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Ken Borland



Everything goes pear-shaped for SA v Belgium 0

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Ken

 

Everything went wrong for South Africa’s men’s side in a nightmare first half in which they conceded seven goals, before they regrouped and eventually lost 9-1 to Belgium in their Hockey World League match at the Wits Astro on Monday night.

While South Africa were undeniably poor, flatfooted and always half-a-yard off the pace of the game, credit must also go to Belgium for a dazzling first half in which everything they touched turned to gold, thanks to some ruthless finishing.

The home side, except for 18-year-old Dayaan Cassiem, waging a lone battle as he ran impressively up front, showed little of the fight that had characterised their women’s side in their memorable win over the USA the night before.

The first 20 minutes were bad enough for South Africa as they found themselves 3-0 down, Belgium scoring through an Alexander Hendrickx short-corner goal, Nicolas de Kerpel one-timing a loose ball into the roof of the net for a wonder-goal, and then captain Thomas Briels scrambling in the third.

Except it would get worse as Belgium then piled on four goals in the last five minutes of the first half. Simon Gougnard was allowed to waltz along the baseline before passing to a totally unmarked Briels to score the fourth; Sebastien Dockier also just ran away from his marker to get a good pass from Gauthier Boccard and slam a reverse-sticks rocket in; and Loick Luypaert’s fluffed short-corner drag-flick then somehow eluded goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and post-man Tim Drummond; before Cedric Charlier, the driver of much of Belgium’s attacking play, got on the end of an overhead from Augustin Meurmans, showed good skill dribbling into the circle and then shot home between the goalkeeper’s legs.

South Africa coach Fabian Gregory said the mentality of the shellshocked team for the second half was just to make it a contest, which they succeeded in doing.

“In the first half we made unforced errors, our basic skills were non-existent and we could not keep the ball, and you cannot do that against a world-class team like Belgium, they punished us every time, but I was disappointed by some of the soft goals we let in.

“The second half was the type of hockey I expect from the team after a really disappointing first half. It was about how much we could compete, we said we were starting again at 0-0 and we will try and salvage something from the game,” Gregory said afterwards.

The second half did not start well for the hosts though as Jethro Eustice made a good tackle in the circle but the ball went back towards his own goal, and Matthew Guise-Brown slipped in trying to clear it and Dockier was presented with an easy goal.

But South Africa were on the scoreboard two minutes later as Guise-Brown fired a superb short-corner drag-flick into the top-right corner and they had a handful of other good chances in the second half.

It was Belgium who would have the final say, however, as more soft defending by South Africa in the 59th minute saw them just stand off and allow Boccard to run into the circle and fire the ball into goal past Richard Curtis, who replaced Pieterse for the second half and impressed.

Gregory said he was particularly unhappy that his team did not stick to the strategy that had been decided beforehand.

“If I’m brutally honest, the team did not execute tactically what we asked for, the application of that strategy was terrible and that’s why we did not cope well with the Belgian press.”

South Africa will now play a promotion/relegation game against Japan on Friday and will be desperate to stay up in the elite Hockey World League.

Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Egypt will go through to the quarterfinals from Pool B, to play France, New Zealand, Spain and Australia respectively.

Results: Germany 2 (Tom Grambusch, Martin Zwicker) Ireland 0; Australia 7 (Mark Knowles, Jake Whetton 2, Dylan Wotherspoon, Aran Zalewski, Tom Wickham, Jeremy Hayward) Japan 2 (Shota Yamada, Hirotaka Zendana); Spain 4 (Josep Romeu, Enrique Gonzalez, Alvaro Iglesias, Pau Quemada) New Zealand 3 (Shea McAleese, Nic Woods, Kane Russell); Belgium 9 (Alexander Hendrickx, Nicolas de Kerpel, Thomas Briels 2, Sebastien Dockier 2, Loick Luypaert, Cedric Charlier, Gauthier Boccard) South Africa 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Tuesday’s fixtures (women’s quarterfinals): 11.15 USA v Japan; 1.30 Argentina v Ireland; 3.45 England v India; 6pm Germany v South Africa.

