Australia beat Pakistan 4-3 to clinch Azlan Shah Cup


Australia started off 2004 with a flourish beating Pakistan 4-3 in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

Travis Brooks, the man-of-the-match, put Australia ahead in the 21st minute with a superb reverse stick hit after ghosting past the Pakistani defenders on the left flank.

Australia went ahead 2-0 when Brooks scored again in the 29th minute.

Pakistan came back into the game when skipper Mohammad Nadeem took a crack into the circle where Jawaad got a touch to put Pakistan back in the game.

At the break, Australia led 2-1.

Eight minutes into the second-half, Abbas came good with the second penalty corner as the match headed for an exciting finish.

The Aussies hit back strongly off the very first move from restart as Mark Knowles put through Boyce who slammed a wrong-foot shot past the goalkeeper.

The Aussies were denied further success as Salman Akbar brought off several great saves, but he had no answer to Elder's 57th minute penalty corner drag-flick and Australia jumped to a 4-2 lead.

Pakistan reduced the margin five minutes from close when Abbas converted the fourth penalty corner for his 10th goal of the tournament. 

Spain beat Malaysia 2-1, finish fifth

In the match to determine the fifth placing hosts Malaysia went down 1-2 to Spain despite taking the lead through Chua Boon Huat in the 18th minute.

Santiago Freixa Escude put Spain on level terms in the 49th minute and Alberto Esteban Velaquez gave the Spaniards the lead in the 58th minute. 


Match goes to strokes as Korea win bronze

South Korea denied reigning world champions Germany of a podium finish when they won 3-2 on penalty strokes after the match ended 3-3 despite extra time being played.

Korean keeper Ko Dong Sik was the hero as he saved the attempts of Justus Schorovosky, Bjoern Emmerling and Tibor Weissenborn.

For Korea Yeo Woon Kon, Lee Jung Seon and Seo Jong Ho made their attempts count while skipper Florian Kunz and Christoph Bechmann scored for Germany.

The Koreans had come from being 3-1 down in regulation time to force the match into extra time and with the win avenged their defeat to Germany in the preliminary round.

"It was a good performance from the players and though the heat would have affected the Germans, I doubt that was the cause of their defeat," said Korean manager Jeon Jae Hong.

"Ko did very well for a big man to go low and save the two penalty flicks and that gave the players the confidence."
Germany could have taken the lead in the 14th minute when Matthis Witthaus caught the entire Korean defence flatfooted and went around goalkeeper Ko Dong Sik only to send his attempt wide.

But the Germans were not to be denied and Christian Wein put the finishing g touches to a superb through ball by Tibor Weissenborn to put Germany 1-0 up in the 21st minute.

Two minutes later Germany extended their lead, this time through an individual effort by Witthaus.

Korea could have pulled one back before the halftime break but keeper Arnold Clemens was quick off his line to deny Yoon Young Sik.

However the Koreans pulled a goal back when Lee Jung Seon struck from their first penalty corner in the 38th minute.

Korea could have drawn level had Lee not missed a sitter after Yoon broke down the left flank and set Lee up with an open goal.

Germany were let off and took full advantage of it through Christoph Bechmann who scored in the 47th minute after Bjoern Michael laid off a pass to him from the right flank.

Korea stayed in the fight thanks to the brilliance of Lee who got past German defenders Florian Kunz and Phillip Crone in the 51st minute and has the easiest of tasks beating Clemens to reduce the deficit.

And Korea were on level terms when Seo Jong Ho was the first to the ball after a penalty corner attempt by Lee to squeeze the ball over the goal line in the 57th minute.

Both the teams came close in extra time but failed to put away their chances and the match went to penalty strokes to determine the third place. 


Australia beat Germany 4-2, enter Azlan final

KUALA LUMPUR: Australia served their best in the crucial match against regaining world champions Germany to book a place in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup.

Australia won 4-2 and will now take on defending champions Pakistan in the final scheduled for Sunday.

The Australians who needed a win to make the final put up a sterling display to deny the Germans who had beaten them for the World Cup at the same venue in 2002.

"It was a fantastic performance and I am proud of the players as they showed good composure and were in control of the match," said Australian coach Barry Dancer.

"Even though Germany equalized I always believed that my players could win and they repaid the confidence I had in them."

Australia got off to a great start when Michael McCann scored in the 14th minute.

However Germany drew level through Matthias Witthaus in the 32nd minute.

Germany were awarded a penalty corner in the closing stages of the half but failed to capitalize.

Australia needed only one minute into the second half to regain the lead when Travis Brooks deflected in a free hit by Troy Elder from the right side of the German semi circle.

Germany's Bjoern Emmerling protested about the goal and umpire Kim Hong Lae showed him the yellow card for his troubles resulting him being sent to the sin bin.

Germany forced two penalty corners in the 38th and 38th minutes but Australian keeper Stephen Mowlam refused to be beaten.

Troy Elder could have doubled Australia's lead but he shot wide with only Arnold Clemens to beat in the 42nd minute.

Three minutes later and Troy was once again the culprit as he shot straight into Clemens to let the Germans off the hook.

But two superbly struck goals by Grant Schubert in the 65th and 68th minutes ensured Australia's place in Sunday's final.

Though Witthaus pulled one back for Germany in the 69th minute, it was purely academic as Australia won convincingly. 


Spain beat India 4-1

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia Cup champions India have set the unenviable record of finishing last in the Sultan Azlan Shaha Cup for the first time since they participated in 1983.

The Indians fielding 10 juniors players in this senior event were condemned to the last place when they lost 4-1 to Spain at the National Hockey Stadium in their final preliminary round match.

India only has one point to show from its six matches, that too from a 2-2 draw against hosts Malaysia.

The win gave Spain a chance of making the 3-4 placing playoffs but they will have to play the waiting game as the results of two matches later in the day Germany-Australia and Malaysia-South Korea will have bearing on the final positions of the teams.

