On May 30, members, representing 12 teams each for men and women, participated in a glittering opening ceremony that marked the official beginning of the 16-day long 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands. The players were greeted by His Majesty the King Willem-Alexander and City Mayor with the King also posing for a photograph with team captains. The men’s field includes 12 national teams from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Netherlands while women’s teams come from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, US and Netherlands. On May 31, 2014, three Group A matches each, in men’s and women’s competitions were played. Australian men defeated Malaysia 4-0, their women came through 3-2 in tougher match against Korea. New-Zealand women beat Belgium 4-3; Netherlands women outplayed Japan 6-1; Englishmen drew 1-1 with Spain and Indian men suffered a heart-breaking 2-3 defeat against Belgium.

Rabobank HockeyAustralian men began with a bang against Malaysia with Glenn Turner scoring in 26th minute against the solid Malaysian defense. Turner went into the box after passing the man, who was marking him and firmly struck to the right of the Malaysian goalkeeper. The fast-paced Australians made many forays near the Malaysian penalty area but couldn’t convert any more chances until half-time. In the second session, Eddie Ockenden made a reverse drive in 50th minute to increase Australia’s lead and two minutes later, Jamie Dwyer dribbled past two defenders before making it 3-0 for Australia. Soon afterwards Australians were awarded a penalty corner and Turner scored his second goal with a scorching drive.

Australia’s women, however, had a tough challenge from Korea, who went into a 1-0 lead in 7th minute from a field goal by Eunbl Cheon. But Australia equalized in 12th minute from a super run up by Emily Hurtz, who scored from a pass by Georgie Parker. The teams went into the half time with scores level. In the 49th minute, Australia went 2-1 up, when Anna Flanagan scored from a penalty corner. Flanagan made it 2 for herself, when the referee awarded a penalty stroke in the 57th minute. In the last stages, the game became fast-paced and Koreans cut the margin by a goal from Seul Ki Cheon in the 63rd minute. But there was no further damage as Australia ended with a 3-2 victory.

In another women’s Group match, New Zealand beat Belgium 4-3. After 20 minutes of scoreless play, New Zealand went ahead through a penalty corner from Krystal Forgesson, who also the second goal, when there was a scramble in the Belgium penalty area and another penalty corner accrued. Anita Punt made it 3-0 for the Black Sticks as the half-time hooter blew. In 44th minute, New Zealand’s lead swelled to 4-0, when Captain Kayla Whitelock just tapped at a bounce pass from Sophie Cocks. Then the Belgian women went into an overdrive, scoring three times within 9 minutes to reduce the lead for New Zealand to 4-3 at close.

Dutch women began their world cup campaign with a resounding 6-1 victory over Japan. In 7th minute, Kelly Jonker scored from a cross sent to her from the left flank. Jonker scored again in the 21st minute after Roos Drost ran down the right and found Jonker in a good position in the box. Japan simply had no answer to the Dutch supremacy, when Maartje Paumen scored from a penalty corner in the 23rd minute to take the half time score to 3-0. Post the breather, the Dutch team continued with their attack as the smart Ellen Hoog first made it 4-0 in the 39th minute and then Kelly Jonker finished her hat-trick with a shot from close range in the 42nd minute. The sixth Dutch goal was Paumen’s second, when she flicked high from the penalty spot beyond the goalkeeper’s reach. In 65th minute, Japan scored their only goal of the match.

The Englishman drew their game against Spain despite playing dominating hockey in the first half. Within 6 minutes from the start, a fine effort from Nick Catlin found Alastair Brogdon on top of the circle. Brogdon’s shot flew high and passed into the goal. There were many close chances in the first half, which England couldn’t take. Within two minutes into the second session, Spain equalized, when there was a faint touch from Eduard Tubau’s stick on a long pass. The umpire was not sure and a video referral was called for. There were no further goals from either side as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

For India, it was a poor start with a 2-3 loss against Belgium. In 34th minute, Belgians went in front by a goal from Florent van Aubel. But India not only equalized through a Mandeep Singh field goal in the 45th minute but took a lead in the 50th minute by another field goal from Akashdeep Singh. However, the Indians couldn’t keep up the pressure and allowed Belgium to dominate again. In the 56th minute, a penalty corner conversion from Simon Gougnard helped Belgium to draw level. Playing a defensive game in their own half, the Indians denied the Belgian forwards many goal-scoring chances. But 15 seconds from close, India allowed enough space to the Belgian forwards in the circle and as the ball got switched around, India’s defenders conceded a goal in utter confusion as John Dohmen found a gap to push the ball inside the goal.