'All I ask is that we score one more goal than the Egyptians,' says Cotton. It may not sound a particularly ambitious objective against a side that has never taken part in a major international event and whose officials admit to being proud to be here and content 'to achieve a single victory'.
Probably Cotton is mindful of Britain's past record, just four wins in nine previous opening Olympic matches. And one remembers well Britain's poor start at Seoul. There Britain faced an unfancied team, seemed to be heading for victory over South Korea only to concede a late goal and draw 2-2. It was a left-winger who led the Korean recovery and Egypt have an outside-left of similar flair in Gamal Mohamed Fawzi.
Britain had never played Egypt before the 2-0 win over the African champions at Milton Keynes in mid-June. Rob Hill, a Somerset farmer, scored both goals at corners, and today Britain will hope headds to his tally of 10 goals in his last nine internationals, especially as the Egyptian defence looked vulnerable to corners in all three of their matches at Milton Keynes.
If Britain, who are unbeaten in their last six internationals, are successful with corners today, it will put them in good heart before their second match, against the strongly fancied Germans on Tuesday.
Britain play Egypt at 5.30 this afternoon and the temperature has recently been around 32C here at that time of day. Cotton plans to use all 16 of his players to combat the heat and is expected to make regular substitutions in attack. He will not disclose his starting line-up, but it will be no surprise if it is the same as in the drawn practice game with the Netherlands last Thursday which would mean Southgate's John Shaw making his Olympic debut alongside his former clubmates, gold medallists Sean Kerly and Stephen Batchelor.
Probable GB team (England unless stated): S Rowlands; S Martin (Irl), P Bolland; J Potter, J Laslett, R Hill; S Batchelor, J Shaw, S Kerly, R Clift (capt), J Lee.Reuse content