sa gets stick at games

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

BEIJING - South African national women's hockey coach, Jenny King, did not mince her words when she said yesterday that her charges were not medal-winning material.

She was speaking after her side suffered yet another embarrassing defeat in their Pool A match against hosts China.

The Chinese, backed by their noisy supporters, defeated South Africa 3-0 at Olympic Green hockey stadium.

Chunling Tang opened the scoring in the sixth minute after a goalmouth melee and Fu Baorong added the second in the 33rd minute.

Qingling Song's long-range effort secured China a resounding victory in the 37th minute.

But the South Africans showed an improved performance compared to their disastrous display in Sunday's opener, which they lost 6-0 against Holland.

Though King was somewhat happy with their general performance yesterday, she stressed that winning a medal was a far-fetched goal for them.

"I don't think we are doing enough to win a medal here," she told Sowetan.

"But it is good for the players to compete at this highest level and we will always compete to qualify for big events like the Olympics."

Like their women's counterparts, the South African hockey men's squad also seems to be having a nightmare campaign in Beijing.

They were conquered 5-0 by Holland at the same venue on Monday.

It now appears that the sport authorities back in South Africa should take drastic steps to rescue the hockey teams.

They should shop for fresh talent through an aggressive talent identification drive to prepare the players for the Summer Olympics in London in 2012.

The men's team, coached by Gregg Clark, who showed some discipline in their play against Holland despite the setback, engage Australia today. King's side plays the Australians tomorrow.