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James Mazarelo admitted he was blown away by the raucous home atmosphere as Team England’s men’s hockey side got their Commonwealth Games off to a flying start with a 6-0 win over Ghana.
After nearly a week of anticipation building in the village, keeper Mazarelo said the noise made by the home faithful at the University of Birmingham exceeded his expectations as Nick Bandurak’s hat-trick and scores from Phil Roper, Will Calnan and David Condon secured the three points in Pool B.
Paul Revington’s men are hell-bent on coming away with a medal and will be confident of at least matching the bronze they won on the Gold Coast in 2018 with Wales on Sunday and games against India and Canada still to come.
Manchester native Mazarelo, 21, said: “It was absolutely unbelievable. You try and visualise what the crowd is going to be like but you can never realise what it’s like in the flesh.
“The noise at the end when we were clapping the crowd was just amazing and to have that voice and extra man behind us will hopefully give us that extra lift and make sure we are successful and hopefully bring back a medal.
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“It’s nice to get the tournament underway after being in the village for six days. It’s nice to finally get the tournament going and get some momentum and hopefully we can go all the way.”
Surbiton star Mazarelo came off the bench to share goalkeeping duties with Ollie Payne but it was the performance of opposite man Duisberg Offei that stole the show.
Offei pulled off several fine stops to prevent England doing real damage on the scoresheet on the occasion of his country’s first ever Commonwealth Games fixture, impressing youngster Mazarelo in the process.
He said: “Their keeper was absolutely outstanding and you can’t fault the effort they put in to defend and they were actually incredibly hard to break down, so it will be interesting to see how well they do for the rest of the tournament.”
Mazarelo admitted that the bright lights of the Team England village had served up some different distractions to the usual hockey competition but insisted the task of making the podium never drifts too far out of sight.
He explained: “It’s a fantastic experience. For me and a fair few others coming into the group, it’s our first multi-sports Games and there’s many more distractions in the village.
“Seeing so many famous athletes you’ve seen on the TV and then you can see them across the dinner hall.
“The experience is helping you stay focused on the task at hand and at the end of the day we are here to win a medal and that’s what we want to do.”
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