In the heat of the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, the Belgium Red Lions beat India at the end of a very intense match, punctuated by a great opposition from the India team, very solid technically, and in particular endowed with a very solid defense that the Red Lions have come up against more than once.
But by dint of courage, while also showing calm, the Belgian national hockey team ended up gaining the upper hand over some very deserving Indians. The Red Lions are slowly touching the goal they have set themselves for 5 years, and their defeat in the final of the Olympic tournament in Rio against Argentina.
On Thursday at 7 p.m. (noon in Belgium), they will challenge Germany or Australia (the other semi-final will take place today at noon Belgian time) as part of the final. The Belgian gold diggers are 60 minutes away from what they have been waiting for for 5 years!
A good start for Belgium
Under the eyes of Thomas Bach and the Indian Narinder Batra, the Belgians have therefore beaten the nation of the current president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). While Tom Boon – whose performance had been deemed insufficient by the staff since his delayed entry into the tournament, due to a small tear in a calf – had been left in the stands alongside Augustin Meurmans and Loïck Van Doren, the meeting had started rather well, with a goal scored on PC by the Red Lions from the second minute of play!
A PC perfectly concluded by Loïck Luypaert (0-1), while Alexander Hendrickx – top scorer of the tournament, with 11 goals before this semi-final – had not started the meeting. The joy in the Belgian camp was not going to last very long, however, since in the 7th and then in the 9th minute, the Indians in turn achieved two PCs thanks to Mandeep Singh then Harmanpreet Singh, to thus gain the advantage (2 -1).
Hendrickx exceeds Peillat’s score in Rio
In the 19th minute, Alexander Hendrickx scored the 4th goal of this meeting again on PC (2-2), the opportunity for the Antwerp player to increase his personal counter to 12 achievements, one more than the final score that ‘had reached Argentina’s Gonzalo Peillat in 2016 in Rio, to clinch the title of top scorer of the tournament. A title that the Red Lion should win without problem, while it has double the achievements of its closest pursuer, the Australian Blake Govers (6 goals).
A difficult start to the second half …
While the Red Lions had often started their second half in this tournament, this time we did not find the same intensity in the head of the Belgian players, often less lively than their rivals, and especially unable to find the one or the other winning combination. To the point of sometimes swinging big flicks towards the opposing center, without much chance of realization.
… Then the deliverance by Hendrickx, of course!
While the players had benefited from a longer exposure time (4 minutes) between the 3rd and the 4th quarter to recover from the stifling heat which reigned on the Oi Hockey Stadium, the Belgians returned to the fight and, facing to an India team reduced to 10 for two minutes (green card for Mandeep Singh), they took the opportunity to plant a 3rd PC in the Indian cage (2-3), then concluded the work again with a stroke of Hendrickx (2-4) and finally a last goal signed Dohmen a few seconds from the end, in a goal deserted by the Indian goalkeeper (2-5).