SA hockey sides chase World Cup spots
THERE was heartening news in the SA men’s and women’s hockey camps yesterday as the teams made final preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations finals at City Park Stadium in Nairobi this afternoon.
Tim Drummond, the quality SA midfielder who is also world-class in penalty-corner attack and defence, was named as a new signing for Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League, while SA women’s forward Jade Mayne was declared fit to play.
With the final tickets to the 2014 World Cup the prize, both the SA men’s and women’s sides are aware of what is at stake. The men face old enemies Egypt at 2.30 pm SA time while the women tackle Ghana at noon.
High Performance advisor Bartel Berkhout said one-onone sessions with the players at the Nairobi Club had been productive. “We spent 20 minutes with each player looking at technical and tactical elements of their play and then how to connect that to the overall strategy.
“Egypt will do everything to disrupt our focus and we must beware of falling into that trap, (which) could see us give away yellow cards.”
Indeed, whatever the feisty Egyptians throw at SA, they must be able to get back on track and re-start the process with the minimum delay.
SA head coach Charlie Pereira said he didn’t want to change too much. “Why fix what isn’t broken? We have improved game by game; our penalty corners have been very good. One strong area of focus is for defenders not to overcommit in the tackle, rather just hold the ball up and force them to make the first move.”
The SA women’s team’s assistant coach Kurt Cerfontyne said Mayne brought energy to the team as well as providing spark to the forward line.
Cerfontyne said Ghana’s direct line to getting the ball to their pacy front-runners was a focus area. “How we combat this was one aspect of today’s training session. Our countercover defence will be very important and we are hopefully prepped for any scenario.
“What has been pleasing is how players new to a senior Africa Cup tournament are becoming more aware of what to expect and the errors are starting to disappear.”
It’s crunch time for SA hockey and there can be no greater incentive than to win gold and book a berth at the World Cup next May. that’s exactly what Charl Schwartzel did in the second round of the South African Open at Glendower.
He opened with three birdies, added another at the fifth, eagled the par-5 eighth (two-iron, five-iron, 20-foot putt) and then played a wonderful shot out of the rough over the little dam that fronts the green at the par-4 ninth to set up another birdie, and an outrageously good outward loop of seven-under-par.
Schwartzel has 11 worldwide victories including the 2011 Masters to his name, although an SA Open win still eludes him. And when that 29 saw him climb to 12-under-par and join leader Marco Crespi of Italy in the clubhouse, it looked like the day was going to turn into a Schwartzel landslide. Quite simply, he looked unstoppable. At last, maybe this was his time to win the SA Open.
But, as so often happens in this game, the unpredictable played a hand and he missed a short putt to bogey 10, dumped his approach in the water at 13 to drop another shot, and made four at the par-3 17th where he missed the green left. In between birdies at 14, 15 and 16, he did lose some momentum but he would still sign for a 65.
Going into today’s third round it’s Schwartzel and Crespi – he shot 67 yesterday – leading on 132, with Denmark’s Morten Crum Madsen (66) next best on 133 and Christiaan Basson ( 68) fourth on 134. Jbe