Hockey World Cup 2023: Belgium Team Profile
The defending champions and the newest team to win the Men's Hockey World Cup, the rise of Belgian hockey has been one of the most compelling stories of the previous decade.
The defending champions and the newest team to win the Men's Hockey World Cup, the rise of Belgian hockey has been one of the most compelling stories of the previous decade. Always seen as underdogs in the sport, Belgium first turned heads by winning silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The medal came on the back of a process of systematic improvement across all levels of the game in the country over the course of about 15 years.
Belgium then won the World Cup itself two years after their Olympic silver and then followed that up by winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, establishing themselves as one of the most dominant sides in world hockey. In the 2018 tournament, Belgium qualified for the cross-overs after finishing second behind hosts India in Pool C.
They beat Pakistan 5-0 in the cross-overs before beating two-time champions Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. Belgium then thrashed England 5-0 in the semis and faced three-time champions Netherlands in the final. No goals were scored and Belgium held their nerve to win the penalty shootout 3-2.
This was just the sixth appearance that Belgium made in the World Cup. They failed to qualify in 1998, 2006 and 2010 and didn't participate in the 1971, 1975, 1982, 1986 and 1990 World Cups. They had managed a fifth-placed finish at the 2014 World Cup before embarking on their glittering run.