Rio Olympics: Netherlands send Kookaburras packing

The dejected Kookaburras are coming home. Photo: Getty
The dejected Kookaburras are coming home. Photo: Getty

IT’S back to school at their Curtin University base for Australia’s men’s hockey team, after the world number one Kookaburras succumbed to the second-ranked Netherlands 4-0 in their knockout quarter-final.

The Netherlands were all precision, with single goals in each quarter, to totally outplay the pre-tournament gold medal favourites.

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Indeed, it was simply some extra study in the European masterclass meted out to Australia throughout the Olympic tournament.

Their losses were all to Continental Europeans, including a bruising physical encounter with Spain 1-0, then a 1-0 loss to Belgium.

They handed a 9-0 thrashing to host nation Brazil and had 2-1 wins over Commonwealth countries New Zealand and Great Britain, though you have to wonder whether the GB result would have followed the Euro pattern if not for their Brexit.

The European style is built on stern, gut-busting defence but while past exponents of the style often relied on the skills of one or two high forwards soccer-style, there is now great flair and dynamic drive through the midfield to add to their penalty corner expertise and all-round finishing ability.

The Aussies, playing their own hybrid of the Asian and European styles, appeared to have their creativity stifled by the European sides and probably came into the quarter-finals wondering what they needed to do to get past such quality opposition.

It’s all academic now.

Coach Graham Reid and the administration of the men’s program will have the whiteboards out for some time to come at their Bentley headquarters, as we leave Rio without a medal of any colour, and apply some 2020 vision to Tokyo.