Author: Nic Kerber
Hockeyroos Head Coach Paul Gaudoin and forward Emily Chalker gave their reflections after the 3-2 loss to China in their opening match of the Tokyo Test Event.
China stormed out of the blocks and lead 3-nil after 38 minutes. But two goals within two minutes from Savannah Fitzpatrick and Rosie Malone late on set up a grandstand finish as the Hockeyroos finished the stronger, but China managed to hold on.
The Hockeyroos have less than 24 hours before they front up for their next match against India.
Obviously not the result you and the girls were after. The team conceded early and two of China’s goals came from penalty corners. It was the first match since the Pro League so how would you sum up the performance?
Paul Gaudoin (PG): “It was disappointing to go down early. They are a very good team and we started slowly. We had some chances and at the end of the day they converted theirs, particularly in the first half. We started to get back into it in the third quarter and they probably scored against the run of play to get their third. But credit to the girls, in the final quarter the way they played was really reasonable and we need to try and bring that against India in a 21 hour turnaround tomorrow morning.”
The conditions in Tokyo are hot and humid at the moment. Considering the team was 3-nil down, you must be pleased with the way the players finished the match and handled the conditions?
PG: “Maybe we were a little bit conservative at the start just trying to get used to the conditions but we know this is the environment we hope to be in next year at the Olympics so it’s a real test for the girls individually on how to cope with those conditions. It’s a really good test and a really good lead up to the Olympics and the Oceania Cup.”
You have reiterated how valuable being able to play four games in five days is going to be for the team leading into the Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand. Ultimately what are you hoping to get out of the tournament?
PG: “It’s a chance to get some really good conditioning into the girls, work on some different things but also provide girls with the opportunity to put their hands up for selection, and this tournament has given people some opportunities to do that. Some who weren’t involved in the Pro League towards the end have been given the opportunity to show what they can do. That’s one of the objectives of this trip, to help select the team for the Oceania Cup.”
What do you think of the new Olympic facility?
PG: “It was excellent. The pitch in itself is playing really well. Considering they are new pitches and with the new technology you can play quality hockey straight away so that’s pleasing and I’m sure it’ll get even better in six to eight months time. We’re pleased to be here but coming back to what we need to do, we really need to focus on an improved performance against India tomorrow.
How do you go about getting the team up again with such a short turnaround?
“Preparing is certainly important in these conditions. We’re not going to do too many things different tactically but we will have a look at the game against China, review it and come up with plans for playing India. That’s going to be important but individually athletes need to look at their game and try to improve.”
How has the team’s time in Japan been so far?
Emily Chalker (EC): “It is a great opportunity for us a year out from Tokyo to experience the conditions, I can imagine it’s going to be like this or a bit hotter, so for us to be able to learn as much as we can is going to be invaluable.”
It was the team’s first game since the Pro League. Do you think the team was a touch rusty early on?
EC: “I think our mentality going into the game – we just didn’t turn up for the first quarter and credit to China, they were very clinical in the attacking circle and put away a couple of early chances, but we weren’t switched on and ready for that. Once we started chasing the game and started to play a more aggressive, natural style that we’re used to, we were able to overrun them, but we let them get away to too much of a flyer to catch up.”
How beneficial is it playing teams that play a different style in the lead up to the Oceania Cup?
EC: “China play a different style of hockey than what we’re used to in Australia. They’re more defensive and they hold the ball really well and are very strong it, whereas we’re a run and gun attacking team, so we need to be able to adapt to whatever team we come up against and be able to face opposition and not do the same thing, so it’s going to be a huge learning curve for us. We’re looking forward to seeing what exactly went wrong in the first half and then what changed in the second half to become the more dominant team.”
How hard is to analyse and review the game when you know you have to play again in under 24 hours?
EC: “It is challenging. It’s a very quick review but we’ve got the full footage and it will probably be awhile before we go back and look at it in great depth. Our focus is obviously on qualifying for the Olympics and a lot of our planning and energy is going into focussing on the Kiwis and how we’re going to beat them.”
How do you go about your recovery and preparing for India tomorrow? What’s the key to being able to back up quickly?
EC: “Playing in the heat obviously takes a bit out of you so there’s a huge focus on our hydration and ability to wake up as well hydrated as we did today in order to be ready for the early game. We’re fortunate that we’ve got a lot of help and support over here including scientific research, from collecting sweat rates among other things that can help us in a year’s time. So we’re just doing what we’re told to be honest. We just need to adhere to the processes that the support staff lay down but everyone knows that tonight is about recovering, hydrating and getting a good night’s sleep to try and back it up again tomorrow.”
From a player’s perspective, how did you find the new Olympic facility and the turf?
EC: “The pitch itself was really good. It was a little bit bouncy but once that gets worn down a little bit it’s going to be a fantastic pitch, and the facilities are incredible. The change rooms are some of the best I’ve seen in the world so it’s going to be a great spectacle and the organising committee have proven already that they’re very organised, they’ve been practising all of the Olympic procedures, so I can only imagine it is going to be a very organised and well run event come the Olympics.
Hockeyroos 2 (S. Fitzpatrick 56’, Malone 57’)
China 3 (Bingfeng Gu 5, Tiantian Luo 22’, Jiaqi Zhong 38’)
@ Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan