Bhubaneswar: The World Cup quarter-final between India and Netherlands will be a game of small margins, and the team that converts its chances will have a greater chance of winning, former Dutch captain Stephan Veen has said.
Hosts India will face three-time winners Netherlands in their last-eight match on Thursday, and while the Dutch hold an edge in head-to-head meetings, Veen believes the similarities in the styles of both teams will make for a closely-contested encounter. The teams last met at this year's Champions Trophy in Breda and the match ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
"India will make their own analysis, and Dutch will have theirs. The teams know each other quite well, having met each other often in recent past. There won't be many surprises for both teams, and they know what to expect. It will be a game of small margins and execution. India versus Netherlands will be completely different from the Canada game. I think it will be a very close game and will be decided by small margins such as conversion of chances and penalty corners," Veen told Firstpost.
Both India and Netherlands are known for their attacking hockey, and the two-time World Cup winner asserted that the Billy Bakker-led Dutchmen must not deviate from their original style.
"I think Netherlands should stick to their natural game. If they go on defending, it's not going to help, because then you are not playing to your strength. If they focus on their gameplan and strength, they will have a higher chance of winning.
"For a European country, Netherlands play a lot of passing game. They do a lot of dribbling and attacking, which is one of our strengths and also in our DNA. It's a side that believes in tactical play, and its one of those teams that want to attack a lot more and create opportunities," Veen explained.
On Tuesday, Netherlands breezed past Canada 5-0, but the double Olympic gold medallist said the team is still not playing its best hockey.
"We missed a lot of chances, I think. I know 5-0 is a good result, but I think the first quarter was a little difficult. We had a very good second quarter and there is a lot of potential within the team. Still, there were a lot of chances that they did not convert. We are not playing at the top level yet, but when your opponent is good, you also increase your level of performance," he said.
Further, Veen cautioned Netherlands against the looming threat of Indian strikers at the 23-metre line.
"Indians are very skillful in the 23-metre line. There they are very dangerous. That's one of the things you will have to watch out for."
"I think we have a great team. We have good defenders and some very talented attackers such as Sander Baart, Glenn Schuurman, Seve van Ass and Billy Bakker. So yes, I think it will be a very exciting match."
Earlier, Indian captain Manpreet Singh and forward Simranjeet Singh said the team will continue its aggressive gameplan against the fourth-ranked team.
"We believe in attacking hockey, just like The Netherlands. The team which cashes in on opportunity will be the winner. We have played them before, and the advantage they have over us is that they have more experience. They have been playing together for many years, while we are a young team," Simranjeet, who has scored thrice for India at the ongoing event, said.
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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2018 12:38:32 IST