After the 2 London stages of the Pro League, it was in Antwerp that the Olympic champions continued their preparation for the European Championship with scheduled duels against Australia and New Zealand. Four new meetings for which Michel van den Heuvel recovered some of his executives with the returns of Vincent Vanasch, Arthur Van Doren, Sebastien Dockier, Florent van Aubel and Cédric Charlier. Only Tom Boon and Antoine Kina were still missing, injured, as well as Alexander Hendrickx who should normally find his teammates in the field on Tuesday during the last duel against the Black Sticks.
This meeting against the Australians, whom the Belgians had not faced since the final of the Olympic Games, in Tokyo, during the summer of 2021, was, of course, an excellent test for the group after 2 new weeks of intensive work. An ideal opportunity to continue testing certain game plans or various adaptations in the press. And everything started ideally for the Lions who already found the net, from the 6th minute, via Nelson Onana (2nd goal in 5 selections) who recovered the ball just in front of the circle and stared at the goalkeeper from behind. But the Belgians were not sated and in the 12th minute, Sebastien Dockier, perfectly launched from deep, sent a shell on the goal post. The Kookaburras were also very dangerous,
In the 17th minute, it’s Thibeau Stockbroekx, also very prolific in recent weeks (3rd goal in 5 games), following a penalty. The Red Lions were good in the game. They played fair and perfectly controlled this second quarter with some great opportunities for Thibeau Stockbroekx, Gauthier Boccard (from the penalty spot) or Cédric Charlier.
End of match with suspense and 3 goals in less than 5 minutes
The third quarter was itself quite catastrophic since Belgium, who tried to control the exchanges and to accelerate, at times, did not manage to be very dangerous in the circle. On the other hand, the Australians were much more precise and rigorous in front of Vincent Vanasch’s goal. They equalized, first, via Jake Whetton (40th) before taking the lead, 4 minutes later, following a bad back pass well exploited by Ky Willott who gave the lead to the proteges of Colin Batch, ex-coach of the Red Lions (2010-2012).
But the reaction was quick and Arthur De Sloover tied the two teams with a powerful strike at the start of the last quarter (47th). The Belgian fans gave voice to encourage and push their favorites to victory and the Lions scored a 4th goal via Arno Van Dessel, again excellent during this meeting, and which unlocked, on this occasion, his goal counter in the national jersey (55th). The endgame was then completely insane. At 3 minutes from the final whistle, Blake Govers, attacker at the Dragons this season, made 4-4 then at 1 minute 54 from the final whistle, Loïck Luypaert finally offered victory to his team on a direct sleep. Australia still obtained 2 last pc but Belgium held well and truly its 5th victory in Pro League.
“It was a weird match and we are not used to conceding so many goals in a match,” analyzed Loïck Luypaert hotly. “The many videos or pc did not allow to put rhythm in this part. And it was complicated to really apply our game. We have the best chances and we have won a lot of balls in front. It is true that we conceded too many pc but we will correct that. Finally, it is wonderful to see the work accomplished by the young people during this meeting. They have been giving everything for 2 years and they have suffered some disappointments. But they really showed what they really had in their stomachs. The crowd was fantastic today and we all had goosebumps to play at home again. »
by The Evening