As the only foreign player of this World Cup, her photo hangs prominently in the Amsterdam clubhouse. Kira Horn played for the top club from the capital last season. For the German international, the first leg of the tournament felt like a home game.
With a smile from ear to ear, Horn sat at a picnic table near Wagoner Stadium. The seats are intended to allow players and coaches to speak quietly with the press. But find peace in Horne’s enthusiasm. The German defender is a passionate speaker, knowing the entourage of his side’s semi-final berth.
That didn’t happen on Tuesday. Germany struggled to beat New Zealand. Lena Michael’s early goal turned out to be enough for a narrow 1-0 win. ‘It certainly wasn’t easy,’ Horne gushed afterwards. “In the beginning we played well and enjoyed ourselves. We were lucky not to score more than one goal. After the break it became a ‘fighting match’ in which we defended well. Overall, I think we deserved to win.’
That’s right, though Germany had a tough time of it against the Kiwis. Just like the cross-over against South Africa (a 1-0 win), Ty Danas’ penalty corner didn’t go well. In their last two games, the Germans received 26 corners, only one of which was used. Horne, one of Germany’s cornerbacks, ‘definitely has to work on it. “Against South Africa we played in the wrong categories, we didn’t make the right choices. Let’s see what went wrong against New Zealand in the coming days. Technically he is doing well in practice sessions.’
Mostly sub-top, rarely world class
A parade of missed chances didn’t break Germany in the quarter-finals. As a result, the world number four reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in twelve years. Last time in 2010, Germany finished fourth in Rosario and still lived on giants like Tina Bachmann, Fanny Rinne and Natasha Keller.
Germany – of course traditionally a great hockey nation – has since achieved some impressive results in global tournaments. Only third place at the Rio Games compared to lackluster results at the World Cups and Olympic Games over the past twelve years. In Tokyo, the quarterfinals were already the final stop for the gold medalist in 2004. They are mostly sub-top, rarely world-class. Fifth, eighth, that work.
‘2010, that was a long time ago’, feels Horne too. “It’s great that we won again. We have a strong team that hasn’t changed much since Tokyo. We have taken action with the same team. We have grown into a team with many players who can change pace quickly and have many individual qualities. We’re really on the right track.’
Models of Amsterdam
Germany played all five of their matches in this World Cup in Amsterdam. That made Horne happy. I was already very happy when it was announced that we would be playing in the group stage in Amsterdam. It’s great to play hockey in front of so many people. It didn’t matter to me that the crowd was against us in our match against the Netherlands. Even Scheiss.’
The Amsterdam campus has become the player’s home base from Club an der Aalster in 2021. “It was like that when we played Germany here. This year I’ve trained a lot on the field. Where I felt incredibly good. Even if it’s a different color. I became a better player in Amsterdam. My ball control has improved a lot. And I think I’m making better decisions offensively and defensively.
‘As an individual, it’s special to go to a new, different city alone,’ says Horne. ‘Without family, friends or anyone. But the Madeles of Amsterdam It made it so much easier for me. They accommodated me well. They congratulated me on our quarter final. Amsterdam gave me friendship. It was a very good match.’
Actually, wash. Because despite those beautiful months, Horn returns to ‘her’ Hamburg. “It was premeditated,” says Horne, who will play again for his old club Ulster. ‘I went to Amsterdam to do my Masters in Business Administration. Then I’ll go back. It was not an easy decision because we clicked well.’
“Introvert. Communicator. Tv fanatic. Typical coffee advocate. Proud music maven. Infuriatingly humble student.”