- Red Lions claim dramatic shoot-out victory over Netherlands to claim first World Cup title
- Triumph puts Belgium at the top of the FIH Hero World Rankings
Bhubaneswar, India: Belgium have claimed their first ever World Cup title thanks to a dramatic shoot-out victory over the Netherlands in the final of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
It proved to be third time lucky for the Red Lions, who finished runners up at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the EuroHockey Championships in 2017. Goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch excelled in the shoot-out, making numerous key saves to help his side became the first Belgium side in any team sport to win a world title.
As well as winning the iconic trophy for the first time in their history, it has been confirmed that Belgium, coached by New Zealander Shane McLeod, have moved into first position in the FIH Hero World Rankings. To see the complete rankings, click here.
The medal matches brought the curtain down on a thrilling two and a half weeks of sensational hockey at the 15,000 capacity Kalinga Stadium, the stunning venue that has welcomed mammoth crowds on a daily basis throughout this wonderful event. Belgium defender Arthur Van Doren was named as the Odisha Best Player of the event, being presented his award by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Dutch duo Pirmin Blaak and Thijs van Dam were also winners of individual awards, being named Odisha Mining Corporation Best Goalkeeper and Hockey India Best Junior Player respectively, while the Hero Top Scorer Award was shared by Australia’s Blake Govers and Alexander Hendrickx of Belgium, who scored seven goals apiece.
The gold medal match, witnessed by a sell-out crowd at the Kalinga Stadium, was packed full of drama as two evenly-matched teams set about the task of claiming the world title. The Netherlands were chasing a fourth World Cup success to draw level with Pakistan as the team with the most title wins, while Olympic silver medallists Belgium – a side beaten by the Dutch in the final of the EuroHockey Championships 2017 in Amsterdam – were determined to claim their first major crown to cap what has been a remarkable rise over the past ten years.
The two finalists went hard at each other in the opening stages of the match, with chances being created at both ends. Jeroen Hertzberger forced an early save from Belgium shot-stopper Vincent Vanasch, while Simon Gougnard’s speculative, high backhand strike was almost brilliantly turned into the Dutch goal by Tom Boon.
The play switched from one end of the field to the other throughout the second quarter, with Netherlands defender Glenn Schuurman making a crucial interception to deny Florent Van Aubel a clear scoring opportunity with Arthur de Sloover doing the same in the Belgian back-line. The Netherlands had two penalty corner opportunities ahead of half time, but failed to take their chance as the Red Lions defence held firm.
The two sides remained locked together throughout the third quarter, although Belgian captain Thomas Briels forced a save from Pirmin Blaak while Mirco Pruijser flashed a backhand effort across the face of the Belgian goal. It was a tense and cagey period, although the same could not be said for the fourth quarter as both teams desperately tried to get the win before the lottery of the shoot-out would be brought into play. Netherlands ace Bob de Voogd rattled the pads of Vanasch, while Nicolas de Kerpel hit the side of the goal just before Briels almost won it for Belgium, with Sander Baart making a crucial goal-line clearance to take the match into a shoot-out.
The Dutch took a 2-0 lead in the shoot-out thanks to strikes from Jeroen Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus, but goals from Florent Van Aubel and Victor Wegnez, combined with some brilliant saves from Vanasch, restored parity at 2-2. When Thijs van Dam missed, Arthur de Sloover thought he had won the title for Belgium when he fired home, but his effort was ruled out by a smart video referral from the Netherlands.
However, Belgium did not have long to wait for their moment in the sun. When Florent Van Aubel scored in sudden-death, Jeroen Hertzberger needed to find the net to keep his team alive. However, it was not to be, with Vanasch forcing the brilliant Dutch attacker wide before his shot sailed over the cross-bar. While was heartbreak for the Netherlands, who had suffered defeat in a second successive World Cup final, the triumph for the Red Lions will be forever remembered as one of the greatest moments the history of Belgian team sport.
The game was an extra special occasion for Australian umpire Adam Kearns, who reached the milestone of officiating his 100th international match in the World Cup final. Kearns was presented with his Golden Whistle in recognition of his achievement after the match from Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018
Sunday 16 December 2018
Bronze medal match: England 1, Australia 8
Odisha Player of the Match: Tom Craig (AUS)
Gold medal match: Belgium 0, Netherlands 0 (Belgium win 3-2 After Shoot-Out)
Odisha Player of the Match: Vincent Vanasch (BEL)
Odisha Best Player: Arthur Van Doren (BEL)
Odisha Mining Corporation Best Goalkeeper: Pirmin Blaak (NED)
Hockey India Best Junior Player: Thijs van Dam (NED)
Hero Top Scorer: Blake Govers (AUS) & Alexander Hendrickx (BEL) – 7 goals
Odisha Fair Play Award: Spain
Hockey India Fans Choice: Arthur Van Doren (BEL)
Hockey India Maximum Team Goals: Australia
Hockey India Best Team Goal Celebration: India
Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 – Classification Positions
9: New Zealand
16: South Africa