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No Pietie for Proteas

The big surprise when the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team was announced on Friday for the two Four Nations tournaments in Argentina next month is that super-fit world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee of Southern Gauteng has been left out of the tour party.

However, SA head coach Giles Bonnet, speaking from Amsterdam, was quick to explain there is no cause for alarm.

ÔÇ£After fruitful discussions with Pietie we have decided to rest her, based on the intensive training and match programme we have just completed in Holland as well as the programme change with the recent news that the team has been included in the Olympic Qualifier Tournament (OQT) in India in February,ÔÇØ said Bonnet.

ÔÇ£An added strategic reason is that India will be at the Four Nations and we don’t want them to be able to analyse and test specific tactics against Pietie in both field play and set-pieces.ÔÇØ

In an eight-Test tour, SA will tackle reigning World Cup champions Argentina, India and Ireland in Buenos Aires from 7-11 December before the teams move to Parana for the second Four Nations from 14-18 December.

SA and Southern Gauteng captain Marsha Marescia’s side will also be without five players who would have been considered, said Bonnet.

The injured players are experienced Free State midfield duo Marcelle Keet and Lesle-Ann George, as well as exciting young Bloemfontein-based striker Hettie Oosthuizen, plus 160-Test veteran Jen Wilson and Kelly Madsen of KZN Coastal Raiders.

ÔÇ£All other players were considered, and after the Africa Cup (OQT) in Zimbabwe in September and the High Performance training in Holland in October and November, this combination for Argentina is what we wish to look at now,ÔÇØ Bonnet said.

A welcome return after becoming a mother is 2004 and 2008 Olympian Kate Woods, the Western Province captain who led her side to the 2011 Interprovincial Tournament title at University of the Free State Hockey Centre in Bloemfontein three months ago. ÔÇ£It’s an opportunity to assess Kate in tournament conditions against world-class opposition,ÔÇØ said Bonnet.

The former national captain and SA men’s head coach said all players in contention who were not selected will attend a camp in SA in January to stake a claim for the OQT team that will be playing in the New Delhi event from February 15 to 26.

Before Delhi, SA will play a marathon 16 Test matches against Spain, Ireland and Belgium in Test series and Three Nations events from 15 January to 6 February at Randburg Hockey Stadium.

Despite the SA team already qualifying technically for the London 2012 Olympic Games after winning the Africa Cup, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) were not entirely convinced of the team’s ability to be competitive at the four-yearly showpiece; hence the need to win gold in Delhi.

ÔÇ£The team’s inclusion in the Olympic Qualifier in Delhi in just under three months’ time has re-galvanised the squad,ÔÇØ Bonnet said. ÔÇ£After months of doubt, the team now has a clear goal ÔÇô and one that fits in with our periodization. Through their commitment to training, the players are showing the desire to be part of the (OQT) team.

ÔÇ£As a team we are moving into the performance phase of our programme and the Argentina tour offers us a unique opportunity in terms of the format of the tournament and the teams present to develop this important area.ÔÇØ

INVESTEC SA WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM
Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Ilse Davids, Tarryn Bright, Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Kathleen Taylor (all Western Province);  Marsha Marescia (capt), Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Dirkie Chamberlain (all Northern Blues); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West); Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders); Liesel Dorothy (Eastern Province). Non-travelling reserve: Cindy Botha (KZN Coastal Raiders).


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