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Hockey men searching for sharpness

31 July 2016

HOCKEY: The Australian Men’s Hockey Team found themselves lacking their familiar sharpness as they went down 3-0 to Argentina in the first of three practice matches in Rio de Janeiro.

With Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller, and Deputy Chef de Mission, Matt Favier, watching on, Australia fell behind to a well-worked goal from a free hit before Jake Whetton had perhaps the best chance for Australia; his shot flying wide of the far post.

Moments later, Australia were undone by a quick counter attack for 2-0, as Argentina found space behind the Australian back line.

A penalty corner goal late in the second of the two 15 minute periods sealed the result for the South Americans.

“It was our first run out,” said defender Fergus Kavanagh. “We were a bit rusty, a bit slow and lethargic, and struggled with the pace of the game. They [Argentina] were pretty sharp and our basics weren’t very good. We didn’t play very well.”

Australian coach Graham Reid admitted that the change in time zones was a likely contributor to the performance so soon after arriving in Rio but said there are no excuses.

“Normally we travel to Europe where it’s a seven-hour time difference to our base in Perth, whereas here it’s 11,” said Reid. “This is day four for us here. When you go to Europe, day four is the day you’re fine; here it’s probably more like day five or day six.

“We’re still playing around with some things but [there are] no excuses really.”

The sentiment was echoed by Kavanagh.

“We knew we’re weren’t going to come out and be world beaters [so soon after arrival] but that’s not the point. We’re just looking to improve and build a base for the week ahead and for the tournament ahead.”

Australia’s Men’s Hockey Team will play two more practice matches – against Germany and Ireland – before their opening match of the 2016 Olympic Games against New Zealand on Saturday August 6 in Rio (Sunday 230am AEST).

Lawrence West
Olympics.com.au

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