Dhanraj recalled, IHF picks juniors too

As expected, the Indian Hockey Federation placed their faith in the juniors as ten from the Junior World Cup winning side made it to the Indian team for the Champions Challenger tournament to be held in Kuala Lumpur from December 7-15.

In the selection trials held at the National Stadium on Thursday, the IHF also recalled star striker Dhanraj Pillay and in place of Cedric D’Souza appointed Junior World Cup winning coach Rajinder Singh as the chief coach. According to the IHF, Cedric is supposed to be down with illness.

The juniors who made it to the national team were goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan. In the defence, hit by the injury to Dilip Tirkey, backing up experienced Lazarus Barla will be juniors Kanwalpreet Singh and Jugraj Singh. It’s the midfield that has been breached by four juniors, Ignace Tirkey, Vikram Pillay, Bipin Fernandez and Arjun Halappa. In terms of experience, Sukhbir Singh Gill and Thirumalvalavan will strengthen the midfield.

Indian junior captain Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh line up with the fowards Baljit Dhillon, Sabu Varkey, Dhanraj Pillay and Daljit Singh.

It’s only the defence without Dilip Tirkey that seems to be the weakest link in the Indian team. Apart from that the IHF has chosen the best possible side from the probables.

Sabu Varkey’s selection is the most heartening feature as the Bharat Petroleum player still has the skills and the pace to best the best defence in the world.

"Of course, I am happy that I am back in the team and we are confident that we will pick up the Challenger title and enter the top six to play the Champions Trophy,"said Dhanraj Pillay. "It’s good to see so many juniors make it to the team and this team will have an ideal balance of youth with experience."

Even Rajinder Singh, coach, said that the team had trained hard and were looking forward to the Challenger. "It will be a huge morale booster to the team if we clinch the Challenger as that would really fire up the team for the World Cup in February,"said a confident Rajinder. 

World Cup schedule released, India take on Japan in opener

1975 World Cup champions India will take on Japan in their opening match of the 2002 World CupWorld Cup on February 24, Sunday, at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Later the same day, hosts nation Malaysia face a stern test when they play the 1986 World Champions, Australia.

The fixtures for next year's tournament were unveiled by His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah, World Cup organising committee chairman and Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) President.

The 10th Men's World Cup is featuring for the first time an enlarged field of 16 nations divided into two pools of eight teams.

They are scheduled to play a total of 72 matches over 13 days. The final is on March 9.

All matches will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Seating at the Main Stadium will be increased by 3,000 temporary seats to 15,000 while an additional 2,800 temporary seats will increase the capacity at Second Stadium to 4,800.

In the other five opening day matches, England line up against Poland, the Pakistanis square up against South Africa, Utrecht ‘98 runner-up Spain meet Belgium, European champion Germany face off against the Argentines, and India play Japan in an all-Asian encounter.

Speaking at the event, MHF Deputy President and Organising Committee Deputy Chairman Tan Sri P. Alagendra said the unveiling of the fixtures represented a step closer to the World Cup.

"I'm sure all the managers, coaches and players have been shaping their preparations according to their preliminary round opponents," he said.

"After today, they will be able to do more. Much, much more. The battlelines have now been drawn and the strategists will now be harder at work.

After all the sweat and toil in training, friendly matches and lead-up tournaments, team managers and coaches will finally see that light ahead in the tunnel."

Under the 2x8 format, each team play seven pool matches, followed by crossover classification play-offs before the final classification matches.

The top two teams in each pool qualify for the semifinals while the 3rd and 4th fight for the 5th - 8th places, the 5th and 6th for the 9th - 12th places, and the last two teams battle for the 13th - 16th places.


Pool A

New Zealand
South Africa

Pool B

Sun, Feb 24
8.15am Cuba vs Korea
8.35am England vs Poland
4.05pm Pakistan vs South Africa
4.35pm Belgium vs Spain
6.05pm Germany vs Argentina
6.35pm Netherlands vs New Zealand
8.05pm Japan vs India
8.35pm Malaysia vs Australia

Mon, Feb 25
4.05pm Pakistan vs Belgium
6.05pm South Africa vs Germany
6.35pm New Zealand vs Spain
8.05pm Netherlands vs Argentina

Tues, Feb 26
4.05pm Korea vs India
6.05pm Japan vs Malaysia
6.35pm Australia vs England
8.05pm Poland vs Cuba

Wed, Feb 27

8.05am Belgium vs Netherlands
8.35am Argentina vs South Africa
4.05pm Germany vs Spain
4.35pm Malaysia vs India
6.05pm Poland vs Australia
6.35pm Pakistan vs New Zealand
8.05pm England vs Cuba
8.35pm Korea vs Japan

Thur, Feb 28

4.05pm Spain vs Netherlands
6.05pm South Africa vs New Zealand
6.35pm Argentina vs Pakistan
8.05pm Belgium vs Germany

Fri, Mar 1
4.05pm Australia vs Cuba
5.35pm Poland vs Japan
6.05pm England vs India
8.05pm Malaysia vs Korea

Sat, Mar 2
8.05am Germany vs New Zealand
8.35pm Spain vs South Africa
4.05pm Japan vs Australia
4.35pm Belgium vs Argentina
6.05pm Cuba vs India
6.35pm Korea vs Poland
8.05pm Pakistan vs Netherlands
8.35pm England vs Malaysia

Sun, Mar 3
4.05pm Argentina vs New Zealand
6.05pm Spain vs Pakistan
6.35pm South Africa vs Belgium
8.05pm Netherlands vs Germany

Mon, Mar 4

4.05pm England vs Japan
6.05pm Malaysia vs Cuba
6.35pm Poland vs India
8.05pm Australia vs Korea

Tues, Mar 5
8.05am Belgium vs New Zealand
8.35am Pakistan vs Germany
4.05pm South Africa vs Netherlands
4.35pm Cuba vs Japan
6.05pm England vs Korea
6.35pm Australia vs India
8.05pm Argentina vs Spain
8.35pm Poland vs Malaysia

Wed, Mar 6 REST DAY

Thur, Mar 7
8.05am 13 - 16th 7 Pool A vs 8 Pool B
8.35pm 13 - 16th 7 Pool B vs 8 Pool A
4.05pm 9 - 12th 5 Pool A vs 6 Pool B
4.35pm 9 - 12th 5 Pool B vs 6 Pool A
6.35pm 5 - 8th 3 Pool A vs 4 Pool B
7.05pm 1 - 4th 1 Pool A vs 2 Pool B
9.05pm 5 - 8th 3 Pool B vs 4 Pool A
9.35pm 1 - 4th 1 Pool B vs 2 Pool A

Fri, Mar 8
8.05am 15 & 16th Loser MN 57 vs Loser MN 58
8.35am 13 & 14th Winner MN 57 vs Winner MN 58
5.05pm 11 & 12th Loser MN 59 vs Loser MN 60
5.35pm 7 & 8th Loser MN 61 vs Loser MN 63
7.35pm 9 & 10th Winner MN 59 vs Winner MN 60
8.05pm 5 & 6th Winner MN 61 vs Winner MN 63

Sat, Mar 9
5.35pm 3 & 4th Loser MN 62 vs Loser MN 64
8.05pm FINAL Winner MN 62 vs Winner MN 64

Champions Challenge Cup moved out of Delhi, possible hosts may be Malaysia

Indian hockey fans are a disappointed lot after hearing the news that New Delhi will not be hosting the first edition of the Champions Challenge Cup, scheduled from December 7-15. The International Hockey Federation took the championship away from India after European teams refused to fly into New Delhi looking at the crisis in Afghanistan.

