Maitland’s Simon Orchard is one win away from a gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics and it comes after the Kookaburras confirmed top spot in their group with a 7-0 win against Pakistan on Tuesday.
The Australian men’s hockey team will take on Germany in the semi-final at 3.30pm today (12.30 am Friday AEST).
Orchard caught up with the Mercury’s Josh Callinan in London ahead of the encounter at Riverbank Arena.
Josh Callinan: How does it feel to be on the verge of a semi-final and a possible Olympic medal?
Simon Orchard: I can't wait and I am so excited to play Germany.
They are a long time rival of ours and it will be a bit strange that we meet them in semi instead of a final but we've always known how good a team they are and we will have to play some great hockey to get over them.
The crowds so far at the tournament obviously have had a very European flavour but I think they enjoy our Australian style, passion and attacking hockey so hopefully they get behind us and make it a very memorable occasion.
These big matches are the reason we play the game so we are counting down the minutes until we can get out there.
We haven't honestly thought about the medals at all, process over outcome.
Josh Callinan: It must have been a bit tense heading into the Pakistan match knowing you had to win to ensure a spot in the semis?
Simon Orchard: “There was a bit of a weird feeling amongst the group. Not so much being nervous but maybe some anxiousness about the Pakistan match as it ended up being so crucial to help us achieve our first goal of making the medal games.
We have always believed we were good enough to beat any team in the world if we play to our capabilities and the last two matches we have let our standards slip for small portions of the game and it resulted in two draws.
We regrouped after the disappointment of the GB game [3-all draw after leading 3-0 early in the second half] and honestly we couldn't wait to get back out there and atone for the second half of that match.
We have been drilled over the last four years by [coach] Ric [Charlesworth] to always think process over outcome and although it was difficult I think once the match started we were always going to be okay.
As long as we got the process right, the result would take care of itself.”
Josh Callinan: You guys were able to shut out this match rather than the last two games where teams have come from behind to draw, which must have been somewhat of a relief?
Simon Orchard: It was a great feeling holding a dangerous side like Pakistan to zero.
They have some world class attacking players, a great penalty corner battery and have played some brilliant hockey this tournament.
It's a credit to our defenders who played some awesome hockey but the whole team continues to contribute and that's the best thing for us.
We pride ourselves on being relentless and playing until the final whistle so if nothing else it might be a bit of a statement to the rest of the sides that not much can deter us.
Josh Callinan: Describe the positives and negatives from your own performance so far?
Simon Orchard: I have been really happy with the way I am playing.
I can always improve defensively with my energy and chase and the Germans are very efficient at moving the ball around so I will have to be very diligent in my positioning tomorrow.
I have had an unusual amount of goal chances this tournament, which is great, except I'm not hitting them in.
Hopefully I am saving them up for the big matches.
These types of games can be decided by the smallest of things so myself, along with all of the boys, need to remain disciplined and thorough with everything we do.
Josh Callinan: What are the things to look out for against Germany in your bid to make the Olympic final?
Simon Orchard: They are the Olympic Champions.
Pure and simple they are a great side with numerous quality players. Their midfield of Hauke, Fuerste and C.Zeller rolling through is one of the best in the world and I always enjoy the challenge of playing against them.
They finish well and are typically strong and powerful at the back.
All qualities we respect but do not fear.