Don’t underestimate South Africa at Junior World Cup

Friday, 06 December 2013 10:58

THE South African hockey team are an unknown quantity and it would be wise for Malaysia to take them seriously in Group D.

South Africa are determined to make a big impression at the Junior World Cup, which starts here on Friday at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

They will play England in the opening tie and face Malaysia on Sunday. The other team in the group are favourites New Zealand.

South Africa coach Darryn Galagher admitted that they are under no pressure to survive the tough group.

“We have come here with no added pressure on us and are looking ahead to the challenge that will come our way.

“The boys are confident and want to take their learning curve up another level. England and Malaysia are tough opponents but we are looking forward to playing against them,” he said.

South Africa qualified as the continental champions and will make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Junior World Cup.

Their best outing was in the 2001 campaign in Hobart, Australia, where they defeated Malaysia in the playoff match to finish 11th.

They then finished 13th and 15th respectively in 2005 and 2009.

Two players – skipper Dylan Swanpoel and Mohamed Mea – are members of South Africa’s senior team who won the Africa Cup of Nations continental championship in Nairobi last month.

He picked Mohamed Mea as the player to watch out for.

“He is a talented defender who is likely to be part of the South African senior set-up for years to come.

“Generally, we have a very determined team and we hope that we can, for the first time, make it into the top eight,” he said, adding that the team needed to raise their game a notch higher in the group phase.

The coach added that he was also satisfied with the fitness of the players and believe they can give all their opponents a run for their money.

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