Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Foreign coaches not the solution for Pakistan and Indian hockey, says former Greenshirts captain and current coach Tahir Zaman



Tahir Zaman has been a player of proven credentials for the Pakistan hockey team over the years. A crafty midfielder, who orchestrated many cherished moments on the pitch for the national team – he played a big part in helping his side win the 1994 World Cup in Sydney – he had set personal emotions aside in pursuit of national glory (he played despite losing his father during the start of the marquee event).
Tahir, who made his senior international debut against Korea during the 1987 Test series, was also part of the national team that completed a hat-trick of Asia Cup wins in the 1989 edition held in New Delhi.

The ace Pakistan player was part of the gold-winning 1990 Beijing Asian Games team besides being a member of the victorious 1994 Champions Trophy team in their own backyard (in Lahore).

The talented Green Shirts player featured in 235 internationals and scored around 130 goals. He played in three Olympics (1988, 1992 and 1996) and as well as in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998).

Tahir has also played in the coveted Champions Trophy on numerous occasions (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998).

He also captained the Pakistan side in 1998 – he skippered the national outfit till the end of the 1998 Utrecht World Cup.

Now as coach of the Green Shirts, Tahir has an arduous task of helping his side win the 9th Asia Cup and seal a 2014 World Cup berth. He speaks to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts
Q Only one Asian team has qualified for the 2014 World Cup so far (Korea as the reserve team). The 9th Asia Cup will be crucial for the three teams from the region – India, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia – isn’t it sad that only one Asian team has so far qualified for the 2014 World Cup unless of course FIH gives any wildcard entry?

Yes, it is indeed a matter of sadness for Asian hockey. But at the same time it is a very valid question for sub-continent hockey federations as to whether we are really working in the right direction to bring the glory days of Asian hockey back. How long we will keep carrying out ad-hoc type arrangements and look for the so-called shortcuts to achieve success on a temporary basis. I think it’s a big question and a matter of shame for all of us that Asian hockey is in the doldrums – whoever is related to hockey should honestly think whether we are really contributing enough to uplift the hockey standards in the region.

Q You served as the consultant of the Pakistan men’s hockey team during the Hockey World League Round 3 event in Johor Bahru, but now you have now taken over as coach replacing Hanif Khan for the Asia Cup. Is there pressure on you to deliver?

Yes, there is huge pressure taking over the reins of the national team in such circumstances – it is a very short time for any coach to produce best results but I’m trying my best, I’m quite confident about our players performing much better then what they have delivered during the Johar Bahru event. I believe we have a very good team which can win the Asia Cup provided we as a team deliver our 100% hockey, especially in crucial matches.

Q How do you assess the Indian team – do you think it is a right move to have foreign coaches for the Indian team?

I think the Indian team is a pretty well balanced side, it has got a nice blend of young talented players and some experienced players as well. Overall, they are a good team but very much beatable (grins).

I have been repeatedly saying that foreign coaches are not the solution for Pakistan and Indian hockey – we need to educate and upgrade the knowledge of our own coaches and provide them the same benefits, authority and command, which we dole out to foreign coaches. I’m sure that our coaches can produce much better results going forward as we are all aware of this truth that there is no shortcut to success in this competitive world. Of course, we may need foreign expertise to help our coaches upgrade their knowledge, which is the need of the hour.

Q Roelant Oltmans had coached the Pakistan men’s hockey team in the past. He is now the Indian head coach – what do you think about his coaching skills?

Roelant is a very experienced and knowledgeable coach. The experience he had by working with the Pakistan team, will help him in his coaching assignment in India, especially in team handling off the field.

Q Do you think that only a solitary representation from Asia so far in the 2014 World Cup indicates the declining standards of Asian hockey playing nations?

It’s crystal clear – we (hockey federations in Asia) really need to pull our socks in all departments to raise the standards of Asian hockey.

Q Tell us a bit about the 1994 World Cup which Pakistan won – you played despite losing our father during the tournament?

