Kookaburras book spot in Champions Trophy Final
6 August 2010
Despite having the least experienced team at the tournament, the Kookaburras have defeated Germany to remain undefeated at the 2010 Champions Trophy in Germany and book their spot in Sunday’s final.
Clear on top of the points table, the Kookaburras came from a goal down to record their fourth win of the tournament.
Although the Kookaburras entered the match knowing they had already qualified for Sunday’s final there was still much to play for given that a win to Germany would also see them qualify for the final.
There was also a matter of pride and rivalry given the recent history between the number 1 and number 2 teams in the world after they met in the final of the 2009 Champions Trophy and 2010 World Cup, with the honours going to Australia on both occasions.
Although the Kookaburras entered the match with a far less experienced line up compared to Germany, it was Australia who started the better of the two teams. Their pressure on the ball forced a number of errors by Germany, which resulted in several shots on goal in the early stages of the game, however none were on target.
It appeared as though Germany would have the first real attempt after the ball hit the foot of an Australian defender in the circle.
However the umpire called for advantage which after nothing came of it, resulted in Germany using their video referral to challenge the call. The challenge was dismissed, much to the dismay of Germany who had just wasted their referral for the remainder of the match.
Shortly after Australia had earned their first penalty attempt, however with penalty corner specialist Luke Doerner on the sidelines due to an ankle injury suffered earlier in the match it was Chris Ciriello who took the corner, but the shot went wide.
The Kookaburras were made to pay the price for their miss, with Germany taking the ball down the other end to earn a penalty corner of their own, making no mistake to take a 1-0 lead.
The goal to Germany gave them the momentum and then a goal against play to the Kookaburras brought them back into the game only minutes before half time when after an initial shot on goal was saved by the German goalkeeper, the ball fell to Des Abbott who made no mistake from short range, making it 1-1.
The Kookaburras had the first opportunity after half time with an early penalty corner, however they were unable to get the shot off which was taken down the other end in a counter attack immediately by Germany, which was denied thanks to the efforts of Matthew Swann in defence.
Australia had another penalty corner only minutes later however without Luke Doerner they continued to struggle from their corners, this time taken by Des Abbott which was saved by the German goalkeeper.
Abbott then demonstrated his impressive skill only minutes later when he found himself on the end of a shot by Jason Wilson, tipping the goal in past the German goalkeeper to give the Kookaburras the lead at the 47 minute mark.
Now back in control the Kookaburras continued to push with their superior fitness levels, stepping up the pressure again to cause a turn over which fell into the hands of perhaps the most dangerous player on the field in Jamie Dwyer, with Dwyer making no mistake on the run to give the Kookaburras a 3-1 lead.
When midfielder Simon Orchard received a yellow card with less than 10 minutes remaining the Kookaburras were reduced to 10 players and Germany had some slim chance of getting back into the game. They were awarded a number of penalty corners in the dying minutes however Australian goalkeeper Nathan Burgers was on his game, making a number of impressive saves to help the Kookaburras maintain their lead.
With the Kookaburras recording their fourth win from four matches, they will take a great deal of confidence into their final round match against Spain on Saturday before the final on Sunday, obviously a tremendous effort to have made the final with such a young and inexperienced line up.
If the Kookaburras do win the final, it will be their third straight Champions Trophy title and see the Kookaburras as winners in every major tournament since Ric Charlesworth became coach in January 2009.
In an exciting finish to the tournament, the Kookaburras will not know their opponent for the final until the end of Saturdays round matches, with all other five teams still capable of finishing in second place.