The UK's military footballers have been getting inspired by visiting the Royal Navy's brand new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth.

It comes ahead of a crunch opening match with France in the Kentish Cup on Sunday.

UKAF footballers' Kentish Cup preparations

The three-way football tournament is contested annually between the British, French and Dutch forces.

The UK Armed Forces are reigning champions both on home soil and abroad - and are looking to keep it that way. Head coach Flight Sergeant Nicholas de-Long was keen to talk up their chances:

"They're playing well... [There are] lots of... inter-services winners in the group [and] all three services [are] represented almost equally. [They're] a hungry group."

The three teams will be hosted by the HMS Temeraire sports complex, in Portsmouth, over the next week.

HMS Temeraire sports complex, Portsmouth

The Brits, meanwhile, say a thorough, professional and all-inclusive regime with structured training camps has helped bring players from different services together.

The RAF's Corporal Lewis Brownhill said: "A few years back we were in France and the team we had back then was a world away from the team we have now.

"The way the whole squad's progressed, from the backroom staff down to the players [is great]."

It's a sentiment shared by Royal Navy Petty Officer Physical Trainer Danny Kerr:

"The team spirit, the togetherness we've built up throughout the season [and] throughout the past two or three seasons... I think that'll get us through."

The team retained the cup in the Netherlands last autumn with a 2-0 win over the Dutch forces and a 1-0 victory against France, secured by a last-minute strike from Josh Hughes.

Already victors from the home tournament in 2014, they cannot deny their favourites tag but won't be taking anything for granted. Cpl Brownhill added:

"They [the French] are always a strong team, whenever they come... [but] I feel like the goal in the last minute summed up how hard we'd worked for that victory. 

"By no means is it a given that we're going to win this year."

Flt Sgt de-Long has an impressive record as a coach in competitive matches, but he'll know anything can happen once the competition kicks off.

And if there's one thing that'll really test his team, it's a Kentish Cup opener against the French forces.

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