Ahhh, it was the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, where I played despite losing my father during that tournament. I heard this sad news just before our first match, but my family informed me quite late, and there was no time left to attend my father's funeral. So I decided to stay with the team and play the World Cup matches carrying my personal grief because the time when I left Pakistan for the World Cup my father told me that he will feel proud of me, if we win the World Cup. Those words of my father were still ringing in my ears, so when I heard this sad news, I decided to go all out to fulfill my father's desire … I can't say anything more about this.

Q What are your biggest moments as a player for Pakistan?

Of course, winning the 1994 World Cup in Sydney is the biggest moment of my playing career. Nothing can be bigger than winning the World Cup.

Q What is your take about India regularly playing international matches against Pakistan – do you think the competitive flavor among the supporters of both countries have declined in recent times?

Yes, I think so. Both countries should regularly play Test matches, which can be a good vehicle to promote hockey in the sub-continent. Such Test matches will always prove beneficial for players of both countries and can also help to improve their psychological strength.

Q What about the prospect of Pakistan players featuring in the 2nd Hero Hockey India League?

I think it is good for the league’s promotion to have Pakistani players and even coaches – it can create an extra excitement for hockey lovers of both countries, and also increase television viewers across the globe.

Q How much of politics is there in Indian and Pakistan hockey when it comes to selection of players?

Well, politics in players’ selection has been in practice more in the past, but nowadays, there might more to do with a coach’s liking or disliking of a particular player while picking the national side. I believe no coach in this world wants to have any less skillful or bad player in his team because that player will bring a bad report for the coach. So I’m of the opinion that every coach always wants to have the most deserving and best available players in his team.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Asia Cup Men's Hockey Trivia!

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

Pakistan have won the Asia Cup on most occasions – three times (1982, 1985 and 1989)
    

Korea did not feature in the inaugural edition in 1982
 

Pakistan became the first team to retain the Asia Cup crown in 1985 at Dhaka
 

India’s final 7-2 win over Korea in 2007 is the biggest winning margin in an Asia Cup final

India and Pakistan were placed in the same pool of the Asia Cup only on two occasions - 2003 and 2009 editions

Six India players were banned for roughing up the umpire after they disputed a goal allowed by him during the 1985 Asia Cup final against Pakistan in Dhaka

India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Bangladesh are five teams that have taken part in every Asia Cup so far

India has finished runners-up in the Asia Cup on most occasions - four times
 

Korea took the third spot in Asia Cup most times – thrice

India’s 20-0 win vs Sri Lanka at the 2003 edition, Pakistan’s 20-0 win over Thailand and Malaysia’s 20-0 win over Thailand at the 1982 edition are the biggest victory margins in the Asia Cup so far

India have beaten Pakistan only once in five meetings – the only win came when they beat their arch-rivals 4-2 in the 2003 final in Kuala Lumpur to corner glory

Kuala Lumpur is the only city to host the Asia Cup twice (1999 and 2003)

Korea became the second team after Pakistan to retain the Asia Cup crown in 1999

Malaysia is the only country to host the Asia Cup thrice (Kuala Lumpur staged the 1999 and 2003 editions, while Kuantan hosted in it 2009)

At the 2007 Asia Cup final in Chennai, the Korean coach took his players off the pitch for a few minutes after they disputed a goal being disallowed by the umpire

India became the 3rd team after Pakistan and Korea to retain the Asia Cup crown in 2007

Pakistan completed a hat-trick of Asia Cup triumphs at the 1989 edition

The 2007 Asia Cup saw most teams participating – 11 teams

Bangladesh has taken part in every Asia Cup so far, but their best showing has been a 5th place finish in the inaugural edition in 1982

Malaysian despite being a strong Asian hockey force has managed only a solitary podium finish (3rd) in the 2007 edition although they have reached the semifinals on quite a few occasions

Korea did not feature in the inaugural Asia Cup, but has made a podium finish in rest seven Asia Cup events – thrice winning it, runners-up once and bagging the third place once

Thailand has the dubious distinction of conceding most goals by any nation in any single Asia Cup event- they leaked 62 goals in the 1994 edition

