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A semis spot in pocket, Nooijer happy despite defeat

Source: PTI
March 10, 2010 10:15 IST
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They suffered their first defeat of the tournament but the Netherlands skipper Tuen de Nooijer is a happy man as they have already realised their aim -- a semi-final berth -- at the hockey World Cup.

The Dutch lost 1-2 to Korea in their last Pool A match. Nooijer said blamed the defeat on missed chances against the nimble-footed Koreans.

"I am happy with the semi-final spot. It is pity to lose but we reached the semi-finals and that's what counts. We had some chances, especially in the final minutes but could not capitalise on them, otherwise we could have drawn the match.

"But Korea played very well. They had two corners and converted one," he told reporters.

Korea needed to beat Holland by a two goal margin to join Germany in the semifinals from Pool A but what they could manage was only a 2-1 result.

Asked whether their dip in performance in the last two matches after three straight wins is matter of concern going into the semis where they face formidable Australia, Nooijer said, "You can't win every match. Semi-final is a totally new match and we are confident.

"Australia are big favourites. They are playing well but again semi-final is a different match. No doubt it would be a tough match," he added.

The Netherlands coach Michel van den Heuvel said loss will have no bearing on their semi-final match.

"We played very well in the first half but we didn't balance the game that well in the second half. It was a tough running game," he said.

"Our energy and power was really good in today's match, but our angle and possession was not strong enough. You can control Korea only if you have the ball in your possession.

"Having said that the semi-final will be a totally new game. I don't think this defeat will have any influence against Australia. But every game is a learning experience and today we have learnt that we need to have more control on the game. We need to get more spin, power on the ball to make it difficult for Australia," he added.

Meanwhile, both Korea coach Kyo Seok Shin and captain Ho Jong Seo said that they gave their best against the Dutch in the must-win match.

"We played very well. We gave our best but it was not our day. The last penalty corner miss was crucial," Shin said.

He said the loss against New Zealand played a big part in their ouster from the semi-final race.

"We are not degrading New Zealand but we took them lightly. We were always worried about Holland, Germany," Shin added.

Skipper Seo added, "We did our best but it is pity that we couldn't qualify for the semis."

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