Belgium's Red Lions qualify for Hockey World Cup final
Belgium's Red Lions (FIH 2) qualified for the Hockey World Cup final in India on Friday. The Belgian men's team beat the Dutch team (FIH 3) 3-2 in the semi-final at the Kalinga Stadium in the city of Bhubaneswar after shoot-outs. Belgium thus remains on course to extend its world title.
The Dutch team had an impressive run at the World Cup, scoring 27 goals and winning the four previous matches by a wide margin before the semi-final. The Red Lions, playing without their penalty corner specialist Alexander Hendrickx due to injury, did not have an easy time. Jip Janssen (11.) took the lead for the Netherlands in the first quarter of the game.
The troops of Belgian national coach Michel van den Heuvel had to be called in and Tom Boon (26.) brought the score to 1-1 with a penalty corner. Dutchman Janssen (35., pc) and Red Lion Nicolas De Kerpel (44.) brought the score to 2-2. Shoot-outs ultimately had to determine the winner.
Van Dam missed for the Netherlands, after which Florent Van Aubel secured Belgium's lead. The Netherlands went on to keep pace with Belgium until the latter eventually secured victory.
Earlier in the day, Germany also secured its spot in the Hockey World Cup final in a 4-3 game against Australia. The Belgian Red Lions have been winning trophy after trophy for several years now. They successively became world champions (2018), European champions (2019) and Olympic champions (2021).
Belgium's players celebrate after winning the Hockey World Cup semi-final match against the Netherlands, Bhubaneswar, India, 27 January 2023 © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM