Harpal Singh Bedi / Bhubaneswar
Playing to the script, Belgium held their nerves and downed favourite The Netherlands 3-2 in a penalty shootout sudden death to win their maiden Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium here today.
Belgium in the process became the sixth, – third European- team to win this prestigious title while the Netherlands ended runners up for the second time running. er
Three -time champion the Netherlands and Olympic Silver medallists Belgium played an engrossing 60-minutes regulation period in which they failed to score leading to penalty shoot out
In the shootout Dutch led 2-0 but Belgium made it 2-2,to end the deadlock, sudden death was applied and Florent Van Aubel beat Dutch goal keeper Pirmin Blaak to put his side ahead 3-2
However luck eluded experienced Dutch striker Jeoran Hartzberger at the crucial moment ,he beat the goal keeper but his reverse flick was wide off the target.
With that the Netherlands hopes of regaining the title for the fourth time after a gap of two decade and equalising Pakistan’s record of four wins, went up in a smoke on the blue turf of Kalinga Stadium.
Belgium playing in their sixth World, their previous best being 5th in 2014, had meticulously planned for this game. Shane McLeod coached team stuck to a script and same was the case with runners up the Netherlands.
The two teams dished out a classical, well-paced European hockey. The teams took no chances, and gave no quarter to each other.
Both teams looked tentative as the title contest opened, as one was seeking its maiden title, other wanted to regain it for the fourth time. The game was closely marked affair. The teams marked each other’s players tightly. There was also a zonal marking, so the flourish was missing but the teams obviously were not playing for the galleries but for title
In the 60-minute regulation period, the Dutch earned two penalty corners in the 29th and 30th minute but both were wasted. After that it was a keen affair with teams trying to keep possession of the ball with them.
As there were no gaps, no space ,it became difficult to make a tearaway moves, though there were . some moves from the flanks, but they were aborted by the alert defenders from both the sides.
As the time ticked away Belgium started dominating and Artur van Doren made moves from the flank but fumbled inside or near the circle. Dutch striker 32 year old Jeoran Hertberger tried some solo dashes but he could not get past rival’s crowded defence.
The moment of the OHMWC Bhubaneswar 2018.
A big shout out to the new World Champions!
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 16, 2018
There was some excitement in the last quarter of the game as oal keepers of both the sides brought off few good saves.
In the shootout , Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch outmatched his Dutch counterpart Pirmin Blaak by making four saves to hand his side their maiden World Cup title. While Jeroen Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus scored for Netherlands, Florent van Aubel and Victor Wegnez were on target for Belgium.
However, the shoot-out was full of drama as Belgium needed Arthur de Sloover to score from their fifth and last attempt to win the game and he did so, sending the Red Lions bench into wild celebrations.
But Dutch goalkeeper rushed to the umpire seeking referral for a foot and the goal was later withdrawn after TV replays showed the ball indeed touch De Sloover’s feet .
The reversal meant the match went into sudden death and Van Aubel was given the responsibility by Belgium to take the first opportunity and he duly converted it.
Now it was Netherlands turn to score and continue the sudden death but Hertzberger faltered this time as Belgium goalkeeper Vanasch came up with another brilliant save to hand his team mates the biggest win of their careers.
Belgium goal keeper Vincent Vanasch was declared Man of the match while their young striker Artur van Dornen was named player of the tournament. Spain won the fair play trophy.
A jubilant Belgium coach Shane Mcleod said “ We are deserving winners, boys have been working hard for last four years and their dedication paid off today. My salute to my boys”..
Thank you very much Harpal Singh Bediji for covering the event so beautifully