Australia name experienced squad for Hockey World League
Perth, May 19 (IANS)
Reigning World champions Australia on Tuesday went with experience as they announced an 18-member squad for the 10-team Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp next month.
Head coach Graham Reid will try his best to help the Kookaburras qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, saying, "We're approaching the World League Semi-Final like we would an Olympics." The top-3 finishers in Belgium will qualify for the 2016 Games in Brazil.
Of the 18-man squad, 14 were World Cup-winners just a year ago while 13 were part of the team that won the Commonwealth Games gold last August. The exception is the inclusion of 18-year-old forward Blake Govers, the brother of Olympic bronze medallist Kieran, who is selected following a series of impressive performances.
Legendary Jamie Dwyer will feature in Antwerp, having recently become Australia's most capped player ever, overtaking Jay Stacy's record of 321 appearances at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia where the 36-year-old scored eight times.
Kieran Govers and Matthew Swann return from injury and duties in the Dutch Hoofdklasse league while Fergus Kavanagh also re-joins the group following a season in the Netherlands.
"Our main objective is to qualify for the Olympics. To do that, we've picked as strong a team as we could. Before our recent matches in Hobart we asked the guys to give us everything. What they showed was that we could have picked any combination of 18 from the group we had available," said Reid.
The Kookaburras will face India (World No.9), Pakistan (10), Poland (17) and France (18) in Pool A before coming up against the likes of Belgium (4), Great Britain (5), Malaysia (12), Ireland (14) and China (31) in the latter stages.
"We never go and play around with form so we'll be trying to win our pool and qualify for the quarterfinals, then the semifinals and the main match. India, Pakistan, Belgium and England are the biggest threats. Belgium and England are both top-five ranked countries and India and Pakistan both made the medal matches at the Champions Trophy in December," added the head coach.
Daniel Beale, Kiel Brown, Andrew Charter, Chris Ciriello, Tim Deavin, Jamie Dwyer, Matt Gohdes, Blake Govers, Kieran Govers, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Tyler Lovell, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Matthew Swann, Jake Whetton, Tristan White, Aran Zalewski.