World Cup: a Very Bitter Silver Medal for the Red Lions

The defeat of the Red Lions in the final against Germany is extremely painful for the defending champions. But it will be essential to digest this disappointment as quickly as possible in order to focus on the next objectives, which will arrive this summer.


Analyse -By Laurent Toussaint Published on 01/29/2023 at 21:39 Reading time: 4 mins

Belgium dreamed of a double but broke their teeth against an impressively calm and efficient German team. Led to the score, the future world champions once again reversed the trend and took advantage of their positive spiral on which they have been surfing since the end of the group stage to offer themselves a 3rd title of world champion (after 2002 and 2006). 

A cruel shoot-out defeat for the Red Lions who suffered their only setback of the tournament in this final. Goal Keeper of the tournament, Vincent Vanasch said, “We still showed a lot of character to snatch the shoot-outs. That first half was amazing. Definitely the best of the tournament. But then it was very bad. Everything turned in their favour. Usually, statistically, when I stop 2 attempts in Shoot-outs, it’s enough. But that was not the case this time around”. 

Hockey - World Cup 2023
Hockey – World Cup 2023Red Lions – Final: Germany – Belgium

Strangely when everything seemed under control, the Olympic champions lost track of the game after the break. Impressive and effective, the Belgians should have kept control of the ball in the second half but they failed. And the Germans took advantage of every loophole in the defensive block to punish the Lions. But for the coach, Michel van den Heuvel, there is obviously no question of pointing out any responsibility after this failure. “Everyone must be super proud of what this group has achieved. I have no words to describe how much they have drawn on their resources during this tournament. We suffered several blows of fate and we managed to manage that. Bowing at Shoot-outs is obviously extremely painful. I still can’t explain this slump after the break. 

The Red Lions wanted to write a new chapter in their magnificent history

But this defeat cannot erase the good tournament achieved by the Red Lions. The services offered have certainly lacked consistency and consistency, at times, but the results have always been there. “We will have to learn the lessons of this failure”, continued Vincent Vanasch, very philosophical despite the disillusionment. “We showed very good things during this World Cup. You certainly don’t have to throw it all away. We saw that we could score from the penalty spot despite the absence of Alex Hendrickx after the group stage. It was even one of our strengths. I also saw a lot of character. Some claimed that we were a little old but we managed, each time, to emerge physically at the end of the meeting. This is also worth pointing out. »One of the most downcast players was certainly Victor Wegnez, awarded as the best midfielder in the competition. The Brussels resident was moved and inconsolable. “It’s very complicated to swallow because it’s four years of sacrifices that go up in smoke. Four years of hard work, daily journeys to Antwerp, training in the cold and the rain, trips abroad, 5 months out of 12, during which we do not see our families. This defeat has a very bitter taste. This silver medal is also far from enough. We are the biggest team in Belgian sport after all our successes. But we still wanted to write a new chapter in this wonderful story. It’s hard to say but this tournament is a failure even if we have just played another World Cup final. »The new vice-world champions must however be very proud of their journey in India. And the disappointment will quickly have to be digested because the next deadlines are already at their doorstep with a Euro in August. The Red Lions will once again have to be resilient and demonstrate all their strength of character in the face of adversity. Only in this way can they resume their march forward and win new titles.

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