SA men ready for action
Johannesburg - Preparations are going well, according to new coach Charlie Pereira, after the SA men's hockey team arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Friday for the World League Round Two tournament.
Pereira, who played 49 Tests for South Africa, said on Sunday they had two training sessions since their arrival, including a practice match against the United States.
“Friday’s training was obviously at a lower intensity with jet lag and lack of sleep proving difficult to overcome," he said.
"Our recovery by Saturday was very good and we trained for 75 minutes and then played 25- and 20-minute halves against the USA.
"We were 3-0 up at half-time and eventually won 3-0, something we have been chatting about. We must attack the lead, and go for the jugular, 3-0 should become 6-0.”
Pereira said the South Africans, who will be captained by Rhett Halkett, were looking sharp.
Matthew Guise-Brown had an infection in his thigh, but otherwise they were raring to go, with their first match scheduled against hosts Brazil on Wednesday.
“I was amazed at the change from Friday," Pereira said.
"The recovery from travelling has been good and if we can push on and train hard we will be good for Brazil Wednesday.
"We had a penalty corner session Saturday afternoon and apart from some small niggles everybody is fit and healthy.
Pereira said he and trainers Craig Fulton and Pierre le Roux had made a small adjustment to the team's playing pattern, allowing them to focus more on attack.
“Our aim is to look for vertical progression and break lines so that we are then challenging the opposition defence.
"We also want to use the pace we have to get forward and be as direct as possible.
"Then of course we need to prepare the team in all aspects of our play, starting with outlet play from the back, positioning and link-up play in midfield and then our attack.”
The top two teams at the conclusion of the Rio round-robin tournament will qualify for the men's World League semi-finals, which will take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in June.