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Hockey: Netherlands win World League Final; Belgium pip India for fifth

The Netherlands, runners-up in the 2012 Olympics, celebrate their victory in the inaugural Hero World League Final after crushing New Zealand 7-2 in the final in New Delhi. Photo: FIH.

The Netherlands, runners-up in the 2012 Olympics, celebrate their victory in the inaugural Hero World League Final after crushing New Zealand 7-2 in the final in New Delhi. Photo: FIH.

January 19, 2014: The Netherlands, the world’s second-ranked side, won the inaugural Hero World League Final with a devastating 7-2 defeat of New Zealand in Saturday evening’s final in New Delhi. England, who won all their matches until a penalty shootout defeat to New Zealand in the semi-finals, picked up the bronze by beating old rivals Australia 2-1 in the third place playoff.


Belgium earlier disappointed the home fans at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium by scoring two late goals to beat India 2-1 for fifth place. India, coached by former Australia striker Terry Walsh, reached the fifth-place playoff by beating Olympic champions Germany 5-4 on Friday.


Germany, the world’s top-ranked side but missing a trio of key players, clinched seventh place by winning 2-1 against Argentina, the lowest-ranked of all the eight competing teams but who started the event in Delhi with wins against the Netherlands and Belgium in the pool stage.


Final: Netherlands 7-2 New Zealand

The Netherlands, runners-up to Germany in the 2012 Olympics, were favourites for the final, which was a showdown between two teams who peaked late in the tournament, each side losing two of their three matches in the pool stage.


The Dutch broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when Constantijn Jonkers scored the first of his three goals from an almost impossible angle past Devon Manchester. Billy Bakker added a goal six minutes later as the Netherlands turned up the pressure, the Oranje adding a third in the 35th minute when a ball fired in from the midfield found Jonkers, who deflected the ball past Manchester.


The second half started in blistering fashion when Bob de Voogd made it 4-0 in the 36th minute before Steve Edwards pulled one back for New Zealand a minute later. Rogier Hofman made it 5-1 in the 45th minute and seven minutes later Edwards scored his second for the Black Sticks.


Bakker added his second in the 59th minute, the tall Dutchman firing home after the ball bounced around the circle, and two minutes later Jonker completed his hat-trick after running onto a ball fired into the circle and tipping it home.


Netherlands coach Paul van Ass said: “We are heading back to the top again. We are really pleased with the way this tournament has gone, especially with wins over Germany and Australia.”


Captain Robert van der Horst added: “This was a very good result. We knew we were able to play hard and we needed to stick to our game plan, which is speeding up and playing skilful hockey. However, the final score of 7-2 is unbelievable.”


Robbert Kemperman was named Player of the Tournament. “It is a great feeling, as we really wanted that win. I’m really proud and everyone put an effort into the win,” Kemperman said. “The award is a nice extra.”


New Zealand coach Colin Batch, who formerly coached Belgium, said his team started slowly against the Dutch, but that reaching the final was a great achievement for the world’s fifth-ranked team.


“We didn’t come out to play in the first half, but we were much better in the second half,” said the former Australia international. “By then it was too late and we were hit by the goals either side of the half. But we never expected a silver medal and it is a big step forwards for the team.”


Third-place playoff: England 2-1 Australia


England (in white) battled to a 2-1 win over Australia to secure third place.

England (in white) battled to a 2-1 win over Australia to secure third place.

In the penultimate match, a clash between two traditional rivals, England were first to draw blood when Tom Carson converted a pass from close range in the 13th minute, but the Kookaburras equalised within three minutes through Glenn Turner.


The Kookaburras, World Cup winners in 2010, put a lot of pressure on the English defence, but goalkeeper George Pinner – later named Goalkeeper of the Tournament – pulled off some tremendous saves.


Instead, it was England captain Barry Middleton who scored the winner in the 54th minute, deflecting a pass by Ashley Jackson into the goal making it 2-1. Australia peppered the England goal and their last chance to equalise was from a penalty corner awarded in the last minute. Glenn Turner’s shot found its way into the goal, but umpire Roel van Eert referred to the video umpire, which disallowed the goal.


