I have to start today with the disappointing news from the technical director of the tournament, Ken Read. Yes, he wanted to send out a message to the players about the discipline on the field, but he should understand that for Shivendra Singh, the World Cup is nearly over!
It was a harsh decision, as even the Pakistan team did not pursue the matter. The umpires too did not think it was an intentional foul, but a spontaneous reaction in the run of play.
The FIH’s innovative step of bringing the television replay umpire into play is good for teams that lose out on fringe decisions, like Korea getting the penalty-corner decision in their favour, which helped them go one-up. The only thing required now is to educate the spectators and players about the technology.
Coming back to on-field action, the match between Germany and Korea was crucial as both teams are contenders for the semifinal slot, but I felt Germany struggled in the first half and failed to adapt to the new surface.
The turf has caused some worries to the teams as it is still settling down. Korea was in full flow from the start when they secured the first penalty-corner.
The brand of hockey the Germans play was on display in the second half; full of urgency, discipline and shrewd moves, which helped them equalise at 2-2.
What should one expect for the Dutch team, which has so many experienced players and the best penalty-corner specialist in the world — Taeke Taekema.
His hat-trick speaks of his mastery over the art of converting penalty-corners.
I am expecting a better performance from my favourite player, De Nooijer.
The man of steel, Guus Vogels, stood firm between Argentina and the Dutch goal. Argentina showed shades of brilliance in the second half with 6-7 tries but Vogels stood rock solid in the goal.
Germany now have to get three points from their game against Canada to keep the door open for a semifinal slot, but they need to settle down fast and get the first goal.
Canada are the dark horses and can cause an upset with their young side. Korea against Argentina will also be worth watching, for the latter’s “soccer-style of hockey” can change the complexion of a game within seconds.
New Zealand facing off with The Netherlands could be a fairly even match with both having earned three points each.The Dutch will try and keep the game fast-paced till they get a safe goal advantage, and we are sure to see minute-by-minute rotation of players in the first half. New Zealand will come down hard on the Dutch defence to ensure at least a draw.
We need to be realistic as the Dutch are favourites in this World Cup and they’ll have many a fallback plan.