Modern hockey experts may feel that penalty corners are the most potent weapon to win matches, but famed Dutch drag-flicker Taeke Taekema thinks otherwise.
Taekema says that with the game evolving over a period of time, short-corners have gained more importance, but there are other important facets of the game as well.
“There is no denying the fact that in modern hockey, no team can afford to neglect penalty corners. The importance of drag-flickers has also increased but there still remains an element of doubt in the set pieces. No team can guarantee 100 percent conversion,” Taekema told IANS on the sidelines of the Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
The 30-year-old Dutch defender, who fired the tournament's first hat-trick Monday by netting all three penalty corners he took against Argentina, said teams now need to devise good strategy to score field goals besides converting the short-corners.
“Modern hockey is not all about penalty corners, but a mix of good field moves and short corners. If you look at the Dutch team in this World Cup, you will see we have a 50 percent rate of converting penalty corners, which is a fairly good rate. But every time I take a stance for a drag-flick, I am not 100 percent sure of converting it into a goal,” said Taekema, the ongoing competition's highest scorer with four short corner
goals till now.
A tally of 17 World Cup goals makes Taekema the joint fourth with his famous compatriot Floris Jan Bovelander in the all-time list of top scorers.
Taekema added that getting a perfect drag-flick is an art.
“It is a tough art to master. It takes years of practice and dedication, to even come close to doing it the right way. I think I am still learning to get it right,” he said.
On the World Cup, Taekema said: “We are not looking beyond the next match, but I must say that this tournament is very important for both India and Pakistan. These two countries are important for hockey and the World Cup will surely rekindle an interest in the sport once again in this part of the world.”
Asked whether India can succeed by adapting to the European style of play, Taekema said: “It is too early to say, but I feel that they had no other way out. Modern hockey is all about the European style of play.
“They wouldn’t have switched to the European style had the old Asian style worked for them. The Asian style was good when hockey was played on grass, but on astro-turf you have to go the European way.”