Lausanne, Switzerland: The Australian men’s and women’s team came out on top against New Zealand at the 2023 Oceania Cup, sealing their qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, where they join hosts France, becoming the first team to directly qualify for the Games as the continental champions of Oceania!
The format for the 2023 Oceania Cup, which saw participation from Australia and New Zealand, had the two teams scheduled to face each other three times, with 3 points awarded for a victory, while a draw would result in both teams earning a point apiece. The Australian men’s team won twice and lost once to secure 6 points, while the Australian women’s team won two matches and drew one, to register 7 points. The results see both Australian teams qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams will now move on to the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, where they will have a second opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games.
In the men’s competition, Australia registered a 3-1 win in the first match against New Zealand. The Kookaburras took a 2-goal lead inside the first 5 minutes, but New Zealand pulled a goal back quickly to stay in the game until the very end, when a 56th minute goal sealed the win for Australia. The second match saw New Zealand turn the tables on Australia winning 4-2. New Zealand took a 3-goal lead in the first quarter and never looked back, setting up a winner-takes-all match three. The third match went the way the first one did, with Australia scoring two early goals, followed by New Zealand pulling one back, but a late 4th quarter goal once again sealed the match and Olympic qualification for the Kookaburras.
Jake Harvie of the Australian men’s team, speaking on his team’s qualification to the Olympics, said: “New Zealand made it a very competitive series, but we are very happy to have qualified for the Olympic Games. We have a lot of work to do before the games, but for now, we have to enjoy the moment and the fact that we get to send a team to the Olympics.”
In the women’s competition, Australia registered a convincing 3-0 win in the opening encounter with all three of their goals coming in a devastating 4-minute spell of dominance on either side of the half-time interval. The second match ended in a 1-1 draw as New Zealand took the lead in the third quarter but Australia managed to find an equaliser late in the final quarter to split the points. New Zealand needed a big win in the final game to outqualify Australia, but it was the Hockeyroos who secured a narrow 3-2 win, with their defence holding steady in the face of mounting pressure in the final quarter, taking their points tally up to 7, and securing their Olympic qualification!
Penny Squibb of the Australian women’s hockey team looked back on the matches and her team’s qualification, and said: “We play New Zealand quite often and know they are a tough opponent, so none of the three matches were easy. It is pretty special to qualify for the Olympics, and now we have to change our mindset towards that. But for the moment, we are going to enjoy this and celebrate with each other as a team.”
A total of 12 teams, in each of the men’s and women’s categories, will compete in Hockey at the Olympic Games. Hosts France have gained direct qualification. With Australia now sealing their qualification, there are 10 spots up for grabs. The winners of each of the remaining 4 continental championships in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe will also gain direct qualification to the upcoming Olympic Games. The FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, which will be held in January 2024, provide a second opportunity for teams to qualify for the remaining 6 spots at the Olympic Games.
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