Hockey: Dancer delighted

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S teams had mixed fortunes in the World Cup in Utrecht, the men finishing a commendable sixth and with a place in the next elite Champions Trophy, while the women were a disappointing ninth, the same placing four years ago in Dublin.

Barry Dancer, the England men's coach, was delighted. He said: "Our performance has provided a platform for the future with our next major tournament the European Cup in Padua, Italy in September 1999." In between will be the Commonwealth Games and the Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

Dancer is, however, unlikely to be complacent. He will be aware of the urgent need to strengthen his midfield. Equally, he will need to rethink his goalscoring tactics, following the 1 July rule change, which says no substitutions after the award of a penalty corner.

Calum Giles, the specialist corner striker, has probably played his last international. Giles, with six goals, took his tally in Utrecht to 51 after 53 internationals and he said: "With no future for me, it has been a very difficult tournament. I can either just go away or fight my way back into contention." He plans to join Southgate for next season and fight back.

Four years ago Maggie Souyave, the women's coach, was appointed. Studiously, she has followed a youth policy. It promised well with victories over the World and Olympic champions, Australia, and the Netherlands in the build up. In the World Cup they did not deliver.

Was it a question of fitness, lack of mental toughness or lack of enough experienced players? They have potential but their World Cup record shows there has been no change in four years of quite heavy investment.