Hockey World Cup: It was written in the stars, says Belgium captain Thomas Briels

Updated: Dec 17, 2018, 08:11 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Bhubaneswar

Coach McLeod and captain Briels believe Belgium were destined to rule the world after Red Lions beat the Netherlands in sudden death to win maiden title

Belgium players celebrate their win over The Netherlands in the Hockey World Cup final at Bhubaneswar yesterday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Belgium players celebrate their win over The Netherlands in the Hockey World Cup final at Bhubaneswar yesterday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Belgium captain Thomas Briels had promised to do a special dance routine if his team won the World Cup and he kept his promise with a jig at the post-match press conference yesterday.

The Belgians kept their promise to teammate Simon Gougnard, who had lost his father less than 36 hours before the final, by beating the Netherlands 3-2 via shootout to clinch their maiden World Cup. After a fast-paced and skillful goalless finale, it was all square after five shootout attempts too, but not without its share of drama. Belgium's Arthur De Sloover thought he had scored off the last attempt and won the World Cup. The entire Belgian camp celebrated too. However, a video referral taken by the Netherlands' super 'keeper Pirmin Blaak proved that the goal was incorrectly scored, and the sudden death ensued.

Belgian coach Shane McLeod described the instant emotional high and low perfectly. "We had spoken before that if the stars aligned then we could be World Champions and when that happened [video referral] I thought it was a cruel joke," McLeod said.

In the sudden death, Belgian Florent van Aubel beat Blaak while Dutchman Jeroen Hertzberger failed to get past Belgian 'keeper Vincent Vanasch, sending the Red Lions into a frenzy - this time it was for real.

"He [coach McLeod] kept telling us before the game that it's written in the stars, and even in the shootout he kept saying that, so we were pretty confident," said Briels. The title is extra special to the Red Lions since a member of their pride was 'wounded' and the captain rightly saluted him.

"The passing of Simon's father was hard for him and the team. It got us closer as a group and we wanted to do a good job to make him and his father proud. "After the game, it was an emotional moment for all of us. We are happy that we could help him achieve his dream. But, I still can't believe we are World No. 1," said Briels with a smile.

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