As we build up to the sixth edition of the FIH Hockey Indoor World Cup, which is set to take place in Belgium early next year, we look at the teams that will compete for the title at the intense, action-packed competition that will be played at Country Hall de Liège from 2-6 February 2022.
In the latest of our team profile series we speak to Czech Republic men’s captain Martin Hanus, a player who is set to compete in his fourth Indoor World Cup after featuring at the Poznan 2011, Leipzig 2015 and Berlin 2018 events. Hanus provides an update on how his team’s preparations are going for the showpiece event in Liège.
The interview was recorded in mid-November.
Martin Hanus, captain of the Czech Republic indoor team, thank you so much for joining us! The FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup in Liège, Belgium is only a couple of months away. How are you and the team feeling about taking on the world’s best indoor teams? You must be very excited. Martin Hanus: “Yes, we all are. We are happy to play the World Cup and we hope it is going to happen, what with all the circumstances that happened last year [with covid]. We are looking to make it happen, finally. We hope that there will not be any complications.”
How has the pandemic impacted your preparations? Have you managed to get some training time in?
Martin Hanus: “Not really. Last year we completely missed out the indoor, didn’t have any trainings at all. No season, no training, no national team – nothing at all. Last winter was quite empty, I have to say. On the other hand, we are full on with the outdoor season. We are now done with the first part of the outdoor season here in the Czech Republic, so everything is switching to the indoor. The first [indoor club] tournaments are already behind us. It is either here in Prague, but also in Austria. The national team are about to meet again in the days to come, so I’m looking forward to being with the team again.”
Liège 2022 will be your fourth Indoor World Cup, having played at Poznan 2011, Leipzig 2015 and Berlin 2018. You must have some amazing memories from those competitions. Can you tell us what it is like as a player to compete in such a brilliant, intense event?
Martin Hanus: “For us, with the Czech team, we are more excited about playing indoor because we are always more competitive in indoor at international level, not like in the outdoor. Although we like both [versions], there is not a clear preference. It is a fourth World Cup and I have great memories of the past ones. Obviously, we want to reach high, although it is going to be super complicated, having seen the competitors in our group and in the tournament. It’s the same thing every [time]. Let’s face it and enjoy it!”
And the chance to play in front of big crowds indoor – that is pretty cool for a player, right?Martin Hanus: “Absolutely. The atmosphere in Berlin last time was great. And although we didn’t make it through to the semi-finals to play Germany in front of the home crowd, we enjoyed the epic game [with them] in the group phase which was really close. But unfortunately, we lost, eventually [6-5]. As for the memories, and also the quality of hockey, it is one of the highlights of the past career of mine.”
Your team will play in Pool A against Argentina, World champions Austria, Kazakhstan, Russia and South Africa. You need a top four finish to reach the quarter finals, although you will be aiming high, I’m sure.
Martin Hanus: “We absolutely need to make it through. No question, that is the first criteria we need to fulfil. The way we are going to [do it], it doesn’t matter. The mathematics is simple, and we need to make it. For me, I would be happy to finish the group at least in third position or second position, so we can get used to it. We are quite a young team, so we’d partially use the group games to settle down a bit, although the games in that stage of the tournament are always different. There might be some missed points eventually. But then we are going to head for the quarter-finals, and we need to make it this time, unlike at the World Cup in Berlin. There is a goal, although not a clear path. Who cares if it is against this or that team? We just need to get through and face everyone.”
You mention the team being quite young. Are there any players that the fans should be looking out for in Liège?
Martin Hanus: “It is hard to say who will eventually be in the squad. But we do indeed have quite a young team. We had a cut where there is a certain threshold, and beyond that threshold there is only a small number of players who are kind of like consultants, support for the young ones so that they can grow next to the experienced ones. There is not a specific name I would point out, but I think you’ll be surprised when you see those players out on the field. I have some favourites, but let’s see if they make it out there onto the field and into the squad because then they can shine at the venue.”
So what is the long term plan for you? You’ve had a fantastic career – will Liege be the final competition for you, or are you planning on playing on?
Martin Hanus: “Well, there are a lot of thoughts going on in my head, but I’m not going to make any decisions as of now, obviously! It is a great joy and a big part of my life, but it is getting more and more complicated with the job and family time. To make things properly you have to cut something [back] or to find a certain balance, which is getting harder and harder to find the right point where all parties can be happy. I need to work on this and re-evaluate after a certain period of time. But, not a clear statement as of today!”
Thank you once again for talking to us and the very best of luck in Liege!
Martin Hanus: “Thank you!”
Watch the full interview on Watch.Hockey.
More details on the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup are available here.
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