Friday, December 1, 2023

Simon Gougnard helps Belgium to Hockey World Cup final after father’s passing

Emotion flowed through Simon Gougnard on Saturday as he helped Belgium reach their World Cup final with a 6-0 defeat of England, hours after his father passed away.

Gougnard had received the news at the team hotel in Bhubaneswar, but had decided to play on and scoring a decisive second goal which paved the way for victory.

Alexander Hendrickx scored two penalty corners for Belgium to lead the tournament scorers charts with seven goals and set up a final clash with the Netherlands.

Belgium, who had beaten two-time champs Germany in the last eight, came out firing with Tom Boon giving them an early lead in the eighth minute. The match was already settled when Sebastien Dockier rattled in an unstoppable shot late on.

“We are just really proud at what happened. We played in the honour of (the) father of Simon who suddenly passed away yesterday,” Boon, who was player of the match, told reporters.

Belgium coach Shane McLeod, who was clearly emotional in the press conference, also praised Gougnard’s mental toughness.

“We had words and he shared his news with the group and if anything it brought us closer together. It’s something that you don’t wish on anyone but it’s a circle of life,” said McLeod.

“He played for his father today and he played a fantastic game.”

Cedric Charlier and Sebastien Dockier also scored for the Olympic silver medallists who now eye history in the title clash on Sunday.

Team mate Nicolas De Kerper said:”It was really hard news for him and also for the team. We needed to carry him today and tomorrow and he is a really strong guy. The team is all with him and behind him.”

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