SA relish chance to play world’s best

2012-06-09 00:00

THE South African women’s hockey team are looking forward to this afternoon’s London Cup semi-final against reigning Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and European champions Holland with relish.

The semi-final is live on SuperSport 4 from 3.30 pm.

“The knowledge that thousands of South Africans will be supporting us at home gives the team a massive boost,” said SA assistant coach Fabian Gregory after yesterday’s practice.

At world No. 12, South Africa are surprise packages of the tournament. They shocked world number four Great Britain 3-1 on day one and pushed world number three Germany all the way in a 1-0 defeat in their other Pool B match in this two-pool, six-nation tournament

They were keen to test their progress against the world’s top-ranked team as they go into the final stages of their preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games, said Gregory.

“Playing Holland is a fantastic challenge and our girls and management staff are excited at the opportunity to see how we perform against a team that in my opinion is undoubtedly the best side in the world.”

South Africa have surprised one and all with their speed and skills on the ball, especially on the counter-attack. Captain Marsha Marescia and 2011 SA player of the Year Tarryn Bright (with 480 Tests between them) bring enormous experience in the midfield.

Lesle-Ann George, whose silky skills and pace on the ball turn defence into attack in an instant, is one component of an impressive defensive line. Former SA Junior sprinter Sulette Damons and strike partner Pietie Coetzee, the world record goalscorer (238 goals in 243 Test matches), are just two of the cogs in a dangerous forward line.

“The girls love the added pressure and stimulation of playing the world’s top team,” said Gregory. “We are at the point where we are capable of challenging the best teams in the world.”

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