Field Hockey Canada > An in-depth recap of the 2015 Indoor World Cup

The 2015 Indoor World Cup wrapped up in Leipzig on a double victory for the Netherlands. The Dutch men finally stood on top of the podium, stunning triple World Cup holders Germany in the semi-finals then controlling Austria in a very tactical final, while the Dutch women trailed behind Germany until the last minute of the final, then went on to win in the shoot-out competition.

For the Dutch players, stealing the show from their neighbours and arch-rivals in front of their own home crowd certainly added to their elation.

This Indoor World Cup saw a complete reshuffle of the cards, with a significant variation between entry and final rankings.

On the men’s side, newcomers from Sweden finished 6th, six spots higher than their entry ranking, while the Netherlands and Iran both finished five spots higher than their entry rankings.

On the flip side, Poland, silver medalists in all three previous Indoor World Cups, dropped five spots, and the Czech Republic slid down four spots. The trend was less spectacular on the women’s side, but still saw a number of big changes such as the Czech Republic gaining three spots and Belarus going down four positions. 

In this volatile context, scores were often lower and closer than in previous Indoor World Cups. As Dutch captain Robert Tigges said after the final: “To win a tournament like this you need to have all of the luck on your side, and that is what we had.”

Middle of the pack teams such as Canada are often balancing on the fence and need everything to align reasonably in their favor to push them in the right direction.

Unfortunately for our Canadian men, things never did quite go their way in this competition: penalty-corners crashed on the posts, seemingly obvious opportunities misfired, desperate attempts from opponents sneaked their way into our goal, not to mention some calls (or non-calls) from umpires obviously overwhelmed by the level of competition.

The opening game against the future World Cup winners from the Netherlands was an illustration of what lay ahead for the Canadian men. They played well, scored quickly, and played on par with their mighty opponents. But a chance to take a decisive lead on a late penalty-corner saw the shot crash on the post and the Dutch score on the subsequent counter-attack to grab the win.

Similarly, a one-goal loss to Russia later on opening day could have been turned into a draw if a last second open net chance had been converted. Overall, Canada had a strong defence with goal-keeper Shankar Premakanthan, Jeewanjot Singh Bath and Scott Sandison, and a creative dynamic duo with Ken Pereira and Devohn Noronha Teixeira, but were lacking a lethal striker to make the difference.

Their final tally of only 14 goals (compared to more than 30 each by all top five teams) was too meagre to maintain their entry ranking of 7th, although their final ranking of 12th is far from reflecting their performance in this competition. 

As with the men, the Canadian women had a strong start in the competition, dominating an Austrian team that would later go all the way to the bronze medal game.

Once again, the dice rolled the wrong way for Canada who scored a penalty-corner that was denied, while Austria scored on their lone penalty-corner chance and their goalkeeper managed a miraculous save in the final seconds of play.

The Canadian women then held their ground reasonably well against the German superstars playing in front of a home crowd, then saw their fortune start to smile on them the second day with draws against Ukraine and Belgium, then a precious and very sweet win over Kazakhstan.

K.J. Williams was remarkable in the Canadian goal and Madison Thompson impressed up-front with five goals, but the Canadians never managed to refine their penalty-corner routines, only netting four in the competition. 

The men’s indoor program is now clearly at a cross-road of their so far successful path: some stalwarts such as Scott Sandison, Sean Barretto and Jonathan Roberts have announced their retirement.

Although they have not mentioned anything officially, it is unlikely that Shankar Premakanthan, Jeewanjot Singh Bath and Ken Pereira will be around in four years for the next Indoor World Cup, even though it seems that Kenny “The Legend” Pereira could play an effective role for many years to come.

Coach Louis Mendonca is also making noises of retiring; if he does, he would leave large shoes to fill after nearly 14 years as the cornerstone of this program surviving on a shoe-string but still consistently producing good quality results.  

The women’s squad is younger (Alison Lee and Madison Thompson are only 20, as is Amanda Woodcroft, MVP at the Indoor Pan American Cup but absent in Leipzig because of outdoor team duty) and the core of the Leipzig squad will hopefully stay involved in the coming years.

Much speculation was going around the Leipzig Arena on the future of the Indoor World Cup.

There was quasi unanimity amongst players, coaches and spectators against the new format with only five players which limits the passing opportunities and often produces tedious tactical plays. The rumour is that the next Indoor World Cup has been allocated to Argentina, although many European teams are not keen on traveling that far (17 of the 24 teams competing in Leipzig had only to travel a relatively short distance).

Both Canadian squads will have additional motivation for their next objective, the Indoor Pan American Cups, as they will be played at home in the brand new Goldring Center at University of Toronto in April 2017.