Agony for Austin's men | SASCOC - SASCOC

Agony for Austin’s men

The South African men’s side went down for the second time in three matches at the BDO Champions Challenge Trophy hockey tournament in Salta, Argentina on Thursday.

They lost 4-1 to Pakistan, this after losing 6-2 to Argentina in their first match before bouncing back to beat Canada 4-1 on Tuesday.

The loss means that we now play Belgium on Saturday. Should we win that match we will play for the fifth and sixth spot, against the winner of Canada v China.

South Africa’s goal came from Lloyd Norris-Jones with a back-stick from the top of the circle. Pakistan had earlier opened the scoring via one of Sohail Abbas’s customary penalty corners.

Pakistan’s three-second half goals came from Shakeel Abbasi, Haseem Khan and Akhtar Ali.

Said captain Austin Smith: “Today was a bitter-sweet experience for me. I believe we played some of our best hockey today in the first half. Never before have I played such a highly ranked team and created so many opportunities. This is a major step in the right direction for our team who has high ambitions. However, at the end of the day it is the score board which needs to reflect our superb play.

“We needed only a draw to advance through to the semi final on Saturday and having performed so well in the first half we were confident that we would get the result we so desperately wanted. Pakistan started the second half at a much higher tempo and began to full press. ┬áWe on the other hand struggled to keep our intensity from the first half going, and began to make basic errors.

“We turned over the ball far too easily, and this gave Pakistan the opportunity to counter attack. If you have ever witnessed Pakistan play before, you will know that they are an incredibly strong team going forward, especially when given space. All three of their goals in the second half can be linked directly to our mistakes, and not from something special which they did. ┬áWe coped with what they threw at us. That is what disappointed me most, that we let things which were controllable slip.

Smith says the team’s goals have now had to change. “Despite the extreme disappointment of missing the chance to finish in the top four of the tournament, we have now set our goals on coming fifth. I am confident that we can achieve this goal, and our ability to bounce back from this set back will be a good test of our team’s character.

“I know how passionate this group of players is, and I know what the response will be. Nothing less than 100% for the coming two play-off games!”

At the other end of the scale, Argentina face New Zealand and India face Pakistan (always a good game to witness) Those matches will decide who plays for first place and promotion into next year’s Champions Trophy.