England beat Australia for gold
The Australian Paralympic Football Team has had to settle for the silver medal at the Oceania Paralympic Championships in Darwin, after going down to England in today’s 7-a-side grand final at Mararra Sports Stadium.
The Australian Paralympic Football Team has had to settle for the silver medal at the Oceania Paralympic Championships in Darwin, after going down to England in today-s 7-a-side grand final at Mararra Sports Stadium.
Spurred on by a vocal Barmy Army contingent watching from the stands, England clinched the gold medal with a 2-0 triumph over the gallant Australian outfit.
It was England who ended Australia-s bid for qualification for the 2008 Paralympic Games, and again rained on the Australian parade today, scoring two first half goals that proved enough to seal victory.
England midfielder Michael Wilson found the back of the net in the fifth minute to give his side an ideal start, before Richard Fox snuck through a tired Australian defence on the brink of half-time to double the advantage.
Australia fought desperately in the stifling conditions to get back into the contest in the second stanza, but Australian Paralympic Football Coach Paul Brown was left to rue the lacklustre first-half performance that ultimately cost his team the gold medal.
“I think if we went out in the first half, and played like we did in the second half, then it could have been a different story,” Brown said.
“They just didn-t want to play in that first half. Some of the guys are inexperienced and were probably in awe of the big occasion,” Brown said.
“At half-time I addressed the boys and made it all relative. I told them that the English players were footballers just like them. In the second half, it was a different story, I thought we played some great football.
“But England played well. They deserved the win today. Whether it should have been 2-0, I don-t know, but they played well.”
Although disappointed that his men were unable to win gold, Brown said his overriding emotion following the final was one of pride.
The Australian coach was full of praise for his youthful squad, some of whom had tasted international Paralympic football for the first time at the tournament in Darwin.
“Overall, it-s been a very positive tournament for us. As far as I-m concerned, the boys have come along very well.”
“We have done things in this tournament that we haven-t been able to do in any other tournaments. It-s given us a lot more scope and a lot more things to work on and improve, which is fantastic.”
“We are on the cusp of doing great things. This tournament has given us all a lot to look at and tidy up, but the main thing is that it-s given these guys good international experience.”
In the bronze medal play-off, it was a surprise win to Korea , who posted a shock 2-0 result over Japan.
The Paralympic Football gold and bronze medal matches brought Oceania Paralympic Championship competition to an end. The Championships, held in conjunction with the 2009 Arafura Games, will close tonight at a ceremony at Darwin-s TIO Stadium.
Australia 0 England 2
Australian line-up: Sam Larkings (gk); Brett Cross, Chris Pyne (Thomas Goodman 30'), David Barber, Brett Fairhall, Ben Atkins, Beau Menzies
Referee: Tim McGilchrist Assistants: Stephen Toth and Alex Glasoon 4th Official: James Nicolopolous