Pietie focuses on Spain | SASCOC - SASCOC

Pietie focuses on Spain

Pietie Coetzee has put aside her world record goalscoring exploits and is now focusing all her energy on Thursday’s all-important Champions Challenge quarter-final hockey clash against Spain.

Coetzee’s four goals in the 5-5 draw against the United States on Tuesday took her to an amazing 222 goals in 224 matches. But the Investec SA star now only has eyes for Spain, the world’s 10th ranked side.

ÔÇ£The team were awesome in supplying me with the passes to score the [four] goals against the USA and it was an unforgettable moment in my career but that’s history. There are more important things ahead of us. The match against Spain is a blank sheet right now and it’s up to us to fill in the spaces with the words that we want written there.ÔÇØ

If the two countries’ previous three encounters are anything to go by, the 11.15 am (SA time) encounter at the National Hockey Stadium in Dublin, Ireland will be a cracker. World number 12 South Africa upset Spain 2-1 in the World Cup in Argentina last September and a fortnight ago in Barcelona the Spaniards shaded the girls in green and gold 3-2 and 1-0.

A key factor though is that Coetzee did not play in the two Barcelona matches, and SA could feel aggrieved with crucial decisions given against them by the Spanish umpires.

ÔÇ£We are ready for Spain,ÔÇØ said SA head coach Giles Bonnet. ÔÇ£It’s about how we can mobilise the power we have in our team to deliver that top performance.

Spain’s right midfielder Raquel Huertas gave SA problems in Barcelona and the Amsterdam-based Bonnet is aware of the threat she and her team-mates pose.

ÔÇ£We will take care of their key players, their penalty corners, but we are looking to make sure we deliver the quality seen in the second half against Scotland [2-2], the scoring moments we created against the USA [5-5] and in the match against Japan [5-1] how we brought the ball forward,ÔÇØ the former SA men’s captain and coach said.

And with the support of those around Coetzee, South Africa have a scoring phenomenon in their midst. But like any superstar, Coetzee is always striving for that one perfect, perfect performance. ÔÇ£You can always play better. It’s what makes hockey such a fantastic sport.”

You can be assured that however he might deny it, Spanish head coach Salvador Indurain is putting considerable thought into how to stop Coetzee, and that might just let Investec South Africa’s stable of top-class strikers, the likes of Dirkie Chamberlain, Sulette Damons and Kathleen Taylor, into the winner’s enclosure.

Meanwhile Gideon Sam, the head of South Africa’s Olympic governing body SASCOC had a message of support for Coetzee and Co. In a message to the team the SASCOC president said: “I have been following your goal scoring excellence within our women’s national hockey team and am thrilled that you’ve broken the world record. The pursuit of excellence is the hallmark of great athletes. You now join a rare breed who set a goal and then go for that goal irrespective of challenging circumstances.

“Congratulations Pietie, we are proud of you. May you and the national team make all South Africans proud today.”