Belgium and The Netherlands claimed the last two quarter-final places at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar today as they earned respective 5-0 cross-over play-off wins against Pakistan and Canada.
Belgium’s victory over four-times world champions Pakistan in the Kalinga Stadium set up an all-European quarter-final against Pool D winners Germany on Thursday (December 13)
On the same day, the Dutch European champions will face home favourites India.
The World Cup quarter-finals begin tomorrow with England facing Olympic champions Argentina and top-ranked Australia meeting France, the lowest ranked of the 16 competing nations.
Belgium, Olympic silver medallists, are ranked third in this competition and they soon made sense of that ranking against a team 10 places below them as they moved into a 2-0 lead.
Alexander Hendrickx opened the scoring with a low penalty corner before Red Lions captain Thomas Briels completed the simplest of finishes after a run along the backline from Nicolas de Kerpel.
Pakistan improved greatly in the second quarter but were punished just before half-time when Cedric Charlier’s speculative cross-shot took a deflection off the stick of Pakistan captain Ammad Butt and flew into the goal to give Belgium a 3-0 lead.
The team coached by Shane McLeod added a fourth goal when Sebastien Dockier finished off a flowing team move and Tom Boon completed the score-line from the penalty spot in the fourth quarter.
It was a special day for Belgium duo Florent van Aubel and Simon Gougnard, with the former making his 200th international appearance for his country and the latter being named Odisha Player of the Match for his creativity in midfield.
“I think we played our best game in the tournament so far," Van Aubel said.
“We knew we were going to face Germany or the Netherlands in the next round.
“It’s Germany - we have to get ready for them.
“They’re playing really well at the moment, so I expect a tough game.”
Canada, for whom goalkeeper David Carter was named Player of the Match, withstood The Netherlands until the opening moments of the second period, when defender Lars Balk found himself at the other end of the field to smash a first-time effort in under the cross-bar.
Carter denied the Dutch a second when he saved a penalty stroke from Jeroen Hertzberger, but The Netherlands took a 2-0 lead into half-time after Robbert Kemperman had guided home a cross-shot from Thijs van Dam.
The Dutch added two more goals in the third quarter through Van Dam and Thierry Brinkman.
The scoring was completed in the fourth quarter by van Dam, starting and finishing a rapid counter-attack.
“We wanted to play better against Canada than we played against Pakistan," Dutch captain Billy Bakker said.
“We just looked at the statistics and we had about 30 circle penetrations and we made five goals, so it could be more but we should be proud of this result.
“We’re very happy and we’re confident for playing the quarter-final against India.
“It’s lovely - my team gets a lot of energy in front of this big crowd and this enormous stadium so it’s only an advantage for us.”