Six of KZN's best join SA squad for Champions Challenge

2011-11-25 00:00

AFTER a week-long training camp, convenor of selectors Mike Bechet yesterday named the 18-player South Africa men’s hockey team to take part in the crucial Champions Challenge tournament at Randburg Hockey Stadium from tomorrow until finals day on Sunday December 4.

The Durban-based KZN Coastal Raiders, the reigning three-time SA interprovincial tournament champions, have six players in the side in defenders Lloyd Madsen and Gareth Carr, midfield trio Wade Paton, Taine Paton and Tim Drummond, and striker Marvin Harper.

Southern Gauteng have five players in the team in goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, defender Lance Louw, midfielder Clinton Panther and strikers Miguel da Grace and Thornton McDade.

Western Province have four players in the side in defender Andrew Cronje, captain and midfielder Austin Smith, and strikers Ian Haley and Lloyd Norris-Jones.

Pretoria-based Northern Blues are represented in the green and gold by two players in defenders Justin Reid-Ross, Rhett Halkett.

Eastern Province have one representative in the SA side in goalkeeper Brendon Botes.

South Africa are in the “Pool of Death”, with eight-time Olympic Games gold medallists India and Belgium, who have already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the difficult proposition that is Poland are their opponents.

South Africa’s Pool A matches at Randburg Hockey Stadium are against Poland tomorrow (5 pm), India on Sunday (5 pm) and Belgium next Tuesday (5 pm). Teams reach the quarter-finals on December 1. The semi-finals are next Saturday and the gold medal match will be played on Sunday, December 4.

Pool B features Canada, Malaysia, Japan and Argentina. Like the Belgians, the South Americans have also already qualified as one of 12 teams at the London Olympic Games in July and August next year.

Members of the 24-player SA squad who were cut are goalkeepers Jacques le Roux (Western Province) and Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders), defender Ricky West (Southern Gauteng), midfielders Jonty Robinson and Nic Gonsalves (both Northern Blues) and striker Julian Hykes (Amatole-Border).

Head coach Gregg Clark and captain Austin Smith’s line-up have been challenged by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to reach the Champions Challenge final so that they convince SA’s Olympic governing body that they are good enough to go the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Failing this, the South African team would have one last chance to reach London at the Olympic qualifier in Japan in April/May next year. This time, they would have to win the gold medal.


Goalkeepers: Brendon Botes (Eastern Province), Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng).

Defenders: Justin Reid-Ross (Northern Blues), Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Lance Louw (Southern Gauteng), Rhett Halkett (Northern Blues), Gareth Carr (KZN Coastal Raiders), Andrew Cronje (Western Province).

Midfielders: Austin Smith (capt, Western Province), Wade Paton, Taine Paton, Tim Drummond (all KZN Coastal Raiders), Clinton Panther (Southern Gauteng).

Strikers: Ian Haley (Western Province), Marvin Harper (KZN Coastal Raiders), Lloyd Norris-Jones (Western Province), Miguel da Graca, Thornton McDade (both Southern Gauteng).

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