Australia and New Zealand’s men and women’s hockey team set to clash ahead of Tokyo Olympics
In the hockey news, western Australian city of Perth will play host to the final matches of the extended 2020-2021 FIH Pro Hockey League with Australia’s men and women taking on rivals New Zealand in an Oceania derby double header.
Sixteen player squads have been confirmed by Australia and New Zealand for the Tokyo Olympics in Japan, which is just a few weeks away. While these matches may be good practice for the two sides, both will be reluctant to give away too many secrets in terms of tactics or penalty corner routines. However, it promises to be an entertaining set of matches between two ambitious sides looking to make it on the podium in Japan.
One month ago, New Zealand hosted Australia where the visitors won the four match series comfortably. The Kookaburras have won 32 of the last 37 meetings since 2013 and will hope to continue their dominance. Comparatively, the women’s teams have fared much closer contests with Australia having the slight edge thanks to their two time Olympic gold medallist coach Katrina Powell who has claimed 19 victories, 11 defeats and 12 draws against New Zealand.
Here are all the statistics about the upcoming matches.
Australia vs New Zealand (Women & Men)
Where: Perth Hockey Stadium (AUS)
Dates: Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June 2021
Times (UTC +8): Saturday: 12:30 | Sunday: 12:30
Current FIH World Ranking: Australia: 1 | New Zealand: 8
Current FIH Hockey Pro League position: Australia: 5 | New Zealand: 7
Final standings - FIH Hockey Pro League 2019: Australia: 1 | New Zealand: 8
Head-to-heads in all competitions (since 2013 – 37 matches)
Wins: Australia: 32 | New Zealand: 2 | Draws: 3
Goals scored: Australia: 114 | New Zealand: 39
Times (UTC +8): Saturday: 15:00 | Sunday: 15:00
Current FIH World Ranking: Australia: 4 | New Zealand: 6
Current FIH Hockey Pro League position: Australia: 6 | New Zealand: 3
Final standings - FIH Hockey Pro League 2019: Australia: 2 | New Zealand: 6
Head-to-heads in all competitions (since 2013 – 42 matches)
Wins: Australia: 19 | New Zealand: 11 | Draws: 12
Goals scored: Australia: 87 | New Zealand: 69
Indian men's hockey squad name 10 debutants for Tokyo Olympics
Bengaluru, Jun 18 India on Friday name 10 Olympic debutants in its 16-member men's hockey squad, which also features seasoned performers like PR Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh, for the Tokyo Games next month.
The experienced Olympic campaigners include goalkeeper Sreejesh, midfielder Manpreet, defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Surender Kumar and forward Mandeep Singh.
Veteran defender Birendra Lakra , who missed the 2016 Rio Games due to a knee injury, has also been named in the side.
The Sqaud: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit Forwards: Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh. News source PTI
India name 8 debutants in women's hockey squad for Tokyo Olympics
Bengaluru, Jun 17 India on Thursday named eight Olympic debutants in its 16-member women's hockey squad for the Tokyo Games to be held from July 23 to August 8.
The squad includes eight experienced campaigners who last featured in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Indian women's hockey team will be captained by star striker Rani Rampal in the quadrennial Games.
The eight Olympic debutants include drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, Udita, Nisha, Neha, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Lalremsiami, is the first player hailing from Mizoram in the team, and Salima Tete.
Tete had led the Indian team at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires to a silver medal performance.
This will be the Indian women's hockey team's third appearance at the Olympic Games and their second consecutive outing, with previous appearances coming in 1980 and 2016.
Complete Squad: GOALKEEPERS: Savita DEFENDERS: Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan, Gurjit Kaur, Udita.
MIDFIELDERS: Nisha, Neha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Nanjot Kaur, Salima Tete.
FORWARDS: Rani, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Sharmila, Devi. News source PTI
Indian hockey team among top five contenders for medal at Tokyo Olympics: Former head coach Roelant Oltmans
New Delhi, Jun 16 Former head coach Roelant Oltmans has picked the Indian men's hockey team among the medal contenders for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in July-August.
In an insightful conversation with 'Hockey Te Charcha', a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Olympics, Oltmans emphasized that mental toughness will be a deciding factor for any team to succeed in Tokyo.
"For me, India is among the top five contenders to win a medal in Tokyo. The team has shown good consistency in competing with the best teams in the world over the last two years," he said.
However, Oltmans warned against needless panicking in pressure situations.
"India has already shown they can beat teams like Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, doing it at the Olympics will be a different matter. The decisive factor when you are trying to win such a tournament is the mentality of the team.
