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Smith’s SA men use London Cup to gear up for Games

Two weeks out from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the South African men’s hockey team play in the Investec London Cup from 9-13 July.

South Africa will play against Ireland, England and Scotland with the finals scheduled for Sunday,13 July.

The team recently finished 11th at the Hockey World Cup played at The Hague, Netherlands. The Commonwealth Games run from 23 July to 3 August in Glasgow, Scotland. At the previous Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India four years ago, the South Africans finished fifth.

But this year, captain Austin Smith and his team want a medal.

England (fifth) are the highest ranked team at the London Cup while South Africa are ranked 12th on the world rankings followed by Ireland (15th) and Scotland (25th).

ÔÇ£The Investec Cup is a great chance for us to get some much needed game time together before the Commonwealth Games. We haven’t had any training camps or any other practice matches so this will be all the┬ápreparation┬áwe have. so we need to make it count,ÔÇØ said Smith who plays his club hockey with Den Bosch in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.

ÔÇ£I expect the matches at the London Cup to be very tight. Scotland, although only ranked 25th, have been preparing for a long time as they are the Games hosts and will be keen to put in an above-ranking performance. Ireland are also an up-and-coming team and with past SA international and our former assistant coach Craig Fulton they will be fully prepared for our games against each other. England remain a top team, having finished fourth┬áat the recent World Cup. We will need to be at our best to get a┬áresult against them.ÔÇØ

Even though good results are always a focus, Smith would love to see things come together for the team on the field in the lead in to the very important Commonwealth Games. ÔÇ£The focus will of course be more on┬ápreparation for the coming┬áGames though and less so on the results.

“We have some changes in the team that played together in The Netherlands; which invariably means we will take a game or two to get things running smoothly again.ÔÇØ

Schedule for Investec London Cup: Wednesday, 9 July (17:15): Ireland v South Africa; Thursday, 10 July (19:30): England v South Africa; Saturday, 12 July (09:45): South Africa v Scotland; Sunday, 13 July: Play-off (9:45) and Final (14:45).

The squad for the Games: Andrew Cronje, Jean-Pierre De Voux, Timothy Drummond, Jethro Eustice, Rhett Halkett, Julian Hykes, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Robin Jones, Ignatius Malgraff, Clinton Panther, Taine Paton, Wade Paton, Erasmus Pieterse, Jonathan Robinson, Austin Smith, Lungile Tsolekile.

Picture: Mario van de Wall