Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Men’s Champions Challenge 1: New Zealand ride on Child’s hat-trick to smash Poland 8-3

New Zealand rode on a sizzling hat-trick by Simon Child to decimate Poland 7-1 to record their third straight win in the FIH Men’s Champions Challenge 1 tournament at Kuantan, Malaysia. The highly impressive performance of the Black Sticks leaves them perched on top of Pool A and also stands them in good stead ahead of the quarterfinal stage.

Simon Child opened the account off a PC routine, while Andy Hayward consolidated the lead converting a short corner. The Poles were taken to the cleaners as Stephen Jenness netted the third goal in the 31st minute before Andy Hayward scored another PC goal to put his side in the box seat with a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Simon Child added another one in the second half before Blair Hilton made it 5-0 five minutes later. The Black brigade got extra excited when Simon Child completed a well-deserved hat-trick in the 56th minute. Poland pulled one back through Gorny Tomasz in the very next minute. Hugo Inglis scored the seventh goal for the New Zealand but Poland scored twice in the final two minutes through Krystian Makowski.

In another Pool A match Ireland pipped Japan by a solitary goal. In Pool B Korea chalked up their second win humbling France 3-2. In the second round of games, New Zealand drubbed Japan 6-1 while Poland beat Ireland 2-1 in Pool A. In Pool B Korea humbled Malaysia 3-1 while Canada edged France 3-2.

In the first round of matches, New Zealand beat Ireland 2-1 while Japan pipped Poland 2-1 in Pool A. In Pool B France beat Malaysia 3-2 while Korea drew Canada 3-3.

Belgium men beat Argentina to clinch Four Nations crown

Belgium won the men’s Four Nations hockey crown beating Argentina 5-2 in penalty shootout at Glasgow, Scotland after both teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time. The Reds scored thrice in the shootout, while the Las Leonas failed to score any goal.

The tourney also featured hosts Scotland and England.

Belgium kickstarted proceedings on a rousing note going up 1-0 with a Loick Luypaert strike in the 6th minute. Prolific striker Tom Boon extended the lead for the Red Panthers in the 22nd minute. Argentina had to dig deep into their reserves and they were soon rewarded when drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat converted a penalty corner at the stroke of half-time to keep his side in the contest.

The Las Leonas embraced the second stanza high on optimism. Agustin Mazzilli equalized in the 44th minute as the match took an exciting turn.

Both teams made a desperate bid to score the match-winner, but the all-important goal eluded them as they headed into a penalty shootout.

Earlier, Belgium beat England 2-1. The win was Belgium’s third on the trot – they had earlier put it across Scotland 4-3 and Argentina 2-1 in their first two games. They will play Argentina for the top spot after the South American outfit drew England 2-2 in their opening game and edged Scotland 5-2 in their second match.

England had earlier beaten Scotland 3-1 in their second game. Hosts Scotland are winless with three losses from as many games.England will vie with Scotland for the third and fourth place play-off.

Meanwhile, the England hockey eves clubbed Canada 6-1 in the first of the two match series. Ashleigh Ball scored twice for England while Susannah Townsend, Sophie Bray, Susie Gilbert and Hollie Webb scored one apiece. Kate Gillis netted the lone goal for Canada.

Monday, April 28, 2014

FIH Champions Challenge 1: Scotland eves humble India 4-0

Scotland consigned Indian hockey eves to their second defeat on the trot, easing past them 4-0 in a Pool A match of the FIH Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Blueskirts, who lost to Korea 2-4 in a spunky clash on day one, kept things on an even kneel before Scotland went ahead through Nikki Kidd in the 29th minute.  Pepped up by the early goal, the Scots doubled the lead through Emily Maguire close to half-time to go into the break with their tails up.

The hosts pressed home the advantage early in the second half when Vikki Bunce made the scoreline 3-0. Becky Ward netted the fourth goal when Becky Ward rattled the Indian cage four minutes from the final hooter.

The win was some relief for Scotland, who had lost 1-2 to Belgium in their opening tie. India with two defeats under their belt, will now play Belgium on Wednesday.

Korea chalked up their second straight win, sneaking past Belgium 2-1.

In Pool B, South Africa pipped USA 2-1, while Spain and Ireland played out a 2-2 draw in the second round of matches. Earlier in the first round of games, USA humbled Spain 3-1, while Ireland drew South Africa 2-2

FIH Champions Challenge 1: India go down fighting to Korea 2-4 in tournament opener

The Indian senior women’s hockey team put up a spirited display before going down fighting to Korea 2-4 in their opening Pool A match of the FIH Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Glasgow, Scotland.

Vandana Katariya gave Indian an early lead, but Korea hit back in the 14th minute via Mihyun Park. The Koreans scored twice in the first half to lead 3-1 at the break.

