Aussies Are Champions
Commonwealth Games, 2006

March 26, Melbourne

The Australian Men's team has made it double gold for our hockey teams with its third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal in a fiery encounter with Pakistan, coming away with a 3-0 win in Melbourne today.

In an exciting first half, with both teams playing an attacking brand of hockey, Australia began well, controlling the ball in the midfield and not giving Pakistan a chance or space to play their natural game.

Wells and Dwyer combined for an early chance on goal but were denied by a good save from the keeper, another chance went begging soon after when McCann's shot on goal was well blocked once again.

Midway through the first half Pakistan started winning some ball, creating opportunities of their own and trying to throw the Australians off their game with some rough tactics. The tactics seemed to have had the desired effect with some of Australia's early momentum swinging.

At 18 minutes Australia got their game back on track when Dwyer penetrated the circle and drew a penalty corner. In a beautifully worked play Liam De Young scored the first goal, getting the ball deep in attack, close to the left post, his finish Australia's first for the game and De Young's third for the tournament.

Pakistan had a chance to equalise with 11 minutes to play after a counter attack from an Australian penalty corner play. With the Australians still in their forward half Pakistan got the ball down the other end to a five on three situation. However, they weren't able to get a deflection on the cross.

The score remained unchanged at the break with both sides having opportunities on goal, yet not being able to capitalise.

After half time the hostilities continued, when once again a stray Pakistan stick marred play. Teraq Aziz was red carded for the second time this tournament and sent off the ground. This time, for hitting Robbie Hammond in the mouth, Hammond leaving the ground with a bloodied lip that required six stitches.

The Australians, furious that it has happened to one of their own again, rallied and bombarded the Pakistan defence, continually driving the ball into the circle. They were unable to make it count though, missing several golden opportunities to bury Pakistan.

It took a Luke Doerner penalty corner flick to break the drought with twelve minutes left to play, his low flick beating the keeper and sending the parochial home crowd wild.

A piece of Dwyer brilliance then put the question beyond doubt in the 60th minute. An Eglington drive through three defenders found Dwyer at full pace, who turned and reversed flicked it through without breaking stride for Australia's third.

"I'm glad I got it, because I missed a few opportunities," said Dwyer of his goal.

"It's just awesome to win though. To win at home is extra special. We want to reach our potential, keep raising the bar, fitness and skill levels, enjoy the challenge and stay on top."

National coach, Barry Dancer, was happy with the win and the way the Australians played throughout the tournament.

"The team played with a lot of discipline throughout the tournament and today was another example of that," he said.

"The team set strong goals since Athens. We have achieved some of these but we are still pressing forward."

When asked if the Australian Men's Hockey Team is the best current Australian sporting side, Dancer replied.

"That's not for us to judge. I'd suggest this team has continued a very long tradition for hockey...there's certainly a hunger there to achieve more."

The Kookaburras will have a rest now before the Champions Trophy later in the year, followed soon after by the World Cup, another of the goals they set themselves post Athens. For now though, they will savour their win as Commonwealth Games Gold medallists.

"It was as good as it gets for me, my first big tournament in Australia. I was just proud of the boys. It's something i'll never forget," said co-captain Bevan George.

Australia 3 Pakistan 0(Half time 1-0)
Australia - De Young 18m PC, Deorner 57m PC, Dwyer 60m FG.

(Courtesy, Hockey Australia)


Malaysia Clinch Bronze
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 26, Melbourne

Malaysia 2 England 0

Malaysia won bronze in the Men's Hockey competition, defeating England 2-0.

Malaysia scored one goal in each of the halves to claim the third place prize over a spirited England side. The Kuala Lumpur silver medallists, were led by goal-scorers Ahmad Tengku Muhamad Amin Rahim.


Pakistan Beat England, Enter Final
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 24, Melbourne

Pakistan 2 England 1

Former world champions Pakistan beat England, 2-1, in a tense match and will now face Australia in a play-off for the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games here in Melbourne.

England's Coach Jason Lee said "The guys are disappointed; they had a real sense of pride in this performance. We've still got a chance at a bronze medal and they will all be up for it in a couple of days."

After a scoreless first half, Pakistan's Shakeel Abbasi broke the deadlock in the 54th minute with the opening goal.

The tempo of the match then lifted, and with less than three minutes from full-time, England's Matthew Daly converted from a penalty corner to level the scores at full-time.

