The Rio Olympics Hockey competition reaches its quarter-final stage with an in-form and strong looking New Zealand side squaring off against rivals the Australian Hockeyroos who must improve and have plenty to prove. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 11pm (AEST).
The Hockeyroos seem to have gradually improved the longer the tournament has gone on, and despite there still being plenty of teething issues present they will rate themselves a strong chance of knocking off New Zealand and advancing to the semi-finals.
The biggest problem for the Hockeyroos throughout the tournament (and the Kookaburras for that matter) has been the ability to finish in front of goal. Yes, they can create chances but finishing them has been a problem – a major one at that.
While they have rebounded to an extent, six of their 11 goals came against India and two more against China, which simply isn’t good enough.
Their defence has been very good though, only conceeding five goals all tournament and it has well and truly kept them in games. With New Zealand also struggling on attack it could come down to who makes the most of opportunities and so defending like they have done sets them in good steed moving forward with an improving offence.
New Zealand, on the other hand have had three wins, a draw and a loss throughout the tournament to see them finish second in Group A only behind the Netherlands. They started strongly but stuttered against Germany in a surprise loss before drawing with the Netherlands and finishing on a 3-0 win against China.
Their attack like Australia has been poor only scoring 11 goals with three against China and four against South Korea in their first game. Their defence has been fantastic though and holding the Netherlands to a one-all draw has to be at the top of the list.
The sides have met five times in the last 14 months with the Hockeyroos holding that ledger 3-2, including victory in the Oceania Championships final which confirmed their qualification for the Games and Champions Trophy tournament.
Australia will give this a red-hot shake here, but I’m just not sure they have enough potency to finish in attack. New Zealand haven’t been fantastic at that end of the field either, but they will get it done in a low scoring match.
New Zealand 2 – Australia 1
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Follow Scott on Twitter @sk_pryde