SA upbeat despite series loss

2013-12-16 00:00

TWO tribes going to war might be an apt summation as the South African men’s hockey team and Argentina prepare for the fourth of five Tests at Queensmead in Durban today at 3 pm.

Already 3-0 down, the South African’s have nothing to lose and a win in one of the matches would be a feather in their cap.

Losing by the odd goal in the second and third Tests, SA head coach Charlie Pereira said, “Argentina who are vastly more experienced in the Test arena. We cannot afford to cough up ball in midfield as it costs us and we pay the price. We need to apply pressure in going forward and attacking.”

In the third Test, lost 2-3 by his charges, Pereira said his side had started well, creating early chances but not managing to convert.

“That could have changed the game and allowing Argentina to score just before half time was a blow for us. We gave away a soft penalty corner and again, it cost us.”

The SA side have taken on the Argentinians with a relatively new side and the results, although registered as losses, have allowed Pereira to get a look at the depth in the squad and note some players for the future.

One notable absentee has been regular skipper and twice World All Stars selection Austin Smith, who has been rested for the series.

“We are seeing positives in the new blood that has been introduced, which is gratifying,” said Pereira.

Having already qualified for World Cup 2014, an objective going into this series was to have a good look at a wider pool of players.

“Some senior players are battle-scarred after years in the trenches and some mistakes keep repeating themselves on the field,” said the coach.

“It is a bitter blow to lose the series, but the lads will definitely pick themselves up for today.”

SA skipper for the series Rhett Halkett said efficiency in front of goal was an issue. “Unfortunately, we are not street smart enough with [keeping] the ball when are a man or more down.

“We have created some good scoring opportunities in the games to date but have not been ruthless enough in taking our chances and making it count by finding the back of the net,” he said.

The fifth and final Test is at PMB Varsity at 6 pm tomorrow.

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