With both their men’s and women’s teams marching into the semifinals, Australia, Argentina and the Netherlands would be eyeing the golden double when the last-four stage of the FIH Hockey World Cup is played out over the next two days in The Hague.
The Dutch are trying to improve on their performance in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where they won the women’s gold medal, but the men lost the final to Germany.
The German men have failed to make the semifinals in The Hague, missing out for only the second time in World Cup history. The only previous time they did not feature in the semifinals was in the inaugural World Cup at Barcelona in 1971.
Even in 1998, the only previous time that the International Hockey Federation sanctioned the joint hosting of the men and women’s World Cups -- in the Dutch city of Utrecht -- hosts Netherlands came close to achieving the dream double.
The Dutch men won the 1998 World Cup defeating Spain in the final, but the women lost the final to Australia.
It is once again a city in The Netherlands playing hosts jointly to the men and women’s World Cups, and the Dutch fans are celebrating the giant strides both their teams have taken into the semifinals.
Also in the hunt for a title double is Australia, both of whose teams have made the semifinals. Australia are the defending champions in the men’s World Cup and their women’s team is showing rapid strides to reclaim the top spot.
Argentina is yet another country with teams playing semifinals in both the men and women’s World Cups.
Argentina’s women are chasing their third title in four World Cups, while the men have secured entry into the last-four for the first time.
The Dutch women will tomorrow take on defending champions Argentina, who have been playing the past few games without star player Luciana Aymer, whose fifth World Cup appearance has been hampered by a hamstring injury.
It will be a big boost for Argentina if Aymer is able to recover in time for the semifinals.
USA, making a mockery of the world rankings by storming into the semifinals after finishing 12th in the 2012 Olympics, will take on Australia in the other semifinal.
In the men’s semifinals, to be played Friday, defending champions Australia will meet Argentina, while three-time World Cup winners Netherlands take on England.
A joint World Cup for men and women is an experiment that the FIH is not likely to be repeat because the events will expand to 16 nations from 2018, making it too burdensome for a single host.
Argentina’s men, placed No. 11 in world rankings at the start of the World Cup, are determined to make the most of their maiden entry into the semifinals. Their previous best was a No. 6 finish they secured in the 1986 and 2002 World Cups.
Men: Australia vs Argentina; Netherlands vs England.
Women: Netherlands vs Argentina; USA vs Australia.