The Great Britain women’s hockey team will take on Chile in a two-legged Olympic Qualifier in what is the last opportunity to reach Tokyo 2020.
Head Coach Mark Hager gave an insight into his thoughts on being drawn against Chile and how his side will ready themselves for the test:
“Chile are a bit of an unknown for us, we’ve seen some footage of them but haven’t played them for a very long time. We do know they’ll very much play with a South American style of hockey with flair and attacking impetus. It’s an exciting time for us. To know who our opponent is now means we can get on with getting ready.
“I think we need to focus on ourselves and getting our things right. Chile have got nothing to lose, from their point of view they’ll come here and throw everything at us. I think as long as we prepare properly and do everything that we need to do then we’ll come away with the win.
“We just need to prepare properly, go out there and play without fear. It’s the old cliché that as long as we do what we need to do, follow the processes and forget about the result then the result should take care of itself.”
Knowing that the Olympic Qualifiers provide an opportunity to progress to Tokyo and spark memories of the events of Rio in 2016, Hager spoke of the intrigue around the must-win nature of the qualifiers and how a big home crowd could make the difference:
“I think it’s exciting for the spectators. As long as we perform well, being at home we should have the crowd on our side, and I think that’s what we need. We need the support to make sure it’s not an easy environment for the Chileans when they come and play here, and I think the main thing for us is making sure we have our processes right and do the little things right on the pitch. If that works well for us, then we’ll be okay.
“It’s great knowing you don’t have to travel 9 or 10 hours across the world into a different time zone. We’re in our back garden with the home crowd, I think that’s the exciting thing, being able to play at home which is a huge advantage.
“I think it will be fantastic if we can pack it out and have that same support that we had through the Pro League, it would really help us.
“The more people we can get out there and the more support we can have on both days will be very beneficial for us. When you’ve got a crowd that’s supporting you, you tend to grow an extra arm and a leg, you find that extra 1% of energy because you’ve got that support behind you.”
The games will take place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on 2 and 3 November with tickets on general sale on Monday 16 September.