Germany were crowned the champions of the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup, 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. Belgium took the game into a shoot-out with a late equaliser, but Belgium held their nerves in the sudden death, 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 defeated Australia to win the bronze medal.
With their 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.
Gold Medal Match: Germany vs Belgium 3-3 (SO: 5-4)
Germany took on Belgium in the finals hoping to win their third 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 four 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.
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. 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 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 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.
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 tournament awards
Fair Play Award: Team Belgium
Maximum Team Goals: Netherlands
Best Team Goal Celebration: Korea
Fan’s Choice Award: Christopher Rühr (Germany)
Best Junior Player of the Tournament: Mustaphaa Cassiem (South Africa)
Top Scorer: Jeremy Hayward (Australia)
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