Coach Harinder Singh described the performance of the players as"horrible" and blasted the defenders for not linking up with the forwards.

"We played rubbish. I can understand that we lose because of inexperience as this would be expected from a team like ours where there are 10 junior players.

"But to give away such silly goals and not able to defend in numbers is to give victory away. I cannot accept this. This is a match we needed to win so much as we will then go out without a single win.

"yet when it mattered most the players failed to respond. I take responsiblity for the defeat as we did not play to what I wanted. But again there are many lessons to be learnt and we need to look at what can be gained from this tournament rather than just looking at the results," he said.

Spain took control of the match right from the first whistle and India were contend of going through the motions of finishing up their fixtures in the tournament.

Spain drew first blood in the 6th minute when Santiago Freixa Escude converted their first penalty corner.
And Xavier Ribas doubled the advantage in the 20th minute.

India were awarded two penalty corners in the 21st and 24th minutes but the normally reliable Len Aiyappa failed to find the target.

Spain extended its lead in the 42nd minute when Victor Sojo Gimanez deflected a cross by skipper Juan Escarre past a bewildered Indian custodian Adrian de Souza.

India managed to reduce the deficit when Len finally found the mark in the 66th minute but Juan Escarre put the final nail in the coffin with Spain's fourth goal in the final minute of the match.

Spain's coach Maurits Hendriks said that the Indians gave them a good fight and provided some vital input to his team.

"it is not often that we get to play teams like Indin and Pakistan. As such this match was a good outing for us and we were able to learn from it. Sure the scoreline suggests an easy match but let me assure you that it was not that easy.

"The breaks went our way and we were able to capitalise on it. We are heading in the right direction for the Olympic qualifers and I am pleased with the players performance thus far,'' he said. 


India suffer 4th defeat as Korea beat them 3-2

Without their two top strikers, Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon, Indians suffered their fourth defeat when they went down to Korea 3-2 in a league match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

With the defeat against Korea, the Indians are placed at the bottom of the seven-team league with just one point from the draw with Malaysia.

The Koreans have seven points from five matches.

After Len Aiyappa's 17th minute penalty-corner conversion, the Indians seemed to be on top but then the Koreans swung into action and pumped in three goals to seal the fate of the Indians.

Yoon Young Sik (25th minute) and Yeo Woon Kon (29th, 37th) ensured the Koreans didn't have to sweat much though India salvaged some pride with a 64th minute penalty-stroke goal by Arjun Halappa.

After taking the lead the Indians had more ball possession early in the match, but were unable to convert the domination into goals despite creating a few openings.

But later the Koreans began to dominate and penalty-corner goals through Sik and Kon within four-minutes saw the Asian Games gold medallists take the break with a 2-1 lead.

The Korean equaliser had a bit of controversy. Sik claimed a goal after a free-hit, but umpire Juan Manuel Reqena of Spain awarded a 16-yard hit to India. However, after protests by the Korean players, Raqena consulted the other umpire, Stefan Brenner of Germany, and then signalled a goal.

But then Kon scored from a rebound to give Korea a 2-1 advantage after goalkeeper D'Souza had blocked Lee Jung Seon's drag-flick.

The Koreans pressed on and within two minutes of the restart knocked in their third goal as Kon unleashed a terrific reverse-hit from top of the circle following Kim Kyung Seok's free-hit to complete a clever set-piece play.

Late in the game, the Indians suddenly sparked to life and a counter-attack led to a stick-check on Sandeep Michael, resulting in a penalty stroke, which Halappa converted. 


Malaysia hold Pakistan 1-1

Pakistan forwards came up with a surprisingly listless display as they let hosts Malaysia hold them to a 1-1 draw in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Malaysia , in fact, could have gone ahead for a win when Kuhan Shanmuganathan put them ahead with a 43rd minute penalty corner conversion, but the Pakistanis replied in like manner through Sohail Abbas in the 48th minute.

Abbas had a wonderful chance to net the match-winner in the last minute, but his attempt from the third penalty corner was well saved by the goalkeeper.

The draw virtually confirmed Pakistan's entry into the final with a tally of 13 points from five games, while the Malaysians inched up to three.

Pakistan who have been very sharp in the tournament were just completely off-colour today and the fact that they could only manage two tries from open play, both by Kashif Jawaad in the second-half, speaks for itself. 


Sensational comeback by Germany, hold Spain 4-4

It was a German fight-back, the best that one has seen in recent years as the World and European champions converted three penalty-corners in the last 18 minutes to pull off a sensational 4-4 draw with Spain after trailing 1-4 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Still upset with their performance and 3-4 defeat to Pakistan in their previous game, Germany gave a mediocre performance in the first-half as the Spaniards raced to a 4-1 lead at the break through goals by Santiago Freixa (4th, 31st, 35th) and Pol Amat (28th).

But Germany fought back late in the game as Florian Kunz (52nd and 66th) and Bjoern Michel (69th) scored off penalty-corners to add to Benjamin Koepp's 11th minute strike.

The draw took Germany's tally to 10 points from five while Spain moved to five from as many outings.

Early on in the game, Clemens did not spot Freixa, who received Victor Sojo's pass from the left and scored the first goal. But after Koepp had equalised for Germany, Clemens completely misread Amat's try to the second angle from the right and allowed the ball to go between his pads and on to the board.

Just before the break, Spain were gifted a penalty-corner when Justus Scharowsky broke the five-yard rule during a free-hit. Freixa was on target with a rasping ground shot. And then seconds before the break Freixa made it 4-1 getting the break on a long ball from midfield, and then dodging past a couple of defenders to score.

But then the Spaniards instead of going all out and totally breaking the German defence let them back in with some flat-footed display.
The towering Kunz converted a penalty-corner to narrow the deficit (2-4).

Germany decided to go all out and forced three more penalty-corners, two of which they scored through Kunz and Michel to force an improbable draw. 


