For fifty minutes, the Netherlands finally played a solid match against Great Britain at the Games in Tokyo on Thursday. But after the British came back from nowhere to 2-1, panic struck again in the Netherlands. The team of coach Max Caldas eventually got away with a 2-2 draw in the Oi Hockey Stadium, although the Orange could have won with five corners in the last minute.
The Orange qualified for the quarter-finals due to the draw, but due to Germany’s surprising defeat against South Africa (3-4), the battle in group B is still completely open. It is also still completely unclear who will be the opponent in the knockout phase. The Netherlands can still be second, but also fourth. It is not yet known who will be the opponent in the quarterfinals. Argentina, Spain and New Zealand all have the same number of points in group A, behind the unapproachable Australia.https://www.youtube.com/embed/wu7hbwWXtNc?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1
Caldas looked back on the game against Great Britain with mixed feelings. “I think, compared to the first games, we have taken another step. Today we focused on two things: defensively we wanted to play good man cover and offensively keep possession of the half of Great Britain. We did the first well, the second was less in the first half but better in the second.’
He continued: ‘I had quite a comfortable feeling in the final phase with a score of 2-0. I think in the end we will give away two goals and help GB back into the game unnecessarily,” Caldas said after the press conference.
The game with Great Britain started with good news for the Orange squad. Sander de Wijn (hamstring) and Seve van Ass (back) had recovered from their minor injuries. That meant that Roel Bovendeert and Justen Blok, who played in the won match against Canada, were back in their familiar place in the stands.
There in the shadow of the Oi Hockey Stadium, where Chef de Mission Pieter van den Hoogenband had also found a place, the wind made it somewhat bearable. It was scorching hot on the field around noon on Thursday. Temperatures rose to well over 40 degrees. It was admirable how the teams immediately hit the accelerator from the exit.
It was also immediately clear that the Netherlands came out much better than in the first three group matches at these Games against Belgium (3-1 loss), South Africa (5-3 win) and Canada (4-2 win). There was now an Orange that looked solid for the first time this tournament. The Orange did not give away a chance in the first quarter and allowed GB to enter the Dutch circle only twice.
On the other hand, the Orange squad succeeded four times and after eight minutes, Caldas’ team got the first penalty corner. Jip Janssen pushed hard, goalkeeper Oliver Payne gave away a rebound but recovered by tapping Thijs van Dam’s backhand out of the goal in a phenomenal way. This could have been or perhaps should have been the 1-0 for the Netherlands.
In the second quarter, the British immediately attacked. That resulted in two corners within the minute, but goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak made two skilful saves. Three minutes later Zachary Wallace shot high over from free position after Jorrit Croon lost the ball.
After 22 minutes, the Orange struck for the first time. A high ball from Robbert Kemperman was wonderfully accepted by Jonas de Geus in the British circle. Via a smooth 1-2 with Mirco Pruyser, De Geus put the ball to Thierry Brinkman, who pushed into the goal with great feeling: 1-0. That was also a rest position.
Jip Janssen gave the Netherlands a solid 2-0 lead in the first minute of the third quarter. Finally, after the Orange failed to score thirteen corners in a row, he used a penalty corner. In the way Janssen cheered, there was not only joy but clearly also relief.
In the remainder of the match, the Netherlands did not play spectacularly, but they did play very maturely. The Orange Men barely gave away anything in the back and looked for opportunities in the front. Janssen got another corner, which was caught by Payne. Van Ass hit the post in the rebound.
There seemed to be nothing to worry about for Orange. Until eight minutes before the end, Great Britain scored a goal out of nowhere. After a cross from Thomas Sorsby, Sam Ward tapped the 2-1 behind Blaak. Nothing to worry about, you would say, but suddenly the stress struck again at Orange. The team fell back and gave the British every chance to besiege Blaak’s goal.
GB got a corner, which was given away by Jorrit Croon, who played this tournament unlucky. Blaak then saved his team with a good save. Two minutes later it was still 2-2. Again the British got a corner, this time Blaak had no chance on a bet by Ward.
A turbulent final phase followed. The British insisted, but the Netherlands received a penalty corner in the final minute, which eventually resulted in four more corners. With Janssen and Van der Weerden at the head of the circle, Orange conjured all possible variants out of the hat. Janssen even hit the post, but miraculously there was no goal and the game ended in 2-2.
Despite the fact that the Netherlands did not score from the penalty corner series, Caldas was very satisfied with the execution. ‘Jip and Mink did a great job. In a very stressful situation they remained calm, they were sharp and they made the right choices. That gives confidence for the rest of the tournament.’
Netherlands – Great Britain 2-2 (1-0)
’22 Thierry Brinkman 1-0
’31 Jip Janssen (sc) 2-0
’52 Sam Ward 2-1
’57 Sam Ward (sc) 2-2