Britain must beat UAE to avoid Olympics fiasco

BY foxsports • July 29, 2012

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 haul.''

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 best.''

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 Scrabble.''


Paul Logothetis can be reached at

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