India lead 2-0 only to lose 2-4 to Aussies

India led 2-0 but then blew away the golden opportunity with them some inept defending to crash to their third defeat in four matches, with a 2-4 loss against Australia, in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Skipper Dhanraj Pillay sent India away flying when he scored with a double-strike in the 15th and 16th minutes to put India ahead 2-0 at the National Stadium.

However, the Indians failed to drive home the advantage and allowed the Australians back into the match.

Tristram Woodhouse (27th), Troy Elder (42nd), Ben Taylor (50th) and Grant Schubert (70th) ensured an Aussie victory, their second in four outings.

The Indians, thus, continue to occupy the last spot with just one point from the drawn game with Malaysia.

The first-half belonged to India as they showed what skills can do at this level but more was the gutsy performance in standing up to the Aussies.

The deep defence, marshalled by William Xalco, put in a fine performance to repeatedly thwart the Aussies.

Just as the clock ticked past the 15th minute, Vikram Pillay flicked to his left to Hari Prasad, who in turn centered for Dhanraj to slam home.

Even before the Aussies could react, the Indian captain snatched the ball from Josh Hawes and then flicked over the onrushing goalkeeper to give his side 2-0 lead.

Thereafter, the Aussies managed to make some inroads into the Indian defence and forced three penalty corners in a six-minute spell. Off the third, Woodhouse made an indirect conversion that the Indians hotly disputed.

In the final moments of the first half, the Indians had a couple of more scoring opportunities, but wrong passes saw them wasting these chances.

Early in the second half, Elder made an indirect penalty corner conversion to put Aussies on level terms.

The Australians then mounted pressure and broke the Indian resistance when Taylor scored after Xalco cleared on the goal-line off an attempt by Travis Brooks.

India replaced goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh with Adrian D'Souza, 16 minutes left in the match, who thus had his first feel of the competition. He effected a couple of saves, but let in the final goal when Schubert beat him on the second attempt with only 30 seconds left in the game. 


South Korea beat Spain 4-1

Asian Games champions South Korea notched up their first victory in four matches with an easy 4-1 victory against Spain in the seven-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at the National stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

The victory took Korea's points tally to four, the same as Spain's.

The Koreans, dominated the first half and led 1-0 at half-time but turned in a solid second-half performance.

Lee Jung Seon (17th, 66th minutes), Seo Jung Ho (42nd) and Yeo Woon Kon (65th) accounted for Korea's goals.

The Spaniards, for whom skipper Juan Escarre (41st minute) scored their only goal, had little left in them once the Koreans began to step up the pace on resumption.

If the first-half was mostly about ball possession and some cat-and-mouse stuff, the second session was just as different. The Koreans virtually took the game by the scruff of its neck and effectively killed the Spanish challenge with a couple of late strikes.

The Spaniards appeared rather diffident and over-cautious while the Koreans showed typical patience for their opponents to commit mistakes and launch counter-attacks. So much so that after 17 minutes did the game witness a direct shot at goal when Seon slammed from a second angle from the left past an immobile goalkeeper.

Spain equalised early in the second-half when Escarre slotted home a rebound from open play. However, the Koreans retaliated in style, repeatedly scything through an unsure Spanish defence to eventually win by a handsome margin that underlined their second-half dominance 


Germany scrape past Korea 2-1

Even though not at their best, world champions Germany managed to scrape past Korea 2-1 to register their third win on the trot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at the National Stadium at Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

The victory perched Germany on the top with nine points while the Koreans remained on one point from their draw with Australia.

A penalty corner conversion by Bjoern Michel (27th) put Germany in the front as they controlled much of the first-half. But they allowed Korea back in the game.

Seong Seung Tae deflected Ji Seong Hwan's long-corner to level the scores before Christoph Bechmann scored the match winner from Mattias Wittahus pass in the 68th, a goal that the Koreans hotly disputed.

Bechmann had apparently shielded the ball after receiving the pass. The Koreans argued with the South African umpire Stewart Dearing, but in vain.

The German gamble of fielding their second choice goalkeeper Christian Schulte paid off as he brought off some fine saves to deny Koreans who were also unlucky when in the first-half, Yeo Woon Kon's attempt came off the crosspiece. 


Pakistan beat Spain 4-2

Pakistan is on a roll as they showcased their individual skills to beat Spain 4-2 for their third win in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at the National Stadium at Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Kashif Jawaad scored a hat-trick for the winners.

The victory, marked by goals from Shabbir Hussain (6th minute) and Kashif Jawaad (17th, 45th and 66th) took Pakistan to the top of the league table where they displaced Germany on superior goal-difference.

Spain, who scored through Pol Amat (43rd) when he converted a rebound after a Xavier Ribas penalty corner flick came off the post, and Ribas (penalty corner, 62nd) could not contain the brilliant Pakistani forwards who sparkled with their dribbles and dodges.

After Hussain put them in front when he found the boards on the second attempt, the Pakistanis repeatedly swept through the Spanish defence which had a difficult time. Soon, Pakistan went 2-0 up when Jawaad capped a Muhammad Nadeem-Rehan Butt move.

On change of ends, Spain pulled one back as Pol Amat scored only to concede a goal within minutes when Jawaad flicked home a quickly taken free-hit by Ghazanfar Ali to effectively seal the match.

Though Spaniards fought back with a goal by Ribas, the Pakistanis struck a fourth time when Jawaad completed his hat-trick after being put through by Hussain. 


Malaysia hold India 2-2

It was a match that Indian coach Harinder Singh wanted desperately to win. Reasons were many: Three points were needed to stave off a last place finish and also that reputations of the team and that off the coach could easily have taken a big dent with a defeat against hosts Malaysia. But the resultant 2-2 draw probably just saved the day for the Indians.

