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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 11:05 UK

Beeston prepare for Europe return

Nigel Bell

Beeston head coach Zak Jones
Beeston's Zak Jones believes the team has earned the right to be in Europe

Beeston head coach Zak Jones believes his side can shake off their underdogs tag and progress to the last 16 of the European Hockey League competition.

The Nottingham club take on French and Belgian opposition in Paris this weekend knowing they need just one win from their two games to go through.

Jones said: "I don't think it's mission impossible. We earned the right to be there and we've got a talented squad.

"I think all three teams feel they can probably win the group."

Beeston made their first, and up to now, only foray into Europe 10 years ago but it nearly crippled them financially.

In 2009 the Bees find themselves in a similar situation, with no wealthy benefactor to fund their European Hockey League trip to Paris.

But manager Graham Griffiths feels they have to take part if they are going to progress as a club.

There's no pressure on anybody because we're not expected to do well

Beeston manager Graham Griffiths

"It took us nearly 10 years to recover [from our last European competition]," Griffiths explained. "It's an expensive trip. It's cost us about 8,000 euros already.

"Our sport is a difficult sport. If you're successful it costs you a considerable amount of money.

"It's not like football or rugby where you're actually rewarded. We will get rewarded but only if we win the thing and that's a heck of a challenge.

"A lot of people have chipped in so we can get there."

Older and wiser

A decade ago when they competed in the European Cup Winners Cup in Amsterdam, Beeston fielded a young, inexperienced side.

Now they are more mature and can boast internationals like Ali Wilson and Adam Dixon who have recently picked up gold medals as part of the England team that won the EuroHockey Nations title.

Beeston's Adam Nixon
Player's like Adam Nixon (yellow top) could be key to Beeston in Europe

Griffiths said: "We've got a side full of internationals who want to shine in Europe against some of the best players in the world.

"We've got a good side and if we can play as a unit I think we'll do better than a lot of people are thinking."

That is a view shared by the manager's head coach.

"On our day we can live with anyone. We've got some real flair and pace," said Jones.

The schedule

Beeston play Leuven from Belgium on Saturday, 24 October. The following day they come up against St Germain of France.

The Bees only need to win one game to progress to the last 16 of the competition which is held over Easter in 2010. And if they can win their league it means they will receive a better seeding.

"There's no pressure on anybody because we're not expected to do well," said Griffiths.

"But we put pressure on ourselves because we know we are a good side."



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