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Hockey preview - 26 July

26 July 2002

Commonwealth champions Australia open their defence of the title with the first match of the women’s tournament against Scotland in Pool 1 on Friday morning.

Louise Dobson

Having been comprehensively beaten 6-0 by Australia in the opening pool game of the 1998 Kuala Lumpur tournament, Scotland will aim to improve against the clear favourites in this second Commonwealth hockey tournament.

The Australian girls have also won the Sydney 2000 Olympic title in the intervening period since the last Commonwealth Games, and will want to make a successful defence of their title before embarking on pursuit of the World Cup title in the autumn.

In the other Pool 1 match, Malaysia play South Africa, who will be especially keen to get off to a winning start before they face Australia on Saturday in their second match.

Pool 2 contains the second, third and fourth placed teams from the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur - England, New Zealand and India - while Canada, who recently qualified for the World Cup finals, remain capable of causing an upset that could make for a close qualification pool.

New Zealand play the hosts England in the opening Pool 2 encounter. Neither side can realistically afford to lose if they want to progress to the medal play-offs.

Following India’s recent defeat in a World Cup qualification play-off with USA., the team will redouble its focus on the Commonwealth tournament and will hope to get the better of a sturdy Canadian team.

Info News Service/gd/dm/pjt

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