The eleventh-ranked South Africa women’s hockey team will look to turn the disappointment of their 4-1 defeat to Ireland in the opening match of the World League Semi Final tournament in Valencia, Spain on Wednesday into success this weekend when they take on USA and Uruguay.
Captain Nicolene Terblanche’s team meet fifth ranked USA at 3pm on Saturday (live on SuperSport 8) at the Campo Del Hockey venue before tackling world No29 Uruguay at 1pm Sunday (also SS8).
Missed opportunities cost South Africa dearly against the Irish, who took their recent record versus the girls in green and gold to three wins from four matches, while better control of the midfield and tightening up at the back will also serve SA well.
There was just one goal in it on Wednesday, with the fourth and final quarter well under way, but the South Africans appeared to tire in the heat and the strong-finishing Irish capitalised to score two goals.
Avoiding contact situations as much as possible when on attack, allied with accurate passing and effective running off the ball, should give SA more time and space to make better-quality goalscoring opportunities.
The USA battled to score goals against Uruguay on Thursday, winning just 2-0, this in contrast to world No6 Germany’s 8-0 romp against the South Americans on Wednesday.
To be fair, the well-drilled USA team who have risen so rapidly up the world rankings since the introduction of a full-time training programme, had 29 shots at goal against the rank outsiders and earned 18 penalty corner opportunities.
Yet only conceding two goals does indicate the fighting spirit of the Uruguayans, this just a day after being outplayed by Germany. USA head coach Adrian Parnham’s USA line-up will be determined to improve their finishing Saturday.
SA head coach Sheldon Rostron and his management team will have dissected the reasons for the defeat by Ireland and no doubt training on Thursday and Friday has been targeted at rectifying the shortcomings.
Uruguay, South Africa and the USA will have conducted intensive analysis of the three teams’ World League Semi Final matches to date and it will be fascinating to witness what tactics are implemented.
What is certain is that there will be no lack of intent.
South Africa’s Pool B matches: SA 1 Ireland 4; USA vs SA (Saturday, 3pm on SuperSport 8); SA vs Uruguay (Sunday, 1pm on SS8); Germany vs SA (next Tuesday, 5pm on SS7).
POOLS (world ranking in brackets) – Pool A: Argentina (3), China (7), Great Britain (8), Spain (15), Canada (20). Pool B: Germany (6), USA (5), South Africa (11), Ireland (14), Uruguay (29).
SA team: Sanani Mangisa (GK), Anelle van Deventer (GK), Lisa Deetlefs, Nicole Walraven, Erin Hunter, Line Malan, Nicolene Terblanche (capt), Quanita Bobbs, Celia Evans, Kelly Madsen, Illse Davids, Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Bernie Coston, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lilian du Plessis, Candice Manuel, Tanya Britz.
Picture of the SA team before the Ireland match, courtesy of the FIH