SA hockey men need to be on their toes against England

2010-03-02 00:00

FOLLOWING their unlucky 4-2 defeat against world number three Spain in the Hockey World Cup opener in Delhi on Sunday, South Africa must score points against England in their second Pool B match today.

With the match televised live from 1 pm on SuperSport 6, South African fans will get another chance to see if their side can build on an impressive showing against the talented Spaniards, who have the most skilful forwards in world hockey.

However, world number six England are on a high after Sunday’s 3-2 Pool B victory over the world’s second-ranked Kookaburras of Australia, a result that enhanced the European champions’ growing reputation as a major force in the game.

England’s win was their first victory over the Aussies in the World Cup for 35 years. England has recorded only five successes in 52 Tests against their old enemy since the rivalry began so many years ago.

Legendary Aussie coach Ric Charlesworth’s charges flunked no less than 12 of their 13 penalty corners, but the mental strength of coach Jason Lee’s England team can be measured by how they shrugged off the late World Cup withdrawals of Matt Daly and Simon Mantell.

And in Ashley Jackson they have a classy penalty corner specialist, which means that the impressive South African defence will have to be on their toes at all times when the English team makes it into the danger zone.

The South Africans will also be hoping that they don’t end up on the wrong side of the video referral umpire, as they did in the game against Spain, which cost them at least one goal.

The new rule states that a player or team is permitted one appeal to the video referral umpire with regard to decisions involving a goal, penalty corner or penalty stroke.

However, if a team is successful in the appeal, another one is allowed.

If the video umpire turns down the appeal, that option is forfeited, meaning that sides have got to be as close to certain as can be that their appeal is legitimate.

It is undoubtedly going to be a hard day at the office for SA captain Austin Smith and his men, but if they can raise their game a notch or two, a full-house three-pointer is not out of the question.


Other results:

Sunday (Pool B): India 4 Pakistan 1.

Yesterday (Pool A): New Zealand 3 Canada 2; Germany 2 South Korea 2; Netherlands 3 Argentina 0.

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