SA hockey needs ‘composure’ when facing Ireland

Having lost 4-2 to Ireland in their first meeting during the Celtic Cup in Lisburn on Thursday, where South Africa dominated all facets but lost to the hosts, the visitors will have another opportunity at the University College Dublin (UCD).

"We looked at the stats after the game and saw that we had about 30 circle-entries," Cerfontyne said.

"The biggest problem we had against Ireland was that we created scoring opportunities but we didn't capitalise."

Ireland went on to win the Celtic Cup following their win over the South Africans, beating Scotland and drawing with Wales on Sunday, while South Africa finished a point behind, having also beaten Scotland and thrashing Wales 5-0.

Taking their chances
Cerfontyne said after analysis of the game in Lisburn, his players understood where they went wrong and had been working on taking their chances.

"These players have been around the block for a long time. The good thing is that we have a bunch of good individuals who stick their hands up and will take accountability," the assistant to Gregg Clark said.

"That's the beauty of video analysis where guys can actually see that they probably should have made a better decision.

"My philosophy is that you can't necessarily coach composure and decision making because it happens in a second, so yes the guys know where they have to improve."

Cerfontyne admitted that at the level of competition SA will be up against, not only on this tour but also at the Olympics, the team would have to be more clinical with their chances and putting away goals, with Ireland being no exception.

"Ireland are a well-drilled team, they play good structured hockey and I think they do a couple of things really well," he said.

Handful of matches
"We are not expecting another 30 circle-entries against Ireland again, it could come down to 20 but then at least we have got to be converting a lot more than we did on Thursday.

"Our first three games were the perfect platform for us moving ahead towards the Olympics, and it is up to us to move up another level."

The South African outfit have improved steadily through their first handful of matches on tour, after being away from competitive hockey for seven weeks, in which they worked on their strength and conditioning at a training camp in Bloemfontein, shortly after qualifying for the London Olympics in Japan in May.

"What we've seen in terms of progression from when we started against Ireland to even the most recent training session, there has been a major improvement in intensity," Cerfontyne said.

"Whatever rust we had, has been dusted off."

South Africa are due to play Belgium in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday evening. – Sapa

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