The women’s title match at the Rabo EuroHockey Nations Championships 2017 will be contested between home favourites Netherlands and surprise finalists Belgium following their respective semi-final victories over England and Germany at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen.
Belgium’s Red Panthers have caused a huge shock by reaching the final, defying their position of 14 in the FIH Hero World Rankings to be one win away from claiming a first ever European title. The team coached by Niels Thijssen secured their place in the championship game thanks to a 1-0 triumph over seventh ranked Germany, with Jill Boon scoring the only goal of the match just before half time to guarantee Belgium’s women a first ever podium finish in Europe’s top tier event.
“It’s amazing, the first time we did it, the first medal in a European Cup”, said Belgium’s Barbara Nelen, perfectly summing up the mood post-match. “We wrote history today and I am super proud of this team. We had nothing to lose and Germany had to come out and play. We hadn’t produced yet in the tournament and we finally played offensively. We changed our tactics and it worked and we have a final to look forward to.”
Victory for Belgium in Saturday’s competition final will not only secure the European title but also land them a place at next summer’s Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. However, should the team suffer defeat against the host nation, the World Cup ticket will go to Spain, who are next in line based on their performances in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.
The Netherlands will be hot favourites for the title, and not just because of home advantage. Alyson Annan’s team have been in sparkling form throughout the competition, but their 1-0 semi-final victory over reigning European champions England was earned through patience, grit and determination in front of an expectant 10,000 capacity crowd at the revamped Wagener Stadium. Oranje had to wait until eleven minutes from the end before eventually getting the breakthrough, with team captain Marloes Keetels scoring the decisive goal to end England’s hopes to defending the title that they won against the Dutch in 2015.
“It was amazing, the team played very well”, said Keetels. “We had to be patient, the English attacked very well, they also defended well and so we are delighted that the goal finally came.”
England and Germany will meet in Saturday’s bronze medal match at 1700 Central European Time, with the final between Netherland and Belgium being played at 2000. To find out more about the Rabo EuroHockey Championships 2017 event, please visit the official website by clicking here.
The European Hockey Federation (EHF) recently announced that all matches from the Rabo EuroHockey Championships 2017 will be live streamed on eurohockeytv.org/ (EHTV), an exciting new streaming platform created in partnership with Sportradar. Some games at the Rabo EuroHockey Championships will be GEO blocked due to broadcast arrangements in those territories. For full details regarding the broadcast of the event, click here.