India among six World Cup title contenders, says Dutch great Stephan Veen

Stephan Veen, a board member for high performance in Netherlands hockey association is impressed to see the young Indian side's progress.

Stephan Veen (r) opined that India needs to work consistently for better results.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

His heart may be at the right place backing his own country in the quarterfinal clash against India on Thursday, but Dutch great Stephan Veen, a self-proclaimed admirer of Asian hockey, rates the host among the six contenders for the Hockey World Cup title.

Veen, a board member for high performance in Netherlands hockey association, is impressed to see the young Indian side's progress.

“The last five years I have seen them playing many tournaments. It has grown each year and has got the fifth position in world rankings. It’s a very good team – good goalkeeper, good players, a lot of people from the junior World Cup. They are growing as a team, one of the six candidates for the title maybe,” Veen told Sportstar at the Kalinga Stadium.

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According to Veen, India must work consistently. “I don’t know the Indian system. But what I believe is consistent approach. You (must) have a vision, how to consistently implement the vision – the way of playing, how you interact, the way of your specialisation within a team. Everybody (should) get the same vision and do it year after year.”

Reflecting on his job, Veen said, “What we do is share knowledge from (men's chief coach) Max Caldas team to junior teams – the way we attack, the way we defence, also in attitude and mentality. It’s my objective to align this between all the teams.

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“Ours is a combination between European and Indian styles. You look at the Dutch team. It’s attacking, high pressure, combination, some dribbling and that’s the nature of our games. It’s our objective to let that work because I think you have to be close to the culture and performance in your DNA.”

“To lean on your strength and not to copy from overseas. India has learnt a little bit from the European style of playing on tactics but they have to keep close to themselves. They should not copy Australia, for example.”

Explaining why Netherlands has not won the World Cup or the Olympics in almost two decades even while earning podium finishes, Veen – a member of the Dutch teams that won titles in 1998 World Cup and 2000 Olympics – said there was no definite reason.

“It’s a combination of a bit of luck, experience, mentality and good players. When you win one tournament, the next will follow. You get confidence,” said 48-yer-old Veen.