His action did not yield a hit on Sunday, but it did receive the most applause. Pinoké defender Daan Bonhof threw a solo out on Sunday during the crucial duel with the Orange-Red (2-1 win), which went over half the field. It showed once again how good the back is in his skin at the moment.
Pinoke was under pressure. He was under heavy pressure when Bonhof took the ball from OR midfielder Sean Findlay on the left side of the circle about fifty seconds before the end. In a quick movement he passed the New Zealander. The fullback accelerated towards the 23-meter line. There he also slipped past Tijmen Reyenga. The talent’s remarkable run came to an end just before the halfway line. Dozens of meters further, with at least ten seconds of time saved. The audience enjoyed it, the cheers echoed through the Amsterdamse Bos.
‘That’s what it was about. Gain space and time. An impulse’, Bonhof gleamed afterwards. The defender was demolished after the tough battle that almost certainly gave Pinoké a playoff ticket. ‘What a game…we had little possession, but defensively we were very good. Of course we had a hard time, especially when the Orange-Red took out their keeper. It was nice defensive. We were in between everything.’
From corner flag to corner flag
Pinoké coach Jesse Mahieu grins as the hot flash of his 22-year-old talent is cited. ‘Whether this was the most convenient moment to take on a solo? I don’t know,” laughs the former international. “But if he has the confidence to play a duel, then he can do it. It turned out well for us, so I think it’s fine. It is clear that Daan is on the field with a lot of confidence. And that standing up suits him. He usually goes from corner flag to corner flag a few times a game.’
Mahieu welcomed Bonhof to his selection two years ago. The defender, then still a midfielder, came over from Almere at the time. “He is developing great,” says the coach. ‘Daan has a good athletic body, an excellent basis and a wonderful acceleration. In this he resembles Niklas Wellen, who was also able to launch himself. He’s one of the players who has stood up with us after the EHL.’
In the Euro Hockey League, about a month ago, Pinoké was still struggling. Erratic, changeable, just-not. ‘Only after that did we really start an upward trend,’ says Bonhof. ‘So it took a while. The main difference is that we no longer play hockey as islands. We’ve been doing that for too long. Everyone mainly thought about their own task, while in a team it doesn’t stop there, of course. That’s why we put our heads together again a few weeks ago.’
Open conversations and the future
That was a call from the leaders of the group. Training a little shorter, because there had to be spoken. ‘Normally I’m not into that’, Bonhof admits quite frankly. ‘I’m more into doing. But in hindsight this was exactly what is needed. We sat in small groups. Every time one person had to leave the room. The rest then discussed the pros and cons of that player. And then he heard that. We are very open to each other in this. For example, I was told not to rush into actions. You don’t always have to solve it yourself.’ Laughing: ‘Like that solo against Orange-Red…’
The open and also vulnerable conversations paid off. When it really had to, last Sunday, Pinoké was there. Thanks to the victory over Orange-Rood, the team from Amsterdam climbed to fourth place. They have the same number of points as the competitor from Eindhoven, but won more matches. And that is why a victory against the relegated Voordaan on Saturday – regardless of the result – is enough to reach the play-offs.
Long story short, Pinoké can’t give this away anymore. Bonhof knows that too. “That’s 100 percent sure. All due respect to Voordaan, but as number four you should win there. We know since last year how beautiful the play-offs are. How it lives here. How many people turn up. What goosebumps that gives.’
Meanwhile, Mahieu sees his pupil taking steps every week. And he can get a whole lot better. He’s still young, isn’t he, only 22.’ Would Bonhof then be one of the first players to push through to the Orange from Pinoké? ‘He and also a player like Miles Bukkens must at some point ensure that a national coach can no longer ignore them. Show it week in, week out. Being a top athlete. Stay fit and get better over a longer period of time. I’m not about it. But I do think Daan can come a long way.’