Day 1 Olympic Preview - GB v Japan

Great Britain v Japan - Champions Trophy 2012 450x299
Great Britain women's opening fixture of their Olympic hockey campaign, sees them play Japan, who are ranked 9th in the world.

Fixture: Great Britain v Japan
Date and time: 29 July 2012 - 19:00
Location: Riverbank Arena
Watch Live on BBC: Olympics 7 (red button for Sky, Virgin & Freesat)

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World Rankings
Great Britain #4
Japan #9  

Head to Head Record
Played: 7
Won: 5
Drawn: 0
Lost: 2
Goals For: 20
Goals Against: 8

The GB women have only ever faced Japan seven times and have impressively won five of these fixtures. The first time GB played Japan in September 1978, they won emphatically with the final score standing at 8 – 0. GB’s most recent encounter with Japan was in Rosario at the Champions Trophy, which saw GB win 3 – 0. Crista Cullen, Helen Richardson and Alex Danson all got their names on the score sheet, something that they will be hoping to achieve again in today's fixture.

GB player to watch
Kate WalshThe longest serving player in the Great Britain team for London 2012, captain Kate Walsh is now in her 13th year of an international career. This is the Mancunian’s third Olympics, and she has captained England and GB since 2003. Kate lead the side to its best ever World Cup result, the bronze medal, in Rosario in 2010. Shortlisted for the World Player of the Year Award in 2003, Walsh was Great Britain Hockey’s Athlete of the Year in 2007 and has twice won the prestigious Hockey Writers’ Player of the Year, in 2003 and 2007.  After a superb team and individual performance at the Champions Trophy, which saw the GB women win their first ever world level silver medal, Kate will be hoping the side can emulate this performance at the Games.

Japanese player to watch
We asked the GB team who they consider are the 'players to watch':

Name: Akemi Kato
Position: Defensive midfielder

As the oldest female hockey player at the Games, Kato has a vast amount of experience, being capped nearly 400 times.   She is a solid player who is pivotal in dictating the play for Japan.

Name: Kaori Fujio
Position: Centre forward

Having represented Japan in all three of their Olympic appearances, Fujio is a huge threat up front. Her scoring ability from the field is excellent and her fearless attitude means she will literally put her body on the line when it comes to playing for her country at the Olympic Games.

Thoughts ahead of the game....

GB Hockey captain Kate Walsh on preparing for the first game against Japan on Sunday...
“It literally could be any other Games. I know that might sound strange but all the day to day things are the same as they would be wherever you are in the world. I think the big difference we will find, hopefully, is when we walk into that stadium for the first stick and ball it will hopefully be full of GB fans screaming for us.  They’ll make the biggest difference.
“It [the Riverbank Arena] holds 16,000 and it’s sold out so hopefully it’ll be full of home fans dressed in red and cheering for us.
“We’re not looking anywhere beyond our first game. It’s a key game for both teams – every team wants to start with three points on the board.  I think it’ll be a tight game.  The Japanese are a fantastic side; they have a great attacking game and are difficult to break down.  They like to play nice and tight and compact so it will be a really good test for us first game.”

Danny Kerry (head coach) on preparing his side for their first fixture against Japan...
"The only slight problem is that the Japanese have been very, very crafty. They've played no hockey since the qualifiers against anybody. So normally I like to go well-armed, having had a good look and got some good footage and done a lot of work on them. They've been very sneaky and not played anybody."

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