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HI announces 16-member Olympic hockey squad

News4u - Sports Desk  -India on Monday named a 16-member hockey squad, to be led by goalkeeper Bharat Chetri, for next month’s London Olympics, ending days of speculation but as expected without any major surprises.

Only two changes were made from the squad that finished third in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia with striker Yuvraj Walmiki and Rupinderpal Singh being left out, preferring veteran Ignace Tirkey and Gurwinder Singh Chandi in their place.

Walmiki and Rupinderpal’s axing was on expected lines as the duo had been struggling of late.

Walmiki has also not fully recovered from the injury he sustained during the Olympic qualifying event in February though he played in Malaysia.

The squad was picked after a two-day selection trials at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune on June 6 and 7.

Star mid-fielder Sardar Singh will be the vice-captain of the team.

The selectors decided to go in with two goalkeepers in captain Chetri and PR Sreejesh for the quadrennial sporting extravaganza to be held in London from July 27 to August 12.

According to the squad announced by Hockey India, Sarwanjeet Singh and Kothajit Singh would travel with the team to London as standbys. The duo can only be included in the main team in case of any serious injury to the first 16 players.

Veteran Tirkey will marshall the three-man Indian defence along with drag-flick duo of Sandeep Singh and V R Raghunath.

Talismanic Sardar will lead the mid-field, India’s strongest area, in company of Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurbaj Singh.

Striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi made a return to the squad after recovering from his hamstring injury sustained during the Olympic test event in London last month.

Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker, S V Sunil, Dharamvir Singh and S K Uthappa complete the forward line-up.

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India loss to Argentina, crash out of Azlan Shah title race

News4u - Sports Desk :  Five-time champions India’s title hopes came a cropper after they suffered a 2-3 defeat against Argentina in a crucial match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Wednesday. 

India suffered from their inability to capitalise on openings and also feeble defense to allow Argentina to call the shots.

Two field goals by Matias Paredes (37th minute) and Santiago Montelli (38th) soon after the half-time gave Argentina the advantage and then Gonzalo Peillat (58th) converted a penalty corner to ensure a victory for the Pan American champions.

The Indians fought hard and reduced the margin twice through goals from Sardar Singh (48th minute) and V R Raghunath (61st minute), but an equaliser eluded them inspite of repeated attacks into the rival citadel.

India have now lost three of their five matches, logging just six points ahead of Thursday’s last league outing against Pakistan.

Argentina have boosted their tally to nine points with three successive wins after starting with two losses.

The first session was mostly confined to the midfield with both teams often losing possession on top of the rival circle.

India created two openings from the left flank, but were unable to capitalise on them.

India’s first penalty corner in the sixth minute was also wasted as Sandeep Singh’s rising flick was deflected out by a defender.

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Sher-E-Punjab rout Pune Strykers to clinch inaugural World Series Hockey crown

News4u-News Desk-Sher-E-Punjab on Monday night justified their top billing by coming from a goal down to trounce Pune Strykers 5-2 to lift the inaugural WSH crown in front of a packed gathering at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium.

Stunned by an early field goal scored from what looked to be an impossible angle by Strykers’ Tyron Pereira, Sher-E-Punjab players fought back in brilliant style through their experienced campaigners and ex-internationals Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh, the captain who scored twice.
The Punjab goal scorers, who soaked up the pressure of their younger and speedier rivals very well in the first half and led 2-1, were VS Vinaya (6th minute), Thakur (33rd), Prabhjot (47th and 66th minutes) and Harpreet (57th).

Simrandeep Randhawa notched a consolation penalty corner goal for the losing team in the last minute of the summit clash to reduce the margin of defeat.

While the first half saw an evenly contested game, the Punjab team totally took control of the proceedings in the latter half to emerge convincing winners of the first edition of the eight-team tournament that began on February 29.

The winners received Rs 4 crore and the runners-up Rs 2 crore. The losing semifinalists - Chandigarh Comets and Karnataka Lions - got Rs one crore each.

Strykes, who had come back from the brink of defeat in the semifinal against Chandigarh Comets last night, started the match in brilliant fashion by making the first foray deep into the rival half and got a splendid goal in the process.

