Author: Nic Kerber
Australia’s World number one ranked men’s hockey team has booked its place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after winning the 2019 Oceania Cup.
The Kookaburras secured a dominant 3-0 victory over New Zealand in Rockhampton tonight to convincingly take out the best-of-three series with two wins and a draw.
Keen to make amends after blowing a two goal lead to the Black Sticks 24 hours earlier, the Kookaburras went about their work in typical energetic style.
The first goal came in the 11th minute when striker Tim Brand produced a poacher’s finish following fine lead up work from Aran Zalewski.
Soon after it was 2-0 as the Black Sticks failed to deal with a penalty corner from Blake Govers.
Jake Whetton flashed a shot wide as the Kookaburras looked to drive home their advantage, the Australian defence also doing their part for the cause.
Defender Matthew Dawson received a yellow card in the third quarter but it was a minor hiccup for a Kookaburras outfit that had primed itself for this tournament and successfully accomplished the mission of qualifying.
Daniel Beale forced a sharp save from Black Sticks goalkeeper George Enersen before Govers put the icing on the cake late, with a drag flick into the roof of the net to claim his second of the night.
“We’re very happy with the result. New Zealand were really competitive over the three games, we had a real battle with them yesterday but today we took our game to another level so it’s very pleasing to finish with that result,” said Head Coach Colin Batch.
“I think after a down game, if you can call it that, you always come out firing. I think there was strong motivation to finish well, qualify and win the Oceania Cup.”
“We pride ourselves on playing the last game really well and I think we saw that today. It was a very even performance by the team, very connected and we got the result.”
Batch said it was great to be able to lock in a place at next year’s Olympics.
“We played a lot of Pro League this year and we played really well in that but it’s not a qualification, so this was our first opportunity to do it and I think it was really important to qualify here rather than go through another qualifier.”
“Now we can start planning in proper terms over the next 10 months.”
“You never take the Oceania Cup or an Olympic qualifier for granted, so we got the job done this weekend, I’m very pleased and now we can look forward to Tokyo.”
Kookaburras 3 (Brand 11’, Govers 14’/58’)
New Zealand 0
Kalka Shades Hockey Fields, Rockhampton