The national teams of the Netherlands and Great Britain played their first competitive internationals for over eight months on Tuesday (27 October), with the Dutch women and men edging out their respective FIH Hockey Pro League opponents on a rainy occasion at Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium.
The Netherlands women, the reigning World, European and FIH Hockey Pro League champions, needed just two minutes to open the scoring against Olympic champions GB, with Pien Dicke racing through to score her first international goal. However, the visitors competed well throughout and eventually levelled the scores in the 43rd minute, with Jo Hunter tapping home from close range.
Hunter’s strike proved enough to earn a draw for her team, although it was the Netherlands who took the bonus point thanks to a fine goalkeeping display from Anne Veenendaal, who was only beaten once in the shoot-out.
Speaking after the match, Netherlands player Margot van Geffen – who was named Player of the Match – said: “We won our shoot-out, so that is a good result. The match, it wasn’t great. A lot of basic things were not good enough, but I think we can learn a lot about this game, so that is a positive point. I think we can play better, definitely, but it has been eight months [since we played], so maybe that is a little excuse.”
The Netherlands are now level on 17 points with table toppers Argentina, although they have two games in hand over their great rivals from South America. GB sit in sixth position with six points from the five matches they have played. More information about this match can be found by clicking here.
Like the women’s match, the meeting between the Netherlands and GB men was a close encounter, with a solitary strike from Dutchman Floris Wortelboer proving to be the difference between the two teams. Wortelboer’s first ever international goal was certainly one to remember, cutting in from the right before crashing a blistering black-hand strike against the GB backboard with just six seconds of the first half remaining.
“In the first half they entered the 23 yard line a couple of times, but I think in the second half I think we controlled the game and we played good as a team”, said Netherlands goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak, who produced numerous outstanding saves to be named Player of the Match. “We had some pressure on our circle at the end of the game, but we defended well. It was a great team performance at this stage of the season.”
Commenting on the fixture and the result, Great Britain’s Rhys Smith said: “Firstly I think it is fantastic to be able to come together and play international hockey. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It was a tough game – I thought it was very close, and we created equal opportunities, so we are a bit disappointed not to get anything out of the game.”
The Netherlands sit third in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings with 14 points from seven games, while GB remain bottom of the table with five points from five matches. More information about this match can be found by clicking here.
The matches were played behind closed doors, with strict COVID-19 protocols being followed by the teams, staff, officials and everyone within the venue.
The FIH Hockey Pro League continues on Thursday when the Netherlands and Great Britain men and women play their second matches of these double-headers at the Wagener Stadium.