It would be fair to say that both the teams had their chances. And an equal number too. Probably just in the penalty corner area Malaysia pipped India by earning two more than the Indians three for the match.

After the initial look at each other and testing the defence and the penetration in the midfield, India had their first look at the goal when a 14th minute penalty corner flick by Len Aiyappa was saved the Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam. The second penalty corner in the 18th minute was again driven straight to Subramaniam's body, again making it easy for him to effect a save.

But in the 20th minute, Len's penalty corner flick, India's third, flew low and finally beat Subramaniam who didn't expect the ball to be low.

India leading 1-0 should have increased the pressure but they surprisingly fell back and started to play around in the midfield.

With just four minutes left for the break, Malaysia earned their second penalty corner and Gobinathan Krishnamurthy drove straight on the carpet for the ball to beat the Indian goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh. Ignace Tirkey standing on the left post could have stopped the ball but couldn't bring his stick down in time.

At the break, both the teams were locked at 1-1.

Malaysia missed another two penalty corners in the 54th and 55th minute and it was off a counter-attack that India stunned the hosts by taking the lead. Baljit Singh Dhillon raced down the right flank and centered into the circle.

Arjun Halappa who had not done much in the match till now suddenly thurst his stick in the direction of the ball and the deflection beat the surprised Subramaniam in the Malaysian goal.

It was here that the Indian defence which till now was taking the Malaysian pressure on it's goal quite well suddenly buckled. Len Aiyappa had a free hit inside the Indian half and he should have waited for the Malaysian forward to go back five yards or waited for the umpire to warn the Malaysian but Len didn't do either and went straight for the scoop as the umpire ruled dangerous play and gave the Malaysians the free hit. Malaysia took the advantage and sent the ball into the Indian circle as the shot hit the post and then the rebound was picked up by Ismail Abu and tapped in among a horde of Indian and Malaysian legs.

Both the teams had a few sharp chances in the last five minutes but both the defences stod firm, sometimes riding their luck to draw the match with scores tied at 2-2. 


Battle of the Dutch

Two Dutch Olympic Games gold medal winning coaches will lead two foreign teams in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament.

Coach Roelant Oltmans, who guided Holland to the 1996 Atlanta Games gold medal has been hired as Pakistan’s coach last month while his compatriot Maurits Hendriks, who helped the Dutch team retained the gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, heads the Spanish team.

Oltmans and Hendriks were hired last year to win medals in the Athens Olympics in August.

Defending champions Pakistan will face Spain, the Champions Challenge champions today. It would be interesting to see which Dutch coach will triumph today.

Pakistan are on a roll under the guidance of Oltmans in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as they won both their matches beating Busan Asian Games gold medallist South Korea 4-2 and Asia Cup winners India 3-2.

Spain also showed their mettle under Hendriks when they stunned World Cup runners-up Australia 3-1 on Friday. Earlier they drew 3-3 with Malaysia in their opening match.

Hendriks, who started training Spain last June, said Oltmans is a good friend but they will try to outdo each other in today's clash.

“Oltmans is my senior and is a more experienced coach but to me what is important is the results in tomorrow's (today) match. Pakistan are the favourites to reach the final as they have shown improvement under the guidance of Oltmans,” said Hendriks, who guided Spain to win the Champions Challenge in South Africa last July.

He also helped Spain finish runners-up in the European championships last September.

Hendriks added that they have to watch out for two Pakistani players – forward Shabbir Hussain and defender Sohail Abbas.

“Shabbir is exceptionally good with his stick work inside the 25m area while Sohail is deadly with his penalty corner flicks,” said Hendriks.

Sohail scored all three goals against India through penalty corners.

Oltmans, who also helped Holland to win the 1998 Utrecht World Cup, said the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is his first assignment as the national coach of Pakistan.

“I only handle the team for three weeks and this is important for me to see what are the changes we need to do for the Olympics. We will still maintain the Asian style of play and can expect a strong fight from Spain who play a fast attacking game.

“It will be good if we can get the better of them as they are very fast with their counter attacks,” said Oltmans.

Pakistan are really serious in winning the Olympic gold as they also have the services of three other Dutch experts. Ronald Tansen is the goalkeepers' coach, Derk Verder is the physiotherapist and Roberto Tolentino is the video analyst.

(Courtesy: The Star, Malaysia) 


Australia, Korea play out a 1-1 draw

World Cup silver medallists Australia and Korea, played out a lack-lustre 1-1 draw in Saturday's only match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here.

A 61st minute penalty corner conversion by veteran Troy Elder, put Australia in front, but the Asian Games winners caught up soon after with a Lee Jung Seon goal.

Seon sounded the board in the 66th minute from a penalty corner.

In the scrappy encounter, the Koreans were a trifle unlucky. In the first half, a penalty corner attempt by Yeo Woon Kon came off the post and in the second session, Australian goalkeeper Stephen Mowlam, brought off a couple of terrific saves.

But the Australians nearly came a cropper in the dying moments when the Asian team launched a couple of dangerous moves only to fumble with sitters.

The draw gave the two teams their first points from two outings each.

Australia had lost their opening game to Spain 1-3 while the Koreans were beaten 4-2 by Pakistan. 


Malaysia juniors to visit India

Malaysia will play a four-match series against India in as part of their preparation for the Junior Asia Cup.

The series will be played in India early March. Two of the matches will be played in New Delhi and one each in Chandigar and Amritsar.

The Junior Asian Cup, slated to be held in Karachi from April 21 to 29, will also serve as a qualifier for the Junior World Cup in 2005.

Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) secretary general K Jothi Kumaran said here today that India has agreed to play the matches at the request of the Malaysians.

''The matches were supposed to be held this month but for some reasons we could not finalise the dates. But I have received the dates from the Malaysians and we will be able to accomodate them in March,'' he said.

Mr Kumaran is here as the technical officer for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

From India, the Malaysians will also go to Lahore to play four- match series against Pakistan there.