The match went out of India’s grasp when Korea netted the fourth goal in the second half, but the Blueskirts keep plugging away and scored their second goal through Poonam Rani in the 69th minute.

India will now face Scotland in their second game on Monday.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Indian junior men's hockey team hit the drills under newly-appointed coach Harendra Singh

The Indian junior men’s hockey team kickstarted its coaching camp at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Friday. The national colts will be utilizing the camp to set its preparations afoot for the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup which will be held in India.

As many as 60 junior players have been picked for the camp and they will be training under the watchful eyes of newly-appointed head coach Harendra Singh. Out of the 60 identified players, 33 players will be selected on May 3 and 4, 2014 keeping an eye on the 2016 Junior World Cup.

The colts were picked by Hockey India Selectors Mr. B P Govinda, Mr. Arjun Halappa alongwith Director High Performance Mr. Roelant Oltmans, Mr. Haribinder Singh and Mr. Harendra Singh, Coach Junior Men Hockey Team on the basis of their performance in the 4th Hockey India Junior Men National Championship held at Chennai from 24 March- 6 April 2014 and 4th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship held at Lucknow from 27 February – 23 March 2014.

It may be recalled that the Indian colts had finished a highly disappointing 10th at the 2013 Junior World Cup held in New Delhi.

The squad: Goalkeepers: Pankaj Rajak (Hockey Jharkhand), Aamir Hasan (Hockey Bhopal), Jugraj Singh (Hockey Bhopal), Rattan Singh (Hockey Himachal Pradesh), Vikas Dahiya (Hockey Haryana), Subodh Tirkey (Hockey Odisha), Nelson Leisangthem (Mumbai Hockey Association), Abhinav Pandey (Uttar Pradesh Hockey); Defenders: Abhay Ekka (Hockey Jharkhand), Jarmanpreet Singh (Hockey Punjab), Navdeep Singh (Sports Authority of India), Harmanpreet Singh (Hockey Punjab),  Anand Lakra (Hockey Odisha), Owais Ahmed (Hockey Himachal Pradesh), Sanjit Toppo (Hockey Odisha), Nikhil Pardeshi (Mumbai Hockey Association), Meiraba Singh (Manipur Hockey),  A. P. Singh (Uttar Pradesh Hockey); Midfielders:  Manish Yadav (Sports Authority of India), Sumit (Hockey Haryana), Atuldeep (Uttar Pradesh Hockey), Varun Kumar (Hockey Punjab), Disan Tirkey (Hockey Odisha), Nilam Sanjeep Xess (Hockey Odisha), Santa Singh (Hockey Haryana), S. H. Nilakanta Sharma (Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy), Pawan Sahani (Hockey Bhopal), Sunit Kumar (Hockey Maharashtra),  Naveen Tirkey (Hockey Chhattisgarh), Simranjeet Singh (Hockey Punjab), Harjeet Singh (Hockey Punjab), Baljit Singh (Hockey Punjab), Somaiah K. P. (Hockey Karnataka), Pruthviraj G. N. (Hockey Karnataka), Joseph Toppo (Hockey Odisha), Ajay Yadav (Sports Authority of India), Amandeep Singh (Hockey Himachal Pradesh), Prakash Barla (Hockey Odisha), Janma Majhi (Services Promotion Sports Board), W. Suras Singh (Steel Plant Sports Board).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

We have loads of self-belief, says Indian fullback Rupinder Pal Singh

This piece was published in Stick2hockey.com

The recent exposure tour of the Netherlands was a handy examination for the Indian team ahead of the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in The Hague from May 31 to June 15. And one man who is richer with the Dutch experience is burly drag-flicker is Rupinder Pal Singh. “Overall, the trip was a big learning curve – we fought hard in all the matches and the experience will definitely stand us in good stead for the World Cup,” he says in an exclusive interview.

The 23-year-old defender was one of the finds of the Netherlands tour, scoring five goals. The muscular fullback equalized for India against Belgium, a game which the former lost 1-2. Rupinder also gave India an early game against the much-fancied Netherlands in their final practice before the Dutch pulled up their socks to win 2-1.

The national team has shown the signs of not just staying ‘competitive’ against top teams, but also beating them. The memories of India beating Olympic champions Germany at the 2014 Hockey World League Final in New Delhi are still fresh. Rupinder feels that India would have to be mentally ‘strong’ while playing against top teams like Netherlands, Australia and Germany. “I don’t think there is any skill gap – it has more to do with our mental make-up – we have to be strong mentally and I’m sure we can beat top teams. Most of your boys are in the 22-23 age bracket and once they gain more experience, I have no doubt that Indian hockey will go places,” he remarks.

The Faridkot lad, who honed his hockey skills in his formative years at the Chandigarh Hockey Academy, reckons the team is teeming with self-belief. “This team have loads of self-belief – all the boys are a confident lot and back themselves to match the best in the business,” he says with a bullish tone.

How does he assess India’s World Cup chances? “Look, all the participating teams are going into the World Cup thinking they will do the best to win it, but it is only one team that will eventually win. Obviously, we will be leaving no stone unturned to live up to the expectations of our fans, but on a personal level I think a top-six finish will be a good achievement for us. Just keeping our fingers crossed,” the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) employee harbours hope.

The Terry Walsh-coached India team have the luxury of four top-notch drag-flickers – Vokkaliga Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Gurjinder Singh besides Rupinder – something not many international teams have. “You are right, we have a potent group of drag-flickers. Sandeep is one of the world’s best drag-flickers, while Raghunath is an extremely handy option – Gurjinder is also a bright prospect. If we get our act together, India will hugely benefit in PC routines, says the six-foot four-inch player.

Rupinder, who made his senior international debut in the 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament, is more than happy to raise the performance bar all the time. “I don’t easily get satisfied. Complacency is the last thing in my mind. I want to pick new tricks of the trade and follow what my coaches tell me to do and try to implement them on the pitch,” the Delhi Waveriders player says matter-of-factly.

The big man from Punjab has fond memories of the 2011 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament where he was the top-scorer, which included a sizzling hat-trick against Great Britain. “I have fond memories of the 2011 edition a year after my senior debut in the same tournament. I have special memories of my hat-trick against Great Britain” recalls the youngster, who was a standby in the 2010 Commonwealth and 2010 Asian Games squads.

Nicknamed ‘Bobby’, Rupinder loves to gorge on European food. “The Dutch trip gave me an opportunity to try European food. I have a penchant for European food as it is healthy and less oily,” says naughtily as he signs off. 

(The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com) 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Former striker Shahnaz Shaikh named Pakistan hockey coach

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in a desperate bid to wriggle the national team out of the troubled waters, has named former forward and Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh as its senior team coach.

The Sialkot-born striker, who made 68 international appearances for the Greenshirts between 1969 and 1978, scoring 45 goals, has a big task of redeeming the prestige of the national side, which took a knock after they recently failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time. It may be noted that Pakistan have won the World Cup four times.

Shaikh has scaled numerous highs wearing the green jersey. The belligerent former striker was part of the 1971 and 1978 World-Cup-winning teams. He also represented Pakistan at the 1972 Munich Olympics and 1976 Montreal Olympics, where they won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

He was also part of the 1975 Pakistan World Cup team, but could not play the final against Pakistan on injury grounds. At the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi, the Greenshirts settled for a humiliating wooden spoon finish. They took the seventh position in the 2012 London Olympics.

It remains to be seen whether Shaikh can turn around the fortunes of the national side after two unsuccessful stints as coach earlier. Shaikh’s focus will on the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Korea, where Pakistan will looking to defend its 2010 crown. Meanwhile the PHF has appointed former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui as the chief selector.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Australian men hold New Zealand 1-1, win two-match series 1-0

Australia men’s hockey team rallied to hold New Zealand 1-1 in the second and final hockey Test in Perth. The Kookaburras received a jolt when the Blacksticks pulled ahead through Kane Russell of a penalty corner deflection.

Vastly experienced Glenn Turner, who played for Dabur Mumbai Magicians in the Hero Hockey India League, restored parity late in the first half as both teams remained deadlocked in the second stanza as the match petered out into a 1-1 draw.

The draw was enough for Australia to win the two-match Test series 1-0 after they thumped their trans-Tasman neighbours 4-1 in the first Test. Simon Orchard struck twice for the yellowshirts in the first half before Jake Whetton netted a brace to set up a convincing win. Shea McAleese scored the consolation goal for the all-black brigade.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Indian men's hockey team returns home from Dutch tour

The Sardar Singh-led Indian senior men’s hockey team returned home from their two week tour of the Netherlands. The national team arrived in New Delhi on Monday morning after playing five practice games – two against two Dutch club sides, one against the Belgium national side and two matches against the Netherlands national outfit.

India won one game, drew one and lost three games. India swamped Leiden Hockey Club 7-0 before settling for a 3-3 draw against HGC in their second game. The Blueshirts then lost to Belgium 1-2 in their third practice game before going on to lose 2-4 and 1-2 to the Netherlands in their fourth and fifth practice games respectively.

The Blueshirts will take a small break before kickstarting their final World Cup preparatory camp in New Delhi from April 26. The camp will run till the third week of May before the national team leaves for The Hague, Netherlands for the 2014 World Cup beginning May 31.