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Kookaburras kick start Olympic qualification campaign

22 June 2015

HOCKEY: A devastating spell that featured six goals in 17 minutes saw the Kookaburras hit the ground running in their quest for Olympic qualification at the Hockey World League in Antwerp on Sunday.

The tone was set for the 10-0 victory over 18th-ranked France when the World Champions opened the scoring in just the third minute through Kieran Govers.

A seven minute hiatus followed before the Australian men struck gold with five goals in ten minutes, including a second for Govers and an audacious lob from Matt Gohdes that looped over the goalkeeper and dropped under the crossbar.

And in a second half that saw Australia add a further four goals, it ultimately proved to be Govers double trouble with Kieran and younger brother Blake each bagging a brace.

The result puts the Kookaburras on top of Pool A after the first full round of matches, ahead of India and Pakistan on goal difference in the race for quarter final places. 

Head Coach Graham Reid was pleased with how his side began the tournament.

He said, “Given how good that French team can be I couldn’t be happier as far as the result’s concerned. We tried again to cement some of the things we’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks and it’s pleasing to see that some of those are starting to show in the way that we’re playing.

“One of our KPIs is that we should be able to look at the first minute of the game and the 60th minute and they should be the same. I think if we look at the video today it would have shown that. That’s what we’re chasing and that’s what we need to do, continuously, to be a threat.”

Kieran Govers opened the scoring in just the third minute with a simple deflection on Chris Ciriello’s low cross-shot before Ciriello himself turned from provider to scorer for Australia’s second, bagging a rare open play goal with a deflection of his own.

With that the floodgates opened. Jamie Dwyer showed why he is still rated amongst the best in the modern game with a reverse stick strike on the run from the most acute of angles. And a minute later Dwyer’s cousin, Matt Gohdes, had the crowd marveling at the audacity of his slapped lob shot that looped over the onrushing goalkeeper and under the crossbar.

Simon Orchard became the Kookaburras’ fifth goal scorer with a simple slap shot from the middle of the circle before Kieran Govers bagged his second, Australia’s sixth, with a penalty corner flick into the right side of the net.

Moments later, the elder Govers brother was brought down by French goalkeeper Martin Zylbermann while through on goal, earning a penalty stroke. Ciriello stepped up to the spot but was denied by the powerful right leg of the French stopper.

Jake Whetton made it 7-0 shortly after half time with a typical back post deflection after good work down the left hand side by Simon Orchard. There then followed a series of penalty corners, all well kept out by substitute goalkeeper Corentin Saunier, before Blake Govers’ shot on the turn found the bottom corner. It was the younger Govers brother’s fifth goal in six appearances since coming into the Kookaburras team in early May and his first at a major international tournament.

Eddie Ockenden made it nine from the centre of the French circle before Blake Govers showed his penalty corner prowess to take it to double figures with a lightning quick flick that kept low and found the net just above the backboard.

Two-time Olympian and double World Cup winner Fergus Kavanagh celebrated his 200th appearance for the Kookaburras, who wore black armbands as a mark of remembrance for South Australian hockey junior Jackson Tudhope, who was tragically killed in a car accident returning from the State Championships earlier in the month.

Next up, the Kookaburras are likely to face a stern test from tenth-ranked Pakistan on Wednesday (04:00am AEST, Thursday), who narrowly overcame Poland 2-1 in their opening match on Saturday.

Match Schedule - Kookaburras (dates and times all AEST)           

25 June - Kookaburras v Pakistan - 04:00hrs AEST
27 June - Kookaburras v Poland - 04:00hrs AEST
29 June - Kookaburras v India - 00:00hrs AEST
1 July - TBC - Quarter Final
3 July - TBC - Semi Final / Classification
5 July - TBC - Medal Matches / Classification        

Hockey Australia

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