No easy road for Midlands teams

2008-04-03 00:00

THE two KZN Midlands sides have a difficult journey ahead when the respective SA U21 interprovincial hockey tournaments (IPTs) begin on Sunday.

The Midlands U21 men are the host province for the IPT at the AB Jackson GreenFields Turf, and they tackle the strong Western Province line-up in their opening game at 11.30 am. If all goes well, coach Jock Coombes will be hoping his side reach next Saturday’s 4 pm final, but it’s not going to be easy.

The Midlands U21 women’s side have their IPT taking place in Johannesburg, also from Sunday to next Saturday, and like the men they are in for a rocky ride.

Not helping the Midlands cause is the fact that several players from the Pietermaritzburg-centred hockey province have been selected to play for the SA U19 men’s side and SA U18 women’s team at the respective IPTs.

And unlike some of the bigger hockey provinces like Southern Gauteng and WP, for example, Midlands don’t have the depth in playing numbers to easily fill the gaps.

This is a problem for coach Gregg Bye’s Midlands U21 women’s side, who have an even bigger headache when it comes to player depth.

And when IPT adversity inevitably rears its ugly head, keeping the womens’ heads up will be a key task for manager Wendy Manuel.

Nevertheless, history shows that the Midlands sides have boxed above their weight division with reasonable success.

Coombes and Midlands manager Harry Suckert will be impressing on their charges the magnitude of the challenge they will face in WP.

From this point, the obstacles on the Midlands road to Friday’s semi-finals come in the form of Border, SA U19, Eastern Province and Northern Gauteng.

In the other pool, former PMB schoolboy Chris McCathie will be in goal for Peninsula, who might have an outside chance of a semi-final berth if they can beat one of south Gauteng or the KZN Raiders team.

MIDLANDS TEAMS

Men: Sibs Mkhize, Karl Oftebro, Justin Domleo, Dom Scott, Matt Coombes, Jethro Eustice, Tim Drummond, Duzo Khanyile, Harry Shaw, Michael Craig, Wanda Mtshilibe, Andrew McIntosh, Ryan Crowe, Clinton Panther, David Zwemke, Rohn Barron. Coach: Jock Coombes. Manager: Harry Suckert.

Women: Carolyn Purdon, Philippa Horner, Jade Maritz, Eloise Miskey, Roxanne Vale, Stephanie Higgs, Sade Simons, Thobeka Kunene, Sian Eustice, Stacey Gibhard, Stacey Lancaster, Pippa Taylor, Bronwyn Koch, Lindi Horner, Michelle Henwood. Coach: Gregg Bye. Manager: Wendy Manuel.

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