Hockeyroos: Can the women make the Olympic semi-finals?
Although the Hockeyroos’ campaign couldn’t have suffered a worse start after losing to trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, the team play in the early hours tomorrow morning for a shot at the semi-final against Argentina.
Hockeyroos keeper Toni Cronk watched helplessly as the plucky Kiwis managed to snare a goal in the first two minutes of play in the first game for the Australians.
New Zealand went onto win the game by that single goal and it looked like any medal hopes had disappeared before the Olympic tournament was barely underway.
Since then the Australians have rarely put a stick wrong, a convincing 3-1 win over the higher ranked Germans put their medal hopes back on track, and was followed by a hard fought 1-0 win against the improving Americans.
The girls looked a little disappointed walking off after their next game only beating the lowly ranked South African team 1-0, despite dominating possession and having more shots at goal.
An early goal by Jade Close was enough although there were some late scares in the camp over the last few minutes of the game.
The Hockeyroos now enter their final match with their Olympic destiny in their own hands: a win against pool favourites and a semi final awaits, but a loss will see their hard work go unrewarded for yet another Olympic campaign.
One thing in the team’s advantage is that the game is scheduled as the final pool match, so the Hockeyroos will know exactly what is required to reach the medal round.
For those of you who haven’t caught the girls in action as yet, here is three to watch in what will be an enthralling contest.
Toni CRONK (1) – Australia’s goalkeeper, and the Hockeyroos player of the tournament so far. She will have her work cut out tonight against the skilful Argentines, but will be up to the task. Might have been caught off guard in the first match, but since then hasn’t put a foot wrong.
Anna FLANAGAN (9) – Australia’s leading scorer in the tournament with 2 goals always looks dangerous going forward. Flanagan uses her pace to her advantage, but is also solid in defence. Keep an eye out for Anna in front of goal, particularly if we find ourselves down in the early stages of the game.
Emily SMITH (26) – A little disappointing so far in London, but will be wanting to shine in Australia’s final pool game. So often the Hockeyroos best avenue to start an attack Smith relies on her close stick work. At times a fiery customer and definitely someone the Argentines must look out for.
The Australians must start well, and control the match from the midfield. At times we have looked slower that our opponents and Argentina won’t be any different. It won’t be easy for the girls, but nothing is at the Olympics.
A win will see the medal campaign continue, but a loss may even see the girls finish as low as fourth. Expect a cut throat atmosphere with the Hockeyroos leaving nothing on the pitch.
Set your alarm clocks tomorrow morning at the action kicks off at 6:05am (AEST) and support an Australian team with such a rich Olympic tradition. The game will be shown on Foxtel channel London 2 and will likely be shown on Channel Nine.
- 2012 London Olympics