Dutch bid to halt record Australian hockey title
MELBOURNE (AFP) –
An in-form Netherlands stand in the way of Australia winning a record fifth straight Champions Trophy after convincing semi-final victories in Melbourne.
The Netherlands and Australians progressed to Sunday’s final with relative ease, with the Dutch downing Pakistan 5-2 and Australia proving too good for India 3-0.
If Australia’s Kookaburras can win the final they will become the first team to win the Trophy title for five straight years, however midfielder Kieran Govers said they would remain focused just on Sunday’s match.
“It’s the fifth straight time we have made the final but we aren’t looking to claim five titles, we are looking to play a good game tomorrow,” Govers said.
Australia had plenty of early chances via several penalty corner attempts, with their first goal coming off a rebound that was swooped on by five-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer.
The Kookaburras continued to be relentless, with the ball constantly being forced back into India’s circle, putting their defence to work.
Despite India’s best efforts the pressure eventually broke them, with Dwyer receiving a penalty stroke for a heavy tackle, making no mistake with the conversion for his second goal.
The trend continued after half-time, with Jacob Whetton involved in Australia’s third goal after working the ball into the circle, with Govers finishing off to put the result beyond doubt.
India’s Yuvraj Walmiki said Australia were too good on the day.
“We were well prepared but as everyone knows Australia is a very tough team. We played very good in patches but some silly mistakes caused some problems,” Walmiki said.
“We hope to clinch the bronze tomorrow because the last time we won it was in 1982 so we want to repeat the history of 30 years so hopefully we play well.”
Netherlands gave themselves a chance to win their first Champions Trophy since 2006 after outclassing Pakistan.
Striker Billy Bakker said the Dutch were pleased with their progress throughout the tournament.
“We have a good team and before we came to Melbourne we had a goal to play in the final, minimum, and hopefully to take the gold back to the Netherlands,” Bakker said.
Pakistan’s Shakeel Abbasi said the players were disappointed, however he was confident his team could respond.
“We are still in the medal race so we will try our best. Today Holland played well but in the start we had a few chances,” Abbasi said.
The Dutch began in terrific form, with Pakistan looking shellshocked.
It wasn’t long until the Dutch confirmed their dominance with Bakker scoring the first of his two goals only two minutes into the match.
Netherlands continued to attack with Severiano van Ass making it 2-0 at the 20 minute mark.
Pakistan were given a gift minutes later when an own goal was scored off the stick of Netherlands defender Bob de Voogd.
However a second Bakker goal gave them the momentum before half time with a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Dutch powered on in the second half with two more goals before Abbasi scored a late consolation goal.
India and Pakistan will play off for the bronze medal on Sunday. Pakistan have not win a Champions Trophy medal since 2004, while India have only ever won one medal, bronze, back in 1982.
In Saturday’s qualification matches, Belgium dominated England 4-0 for their first ever Champions Trophy win, while Germany held off a determined New Zealand to win 6-4.
Germany’s Moritz Fuerste was also named the FIH World Player of the Year for the first time.