After a tumultuous tournament with Covid-19 affecting the squad’s preparation and forcing forfeits for most of the placement round games, the Australian men’s team were able to regroup and field a team of 12 to take on India in their final placement game. Unfortunately for the Australians, there was no repeat of their main round win over India, when the teams previously met, going down 25-21, despite leading 14:11 at the break.
Despite the adversity, head coach Taip Ramadani commented after the match that the boys committed to the team plan for the entire match but were unlucky in converting clear scoring chances, missing a total of 21 shots, most from open situations.
National team stalwart, Caleb Gahan was able to make his first appearance in the tournament having been in isolation from arrival in Saudi Arabia. “It was good to finally get out on court with the boys, proud of their efforts despite everything that happened, it was unfortunate we couldn’t finish the tour with a win,” said Gahan.
Team captain, Tomasz Szklarski, who also spent time in isolation, echoed Gahan’s sentiment. “It was a tough tournament for us going up against some of the hardest competition Australia has to face.
“Taking into consideration the players we lost throughout the tournament due to isolation requirements, players stepping up into their place and then players returning straight into matches after quarantine, we all still played to maximum capacity and I am very proud,” said Szklarski .
With the result, and three losses through forfeit, Australia finishes the tournament in 16th place, and their Asian Championship comes to an end.
The team will remain in Saudi Arabia for a few more days and seize the opportunity to train together before players head home to their bases across Europe and Australia.
Featured photo: Australian pivot Keelan Smith-Connor goes for shot in today's match against India. Photo: Chris Seen, Chris Seen Photography