SA meet Oz wizards of hockey

2010-03-04 00:00

THERE are no easy games in the Hockey World Cup, which sees 12 teams engage in a tough five-match pool competition before the heart-stopping classification matches come into the equation.

And world number 13 South Africa have it all to do from the 1 pm (SA time) first whistle at the National Hockey Stadium in Delhi, India today (live on SuperSport 6) when they tackle the world’s second-ranked nation, Australia.

The Aussies bounced back from a shock defeat by world number six England to beat India 5-2, while the South Africans followed their 4-2 loss to third-ranked Spain with a 6-4 defeat by England.

SA has played world-class hockey in patches, with some wonderfully worked goals, but lapses in concentration at crucial moments have seen matches slip away.

The memory of SA’s 10-0 drubbing by the Kookaburras at the Beijing Olympic Games could be a significant factor, with a number of players on both sides having participated in that whitewash.

However, while this new-look SA side have respected their more illustrious opponents at the World Cup, they have not been intimidated by the big names. And the Aussies have a few of those, including the legendary Jamie Dwyer, who adds value with every one of the 228 Test matches under his belt.

His SA counterpart Austin Smith has 63 international matches to draw on. Dwyer’s team-mate Liam de Young has 232 Tests behind him, while SA’s most experienced player is Gareth Carr, on 65.

However, the game isn’t won on paper. It’s what happens on the turf that matters, and the South Africans will be no pushover whatever the numbers say.

In the other two crucial matches today, England meet Pakistan and India take on Spain.

Wednesday results — Pool A: Germany 6 Canada 0; South Korea 2 Argentina 1; Netherlands 3 New Zealand 1.

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