An ability to convert opportunities into goals is why Matthew Butturini believes Australia can push for an Olympic gold medal in the men's hockey at Tokyo.
Butturini won bronze with Australia at the 2012 London Olympics and currently plays for Camden Haven in the Mid North Coast Hockey League following a move to the Hastings.
"I think they can definitely win it," he said.
"Depending on how the (pool) crossovers go I'd be surprised if it wasn't them and Belgium in the gold medal game."
The Kookaburras have won their opening four games of an Olympics campaign for the first time since Seoul in 1988 and it's mainly been from finding the back of the net.
"They're getting a lot more bang for their buck in terms of circle penetrations and goals than what they got in Rio and even when we played in 2012," Butturini said.
"Their capacity to convert is really high and if that can continue, that leaves them in really good stead."
The Kookaburras freewheeling attack has resulted in wins over Japan (5-3), India (7-1) and Argentina (5-2) although they were pushed for three quarters against New Zealand (4-2) on Wednesday night.
Tim Brand and Flynn Ogilvie have led the way in attack, but Butturini knows the further the team progress into the tournament the fewer opportunities they will have.
That's when they need to convert.
"As you get further into the tournament and play better teams your opportunities start to dwindle so you're not getting as many scoring shots," Butturini said.
"If you're not converting, the less the opportunities you will get and that's where the wins become harder to find. But if they can continue doing what they've been doing in the front half, they're a formidable force and a gold medal contender."
A changing of the guard followed their quarter-final performance in Rio and Butturini said that was another key factor to their strong start to Tokyo.
They used up a lot of energy in their pool matches five years ago which hurt them in the later matches whereas this campaign has been smoother with many of their results under control by three quarter time.
"In Rio it was an older group and I don't know if it was fatigue as they went through the tournament, but when you dominate a match you can take your foot off the accelerator," the former Kookaburra said.
"If you're having closer games each game then matters and you don't get the opportunity to take the foot off to conserve some of that energy for later games."
Butturini has also kept an eye on the Australian women's team who are also unbeaten in three pool matches, but he feels tougher tests will come.
World powerhouse the Netherlands appear to be the nation standing between the Hockeyroos and a potential gold medal.
"If they finish top of their pool they should avoid meeting Holland until potentially the gold medal match and that is a huge hurdle for most teams," he said.
"With the men any of the top four or five teams can win on their day, but in the women while the Hockeyroos have the potential to beat Holland, Holland haven't lost in about six years.
"They're going to be the big hurdle wherever they end up meeting them, but they have the ability to beat them."
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