An ecstatic Belgium side celebrated a dramatic last-gasp victory over eight-times Olympic champions India in the final of the FIH Champions Challenge 1 in Johannesburg and are set to make their first ever appearance in the prestigious Champions Trophy.
Tom Boon put the icing on the cake for Belgium when he scored a last-minute winner after his side had mounted a magnificent second-half comeback, fighting back from 3-1 down to win an absorbing final.
Both teams treated a packed appreciative crowd to a high quality contest, filled with mesmerising skills, extraordinary goals and packed with drama right up until the final whistle.
It was billed as the battle between the two Australia-born coaches with Belgium’s Colin Batch getting the better of his compatriot Michael Nobbs. There is nothing the crowd appreciates more than attacking play and plenty of goal mouth action and the famed Aussie style went down a treat.
India’s clinical precision at the penalty corner saw them take a 2-0 lead and after the Europeans pulled one back in the second-half, Shivendra Singh restored his side’s cushion jinking his way along the by-line before scoring from a seemingly impossible angle.
But you simply had to admire Belgium’s never-say-die attitude and as they pushed forward relentlessly they scored three times in the final quarter to clinch the gold medal. For their heroic first-choice goalkeeper, David van Rysselberghe, who was side-lined after dislocating his shoulder in the semi-final, it was a moment to savour.
Best Player: Sandeep Singh (India)
Best Goalkeeper: David van Rysselberghe (Belgium)
Top Goalscorer: 8 - Justin Reid-Ross (South Africa) and Tom Boon (Belgium)
Fair Play: South Africa