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Tough task for Proteas

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team embarked on one of their most important assignments in recent years Tuesday.

They first travel to Barcelona to play Spain in two Test matches, move on to Amsterdam for two more internationals against the Netherlands before flying on to Ireland for the vital Champions Challenge tournament in Dublin from  18-26 June.

Captain Marsha Marescia’s side are aware that the country’s Olympic governing body SASCOC has set down stringent criteria for inclusion in Team South Africa for the London 2012 Olympic Games and a good showing in Dublin will go a long way towards convincing the national governing body that head coach Giles Bonnet’s girls are deserving of a place.

ÔÇ£The Champions Challenge will be incredibly tough,ÔÇØ Bonnet said from Amsterdam Tuesday, where the team have been in camp. ÔÇ£We are ranked fourth at this tournament and I have no expectations that we will finish higher than this, based on our less-than-satisfactory preparation over the last 12 weeks.ÔÇØ

While some may say that Bonnet does not paint a pretty picture,he has also been known to be a realist. The Investec South Africa women’s team has not played together since their successful International Series in January and February this year.

The bulk of the SA players have been extremely busy with their European clubs as the season reaches its finale and Bonnet has had to fit his team preparations in where he can. The majority of the SA-based players joined Bonnet in the last fortnight.

Apart from World All Stars 2010 midfielder Marescia, among the other world-class players in the Investec SA team is the legendary Pietie Coetzee, who is on an incredible 215 goals from 219 Test matches ÔÇô just five strikes short of Russian Natella Krasnikova’s world record of 220, which has stood for two decades.

Investec SA women’s hockey team: Mariette Rix, Sanani Mangisa, Ilse Davids, Marsha Marescia (capt), Shelley Russell, Marcelle Keet, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lisa Deetlefs, Pietie Coetzee, Jen Wilson, Lesle-Ann George, Nicolene Terblanche, Lenise Marais, Kathleen Taylor, Kim Hubach, Tarryn Bright, Sulette Damons, Celia Evans.

MATCH SCHEDULE
(All matches SA time)
June 9 v Spain (6pm)
June 10 v Spain (6pm)
June 12 v Catalonia (12pm)
June 14 v Netherlands (3pm)
June 15 v Netherlands (7.30pm)
June 16 v Ireland (4pm)

Champions Challenge tournament (Dublin)
June 18 v Scotland (1.30pm)
June 19 v Japan (2pm)
June 21 v USA (2.30pm)
June 24: CC play-offs
June 25: CC play-offs
June 26: CC finals.


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