Head Coach Paul Gaudoin and goal scorer Kalindi Commerford gave their reflections on the tournament after the Hockeyroos’ 3-1 win over China.
Commerford, Rosie Malone and Renee Taylor all found the back of the goal in open play in the Hockeyroos’ best performance since arriving in the Japanese capital.
The deserved result rounded off the Hockeyroos’ Tokyo Test Event campaign, which saw the team play four matches in five days and finish third in the standings.
The team will return home on Friday as attention now turns to the Oceania Cup, which acts the Olympic qualifiers, to be held in Rockhampton from 5-8 September.
Despite the hiccup at the end the team was sound defensively and scored three goals, all from open play. Great way to finish the tournament.
Paul Gaudoin (PG): “It was a much better performance and was pleasing to get some scoreboard pressure early as well. Certainly it was our best performance for the week. It has been really good learning of what the environment is going to be like. Perhaps we started to adapt better and get used to things as the week went on, but certainly I thought we had a fair bit of control of the game and they didn’t have too many chances. We let China off the hook at the end with some lapses in concentration, but apart from five to eight minutes it was a very good performance by the collective.”
How would you rate the success of the Hockeyroos’ tournament overall?
PG: “The teams we played against are very good teams and it was a very tight competition. It’s always going to be close between the top 12 teams in the world, we’re seeing that in Europe and the top teams in Asia are here with us. It’s pretty clear that you’ve got to be on in every game to get the result that you want.”
Over the past week have you noticed a number of players put their names up to be in contention for the Oceania Cup?
PG: “I think players have put their hand up. It’s going to be a difficult selection process with the opportunities here and with those who are training back in Perth. Information on how they are going and history and performances will all be taken into account.”
Throughout the tournament the focus has obviously been on each game but in the corner of yours and the players’ minds has there been that eye towards the Oceania Cup to make sure you’re in the best possible position for that?
PG: “I think so. At the end of the day when you play for Australia you want to win every match but we certainly came up here with the objective of giving people the opportunity to perform, to experience the Olympic environment so we’re better prepared hopefully for next year, and also working on some things that we’re going to have to do for the Olympic qualifiers in terms of our tactics.
Congratulations on the win. How would you sum up the tournament?
Kalindi Commerford (KC): “The tournament for us performance wise was probably a little bit disappointing. I think the games when we had the stats in our favour we lost, but to get a win today and play how we know we can play was nice. Overall, it was good to come to Tokyo and get an insight into the temperature and also the science behind the heat to get an idea of how each individual reacts to the heat and what strategies people will need hopefully when we come back next year for the Olympics. Furthermore, it’s pretty rare to get exposure to the Olympic pitch a year out – that’s quite good intel moving forward in terms of what pitches we might train on in the build up to adapt.”
You were on the score sheet again to make it two goals in two games. It must be good for your own confidence?
KC: “I was playing in different lines across the tournament and in the first game I started as striker and got some shots away but they didn’t come off, so it was good to get to the key goal scoring position and put them away…it’s a bit of encouragement to keep getting there.”
Being able to score three goals from open play today is a promising sign, particularly against a team like China who are very well organised defensively?
KC: “I don’t think there is much between the top 15 countries in the world so in international hockey everything is close. So to dominate a game from the start like we did is really pleasing, and it is also more experience playing in a medal match, so it’s a different ball game when you get to the medal matches. It comes down to whoever shows up, and the more practise we have playing these games, the more we will perform in the future when it comes to them.”
Coming back home, there is not really any down time because it’s full swing into preparing for the Oceania Cup. Has that been in the corner of yours and the girls’ minds while you were playing in this Test Event?
KC: “For sure. Of course we want to win but I think this test event was mainly about getting an idea of what we can expect in a year’s time, and when we were playing, we were always relating it back to the Kiwis because that has been our main objective all year.”
How much are you looking forward to the Olympic qualifiers coming up?
KC: “Our training block since we came back from our break after the Pro League has been solely focussed on beating New Zealand. If we can implement strategies, have really specific and purposeful training, it will be good to take that onto the field in Rockhampton.”
China 1 (Jiaqi Li 57’)
Hockeyroos 3 (Commerford 11’, Malone 16’, R.Taylor 34’)
@ Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan