Star Kookaburras trio cleared for World Cup hockey semi-final

Star Kookaburras trio cleared for World Cup hockey semi-final

LONDON Australian hockey officials are optimistic captain Mark Knowles will be fit to take his place in the Kookaburras' World Cup semi-final against Argentina in The Hague on Friday, having been cleared of a serious neck injury.

Knowles was taken from the field on a stretcher and in a neck brace late in the first half of Monday's 4-0 thrashing of India after a nasty collision with the hip of India's SV Sunil.

Australia's Matthew Swann.

Australia's Matthew Swann.

Photo: AFP

The classy 30-year-old was taken to hospital for scans, but was quickly released after concerns over any structural damage were allayed.

Knowles is still suffering muscle soreness in his neck and has a headache, and so remains in some doubt for the Argentina clash.

But team officials are confident the four-day break between the reigning world champions' last group match and their semi-final will provide sufficient recovery time.


Coach Ric Charlesworth's plans received a further boost with ace Jamie Dwyer (calf) and Matthew Swann (ankle), who both failed to finish the India match, also cleared of injury.

Australia have set the tone for the World Cup, racking up a tournament-high 19 goals while conceding just once in their five wins.

But Argentina are in hot form, having beaten South Africa 5-1 on Tuesday to finish second in their group behind the Netherlands and reach their first World Cup semi.

The South Americans' victory knocked Germany out of the tournament, making them the first Olympic champion to miss the final four since 1971.

The winner of the Kookaburras-Argentina match will play either the Netherlands or England in the final on Sunday.


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