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Last chance for SA water polo women while men prepare for Brazil

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By Mark Etheridge

The national water polo sides are in action on Monday and Tuesday in FINA World Championships action from Kazan, Russia.
The women will be looking for their first win of the tournament in their final match, a 15-16th place play-off on Monday after a frustrating loss to New Zealand on Saturday while the men take on Brazil on Tuesday.
The women’s side lost 3-10 to the Kiwis and captain Kelsey White is hoping for a strong finish for the girls against Japan.
Reflecting on the loss to New Zealand she said: ‘It was a sad loss for us and not much went our way with three very harsh calls offensively against us that I think ruined our flow of the game.
‘We kept fighting hard but I think more experience was on the New Zealand side,’ she told Road to Rio 2016.
‘So now it’s our last game tomorrow. I think they’ll be well-drilled and fast but I think we can outmuscle them and we just have to really take our best opportunities and finish strong. We’re definitely ready to finish strong.’
Moving on to the men’s competition and Pierre le Roux’s men went down 17-1 to the speedy Australians, South Africa’s only goal coming from Le Roux’s brother Etienne.
Now they take on Brazil in a 9-12th place classification match.
‘It was a game of two halves,’ the skipper told Road to Rio 2016. The Aussies came out firing… a tight press and looking to work their counter attack. After a good half time chat we managed to slow their counter down and played a lot better in the third and fourth quarter. They should have beaten the Serbians (probably the best team in the world) so this wasn’t a bad result and we should have scored a few more but there was some awesome defence from them and we were more focused on defence as well.
Le Roux says the tough schedule is taking its strain on the team. ‘I’m broken and the body is hurting but will need to suck it up for these last two games. So we have Brazil now and then final play-off game on Thursday.’
Le Roux went on to reiterate just how hard it is for the rank amateur South Africans against the world’s best.
‘Brazil have pumped about $2.5 million in preparation for the Olympic Games next year. They also bought the Croatian centre forward and Spanish captain to join their team! They have had some solid performances…only losing 10-9 to Croatia. They’re a bit of an up and down team. We should be able to put up a good game, but they are probably still a little stronger than us.’
Should SA lose to Brazil they will play for 11-12th place and face other Kazakstan again or Canada as matters stand.
Another indication of just what the SA players are up against can be seen by the fact that the Brazilians have ben in Europe as a team for more than a month prior to World Championships and played three tournaments in the build-up. The last time South Africa played as a team was the Nations Cup in March.
Even Argentina, who South Africa beat in their opening clash, played two tournaments and are paid by their federations. As for Le Roux, he put in a full day’s work before he flew over to Russia. Therein lies the rub.


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