Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Formidable Australia directly qualified for the quarter-finals of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 after registering a resounding 9-2 victory against South Africa in their final Pool A game at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela on Friday.

The Australians remained undefeated in the group stage. Following an emphatic 8-0 victory against France in their opener and a scratchy 3-3 draw against Argentina, they were back to their brutal best against the Proteas.

Blake Govers struck four goals including a hat-trick to lead Australia’s dominance. He opened the scoring inside three minutes for his 123rd goal in 133 games wearing green and gold.

However, South Africa equalised four minutes later with Nqobile Ntuli blasting home past goalkeeper Andrew Charter. Australia increased their lead to 3-1 till the first quarter thanks to a runaway Tom Craig’s (9th minute) goal and a penalty corner conversion by Govers (14th minute).

Govers completed his hat-trick in the 18th minute with a penalty stroke. He scored another field goal a minute later. Jake Harvie slotted home the Kookaburra’s sixth in the 21st minute. Beale Daniel converted a penalty corner in the 27th minute and made it 7-1 at halftime.

Jeremy Hayward’s penalty corner extended the advantage within less than 90 seconds into the second half.

Tim Brand struck in the 46th minute to make it 9-1 in Australia’s favour. However, South Africa’s Tevin Kok reduced the margin to 9-2 with just three minutes to go for the hooter.