Hockey: Dancer plan to banish Spanish

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BARRY DANCER, the England coach, who is putting together his team's final World Cup challenge here in Utrecht, is only too aware of the problems that Spain present in the opening match on Thursday. "We played well and with confidence against lesser sides in our tournament preparation programme but for Spain we have to step up another level."

Spain have been the big surprise in the hockey world. No one had them down as serious contenders when the Atlanta Olympics began but not only did they beat Germany, the defending champions, in their opening match, they went on to defeat Pakistan and Australia. Only the Dutch penalty corner routine stopped them in the final.

Dancer will be hoping that another penalty corner routine will bring them down on Thursday. Since his recall to the England squad for the last eight games, Calum Giles, England's specialist penalty corner striker, has scored 14 times and could be the key to England's success in Utrecht.

After Spain, England, who came through their warm-up games without mishap, have to tackle Pakistan, Poland, Australia and Malaysia in the pool games.

Pakistan's dominance of world hockey appears to lie in the history books but Australia's case for being at least equal to the successful German and Dutch machines is strong and they must start favourites for a semi- final place.

Poland have gone a long way since the installation of their first artificial pitch in the Poznan stadium in the early Nineties, but they and Malaysia should provide maximum points for England.

Tina Cullen, the England striker who fractured her jaw last Tuesday against Australia, flew into Manchester last night. The England coach, Maggie Souyave, confirmed she will not be risked in the World Cup.