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Stiff challenge for SA

The South African men’s hockey squad face their second tough assignment in the space of three days on Tuesday as they take on England in the Hero Honda World Cup in New Delhi, India.

Coached by Gregg Clark, the African champions opened their campaign with a fighting 4-2 loss to Spain on Sunday.

They certainly weren’t swamped by the Spaniards, were unlucky to concede the fourth goal, and will have taken a lot of the experience.

Tuesday they go from playing the world’s third-ranked side to the world’s sixth team and also the European champions.

And they’ll be up against a side not exactly short of confidence.

In their opening game, the English beat Australia 3-2 in a big upset.

Reports though say that the Australians squandered numerous scoring opportunities and that the end results rather flattered the English.

This is South Africa’s fourth World Cup appearance after playing in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur and Monchengladbach.

At the last-mentioned tournament in Germany they ended last, winning none of their seven games.

In the last match between SA and England, England won 2-0 at the Beijing Olympics.

So there’s no doubting they’ll be up against it but hopefully their fighting spirt against Spain on Sunday will show them that they are not merely in New Delhi to make up the numbers.