Belgium celebrates its first Hockey World Cup title
The Red Lions won the Men's Hockey World Cup in India. This is the first time that a Belgium team takes home a world title in an Olympic team sport.
The Belgian team faced three-time champions, the Netherlands, in their first World Cup final ever. The Dutch were extremely keen to win their first title since 1998, but the Red Lions beat them to the punch.
The final was a rather closed match, with both teams relinquishing very few opportunities. The score was still level at 0-0 at the end of four quarters. And so the winner of this derby of the Low Countries would be determined with a penalty shoot-out.
The Belgians' first two shots failed to change the score. Fortunately, Vanasch was in good form, stopping three Dutch penalty shots. De Sloover had the opportunity to finish the match, with the fifth and final penalty shot, which he did, sending the Red Lions into wild celebrations. However, the replay by the video ref reversed the score. De Sloover's winning goal was disallowed because the ball had touched his foot before ending up in the net.
After having been the world champion for a mere 10 seconds, the Belgian team had no choice but to start over. Van Aubel was given the excruciatingly heavy responsibility of calming down and taking the sixth penalty shot. But he kept his cool scoring the winning shot. When the keeper saved the Netherlands' sixth shot, the Red Lions finally became the world champions.
It was their first gold medal ever at a major tournament. In recent years, the Belgian team always came in second. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina prevented Belgium from taking Olympic gold. During the 2017 European Cup, they were the runners-up behind the Netherlands. But now our hockey team has well and truly taken revenge with the World Cup title.