For their last game of the year this Sunday afternoon, the Red Lions fielded an experimental team against the Netherlands. Several key players had to miss this Pro League double-header against our northern neighbors due to injury.
And compared to Friday’s game, the Belgians also had to do without Arthur Van Doren (ball to the head Friday) and Loïck Luypaert (ill). Michel van den Heuvel was forced to bring Nico De Kerpel to the defense and Flo van Aubel to midfield, while the youngsters Tommy Willems and William Ghislain joined the offensive line.
The match started dramatically for the Belgians, who were already 2-0 behind after 6 minutes. First van Dam and then Warmerdam scored for their team, which, like Friday, started the game with a lot of ‘grinta’.
After that, the Lions gradually and with great zeal restored the balance in the game, but they were not very dangerous. A few minutes before the break, the Belgians could count on a very good Loic Van Doren in goal.
The young Antwerp resident had three excellent saves in store. In the 27th minute, the Belgians got a second penalty corner, which Alexander Hendrickx shot in hard as usual. At halftime it was 2-1.
The Lions returned to the field after the break with the knife between their teeth. They finally imposed their game on the Dutch, who were forced back into their own half for almost the entire third quarter.
Chances for Dohmen and Hendrickx (PC) unfortunately did not lead to anything concrete. And at the very end of the third quarter, Van Doren had to get serious again on a shot by Brinkman. The Belgians kept looking high in their opponent’s half for the equalizer.
But the Dutch defense left very little space in the back as the Belgians played too imprecisely to claim the equaliser. Deserved 2-1 victory for the Netherlands.
The Red Lions would rather not have ended the year with a loss. But what a year it was! The Olympic success has demanded a lot of energy from players and staff.
And with all the obligations that came afterwards, the two Pro League games against Germany and the BOIC training camp in Belek, these two games against the Netherlands were probably too much.
Time now for a month of well-deserved vacation! Appointment in January for the start of a new cycle.