India eyeing history as they face Netherlands in HWC quarters today

Bhubaneswar: The last time India made it to the semi-finals of the Hockey World Cup was in 1975 – the only time they also won the coveted trophy.

Scintillating form of late and home support beckon India to chase a piece of history but it won’t be easy for the young brigade to break the 43-year-old wait as they take on European giants, Netherlands in a crucial quarterfinal encounter at Kalinga Stadium today.

Ahead of the crucial encounter, team India coach Harendra Singh said they are ready to give everything to win the match. “Players are confident and ready to take on the challenge with full focus without worrying about the results.”

The tie, however, does not favour the hosts as past records show that the Men in Blue had never defeated the Dutch in a World Cup event. During the last six encounters with the Netherlands in the quadrennial event, team India has ended up on the losing side on five occasions while managing a draw only once.

In terms of head-to-head records between the two giants of the game, India has won 33 matches and the Dutch 48 while the rest have ended in draws. The last time both the sides met was during the Champions Trophy earlier this year, when the match ended in a 1-1 draw but India entered the final due to higher points scored.

Going by the current world rankings, there’s not much to differentiate between the two as the Dutch are placed fourth while India are just a place below on fifth.

Indian hockey has improved quite a lot in the recent times and that is testified by the fact that since 2013, India have played the Netherlands nine times. Both teams have won four games each and one has finished in a draw.

In the group stages of the current World Cup, both the teams have been on fire. While India has scored 12 goals with a meaner defence conceding just three goals, the Dutch have hammered 18 goals and let in just five goals.

India which has a rich hockey legacy with eight Olympic Gold medals are also having a good run of form under the management of coach Harendra Singh with silver at the Champions Trophy, a bronze at the Asian Games and recently the Asian Champions Trophy title.

In the likes of captain Billy Bakker, Seve van Ass, Jeroen Hertzberger, Mirco Pruijser, Robbert Kemperman, Thiery Brinkman, the Dutch have got plenty of experience in the midfield and their strike force.

The Indians too would be relying on their strikers Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh to continue their good work.

With the Kalinga Stadium expected to be packed to its full capacity, fans are also excited to witness the high-voltage clash.

With agency inputs..