Classy Netherlands edge past Malaysia as Germany grabs first win
Day Four of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 was all about Pool D, with the Netherlands making a big statement against Malaysia and Germany edging to a narrow victory over a well-organised Pakistan side.
The Netherlands (FIH Hero World Ranking: 4) were a cut above Malaysia (WR:12) in the first two periods of the day’s opening match, showing brilliant movement to cause the team from Asia no end of problems. Jeroen Hertzberger’s remarkable return from the international wilderness continued, with the 32-year-old forward scoring two wonderful backhand finishes either side of supplying a perfect pass for Mirco Pruijser to score as the Dutch raced into a 3-0 half time lead. It was an advantage that would certainly have been bigger were it not for veteran Malaysia goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam, who made numerous crucial saves to stop the Netherlands from running riot.
The Dutch continued their dominance after half time, with Mirco Pruijser and Billy Bakker both hitting the frame of the goal before Mink van der Weerden scored a penalty corner drag-flick to make it 4-0. The score was moved to 5-0 before the end of the third quarter when Robbert Kemperman volleyed home from close range, making the occasion of his 200thsenior international appearance even more memorable. A further two goals were scored by the rampant Dutch side in the final quarter, with Thierry Brinkman firing home a glorious backhand effort before Odisha Player of the Match Jeroen Hertzberger completed his hat-trick in the final minute of the game. It was a terrific performance from the European champions, who have given early indication that they very much mean business here in Bhubaneswar.
If the first match was one-sided, the day’s second contest was anything but. Germany (WR:6) and Pakistan (WR:13) could not be separated in the first two quarters of game in which the defences of both teams excelled.
The match burst into life in the third quarter, with Germany breaking the deadlock thanks to a wonderfully worked goal that was finished brilliantly by Marco Miltkau, who dived at full stretch to chip the ball over Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt and into the unguarded net. The Green Shirts came close to levelling moments later through a sliding Muhammad Zubair, but the Pakistan forward was unable to trouble Germany goalkeeper Tobias Walter with his attempted deflection.
Germany controlled the latter stages of the match to seal the victory, with Mats Grambusch being named the Odisha Player of the Match for his fine performance in midfield. However, Pakistan’s excellent performance suggests that they have the potential to upset the FIH Hero World Rankings at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
Day Five of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 continues on Sunday 2nd December, 2018 as Canada (WR:11) take on South Africa (WR:15) , with both teams searching for their first points of the competition after defeats in their respective opening matches. The second match will be a clash between the two winners of those opening games, with host nation India (WR:5) taking on Belgium (WR:3) in front of another 15,000-capacity crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.