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Why penalty corner conversions have gone down? | Hockey

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Practice over, Amit Rohidas rolled down his socks, removed the shin guard to show the bruises and welts, the consequence of being the first rusher in a decade-long career for India. Unafraid of the ball travelling like a bullet towards him during penalty corners (PC), the India vice-captain will continue performing his role like other rushers all over the world.

The rate of penalty corner conversions has been declining over the years in sharp contrast to the 1990s, 2000s or even early 2010s. Hockey has moved from when teams wishing to win tournaments had just one target: convert one-third of your PCs and you will stand a good chance of winning.

Improved equipment is part of the reason. With cleats, shin, knee and mouth guards, gloves, groin cups and masks, runners now have the confidence to rush towards the drag-flickers. “The difference now is the equipment is a lot better for defence. That gives more confidence to the first runner to be running in the line of the ball, minimising our angle to score,” said drag-flick great Gonzalo Peillat, who was the top scorer when Argentina won the Rio 2016 gold. He plays for Germany now.

Improved fitness is another. That means rushers are coming out faster. The last decade has seen the responsibility of defending a PC shift from a goalkeeper to the first rusher. In most cases, while the goalkeeper’s focus is to protect the right side, the left is guarded by rushers.

At the ongoing World Cup, after 24 group stage matches, only 43 of the 239 penalty corners have been converted at a rate of 17.99%. It is down from 23.9% at the same stage during the 2018 World Cup when 40 of 167 resulted in goals.

Not worried

But drag-flickers and experts are sure of finding workarounds. “We need to study a lot more about defence, what the goalkeepers do, what the rushers do, what positions are made available to score, how to manipulate the opponent,” said Peillat, the 2014 World Cup’s highest scorer.

A lot more emphasis is given to data and video analysis today to be aware of the positions of the rushers and flickers’ peripheral vision. “We study techniques, the running patterns of rushers, how they approach the ball and how to find the loopholes so when you drag you get more time,” said Harmanpreet Singh, India skipper and also the team’s primary PC specialist.

Harmanpreet highlighted the importance of the accuracy and speed of the pusher before it reaches the trapper. “The faster we approach the ball, the more time we will get. We try to learn how to do things around the rusher, how to beat the first rusher, find time and gap,” he said.

Though still less, the conversion rate has seen a gradual increase in the tournament: from 10.7% in the first two days to 17.99% after the group stages. “The percentage is still not as high as you’d expect but it’ll increase. Normally for a tournament it might be 15-20% but for the team that wins it could be as high as 30%,” said the great Ric Charlesworth, who coached Australia to 2010 and 2014 World Cup titles.

To counter the rushers, adjustments are made by teams. If a team has two or more world-class rushers, like Australia have Blake Govers and Jeremy Hayward and Belgium Alexander Hendrickx and Loick Luypaert, then teams can confuse the first rusher. While variations too come into play, it also helps if flickers take less time. “There are always solutions teams are working on. As the tournament goes on, we will see them doing better. Don’t forget it is still a good goalscoring chance,” said Charlesworth.

One of the pioneers and greatest exponents of the art, Bram Lomans was the lynchpin of the Dutch team that won the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He also guided Netherlands to the World Cup crown in 1998. The 47-year-old worked with Indian PC specialists in December, helping Harmanpreet and Co devise ways to get around the rushers.

“I tried to increase their speed. We were trying to make them work better against defenders. We identified which player is good at what kind of flick. There are a few different techniques with which you can do different things,” said Lomans, who also coached India’s drag-flickers online during Covid-19.

The Dutchman said the declining conversion rate will go up as drag-flickers will find “different holes, different ways or play with more variations.” It doesn’t happen automatically, said Lomans who won Champions Trophy in 2002 and 2003. “There has to be very good analysis from coaching staff and players need to be aware where the chances are.”

Usually, during a penalty corner, four rushers and a goalkeeper work together to halt the ball. While two rushers aim to run as fast as possible to the one likely to take the flick – there are normally two standing at the top of the striking circle – two remain behind to assist the goalie.

“If you have two guys running full on, one staying close to goalkeeper, meaning you have only one defender to evade. And you always have seven attackers. If you can outplay the two rushers, you have a very good chance of scoring and that could be via deflection or passing the ball to someone else who can flick it. It is like a chess game – if they do this, you can do this,” said Lomans.

Lomans was not worried about the conversion rate either. “It is not the most important thing. It is more about being good at the right moment than getting the right percentage. I was never too worried about the conversion rate but more about the moments you score,” he said.


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Tottenham vs Manchester City, Premier League Live Streaming: When and Where | Football News

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Manchester City will face off against Tottenham in the Premier League match on Sunday. Both teams are coming off having secured victories in their previous matches. The City overpowered Wolves 3-0 in their previous match while the Tottenham defeated Fulham 1-0 in their last game.

Heaveyweights Manchester City are currently placed in the second position with 45 points. On the other hand, Tottenham are at the fifth spot with 36 points. The City team are in tremendous form having lost just three matches this season.

