The exhibition game, shortened to two 20 minutes, was a re-run of the 2016 Olympic final in Rio. Then the Argentines kept the Red Lions from Olympic gold 4-2.
Under a sweltering heat – 33°C in the shade – the two countries immediately flew into it. Loïck Luypaert was the main victim of the hefty duels: the defender got a stick to his head and had to stop the game bleeding.
In the first period, the Red Lions could not prepare much offensively, but the Belgian defense did not have much work either. Goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch saved a penalty corner after 9 minutes.
The Belgians started the second period better and it paid off. Sébastien Dockier gave the Red Lions the victory with a striking bang. A boost for the world champion in view of their first Olympic match on Saturday against the Netherlands, which was just too strong in the semi-final of the European Championship last month.
Striking: Thomas Briels, who is coming to Tokyo as a reserve player, played a large part of the match. Tom Boon, Cédric Charlier and Antoine Kina did not play. Boon trained individually.
The Red Lions already open their Olympic tournament against European champions the Netherlands on Saturday (4:45 a.m. Belgian time). Then follow in group B
duels with Germany (FIH 5), South Africa (FIH 14), Canada (FIH 10) and
Great Britain (FIH 7). The top four advance to the quarter-finals.
A dress rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday against host country Japan.