Abbasi was the hero for Pakistan, scoring a goal less than three minutes into extra-time.

Pakistan will try and get some inspiration from the 2005 Rabo Cup final where they had beaten Australia 4-3. 


Kiwis Beat India
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 24, Melbourne

New Zealand 2 India 1

India continued it’s pathetic performance at the Commonwealth Games going down 1-2 to New Zealand in the 5th/6th play-off match at the Hockey Centre on Friday. India, looking to go out with a win, was outplayed by the Kiwis, though it was India who took the lead through a Sandeep Singh penalty corner.

But the New Zealanders, struck back in the second half, scoring two goals through Philip Burrows and Bevan Hari to clinch the match 2-1.

For India, apart from the loss, it was a match in which three of their players, Kanwalpreet Singh, Tejbir Singh and Sandeep Singh were shown the yellow card.

New Zealand had 15 shots on goal which included eight penalty corners. India had four shots on goal including the dismal two penalty corners that they earned throughout the match.

For the Indian coach Rajinder Singh junior, this was the fifth consecutive tournament in which the team had fared badly – the five tournaments also include the Indo-Pak series where India lost the Indian leg 3-0 but clinched the Pakistan leg winning one match and playing out a draw in the other two. 


Australia Crush Malaysia, Enter CG Final

Australia entered the final of the men's hockey tournament after posting a comfortable 6-0 win over Malaysia.

Malaysia's solid defence in the first half prevented Australia from capitalising on eight attacks on goal and converting a penalty corner.

Australian captain Brent Livermore opened the scoring, converting a controversial penalty stroke in the 31st minute of play.

The second half began with a more attacking style from the Australians, resulting in Livermore converting a second penalty stroke in the 42nd minute.

Throughout the second half, Malaysia had trouble getting ahead, as the Australian defence picked off any Malaysian attack at will.

Captain Livermore saying, “it was a bit hard for Malaysia.”

“We put a solid performance in the first half and stuck to the game plan.” He said.

The Australians are excited about the final and all ready to vie for the gold.

“Everyone is fit and healthy. We’re really looking forward to Sunday,” Livermore said.

In the classification matches, Canada defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0. This is Canada’s first win in the Commonwealth Games and secured a ninth-place finish.

The Canadian captain Paul Wettlaufer said his team would gain confidence from their Games experience heading into this year’s World Cup qualifier. 


India Beat SA 2-0
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 22, Melbourne

India 2 South Africa 0

For those who understand the shaky foundation on which Indian hockey rests, the 2-0 victory against South Africa came as a relief. Not that the display went against established notions of a bankrupt ideas bank that Indian hockey at the present is saddled with but that they gamely made a fight of it was a pleasant change.

India did dominate but the South African striking circle was for most of the game off limits for the Indian forwards.

Paul Revington, the South African coach, acknowledged as one of the bright minds in the modern game, made sure that a four-man wall stood to thwart the Indian forwards who to make it a little more easier for the South Africans didn’t display any creativity to break the shackles. It’s a little difficult to create when the management itself is out of depth. And in the 2-0 win, India’s complete lack of coaching depth came apart at the seams.

From the moment the whistle sounded for the start of the game, India was well and truly in the driver’s seat. In the 4th minute, India earned their first and only penalty corner of the match. Sandeep Singh’s flick was fast, in the corner as India took a 1-0 lead.

Ignace Tirkey’s absence was being felt as the Indian midfield struggled for most past of the match to cope with the conditions and the pressure of scoring a minimum of four goals to feel safe of going through to the semifinals in case Malaysia lost the match to Pakistan. In the final analysis, Pakistan did beat Malaysia 6-5 and both the teams went through.

Deepak Thakur, Tejbir, Tushar Khandekar were all in the right positions but the planning was just not there to break the defence.

Rajinder even tried Didar Singh and his brother Sardar but both have been colossal failures.

In the 47th minute, off a counter-attack, India found the space as Tejbir raced down the left flank and without dribbling too much passed it onto Tushar whose push from a very acute angle went through the South African goalkeeper’s pads.

With the score at 2-0, it was the perfect opportunity for the Indians to step on the pedal but the aggression, urgency was missing. The normal sallies continued and instead of making things happen, the Indians waited for things to happen.

South Africa could have spoilt the day for India if there three penalty corners had found the target but Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chetri remained the only bright spot in what has been a disastrous Commonwealth Games.