After the Champions Trophy was shifted out of Lahore to Rotterdam, this will be the second high-voltage hockey tournament that will now seek a new host.

With the situation in Afghanistan worsening, it was quite clear that most of the European teams in the eight-nation Champions Challenge tournament would be reluctant to travel to India, especially New Delhi.

The FIH has not yet decided as to where they will hold the championship. But Malaysia has shown a keen interest in hosting it. It’s a little surprising that Malaysia pitched in much before India had even agreed to the fears of the FIH that most of the teams will not travel to India, especially the Europeans.

If the FIH gives the tournament to Kuala Lumpur, none of the teams will refuse because with the 2002 World Cup only three months away, they would be glad to play in Malaysia and get used to the conditions and know them perfectly before playing there in February 2002.

Six out of the eight teams participating in the Champions Challenge have also qualified for the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

Sources in the FIH say that except for the Asian teams, the Europeans refused to travel to India and that is what forced IHF president K.P.S. Gill to having the tournament shifted to another venue.

It’s a lost opportunity for India as they were hosting a top grade international tournament after the 1997 Chennai Champions Trophy. Coming after the World Cup success of the juniors, the sport would have got a huge boost in front of home crowds.

Earlier, the IHF had been quite confident about hosting the tournament with Gill even saying that "We are ready and we don’t see any problems with the security."

This would have been the first edition of the Champions Challenge tournament. The FIH had decided before the Sydney Olympics that the top six finishers at Sydney would play the Champions Trophy and the next six (7-12th) would have played the Champions Challenge. The winner of the Champions Challenge would have been promoted to the Champions Trophy and the sixth placed team at the Champions Trophy would have been relegated to the Champions Challenge for the next edition. India, thus, have lost a great opportunity to win the Champions Challenge in front of home crowds and enter the elite six.

The team’s that are participating in the Champions Challenge event are: Argentina, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Spain and India.

Rajinder eyes 2002 World Cup

After the stupendous Junior World Cup hockey victory, coach Rajinder Singh is now eying the coveted title for the senior team - a hope that could well have been dismissed as wishful thinking even a few days ago.

Though a little reluctant to reveal his plans, the coach could not help but admit India did have a chance at the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

"We can win the World Cup but the team needs to focus and I hope we can achieve what Indian hockey has been trying to since the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medal," the coach said as the victorious team prepared to leave for home.

Rajinder Singh knows he has a talented bunch but years of losses can make even the most optimist of all reluctant to talk of success.

But the Junior World Cup triumph has dared everyone involved to dream once again because with the victory has come confidence - a huge psychological gain no doubt.

Till Saturday, Deepak Thakur, Gagan Ajit Singh, Jugraj Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Bimal Lakra, Ignace Tirkey and others were just players in the Indian team. Today, they are world champions and that is where - if the Indian Hockey Federation steps in and with some neat planning - the same bunch could be turned into world champions at the senior level.

After the euphoria and the felicitations are over, IHF will need to look at the gains and build on them.

For the first time in any international hockey tourney, except for the last edition of the Junior World Cup in 1997, an Indian team has shown so much consistency. Except for the 1-2 loss to Australia, they did not lose a single match. And the best thing was the juniors actually improved by the time they reached the final where it was very evident they had good measure of their opponent, Argentina.

A huge part of the success definitely goes to the IHF and the coach. This is probably one junior team that has been exposed internationally for almost three years. Though Rajinder Singh came in a year ago, climbing up the rungs with the India 'A' squad, the team was also moulded by C R Kumar, now assistant coach with the senior Indian team.

But largely it has been the hands-down approach that has worked wonders for the team. Rajinder Singh belongs to the old-school that believes in the traditional approach, the sub-continental style of hockey. And he made the players believe that if they scored upfront, winning would never be a problem.

Rajinder Singh's biggest asset was that he had the players to deliver the goods, the forwards who would go and employ the tactics and get the goals.

"I know there is a divide between the sub-continental style and the European methods but we need to pick up the best of both. Just by following a system, victory will not come. We need to know what we want," the coach said.

And the need of the hour is a balance. Most of these juniors are anyway playing with the senior team and the IHF should make both the coaches sit down and try and get the best out of them.

There is already a talk on what system India should follow now that the juniors have won playing in the sub-continental style. But one has to realise that there is still a huge gap between the seniors and juniors.

The senior team plays a lot of tactical hockey and that is one area where the Indians have been losing out. Skilled Indian teams have been left out of the semifinals not because they did not have talent but that they did not know what approach to adopt when faced with hurdles in the World Cup and Olympics.

But what Hobart has given India is the core to future development and help make a team that would easily walk into the first four of any major international tournament.

For the first time, there will be places to be earned in the team. IHF president K P S Gill had said after the 6-1 victory, that many in the senior team were taking their places for granted and now they will at least look over their shoulders knowing that there are players who can take over.

"That is what I wanted when I was sending the team abroad for tournaments and we have been successful in creating a second string that can take over from the senior players," Gill said

Media goes crazy as 'glory boys' arrive

Fifty-odd journalists, more than 30 cameramen, and we are not even counting the television camera crew, another forty of whom milled around the arrival lounge of the domestic airport eagerly awaiting the Indian junior hockey team’s arrival with the World Cup. It was as if a plane-load of movie stars were descending and probably even they wouldn't have got such a reception.

The moment the first blazer was sighted, it was pure chaos. Cameramen fell upon each other struggling to get that perfect shot. The Indian hockey players, never having seen anything like this, didn't let the opportunity go by: almost every player had their shades out in an instant.

But now the television cameramen and reporters, feeling left out, entered the fray, adding to the general chaos. Indian coach Rajinder Singh at one point of time was being pulled in three different directions, till he almost ran and stood in a corner and said: "Listen, I am not running away. Can I please meet everybody one by one?" While he was saying this, a TV channel came and whisked him away.

Hockey seemed to have turned the corner, atleast where media publicity was covered. Players were genuinely shocked. Indian captain Gagan Ajit Singh said: "I have never seen anything like this. This is great," and then added, "What will happen if we win the senior World Cup in 2002?"

More was to follow at the lunch reception given by the Indian Hockey Federation. First the sports minister walked in to greet the players and while the felicitations were going on, Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal was escorted in with his gun-toting guards. "I know there is nothing wrong with our players. They are the best. If there are any deficiencies, it is with us. We are not able to give them the best of facilities and they still bring the World Cup back."

IHF president K.P.S Gill was quick in announcing a lakh each for the team members and then gave the mike to chief minister Badal, saying: "I want him to say a few words and if possible more than a few words." Badal smiled and said that any player from Punjab who would want a job with the police is welcome to come and join as inspector or as deputy superintendent. Later, he also announced that the Punjab players would get a plot of residential land wherever they wanted.

Sports minister Uma Bharati also announced a government provision of Rs 5 lakhs for the team, but added: "I will announce without permission from the finance department, I will deal with them later, that each member of the team be given Rs 1 lakh each.

"Hockey is something to be proud off. We also win in other sports but whenever we win in hockey, as Indians we feel a sense of pride, our hearts swell with happiness. If I had my way, I would weigh them in silver and gold."

Felicitations over, tired by their more than 30-hour journey, the players left, a proud bunch, a team of world champions 

India beat Germany 3-2, enter World Cup final

With a brilliant display of slick passing and some classy defending, India outplayed Germany 3-2 in the semifinals to enter the final of the 7th Junior World Cup Hockey Championships being played here at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre on Friday.

With this brilliant win, India have entered the final of the World Cup for the second consecutive time. The last time, they played the World Cup final was in the last edition in 1997 Milton Keynes where after beating Germany in the semis they lost the final 2-3 to Australia. For Germany, this was the second consecutive semifinal defeat in the Junior World Cup final at the hands of India. In the last edition, they had lost 3-4.

India looked like running away with the match when they led 3-0 at the stroke of half-time. The Indian goals came through Kanwalpreet Singh (2nd minute), Inderjeet Singh (23rd minute) and Arjun Halappa (34th minute).

Credit should be given to the Germans who fought back brilliantly in the second half to score through Florian Keller (52nd minute) and Matthias Witthaus (66th minute). But the Indian defence held on and kept the Germans away from scoring the equaliser.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh was beaming away, hugging his players. "I had said before hand that if the fowards score, then you can't stop India from winning. We had the opportunities in the first half and the boys did well to put them away.

"In the second half, Germany was expected to throw everything at us and we decided to pull one midfielder away and strengthen the defence. It paid off as we kept them away especially in the penalty corners where Devesh Chauhan and Jugraj Singh did a great job." Within a minute of the start, Lakra's scoop from the Indian half found Deepak Thakur in the German circle but the German goalkeeper advancing used a body check as the umpire ruled a penalty stroke in favour of India.

Kanwalpreet Singh's flick was waist high but good enough to beat the German keeper. Two minutes on the board and India were 1-0 ahead.

India were playing well in the midfield where Ignace Tirkey, Bimal Lakra were having a field day, spraying passes for the forwards. In times of counter-attacks, the entire midfield used to fall back, halping the Indian defence.

By the 20th minute, Germany had two penalty corners but both were pushed out. India went ahead in the 23rd minute when Deepak Thakur, the tournaments highest scorer with seven goals, ran all the way into the German half, went past two defenders and passed a superb ball to Inderjeet Singh who drew out the German goalkeeper and finished amazingly to give India a 2-0 lead.

The Indian were falling back with each German attack and what surprised the Germans today was that even in the counter-attacks, they were outrunning the Germans in their own half. From a midfield move on the left, came India's third goal. Tejbir Singh trapped the ball a little outside the circle and after going past two German midfielders, gave it to Arjun Hallapa who turned smartly and shot past the shocked German goalkeeper. At the break, India led 3-0. After the resumption, Germany came back with new tactics and decided to post an extra foward upfront while pulling away one from the midfield. They had to get the goals and a gap in the midfield didn't matter much at such a stage. India could have taken advantage of the weakened midfield but India were also pulling men into the defence knowing that Germany were going to go all-out in attack.

After wasting a penalty corner in the 47th minute, Germany were on target with their fifth as Florian Keller in the 52nd minute flicked powerfully to beat Chauhan in goal.

After that, germany were on attack mode as they kept the ball in the Indian half and really piled on the pressure. They had four consecutive penalty corners in the 55th, 56th, 57th and 58th minutes. But the Indian goalkeeper Chauhan and defender Jugraj Singh brillinatly saved them.

After India had counter-attacked and wasted a super goal opportunity, Indian coach Rajinder pulled out one man from the midfield and brought him into the defence. At one point of time, there were six players in the defence keeping the Germans away. The Germans still fought back and after wasting their 10th penalty corner, they finally scored off a field goal by Matthias Witthaus.

For both the benches, nerves were almost at breaking point as the German bench egged on their players to fight back and get the equaliser while the Indian bench cheered their defence, keeping an eye on the stadium clock at the same time.

Time finally ran out for the Germans as the ecstatic Indians hugged each other and touched the feet of their coach Rajinder Singh 


Indian forwards hold key against Germany

India will look towards it's star-studded forward line to deliver the goods in their semifinal clash against Germany here at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre on Friday in the 7th Junior World Cup Hockey Championships.

It will be a repeat of the 1997 Junior World Cup when India beat Germany in the semifinal after a titanic clash where Indian star striker Rajiv Mishra scored a breathtaking golden goal to clinch the match 4-3 for India.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh, who smiled for the first time in the tournament, on Wednesday, after India entered the semifinal, said,"It will not be easy. Germany are very tough and they are tenacious. Even if they are down by a couple of goals, you can be sure that they will come back and for the first time I think our defence will have to play superbly. I have always said that if the forwards convert the chances that they get, it will not be a problem winning but in this match, we have to convert and watch our backs. No single player can relax."

India had scored 15 goals in the first round of three matches and conceded just one, the highest in the tournament among 16 teams. But their form wavered in the second round where they drew 2-2 with Argentina, lost 1-2 to Australia and then in a do-or-die battle beat Holland 4-3 to qualify for the semifinals. And now they stand on the edge of qualifying for their second consecutive final appearence in a junior World Cup final.

Thankfully, India is injury free except for a few bruises and paining joints but overall, the boys have stood up to the rigours.

Germany known to play the defensive format against sub-continental teams will most probably strengthen the midfield and keep three forwards upfront for long crosses and getting the penalty corners. That is where Jugraj Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh, Bikramjit Singh will have to be a step ahead of the Germans. Jugraj has a tendency of getting carried away in a skirmish and he will have to play with a level head. A penalty corner given away at a crucial juncture will spell doom for India and the Germans have the quality of pushing for penalty corners towards the end of each half.

Unlike India's runaway victories in the first round, the Germans were sedate, unimpressive and virtually clawing their way to wins. They beat Argentina 2-1, just about edged past New Zealand 2-1 and were held to a 2-2 draw by Malaysia. But the German coach Uli Forstner had an explanation: "A good horse only springs as high as it needs to." In other words, Germany will open up a few aces that probably Indian coach Rajinder hasn't seen so far in the tournament. "Even we haven't showed everything,"Rajinder says. "No team in today's hockey will do that. Yes, but I believe that goals should be scored when they are in reach. But definitely we have a couple of surprises for the Germans too."

Undoubtedly, the load will be borne by skipper Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur, the tournament's highest scorer with seven goals and Prabhjot Singh. The last named will have to curb some of his individual brilliance to send balls into the circle that has team-work written on it. The Indian midfield has had a topsy-turvy tournament but against Germany they just will have to deliver with Bimal Lakra needing to show some of the form that he is capable off.

Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan will have to watch out for the penalty corner variations. Expecting Germany to go in for direct flicks will be courting danger. All in all, as Rajinder Singh says,"Now is the time that the team will have to show what it is capable off."

More also because a victory in the World Cup will sustain and revive the movement that junior hockey in India is going through.

In the other semifinal, everything points to Argentina, purely on the tremendous form that they showed in the second round, beating Australia, Holland and drawing with India. 


India beat Holland 4-3, enter semis

Virtually out of the semifinals of the Junior World Cup, India, today, came back from the dead to win a thriller 4-3 against a fighting Netherlands and clinch a semifinal slot in the 7th Junior World Cup Hockey Championships here at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre.

Earlier in the morning, Argentina shocked hosts Australia with a 2-1 win, the match-winner coming in the last 18 seconds of the match thus making it clear for India that they had to win against Netherlands to go through to the semifinals.

The two semifinalists from Pool F are Argentina who topped and India who finished second.

In Pool E, Germany has already qualified for the semifinal and the second team would be decided after the match between Spain and England.

India threw everything they had into attack right from the word go. And that paid off as the midfield looked stronger and very releasing the ball on the first shot. Within ten minutes, India were into the lead. In the seventh minute, skipper Gagan Ajit Singh was perfectly positioned to pick up a cross from the left and he flicked it in for India to take the lead.

Three minutes later, India earned their first penalty corner and Jugraj Singh flicked powerfully high into the net for the second goal. Ten minutes into the match and India seemed like steam-rolling past the Dutch.

But the Dutch knew that they too had to win to have any chances of qualifying. Netherlands put an extra man in the midfield and suddenly there were crosses that were cutting through to the Indian circle.

On of the crosses found Kanwalpreet Singh rushing into an infringement and the umpire awarded the Dutch a penalty corner.

Roderick Weusthop smashed in the resultant penalty corner as the Dutch were boosted by their first goal. Ignace Tirkey was given an yellow card as he banged in straight into a Dutch forward. With ten men on the field, the Dutch had found the best opportunity to launch counter-attacks and hope for a equaliser.

It came in the 22nd minute when Mathijs van Weerd trapped a cross and went past Jugraj to cleanly flick in past the diving Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan.

With scores tied, India were a little slow in recovering as the midfield desperately tried to take the upperhand.

At the break, India-Netherlands were tied 2-2.

In the second half, India were powering through into the Dutch circle but were not getting the goals. But 13 minutes into the half, Prabhjot had the ball on the left and keeping it close to the touchline he dribbled in and then smartly drew the keeper out to flick in for India to take the lead.

The Dutch were just not willing to give up. A minute later off a counter they earned a penalty corner and Rob Reckers picked up the rebound off the pads of goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan and slammed it in for the equaliser.

Knowing that a draw would eliminate them from the semifinals, India with nothing to lose threw everything in and started to doiminate the midfield and cut crosses into the Dutch circle.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, India earned it's fourth penalty corner and instead of Jugraj Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh came to take it. He converted with a straight strike and the Indians celebrated.

The Dutch still opened up the game, throwing fowards upfront looking for an equaliser. They had one in the last 20 seconds when they earned a penalty corner but the Indian defence, not to be denied a place in the semifinals took the drag flick onto a stick and cleared it.

To India's relief and as the boys climbed on top of each other in relief and joy, the hooter went.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh was smiling for the first time in the tournament. "It's a huge relief. After the scores were tied 3-3, I knew it was anybody's game. One mistake from either side would have resulted in a goal."

But he was all praise for the boys as he felt that they had put in their best.

"I think the first two goals in 10 minutes gave us the dominance. They equalised later but they knew we could take the match away from them."

On the semifinals, he said that it would be known only after the Spain-England match. "But till then let us enjoy this moment of entering the semi-final. 


Australia beat India 2-1

India suffered a major setback in their quest for a semifinal position here at the 7th Junior World Cup hockey championships when they were edged out 1-2 by hosts and reigning world champions Australia in a Pool F encounter at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre on Monday.

After two matches, India have one point which they earned after their draw against Argentina on Sunday. They now play Netherlands on Wednesday and need to win outright and also hope that a few teams play out draws to enable to fight it out on points or goal difference.

Australia were the dominant team and were more charged up in the midfield where they held sway in both the halves. Bimal Lakra, Bipin Fernandez, Ignace Tirkey were subdued and couldn't show the earlier fire that they had displayed in the midfield.

India along with Australia had their chances in the first half but couldn't convert.

Australia started strongly and almost scored by Craig Victory's hard shot from a penalty corner just sped past the goalpost.

Even though Australia was playing well in the midfield, India still had more circle penetrations: they entered the Aussie circle 14 times to Australia's 11. Australia were dominant on the penalty corners, earning five to India's one.

The second half started badly for India when Gagan Ajit Singh rushing into the circle took Liam de Young's stick on the shin. The Indian skipper was stretchered off cluctching his face. De Young drew a yellow card and from the penalty corner earned, Jugraj Singh fired in the goal for India to lead 1-0 in the 39th minute.

The Aussies, shocked by the goal, fought back tenaciously, won through a penalty corner, their sixth and Craig Victory was there on target with a superb piece of deflection for the equaliser in the 44th minute.

India desperately tried to win over the midfield but couldn't.

Australia shot into the lead on a counter-attack and swung the ball from the flanks to the right where Joshua Hawes racing in from the middle, took the ball on the stick and slammed it in as the stadium erupted for Australia taking the lead.

Gagan Ajit came back with his left leg bandaged but the Aussies were playing strongly and were now aggressive as they had the lead.

In the last five minutes, India had four penalty corners but could not score.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh was visibly disappointed and said that passion was lacking in the team and the Aussies won because they played strongly and definitely deserved the win. "I always knew that we will win only if we convert the chances but Deepak Thakur, Gagan, Arjun, Prabhjot all missed chances in front of the goal.

"It's very dsiappointing and now we have to go all out against Holland. We have to win that game and then see how the other teams are faring and probably only then we will know whether we have a chance for the semifinals or not."

The Indian coach also said that in the team meeting he would impress on the team to go all out and beat The Netherlands.

India now have to beat Netherlands and also hope that Argentina beat Australia. In the other matches of the day, England drew with Spain 2-2, Scotland beat Chile 3-2 and Canada beat Ireland 2-1. 


India are held 2-2 by Argentina, Netherlands shock Australia 4-2

Unbeaten in the first round of the 7th Junior World Cup hockey championships with three straight victories, last edition's runners-up India, were held to a 2-2 draw by South-America champions Argentina who are fast turning out to be the tournament's dar-horses.

Under wraps till now, Argentina played an hidden ace in Juan Gilardi who shot in two penalty corner goals as India rallied both times to equalise. For India the scorers were Deepak Thakur and Bipin Fernandez.

There were more shocks in Pool F when hosts and reigning world champions Australia were beaten 2-4 by The Netherlands.

