Hockey World Cup 2018: Semifinals - Netherlands vs Australia - 3 reasons why Netherlands were victorious
Apart from India, Netherlands have been one of the most consistent teams in the history of field hockey. Entertaining the world with their mesmerizing unity, brilliant skills, and impressive stickwork, Netherlands has been the go to team when it comes to watching classic hockey.
In the second semifinals, after having broken Indian hearts by cruising into the semifinals, Netherlands were expected to strike another upset, this time against defending champions Australia.
Having survived the drubbing against Australia on home soil in the previous World Cup finals, the Dutch team were raring to go against the Kookaburras. The Kalinga Stadium at Bhubaneswar witnessed a thrilling match between the two, which culminated in Netherlands shocking Australia by 4-3 in a nail biting penalty shootout, marching into their 2nd consecutive World Cup finals, a first since the FIH World Cup 1994.
From the word go, Netherlands pounced upon Australia with vengeance, for it was this very team who denied them an Olympic title at Athens in 2004 and the World Cup title in 2014. By half time, they were already leading by 2-0. The Kookaburras, however, had other plans.
They bounced back in the final quarter, denying Netherlands an outright win and forcing them to go to a shootout. However, the Dutch goalkeeper, Pirmin Blaak, who otherwise performed poorly on the Indian turfs, became an overnight hero, denying Australia their crucial goals.
By the time the umpire blared his final whistle, Netherlands had stormed into their 2nd successive finals, denying the defending champions Australia a chance to make a historic hattrick.
Ironically, the Dutch will face the very opponents who knocked them out from a 2nd successive semifinals at Rio Olympics 2016, i.e. Belgium. While we anticipate a thrilling encounter between the two, let us see as to why Netherlands had an upper hand.
#3 Stick to attacking outfit
If someone thoroughly enjoyed their position in this semifinal, it was the attacking outfit from Netherlands, who literally had a field day when they scored goals at will against the Australian side. It began with Glen Schurman, who scored a crucial goal for Netherlands in the 9th minute.
Even though the Dutch couldn't extend their lead for the next half, they still had an upper advantage over Netherlands. It was in the penalty shootouts, when Netherlands came back into action, not only winning the clash but also booking a ticket to a 2nd successive finals since the 2014 World Cup.
Despite being forced to play into a penalty shootout, the attackers kept their cool, saving their best for the last. Ultimately, like the previous matches, it was the attacking force of the Dutch that sailed them through, despite stiff opposition from the Australian team. A huge chunk of credit goes to Seve Van Ass, one of the attackers of the Dutch team, who led his team like a true leader.