Pinner said: “Today was the team you saw in the first four games. It was agonising to lose in the semi-finals on a shootout, so it really shows the calibre of this team to pick itself up. The main thing we did was defend bravely. We know that games can be won through penalty corners, so we have made it our focus not to concede so many.”


Iain Lewers, named Hero Man of the Match, added: “We have come a long way in the past nine months. We were very disappointed in the semi-finals, but we did really well to come back.”


Australia coach Ric Charlesworth said: “We were too loose at the back. We allowed them to score from very few chances and we didn’t put our chances away as we should have done. But it has been a great experience, especially for the younger guys. They have had a chance to experience playing against very tough opposition.”


Fifth place playoff: Belgium 2-1 India


Belgium bagged fifth place and broke Indian hearts with two late goals.

Belgium (in red) bagged fifth place and broke Indian hearts with two late goals.

India came so near to securing fifth place, but two late goals from Belgium meant the home team finished sixth, a result Walsh said he was very happy with.


The game was played at a high tempo, as Belgium impressed in the first half, but couldn’t beat India goalkeeper Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran, named Hero Man of the Match.


In the second half, India gradually pressed higher up the pitch to pressure the Belgium defence and took the lead in the 59th minute following a period of sustained pressure, when Chandanda Thimmaiah celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring from a goalmouth scramble.


As fans counted down, Belgium equalised through Florent van Aubel in the 67th minute and a minute later Tom Boon completed the comeback when he slotted home the winning goal from a penalty corner.


Walsh, who was appointed in October, said: “Belgium dominated the first 35 minutes, but we had much of the first period of the second half. Belgium started smashing the ball into our circle and they got lucky. We have come such a long way in a very short period of time.”


Raveendran said that he was delighted to win the Hero Man of the Match award, but he wished that he had been on the winning side. “This tournament has been excellent,” he said. “It has given us the chance to gain experience against the best teams in the world and that is important because this is such a big year for us with the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.”


Seventh place playoff: Germany 2-1 Argentina


Germany (in black) ended a disappointing tournament with a 2-1 win over Argentina.

Germany (in black) ended a disappointing tournament with a 2-1 win over Argentina.

In the battle to avoid bottom place, Germany came through a tough test against the up-and-coming Argentine team, as a staunch defence weathered all that Los Leones could throw at them to emerge 2-1 winners.


Argentina took the lead in the 16th minute when Facundo Callioni, winning his 100th cap, scored with a skilful backhand shot that defeated Tim Jessulat in the German goal. However, the Olympic champions equalised within six minutes when Benjamin Wess struck back from open play. Tobias Matania scored the winner in the 60th minute.


Germany coach Markus Weise said: “It was a strange game from my point of view. The umpires kept it really tight. We played a good first half, but could not convert our chances. We have a lot of things to work on.”


Argentina’s Agustin Mazzilli, named Hero Man of the Match, said: “We won our opening games against good competition and today we played really well against Germany. We are pleased with our performance in this tournament. Obviously, it would have been nice to win, but this personal award is a nice consolation.”


Dutch coach Paul Van Ass later said the gap between the top teams was closing, citing results such as India beating Germany and Argentina’s win against the Netherlands in the group stage. Argentina, ranked 11th in the world, also beat Belgium, ranked fifth.


The World League Final featured eight of the world’s top teams and was the conclusion of a multi-stage tournament that began back in August 2012. The tournament’s two Semi Final events also acted a qualifier for this year’s FIH World Cup, which begins in the Netherlands in late May.


Hero World League Final 2014, Delhi, India – Individual awards

Player of the Tournament: Robbert Kemperman (NED)

Goalkeeper of the Tournament: George Pinner (ENG)

Top goal scorer: Kieran Govers (AUS)

Best Junior Player: Mandeep Singh (IND)


Source: FIH

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