In Pool E, England strengthened their chances of qualifying for a semifinal place with a 5-2 victory over South Korea while Germany beat Spain 2-1.

The Indian coach Rajinder Singh was disappointed that the team ended up with a draw. "But if look at the match and then see that Argentina took the lead with seven minutes remaining, then I have to be happy with our equaliser that came with only five minutes on the clock." But Rajinder's worst fears that India will have to take their chances and score if they need to win came true. India entered the Argentina circle in the first half, 12 times to the South-American's eight and as a reasult India had eight shots at goal for which they had only one goal to show in the first half.

India started off with a green card being shown to defender Bikramjit Singh and then had their first look at goal when Jugraj Singh let fly a flick over goal. Bimal Lakra, who had a good match today also had a chance but shot hit the side board of the goal. Prabhjot had a clear look too but his reverse-stick flew high.In the 11th minute, India had another penalty corner but again the flick was too high.

Argentina took control of the midfield and started throwing balls upfront. In one of their breakaway moves in the 24th minute, India stick-checked in the circle and Argentina earned their first penalty corner. Juan Gilardi's flick had enough power to beat Devesh in goal and strike the back board of the goal.

Five minutes later, India equaliser when Deepak Thakur picked up the ball from outside the striking circle, dribbled in and beat the goalkeeper with a well-placed shot to the right. Indian skipper Gagan Ajit Singh was shown a yellow card for hacking Riccardi who was about to start off on a run.

At the break, India and Argentina were tied at 1-1.

After resumption, India had a brilliant opening when Bipin Fernandez passed to Gagan Ajit Singh, who was alone in the circle with just the goalkeeper in front. But the Indian skipper completely mistrapped.

Three minutes later, Rodrigo Villa's free hit was deflected by Ramiro Garcia but the Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan brought off a brilliant save.

India had a penalty corner in the 45th minute but that effort was wasted.

In the 61st minute, India almost went ahead when Arjun Halappa took a reverse shot from the top of the circle but the Argentinian goalkeeper Joquim Berthold made a super save deflecting the shot away with his stick.

Argentina finally took the lead in the 63rd minute when Juan Gilardi got his second of the match with a penalty corner flick to the left corner of the net. Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan had been beaten for the second time in the match by Gilardi. With only seven minutes to go, Argentina players celebrated.as if they had won the match. In the 64th minute, India had two consecutive penalty corners but both were again wasted.

A minute later, India earned yet another penalty corner. Jugrajs' flick rebounded of the goalkeeper and was picked up by a lurking Bipin Fernandez who ran around the goalkeeper to shoot in smartly for the equaliser.

India now play hosts Australia on Monday and will need to win to keep themselves in the running for a semifinal slot from Pool F.

Coach Rajinder Singh didn't want to predict any results but just said that "Our winning doesn't come from others mistakes. We have to score. If we had scored against Argentina, we wouldn't have gone home with a draw. Similar will be the case against Australia, we need to score and win."

In the other matches of the day, for positions 9-16, France beat Ireland 1-0, South Africa beat Chile 3-2, Malaysia drew with Scotland 1-1 and Canada beat New Zealand 2-1. 


Orissa win sub-jr women's hockey

Orissa defeated Jharkhand 3-1 to win the 15th Sub-Junior National Women's Hockey Championships in Korba on Sunday.

Orissa dominated the game from the beginning and their captain Sarita led from the front. She scored the first goal in the 24th minute converting a pass from Dulari to put Orissa 1-0 ahead.

In the 38th minute, the skipper scored the second goal giving Orissa a 2-0 lead at the break.

In the 42nd minute, Jharkhand's Anima reduced the lead to 1-2. But Orissa made it 3-1 in the 61st minute.

In the match for 3rd/4th position, Chhattisgarh trounced Karnataka 4-1. 


Tough Group F for India in 2nd round

With Germany winning a tough 2-1 encounter against Malaysia and Argentina beating New Zealand 3-0, the tables were cleared for the second round with India finding itself in a tough Pool F clubbed with reigning world champions Australia, European giants The Netherlands and unpredictable South-American champions Argentina. India have to now win two matches at the minimum to guarantee itself a place in the semi-finals of the competition. The other four teams that make-up the top eight are in Pool E with England, South Korea, Spain and Germany grouped together.

India start their campaign for a semifinal position against Argentina on Sunday followed by matches against hosts Australia and The Netherlands. Indian coach Rajinder Singh at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre to watch Argentina said,"It's difficult but not impossible. We all know that the first round is over and the top eight junior teams of the world will now play each other. So to say that we are in a easy or tough group is not the right thing. Every match is tough and every match will have to be won."

Brave words from the Indian coach but it's also true that most of the other coaches in the competition have all been watching India very closely. Argentina coach Luis Ciancia was not worried about the second round but said that "India have been playing very well and we are of the opinion that they haven't shown their true form yet. I am very impressed with their overall strength and that is what sets them apart. But every match will be tough and the better team on the day will win."

Rajinder, however, believes that like in the match against Spain, India will have to take their chances and score. "The match was almost even but we used the opportunities and got the goals. Spain were held off by a hard-working defence but they too had their chances."

If India hopes to move into the semifinals, they will have to play a very enterprising game in the midfield where Bimal Lakra, Bipin Fernandez and Ignace Tirkey hold the cards. If Lakra can hold possesion and move upfront with the ease that he has been playing with, the Indian forwards will have the balls to smash in. Prabhjot, Gagan Ajit, Deepak Thakur, Inderjit Singh, Arjun Hallapa all have the class in the circle and it is only the way they handle themselves in the circle which will count for India.

India can also count on their defence where Jugraj Singh, Kanwal Preet Singh and goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan have put in a superb show. Jugraj had a ankle strain but according to coach Rajinder, he should be fit for the match on Sunday.

Argentina will not be a pushover. Skipper Rodrigo Vila, Matias Massot, Marco Ricardi are super players in the circle and given even half a chance will not think twice before smacking it in. Opportunists to the core, the Indian defence and the half-line will have to hold them off before they get too dangerous.

But even Rajinder agrees that the key to a semifinal slot lies in the hands of the forwards and penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh, who without doubt will bring in a few new variations of the penalty corner flick in the second round, kept away from the prying eyes  of the opposition cameras.

Earlier, in the day, in the last of the first round matches, Germany beat Malaysia 2-1, after leading 2-0 while Argentina beat New Zealand 3-0. The Netherlands made sure of their second round place beating France 2-0 while South Korea just about squeaked into the second round winning a close 4-3 encounter against South Africa.

India beat Spain 3-0, top Pool

In a match dominated by midfield play, India showed more enterprise to carve out an impressive 3-0 victory over Spain to top Pool C in the 7th Junior World Cup hockey championships on Friday.

For India, the scorers were Jugraj who fired in a penalty corner in the 6th minute, Deepak Thakur off a field goal in the 41st minute and skipper Gagan Ajit Singh in the 50th minute off yet another field goal.

India now play the second placed team of Pool D which in all probablity should be Argentina who according to form should beat New Zealand in their last match and finish second to Germany in their pool. In case, the Kiwis pull off an upset, then India will play New Zealand.

