Although they came to Hamburg to win a medal, the Belgians avoided the European meet. After half-hearted performances, they finished in a very disappointing 5th place. If their ambitions were real, they lacked the clarity and aggressiveness to achieve them.
Laurent Toussaint, Special Envoy in Hamburg
Reading time: 4 minutes
JNever before has a Belgian indoor team been so well-prepared, confident, even winning as they approach a European meet. But given the 4 days he spent in northern Germany, the findings are astounding. Although progress was evident, the Red Lions did not live up to expectations. But perhaps more worryingly, they were never able to react when the situation called for it. A painful 5th place finish against the Czech Republic (9-7) does nothing to erase the frustration and disappointment of a group that could and should have done better.
1. Lack of clarity . One of the first explanations for this poor performance is undoubtedly a lack of foresight during key moments and moments. Except for the first meeting with Germany (5-5), the Belgians have never been able to overcome themselves and find a solution when the conditions demanded it in every match. Even if they could rely on Philippe Simara, who is still strong in the opposition circle with 20 goals in 6 appearances, the finish did not reach reality. “I will not say that this tournament is a failure,” Philippe Truyens, the technical director of the indoor national teams, immediately said. “Obviously, we didn’t reach our goal, but we did great things and made great progress. However, we failed to improve during the tournament. I admit that we are still very fair on several levels. In this tournament, we always started our matches well, but each time we ended unsuccessfully. We need to understand why and above all find solutions to eliminate it. »
2. No reaction and lack of energy . A close game lasts a good 40 minutes and the Lions have learned this the hard way, often having high-quality first innings. But the team often faltered after the break and suffered from the game. More problematically, they never knew how to rebel when they were up against the wall. “It’s a point we’ll really have to discuss with the players,” head coach Maxime Bergez admitted openly. “We will have to step back in the way we manage our meetings. But we did better in this rating meeting. We don’t always make the right decisions. But we must not forget where we came from. We have already taken many steps. Therefore, even if we leave without a medal, there is no question of talking about failure in this Euro. During these 4 days in Germany, we really took steps forward in terms of identity and hockey. This is very encouraging in terms of our process leading up to the World Cup. But we still need to manage better in certain situations. It’s all part of our development, but I understand that after what we’ve been able to show here, the outside perception isn’t always positive. »
3. Weak domestic championship . Another explanation is undoubtedly the general level of Belgian indoor competition. The intensity of the international level is several steps above the level where the Lions are located. “Indoor hockey is not a priority for most players in our country,” Philip Truyens sums up very realistically. “Make no mistake, the 2 finalists of the Euros are the Germans and the Austrians, who have been developing for 3 quarters in the championship across the Rhine. It’s no secret, it’s the best competition in the world. It’s an issue of intensity in the game, but also the quality of the infrastructure. But how to fix it? We will have to think about it, but it is important that our international players train regularly to play matches at the highest level. »
That’s why this fist is useful, and therefore it should not question everything. The indoor Red Lions will have 2 months to make things right ahead of the World Cup in South Africa (February 5-11, Pretoria), where they will have the same ambitions as originally planned, namely to finish in the top 6 and, why not, even the last square. It is necessary to preserve what constitutes the strengths and qualities of this team, but above all it is necessary to understand what is missing during these 4 days. There has been impressive progress and the Belgians have repeatedly been able to compete with world heavyweights such as Germany and Austria. Maxime Bergez’s supporters must now use their disappointment and turn it into positive energy to move forward and focus on new ambitions from now on.