SA coach rues missed chances

2012-05-02 18:01

Johannesburg - South African men's hockey coach Gregg Clark on Wednesday said his side had plenty of chances to win but had to settle for a draw against Japan in their Olympic qualifier fixture in Kakamigahara, Japan.

"We had our opportunities and if we had been more thorough, we might have got a better result," Clark said.

South Africa drew the thrilling encounter 3-3 with Japan and both sides remain unbeaten in the qualifying tournament.

The SA men came from behind three times and had to rely on defender Justin Reid-Ross, after the final hooter had sounded, to score a penalty corner to level the match and earn a point against the hosts.

SA skipper Austin Smith was happy with the character his side had shown on Wednesday, but admitted the South African's were not at their best.

"Japan put us under a lot of pressure," Smith said.

"We didn't play as well as we can, but we showed our fighting spirit."

SA take on Austria on Friday in their last group fixture, where a draw or a win would guarantee them a place in the final on Sunday, while Japan have a tricky fixture against China.

Wednesday's hero from the Japan clash, Reid-Ross, was adamant that the South Africans would go all-out to win against the Austrians, who have the potential to cause problems for teams underestimating their skills.

"We'll be using that game as preparation for the final," Reid-Ross said.

"We won't be taking that game lightly - we haven't taken any games lightly at the tournament."

The South Africans have to win the tournament if they are to qualify for the London Olympics in July.