Friday, June 19, 2009


What the Coaches Say

Paul van Ass (Holland)
It all boils down to the structure and how the team will adapt to it during the match. New Zealand are not going to be easy as they play with their hearts. Hockey is not an individual sport and as such we have our work cut out since the Kiwis play as a team rather well. I have great respect for them. We have come this far and want to take a step closer to winning the trophy as Holland have yet to win it.

Peter Miskimin (New Zealand)
To make it this far is already a great achievement for New Zealand hockey. We are very pleased as prior to this our best international achievement was the gold medal at the Montreal Olympics. Holland are a great team, a rich history in hockey. It will be tough but not impossible as we have nothing to lose.

Jason Duff (Australia)
We are well prepared to take on Germany. It will be left to be seen how our opponents will cope with the tactics we have in store for them. The Germans are physically strong and tactically sound so we have to apply a game plan that can neutralise them.

Uli Forstner(Germany)
Australia are a difficult team, be it at senior or junior level. They defend well and are dangerous on counter attacks so we have to be alert at all times. Nonetheless we aim to surprise them and have figured out how best to beat them.

Australia v Germany

The German's have won the Junior World Cup four times, in 1982, 1985,1989 and 1993. And they have finished on the podium, as runners-up in 1979 and in third place in 1997 and 2001.

Germany have the edge if the numbers game is taken into account. The Aussies have only won the title once, that was in 1997 in Milton Keynes, they have made the final three other times, in 1982, 1989 and 2005.

And playing on Malaysian soil seems to favour the Germans as they defeated the Aussies in the finals in 1982 and 1989 when Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh hosted the World Cup respectively.

For German coach, Uli Forstner, he is hoping that the numbers fortune will continue for this is the third time he is taking charge of the German juniors.

He took the team to a third place finish in his debut as coach in Hobart and 2001 but Germany failed to make the semis in 2005.

"I am looking to be third time lucky," said Forstner.
"And I am calling it quits as a coach after that. And no I will not be reconsidering it even if we win the trophy.
"Australia are the favourites but we aim to surprise them. They play as a unit and are superior in all departments but I am optimistic of our chances."

The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the preliminary round. But Australia have the edge as the runners-up of the previous tournament have gone on to win the title in the following years.

"I will be more then happy if that continues," said Australian coach Jason Duff.
"We are fit and raring to go so really I must say that I am confident we have what it takes to make the final.
"It will be close as Germany have tactical discipline and will be hard to break."

The two teams have delighted hockey fans from both sides of the causeway with their free flowing hockey.

So it will no doubt be a highly charged match with only a goal to separate them.

New Zealand v Holland

Other then the customary congratulatory and well done messages, the New Zealand hockey team has not received any indication of any financial gratitude for making the semi final of the Junior World Cup.

And that does not bother them at all for the team is focused on making the final this Sunday.

"The players have a mission to complete and are not too concerned about it," said New Zealand coach Peter Miskimin.

"Our priority is to make the final and we are under no pressure. The players have gone through a lot and know what a difference it will make to hockey back home if we do well.

"I am proud of my team for making it this far and am confident we have what it takes to overcome the Dutch."

Standing in between them and a place in the final is Holland, a team that has shown the pedigree of a potential champion.

The Kiwi players had to fork out Euro 4,000 each to play in the JWC.

But the sacrifice has been worth it for only 70 minutes stand between them and a place in history.

For the best ever international achievement for New Zealand was the gold medal they won in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

The two teams met in the group stage during the first round and it ended in a 2-2 draw, a result that ensured the exit of India.

Both teams have something in common though, for it was also in Canada that Holland made their only appearance in the JWC, during the 1993 edition in Vancouver.

If the Kiwis had financial issues, the Dutch faced a different problem altogether.

"I had 16 players flying in on June 3 with another two joining us a few days later," said Dutch coach Paul van Ass.

"So realistically we have only being playing as a team since the tournament started.

"We have yet to get our hands on the trophy and that is our aim. But New Zealand have been impressive so we must not underestimate them."

The two teams have all to play for, and it will undoubtedly be a match that will be too close to call.

Will the burning desire and fighting spirit of the Kiwis prevail over the tenacity and intelligence of the Dutch?

Only when the final whistle is blown at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium tomorrow night will we know which team's dream continues.