"You cannot panic if you are behind in a game or get overexcited when you are ahead. You have to be in control of each situation,” Oltmans said.
The Dutch coach anticipates that the weather conditions in Tokyo will be another key factor.
"In terms of physical fitness all the top teams in the world are at the same level so no team has an obvious advantage, but the weather conditions will be more favourable for India as they are used to that type of climate.
"The weather will definitely be harsher for the European teams, and they will have to adjust to it." Oltmans was head coach when India reached the quarterfinals in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He believes that the team has made headway since then.
"Preparing the team to secure a medal in the Tokyo Olympics was always the main objective since I joined as High Performance Director at Hockey India in 2013, and then became Chief Coach of the Men’s Team in 2015.
"India has made progress in that regard with their current standing, and Hockey India has created the conditions for this to happen through its professional setup.
"You need a good development plan, but you also need the resources to execute a plan. Hockey India and SAI have played a big part in creating and executing this plan to develop hockey in India," he added.
India has not won an Olympic medal in the sport since 1980. News source PTI
Indian women's hockey captain Ritu Rani says women's hockey team wants to win medal in Olympics for COVID warriors
Bengaluru, Jun 15 The Indian women's hockey captain Ritu Rani on Tuesday vowed that her team would leave no stone unturned to win a historic medal in the upcoming Olympics and dedicate it to the frontline workers who risked their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rani also informed that the core probables training at the Sports Authority of India Center here will undergo selection trials this week to pick the team for the Tokyo Games, which opens on July 23.
"Winning for our countrymen and women who have made many sacrifices in order to save lives during this pandemic will make it a truly special outing in Tokyo for the team," Rani said in a release.
"This Olympics is unlike any other in the past. Our country has been through a lot, we are proud of our doctors and frontline workers who have selflessly worked to save lives.
"As we work hard towards securing a medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we pledge to dedicate our efforts and hopefully our victory to these Covid warriors. We are all here and safe thanks to them." Rani said the team takes inspiration from the doctors, nurses and paramedics who have tirelessly worked without a break since the pandemic first broke out in India last year.
"We draw a lot of inspiration from these great people who have risked their own lives to save others. We have come across numerous such stories of sacrifice and humanity.
"As players, the only thing we can give in return for their great efforts is by achieving something historic and dedicate it to them and that's what we have decided to do," Rani added.
She said the vow would also give an added onus to the team to do well in the Olympics. Last year during the nationwide lockdown, the team had raised funds to help feed more than 1000 families from economically under-privileged backgrounds. The players raised over Rs 20 lakh through a 21-day online fitness challenge.
Rani stated that she and her teammates were making each and every training session count as the Tokyo Olympics is less than 40 days away.
"Everyone is pumped up to give their best shot to make it to the squad. We are undergoing selection trials this week and the environment is really good around the team," she said. News source PTI
Indian Hockey team captain Manpreet Singh determined to pay tribute to COVID warriors by winning medal in Tokyo
Bengaluru, Jun 14: Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, affirmed that the men in blue will do everything in their capacity to end India's four decade-long medal drought at the Tokyo Olympics and has pledged to dedicate the achievement to the nation's COVID warriors.
The Indian skipper is determined to pay tribute to India's frontline workers by finishing on the podium in the upcoming mega sporting event that will be held from July 23 to August 8.
"As we work hard towards the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we promise to fight all odds to win a medal for India," he said.
"And if we do get a medal, we would like to dedicate it to the true heroes of our country -- the doctors and frontline workers who have worked tirelessly to heal our country through these tough times and saved millions of lives. Thank you, Jai Hind," added Manpreet in a video released by Hockey India.
India have clinched eight Olympic gold medals in the past but their last top finish came way back in the Moscow Games in 1980.
Manpreet is elated by the commitment and dedication displayed by each and every player in the ongoing selection trials at SAI Bengaluru centre.
"Everyone is pushing each other to give their best shot," said Manpreet.
With inputs from PTI
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Staying calm in crunch situations will be key in Olympics: Hockey player Navneet Kaur
Bengaluru, Jun 12 Indian women hockey players have all the skills to compete against the world's best but they will need to stay calm and take the right decisions in crunch situations to be able to do well during the upcoming Olympics, feels forward Navneet Kaur.
Kaur, who has played 79 matches for India, said the team should try to cut down on the errors during the Tokyo Olympics which opens on July 23.
"We all have the skills and talent to take on the best in the world. However, making key decisions on the pitch is a crucial factor for any side. Therefore, it will be very important for us to stay calm during crunch situations," she said.
