 126/56 - 29
Ali Wilson (Beeston) Defender [England] 50/0 - 103/6 - 28

Blood more juniors in Azlan Shah Cup

MALAYSIAN hockey never had it so good, as not only did  the juniors achieve both their targets, but also did it in style to  lift the Junior Asia Cup title in Malacca.
    Four Asian hockey powerhouses were side-stepped with  ease as coach K. Dharmaraj’s charges qualified for the  Junior World Cup, and then snatched the gold from the jaws  of a snapping Pakistan.
     Iran (6-1), Japan (3-1), South Korea (6-3), India (2-0) and  Pakistan (2-1) was the impressive wins earned by a team  which was formed in 2009.
    Since the tournament was incepted in 1987, only three  teams had laid their hands on the title -- until Sunday that  is.
   Pakistan have three under their belts starting with the  inaugural in 1987, followed by 1992 and their hat-trick in  1996; then South Korea won one in 2000; while India were  the dominant force in 2004 and 2008.
    The 7,000-odd fans who thronged the MBM Stadium in  Malacca for the final went home singing praises, but there  were some who wondered what next?
    The voices of joy also went one step further to suggest that  instead of the seniors, this team should be fielded for the  Azlan Shah Cup on May 25 to June 3 in Ipoh.
     The seven-team invitation will have six Olympic teams in  India, Pakistan, South Korea, Argentina, Britain and New  Zealand.
     “This win by the juniors has certainly lifted our standard in  Asia and it was made possible with good team-work from the  coaching, management, parent body and the National Sports  Council.
    “Hard work for the past three years has worked wonders to  produce talented players, and now I am also looking at a  bigger pool of junior trainees for the Azlan Shah Cup,” said  seniors coach Tai Beng Hai.
    Beng Hai already had five of the players in his Road to  London programme which ended with failure at the Dublin  Olympic Qualifier.
    “I now plan to have a bigger pool of juniors in the Azlan  Shah Cup training squad and will consult the junior team  management and coaches to see who is available and also  injury free.
    “I have  a handful of injured players as well as those who  can’t get leave from their studies, and if the juniors can fit into  their positions, it would be good for hockey in the country on  the long run for them to play against Olympic sides,” said  Beng Hai.
     Malaysia also grabbed the lion’s share in honours as Kavin  Kartik was named as Man of the Final, the top-scorers award  was shared by Korea’s yang Jihun and Faizal Saari on six  goals.
    Malaysian goalkeeper  Hazrul Faiz was the Best Goal keeper, as well as Player-of-the-Tournament.
    Hazrul’s double is a rarity as goalkeepers are rarely  honoured with the best players award.
     However, the downside of this team is that six of them  including both the penalty corner flickers Faizal and skipper  Nor Faez Ibrahim as well as Izat Sumantri, Amir Farid,  Mohamed Ramadan and Dedi Aryandi will be overage for the  Junior World Cup in New Delhi in November.
    And replacements should have been scouted from the 2017  side yesterday, as tomorrow would be too  late if we want to  make an impact on the junior world stage next.
   Beng Hai should also at  least field eight from the junior  squad for the Azlan Shah Cup, as exposure is all that it will  offer for Malaysia while the other six teams warm-up for  Olympic honours.