Thursday, June 8, 2017
GREAT Britain will not only play under England's flag, but also has included six new players for the World League Semifinals in London on June 15-25.
Both teams last played in the Azlan Shah Cup, and back then, Great Britain beat Malaysia 1-0 off a penalty stroke scored by Scotsman Alan Forsyth.
Coach Stephen van Huizen's men play them second in the World League which is a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in India.
Forsyth will be in London, but playing for Scotland in Group B, while Welsh player Daniel Kyriakides will be out as England drop their Great title.
England are in Group B with Malaysia, Argentina, South Korea and China.
"When we played Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup, we had the home advantage and solid crowd support. We will be playing at their den in London, and with six changes in the squad, I expect them to be a totally different side," said van Huizen.
But the former Olympian is not about to give up three points to England over a cup of Twinings tea.
"We were unlucky not to beat Britain in Ipoh as we had more chances than them, and even though the venue will be different, I believe my players will be better prepared this time around," said van Huizen.
The major change is the inclusion of goalkeeper George Pinner who has 99 caps, as well as Harry Martin (127 caps) and Adam Dixon (156 caps) -- all three played in the Rio Olympics.
"We will play against the England development squad two days after we arrive in London, and even though this is a totally different team, we will still get to test our rhythm against an English playing style.
England, seventh on the world ranking, played as Great Britain in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and failed to advance to the quarter-finals stage.
However, in the Azlan Shah Cup, Britain beat World No 2 Australia 4-3 to win the gold medal.
"That's what they are capable off. We need to play positive hockey for the entire match because even a momentary lapse, could see us trailing and chasing the match.
"We don't want that, as even though England are 7th while we 14th in the World, we need at least one point before we head to the Asian clashes against South Korea and finally China."
Only the top-four teams in each group have a chance to make the World Cup, and finishing fifth is not an option.
In Group B are Netherlands, India, Pakistan, Scotland and Canada.