Hockey men face a hot and humid Malaysian test

2013-06-27 00:00

INCREDIBLY humid conditions, a worryingly high level of air pollution and Pool B matches against world number four England, world number five Pakistan and world number 13 Malaysia, await the world’s 12th-ranked South Africa in the World League semi-final men’s hockey tournament in Johor, Malaysia, from Saturday to next Sunday.

Smoke from large forest fires in Indonesia has been drifting east and negatively affecting the air quality in Malaysia. SA team manager Martin van Staden said the build-up is going very well. “The team [are] acclimatising nicely. The mood is super-high after the recent 3-0 Malaysia series’ win, and there are no injury concerns. The boys are looking fit and strong.

“Although there is a concern with the current smoke and pollution, which is being monitored closely, we do not believe it will affect the tournament. There has been some rain, which has helped the situation.”

SA captain Austin Smith, who is a two-time World All Star selection, said from the team hotel yesterday that the team had settled in well. “The air pollution is fine, the temperature is hot and very humid, and it rains most days, it seems.”

SA play practice matches against Pool A teams Japan and Argentina in the build-up to Saturday’s opening Pool B match against world number four England at 3 pm (SA time), to be televised live on SuperSport 7.

“The pitch is flat but very slow. We need to work hard to create any real ball pace around the field,” said Smith. “But it’s a nice hotel, everyone’s in good spirits and excited to get going. Jet lag is tough, yet we’re getting through it.”

Coach Charlie Pereira said the team have had two training sessions on different pitches. “The A field is housed in a beautiful stadium and the surface is great. We also trained on the B pitch, which was not as good. Players found it sticky and struggled to slap the ball with purpose.”

There are many challenges, but the SA team have been through many trials and tribulations in recent years, and have shown that they have the character to withstand whatever is thrown at them.


Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders).

Defenders: Austin Smith (capt, Western Province), Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues), Rhett Halkett (vice-capt, WP), Lance Louw (SG), Jethro Eustice (SG).

Midfielders: Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Nick Gonsalves (SG), Taine Paton (KCR).

Strikers: Julian Hykes (SG), Craig Haley (WP), Pierre de Voux (WP), Miguel da Graca (SG), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP).

South Africa’s Pool B fixtures

All matches on SuperSport (all SA time)

Saturday, SA vs England 3 pm

Sunday, SA vs Malaysia 3 pm

July 2, SA vs Pakistan 3 pm.

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