SA eye hockey glory
AIMING to make up lost ground on the world rankings the South African women’s and men’s teams will look to make their mark in the Hockey World League Semi-finals in Johannesburg between 8 and 23 July.
The South African Hockey Association announced both teams for the event that will see 20 of the world’s top teams in action at the Wits Hockey Club.
“It is a big event for us in the sense that it is an opportunity to qualify for the World Cup and to play in our home country,” said men’s team coach Fabian Gregory.
“This is the biggest event in South Africa for a number of years, if not ever, in my lifetime.”
Gregory named a few stalwarts including Julian Hykes, who makes a return after a two-year hiatus, and Rassie Pieterse, Austin Smith, Jethro Eustice and Owen Mvimbi for the tournament.
Pool A of the men’s tournament includes reigning Hockey World Cup champions Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Japan and France while South Africa is in pool B with Rio 2016 silver medallists Belgium, Olympic bronze medallists Germany, Ireland and Egypt.
The South African women’s team coach Sheldon Rostron said he opted for an experienced outfit.
“We’ve selected a group that has been around for some time so the experience is quite high while there are some younger players that we want to grow and want to take the team forward,” Rostron said.
The women’s team includes seasoned campaigners Nicolene Terblanche, Bernadette Coston, Sulette Damons, Ilse Davids and Shelley Jones (nee Russell).
The women’s team is drawn with reigning Hockey Champions Trophy champions Argentina, the United States, India and Chile in Pool B.
Pool A will see England, who will contain many of the Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists that represented Great Britain, Rio bronze medallists Germany, Japan, Ireland and Poland.
All 132 FIH World League Semi-finals matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.