The final day of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 was played in the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as Germany were crowned the champions of the world, defeating the defending champions Belgium in a thrilling final, where they went down by 2 goals early in the first quarter but fought their way back again and took the game into a shoot-out, where they held their nerves in the sudden deaths, winning 5-4. With the win Germany also claimed the top spot in the FIH Men’s World Outdoor Rankings.
Earlier in the day Netherlands and Australia went head-to-head in the bronze medal match, where Jeremy Hayward gave them an early lead, but an incredible 3-goal burst in 8 minutes in the third quarter, with captain Thierry Brinkman scoring twice, gave Netherlands the lead that they would take to the end and win the bronze medal. With the win, followed by Belgium’s loss in the finals, Netherlands move up to the second position in the FIH Men’s World Outdoor Rankings, followed by silver medalists Belgium who are now ranked third ahead of Australia, who end the tournament ranked fourth.
Bronze Medal Match: Australia v Netherlands 1-3
Netherlands started the game on the front foot, with Theijs van Dam getting a powerful shot into the circle looking for a Dutch deflection, but Hoedemakers couldn’t get on the end of the cross and Australia survived an early scare. Australia started settling into the game midway through the first quarter and a pass into the circle by Jeremy Hayward found captain Zalewski open on the right of the goal, but his shot/cross went wide off the mark with Blake Govers missing a deflection from point blank range. Australia scored the opening goal of the game through Jeremy Hayward who scored his 100th goal in his 200th appearance for Australia. It was a double blow for the Dutch who had referred the penalty corner and lost their review early in the first quarter.
Netherlands won their first penalty corner of the game in the 20th minute but Jip Janssen’s powerful flick went straight as an arrow and Charter managed to pull off a comfortable save to deny Netherlands from their first big chance since the opening minute. Both teams traded opportunities to close the opening half, with big chances falling to Koen Bijen for the Dutch and Blake Govers for the Kookaburras, but both star forwards were off targets with their running shots and the teams headed into the break with Australia holding a slender one-goal advantage against Netherlands.
Netherlands started the second half with a high press, which was a tactic that worked quite well for Germany in the semifinals. The ploy seemed to work well for Netherlands as well as they earned three quick penalty corners inside the first two minutes of the second half, and with the third attempt, Jip Janssen opened his account in the game with a powerful drag to the right of Charter to bring the teams level. Two minutes later, Netherlands were in the lead as a clearance attempt by Tim Howard was blocked by Wortelboer in the circle and the resulting loose ball was put into the goal by Dutch captain Thierry Brinkman. Australia started to press higher in search for an equaliser, but it was Netherlands again who capitalised with a quick counter as van Dam’s run from the half line produced a cross that found Brinkman unmarked at the back post and he made no mistake in doubling Netherlands lead.
Australia entered the final 15 minutes needing to score at least 2 goals to keep their hopes of winning a medal at the World Cup alive. Their high press gave Netherlands a lot to do in defence, but Jorrit Croon, along with Blok and Jansen, were stellar in the Dutch defensive circle, stopping waves of Australian crosses into the circle. Netherlands believed they had scored the 4th goal of the game midway through the quarter with Koen Bijen knocking the ball into the goal on the back post, but a foul in the build up reversed the goal as Australia breathed a sigh of relief. But Netherlands continued their excellent defence and as time ran out, they ran out winners, earning their third bronze medal at the men’s World Cups.
Captain Thierry Brinkman was awarded player of the match and said: “We were playing quite well in the first half but couldn’t convert our chances. We didn’t change anything in the second half, we were just better at converting our opportunities and the way we have played today and through the tournament, we deserve this bronze medal.”
Gold Medal Match: Germany v Belgium 3-3 (SO: 5-4)
Germany took on Belgium in the finals hoping to win their 3rd gold medal at the FIH Hockey Men's World Cups to go level with Australia and Netherlands and one behind Pakistan who have won the event 4 times; while Belgium aimed to become just the 4th team, after Pakistan, Germany & Australia, to defend their title successfully.
Belgium started the game on the front foot, creating an early circle entry, but Tom Grambusch was alert to the chance and intercepted a cross right in front of the goal and cleared the danger. Germany won a penalty corner in the 6th minute, referring the original decision which had gone against them. The resulting penalty corner was well defended by first rusher Cosyns who blocked Gonzalo Peillat’s attempted flick. Belgium opened the scoring in the 10th minute as a long corner deflected high off a German stick and fell to Florent van Aubel at the top of the circle and he took the shot on in his stride and smashed the ball into the goal before Stadler could react! Less than a minute later Belgium had doubled their lead as a cross from the left deflected off a German stick and fell to Simon Gougnard who had to get the slightest of touches to put it in the goal.
