THE Hockeyroos, featuring Gerringong’s Grace Stewart, will play world number one, the Netherlands, in Saturday’s 2018 Women’s World Cup semi-finals in London after the Dutch beat England 2-nil on Friday morning (AEST) to secure a spot in the final four.
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Australia, who will be without the services of Mollymook’s Kalindi Commerford who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury, will need to end a period of Dutch dominance to progress to Sunday’s final – having not defeated the reigning world champions in 14 games, dating back to February 2012.
The winner of the Australia and Netherlands semi-final, which will take place at 11pm AEST on Saturday, will play either Ireland (16th) or Spain (11th) in the decider.
Australia reached the semi-finals after a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout win over Argentina on Thursday morning (AEST).
Hockeyroos captain Emily Smith said they wouldn’t be content with simply reaching the last four.
“We’ve celebrated but we’re going to the World Cup semi-finals so we’ve got another job to do and to focus on our next opponent,” Smith said.
The semi-final fixture is a repeat of the 2014 World Cup final match-up where the Dutch triumphed 2-nil in The Hague.
“Only six members of that Australian team remain in the current group.
The Netherlands have triumphed in the past 11 meetings, dating back to a 2-all draw between the sides in South Africa in February 2013.
The last meeting between the two sides ended 2-nil to the Netherlands at the International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne in November.
Smith said the young team had grown since that encounter, particularly evolving after finishing with the silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April offering reason for hope.
“We’ve worked extremely hard especially since Comm Games,” the Crookwell product said.
“To be able to execute the game plan against Argentina to keep them goalless and then execute in the pressure moments is great.
“We came in with the belief we could get the result.
“I’m proud that we did step up and get that final result.”
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said there were good lessons to learn from their quarter-final which ended nil-all before the dramatic shootout victory.
“It was always going to be tight and there’s plenty to learn from that match,” Gaudoin said.
“We’re looking forward to the next one.
“Credit to the girls who were amazing.
“The semi-final comes around pretty quickly as we know.
“The Dutch will have to have a good game against us.”
The Dutch possess a star-studded line-up, including 2017 FIH Player of the Year candidate Lidewij Welten, who scored in their quarter-final win over hosts England.
Kitty van Male looms as the big threat as the leading scorer at the World Cup so far, with seven goals.
The Dutch also boast three 2017 FIH Rising Star candidates in defender/midfielder Laura Nunnink, midfielder Xan de Waard and forward Frederique Matla
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