A whopping 217 goals were scored in the 2007 Asia Cup in Chennai – the highest in any edition so far

The least number of goals in Asia Cup came during the 1989 edition in New Delhi when only 62 goals were scored

India failed to make a podium finish for the first time in the 2009 Asia Cup when they finished fifth

Bangladesh has conceded most goals in Asia Cup – 140 goals from all eight editions

Pakistan have scored most goals in Asia Cup -267 goals

Pakistan’s last Asia Cup win came in 1989 when they completed a hat-trick of title wins

Both India and Pakistan hold the record of scoring most goals in a single Asia Cup event – Pakistan 51 goals in 1982 edition and India 51 goals in 2007 edition

Pakistan’s hold on the winning trophy was halted at the 1994 Asia Cup as Korea won it for the first time

India’s 9-1 win over Japan in 1985 Asia Cup is the biggest victory margin in the semifinal stage

India became the first team to lose a final as host nation at the 1989 edition

Pakistan failed to make a podium finish for the first time at the 2007 Asia Cup

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Statsfile: All facts and figures you want to know about Asia Cup men's hockey!


1982 - 1st Men's Asia Cup, Karachi
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Singapore, Sri Lanka

Final: Pakistan beat India 4-0

Semifinals: India beat China 7-0

Semifinals: Pakistan beat Malaysia 7-0

3rd-4th Place: China beat Malaysia 2-1

5th-6th Place: Bangladesh beat Singapore 3-2

All Results – League Phase (Round-robin Format)
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka14-0

China beat Bangladesh1-0

Sri Lanka drew Singapore 2-2

Pakistan beat China 10-1

India beat Malaysia 2-0

Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka 4-0

Pakistan beat Bangladesh 9-0

India beat Singapore 12-0

Malaysia beat Sri Lanka 9-0

Pakistan beat Singapore 7-0

India beat Bangladesh 6-0

Malaysia beat Singapore         4-0

India beat Sri Lanka 13-0

Malaysia beat Bangladesh 4-1

China beat Singapore 2-0

China beat Sri Lanka 1-0

1985 – 2nd Men's Asia Cup, Dhaka
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Singapore

Pool A: Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, China, Iran

Pool B: India, Korea, Malaysia Sri Lanka, Singapore

Final: Pakistan beat India 3-2

Semifinals: India beat Japan 9-1

Semifinals: Pakistan beat Korea 7-0

3rd-4th Play: Korea beat Japan 2-0

5th-6th Place: Malaysia beat Bangladesh 5-0

7th-8th Place: China beat Sri Lanka 2-0

All Results – League Phase
Group A Pakistan beat Japan2-0

Group B India beat Korea 8-1

Group A Bangladesh drew China 2-2

Group B India beat Malaysia 3-0

Group A Pakistan beat Iran 16-0

Group B India beat Sri Lanka 6-0

Group A Japan beat Bangladesh 1-1

Group B India beat Singapore 5-0

Group A China beat Iran        3-0

Group B Korea drew Malaysia   0-0

Group A Pakistan beat Bangladesh1-0

Group B Korea beat Sri Lanka 7-0

Group A Japan beat Iran        11-1

Group B Korea beat Singapore 9-2

Group A Pakistan beat China 2-0

Group B Malaysia beat Sri Lanka 3-1

Group A Japan beat China1-0

Group B Malaysia beat Singapore 5-0

Group A Bangladesh beat Iran 3-1

Group B Sri Lanka beat Singapore 5-1

1989 – 3rd Men's Asia Cup, New Delhi
Participating Teams: Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Korea, China

Pool A: Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia

Pool B: India, Bangladesh, Korea, China

Final: Pakistan beat India 2-0

Semifinal: India beat Japan 3-1

Semifinal: Pakistan beat Korea 5-1

3rd-4th Place: Korea beat Japan 1-0

5th Place: China beat Malaysia 2-1

6-7th Place: Malaysia beat Bangladesh 4-0

All Results – League Phase
Group A Pakistan beat Japan 2-0

Group B India beat Korea 5-0

Group B China beat Bangladesh 6-1

Group A Pakistan beat Malaysia 4-0

Group B India beat China1-0

Group B Korea beat Bangladesh 7-0

Group A Japan beat Malaysia 3-2

Group B India beat Bangladesh 6-0

Group B Korea beat China 4-1

1994 – 4th Men's Asia Cup, Hiroshima
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh

