Australia defeat New Zealand in a two-match series and earn a place at the 2017 Asian Women’s Handball Championship.
The Australia women’s team defeated New Zealand in a two-day qualification series played on October 5 and 6 in Sydney, New South Wales, thereby earning a place at the 2017 Asian Women’s Championship in Korea.
The qualification series represents the first step for teams from the Oceania continent on the road to IHF World Championships since the pathway was reassessed ahead of the 24th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship in Qatar in 2015.
Assistant coach Caleb Gahan, who works alongside head coach Tomasz Szklarski – and both are also members of the men’s national squad – said experience was one of the biggest factors in securing the victory for the perennial Oceania champions:
“We have a lot of girls who have a fair bit of international experience, and have been playing together for a long time, which is very helpful,” said Gahan.
“That leads me to the second point – we played really well together. As a team everything looked quite good, all our movements were good, everything was quite crisp. Not many errors in the second game in particular. Reducing our errors and playing good team defence was probably the key.”
Australia’s comparative experience is perhaps highlighted further by the age of New Zealand’s players. “The good thing about the New Zealand women’s team is that they’re all really young, and I think New Zealand have been doing that really well,” said Gahan. “They won the last Under 21 Oceania Championship, so they’re doing a really good thing with their juniors and maybe that hasn’t quite come through to the senior programme yet, but it does seem that a lot more countries are developing their younger players and doing a better job at that.”
Australia won both matches played against New Zealand at Blacktown Leisure Centre, Stanhope Gardens, defeating their rivals 26:12 (14:5) in game one on October 5, then 31:9 (15:4) on October 6. Australia will now prepare to attend the 2017 Asian Women’s Championship in February, from where the four top-ranked teams will qualify for the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship in Germany.
“There are a lot of positives we can take from Oceania to keep building on those, to take with us to Korea. At the Asian championship there are going to be a lot of very fast teams, and they play really good, error-free handball,” said Gahan.
“That’s a big thing for us – just getting together more, and playing more matches together is key. It’s always tough as Australian teams never have many international games, so to have that experience together is going to be good.”
By Courtney Gahan
Photo by Bob Wood