Britain’s men’s hockey team will deploy a high-octane,attacking gameplan to drive them past tournament favourites Australia and on to Olympic gold,but they are well aware it could all end in tears.
We’re running to save someone from a bus. Saving someone from a bus is us winning the game,and you know,if we don’t quite get there in time,something goes squash, said coach Jason Lee,who played through two medal-less Olympics for Britain.
By ditching a rigid formation for a free-flowing structure where ‘everyone plays everywhere’ Team GB are hoping their attacking intensity will overwhelm the opposition,setting them on the way to a first men’s Olympic hockey medal in 24 years.
To achieve that ambition the squad sees victory against Australia’s world number one ‘Kookaburras’ as crucial to claiming gold.
One of the team’s most experienced players,Ashley Jackson,said the Aug. 5 group stage game against Australia would probably be the game of the tournament – unless both qualify and end up meeting again later on in the competition.
Because of the two styles of game we have it’s going to be very high-paced,end-to-end with lots of chances,Jackson said.
An action-packed game between the two at the Olympic test event in May ended in a 3-3 draw,played out on the unique pink and blue pitch of the Riverbank Arena.
The world number four GB team come into the tournament on the back of competitive wins against Spain and India – ranked fifth and 10th in the world respectively. Their first group game is against Argentina on July 30.
Men’s hockey has a special place in British Olympic history after the 1988 Seoul Olympics final produced a surprise gold medal,snatched from under the noses of red-hot favourite West Germany in a game that generated widespread attention for the sport.
But,that past success is not a burden the British team feel, says captain Barry Middleton.
That isn’t something that comes into our heads when we walk out onto the pitch – that we want to get ’88 out of the way, he said.
Even if we win,then they still won in ’88.
All eyes turn to London on Friday for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics,an exuberant journey from Britain’s idyllic pastures through the grime of the Industrial Revolution and ending in a contemporary world dominated by popular culture.
The three-hour showcase created by Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ director Danny Boyle will be watched by a crowd of 60,000 in the main stadium built in a run-down area of London’s East End and a global audience of more than a billion.