Youth Olympic qualification assured11 March 2014
HOCKEY: Australia’s under 18 boys will compete at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, after guaranteeing a top two finish at the qualifying event in Vanuatu on Monday.
A resounding 21-0 victory over Fiji secured Australia’s place in Tuesday’s final and with it a place in the Australian Olympic Committee’s delegation to China in August.
Following victory over Vanuatu and a draw against New Zealand the Australian team required at least a draw against underdogs Fiji on Monday afternoon to ensure qualification.
Australian Head Coach David Guest said after the match, “It’s good to know we’ve qualified [for the Youth Olympic Games] and it allows us to really focus on tomorrow. It’s a final and it’s good experience for us to have these gold medal games. We’re looking forward to the final; the guys are really focused and are looking after themselves off the field and doing some good analysis of the opposition.”
Given the margin of victory, Guest admitted he was pleased that his charges were able to maintain their focus on the task in hand. “We’ve been consistent and it’s a good thing that we didn’t slide backwards after winning against Vanuatu by the same margin on Saturday. Fiji sank back today and tried to defend deeply, which enabled us to open them up and take some pot shots. We showed good work on our structures and put a real focus on possessing the ball. Defensively we were also good and didn’t allow them to have any clear cut chances.”
Australia will compete against New Zealand in the final at 1pm local time (1pm AEDT / 10am AWST) on Tuesday.
1. Australia (7 points)
2. New Zealand (7 points)
3. Vanuatu (3 points)
4. Fiji (0 points)
A fast paced match at the Youth Olympic Games Qualifying tournament final in Port Vila on Tuesday afternoon saw the Australian under 18 boys team defeated 5-3 by New Zealand.
Despite the defeat, Australia’s qualification for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, was already secure following victory over Fiji on Monday.
In stormy weather and rain, Australia leapt out of the blocks with a strong 2-0 lead in the first period before New Zealand pegged them back to 2-1 and then to 3-3 in the second. Danny Fletcher from Brisbane and Isaac Farmillo from Tamworth both found the net for Australia inside the opening five minutes before Farmillo doubled his tally in the second period. However, New Zealand fired up and took the lead in the third period scoring two goals with minutes to spare.
Australia’s head coach, David Guest, summed up the team’s experiences while taking part in the Youth Olympic Qualifying tournament over the past five days: “The team on a whole learnt a lot throughout the tournament. We tried a number of different formations and structures, which was a good learning tool leading into Nanjing. Each game presents new challenges, we were able to analyse what things worked and what didn’t.
“We all enjoyed the five a side concept. It’s very tactical, basically man on man in a small space, testing the players both physically and mentally."
Discussing his overall feelings, Guest said, “Today unfortunately, didn’t go to plan. As far as this game went we started well, scoring twice in the first period and controlling the play. After receiving a yellow card at the end of first period, it stemmed the boys flow. The last period fell away from us, we lost shape and structure and it just looked like the boys were tired."
The final squad nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing will be chosen following the U18 Boys Australian National Championships in Canberra, which run from 4-12 April.
Australia Under 18 Squad v New Zealand
James Benetti (Perth, WA)
Simon Benetti (Perth, WA)
Isaac Farmillo (Tamworth, NSW)
Danny Fletcher (Brisbane, QLD)
Corey Weyer (Gold Coast, QLD)
Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD)
Kurt Lovett (Parkes, NSW)
Andrew Scanlon (Werribee, VIC)
Hayden Walker (Perth, WA)
About the Youth Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament & Hockey5s
The Youth Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament runs from 8-11 March and is being played as a Hockey5s competition. Hockey5s is the officially sanctioned complementary version of the sport featuring fewer players and simpler rules than hockey’s traditional 11-a-side version. For more information click here to visit the Hockey Australia website.