The exact number of teams who will make the cut for the Junior World Cup is not yet known. That decision will be made by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) next year.

India's national junior coach Harender Singh, who is also the coach of the team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, said that the junior team will play the Malaysians at least in one match.

''I do not think we would want to play all four matches with our main team. I will proably have a mixed teams for some of the matches and perhaps even give our Under 18 teams achance to play in one of the matches.

''It will be good exposure for the younger players. It will also give us a chance to gauge the Malaysians as well,'' he said.

India are the Junior World Cup champions having won it in Hobart in 2001.

But under new regulations the defending champions also need to go through the qualifying meet to book a place in the next tournament.

Harender said that India was ready for the challenge and they have a strong team in place for the Junior Asia Cup.

In fact the Indians have brought 10 players from their junior teams on the trip to Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

They are Rajpal Singh, Sandeep Singh, William Xalxo, Adrian D'Souza, Prabhdeep Singh, Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandkar, Sandeep Micheal, Girish Pimpale and V S Vinay.

Harender said these players are also possible contenders for place in the senior teams for the Olympic qualifiers in March in Madrid.

''All the players here at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup are possible contenders for a place in the senior team. For me it is imporatnt that they try and learn at the senior level as this will stand them in good stead for the junior campaign,'' he added. 


Sohail's hat-trick helps Pakistan pip India

It was supposed to be a cliff-hanger. Two all at the break, it almost veered towards being another classic India-Pakistan tie but Sohail Abbass was the saviour for Pakistan as he powered in his third consecutive penalty corner flick into the Indian goal to give Pakistan a much wanted 3-2 victory.

After defeats at India's hands in the finals of the Asia Cup and the Afro-Asian Games, Pakistan players had relief written over their faces and even experienced Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans admitted that such games "are not for the faint-hearted." "My heart was beating fast at the end of the match," admitted Oltmans.

If the pace was not furious like previous encounters between the arch-rivals, defensive postures are to blamed for that. Both teams went all out in the beginning knowing that an early goal would put pressure on the opponent and Pakistan was the first off the starting block. Just after India had squandered a first minute penalty corner, Sohail Abbass fired in Pakistan's second penalty corner in the 12th minute and Pakistan were leading 1-0.

India managed to keep a third penalty corner out before a Dhanraj Pillay move gave India the equaliser. In the 15th minute, Pillay picked up the ball in the midfield, cut through the middle, veered left and sent the ball to a scampering Arjun Halappa whose shot rebounded off the goalkeeper but Baljit Dhillon moving into the circle picked it up and sent it into the Pakistan goal.

Two minutes later, India counter-attacked. Ignace Tirkey left his position and overlapped on the left-flank and his move saw him cut back and then send a superb cross to the right off the striking circle where Rajpal Singh trapped the ball, deftly moved to the side and sent a scorcher that beat Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar all ends up. To the shock of the Pakistan side, in-experienced India were leading 2-1.

But Pakistan who were making some changes in the midfield play, slowed the pace a little and earned a fifth penalty corner in the 27th minute. Sohail Abbass was right on target as his flick flew in with tremendous speed to beat Kanwaldeep Singh in goal.

At the break, both the teams were 2-2.

A mistake cost India some space in the second half when Prabhdeep Singh was given the yellow card for a stupid tackle. Down to ten men, India back-pedalled and Pakistan piled on the pressure and earned their 7th penalty corner which Sohail despatched into the Indian goal for his hat-trick and his team's match-winner.

India had their chances as Pakistan held onto the ball and kept possession depriving India off the ball and a chance to keep up the rythmn and momentum. Still they came close and Rajpal had a shot at stardom when a Arjun cross from the right saw Rajpal in the line of the ball but the stick was just micro-inches away from trapping the ball with the Pakistan goal right in front.

A second straight defeat for India but not at all digraced. The inexperienced Indians suffered for a soft defence where William Xalco played like a veteran but still Pakistan with their much-experienced forward-line could penetrate with some swift moves. 


Hosts Malaysia hold Spain to a 3-3 draw

Hosts Malaysia had a lot to cheer as they held off Champions Challenge winners Spain to a 3-3 draw, thanks to a triple strike by S Kuhan, the equaliser coming in the last minute of the match.

Spain led in the first minute itself when classy and experienced forward Pol Amat struck cleanly from the middle of the circle.

But Malaysia equalised in the 8th minute when Kuhan struck off a penalty corner. Spain wrested back the lead in the 17th minute off a penalty corner drive by Santiago Freixa and Malaysia kept hopes flying high when Kuhan again converted in the 37th minute.

But when Spain took the lead, yet again, in the 44th minute through another penalty corner goal by Santiago Friexa and the held possession for quite a bit of the second half, it seemed that Malaysia might be held off but Kuhan became the star when in the last minute he again powered in a penalty corner drive to equalise and help malaysia split points with Spain. 


Coach Oltmans unhappy despite Pakistan winning

Pakistan coach Rolent Oltmans seemed unsatisfied despite his team starting the tournament outclassing South Korea 4-2 in the opening match of the 13th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here.

Two strikes from Rehan Butt and one apiece from Mohammed Nadeem and Shabbir Hussain were enough to secure victory for the Pakistanis against the Korean 2002 Asian Games gold medallists on Thursday.

But Oltmans was far from satisfied after a below-par display from the Pakistan defence.

"It was a good win but I am not too happy with our performance especially the defence," Oltmans said. "There were just too many mistakes made by the defenders and this is something we can ill afford if we want to do well."

Missed chances proved the difference between the two sides, with Pakistan deadly in front of goal as South Korea squandered a string of opportunities.

Korea went on the offensive from the first whistle but were unable to turn their domination into goals.

The Pakistanis absorbed the early pressure and relied on counter attacks and the tactic bore fruit as they took the lead in the 14th minute through Butt whose hit slipped under the leg of South Korean goalkeeper Ko Dong-Sik.