As the likes of stars Cristian Romero, Harry Kane, Ivan Perisic, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish are expected to participate, the contest offers plenty of excitement for the fans.

Here are the live streaming details:

When will the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham take place?

The Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham will take place on Sunday, February 5, 2023.

Where will the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham be held?

The Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham will be held in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

What time the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham start?

The Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham will start at 10:00 PM IST.

Which TV channels will broadcast the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham?

The Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham will be broadcast on Star Sports network.

Where will the live streaming of the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham be available?

The live streaming of the the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham will be available on Disney+ Hotstar app and Jio TV.


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Habitat for Humanity organises 4th edition of Charity Golf Tournament in Mumbai

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Habitat for Humanity India, a leading housing non-profit organisation, organised the fourth edition of its charity golf tournament at the prestigious Willingdon Sports Club in Mumbai. The proceeds from the charity golf tournament will be used to build energy-efficient homes in Maharashtra.

Corporate executives and prominent business personalities participated in this charity golf tournament. Names like Harsh Mariwala, Founder and Chairman – Marico; Tarun Rai, Executive Director Strategic Initiatives, APAC – Wunderman Thompson; Dev Bhattacharya, Group Executive President – Aditya Birla Group; Harjit Singh Chauhan, Chief Executive Officer – Tata Teleservices; Akshay Kilachand, Kilachand Group; Ajith Sundaresh, Finance Lead for Global Delivery and Chief Financial Officer for India and Philippines, Wells Fargo; Sudhir Jain, Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer – Bank of America and Nikhil Srivastava, Partner and Managing Director, Head of India Private Equity at PAG participated in the Charity Golf Tournament.

“Those of us who have always lived in adequate housing may not have seen firsthand the struggles that many people endure every day just to survive without the protection of a house. I feel privileged to be part of this cause. Energy-efficient homes will definitely help people in need of decent shelter build strength, stability and self-reliance,” said Ajit Agarkar, former Indian cricketer.

Commenting on the Charity Tournament, Dr. Rajan Samuel, Managing Director, Habitat for Humanity India said, “Energy-efficient homes are the key to mitigate the impact of climate change. Through the fourth edition of the Charity Golf Tournament, we aim to build awareness and mobilise resources for the building energy-efficient housing for families from the low income group. By building homes that are designed to conserve energy and resources, we are not only creating a safer and more comfortable living environment, but also reducing the financial burden on families and communities. I want to thank all the participants who took their time off to support this urgent cause.”


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Lionel Messi’s goal helps PSG beat Toulouse 2-1 | Football News

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After Lionel Messi’s second-half goal helped a lackluster Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 2-1 to move eight points clear at the top of the French league, the team was urged to lighten their superstar’s load.

Messi struck with a typical curling strike in the 57th minute following a move with Morocco right back Achraf Hakimi, who drew PSG level late in the first half after free kick specialist Branco van den Boomen put Toulouse ahead in the 20th.

PSG was without injured forwards Kylian Mbappé and Neymar and relied heavily on Messi, who hit the post during stoppage time. Without Messi, who has hit 98 goals for Argentina, PSG would have struggled more.

“Messi was a very important driving force for us, given his goal and the chances he created. I’m asking the team to play for him and to work for him. He must be relieved of certain duties,” coach Christophe Galtier said.

“His teammates must intensify their efforts to win the ball back and to create spaces, so that he can spray around his passes which are so rare.”

PSG needs Messi with Bayern Munich coming up on Feb. 14 in the first leg of their round-of-16 game in the Champions League.

Mbappé is out for at least three weeks after sustaining a left thigh tear. Neymar is having treatment for a sore adductor and missed his second straight game. PSG’s injury woes increased when Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches went off injured early with a thigh injury.

PSG had lost two and drawn one of its previous five matches, and fell behind in the 20th when Van den Boomen’s free kick from the right flew past stranded goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into the left corner.

After Marquinhos hit the post with a header from Messi’s corner, PSG equalized with a fine 20-meter strike from Hakimi in the 38th.

But Marquinhos appeared offside on Messi’s goal, to the frustration of sarcastic-sounding Toulouse coach Philippe Montanier.

“I don’t know the rules of refereeing so well but I did play in goal for 30 years,” he said. “So I know that it’s difficult when a player gets in the way of the ball.”

OTHER MATCHES

Kosovo winger Edon Zhegrova equalized with a volley and set up substitute Rémy Cabella’s volleyed goal in the 85th minute as Lille won at Rennes 3-1 to move two points behind Rennes in fifth spot.

After scoring in the third minute in midweek, forward Amine Gouiri netted after only 28 seconds for Rennes.

Also, Alexandre Lacazette scored his 13th goal of the campaign — level with Mbappé — as Lyon won at Troyes 3-1.

Second-placed Marseille needs to beat Nice at home on Sunday to stay five points behind PSG ahead of their clash on Feb. 26.

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