Tyron Pereira scooped over all the defenders and custodian Sukhjit Singh into the goal from a very acute angle on the right, with no one expecting such a shot to give the Strykers the early lead in the 4th minute.

However, the advantage for Pune was short-lived as the Punjab outfit restored parity in the very next minute from their first penalty corner award taken in an indirect manner, with VS Vinaya finding the mark to the left of a flummoxed Strykers goalie Gurpreet Singh Guri.


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Easy start for Indian men in hockey Olympic qualifier

News4u-Sports Desk-Past masters of the game, India could not have asked for a weaker oposition than Singapore to kick start their hockey Olympic Qualifiers campaign in New Delhi on Saturday as they look to avoid the ignominy of missing out on a berth for the quadrennial event for the second successive time.

 

India, with a record eight Olympic men’s titles, suffered a setback four years ago when they failed to make it to the 2008 Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years.

But come this time around, a favourable draw and familiar conditions have made the 10th-ranked Indians a strong favourite for the lone ticket to London, which is up for grabs from the six-team competition, comprising Canada (14th), France (18th), Poland (19th), Italy (28th) and Singapore (41st).

The upcoming qualification tournament is also the first big test for India’s Australian coach Michael Nobbs, who has done a commedable job with the Indians in terms of fitness and performances since joining the team last year.

Because of his low-profile and the attacking style of hockey he preaches, Nobbs struck a chord with his wards from the word go and instilled belief in the players as well followers that India can regain its lost glory again.

Under Nobbs and exercise physiologist David John, the Indian have become much more fitter in the last seven months, which is clearly reflecting on their game.

There is a blend of experience and freshness in the 18-member Indian squad which Nobbs has handpicked for the qualifiers.

In ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, veteran Ignace Tirkey, Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandekar and captain Bharat Chetri, the Indian team boasts of ample experience. In fact, Sandeep and Ignace are the only two players in the current team who have played in an Olympics (2004 Athens) before.

There is a mixture of youth and experience in every area of the team. While in Shivendra India has got an experienced striker, young Yuvraj Walmiki has turned our to be a prolific goal-scorer for his country.

Another youngster, S V Sunil, who has replaced former captain Rajpal Singh in the team, has been a revelation in the right flank, while as always Sardar Singh is the king of India’s mid-field.

The availability of three drag-flickers in Sandeep, V R Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh, also give the Indians a rare upperhand over their opponents in the tournament.

The only area which might give Nobbs some concern is India’s fragile defensive line. While Sandeep has never been rock solid at the back, Raghunath and Rupinder are starters and has the tendency to fumble under pressure.

It should be relatively easy outings for the Indians in the first two games against Singapore and Italy, who are way behind the Asian giants in international hockey.

Singapore, which has replaced the United States’ barely three weeks before the event, is a young team and comprises university students with little experience of playing international hockey, a reason why the column of international caps in their team sheet is blank.

“The matches against Singapore and Italy will be our practice matches,” India skipper Chetri had said when asked whether lack of practice matches would be an impediment for his team ahead of the tournament.


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Sachin Tendulkar, Dhyan Chand can now be given Bharat Ratna

News4u-news Desk-courtesy toi- NEW DELHI: In a significant move clearing decks for Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand and others to get Bharat Ratna, the government has made a necessary change in eligibility criteria for a person getting the India’s highest civilian honour. 

The Bharat Ratna will now be awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order “in any field of human endeavour” - covering almost all the fields that had earlier remained out of the purview of this civilian award.

Earlier, it was restricted to areas like “Art, Literature, Science and Public Service”, making it difficult for government to consider names of those, who contributed immensely to other fields, including sports.

“The change is made through notification by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on recommendation of the home and sports ministries,” said a senior official.

Supporting sports ministry’s demand to include ‘sports’ as a category for the award of Bharat Ratna, the home ministry had written to the PMO in July, asking it to take the call as the decision would help outstanding sportspersons to be considered for the highest civilian award.

As the clamour for awarding Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar and Dhyan Chand gets louder, sports minister Ajay Maken had earlier written to home minister P Chidambaram seeking inclusion of ‘sports’ as a category for the award of Bharat Ratna. Maken, however, did not plead for any specific sportsperson or sports.

