The FIH Hockey World Cup 2018 being held at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar is turning into an extremely interesting affair.
For the first time, every team in the tournament has an equal chance towards the World Cup, be it the defending champions Australia, or even France, who is technically the lowest ranked team as per the FIH rankings.
With the end of the final leg of crossovers, Belgium and Netherlands have made it to the quarterfinals.
However, none had anticipated the way in which Belgium would proceed to the final eight. Their rivals were Pakistan, one of the most popular field hockey teams after India, and the most successful team in the history of the FIH World Cup.
Despite being a shadow of their glorious past, the team, under the able guidance of their coach Rehan Butt and their legendary manager, ex Asian cum Olympic champion Hasan Sardar, Pakistan had managed to proceed to the crossover stage.
However, as they met Belgium for the crossover match, little did they anticipate the humiliation that the Red Lions, who are the Olympic silver medalists from Rio 2016, would dole out on them.
Right from the word go, Belgium had a sole objective in their mind: enter the quarterfinals in style.
From the word go, the Belgians played as if there was no tomorrow. Exploiting every chance that came their way, the Belgian team opened their account in the very first quarter, when penalty corner specialist Alexander Hendrickx scored on a penalty corner in the 10th minute.
From there, there was no looking back, as the Red Lions outfoxed the Pakistani players at every point. By the time the final whistle blared in the stadium, the score read 5-0. Belgium had just not defeated Pakistan, they had whacked them out of the competition. Following are the 5 talking points from the match.
#5 Belgium exploit chances well within the first quarter
Going by their play, it looks like Belgium has taken up the mantle of displaying classic European hockey from the word go.
On the attacking mode from the first whistle itself, Belgium exploited every chance that came to them.
Needless to say, they smelt success in the very first quarter, when a penalty corner was awarded to Belgium in the 10th minute.
Alexander Hendrickxx, who made sure that Belgium at least got an easier draw in the crossover round, made no mistake as he capitalized on the penalty corner to give Belgium a crucial lead of 1-0.
Anyone who followed this match closely should've known that with this very goal, the writing was officially on the wall.
Whatever followed suite was just a confirmation of who was going to enter the quarterfinals. For the next three quarters, the question wasn't if Belgium would manage to go through the crossovers, but by how much.