In an entertaining dress rehearsal for their opening match of next week’s Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final competition in Rotterdam, the Kookaburras and Belgium drew 2-2 in Antwerp on Sunday. Mark Knowles gave the Australians the lead from the penalty spot in the ninth minute but the Kookaburras found themselves pegged back shortly after half time through Felix Denayer’s penalty corner. Eddie Ockenden struck his 49th Kookaburras goal to restore the lead but Belgium snatched a share of the spoils with just three minutes remaining, Florent van Aubel applying the finish.
After the match, Kookaburras assistant coach Graham Reid echoed Ric Charlesworth’s comments from earlier in the week when he acknowledged the threat posed by the Belgians, who finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. “They’re a very good team,” admitted Reid. “They are probably the big movers in world hockey at the moment and they’ve created havoc recently with wins against some of the big teams, so it was useful to see where we are in relation to them.”
Reid added, “We had some good play and some good ball movement but we didn’t make enough of our opportunities. We didn’t create enough of the quality opportunities and most of those we did create we didn’t put away. We played their goalkeeper into great form, unfortunately.”
It was the Kookaburras’ final World League warm-up match following two victories over the Netherlands. Five times World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer returned to the line-up, bringing him to within four matches of his 300th international appearance.
Things began positively for the Australian men who took the lead in the ninth minute as Mark Knowles (QLD) kept his cool to convert a penalty stroke following a check on Matt Gohdes as he broke through on goal.
Glenn Simpson and Matthew Swann both tested the Belgian goalkeeper in the first half but it was Belgium that struck next, Felix Denayer striking the equaliser five minutes into the second period.
Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden restored the Australian lead with 13 minutes remaining when he deflected Rob Hammond’s shot from the top of the circle but Florent van Aubel earned Belgium the draw three minutes from full time.
The Kookaburras and Belgium will meet again at 7:00pm AEST on Friday in their opening tie at the World League. The Kookaburras will be looking for a strong start in a pool that also features Spain and France. With a win-or-bust quarter final at stake following the conclusion of the pool phase, getting off to a competitive start will be important.
All of Australia’s matches at the FIH Hockey World League in Rotterdam will be streamed live on YouTube by the International Hockey Federation.
AUSTRALIA (MEN) WORLD LEAGUE WARM-UP TOUR
Felix Denayer 40 (PC)
Florent van Aubel 67 (F)
Mark Knowles 9 (PS)
Eddie Ockenden 57 (F)
Kookaburras Squad v Netherlands, 9 June
(Listed alphabetically by surname)
Name (Hometown, State) Caps/Goals (updated)
Joel Carroll (Darwin, NT) 84/2
Andrew Charter (GK) (Canberra, ACT) 43/0
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 113/58
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 71/3
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 296/186
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 72/31
Rob Hammond (Townsville, QLD) 227/27
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA) 42/14
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 181/49
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 122/39
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 91/3
Kiel Brown (Perth, WA) 132/3
Tristan Clemons (GK) (Bunbury, WA) 5/0
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 74/20
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 212/17
Glenn Simpson (Melbourne, VIC) 87/14
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 34/10
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 14/2
Did Not Play
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 163/14
Russell Ford (Eltham, VIC) 125/50
Source: Hockey Australia
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