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NETHERLANDS: THE WEEK OF THE BIGGEST DECISIONS BY NATIONAL COACH DELMÉE

    It is one of the most difficult weeks in Jeroen Delmée’s national coaching career. He will announce his Olympic selection on Wednesday, June 19. The Brabander has already put together the vast majority of the puzzle. ‘It’s all about the last choices. At two or three positions.’

    On Monday, the Orangemen met again with the regular group for the first time in weeks. During the past period, training took place in varying compositions. “The club’s interests have increased in recent months,” says Delmée, in the stands of the Wagener Stadium. The Dutch team has just completed the first training of the summer block. ‘With all the different compositions due to the EHL and the play-offs, it was a turbulent time. Now it’s all about Orange. That’s nice. We have entered the final phase towards Paris.’

    In the final phase, we will first work towards the four matches in the Pro League (from June 23). More than a month later, on July 27, the Olympic Games start. The Dutch team kicked off that exciting final block on Monday without Seve van Ass, who was the only one who received rest. The veteran played a week and a half ago during the play-outs, as the only international. He was relegated from the big league during that disaster weekend with HGC. The midfielder will rejoin the national team on Thursday.

    Terrance Pieters (Kampong) and Steijn van Heijningen (Rotterdam) missed the play-offs due to injuries, in which their club teams reached the final. They were on the field for the Dutch team on Monday. “Terrance and Steijn are not yet fully connected,” says Delmée. ‘But they have come a long way. We have continued to train individually with Terrance in recent weeks, Steijn joined the group we had at the time last week. They have a disadvantage, they have to make up for it. We think they can make it to the Pro League. They are therefore realistic options for the Olympic selection.’

    WV2024 WV2R1101 min - Netherlands: The week of the biggest decisions by national coach Delmée - It is one of the most difficult weeks in the national coaching career of Jeroen Delmée. He will announce his Olympic selection on Wednesday, June 19. The Brabander has already put together the vast majority of the puzzle. 'It's all about the last choices. At two or three positions.'

     

    Back on the training field: Terrance Pieters. Photo: Willem Vernes

    The hellish puzzle with only sixteen pieces

    Selection. The word often comes up in the conversation with Delmée. Logically, of course. The national coach is about to make his most important decisions of the past three years. Can make wishes come true and dreams come true next week. These are the most difficult choices he has had to make since his arrival at the Dutch team in September 2021. 

    Of course, the Netherlands already played a World Cup and a European Championship under the former record international. But then the playing group consisted of eighteen men (plus two reserves). The Olympic team consists of only sixteen men, plus three reserves. In short: that composition is a hellish puzzle, which was completed on Wednesday. 

     ‘During this period I am working on this all day long,’ says Delmée. ‘It doesn’t make me sleep any worse. But it is constantly playing on your mind. Now it’s all about the last choices. At two, three positions. I talk about it a lot with Eric Verboom (assistant national coach, ed.). And sometimes that goes both ways. Just before the announcement of the World Cup selection, I went for player A. Eric was for player B. But after a while of philosophizing, I was for B and he for A. So it is constant shifting, brainstorming and looking for solutions. And that is even more difficult now than at the other tournaments.’

    WV2024 WV1R6451 min - Netherlands: The week of the biggest decisions by national coach Delmée - It is one of the most difficult weeks in the national coaching career of Jeroen Delmée. He will announce his Olympic selection on Wednesday, June 19. The Brabander has already put together the vast majority of the puzzle. 'It's all about the last choices. At two or three positions.'

     

    Photo: Willem Vernes

    Five-and-a-half strikers and ‘reserves of the reserves’

    Delmée gives an insight into his considerations. ‘At the World Cup and European Championships we often had permanent substitutions per line. But if you are only allowed to take sixteen, that is not always possible. It’s about the total balance. The question is not whether someone can play hockey or not. They can all do that, they have shown it. It’s about what else you bring with you.’

    He rolls up a few of those features. “What about the foothills? The declarants? The corner stoppers? How do we deal with it if someone drops out? If you reach the final, you will play eight matches in twelve days. What does someone’s physical load mean for the rest of the team? What is the value of the experience of playing tournaments? There are ten, perhaps fifteen things that play a role in such a selection. Are we going for five strikers, six strikers, or five and a half strikers, where one can also play in midfield? Who will be our joker who can work anywhere? We think about that together.’

    Sudoku for advanced users has an extra challenge, thanks to the Pro League. The Netherlands will play twice against Germany and Belgium between 23 and 30 June. ‘And I want to play that Pro League with more than nineteen men. So I think we will also designate ‘reserves of the reserves’. Continuing with this entire team is too much, but we also have to get through those four games well.’

    WV2023 WV1R2477 min - Netherlands: The week of the biggest decisions by national coach Delmée - It is one of the most difficult weeks in the national coaching career of Jeroen Delmée. He will announce his Olympic selection on Wednesday, June 19. The Brabander has already put together the vast majority of the puzzle. 'It's all about the last choices. At two or three positions.'

     

    Delmée with his assistant Eric Verboom. Photo: Willem Vernes

    The most annoying task

    So much more will be clear in a week. Delmée is preparing for, as he once said, his most annoying task as national coach. Disappointing players with whom he spends so many hours on the field. ‘You give it to everyone. All the boys put in the same effort. Almost everyone has shown that they can compete as an international player. Soon there will be no boys who have participated in everything for three years. The only thing we as staff can do is substantiate that annoying message as best as possible.’

    He is happy when the egg is laid. ‘It was nice to have that selection moment. That gives everyone peace of mind. It is nice to provide clarity well before the tournament. The group that goes to Paris can then grow closer. Without doubts and struggle.’

     

    by Hockey.nl

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