Sport

Published: Tuesday June 3, 2014 MYT 5:25:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 3, 2014 MYT 5:29:11 PM

Belgium looking good after two wins

Belgium’s Tom Boon (left) celebrates with Cedric Charlier after scoring in the 6-2 win over Malaysia. S. S. KANESAN / The Star

Belgium’s Tom Boon (left) celebrates with Cedric Charlier after scoring in the 6-2 win over Malaysia. S. S. KANESAN / The Star

THE HAGUE: Belgium have thus far lived up to the expectations of many after dispatching the challenge of two Asian teams in the World Cup.

They defeated India 3-2 in their opening match and then whipped Malaysia 6-2 to lead the standings with Australia in Group A.

The convincing manner in which they won their matches have made the other teams take notice, as it is obvious they are serious medal contenders. 

Belgium have not made the semi-finals of any major tournament in recent years.

They won a bronze medal in the 1920 Olympics. More recently, in 2011, they won the Champions Challenge I title in South Africa.

Last year, they were runners-up to Germany in the European Championship and their good track record of late has many viewing them as potential finalists at the World Cup.

Their Dutch coach, Marc Lammers, admits that they have had a good start, but believes they can improve further.

“We wanted full points at this stage and we have it. Australia come next and that will be a real indication of what we can achieve here,” he said.

“The Australians are a good team and it will be a tough encounter.”

The match at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague will be played at 10pm on Thursday.

Lammers said that their matches with India and Malaysia were not as easy as the scoreline suggests.

“It was tough as both teams have good players. We knew what had to be done and did not panic when we were behind, as in the case against Malaysia. The players fought back and that is what I’m looking for from the team,” he said.

In Tom Boon, they have a prolific goal scorer – both from field and penalty corners.

Skipper Jerome Truyens is also a key player as he leads by example and is never far from the action.

They have other experienced players like Xavier Reckinger, who has amassed 316 international caps, Dorian Thiery, Cedric Charlier, Thomas Briels, Simon Gougnard and Felix Denayer.

Since 2005, the Belgians have experimented with foreign coaches, including South African Giles Bonnet and Australians Adam Comments and Colin Batch.

In 2012, Lammers was hired and he has now taken the team to new heights.

For a team who have only played in four previous World Cups, the Red Lions have come a long way. Their best placing was eighth in 1973 when they made their debut.

But that could change in the days ahead.

Lammers said that a semi-final berth is more than a reality for them as that is their target for the group phase.

“After that, we will see how the match-up goes. But we are certainly eyeing a podium finish. We have beaten all the top teams in the world and there is no reason to think that we cannot do it here,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: Sport, Sport Others, hockey, Hockey World Cup, Tom Boon, Marc Lammers, Belgium

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