Sunday, December 3, 2023

FIH Hockey Pro League: Tough going for Great Britain teams

GB women lost 4-1 to Belgium in Antwerp PIC: World Sport Pics

The European and home legs are becoming just as tough as their away travels for Great Britain women – and Saturday represents their biggest test in the FIH Pro League.

It will be the world No 1 and world champions Netherlands up against the world No 2 side and Olympic champions, but few will agree that this currently represents the top two global women’s teams.

GB were well beaten by Belgium 4-1 on Thursday in Antwerp, coming 11 days after their impressive victory over the rising Belgians.

Missing Lily Owsley in attack, Mark Hager’s side came up against a side refreshed from their domestic campaign.

The Dutch have only been beaten once since the Rio Olympic final, a 1-0 defeat to Australia in the Pro League, and have won seven from eight overall.

They have done so with six players making their Oranje debuts, have scored 24 goals and averaged three per game in the process. This will be their third home game, having already accrued 13 goals in two games, against China and the USA.

Meanwhile, GB men have dipped in form since topping the Pro League standings. They lost their third match in a row to world champions Belgium, going down 4-2 on Thursday.

In their previous two matches, they had been beaten 4-0 and 6-1 at the World Cup and the gulf in class was further evident in Antwerp, despite GB’s impressive second-half comeback.

Danny Kerry’s side will now hope to unhinge the Dutch on Sunday in Eindhoven, given that the hosts haven’t played since April 26 after back-to-back victories over Spain and Germany.

A brace of victories would be a welcome boost ahead of their trip to Germany in midweek before meeting old rivals Australia next weekend.

Saturday, 5pm
Netherlands v GB women

Sunday, 3pm
Netherlands v GB men

Both games live BT Sport

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