Belgium won a penalty corner early in the second quarter and their variation caught the German rushers out, but Stadler dived brilliantly to his left and pulled off a great save to keep Germany in the game. Moments later Germany won a penalty stroke after Christopher Rühr found Windfeder with an incisive pass and his cross was blocked by the foot of a sliding Belgian defender. Tom Grambusch stepped up to take the stroke but his high shot to the left was saved brilliantly by Vincent Vanasch who got his stick to the ball and deflected it on to the post and deflected out! Secure in their lead Belgium sat back in deep defence inviting German pressure, and Germany finally made it count winning a penalty corner with less than 90 seconds left in the quarter. It was Niklas Wellen once again scoring for Germany as Tom Grambusch’s attempted flick deflected off the first rusher and fell to Wellen, who was the injector. He controlled the shoulder high ball brilliantly and smashed the volley above the outstretched hands of Vanasch to give Germany a goal back before the half.
Belgium nearly caught Germany out on a quick counter attack right at the start of the second half as Victor Wegnez’ long pass into the circle crashed into the backboard, but a diving Dockier did not manage to get a touch on the ball and Germany were awarded a free-out. Germany then managed to test Vanasch again as a quick pass by Trompertz found Miltkau in the circle and he had time and space to get his shot away, but his low effort was well saved by Vanasch who got his left foot on to the ball and sent it out of play. A minute later, Germany were back level as Gonzalo Peillat buried a penalty corner low in the bottom left corner of the goal and there was nothing a diving Vanasch could do to stop it. With 15 minutes left in the game it was all squared up again, with shoot-outs looming large if neither team could find the go-ahead goal.
Germany completed their turnaround in the third minute of the final quarter as captain Mats Grambusch hit a sliding tomahawk shot from a minute angle and the powerful shot snuck in through the legs of Vanasch to give Germany the lead! Belgium started to pile on the pressure as they hunted an equaliser of their own having led for a significant portion of the match and for a change it was Germany who had to rely on their defence. But Hinrichs and Tom Grambusch were massive for the Germans in defence, keeping Belgium outside their 25 and intercepting any attempted crosses that looked to find an attacker in the German scoring circle. Belgium won a penalty corner with less than 2 minutes left in the game and once again it was star-man Tom Boon that did the business for the Red Lions perfectly placing his flick between Stadler and the post defender to score and send the game into a shoot-out!
Shoot-outs are always a tense affair and with Belgium, who won the gold at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in the shoot-outs as well as the 2018 FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup finals in the shoot-outs, facing Germany who had won 8 out of the 10 shoot-outs they had been involved in since 2018, the shoot-outs were bound to be a tense affair.
That proved to be the case as the two teams could not be separated through the first 5 shoot-out attempts, with both teams scoring thrice and the shoot-out went into sudden death. Germany and Belgium both scored their first attempts through Wellen and van Aubel. Thies Prinz stepped up to take the 7th German attempt and scored. Jean-Paul Danneberg, who had been substituted in for the shoot-outs, then got the stop against Tanguy Cosyns and sparked wild celebrations as Germany were the champions of the world for the third time in the history!
Niklas Wellen, who sparked the German comeback at the end of the first half, was awarded the player of the match and said: “Another comeback proves that it is skill and not luck. We have to give credit to Belgium who have achieved so much over the past decade. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to win this and going down 2 goals early didn’t get us down. Every single player in this team has given so much for this win. This is an unbelievable feeling for us.”
World Rankings Update
Following the conclusion of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, there are major movements at the top of the World Rankings in the Men’s Outdoor category.
Germany (2912) who finished as the gold medal winners of the World Cup have moved to the top of the World Rankings. Netherlands (2848) who defeated Australia in the bronze medal match have moved up the rankings and now sit in the second position, followed closely by silver medalists Belgium (2845) who started the finals in the first position! Australia (2792), who were ranked first in the world before the World Cup finish the event in fourth place. In other movements, England (2536) and India (2478) have switched places, with England now in fifth place, followed by India in sixth, with Argentina (2260), Spain (2093), Korea (1942) and New Zealand (1899) rounding out the top-10.
List of Awards
Fair Play Award: Team Belgium
Maximum Team Goals: Netherlands
Best Team Goal Celebration: Korea
Fan’s Choice Award: Christopher Rühr (Germany)
JSP Foundation Best Junior Player of the Tournament: Mustaphaa Cassiem (South Africa)
Hero Top Scorer: Jeremy Hayward (Australia)
JSW Best Goalkeeper: Vincent Vanasch (Belgium)
Best Defender: Jeremy Hayward (Australia)
Best Midfielder: Victor Wegnez (Belgium)
Best Forward: Niklas Wellen (Germany)
Odisha Best Player: Niklas Wellen (Germany)
Bronze Medal: Team Netherlands
Silver Medal: Team Belgium
Gold Medal: Team Germany