Pool A: Pakistan, Malaysia, China, Thailand

Pool B: India, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Korea, Japan

Final: Korea beat India 1-0

Semifinals: Korea beat Pakistan 4-0

Semifinals: India beat Malaysia 3-2

3rd-4th Place: Pakistan beat Malaysia 5-2

5th-6th Place: Kazakhstan beat Bangladesh 7-2

7th-8th Place: China beat Thailand 4-0

5th-8th Place: Kazakhstan beat China 2-1

5th-8th Place Bangladesh vs Thailand   6-0

All Results – League Phase
Group A Pakistan beat Malaysia 8-2

Group B India drew Korea1-1

Group B Bangladesh beat Kazakhstan 2-1

Group A China beat Thailand 12-0

Group B India beat Japan 6-2

Group B Korea drew Bangladesh1-1

Group A Malaysia beat Thailand 20-0

Group B Korea beat Kazakhstan 4-0

Group B India drew Kazakhstan1-1

Group A Pakistan beat China 5-0

Group B Korea beat Japan 2-1

Group B India beat Bangladesh 4-0

Group A Malaysia beat China 5-0

Group B Japan beat Bangladesh 2-1

Group B Kazakhstan beat Japan 2-1

Group A Pakistan beat Thailand 20-0

1999 - 5th Men's Asia Cup, Kuala Lumpur
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Bangladesh

Pool A: Pakistan, Korea, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

Pool B: India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan

Final: Korea beat Pakistan 5-4

Semifinal: Korea beat India 5-4

Semifinal: Pakistan beat Malaysia 3-2

3rd-4th Place: India beat Malaysia 4-2

All Results – League Phase
Group B India beat Japan 3-1

Group A China beat Sri Lanka 4-0    

Group A Korea beat Bangladesh 4-0

Group B Malaysia beat Hong Kong 8-1

Group A Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 15-0    

Group A China beat Bangladesh 1-1          

Group B India drew Malaysia1-1     

Group A Korea beat Sri Lanka 9-0   

Group A Pakistan beat China 10-1   

Group A Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka 7-1

Group B Malaysia drew Japan 2-2

Group B India beat Hong Kong 5-0

Group A Korea beat China 6-1         

Group A Pakistan beat Bangladesh 6-0     

Group B Japan beat Hong Kong 4-1          

Group A Pakistan beat Korea1-0

2003 – 6th Men's Asia Cup, Kuala Lumpur
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh

Pool A: Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong

Pool B: India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh

Final: India beat Pakistan 4-2

Semifinal: India beat Korea 4-2

Semifinal: Pakistan beat Japan 3-1

3rd-4th Place: Korea beat Japan 4-2

5th-6th Place: Malaysia beat China 3-2

7th-8th Place: Hong Kong beat Bangladesh 4-3

5th-8th Place: Malaysia beat Bangladesh 5-0

All Results – League Phase
Group B Pakistan beat Bangladesh 8-0

Group A Japan beat Hong Kong 7-3          

Group B India beat China 5-1

Group A Malaysia drew Korea 1-1

Group A Japan beat Malaysia 3-2  

Group B Pakistan beat China 7-1     

Group B India beat Bangladesh 10-0         

Group A Malaysia beat Hong Kong 2-1     

Group B China beat Bangladesh 8-0          

Group A Korea beat Japan 6-0

Group B Pakistan beat India 4-2

2007 – 7th Men's Asia Cup, Chennai
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh

