Bhubaneswar, India: The pool phase of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 has come to an end, with Germany confirming themselves as the winners of Pool D while second placed Netherlands and third placed Pakistan reached the cross-over play-offs on Competition Day 12. Sadly, it proved to be the end of the line for Malaysia, whose fourth-place finish in Pool D resulted in their elimination from the event.
Germany’s first place finish in Pool D earns them a direct ticket to the quarter-finals, where they will await the winner of the cross-over play-off match between Belgium (2nd Pool C) and Pakistan (3rd Pool D) on 11th December. A second-place finish for the Netherlands sets up a cross-over match against Canada (3rd Pool C) on 11 December, with the winner playing host nation India (1st Pool C) in the quarter-finals.
Germany (FIH Hero World Ranking: 6) sealed their place at the top of the Pool D standings with a 5-3 victory over Malaysia (WR:12), but they certainly did not have everything their own way. Die Honamas were outstanding in the first period, with Timm Herzbruch finding the roof of the net from a penalty corner in the opening minute before Christopher Rühr crashed an unstoppable backhand effort into the top left corner just before the end of the quarter. Rühr played a decisive role in Germany’s third goal, surging into the circle before seeing his cross-shot touched home by Marco Miltkau.
At 3-0, things were looking bleak for Malaysia, who desperately needed at least a draw if they were to have a realistic chance of reaching the knock-out phase. Remarkably, they dragged themselves back into the game with two goals just before half time. Razie Rahim scored the first before setting up the second, finding the goal with a penalty corner before providing the perfect assist for the diving Nabil Noor from another penalty corner situation.
The two sides traded goals in the third quarter, with Miltkau once again showing his incredible reflexes to touch home another cross to make it 4-2 before Razie netted another to keep Malaysia within touching distance at 4-3.
Malaysia found themselves reduced in numbers due to disciplinary cards for much of the final quarter, but that did not stop them having a great chance to pull his team level from a penalty corner situation. The effort was charged down, with Germany going straight down the other end to kill the game at 5-3 thanks to Herzbruch’s second goal of the day to all but end Malaysia’s hopes of remaining in the competition.
“We are happy that we could win against Malaysia”, said Germany’s Tobias Hauke, who today made his 300thinternational appearance for Die Honamas, after the game. “It was a tough game. We started really well with 3-0 up in the beginning of the second quarter, but then we got a little bit in trouble. But I think Malaysia played quite nice today, they had good counter-attacks and good penalty-corners. We knew it before but we were not so concentrated in the third quarter in the defence. We’re really happy to be now through to the quarter-finals. That was our aim today. Finishing at the top of the pool is good for the self-confidence and for the rhythm.”
Pakistan (WR:13) knew that by avoiding a heavy defeat against the Netherlands (WR:4) they would be certain of a place in the knock-out phase of the competition. A win against the Netherlands would be enough to move ahead of the Dutch into second place in the Pool, which would set-up a cross-over match against Canada, who finished third in Pool C, as opposed to Olympic silver medallists Belgium, Pool C’s second-placed finisher.
The Netherlands were first to make a mark on the scoreboard when Thierry Brinkman netted from close range just seven minutes into the contest, but two minutes later Pakistan’s Umar Bhutta restored parity from a second phase penalty corner situation, sliding the ball under the body of onrushing Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak from a tight angle.
Pakistan gave an excellent showing in the second period, but it was the Dutch who took a 2-1 lead into half time when a beautiful interchange between Valentin Verga and Odisha Player of the Match Seve Van Ass ended with the former firing a cool finish between the legs of Green Shirts shot-stopper Imran Butt.
The Netherlands confirmed a second-place finish in Pool D with three goals in the second half, with Jeroen Hertzberger supplying Bob de Voogd for an easy finish before Jorrit Croon forced home a penalty corner from close range. A 5-1 score-line was completed by Mink van der Weerden, who slammed a stunning penalty corner into the roof of the net. It was the final goal of the pool phase, with total number of goals scored so far in Bhubaneswar being 111.
Speaking after the match, Netherlands midfielder Robbert Kemperman said: “We played a very solid game. In the first two quarters Pakistan defended really well. It was difficult to find the gaps but we kept the pace high. I think we can be happy after this match.”
Looking ahead to his team’s cross-over match against Canada, Kemperman said: “The Canadian team is physically very strong. We don’t know much about them so we’re going to analyse them tomorrow.”
The knock-out phase of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 begins on Monday 10thDecember, with two cross-over play-off matches taking place. At 16:45 IST (UTC +5.30), England will play New Zealand, with the winner setting up a quarter-final meeting against Pool A winners and reigning Olympic champions Argentina on Wednesday 12 December. The second match on Monday sees France facing China, with Pool B winners and reigning world champions Australia lying in wait in the quarter-finals for the winner.
Looking ahead to England’s meeting with New Zealand, co-captain David Ames said: “We haven’t played them too many times over the last few years, but we’ve seen from this tournament that they have quality in all lines of their team. They have plenty of experienced players in their group and have some similar traits to Australia so we will have to be at our best if we want to progress into the quarter-finals.”
New Zealand’s Hugo Inglis indicated his respect for cross-over play-off opponents England, highlighting a player that the Black Sticks will need to keep under a watchful eye. “Barry Middleton from the English team is always one to watch”, said Inglis about a man with over 400 international caps to his name. He is vastly experienced and a skillful player so we will need to look after him.”
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 takes place between 28 November and 16 December. The Men’s World Cup is played every four years. For all information regarding the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, including the full schedule, teams, news and more, click here.