A solitary strike by Billy Bakker consigned the Kookaburras to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Olympic silver medallists, the Netherlands, at the Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi on Saturday.
Despite enjoying the better of the chances, Australia’s men were made to pay for failing to find the net from seven penalty corners, although they were unfortunate to find Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann in good form.
Speaking afterwards, Head Coach Ric Charlesworth said, “We only have ourselves to blame. We didn’t play at the level I think we can today. We didn’t play as well as we would like for many reasons; our basics were poor but we still made enough chances to win the game and didn’t. We had seven or eight corners. That’s where we’re at, at the moment.
“You hope that you would play better and better each day but we had the opportunities today but we couldn’t finish and that’s disappointing.” he added.
Bakker’s goal came shortly after half time as he profited from a pass by Robert van der Horst before turning the Kookaburras defence and firing home on the angle.
The Kookaburras enjoyed the best of a goalless first half winning five penalty corners but were unable to find a way past Jaap Stockmann as Kieran Govers, Eddie Ockenden, Jason Wilson and Glenn Turner all came close.
At the other end Kiel Brown was in good form, twice denying Dutch shots with committed last ditch blocks and goalkeeper George Bazeley was called upon on several occasions.
When it came shortly after half time, the goal only served to stir the Kookaburras into further action with large spells of the second half played inside the Dutch half. With the pressure building, Queenslander Liam de Young saw the whites of Stockmann’s eyes but his cut-back was cut out. And soon after, the Netherlands cleared off their goal line.
Substitute goalkeeper Tyler Lovell kept Australia in it with a good double save and there was sigh of relief when Constantijn Jonker failed to connect diving at the Kookaburras’ back post. Two late penalty corners ramped up the tension further but twice Stockmann denied Kieran Govers.
The result sees the Netherlands move level on points with the Kookaburras although the Kookaburras remain in second place in the pool on goal difference. Earlier in the day, Argentina beat Belgium 3-2 to stretch their lead at the top of Pool B to three points.
Speaking post their win Netherlands Coach Paul Van Ass said “team played with heart today, though technically we are still to achieve that mark. Both sides got their fair chance to score but we were better today in converting. The boys played as a team and that’s what ensured us the win today”
The Kookaburras meet Argentina at 4pm local time on Monday (9:30pm AEDT / 6:30pm AWST). The match will be shown live on YouTube.com/fihockey and on delay on ABC 1. (Full Schedule Here)