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Do or die for Proteas

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team have everything to play for when they take on India in their last round-robin game of the Four Nations tournament in Parana, Argentina, late on Saturday evening.

Captain Marsha Marescia’s side must beat India to qualify for their second successive final (scheduled for 1am SA time Monday) after they won the silver medal at the first Four Nations event in Buenos Aires the weekend before.

India need only draw to reach the gold medal match as they beat Ireland 2-1 while SA drew 2-2 with the Irish lasses.

SA can draw heart from Friday’s heart-stopping 2-1 round-robin defeat to world champions and Buenos Aires Four Nations winners Argentina, a match they could well have won on another day.

There is no doubt SA unsettled the world champs and could do so again if they reach the final. However, SA will be without two stars, Lesle-Ann George (ankle) and Shelley Russell (hamstring) for their last two matches and this is a major setback.

There is the further incentive of SA dealing another psychological blow to the impressive India side, who they beat in Buenos Aires last week, as the two sides are arch-rivals for the London 2012 Olympic Games place on offer when the Olympic Qualifier tournament takes place in Delhi, India in February.

In preparation for Delhi, SA will tackle Spain, Ireland and Belgium in the Investec international series at Randburg Hockey Stadium beginning mid-January. World record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee and a number of other players should return to action for this series, further bolstering the SA side.

INVESTEC SA TEAM VS INDIA
Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Illse Davids, Tarryn Bright, 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); Liesel Dorothy (Eastern Province).
Lesle-Ann George (Free State) and Shelley Russell (WP) injured.

Remaining fixtures (all SA time) ÔÇô Saturday: India vs SA (10.30pm); Argentina vs Ireland (1am Sunday). Sunday: bronze medal match (10.30pm); gold medal match (1am Monday).


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