World Cup Hockey - Henry Weir's column from The Hague

Onwards and upwards: Henry Weir in action during England's 3-2 win over Belgium at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague

Onwards and upwards: Henry Weir in action during England's 3-2 win over Belgium at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague

First published in Sport
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Streatham Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , England Hockey columnist

England hockey international and Wimbledon star Henry Weir is preparing for the Rabobank World Cup semi-final against Holland on Friday.

On Monday night in The Hague, England reached the hockey World Cup semi-final after beating Belgium 3-2 in our must-win final pool match.

It was a thrilling game and an incredible evening, and sets us up for a last-four clash with hosts and tournament favourites Holland.

The win took a while to sink in, but now it has and we have had to take a deep breath because we realise that we have two really big games coming up.

With this being my first World Cup it has been an amazing experience so far.

On the day we flew out to Holland I sat my last Loughborough University exam, so it’s been a whirlwind few weeks.

It was a bit of a rushed day, finishing my exam and dashing in a taxi to the airport for the flight out here, but I’m pleased to report that my final sports science exam went well – I think.

And it’s a great feeling to be able to concentrate solely on my hockey now.

There have been a couple of big highlights of our campaign so far, aside from my star turns in corridor cricket.

Si Mantell’s last-minute winner against India was incredible.

And Monday night’s good performance against the Belgians was, by far, the best feeling.

We controlled the game and deserved to win it, not panicking late on when they made it 2-2. Iain Lewers’ flick penalty with four minutes left sent us through.

Those two moments have helped boost the confidence of the squad, and strengthen our bond. There will be 15,000 people – most of them Dutch – packed into the Kyocera stadium in The Hague for the game on Friday, which starts at 2.15pm English time and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Streatham Guardian:

Memories: Simon Mantell celebrates his last-gasp winner against India

We will not be intimidated, though, as we know that anything can happen in a semi-final.

There were always going to be four very good teams in the tournament at this stage.

It is almost a relief to have not slipped up in the group stages, but now it is back to the drawing board and we are focused on the semi-final.

Holland have so many impressive players, particularly in attack. Because we are one of the best defensive teams out there at the moment it should make for an interesting match, a clash of two of the game’s titans.

We are going to try our hardest not to give away short corners, that’s for sure, as Mink van der Weerden is one of the deadliest finishers in the world.

Two years ago, Great Britain lost 9-2 to Holland in the semi-finals of the London Olympics – in a match I didn’t play in, but lots of people have been talking about it this week – and it was a perfect example of when things don’t go as planned.

That defeat provided a learning curve for us and now we are determined to ruin the Dutch party on Friday, and beat them on their home turf.

NOW: Pensions are one of the UK’s leading auto enrolment pension providers and the proud partner of England and Great Britain Men’s Hockey. Follow @NOWhockey or go to www.nowpensions.com

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