The Netherlands progressed to the semi-finals of the 2023 FIH Men’s hockey World Cup on Wednesday beating South Korea 5-1. The Dutch will now face the reigning world champions Belgium in the semi-finals on Friday in a rematch of the 2018 World Cup final.
South Korea surprised many by defeating Argentina in the last round in a shootout to face the Netherlands. In his pre-match interview, Netherlands head coach Jeroen Delmee admitted that he was expecting to meet the Argentinians. Korea has a very experienced squad, with an average age of around thirty.
The match had an exciting start, with the South Koreans proving to be a much more challenging opponent than the Netherlands had previously faced in this tournament. Terrance Pieters had the Dutch side’s first big chance of the match, but the Korean keeper saved his attempt. Korea nearly took a surprise lead after a dangerous cross from Sunghyun Kim was barely knocked wide of the goal by Derck de Vilder.
Dutch captain Thierry Brinkman stood up when his team needed him most, dribbling past two players before letting the ball go into the middle resulting in Koen Bijen reacting the quickest to give Delmee’s side the lead.
The match was halted with two and a half minutes left in the first half after a shot from a Korean corner resulted in the ball being deflected into the face of the umpire. A replacement was on hand who took the umpire’s place after a few minute’s break.
Bijen made it two shortly after halftime after reacting quickest again to a shot to tap in. With nine and a half minutes left of the third quarter, the Netherlands started to leave the Koreans behind as Justen Blok scored just his second-ever goal for the side after a great pass from Jip Jansen to make it 3-0
The fourth goal for the Dutch will be credited to Steijn van Heijningen, but even the 25-year-old will understand that there was an element of luck to it. His cross was knocked into the Korean net by a defender of the opposition. Despite the scoreline, South Korea was no pushover, and they proved that by becoming the first team to score against the Netherlands in this tournament. Inwoo See controlled the ball nicely before smashing a shot past Pirmin Blaak in the Dutch goal.
However, the Dutch got the last goal of the match as Teun Beins made it five from a corner ball. They will now face Belgium on Friday in Bhubaneswar. After a shootout, Belgium defeated the Netherlands in 2018 in the World Cup final.