A look at Hockey World Cup 2018 top goalscorers so far reveal an interesting and unexpected name. Along with Australia’s rising star Blake Govers and Argentina’s dragflicking genius Peillat Gonzalo, there lies a young member of the vastly experienced Belgium team, a defender, too at that. With five goals in the tournament so far, just one less than the other two, Alexander Hendrickx has established himself as one of the rising stars in the team.
The fact that all five goals from the 25-year-old have come from drag-flicks has made him the target-man for the Belgian side during penalty corners over the vastly experienced Loick Luypaert, regarded as the best dragflicker in the Red Lions team. It also poses a threat for the rival whenever they concede a set-piece.
With only 90 international caps to his name, for a side that features the likes of captain Thomas Briels (313 caps) and Vincent Vanasch (206 caps) among other senior players, Hendrickx would still be counted as an youngster, despite making his senior team debut in 2012.
“We have a few good leaders in our team. Some of them are vastly experienced – having played three Olympic Games. These seniors pull the side with their experience. We had injuries to few senior players – John-John Dohmen was injured and had to go back. But the young guys have stepped up and it has been a good campaign,” Hendrickx told indianexpress.com.
Speaking on being the leading goalscorer for the side in the World Cup, the dragflicker said that he is happy to help the team in any way he can, but is more impressed with how the side has defended. “It feels pretty good. We know that penalty corners are very important in a game. I am happy to convert them and help the team,” he said
“The most important thing is that we have defended very well throughout the tournament. Germany have strong attackers and they created some opportunities in the quarterfinal match but we blocked it pretty good,” he said.
Hendrickx further added that the side displayed a controlled and calm performance against Germany. “We knew we had to defend deep but there were no really scary moments. Despite trailing by a goal, we stayed calm and controlled the game. We also created a lot of opportunities. Collectively, we played really good,” he said
Belgium, despite being the World No. 3 side in the world, and being the reigning Olympic silver medallist, have not replicated the same success at the World Cup. In 14 editions, it is for the first time the side is entering a World Cup semifinal.
“It feels great to be a semifinalist. Our goal is to reach for the gold, though and for that we have to beat England. England have beaten Argentina they are getting into form. They were a little weak at start. But now they have developed into a really quality side and we expect a physical game tomorrow.”