Pool A: Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore

Pool B: India, Korea, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand

Final: India beat Korea 7-2

Semifinal: India beat Japan 4-1

Semifinal: Korea beat Malaysia 2-1

3rd-4th Place: Malaysia beat Japan 5-3

5th-6th Place: China beat Pakistan 3-2

7th-8th Place: Bangladesh beat Hong Kong 3-1

All Results – League Phase
Group A Malaysia beat Singapore 8-0

Group A Pakistan beat Hong Kong 6-1      

Group B Bangladesh beat Thailand 13-0

Group B Korea beat Sri Lanka 12-2

Group B India beat China 1-0

Group A Japan beat Pakistan 3-1     

Group A Malaysia beat Hong Kong 13-1   

Group B Korea beat Thailand 16-0 

Group B China beat Bangladesh 6-0          

Group B India beat Sri Lanka 20-0

Group A Japan beat Hong Kong 7-1

Group A Pakistan beat Singapore 8-0

Group B Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka 3-2

Group B China beat Thailand 13-0

Group B India beat Korea 3-2

Group A Hong Kong beat Singapore 3-2

Group A Malaysia beat Japan 2-0

Group B India beat Bangladesh 6-0

Group A Pakistan drew Malaysia 3-3

Group B Sri Lanka beat Thailand 9-1

Group B Korea drew China 3-3

Group A Japan beat Singapore 8-0

Group B China beat Sri Lanka 10-2

Group B Korea beat Bangladesh 8-0

Group B India beat Thailand 16-0

2009 – 8th Men's Asia Cup, Kuantan
Participating Teams: India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Korea, China, Japan, Bangladesh

Pool A: Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Bangladesh

Pool B: India, Pakistan, China

Final: Korea beat Pakistan 1-0

Semifinal: Korea beat China 5-1

Semifinal: Pakistan beat Malaysia 4-2

3rd-4th Place: China beat Malaysia 7-6 (3-3)

5th-6th Place: India beat Japan 5-1

7th Place: India beat Bangladesh 11-1

All Results – League Phase
Group A Malaysia beat Singapore 8-0

Group A Korea drew Malaysia 1-1   

Group A Japan beat Bangladesh 5-0

Group B Pakistan drew China 1-1

Group B Korea beat Japan 3-2

Group A Malaysia beat Bangladesh 7-1     

Group B Pakistan beat India 3-2       

Group A Korea beat Bangladesh 9-0         

Group A Malaysia beat Japan 4-1    

Group B India drew China 2-2


This piece was published in Sportskeeda

Friday, August 16, 2013

Interview: We will give our best shot in Asia Cup, says India’s assistant coach MK Kaushik

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

These are difficult times for the Indian men’s hockey team. Desperate times call for desperate measures goes the saying and the national team have no option but to summon desperate measures in a last-ditch effort to seal a berth in the 2014 World Cup by winning the upcoming 9th Asia Cup.

And for one man – Maharaj Krishan Kaushik – who has weathered many tough times in his playing and coaching career, it is a big-time opportunity to play a part in helping India book a ticket to the 2014 World Cup. “I’m elated to have been given the opportunity by Hockey India (HI) to contribute in some way in helping the Indian team win the Asia Cup and cement our place in the World Cup,” the national team's assistant coach Kaushik says in an exclusive interview.


The 58-year-old, who was part of the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold-winning team as well a member of the 1982 Asia Cup silver-winning team, concedes that the pressure will be on India to deliver. “No doubt the boys will feel the pressure given the fact that this is our last opportunity to seal our World Cup, but I have no doubts that the boys have what it takes to handle such pressure,” he says.


The former speedy right winger, who also played in the 1982 World Cup in Mumbai, says he has enjoyed working closely with head coach Roelant Oltmans who is also Hockey India’s High Performance Manager. “Roelant Oltmans is a famed coach with world-class credentials. I don’t even have to say it, the hockey world knows him. I’m trying to help the team in whatever capacity I can,” he says.


Kaushik, who first served as the Indian women’s team coach from 1991-1994 and then again from 1994-2008, says the team have showed improvement under Michael Nobbs. “I think the team did show improvement in certain areas under Nobbs. It will be unfair to say that the team achieved nothing with Nobbs as coach. We just have to take this team forward with the right strategy,” he quips.


