SA hockey teams go down to Europeans

2015-02-05 00:00

AN impressive Spar South Africa ­women’s indoor hockey team were shaded 5-3 by Czech Republic at the ­Indoor Hockey World Cup in Arena Leipzig, Germany last night.

SA, ranked 18th in the world, led 2-1 at half time — and 3-1 just two minutes after half time — through goals from Kara Stella, Eloise Walters and captain Cindy Hack respectively, but the world number six Czechs equalised at 3-3 with three minutes left before adding a two-goal cushion.

The world number 15 SA men gave world number two Poland a serious challenge, eventually losing 8-3 after ­initially leading through a Craig Haley strike in the fourth minute.

Poland turned around 3-1 up and with seven minutes left, the Europeans still only had a two-goal advantage — Haley adding his second goal for SA with former Maritzburg Varsity team-mate Justin Domleo getting the men in green and gold’s third goal.

But two Polish goals, while SA were a man short due to their most experienced player PG Geldenhuys — another former PMB Varsity team-mate — having incurred the displeasure of the umpires, gave Poland the needed edge.

KZN Inland and SA keeper Chris McCathie, son of the former SA outdoor hockey goalkeeper Alan ­McCathie, told The Witness that his team had started well.

“I thought we had a great first half, taking the lead and sticking to our systems, as Poland were able to put a lot of pressure on us and we were able to stick to our guns, which was a massive positive!”

The SA stopper said losing a player made things difficult. “Playing with a man down is not easy. The four minutes we were a player short in the second half were well managed, though.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalise on our opportunities in the second half but overall I think it was a good start for us against a team of Poland’s calibre and we know which areas we need to work on.”

It was a fine effort by the SA women against the Czechs, considering the disappointment of losing 14-0 to world number two Holland in the earlier match.

Holland added six goals in the last four minutes, this after the half-time score had been 5-0.

“The SA team did exceptionally well [against Holland] in the first 10 ­minutes with no goals on the scorecard. SA also looked threatening and put the Dutch defence under pressure.

“However, as time went on Holland seemed to find another gear,” said ­manager Emma Bray. “They are a ­top-class team and it’s a privilege to play nations of this calibre.”

The SA men were due to play world number six Holland late last night.

The Pool matches continue today and tomorrow, with the cross-pool playoffs tomorrow night and Saturday, into Sunday’s medal matches.

Today’s SA matches (SA time) Women (Pool B): vs Belarus (11.15 am); vs Poland (6.45 pm). Men (Pool B) vs Russia (2.45 pm); vs Canada (10.30 pm).

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