With just over two months until the start of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, we caught up with German coach Markus Weise to ask him how preparations were coming along for the second-ranked men’s team.
“Preparations are coming along very well,” said Markus, who is the only coach to have won Olympic gold medals with both a men’s and a women’s team – in 2012 and 2008 with the men and 2004 with the women. “In between tournaments and league games there is miraculously still plenty of room for training. Prior to the World Cup we will play South Africa, Belgium, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.”
Although he is a steely competitor when pitch side, away from the hockey arena Markus is relaxed and communicative. When asked about team building between now and June, he replied: “As usual, the boys will do all the hard training and the coaching staff will have all the fun. Or to put it more seriously, every nation will turn up with a strong team, the question will be: ‘who has the outstanding team? This is hard to achieve. Over the course of the tournament this will be revealed and they will be the ones to take the crown from the Hague.”
Markus’ ability to get the most from his players when it matters most was demonstrated in the 2013 Junior World Cup. A poor start, which saw them lose to Belgium in the opening pool match was soon forgotten as the German Under 21 team swept all before them, scoring five goals against France in the final.
The German men’s team recently lost their place at the top of the world rankings to Australia, courtesy of a below-par performance at the Hockey World League Finals in Delhi. Speaking after the event, Markus was sanguine about the drop in ranking, but what are his expectations going into the World Cup? “To me expectations are not of any great interest. I prepare my team in training with the help of my outstanding staff and we coach the team throughout the tournament. Expectations seem to be of great interest to many people, but for me there is not much time to think about the question of great expectations.”
Photograph: FIH/Frank Uijlenbroek (c)