Training and discussion was the order of the day for the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team on Friday ahead of Saturday’s fourth and final Test against Belgium at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium, reports Jon Cook.
With big tournaments to come in the next three weeks, including the Investec Challenge against hockey heavyweights like world number one Holland, SA will be looking for a confidence-boosting win and there is much to play for in the 3pm start, despite Belgium having already won the series after 2-1, 2-0 and 2-1 victories earlier this week.
If SA can eliminate the tendancy to ball-watch, which takes players out of their channels at times, and improve decision-making on when to play ball on the inside and when to opt for the outside, it will stand them in good stead.
Ploys that may help bring further success would be not to become sucked into Belgium’s tempo and rather try to keep the ball longer, slow the game down and concentrate on cutting out turnovers. Work inside the attacking third of the field needs more quality in the final pass, which will assist the striker in having more time to put the ball into the back of the net.
The Belgians have a good defence that shepherds the player in possession out onto the sideline, making it difficult to transfer the ball out of that channel, and the South Africans will be aware of that.
Despite the series-losing third Test defeat, there were many positives on Thursday, and Amathole/Border’s Marcelle Keet, who didn’t go to the London 2012 Olympics, is looking very good at times, while the KZN Coastal Raiders’ Kelly Madsen put her hand up after injury and took the opposition on, and keeper Sanani Mangisa was simply outstanding.
SA will welcome back captain Marsha Marescia, who is on 299 Test caps, as well as world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, who is on 248 goals in 250 Tests, for the World League event that starts on Tuesday.
Their superstars will also be in the line-up for the much-anticipated Investec Challenge, which apart from London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallists Holland, also features world number four and Olympic bronze medallists England as well as the strong Australian national team, the Hockeyroos.
Investec SA: Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Bernie Coston, Christine Roos (all Southern Gauteng); Tanya Britz (Free State); Hanli Hattingh, Shelley Russell, Lauren Penny, Jade Mayne, Quanita Bobbs, Tarryn Bright (all Western Province); Marcelle Keet (Amathole/Border); Dirkie Chamberlain, Nicolene Terblanche (both Northern Blues); Lenise Marais (capt), Kelly Madsen (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West). Head coach: Giles Bonnet.
Belgium: Nadine Khouzam, Aisling D’Hooge, Alix Gerniers, Aline Fobe, Anouk Raes, Louise Versavel, Lieselotte van Lindt, Loia Danhaive, Erica Coppey, Emilie Sinia, Charlotte de Voss (capt), Anne-Sophie van Regemortel, Pauline Lecles, Barbara Nelen, Jill Boon, Judith Vandermeiren, Helene Delmee, Moureen Beernaert, Stephanie de Groof. Head coach: Pascal Kina.