Hockey: Mason's knee injury compounds Olympic woe

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's Olympic hopes hang by a thread after a 2-1 defeat to the hosts, Spain, in the qualifying tournament in Madrid yesterday set up a must-win final pool match against South Africa.

Despite a much-improved performance, in which Guildford's Danny Hall gave them a 38th-minute lead, Britain could not withstand almost constant pressure in the second half and conceded two penalty corner goals to Xavier Ribas.

It means Britain have to beat South Africa tomorrow and hope Poland do not pick up any more points from their two remaining games if they are to secure the fourth place in the group which will keep qualification alive.South Africa will go into the tie with Britain full of confidence after winning their second match in a row yesterday, 2-1 over Japan.

Britain's coaching staff are waiting anxiously to see how Simon Mason, the in-form goalkeeper, recovers from a twisted knee he sustained eight minutes from time. Mason joins a lengthening injury list of which Guy Fordham's hamstring tear is the most serious. Others undergoing treatment are Russell Garcia (hamstring), Mark Pearn (groin) and Hall (knee), who required a pain-killing injection to play yesterday.