Hockey: England target Athens

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The Independent Online

There was quiet confidence in the England camp yesterday as both teams took a day off from their preparations for tomorrow's semi-finals of the European Nations Cup here.

The ultimate prize is one of automatic qualification for next year's Olympic Games in Athens for the eventual winners.

The women have dictated all their matches right through to the semi-final stages and have played a disciplined, calm game. They go into their game against Spain on the back of a 3-0 victory in the World Cup last December, and with the news that they will select from a full squad after the injury doubts surrounding Mel Clewlow and Lisa King cleared up.

In contrast, the men's path to their semi-final against Germany has been no means straightforward. Despite the success of Ben Hawes at penalty corners, they have had to contend with some inconsistent performances, which their coach, Mike Hamilton, admitted yesterday was a source of some concern. "The key issue is that we must dominate," he said. "If we do I am confident we can beat the Germans.''