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German challenge awaits Kookaburras Back To Main
The Olympic men's hockey final most expected has now become a semi-final, with world No.2 Germany looming as a big threat to Australia's gold medal ambitions.
The World No.1 Kookaburras restored their mojo with a clinical 7-0 demolition of Pakistan on Tuesday to ensure a semi-final place that almost certainly sealed top spot in their group.
That would pit them against Germany, who finished second to the unbeaten Dutch in the other group.
Only an unlikely 13-goal-plus Great Britain win over Spain in the final Pool A match later on Tuesday could knock the Kookaburras off top spot.
With the Brits needing only a draw to progress in second place, already Australia have Germany in their sights.
The Kookaburras have won three and drawn two of their preliminaries, have scored more goals than any other team in the tournament and have created twice as many goal-scoring chances as the next best.
Yet coach Ric Charlesworth remains cautious - perhaps mindful the Kookaburras were upset in the semi-final in Beijing 2008 and his own great playing career suffered some big Games disappointments.
"I played in two teams that were undefeated in the round games and weren't able to go on," Charlesworth said.
"I don't think that means anything. That's the end of that part. Now this is a separate tournament."
The Kookaburras, who won their opening two matches stylishly before conceding late goals to draw their next two, produced their best performance against world No.7 Pakistan.
While they had been creating chances on average once every three minutes, their conversion rate had been a concern, and their defence was leaking late goals.
As the disciplined Germans loom, the Kookaburras will take heart both elements were rock-solid against Pakistan.
They were two goals up after seven minutes through veteran Liam De Young's close-range effort and a Mark Knowles penalty stroke.
Chris Ciriello added two more before halftime - a full-blooded drag flick and a field goal.
Then the Kookas attack hit full stride.
First there was a sweeping move for Russell Ford to launch a spectacular strike.
Jamie Dwyer, who had worn a heavy bump from a Pakistan opponent in the first half to require treatment, returned a more telling blow on 48 minutes for Australia's sixth with sublime skills and a tomahawk finish.
Glenn Turner slid in to add Australia's seventh from close range with 70 seconds remaining, as Pakistan did not manage a shot on goal for the final 30 minutes.