SA men quietly confident on eve of Czech clash

2012-04-28 00:00

WHILE there is a quiet confidence in the camp, the South Africa men’s hockey team know they can improve on the performance that saw them beat Brazil 11-1 in the Olympic Qualifier Tournament at Gifu Green Stadium on Thursday.

Captain Austin Smith’s men tackle Czech Republic today and the team is sure to come out firing from the first whistle.

SA started a little slowly against Brazil and once the players began finding each other they looked a slick outfit.

Rhett Halkett at outside half distributed well, is a solid defender who can play in the centre, and has the ability to hit the ball at pace over 70 metres.

Ian Haley is respected as a quality finisher with great body position in the strike zone, scores plenty at the far post and is invaluable in the drop centre forward role. He is the ideal man to target, get the ball to, hold the ball up and make plays off.

And in the midfield is Jonty Robinson who turns on the ball well, is strong on the ball, distributes well, has good vision and can play anywhere across the middle of the park.

These are but three of what head coach Gregg Clark describes as South Africa’s golden generation and gold is all they are interested in winning here in Japan.

The Czechs were outplayed 6-0 by co-favourites Japan on Thursday, so they will be looking for a much bigger performance today.

But Smith’s men are determined to join Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Pakistan and Argentina in Group A at London 2012.

SOUTH AFRICA

Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Michael Smith (Witwatersrand). Defenders: Andrew Cronje (Western Province), Justin Reid-Ross (Northern Blues), Lance Louw (SG), Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Rhett Halkett (NB). Midfielders: Jonty Robinson (NB), Clinton Panther (SG), Austin Smith (capt, WP), Tim Drummond (KCR), Wade Paton (KCR), Taine Paton (KCR). Strikers: Ian Haley (WP), Marvin Harper (KCR), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP), Julian Hykes (Amathole-Border), Thornton

McDade (SG).

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