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Smith stays positive

National men’s hockey captain Austin Smith says the team are determined to bounce back from their 12-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia at the Hero Honda World Cup in New Delhi, India.

The men’s team lost their third match on the trot on Thursday, following a 4-2 defeat to spain and a high-scoring 6-4 defeat to England.

But Smith refuses to give up and says the team will persist in getting things right.

So what went wrong? “Well in my opinion we were just too naive, and performed like a team who had little experience of playing in big matches, against big teams. At this elite level your decision making needs to be top notch,” says Smith. “Not for some of the time, but for every single moment in the game. Whether you’re running with the ball, tracking your runner or making a substitution you need to be continually analysing the situation and making the right decision. When this stops happening, then things begin to fall apart.

“We got it horribly wrong today and as captain I admit that. It doesn’t mean that I accept it, as no-one in our team does but from time to time these things happen in elite sport. What makes it harder is when reporters, and a vast majority of the public aren’t aware of how hard we have worked to get to where we are. They don’t know the money we have spent ourselves, the sacrifices we have made and our incredible desire to succeed.

“I’m not asking for people to pity us, I’m merely suggesting that our one poor result should be put in context. We are still ranked 13th in the world!”

South Africa’s next two pool games are both against sub-continent teams, Pakistan on Saturday and India on Monday.

“What we have in this team is bucket loads of character, and we will bounce back! I still believe we are technically good enough to compete with any team here at this tournament, and hopefully we can prove this in our final three matches. We can still potentially finish seventh at this tournament, if results go our way.”

In Thursday’s other two games in South Africa’s pool England beat Pakistan 5-2 and Spain beat the host nation by the same scoreline.


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