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SA’s quest begins

The South African men’s hockey team kick off their quest for Champions Challenge tournament honours when they take on Poland at Randburg Hockey Stadium on Saturday evening.

The start will see key midfielder and captain Austin Smith’s line-up intent on establishing dominance in the engine room and he will be looking to his mates in the middle of the park ÔÇô the KZN Coastal trio of Tim Drummond and the Paton brothers, Taine and Wade, as well as Southern Gauteng’s Clinton Panther ÔÇô to wrest control of territory and possession.

Poland beat SA in an unofficial international in Potchefstroom three years ago and they proved then ÔÇôand will no doubt display once again Saturday ÔÇô that they will fight tooth and nail for victory, so it promises to be a match infused with passion and commitment.

The African continent’s champions are a tight-knit unit and have a potent penalty corner arsenal in drag-flickers Justin Reid-Ross and Gareth Carr, while both at the back and in the strike force up front there is much resolve to do the job properly.

Head coach Gregg Clark and the squad will be intent on starting Pool A with a win, as it is only going to get harder when they come up against eight-time Olympic Games gold medallists India on Sunday and then Belgium on Tuesday, the Belgians having already booked a berth at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

SA TEAMÔÇ¿

Goalkeepers: Brendon Botes (EP), Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng). Defenders: Justin Reid-Ross, Rhett Halkett (both Northern Blues), Lance Louw (Southerns), Lloyd Madsen, Gareth Carr (both KZN Raiders), Andrew Cronje (WP). Midfielders: Austin Smith (WP, capt), Wade Paton, Taine Paton, Tim Drummond (all KZN Raiders), Clinton Panther (Southerns). Strikers: Ian Haley, Lloyd Norris-Jones (both WP), Marvin Harper (KZN Raiders), Miguel da Graca, Thornton McDade (both Southerns).


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