Kaushik retired as Deputy Director of Sports with the Haryana Government. He had attained a fair amount of success as national women’s coach. He guided the Indian hockey eves to a bronze in the 1993 Asia Cup in Hong Kong. Kaushik in his second stint as women’s hockey coach, shepherded the Indian eves to gold in the 2004 Asia Cup in New Delhi. He helped the Indian hockey eves bag a silver in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne as well as a bronze in the 2006 Doha Asiad.


There is so much talk going around about which style of hockey India must adopt – Kaushik feels India has to do what is good for them. “I’m not suggesting that we should stick to a European or Asian style of hockey or Australian way of attacking hockey. All I’m saying is that we should employ a strategy which is in the best interests of the national team,” he explains.


And what about the never-ending talk about whether Indian coaches lack the skills to meet the requirements of modern hockey, as suggested by legendary Aussie Ric Charlesworth? “Ric Charlesworth is a big name in world hockey, he is entitled to his opinion. I think Indian coaches are not lacking in this aspect and can contribute in some capacity or the other,” he chooses his words carefully.


Kaushik, who helped the Indian men’s team to gold in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, agrees a coach is better off if he has played the game with distinction. “Obviously it is of big help. When you have played the game you are in a better position to understand the psychological demands of the game and how the players have to cope with them,” adds Kaushik, who replaced his 1980 Olympics team captain Vasudevan Bhaskaran as national coach following India’s disastrous 1998 Utrecht World Cup campaign.


The upcoming 9th Asia Cup will see India battle with the likes of Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia for the lone continental berth. Kaushik feels India have the wherewithal to book its flight to Hague. “I know it won’t be easy but we have world-class players to do the job for us. I’m upbeat  about our qualifying chances, we will give our best shot, quips the former India player," who has been appointed as assistant coach till the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Hero Junior World Cup: Indian face England in opening practice game
The Manpreet Singh-led Indian junior men’s hockey team will take on England in their opening preparatory game under lights at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday.
The match will allow the hosts to fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 10th Hero Junior World Cup hockey tournament, beginning at the same venue from December 6.
The hosts will play their second and final warm-up match against Belgium on December 4.
India will kickstart their 10th Junior World Cup campaign against formidable Netherlands on December 6 in a Pool C game – the opening day of the big-ticket event.
They play their second match against Canada on December on 7 and their final league tie against Korea on December 10.
It may be worth recalling that India had won the Junior World Cup only once in the 2011 edition in Hobart, Australia, where they thumped Argentina 6-1 in the title clash.


Hockey lovers can book Junior World Cup tickets alive
The upcoming 10th Hero Junior World Cup hockey tournament, beginning at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from December 6 is expected to pull in big crowds given the fact the event is held in our own backyard.
Hockey buffs can watch the live World Cup action at Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium by booking tickets online at www.ticketgenie.in – the official ticketing partner of the 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup Men.
Tickets will be priced at Rs 50 for generala admission, while hockey lovers who wish to avail an VIP seat has to shell out Rs. 1000. Each ticket entitles the spectator to watch all the matches being held on each day. The Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium has the capacity of accommodating around 16,000 spectators.
The organizers have kept ticket prices lower in a bid to ensure maximum spectator interest for the big-ticket event.
As many as 16 teams will be slugging it out in the ten-day event, playing 44 matches at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Pool A features Germany, Pakistan, Belgium and Egypt, while Australia, Spain, Argentina and France are competing in Pool B. India is placed in Pool C with The Netherlands, Korea and Canada will challenge each other in Pool C with England, New Zealand, South Africa and Malaysia going head to head in Pool D.