Win or lose, some coaches just can’t win 0

Posted on February 06, 2017 by Ken

 

There is an unfortunate tendency in South African sport that a coach sometimes cannot win whether his team are losing or winning. We’ve seen it before with former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and now with current Proteas coach Russell Domingo.

It’s the unfortunate attitude that if a team is losing – as the Proteas were for 2015 and the first half of 2016 – then it must be the coach’s fault, but if they are winning, as Domingo’s charges are currently and the Springboks did under De Villiers in 2009, then it must have nothing to do with the coach and be all the players’ doing!

If people are going to blame and criticise the coach during the lean times then they have to credit and praise the coach when things are going well. His influence cannot just extend in the one direction.

Domingo gets to be seen way less on television than the Springbok rugby coach, so perhaps he has less opportunity to convey his knowledge of the game, but it was disturbing last weekend when Cricket South Africa dropped what can only be termed a bombshell. They were going to be taking applications for his position and he would need to reapply himself. It’s like being in a relationship and being told “it’s time we see other people”.

I have been a critic of Domingo in the past, believing he was no longer able to get the best out of the Proteas, but their form in the last six months has been superb and clearly the coach has them all pulling in the same direction.

A 5-0 limited-overs whitewash of Australia and a Test series win Down Under, without AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn, rank amongst some of the finest achievements in South African cricket history, and so far Sri Lanka have been dealt with ruthlessly, save for the T20s when some experimentation took place.

But CSA believe now is the time to say we need to start looking for another coach!

I agree, depending on how results go in the Champions Trophy and the Tests in England, that August may be time for a change given that Domingo will have been in the job for four years, but what if he wins the ICC event and then beats the Poms on their home turf? If he wants to continue, surely he would be the obvious choice?

Sure, you have to plan ahead and put out some feelers to see who Domingo’s successor will be, particularly if things go badly in England. But you don’t have to announce to the whole world that you are no longer sure about the guy who is currently doing a great job with the team.

Having been told quite clearly that uncertainty about the future was a major reason for players and coaches leaving South Africa, you would have thought CSA would be doing everything in their power to reassure a Proteas team and management that they have security, given how well they have been doing.

The talk from official sources has been that CSA don’t want to create the impression that Domingo will automatically just keep getting contract extensions – it’s all to do with the fine print of the labour regulations apparently – but the gap between the end of the trip to England (the last Test ends on August 8) and the start of the new summer with the first Test against Bangladesh starting on September 28 is surely long enough to sort out whatever the decision is.

Of course the list of possible replacements needs to be sussed out, but why does the post of Proteas head coach need to be advertised? Surely the successor to Domingo should be headhunted?

Particularly since the obvious next coach is working just across the road from the CSA offices at the Wanderers.

 

 

 

Lorgat’s resignation understandable, but his denial is baffling 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat’s sense of resignation when it comes to the exodus of Kolpak players is understandable given the socio-economic factors that are ranged against him, but his continued denial that anything untoward happened before the 2015 World Cup semi-final is baffling and most troubling.

His own involvement in the selection fiasco that saw the in-form Kyle Abbott yanked from the team and replaced by a half-fit Vernon Philander has still not been totally clarified, but I would be extremely surprised if he was not acting on an ill-timed instruction from board level.

But just mention the 2015 World Cup semi-final and selection interference and Lorgat has his hackles up in an instant.

It happened again in Cape Town after the Proteas had won their Test against Sri Lanka to clinch the series,  their achievement totally overshadowed by the shock news that Abbott and Rilee Rossouw were shifting their loyalty to lucrative deals in county cricket.

When Abbott faced up to the media he was asked whether that fateful event in Auckland had anything to do with his decision to give up his international career, and he answered sincerely, saying there had been a lot of frustration, hurt and anger at the time, but that the team – including himself – had dealt with and moved on from all their negative emotions from that incident at their culture camp last August.

