Sunday, June 8, 2014

Argentinean men on verge of historic World Cup semifinal appearance

The Argentinean men’s hockey team are on the cusp of making their maiden World Cup semifinal appearance after they thrashed Korea 5-0 at Hague. The 11th ranked side made a mockery of the rankings disposing off the seventh ranked Koreans as if the latter were an unfancied side.

21-year-old drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat was the star of Argentina’s clinical performance, lapping up a breezy first half hat-trick. Lucas Villa and Guillermo Schickendantz rounded off the tally to put the South Americans in a strong position to reach the last four stage, ahead of Olympic champions and world number two Germany who are staring at the prospect of not making it to the semifinals.

Germany, who were stunned 1-0 by Argentina earlier, came out all guns blazing to drub New Zealand 5-3 with Martin Zwicker scoring a brace and the likes of Christopher Zeller, Florian Fuchs and Benedict Furk scoring a goal apiece. New Zealand were never in the contest and did mount a spirited fightback in the latter stages, led by drag-flicker Andy Hawyward, who scored his second hat-trick of the tournament to ensure they walked off the pitch with something to cheer about.

Argentina’s rout of Korea makes it job easy of entering the semifinals as they face lowly South Africa in their last league game on Tuesday, while Germany face Korea. Even if Germany win against Korea, it may not be enough as Argentina are expected to log full points against South Africa.

Hosts the Netherlands put the seal of confirmation on their semifinal hopes with a 7-1 mauling of South Africa. Robbert Kemperman led the way with a brace, while Billy Bakker, Valetin Verga, Jeroen Hertzburger, Sandar Baart and Seve Van Ass netted one apiece.

Meanwhile, the USA women’s team continued their dream run, posting their third upset in the tournament. The 10th ranked Americans humbled 6th ranked Germany 4-1 – they had earlier upstaged 7th ranked China 5-0 and fourth ranked England 2-1. The USA team had held second ranked and current world champions Argentina to a 2-2 draw, clearly underpinning their status as a new women’s hockey power.

In other women’ games, China pipped South Africa 4-3, while Argentina edged England 2-1. USA and Argentina look good to reach the semifinals from Pool B. Hosts Netherlands and Australia are assured of a last-four place from Pool A.

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Seasoned midfielder Ritu Rani will lead a 21-member Indian women's hockey squad for their upcoming tour of Malaysia, which is scheduled to take place from June 7 to June 17 as part of their preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth and Asian Games. Fullback Deepika will be the vice-captain for the Malaysian tour.

India are slated to play a six-match test series in Kuala Lumpur, in the run-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which will be organised from July 23 to August 3.

The a 21-member squad was selected by Hockey India selectors B P Govinda, Harbinder Singh, Surinder Kaur along with chief coach Neil Hawgood and scientific advisor Matthew Tredrea, following a two-day selection trials at NSNIS Patiala on May 23 and 24. The nation team is currently going through the paces at NSNIS Patiala.


Goalkeepers: Yogita Bali, Savita Defenders: Deepika (vice-captain), Kirandeep Kaur, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur, Gurjit Kaur, Asunta Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka; Midfielders: Ritu Rani (Captain), Sushila Chanu, Lilima Minz, Vandana Katariya, Amandeep Kaur, Navjot Kaur; Forwards: Rani, Poonam Rani, Ritusha Arya, Anupa Barla, Anuradha Devi.

India play their first game against Malaysia on June 9 and the second tie the next day. They play their third match on June 12, fourth match on June 14, fifth tie on June 15 and sixth final game on June 17.

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Five-month camp for Pakistan juniors for 4th Sultan of Johor Cup

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has decided to hold a five-month camp for the national junior men’s team for the 4th Sultan of Johor Cup, which is slated to held in Johor Baru, Malaysia from Oct 12-29.

The long-drawn camp, which will be held at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium, Karachi will begin in Lahore from June 9 and will run till October 10. As many as 53 junior probables have been called up for the said camp.

