Hertzberger fires Netherlands to big win as Germany also prevail

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics



The Netherlands hit a magnificent seven past Malaysia while Germany beat Pakistan 1-0 to start their World Cup campaigns on a winning note.

Jeroen Herzberger’s remarkable return from the international wilderness continued, with the 32-year-old forward scoring two wonderful backhand finishes either side of supplying a perfect pass for Mirco Pruijser to score as the Dutch raced into a 3-0 half time lead.

It was an advantage that would certainly have been bigger were it not for veteran Malaysia goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam, who made numerous crucial saves to stop The Netherlands from running riot.

The Dutch continued their dominance after half time, with Mirco Pruijser and Billy Bakker both hitting the frame of the goal before Mink van der Weerden scored a penalty corner drag-flick to make it 4-0.

The score was moved to 5-0 before the end of the third quarter when Robbert Kemperman volleyed home from close range, making the occasion of his 200th senior international appearance even more memorable.

A further two goals were scored by the rampant Dutch side in the final quarter, with Thierry Brinkman firing home a glorious backhand effort before Odisha Player of the Match Jeroen Herzberger completed his hat-trick in the final minute of the game. It was a terrific performance from the European champions, who have given early indication that they very much mean business here in Bhubaneswar.

Speaking after the match, Netherlands Head Coach Max Caldas was satisfied by his team’s performance against a side that he said he respected greatly. “Malaysia in the past few years have got good results. We took them very seriously. Things developed our way today, and I’m happy about that.”

If the first match was one-sided, the day’s second contest was anything but. Germany and Pakistan could not be separated in the first two quarters of game in which the defences of both teams excelled.

The match burst into life in the third quarter with Germany breaking the deadlock thanks to a wonderfully worked goal that was expertly finished by Marco Miltkau, who dived at full stretch to chip the ball over Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt and into the unguarded net.

The Green Shirts came close to levelling moments later through a sliding Muhammad Zubair, but the Pakistan forward was unable to trouble Germany goalkeeper Tobias Walter with his attempted deflection.

Germany controlled the latter stages of the game to seal the victory, with Mats Grambusch being named the Odisha Player of the Match for his fine performance in midfield. However, Pakistan’s excellent performance suggests that they have the potential to upset the FIH Hero World Rankings at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.

“Pakistan are a strong team and they played really well today”, said Germany captain Martin Häner after the match. “I’m always happy when we win, it is not always about scoring seven or eight goals. As a defender I’m happy we didn’t concede.”

Sunday sees the second series of Pool C games with Canada taking on South Africa and India up against Belgium in the big one.