It’s an early start for the Hockeyroos this morning as they prepare to take on South Africa at Riverbank Arena in London.
Australia must finish in the top two of pool B to advance to the finals, so a win against their opponent ranked 12th in the world is a must.
They Hockeyroos will start favourites but nothing is ever a certainty and this was evident last night when the Kookaburras had a scare against Argentina.
After a disappointing 0-1 loss to New Zealand to start their Olympic campaign, Australia has fired back into medal contention with an upset 3-1 victory over Germany ranked three in the world and a 1-0 win over the USA. The Americans were in top form after downing a stunned Argentina.
The Hockeyroos created plenty of scoring opportunities against the USA but did not always capitalise and this will need to improve as they approach the business end of the tournament.
Anna Flanagan has stepped up, scoring twice so far off superb penalty corner drag flicks at crucial moments in the past two games and will need to continue to impress.
Australian goal keeper Toni Cronk has been the stand out with three brilliant games under her belt, culminating in a spectacular performance against the USA where she saved a stroke and deflected numerous shots to keep Australia in the game.
Casey Eastham has been a work horse in midfield and it’s expected she will become more dominant as the games progress because of her exceptional fitness level.
The Australians will not underestimate the South Africans however with some very talented players amongst their ranks, most notably dynamic strike forward Pietie Coetzee, who is also a drag flick specialist.
Coetzee became the all-time leading goal scorer in the women’s game last year and has scored over 220 goals for her country.
The 33-year-old broke the 20 year old record held by Russia’s Natalya Krasnikova when she converted four goals against the USA at the Champions Challenge in Dublin. She is definitely a weapon that will need to be defused.
Hockey Australia Press Release