"Even one wrong pass could hurt us deeply, therefore, we have to ensure that we are thinking clearly and not making too many unforced errors on the pitch during the Olympics," said Kaur.
The 25-year-old said the Indian team management is ensuring that all players are clear about their roles on the pitch.
"There should be no confusion amongst the players on game day. The coaches and captain have been ensuring that everyone knows about their roles and how they can execute their plans so that we coordinate well on the pitch during matches.
"The Olympics is going to be a big challenge for us, and we have to play at our absolute best to garner good results," said the forward in a release.
Talking about the Indian team's training sessions, Kaur said, "We are having high-intensity training at the moment. We try to simulate match situations during practice and give everything we have during training sessions.
"We are very confident about our abilities and it's just about executing our plans properly on game day. If we play to our potential, we will surely do very well in Tokyo." New source PTI
Need to work hard and prove my worth for Tokyo selection: Indian women's hockey player Lilima Minz
Bengaluru, Jun 10 Experienced India women's hockey team midfielder Lilima Minz on Thursday said there is healthy competition in the side due to the emergence of many young talents and she will have to be at her best to guarantee a second Olympic appearance.
Lilima, a key player for India in the midfield, made her Olympic debut in 2016 Rio Games when the women's team qualified for the quadrennial event after 36 years.
Since then, she has been a regular in the Indian team, making 133 appearances so far.
"There are a lot of new and young players in this (national) camp who have brought a fresh approach and good healthy competition to the team.
"There is good competition for places in the final squad and I have to work hard and prove my worth for my inclusion if I want to make it there," Lilima said.
"That is what keeps me motivated to keep performing, as it is every player's dream to play the Olympics, and I know that all our players are all doing the same," added the 27-year-old from Odisha's Sundargarh district, famous for producing many international players.
Lilima said the mixture of youth and experience in the ongoing national camp here augurs well for the team.
"The Olympic core group right now there is a very healthy mix of experienced players and young players. This kind of balance allows the young players to have the guidance of senior members who know what it is like to play at the Olympic level before.
"At the same time, the young players keep the senior members on their toes as they know that there is someone who can replace them if do not perform well," she said.
"The fact that several players from 2016 Olympics squad are present here in this camp is a good thing because sometimes players can get overwhelmed at a grand occasion like the Olympics. This is where players who have been there before can offer their much needed advice." New source PTI
Tokyo Olympics: Indian hockey team preparing for games with Olympic simulation, says striker Ramandeep Singh
Bengaluru, Jun 9 The Indian men's hockey team is simulating Olympic atmosphere at its training base here to prepare for the Tokyo Games in the best possible manner, experienced forward Ramandeep Singh revealed on Wednesday.
Ramandeep said they are assessing their bodies and testing their skills by replicating their side's Olympic schedule in training as they are targeting a winning start to seize early momentum.
The Indian men's hockey team is scheduled to begin its campaign on July 24 against New Zealand. Reigning Olympic Champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan are the other teams in Pool A.
"A lot will depend on how we fair in the first match. A good result against New Zealand will set the right momentum for the rest of the tournament," Ramandeep was quoted as saying in a media release.
"We are currently replicating the Olympic Schedule, three teams with different combinations from within the Olympic core group have been formed and the coaching staff has created an atmosphere that is similar to what it would be like at the Olympics.
"We wear the Indian kit, we get ready as though we are facing a tough international opponent, we do team activation (pre-match drills) just like we would before an international game and we also line-up for the national anthem before the start of the match," explained Ramandeep, who was part of the Rio Olympics.
He further said there is a lot of excitement within the group as the team selection trials is underway.
"Of course, there is a lot of excitement within the group, and this exercise of replicating the Olympic schedule is also a good way to test our bodies with two back-to-back games and then a day's rest." "We are paying attention on recovery when we have back-to-back matches and so on. Though we missed out on travelling for international matches due to the pandemic, I feel this exercise of playing internal matches is really bringing out the match-mentality to the fore," he said.
Speaking about his own performance, Ramandeep said his knee-injury in 2018 caused a setback to an otherwise good run.
"The 2016 and 2017 for me was really good. I was in good form and was doing really well but the knee injury during Champions Trophy in 2018 was a big setback.
"It took me about six-seven months to recover and just when I had begun playing, I had an ankle injury. But mid 2019 onwards I have been doing well and I believe I have returned to my old form," stated Ramandeep.
He was also part of the national team that played in Europe but unfortunately, he suffered a cut on his hand that forced him out of the tour after the first game against Germany which India won 6-1.
