Australia’s Kookaburras have defended the Hockey World League title that they won in Raipur two years ago by claiming a 2-1 triumph over reigning Olympic champions Argentina, bringing the curtain down on ten pulsating days of world class hockey at the Kalinga Stadium.
As has been the norm here in Bhubaneswar, a huge crowd was on hand to witness the action and were treated to a contest that really could have gone either way.
The match came to life in the second quarter when Jeremy Hayward slammed a low penalty corner effort into the net to give reigning world champions Australia the lead, but it was an advantage that lasted that lasted less than a minute. Agustin Bugallo got the goal, finding space for himself before guiding a perfectly angled deflection into the Australia net.
Both sides came close to edging ahead in the third quarter, although Australia certainly had the best of those opportunities. Blake Govers missed a close range deflection before Eddie Ockenden’s instinctive strike rattled the crossbar.
The winning goal arrived three minutes before the end of the contest when Australia’s Blake Govers showed quick hands to find an Argentinean foot in the circle. The 21-year-old made no mistake with his drag-flick, finding the bottom corner of Juan Vivaldii’s goal to put Australia on the verge of victory.
Argentina threw everything at their opponents in the dying stages, winning a trio of penalty corners. However, the Australian defence held firm to win the Hockey World League title for the second successive time.
Speaking after the match Australia captain Mark Knowles said: “It feels awesome. We wanted to come here and play the best teams in the world, and you cannot ask for a better final with the number 1 and number 2 ranked teams facing each other. Our team is moving in the right direction, and we are looking forward to coming back here for the World Cup next year.”