Hockey World Cup 2018, Netherlands vs Malaysia: 5 Talking Points

Netherlands started the campaign with a commanding win over Malaysia
Netherlands started the campaign with a commanding win over Malaysia
Animesh Pandey

It looks like our hosts India have got a tough competitor in the form of Netherlands.

The three-time World Champions, who last won the World Cup on home soil and missed the chance to create a golden double in the previous edition, completely mauled the Malaysian challenge, pummeling them by 7-0.

When Malaysia stepped onto the turf, they were riding high on the success at Asian Games, having shocked India in their route to the finals, even though they were pummeled by Japan in the penalty shootouts.

Besides, they were now coached by Roelant Oltmans, who worked wonders for India in his short tenure as the team coach, and an ex-Dutch great.

However, the Dutch had other plans. In pursuit of a World Cup since 1998, they gave two hoots about the Malaysian challenge, courtesy the presence of Argentine coach Max Caldas, who has had immense success with the women's team of Netherlands.

They smelt success within the 11th minute, when Jeroen Hertzberger, one of the experienced forwards for the Netherlands, scored a field goal, smashing the Malaysian defence to the tatters. From there, Caldas' boys never looked back.

Scoring a goal after goal, in regular intervals, Netherlands not only demolished the aura around Malaysia but also sent a tough message to their opponents.

Their bronze medal at FIH Champions Trophy was a mere aberration, for they wouldn't settle for anything less than a gold medal, ending their World Cup drought of 20 years.

Going by their recent performance, it doesn't look as if they wish to miss out on this glorious moment either.

While a list of this phenomenal victory has its special moments, here are the 5 essential points that nobody should miss about this one-sided affair between Netherlands and Malaysia:-

#5 Attack from the Word 'Go'

Netherlands attacked from the first whistle itself
Netherlands attacked from the first whistle itself

The very first change visible in the match was when the Netherlands attacked from the moment the first whistle blared throughout the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

The Dutch boys, as coached by Max Caldas, believe in the doctrine of maximum attacks with minimum room for defensive play, a strategy that worked extremely well with the likes of Malaysia.

The very first goal was scored by Jeroen Hertzberger, experienced Dutch forward in the 11th minute of the match, and this set a precedent of the Dutch attackers leading the front throughout the match.

Scoring at regular intervals, Netherlands never let their guard down even once, giving no room at all for any error that could be exploited by Malaysia to bounce back into the match.

Incidentally, of the seven goals that Netherlands scored against Malaysia, five were field goals, and just two came from penalty corners.

This speaks volumes about the intensity with which the Dutch are playing for the ultimate title.

#4 Smashing the bubble fame of Malaysia

Netherlands demolish the bubble fame of Malaysia (Image courtesy: Hockey India)
Netherlands demolish the bubble fame of Malaysia (Image courtesy: Hockey India)

If this match can be remembered for anything else, it will be the way the Dutch demolished the bubble fame of Team Malaysia.

The Asian side was expected to create another upset on the lines of China, who shocked England with a historic draw.

Malaysia had stepped onto the field as the silver medalists from the Jakarta Asian Games 2018, having shocked India in an intense penalty shootout in the semifinals.

Their junior team also worked wonders, giving Asia their first gold medal in field hockey at Youth Olympics, defeating India here once again by 4-2.

Into such a scenario, stepped in Roelant Oltmans. Having succeeded in his tenure as a coach for the Indian team, and having suffered gross apathy from Pakistan, Oltmans looked forward to making a formidable outfit from Malaysia.

However, the way Netherlands pummeled Malaysia, it doesn't look like they would recover anytime soon from this drubbing.

#3 Jeroen Hertzberger scores a hattrick

Hertzberger was adjudged as the Man Of The Match (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)
Hertzberger was adjudged as the Man Of The Match (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)

The star of the match is undoubtedly the man who began it all - Jeroen Hertzberger. Having opened the score for Netherlands in the 11th minute with his smashing field goal, it was Jeroen Hertzberger who gave his team the much-needed boost.

However, the Dutch player didn't really stop there. He not only scored goals, but also lead the attack, refusing to allow the Malaysians to strike even and played like a true sportsman, assisting his teammates whenever and wherever needed.

He even acted like a true warrior, when he avoided Malaysian strikers a chance to breach the Dutch frontline and penetrate deeper into the Dutch striking circle for a goal that could upset the equations.

Before halftime resounded, he scored another goal in the 29th minute, doubling his own celebrations and taking Netherlands's score to 3-0.

In the end, he completed a hattrick, as he hit the final nail in the Malaysian coffin by scoring the penultimate goal in the dying seconds of the match.

#2 Permin Blaak - The unsung Hero

Blaak was the unsung hero of the match (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)
was the unsung hero of the match (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)

However, apart from people like Max Caldas and Jeroen Hertzberger, if there was one person, who was certainly not given his due credit, it was Permin Blaak. The goalkeeper ensured that his team kept their clean sheet.

For those unaware, Permin Blaak is the same goalkeeper who failed to maintain his cool in the 2014-15 FIH World Hockey League Finals, giving India a historic bronze medal in any major FIH tournament after 33 long years.

He also failed to sustain his momentum in the bronze medal bout, letting Germany save their face and maintain their place on the podium with elan at Rio Olympics 2016.

But not today. It wasn't that Malaysia never got a chance. But this time, Permin Blaak kept his cool, not letting a single Malaysian stroke get past him, and keeping the clean slate intact for Netherlands. He is another player in this match who should get his dues.

#1 Tough Competition for India

The Netherlands would give India a run for their money (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)
The Netherlands would give India a run for their money (Image Courtesy: Hockey India)

With Jeroen Hertzberger's hattrick, he has toppled Gonzalo Peillat, Augustin Mazzili and Simranjeet Singh to become the highest goalscorer for his country.

This also spells a concern for India, who would probably face the Dutch side sooner than later in the knockouts.

The coach Harendra Singh has already made his concern clear when he termed their forthcoming encounter with the Belgian side as a 'virtual pre-quarterfinal'.

In such a scenario, he would have no doubt followed the Netherlands match with close interest. As such, the result will have increased his worries without any doubt, since he is expected to end the long-standing medal drought for India in this World Cup.

The way Netherlands has played throughout the match, it spells trouble for every other major team who is attempting to stake their claim on the World Cup.

It would be interesting to see if they manage to sail through the pool stage with as much ease as they did today against Malaysia.

Head to Sportskeeda to check out the Hockey World Cup schedule for the upcoming matches

Edited by Alan John


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