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 March 8, 2002 | 1516 IST
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Aussies are favourites in final

1986 World Cup champions Australia, unbeaten in the current edition of the tournament, start as favourites in the final against European champions Germany, at the Bukit Jalil stadium, in Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday.

Coming into the tournament, it was the Germans who carried the tag of favourites. European champions, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup winners and Champions Trophy winners, Germany were ready to snatch their fourth big win. But after a loss to Spain in the pool matches, some of the shine was rubbed off. And then, after a hard-fought controversial 3-2 win over Korea in the semi-finals, Germany showed that they had their weaknesses.

Australia, on the other hand, have gone from strength to strength. After a rather sedate start, when they beat Malaysia 3-0 in their World Cup opener, Australia were hard to beat after that. They had a close 4-3 win over India, but their speed and control over the game was total.

And then in the semi-final, they broke the long-standing jinx against Holland, thrashing them 4-1. After the 1984 World Cup, Australia had beaten Holland for the first time in the semi-finals at a World Cup or Olympic Games.

The stage is now set for a final which should showcase the styles of two continents. Germany, with their thorough planning though bordering on the ultra-defensive, and Australia, who should excel with their speed and skills.

Germany's coach Benhard Peters, who looked relieved after the scare from Korea in the semi-final, said it would be a difficult final.

"They are good and they showed that against Holland," he said. "But we will plan well and we know a little about them. We will have to see that we don't commit any errors that they can capitalise on."

Aussie coach Barry Dancer felt Australia will have to play better than what they played against Holland.

"We will have to raise our game further," said Dancer. There are weaknesses and we will see that we rectify them in time for the final."

Dancer was a little concerned about Paul Gaudoin's injury but is confident the Aussie skipper, who had a minor muscle pull, would be in shape for the final.

Germany have entered the final once -- in 1982 in Mumbai, where they were beaten by Pakistan 3-1.

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