A 21-year-old drought was broken on Sunday May 27 when a slick Khalsa outfit won Hong Kong hockey’s 2011-12 Holland Cup Final in a tight affair against Valley-A at King’s Park Hockey Ground.
Valley-A set off at a tremendous pace, but were soon forced back by Khalsa-A and had to defend for most of the match. They did so admirably as it was not until 32 minutes into the game that a long ball was directed to Ahmed Ewis to the left of the Valley “D”. He picked the ball up and rounded two of the Valley defenders before striking a brilliant goal.
Seven minutes into the second half, Ahmed Ewis scored a second by deflecting the ball into the Valley goal from close quarters.
Valley’s Benjamin Glynn got a goal back with 23 minutes of the game remaining by firing through the defence, but a mistake on the Valley goal line at the other end gave Khalsa a penalty stroke that was well converted by Hong Kong International Inderpal Singh to make it 3-1.
Valley pressed and notched up another goal with eight minutes left with a push shot at a fine angle behind the goalie by Te Rautangata Brown, following a close range shot by Thibaut Dimaret. But, although determined to the end, Valley could not get the equaliser. Khalsa had won the Holland Cup by 3 goals to 2.
This was Khalsa’s second cup win this month, having secured the Premier Division Challenge trophy just two weeks earlier. It is also the second time they have won the Holland Cup–the last was in the 1990-1991 season.
Going into the Final, Valley were probably at a disadvantage. They had played a hard-fought battle against Shaheen-A in the rescheduled Semi-final match played just four days earlier. Valley were leading 2-1 at half-time, but Shaheen scored from three penalty corners in succession early in the second half. Valley really had to work hard, but managed to come back to win the game five goals to four. This must have taken a toll on them physically.
Gurcharan Singh, the Khalsa Academy Chairman, struggled at times to find the words to express his glee.
“I am really excited we got the double finals, winning the Youth Final and now the Holland Cup after 21 years. I am super excited because I have won as a player, as a captain and now as a manager,” said Singh to The Epoch Times. “So, I am proud for the Khalsa and for the whole community that has come to support the Khalsa. We are really excited, I don’t quite know how to express it … but we are really happy.
“Superb hockey today. Valley played really well and they defended well, and they kept on trying right up to the end. We kept making the penetration, but it takes a bit of time to break through. Ahmed is an amazing player, but Inderpal that scored the penalty also laid on the goals for Ahmed.”
Gurcharan, who is also Khalsa’s team manager, reflected on their second-place in Hong Kong Hockey Association’s (HKHA) 2011-12 Premier League, which has 18 weeks of matches played between September to March.
“Our priority next year will be the League. We missed out this year with careless mistakes that we made this season. The consistency and speed, and skills of the players over the last two months has been excellent. Our draw with Shaheen-A was the real turning point in the League and also our 4-4 draw with Pakistan Association-A early in the season. Against Football Club it’s 50/50 every time; at home they are a bit stronger while at King’s Park we normally have the edge.”
The HKHA Cup between Punjab-A and KNS was a well-contested final.
Punjab-A did not seem to have the sharpness from a few weeks ago when they played Khalsa-B in the Quarter Finals. At that time it looked like they were a top side, but in the Semi-final and this Final the passes were going astray and composure seemed lacking.
Although Punjab got the first goal with 18 minutes to go in the first half, KNS came back scoring twice in the last five minutes of the half, making the score two goals to one at the interval. Punjab, however, increased the pressure in the second half and notched up the two goals needed to take the title. But take nothing away from KNS, they played excellent hockey and were worthy finalists … maybe they can go one better next year?
In the Final of the Plate competition Police-A showed good speed and skills against the experienced and mature HKFC-F side. Both sides had chances to score, but it was not until 21 minutes into the game that the Police broke the stranglehold.
Lots of opportunities came and went, but it was not until three minutes from full-time that HKFC-F made it one-all and forced extra time. No goal was scored in extra time so the game was decided on penalties, with a final 3-2 score line to Police-A.
Police had beaten HKCC-B by 2 goals to 1 in the delayed Semi-final last Thursday May 24. They performed exceptionally well in the Final considering they had only a few day’s break for recovery.
The Bowl Final also went down to the wire requiring a penalty shoot-out to separate SSSC-C and Shaheen-C. After a 0-0 score line at full-time, neither side scored a “golden goal” during the 15 minutes of extra time (seven and a half minutes each way). Shaheen-C showed good temperament under pressure to win the penalty shootout.
In the Youth Hockey Cup, Khalsa’s team played well against a well-coached KCC Dragons team and did sufficient to win the match 8 goals to 3. The loss broke a five-year winning streak for the Dragons in the event that has been held since 2000-01.
In the Plate Final, Hong Kong Sikh-A beat their Club-B side by three goals to nil.
The Finals in the annual knock-out tournament brings to conclusion the elimination matches where a total of 74 teams participated since December. It also marks the end of the 2011-12 HKHA organised hockey matches. We’ll have to wait until September this year for more local hockey action.
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