WOG: New Zealand: No winning sendoff for retiring keeper |
August 27, 2004
Otago Daily Times, New Zealand
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By Mark Geenty
Athens: The Black Sticks could not give their goalkeeping rock Helen Clarke a winning sendoff from international hockey as Australia beat them 3-0 in the Olympic women's play-off for fifth here yesterday.
After the massive high of Wednesday's 3-2 thriller over Korea which sealed them a place in the elite Champions Trophy tournament in November, it was a flatter effort in the midday heat yesterday against one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Having come into the tournament ranked ninth in the world, the New Zealanders mirrored their sixth placed finish four years ago in Sydney.
For Australia, without injured key player Sarah Taylor, it was a big comedown from their gold in Sydney.
Australia scored in the 14th, 42nd and 67th minutes while New Zealand rued their missed chances after dominating the first 15min. All three goals gave Clarke no chance after some invaluable diving saves early on. She will retire with 166 caps to her name, spread over 13 years.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand men will haul up their weary bodies for one final, meaningless Olympic hockey match today safe in the knowledge their game has reached its highest point in over two decades.
They meet Pakistan in the play-off for fifth (8pm NZT) already assured of their best Olympic finish since the 1976 Montreal gold, and with a spot in the elite Champions Trophy competition already booked after their 4-3 thriller over Korea on Wednesday.
From the terrible low of the 1-4 opening round hiding from Australia and their medal-ending 3-4 loss to the Netherlands, both of whom square off for gold today, Wednesday's was their fourth straight win.
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