Punjab Gold Cup will help us prepare for World Cup: Dutch hockey coach

February 2nd, 2009 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 2 (IANS) Dutch hockey coach Michel van den Heuvel feels that his team’s experience at the Punjab Gold Cup will help the players prepare well for the 2010 World Cup in India. “It is certainly a good exposure for our boys to play in India and we have come here with a younger side. We want to experiment right now so that later we can make better choices,” Heuvel told IANS Sunday, after his team drew 4-4 with India in a scintillating encounter.

“We are keeping in mind the next big events like World Cup and preparing our squad for that.”

For European champions Netherlands it has been a good campaign in this tournament. They opened with a stunning 2-0 win over Olympic champions Germany and then split points with India in a nerve wracking match at the Sector-42 Stadium here. They now share the top spot with India in this four-nation tournament.

Heuvel said that the Dutch team will maintain their attacking form of play in all the matches.

“We are working on various strategies and they will change with each match. We are closely monitoring the performance of our boys as well as of our opponents. We also have to work on our fitness level and build stamina for the players,” he said.

The coach was all praise for the Indian team after its valiant effort to come back from 0-2 and draw Sunday’s match 4-4.

“India played with great spirit and enthusiasm. Although we dominated in the first 20-25 minutes, India bounced back strongly. However, one thing was good for the sport that both the teams were playing for the result,” he said.

Heuvel also said that the absence of two top players, former captain Teun De Nooijer and top-rated drag flicker Taeke Taekema won’t affect the team’s performance. The duo were sent back home Saturday after the Netherlands were found violating norms regarding the number of players.

“We have to accept the fact that we cannot depend on only one or two players. However, it also gives a chance to the young talent to prove their potential and I am quite satisfied with my boys’ performance in the series so far,” he said.

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