Hockey: Teams gear up for Olympics, India beat France 8-2

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Bangalore, June 30: All hockey teams participating in the London Olympics starting next month are sweating it out with full vigour before the final showdown. The Netherlands have already reached London to acclimatize themselves with the weather and food. They have already won the first of the two test games against the Great Britain 2-1. A welcome news for the Dutch, ranked third in the world, is the return of Teun de Nooijer, who had been off the turf since May 6 and missed the Dutch play-offs and EHL finals owing to a leg injury.

New Zealand, who were won of the two qualifiers in the Olympics from Oceania, suffered badly in the hands of their trans-Tasman neighbours Australia, the top-ranked team in the world, in a series of three matches. The dazzling Aussies scored 15 times against the Black Sticks in three matches while conceded just three. The only reason for the Kiwis to rejoice is that their veteran goal-keeper, Kyle Pontifex, earned his 150th cap in the final match of the series.

Germany, the defending Olympic champions, had a smooth sail at the ERGO Masters in DÜsseldorf earlier this week where they beat Spain 6-3, the Netherlends 3-2 and tied Belgium 3-3. The German head coach, Markus Weise, declared the team squad for the Olympics soon after the results and it comprises 10 of the gold medallions from Beijing. Among other results, Belgium lost 0-3 to the Dutch but beat the Spanish 1-0 to finish second. The Dutch ended third in the table.

South Africa were competing in the Celtic Cup at Lisnagarvey HC in Northern Ireland. They lost the first match to Ireland 2-4 although coach Gregg Clark was confident that his team would do well against Wales and Scotland. South Africa and Ireland will take on Belgium in a triangular meet next weekend.

India, the eight-time Olympic gold winners, had a terrific match against France, routing the hosts 8-2 in the first of the two friendly matches at Lilee on Thursday. India came back from 0-1 to pump in a flurry of foals against the French, whom they had beaten in February to earn an Olympiuc berth after 8 years. India will later play Spain and South Africa in two test matches in Santander between July 5 and 11. They will also take the Great Britain twice ain Santander. All these matches will be played on blue turf and with yellow kookaburra balls. India PR Sreejesh, Birendra Lakra, Tushak Khandker and SV Sunil in the match against France while Nitin Thimmiah and Pradhan Somanna made their international debut.

Women's hockey results

In the women's hockey, world champions Argentina drew the last of their four-match series with the Pan-American neighbour, the USA, 2-2. While Noel Barrionuevo scored both the goals for the Las Leonas, Melissa Gonzalez and Paige Selenski scored for the US. Both these teams are in the same group in the London Olympics. The Netherlands eves put up a good show against their Chinese counterparts last weekend. They routed China 4-1, 5-0 and 5-2 in the first three games. China, however, pulled one back at 1-1. Both these teams are also in the same pool in the Olumpics. Germany were scheduled to take on Belgium on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. The Germans are also set for a week-long camp in Worms and Mainz for the big occasion.

South African women were currently training in a camp back home and will travel to Europe soon. They will take on the Netherlands in two test matches before locking horms with the Great Britain and Germany in the Bremen Four Nations tournament.

Oneindia News

Story first published: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 18:18 [IST]
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