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Pakistan pose another kind of test for Proteas
- Updated: July 1, 2013
After a 3-3 draw against world No4 England and a 6-4 defeat by world number 13 Malaysia, the 12th ranked South Africa men’s hockey team know they need a win against Pakistan in their final Pool B match at the World League Semi-Final tournament in Johor, Malaysia on TuesdayÔÇ¿.
ÔÇ£Pakistan [ranked fifth] offer another stern test and that is the beauty of playing at the highest level of world Hockey,ÔÇØ said SA head coach Charlie Pereira on Monday. ÔÇ£Their playing style is similar to Malaysia and if we learn from our mistakes and apply ourselves to counter-cover principles, we have a shot at a result.ÔÇØ
Jon Cook reports that SA captain Austin Smith was thinking on similar lines: ÔÇ£We now look to Pakistan and how we can turn things around. They will play in a similar fashion to Malaysia so much needs to be improved by then.ÔÇØ
SA vice-captain Rhett Halkett was pleased that midfielder Clint Panther reached his 50th Test match cap against Malaysia and was also chuffed with Jethro Eustice’s first international goal, but Pakistan is foremost in his mind.
ÔÇ£Pakistan now becomes a crucial fixture for us with regard to where we finish in our pool and ultimately who we face in the quarter-finals. Pakistan will present plenty of the same playing-style characteristics, so we need to ensure that we learn from the Malaysian game and bring a far more intelligent and mature performance.ÔÇØ
There are still four games left in the tournament and SA are guaranteed a place in Thursday’s quarter-finals due to the tournament format.
ÔÇ£Malaysia were a different proposition to SA,ÔÇØ said Pereira. ÔÇ£In front of their home crowd they are formidable. They were also very keen to reverse the losing trend against us and as often happens you learn more from losing than you do in winning.
ÔÇ£We did not start well and our penalty corner defence, which has been so good until now, took strain. As the first half developed we took control and started to build good phases with the ball and were successful down our right, creating circle entries which resulted in penalty corners that got us back in the game. It was 2-1 at half-time, which became 2-2 early in the second half, and we had a great chance to go 3 -2 up. Then we got an unlucky yellow card and with numbers down it disrupted our structure and plagued us for the balance of the second half.ÔÇØ
Pereira said that once SA went behind the team became scoreboard focused and started chasing the game, which left South Africa exposed to counter-attacks. ÔÇ£Not a great performance, and some complacency before the game may have contributed to our downfall and that is the nature of sport. This will make us stronger as we analyse and then make changes to our game.ÔÇØ
Smith said SA were poor all over the field. ÔÇ£We did well to get back into the game but after going down again at 3-2 and 4-2 we went searching too much and left too many gaps all over the field. Malaysia outplayed us in the one-on-ones, which made any sort of control of the game difficult.ÔÇØ
Halkett said it was an electric atmosphere. ÔÇ£The stadium was packed, we always knew Malaysia would be a different team in Malaysia but it is obviously a very disappointing result for us, as we know we are capable of beating Malaysia on most days. However, that does not take away any credit from Malaysia who were clinical in front of goal and at set-pieces.ÔÇØ
Halkett said that SA fought back brilliantly, twice, but then started to chase the victory, the structure fading slightly, which exposed the defence, and this played directly into Malaysia’s counter-attacking ability.
ÔÇ£There are still plenty of positives for us from this game and a few lessons to be learned. We can score goals and create chances at any stage of the game. But errors and turnovers in certain critical areas of the field were punished. That is international hockey. Unfortunately, sometimes this is how it goes.ÔÇØ
Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders); Austin Smith (capt, Western Province), Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues), Rhett Halkett (vice-capt, WP), Lance Louw (SG), Jethro Eustice (SG); Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Nick Gonsalves (SG), Taine Paton (KCR); Julian Hykes (SG), Craig Haley (WP), Pierre de Voux (WP), Miguel da Graca (SG), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP).
The match will be televised live on SuperSport 7 at 3pm (SA time) on Tuesday.