Probables: Goalkeepers: Munib-ur-Rehman (Railways), Talal (Wapda), Nauman (Islamabad), Adeel Rao (Punjab), Hafiz Ali Umair (Pak Boards), Awais (Punjab Colours), Wajid Ali (Customs), Ali Raza (NBP) and Kashif (Army); Full Backs: Mubasshir Ali (NBP), Abid Bhatti (NBP), Shah Faisal (Punjab Colours), Mateen (Customs), Hafiz Ammar Tayyab (Railway), M. Ahad (Wapda), Ejaz-ul-Haq (Lahore), Hassan Muhammad Anwar (Punjab), Ali Sher (Islamabad), Atif Mushtaq (PIA) and Nauman (Railway); Half-backs: Sikandar Mustafa (NBP), Mohammad Junaid Kamal (NBP), Khizar Akhtar (NBP), Abu Bakar (PIA), Ghazanfar (Wapda), Waseem Abbas (Wapda), Qasim (Punjab Colours), Nayyar Haider (Wapda), Aasim Jonti (Punjab Colours), Azhar Hussain (Army), Arslan Zafar, Ali Haider Raza (Lahore) and Zahid Ghaffar (Lahore); Forwards: M. Azfar Yaqoob (PIA), Nohaiz Zahid Malik (PIA), Shan Irshad (NBP), Samiullah (KP), Mirza Aamir Baig (Wapda), Ali Raza (NBP), Mohsin Sabir (Punjab), Asif (Punjab), Bilal (Wapda), Naveed (Wapda), Sarhan (Customs), Asfand (Balochistan), Aamir (PIA), Ilyas (PIA), Sohail Abbas (Karachi), Arslan (Customs), Nauman Wahab (Karachi), Abdul Saboor (Karachi), Sharjeel (Sindh) and Hammad (Sindh).

The Pakistan hockey team will not participate in Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow due to the lethargy of the federal government officials, ‘The News’ learnt on Tuesday.

The Green-shirts might have been able to participate in the event, if they had decided on time as they did in the case of Asian Games 2014 and Youth Olympics.

An official of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) said that they had contacted FIH and Pakistan sports authorities to secure a berth in the Commonwealth Games, but no positive answer was received.

It was also learnt that the PHF had lost hope of Pakistan’s taking part in the Glasgow Games.

The PHF has not planned any preparation for the Commonwealth Games, while they have done a lot of hard work for Asian Games 2014 and Youth Olympics, which means they have lost the hope of appearing in Glasgow.

“There is no hindrance for Pakistan to participate in the Asian Games and Youth Olympics 2014 but as far as the Commonwealth Games 2014 is concerned we are late and may have missed the train,” the PHF secretary Rana Mujahid told this correspondent a few weeks back.

But the PHF secretary also said that he would once again contact Commonwealth Games organisers to see if there was any chance for Pakistan to take part in the event.

But so far the PHF has not received any answer from the organisers and in the PHF circles it is believed that Pakistan will not participate in the Commonwealth Games.

The organisers of the Commonwealth Games have replaced Pakistan hockey team with that of Trinidad and Tobago after the PHF failed to confirm participation through the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (ICC).

Sources said that Pakistan hockey team was busy these days in the preparation for the Asian Games 2014.

Pakistan will also start the preparation for the Youth Olympics soon.

Besides, the PHF is interested in series against those big teams of Asia that are participating in the Asian Games to ascertain the strength of the Green-shirts.

Pakistan may visit South Korea and Malaysia before the Asian Games, and if the Indian government allows its team to play with Pakistan, a series will be organised between the two arch-rivals.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has received the much-needed go-ahead from its government to conduct a hockey Test series against India later this year. Sources in PHF say the federation has got the green signal from the government to host India for a Test series and is now awaiting Hockey India to respond.

The PHF has also been assured of all financial assistance by the government for the proposed Test series, which is likely to be held on a home and away basis.

