Kookas defeat Dutch, Hockeyroos fourth
8 February 2007
The Hockeyroos and Kookaburras have been in full flight recently with the Australian women contesting the Champions Trophy in Argentina and the men a four-test series against the Netherlands here in Australia.
The Kookaburras won the close series 2-0 over the Dutch, after two drawn games in Brisbane followed the two wins in Canberra.
The celebrations took a twist when Troy Elder surprised his team-mates and national coach Barry Dancer by announcing his retirement. The dual Olympic medallist (bronze Sydney 2000 and gold Athens 2004) decided to go out on top and in front of his family and friends.
"I really wanted to finish on a high," said Elder. "After the disappointment of the World Cup in Germany, winning this series and going out while still on top seemed the perfect way to retire, in front of my family and the people I love, the people I couldn't have done it without."
"There's a lot of talent coming through so now it's time to give them an opportunity leading into the Beijing Olympics."
The 30-year-old midfielder ends his international career on 169 caps and 104 goals and will now concentrate his efforts on winning back-to-back AHL championships with the Queensland Blades.
Dancer who’s aim was to expose a number of emerging players to top competition was happy to with the final result and the series overall.
"We're happy to come away with that result," said Dancer after the 3-3 draw in Brisbane.
"The Dutch played their best game of the series and in the end we just hung on. It was a very good series for us. We achieved as much as we wanted to with the two wins and exposing a number of emerging players to this level."
Hockeyroos fourth in Champions Trophy
Last month a young and inexperienced Hockeyroos were forced to settle for fourth at the Champions Trophy tournament in Argentina after a tired outfit lost the bronze medal match 2-0 to Germany.
While Australia finished one place higher than at last year's tournament, it was likely to drop one place in the world rankings to third behind Argentina, which lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in the gold medal game.
A competition which started so well with wins against Japan and Germany finished in disappointment for a new look team missing ten senior players and 1,400 caps from last year's squad because of injuries and retirements.
The Hockeyroos went goalless for a third straight game, all of them defeats. The Australians were underdone coming into the tournament at the start of their season, while some of the other nations were more match hardened.
Australian coach Frank Murray feared his team wouldn't quite have the legs left after a draining match against Argentina and it showed signs of tiredness against the Germans.
The Hockeyroos competed well throughout the game, but didn't execute well enough, making too many mistakes.
Australia finished the tournament with a record of two wins, one draw and three losses.
The Hockeyroos are likely to play some more Tests home and away before their Oceania region Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand in September.
By then, Murray should regain the services of several established stars who missed the Champions Trophy including Angie Skirving, Nikki Hudson, Emily Halliday and Rachel Imison.
In the gold medal game, a third minute penalty corner goal from Maartje Paumen proved sufficient for the Dutch to secure the Champions Trophy for the fifth time, one behind Australia's record.