London – South African men's hockey coach Gregg Clark was clearly frustrated after his side let victory slip through their fingers against Pakistan in their Group A clash at the London Olympic Games on Sunday.
The team came agonisingly close to recording their first victory of the Games after they led the sub-continent team 1-0 for a chunk of the first half.
After the lead changed three times in the match, Pakistan scored twice in the last six minutes to hand South Africa their third loss of the tournament as they went down 5-4 in the dying stages.
“It is obviously very disappointing. I am incredibly disappointed with that result,” Clark said.
“I thought we played well enough to win the game.
“We made a couple of really poor turnovers in the first half which let Pakistan back in the game.
“I think we had done enough in the game, moving forward, to win it, but there were too many soft errors and we were not good enough.”
Clark felt the balance in the match swung a bit in Pakistan's favour when they scored the first equaliser in the 18th minute.
“We were well and truly in control of the game,” he said.
“We were making life difficult for Pakistan to create chances.
“At that stage we gave them a soft goal and that gave them belief and I think that was the turning point.”
The South Africans regained the lead three minutes into the second period, after going into the break level at 3-3, and held the advantage for almost half an hour.
To Clark's chagrin, they allowed the Pakistanis to score two late goals and snatch victory from their grasp.
“There were small moments in the match that changed it and it generally happened in the two circles,” he said.
Clark felt the players needed to do some serious introspection after failing to fire on all cylinders throughout the Games.
“I've always protected the players or spoken them up and they are an incredible bunch of guys, but they have to have a long, hard look at the errors they've made throughout the tournament.
“A lot of the goals that we've had against us resulted from stuff that was in our control.
“I think a lot of the errors that we've made have been enforced.”
The South Africans next face Argentina, the only other team in their group without a win, on Tuesday, and Clark believed they had a tough challenge ahead of them.
“We came here with reasonably high expectations of ourselves,” he said.
“We wanted to finish as high as we could, perhaps look at the fifth and sixth playoff if we couldn't get into the semis.” – Sapa