Aussie men face crucial mid-tournament double header
Australia’s men, the world champions, face a tricky mid-tournament double header against fellow medal hopefuls Belgium and Great Britain. They begin their campaign on the opening day with an all-Oceania clash against New Zealand, whose qualification for Rio was confirmed when South Africa’s Olympic Committee declined to enter its team.
Spain are Australia’s day two opponents in the first of four late evening matches in Rio, which will be beamed back into Australia at 9:30am. Hosts Brazil, the lowest ranked of the competing nations, round off the Aussie men’s campaign before the knock-out quarter finals.
Australia’s women will face one of their main opponents for the medals, London 2012 bronze medallists Great Britain on the opening day. The pair met recently in a six game series in Western Australia, where the Aussie women came out on top 2-1 with three games drawn.
Up-and-coming USA will provide Australia with their second opponent two days later before a mid-tournament double header against India and then London silver medallists Argentina, which will go a long way to establishing the order of the pool as teams jostle for quarter-final places.
The Aussie women round off their pool B games against Japan, who performed well at the recent Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand, holding the Hockeyroos to a draw.
Between now and Rio, the Kookaburras will host Great Britain in a three-match test series in Western Australia (21-24 May). Tickets for the matches in Narrogin and Perth are on sale now from Ticketmaster.
The Hockeyroos will also continue their Olympic preparations with a home four nations event, the International Hockey Open, Darwin, from 31 May until 4 June. Tickets for the event are on sale now from NTix. Both the Kookaburras' and Hockeyroos' series will be live streamed via Epicentre.tv.
Amongst the pick of the other matches, in the men’s competition, Ireland’s fairytale Olympic campaign will begin with a clash against five-time Olympic gold medallists India, while the two best ranked teams in the women’s game, the Netherlands and Argentina, open proceedings on day one. The men of Germany and the Netherlands will clash in their respective final Pool B fixture, a match that could be critical in determining their positions in a quarter-final.
Running from 6-19 August at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the events will feature 12 men’s and 12 women’s international hockey teams who qualified through the Hockey World League and continental championships.
Two pitches will host both events and, for the first time in an Olympic hockey competition, quarter-finals will be played. With no classification games taking place, only the top four teams from each pool will qualify for the knock-out stages.
The winners of the quarter-finals will qualify for the semi-finals which will determine who will play in the gold and bronze medal matches. The men’s medal matches are scheduled for Thursday 18 August and the women’s the following day, on Friday 19 August.
Men’s Pools (world ranking in brackets)
Pool A: Australia (1), Great Britain (4), Belgium (5), New Zealand (8), Spain (11), Brazil (32)
Pool B: Netherlands (2), Germany (3), Argentina (6), India (7), Ireland (12), Canada (14)
Women’s Pools (world ranking in brackets)
Pool A: Netherlands (1), New Zealand (4), China (5), Germany (8), Korea (9), Spain (14)
Pool B: Argentina (2), Australia (3), Great Britain (6), USA (7), Japan (10), India (13)
Australian men’s upcoming fixtures:
21-24 May: Kookaburras v Great Britain, Narrogin & Perth [tickets]
10-17 June: Men’s Champions Trophy, London
Australian women’s upcoming fixtures:
31 May – 4 June: International Hockey Open, Darwin [tickets]
18-26 June: Women’s Champions Trophy, London