FIH Pro League Preview: China v GB

Erica Sanders
Great Britain’s women’s face China on Saturday 23 February at 6am in their third match of the FIH Pro League, a game which will be shown live on BT Sport.

With both sides yet to record a victory in the FIH Pro League, we preview the teams ahead of Saturday’s match which will be played at the Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou.

China targeting first FIH Pro League win
Despite failing to record a point so far in the FIH Pro League, China have been very competitive opposition in their opening games.

Despite beginning with a narrow 4-3 defeat to Australia before falling to a 2-0 loss to New Zealand, the 2018 Asian Games bronze medalists have played to a high standard and caused plenty of troubles to their higher ranked opponents.

China have one of the youngest squads in the FIH Pro League, with only four players over the age of 25 (the eldest being 28). They have also fielded the most teenagers in the competition (three), with two of them - Jiaqi Zhong and Wen Dan (both 19) - providing two of their goals.

A key player for China will be 23-year-old Jiao Ye, who demonstrated her class and importance when she was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2018 Wanglibao Champions Trophy. 

The last time China beat Great Britain was in the group stages of London 2012  as they secured a 2-1 victory. Only two players in the current China squad, Meiyu Liang and Yang Peng, featured in that match, although current captain Qiuxia Cui was in the squad but didn’t play in that game.

GB looking for cutting edge
Like China, Great Britain have played two matches in the FIH Pro League, being defeated by current Commonwealth champions New Zealand (5-1) and world number three outfit Australia (3-0). 

Despite tasting defeat in these matches, there have been encouraging signs for a young and inexperienced GB squad who put in spirited performances in their Oceania tour. 

Having pushed Australia for much of the game last weekend, often dominating possession, GB were undone by a lack of cutting edge, an area which will need work ahead of a tricky game against China. 

China may have one of the youngest squads but Great Britain’s is far less experienced, with 11 of the 18 players who have featured in the FIH Pro League currently having amassed less than 50 international appearances. Furthermore, the average number of caps per player is just 61 for Great Britain, whereas China’s is 73. 

There could potentially be two milestones for Great Britain, with Sarah Jones and Anna Toman in line to make their 100th and 50th combined international caps if they feature. Meanwhile, new Head Coach Mark Hager won’t be in attendance for the China match as he travels to Australia to attain his work visa. 

The two teams last met back in November at the same ground, with goals from Hannah Martin and Lily Owsley securing a 2-2 draw in the Champions Trophy. That defeat at the 2012 Olympics aside, Great Britain have a good record against their opponents and will be looking to extend that this weekend.

China visit London on Friday 3 May when the FIH Pro League comes to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, in a competition that’s featured goals and entertainment aplenty, don’t miss world class action and make the most of tickets from £5 today by clicking here.