Czech Republic v Great Britain – Rankings boost targetted by determined GB captain Jonathan Phillips

JONATHAN PHILLIPS insists plenty remains at stake for Great Britain as they prepare to take on the Czech Republic in their penultimate Group A game at the World Championships in Riga.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 9:46 pm
Updated Friday, 28th May 2021, 9:54 pm
NO LET-UP: GB and Sheffield Steelers' captain, Jonathan Phillips. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Last night’s 4-1 defeat to world No4-ranked Sweden dented GB’s outside hopes of reaching the knockout stages of a tournament they have constantly impressed at throughout the past week.

Mathematically, GB can still make the top four, but the odds are stacked against them.

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TOUGH GOING: Captain Jonathan Phillips on the GB bench during Friday's 4-1 defeat to Sweden. Picture: Dean Woolley

Sweden went into yesterday’s clash with Pete Russell’s team knowing anything other than a win would end their own bid to reach the last eight.

And Phillips knows he and his team-mates face a similar situation at the Olympic Sports Centre this morning (10.15am face-off, UK time) with their opponents – ranked fifth in the world – also aware of how much a win is required to enhance their mission to secure a quarter-final spot.

Phillips says there is also plenty for GB to play for in their final two group games, knowing that further positive results can help boost their world ranking and secure a better group draw at next year’s tournament in Finland.

“Now we’re going to see teams playing with desperation because they are realising they might have left it too late,” said Phillips. “We saw it with Sweden and we know we’re going to be up against it again but we’re excited for it.

ON TARGET: Maltby-born Liam Kirk scored for GB in the 4-1 defeat to Sweden, making him the tournament's top goalscorer with five to his name. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“The Sweden defeat hasn’t kicked us, it hasn’t knocked our confidence. We felt we played well at times and feel like we’re still building.

“We want the development continue, we don’t just want to play one or two good games – this is serious for us. The better we do this year, hopefully we can climb a couple of places and we might get a better group next year. So there is plenty at stake for us.”

Reflecting on the defeat to Sweden, Phillips said there were still many positives to take from the performance despite coming under relentless attack, particularly during the second period.

“What a position to be in to say that we’re so disappointed to lose to Sweden 4-1,” added Phillips. “They had to change the way they played after the first because they weren’t really creating anything clear, we were breaking them up.

“But they came out in the second and changed up and were able to get through us. That was a Swedish team playing with pure desperation because they were dead last with just one win. You could tell it mattered desperately to them - they knew how much trouble they were in coming into the game.

“It was nearly the halfway point of the game and it was still 1-1 and it only ended 4-1 – I thought we were excellent and showed again how much we are prepared to compete.”

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