It’s showtime! The Road to Greatness begins…..
Australia v South Africa
Game Time: LIVE Foxtel July 30, 7.35pm(AEST)
Pool B: Australia, South Africa, Great Britain, Spain, Pakistan, Argentina
Players to watch:
Australia: Jamie Dwyer, Eddie Ockenden, Chris Ciriello
South Africa: Captain Austin Smith, Justin Reid Ross, Lloyd Norris Jones
Anything less than gold and this team will have failed to reach its potential with arguably this, the best group of Australian hockey players ever assembled under the world’s greatest coach.
If the Kookaburras win gold it will be historic, as they will be the first nation to ever hold the maximum number of FIH world ranking points and then there would be no argument that this is a team of unrivalled champions.
Ric Charlesworth took over as Kookaburra’s coach in 2009 and quickly transformed the group into the benchmark of international competition.
Just one year after his appointment the Kookaburras dominated the world stage with gold medal wins at all three major competitions, the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy.
They’ve since won three Champions Trophy titles, under Charlesworth and will play for their fifth straight title in Melbourne this December.
A four-time Olympian and former Kookaburras captain, Charlesworth’s best result was silver at the Montreal Games in 1976 and he later went on to have a decorated career as coach of the Australian women’s team, the Hockeyroos.
It was known as the golden era and the Australian hockey Hall of Fame inductee coached the women to every major international title, including back to back gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta and Sydney 2000 Games and to two World Cup wins.
So it seems at the helm of the men’s team, the gold he never won as a player is the last feather Charlesworth needs in his cap to complete his extraordinary list of achievements.
But a brilliant coach must have brilliant players to carry out a master plan and Dr Richard Charlesworth certainly has that!
An outstanding group of athletes is led by none other than five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer and South Africa simply don’t have the class to match the world’s best.
The African nation is ranked 12th and finished last at the Beijing Games four years ago.
Despite improving and winning the African Cup of Nations six times, against the hockey powerhouses, there’s a long way to go.
The Kookaburras will have to be on their guard on defensive penalty corners however, with Justin Reid Ross considered one of the best at executing this skill.
For Australia, it’s Victorian Chris Ciriello who was named in the Australian outfit as the number one drag flicker.
Other players to watch include Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden and Dwyer’s brother-inlaw Mark Knowles.
Charlesworth has named five co-captains for the Olympics; Dwyer, Ockenden, Knowles, Fergus Kavanagh and Liam De Young and it’s hoped they will all lead Australia to a win in each of the pool matches.
Hockey Australia Press Release