South Africa are confident that they will beat Australia in the playoff for the 3 rd/4 placing in the Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships at the Royal Selangor Grounds today which will earn them the ticket to this year’s FIP World Cup Finals in Argentina in October.
India and Pakistan have already confirmed their place in the World Cup Finals (Oct 11-25)in San Luis by virtue of reaching the Asian-Australasian-African Championships final which will be played at the same venue on Saturday. The seven-nation championships also serve as the Zone D Qualifier for the World Cup Finals.
“We are confident the team is good enough to play in the Finals in Argentina. South Africa played some really good polo at times but their inexperience let them down at the crucial stage during the tournament,” said South Africa coach Clive Peddle.
Peddle, was obviously referring to South Africa’s 9-5 defeat to India in the semi-finals played at the Royal Pahang Polo Grounds in Pekan, Pahang on Tuesday.
“The team need to capitalise on their chances if they are going to win tomorrow and I am confident South Africa will and qualify for the World Cup Finals. But we cannot afford to miss scoring chances. Our match analysis showed we muffed 21 scoring opportunities. We have spoken about it at length and the players are aware of their shortcomings.
“They will make good in the playoff. A lot is at stake in this match...any sporting encounter between South Africa and Australia is always going to be closely contested. We look forward to a good match of polo”
Meanwhile, Australia, who came as pre-tournament favourites, are still reeling from their 8 ½ - 8 defeat to Pakistan. The Australians were leading by three goals but crumbled in the last two chukkas. However, that takes a back seat for now as Australia aim to clear the final hurdle to qualify for the World Cup Finals.
Australia coach Glen Gilmore, however, is still searching for answers to his top player Matt Grimes’ “sudden collapse” in the last two chukkas after scoring three goals.
“He (Grimes) broke down all of a sudden and this allowed Pakistan to come-back into the picture. I have not lost track of qualifying for the (World Cup) Finals. It will be a tough match and will have to be at our best,” said Gilmore.