SA can top Pool A

2015-03-10 00:00

BEAT Switzerland in their last Pool A match at 6.30 pm today at Hartleyvale to finish top of Pool A. That is the task awaiting the SA men’s hockey team.

Success will possibly cement a meeting with winless likely Pool B team Azerbaijan in Thursday evening’s Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 (WLR2) quarter-

final. That should, on paper, be a fast-track to Saturday afternoon’s semi-finals.

The Swiss have had a tough time in Pool A, losing by comfortable margins to both Egypt and China. With the final Pool round on Tuesday, SA are already guaranteed a top-two finish in Pool A.

However, a slip-up by favourites SA against underdogs Switzerland could see one of China or Egypt top Pool A with SA second. That scenario would do nothing for the SA team’s determination to increase momentum as WLR2 title ambitions enter the knockout phase.

SA held their nerve to take two points off a fired-up China on Saturday. One log point was earned for the 4-4 regulation-time draw. The subsequent, nerve-wracking 4-3 penalty shootout win earned a bonus log point. International Hockey Federation (FIH) requirements stipulate a shootout if a match ends drawn.

SA captain Austin Smith’s men were significantly better 24 hours later when they edged out arch-African rivals Egypt 3-2. It was a match where SA were arguably two or three goals better than the north Africans.

The China versus Egypt clash at 4.15 pm today will likely determine who ends second and third in Pool A, although a slip by SA against Switzerland in the 6.30 pm final match of the pool phase could see either the Chinese or Egyptians topping the pool.

France, a very good unit, are running away with Pool B. Czech Republic look likely to end second with Belarus third and Azerbaijan fourth.

Entrance is R30 for all four matches today, as well as Saturday’s semi-finals and Sunday’s medal matches.


Pool B: France vs Belarus (11h45); Azerbaijan vs Czech Republic (14h00). Pool A: China vs Egypt (16h15); SA vs Switzerland (18h30).

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