New Delhi, 13 December 2013: It was thrilling 2nd semi final at the Hero Hockey Junior World Cup 2013 when two giants of the game, finalists of last edition Germany and Netherlands, were head-on for a place in the grand finale to be played on Sunday.
This match-up was the final of the last Junior World Cup, when Germany narrowly prevailed over the Netherlands, but the Dutch finished one step higher than the Germans at the last Junior European Cup. The defending champions Germany will now face France, who defeated Malaysia in shoot-out in other Semi-Final, in the final at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on 15th December.
The chess game began from the opening whistle. Germany patiently worked their way up-field and earned a penalty-corner in their first incursion in the Dutch circle, scored by Lukas Windfeder with a high drag flick. The Orange seemed unphased and immediately went back to the task at hand.
Germany seemed like an impregnable fortress and their goal-keeper Victor Aly was hardly seen any action. They had another penalty-corner in the 14th minute and Lukas Windfeder dutifully scored his second of the match, this time with a low flick. The Netherlands substituted their goal-keeper after this second goal and replacement Jan De Wijkerslooth was immediately into the match, calmly deflecting a high shot blasted from close range.
The Netherlands were keeping the German forwards well in check but only had their first real scoring chance on a penalty-corner at the very end of the period. They could not finish their elaborate option and Germany walked into the break with a relatively comfortable two-goal lead.
Tom Hiebendaal gave a scare to the German goal-keeper early in second period with an instant shot from the top of the circle that just shaved the outside of the post. Germany however increased their lead in the 47th minute after a phenomenal 50-meter run by Christopher Rühr through the whole Dutch defense concluded by a shot blasted over the keeper’s head for his eighth goal of the tournament.
The Dutch suddenly surged forward and scored two goals in a minute, first by Tom Hiebendaal on a penalty-stroke then by Thierry Brinkman on the next action, rattling the German confidence and setting the stage for an exciting end of game. Things got totally exciting in the 60th minute, when Tom Hiebendaal was pushed down while shooting on goal, earning a penalty-stroke which he converted himself to tie the score.
The Dutch now had the momentum for a while but Max Kapaun then Niklas Wellen gave back a solid lead to Germany going into the final minutes to earn their ticket for the final against France on Sunday, while the Netherlands will play for bronze against Malaysia.
Speaking on their win Germany Coach Andre Henning said “today’s match was the most difficult for us during the tournament but the boys showed good character and mental strength. We had a good lead of 3 goals but Netherlands came back good. We have played them earlier hence we knew the right ways to tackle them today. For the finals we have to be focused and cannot take France lightly as they have been playing excellent in the tournament”.
Speaking on the loss Netherlands Coach Sjoerd Marijne said “we started well but the German team played better than us today. In the last 20 minute of the match we managed to get the game leveled with 3-3 but the opponents came back well. The boys tried to defend but we could not hold the Germans and they came back in the game and the pressure got the better of us. It’s very disappointing, after coming so far we couldn’t make it to the finals.”