The Indian men’s hockey team will be making its 21st appearance at the Olympics when they take the field in Tokyo against New Zealand at the Oi Hockey Stadium on July 24. Having been proud winners of eight Olympic gold medals in the past, the Indians are now without a medal for the last 40 years. Their last medal came in the 1980 Moscow edition.
Come July, the Manpreet Singh-led side will be aiming to break the medal drought, but the road to glory for India won’t be easy despite being in top form recently. Out of the 10 matches played in 2021, the Men in Blue have lost only once, drawing thrice and winning the rest.
The recent Indian dominance includes their unbeaten European tour (they played against Germany and Great Britain) and a successful Argentina tour which includes winning both FIH Pro League matches against the Olympic Champions.
Clubbed in Pool A at the Tokyo Olympics, India have Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan for company. With less than 100 days until the Tokyo Olympics, Sportskeeda takes a look at Australia in the Know Your Opponent series.
Australia have always been a team in contention at the Olympics since their debut at the 1956 Melbourne Games. Although they didn’t win a gold, one could see Australia within the top four for the most part.
Things changed for the better when Australia won their first Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final. However, they finished outside of the top four in 2016, as they were placed sixth in Rio de Janeiro.
The Australia men’s hockey team also holds the distinction of being the country’s only team to have won six consecutive Olympic medals. From 1992 to 2012, Australia have won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
Qualification to Tokyo Olympics
Unlike in the other qualifying tournaments, Australia had it pretty easy with just one opponent in the 2019 Oceania Cup. It was also Australia’s 11th continental title. The three-time World Cup-winners went 1-0 up in the three-legged affair with a dominating 4-0 win over New Zealand.
The Black Sticks returned with a 2-2 draw in the second game to force the final into a winner-takes-it-all affair. Blake Govers, who scored both goals for Australia in the previous encounter, starred once again in the third. He scored a brace and helped Australia qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Australia won the final game 3-0.
The Kookaburras have been in terrific form since the start of 2019. They won the 2019 FIH Pro League, scoring an astonishing 49 goals in 16 games. Following that, Australia qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. However, in the ongoing FIH Pro League, Australia’s performance has taken a hit.
Although they have lost only once in the ongoing FIH Pro League, Australia are lying in fifth position with 14 points from eight games.
Australia play their opening Tokyo Olympics match against hosts Japan on July 24.