India paid the penalty for not putting Malaysia to the sword in their first game, playing out a 1-1 draw, and thus ensuring that their dreams of a Commonwealth Games medal remain a dream.

India will now play the classification matches after the Pool A fixtures are completed. 


India Fail To Enter SF

India failed to make it to the semi-finals of the men's hockey tournament despite beating South Africa 2-0 in their last league match, at the 18th Commonwealth Games, in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Malaysia, who lost 5-6 to group leaders Pakistan in another league match in the day, made it to the last four stage.

India and Malaysia were tied at seven points each, but the Malaysians reached the semi-final on the basis of having scored more goals than India. 

India Win 10-1

Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 20, Melbourne

India 10 Trinidad and Tobago 1

India whipped the whipping boys Trinidad & Tobago 10-1 to register their first win the Commonwealth Games hockey tournament. India now have four points. In the earlier matches, they drew 1-1 with Malaysia and lost 1-4 to Pakistan.

Trinidad and Tobago would have been disappointed that they couldn’t hammer in more than one as they had the chances but Bharat Chetri was keen that there shouldn’t be any embarrassment at the back.

Deepak Thakur came back into form with a hat-trick as India led 4-1 at the break. Trinidad had the skills but they couldn’t forge a combination that could play in tandem and pressure India. Also, the little West Indian nation ran out of options when faced with the Indian defence.

India had the space in the second half but they still showed a reluctance to force the pace. Sardar Singh, Rajpal and Tejbir took their time setting up the moves. Of course, when faced with five to six defenders in the striking circle, it’s a little difficult to get the ball into gaps but the Indians could have done better. Coach Rajinder Singh junior would do well to take a closer look at Didar and ask himself if the player really warrants a berth in the Indian national side.

By the 45th minute, India was 7-1 up. Sandeep Singh flicked in a penalty corner and then Kanwalpreet Singh made it to the scorers list converting a penalty stroke. Sandeep’s fierce free hit rebounded off the goalkeeper’s pads for Tushar to tap in the seventh.

In the 56th minute, Sandeep Singh was on target again for India’s eighth goal.

But then, in the 66th minute, five consecutive penalty corners came India’s way and after wasting four, India, managed to score off the fifth to take the scores to 9-1.

India reached double figures when they earned their 12th penalty corner with 45 seconds left to play. Sandeep scored his fourth goal of the match and fifth overall as India finished the day at 10-1.

If India can stop hanging onto the ball and release early, then maybe, we could see a competent display from the Indian side against South Africa, a match that the Indians need to win to make sure of a place in the semifinals. 


Need To Improve Finishing: Sandeep
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 17, Melbourne

Sandeep Singh, India's penalty corner exponent, said that if India needed to win, then they would definitely have to improve their finishing.

“Today, (against Malaysia) we played according to our plan," said Sandeep while speaking to the media. "However, we missed a few chances in the first half and did made few mistakes also. The team will try and ensure that the mistakes are not repeated against Pakistan. If you see the match against Malaysia, we bounced back in the second half and equalize the score.”

Sandeep also stressed on the finishing, saying: “If we want to win the matches, we need to improve on the finishing.”

On the poor trapping in the match against Malaysia, the Indian defender blamed the new turf. “Even Malaysian found it difficulty in trapping," explained Sandeep. "The turf is new and very slippery. So both teams faced similar problem in trapping.”

In the absence of Dilip Tirkey and Harpal Singh, did he feel the pressure in the defence. “Since there is Viren Rashquinha, Vikram Pillay and Kanwalpreet to defend the post, there was no pressure on me and all played well. Although, we are definitely missing Dilip Tirkey because he is one of the most experienced players.”

Sandeep said that in the match against Pakistan, the team was well prepared. “We know their (Pakistan’s) weakness and positives. So will plan our strategy accordingly. Pakistani defence is very poor and they are very weak in defending penalty-corners. We will take advantage of that. Anyway, we had six match home-and-away series against them before coming here. That experience will surely play an important role in Saturday's match.”

Pakistan Thrash India 4-1
Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 18, Melbourne

Pakistan 4 India 1

It won’t be difficult to pick a word that could describe India at the Hockey Centre in Melbourne against Pakistan. Pathetic might sound too harsh for the genial Indian coach Rajinder Singh junior but probably time has come after the 4-1 thrashing by Pakistan that the very foundation on which India plays it’s hockey needs to be examined.

