Belgium aims for gold in EuroHockey Championships
The men's and women's European Hockey Championships begin on Friday in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Both the Belgian men's and women's teams, known as the Red Lions and Red Panthers respectively, are taking part.
The Red Lions are one of the favourites in the men's tournament. They were Olympic champions in Tokyo in 2021 and finished second at the last World Championship. But coach Michel van den Heuvel has decided to leave some veterans at home in favour of young talent, which could affect the team's performance.
Belgium, who won the EuroHockey Championship in 2019 and finished third in 2021, are in Group A with England, Spain and Austria. The Lions will avoid the tougher Group B, which is made up of world champions Germany, European champions the Netherlands, France and Wales.
Like the men's team, Belgium's women will be looking to do one better than their bronze medal finish at the 2021 European Hockey Championships. They open against Italy before taking on the Netherlands and Spain, two of the tournament favourites. The other group is made up of England, Germany, Ireland and Scotland.
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semi-finals. Only the champion will qualify directly for next year's Olympic Games in Paris. The final is scheduled for Sunday 27 August.
© BELGA PHOTO TOM GOYVAERTS