South African superstar Pietie Coetzee in World Cup team

2014-05-30 00:00

WORLD record goal scorer, the legendary Pietie Coetzee, has made a surprise return to the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team following the withdrawal of double Olympian Lenise Marais.

Due to pressing work commitments, and in archetypal low-key fashion, superstar Coetzee, scorer of a phenomenal 280 goals in 281 Test matches, had made a quiet early exit from the World Cup reckoning for the four-yearly showpiece that begins for South Africa here on Sunday.

Yet the enforced withdrawal of Marais this week following a leg injury gave Coet­zee the chance to come in at a late hour for the event that finishes on June 15.

Going into her fourth World Cup, which began in Utrecht in the Netherlands in 1998, Coetzee said before late afternoon training yesterday that her participation was a pleasant surprise, but it was unfortunate to come following Marais’s sad news.

“Yes, I feel for Leno [Lenise], but at the same time, it is great to be here. We beat [non-World Cup side] Italy 5-2 in a training game this [yesterday] morning and my fitness is good,” said the Johannesburg-based multiple title-winning Southern Gauteng playmaker.

SA captain Marsha Cox echoed her long-time provincial and national team-mate’s words regarding the Durban-based KZN Coastal Raiders kingpin and also welcomed Coetzee back into the fold.

Into her fourth World Cup, Cox — like Coetzee — is a triple Olympian and an icon in South African hockey and women’s sport. The leader said this World Cup is an even more exciting prospect now than ever before in a career that began in 2001.

“It’s even more special in that the men’s tournament is taking place at the same time and at the same venue,” said Cox, now a resident of Amsterdam, who is married to Netherlands assistant coach Alexander Cox.

The South African go-to player, who has represented the national side in a record 332 Test matches and is the heart of the team, said the spirit in the side is good and preparation has been productive, which apart from Italy has included training matches against back-to-back Olympic champions, world number one and 2010 World Cup finalists the Netherlands (0-3) and world number eight Korea (3-0).

SA head coach Giles Bonnet said he is happy with the team’s preparations: “We are just busy with the details now, the small things, prepping for our first match on Sunday and looking forward to it.”

The girls in green and gold meet reigning World Cup champions, world number two and London 2012 Olympic finalists Argentina at 7.45 pm on Sunday.

All the World Cup matches are at SA time (no time difference with the Netherlands) and in an unprecedented move all 76 men’s and women’s games will be televised live on SuperSport, who recently came on board as the SA national men’s team event sponsors.

The SA men meet back-to-back Olympic champions Germany in their opener at 10.30 am Sunday.

Visit http://www.supersport.com/aa.aspx?t=sport&v=

Hockey&view=full to source all 76 live match times, as well as multiple match re-reruns, highlights and blitz packages.

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