Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji seal FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024 qualification

The Hockey5s Oceania Cup 2023 came to an end today in Gold Coast as Australia,

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 New Zealand, and Fiji secured the gold, silver, and bronze medals respectively, in both men’s and women’s competitions! With the top-3 classification, all three teams, across both genders, have now qualified for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup Oman 2024!
In the women’s competition, Australia were the dominant team in the round-robin stage, winning all 6 of their matches, with New Zealand following closely behind with 5 wins and 1 loss. Fiji and Papua New Guinea joined the two Oceanic powerhouses in qualifying for the semi-finals with Fiji taking 12 points from their 6 games, while Papua New Guinea took 7 points to finish fourth.
New Zealand took on Fiji in the first semi-final, and three goals in each half, helped the Black Sticks ease past Fiji and confirm a spot in the final and seal qualification for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup, where they will also be joined by Australia, who breezed past Papua New Guinea in the second semi-final with a 12-1 win, on the back of hat-tricks by Jamie Zimmerman and Dacia Koelmeyer.
The bronze medal match was played between Fiji and Papua New Guinea, and Fiji came out 6-2 victors in a close match, where they rode the hot hand of Lora Bukalidi who bagged a hat-trick that sends Fiji to the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024.
The finals were a close affair with Australia scoring the first two goals of the game before New Zealand cut their deficit in half at the stroke of half-time. New Zealand’s search for the equalizer didn’t bear fruit and Australia scored a third with a little over a minute to go in the game, to win the gold medal.
“To go into the World Cup as the number one team from Oceania gives us the best chance to do well,” said Australian Women’s Hockey5s Coach Keegan Popowski.
“We tried to work on different things with each game and I think it all came together in the Final. The girls bought into everything we were trying to do, they took a selfless approach and backed each other to take risks on the pitch and cover each other,” she added.
In the men’s competition, Australia finished at the top of the table, winning all 6 games in the round-robin phase. New Zealand and Fiji finished in second and third positions with 13 and 10 points respectively. Interestingly, New Zealand and Fiji played out an entertaining 5-5 draw in their head-to-head match-up in the round-robin stage and would be matched up in the semifinals as well. The Solomon Islands finished fourth and would face Australia in the second semifinals.
Once again it was New Zealand taking on Fiji in the first semi-final, with New Zealand prevailing in a 6-2 win. Taimana Iversen scored a brace to lead the Black Sticks into the finals and seal qualification for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024. New Zealand will be joined in the World Cup by Australia who made light work of their semi-final encounter against Solomon Islands, coming away with a 10-0 victory. Mitchell Pace scored a first-half hat-trick to put the game beyond doubt and Joshua Commins added two late goals in the second half to seal a second hat-trick for the Kookaburras who made the finals as favourites. Fiji dominated the bronze medal match against Solomon Islands, winning 6-1, and joined their female counterparts in qualifying for the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024.
The finals produced a thriller with New Zealand shocking the home favourites by taking a 3-goal lead inside the first 8 minutes of the game. But Australia clawed their way back and snatched the lead, scoring 4 unanswered goals over the next 5 minutes! A minute later, New Zealand scored again to draw level. Australian captain Liam Kerr-Nelson stepped up and added two goals in the final 3 minutes of the game to lead the hosts to an incredible 6-4 win over their continental rivals and secured the gold medal!
Australian Hockey5s Men’s Coach Alistair Park said it was a fantastic learning experience for his group.
“The big focus going into it was that we knew we hadn’t been able to spend much time together, so we wanted to maximise the opportunity to learn. Having that strong respect for each other plays a key role in the development of groups,” said Park.
The inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024 will be played in Muscat, Oman from 24-31 January 2024, with 16 teams competing in both men’s and women’s tournaments.
In the women’s competition Namibia, South Africa and Zambia from Africa have qualified for the World Cup, alongside hosts Oman. USA, Uruguay and Paraguay have qualified from Pan America while Netherlands, Poland, and Ukraine have qualified from Europe. Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji have now qualified from Oceania. The final three teams for the World Cup will qualify from Asia, later this year.
In the men’s competition Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland from Europe, and Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria from Africa have qualified for the World Cup, alongside hosts Oman. USA, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica are the three qualifiers from Pan America. Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have now qualified from Oceania. The final three teams for the World Cup will qualify from Asia, later this year.
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