Coach Henning calls Germany‘s run in World Cup craziest in sports history
BHUBANESWAR: Last summer, in the run-up to the FIH World Cup, when most other countries were busy working out strategies and tactics, German coach Andre Henning and his men were enjoying some downtime on a hidden island in Sweden
The travel baggage did not include hockey sticks and the mobile phones were tucked away for the duration of their outing. The focus was on team bonding and understanding each other. It was a risk, admitted Henning, but one which paid off on Sunday night with their first World Cup triumph in 17 years.
Mats Grambusch and his men will go down in history as the comeback kings. For three consecutive matches, starting with the quarterfinals, they snatched victories after being down 0-2. What makes this outstanding achievement astonishing is the fact that the team does not have a regular central training programme. Since most of the players are busy with club commitments, work or college, they don’t train together often.
“Germany is one of the few countries which does not have a centralised training system. We have the league and a few camps, following which I don’t see the boys for three months. So, they are training individually and have to be self-motivated,” said the 39-year-old Henning.
Henning, a former freelance journalist, said the writing was on the wall, but the perfect execution was carried out by men who thrive as much on physical energy as on camaraderie.
Hockey World Cup: Germany dash Belgium’s hopes of title defence, clinch third title
<p>Germany ended Belgium’s dominance in global hockey in the last 5 years as they made yet another stunning comeback from a 2-goal deficit to beat the defending champions.<br /></p>
<p>With the win in penalty shootout, Germany clinched the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup for a third time.<br /></p>
<p>The two sides were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time of the thrilling final. In the shootout, the Germans prevailed 5-4 in sudden death in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium.<br /></p>
<p>Niklas Wellen (29th), Gonzalo Peillat (41st) and captain Mats Grambusch (48th) scored for Germany in the regulation time while Florent van Aubel Florent (10th), Tanguy Cosyns (11th) and Tom Boon (59th) found the target for Belgium.<br /></p>
<p>This was the third time in the tournament that Germany had won after trailing 0-2 and their mental strength and never-say-die attitude came to the fore again as they denied the Belgians to defend their title.<br /></p>
<p>The earlier two matches were against England in the quarterfinals and Australia in the semifinals.<br /><br /></p>
<p>Germany joined Australia and Netherlands to have clinched the World Cup title three times. Their earlier triumphs had come in 2002 and 2006.<br /></p>
<p>Only Pakistan have won the event four times.<br /></p>
<p>A day before the summit clash, head coach Andre Henning had said that Germany have given massive focus on their defence but a two-minute Belgium blitzkrieg left them in daze.<br /><br /></p>
<p>Van Aubel gave Belgium the lead in the 10th minute as he leapt in the air and smashed the ball down into the German goal.<br /></p>
<p>Even before the packed crowd barely settled down after the first goal, Cosyns made it 2-0 as he got down on his knees and tapped in an Antoine Kina cross from the left.<br /></p>
<p>Germany took a referral for a back stick but the video umpire ruled against them.<br /></p>
<p>Belgium could have been 3-0 up in the first minute of the second quarter but for German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler who brilliantly palmed away an effort from Gauthier Boccard.<br /></p>
<p>Germany had the golden chance to pull one back in the 19th minute but Tom Grambusch wasted a penalty stroke with Vincent Vanasch making a stunning save.<br /></p>
<p>Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, the 35-year-old Vanasch correctly predicted Grambusch’s powerful shot directed at the right top corner.<br /></p>
<p>The never-say-die Germans reduced the deficit two minutes before the breather as Wellen struck from a penalty corner variation.<br /></p>
<p>Trailing 1-2 at half time, Germany had a chance to restore parity in the 40th minute but Vanasch padded away a Marco Mailtkau deflection.<br /></p>
<p>The Germans kept on pressing and got the equaliser in the 41st minute when penalty corner expert Peillat found the net to make the scoreline 2-2.<br /></p>
<p>Had Belgium won, they would have been the 4th team to successfully defend the title after Pakistan, Germany and Australia.<br /><br /></p>
“Back home, we had a big sheet of paper in our meeting room, which read, ‘We are going to write a story or history’. Before the tournament all the players signed on it and indeed they have written history,” said the coach who is often compared to Liver-pool manager Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann for his show of emotions on the sidelines.
Belief, according to Henning, is the success mantra of the young German side. “The main point that made the difference is, how close this group is and how much they believe in themselves even when it is extremely hard. Coming back from being 0-2 down against a team like Belgium is not easy. I haven’t played at this level, so I cannot even imagine how hard it is to retain energy on the last day, after having ran so much. That is the story of this team. The last three games in the tournament, it was probably the craziest in sports history. This team wrote something unique,” added an emotional Henning.
In Germany’s modern hockey history, for two decades between 1992 and 2012, they were world beaters at the Olympics, World Cup and European championships. But their graph plummeted after the 2012 London Olympics gold.
The Die Honamas’ redefined resilience at the Kalinga stadium on more than a few occasions over the past three weeks. They now hope their gritty feat will mark the beginning of another glorious chapter in Germany’s fabled hockey culture.