Britain must beat UAE to avoid Olympics fiasco

After opening the Olympics with a draw, Britain knows it needs a

victory to keep its first appearance at the games in 52 years from

ending in fiasco.

With Uruguay in command of Group A after opening with a victory,

the London 2012 hosts think their match against the United Arab

Emirates is a must-win following a 1-1 draw against Senegal.

”We know the magnitude of this game on Sunday, now we got the

first game out of the way and the nerves (too),” Britain manager

Stuart Pearce said Saturday from Wembley Stadium. ”We go into

every tournament attempting to win it. Other people wanting to

focus on us not in Olympics for 50 odd years, fine, but myself the

message I’ve wanted to give is that we’re in it for the long


Craig Bellamy, who scored Britain’s goal against Senegal, is

cleared to play after sustaining a slight injury in the first game.

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge also is available after logging

only 45 minutes in the opener due to the lingering effects of being

treated for viral meningitis earlier this month.

”It’s a big game but we are used to it. Obviously we have

confidence,” Sturridge said. ”There were always going to be

nerves in the first game but once you get that out the way, in the

last two games we will go about our business and do what we do


Britain must seize on the Wembley support against UAE, which led

Uruguay before falling 2-1 to the South Americans. There could be

extra pressure with Britain facing the UAE after Uruguay and

Senegal play.

”I am looking forward to playing in front of a London crowd and

hopefully we can do it for ourselves and them,” said 23-year-old

James Tomkins, who grew up in neighboring Essex.

Britain’s players took part in Friday’s opening ceremony and

Pearce believed that experience plus seeing other Olympians would

only help the camaraderie inside his squad going forward.

”The Olympic village experience now is quite incredible. Every

day there’s a new experience in the village to take your breath

away,” Pearce said. ”The professionalism and dedication of these

(Olympic athletes) is there for all to see. To be working jobs and

be athletes and to come from all around the world is beautiful and

awe inspiring.”

With the pressure and excitement of home games, Britain’s

players have turned to an unusual outlet to help stay calm –

playing scrabble.

”There is a lot of down time so it’s important we keep

ourselves entertained. It’s nice really, as it brings the team

together,” said Tomkins, who was hoping to run into tennis star

Roger Federer during the games. ”Federer is a massive hero of mine

and it will be great to meet him. We could play some


Paul Logothetis can be reached at