(Photo: © Euro Hockey League / Frank Uijlenbroek)

The second of two Euro Hockey League Semi Final previews looks at the all-Dutch clash between Jeroen Delmee's Oranje Zwart and EHL Final Four hosts HGC, which takes place on Saturday. The winner will take on either Reading HC (ENG) or Club de Campo (ESP) in Sunday's tournament final.   

Oranje Zwart
Oranje Zwart proudly hosted EHL Round 1.1 and made their title intentions clear by handing out thrashings to Poland’s KS Pomorzanin Torun and Dinamo Kazan of Russia. The team were equally impressive at KO16 Bloemendaal, overcoming both RC Polo and home favourites Bloemendaal in dramatic penalty shoot outs. Their squad contains a number of exceptional players including David Alegre of Spain, veteran Netherlands defender Jeroen Delmee and EHL top scorer Lucas Judge (7 goals). There is still concern about the fitness of star midfielder Rob Hammond, who was named ABN AMRO Man of the Match in both of OZ's matches in Bloemendaal. The Australian international midfielder struggling with an injured hamstring. OZ coach Sjoerd Marijne will be aiming to outdo his EHL achievements of last season, where he gained a creditable third place finish as the coach of Amsterdam H&BC.   Their clash with compatriots and hosts HGC on Sunday will certainly be a match to savour.

2010-11 - Results
Pool H v Pomorzanin Torun (POL) 10:1 (7:1)
Pool H v Dinamo Kazan (RUS) 7:2 (2:0)
KO16 v RC de Polo de Barcelona (ESP) 2:2 (0:1) 2:1 PSO
KO8 v HC Bloemendaal (NED) 1:1 (1:0) 2:0 PSO

Player to Watch – Jeroen Delmee
Nationality: Dutch

If Australian international Robbie Hammond is Oranje Zwart’s Midfield General, Jeroen Delmee is defensive Commander who has overseen a backline that has conceded just six goals in four EHL matches this season. At 38 years old, this legendary Dutch international defender is certainly in the twilight of a glittering career, but his experience has proved to be a vital component of OZ’s success this season.

Delmee’s achievements in the game are almost unrivalled. His international career with the Netherlands spanned an incredible 14 years from 1994 to 2008, in the process becoming the first Dutchman to make 400 appearances for the men’s hockey team. His 401st and final appearance for Oranje came at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, where the team captain was given the huge honour of being his country’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony. The event in Beijing was his fourth Olympic Games, being the only one where he didn’t claim a medal following two Golds (Atlanta 1996 & Sydney 2000) and a Silver (Athens 2004). Delmee was also a central figure in the Netherlands team that won the 1998 FIH World Cup in Utrecht and the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championship, as well as collecting no less than four Champions Trophy winner’s medals along the way (2000, 2002, 2003 & 2006).

Success in the Euro Hockey League would be yet another milestone for a player who continues to impress onlookers with his fantastic tackling and distribution skills.  This legendary player has announced that he will retire from playing following the completion of this tournament. Success in the Euro Hockey League this weekend would be a fitting way for him to end a dazzling 20 year career.

The hosts of EHL Final Four made a welcome return to the Euro Hockey League this season following a two year absence, and like last time around have certainly made their mark. The inaugural Edition of the tournament in 2007-08 saw HGC reach the Final only to be defeated to the title by UHC Hamburg thanks to a silver goal in extra time. This time around they will be hoping they can go one step further and win the EHL in front of their home supporters. They were comfortable winners against Pembroke Wanderers and Kolos Sekvoia in Round 1, but were given a much sterner test at KO16 Bloemendaal as Glenanne and Beeston pushed them to the limit. However, Rob Short’s men were deserving winners of both matches, being the only Semi Finalist not to have been forced into a penalty shoot-out.  Victory over Oranje Zwart on Saturday will seal a second appearance in the Euro Hockey League Final, something that will thrill the home fans here in Den Haag.

2010-11 - Results
Pool F v Pembroke Wanderers (IRL) 4:2 (2:0)
Pool F v Kolos Sekvoia (UKR) 9:2 (6:0)
KO16 v Glenanne (IRL) 2:0 (1:0)
KO8 v Beeston (ENG) 4:3 (2:1)

Player to Watch: Rob Short
Defence / Midfield
Nationality: Canadian

Rob Short is one of Canada's greatest ever hockey players, and has been a standout performer on the international stage for an incredible 17 years. A wonderfully versatile player, Rob can play anywhere across the defensive and midfield lines thanks to his superb fitness levels as well as an outstanding ability to tackle and distribute. Consistency is a key factor to the Short game – it is a rare occasion that he makes the wrong decision or sends passes astray.

Born in England, he moved to Canada with his family at the age of one. His parents introduced him to hockey at age 10, despite his own desire to play ice hockey. He made his debut for Canada in 1994 against Cuba and has gone on to represent Canada at two Olympic Games [Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008, as well as guiding his country to victory at the 1999 and 2007 Pan American Games. Under his leadership, Canada also achieved an eighth-place finish at the 1998 World Cup, their best ever performance in the event. At the age of 38, Short looks likely to continuing playing international hockey in a bid to guide his nation to a place in the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Alongside HGC team-mate Ken Pereira he is the current holder of the Canadian international caps record, with the two friends passing Bubli Chohan’s mark of 317 in April of this year.

Rob has been playing club hockey in The Netherlands for many, many years, representing H.C. Rotterdam and Laren before joining HGC for the second time in 2009. He is known throughout Holland as a man in possession of an incredible desire to win, with his mental toughness and leadership qualities admired by team-mates and opponents alike. His drive and determination was on show for all to see at KO16 Bloemendaal, where he named ABN AMRO Man of the Match against both Glenanne HC (IRL) and Beeston (ENG). Two more man of the match displays from Short this weekend could well be enough to help HGC win the Euro Hockey League title on home soil.

More information about the Euro Hockey League can be found on www.ehlhockey.tv .