Stern test for SA hockey side against Pakistan

2013-07-02 00:00

AFTER a 3-3 draw with world No 4 England and a 6-4 defeat by world ­No 13 Malaysia, the world No 12 South Africa men’s hockey team know they need a win against world No 5 Pakistan today in their final Pool B match at the World League Semi-Final tournament in Johor, Malaysia.

The 3 pm (SA time) clash is to be televised live on SuperSport 7.

“Pakistan offer another stern test and that is the beauty of playing at the highest level of world hockey,” said SA head coach Charlie Pereira yesterday. “Their playing style is similar to Malaysia and if we learn from our mistakes and apply ourselves to counter-cover principles, we have a shot at a result.”

South Africa captain Austin Smith was thinking along similar lines.

“We now look to Pakistan and how we can turn things around,” he said.

“They will play in a similar fashion to Malaysia, so much needs to be improved by then.”

SA vice-captain Rhett Halkett was pleased that midfielder Clint Panther reached his 50th Test match cap against Malaysia and was also chuffed with Jethro Eustice’s first international goal, but Pakistan are foremost in his mind.

“Pakistan now becomes a crucial fixture for us with regard to where we finish in our pool and ultimately who we face in the quarter-finals,” he said.

“Pakistan will present plenty of the same playing-style characteristics, so we need to ensure we learn from the Malaysian game and bring a far more intelligent and mature performance.”

There are still four games left in the tournament and SA are guaranteed a place in Thursday’s quarter-finals due to the tournament format.

“Malaysia were a different proposition to SA,” said Pereira.

“In front of their home crowd they are formidable. They were also very keen to reverse the losing trend against us and as often happens you learn more from losing than you do from winning.”

Smith said: “We did well to get back into the game but after going down again at 3-2 and 4-2 we went searching too much and left too many gaps all over the field.”

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