The 2020 edition of the FIH Pro League hits Sydney with a bang as the top ranked Kookaburras face arch-rivals Belgium, the world number two.
The Aussies triumphed over Belgium 3-2 in last year’s thrilling Pro League Final – a nail biter by any measure with the Kookaburras’ high-pressure game style and combative midfield establishing a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Trent Mitton, Flynn Ogilvie and Blake Govers.
They were then forced to withstand an almighty fightback from the Europeans, with their possession-based tactics amassing 20 circle entries after half-time.
Goals to Loick Luypaert and Alexander Hendrickx put the Kookaburras under immense pressure, but led by Goalkeeper of the Final Tyler Lovell, the Aussies held firm to clinch victory.
“We definitely dictated the terms at the start of the game and our first quarter was outstanding, but from there on Belgium played pretty well,” Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch noted after that match.
“Belgium piled on the pressure and we defended and absorbed it very well, but we needed to do more with the ball, and I think that’s the area of growth for us.”
A little over six months on, and critically 185 days before the Olympic torch is lit in Tokyo, Sydneysiders can get their first look at just how far the Kookaburras have grown while being hunted by hockey’s European powers.
Aussie co-captains Aran Zalewski and Eddie Ockenden were shortlisted for FIH’s World Player of the Year Award and are both expected to lead the home side in an all-action start to 2020.
Tickets for all of the FIH Pro League matches in Sydney and Perth are available now through Ticketek.
Story by Adam Clifford