England men’s hockey team to begin Euros campaign against Belgium today – with Paul Revington saying his team ‘want medals’ after stunning rise to third in world rankings
- England men’s hockey manager Paul Revington says his team ‘want medals’
- Their Euros campaign begins today against Olympic champions Belgium
- ‘We want to stay within the top three and we want to get higher’, said Revington
England men will take on Olympic champions Belgium in the opening game of the Euros later today.
England will continue their European campaign against Austria on Monday before taking on Spain on August 23.
Paul Revington’s side – who have risen from sixth to third in the world rankings – will enter the tournament as one of the favourites.
England’s development under Revington has been seismic. They won bronze at the Commonwealth Games and led the FIH Pro League until their dramatic 3-2 loss to Germany at Lee Valley.
Speaking about their Pro League campaign, Revington said: ‘They were very disappointed not have won it in the end. I think that would have been sensational.
England won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Paul Revington has led a rise up the world rankings
‘In terms of where they want to go as a squad and as a team, they want regular podiums. They want medals. So this is probably in line with that path. There is certainly a good feeling about it but they are a little bit frustrated with how it ended up.’
Nevertheless, Revington’s side have created history – reaching third place in the FIH World Rankings for the first time in 20 years.
The men’s team were in sixth place overall before a number of strong performances during Pro League boosted their overall points and subsequent world ranking.
Speaking about the pressure that comes with their new ranking, Revington said: ‘It’s new territory for the group.
‘They’ve wanted this. They set it out over a year ago that this were they wanted to be. Ultimately any pressure is perceived pressure.
‘As we move along this journey, it’s about how we cope with it. We want to stay within the top three and we want to get higher.
‘That ultimately comes down to hunger, determination and obsession – which I think the core group of this team and squad genuinely have.’
Revington is hoping England can prove their worth on the European stage this summer and build on their recent success.
England will open the tournament by facing Olympic champions Belgium.
Belgium will be without long-term regulars Tom Boon, Sebastien Dockier and Tanguy Cosyns.
Nick Bandurak – who has scored 37 times across 44 England and Great Britain matches – will be key
Instead, Michel van den Heuvel has handed youngsters Arno Van Dessel, Nelson Onana and William Ghislain an opportunity on the big stage.
When speaking about Belgium and their stature in the hockey world, Revington said: ‘It’s difficult not to view them where they are at. They are Olympic champions and they were a shootout away from being world champions.
‘Again, they have an incredible amount of experience and quality in their team. From our side there is respect. But at the same time, to get to the top, we have to beat these teams regularly and consistently.
‘So there is a balance. We respect them but we also respect ourselves and the philosophy we have created.’
Nevertheless, Revington and his side will be under pressure to perform at the Euros.
The two teams that top the group will secure a spot in the Semi-Final and the winners of the competition will directly qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
When asked whether there was an added sense of pressure given a Paris spot was up for grabs, Revington said: ‘Winning the euros is not something that happens consistently for England.
‘So, we are viewing it as a really exciting challenge and if we do manage to do that, that will be a massive moment.
‘I wouldn’t say there is a huge gap from the emotional side if we don’t win it. We are absolutely facing the reality that if we don’t win it, we have another route and we have to get that done as per normal.’
Nick Bandurak – who has scored 37 times across 44 England and Great Britain matches – will be key for Revington.
He has established himself as one of the most dangerous attackers in the world and built on the shooting prowess of Sam Ward who has 107 goals to his name.
Speaking about Bandurak, Revington said: ‘He’s been a consistent with the squad for both England and GB for the last 18 months.
‘He’s scored a lot of goals both field and penalty corner. I think that speaks for that.
‘You don’t find goal scorers like him on the side of the street. They are few and far between so he’s been very important for us.’
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