Warmerdam strike gives Netherlands shock victory over Olympic champions Belgium

The Netherlands men earned a superb 2-1 victory over reigning Olympic, World and FIH Hockey Pro League champions Belgium on Sunday afternoon, giving the Dutch five points from a maximum six from their two encounters with the Red Lions in recent days.

After claiming two points courtesy of a draw and a bonus point winning shoot-out success on Friday in Amstelveen (NED), the Oranje snatched all three points in their second clash thanks to first quarter field goals from Thijs Van Dam and Dennis Warmerdam, as Jeroen Delmee’s talented but inexperienced side triumphed over the top ranked team in world hockey. 

Van Dam fired into the roof of Belgian shot-stopper Loic Van Doren’s goal after just three minutes, with Warmerdam – who has made a stunning return to international hockey at the age of 27 after overcoming a rare form of cancer – doubling the Dutch advantage with a close-range poacher’s goal just three minutes later. 

With two times FIH Player of the Year Arthur Van Doren missing through injury, Belgium’s defence looked more frail than usual, with the Oranje being well worth their two-goal lead. The hosts would have been further ahead were it not for a trio of excellent saves from Arthur Van Doren’s younger brother Loic, who kept the Red Lions very much in the contest before Alexander Hendrickx pulled a goal back before half time. 

Belgium stepped up their game considerably in the third and fourth quarters but found clear-cut scoring opportunities difficult to come by thanks to some excellent Dutch defending. When the Red Lions did get their shots away, Netherlands goalkeeper Derk Meijer produced the goods in a debut to remember, most notably by denying the prolific Hendrickx with a wonderful stick save to tip a low penalty corner drag-flick around his right post.

The Red Lions pushed hard in the final quarter, but the Dutch held on for a fine victory that will give great confidence to this youthful but extremely gifted group of players. 

“I’m really proud”, said Netherlands captain Thierry Brinkman, who was named Player of the Match for the second time in three days. “Two very good games from our squad this weekend against what I think is still the best team in the world, so I’m really proud. 

“We need to put a lot of energy in our game, not just for one or two quarters but for a full 60 minutes. Every second counts in international hockey. I think that is the most important thing from this weekend.”