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Ireland hungry to rock America

By John Flack

Published 16/06/2015

Pressure on: Ireland coach Darren Smith
Pressure on: Ireland coach Darren Smith

Ireland will, almost certainly, have to defeat the United States in their final Pool match at the World League 3 tournament in Valencia today if they are to avoid a quarter-final clash with world-number-three side Argentina.

The winners of the four knock-out games will be guaranteed a place in the 2016 Olympics while the losers' hopes of joining them in Rio would rest on a must-win play-off at the weekend.

Today's game is a tough ask for Ireland, who have lost their last five matches against the Americans, three in friendlies last month and two at the Champions Challenge in Glasgow in 2014.

In Valencia, Darren Smith's side were very impressive in beating South Africa 4-1 and matching Germany for long periods in a 3-1 defeat.

But they were less impressive in edging out Uruguay 3-2 in their third game when they had to rely on a late winner against the lowest-ranked side in the tournament.

"It's great to have two wins from three matches and have the chance to look forward to the USA game knowing we've already qualified for the quarter-finals," said the New Zealander.

"We will be targeting this match to have another good performance so that we can get the maximum out of the game in terms of points and performance.

"USA play a high press, high tempo style of hockey, committing numbers into attack and playing at high risk. Midfield management is crucial with USA having four attack-minded players trying to outnumber our traditional midfield shape which we will alter so they cannot do this."

Today's fixtures: Pool A: Great Britain v China (12noon); Argentina v Spain (6pm); Pool B: USA v Ireland (2pm); South Africa v Germany (4pm).

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