As the only foreign player at this World Cup, her photo sits prominently in the Amsterdam clubhouse. Kira Horn played for the best club in the capital last season. For the Germany international, the first phase of the tournament felt like a home game.
With a grin from ear to ear, Horn sat down at one of the picnic tables near Wagener Stadium. Seats, intended to allow players and coaches to chat quietly with the press. But find peace in Horn’s enthusiasm. The German defender is an enthusiastic conversationalist, visibly enjoying the entourage in which her team qualified for the semi-finals.
It didn’t happen on Tuesday. Germany struggled to beat New Zealand. An early goal from Lena Micheel proved enough for a narrow 1-0 win. “It certainly wasn’t easy,” Horn breathed afterwards. “At the start, we played well and had fun. We were unlucky not to score more than one goal. After the break it became more of a ‘fight match’, in which we defended very well. Overall I think we deserved to win.
It’s true, even if Germany have complicated the task against the Kiwis. Just like during the cross-over against South Africa (also 1-0 victory), the Die Danas corner did not go well. In their last two games, the Germans have taken 26 corners, only one of which has been used. “We have to work on that, that’s for sure,” realized Horn, one of Germany’s corner stoppers. “We played the wrong games against South Africa, we didn’t make the right choices. We will look at what went wrong with New Zealand in the coming days. Technically, he is doing well in training sessions.
Often sub-top, rarely world top
This parade of missed chances did not break Germany in the quarter-finals. And suddenly, the world number four reached the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time in twelve years. The last time was in 2010, when Germany came fourth in Rosario and were still living on giants such as Tina Bachmann, Fanny Rinne and Natascha Keller.
Germany – of course traditionally a great hockey nation – has since achieved few impressive results in world tournaments. Only third place at the Rio Games contrasted with lackluster results at World Cups and the Olympics over the past twelve years. In Tokyo, the quarter-finals were already the last step for the 2004 gold medalist. They were often sub-top, rarely world-class. Fifth, eighth, this job.
“2010 was a long time ago,” Horn also realizes. “It’s great that we have succeeded again. We also have a solid team, which hasn’t changed much since Tokyo. We made moves with the same group. We have become a team that can change pace quickly and has a number of players with many individual qualities. We are really on the right track.
The Mädels of Amsterdam
During this World Cup, Germany played its five matches in Amsterdam. This made Horn happy. “I was already very happy when it was announced that we would play the group stage in Amsterdam. It’s so cool to play hockey in front of so many people. I didn’t care that all the crowd during our game against the Netherlands be against us. Scheiss himself.’
The Amsterdam complex became the home base for the player who came from Club an der Alster in 2021. “It was like that when we played here with Germany. On the ground where I trained so much this year . Where I felt incredibly good. Even though it’s a different color. I’ve become a better player here in Amsterdam. My ball control has improved tremendously. And I think I’m making smarter decisions, to both offensively and defensively.
“It’s special as a person to go alone to a new, different city,” says Horn. “Without family, friends or anyone. But the Madedels of Amsterdam made it so easy for me. They welcomed me so well. They just wished me good luck for our quarter-finals. Amsterdam brought me friendships. It was a very good game.
Indeed, wash. Because despite these beautiful months, Horn is returning to “his” Hamburg. “That was the plan initially,” says Horn, who will play again for his former club Alster. “I went to Amsterdam to do my Masters in Business Administration. Then I would come back. It was a decision that was not easy, precisely because we clicked so well.
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