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All or nothing for hockey teams

8 September 2006

Australia’s hockey teams are shooting for world champion status this month in their respective tournaments in Germany and Spain.

The men’s World Cup is underway in Germany with the Kookaburras meeting tough opposition in their first match against Spain.

The Australian men are ranked number one in the world and have been targeting this event since their breakthrough victory at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

They are aiming to hold four major tournaments in the four-year cycle – Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Champions Trophy and the World Cup.

After returning from a disappointing Champions Trophy campaign, the Kookaburras have prepared for the World Cup with a four-test series against Korea – winning all games and showing real signs of improvement.

“We regained some confidence against Korea and the group are now more focussed and have a real determination, which is very valuable at this stage,” said national coach Barry Dancer.

Spain, together with Germany, the Netherlands and Australia are the favourites for the tournament and Dancer believes Germany and the Netherlands will give the tournament a real shake.

Australia will play Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and Pakistan in their other pool matches.

The title is decided on September 16.

Hockeyroos relying on experience

National coach, Frank Murray, has opted for experience in the Hockeyroos World Cup side, with Rachel Imison and Sarah Taylor both earning a recall, while co-captain Mel Twitt returns to the team after being rested from the US tour.

Imison and Taylor are back in the national side for the Madrid tournament after showing strong form for Australia A in their recent three-test series against China.

The trio replace a number of younger players, in Claire Messent, Casey Eastham, Rachel Lynch and Hayley Phipps, who took part in the recent four-nation series against the Netherlands, Argentina and the US, in Washington and Virginia Beach.

"There's a mixture of youth and experience in the team," said Murray.

"This group's continuing to progress but if we're going to win the World Cup we'll need to bring our A game to every match. I think that's possible but it's very even between the top nine teams. It's possible for anyone in the top nine, if they have a good tournament, to win but I think the Dutch are favourites, with Korea, Argentina and Germany all right up there also."

With an incredibly even women's competition, Australia have drawn a tough pool, with both Argentina and Korea in their group, and will need to have a great tournament to take out the trophy, something Murray believes can happen.

The Hockeyroos depart for Barcelona on 13 September where they'll acclimatise, with practise matches against South Africa before departing for Madrid on 21 September, to prepare for the tournament which begins on 27 September and runs through till 7 October.

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