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Hockey World Cup 2018: Australia vs France - 3 Talking Points

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
290   //    13 Dec 2018, 10:52 IST

Tyler Lovell acknowledges the cheers of the crowd
Tyler Lovell acknowledges the cheers of the crowd

Colin Batch's team may have delivered a rude jolt to China's blossoming World Cup ambitions by pumping in eleven goals to mercilessly decimate Kim Sang-Ryul's boys, but treated the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup with infinitely more respect - as old memories definitely contributed to the admiration.

After all, It isn't often that the world champions trail by two early goals - and yet that is precisely what happened in the first quarter of a Hockey World League Semifinal encounter last July.

At Johannesburg, Victor Charlet and Pieter van Straaten scored early in the first quarter to give the French a 2-0 lead against a stunned Australian side who continued to trail 1-2 at half-time, before finally prevailing with a 3-2 margin.

At Bhubaneswar, on Wednesday, the Aussies began in right earnest but Flynn Ogilvie found the post instead of the back of the net in the opening minute.

The French returned the fire in the very next minute as Charles Masson made his way to the Aussie circle and gave Tyler Lovell an early scare but Jeremy Hayward gave the defending champions the lead in the fourth minute.

Jake Whetton hit the post again soon after while the French kept pressing at the other end, but Blake Govers' flick hit the woodwork in the second quarter while Victor Charlet failed to get his drag-flick right.

Aran Zalewski's goal midway into the third quarter effectively ended France's stubborn resistance and the Australians made their way into yet another World Cup semifinal where they await the winner of the India-Netherlands clash.

We take a look at 3 factors that may have influenced the final outcome of the match that ended with a 3-0 scoreline in favour of Australia.


#3 The Aussies are still the best - but not indomitable any longer

The Australians are the only team, apart from Germany, who went through the pool stages without dropping a single point, pumping in 16 goals along the way and conceding just 1 against the Irish in their opener.

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While the Kookaburras remain the favourites to clinch their fourth World Cup trophy, they are by no means as invincible as their predecessors were.

The signs were evident at Breda when the Australians just about managed to get past India via a shootout in the Champions Trophy final and clearly struggled to get past Ireland by a narrow 2-1 margin in the pool match at Bhubaneswar.

The Aussies scored thrice in the final quarter to get past England but looked vulnerable for three-quarters of the match and were not their usual flamboyant selves against minnows France either.

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