SA hockey teams’ busy prep in Holland

2014-05-24 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s national hockey teams are gearing up for the last week of training, ahead of the World Cup in the Hague, which starts on May 31, and apart from focused training sessions, the teams are also busy with training matches.

“The training and preparation is going to plan and our processes are on track,” South Africa women’s hockey team logistics planner and goalkeeper coach Sheldon Rostron said this week.

“We still have some more training coming up and it’s important that we get time on the stadium pitches so that we get used to the new surface and environment.”

To this end, the SA women, who have moved into the tournament hotel, were due to train at the 15 000-seater stadium pitch, as well as the 5 000-capacity alternate pitch, where the World Cup matches will take place.

The SA women have been in training in Holland since mid-May. Head coach Giles Bonnet’s SA women are playing training matches against the likes of double Olympic champions Holland, as well as New Zealand (12.30 pm yesterday), Korea (2.30 pm tomorrow) and Italy (9 am on May 29).

“Regarding the training game [against Holland on Wednesday night], we achieved some important goals for the match and were quite satisfied with our second-half performance, especially on key focus points in defence, structures and creating opportunities,” said Rostron.

The national goalkeeper coach said Tarryn Bright was outstanding in the midfield, and the collective efforts of the defence and goalkeepers Sanani Mangisa and Anelle van Deventer were also impressive.

“We feel happy with our ability to match their speed and strength, and this gives us a lot of confidence. There are still some things to tighten up, but on the whole, our focus will be on areas in our structure, as well as tactics.”

Head coach Fabian Gregory’s SA men arrived in Holland on Wednesday and were due to play Dutch Hoofdklasse (Premier League) team Rotterdam HC on Thursday night after a three-hour training session.

Team manager Reggie Smith said the South Africans are also due to play Dutch Hoofdklasse team Pinoke on May 27, India on May 28 and Holland on May 30.

The SA men will no doubt be working on their defence, as this facet, both in field play and at penalty corners, has let them down, which has forced the side to work that much harder to get back into the game.

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