World Cup 2014: Men’s Semi-Finals, Quote, Unquote.

In the women’s competition it is an Australia vs Netherlands final and today, the same matchup for the men was confirmed. All the semi-finalists had their say, including the great Ric Charlesworth and Argentina’s “Superman”. See what they make of it all here:

Paul van Ass, Netherlands:
They gave us the midfield and I understand why but I like to play attacking hockey and when it is a game like that it is always dangerous we could concede a goal on the counter. We deserved the win because we had the better chances but we really needed that second goal. We weren’t able to get it which was frustrating.

Mink van der Weerden, Netherlands:
I’m really delighted. It was a great team effort. We fought like hell and we created but couldn’t score a second goal. We defended well even when they had an extra player we kept our shape and kept them out. We’re really happy.

Bobby Crutchley, England:
Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 We knew we had to keep it tight. We had to stop the free-flowing Dutch hockey which I thought we did pretty well. To restrict such a talented team to one goal was down to some excellent defending and some real heart and hard work. In the first half we struggled to play enough hockey going the other way. With the ball we weren’t good enough which is something I’ve said throughout the tournament but it’s where this team is. If we’re going to compete at the top we have to be better with the ball.

I was worried after the first half that because we’d had to defend so much we’d run out of legs but second half the boys played better hockey and came back into it. We knew we had to keep it tight but the fine margins are what decide these games. We got the corners and we felt we were building some pressure on the Dutch which was part of the game plan but we couldn’t quite make it count.

If you’d said 18 months ago that this side would compete so well against the Dutch in the semi-final of the World Cup I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m so proud of the guys.

We weren’t just hoping for the odd penalty corner. We want to score goals but you have to recognise that you have to balance that with an organised defence. We did it on occasions and we had some chances, we almost scored in the first minute, after all. You know chances in this type of game will be few and far between and we knew we’d have to take them but we couldn’t do it today.

Barry Middleton, England:
The atmosphere was pretty special. It was a knowledgeable crowd. When we played some good hockey they applauded us. It was good fun to be out there. The result at the end is disappointing but it made for a good game and got both teams going. It wasn’t frightening it was good fun. It would have been nicer to have won but it was still fun to play in.

It’s tough to pick yourself up after coming so close. We spoke about making the semi-finals when we came here and when we beat Belgium, a game we’d targeted as being a big one; we started to feel we wanted to win it. If you win a bronze medal then you can say you’ve done pretty well but the nature of sport is that in general once you’re here you always want more. You want more than you get. It’ll be tough to bounce back. We’ll have a good day tomorrow, take our rest and get this out of ourselves knowing that Sunday is still a big game for us. It can be one of the hardest things to do to get yourself out of a negative mind-set having been so close. We have a battling quality in the team and we’ll use that to try and achieve something. We haven’t won a medal at the World Cup in a long time so it’s still an aim to do that.

Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014We’ve lost to the future world champions in this tournament, yes! I probably shouldn’t say that, Argentina are still there! I think Holland are a strong team. They’ve shown it for about 3-4 years now. This team who came through with Paul van Ass from the junior World Cup, they came second in London, won the World League they are a strong team as they’ve shown.  Every team in the top 5-6 has shown they are capable of winning the world cup. I wouldn’t count Argentina out of it and the other two sides have shown a lot of quality so it’d be hard to say who would win it on the day. I have a lot of friends in the Dutch squad and Paul, who is my second favourite coach behind Bobby. I had a lot of good times with people in the Dutch team, so if they do win it I’ll be very happy for them, but it’s disappointing to be saying that today and not talking about us in the final.

Simon Mantell, England:
Of course it’s a massive disappointment not to make the final. We did well to keep a solid defence and George played very well. We did a good job keeping them down to one corner goal and we had some chances but that’s the difference. We need to be able to put in one or two of those chances to get the results.

Chances are scarce at this level and this game was no different. There are such tiny margins between winning and losing and unfortunately we didn’t take ours today. We put a better game out in the second half but it’s really disappointing not to make the final. We have a massive 48 hours now to get ready for the bronze medal match.

A medal is still the aim, definitely. We’ve made huge strides as a squad and we’re getting into these big games but we’re aiming for bigger things and aiming for medals. Sunday we’ll be prepared to fight and get that medal.

The atmosphere is incredible. It’s great for hockey. Next time we play in a noise lack that I hope we can get the win. Would’ve been nice to keep them quiet but it wasn’t to be!

George Pinner, England:
It’s a world cup semi-final. You have to work very hard to get to one and we’ve done that, so to miss out in a tight 1-0 game is gutting. In the future when we look back we can take a lot of positives but we still lost 1-0 which is the bottom line.

Mink flicks a very good corner. I was lucky the runners and guys like Barry helped me out but the one they scored from took a deflection. He is a great flicker but hit wasn’t a moment of magic. Sometimes a bit of luck decides these games and they had the better chances but we’re desperately disappointed.

We bounced back incredibly well from the Australia loss. It’s different to this because we weren’t at the races at all that day, whereas we’ve done a lot right today well be disappointed tonight but as a group were very good at fighting back and we’ll make sure we show that and come away with something from this tournament.

Jeremy Hayward, Australia:
It was a good game. Argentina are a strong team and it was good for us to get an early goal on the board. Sometimes we’re a bit lucky to score early but it allows us to play to our game plan and put the pressure on the opposition. It’s good for me to get some goals, Chris [Ciriello] and Kieran [Govers] are ahead of me as corner flickers but I’m glad to get a goal and score some goals. Maybe I’ll get some more in the final?

It’s my first world cup but I’m looking forward to playing in front of a massive crowd. We can’t wait to take them on.

Ric Charlesworth, Australia:
We played a really solid first half and scored a couple of corners which was a boost. Second half we controlled the game and the ball and I was happy with that. We lost some control towards the end but overall I was happy. We nullified their threat and were able to do our thing.

We’ve made some changes and we’ve done some things differently since London but I don’t talk about them publicly. If you want to want a couple of years and buy my book you can read all about it but I will keep it to myself for now.

I don’t care who play in the final. My job is to get Australia there, which I’ve done. The Dutch have earned the right to be there and they are a great side. It should be a great match.

Carlos Retegui, Argentina:
Australia are always difficult. They are an excellent team in all aspects. My team played a wonderful game as they have all tournament and I am proud of what they’ve achieved. The final will be one of the best matches of all time. It is the two best teams in the world. I hope everyone who watches gets the game we hope it will be.

I love hockey and I love my country, so coaching two teams is not anything enormous for me. I am not Superman, I am a normal man.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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