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Smith leads charge
- Updated: November 24, 2011
Austin Smith will captain an 18-strong national men’s hockey squad to do duty at the crucial Champions Challenge tournament in Randburg from 26 November to 4 December.
National selection convener, Mike Bechet, announced the final squad on Thursday, on completion of a week-long training camp.
Durban-based KZN Coastal Raiders, the reigning three-time SA interprovincial tournament champions, have six players in the side in defenders Lloyd Madsen and Gareth Carr, midfield trio Wade Paton, Taine Paton and Tim Drummond, as well as striker Marvin Harper.
Southern Gauteng have five players in the team: goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, defender Lance Louw, midfielder Clinton Panther and strikers Miguel da Grace and Thornton McDade and Western Province four players ÔÇô defender Andrew Cronje, captain and midfielder Austin Smith, and strikers Ian Haley and Lloyd Norris-Jones.
Pretoria-based Northern Blues are represented in the green and gold by two players in defenders Justin Reid-Ross, Rhett Halkett while Eastern Province have just one representative in the shape of goalkeeper Brendon Botes.
South Africa are in the ÔÇ£Pool of DeathÔÇØ, along with eight-time Olympic Games gold medallists India,┬áas well as Belgium, who have already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Poland.
South Africa’s Pool A matches at Randburg Hockey Stadium are against Poland on Saturday (5pm), India on Sunday (5pm) and Belgium next Tuesday (5 pm). Next Thursday (December 1) sees the teams go into the quarter-finals with the semi-finals next Saturday and the gold medal match next Sunday, December 4.
Pool B features Canada, Malaysia, Japan and Argentina. Like the Belgians, the South Americans have also already qualified to be one of the 12 teams at the London Olympic Games in July and August next year.
The six members of the squad who didn’t make the final cut are goalkeepers Jacques le Roux (Western Province) and Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders), defender Ricky West (Southern Gauteng), midfielders Jonty Robinson and Nic Gonsalves (both Northern Blues) as well as striker Julian Hykes (Amatole-Border).
Head coach Gregg Clark and captain Austin Smith’s line-up must reach the final of the Champions Challenge in order to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Failing this, the South African team would have one last chance to reach London 2012 at the Olympic Qualifier in Japan in April/May next year. This time, they would have to win the gold medal.
SA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FOR CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE
Goalkeepers: Brendon Botes (Eastern Province), Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng).
Defenders: Justin Reid-Ross (Northern Blues), Lloyd Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders), Lance Louw (Southern Gauteng), Rhett Halkett (Northern Blues), Gareth Carr (KZN Coastal Raiders), Andrew Cronje (Western Province).
Midfielders: Austin Smith (capt, Western Province), Wade Paton, Taine Paton, Tim Drummond (all KZN Coastal Raiders), Clinton Panther (Southern Gauteng).
Strikers: Ian Haley (Western Province), Marvin Harper (KZN Coastal Raiders), Lloyd Norris-Jones (Western Province), Miguel da Graca, Thornton McDade (both Southern Gauteng).