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Australia vs South Africa
2018 Commonwealth Games Hockey, April 7
|Gold Coast Hockey Centre, Queensland|
Australia recorded a dominant victory in their first match of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
South Africa 0
Five-time Commonwealth Games hockey champions, the Australian Kookaburras will look to continue their golden run on home soil and they should kick things off with a win over South Africa. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:30pm (AEST).
The Kookaburras, since hockey was introduced into the Commonwealth Games in 1998, haven’t lost a tournament. In fact, they have lost just one of their 26 games and never had to settle for a draw in the group stages, winning 25 of them.
While the Aussies are potentially not in the same, dominant position they have been previously, it’s hard to see them as anything other than favourites heading into a tournament played in relative familiarity on the Gold Coast.
Their form line is strong as well, with the side led by Commonwealth Games flag bearer Mark Knowles recently winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. It brought together some of the best sides in world hockey, including Commonwealth nations England, India, Malaysia and Pakistan, with the Kookaburras going through the tournament undefeated before beating England 2-1 in the final.
While Australia didn’t have to deal with New Zealand or the Netherlands (who aren’t part of the Commonwealth) on that occasion, their form is fantastic. Australia comprehensively beat New Zealand in the 2017 Oceania Cup and viewing them as anything other than favourites is impossible.
Knowles is the spiritual leader of the squad, but it’s a strong squad all over with rising star Blake Govers a key player in the forward line.
South Africa weren’t among the teams at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, but they are one of the better teams in the Commonwealth.
After finishing fifth at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, they have continually dominated the African Cup for Nations, winning again in 2017.
While their world rankings is down in 14th, the South African’s will pose a challenge for every team they come up against. Their defence is gritty and they are never afraid to get out and attack when need be, proving it by scoring 20 goals in four games during the 2017 African Cup.
Skipper Tim Drummond will need to lead the side. If South Africa give up an early lead, it could be impossible to come back.
The Kookaburras shouldn’t be rusty, even this early in the tournament after their recent success. It means they should be able to come out and dominate this game, as well as fine tune areas of their defensive game plan.
Kookaburras 3 – South Africa 1.
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