The Dutch men’s hockey team is the bookies’ favourite to win the hockey World Cup, which kicks off in Germany this afternoon. The Dutch squad, ranked second to Australia by the World Hockey Federation, is unbeaten in its last 19 matches.
Its world title campaign kicks off against South Korea this evening.
Germany has built a new 14,000 seater state-of-the-art stadium in Munchengladback to host the event. The 55,000 square metre HockeyPark is the biggest hockey terrain in Europe. Twelve countries are taking part in the competition. The Netherlands shares a pool with South Africa, South Korea, India, Germany and England.
The 27-strong Dutch squad includes seasoned international Teun de Nooijer – said by many to be the best player in the world – and veteran penalty corner specialist Taeke Taekema (photo). Coach Roelant Otlmans told the Telegraaf his team was fighting fit. ‘You can’t say we’re not prepared,’ he said. ‘That has gone exactly as we planned. Everyone seems to be fit. And we are sharp. It is time to get going. We are ready.’
Hockey is growing in popularity in the Netherlands and thousands of orange-decked supporters turn out to support the national team. The Dutch hockey association KNHB has 189,000 members, up by 70,000 since Holland last took the world title in 1998.
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