FIH Pro League Champions! Kookaburras head into Olympics on top

Published Fri 28 Jun 2024

The Kookaburras are heading into the Olympic Games on top after claiming the FIH Pro League Season 5 title overnight, with a dominant campaign that saw them win 10 games in 16 matches.

The victory came after the Netherlands went down to Germany in a nail-biting penalty shootout loss in Amsterdam, falling short of earning the points required to top the Kookaburra's strong lead.

"It's exciting," Kookaburras Captain Aran Zalewski said at training this morning. 

"We woke up this morning here in Australia and the competition is still going over in Europe so it was a little bit unusual to hear the news over social media but yeah great news that we've won the Pro League this year."

The Kookaburras finished the season on 34 points, having lost only three matches in 16 games, when they finished up at the most recent FIH Pro League stage in Europe two weeks ago.

Aran Zalewski says he's impressed with his side's ability to find a way to win under pressure.

"It's certainly something we've been working on, our trademark you could say, coming home late. We've got that confidence and we know we can, if we're behind, that's somewhere that we feel comfortable in a game now, knowing we can create enough opportunities to get back in front."

Their impressive run was helped by an incredible goal total, with the Kookaburras scoring 56 goals in just 16 matches, 23 of them coming from penalty corners.

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch says it's a great accolade on their Olympic campaign.

"You wake up and find out that you've won! So very pleased with that, but our aim this year is to do very well in Paris and we've decided to celebrate with a training session, so the guys certainly enjoyed that and it was upbeat. It's nice to win these things along the way."

"We're doing well with our scoring but traditionally the Olympics has been a tight competition and teams spend a lot of time with their defensive side of the game so our ability to keep creating opportunities and finishing obviously will be key to us doing well in Paris," Colin said.

"The competition is so strong and the teams are just getting better and better with more players, more depth. So for us to win the competition is very pleasing and it's exciting heading into the Olympics and knowing there's a lot of good teams that we're going to have to play against," Aran said.

The Kookaburras are preparing to fly out to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in 20 days, with the final 16-man team set to be named on Monday.

The Kookaburras Road to Victory

India Stage: 11 - 25 February 
Bhubaneswar, India

Win - Australia 4 - 3 Spain (Blake Govers 150th cap)
Win - Australia 5 - 0 Ireland
Win - Australia 6 - 4 India
Win - Australia 5 - 4 Netherlands

Rourkela, India
Win - Australia 4 - 1 Spain
Win - Australia 4 - 1 Ireland
PS Win - Australia 2 (3) - 2 (0) India
Loss - Australia 3 - 5 Netherlands

Europe Stage: 30 May - 13 June
Antwerp, Belgium
Loss - Australia 1 - 5 Belgium
Loss - Australia 1 - 2 Argentina
Win - Australia 4 - 3 Argentina
PS Win - Australia 4 (2) - 4 (3) Belgium

London, England
Win - Australia 3 - 2 Great Britain
PS Loss - Australia 2 (4) - 2 (5) Argentina
Loss - Australia 2 - 3 Germany
Win - Australia 5 - 1 Great Britain