FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023: Belgium sets up summit clash with Germany

Team Parvasi – Inside

Defending champions Belgium have set up a summit clash with Germany in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. After holding its arch rival and neighbour the Netherlands to a 2-2 draw in the regulation period, Belgium defeated the Netherlands 3-2 in the penalty shootout to advance to the Sunday final.

Earlier, Germany came from behind to oust Australia by dying seconds’ goal in the first semi-final. It is the fifth time that Germany has made the gold medal round. Last time it played the final was in the New Delhi World Cup in 2010.

It will be the second successive all European final in the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup. In the 2018 edition played here at Bhubaneswar, Belgium had beaten the Netherlands in the final. For Belgium it is the second entry in the final.

After a nail biting finish in the first semi-final, Belgium and the Netherlands continued from where Germany and Australia had left. The Netherlands started well and the Belgians took a while to settl;e down in a game for which the pace had already been set by the previous encounter.

It was Jip Janssen who turned the initial hero for Orange shirts. His two powerful drag flicks, first in the 12th minute and second in the 36th minute had kept the Dutch in the lead. As a mere coincidence, it was in the 27th minute that Tom Boon, sporting shirt number 27, made the score 1-1 with a powerful flick from a penalty corner.

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Since Jip Janssen had given the Dutch lead again in the 36th minute, Belgium worked hard to put its efforts together in creating holes in the solid defence of its rival team. Relentless pressure built with clever moves with variations saw Nicolas de Keppel restoring parity for the defending champions with a superb field goal.

Once at par, both teams went all out for the elusive decisive goal.In the 51st minute when Belgians worked out a wonderful move, it earned a penalty stroke. Drag flick specialist, Tom Boon,  who had earlier scored from a penalty corner, scooped low on the right side of the Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak who in turn dived to his right and cleared the ball with his stick. A great opportunity for a win in the run of play was lost.

In fact, after conceding a penalty corner in the 48th minute, Belgium went into a counter offensive in a flash and saw Sebastian Dockier sending a rising shot that Blaak palmed away to avert the disaster.

In the penalty shootout, Belgium got a penalty stroke after Victor Wegnez asked for video referral on obstruction by the Dutch goalkeeper Blaak.  Tanguy Cosyns made no mistake with the stroke but fumbled with his own chance in the penalty shootout. Since the last taker for the Dutch, Seve van Ass shot wide, Belgians went wild in celebrations for making the second successive World Cup final. Belgium is also the current Olympic champion. Vincent Vanasch, goalkeeper of Belgium was adjudged man of the match.

Prabhjot Singh


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