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European vacation too long for Kookaburras

Author imageAOC29 Jul 2021
Hockey kookaburras

HOCKEY: The Kookaburras will play their first match against a European team in almost 18 months when they take on Spain in their final pool match at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The world number one side is hoping an end to their European vacation will help them best prepare for the knockout stage. 

Australia goes into the match guaranteed a position in the quarter finals after four straight wins and the highest goal tally of the tournament with 21 and a goal difference of 13. 

Spain sits in third place in Pool A with a more tumultuous journey to the Quarter Finals defeating Japan (4-1), drawing with Argentina (1-1) and losing to both New Zealand (4-3) and India (3-0).  

Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch said the match would give his side the opportunity to adapt their game for the very technical manner of the European teams who are known for their exceptional skills and pushing for penalty corners. 

Australia will need to be match-ready for the onslaught of European powerhouses Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany if they are to progress to the medal rounds. 

"Spain will be the first European team we have played for a while, we need to establish our game, our way of playing against them," he said. 

"We have an ability to change the way we are playing depending on our opposition. 

"People think the Europeans are technically good with their skills, but they are just as physical as any other team." 

Australia goes into the match having won 52 of the nations' 79 clashes with 12 draws and 15 losses but they fell victim to the three-time Olympic silver medallists at the 2019 Pro-League in Madrid going down 3-2. 

Batch's strategy for the Olympics has been to build on their performance throughout the rounds and ensure the side is in their best form for the Knockout Stage which begin on Sunday. 

"There is no secret recipe," Batch said. 

"Hopefully, you can get through with your players in good form, but also injury free. 

"It is an extremely demanding tournament. We've just finished playing four games in five days. It's not just the physical, it's also the mental preparation that goes with that. That's very taxing on everyone but we are in a good position." 

Tokyo 2020 Hockey - full schedule and results  

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Men's Hockey  

Kookaburras v Spain  

Friday 30 July 2021  

Oi Stadium, Tokyo  

Start time: 10:00am local (11:00am AEST)  

Broadcast:  LIVE on 7Plus  

Kookaburras v Spain - Overall Record 

Played 79; Kookaburras 52, Draws 12, Spain 15 

Last match: 14-Jun-19 FIH Pro League (Madrid) 

Kookaburras 2 (Brand 3', Govers 58') 

Spain 3 (Romeu 28'/60' Lleonart 44') 

Kookaburras squad: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 5.Tom Wickham, 6.Matthew Dawson, 10.Josh Beltz, 11.Eddie Ockenden, 12.Jake Whetton, 13.Blake Govers, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Josh Simmonds, 16.Tim Howard, 17.Aran Zalewski, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Daniel Beale, 25.Trent Mitton, 29.Tim Brand, 30.Andrew Charter (gk), 32.Jeremy Hayward 

Catriona Dixon

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