India’s league games to be played under lights
Hockey India (HI) is taking all care to ensure that the upcoming 10th Junior World Cup hockey tournament, beginning at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from December 6, attracts a big draw. The hockey body has scheduled all the India’s league games – the opening game against the Netherlands on December 6, the second game against Canada on December 7 and the concluding league fixture against Korea on December 10 – at 8 pm IST to ensure hockey lovers coming from work are in a position to watch the hosts in action. Of course, it goes without saying that the timings of the quarterfinal, semifinal and the final stage is subject to how India fares in the league phase.
It may be worth recalling that India had won the Junior World Cup only once in the 2011 edition in Hobart, Australia, where they thumped Argentina 6-1 in the title clash under the captaincy of Gagan Ajit Singh, who happens to be a national selector now.
SK Uthappa turns 20
Indian hockey striker SK Uthappa turned 20 today. The Coorg lad was recently marked a national comeback in the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia after being in the wilderness for some time.
It is interesting to mention that caretaker coach Roelant Oltmans used the London Olympian as a midfielder in the tourney instead of playing in his natural forward position.
The IOC employee dropped from the national team after the 34th FIH Champions Trophy in Melbourne, Australia in December 2012.
Uthappa turns out for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League.
Hockey Passion wishes SK Uthappa a Very Happy Birthday and hopes the occasion rings in more success and prosperity in his life.


Chinglensana Singh turns 22 today
Indian hockey striker Chinglensana Singh turned 22 today. The nippy Manipuri last played for the senior men’s team in the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh and was not part of the team for the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan, as the national hockey selectors opted to field the juniors in preparation for the 10th Hero Junior World Cup.
The diminutive forward, who is employed with Railways, featured in the inaugural Hero Hockey India League for Mumbai Magicians.
A product of the Delhi-based Punjab National Bank academy, Chinglensana has also played for teams like Mumbai Porters and Mumbai Customs.
He made his senior international debut in the 2011 Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China. Hockey Passion wishes Chinglensana Singh a Very Happy Birthday and hopes the occasion rings in more success and prosperity in his life.



Indian hockey forward Akashdeep Singh turns 19

Talented Indian hockey forward Akashdeep Singh turned 19 today. The ONGC employee, who played in the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan, where India finished runners-up losing to Korea narrowly in the final.
The 3rd Asian Champions Trophy was kind of a comeback for Akashdeep, who pulled out of the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh owing to a shin injury.
The youngster is rated highly by Hockey India High Performance Manager Roelant Oltmans.
The Delhi Waveriders striker’s presence in the Indian forwardline will be key in the upcoming 10th Hero Junior World Cup hockey tournament.  He is expected to play a pivotal role upfront.
Hockey Passion wishes Akashdeep Singh a Very Happy Birthday and hopes the occasion rings in more success and prosperity in his life.






Indian hockey striker Yuvraj Walmiki turns 23
Out-of-favour Indian hockey player Yuvraj Walmiki turned 23 today. The talented Mumbai youngster has been out of the national team since last wearing the blueshirt at the 34th FIH Champions Trophy held in Melbourne, Australia in December 2012.
The nippy striker was initially included in the national team for the subsequent 2012 Asian Champions Trophy tourney, but was dropped at the eleventh hour.
Yuvraj, who turns out for Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League, recently joined Indian Oil after deciding not to take up a job with Central Railway.
He recently plied his trade in the German hockey league (Bundesliga) for TGF Frankenthal, but a decent performance there failed to impress the national selectors and he was again overlooked for the 9th Asia Cup – the senior men team’s last international assignment.
Hockey Passion wishes Yuvraj Walmiki a Very Happy Birthday and hopes the occasion rings in more success and prosperity in his life.


India to play two warm-up games
The Manpreet Singh-led Indian junior men’s hockey team will play two warm-up games to fine-tune their preparations for the 10th Junior World Cup beginning at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from December 6.
The Blueshirts will play their first practice game against England on December 30. The hosts will play their second and final warm-up match against Belgium on January 4.
India will kickstart their 10th Junior World Cup campaign against formidable Netherlands on December 6 in a Pool C game – the opening day of the big-ticket event.
They play their second match against Canada on December on 7 and their final league tie against Korea on December 10.
It may be worth recalling that India have won the Junior World Cup only once in the 2011 edition in Hobart, Australia, where they thumped Argentina 6-1 in the title clash.



