India hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne bats for HWL league-stage format | other sports | Hindustan Times
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India hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne bats for HWL league-stage format

The FIH Hockey World League Final (HWLF) format also allows unfancied teams to qualify for the World Cup or Olympics Games like the Indian women’s hockey team that benefitted from the fifth-place finish in World League Semifinal in 2015 to book a place at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

other sports Updated: Dec 07, 2017 21:25 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Indian hockey team players celebrate after beating Belgium in the quarterfinal of the FIH Hockey World League Final on Wednesday. India, who had finished last in their pool with no wins, were underdogs against Belgium, the winners of the other pool. But the knockouts saw the hosts play on a different plane to shock the Europeans.
Indian hockey team players celebrate after beating Belgium in the quarterfinal of the FIH Hockey World League Final on Wednesday. India, who had finished last in their pool with no wins, were underdogs against Belgium, the winners of the other pool. But the knockouts saw the hosts play on a different plane to shock the Europeans. (PTI)

The best thing about the FIH Hockey World League Final is its format which allows teams a second chance. Both Argentina and India were poor in the league phase of this tournament but came good in the quarter-finals to qualify for the last four stage.

The format also allows unfancied teams to qualify for the World Cup or Olympics Games like the Indian women’s hockey team that benefitted from the fifth-place finish in World League Semi-final in 2015 to book a place at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

India head coach Sjoerd Marijne on Thursday said that the format allowed him to try various options in the league phase before deciding the team’s final strategy for the knockout games. “It benefits all the teams. I don’t know about others, but we have been enjoying this system,” he said.

Ex-India goalkeeper AB Subbaiah and legendary penalty corner expert Floris Jan Bovelander too appreciated the format and the tournament, being played for the last time. The HWLF would be replaced by the Hockey Pro League in 2019.

“This is the best format to make hockey interesting and more attractive for the fans as well as for players,” Subbaiah told Hindustan Times. “Here you get to try out many combinations in the league phase before deciding your final combination for the knockout matches.”

Bovelander too said that the format helps make hockey popular and ensure fair opportunity to lower-ranked teams.

The tournament comprises four rounds and is played over two years.

Just like here, India had started off badly in the league phase in 2015, losing to Argentina 0-3 in the first game, splitting points with Germany after 1-1 draw in the second game before losing to Netherlands 1-3 in the final league match. However, the format allowed them to qualify for the quarter-finals where they beat England 2-1. Although their journey ended in the semi-finals against Belgium, they managed to win a bronze which brought them instant recognition.