Australia’s Quest For Glory Over At Indoor Hockey World Cup

Posted on 12th Feb 2018 @ 9:58 AM

Australia's men's and women's teams both were beaten on day four of the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin on Saturday ending their respective quests for glory.

Both sides reached the knockout stage, with the men suffering a tight 2-1 loss to Austria in the semi-finals on Sunday morning (AEDT), meaning they'll meet Iran in the third place match on Sunday (10pm AEDT).

The women were beaten 5-2 by European Championship bronze medalists Belarus in the quarter-finals on Saturday night (AEDT), ending their run which included an outstanding 2-2 draw with Germany.


Australia produced a valiant display but could not join their male counterparts in the competition semi-finals, going down to a 5-2 defeat against in-form Belarus.

There was very little to choose between the two sides in the first half, with Pool B runners-up Belarus twice leading through goals from captain Ryta Batura and Yulia Kikheichyk only for Australia, who finished third in Pool A, to level thanks to strikes from Shelley Watson and Karri Somerville.

The Belarusians took their game to another level after half time, with Nastassia Syrayezhka and Maryna Nikitsina moving the score to 4-2 before Australia went for broke by replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player.

It was a tactic that almost paid off when Australia rattled the frame of the goal with five minutes remaining, but their hopes were finally ended when a rapid Belarus counter-attack was passed into an open goal by Yulia Kurhanskaya to complete the scoring. 

“I think we played a controlled match,” Belarus Head Coach Herman Kruis said after the game.

“We saw Australia’s match against Germany yesterday and identified some possible weaknesses. We knew we needed to produce some quick transfers to exploit those weaknesses and the girls did it very well.”


Two very different styles of play were evident in the second semi-final as Australia brought their route one game and Austria focused on a strong defence from which to build.

For the first 19 minutes of the game, the two styles cancelled each other out. Australia attacked and Austria defended and, although it was intriguing, there was no breakthrough on either side.

It took until the 20th minute for the deadlock to end. Austria's talismanic captain Michael Korper opened the scoring with a trademark penalty corner on the stroke of half-time. His ferocious penalty corner flew past Banjamin Rennie to send his team into the break on a high note.

In the second half, Australia found their touch as Jack Hayes burst through the centre of the field and found James Knee who slammed the ball home for an equaliser.

The danger-man Korper struck again to put his side 2-1 up. The slipped penalty corner strike, which keeps proving so successful for Austria, evaded Rennie's outstretched leg to nestle in the bottom corner of the goal.

Rennie was on high alert as the clock ticked down and he pulled off a tremendous reaction save when Banjamin Stanzl whipped in a searching shot. At the other end, Jake Sherren was unlucky as his glancing shot flew just wide of Mateusz Szymczyk's goal. A few seconds later Australia won a penalty corner but the shot went wide.

Australia spent the last two minutes seeking a break through the disciplined Austrian defence. The team in gold and green played with an increasing sense of urgency but their forays forward were tempered by the knowledge they could not afford to concede. The tension on the pitch was palpable from both sides.

Despite the best efforts of Australia, the Austrian defence held firm and they booked themselves into a final against Germany that will be a re-run of the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Indoor Championships just one month ago.

On that occasion Austria won on shoot-out and went on to become European Indoor Champions. 2018 would be a very special year for Korper and his team if they repeated that feat at World Cup level.

Hockey Australia media release