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Must-win match for Pereira’s SA hockey side

The South Africa men’s hockey team simply have to beat Chile in the World League Round Two last round on Tuesday in order to qualify for the World League semi-finals in Malaysia in June.

This after going down 4-2 to Argentina on Sunday, despite a plucky performance from head coach Charlie Pereira’s side. The 2pm SA time WL Round 2 clash on Tuesday is a winner-takes-all affair as Chile are also on nine points. Although SA have a better goal difference of 19, that counts for nothing in this tournament format.

A draw in regulation time and one point each is not good enough for SA, as the match then goes into a penalty shootout with the winners earning a bonus point, which would leave SA on 10 points and Chile on 11 points.

Coach Pereira, reflecting on the loss to Argentina, said the two soft goals in the first 10 minutes were crucial, as was an umpiring decision. ÔÇ£We have got to defend in front of such skilful strikers, not behind them, while the penalty stroke we should have been awarded at 2-0 down also cost us dearly,ÔÇØ said Pereira.

SA were 3-0 down at one point early in the second half after another soft goal but fought back to 3-2.

ÔÇ£We had Argentina very worried but our inexperience in defence, three players in their first tournament and two with very few caps, was tough and they scored again,ÔÇØ said the SA coach.

ÔÇ£Argentina probably have 100 Test caps on average to our 30, they have been together a long time and won the Junior World Cup not too long ago as well as the Champions Challenge last October.ÔÇØ

This SA team was only selected 31 days ago, with a new coach and management staff, and have only been together for two weeks as a team.

This Argentina side have pretty much the same players from the London 2012 Olympic Games while SA only has nine.

Also, striker Craig Haley could not play (since the first game due to a fever) so SA have only had five and not six field players on the rolling substitutions bench (plus number two goalkeeper Gowan Jones) and being one field player short has meant less rest time, with SA visibly tiring near the end.

ÔÇ£Our basic skills under pressure let us down, which put further pressure on us, and we have to minimise that against Chile,ÔÇØ Pereira added.


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