Belgium (FIH World Ranking: 7) have made huge strides forward over the past ten years and are now rated as one of the most feared attacking sides on the planet.
They produced some excellent performances last year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands, but just missed out on a place in the competition semi-finals when they fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of England.
Still, their fifth place finish at that event was their best ever at a World Cup, setting another milestone in the development of a gifted group of players that have yet to reach their full potential.
The squad that competed in July’s FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium, contained ten players that had surpassed the 100 international appearances mark, including double centurions John-John Dohmen, Jerome Truyens and Thomas Briels.
Despite their vast on-field experience, the fact that the squad did not contain a single player over the age of 27 provided evidence that this group is likely to remain together for many years to come.
A fifth place finish at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 was a big disappointment for the team, but they are widely expected to be one of the frontrunners for the Hero Hockey World League title in Raipur.
Nickname: Red Lions
Key player: John-John Dohmen. A classy, creative midfielder who rarely puts a foot wrong, the 27-year-old Belgian captain is currently at the peak of his powers. Named Player of the Tournament at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final, Dohmen is certain to be a massively influential figure for his team in Raipur.
Olympic Bronze medallists (1920)
EuroHockey Nations Championships Silver medallists (2013)
EuroHockey Nations Championships Bronze medallists (2007)
5th place - Olympic Games (2012)
5th place - Rabobank Hockey World Cup (2014)
5th place - Hero Hockey Champions Trophy (2014)
Additional information: The Royal Belgian Hockey Federation (KBHB-ARBH) recently named New Zealander Shane McLeod as the new Head Coach of the men’s national team. McLeod replaces Dutchman Jeroen Delmee, the former Netherlands international defender and double Olympic Gold medallist (Atlanta 1996 & Sydney 2000) who stepped away from the position at the end of September. McLeod – who has enjoyed spells coaching the New Zealand men’s and women’s teams as well as guiding Antwerp’s Waterloo Ducks to consecutive Belgian league titles in 2013 and 2014 – has been given the task of guiding the Red Lions to a podium finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.