Pereira prepares for Malaysian Test backlash | SASCOC - SASCOC

Pereira prepares for Malaysian Test backlash

While head coach Charlie Pereira was delighted with the South Africa men’s hockey team’s heart-stopping 2-1 win over Malaysia in the first Test of the four-Test series in Potchefstroom on Thursday, he knows that is just the opening salvo.

It’s all shaping up to be a memorable clutch of international matches crammed into a frenetic six days, writes Jon Cook.

The second Test is on Saturday and the third on Sunday ÔÇô both in Potchefstroom, while the fourth and final Test is in Randburg.

ÔÇ£What a win!ÔÇØ said the celebrated former Southern Gauteng and SA player Friday. ÔÇ£I was so relaxed before the game, which is very unusual for me before a Test match, but I have so much confidence in the lads and I was so chuffed for them, especially as they had experienced such a tough national camp the week before at the University of Johannesburg.

ÔÇ£At one stage I thought that maybe we had burnt them too hard but you could see that it was their fitness that enabled the lads to push through right till the end.ÔÇØ

Indeed, Taine Paton scored the winner 17 seconds from full-time as SA poured on the pressure in search of victory in front of an excited crowd. Earlier, Taine’s older brother, Wade, had made the score 1-1 from a penalty corner slip-left variation, this in response to Marhan Jalil’s series opener in the last minute of the first half.

ÔÇ£There is no doubt that Revs [Malaysia’s South African coach, the former Capetonian Paul Revington] will try to find ways to break us down and that is why it’s great to play in a series, as you get a chance to have another crack at the opposition soon after a win or defeat,ÔÇØ Pereira said.

The hockey-starved SA men’s team, an amateur group who last played a Test match three months ago in Brazil, had last played in a proper Test series in South Africa ÔÇô or anywhere else for that matter ÔÇô over 15 months ago, when they took on Great Britain in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The recent introduction of Mugg & Bean as a co-sponsor has, however, served to give the players a massive boost in their self-worth as a team and the outlook is promising.

In contrast, the full-time professionals from Malaysia had five international matches going into this series alone, apart from their busy playing calendar over the last six months.

Pereira admitted he was disappointed for his players having conceded a goal on half-time after they had dominated the first half, but was mightily impressed at the manner in which they stuck to the process and were duly rewarded in the second half.

SA also won the penalty corner count 6-2 but were unable to score from the set-piece, which is the most frequent method of scoring in world hockey.

ÔÇ£We were a bit undercooked with our penalty corners but we have had so little time to practise them, and it’s a discipline that has to be trained for hours every day,ÔÇØ said Pereira.

There is little doubt that SA will seek to rectify that blemish in the second and third Tests this weekend.

South Africa (from) ÔÇô Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Jacque le Roux (Western Province), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders). Defenders: Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues), Ashlin Freddy (WP), Rhett Halkett (WP, vice-capt), Ricky West (SG), Lance Louw (SG), Jethro Eustice (SG). Midfielders: Austin Smith (WP, capt), Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KCR), Taine Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Nic Gonsalves (SG), Taylor Dart (SG). Strikers: Julian Hykes (SG), Craig Haley (WP), Matt Botha (WP), Pierre de Voux (WP), Miguel da Graca (SG)

Malaysia (from) ÔÇô Goalkeepers: Kairulnizam Ibrahim, Roslan Jamaluddin. Defenders: Ahmad Kazamirul, Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh, Sukri Mutalib, Izad Hakimi, Razie Rahim. Midfielders: Faiz Helmi, Meor Muhamad Azuan, Fitri Saari, Shahrun Nabil, Azammi Adabi, Marhan Jalil, Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Noor. Strikers: Chua Boon Huat, Faizal Saari, Izwan Firdaus, Firhan Ashaari, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin.

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