Hockey ladies want to end knockout curse

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At the new start under national coach Valentin Altenburg, the German hockey ladies want to get started and discard old weaknesses at the World Cup in the Netherlands and Spain.

“Above all, we have made it our goal to win our knockout games,” said national player Sonja Zimmermann before the tournament, which begins for the DHB team on Saturday (4:30 p.m. / DAZN) in Amsterdam with the game against Chile. “It hasn’t worked that well in recent years,” said the Germany captain, who shares the role with Nike Lorenz.

Failed on your own claim

In the recent past, the German women were not there in terms of performance when it mattered. Since winning the Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games, the deciders at top events (one World Cup and three European Championship tournaments) have regularly been lost. Most recently at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There was a 0:3 against Argentina in the quarterfinals. “The World Cup elite is close together, you can lose a knockout game, but it always depends on the how,” said Altenburg.

Often you failed “not because of the overwhelming competition, but because of yourself. Your own demands and perfectionism have slowed you down,” said the coach. “We have to stop that.”

After all: As the sixth in the world rankings, his team is “complete outsiders” in the fight for medals and can accept the World Cup challenge without much pressure to succeed, believes the successor to Belgian Xavier Reckinger. “My big goal is therefore not a specific placement, but a team that plays freely and dares to show what they can do.”

Difficult group – only first in quarterfinals

At the World Cup, the DHB selection is immediately required: After outsiders Chile, defending champions and hosts Netherlands and World Cup runners-up Ireland are waiting in the preliminary round as opponents. Altenburg thinks the group is “good because it calls up everything there is in world hockey,” he said. Oranje offensive power, defensively strong Irish and the unpredictable newcomer from Chile. Conversely, the 41-year-old claims: “We have many players in the squad who can make the difference and who have to be beaten first.”

The mode is tough: only the winners of the four preliminary round groups advance directly to the quarter-finals. The runners-up and third-placed teams will each play a round of 16 in Amsterdam or in Terrassa, Spain. From the semi-final onwards, only the Barcelona suburb will be played. Then the German ladies still want to be right in the middle of it all. “Our clear goal is to travel to Spain during the World Cup,” emphasized Altenburg.

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