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Brits prepare for Spain after defeat to European champions

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3rd August 2012

The Team GB women will face Spain in their first ever Olympic water polo quarter final after defeat to Italy in their final group match of London 2012.

Having impressed and been unlucky not to beat Russia in their opener and then put in a sub-par performance against Australia, the Brits were somewhere in between for their final qualifier, losing out 10-5 on the night.

Losing to the European champions should not be regarded as a tragedy and we now face Spain in the quarters.

Italy were in determined mood, having also lost their matches against Russia and Australia despite coming in to the competition on the back of victory at this season’s European Championships.

And while the Brits had their fair share of possession, the Italians came out on top, winning each of the quarters.

Having lost all three of their group stage games, the Brits will now take on Spain in their quarter final on 5th August, the Spanish having topped the other group with two wins and a draw.

But Team GB head coach Szilveszter Fekete insists his side have nothing to fear from the Spanish, having played four tight games against them during the course of last season.

“To be honest, we are not broken,” said Fekete. “We wanted to play a great match in front of our supporters but losing to the European champions should not be regarded as a tragedy and we now face Spain in the quarters.

“We always play close matches with them, we had tight ones in the European qualifications, in the World League prelims, and the last time we met in Barcelona we lost 9-7 with Spanish referees on the poolside."

There was little to choose between the two teams in the opening quarter as Ciara Gibson-Byrne and Alex Rutlidge both bagged their first goals of the Games to cancel out Italian strikes.

But the Brits conceded two late goals and were left scratching their heads at how they finished the first quarter 4-2 down.

Italy added a further two goals in the second quarter before Frankie Snell continued her record of scoring in every match, turning in space on a counter attack and slamming home under the Italian keeper to keep the Brits in the game, 6-3 down at half-time.

The third quarter and fourth quarters both followed a similar pattern to the second with the Italians adding two goals to their tally before the Brits pulled one back.

Four years ago the Dutch women didn’t win any of their group games and they went on to win the gold so it can be done.

Ciara Gibson-Byrne bagged her second of the game with a stinging outside shot into the roof of the net in the third while Chloe Wilcox put home a penalty won by Angie Winstanley-Smith to hand GB their fifth goal in the final quarter.

And Wilcox insisted the Brits would not let their heads drop, taking courage from the fact that the Dutch went on to win gold in Beijing four years ago after three defeats in the group stage.

“Defensively we played a lot better than against Australia which we’re happy with,” said Wilcox.

“But we’ve got to go back and look at our attack. We should be scoring at least eight or nine goals in these games and we’re not getting there.

“We’re scoring late goals at the end which makes the scoreline look better but I think we need to match teams with more goals in the first half.

“Four years ago the Dutch women didn’t win any of their group games and they went on to win the gold so it can be done.”

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