Bhubaneswar: The Netherlands men’s hockey team arrived here in Odisha on Wednesday for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, which will be held from January 13 to 29.
A rousing welcome was given to the three-time champions of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here. Netherlands is also the first international team to arrive for the mega event.
The Netherlands, led by Thierry Brinkman, will complete their final preparations in Bhubaneswar before travelling to Rourkela on January 10, where they will face Malaysia in their first match of the tournament on January 14.
The Dutch team is one of the most decorated in the sport, having won the World Cup in 1973, 1990, and 1998, as well as reaching the finals in the last two editions.
“I think we will have to fight from game to game and then we will see where we end up in the tournament. Our first target is to reach the quarter-final and then make the semis. We will then see how things go on in the final,” said Netherland team coach Jeroen Delmee.
“Of course, If we reach the final then we will hope to turn it around and win the tournament. However, we have a completely different team this time and you cannot compare the current players from the last edition’s team,” he added.
The Netherlands are placed in Pool C, along with Chile, Malaysia and New Zealand. After their match against Malaysia on the second day of the competition, the Netherlands play New Zealand on January 16, in Rourkela, and round up their group stage campaign against Chile on January 19 in Bhubaneswar.
All of the group-stage matches for the Netherlands team will start at 1500 hrs IST.
Speaking about their biggest challenge in the tournament, the chief coach Delmee said, “The biggest challenge will be the inexperience in the team and maybe the surprises we could face in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela. It will be interesting to see how we will overcome the challenges in the tournament. I have full confidence in my team.”
The 16 teams competing in the tournament are Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, England, France, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Chile, and Wales.
Captain Thierry Brinkman touched upon how the team prepared for the competition in the last few months, saying, “The last few months in the build-up to the World Cup have been pretty good for us. The team is completely ready for the tournament.”
“We have just reached India and will have some rest before starting our preparation for the first match. It is amazing to be here again and we are excited to play in front of the hockey fans in the tournament,” he added.
The captain also spoke about some of the most impactful players in his team, who can cause havoc with their exciting skills.
“We have a lot of key players in our team who can light up the tournament. Jorrit Croon, Jonas de Geus, and goalkeeper Pirmin Blakk are really exciting to watch and I will look to score a few goals myself to entertain the fans during the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela,” Brinkman said.