Hockey: Australia men’s and women’s teams seal Paris Olympic Games qualification berths

The Australian men and women became the first hockey teams in their respective sections to claim a direct qualification berth for next year’s Paris Olympic Games, joining hosts France in the mega event.

The Australian men and women became the first hockey teams in their respective sections to claim a direct qualification berth for next year’s Paris Olympic Games, joining hosts France in the mega event.

The Australia men’s and women’s teams came out on top against neighbours New Zealand at the 2023 Oceania Cup, thus becoming the first team to directly qualify for the Games as the continental champions of Oceania.

The format for the 2023 Oceania Cup, which saw participation from Australia and New Zealand, had the two teams scheduled to face each other three times.

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The Australian men’s team won twice and lost once to secure 6 points, while the Australian women’s team won two matches and drew one, to register seven points. The results see both Australian teams qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

The New Zealand men’s and women’s teams will now move on to the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, where they will have a second opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games.

In the men’s competition, Australia registered a 3-1 win in the first match against New Zealand. The Kookaburras took a 2-goal lead inside the first five minutes, but New Zealand pulled a goal back quickly to stay in the game until the very end when a 56th-minute goal sealed the win for Australia.

The second match saw New Zealand turn the tables on Australia winning 4-2. New Zealand took a 3-goal lead in the first quarter and never looked back, setting up a winner-takes-all match three. The third match went the way the first one did, with Australia scoring two early goals, followed by New Zealand pulling one back, but a late goal in the fourth quarter once again sealed the match and Olympic qualification for the Kookaburras.

Jake Harvie of the Australian men’s team, speaking on his team’s qualification to the Olympics, said: “New Zealand made it a very competitive series, but we are very happy to have qualified for the Olympic Games. We have a lot of work to do before the games, but for now, we have to enjoy the moment and the fact that we get to send a team to the Olympics.”

Four more Continental Champions each will join them in the 16-team competitions in men’s and women’s sections while the rest of the teams will be picked through different qualification events for each section. The Asian Games hockey competition winner will be the next to seal a direct berth for the 2024 Olympic Games.

(IANS)

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