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Colin Batch sowed seeds of success in Belgium (12/18/2018)
--Errol D’Cruz
There’s an Oceania touch to the Red Lions, the dramatic World Cup winners in Bhubaneswar.

And it goes way back, before Shane McLeod, the Kiwi coach whose tutelage has seen Belgium rise up the rankings, collect Olympic silver and finally inscribe their name on the trophy on Sunday night with a shootout victory over three-time winners the Netherlands.

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As the finalists came on to the pitch to warm up, Colin Batch, coach of the free-wheeling Australia who routed England 8-1 to win the bronze medal, gazed at the Red Lions warm up, contemplating what might have been.

For, it was Batch, who sowed the seeds of Belgium’s eminence in the sport with a coaching stint from 2010-12.

Australia came desperately close to clinching a slot in the final, losing the semifinal against the Netherlands in a shootout after regulation time ended 2-2.

With it went the chance of playing Belgium, 6-0 victors over England, in the first semifinal en route to winning the final against the Netherlands and claiming the No.1 rank.

“A lot of players of this Belgium team were young when I coached them. I was part of the effort to take Belgium to the level of the Olympics,”’ Batch revealed.

“Many of them are senior players now with over 200 caps. It would be nice to play them here because they have a very good team for five or six years now and are high up in the rankings,” the highly acclaimed Kookaburra right-winger of the 1980s said.

Batch, 60, coached New Zealand after his Belgium stint for four years from 2012-16 before accepting the top job for his country in 2017.

Before guiding Belgium, Batch was assistant coach of the Australian national team (2001-08) during a glittering era during which the team bagged the long overdue Olympic title at Athens in 2004.

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