Kookaburras crush reigning Olympic champs

Australia are on track to top Pool A in Olympic men's hockey after a 5-2 win over Argentina.
Australia are on track to top Pool A in Olympic men's hockey after a 5-2 win over Argentina.

The Kookaburras have underlined their gold-medal credentials while crushing reigning Olympic champions Argentina 5-2 in Tokyo.

World No.1 Australia started these Games with a surprisingly tough 5-3 victory over Japan, but the gold-medal favourites have backed up a 7-1 smashing of India with yet another dominant display.

The victory ensures the Kookaburras, seeking redemption after a quarter-final loss at Rio de Janeiro marked the first time they missed the Olympic podium since 1988, are on track to top Pool A.

Their scything ball movement and potency ensured the result never looked in doubt from the moment Tom Wickham delivered a 2-1 lead in the 21st minute.

Australia conceded a fourth-minute goal, courtesy of Jose Leandro Tolini's drag flick, but delivered more composure and better defence compared to their scrappy second quarter against the Japanese.

Blake Govers produced an equaliser late in the opening quarter then scored with a drag flick yet again during a scintillating five-minute burst from his side that busted the game open.

Australia boasted a 4-1 lead at halftime thanks to quick-fire goals from Wickham, Govers and Lachlan Sharp.

Argentina failed to seize momentum throughout the second half, grabbing a 55th-minute consolation goal after Jeremy Hayward put his team up 5-1.

The Kookaburras, who penetrated the attacking circle 24 times compared to Argentina's seven, have put rivals on notice while pursuing their first Olympic gold medal since Athens 2004.

But they know all too well the job is far from done.

Australia also topped the world hockey rankings at the start of the 2016 Olympics, only to stumble to a 4-0 loss in their quarter-final against the Netherlands.

Colin Batch, appointed coach in the aftermath of Rio, has since helped the Kookaburras win the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy in 2018 as well as the 2019 Pro League.

Australian Associated Press