Monday, August 12, 2013

Sardar to lead depleted India..

Sardar Singh will lead a young Indian side, depleted due to injuries, in the 9th Asia Cup Hockey tournament to be held at Ipoh, Malaysia from Aug 24 to Sep 1, Hockey India (HI) announced Sunday.
   Four key strikers -- Danish Mujtaba, SV Sunil, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Akashdeep Singh -- have been ruled out due to injuries. The new-look forward line comprises Nithin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh, Malak Singh and green horns Ramandeep Singh and Nikin Thimmaiah.
   The other new face in the team is defender Amit Rohidas while mid-fielder S.K. Uthappa is making a comeback. Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh replaces drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath as Sardar's deputy.
   Hockey India selectors B.P. Govinda, R.P. Singh and Arjun Halappa, director high performance and interim chief coach Roelant Oltmans, coach M.K. Kaushik and scientific advisor Jason Konrath, along with government observer Harbinder Singh, selected the 18-member squad after trials at Bangalore's Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre July 25-27.
   India are in Pool B with South Korea, Bangladesh and Oman while Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Chinese-Taipei are placed in Pool A. India will open their campaign against Oman Aug 24 followed by South Korea, Aug 26 and Bangladesh, Aug 28.
   The Indian team will be leaving for Ipoh Aug 16.


Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (vice-captain), PT Rao.
Defenders: VR Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh, Amit Rohidas, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, Gurmail Singh.
Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Dharamvir Singh, SK Uthappa.
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh, Malak Singh, Nikin Thimmaiah.


So Messy, no Mercy and no Messi...

By Ajitpal Singh |   

KUALA LUMPUR: BSC Soccer Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the organiser of the exhibition match between Malaysia and Barcelona, has apologised for the logistical mess following the last-minute decision to shift the match to Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.
    The match was moved to Shah Alam upon request by the Spanish champion who was unhappy with the state of the poor pitch at the National Stadium on Friday.
   "Barcelona did not want to play at National Stadium as a player got injured during the open training session.
   "It stated its concerns and we accommodated them.
    "The team would have packed its bags and gone home if we had not complied," said BSC managing director Effendi Jagan Abdullah yesterday.
   "We had only a few hours to work on the logistical matters and, of course, there were some gray areas that could not be avoided.
   "It was a nightmare for us as we had to rush everything. Now, I foresee a backlash, but I hope those concerned will understand.
   "I must thank the Football Association of Malaysia and the Shah Alam City Municipal Council for helping in shifting the match.
   Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, upset with the poor organisation of the match, said the organiser messed up ground operations on match day.
   "The media and fans were treated like pariahs by Barcelona. The organiser poorly advised the FA of Malaysia and Barcelona on ground selection.
   "It probably wanted to maximise ticket sales at the expense of the pitch condition.
   "FAM should have known better. The national body should have standard operating procedures for event organisers bringing top teams so that Malaysia (the national team, press and fans) get maximum value from such tours," said Khairy on his Twitter account.
   As it turned out, the media and fans were short-changed as the organiser did not deliver what they had promised.
  The media had received an invite for an interview with two Barcelona players after their training session at the mixed zone on Friday but were rudely told off by the security.
   A security officer also challenged two journalists to a fight for not following instructions before the press conference on Saturday, while there were also incidents of security personnel squaring off with fans at the stadium. senior journalist Vijhay Vick alleged he was manhandled by a security officer, hired by the organiser, after the press conference following a tiff.
   "He told me if I was still unhappy, we could settle it outside and later threatened to slam his walkie-talkie onto my head.
   "My colleague stopped him from hitting me.
   "I did not want to respond further and left.
   "It all started when I tried to head for the press conference but despite having a valid accreditation, the security man did not want to allow me in.
  "It was only after I had pointed out to him that our passes had access that he allowed us through.
   "I thought the matter was settled but I was wrong as, after that, another security officer tried to create a fuss," said the visibly-shaken Vijhay.
   VIP tickets holders were also left stranded as the decision to move the match backfired as many of them were not allowed into the designated section.
   Effendi said: "We will have a post-mortem and I urge those unhappy to give us feedback, especially journalists, who had a bad experience with the security.
   "The security acted on instructions from Barcelona.
   "They were only following orders but, of course, the officer should not have behaved in such a manner towards journalists."
   On why Lionel Messi did not play on Saturday, Effendi said the Argentine was carrying an injury.
   "He had a thigh strain and Barcelona did not want to play him as the Spanish League starts soon.
   "Some fans were disappointed as many of them had wanted to watch him play."

Hot Chile hold Canada to a draw..

Trinidad posted a solid victory against Brazil (5-2) and show that they will be serious contenders for a semi-final berth in Pool A. Canada dropped a 2-goal lead and were held to a 2-2 draw by Chile.

Match 8 - Chile vs. Canada: 2-2 (half-time: 0-2)
Last match of the day promised to be exciting, between Canada, ranked 2nd in the competition, and Chile, ranked just behind them in 3rd. 
   Canada were not too impressive against Brazil on opening day, while Chile were idle because of the delay to the Trinidad & Tobago team.
   First opportunity was for Canada on a penalty-corner, but Scott Tupper’s powerful flick was coolly saved by Adrian Henriquez in the Chilean goal. 
   Dave Carter was also called into action in the Canadian goal, with a good reflex save on a deflection from close range. Canada earned another penalty-corner after an effective run on the left wing by Ben Martin, but the Chilean keeper was again on the ball with a clean glove save.
    Canada were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 21st minute, when Matthew Guest scored from close range, his 2nd goal of the competition, proving that he has well recovered from his nasty injury sustained during the World League in Paris. 
    Canada increased their lead on a similar play a few minutes later by Matthew Sarmento, to establish a more comfortable 2-goal cushion.
   Canada had a series of penalty-corners in the final minute of the period, but the Chilean defense read well Scott Tupper’s variations and the score stayed at 2-0 in favor of Canada going into the break.
   Second period started with a lengthy stoppage of play after a hard head-on collision between two players, and it took a while for the two teams to find back their tempo. Canada were quicker into the saddle, with a chance for Dave Jameson after good work by Mark Pearson on the right of the circle, but the shot was too soft to worry the keeper. 
    Chile had a chance at the other end when a bouncing ball eluded two Canadian defenders and reached a Chilean forward alone in the circle, forcing Dave Carter to stand tall to thwart the shot from very close range.
    Canada continued their misfortunes on penalty-corner and could not increase their lead. With 20 minutes left in the game, Chile started to press higher. They took advantage of a 2-men advantage after cards were handed to Canadians and scored by Sven Richter, then immediately after by Jose Zirpel on penalty-stroke, to come back level 2-2 with 14 minutes left in the game, setting up a torrid end of game!
    Richard Hildreth had a superb opportunity when he was set-up alone in the circle by Iain Smythe, but he hesitated to take his chance and the defenders had time to close on him. Canada were all over the Chilean circle in the final 5 minutes of play, and even had another chance on penalty-corner, but the Chilean defense was well regrouped to protect their goal and were soon celebrating their good start in the competition.
   Canada on the other hand were dejected to have dropped their 2-goal lead and can certainly regret their numerous fruitless penalty-corners.

Match 7 - Brazil vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 2-5 (half-time: 0-2)

Trinidad & Tobago, having finally arrived in Brampton, were obviously eager to get into action and rushed forward from the opening whistle. 
   They scored their first goal in the third minute by their captain, Dwain Quan Chan, from a scramble in front of Hubertus Reinbach in the Brazilian goal.
    Brazil promptly settled their nerves and play became more balanced, flowing back and forth in an entertaining way. The South Americans were playing a dynamic style of attacking hockey, but Trinidad were defending cleverly to cut the options for passes and Andrey Rocke was seldom in danger in the Trinidadian goal.
   Veteran Kwan Browne (288 Caps) showed that he still had plenty of speed, running away from the Brazilian defense only to see his shot deflected by the keeper. He was on target a few minutes later on a penalty-corner, slotting a powerful ball perfectly in the corner of the goal, completely out of reach of the keeper.
    Half-time was reached with the 2-goal lead for Trinidad & Tobago, well in control of play. They had two penalty-corners early in the period but, with Kwan Browne on the bench for both, could not do much of them. 
    Brazil were more efficient at the other end and Bruno Paes scored a one-handed goal after collecting a long ball behind the defense, closing the gap to one goal with plenty of time in the period.
    Trinidad & Tobago however re-established their 2-goal lead promptly by Wayne Legerton on a low penalty-corner flick that eluded the keeper despite a spectacular dive. Kiel Murray added a goal for Trinidad & Tobago after an outstanding solitary run through the Brazilian central defense and a little chip over the sliding keeper.
With Brazil slowly feeling the effect of a second game in so many days, Trinidad controlled the end of match to post a solid victory and show that they will be serious contenders for a semi-final berth in Pool A.

Schedule for Monday August 12:
15h00: USA vs. Uruguay
17h00 : Chile vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Argentina win again; first points for Mexico

Mexico earned their first win at the Pan American Cup in Brampton, narrowly edging Uruguay (2-1). Argentina had no problem disposing of the USA (8-0) to secure their semi-final berth.

Match 6 - USA vs. Argentina: 0-8 (half-time: 0-4)
USA were also playing their first match of the competition and were facing a tough opposition, Argentina having already found their rhythm against Mexico.
    It did not take long for the South Americans to jump into the lead by Facundo Callioni, already his 5th goal of the competition.
    Argentina were totally dominating the proceedings and added 3 more goals at regular intervals, despite a solid American defence, well backed by Chris Rea in goal. 
    Half-time was reached with a comfortable lead for Argentina (4-0) and they kept their relentless scoring spree after the break, with a special mention for Guillermo Schickendantz who scored a superb reverse stick goal in an impossibly narrow angle.
    Final score was 8-0 for Argentina, already moving them into the semi-finals.

Match 5 - Mexico vs. Uruguay: 2-1 (half-time: 0-0)
Uruguay played their first match of the Pan American Cup after their unfortunate travel delay (their plane was hit by lightning after leaving Montevideo…) and were immediately under pressure from the young Mexicans, who had already found their competitive rhythm in their match against Argentina.  
   Mexico were all over the Uruguayan circle in the opening 20 minutes but could not generate clear opportunities and Uruguay managed to weather the storm. 
   Play became more equal and teams traded penalty-corners, but to no avail and the score was still 0-0 going into the break.
Play flowed back and forth in second period, but neither team could take control of the proceedings and very few scoring chances were generated. 
    Joaquin Rodriguez Bermudez had a good opportunity for Uruguay when he arrived alone in the circle, but Mois├ęs Vargas in the Mexican goal cleared the ball with a strong sliding stick save.
This was the wake-up call Mexico needed and they scored on the next action, Guillermo Pedraza collecting the ball after a broken penalty-corner and slotting it neatly under Jose Lasa in the Uruguayan goal. 
   Alex Valdes added another goal for Mexico soon after, showing great individual skills to pivot twice in the circle and put the ball out of reach of the goal-keeper.
   Uruguay came back within one goal by Maximiliano Tixe, setting up a hot final end of match, but Mexico held tight to earn their win of the competition (2-1).