Men’s hockey confident of Commonwealth Games medal

2010-09-24 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s men’s and women’s hockey teams depart for the 19th Commonwealth Games (CG) in New Delhi, India, on Sunday night with differing expectations of what lies ahead in the event that takes place from October 3 to 14.

SA men’s coach Gregg Clark left The Witness in no doubt yesterday afternoon that his team will be gunning for a medal while, publicly at least, national women’s coach Giles Bonnet has said he will be happy to see his squad continue their upward trend — medal or not.

“The semi-finals are an absolute goal, we have a medal in our sights and believe we have the talent to do it,” said Clark.

The men’s team are familiar with the Major Dhyand National Hockey Stadium, having competed in the World Cup there earlier this year.

“We had a valuable camp in Bloemfontein despite the usual disruptions caused by injuries, work commitments and guys playing overseas,” Clark said.

The coach said that Sascoc has given the green light for Team South Africa to go to Delhi, despite talk of unhealthy living conditions in the athletes’ village and other bugbears.

“We meet Canada, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago before our last match against England, and the aim is to secure a top-two Pool B finish before that game takes place.”

Clark said that although Canada and New Zealand are world-ranked above SA, the pool was wide open with South Africa having beaten the Canadians a few times in the recent past and drawing with the Black Sticks at the World Cup before losing the penalty stroke shootout.

The men’s and women’s competitions have 10 teams in each event. South Africa have never won a men’s or women’s hockey medal at the Games, the most successful countries being Australia with six and England with four.

Northerns’ Justin Reid-Ross is the only surviving member of the 2006 SA men’s team in Melbourne, Australia.

That SA team under coach Paul Revington were consigned to eighth place after losing 2-1 to rank underdogs Scotland in the playoffs.

The men’s gold medal went to Australia’s Kookaburras; Pakistan got silver and Malaysia bronze, with England fourth. New Zealand’s Black Sticks ended fifth after beating India, Canada came ninth, and Trinidad and Tobago filled the last spot.

The 2006 SA women’s CG team under coach Jenny King ended seventh with the gold medal going to Australia’s Hockeyroos followed by India, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Malaysia, SA, Canada, Barbados and Nigeria.

Bonnet has the benefit of six players back from the 2006 side in Jen Wilson, Kath Taylor, Lenise Marais, Lesle-Ann George, Marsha Marescia and Tarryn Bright.

Despite Bonnet downplaying his team’s chances, they have a real chance of earning a medal after the heartening performance of Investec South Africa at the World Cup that ended in Rosario, Argentina 12 days ago.

Australia and India will be their biggest Pool A rivals, with Trinidad and Tobago and Scotland surely clashes they will win.

And if they finish qualify for the semi-finals, the SA women are likely to meet one of England or New Zealand with Canada, Malaysia and Wales making up the numbers in Pool B.

New Delhi is three-and-a-half hours ahead of South Africa so the matches, which will be televised live on SuperSport, can be viewed in your TV lounge at less ungodly hours than the World Cup for women that has just taken place in Argentina.

The next Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.

 

SA HOCKEY TEAMS

Women: Tarryn Bright, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lisa Deetlefs, Farah Fredericks, Lesle-Ann George, Kim Hubach, Marcelle Keet, Kelly Madsen, Sanani Mangisa, Marsha Marescia (capt), Pietie Coetzee, Lenise Marais, Kathleen Taylor, Nicolene Terblanche, Roxanne Turner, Jen Wilson. Manager: Luntu Ntloko. Coach: Giles Bonnet. Assistant coach: Fabian Gregory.

Men: Brendan Botes, Gareth Carr, Tim Drummond, Ian Haley, Rhett Halkett, Tommy Hammond, Marvin Harper, Julian Hykes, Lance Louw, Lloyd Madsen, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Wade Paton, Taine Paton, Erasmus Pieterse, Justin Reid-Ross, Austin Smith (capt). Manager: Anton van Rooyen. Coach: Gregg Clark. Assistant coach: David Viney.

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