New Zealand Women’s Hockey Team have confirmed their place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, having drawn to Australia in the Oceania Cup.
The late equaliser, just five minutes from the end of the game, earned the Black Sticks their place at the Olympics as they placed ahead of Oceania Cup hosts, Australia.
The draw against the Hockeyroos ensured the sixth-ranked side a series victory on goal difference over the three legs of the cup in Rockhampton, Queensland.
The Australian side, who needed a victory in the game, seemed dominant and confident following an early goal from Mariah Williams, which gave them the lead after just two minutes.
The score remained at 1-0 for the majority of the match, but the Black Sticks refused to let the pressure get to them, despite the knowledge that an equaliser was all they needed to secure the prestigious spot.
Their efforts paid off when Olivia Merry’s equaliser came tantalisingly close to the end of the game. This meant that New Zealand had automatically secured their Olympic spot, igniting delight amongst the players and the travelling fans.
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Merry’s strike off a penalty corner will mean that the Hockeyroos will have to take a much harder route to the Olympics. They will now go into a draw for the International Hockey Federation Olympic Qualifiers which will be played between the 26th October and the 3rd November.
New Zealand coach Graham Shaw explained how "the game was ugly at times, but the team dug in and was able to stick together to get a fantastic result."
This was another great success for New Zealand, who also beat the women in black in the final of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year and will certainly not have gone unnoticed by the Great Britain women.
Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams will have the chance to earn their spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in November when they will play in two-legged qualifier matches.
The games, both of which will be on home turf, will take place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre from the 1st until the 3rd November and you can find information about tickets here.
The Great Britain sides will only know who their oppositions are following the conclusion of the other continental competitions. The draw is set to be made on Monday 9 September and can be found live on FIH Facebook page at 12 pm BST.News Now - Sport News