China next up for SA | SASCOC - SASCOC

China next up for SA

The unbeaten South Africa men’s hockey team may have conceded three soft goals in their opening Olympic Qualifier Tournament matches in Kakamigahara Japan, but assistant coach Kurt Cerfontyne backs his boys ahead of Monday’s crunch clash with unbeaten China.

SA beat Brazil 11-1 and Czech Republic 6-2 but the two field goal that went over keeper Rassie Pieterse’s line against the Czechs and the penalty corner past Michael Smith against Brazil were disappointing ÔÇô and not necessarily because of mistakes the goalkeepers might have made.

ÔÇ£Yes, we did concede two soft field goals against the Czechs ÔÇô that can happen – but our defensive penalty corners were really good and Rassie made a world-class save when the Czechs used a penalty corner variation,ÔÇØ said Cerfontyne before Sunday’s final practice.

And SA’s defensive corner play will be put to the test by China, who have a very good set-piece. ÔÇ£China put a lot into this tournament in the build-up, as we all did, but it’s interesting how much space they have been given on the ball by their opponents here, and we back ourselves 100% against them,ÔÇØ said Cerfontyne.

SA captain Austin Smith backs his team’s defensive structure as well, ÔÇ£as long as we keep control I don’t see us conceding too many goals,ÔÇØ he said after the Czech match.

China also play a free-flowing style like SA and the match promises to be the most entertaining of the tournament. Wednesday, say meet their biggest rivals Japan, but as Smith said, ÔÇ£it’s the old clich├®, one game at a time, no one can afford to look ahead much further than that.ÔÇØ