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Pearce: Brazil defeat proves how tough it will be
STUART Pearce admits last night's 2-0 defeat to Brazil underlined the extent of the challenge that faces his Team GB side as they attempt to win an Olympic gold medal.
Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium hosted the first competitive fixture involving a Great Britain men's team for more than half-a-century, but first-half goals from Sandro and Neymar meant a large home crowd left disappointed.
Pearce's squad will now regroup ahead of Thursday's Olympic opener against Senegal at Old Trafford, a match that precedes later group games with UAE and Uruguay.
Last night's performance does not augur well, with Great Britain recording just a solitary attempt on target and both Jason Steele and Jack Butland producing a number of impressive saves to prevent an even heavier reverse.
Pearce accepts his side will have to improve if they are to challenge for a medal at London 2012, but claims a sense of perspective is required given the quality of the opposition.
“We knew what Brazil's quality would be before the match,” said the Team GB boss. “They are the favourites for the tournament and you can see why.
“Physically we needed the game and a lot of the players will come on for it. But it's underlined the magnitude of the task in the Olympics. Whoever beats Brazil will probably get the gold medal.
“We now need to make sure that we come to the boil next Thursday and beyond. But unless we play Brazil again in the later rounds, we probably won't come up against as strong an opposition again.”
While Brazil have been targeting Olympic gold ever since the last tournament in Beijing, Pearce has effectively had to assemble a squad from scratch in the last two weeks.
With five Welshmen joining 13 English players, the Olympic experiment was always going to be something of a step into the unknown, and preparation time since the end of last season has been limited.
The squad leave their Rockliffe Hall base to head to Manchester tomorrow, with Pearce admitting that next week's training sessions will be crucial in terms of both tactics and fitness.
“We will come on for this, that's for sure,” he said, “If you look at Brazil's preparations, they've probably been preparing for these Olympics for the last three years, we've had a couple of weeks.
“The players are getting stronger and stronger and we've got about five more training sessions to make sure we're right for the Senegal game.”
Great Britain skipper Ryan Giggs admitted his team-mates had lacked match sharpness in their first competitive outing since the end of last season, but insists there will be a marked improvement by the time they kick off their Olympic campaign in six days time.
“It's difficult because you want all 18 players to be fit, but you can't kill everybody in training,” said Giggs. “It's a difficult balancing act but this game will bring us on and we have six days to get ready for Senegal.
“We have a lot of talent in the dressing room, everyone is comfortable on the ball and we will get better. I've seen it in training. It's disappointing to lose but we will take the positives out of it.”
Daniel Sturridge played for the opening 45 minutes last night, and Pearce is hoping the Chelsea striker shows no ill effects after recently recovering from viral meningitis.
“It's different when you're recovering from an injury rather than an illness, so we'll have to see how he comes out of this in the next couple of days,” he said. “The plan was always just to give him 45 minutes, and that's what we did.
“He's an important player, but all 18 players will be extremely important over the course of the Olympics. You could be playing four matches in ten days, so you're deluded if you think you're going to start and finish with the same team.”