England first to arrive for Junior World Cup
England junior men’s hockey team became the first team to arrive in New Delhi for the 10th Junior World Cup hockey tournament beginning at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from December 6.
The English team went through the paces at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium as part of their preparations for the marquee event.
England are placed in Pool D alongside South Africa, Malaysia and New Zealand.
England will launch their campaign on the opening day of the event against South Africa.  They play New Zealand on December 8 and will wrap up their league assignments against Malaysia on December 9.
England have never made a podium finish in the junior World Cup. Their best effort came in the 1997 and 2011 editions in Milton Keynes (England) and Hobart (Australia), where they bagged the fourth position respectively.

Monday, August 12, 2013

World Cup Bronze Medal Feat: I was mentally prepared, says penalty shootout heroine Bigan Soy



This piece was published in Sportskeeda


It won’t be an unfair statement to make if one wonders whether even journalists would have known her that well before her exploits at the 7th Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach. For someone who did not play a single match in India’s World Cup campaign in Germany, it may seem like she was just making the squad numbers, but the kind of ending she orchestrated it was nothing short of a fairytale.  

Bigan Soy is now a very much known name in Indian hockey circles, after she pulled off five superb saves in the bronze medal play-off tie against England to pave the way for the country’s first-ever medal in the big-ticket event. What makes the 20-year-old Jharkhand girl’s feat all the more remarkable was the fact that she carved out a name for herself from those crucial fifteen minutes (duration of the penalty shootout) after having played no part in regulation time as regular goalkeeper Ningombam Sanarik Chanu took charge of the Indian cage for 70 minutes.

“I was under no pressure whatsoever. Sanarik Chanu did a great job in all our matches, but coaches Neil Hawgood and Narinder Singh Saini told me once we qualified for the quarterfinals that they are going to field me in case any of our matches from the quarterfinals onwards had a penalty shootout. I was not required for the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. So when the bronze medal play-off tie was extended to a shootout, I was mentally prepared as it did not come as a bolt from the blue,” Bigan says in an exclusive interview.

The soft-spoken Jharkhand girl backed her instincts and came out all guns blazing in the shootout. “I was always confident about my footwork and it worked to a nicety as I managed to nullify the goal-scoring designs of five English players. Of course, we also missed a few and it turned into a nerve-jangling affair before Navneet Kaur settled the issue,” she relives the epochal moment.


Bigan is enjoying every bit of the limelight bestowed on the women hockey players – something they are not accustomed to. “I’m really thankful to the central and state governments for rewarding us with cash awards.  Even Hockey Jharkhand gave me a cash award of Rs 51,000. It feels good to be recognized for our efforts, but I want to see more jobs for women hockey players. It is important to have a secure job so that one can fully focus on the game,” she says.


The Indian junior women's hockey goalkeeper joined the State Authority of India (SAI) centre in Ranchi in 2006 – a place she honed her hockey skills after starting off as a promising footballer. “I was a decent football player at Bariatu School in Ranchi – I used to play football as a forward when I joined SAI, but one day I was asked to don the hockey goalkeeper’s gloves and there has been no looking back since then,” she takes a walk down memory lane.


Hailing from a nondescript Bandgao village in Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district, Bigan was born to an economically-disadvantaged family – her father is a farmer, while her mother is a homemaker. “I have two elder brothers – one is doing police training while another is not working and I am the youngest in the family,” she says.


Bigan made her international debut at the 2011 Junior Women’s Under-18 Asia Cup in Bangkok. “I still remember we won the bronze after defeating the defending champions Korea 2-0 in the play-off tie. We had lost to Japan who went on to win the tournament. I played in all the games in Bangkok,” she reminisces.


She was also part of the Indian team in the 2012 Under-21 Asia Cup also held in Bangkok, where her team finished runners-up losing 2-5 to China.


A place in the senior team is her next target. “I’m determined to make it to the senior women’s hockey team. I know it won’t be easy with so much competition around, but I will give my best shot. I want to help India win a medal at major events like the World Cup, Olympics among others,” the bashful lass fired a parting shot.

Picture: Courtesy www.deccanherald.com