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Warm-up win for SA

Our men’s hockey side beat Belgium 5-4 in their second of two practice games ahead of the BDO Champions Challenge tournament in Argentina.

“We’re slowly getting into the groove,” said SA coach Gregg Clark, and “its all systems go for Sunday’s first game.”

Earlier in the week SA went down 3-1 to India. Both games were warm-ups for the eight-team event which runs from 6-13 December. Other teams involved are: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, India, New Zealand and Pakistan. The winners of the tournament automatically qualify for the 2010 Champions Trophy tournament.

Speaking of the team’s loss to India team captain Austin Smith said from Argentina: “We were clearly a little rusty from not having played together for a while. Despite the 3-1 loss it was important for us to play together again and get back up to the international tempo. We play another warm-up game on Friday afternoon against Belgium.

“We arrived in Argentina last weekend with everyone feeling a little jet-lagged with the five-hour time difference between South Africa and Argentina.

“The city of Salta isn’t quite what many of us had envisioned. There isn’t much English spoken at all, if any in fact. The tournament venue is still being constructed with a few lose ends to tie up before it all starts. The turf is slower than were used to, but runs well and should suite our game.

“But we have enough practice sessions and matches for that not to be a factor come Sunday when we play Argentina in the opening game.

“I’m pleased to report the team is fully fit, and we are without injury or illness. That’s going to be an important aspect as temperatures have already climbed over the 30 degrees mark.”

“Finally, thanks for all the messages of support. It means a great deal to the team knowing there are so many South Africans behind us!”