Our Investec South Africa women’s hockey team had reason to celebrate as they prepared to kick off their Argentina tour with the opening Four Nations match against Ireland in Buenos Aires on Wednesday evening, writes Mark Etheridge.
That’s because veteran and goal-scoring machine, Pietie Coetzee has been nominated as one of five players shortlisted for the prestigious FIH Women’s Player of the Year award.
The other four players nominated are Argentina’s Luciana Aymar, Li Hongxia of China, Germany’s Natascha Keller and Dutch player Maartje Paumen.
Although Argentina have struggled somewhat this year Aymar, a player known as the ‘Magician’ in her own country, has won the global title no less than eight times since 2001.
Coetzee, the world’s leading all-time goal-scorer, and famous for her legendary drag-flick skills, was nominated after her sensational comeback after five years away from the hustle of international hockey.
The women’s award will be announced at the FIH Champions Trophy in Rosaria, Argentina next month.
Back to Wednesday’s game and Jon Cook reports that captain Marsha Marescia’s SA team will be without Western Province captain and double Olympian Kate Woods, who only arrives in Argentina ahead of the final preliminary round Test match against India on Saturday as well as a number of other players, including Coetzee, who were not considered for various reasons.
Ireland are coached by South African Gene Muller, and his background will be of benefit to the Irish side but SA are nevertheless favourites to win.
SA will meet world champions Argentina in their next match on Thursday.
Sunday’s classification matches sees the third-fourth place play-off at 8 pm (SA time) and the final at 10.30 pm (SA time) before the teams head to Parana, Argentina for the second Four Nations tournament.
SA team to face Ireland: Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Ilse Davids, Tarryn Bright, Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Kathleen Taylor (all Western Province);┬áMarsha Marescia (capt), Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston, Anelle van Deventer (all Southern Gauteng); Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Dirkie Chamberlain (all Northern Blues); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West); Liesel Dorothy (Eastern Province). Non-travelling reserve: Cindy Botha (KZN Coastal Raiders).