Hockeyroos superstar Anna Flanagan. Photo: Getty Images
Hockeyroos superstar Anna Flanagan says Australia is desperate to get the World Cup title back to cap off 18 months of hard work that's brought them back from the wilderness just 18 months ago.
But the Canberra defender knows they will have to play at their best to beat the reigning champion Holland in the final at The Hague on Saturday, after they edged through their semi-final against the USA on a shootout after the sides were locked at 2-2 following extra-time.
If the Kookaburras beat Argentina overnight, then both out men and women will be going for gold.
Then the Hockeyroos' next major target will be winning their first Olympic gold medal since the Sydney Games in 2000.
Flanagan said the Hockeyroos had worked hard to transform themselves from the sixth-ranked team in the world just 18 months ago to making Saturday's World Cup final.
It began with the appointment of coach Adam Commens four years ago and has continued with the team taking a professional approach to their training.
Now Canberra's golden girl is excited about playing in front of yet another 15,000 screaming Dutch fans decked out in orange in the final.
While excited about the improvement the Hockeyroos have made, Flanagan said there was still plenty of room to get even better.
Which is exactly what they'll need to do if they're going to knock the Dutch off their No.1 world ranking and claim the gold at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
"It's been 18 months in the making. We said a long time ago our aim was to make the World Cup final and that was back when we were ranked sixth in the world and we'll be ranked third after this," Flanagan said.
"We had some really good results last year and it's been a whole process in change in our program in how we train, the amount we train. We're basically full-time now, so it's really exciting to be getting results.
"We've still got a big game ahead of us and Holland are the world champions, who we're chasing, and we really want to get that title back. It's in our hands, we have a real shot to get a gold medal ... we have nothing to lose."
The Hockeyroos' only loss in the tournament so far has been against Holland, 2-0, but Flanagan said every game had been tight.
It's made every goal crucial to getting them to the final.
Flanagan has scored six times so far and is the tournament's equal leading scorer along with Dutch captain Maartje Paumen.
Her expertise in converting short corners has been crucial in the Hockeyroos' rise up the ranks.
It's an area she's worked furiously on improving and two years ago she travelled to Holland to work with penalty-corner specialist Toon Siepman.
She'll join up with him again later in the year when she plays for the team he coaches.
"It's always nice to put some goals away and every game's been so tight for us, so every goal we've scored has been quite exciting," Flanagan said.
"It hasn't been an easy tournament, we haven't had one easy game and we're putting people back home and in the stands under a bit of stress watching.
"You can't perform unless you've got a good team around you and we're such a close group, we're in each other's pockets day-in, day-out."
Flanagan will be joined in the Hockeyroos' starting line-up by fellow Canberran Edwina Bone, as well Crookwell's Emily Smith and Kellie White.
"All those girls have been playing really well and it's exciting for all of us to be in it together," she said.
"Emily and Kellie I grew up playing against in under-10s. When you think about it, it's pretty crazy. It's so exciting to see how far we've come."
WORLD CUP HOCKEY
Saturday: Women's final: Hockeyroos v Holland, at The Hague, 11.15pm. TV: Live on ABC 2.