SA experiment with team

2013-12-11 00:00

THE squad of 24 players chosen to represent the South African men’s hockey team in the five-Test series against world number 11 Argentina has an experimental feel. The series starts at Riverside Sports Club in Durban North at 6 pm today.

With SA already through to the 2014 World Cup finals in the Netherlands in May/June, it is clear the SA brains trust are casting their net wide before making a final decision on their ultimate combination.

Seasoned starting line-up players including world-class captain Austin Smith are not in the side and there are 14 new faces compared to the team that won the Africa Cup in Nairobi last month.

The South American champions have a host of world-class players and along with the regulars, new caps Dylan Coombes, Nic Spooner, Dean Symons (all Southern Gauteng) and Jody Hosking (North West) as well as the recalled Matt Botha, Craig Haley, Clive Terwin (all Western Province), Miguel da Graca, Owen Mvimbi, Ricky West (all Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders), Nick Gonsalves, Matt Guise-Brown (both Northern Blues) and Robin Jones (KZN Inland) will face a searching test.

The second Test match is at 4 pm tomorrow at Kearsney College, the third at 3 pm Saturday at Queensmead, the fourth at Queensmead next Monday at 3 pm, with the final Test at Maritzburg Varsity next Tuesday at 6 pm.

Meanwhile, the SA U21 men’s team dominated their crucial Pool D match against New Zealand at the Junior World Cup in Delhi on Monday, yet gilt-edged goalscoring opportunities were spurned and captain Dylan Swanepoel’s side ended up on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline.

A draw would have been enough to put SA into the quarter-finals for the first time. Now lies the difficult task of trying to finish ninth, which would still be the best achievement at this level by the African junior champions. Kane Russell netted the winner for New Zealand in the second half (44th minute).

The quest for ninth place begins at 1 pm (SA time) tomorrow when SA take on the talented, yet under-achieving Pakistan team, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Pool A winners Belgium yesterday. This was after their led one of the gold medal favourites for almost the entire match. The clash is on Pitch B and will not be televised.


1st Test - Today (Riverside Sports Club 6 pm)

2nd Test - Tomorrow (Kearsney 4 pm)

3rd Test - Saturday (Queensmead 3 pm)

4th Test – Monday (Queensmead 3 pm)

5th Test – Tuesday (UKZN Pietermaritzburg 6 pm)

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