Craig Bellamy, who came under fire for not singing the national anthem before Great Britain's Olympics tournament debut against Senegal, has demanded less negativity about the campaign, following the widespread ridiculing of the match programme which listed his compatriot Joe Allen as an Englishman.
"Would that bother you?" asked Bellamy, who expects to be fit to play for Stuart Pearce's men against the UAE at Wembley tomorrow, despite tweaking medial ligaments in the 1-1 opening draw against the Senegalese. "I think Joe knows he's Welsh, I'm sure he does. He speaks fluent Welsh. I'm Welsh, I think everyone knows I'm Welsh. I'm sure the guy [who published the Allen error] has made a complete mistake. We'll see him afterwards! [Joe] loves his country as we all do. The English boys love their own country. I'd like you guys to be a little bit more behind it."
Ryan Giggs, the captain, admitted that there was now "pressure" after the draw and that progression from Group A was essential if the scepticism about the GB side was to be erased. "I think if we go a long way the interest is going to get even bigger and that will have a massive bearing on that. Hopefully, we can do that and answer the sceptics that are out there," Giggs said.
UAE ought to have led 2-0 against Uruguay, who beat them 2-1, and Stuart Pearce will have noted that Omar Abdulrahman, who plays his football for Al Ain , and Ismaeil Matar, UAE's goalscorer known as the "Emirati Wayne Rooney", were uncowed by the prospect of playing in front of 70,000 at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Bellamy is clearly desperate to progress deep into the tournament. "Honestly, it's just been unbelievable," he said. "Every day I'm waking up I'm just enjoying it. It's just everything around a tournament, I've never experienced. I'm just really grateful. We have a great group of boys. The manager has been brilliant as well. It's just been a special occasion. I'm just fortunate to be part of it."
Chelsea's 22-year-old left-back Ryan Bertrand said it would have been "crazy" to turn down the Olympic chance in order to cement his fledgling career at Chelsea, having appeared in the Champions League final. "This was a massive opportunity," he said. "Chelsea have shown consistency by keeping [Roberto] Di Matteo so it is not back to square one. My ambition first and foremost is to try and get a few games for Chelsea. But this is another step in my international career. If I get games for Chelsea, hopefully I will get a chance with England."
Group A. Kick-off Tomorrow, 7.45pm, Wembley (BBC3). Referee R Garcia (Mex). Odds: Great Britain 2-7 Draw 7-2 UAE 7-1Reuse content