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Tester for Bonnet’s girls

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team is quietly confident about their chances in Saturday’s Champions Challenge opening match against Scotland in Dublin.

Coach Giles Bonnet’s team has worked hard for the past month in preparation for the event in which the country’s Olympic governing body SASCOC have set the requirement of a top-two finish as a 2012 Olympic qualifying must.

Two Test matches apiece against Spain and Holland respectively, as well as a 3-1 warm-up win against Ireland on Thursday, plus victory against Spain’s strongest provincial line-up, has backed up the intensive training put in by the team starting in Amsterdam a month ago, reports Jonathan Cook.

The Scots have a sprinkling of world-class players in their squad and boast a strong midfield. Their last match against SA in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India eight months ago ended in a narrow 2-1 win for the Africans.

The Scots have grown with confidence in recent years and a safety-first, defensive style has been revamped into a pattern of play that puts far more emphasis in taking the game to their opponents.

South Africa team beat Ireland 3-0 in a practice match late on Thursday and world-class striker Pietie Coetzee netted two penalty corners, which suggests that the world record of 220 could be overtaken at this tournament.

In an illustrious career that at age 27 was interrupted by a five-year break from the game while at the peak of her powers, Coetzee has nailed 216 international goals in 221 Test match appearances for the girls in green and gold.

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


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