Black Sticks Men
The Vantage Black Sticks Men will regroup after their fantastic effort against the Netherlands last weekend and will be looking for more consistency on both ends of the field if they are going to challenge the World Champion Belgians.
Midfielder Nick Ross is lining up for his 100th match and will be aiming to make it memorable.
The Belgium Men have already played 2 matches in the FIH Pro League where they were shocked in their opening match by Spain when they lost in a penalty shootout. They however bounced back for a big win last weekend against the men from Argentina and look to be back to their formidable best.
The Belgium side which is coached by Kiwi Shane McLeod, who has taken this Belgium team to incredible heights over the past 3 years, have risen to number one in the world, won the World Cup and collected the Silver Medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The challenge ahead for the Vantage Black Sticks Men is going to be immense. These two sides met last year in the 4 Nations in New Zealand where the Black Sticks won one of the games and lost one, so this team knows what it takes to beat the Belgium Men.
Watch out for Arthur Van Doren, on his day he is the most feared defender in international hockey. He creates so much of the Belgium attack through his long probing runs as well as his incredible long passing where he will often find a player on the other side of the field and give them a great go forward ball putting pressure on the opposition.
Vantage Black Sticks Men vs Belgium Men. Friday 1st February at 7:10pm. Coverage is on TVNZ 2
Vantage Black Sticks Women
The Vantage Black Sticks Women showed some great resolve at both ends of the pitch against the Dutch last weekend but were unable to grab a point from the match. Tonight they line up against up-and-coming Belgium.
Sean Dancer, the Black Sticks coach commented “Belgium are a growing team and we need to again bring all our intensity and effort to the game. We can’t afford to be casual with any of our preparation, and I am expecting the group to be extremely focused on gaining a successful result for Friday’s game”
The last time that these two sides met was at the 2018 Hockey World Cup where the Vantage Black Sticks came away from the match victorious 4-2 with Olivia Merry bagging a brace of goals. The Vantage Black Sticks will be looking for that same production from Merry as well as the other strikers as they look to put the improving Belgium Women on the back foot from the start of the game.
The Belgium Women are no slouches having risen to 13th in the world but are a team that has shown great improvement much like their male counterparts and are looking poised to make a leap into the top echelon of women’s hockey teams. Look out for vastly experienced striker Jill Boon who has been one of the central players in the Belgium Women’s improvements over the past few seasons. Jill has played 118 times for Belgium and has so far amassed 28 goals and will be looking to improve on that total against the 6th ranked Black Sticks.
Vantage Black Sticks Women vs Belgium Women. Friday 1st February at 5:10pm. Coverage is on TVNZ 2