Lots at stake in today’s game vs Spain

2014-04-30 00:00

THERE is much to play for when the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team meet world number 14 Spain in their final Pool B match in the Champions Challenge today at 10.30 am SA time.

Top of Pool B, victory will ensure that SA stay that way and probably meet India in tomorrow’s quarter-finals, an India side who have performed poorly so far. Even defeat against Spain should leave SA second in Pool B and a last-eight date likely with a much-improved Scotland on Thursday.

SA coach Giles Bonnet was impressed with SA’s 2-1 win over world number 10 the USA on Monday, which followed a 2-2 draw with world 15 Ireland on Sunday.

“The USA got good results recently against [world number three] England, who took out a big squad. The USA are a tough team, yet we should have scored more in the second half,” said Bonnet.

Spain lost 3-1 to the USA and then drew 2-2 with Ireland after leading 2-0 earlier, but are a mercurial side who can turn it on when in the mood.

Bonnet is not primarily concerned with opponents, though, he is focusing on his own team’s level of performance.

“Against Ireland we drew 2-2 yet we created 11 goalshots to their three from field play so clearly once we can convert those, it will mean more goals. It will come; we are working on it and getting closer.

“It’s the quality of our goalshots created, one versus two in the nine-yard area, that is what we are doing so well now, and that is the mark of a world-class team, we are learning how to convert those, I am confident we will get it right and then the prospect of medalling at the Commonwealth Games [for the first time in history] and coming closer to a world top eight position is very real.”

The quality of the SA goalkeeping has improved markedly over recent years under ’keeper coach Sheldon Rostron.

Sanani Mangisa is back from injury, Phume Mbande has played some good games in recent Tests while Anelle van Deventer, the player of the match against the USA, is starting to deliver consistent performances.

While the number of penalty corners being conceded remains a concern, the better goalscoring opportunities, improved stopping at the back and competitiveness in defence and midfield are signs that all the hard work is beginning to pay off — and with the quality forward Jade Mayne and world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee injured and unavailable, there is an indication that competition for places in the team — and even the starting line-up — is bringing out the best in players.

Investec SA team in Glasgow: Anelle van Deventer, Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Lenise Marais, Marcelle Manson, Quanita Bobbs, Nicolene Terblanche, Illse Davids, Marsha Cox (capt), Tarryn Bright, Shelley Russell, Kelly Madsen, Bernie Coston, Dirkie Chamberlain, Sulette Damons, Kathleen Taylor, Celia Evans, Lilian du Plessis.

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