Pakistan should have doubled their advantage in the 26th minute when Shakeel Abbasi broke through the middle only to lift his shot above Ko and the bar.

The Koreans however equalized through Seo Jong-Ho a minute before the break.

Pakistan opted to attack when play resumed in the second and were duly rewarded through goals from Nadeem (39th minute) and Butt (42nd minute) to take a 3-1 lead.

However Korea reduced the deficit through Lee Junn-Seon wno converted a penalty corner in the 43rd minute.

Try as they did the Koreans just could not get the better of Ahmad Alam in the Pakistan goal and while they were too engrossed in searching for the equalizer, the Koreans left gaps in their defence.

And Shabbir made the most of some good work by Butt on the right flank to score the fourth goal two minutes before the end of the match. 


India go down fighting to world champions Germany

It was an unequal battle right from the start as India with half their squad in-experienced and the team playing without atleast 6-7 regulars went down fighting to World Champions Germany in their opening match of the 13th Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

All the goals were scored from penalty-corners.

Germany looked like running away with the match as they went two goals up within the first six minutes, but the young Indian side did well to make a fight out of it.

Bjoern Michel opened the scoring for Germany in the fourth minute off the team's first penalty-corner before skipper Florian Kunz increased the lead from their fourth penalty-corner in the sixth minute.

But the Indians came back fighting and pulled one back in the 17th minute when 18-year-old Sandeep Singh flicked beautifully from the team's first penalty-corner in the 17th minute.

Thereafter India dominated the match but lacked thrust upfront to create an impression on the German goal. But they did have their chances. Sandeep Michael wasn't in position to trap and shoot home and even Dhanraj Pillay trying to make his solo moves made too many of them without passing the ball to better placed colleagues.

Tushar Khandekar could have restored parity for India in the 23rd minute but goalkeeper Arnold Clemens did well to palm away his shot from hand-shaking distance following a cross from Baljit Singh Dhillon.

Clemens again denied India a goal in the 29th minute, saving Sandeep Singh's flick from a penalty-corner.

India looked threatening in the second session too but just failed to penetrate the German defence.

Michel got his second goal of the match from Germany's fourth penalty-corner in the 45th minute to make the scoreline 3-1.

But that was the last time the Germans had a clear look at the Indian goal as the Indians pressed hard with individual runs by skipper Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Sandeep Michael but without success.
On Friday, they play against Pakistan in what should be a heart-stopping match for both the teams. 


Coach Harinder satisfied but wants more improvement

For Harinder Singh, satisfaction doesn't come easy. Thrust into the job of a senior Indian team coach along with a group of inexperienced but talented youngsters, Harinder felt that much more needs to be done after the 1-3 defeat against world champions Germany.

"It's easy to be satisfied after losing 1-3 to Germany and think that maybe we could have got one more goal," explained Harinder after his sides first match in the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament. "But I also know that the boys played well in the capacity that they have. And I hope that they come out of this match knowing that should be improving in every match."

Harinder knows that inexperience will have his work cut out, especially in the Indian defence where Harpal Singh, William Xalco and goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh have a tough job to handle. And even German Coach Bernhard Peters was also not way off the mark when he said that India will suffer in this tournament because of the inexperience of the defenders but at the same time added that if they come out of it learning then India will have a second line ready to play in the seniors after the Olympics.

The opening two goal-blitz by the Germans in the first eight minutes destroyed the confidence of the Indian defence and immediately put them on the back-foot but as Harinder feels they came out of it well. "I think they played well after that," he says. "I thought they might crumble and the Germans might just pump in the goals but the defence learnt fast and closed the gaps so that Bjorn Micheal and Eimer were not as threatening as they were in the first 10 minutes."

The junior lot in the Indian team may have learnt why germany is a world champion but on Friday is the big match as far as Indian hockey goes. Pakistan today beat Korea 4-2 and announced that they were ready to take on the world now that they have the `thinker-coach' Roelant Oltmans building the road to a gold medal in Athens for them.

But Harinder remains unfazed about Pakistan. "I know they are good," he says. "Give them a inch and they will create havoc in the circle. But so can we. All I can say is that Friday's match-up with Pakistan will be a good game and if we are in the right places in the right time, we can destroy a few reputations."

It's a promise that Harinder holds out. A promise that most of the youngsters in the team fulfilled today against the solid World Champions Germany. But each match in this Azlan Shah for the Indian team would be a test of resolve and also one of doggedness that even when the chips are down they have to hold out. Hold out to a future that talent shows is for their taking. 


Aussies arrive for Azlan, aim at Athens

KUALA LUMPUR: For Australia, the Olympic hockey gold medal is the “holy grail.” And it's the one title that has always eluded them.

But Australian national coach Barry Dancer hopes to wipe that statistic off the books this year.

“Yes, the target is to win the gold medal in Athens. This is the one title that has eluded us and we want it badly. For me personally, winning in Athens will bring the glory the hockey community demands.

“We have assembled a good team which is young and can handle the challenge. But the next eight months will be crucial as we fine tune and finalise the final 18,” said Dancer, who arrived with the team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Thursday night. The team had a video session yesterday and a training session in the afternoon.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, he said, formed a vital part of their preparations for Athens.

The Australians have won almost all the major tournaments in the world. They were World Cup winners in 1986 and in 1997 won the Junior World Cup as well. They have also won the Champions Trophy several times and also captured the Commonwealth Games hockey event when it was introduced in 1998 in KL.

They were also the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup winners in 1983 when the tournament was started and then again in 1998.

But the Olympics gold medal remains elusive and they are planning a 30-match run before going to Athens. At the tournament here, they will play seven competitive matches and two friendlies before the tournament begins on Jan 8.

After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the team will return home and the players will compete in their national championships. The team will then have a tournament in Australia and go to Europe in July for the final preparations.

