Hockey: tough three weeks ahead for SA women

2012-05-23 00:00

THE Investec SA women’s hockey team take their Olympic Games preparation a step further when they tackle Great Britain, then Scotland, before taking take part in the Investec London Cup over the next three weeks in the United Kingdom.

The squad that will take part in the three-week UK trip will be named today, and the selected players will then fly to London.

Head coach Giles Bonnet’s team face world No. 4 Great Britain in two unofficial Tests tomorrow and Friday. The first is at the official London 2012 hockey venue, the Riverbank Arena in Olympic Park, at 3.30 pm (SA time) tomorrow and the second at Bisham Abbey at the same time on Friday. This is the actual GB Olympic team, the first and only team to be named so far.

SA, the world No. 12 team, then move the Clydesdale Hockey Club in Glasgow and a five-Test official series against world No. 18 Scotland. The ties are at 3.30 pm (SA time) on Sunday, the same time on Monday, at 8.30 pm next Wednesday, the same time on Thursday and then at 3.30 pm next Friday.

The girls in green and gold return to Chiswick in London for the Investec London Cup that features world No. 1 the Netherlands, No. 3 Germany, GB, Australia (No. 7) and Ireland (No. 14).

SA face GB on Tuesday, June 5, at 5.30 pm (SA time) and Germany at 9 pm on June 6 before the semi-finals on Saturday, June 9, and Sunday’s classification matches and the gold and bronze medal matches.

Meanwhile, the matches in the Olympic Games women’s competition, which is from July 29 to August 10, and the men’s event, from July 30 to August 11 (both at the Riverbank Arena on the Olympic Park), were announced yesterday.

Based on world rankings, the 12 teams in both tournaments are divided into two pools of six, and each team plays every other in its pool. The top two teams in each pool qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners then going head to head for the gold medal. The other teams in the two groups play each other to determine final placings.

Women’s Pool A features Netherlands (world ranking one), Great Britain (four), China (five), Korea (eight), Japan (nine) and Belgium (16). Women’s Pool B features Argentina (two), Germany (three), New Zealand (six), Australia (seven), USA (10) and SA (12).

Men’s Pool A features Australia (one), Great Britain (four), Spain (five), Pakistan (eight), Argentina (nine), SA (12), while Pool B features Germany (two), Netherlands (three), Korea (six), New Zealand (seven), India (10), Belgium (11).

The men’s and women’s events only see the top two in each pool playing in cross-pool matches — the semi-finals. The other sides play directly for final placings according to where they finished in their pool.

For example, fifth in Pool A plays fifth in Pool B for ninth and 10th places and so on. This makes pool matches absolutely critical, as there are no second chances in cross-pools.

The women’s semi-finals are on August 8, with the bronze and gold medal matches on Friday, August 10. The men’s semis and medal matches are a day later respectively.

SA POOL MATCHES (ALL SA TIME)

Women: July 29 vs Argentina (5 pm); July 31 vs New Zealand (9.30 am); August 2 vs Germany (5 pm); August 4 vs Australia (9.30 am); August 6 vs USA (11.45 am).

Men: July 30 vs Australia (11.45 am); August 1 vs Great Britain (5 pm); August 3 vs Spain (8 pm); August 5 vs Pakistan (11.45 am); August 7 vs Argentina (2.45 pm).

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