A disappointing Euro for frustrated Indoor Red Lions
While they came to Hamburg to win a medal, the Belgians missed their European meeting. They finish in a very disappointing 5th place after half-hearted performances. If their ambitions were realistic, they however lacked the lucidity and aggressiveness to achieve them.
JNever before has the Belgian indoor team seemed so well prepared, confident, even conquering when approaching a European meeting. Yet when taking stock of the 4 days spent in northern Germany, the findings are overwhelming. The Red Lions have not lived up to expectations even if the progress is obviously noticeable. But, and this is perhaps even more worrying, they never managed to react when the circumstances demanded it. The 5th place acquired in pain against the Czech Republic (9-7) in no way alleviates the disappointment and frustration of a group that could and had to do better.
1. A lack of lucidity .One of the first explanations for this poor performance is certainly the lack of foresight during key moments and highlights. During each of the meetings with the exception of the inaugural match against Germany (5-5), the Belgians never managed to surpass themselves and find solutions when the circumstances demanded it. And even if they were able to count on a Philippe Simar, again formidable in the opposing circle with 20 goals in 6 outings, they lacked realism in the finish. “I won’t say that this tournament is a failure”, immediately specified Philippe Truyens, the technical director of the indoor national teams. “So obviously we didn’t reach our goal but we showed great things and we made huge progress. However, we failed to grow during the tournament. And I recognize that we are still too fair on several levels. In this tournament, we always started our matches well but we ended them badly each time. We will have to understand why and above all find solutions to remedy it. »
2. No reaction and lack of energy .An indoor game lasts a good 40 minutes and the Lions have learned this again the hard way, they who have often delivered high quality first periods. But it was often after the break that the team bowed down and suffered the game. More problematic still, they never knew how to rebel when they were up against the wall. “It’s really a point that we will have to discuss with the players,” recognized coach Maxime Bergez bluntly. “We will have to take a step back on the way we manage our meetings. But it’s something that we did better during this ranking meeting. We don’t always make the right decisions. But we must not forget where we come from. We have already taken many steps. No question therefore of speaking of a failure in this Euro even if we leave without a medal. We really took steps forward in terms of identity and hockey during these 4 days in Germany. It is very encouraging in terms of our process towards the World Cup. But we still have to manage better in certain situations. This is all part of our development but I understand that the outside perception is not always positive after what we have been able to show here. » This is all part of our development but I understand that the outside perception is not always positive after what we have been able to show here. » This is all part of our development but I understand that the outside perception is not always positive after what we have been able to show here. »
3. A weak domestic championship .Another explanation is certainly also the general level of Belgian indoor competition. The intensity of the international level is several notches above that to which the Lions are ground. “Indoor hockey is not a priority for most players in our country,” concludes Philippe Truyens, very realistically. “Make no mistake, the 2 finalists of the Euro are the Germans and the Austrians who evolve, for 3 quarters, in the championship across the Rhine. There is no secret, it is the best competition in the world. It’s a problem of intensity in the game but also of the quality of the infrastructure. So how to fix it? We will have to think about it, but it is essential that our internationals be trained to play matches at the highest level on a regular basis. »
This slap is therefore beneficial and should not therefore call everything into question. The Indoor Red Lions will have 2 months to correct the situation before the World Cup in South Africa (February 5 to 11, in Pretoria) where they will go with the same ambitions as those initially planned, namely a place in the top 6 and, why not, even a last square. It will be necessary to preserve what constituted the strengths and qualities of this team but above all to understand what was lacking during these 4 days. There has been impressive progress and the Belgians have been able to compete, at many times, with world heavyweights such as Germany and Austria. Maxime Bergez’s proteges must now use their frustration and transform it into positive energy to move forward and focus, from now on,