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