World League semis within reach of SA

2015-03-14 00:00

THE South Africa men’s hockey team edged a superb China 4-3 on penalty shootouts last Saturday after the Pool A match was locked 4-4 in regulation time.

Today they meet again in the Greenfields FIH World League Round 2 tournament semi-finals at 4.15 pm at Hartleyvale in Cape Town. At stake is a berth in tomorrow’s 4.15 pm final against the winners of today’s 2 pm semi-final between Egypt and France.

The three medallists tomorrow — gold and silver from the final and the bronze medal winners in the 2 pm play-off for third place between today’s losing semi-finalists — go through to one of the two World League Semi-Final events.

A top four place at either of those tournaments later this year would guarantee SA Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualification.

Should SA beat China, they will then face another major challenge against the quality Egypt or France line-ups in the final. And, should they lose to China, they will face even more uncertainty, knowing they would have to win the bronze medal match tomorrow to keep the Olympic dream alive.

This situation makes today’s China semi-final of enormous importance. Success would mean automatic qualification for the World League Semi-Final tournaments and essentially tomorrow’s match will be about national pride.

The SA/China clash will be played at a furious pace and the role of midfielder Clint Panther and his fellow engine room mates will be critical in slowing down China’s lightning counter attacks.

SA captain Austin Smith’s team will need to take the initiative from the outset and determine the nature and pace of the game.

Smith has been lethal at penalty corner time and tops the goalscoring list with five successful strikes.

Up front, SA have an exciting blend of experience in the likes of Julian Hykes, Taine Paton and Pierre de Voux, and the boundless energy of the greener Western Province duo Keenan Horne and Shannon Boucher.

The SA defence must be mindful of having numbers behind the ball once the superb pace of the Chinese counter on turnover ball is launched

SA shot-stopper Rassie Pieterse would no doubt prefer not to be concerned about Long Sun’s opportunist instincts off the top of the strike zone and much happier to see opposing keeper Rui Xu jumping off his goalline.

Zecheng Li’s quick strikes are a concern and he will need to be expertly managed.

The pace off the goalline of first-wave defender Weibao Ao may force SA into trying variation moves on PC attack.

It will be of critical importance that the umpires sell their decisions well as player frustration got increasingly out of control in the Pool match as virtually every decision was questioned.

SA press hard for goal chances but the combinations must piece together a sufficient sequence of passes in order for the numerous promising attacks to bear fruit.

South Africa:

Rassie Pieterse (GK), Dylan Swanepoel, Rhett Halkett, Austin Smith (capt), Matt Guise-Brown, Jet Eustice, Clint Panther, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton, Pierre de Voux, Julian Hykes. Rolling subs: Gowan Jones (GK), Dan Bell, Robin Jones, Dan Sibbald, Natius Malgraff, Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher.


Rui Xu (GK), Zhixuan Zhang, Yue Huang, Zipeng Wang, Zecheng Li, Chen Du, Liguang E, Long Sun, Weibao Ao, Tianjun Sun (capt), Yixian Li. Rolling subs: Rongyao Yan (GK), Lei Meng, Yang Ao, Talake Du, Bowen Wang, Xiaoping Guo, Wei Meng.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.