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SA take on hosts

ÔÇ£There is no question of us taking our foot off the gas,ÔÇØ said South Africa men’s hockey team assistant coach Kurt Cerfontyne ahead of Wednesday’s much-awaited Olympic Qualifier Tournament match against Japan in Kakamigahara, Japan.

Japan and South Africa lead the six-team log with the top two countries before Friday’s final round going into Sunday’s 8am SA time final, which will be televised live on SuperSport 6.

Cerfontyne is confident that SA will handle Japan’s renowned ability to capitalise on turnovers at lightning speed. ÔÇ£All Asian teams, from Japan to China and Korea, are very good counter-attackers so it boils down to not placing the ball at risk during our possession phases,ÔÇØ said the University of Stellenbosch head coach.

Victory for either side will make certain of a place in Sunday’s sold-out final in this sleepy town three hours from Tokyo, where the Japanese have their training base and have been in camp at Gifu Green Stadium for seven months.

Head coach Gregg Clark’s side have won all three games in this must-win tournament, notching victories over Brazil, Czech Republic and China.

The team’s coaching staff have gone with experience in naming the line-up. Youngsters Michael Smith of Witwatersrand and Clint Panther of Southern Gauteng sit the match out.

Log in brief (all played three): 1 Japan 9 points (goal difference 20); 2 South Africa 9 points (GD 17); 3 China 6 points (GD 6); 4 Austria 3 points (GD -3); 5 Czech Republic 0 points (GD -11); 6 Brazil 0 points (GD -29).

SA match programme and results to dateÔÇ¿

April 26: South Africa 11 Brazil 1; April 28: South Africa 6 Czech Republic 2; April 30: SA 5 China 2; May 2: v Japan (9am SA time); May 4: v Austria (11.30am SA time); May 6 (all live on SuperSport 6): Classification matches (5/6 places); (3/4 places); final (8am SA time).

ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿SOUTH AFRICAN SQUADÔÇ¿

Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Michael Smith (Witwatersrand).

Defenders: Andrew Cronje (Western Province), Justin Reid-Ross (Northern Blues), Lance Louw (SG), Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Rhett Halkett (NB).

Midfielders: Jonty Robinson (NB), Austin Smith (capt, WP), Tim Drummond (KCR), Wade Paton (KCR), Taine Paton (KCR), Clinton Panther (SG).

Strikers: Ian Haley (WP), Marvin Harper (KCR), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP), Julian Hykes (Amathole-Border), Thornton McDade (SG).


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