"I also ended up missing the Argentina Tour due to this minor injury, I was rested for about 15-20 days. But now I feel I am in good nick," he said. New source PTI
Will settle for nothing less than a medal in Tokyo, says Indian hockey goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak
Bengaluru, Jun 8 The Indian men's hockey team has progressed immensely in the last few years and would settle for nothing less than a podium finish at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak said on Tuesday.
Pathak strongly believes the Tokyo Games are India's best opportunity to break their four decade-long medal drought at the Olympics. India have won eight gold medals in the past but their last top finish came way back in 1980 Moscow Olympics.
"We have played really well against the top teams in the last few years. We have shown our mettle in the FIH Hockey Pro League as well. All the players are very confident about their games and are very determined to make history for India.
"We have progressed well as a team and the time has come for us to apply our skills to the best of our abilities and execute our plans properly. We are aiming for nothing short of a medal and we believe we can win a medal at the Olympics this year," Pathak said in a Hockey India release.
The 24-year-old Pathak, who has secured his place as India's second custodian behind the experienced PR Sreejesh, said coordination between a goalkeeper and defenders is key to a strong and solid backline.
"There might be only one goalkeeper on the pitch, but he is definitely not alone. I keep speaking to the defenders about their plans and ensure that I am in sync with them.
"If I can coordinate well with the defenders, then we will definitely have a strong defence line and make sure that we don't concede any easy goal," he said.
Talking about India's preparation for the Games to be held from July 23 till August 8, Pathak said they are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit for a podium finish. "The Olympics is not very far away and so we are all putting in everything we have in every practice session. The coaches have devised high-intensity practice sessions for us.
"We have been playing well as a group for a few years and we want to make sure that we play to our full potential at the quadrennial Games. It's going to be a big challenge for us, but we are definitely up for it," added the goalkeeper, who has played 50 matches for the country so far. New source PTI
Indian hockey team strong Olympic medal contender: former hockey player Tushar Khandekar
New Delhi, Jun 7 The Indian men's hockey team would be a strong medal contender in the Olympic Games thanks to the self-belief it has acquired over the past decade by raising its game against top teams, feels former forward Tushar Khandekar.
The Olympics is scheduled to open on July 23 in Tokyo.
"I feel the way the team (Indian Men's Team) is doing right now; they are a strong contender to finish on the podium," Tushar said on 'Hockey Te Charcha', a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Games.
He said players understand what small mistakes can do in big-ticket events such as the Olympics. The Indian team has been in impressive form during its tours of Australia and Europe in the past few months.
"We have learnt from each of the Olympic Games. While we didn't qualify in 2008, we finished 12th in London and 8th in Rio. We learnt from the mistakes we made in 2012," he said.
"...players part of the London Olympics like Sreejesh, Manpreet, Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Raghunath (and others) who also got to play in Rio had told themselves the team won't make the same mistakes they made in London.
"Likewise, I am sure players who were part of the Rio Olympics will caution the team of the errors they need to avoid making in Tokyo." Khandekar, who was part of India's support staff between 2014 to 2016 as the assistant coach, believes the current squad has raised the level in every aspect.
"I feel the current team has raised the level and they have developed a great sense of self belief that they can do well against top teams of the world.
"After a slump in 2008-09, it has taken us 10-11 years to climb to this level we are at now," stated the former India forward who made his International debut in 2003. News source: PTI
Asian Hockey Federation to organise online education workshops for Hockey India coaches, match officials
New Delhi, Jun 5 The Asian Hockey Federation will organise three virtual education workshops exclusively for Hockey India coaches, umpires and technical officials this month.
The AHF had successfully organised such workshops once every 30 days in the last 11 months.
A group of 12-30 coaches and umpires will attend the AHF-HI Exclusive Online Education Workshops this month.
Aimed at providing technical expertise and knowledge on various aspects of decision making for umpires and goal scoring dynamics for the coaches, these online education workshops will be conducted free of cost.
"Our coaches, umpires and technical officials have learned a lot through the AHF Online Education Workshops, and we cannot thank the Asian Hockey Federation enough for their valuable contribution. It's been an absolute pleasure working with the AHF in the last eleven months," HI president Gyanendro Ningombam said in a statement.
AHF CEO Tayyab Ikram, who is also the chairman of FIH Development and Education Committee, added: "It has been brilliant to organise the AHF Online Education Workshops exclusively for Hockey India coaches, umpires and technical officials.
"The candidates have grasped various techniques very well and have grown at a rapid pace." Besides, the AHF will also organise another set of online education workshops for all Asian hockey-playing nations this month. HI has nominated a maximum of six candidates for each of these education workshops.
