Hockey star James Mazarelo unafraid of Australia test at Commonwealth Games

·2 min read
Hockey star James Mazarelo unafraid of Australia test at Commonwealth Games

Altrincham's James Mazarelo and the England men’s hockey team won’t be cowed by the towering challenge of facing Australia in the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games.

England needed to beat Canada by 14 clear goals to leapfrog India and top Pool B, thus avoiding playing the Olympic silver medallists at the final four stage.

They pulled off their biggest-ever Commonwealth victory, beating the Canadians 11-2, but fell short and now face the tournament favourites on Saturday.

Roper said: “I think we're all aware of their threats. When you watch them play you know their threats.

“I think one of the biggest things you have to do with Australia is match them mentally from minute one, they're always going to come hard from minute one.

“If you can match that, that is where you can have a little bit of gold dust in your locker room and you make sure that you match it for 60 minutes, and we’ll see how it goes at the end.”

Australia have won 36 straight matches at the Games and all six Commonwealth titles since 1998. Roper said: “You come to tournaments to play the top teams, to play the top team, and you're not a competitive side, an aspiring top team unless you want to knock the guys off the top.

“They have an unbelievable record. We know that but we're not here to shy away from that. We want a good battle on Saturday.”

Against Canada hotshot Nick Bandurak netted four to take his tournament tally to 11 and Roper netted two.

It was an ill-tempered match that saw a 15-man brawl erupt and Canada's Balraj Panesar sent off for manhandling Chris Griffiths.

England drew 4-4 with India in a group-stage thriller and claimed convincing wins over Wales, Canada, and Ghana to fuel optimism in Paul Revington’s camp.

“It feels good, I'm not gonna lie,” said Roper.

“We have a really, tight group of guys. We're all buzzing to get out there with a bit of fire in our belly and really see what we can do.

“I've never been with such a forceful, strong competitive team, so I'm pretty excited for this.”

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