Improvement for SA men's hockey

Austin Smith (Frank Reelick)
Austin Smith (Frank Reelick)
Frank Reelick
Cape Town - The South African men’s hockey team won bronze at the recent Investec London Cup. South Africa played against England, Ireland and Scotland in the tournament. The team finished third behind England and Ireland after beating Scotland.

Once again Austin Smith and the team had to battle more than just their opponents in the final tournament before the very important Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland that starts on July 23. “The biggest hurdle we faced at the London Cup was the logistics. We arrived a day before the event and without our entire squad. Throughout the tournament players were arriving and departing for a variety of reasons. This made settling into a good routine very difficult. But we have taken some major steps in our pattern of play, especially defensively. The opportunity to play four more test matches against good opposition in a practice environment also allowed us to try some new ideas, which is extremely valuable.”

After loosing to England and Ireland the South Africans had to settle for the bronze medal match. According to Smith the team would have liked to play in the gold medal match, but the way the team played against Scotland was pleasing. “Ideally I would have liked us to play in the gold medal match but given the set backs with the late organisation and logistical difficulties within the squad I'm pleased, especially with how comfortably we overcame Scotland in the playoff game.”

After the World Cup Smith identified that South Africa need to up its game regarding defense and attack. “We have improved our defensive platform from the World Cup. This is going to create far more counter attack opportunities as well as keeping us in the game for longer. The longer we keep things tight against the top teams the better our chances are to cause an upset.”

South Africa is in the same group as Scotland, current world champion Australia, Wales and India for the Commonwealth Games. The first game for SA is on Friday, July 25 versus Scotland. The other teams at the Games are England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.



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