SA eye hockey glory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS re­sult even more so. But the value of such a game should not be un­der­es­ti­mated. Speak­ing to the SA ‘A’ coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann, it is clear that the man who turned around the for­tunes of a Lions team full of ‘no-hop­ers’ around, also sees

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.

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