Overall, it was an evenly matched game where the difference was that India picked up their chances and scored also showing a strong defensive wall to Spain who could not penetrate either during field play or even when they had penalty corners.

India dominated the match right from the word go, their body play suggesting that goals were what they needed immediately if they wanted to put pressure on the Spaniards.

In the 6th minute, came the first chance when Gagan was blocked in the circle and the resultant penalty corner was flicked into the left corner of the net by Jugraj Singh.

With the rain falling slightly, Spain tried to gain possesion in the midfield and succeeded to a large extent but were held back by the Indian defence. Spain earned their first penalty corner in the 10th minute but the effort was wasted but not before Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan had been shown the green card for time wasting.

At the break, India led 1-0.

As the rains continued to fall, Deepak Thakur playing strongly in the Spanish circle picked up a midfield through on top of the circle and sharply cut in, striking into the right corner of the goal, just out of reach of the Spanish goalkeeper. It was India's second and Deepak's sixth goal of the tournament.

After Viren Rasquinha had been given a green card in the 41st minute, India struck for the third time and this time through skipper Gagan Ajit Singh. After a cross from the left, Gagan trapped neatly and with a strong strike scored his first goal of the tournament.

With India leading 3-0, the midfield fell back a little, defending the Spanish moves who were a little desperate now to gain possession of the ball.

In the very next minute, came Spain's third penalty corner in which India did defend but lost Jugraj Singh to an ankle injury as he fell down while defending. Jugraj was carried away on a stretcher.

India had two consecutive penalty corners in the 54th minute but with Jugraj off the field, both were wasted efforts.

Spain earned their fourth penalty corner and the Indian defence defended admirably. In the process, Spain's Alberto Esteban and Viren Rasquinha went in for a severe body tackle with the umpires showing them the yellow card. Viren, earlier in the match, had a green card.

Spain rushed things a bit in the end with two penalty corners but the Indian defence hung in.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh was happy that they had achieved their first target, that off topping the Pool. "Now we enter the competition where we will meet better teams and now the boys skills and mental strength will play a part in reaching the last four, which is our next target."

On the injury to Jugraj, Rajinder said that it wasn't a severe one but he will checked by a doctor and with a day's rest in between the next match, he should be able to recover.

Indian skipper Gagan was happy that he scored his first goal of the tournament. "I was getting a little worried as I had not scored but I hope this goal enables me to get more in the tougher matches ahead."

Deepak stars as India crush Scotland

Four brilliant goals from the Indian vice-captain, Deepak Thakur, helped India crush Scotland 7-1 to cruise into the second round of the 7th Junior World Cup hockey here at the Tasmania Hockey Centre on Thursday. After beating Canada 5-0, this was India’s second consecutive win in Pool C.

Deepak Thakur, a member of the 2000 Sydney Olympics team, was in crushing form hardly leaving any opportunity as he became the main scourge of the Scottish defence. All four goals from Thakur’s blade were field efforts. The other scorers for India were Prabhjot Singh, Tejbir Singh and Kanwal Preet Singh.

Right from the first minute it was apparent that India were not there to relax or even waste a second on the field. Coach Rajinder was right in saying that with more goals being scored, the morale of the team would be sky-rocketing and a look at the team after the match justified Rajinder’s views as the boys laughed and back-slapped each other, enjoying what was a fine victory to have the team enter the second round of competition. Top two teams from each pool enter the second round. India now play Spain on Friday, the winner topping the pool and getting to play a second placed team from another pool.

India started strongly earning a penalty corner in the fifth minute but the effort was wasted. Five minutes later, Prabhjot Singh lurking on top of the circle got a beautiful pass from the Indian midfield. Latching on, he cut through and from the middle of the striking circle, shot beautifully home.

Scotland held them away for almost ten minutes, pulling players back and kind of made it difficult for the Indians to move in the circle. Skipper Gagan Ajit Singh had a few chances but was cut off as he constantly got hemmed in by three Scottish defenders.

India, finally, got their second goal in the 23rd minute when Deepak Thakur trapped a hard shot in the circle, turned and with a reverse sent the ball flying into the net.

Five minutes later it was Tejbir Singh off India’s third penalty corner, getting the ball in the circle and flicking in past a outstretched Scottish goalkeeper.

With around four minutes left for the break, Scotland had a break-away move the Indians resorted to a body check in the circle and gave away a stroke. Niall Scot scooped to the right as goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan moved the wrong away.

At the break, India led 3-1.

In the 40th minute, five minutes after resumption, India earned a penalty stroke as a Scottish defender moved into the striking range taking the goalbound ball on the body. Kanwal Preet Singh’s scoop deflected off the goalkeeper and went in for India’s fourth goal.

India almost scored off a penalty corner in the 50th minute but Jugrajs’ bullet like flick was stopped by the Scottish goalkeeper.

In the 51st minute, a free move down the left flank saw Prabhjot speeding away and his shot into the striking circle was deflected in superbly by Deepak who stretched the stick to send the ball whizzing past the goalkeeper for his second goal.

Bimal Lakra who had a good match today, set up India’s sixth and Deepak’s third goal of the match. Running in from the midfield, he went past two deefenders and set it up for Deepak who finished beautifully from the spot.

Two minutes remaining for the match, Deepak showed his class as he set off on a run that saw him enter the circle and flick cleanly in past the goalkeeper to get India’s seventh and his fourth of the match.

The Indian coach, Rajinder Singh, soft-spoken as usual, said that he was happy with the performance but now with the match over he would start thinking about the match with Spain on Friday. "That will be tough and the boys will have to conserve energies. I will have a meeting in the evening where we will discuss the oerformance against Scotland and check the mistakes and also talk on the match with Spain.

"I am happy that whatever we are talking in the team meeting, the boys do their best to put it in practice. I hope they keep doing this in the next matches as the competition would get tougher in the second round.

In the other matches, of the day, Spain beat Canada 6-1 and Germany won a close encounter against New Zealand 2-1. Malaysia were again shocked at the hands of Argentina crashing to a 0-5 defeat while France held South Korea to a 1-1 draw.

Australia thrash Chile 7-1

Hosts Australia shrugged off the disappointment of their 1-1 draw against Ireland on Tuesday by roaring back into form to demolish Chile 7-1 and top pool A with four points from a win and draw.

Under pressure after the draw with Ireland, Australia opened the scoresheets in the 7th minute when Craig Victory seeing a gap in goal hit a flying shot into the net. Four minutes later, Victory got the second when he went in with Bullion and shot in. The third and fourth came off field goals from Steve Bullion and Nathan Eglington. Bullion got his second and Australia's fifth goal in the 22nd minute. At the break, Australia led 5-0.

Five minutes after resumption, Aussies went 6-0 ahead Philip Matshall utilised a scramble and shot in cleanly. Chile, finally got one back after a defensive lapse gave the opportunity to Pablo Kuhlenthal to cut the scores to 1-6. The goal spurred Chile who earned three penalty corners after that but lacked the technique to slam in the goals.

Australia closed the match with their seventh goal in the 69th minute when Robert Hammond got a ball from Boyce which was sent flying into the top corner of the net.

