SA hockey men clinical in rout of Brazil
The South African men’s hockey team got their World League Round 2 campaign off to a great start at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday when they beat host nation Brazil 9-0 after leading 6-0 at halftime.
Clint Panther nailed a hat-trick (34th, 35th and 67th minutes) with Lloyd Norris-Jones getting a brace (32nd and 61st minutes) and Craig Haley (second minute), Austin Smith (penalty corner 11th minute), Taine Paton (25th minute) and Ricky West (51st minute PC) adding the rest.
“We got on the scoresheet early which meant there was no pressure on us,” said SA head coach Charlie Pereira.
“The lads kept their structure, which is important when you play the stronger sides, our shape was good, but we must be aware of the counter-attack, the second half we started badly, didn’t manage the turnover well, gave away soft passes.”
Pereira said he is trying to change the mental approach, in terms of maintaining the playing pattern for the full 70 minutes, and if it’s 6-0 at halftime the team must go out after halftime and look for 12-0.
“We must attack the lead, mustn’t drop off.”
Pereira is looking forward to the second match, against the USA, which kicks off at 4pm CAT (SA, GMT+2) on Thursday.
“They are more structured than Brazil, it will be a more thorough examination, and we want to have a full go.”
SA captain Rhett Halkett was outstanding in his first match leading the team.
“The lads made it easy for me, we had a good start to the tournament but there is lots of work to do, as we set high standards for ourselves,” the skipper said.
“Team spirit is phenomenal and we will be up for it against the USA. It was pleasing to see how we came back after a flat start to the second half and I was proud of the way we stuck in three goals to finish well.”
SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse was impressed with the way his defence ensured he had a quiet game.
“I am chuffed that we were able to lock them out, we have been talking a lot about our defensive structures and setting up a platform for the lads up front.”
Hat-trick hero Panther dealt with the slippery pitch very well. “It’s a question of slowing your game down, getting your feet right, your base right, and if we keep our disciplines and ensure the basics are sound we will challenge the USA strongly.”