Hockey India, on its part, will have to secure government permission to play against Pakistan and given President Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India for newly elected Indian Prime Minister’s swearing-in-ceremony, getting the go-ahead may not be that difficult.

It may be worth recalling that both the last l hockey series between the two nations was held in 2006 with three matches played in each country. For the stats-minded Pakistan won three and lost one while the remaining two games were drawn.

Only last year, a hockey series was planned but called off as the Indian government refused permission for the rubber on security grounds.

Once a dominant force in the international arena, Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup for the first time, leaving the sport in the country at a low ebb.

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Hosts Netherlands made a rousing start to their campaign in the Rabobank World Cup, humbling Argentina 3-1 in a men’s Pool B tie at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague. The 3rd ranked drew first blood through Valentin Verga in the 26th minute, before the 11th ranked Argentineans evened things up through a penalty corner conversion by drag-flick expert Gonzalo Peillat as both sides were locked 1-1 at half-time.

The Dutch regained the lead early in the second half when Mink van der Weerden fired home a short corner The home side chalked up the insurance goal through Rogier Hoffman midway through the second half and went on to seal a convincing win.

Meanwhile, world number one and 2010 runner-ups Germany were in cruise mode, easing to a 4-0 win. Vastly experienced Chritstopher Zellar gave the black brigade the lead before Thilo Stralkowski doubled it close to half-time. Matt Grambusch made it 3-0 in the 56th minute before Oliver Korn netted the fourth three minutes later to pave the way for a high satisfying 4-0 win. In another men’s Pool B tie New Zealand sneaked past Korea 2-1.

In the women’s section, 10th ranked USA created an upset of sorts upstaging England 2-1, while 6th ranked Germany drew 7th ranked China 1-1. Defending champions and 2nd ranked Argentina crushed 11th ranked South Africa 4-1.

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India can reach semifinals, says 1975 World Cup winner and Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok Kumar

No talk about the hockey world cup can be complete without a mention of India’s glorious 1975 World Cup Cup triumph at Kuala Lumpur. And the man, who scored the all-famous match-clincher against arch-rivals Pakistan in the summit clash – Ashok Kumar – son of legendary Dhyan Chand – exudes an extra dose of high energy reminiscing the biggest moment of Indian hockey in World Cup. “Those are my memories which can never be wiped off – we always recall those days with pride and that was the last time India made a podium finish at the World Cup,” Ashok says in an exclusive interview to Hockey Passion.

Rewind to the 2014 Rabobank World Cup, Ashok has no hesitation about painting an upbeat picture. “Look, the team has prepared quite well. The new coach got adequate time to settle down with the boys and the boys are getting all the required facilities. I think the boys are better prepared to deliver in The Hague,” he quips.

The 64-year-old Meerut-born former stalwart, who was also part of the bronze-winning 1972 Munich Olympics team, believes the team have the wherewithal to fare well in the World Cup. ‘We have a pretty decent side this time around. We have goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who is really solid and then we have Vokkaliga Raghunath who lost weight and looks leaner and fitter. Captain Sardar Singh has plenty of experience under his belt and there is Gurbaj who is making a comeback after being in the wilderness. This team have the potential to reach the semifinals,” he says with a tinge of confidence.

The Indian team’s head coach Terry Walsh has talked about setting realistic expectations and is of the opinion that a top-6 or a top-8 finish should be seen as a significant improvement for the national side. But Ashok, who was also part of the Asian Games silver-winning Indian teams of 1970, 1974, 1978, refused to be drawn into it. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and I firmly believe that this team can put up a good showing in the World Cup.”

The four-time World Cupper lavished praised on talented youngster Mandeep Singh. “He is naturally gifted and has excellent goal-poaching skills. Of course, he has to improve his ball speed and can be a great asset to the side.”

He tips Germany to win the World Cup. “Germany have a lot of depth and they will be strong contenders for the World Cup.

How about the recent felicitation by Hockey India to all the 13 living members of the 1975 World Cup winning side? “It’s a good gesture on the part of Hockey India to honour us with a cash award of Rs 175,000. Of course, at this stage of my career I won’t be spending that money for myself, but for my kids and family members,” the suave, soft-spoken former striker fired a parting shot.