Before the change which is made now, the Bharat Ratna was considered only for those, who excelled for “exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order”. The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna - that was instituted in 1954 - are made by Prime Minister himself to President.

Though names of persons as per the eligibility criteria can be recommended by different state\Union Territories governments, organizations and individuals to PMO for consideration, no “formal recommendation” for this is necessary. It is also not mandatory that Bharat Ratna is awarded every year. The number of awards is, however, restricted to a maximum of three in a year.

So far, 41 people have been conferred with Bharat Ratna. The first three Indians, who received the prestigious award, were Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954. There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.

The award has been conferred to a naturalized Indian citizen Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990). Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was the last recipient of the award in 2009.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Lata Mangeshkar, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Amartya Sen, Jayprakash Narayan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi, J R D Tata, A P J Abdul Kalam,Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and Bhimrao Ambedkar are among the other recipients of Bharat Ratna.TOI

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Belgium beat India 4-3 to win Champions Challenge hockey tournamentBelgium beat India 4-3 to win Champions Challenge hockey tournament

News4u-Sports Desk-

NEW DELHI: Indian hockey team suffered a dramatic defeat as they conceded a goal in the last minute to go down 3-4 to Belgium in the final of Champions Challenge after leading 2-0. 

VR Raghnath converted a penalty corner to open Indian account in the 23rd minute as India were leading 1-0 after the first half.

Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh continued his good run and increased India’s lead to 2-0 in the 40th minute after scoring his 7th goal in the tournament, all came through penalty corners.

Belgium back with a bang as they leveled the scores in the 55th minute. Shivendra Singhscored in the 54th minute to give India lead but Belgium made another comeback as they level the score in the 57th minute.

Belgium held their nerve in the last minute to take the lead and clinched the summit clash.

Belgium thus qualified for the Champions Trophy next year.

 

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India enter semis at Champions Challenge Hockey

News4u-Sports Desk-VR Raghunath slammed a golden goal in the last minute of extra-time as India beat Malaysia 5-4 in a thrilling match to advance to the semifinals of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament Johannesburg on Thursday.  

 

Raghunath sent a low shot into the left corner of the goal after a late recovery saw India level 4-4 in regulation period of the action-packed quarterfinal encounter.

The Indian goal had two narrow shaves in sudden-death extra-time when breakaway moves saw Malaysian strikers Faizal Saari and Izwan Firdaus in one-on-one position with goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, but delayed shots by the home side players allowed India stay in the contest.

The Indians were ahead 2-0 before Malaysia struck back to slam four goals.

Then, the desperate Indians scored twice in the last six minutes of the regulation period to take the game into extra-time.

Sandeep Singh converted two successive penalty corners, in the sixth and 23rd minutes to give India a 2-0 lead before Malaysia staged a remarkable rally and controlled the game until the 64th minute.

Izwan Firdaus opened Malaysia’s scoring with a field goal in the 33rd minute off a pass from Azlan Misron and India were leading 2-1 at half-time.

Misron got he Malaysian equaliser in the 42nd minute as he flicked past a crowded defence and over the Indian goalkeeper.

Malaysia’s third goal came on a breakaway move in 46th minute that caught the Indian defence off-guard.

Goalkeeper Sreejesh blocked the first shot from Tengku Ahmed who then slammed the board with a firm shot on the rebound.

Misron scored his second goal from Malaysia’s second penalty corner, deflecting Amin Rahim’s shot in a set-piece execution in the 56th minute.

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India thrash Poland 7-0 in Champions Challenge hockey

News4u-Sports Desk-Tushar Khandekar and Yuvraj Walmiki scored two goals each as India spanked Poland 7-0 to enhance their chances of finishing on top of group A in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament in Johannesburg today.

 

Finishing with seven points from three matches, India now await the result of the Belgium-South Africa match to know if they finish on top the group.

The Pool A toppers will take on Malaysia in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

Belgium and India both had four points each before the last round of group matches, but Belgium enjoyed a one-goal edge in goal difference to lead the pool standings ahead of Tuesday’s games.

