Even before the four-nation hockey Gold Cup kicked off,the tournament lost two of the biggest names in the fray. Senior Dutch players Taeke Taekema and Teun de Nooijer,who between themselves have close to 600 international caps,will return without playing a single match in the tournament.
The reason: According to International Hockey Federation (FIH) rules,a team can have only 18 players in their squad. According to official sources,Gold Cup organisers had decided to relax rules and allow teams to have 20-member squads to ensure more flexibility. However,since the tournament has been accorded official status by the FIH,the question of organisers allowing extra players does not arise.
Holland chief coach Michel van den Heuvel was quoted as saying: The main purpose of the tournament is to train young players and prepare for the 2010 World Cup in India and there is no question of deviating from the same, on the official website of the Dutch hockey association. The tournament schedule (of having 20-member squads) was not approved by the FIH and I am now forced to make choices, Heuvel added. Holland were the only team to have come with 20 players.
Tournament director Ramesh Appoo confirmed that it could only be an 18-member squad. I have the list of the first 18 and that will be the official squad. The other two players are free to be with the team and watch the matches but officially they will not be a part of this tournament, he told The Sunday Express. The Dutch list of players did not include Taekema and de Nooijer.
The Dutch were told about the decision late on Friday and the decision to drop the seniors was taken late on Friday night. The 29-year old Taekema is considered the best drag-flicker and penalty corner expert in the world at the moment,in addition to being a key member of the midfield. Nooijer,who with 388 international caps is the senior-most player in the squad,has been world player of the year a record three times and is the only one to get the award twice in succession.
The two had been the tournaments marquee names and had made the Dutch favourites to win the title here,but now the field seems wide open. With Ronald Brouwer also not coming for the tournament,defender Geert-Jan Derikx is the senior-most player in the squad,though Timmy Hoyng has been named captain.