Dixon: "We are prepared and ready to go"

Adam Dixon 2019
Great Britain captain Adam Dixon is confident his team are in a strong position as they prepare to take on Malaysia in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers this weekend.

Having discovered their opponents for this crucial weekend back in September, the team have had plenty of time to prepare for the double header that serves as their final chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Following a two-Test series in Spain, Great Britain’s men also played a series of uncapped matches in The Netherlands last week and Dixon now believes the team are in the best all-round shape to secure their place at next year’s Olympics.

Speaking before training on Wednesday, he said: “It’s great to be at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre having had five or six weeks of focus purely on this weekend. I feel like we’re in a good spot.

“We’ve come together quite nicely over the last few weeks. We’ve come a long way comparing our performances then to now so I think we’re the best prepared we can be going into these two games.

“We’ve been preparing for these moments for a long time and I think we’re in  a good place. We’re physically fit and strong, mentally resolute and I think we’ve got a good chance this weekend.”

This occasion is a unique one for the sport, with many of the players not having experienced a winner-takes-all two-legged affair before.

Add the prospect of reaching one of hockey's biggest events into the mix and it could be suggested this is one of the most high pressured situations many will have played in.

But Dixon believes that any nerves his team may feel will only serve to act as a positive and bring the best out of the players.

“It’s natural to feel nervous; it can be easy to try and hide the fact that you are but there’s nothing wrong with embracing that you are nervous,” the 32-year-old explained.

“It shows that you care and that something is at stake. 

“These are the games we get excited to play in because they are a testament of your character and us as a team.”

This weekend sees the second round of FIH Olympic Qualifiers take place, with last week’s openers throwing up some surprise results and plenty of thrilling games.

With Malaysia ranked only four places below GB and boasting plenty of attacking option, it is set to be an exciting encounter.

Having watched many of those previous matches, Dixon is confident his team will approach their ties knowing exactly what is needed and is also hoping #ThePride will be out in full voice to push them over the line.

“The opening FIH Olympic Qualifiers saw some really exciting games and we saw world rankings go out of the window with the likes of Pakistan’s men giving The Netherlands a really good go in their opening game,” the 32-year-old said.

“We’ve just got to respect Malaysia and their threats because they do have a lot of them.

“We’re excited and we’re sure everyone who is going to come and watch us this weekend is excited.

“Noisy fans, friends and family and all the usual faces you see at the hockey events – they are a huge part of the reason why we play the sport. It galvanises everybody. 

“Having men’s and women’s games back-to-back, it’s set to be a fantastic weekend of hockey and we hope the performances match the excitement and expectation.

“We’re prepared and ready to go.”