India enjoyed complete domination against Poland, who have lost all their three preliminary league matches with huge margins.

To start with, India had a narrow shave in the 11th minute when Polish captain Dariusz Rachwalski’s deflection on a penalty corner went just wide with he defenders beaten.

Walmiki opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he deflected Manjeet Kulu’s long diagonal shot past the goalkeeper.

Shivendra Singh then capitalised on a Danish Mujtaba pass for India’s second goal in the 23th minute.

At the other end, Poland were unlucky not to have scored two minutes later when Tomasz Gorny’s firm shot hit the post after beating the goalkeeper.

Walmiki’s opportunistic 33rd-minute strike produced his second goal to give India a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Manpreet Singh capitalised on SV Sunil’s pass in the 44th minute to continue the scoring spree in the second session.

Birender Lakra slammed in a reverse drive in the 53rd minute before Khandekar scored a brace in the 55th and 70th minutes.

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Sandeep, Sunil star in India’s 7-4 victory over South Africa

News4u-Sports Desk-

Drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh and striker SV Sunil scored two goals each as India dished out fast-paced and entertaining hockey to beat South Africa 7-4 in the Champions Challenge in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Playing a fine, brisk game to match their robust rivals, India capitalised on every scoring opportunity to open a big margin after being level at 4-4 until the 55th minute in the Pool A league match.

Sandeep converted two penalty corners in the 14th and 35th minutes, while Saravanjit Singh (29th) and Tushar Khandekar (41st) scored one apiece.

South Africa kept pace with goals coming from Justin Reid-Ross (sixth minute), Marvin Harper (38th), Miguel de Garcia (46th) and Tim Drummond (48th) before India struck a purple patch with three goals in the last 15 minutes.

Sunil, opening up the South African defence with his fine runs down the right flank, capitalised on a Khandekar pass in the 55th minute and slammed a rising rebound from a 66th minute penalty corner into the net.

Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake with a 65th minute penalty stroke as India surprised the rival defence on several occasions and ran away with a well-deserved victory.

The victory gave India four points from two matches, the same as Belgium, who drew 3-3 with India and beat Poland 7-3 on Sunday.

Belgium rode on Tom Boon’s four-goal burst to emerge 7-3 victors over Poland in the Pool A match.

In Pool B action, Pan American champions Argentina rallied with two second-half goals to pull off a 3-2 victory over Canada while Malaysia scored a 69th minute goal to clinch a 2-2 draw with Japan. 

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Rajpal left out of Champions Challenge team

News4u - Sports Desk :

Former captain Rajpal Singh and veteran midfielder Ignace Tirkey were the notable omissions from an 18-member Indian hockey team announced on Friday for the FIH Men’s Champions Challenge I from 26th November to 4th December  in Johannesburg.

 

Tirkey was vice-captain of the team during the recent tour of Australia and has been replaced by forward Tushar Khandekar in the position.

Other notable omissions were forwards Bharat Chikara, Ravipal and Gurvinder Singh Chandi.

Striker Shivendra Singh also returns to the team after remaining on the sidelines for a few months with a freak collarbone injury that he suffered during a national camp in B Bangalore in July this year.

India have been drawn in Pool A of the Championship along with Belgium, Poland and host South Africa.

Birendra Lakra and Chinglensana Singh Kangujam were the new entrants in the team.

The team will be captained by goalkeeper Bharat Chetri who has 116 international caps.

The team: Bharat Kumar Chetri (GK and Captain), Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran (GK), Manjeet Kullu, Rupinder Pal Singh, VR Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh, Arjun Halappa, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Sarvanjit Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, SV Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker (Vice Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Shivendra Singh.

India Matches Schedule:

26 Nov India v Belgium Pool ‘A’ 1500 hrs.
27 Nov India v South Africa Pool ‘A’ 1700 hrs.
29 Nov India v Poland Pool ‘A’ 1500 hrs.
1 Dec Quarter Finals
2 Dec Play Off Teams (5/8)
3 Dec Semifinals
4 Dec Play off for positions (3/4, 5/6, 7/8) and 
Final.

Rajpal Singh

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