Belarus spared penalty

Hockey

Hockey

BILL COLWILL

reports from Dublin

Belarus, due to play Ireland in a televised match this afternoon on the opening day of the seventh Nissan European Championship, missed yesterday's opening ceremony and the tournament director's briefing and technically could have been ruled out of the competition. However, Roger Self, the tournament director took a lenient view and the match goes ahead.

The team had planned to travel by coach through England and Wales and were scheduled to arrive last Saturday. However, they overlooked the need for visas. Re-routed via France, they eventually arrived late yesterday.

England, who play Germany tomorrow, are in a confident mood. They finished their preparations with a 5-0 win against France yesterday.

With a defence which performed more than competently in the World Cup more or less intact and a proven midfield, England's big worry was in attack. The introduction of Calum Giles and the recall of Rob Thompson was looking good until England were woefully outplayed in two games in the Netherlands 10 days ago.

David Whitaker, the coach, appears to have done a good job in getting his squad going again, and confidence is high. Gold here would give Great Britain automatic qualification for the Olympics.

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