“We should have our squad of 22 players after the national championships and then the final 18 after the Europe tour. Thus every tournament the players compete in from now is very important towards their final selections. There can be no room for complacency,” said Dancer.

The former world champions have named a formidable squad for the tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Jan 8-18.

They only have one junior player – Mark Knowles – in the team. All the other players are aged above 23. They have also retained seven players from their 2002 World Cup side.

The seven are Liam de Young, Michael McCann, Troy Elder, Mark Hickman, Aaron Hopkins, Mathew Wells and Brent Livermore. The team will play Malaysia on Monday and then Spain the following day.

They will only begin their campaign in the tournament on Jan 9 with a match against the Spaniards.

(Courtesy: The Star) 


Oltmans doesn't promise victory but major improvement

KARACHI, Jan 2: Pakistan hockey coach Roelant Oltmans on Friday did not promise a victory at Azlan Shah Cup but calling his side "The Green Machine" vowed it would take off this year.

"I hate to lose even if I play cards with my son. But at Azlan Shah I would be more interested in testing the players and making a formidable side for Olympic qualifiers and then the Athens Games," he told reporters at Hockey Club of Pakistan.

Pakistan are scheduled to leave on Sunday for Kuala Lumpur to defend their title at seven-nation Jan 8-16 tournament where world champions Germany, Australia, India, South Korea, Malaysia and Spain would be in fray. Although the Dutchman said he had just started and he was not after instant wins, he was hopeful his side would gradually improve this year.

"Pakistan team is a Green Machine that is going to function in a smooth manner and will show improvement slowly and gradually," the coach who returned today from The Netherlands after spending Christmas and New Year holidays, remarked.

Oltmans, 49, did not agree that oppositions in Kuala Lumpur would be having an edge over Pakistan since most of them would field their full-strength sides while his team is still going through experimentation.

"Other coaches would be having full-strength sides, but mine is a group of fine players. So there would be no psychological advantage or disadvantage in Kuala Lumpur.

"You can see my players' dedication, the commitment of that one who is practising," he said pointing towards penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas who was practising drag-flicks alone after the sessions - a scene never witnessed before.

Another significant change after the Dutchman took charge late last year, was the shirts the Pakistan players were wearing with word "Pakistan" on them. Previously, during sessions the team members used shirts displaying logos of foreign sports gear manufacturing companies.

The Dutchman said he was being guided by his deputy Tahir Zaman regarding the selection of players, but admitted at least there was one player who should have been in the squad.

"I have talked to Tahir and Hassan (Sardar) [junior team manager] about the players we have. I am the final authority in selection. But at least there is one player who I think should have been in the squad," he said without disclosing the name of the player.

The coach visibly seemed to be upset when asked why did not he announce the 18-member squad for the Azlan Shah Cup. "It was just because somebody announced the squad before me.

It is that simple," he said without referring Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) which announced the squad on Dec 19 without giving the coach a chance to brief the press.

He said there would be no changes in the squad announced earlier, although players like Sameer Hussain could be considered for forthcoming competitions. He had called up Sameer and Asim Khan after announcement of the squad.

Asked about the level of physical fitness of goalkeeper Ahmad Alam who did not take part in the sessions, the coach said he was once again suffering from "back pain" but hoped he would fully recover before reaching the Malaysian capital.

"Ahmad has been suffering from back problem since before last year's Afro-Asian Games in India. But he is fit and I think by the time he reaches Malaysia, he will be fully fit. He is very much in the squad. And if he is in the squad, it means he is fit."

Although the coach had not set Azlan Shah Cup as the winning target, he said Germany being the world champions would be toughest rivals, while South Korea, Australia and even India could not be taken lightly.

Oltmans said rather than focussing on the style of hockey he would be concentrating more on improving the grey areas, especially the defence.

"There is no such thing as Asian, European or Oceanic style of hockey. It is more important to tackle different teams with separate strategies and that is what I am going to do," he said.

(Courtesy: The Dawn) 


Packed with Jrs, India leave for Azlan Shah

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia Cup champions India have retained only six players from the team that won the title in October for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium here next week.

But 10 players from the team selected for the tournament are from the national juniors squad and will be eligible to play in the Junior Asia Cup in April.

The juniors who have been selected for the team are Adrian D'Souza, Sandeep Singh, Vinaya, William Xalxo, Harpal Singh, Hari Prasad, Sandeep Michael, Girish Pimpale, Tushar Kandkar and Rajpal Singh.

National Juniors chief coach Harinder Singh has been given the task to take the team to Kuala Lumpur while national coach Rajinder Singh will act as an observor.

The six from the Asia Cup winning team are skipper Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Ignace Tirkey, Kamaldeep Singh, Sandeep Michael and Arjun Halappa.

The other two players in the team are Len Aiyappa and Vikram Pillay.

The Indian Hockey Federation named their final 18 players for the tournament after a two-day final trial in Hyderabad.

Chief coach Harinder Singh said that they have named a well balanced team keeping in mind that these players all have a chance at making the final squad for the Olympics later in the year.

"It is clear that our objective here is to learn and also to expose the younger players who are knocking hard on the doors of the seniors. Injuries to some of our top players have given us this chance to try the younger set of players and I hope the make full use of it.

"Let me also make it clear that we are not going there to make up the number but to try and get a podium finish. It is a good team one that has shown a lot of promise in training," he said.

Two senior players who had attended training Bajit Singh Saini and Bipin Fenendez were left out of the squad due to injuries. Last month the IHF had left out nine senior players from their list of 25 players called up to attend training for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The nine seniors were Prabjot Singh, Dilip Tirkey, Gagan Ajit, Deepak Thakur, Bimal Lakra, Viren Raskino, Devesh Chawan, Kanwelprit Singh and Viknan Pillay.

But Bimal Lakra and Vikram Pillay later came for the training and Vikram has managed to shake off the injuries to make the final 18.

