The 2013-2014 season started well for Tobias Hauke. Crowned the 2013 FIH Player of the Year, he also guided his team to success in the Bundesliga and the Euro Hockey League. But the real goal, a German victory at the Hockey World Cup, was snatched from the German team's grasp after two uncharacteristic losses in the pool stages. Prior to that, the German team also lost their number one world ranking when they finished seventh in the Hero World Hockey League Finals in India in January. Commenting on the lack of a German presence in the semi-finals, the Belgium coach Marc Lammers said: "There is a change in the world order. You are beginning to see different teams making it to the finals, and that can only be good for world hockey."
While neutral observers may see the lack of a German presence in the latter stages of the competition as a sign that hockey is growing and developing, for the Germans this has been a tough and painful tournament. And for Tobias Hauke, it was especially hard to take because of the weight of expectation. "We played hard in every game, and we created chances, but this time things did not go our way. We will look at the videos and we will reflect on what has happened, but this is something that we have to learn from. We might have lost, but one tournament does not make us a bad team. We are all disappointed now, but we will bounce back."
The 27-year-old midfielder always creates a stir of excitement whenever he steps on the pitch. He is an extraordinary holding midfielder who rarely puts a foot wrong. And he is used to winning, which has made the past fortnight even harder to take. Hauke - who was the inspiration for Germany's gold medal at the Euro Hockey Indoor Nations championship - is a double Olympic Gold medallist and a silver medalist at the 2010 Hockey World Cup. The medal he would have liked to add to his collection was a World Cup medal, but for Tobias and Germany this World Cup has just not gone to plan. The team, which came into the tournament ranked second in the world, finished third in their group after losing two games. Despite some defiant words from the German coach Markus Weise, there is now a lot of soul-searching going on in the German camp. "I have a contract until 2016," the German coach responded when asked about his future, "but you had better ask my boss."
Although Germany ended their Pool B campaign in positive fashion by claiming a 6-1 victory over South Korea, it proved to be only a small consolation for the fact that the Olympic Champions have missed out on a place in the World Cup semi-finals. This is only the second time in World Cup history that the Germans have not advanced to the semi-finals. The previous occasion was in the inaugural World Cup in 1971 when Kenya made the semi-finals at the expense of Germany (West Germany as it was in 1971). Germany have six points from four matches after suffering 0-1 defeats against Argentina and hosts The Netherlands.
Despite the disappointment, Germany will be ready for the 5/6 play-offs against Belgium. Asked whether Germany would not rather go home instead of fighting to go into the play-offs, Weise responded: "No, that would be unprofessional. We are not football players."So while Germany's fortunes have been uncharacteristically poor, for Tobias until this event, 2014 had been a good year. Talking about his award as Player of the Year Tobias said: “I didn’t expect it. It was a big surprise for me and I am very proud of it. But hockey is a team sport and for me it’s more important to be successful with the team. We are all working to be the best, but I want to win more titles like the Olympics and of course, one day, the World Cup."
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