‘We’re still building’: Kookaburras ready for Spain challenge in World Cup quarter-final

Australia is yet to really hit its straps at hockey's World Cup in India.

Australia is yet to really hit its straps at hockey's World Cup in India. Photo: AAP

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch has urged his men not to play scared as they look for top gear in their World Cup quarter-final against Spain.

The three-time Cup winners and world No.1 side have blown hot and cold in India during the pool stage.

Strong defeats of France and South Africa sandwiched a comeback 3-3 draw against 2016 Olympic champions Argentina that served as a wake-up call before Tuesday’s must-win clash in Bhubaneswar on India’s north-east coast.

“It takes a while to get to the level and sometimes when you play at your best at the start of the tournament and you’re not working on the small detail, it might not happen in the critical knockout matches,” Batch said of the team’s Indian form.

“We’re still building. We’ve still got a lot to learn and that’s where we are at the moment.

“This is a World Cup and we shouldn’t be frightened of anything. We’ve got great belief in the group and a lot to prove.”

Spain was well beaten by England and India in pool games, only scraping into the final eight with an extra-time shootout defeat of Malaysia in the crossover qualifier.

But it drew with the Kookaburras at the 2021 Olympics and beat them in the edition before that.

Batch’s men are no stranger to tight quarter-final wins, the side needing a shootout to oust the Netherlands on the way to Olympic silver in Tokyo.

“We have been through it a number of times and haven’t always handled a quarter-final as well as what we might like,” the coach said.

“It was really intense against the Netherlands in Tokyo and we’re expecting a similar type of match.

“We’ve just got to wear Spain down, not be impatient and bring our intensity to the game.”

If Australia beats Spain, it will face the winner of England and either Germany or France in a Friday semi-final, with the final on Sunday night in Bhubaneswar.

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