Red Panthers with measured ambitions in the Pro League

The Belgian players return to the international scene by facing the Dutch ogre. A first duel which will therefore allow us to measure the work to be done over the next 8 months to perform at the next World Cup.

Red Panthers with measured ambitions in the Pro League

The back-to-school time has come for the Panthers who are starting their third Pro League season with an always delicate trip to Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam. A first outing against the Olympic and European champions, double title holder of the competition and world number 1 which will allow Raoul Ehren’s proteges to assess the current level of the team and especially the progress made since this magnificent medal of bronze conquered last June at the European Championship, in the same arena. Four months ago, the Belgians finally offered their supporters services and a competition worthy of their ambitions.

Playful, conquering, liberated, applied and carried by the new generation, the Red Panthers have found an exciting carefree attitude under the leadership of their new Dutch mentor. The main thing is now to transform the trial and to continue along this path. “This is the first time in the history of this team that we dare to talk about medals,” immediately announces Barbara Nelen, one of the 3 co-captains. “This had never happened before. Sometimes we talked about reaching a top 4, but we never really believed in it. Raoul changed this mentality. Everyone is proud to wear this jersey today. And we rediscovered the pleasure of working hard and training. He gave us a healthy second wind and the results of the Euro have pumped us up for the future. We now know what we are capable of and the points on which we must imperatively work to aim for results in major world competitions. “

AMSTERDAM EuroHockey Championship 2021 Semifinal 1: The Netherlands – Belgium Picture: Belgium team before the match. WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Don’t set the bar too high

At the bottom of the chasm, after the failure against China and the non-qualification for Tokyo and the resignation of Niels Thijssen at the end of 2020, the appointment of Raoul Ehren sounded like a rebirth for the Panthers as confirmed by the midfielder Ghent who had decided to take a two-month international break after the Changzhou shipwreck. In just 6 months, the Dutchman literally transcended his group. “I think the biggest visible change on the pitch is the drive and the energy we put into matches. We are finally moving forward. We just dare to play. And we are still in that same dynamic when it comes to launching our Pro League season. But we should not get carried away even if we want to win victories. We will see how we will progress over the meetings. We should certainly not set the bar too high. Raoul will set, as usual, match-by-match goals. Our game structure remains essential. We don’t look too much at our opponents and instead focus on our qualities. This duel against the Netherlands will allow us to position ourselves very clearly against the best nation in the world. “

If the chemistry seems total between the former coach of Den Bosch and his extended squad (currently made up of 28 players), it will therefore be necessary to be patient with this team in the coming months. The way to the top of the world (she is currently in 9th place) will still take a little while. And the next major goal, the World Cup in the Netherlands and Spain (July 1 to 17), seems far and near at the same time. But the first stop, in Amsterdam, this Wednesday (6 p.m.), as well as the double confrontation of the weekend, against Germany (2 p.m.), at Uccle Sport, will make it possible to lay the foundations necessary to determine the work at accomplish over the next 8 months and the real ambitions of the Red Panthers next summer.

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