Saturday, June 25, 2022

Olympics Hockey: Great Britain women and Holland set for Rio repeat

So to Thursday. Speak to any GB player and they will tell you that the Tokyo 2020 squad is vastly different from the Rio 2016 vintage. Creating new stories and all that. After all, five years and plenty of retirements have passed since they beat the might of the Netherlands to Olympic gold.

Yet, this first Olympic meeting since Rio will have a certain signficance to it, marking exactly the 100th match the Dutch have played since losing at the Deodoro Park.

To underline their powerhouse status in the women’s game, there have been just three defeats (including one non-competitive) in that time under coach Alyson Annan.

A remarkable stat for a remarkable team.

Both Holland (5-0 over South Africa) and GB (4-1 against India) enjoyed victories on Tuesday, while the world No.1 Dutch will still be overwhelming favourites to come through their Pool stage clash.

With both teams looking set for the quarter-finals, Thursday’s double bill (GB men will also play the Oranje) will still be a tester for what may lie ahead deeper in the competition.

For now, Great Britain will hope to find more success from their corner routines and circle penetration, which has been a worry in recent tournaments. India certainly had their chances, but could only score one from eight, Britain scoring a solitary strike from six.

GB were indebted to Hannah Martin for a first-half double, before Lily Owsley and a late penalty stroke from Grace Balsdon handed Mark Hager’s side back-to-back victories.

“Momentum’s key,” said Martin. “This back-to-back win is brilliant for us. As a squad, we are hoping to take this momentum forward into the Dutch game tomorrow.”

GB secured back-to-back victories following India win PIC: Alyson Annan PIC: Worldsportpics/ GB Hockey

Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne described defeat as their “worst match”, with the Eves now needing to win their last two matches.

He said: “We always try to play for a six (out of 10) for each individual, and I don’t think each individual today played for a six. Bad decisions, bad choices and I’m pretty disappointed by this.”

Meanwhile, Holland notched another easy win, this time against South Africa in hot conditions.

Frederique Matla scored after a Lidewij Welten assist, before the Dutch opened their arms after the break. Matla set the tone as she doubled up before further goals from Maria Verschoor, Felice Albers and Marloes Keetels.

Verschoor said: “I think we’re growing into the tournament. In the first match it felt a little bit nervous. We’re trying to grow every game and focus on our own game.

“I think we can still do better, but I’m also really glad with how we played today. We just kept on going, kept on passing the game, so really excited for the next two games to come.”

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