Australia men's Head Coach Colin Batch

After Rio low, Colin Batch plots Australia revival at Hockey World League Final

November 21, 2017

Colin Batch is known for his perfect planning and execution. Soon after taking over as chief coach of the Australia hockey team in 2016, he listed the problems in the team, which had finished sixth at the Rio Olympics.

The 59-year-old Australian had been the head coach of New Zealand and was a big inspiration to the Black Sticks for almost four years before switching over to his native country.

Batch wants his maiden trip to India to be a memorable one, helping defending champions Australia retain the Hockey World League Final, to be played in Bhubaneswar from December 1-10.

The World League Final will be Australia’s last tournament in 2017, ahead of a big year when the Kookaburras will compete in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast City and in the London World Cup.

“We’re coming to India to win the tournament once again,” Batch told Hindustan Times over phone on Friday, soon after Hockey Australia named the 18-member team for the Odisha event.

“India is a strong team and they will have the home advantage, but we have prepared well to tackle all opposition,” said Batch. “This is a good opportunity to play against European teams and to test where we are after a lot of changes this year in the squad.”

Strong field

Australia, ranked No 2 in the world, are clubbed with England, Germany and India in Pool B. World No 1 Argentina, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain are in Pool A. “We haven’t played against Argentina and Netherlands for a while and we haven’t played Germany this year either. That is why this is a valuable tournament for us,” he said.

Despite the inexperience in the side, Batch was confident. “We’re a bunch of young and talented players and it’s no different to any other tournament where we go to perform to our best. We’re also assessing players on their capacity to play against other top teams.”

Batch, who also coached Belgium for two years till 2012, termed the Odisha Hockey World League Final as the biggest chance for all the teams to test their preparation for the big events next year, which includes the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics.

“It’s quite a challenging event (HWL Final) for the coaches also. Every event in the world gives you some idea for further improvement,” he said.

Batch said Australia had done home work and played good matches recently. “We’re missing some of our senior players for the event, but I am sure our youngsters would do well,” he said.

Source: Hindustan Times


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