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bal law firm DLA Piper has been announced as the main sponsor of the South African men's hockey team at this year's International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey World Cup in The Hague.

The deal will see the DLA Piper logo appear on the South African training and match jerseys throughout the tournament in the Netherlands which is due to take place from May 31 to June 15.

DLA Piper is among the largest law firms in the world with more than 4,200 lawyers located in 30 countries and is headquartered in London and Chicago.

The firm was established following the merger of DLA, Piper Rudnick and Gray Cary in 2005, making it the largest legal merger in the history of the legal profession.

South Africa's Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr joined the DLA Piper Group in 2005 and has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and will be active in the deal along with DLA Piper the Netherlands and DLA Piper Germany.

All three nations are set to face each other in Group B at this year's Hockey World Cup and the deal is aimed at maximising exposure through the combined television audience.

"We are delighted with this joint sponsorship with DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, DLA Piper in the Netherlands and Germany," said co-managing partner of DLA Piper the Netherlands Richard Fens.

"The South African men's team is playing against both the Netherlands and Germany [broadcast live in both countries] and so this sponsorship will attain a significant audience.

"We have great respect for the ambition of the South African men's team, a diverse group from all regions of South Africa with one shared mission - to proudly represent their country and to compete at the highest level of an international sport.

"With this sponsorship we support the team's mission - to head for success on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympics."

The DLA Piper logo will appear on the training and match shirts of the South African team during the Hockey World Cup in The Hague ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe DLA Piper logo will appear on the training and match shirts of the South African team during the Hockey World Cup in The Hague ©AFP/Getty Images

Commenting on the deal, chief executive of the South African Hockey Association, Marissa Langeni said: "The men's team is delighted to welcome DLA Piper and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr as World Cup sponsors and will proudly wear the logo of this global law firm on their shirts.

"This sponsorship has allowed us to plan ahead with regards to travelling to the World Cup and to be able to focus on what really matters on match day - playing the best hockey we can and representing our country with pride."

The other three sides in Group B are New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina while defending champions Australia are in Group A along with England, Belgium, India, Spain and Malaysia.

On the women's side, hosts and defending champions the Netherlands will take on Group A opponents Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and Belgium while Group B is made up of England, Argentina, Germany, China, South Africa and the United States.

A total of 76 matches will be played at this year's Hockey World Cup in The Hague at the GreenFields Stadium and the main Kyocera Stadium. The South African Hockey Association (SAHA) has signed a joint sponsorship deal with three divisions of the DLA Piper law firm.

The firm’s German and Dutch arms, along with South African division DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, will jointly sponsor the South Africa men’s hockey team during the Hockey World Cup, to be held in The Hague from 31st May to 15th June 2014.

DLA Piper’s logo will be emblazoned on the team’s playing and training shirts.

    SuperSport to sponsor South African World Cup tilt

Marissa Langeni, the chief executive of SAHA, said: “The men’s team is delighted to welcome DLA Piper and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr as World Cup sponsors and will proudly wear the logo of this global law firm on their shirts.

“This sponsorship has allowed us to plan ahead with regards to travelling to the World Cup and to be able to focus on what really matters on match day – playing the best hockey we can and representing our country with pride.”

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Hockey India welcomes HIM Academy as its Academy Member

Hockey India has included the Himachal Pradesh-based HIM Academy as its Academy Member. The move will enable HIM Academy to be part of further activities being organized by Hockey India. It is pertinent to mention that the academy aims to promote women hockey and enhance their involvement in the game of hockey.

HIM Academy, which is based in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, is run by HIM Gold Cup Society and has already started plans to install its own astroturf in the district soon.

The academy currently provides training to 45 boys and 35 girls in the sub-junior category from across the country. The HIM Gold Cup Society has successfully organised the HIM Gold Cup Hockey Tournament wherein they engage top countries to participate in the tournament.

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