Great Britain and Australia’s clash at 7pm today should be one of the matches of the tournament with GB coach Jason Lee promising a Rocky-style encounter.
The game may not be decisive in deciding the semi-finalists from the pool as both teams are riding high in pool A on seven points, but it is the game of the tournament the GB hockey players have been looking forward to.
England are one of just two teams to have beaten Australia at a major international tournament in the past three years. They won 3-2 on the opening day of the 2010 world cup with goals from Ashley Jackson and two from James Tindall.
GB drew 3-3 with the Kookaburras at the London VISA International Invitational Tournament, at the same ground in May. On that Day Ashley Jackson leveled with a penalty corner with three minutes to go.
To play well against Australia you need to take the game to them, says GB an England coach Lee. “Australia make you stand up and wack them. You have to stand toe to toe if you want to beat them. It’s a Rocky II – not Rocky I – type of event where we stand toe to toe and slug it out,” said Lee before the Games.
Jackson added: ” “I’ve been saying to people that is going to be one of the games of the tournament – if we don’t get to play them again – and very entertaining.”
GB and Australia have met 11 times at the Olympic Games with four wins each and three draws. Their last meeting was a 3-3 draw in the final pool match at Beijing 2008 when Australia needed a 68th minute equaliser from Eddie Ockenden.
Barry Middleton and Rob Moore both scored for Great Britain in that match. Great Britain have not beaten Australia at the Olympic Games since a 3-2 semifinal win at Seoul 1988, when GB went on to win gold.
Australia have won a hockey medal at the five Olympic Games since Great Britain’s 1988 title, the longest active medal streak.