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Lee: We can beat any team here

[img_assist|nid=2977|title=Jason Lee|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=95]GB men’s hockey coach Jason Lee says his side can beat any of the teams in in the London 2012 Olympic Games hockey tournament. 

“If I was a neutral trying to make the odds, Australia have won everything and have barely lost a game in the last two years, so it makes them strong favourites. But, they have lost some games, they lost to us (as England) in the first game at the world cup, and we think there’s not a single team here we can’t beat.”

Lee said that tactically, the Olympics was about being robust and trying to impose your game on other sides rather than adapting to various opponents. “If we’re successful getting through to the semifinal, we’ll play seven teams in 11 days, so your tactics have to be fairly robust against whoever you play. Often in hockey it’s how much you can enforce your style of play on the opposition, which is why Australia are so successful, because their style of play is quite dominant.

“We’re not tactically orientated for one opposition because of how many teams we’ll play in such a short period of time,” the 42-year-old said.

The veteran on two Games as a player – 1992 and 1996 and two as a coach, 2004, 2008 – said being in London bareley made a difference. “It doesn’t feel any different. Often the Olympics is a very closeting experience for those that are inside it.

“Normally what you’d notice about this (London 2012) being different is that it would be slightly cooler and it would be raining and windy, but with the sun out and the sky blue, this is very similar to so many Olympics. If you’d have taken the London signs down here, I wouldn’t have known where I was, or what Olympics it was.”

However, he said he hoped his players would reactpositively to the home support. 

“Instead of us having half a dozen friends and family that travel across the world to watch us, I imagine that each and every one of us will know three or four hundred people in the crowd and that definitely brings a different sort of expectation.

“I’m hoping the players are going to thrive under that. Certainly, they have felt a huge swell of support for them, they feel that people are really behind them.”

GB’s seeding as fourth-ranked team in the tournament gives them a first game against 9th ranked Argentina on Monday 30 July. After that come games against South Africa, Pakisatn, Australia and Spain. 

“We’ve got Australia in our group and most people in hockey think they’re strong favourites for the gold medal,” said Lee. “We’re the second highest-ranked team in our group, we’re ranked fourth, and the fifth is Spain. The difference between us and them (Spain) in the world rankings is marginal, so that will clearly be one of the crunch games for making the semi-final.”

“We’ve also got Argentina, Pakistan and South Africa, and they’re all quite exciting, fast, skilful teams. Almost every single team in our group could beat another one, so it’s very competitive.”

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