Ten years have passed since the once mighty Hockeyroos last claimed a global title but coach Adam Commens believes Australia can again be considered a force despite losing 5-1 to Holland in the women’s World League final.
Olympic champions the Netherlands flexed their muscle in front of a packed 6,000-strong crowd in hockey-mad Tucuman, Argentina after surprisingly trailing 1-0 at halftime.
The gap between the gold medallists and world No.5 Australia was exposed after the break as the Dutch scored twice in a minute to turn the match on its head then clinically put away their young rivals.
It denied the Hockeyroos the chance to claim their first major world title since the 2003 Champions Trophy.
It was also the first global final they had contested since the 2009 Champions Trophy decider.
The drought may remain for a team that once dominated women’s hockey, winning Olympic gold in 1988, 1996 and 2000. But Commens said his side had shown at the World League finals they were again a contender.
“We’re now among the top teams in the world,” he said of the Hockeyroos who have finished fifth at the last three Olympics.
“Although the score might not have reflected it today, we’re competitive with the best teams in the world and well placed going into the World Cup next year.”
The Hockeyroos’ attacking brand certainly turned heads in the packed Tucuman stands.
Australia were adopted as the locals’ second team after hosts Argentina by cruising into the final with an unbeaten five-game run that featured 15 goals.
“It’s been a fantastic tournament by the girls and it shows how we’ve grown and progressed,” Commens said.
Australia were already popular but they were assured of crowd favouritism in the decider as the Argentina faithful sought revenge for the Dutch upsetting the world No.1 host nation in the semi-finals.
And they had plenty to cheer about when Anna Flanagan scored from a penalty corner in just the sixth minute, maintaining their advantage at halftime.
Commens best summed up what happened next.
“They (Dutch) scored a couple of freak goals which put us on the back foot,” he said.
“We were then chasing the game which left gaps at the back which the Netherlands took advantage of.”
Earlier, England claimed bronze when they upset Argentina 4-2 in a penalty shootout after scores were level at 1-1 at fulltime.