SA women gear up for champs challenge

2009-10-10 00:00

HAVING taken a body blow after their long-time sponsor, supermarket group Spar, announced their withdrawal the week before the tournament, the SA women’s hockey team could find the coming week as difficult to negotiate when they tackle high-class opponents in the Champions Challenge.

Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium in Cape Town is the venue for hosts SA, Japan, Azerbaijan, Chile Spain, New Zealand and Italy to fight it out for the gold medal. All South Africa’s Pool A matches take place at 5 pm. The hosts meet Chile tomorrow, Japan on Monday and Azerbaijan next Wednesday before Thursday’s cross-pool play-offs and next Saturday’s preliminary classification matches. Next Sunday sees the tussles in the bronze and gold medal matches, as well as the final classification battle for the remaining places.

SA head coach Jenny King’s side ended third at the Four Nations in Durban, where they took on world number two Argentina, fifth-placed Australia and India, while they won the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana hands down against admittedly modest opposition.

Champs Challenge presents another challenge against some very good international sides and will be a useful indicator to see where SA stand right now looking ahead to next year’s World Hockey Cup and Commonwealth Games.

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