Hockeyroos aim to put the heat on Russia

Wednesday, 23 October 2019:

The heat is all on Australia but Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin hopes it will be Russia who melts when the two nations lock horns for a place in next year's Olympics.

The Australian women's hockey team failed to earn automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Games after they lost to New Zealand on goal difference in the best-of-three Oceania Cup last month.

It means the Hockeyroos must now beat Russia in a two-game series this week in Perth to secure their berth.

A series loss to Russia would mean the Hockeyroos miss the Olympics - an unthinkable prospect for a team that has won three Olympic golds and has never failed to qualify before.

The world no.2 Hockeyroos are expected to wipe the floor against Russia, who are ranked 19th in the world.

But the Hockeyroos are taking nothing for granted, and they are hoping the Perth heat will sap the Russians during the games on Friday and Saturday.

The temperature is forecast to reach 23degC on Friday and 29degC the following day.

"We're playing at three o'clock on Friday in the heat, so hopefully that can hurt the Russians a little bit coming from a colder climate," Gaudoin said.

"That's part of the reason why we want to play at that time.

"Hopefully it's nice and warm on the field and off it, and the crowd are giving them a bit of stick as well. That would be nice."

Hockeyroos co-captain Emily Chalker admits she knows little about the Russian team.

"I've been in the program for eight years and I didn't even know they had a team," Chalker said.

"But I've watched a lot of their games lately and they do have some great players.

"I guess we know every other team in the world like the back of our hands.

"We've had four weeks since we've known we're playing Russia, so we've had a lot of time to delve into their game plan."

Gaudoin has been busy analysing Russia, and he doesn't think it will be a walk in the park to beat them.

"Russia aren't far off that, and they had some very good results in the European Championships," Gaudoin said.

"Spain only beat them 1-0, Ireland only beat them 3-2. I don't expect it to be a fait accompli.

"We have to work hard and focus on our game to get the job done."






AAP