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Pak will be tough to beat, feels Dutch keeper Vogels

Source: PTI
February 25, 2010 12:33 IST
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The much anticipated encounter between India and Pakistan on inaugural day of the hockey World Cup would be one of the most exciting matches of the 12-team quadrennial event, feels veteran Dutch goalkeeper Guus Vogels.

Vogels said even though the Netherlands open their campaign the next day against Argentina, it won't stop him from watching the sub-continent rivals lock horns at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.

"The India-Pakistan match would definitely be an exciting one. This match will eventually decide the standing of Pool A. I will definitely watch it," said the 34-year-old custodian.

Even though Vogels was not certain about India's chances in the prestigious tournament, he feels Pakistan would be a tough contender to deal with during the February 28-March 13 event.

"We played two practice games against Pakistan in Doha before the World Cup and both the matches were tight. Pakistan is very strong in counter attack and no team can afford to give them space. In Sohail Abbas, Pakistan has one of the best drag-flickers in the world," he said.

Vogels has all the major medals in his cupboard, including four Champions Trophy titles, two Olympic gold and a European championship crown.

But a World title has always eluded him and the 34-year-old, who will retire after the tournament, said that they will leave no stone unturned to win the tournament, which would be a perfect farewell to his career.

"World Cup is a nice goal because after this tournament I will retire and I want to retire as a world champion," said Vogels, who was a member of the Netherlands side that won back-to-back golds at 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Games.

"I have played for the country for the last 14 years and I am the No 1 goalkeeper for the last 10 years. So, I feel that it's time for me to move on," he added.

Vogels said though the Dutch hockey has gone down in the last couple of years, there is very little gap between the top teams of the world.

"We have had some disappointments over the last few years. It all started from the last World Cup in Monchengladbach (Germany), but the difference between top four teams is minimal.

"We could not train back home because during winter the pitch was frozen but we practiced in South Africa. We have had a good preparation. So far our first goal is to reach the semi-final and from there on we will see," he said.

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