SA win, but coach is not happy

2008-02-26 00:00

DESPITE South Africa’s 6-0 victory over Russia in the opening match of the Spar Cup triangular tournament at the Randburg Hockey Stadium late yesterday afternoon, coach Jenny King was critical of the team’s performance.

“Performance-wise, I would give the team a score of four out of 10,” said King at the post-match press conference.

“We played some nice hockey when the key players were on the field, but our substitutes were not of the same standard for this level of hockey,” she said.

“Ill-discipline like this at the Olympics and we will be hammered, so from that point of view the score is irrelevant.

“We were far too confrontational in midfield and you have got to be realistic about the opposition [Russia are ranked 20th in the world to South Africa’s 12th] and realise that we won’t score [soft] goals like that against top teams such as Germany or Australia,” the SA coach said.

Marsha Marescia, the Spar SA captain, said that an area that needs to be worked on is not so much physical, but mental. “You need to be mentally focused when coming off the bench so that the level of play that has been achieved on-field can be maintained.”

Indeed, despite the 6-0 scoreline, and although the SA conversion rate was a high 50%, the penalty corner count was only 6-4 in SA’s favour and home goalkeeper Mariette Rix was called on to make an assortment of saves to keep spirited Russians Olga Shentsova, captain Elena Svirskaya, Marina Dudko and Anna Matersheva out.

There were times in defence that the SA side looked hesitant, uncertain of each other’s role, and a more skilful attacking formation could have made them pay.

Nevertheless, Tarryn Bright, Kate Hector, player of the match Kathleen Taylor, Brown and skipper Marescia had passages of play of the highest order.

Bright, the 2007 SA Player of the Year, punched holes in Russia’s defence with her strong running from midfield; Hector netted a rocket drag-flick from a penalty corner and engineered a couple of defence-splitting passes; Taylor enjoyed patches of play that highlighted her undeniably huge talent; Brown slammed in a trio of well-taken goals past admittedly shoddy defence at times; and Marescia had moments that marked her as a member of the 2007 World All Stars team.

SCORES IN BRIEF

Spar SA (3) 6 (Farah Fredericks , Cindy Brown 3 , Kathleen Taylor, Kate Hector ). Russia (0) 0.

Today’s Test match:

Canada vs Russia (4 pm).

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