Friday, November 29, 2013

Hero Junior Men's World Cup Hockey: India 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.


Picture Courtesy Demotix.com

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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. 



Picture: Courtesy Mid Day

Junior Men's Hockey World Cup: 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 November 30. 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 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 team 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.

Staying injury-free will be key, says Indian junior World Cup captain Manpreet Singh



The 2013 Junior men’s hockey World Cup is just around the corner. There is buzz and excitement all around as the marquee FIH-conduct event is held in our own backyard – at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi beginning December 6.

It goes without saying that the Indian junior team will carry an extra weight of expectations playing in front of their home fans. And the Indian junior team captain Manpreet Singh will be looking to put their best foot forward in the big-ticket event. “We know expectations will be really high as we are playing the Junior World Cup at home. Pressure will be there, but we won’t allow that to affect our performance. We have really worked hard in the ongoing preparatory camp and our performance in the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan has pepped our morale even further,” Manpreet says in an exclusive interview to Hockey Passion.

The midfielder, who hails from Mithapur in Jalandhar district of Punjab, is considered as one of the most rapidly improving players of the senior team. Wearing the captain armband in the Junior World Cup will obviously mean extra responsibility for the youngster. “I have led the same bunch at the 3rd Sultan of Johor Cup as well as in the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy. Both these stints will stand me in good stead. I hope to lead from the front and help my country corner glory,” he says.

Realistically, does India have the team to win the Junior World Cup? “Look, our first goal is to do well in the league phase – we have to first counter teams like the Netherlands and Korea and reach the quarterfinals. We will be looking to finish in the top-four, of course, it does not mean that we will not be striving to put our best efforts to win the Junior World Cup,” he says with a tone of maturity.

The Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) employee feels staying injury-free will hold the key. “We are fit as a fiddle and will spare no effort in ensuring that we steer clear of injuries during the tournament.”

He believes Germany will be the team to beat in the Junior World Cup. “Germany are the defending champions and strong contenders to win the World Cup. The Netherlands are also formidable and so are Australia. Argentina are also a tough side. No team can be taken lightly,” he says.

Manpreet, who is nicknamed ‘Korea’ because of his haircut and diminutive stature, says India will look to make the most of their strengths. “We are solid in our counter-attacks and penalty corner conversions and hopefully we will use them to our advantage,” he signs off.

Picture Courtesy Yahoo.com








Monday, November 11, 2013

3rd Asian Champions Trophy: A handy examination for Indian junior hockey players

The move to pick a senior team loaded with as many as 13 juniors for the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Kakamigahara, Japan, was seen as a forward-looking one.

With the 2013 Junior World Cup slated to be held in New Delhi in December, it appeared a step in the right direction, although hockey fans would have liked the inclusion of few more seniors so that Indian juniors look competitive when pitted against the senior teams.

The 5th place finish for the Manpreet Singh-led Indian senior side may be disappointing results-wise, but it is important to understand that the juniors needed this international exposure (no preparation can be better than locking horns with the senior teams) to fine-tune their preparations for the Junior World Cup.

If hockey fans want to ask whether the purpose of fielding juniors in the senior team for the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy was justified, one can only say that the junior have lots to gain from the tournament.

The manner in which India launched their campaign left hockey fans jittery as to whether this side, laced with juniors, will struggle to be competitive against the senior teams of China, Japan, Oman, Malaysia and Pakistan.

A 0-2 defeat and 1-2 loss to Japan (they squandered an opening goal lead) only enhanced the belief that the young side was looking out of place.

However, India got better as the tournament progressed. A 3-0 win over lowly Oman got them going before they reached their best against two of the toughest teams in the tournament – Pakistan and Malaysia.

Stats may reveal that India lost three of their five league games, but the way in which they ran Pakistan close before going down 4-5 has to be emphasized.

Trailing by an early goal, India not only levelled the issue but also took the lead. That’s not all, they twice came from behind to restore parity in the second half before running out of steam.

For a moment, one thought it was the Sardar Singh-led senior team which was engaged in an intriguing tussle with their arch-rivals.

The above speaks volumes of the fighting spirit the Manpreet Singh-led team possesses. Manpreet is still very much a youngster, but the slew of responsibilities he has handled in recent times will make you feel that he is a senior pro.

The tough fight India gave to Pakistan lifted the side by a several notches and it showed in the final league tie when they pipped Malaysia 4-3. The momentum was maintained when India spanked Oman 6-1 in the 5th play-off tie.

It was nice to see drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh make his presence felt in the side with three goals. Amit Rohidas – who was quite a disappointment in the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh, dished out a decent performance.

Talented striker Akashdeep Singh – returning to the side after a prolonged shin injury – was easily the find of the tourney with four goals, including a hat-trick against Oman. Malak Singh enhanced his credentials as another good investment for the senior team, slamming as many goals.

For the likes of Ramandeep Singh and Mandeep Singh, the Kakamigahara event will surely stand them in good stead for the Junior World Cup.

It’s pretty clear a large chunk of this team will be featuring in the Junior World Cup, and that way one couldn’t crib about the way the youngsters pulled themselves up after their sluggish beginning to the tournament.

All said and done, the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy benefited the juniors in a big way – the boys now need to work hard and stay injury-free as they have a gargantuan responsibility of making their hockey fans happy by winning the Junior World Cup – fans will not settle for anything less than that given the fact that they will be playing in their own backyard.

Picture Courtesy: Zimbio