Clark: We have to up our game

2012-11-28 19:32

Johannesburg - South African men’s hockey coach Gregg Clark believes the national side will have to up their performances if it is to advance further than the quarter-final stage of the Champions Challenge in Argentina.

"It was an overwhelmingly inept performance from the team and if we continue to produce hockey of that quality we will not advance past the quarterfinals and it's likely we will not earn a victory in the playoffs," Clark said ahead of SA's quarterfinal clash with Malaysia on Thursday.

South Africa lost their final Group B match 3-1 against Ireland on Tuesday night, sinking Clark's side to fourth and last place in the group.

South Africa meet Group A winners Malaysia, and Clark said his team was far better than what they showed against Ireland.

"We are capable of a much higher standard of play. I am confident that if we can produce this quality - both individually and collectively - we can comfortably beat any team at this tournament.

"Malaysia have played well thus far, are unbeaten and are clearly favourites for the match.

"But everybody knows that the tournament proper starts now and there are no more second chances. This brings out the best in some teams while for others the pressure tells. It's obvious which team we want to be."

SA skipper Austin Smith was frank about the Ireland fixture.

"Technically we were not nearly good enough, which meant although we had a good plan and structure we never really got into the flow," Smith said.

"We have had plenty of video footage of Malaysia to look at and from playing them in the past I know what we can expect.

"The nature of this tournament means we are still in with a chance, and if we reduce our error rate we can still make Saturday’s semi-finals."

In the other quarter-final encounters Japan (second in Group B) face South Korea (third in Group A), Poland (second in Group A) meet Ireland (third in Group B), while Argentina (first in Group B) are up against Canada (fourth in Group A).