A day after losing his father Simon Gougnard helped Belgium enter their first ever field hockey World Cup final with a 6-0 rout of England in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar yesterday.
Belgium will face three-time champions Netherlands, who stormed into the final with a 4-3 sudden death win over Australia after the second semi-final was locked at 2-2 after regulation time.
As the tie proceeded for this World Cup’s first shootout to break the deadlock, neither of the teams were in the mood to give anything away as the shootout resulted in another tie at 3-3.
The contest then headed for sudden death when the Dutch side managed to get over the line to enter their fourth World Cup final for the first time since 1998.
Earlier, in regulation time Glenn Schuurman (9th minute) and Seve van Ass (20th) got the Netherlands to a 2-0 advantage before Tim Howard (44th) and Eddie Ockenden (60th) helped Australia bounce back and take the tie to the shootout.
Earlier in the day, Alexander Hendrickx scored twice for Belgium to lead the tournament scorers list with seven goals so far at the Kalinga Stadium in eastern Odisha state.
But it was an emotional moment for Gougnard who doubled his team’s early lead in the 19th minute with a penalty corner conversion after getting the news of his father’s demise on the eve of the semifinal clash.
Belgium, who had beaten two-time champions Germany in the quarter-finals, came all guns blazing with Tom Boon giving them an early lead in the eight minute of the match.
“We are just really proud at what happened. We played in the honour of (the) father of Simon who suddenly passed away yesterday,” Boon, who was named player of the match, said after the win.
“We did it again today and in the quarter-finals and it is going to be one more step in tomorrow’s game. We just have to put another great performance and hope we can win.”
Belgium coach Shane McLeod also praised Gougnard’s mental toughness after he shared the sad news with the team and went on to play in the semis.
“We had words and he shared his news with the group and if anything it brought us closer together. It’s something that you don’t wish on anyone but it’s a circle of life,” said McLeod.
“He played for his father today and he played a fantastic game.”
Cedric Charlier and Sebastien Dockier also scored for the Olympic silver medallists who now eye history in the title clash today.
For England, their semis jinx continued as they lost their third successive last-four clash in the World Cup.
They will play Germany for the third-place play off today.
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