Germans set quarterfinal target

Germans set quarterfinal target

They are five-time champions and they are the defending champions as well but the Germans tried to play down expectations as they fine-tuned their preparations for the Junior World Cup hockey tournament, beginning here on Friday.

The German team is full of youngsters, five of them in the under-18 age group. Coach Andre Henning said their main goal was to give youngsters the opportunity to show their skills on the big stage.

“Our goal is to get into the quarterfinals first up. The pressure is not very big because we are a part of a young group, perhaps the youngest among all the participants, with five players who are still allowed to play in the under-18 group, so it is a tournament for development, for preparing the young group for the men's team later,” Henning told reporters on Monday.

“We are not really sure yet what they are able to do and whether they are able to play under this kind of pressure, at such a big stadium, and under pressure to win a trophy just because everyone else expects us to win the title.”

Germany have been clubbed with Pakistan, Belgium and Egypt in Pool A. Hennings acknowledged they would be up for some tough contests, starting with Belgium.
“I think it might be the strongest of all the four groups. We know Belgium very well. We played a draw with them in the European championships last year and they won the tournament, so I think they are a little bit more favourites than we are. They are quite experienced, have very good tactic, very good zone press. Pakistan is a very strong counterattacking team and experienced as well.”

While Henning rated India among the favourites, he said the title would go to the team that is mentally stronger.

“Three teams in our group are favourites. We have already played against India last summer in Germany. It was a very good match, they are absolutely top team and with the crowd at their back, it will be interesting to see Indian matches in this wonderful stadium.
“The Netherlands is the team of their group, we play them very often. Australia is also one of the best, a good athletic team.  Here it is not just about tactics but also about mental strength. It could be very interesting to see which young group is one step ahead of others.”

German captain Roel Bovendeert said they were looking forward to playing against India in a packed stadium. “If we get a chance to play against India, we have to be careful not to lose control of the ball. Once we have the ball in our control the crowd itself will subside and we will take advantage of that situation.”

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