India hockey great said he had expected a final between Belgium and Australia at the ongoing Hockey World Cup in Odisha, but was impressed with Netherlands’ thrilling win in the semis over the two-time defending champions.
Goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak helped the Netherlands set up a title clash with Belgium in the hockey World Cup after edging out Australia 4-3 on penalties in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
Blaak was on top of his game throughout the semifinal, producing a match-winning save in sudden death to deny Australia a chance of clinching their third successive title after they won in 2010 and 2014.
“Anything can happen in modern hockey and it was an unexpected result,” Sardar said in a video interview.
It will be the Netherlands’ record seventh final and they have the chance to claim their fourth World Cup title. They will take on Belgium, who thrashed England 6-0 in the first semifinal.
Olympic silver medallists Belgium, who had beaten two-time champions Germany in the quarter-finals, came out all guns blazing with Tom Boon giving them an early lead in the eighth minute of the match.
“This is Belgium’s first final and they deserve to be there. They have played with dedication and discipline. they are playing fast hockey as we saw in the semi-finals, 6-0 is a big win,” he said.
“Both teams are European and have similar styles of play but in the end the team’s collective performance matters. Both teams have peaked at the right time and it should be an interesting final” he said.
England, meanwhile, lost their third successive last-four clash in the World Cup. They will play Australia in the third-place play off on Sunday.
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