Maddie Hinch has urged Great Britain to keep believing and focus on the “massive” prize of an Olympic hockey medal after their reign as champions was emphatically ended.
Team GB women were crushed 5-1 by semi-final opponents Holland as the Dutch avenged their 2016 Olympic final defeat when goalkeeper Hinch’s heroics during a penalty shoot-out ensured gold medal glory.
Five years on, though, and Britain will contest the bronze medal match against Argentina or India when they return to the Oi Hockey Stadium on Friday.
“We haven’t become a bad team after one game, and we are still going to fight for this bronze medal, which we would be incredibly proud of if we come away with it,” Hinch said.
“I don’t think we should fear it. It would be massive for this group if we get a medal. We learnt from Rio that it is all about the power of belief.”
Asked if bronze would mean as much as gold, given the vastly-changed nature of the Tokyo squad since Rio, Hinch added: “Yes. Given the whole cycle – Covid, change of coaches – then it would be massive for us.”
Holland never looked back following two goals in just over a minute during the second quarter when Felice Albers and Marloes Keetels struck.
Albers and Maria Verschoor added further goals in the third quarter, leaving Britain reeling from conceding four times in 19 damaging minutes, before Giselle Ansley netted a consolation, but Frederique Matla notched a fifth late on.
Hinch said: “We need to look at what we got wrong today, but also believe that we are still a good side and there is a reason we are fighting for a medal. We haven’t done that by luck.
“We don’t need to overthink this too much. They are an unbelievable team who will punish you if you get things wrong.
“It is their ability to punish mistakes. Some of the goals were world-class, and sometimes you have to say they were better than us today. That’s that.”
“We have had to show some resilience during this Olympic cycle, and now we have to get over this quickly and move on,” she said.
“We are a new group of players and we have a medal to play for. We have to get in the right frame of mind for the game on Friday and try and bring a medal home.
“There were some sloppy things. We weren’t quite looking over our shoulders and following our players today, and we gave the ball away too easily and cheaply, which we haven’t been doing in other matches.
“They are the bits we need to look at – it is not huge things, just basics.”