Dhanraj who led the team to their first ever Asia Cup triumph in Kuala Lumpur will skipper the team. The veteran striker did not play in the Afro Asian Games in November and defender Dilip Tirkey led the team, which won the gold medal.

Harinder, who is also the chief coach of the Indian juniors, said that they have a well-balanced side with enough senior players to guide the younger set of players.

"So it is not altogether a junior team. It will be good for the players, as they will face some very tough opposition in the meet. The objective like all other teams is to gain international exposure for the future," he said.

"There is no question in my mind that the sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a very good tournament which attracts some of the best teams in the world. And every one of the teams in the tournament is likely to play in the Olympics. We will not take it lightly, he added.

The Indian team:

Players: Kamaldeep Singh, Adrian D'Souza, Harpal Singh, Len Aiyappa, Sandeep Singh, V. S. Vinaya, Arjun Halappa, Ignace Tirkey, Dhanraj Pillay (captain), Vikram Pillay, William Xalxo, Pradeep Singh, Tushar Khandkar, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Sandeep Michael, Girish Pimpale, Hari Prasad, Rajpal Singh.

Coach: Harinder Singh

Assistants: Clarence Lobo, Ramandeep Singh, A. B. Subbiah

Trainer: Dr Saju JOseph

Manager: G. M. Sri Vastava


Draw announced for Azlan Shah

India will play World Champions Germany and then take on Pakistan the very next day in their opening matches of the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur from January 8.

Seven team are participating in the Azlan Shah tournament. They are World Champions Germany, Asia Cup Champions India, Pakistan, Australia, Spain, Korea and hosts Malaysia.

The following is the schedule for the Azlan Shah:

January 8: Korea vs Pakistan; India vs Germany; Malaysia vs Spain.

January 9: India vs Pakistan; Spain vs Australia; Germany vs Malaysia.

January 10: Australia vs Korea.

January 11: Korea vs Germany; India vs Malaysia; Pakistan vs Spain.

January 12: Malaysia vs Australia; Pakistan vs Germany.

January 13: Korea vs Spain; India vs Australia.

January 14: Spain vs Germany; Pakistan vs Malaysia; India vs Korea.

January 15: Australia vs Pakistan

January 16: Spain vs India; Germany vs Australia; Malaysia vs Korea

January 17: Rest Day.

January 18: 5th/6th place; 3rd/4th place and FINAL.

Participating Teams in Azlan Shah 2004

Players Brent Livermore, Matthew Wells, Ben Bishop, Travis Brooks, Liam De Young, Michael Boyce, Troy Elder, Rob Hammond, Josh Hawes, Mark Hickman, Aaron Hopkins, Mark Knowles, Stephen Mowlam, Michael McCann, Grant Shubert, Ben Taylor, Tristam Woodhouse, Sain Wright

Manager Ralph Wood
Coach Barry Dancer

Players Ahmed Alam, Mohamed Qasim, Salman Akbar, Ali Raza, Sohail Abbas, Zeeshan Ashraf, Muhammed Waseem, Ghazanfar Ali, Dilawar Hussain, Adnan Maqsood, Muhammad Saqlain, Rehan Butt, Mudassar Ali Khan, Saleem Khalid, Shakeel Abbasi, Muhammad Nadeem, Kashif Jawwad, Muhammad Shabbir

Manager Mohamed Yusaf
Coach Roelant Altmans

Players Kamal Deep Singh, Adrian D'Souza, Kutappa, William Xalxo, Len Ayyappa, Sandeep Singh, Gurbaj Singh, V S Vinaya, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Kumar, Ignatius Tirkey, Bipin Fernandez, Baljeet Saini, Prabhdeep Singh, Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandekar, Adams Sinclair, Baljeet Dhillon, Rajpal Singh, Birenda Lakhra, Sandeep Michael, Dhanraj Pillai, Girish Pimpale, Harpal Singh

Manager Sri Vastava
Coach Harinder Singh

Players Florian Kunz, Clemens Arnold, Christoph Bechmann, Sebastian Biederlack, Christian Shulte, Phillip Crone, Christoph Eimer, Bjorn Michael, Michael Green, Christian Wein, Tibor Weibernborn, Timo Web, Mathias Witthaus, Bjorn Emmerling, Benjamin Kopp, Justus Scharowsky, Christopher Zeller, Phillip Zeller

Manager Peter Schuermann
Coach Bernhard Peters

Players Song Seung-tae, Kim Kyung-seok, Kim Yong-bae, Yeo Woon-kon, Kim Jung-chul, Lim Jung-woo, Lee Jung-seon, Han Hyung-bae and Seo Jung-ho, Ji Seong-Hwan, Kang Seung-jung, Lee nam-yong, Yoo Hyo-sik, Yoon Young-sik, Kim Jong-Min, Ko Dong-sik, Yon Min-ho, Jang Jong-hyun.

Manager Jeon Jae-hong
Coach Kim Young-kyu

Players Mohd Nasihin Nubli, S. Kumar, Nor Azlan Bakar, Mohamed Madzli Ikmar, S. Kuhan, Mohamed Amin Rahim, K. Logan Raj, Chua Boon Huat, Riduan Nasir, K. Keevan Raj, Jiwa Mohan, Azlan Misron, Tajol Rosli, Norazlan Rahim, Ismail Abu, S. Shanker, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, K. Gobinathan

Manager Zulkifli Abbas
Coach Paul Lissek

Players Ignacio Alborch, Eduardo Aguilar, Ramon Alegre, Pol Amat, Juan Escarre, Alberto Esteban, Alex Fabregas, Francisco Fabregas, Santiago Freixa, Bernardino Herrera, Xavi Ribas, Victor Sojo, Eduard Tubau, Jaxier Bruses, Marc Garcia-Casgon, Jaime Perez, Albert, Sala, David Alegre.

Manager Jordi Oliva
Coach Maurits Hendriks





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