Charlie Pereira named South African men’s hockey team head coach

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Former South African hockey player Charlie Pereira has been named the head coach of the national men’s hockey team for the upcoming FIH Hockey World League semifinals to be held at Johor Bahru in Malaysia from June 29 to July 7.

Pereira will take over the reins from Gregg Clark, who has assumed charge of the Indian junior hockey team recently. It may be worth recalling that Clark won plaudits for guiding the Ranchi Rhinos to title glory in the inaugural Hero Hockey India League (HIL).

According to the South Africa Hockey Association sources, Pereira has been given a long rope – he will be in charge of the national men’s hockey team until the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held at Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 3.

The newly-appointed coach earlier had served as the interim head coach and shepherded the green-and-yellow brigade to the Hockey World League semifinals after qualifying from the third men’s round 2 tournament held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last March.

The twelfth-ranked South Africa outfit had finished runners-up to South American powerhouse Argentina in the World League Round 2 event.

South Africa pulverised Brazil 9-0 in their opening match riding on a fine hat-trick by Clint Panther. They thumped the USA 6-1 in their second match before drubbing Trinidad and Tobago 10-2.

South Africa then went on to lose 2-4 to Argentina before wiping out Chile 6-1 in their final league tie.

Lloyd Norris-Jones did the star turn for the South Africans, pumping in as many as nine goals in the competition.

South Africa are placed in Pool B of the second men’s Hockey World League semifinal at Johor Bahru alongside teams like England, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia.

The Pool A of the Johor Bahru events features Olympic gold medalists Germany, Argentina and South Africa. The winner of the fourth and final men’s HWL round 2 event to be held at Elektrostal, Russia will join them in Pool A.

The men’s team recently received a shot in the arm when the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) has signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with quick service and casual dining restaurant franchisor Famous Brands Limited.

It effectively means that the South African men’s hockey team can focus whole-heartedly on the upcoming FIH Hockey World League semifinals slated to be held in Rotterdram, the Netherlands this June as well as the 2014 men’s hockey World Cup, which will be held in Hague, also in the Netherlands.

It is learnt that the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) had faced funds crunch in recent times and some of the players had to dip into their own pockets to ensure the team could take part in training sessions and tournaments.

It may be pertinent to mention that the South African women’s hockey team had snapped up Investec as its sponsors in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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