Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hat-trick Man Ciriello shapes up Kookaburras' World Cup glory

The Australian men’s hockey team built an aura of invincibility in the 13th World Cup going into the summit clash against hosts the Netherlands. The pace of Australia has been their forte – something which has settled all their opposition in the marquee event – and on Sunday, the Dutch experienced as they had little answers to the questions asked by their rivals.

The Australians made the contest an even one till the first half holding a slender 2-1 lead at the break after trailing by a 14th minute goal and literally turned into a rout, slamming four second half goals to not only deflate the Netherlands, but also silence their boisterous home crowd support.

The script did not look rosy at the beginning as Jeroen Hertzeburger drew first blood for the Dutch. Stung by the goal, the Kookaburras’ riposte was firm with Chris Ciriello converting their first penalty corner in the 20th minute.

Soaring in confidence after the equalizer goal, the Ric Charlesworth-coached side pulled head four minutes through Kieren Govers and that’s how the scoreline remained at half-time.

Glenn Turner made it 3-1 in the 38th minute before Chris Ciriello whipped home a short corner in the 48th minute to press home the advantage. The ‘Big Dog’ (Ciriello’s nickname) completed a nifty hat-trick in the 53rd minute as the contest fast turned into a one-way traffic.

Jamie Dwyer, playing his fourth consecutive World Cup final, netted the sixth goal to hasten the celebrations in the Australian camp – it was an extra special day for Jamie as he equaled Jay Stacy’s record of 321 international appearances.

The world cup crown was a fitting farewell for coach Charlesworth, who will step down after the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Charlesworth also became the first person to win the World Cup as a player and as a coach twice.

Australia slammed 31 goals in the tournament – making it only the second  instance in the World Cup after Pakistan (at the 1982 World Cup) to win every match by a margin of at least two goals or more.

Australia became the third country after Pakistan (1978 and 1982 World Cup and Germany (2002 and 2006 World Cup) to win back-to-back World Cups. The Kookaburras also became the third team after Pakistan (4 times) and Netherlands 93 times) to win the World Cup for the third time.

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