MIDDLESBROUGH: Stuart Pearce tipped Brazil win Olympic football gold and, on the strength of that, took what positive signs he could from Great Britain’s 2-0 defeat in their lone Games warm-up here writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Team GB’s coach used all his 18 players in the side’s first and last warm-up before they open their London 2012 group campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford next Thursday.
Not that they ever threatened to disturb a Brazil side who are threatening to win, at last, the one major prize which has always proved beyond them.
Pearce said: “We wanted a high-profile game for the people of this country to see the Team GB side. We’ve taken arguably the highest high-profile game possible.
“We knew, before the match, that they are an outstanding side, the favourites for the tournament. But physically we needed the game and a lot of our players will come out the stronger for it.
“We also understand the magnitude of the task: whoever beats Brazil will have the gold medal. In the meantime we need to make sure we come to the boil next Thursday knowing that, unless we play Brazil again, we might not play another side as strong as that.”
Pearce thought Team GB has moved the ball well but had allowed their moves to break down too easily once they approached the Brazilian penalty box. “Also,” he added, “it didn’t help that we gave two cheapish goals away.”
The next crucial step, said Pearce, was that his players learned the lessons of this game and capitalized on their working opportunities ahead of the start of the Games.
He said: “Nothing changes in my mind from two weeks ago. The players will get fitter and stronger from working with each other and we have five more training sessions before the Senegal game – which will be the acid test for us.”
Captain Ryan Giggs endorsed Pearce’s message about working time before facing Senegal. He noted that players would normally be in pre-season mode at this stage and found it awkward fast-tracking their work so as to be fit for international competition.
He added: “It’s always disappointing to lose but we’ll take the positives out of it. We’ll get better.”
Brazil coach Mano Menezes said his own main concern had been to “bring up to speed the last few players who joined us, mostly the players from European clubs who have been on holiday.”
He added: “We struggled a bit in the first 20 minutes but as we get into the tournament so we will gain in strength and confidence and send out a message to the other teams about what we can do. We have improved over our last few games but we need to continue to do that.”
Menezes said that Britain’s “different style of football” had set his players some initial challenges. But that was not a significant signal about the ultimate outcome of the Olympic football tournament.
Asked whether Team GB might be among the medal contenders he answered diplomatically: “The tournament has not even started yet. It’s much too early to talk about candidates for medals.”
** Brazil playmaker Oscar confirmed after the game that he had undergone a medical ahead of his expected £22m transfer to Chelsea.
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