Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

Super Gyms Plus | KZN Coastal A to take lessons from the bronze finish during SASHOC National Week

KZN Coastal A 2024 skipper, Matthew Mendes de Oliveira, in action for his side during the SASHOC National Week semi-final against Western Province in Bloemfontein.  Coastal lost the match 1-0.  Photo credits: TeamPhotoSA
KZN Coast A 2024 skipper, Matthew Mendes de Oliveira in action for his team during the SASHOC National Week semi-final against Western Province in Bloemfontein. Coastal lost the match 0-1. Photo: TeamPhotoSA

KZN Coast u18A head coach Cameron Mackay said his team learned a handful of positive lessons from the SASHOC National Week after finishing in third place at the recently concluded tournament in Bloemfontein.

Mackay’s side recorded a hard-fought 1-0 victory on the final day South Gauteng A to equal the bronze medal they won at the same venue in 2023.

However, their 2024 campaign was a lot tougher than last year’s, despite the KZN boys finishing in the same position.

In 2023, Coastal performed excellently against their Pool B opponents, winning all five round-robin matches, effortlessly reaching the semi-finals.

In the last four they went down 3-4 on penalties to eventual runners-up Southern Gauteng A after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw.

After that strong performance, KZN Coastal were seen as one of the favorites to reach the semi-finals from a tough Pool B this time around, but it was far from a smooth run for the team. Their week was marked by missed chances, late comebacks, 50/50 decisions that didn’t go their way and loss of concentration when it mattered most.

In their five group matches they recorded only one win, against Eastern Province AHowever, they did not lose, drawing their other four matches to reach the last four by the skin of their teeth after the results on the final day of pool play went their way.

They will especially rue three games in which they took the lead but allowed their opponents to claw back some of the spoils.

In their opening match against the hosts Southern Free State ACoastal took the lead on a Jos Beck goal and dominated proceedings, but allowed the hosts to seal a 1-1 draw with four minutes to go, thanks to a Nkhahle Sematlane goal.

Against their rivals, KZN Domestic AMackay’s side led 1-0 via a Tyrique Cloete goal, but the lead was then relinquished to Inland. Trent Jessop However, four minutes before the end it struck and a 2-2 draw was saved.

They then drew 4-4 with Southern Gauteng A, a result that was undoubtedly frustrating for Mackay and his coaching staff.

At half-time Coastal, who played enterprising hockey, led 4-2, but that lead evaporated in the second half when goals from Devin Wax and Matt Eichweber helped the Gauteng team to a draw.

The KZN Coastal A team after receiving their bronze medal at this year's SASHOC National Week in Bloemfontein.  Photo credits: TeamPhotoSA.
The KZN Coastal A team after receiving their bronze medal at this year’s SASHOC National Week in Bloemfontein. Photo: TeamPhotoSA

However, after claiming third place, Mackay put a positive spin on his attackers’ efforts. “It’s always nice to end on a positive note,” he said Super Gyms Plus. “Sometimes you can get to a final and lose it, and that can be negative, even though we would have liked to be in the final.

“I think the boys put in a good performance. I don’t think we started well, but we were dominant for most of the game and the boys stuck to the game plan.”

Although KZN Coastal did not win as many games as they expected, Mackay felt the players showed character and improvement. “The team grew from game to game,” he said. “I don’t think things went our way last week, but it was nice to at least see the matric boys, some of whom won gold in the U16s, finish with a medal.”

One of Coastal’s biggest problems during the week was getting the ball in the back of the net. In 2023 they scored 14 goals. This year that total dropped by two, with their 12 goals coming from eight field goals and four penalty corners.

Reflecting on the competition, Mackay felt his side was not far behind the finalists. Western ProvinceAnd Boland. However, he suggested that schools in the Durban region, in collaboration with the province’s high-performance structures, should put in place a plan to improve their forward play.

“The biggest problem for us in KZN is that we are not scoring goals,” he admitted. “We have good attackers; they all do their job well. I don’t know what the answers are. I think our competition in Durban is so tight at the moment that we don’t have teams winning by a margin of 6-0, 7-0, 8-0.

“It seems like our boys are not getting enough chances to score, but we have to see how we can bridge the gap with our attackers compared to the Cape schools.

“That’s been our biggest learning experience over the last few years: looking at how we can bridge that gap and find ways to do our HP (High Performance) a little bit better.

“We have a large group of hockey players who also play cricket, so maybe that is something we should look at,” he concluded.