Belgium – France (2-1; 3-1)
Invited at the last minute by the International Hockey Federation, and with the support of the National Sports Agency, the French A Men’s Team has just finished its course in the Pro League. A competition organized by the FIH for the 10 best world hockey nations. After successes against India, South Africa and Germany, the Blues obtained 13 points in 16 games, for 4 successes and 1 game pushed to shoot-outs against the Netherlands. The learning of the highest level passed through this stage, on the Olympic trajectory of the Blues. A look back at the last weekend of the Pro League with the following in mind, the Qualifying Tournament in Calais from August 24 to 27, 2022 for the European Championships I in Germany in June 2023.
A half-hearted last match
After their defeat by 2 goals to 1, Saturday, May 28 against these same Belgians, the French, deprived of a few internationals retained by the semi-finals of the French Elite Championship, wanted their revenge for their very last match of the Pro-League 2022.
The Blues attack from the start and enter the Belgian circle from the 1st minute in search of a PC which will be refused to them after checking the video. On the resumption of play, a sublime pass from the back finds the Belgian n°10 Charlier, who, in a position to score, is jostled by the French rear guard. The stroke, normally granted by the referee, is fired at the post by Tom Boon. So many emotions in this first minute!
The game is balanced from then on, with a Belgian team which presses and controls the ball and the French counter-attacks, and which logically takes the lead at 9′ (1/0 – goal from Charlier with a magnificent backhand in circle head). The French defence took the lead in the last minutes of this ¼ time when Timothée Clément chose to volley a pass from French captain Gaspard Baumgarten into the heart of the Belgian defence (1-1 at 15 ‘).
The ball is circulating at the start of the second ¼ time, and it is the Belgians who obtain a first CP at 18′, initially repelled by the French defence, which must however give in on a second CP converted by Tom Boon (2 /1 – 18′). The Blues react with a few counterattacks but are once again pushed around by the enterprising Belgians, who convert a new PC by Tom Boon at 23′ (3/1). The French concede a new PC at 21′, this time pushed back on the post by Thieffry. The end of this first half confirms the Belgian domination and the difficulty of our Blues to propose constructed and effective offensive actions (3 entries into the Belgian circle and 2 shots, against 11 penetrations into the circle and 11 shots for our Belgian neighbours).
Few opportunities in this third ¼ time during which the Belgians seem to calm the game against a French team lacking inspiration and individual and collective success. Note in the 43′ a great opportunity from Van Ost whose point-blank push is controlled by an attentive French defence.
Same situation for the last ¼ time during which the defences take over timid and often disorderly attacks from both sides. 3 CP obtained by France at 52′ and 58′ will not change anything and the Belgian Olympic champions logically win without outrageously dominating their opponents of the day (10 entries into the Belgian circle and 6 shots, against 21 penetrations in the circle and 11 shots for the Belgian team).
With a record of 13 points, 4 wins and 1 draw, France came out of this first participation in the FIH ProLeague with their heads held high.