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Coach Pereira upbeat on the road to Rio

While a lack of finance is still the most pressing concern of the South Africa men’s hockey team as it hampers their efforts to compete on a level playing field with rivals able to fund plenty of centralised training sessions and Test matches every year, it will never be used as an excuse.

Charlie Pereira, who was appointed head coach for the upcoming World League Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 27 February to 5 March, has been hard at work in getting his diaspora to put in as much quality time as possible in cities throughout SA as well as overseas.

ÔÇ£I was with the Gauteng guys at training in Johannesburg last [Wednesday] night,ÔÇØ said the KZN Inland-based Pereira on Thursday. ÔÇ£The players from Pretoria and Jo’burg had a good session with Ned [SA trainer Craig Fulton] so yes it is difficult, not ideal, not having all the players from Rio together, but we are not going to whine about it.ÔÇØ

The 18-man team for Rio are broadly spread between Potchefstroom, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, The Netherlands and Belgium.

ÔÇ£Given what we have, the circumstances, we are on track,ÔÇØ said Pereira. ÔÇ£Rob [SA physical conditioning coach Rob van Ginkel] has each player on a physical conditioning programme so we will be fit in Rio, but it is game time on the pitch that is so critical and we have two practice matches when we arrive in Rio, but it is never enough.ÔÇØ

The sprinkling of SA players plying their trade in Europe will have the benefit of tough club matches under their belts and should arrive in Rio battle-hardened and ready for action.

ÔÇ£All round I am pretty happy, and it is good to know that the 18 picked for Rio are all injury free at this stage,ÔÇØ Pereira added.

SA will tackle Brazil, tournament favourites Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile and the USA in Rio. The top two teams will qualify for the World League semi-finals in June/July.

SOUTH AFRICA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FOR RIO

Miguel da Graca, Clint Panther, Ricky West, Oliver Whiteley, Rassie Pieterse (all Southern Gauteng); Lloyd Norris-Jones, Craig Haley, Ashlin Freddy, Austin Smith, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province); Taine Paton, Tim Drummond, Gowan Jones (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Jethro Eustice (KZN Inland); Jonty Robinson, Rhett Halkett (capt), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues); Julian Hykes (North West). Management ÔÇô Head Coach: Charlie Pereira. Trainers: Pierre le Roux and Craig Fulton. Physical Conditioning Coach: Rob van Ginkel. Video Analyst: Mo Malebye.


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