Australia, Germany draw 1-1 in TPG International Tri-Series opener
Hockey giants start countdown to Rio Olympics
The players were rusty, there were a slew of misplaced passes and opportunities missed last night, but the Australian and German women's hockey teams will be in very different form come the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
As part of final preparations for this year's Olympics, the two sides fought out a 1-1 draw in the first game of the inaugural TPG International Tri-Series, held at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
Reigning gold medallists and world No. 1 Holland are the third team in the series.
The Hockeyroos - ranked third in the world - started on the front foot, with 18-year-old debutante Grace Stewart putting them ahead off a scrappy penalty corner after six minutes.
Australia failed to put away their chances and Germany levelled in the second quarter through Julia Mueller.
Germany coach Jamilon Mulders praised his charges for their performance against a team ranked five places above them.
"In the beginning they were by far the better (side), but we developed and, at the end, it was really deserved, so I'm pleased," he said.
Captain for the day Nina Hasselmann, 29, agreed, saying that the "second half was much better".
"We played together as a team," she said.
"We played stronger going forward, went often into the circle, got some corners. We can learn a lot from the game."
The Hockeyroos, on the other hand, were left to rue their missed opportunities as Germany goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds, who is in contention for the International Hockey Federation's 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year award, pulled off a string of saves in the fourth quarter to keep her side level.
Australia captain Jodie Kenny, 28, said: "I'm really happy with the team's performance today, but a little bit disappointed to come out with the draw.
"It would've been nice to put away a few more chances, few more penalty corners. There were a couple of mistakes there which cost us a couple of opportunities to score."
Australia assistant coach Jason Duff said his side need to take their chances in their next game against the Dutch tomorrow.
"We really need to finish our play off," he said.
"We've been creating chances, now we've got to actually take the next step and put the ball away."
Germany, however, do not have a day off.
They face Holland today and Mulders says the team will be in for a tough test.
"Holland are totally different; more skilful, same speed, same quality. But, in my opinion, they are still the role model of women's hockey," he said.
Hasselmann said: "Holland had a rest day (yesterday). They will play much (better) than the Australians and they have better strikers. We will see."
The tournament will run till Saturday, when Australia take on the Dutch for a second time.
The series is seen as vital by all three countries as they prepare to chase Olympic glory and Hockey Australia chief Cam Vale was full of praise for the Singapore facilities.
"The venue is fantastic," he said.
"The supporting infrastructure, the facilities, the lighting, the pitch itself - they are all really good quality.
"Credit to TPG, they were able to put on an event like this and get three of the best teams in the world."
- Holland v Germany (7pm)
- Sengkang Hockey Stadium