If the coach and his team are honest, then they would agree that the score line of 4-1 could easily have read a humiliating 7-1. Pakistan dominated the second half after India had played its best hockey in the first half to take a 1-0 lead. But when India needed to throw in five forwards, it still persisted with three and a packed midfield and ultimately paid the price – humiliation at the hands of Pakistan.

Come to think of it, Pakistan also missed a penalty stroke. Their skipper Muhammad Saqlain, normally reliable, pushed the flick past the post. Pakistan didn’t even have to regret that miss, they carved out the Indian defence, beating them on pace, skills and an attitude that bordered on the arrogance.

India, in the second half, was merely going through the paces.

It was surprising to see India play with just three forwards. Arjun Halappa did advance but most of the role was in the midfield. Though one has to say that in recent times his best display has been in the midfield where he combines his vision, skills and high mobility to the forwards advantage.

With the match in the afternoon, India looked more alert than what they were against Malaysia, early in the morning on Friday.

Pakistan had an early penalty corner in the 10th minute, though the tackle on Shakeel Abbasi by Viren Rasquinha looked quite clean.

India took the lead in the 14th minute and it was to be their only move that had five forwards moving in tandem.

Vikram Pillay picked up the ball in the midfield and moved up through the middle where seeing Arjun overlapping on the right flank sent it to him. Arjun had a beautiful run into the striking circle and his stunning cross was deflected by Deepak Thakur onto the pads of the Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akhbar. As the ball bounced off the pads and was rolling into goal, Tejbir seized the opportunity, to tap in for the lead.

For almost 6-7 minutes, India did dominate. They didn’t hang onto the ball and cleared it fast with one-touch movements keeping the Pakistan team in a tizzy. But good things don’t last long. Pakistan slowed the pace when ever they had the ball and finally found the equalizer in the 23rd minute.

Rehan Butt crossed from the right, the ball deflected off Sandeep Singh’s stick and an unmarked Mudassar Ali Khan whacked it past Bharat Chettri.

Pakistan had started dictating the pace as Saqlain, in his elements, was releasing some beautiful balls for Shakeel Abbasi and Tariq Aziz.

At the break, both the teams walked off holding onto a 1-1 scoreline.

Surprisingly, India still played defensive hockey and it wasn’t surprising that Pakistan took the lead in the 38th minute. Yet another Rehan Butt cross got deflected off Viren’s stick and Tariq Aziz sent it into an empty goal.

India had the opportunity a minute later but after Deepak had given it to Ignace, the delay in the shot had the defenders scrambling to clear it.

In the 41st minute, the move off the match saw Adnan Maqsood get Pakistan’s third goal. Shakeel Abbasi, the most lethal in the Pakistan frontline, zipped through the gaps and produced a breathtaking pass that Adnan Maqsood shot into the Indian goal while still on the run.

Down 1-3, India should have slowed the pace, got possession, given some breathing space to the defence but the midfield still pushed and in the bargain committed more mistakes. Individual skill was shown by Tushar who managed to get past the entire Pakistan defence but his well laid pass to Sardar Singh was wasted when the Indian Oil played swiped his stick over the ball.

India was wasting hard earned opportunities. And with Pakistan now settled in their customary rhythm, India was left trying to ward them away.

After Pakistan wasted a penalty stroke, they scored their fourth goal when Adnan Maqsood threw himself and his stick to deflect the third penalty corner home.

By the fourth goal, the Indian shoulders were drooping. They no longer were using the breaks and were content to keep the ball and ensure that Pakistan didn’t get into any attacking patterns. Pakistan still managed to create chances and was distinctly unlucky to see Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi miss easy scoring opportunities.

Pakistan had 16 shots on goal compared to India’s measly six and that in so many ways, tells the story of the much anticipated India-Pakistan match.

Australia Crush Scotland, Eng Pip NZ

Commonwealth Games, 2006
March 17, Melbourne

Australia 5 Scotland 1
England 4 New Zealand 3

Defending champions Australia and runners-up England opened their campaign with contrasting victories in the hockey competition of the Commonwealth Games on Friday.

Pre-tournament favourites Australia humbled Scotland 5-1 after leading 3-1 at half-time, while England pipped New Zealand 4-3.

The winners led 2-1 at the breather.

Another medal contender, South Africa trounced Trinidad and Tabago 6-1.

In a fast-paced encounter, Australia dominated the proceedings but could not convert all their chances into goals, otherwise the margin of victory would have been higher.

Scotland played well within their limits and were even able to reduce the margin.

