August 6, 2009
Canada came close in the first of two test matches against the world’s second ranked team, the Kookaburras, losing 2-1. The winning goal was scored on a penalty corner opportunity with only five minutes remaining.
The first half was evenly played, with Canada improving their defensive play and managing Australia’s pressure very well. And on the attack, the team was a more organized unit, starting from the back end through to the forwards. Australia struck early on a deflection in the fourth minute, but Canada stayed with the game plan and were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 25th minute. Scott Tupper scored the tying goal on that opportunity and the teams were all square heading into the break.
Australia brought more pressure in the second half but it was sustained well by a cohesive unit that repeatedly turned away the assaults. Either by airing it out or by utilizing a quick counter attack, Canada was able to relieve pressure consistently, and they showed that they are learning quickly in Canberra. At the 55th minute, Dave Jameson barely missed a cross that would have put Canada in the lead . Ten minutes later, Australia scored the winner on a penalty corner. Refusing to go away, Canada had a glorious opportunity only two minutes later, as Mark Pearson eliminated two defenders and had only the goalie to beat. Unfortunately, the keeper just managed to make a high save and deflect the ball back into Pearson’s chest with no penalty called.
Australia’s two contests against Canada are their final tune-up before a World Cup qualification tournament against New Zealand and Samoa, beginning August 24th in New Zealand, so a strong game under such circumstances was a positive step for the Canadians.
Head Coach Alan Brahmst was pleased with the effort, “I’m happy with the progress compared to the last three matches that we played. We worked better, our communication was better, and we did better job at tackling and marking.”
Considering that they lost 4-0 to the same Kookaburras team only one week ago, Team Canada is evidently moving in the right direction. On Friday they will play the final part of the two match series at 3pm local time.
Report by Omar Rawji