Ghana women will be debuting at the Commonwealths and head coach Emmanuel Ahadjie says facing New Zealand and Australia in the pool phase will be a “big problem”. “But we will try to minimise the scoreline, and focus on our third game (against Scotland), that’s the one we want.” Ahadjie is under no illusions of the task in hand and admitted that “we are here to carry the 23 million people of Ghana on our shoulders. We are here to give the people of Ghana hope and to leave a great mark on the world.”
“We need to inspire the next generation of athletes. I feel a little bit empty for those involved (in South Africa), but the Commonwealth Games gives Australia a great opportunity to get back together.”
Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles on the crisis surrounding Australian cricket and how it affects Australian sport
New Zealand have reached the semifinals or better in all Commonwealth Games since its introduction at Kuala Lumpur 1998, finishing with silver once in 2010. So it was inevitable that Shea McAleese was questioned on New Zealand’s previous silver medals AND the men’s team underachieving at Commonwealth Games level. “This is my fourth games and in the three games previous, I think we’ve definitely underachieved,” she said. “We finished fifth in Melbourne, third in Delhi, and fourth in Glasgow, so traditionally we haven’t gone as well as we would have liked. But that is the sole reason why I’m still playing at the moment, because I’ve got a huge belief in this group.” Not least with Stacey Michelsen and Anita Maclaren, the co-captains.
India play Pakistan in the group phase on Saturday, a clash which will draw heavy media presence and expectations back home for the two rival nations. Pakistan coach Roelant Oltmans has coached both countries and believes each side “only thinks about the outcome and totally forgets the process”. He added: “Emotion overrides structures and strategies.” Meanwhile India coach Sjoerd Marijine concurred and learned early that this was not just “any other game”. He addressed his squad before his first match against Pakistan. “I watched the first half and quickly realised they lied to me. They played totally different to normal,” said. It seems the players agree, too, despite wanting to keep cool heads. Pakistan midfielder Muhammad Tousiq admitted: “As players we should relax on the pitch, but sometimes we get carried away.”
Kookaburra Jacob Whetton told his team-mates that he was expecting his first child in October wife his wife, Sam. On the prospect of their child one day adorning the green and gold, he joked: “Oh please, not hockey, maybe golf or tennis to help us out a bit,” he said. “In all seriousness, though, it probably has a very high chance of picking up a stick at an early age.”
The England-Australia medal rivalry could go down to the wire. So, can England overcome Australia domination in the hockey? Make your vote count.
Which women's team is more likely to strike gold at the Commonwealth Games?
5000 – spectator capacity at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre
1998 – hockey first included in the Commonwealth Games (Kuala Lumpur)
54 – matches across the men’s and women’s competitions
11 – nations represented in men’s and women’s competitions
1 – occasions Ghana has entered a women’s hockey team in the Commonwealth Games (2018)
0 – occasions the Australian men’s team has failed to win gold in Commonwealth Games history