Team GB must deal with the emotion of playing at the Olympics – Hege Riise
By Nick Mashiter, PA, Tokyo
Hege Riise has urged Team GB to forget their emotions if they want to clinch Olympic gold.
Riise’s squad start their campaign against Chile in Group E in Sapporo on Wednesday – two days before the opening ceremony in Tokyo.
Riise won gold with Norway at the Sydney Games in 2000 after losing the opening match 2-0 to the United States, before going on to beat them 3-2 in the final.
It gives the former midfielder important perspective, which she believes will be key in Japan.
“It will be an emotional rollercoaster and how we deal with that individually and as a team will be crucial,” said Team GB’s coach.
“You need to have confidence that you are well prepared but also know not every game will be a great game, you might win on a day which isn’t great.
“You must overcome the feelings of not performing and being at your best but still win.
“The emotions of being in an Olympics are quite big and the games come so quickly so you don’t have the time to be too overwhelmed or happy. You just need to get going.
“You can prepare for something and it doesn’t happen so you need to be adaptable to whatever comes. We have to be prepared for that.”
Team GB qualified for just their second Olympics after England finished fourth at the 2019 World Cup. A home nation had to finish as one of the three best European teams at the tournament to reach Tokyo.
The bulk of the squad is made up of England players, with Wales’ Sophie Ingle and Scottish duo Caroline Weir and Kim Little also selected.
They have had just one game, a 3-0 win against New Zealand in Kawasaki last week, but Riise played down their lack of time together.
“We talked about this being a challenge, in a few months we’ve got to know each other as a team to fight for a gold medal,” said the interim England boss.
“It’s a big task for us but I feel like we will take that fight and do whatever, we will focus on what we can do, how we will prepare, how well we are prepared.
“Of course we don’t have the 10 games leading up but we have to focus on what we actually can do and I feel we are in the same positive thinking.”
They face Chile in Sapporo, northern Japan, before playing the hosts on Saturday and then travel to Kashima to take on Canada on July 27.
“We are happy to start in Sapporo so that was a good situation for us,” added Riise.
“We have prepared for Chile just as much as we have for Japan and Canada. They are hard to beat, they have drawn against Germany and it’s not an easy game.
“We want to have a good start and then we will see, it’s hard to plan for anything other than this game. We want to win.”