SA hockey players struggle in Beijing

South Africa’s men and women hockey teams have been under the cosh in Beijing after both sides lost their opening two games.

The men lost their opener 5-0 to 2004 Olympic runners-up The Netherlands and were then trounced by title holders Australia 10-0.

The women have fared slightly better after losing 6-0 to 2004 runners-up The Netherlands and then going down 3-0 to hosts China.

“You must remember that those are the top two teams in the world,” said South African Hockey Association head of coaching Lennie Botha, referring to the men’s results. “I’m sure our teams will win some games.”

Botha, who represented South Africa in 1978, cites the lack of exposure to international hockey as a possible reason for the South Africans’ poor showing.

“We don’t play as many international fixtures as the other sides do.
In Europe they are so close they can organise games easily. For us we have to organise tours, which is more difficult.”

The South African men have yet to play Pakistan, Britain and Canada in their pool matches while the women have tough assignments against Australia, Spain and South Korea.—Sapa

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