The Top of the D has already given you a break down of Pool A here. Now, take a look at the contenders for Pool B.
Germany. World Ranking: 2.
Ranked second in the world at present, but they are the reigning Olympic Champions. They finished second in the 2010 World Cup, and fifth in the 2011 Champions Trophy. Their squad for London contains ten players who captured the gold medal in Beijing. Their list is almost like a who’s who of European hockey. Make no mistake; this German side is a genuine medal chance.
Their style is built on an excellent defence, marshalled by Captain Maximilian Muller. Each of their players is comfortable in possession, which means they have no problem holding onto the ball whilst waiting for an opening to appear. Up front they have a wealth of talent and are extremely dangerous from penalty corners.
Players to watch:
Well, where to begin? Moritz Fürste is one of the best players in the world. Elegant, strong, good on the ball, a range of passing and an eye for goal, he has it all. If he hadn’t played during Jamie Dwyer’s career he would have a stack of World Player of the Year awards.
Christopher Zeller too is a standout performer. He is one of the most feared penalty corner specialists in world hockey and will no doubt feature heavily in his side’s quest for gold.
English Hockey League fans will of course notice Martin Häner. The former Germany Under-21 captain spent some time playing for East Grinstead, where he impressed greatly.
Squad: Max Weinhold (GK), Oskar Deecke, Florian Fuchs, Moritz Fürste, Martin Häner, Tobias Hauke, Oliver Korn, Maximilian Müller, Jan-Philipp Rabente, Thilo Stralkowski, Christopher Wesley, Benjamin Wess, Timo Wess, Matthias Witthaus, Christopher Zeller, Philipp Zeller
Stand by: Nicolas Jacobi (GK), Linus Butt.
Netherlands. World ranking: 3.
The huge shock, I suppose from the Oranje selection was the omission of both Taeke Taekema and Jeroen Hertzberger. Takema’s non-selection caused more of a stir due to his standing as one of the greatest of all time. However, Hertzberger, who has enjoyed a fine club season, finishing as top scorer in the EHL, has played every tournament for the Dutch since 2007 and so was perhaps more of a surprise. Don’t be fooled however, they are not exactly lacking in quality. Fourth in Beijing, third in the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Champions Trophy and second in the 2011 European Championships, this is a squad not short on pedigree. They will hope to draw on the experience of the likes of Teun de Nooijer, coupled with the exciting talents of Mink van der Weerden and Roderick Weusthof. This is a side which means business and does not make room for sentiment. Just ask Seve van Ass, the coach’s son, who also didn’t make the cut.
Teun de Nooijer is one of the greatest players of his generation. A three time World Player of the Year (2003, ‘05 and ‘06), two Olympic gold medals and one silver medal, over 400 international caps, the Bloomendal star has been there and done it. Not many could get away with wearing the coveted number 14 shirt made famous by Johan Cruyff, but De Nooijer has proved time and again he is worthy.
Wouter Jolie is a superb defender, who was included in the 2011 FIH World All Star team. He goes about his business with a quiet authority and is excellent on the ball. He, alongside goalkeeper Jaap Stockman will be the ones keeping things tight at the back.
Roderick Weusthof will take up the responsibility for penalty corners. He has over 50 international goals to his name and was the top scorer in the Hoofdklasse last season with 36 goals; it is the fourth time he has won that award. A threat from penalty corners he certainly is, but that is by no means the only string to his bow.
Squad: Sander Baart, Billy Bakker, Marcel Balkestein, Floris Evers, Rogier Hofman, Robert van der Horst, Wouter Jolie, Robbert Kemperman, Teun de Nooijer, Jaap Stockmann, Valentin Verga, Klaas Vermeulen, Bob de Voogd, Mink van der Weerden, Roderick Weusthof, Sander de Wijn.
The Top of the D will look at the Women’s pools next week.