The third edition of the FIH Pro League was won by the Netherlands. At the Rotterdam complex, the Orange squad won 2-1 against India after an early deficit. It is the first time that the Orange Men have won the Pro League.
Captain Thierry Brinkman proudly held up the cup just before half past six, showing off to the audience. Winning the Pro League was celebrated by the Dutch national team. For the Orange it was the first title since the won European Championship of 2021 in the Wagener Stadium. For a large part of the selection it was the first prize in the Orange shirt. But despite the handsome 2-1 win, it didn’t look like the Netherlands would secure the title on Sunday early in the game. Orange got off to a false start.
Scattered over the well-filled stadium on the Hazelaarweg in Rotterdam, tufts of spectators from India suddenly jumped from their seats, overjoyed. In the first minute of the game, India immediately took the lead against the Orange. It was defender Floris Wortelboer lost the ball on the halfway line that initiated India’s goal. Indian hockey player Abhishek dribbled into the circle and put the ball past defenders Jip Janssen and Lars Balk with a handy bounce. A gem of an action, after which he shot the ball past keeper Maurits Visser with his forehand: 0-1.
Quick equalizer by Jip Janssen
The start of Orange was terrible. But the Netherlands recovered and dominated for a large part of the first quarter. Jasper Brinkman put the ball on an Indian foot, which resulted in the first penalty corner of the match. Stone-hard Janssen won the 1-1. His fist went up in the air to celebrate the goal.
In the first quarter, the Netherlands kept looking for a goal and made two penalty corners, which were not cashed in. But the start of the second quarter felt like a deja vu. Again India seemed to take the lead. India was allowed to take a penalty shot due to a tackle on an Indian stick. But keeper Visser stopped Harmanpreet Singh’s push, keeping it 1-1. Visser also kept a strong goal for the rest of the game.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Orange was close to 2-1. The fourth penalty corner of the match was dragged hard by Janssen against the glove of the Indian keeper Pawan. That brought Joep de Mol into position. The defender played the ball against the bar in the rebound.
It was an open game with chances back and forth. Through an opportunity for Dennis Warmerdam, the Netherlands was close to scoring. India closed the second quarter with four penalty corners in a row. But every attempt was read by the Netherlands. As a result, the halftime score in the wonderful game was 1-1.
Winning goal by Jorrit Croon
Shortly after the break it was a beautiful pass by Teun Beins that put Terrance Pieters in scoring position. Sliding, Kampong’s attacker put his stick against the ball. A nice tip-in, but the ball sailed just wide.
Meanwhile competitor Belgium took a 0-2 lead against England in London. The message was clear. If the Netherlands wanted to crown themselves the winner of the FIH Pro League on Sunday afternoon, they had to score and India had to be defeated.
That goal came from a penalty corner just before the end of the third quarter. Thoughts went out to a direct sleep push from Jansen. But the specialist served principal Jorrit Croon, who tapped the ball beautifully against the ropes: 2-1. For the Bloemendaal player it was his first international goal on Dutch soil.
Both India and the Netherlands missed a penalty corner at the start of the last quarter, making it an exciting game. The Netherlands was close to 3-1 via a chance from Derck de Vilder. That resulted in a penalty corner, even two in a row, but Orange’s visor was not sharp.
Four minutes before the end, India had a chance to equalize via the penalty corner. Jarmanpreet Singh’s flats were above the board, making the goal invalid. Thijs van Dam hit the ball past India’s goal in the final phase. As a result, it remained 2-1, enough for the Dutch national team to call itself the winner of the FIH Pro League.
Netherlands v India 2-1 (1-1)
1. Abhishek 0-1
7. Jip Janssen 1-1 (sc)
45. Jorrit Croon 2-1 (sc)