Junior European champions Germany won a close match beating dangerous Argentina 2-1 with two goals from Matthias Witthaus, both coming off field efforts. Germany who are in Pool D are now equal with New Zealand on three points. The Kiwis playing after the German match shocked Malaysia 3-2 after Malaysia led 2-1 after 17 minutes. It was disappointing for Malaysia who in the Asian qualifiers had beaten Pakistan to qualify for the junior World Cup.

After Philip Burrows had given the lead to New Zealand in the 10th minute, Jiwa Mohan equalised in the 14th minute and then gave the lead to his team in the 17th minute. But New Zealand fought back impressively neutralising Malaysia in the midfield to snatch a equaliser at 2-2 through Blair Hopping. In the 52nd minute, Philip Burrows got his second of the match but more importantly the match-winner when after getting a superb cross from the midfield, beat a defender and then with a smart flick had the ball in goal.

In the end minutes, Malaysia had two penalty corners but wasted both of them.

In pool B, Korea down 0-2 against Holland fought back brilliantly to snatch a 2-2 draw.

Rajinder confident of win against Scotland

India after their impressive 5-0 win against Canada take on Scotland in the day's second of the scheduled six matches on Thursday. India are supposed to do some light training on the second pitch though coach Rajinder was quick to point out that he didn't want to exert the boys. "But at the same time I don't want anybody to think that I am taking Scotland lightly. Spain may have beaten them 8-0 but we still have to play them. Only after the match is over will I be sure. But looking at the boys and the way we played against Canada, I think we will win."

Though Rajinder didn't elaborate much but he said that he was a little concerned about the midfield which was a trifle slow against Canada. "But I am confident that the boys will raise their game as the tournament gets along."

Rajinder had watched Spain thrash Scotland on Tuesday but in no way would he tell the boys to go slow in what many feel would be a cakewalk for India. "We need the goals and I want them to feel confident in the opposition circle and the only way they can do that is by scoring."

India thrash Canada 5-0, England beat Chile 5-2, Hosts Australia held by Ireland

India were off to a flying start in the 7th Junior World Cup Hockey Tournament beating Canada 5-0 in their opening match at the Tasmania Hockey Centre on Tuesday. The Indians, runners-up to hosts Australia in the last edition of the tournament in 1997 were the dominant team and scored four field goals and one off a penalty corner. Prabhjot Singh with two field goals and Jugraj Singh one each off a field and a penalty corner shared the spoils with Deepak Thakur also earning a name in the scorers list, his coming off a field effort.

Canada had their chances with three penalty corners but the Indian defence though erratic in patches was solid enough for them.

In the other matches of the day, hosts Australia were shocked when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ireland. The other matches went to form as England got the better off Chile 5-2 while Spain didn't have to exert much in their 8-0 rout of Scotland.

Indian coach Rajinder Singh had a smile after the match but also was a little disappointed that the Indian forwards could have used more space in creating moves to score more goals. "They played to the plan but it could have been good for the fowards to score more. In hockey, nothing feels better than scoring goals. And the goals could have put them in a more confident mood for the matches ahead."

Rajinder was also happy with the overall performance though he would have liked a little more thrust in the midfield with the defence falling back faster. "Sometimes you get complacent when the goals are coming and once we were 4-0 up, I could see a few players relaxing. We cannot afford that in the tough matches. I hope they learn from today and put in their best."

India took the lead in the 12th minute when a free hit from the midfield sped into the Canadian circle where the defence scrambled with Deepak Thakur getting the ball onto his stick and the resultant flick entering the goal.

Exactly a minute later, a free ball was sent to the flanks by Bimal Lakra where Prabhjot Singh latched on and after a brilliant run down the left -flank that left the Canadian defence gasping found himself in the circle. Before the Canadians could react, Prabhjot hit a clean crisp reverse shot that beat the Canadian goalkeeper.

India had a couple of chances in the circle but the Canadian defence regrouped well and were successful in keeping the Indian forwards, Prabhjot, Deepak Thakur and Gagan Ajit Singh at bay.

Prabhjot was again in the act in the 25th minute when a move with Deepak on the flank found him looking at a gap in the defence well - a reverse shot again beat the goalkeeper as India went up 3-0.

India earned two penalty corners in the first half but both were wasted.

At the break, India led 3-0.

Indians started slowly and seemed a little relaxed and that was one reason why they didn't score in the early minutes of the second half. The midfield kept possesion but a second too long giving time to the Canadian midfield to tackle the moves in the middle.

India earned their fourth penalty corner in the 42nd minute and Jugraj finally found the target with a drag flick that didn't rise enough but had enough pace to beat the goalkeeper.

Off a counter-attack, Canada had a penalty corner in the 45th minute but couldn't stop the ball cleanly, letting the chance go.

India's fifth goal came in the 55th minute when the entire midfield almost tore through the Canadian defence. But a clearance from the Canadians found Jugraj, who had overlapped, and after going past a defender hit a powerful shot that beat the goalkeeper.

Canada tried to get a consolation goal and earned two penalty corners in the last five minutes but the Indian defence was alert enough.

European stalwarts England justified their early arrival in Hobart as their forwards scored field goals to help them score a facile 5-2 win over Chile in the first match of the tournament.

England started their campaign in style, scoring four field goals in a tally of five against underdogs chile.

Chile pulled back one goal in each half to finish a 2-5 loss in the inaugural game of the tournament.

The first five minutes for England forwards saw them go up 2-0 to set the pattern for their dominance in the opener. Jonty Clark received an excellent pass straight after the start to convert in style and put England one up in the second minute.

Sustained pressure by the English forward Jones, Mantell and Webber resulted in a penalty stroke in the 4th minute. Martin Jones made no mistake with the stroke and England were two up.

As the English team relaxed a bit, the Chile team struck back and earned the game’s first penalty corner in the 10th minute. The Chileans played an indirect variation and got themselves a goal off a deflection from Gabrial Thiermann reving up their score to 1-2.

The fast early pace soon started to tell on both the teams and the game slowed down in the remainder of the first half. The match tended to get a bit rough too with green cards being shown to Christobal Rodrigues of Chile and Martin Jones of England in the 20th minute.

Chile was on the lookout for an equalizer of their breakaway raids and one such movement earned them a penalty corner as well which, however, they failed to convert.

The superior English team then fought back to claim dominance and they earned two penalty corners in succession but were thwarted by the Chilean goalkeeper.

The half-time discussion pepped up the English team forwards and like the first half, they began the second half in style with a great individual effort by Martin Jones. Martin received the ball at the 25 yard line and scored with a great flick aimed at an acute angle on the right side of the goalkeeper.

England went further ahead with another field goal in the 49th minute by Richard Mantell. Chile tried its best to fight back and managed to earn a penalty corner, which was of no avail as the English goalkeeper came up with a superb save.

The English forwards kept up their pressure and were rewarded with a fifth goal from James Webeer who scored through a great reverse flick off a pass from Jon Peckett.