All the participating candidates will receive a participation certificate that will help them in the future FIH and AHF Course Selection.
The workshops for HI will be held on June 19, 20 and 27. New source PTI
Everyone is gutted, we deserved something out of the game: Indian hockey player Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Doha, Jun 4 India must learn to capitalise on their chances when up against big teams, said a gutted Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, whose goalkeeping heroics could not prevent a 0-1 defeat to Qatar in their FIFA World Cup Qualifier here.
Just 33 minutes into their joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifier, Asian champions Qatar were a goal and a man up in their own den, but India fought valiantly till the end to avoid losing by a bigger margin on Thursday night.
"I think we were very unfortunate with the result. Everybody in the pitch gave their everything and that's what we need. Very very unfortunate not to get something out of this game," he said in a video shared by All India Football Federation (AIFF) on its Twitter handle.
"I think everyone is gutted because the way we played, we deserved something out of it. But things happen in football and we now move on to the next game." India were down to 10 men very early after Rahul Bheke was given the marching orders for handling the ball outside the box.
"Going a man down in the first half is always hard against a very good opposition like Qatar. I think we had our chances, we just should learn how to take them because against good opposition such chances come very rare," Sandhu said.
India may have suffered a bigger defeat had it not been for Sandhu, who pulled off as many as nine saves in the group E match.
India had managed to play out a goal-less draw in their first leg match here in September 2019, largely due to Sandhu's impressive show under the bar that time as well.
Asked about his saves, Sandhu said: "I honestly didn't (count the number of saves), but I think it was more than last time." India will play Bangladesh in their next match on June 7. New source PTI
Indian women's hockey team already training in Tokyo time
Bengaluru, Jun 4 The members of the Indian women's hockey team have been training for the upcoming Olympics in such a manner that their biological clock is already set to the Tokyo time, says senior mid-fielder Namita Toppo.
With less than 50 days to go for the Tokyo Games, there is a lot of excitement among the members of the Indian women's Olympic core probable group which currently training in a bio-secure environment at the SAI Centre here.
"Fitness continues to be a key area of focus," Toppo said in a release.
"The weather in Tokyo is going to be quite challenging and our training sessions are planned in such a way that our biological clock is set to the time we will be playing matches in Tokyo.
"We are also playing a lot of internal matches to build that match-momentum. There is just a lot of enthusiasm in the team with less than 50 days for the Games to begin and we are not letting any external factor affect our excitement," Toppo added.
The selection of the final 16 players who will represent the country in Tokyo is awaited and Toppo said there is no dearth of talent in the squad with several youngsters rising the ranks.
"Over the past three years, a very talented bunch of young players have made it to the senior core group who have really done well for the team in international tours, and they have also gained experience of playing in big-ticket events including the Asian Games and the World Cup...
"...so in that sense, it's not guaranteed that any players has an assured place in the team for the Olympics." Toppo, who has over 160 international caps and was also part of the team that represented India at the Rio Olympics for the first time in 36 years, said that all the players will have to give it their all in every single session if they want to see themselves in the final 16 for Tokyo.
Speaking of the prospects of playing at the Olympics for the second time, Toppo said, "It would be fantastic if I get to play in the Olympics for the second time. But for now, my focus is to continue working hard and execute on a daily basis what is expected of me from the coaching staff." New source PTI
Oman preferred over India to host inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup
Lausanne, Jun 3 The Executive Board of the FIH on Thursday picked Oman to host the inaugural Hockey5s World Cups (Men and Women) to be played in January 2024 as India and Pakistan failed to get the nod.
Matches will take place in Oman’s capital city Muscat, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said in a statement.
FIH had also received bids from India, Pakistan and Singapore to host this event.
The Hockey5s’ flagship event is a brand-new FIH competition. Sixteen teams per gender (3 per continent + Oman as hosts) will take part in this first edition.
Continental Hockey5s qualifiers for the World Cup will be organized in 2022.
"We're looking forward to a wonderful inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup in Oman. This surely will be a great boost for the promotion of hockey both in the country and in the whole region," FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.
"We're convinced that Hockey5s will play a key role in the growth of hockey worldwide. This is why this World Cup has been created, as well as a Hockey5s World Tour which we are currently working on." In 2019, the FIH Executive Board decided to create an FIH Hockey5s World Cup, with a view to further boosting the development of the game globally through the promotion of its 5-a-side format.
Played in about 70 countries in the world, Hockey5s was the most attended sport at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. New source PTI