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Gregory looks for SA to up the pace against Malaysia

Fabian Gregory, head coach of the South Africa men’s hockey team, is expecting Malaysia to play a fast-paced match when the countries clash in the opening round of the 23rd Azlan Shah Cup tournament in the city of Ipoh in Malaysia on Thursday.

ÔÇ£The Malaysians are exceptionally fast and will look to catch us on the counter-attack,ÔÇØ said Gregory, who is the full-time director of coaching at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Hockey Club, reports Jon Cook.

ÔÇ£Unlike us, the Malaysians are pretty much full-time players who are in the middle of their season and are match-hardened, so it will be a big test. But on the other hand they will be under pressure as it is an important home tournament for them and part of a big year that includes hosting the Champions Challenge and playing in the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.ÔÇØ

The 2.05pm (SA time) start follows two trainings Gregory held with the team on Wednesday, this after the lads in green and gold’s arrival in Ipoh on Tuesday afternoon.

Gregory, right, who has been in the national job for just over a month, is looking for encouraging results from his side at the Azlan Shah.

ÔÇ£The last two series [against Argentina and Germany] formed part of a training phase, but we are now in a performance phase for the Azlan Shah and I am expecting top performances from the players,ÔÇØ said Gregory at the team hotel on Wednesday.

ÔÇ£The brief to the players for the Argentina and Germany series was to play without fear, it gave individuals the opportunity to express themselves, and our goals were not outcomes based in terms of results.ÔÇØ

As far as preparation for the year’s big tournaments are concerned, Gregory said the world’s 12th-ranked South Africa are far behind their fellow Azlan Shah participants in world No1 Australia, No7 South Korea and world No13 Malaysia.

ÔÇ£Against these three it will be an opportunity to see what we can do with regards to our attacking and defensive patterns, the quality of the work we do when we are not in possession, how long can we be competitive against better sides, and how many penalty corner we give away as well as how many PCs we win.ÔÇØ

There is no doubt that South Africa will be satisfied with nothing less than victory against 16th ranked Canada and 25th ranked China.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿After the teams have completed the round-robin phase in this six-team event, they go into the final classification and medal matches on Sunday, March 23.

SOUTH AFRICA’S FIXTURES

(All South Africa time ÔÇô Malaysia is six hours ahead)

Thurs, 13 Mar: SA vs Malaysia (2.05pm)
Fri, 14 Mar: SA vs China (2.05pm)
Mon, 17 Mar: SA vs Australia (10.05am)
Wed, 19 Mar: SA vs Canada (12.05pm)
Sat, 22 Mar: SA vs South Korea (2.05pm)
Sun, 23 Mar: Classification and medal matches


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