Underdogs Chile made the most of a complacement English team in the dying minutes of the game, scoring a field goal through Alan Stein. However, England finished a well deserved 5-2 winner with four field goals emphasising their superiority.

Hosts Australia held by Ireland

The Aussie-Ireland match that ended in a 1-1 draw was a defence dominated match with both sides effective in their markings. This allowed the opposing forwards very little space and thus throughout the match they were on the lookout for penalty corners.

There were a total of 12 penalty corners in the match and for a fair assessment of the slight dominance of the hosts, the Aussie team earned 7 penalty corners to Ireland’s five.

The Irish team was the first to earn a penalty corner in the 10th minute which they wasted when they tried and indirect combination. The Aussies were quick to strike back when they earned a first penalty corner in the 12th minute. The Aussies showed that they were very well prepared with their variations and Nathan Eglington scored along the ground off a pass to the left of the goal.

The remainder of the first half was a story of missed penalty corners with the Irish missing their two chances with effective saves from the Aussie keeper.

The Aussies on the other hand seemed too eager to extend their lead and their three penalty corners were disallowed due to the rolling ball rule. The Australians went to half time with a slender 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half the Aussies were a bit too aggressive as they tried to enhance their slender lead. This resulted in two of their players - Joshua Hawes and David Gust being shown the green card by the Portuguese umpire Pedro Tixeira.

Once again the second half saw a flood of penalty corners with the Aussie team failing to convert their first one in the second half. The Irish received their first penalty corner in the second half of a bad tackle by David Guest who was shown the yellow card for the incident.

Although they failed to convert the first, they came back with an equaliser off their second penalty corner, with David Hobbs scoring from deflection from the left side.

The hosts were stung by the equaliser and reasserted their dominance towards the end of the first half. They managed two penalty corners but they failed to convert them into goals and thus made a disastrous start to their first round campaign in Pool A.

Skipper Gagan happy with surface

The Indian junior men’s hockey team exuded confidence with just a day left before they open their campaign in the 7th Junior Men’s World Cup hockey tournament at Hobart on Sunday.

The Indian coach, Rajinder Singh also seemed confident saying: "The acclimatization at Sydney followed by the two days of practice at Hobart and the draw makes us feel confident."

Rajinder, however, said that the team needed to pace itself and perform at the best as the competition in the second phase was tough.

"The group C matches against Canada, Spain and Scotland will help us peak for the final stages," Rajinder said.

Weather seemed to be the only worrying factor as a severe southerly brought heavy rain to the Tasmanian Hockey Centre, disrupting an otherwise perfect build up to the tournament.

The tournament director, Peter Paul Lathouvers, from the Netherlands, met with the tournament organising committee and approved the organisation of the tournament. All the teams have tested the facility with practice sesions. The Indian team has had two practice session--one on Sunday and one on Monday and seemed pretty satisfied with the surface.

"The surfaces are fast and clean and should make for interesting matches" said Indian skipper Gagan Ajit Singh.

In the other pool C match on Tuesday, Scotland will meet Spain. Other matches that will be played will be between pool A teams. Chile will lock horns with England while Australia meets Ireland.

Orissa, Karnataka, UP score impressive wins

Orissa, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh on Sunday scored impressive wins and moved to the next round in the 15th sub junior national women’s hockey championship.

Delhi and Punjab also moved ahead registering convincing wins. While Delhi scored an emphatic 4-0 win over Tamil Nadu, Punjab was equally impressive beating Manipur 4-1.

Orissa smashed Bihar 13-0 and Karnataka routed Bhopal 15-0. In another one-sided match Uttar Pradesh trounced Gujarat 11-0.

A total of eight matches were played on Sunday in the league cum knock out tournament in the industrial townwhip of Korba in Chhattisgarh.

In other matches, Jharkhand beat Jammu and Kashmir 6-0 and Mumbai defeated Vidharbha 6-1.

Saturday’s rain interrupted West Bengal-Bhopal match concluded on Sunday with West Bengal adding five more goals for

Coach Rajinder is confident

Rajinder Singh, the Indian junior hockey coach is confident that the Indian team will perform to potential at the Junior World Cup, commencing from October 9 at Hobart. India is the runners-up of the last World Cup and experts back home feel that this Indian team will go all the way to the final.

After a eight-day training session at Sydney, the Indian team leaves for Hobart on Saturday where they will play a few practice matches before taking on Canada in their first match of the World Cup.

"There have been some grey areas that have been addressed during the training sessions here. Penalty corner conversions, tackling, field goals and goal keeping," said Rajinder.

The coach also expressed hope that India would improve on its runners-up position of the last World Cup and win the trophy.

India is placed in Pool C along with Canada, Spain and Scotland.

The 2001 Junior World Cup has 16 teams. All matches of the World Cup will be played on the Tasmanian Hockey Centre surfaces.

India blow away a chance to enter final

By Sigamani from the Grand Stand, Bukit Jalil stadium

I write with great disbelief that the junior Indian hockey team, after doing so well in the earlier matches

beating Korea 4-3, beating England 5-2 and a draw against Australia 1-1, just blew away their chance for a final

appearance against Australia on Sunday. They needed only a draw against hosts Malaysia but lost 1-2.

The match began very promisingly for the Indians as they outran their opponents in every department and were

awarded so many penalty corners..so many... that I lost count of them but as you may agree with me the Indian

team's penalty conversion rate is simply mediocre.They showed all class that hockey has but short of finding the net.

First half ended in 0-0 draw.

The second half saw a more aggresive Indian side who were offensive from the begining and earned numerous PC's

But I must mention the "comedy!!". The Malaysian side were defending stoutly and it was a matter of time before India scored the opening goal but the goal never came.Then off a counter raid the Malaysian's earned one of their very few PC's and they converted it. It was 1-0 to Malaysia. Neverthless the Indians equalised after a PC rebound through Tirkey to level score at 1-1.

The Indians were going for the lead but bad finishing by the forwards prevailed. The Malaysians

needing a win to book a place in the finals and on the other hand the Indians needed only a draw to go through This theory lead the Indians to play defensive in the last part of the game. I could recall that the ball never went to the Malaysian half for a good 5 minutes and the Indian defence just could not do anything about it--- a contrasting scenario as against the Koreans they were attacking until the last minute and even converted a PC to win the match!!!!

The Malaysians were awarded a PC with about 90 seconds to go but the Indians did well to clear the goal area but play was still confined to the Indian 25 area. Six seconds to go, off a scramble the ball landed on a Malaysian player and he slammed the ball in and the match was over.

The stadium went wild even though it was half empty.

The Indian juniors, silver medalist in the last Junior World Cup, just gave away a crucial match. The Malaysian win was a perfect gift to the nation as Malaysia celebrates its 44th Independence Day on this very day.

Had it been Holland or Germany the scoreline may have read 9-2. That seem to be the difference between the Indians and the Europeans. India creates chances and wastes them but the Europeans capitalise on them. Secondly the Indians need mental strength - to think under pressure and not crumble.

The Indians are now due to play Korea for the 3/4 placing match and I doubt very much that they would beat Korea and its sad that a team like India who peaked well in the initial stages will end up 4th among 5 teams.





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