They came off the field demolished on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t even eleven o’clock yet and it was already murderously hot – more than thirty degrees and a humidity that was unbelievable – in the pressure cooker of Kuala Lumpur. The Dutch Juniors had their tongues wagging after their World Cup start. Dropped out, literally and figuratively, after the deception against Pakistan. They were much more dangerous. Got more shot opportunities, corners and circle penetrations. All statistics were in their favor, but they allowed themselves to be bluffed in a real hockey fight, in which everything was allowed and three yellow cards were issued.
“If you delve deeper into that match, you can find more cards,” says national coach Jesse Mahieu at the edge of the field, where the next match is already about to start. ‘I just received questions about it from the Malaysian press. We shouldn’t whine about it for too long. Look, we know how Pakistan plays. They try to push their physical capabilities to the limit. We have been quite opposed to this. On the other hand, they also have wonderful players in midfield and in the vanguard. We have seen that too.’
Lost my way after quarter two
Mahieu noted that a change took place after the second quarter against Pakistan. The Dutch team led 2-0 at that moment and there seemed to be no problem in the sweltering air. ‘We had quite a lot of control over their counter until then. We came out of the locker room mediocre, the energy seemed to be gone for a while. And then came that unfortunate yellow card for Dylan Lucieer. I find it difficult to judge that,” the national coach says about his attacker who hit a Pakistani in the face and received a ten-minute penalty. ‘It didn’t look good, but I think Dylan got off balance. He’s such a nice guy that I can’t imagine he hit him on purpose.”
After the 3-2, the Netherlands should have scored a fourth goal. But instead, Pakistan turned up the heat even more, resulting in the Dutch team conceding a dubious penalty. ‘I don’t know exactly what happened there. I haven’t been able to see that properly yet,” says Mahieu. ‘I especially think we should defend better there. We will take a critical look at what went wrong at the back. But we also don’t forget that we did very well for most of the match. I don’t think what we showed is insufficient, if you look at where we are.’
There’s a lot in that last sentence. Mahieu doesn’t use it as an excuse. But the preparation of the Dutch Juniors was of course not optimal, due to the long main league programme. The Netherlands therefore completed relatively few flying hours as a group. “We knew that we would not reach our final level in the first match,” he said, somewhat resignedly. ‘But we must continue to develop. So there’s not much going on.’
‘Serious complaints’ Telgenkamp
There was something going on with Duco Telgenkamp on Wednesday. The top scorer of the ‘big European Championship’ dropped out in the second quarter against Pakistan with a hamstring problem, which had been bothering him for some time in the week leading up to the tournament. He had difficulty walking after the match. His leg was taped up. ‘Duco seemed to be ready in time for the tournament. But in the race he got out after sprinting,” Mahieu says. ‘It seems to be serious. But it is not yet entirely clear how it works. We first have to check with the physio and the doctor to see how he is doing. I hope he can still play.’