Other Sport

The tale of two teams

2014-06-12 07:50
Clinton Panther (Stanislas Brochier)
Clinton Panther (Stanislas Brochier)
Cape Town - The Tale of Two Teams might be the book title when describing South Africa and counterparts Malaysia’s fortunes at men’s Hockey World Cup 2014 here in Holland.

They face-off in the 11th/12th place playoff match at 1.30pm in the Kyocera Stadium Thursday and it is a difficult one to call as far as a winner is concerned.

Both finished bottom of their Groups, both are winless, and both have suffered similar ailments. Unforced errors in defence and attack, leaking soft goals and blowing chances in the strike zone have been the themes.

Linked to this – and possibly the central theme – far too much ball has been given away or turned over by their sharper opponents.

Head coach Fabian Gregory’s SA side were desperately unlucky not to beat world number seven South Korea in their 0-0 draw in Group B and victory there would have guaranteed at least a 9th/10th playoff match – not bad for a side that only got together as a group of 18 two weeks before the opening match.

Yet here have been moments of sublime hockey from the African champs, none more so than University of Johannesburg midfielder Clint Panther’s wonderful solo goal against semi-finals Argentina in Tuesday’s final Group B match for the two countries.

Malaysia can also point to a 3-2 defeat by India and a 2-0 loss to world number four England as two Group A matches that saw relatively close scores.

There are other similarities. Both sides have beaten and lost to each other in the recent past - and SA and Malaysia are 12th and 13th in the world rankings respectively.

Apart from wanting to avoid bottom place at the four-yearly showpiece, there are valuable world ranking points at stake.

Cleaning up their mistakes and sharpening the rapier in the strike zone will serve both sides well in what is a vital match for each.

Gregory, who is director of hockey at Glenwood High School in Durban in his day job, and his players have bravely faced an uphill battle against professional teams with full-time, paid players and countries that boast national programmes and training centres.

But as he has said at post-match Press conferences, South Africa is a proud nation of eternal optimists – and it that common characteristic in both sides that might make the difference in what is shaping up as an intriguing battle that not even the most seasoned observers one dare put money on.

Read more on:    south africa  |  hockey world cup  |  hockey

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather v Conor 'The Notorious' McGregor ... who've you got in Saturday's mega fight?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.