Australian women win opening goalball game

The Australian women’s goalball team has kick-started its last attempt at London 2012 Paralympic qualification with an 11-4 win over New Zealand today at Sydney Olympic Park.

In the opening women’s game of the 2011 IBSA Africa Oceania Goalball Regional Championships, Australia led from the outset against its cross-Tasman rival and will go into tomorrow’s second preliminary game against New Zealand as favourites ahead of Thursday’s all important Paralympic qualifying final.

Competing for the regional qualification spot for London 2012, New Zealand opened the scoring but was unable to catch Australia who scored seven unanswered goals to establish a 7-1 lead at half time.

Australia’s strong attacking play in the first half was almost brought undone by tiring defence in the second, after New Zealand narrowed the score to five after the break.

But strong performances from Australian captain Meica Christensen (seven goals), Nicole Esdaile (three goals) and Tyan Taylor (one goal) ensured Australia remained in the clear, extending the lead to seven at the full time buzzer.

The win follows on from the Australian men’s 8-3 victory against New Zealand earlier in the day after they lost the tournament’s opening game to Algeria 8-4.

“It was really good to come out and play well in the first game. I was very happy with the way we played,” said Australian women’s goalball head coach, Georgina Kenaghan.

“The game was a confidence booster for the team in what is a huge week for us. It gave us a chance to meet the expectations we have set for this tournament, and to not be dictated to by the way they want to play.

“We had a few goals scored against us which gave us a pretty good wake-up call and we’ll definitely look to minimise that as much as possible in the next two games.”

Algeria, New Zealand and Australia are contesting the men’s event, while Australia and New Zealand are contesting the women’s event over the next three days at the Sydney Olympic Park. The winners in both divisions will secure their passage to the London Games.

Competition continues tomorrow with the Australian men’s team facing both New Zealand and Algeria for the second time and the women’s team again facing New Zealand.

You can catch all the action from the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre via the live stream at http://www.paralympic.org.au/games-amp-events/live-stream-goalball-regio...

Competition schedule:

Wednesday 16th November
Algeria v New Zealand Mens – 11:00
Australia v Algeria Mens – 13:30
New Zealand v Australia Womens – 15:00
New Zealand v Australia Mens – 16:30

Thursday 17th November
Mens Semi Final -     10:30
Womens Final -    12:00
Men Final -    14:30

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