Men’s Pro League: Reigning Champions Netherlands Hope to Blaze Away at Santiago del Estero

Going by their own lofty standards it was much much more than just a ‘disappointment’ for the Netherlands men’s hockey team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where they failed to reach the semifinals losing to Australia in the quarterfinal – it was the first time in 37 years that the Dutch had faltered in making it to the last-four stage at the Olympics (at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics they had finished 6th).

The Dutch with a new coach in Jeroen Delmee, wiped off those Olympic horrors with a point-to-prove kind of performance in the 2021-22 FIH Pro League, cornering glory ahead of the likes of Belgium, Germany, Argentina, and India. The Netherlands won 12 out of their 16 games losing one game in the long-drawn league – a narrow 2-3 defeat to Germany at Hamburg.

The Orange brigade have been well served by the likes of Thierry Brinkman, Koen Bijen, Jip Janssen, Dennis Warmerdam, Tjep Hoedemakers, Thijs van Dam and Tim Swaen – all of whom have made meaningful contributions to the Dutch’s Pro League victory journey. The world number three side would be standout favourites when they take on world number six Great Britain and world number seven Argentina in the second lot of 2022-23 FIH Pro League games at Santiago del Estero, Argentina from December 13-18.

It may be worth recalling that the Netherlands hardly broke any sweat when they faced off against Great Britain (then England) and Argentina in the 2021-22 FIH Pro League – the Dutch had thumped Argentina by 5-2 and 3-1 margins at Malden and had eased past Great Britain 3-0 and 6-3 respectively at London. Hosts Argentina would have happy memories to fall back on when they play Great Britain – they had beaten 2-0 and 3-1 at Buenos Aires.

Clearly, spectators at Santiago del Estero can expect a high doses of hockey featuring the world number three, six and seventh ranked sides.