For Australia, the goal scorers were Wells Mathew, Dean Butler, Luke Doerner, Travis Brooks and Brent Livermore (one each), while Niall Stott reduced the margin for Scotland.

In an exciting encounter, England downed New Zealand 4-3 to earn full points.

Simon Mantell, Barry Middleton, Richard Alexander and Mathew Daly scored for the winners, while Bevan Hayden, Shaw and Hopping Blair scored for the losers.

South Safrica made short work of Trindad and Tabago 6-1 after taking 5-0 lead at the lemon break.

John Paul, Wayne Madsen, Ian Symons, Leroy Philips, Justin Ross Reid and Lungile Tsolekile scored for South Africa while Dwain Chan Quan was the lone goal-getter for the losers.

Malaysia Hold India 1-1
Commonwealth Games, 2006

India 1 Malaysia 1

March 17, 2006, Melbourne

Opening matches in any competition still continue to be India’s bugbear when Malaysia held India to a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the 2006 Commonwealth Games being played at the Hockey Centre in Melbourne. India, were actually, lucky not have lost the match to the nippy Malaysians who were extremely dangerous on the counter-attack. India, on the other hand, looked disjointed and completely bankrupt when it came to ideas in the striking circle or even in the midfield.

Malaysia opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Mohammed Amin flicked in a penalty stroke. India, equalized in the second half after Sandeep Singh, who had a yellow card in the first half, sent a powerful low flick to beat the Malaysia goalkeeper off India’s second penalty corner.

Overall, it was a display that didn’t do any good to India and now with a match against Pakistan on Saturday, they better start thinking of how they could notch up three points.

The breaks were fast in the beginning for both the teams with the Indian skipper Ignace Tirkey in his elements. But by the time the second half began, Ignace had faded and with Vikram Pillay appearing slow, the Indians looked pedestrian in the midfield.

India gave away the first penalty corner to Malaysia in the 12th minute when Kiwi umpire Simon Taylor gave a free hit to Malaysia outside the circle but Vikram lashed at the ball that struck a Malaysian player. Taylor changed the decision to a penalty corner. India was lucky to get away as Chettri made a save.

By the middle of the first half, India had started dominating but the perennial problem of sticking with the ball remained with Rajpal Singh the main culprit. On the right flank, the Chandigarh-based player had the opportunities but over-play on the flanks enabled the Malaysians to fall back and defend. Malaysian skipper Kuhan thwarted many a move and proved that he is one of the best defenders in Asia.

Malaysian goalkeeper, Mohd Nasihin Ibrahim, was also in his elements. Once with Tejbir perfectly positioned, Ibrahim dived to his right and deflected a well taken shot away.

In the 25th minute, Sandeep Singh was given a yellow card for putting the stick and tripping the Malaysian forward after he had been well beaten by pace and a body dodge.

One couldn’t understand why the team management didn’t play William Xalxo, one of the best defenders and still stuck to curtailing creativity in the midfield by playing Viren as right half instead of centre-half.

With India down to ten men in the 25th minute, Malaysia pressed forward and in the 26th minute, a counter-attack, saw Chettri come out and with the ball in play brought his body in to stop a Malaysian forward. Simon Taylor had no hesitation in awarding a stroke against India.

Mohammed Amin converted the flick, firing between Chettri’s pads.

After the break, Malaysia could have gone ahead with a second goal but Mohd Rodzlan couldn’t control when he had the net in front with the Indian goalkeeper on the wrong foot. Rodzlan had a great game for Malaysia and kept the Indian defenders constantly on the back-foot.

In the 42nd minute, India had a move when Vikram Pillay’s fierce shot was deflected by Deepak Thakur towards Tejbir whose first timer was brilliantly saved by Ibrahim.

India was unlucky, five minutes later, when a Rajpal Singh cross was deflected by Sardar Singh towards the goal but the ball hit the cross-piece.

The equalizer came in the 44th minute when Sandeep Singh fired in a low flick that beat Ibrahim who was looking for the aerial ball.

With Didar Singh and Sardar Singh completely failing in the frontline, snatching a winner was almost impossible for the Indians. They did come close but the Malaysian defence was not be breached today.

With eight minutes left, Malaysia had their second penalty corner but Amin’s powerful flick was taken on the gloves by Chettri.

The Indians were unlucky in not getting a penalty corner towards the end but instead of blaming the umpires, the team management should begin looking inwards.





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