MESSAGE FROM CLIVE PEDDLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SA POLO, IN MALAYSIA
South Africa had to play Australia for the 3rd and 4th playoff to qualify for a “final berth” in the Argentine later this year. The two teams competing in the final (India and Pakistan) automatically go through to the World Cup finals in October. So it was all to play for in this “do or die” match with the motivated and ready for a good win. The starting line up was the same as the semi final match against India with the exception of Johann du Preez who came into the side in place of Shaun Brokensha. The starting line up consisted of Campbell Macnab at back, Duncan Watson playing 3, his cousin Lance at 2 and Johann du Preez at 1.
The boys started strongly scoring 3 goals in the first chukka without reply from Australia and by the half way stage looked like heading for a good win. A four chukka lead at half time looked positive although one can never write off the competitive edge of the Australians. The introduction of some clever tactical moves by Glen Gilmore, the Australian coach, led to the convincing first half lead being whittled away and eventually drawing level with South Africa. The last chukka was a nail biter with South Africa scoring early giving us a glimmer of hope. Two brilliant goals scored close to the final whistle enabled Australia to seal the match and leave a rather shell shocked SA wondering where it had all gone wrong.
The South African team was one of the youngest teams competing in the tournament and they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves. They played some very good polo at times but their inexperience and possibly lack of patience let them down at crucial times – during this match as well as in the semi final against India. The ethos of FIP is to promote polo in younger players and the team can be proud of the results achieved. For most it was their first experience in a World Cup qualifier against experienced players who have competed at this level on numerous previous occasions.