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The Dutch women will defend their hockey gold medal fiercely

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Clubbed with Great Britain, China, Korea, Japan and Belgium in Pool A at the London Games.

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Best result: Gold at the 1984 Los Angeles and 2008 Beijing Games. The Netherlands have finished among the top four in six of the eight Olympic women's hockey tournament since 1980, when it was introduced.

Last Olympics: Champions (defeated hosts China 2-0)

The Dutch women's team is one of the strongest in the world. They have collected one silver and three bronze medals in the Olympics apart from the two golds. Their worst performance was in the 1992 Barcelona Games where they had finished sixth. They were the runners-up in the 2010 World Cup where they lost to Argentina in the final but won the Champions Trophy and the EuroHockey Nations Championship in 2011. This year, they won bronze in the Champions Trophy.

The Road to London:
As European Champions, the Netherlands women's team got one of the two automatic entries to London along with the runners-up, Germany.

Players to watch out for:
Maartje Paumen, the 27-year-old skipper, is one of the most outstanding players of the game. She is known for her fierce corner ability. She was named the 2011 FIH Player of the Year and had scored in every match in the 2010 World Cup. Naomi van As, Willemijn Bos and Lidewij Welten are other players to look out for.

1. Tight defence.
2. Penalty corner convertibility.
3. Ability to manoeuvre down either flanks.

1. Absence of players like Janneke Schopman and Minke Smeets who retired after the 2010 World Cup.
2. Strong challengers in Argentina, the second-ranked team in the world.
3. Caldas pinpointed Great Britain as favourites for gold in the wake of the Investec London Cup and so they need to be extra wary of the hosts in the group phase.

Chances of progress at London Games: 8/10

Although teams like Argentina and Great Britain are strong contenders for the top spot, yet the Netherlands looks a strong defender of their title. They will play their first match against Belgium on Jul 29.

Squad: Marilyn Agliotti, Naomi van As, Merel de Blaey, Willemijn Bos, Margot van Geffen, Eva de Goede, Maartje Goderie, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Ellen Hoog, Kelly Jonker, Kim Lammers, Kitty van Male, Maartje Paumen, Sophie Polkamp, Joyce Sombroek (GK), Lidewij Welten. P accreditations: Floortje Engels (GK), Caia van Maasakker.

Coach: Max Caldas, a former Argentine hockey player, took over as the head coach's role in November 2010.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Wednesday, July 4, 2012, 14:19 [IST]
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