Lorgat was next up to be interviewed and, as soon as someone mentioned the words “World Cup semi-final”, they were scolded and the CEO launched into a tirade against the media for making things up. When one of the journalists, of colour, who happened to be at the World Cup and had done plenty to expose the selection shenanigans, pointed out to Lorgat that Abbott had sat in the same chair five minutes earlier and openly spoken about the issue, the CEO had to retreat and offered words along the lines of “I don’t want to talk about that now”.

But like reticent parents avoiding the sex-education talk, Lorgat is going to have to speak about it at some stage.

And the CSA National Team Review Panel report, that will be tabled before the members’ council on Saturday might just be the tool that gets Lorgat to open up, unless of course the relevant pages are lost somewhere in the toilets at head office at the Wanderers.

There has been talk of the report recommending that CSA and the board apologise to the players for what happened in Auckland. There is no confirmation of that, but I have it on record from someone who has read the findings that under the Team Culture section it indicates that it’s “strongly recommended that interaction happens either individually or in a group between players and senior members of the board and support staff”.

Speaking to members of the panel, none of them wanted to create anything controversial and all they hope is that something good comes out of their work.

The introduction of set targets has obviously helped because now the quotas are out in the open; but amongst the players there is still the lingering fear of an administrator again deciding to take the job of a selector upon himself and interfering in the make-up of the team.

The bungling of the transformation aspect of the 2015 World Cup needs to be put to bed – otherwise imagine how septic a boil it will be in the lead-up to 2019? – and an acknowledgement and apology from Lorgat for his role in the controversy would be a big step along that road.

Injury-hit Alberts back for one last hurrah 0

Posted on December 13, 2016 by Ken

 

The hard-hitting Willem Alberts returns to the Sharks’ starting line-up for one last hurrah at Kings Park in their final SuperRugby match against the Stormers on Saturday before he joins the foreign legion.

The Springbok loose forward has had a badly disrupted season due to injury, playing just six games in which he has had six hours of action, but he has apparently recovered just in time to earn his 73rd SuperRugby cap for the Sharks before heading for Stade Francais.

Saturday’s SuperRugby finale (for the Sharks at least) is also the farewell for the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, who are also heading to France, most probably to join the previous  Sharks coach, Jake White, at Montpellier.

Another Springbok flank, Marcell Coetzee, also returns to the Sharks line-up, boosting an outfit that is otherwise largely unchanged from the squad that has won two games in a row, against the Reds and the Rebels.

Coach Gary Gold said on Thursday that the team were eager to end a tough campaign on a high note, with three successive victories.

“We want to make the same statement as when it was important to beat the Reds and Rebels, and why it was important not to give up the fight on tour after two good performances against the Hurricanes and Waratahs. Teams do go through tough times; there will be critics, people who want to throw stones, that we’ll take on the chin. But the people that really matter know the challenges we’ve had, that it’s been a complicated year and the thing that would really frustrate them would be if the team gave up and rolled over. That we’re not prepared to do.

“The statement a win would make is that it matters, whoever you’re playing. We have to pitch up and we owe it to the people who have been loyal to us through the bad times, we need to give them good times now. It is critically important that we put up a proper performance and finish the campaign on a high. Not for any other reason other than the fact that it would be three wins on the bounce and give us confidence moving into the next chapter of our lives.

“I can’t sit here and say I’m happy with where we’re sitting on the log, I’m not happy at all. But in terms of the team and turning it around, I’m very proud of the character they’ve shown, I’m really appreciative of how the players have stuck together and stuck by us as a coaching staff; I never felt at any time that there was a divide between us and them. If there were issues, we spoke openly about them and that helped us turn the corner; too late unfortunately.

“But there have been lots of positives, youngsters who we never thought would get Super Rugby experience and now they have six or seven games under the belt, that can only do them the world of good,” Gold said.

Team – Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Andre Esterhuizen, S’bura Sithole, Lionel Cronje, Stefan Ungerer, Renaldo Bothma, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Marco Wentzel, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Bench: Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Khaya Majola, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, Heimar Williams.

 



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