Hockey: Dutch and Germans on course for Athens glory

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The Independent Online

With just six weeks before the start of the Olympics in Athens, the prestigious Rabobank Four Nations Trophy event for men and women has already produced early markers in Amstelveen this week.

With just six weeks before the start of the Olympics in Athens, the prestigious Rabobank Four Nations Trophy event for men and women has already produced early markers in Amstelveen this week.

World and European champions, Germany, will tomorrow play the defending Olympic champions, the Netherlands, in the final. With the teams seeded one and two for Athens, both nations are on course to be among the medals.

Germany's Bjorn Michel, with a hat-trick of penalty corners on Thursday evening against India, has now joined his captain, Florian Kunz, in the specialist drag flicker field enabling the team to now compete in this most important area with the Dutch pairing of Bram Lomas and Taeke Taekema.

Elsewhere, Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans has been able to instil discipline into the Pakistan squad, along with their considerable individual skills, in a little more than six months since his appointment.

With both Germany and Pakistan in Great Britain's Pool in Athens, along with Spain and Korea, the going could be very tough for the British team.

In the women's tournament, defeats for the Dutch at the hands of Korea and China has prompted strong questioning of the Netherlands coach Marc Lammers.

In spite of Lammers' confidence in his squad and his response - "the only thing that counts is our performance in Athens" - the Asian sides look very likely to spring surprises.

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