The Netherlands have a long and storied past when it comes to field hockey and currently host one of the most robust league competitions of the sport, in the shape of the Hoofdklasse. Their men's hockey team has won on every international stage, having two Olympic golds, three World Cups and eight Champions Trophy titles to their name and hockey is still an immensely popular sport in the country.
However, things have been a little different in recent years, and success on the global stage has eluded the team for the past decade. Since winning the 2006 Men's Hockey Champions Trophy in Spain, a number of close calls and near finishes have ultimately ended in defeat, with the team losing three major finals since.
The Netherlands will head into this edition of the World Cup on the back of a strong performance in the 2017 EuroHockey Championship, which they won, and a third-place finish in the 2018 Champions Trophy. The hosts were only beaten twice at the Champions Trophy in June, losing a close-fought encounter against Argentina in their opening fixture, and falling to eventual champions Australia.
By all accounts, the Oranje, as they are known in the Netherlands, are completely aware of the fact that they are not favourites in the tournament. In a statement to the FIH website, their Argentine coach Max Caldas defined their approach to the tournament, saying, "We are professional athletes and will play the World Cup to win the title. But we do realize that we're not the only team with that ambition. It's a tough competition, all teams are very strong."
The draw for the competition has been slightly awkward for the Netherlands, with their pool consisting of embattled four-time champions Pakistan, 2012 Summer Olympics gold medallists Germany and twelfth-ranked Malaysia. While the Netherlands are clear favourites to progress from the group stage, none of these matches could be considered an easy fixture for the Oranje. "We want to perform better than we have ever done before, in skills, tactics as well as physically and in mental strength. If we can do that, we will be able to compete for the title. I'm convinced about that," said Caldas.
The Netherlands will take on Malaysia in their first match on 1 December, before facing Germany on 5 December and finishing the group stage by playing Pakistan on 9 December.
Netherlands squad for 2018 Hockey World Cup: Seve van Ass, Sander Baart, Billy Bakker, Lars Balk, Pirmin Blaak, Thierry Brinkman, Thijs van Dam, Jonas de Geus, Jeroen Hertzberger, Robbert Kemperman, Mirco Pruyser, Glenn Schuurman, Sam van der Ven, Valentin Verga, Bob de Voogd, Mink van der Weerden, Sander de Wijn and Floris Wortelboer
Reserve players: Jorrit Croon, Joep de Mol
Coach: Max Caldas
For the rest of the profiles of teams in the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here.
Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 20:09:27 IST