Hege Riise urges Team GB to be brave ahead of Australia quarter-final clash

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Hege Riise is relishing the chance of shaping the Team GB footballing culture as they eye the Olympic semi-finals.

Great Britain face Australia in their quarter-final in Kashima on Friday after topping Group E with seven points.

Riise was not initially due to manage the team in Japan but former England boss Phil Neville, who was pencilled in for the job, joined Inter Miami in January.

Team GB are unbeaten after beating Chile and Japan before drawing with Canada on Tuesday and Riise is loving the unexpected opportunity.

Phil Neville was due to take charge of Team GB this summer
Phil Neville was due to take charge of Team GB this summer (John Walton/PA)

“All the players buy into that, they know what it will take for us to go all the way. I feel we have done a great job, now it’s the knockout stage and it’s about how brave we are.

“I feel we are in a good spot right now, the players feel comfortable, they feel we are doing the right things. I’m excited for the game.”

Striker Fran Kirby could be handed her first start of the competition after recovering from a knock she suffered in training before the team flew to Japan.

“Everyone is healthy and available,” said Riise. “She played 15 minutes in the last game just to get her into the rhythm of playing. We have discussed if she can go for 90 or less.

Fran Kirby is on her way back to fitness
Fran Kirby is on her way back to fitness (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“We will not change too much of who we are. We will continue to work on our relationships and the quality we have in the team. We have great quality and great depth if we can change the game if needed.”

Riise also believes moving to Kashima after playing their first two group games in Sapporo, northern Japan, has aided her squad’s mental health.

“We need to expect the unexpected and be comfortable doing that,” she said. “We were happy to change the scenery, there’s a bit more freedom here, a bigger hotel where we can walk to other places and sit outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air, which helps a lot.

“It helps from a mental perspective.”

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