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Govers flicks on Kookas

Date

Guy Hand

Kieran Govers of Australia, second left, celebrates his winning goal against Pakistan.

Kieran Govers of Australia, second left, celebrates his winning goal against Pakistan. Photo: Getty Images

The Kookaburras will play England in the Champions Trophy quarter-finals after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Pakistan in their final group game on Tuesday night.

Aiming for a fifth successive title, Australia's men's hockey team did it the hard way - winning the match at Melbourne's State Hockey Centre with a second-half penalty corner goal from Kieran Govers.

The result left the Kookaburras second in pool B - the Netherlands finishing top on goal difference after a thrilling 5-4 win over Belgium earlier in the day.

Australia's Kieran Govers, centre, and Pakistan's Fareed Ahmed get into a shoving match during the Kookaburras' 1-0 win on Tuesday.

Australia's Kieran Govers, centre, and Pakistan's Fareed Ahmed get into a shoving match during the Kookaburras' 1-0 win on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

Govers said the team's struggles with penalty corners during the tournament had spurred him to work even harder on converting his drag flicks - and was thankful he finally got his chance.

''It was my personal goal,'' he said. ''I worked on it yesterday at training because I was a bit disappointed not scoring against the Dutch [in the 0-0 draw on Sunday].

''The main thing is get them on goal and make them make a save. It's just one of those things. Luck can be with you on the day.

''But it was good to get one under the belt and hopefully more will come in the coming days.''

The Australians played without key midfielder Simon Orchard, who had a quadriceps injury.

Assistant coach Graham Reid said London Olympian Orchard was doubtful for Thursday night's quarter-final.

He was more hopeful Orchard would be fit for either of the medal matches on Sunday, should the Kookaburras progress.

Australia needed a two-goal margin to top the group, and Pakistan also had the chance to win the pool if they beat the Kookaburras.

But it became apparent early there would be no repeat of Australia's 7-0 smashing of the Pakistanis at the London Olympics - Pakistan showing excellent defensive discipline in the first half.

It also had the better chances, hitting the post early in the second half before a costly brain snap by Shafqat Rasool changed the course of the match.

His terrible tackle, made when he did not need to challenge, resulted in a yellow card, and Australia's first penalty corner of the match.

A weakness so far in the tournament for the Australians, Govers took full advantage, scoring the Kookaburras' first goal in nearly two hours of hockey.

In Thursday's other quarter-finals, India will play Belgium, Germany plays Pakistan, and the Dutch play New Zealand.

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