Formidable Netherlands fancied to sail into quarter-finals from Pool C of Hockey World Cup
New Delhi, January 11, 2023
Three-time winners Netherlands are perhaps in the easiest pool of the FIH Odisha Hockey World Cup and are fancied to top it.
Besides the Netherlands, Pool C comprises New Zealand, Malaysia and debutants Chile.
Given the composition of the grouping, barring any major upset, it looks like that the Dutch men should not have any problem in making it directly to the quarter-finals.
The pool toppers will get straight qualification into the quarter-finals, while second and third placed teams will play an additional cross-over round.
Veteran Dutch defender Jeroen Delmee, who as a player won two Olympic gold medals, is now the head coach of the team. Under him, the Netherlands have found a consistency in their performance levels which has already produced results.
He was appointed head coach in the latter part of 2021, and since then he has encouraged fresh talent into the Oranje squad. The youngsters justified Delmee's faith in them by winning 12 of their 16 matches in the 2021-22 edition of the FIH Pro League to win the title for the first time.
Captain Thierry Brinkman and striker Koen Bijen topscored for the Netherlands with seven goals apiece, with six goals coming from both Dennis Warmerdam and penalty corner ace Jip Janssen.
Having suffered defeats in the last two World Cup finals, the Netherlands will be aiming to make it third time lucky this time around and win a fourth world crown, a feat only Pakistan have managed to achieve.
New Zealand will be playing in their 11th World Cup, with the Odisha event being their seventh in succession. They are yet to finish higher than seventh, a placing they have achieved on four separate occasions, but that could all change this time around.
The Black Sticks are always a force to be reckoned with, being blessed with some genuinely world class players amongst their ranks.
Blair Tarrant is a fine defender who has represented his country more than 230 times, while the likes of veteran striker Simon Child, Sam Lane, and penalty corner weapon Kane Russell are all goal threats.
Verstile defensive midfielder Nick Ross makes a return to the team after taking a break throughout 2022, while 19-year-old debutant defender Charlie Morrison will get a chance to show his talents on the big stage.
The team is coached by former South Africa striker Greg Nicol, who represented his country at the Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games as well as the 2002 FIH Men’s World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia will be taking part in their third successive World Cup due to a second place finish at the Asia Cup. The Speedy Tigers were in outstanding form at the event in Jakarta, Indonesia, reaching the competition final without losing any of their six matches to secure their World Cup ticket before eventually going down 2-1 to Korea in the gold medal game.
The team featured in two competitions in the latter part of 2022, winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on home soil with a 3-2 victory over Korea before losing 4-0 to the same opponent in the bronze medal match at the inaugural FIH Hockey Men's Nations Cup South Africa 2022.
Known for their distinctive brand of high-paced attacking hockey, Malaysia – coached by Arul Anthoni, who represented the country as a player at the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht, Netherlands – are capable of upsetting any team . Razie Rahim is a potent weapon from penalty corner situations, while Faiz Jali, Firhan Ashari and Azuan Hasan bring a wealth of international experience to the table.
Chile have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history. A 3-1 victory over Mexico in the cross-over phase of the 2022 Pan American Cup, being played on home soil in Santiago, had set up a winner-takes-all semi-final meeting with the USA.
It proved to be a match of huge tension, with neither team being able to break the deadlock before Chile emerged victorious in the shoot-out.
Chilean goalkeeper Adrian Henriquez was beaten just once in the one-on-ones, with Juan Amoroso, Franco Becerra and Kay Gesswein netting the goals to seal a place in the event final and the all-important World Cup ticket that came with it. The team, however, lost the final, with Argentina storming to a 5-1 victory, but it hardly mattered.
In October last year Chile claimed their fourth silver medal at the South American Games in Luque, Paraguay, being defeated again by Argentina but scoring 53 goals in just five matches. The team is captained by Fernando Renz and coached by Jorge Dabanch.
The World Cup is slated to be played from 13th to 29th January in Rourkela and Bhubaneshwar.