Australia slammed, crashed and smashed its way into the gold medal match, but it hasn’t always been that way.
With 29 goals in their undefeated group stage and a thrilling 3-2 win over England in Saturday’s semi-final, the Kookaburras have established themselves as not only one of the most feared teams in the world – but also the most exciting.
Australia has won gold for men at every Commonwealth Games since hockey was introduced in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, a tradition they aim to continue Monday (9:30 PM AEST) against India.
However, don’t be fooled. The Birmingham 2022 edition is a different beast.
To borrow a phrase from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, they are Heavy Metal Hockey.
Klopp coined the nickname Full Metal Football for his attacking Reds, who embraced the German gegenpress and turned it into an all-encompassing offensive that demands goals above all else.
“Just wave after wave after wave… If the first three don’t get it, the next three will and you just keep spinning,” Kookaburras assistant and mad Liverpool fan Anthony Potter told News Corp.
Australia isn’t specifically inspired by Klopp, but their methodologies – including a lively counter attack style that delivers an electric attack style – hold true.
“It looks like us. Heavy metal hockey? I love that sound,” Australian Jake Whetton, owner of two goals in this tournament, told News Corp.
ON THE ATTACK
The commitment to a holistic attack approach is not something that arose spontaneously. It is the product of a five-year strategy by the Kookaburra’s three-member coaching staff. And while Potter takes care of the “with ball” nature of their game, fellow assistant Rob Hammond’s focus is on what the Kookaburras do without the ball — specifically, how to get it back. And head coach Colin Batch overseeing it all as he writes down Plans A, B, C and D.
And Potter sees the similarities too, indicating not only Liverpool’s team-wide cultural buy-in, but their adaptability alongside their commitment to playing attacking football.
“If you can’t defend, we can’t attack because we don’t have the ball. So we defend well,” explains Potter.
“What we’ve done in five years, we’ve developed many ways of playing. When we all started we said, ‘This is our vision to be a great hockey team – what do you think?’ “Yeah, let’s do it.”
“So the next question from us to the group was, ‘Well, we need to retrain you to play in different ways’. And then there was silence because the players think ‘but we are second in the world. We’re pretty good!’
“No. Because we think we can do better. A lot better.
“Because (then) we played with a lot of power and a lot of passion, but you play one way. And we wanted to play five or six ways right now.”
It was on full display against England in a thrilling semi-final victory, with Australia trailing 2-0 early to recover and grab the winner with just 10 minutes to play.
“We fought tooth and nail … we didn’t play our best, but you can also win ugly and that’s a good sign for us,” said striker Blake Govers.
Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022: Men’s Hockey Final, Australia v India, Start Time, Updates, Scores
Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022 Hockey: Australia Kookaburras v India live score, result, medal tally