SA march into final | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA march into final

An inspired Investec South Africa women’s hockey team gave their everything in beating India 2-1 after leading 1-0 at half-time in Parana, Argentina late on Saturday night to reach the final of the Four Nations on Monday.

Kate Woods and outstanding captain Marsha Marescia sealed the win with penalty corner goals while India’s goal came from a Kaur Jaspreet corner.

A high-pressure match, it was a gutsy performance in which every South African played their part, right down to the coaching staff who devised a game plan that stifled the skilful Indians for much of the time. Our own girls in the green and gold also produced moments of magic with the stick and all in all it was a collective effort to be proud of.

Marescia’s girls had to beat India to qualify for their second successive Four Nations final against world champions Argentina after having been shaded 2-1 in the gold medal match in Buenos Aires last night. India had only needed a draw to make the final.

SA can draw heart from Friday’s heart-stopping 2-1 round robin defeat to Argentina’s darling Las Leonas (Lionesses), a match they may well have won on any other day and this Parana Final is set to be another heart-stopping affair full of both drama and skill.

In the later game on Saturday Argentina weren’t all that impressive, only beating a determined Ireland 2-1.

For their part South Africa refused to allow Argentina time to settle in their Friday match and will be hoping to do the same again on Monday. On the downside the team will be without key player Lesle-Ann George (ankle injury) but thankfully Shelley Russell (hamstring) recovered sufficiently to take the field and was a major thorn in coach Raj Kumar’s side.

SA have now dealt another big psychological blow against India and have won their last three encounters after India had won the two matches prior to that. The sides are arch-rivals for the London Olympics next year ÔÇô and the Olympic Qualifying event in New Delhi in February where it will all play out.

In preparation for Delhi, SA will tackle Spain, Ireland and Belgium in the Investec International series at Randburg beginning late january. World record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee are hopefully returning to action for this side, making the South African side that much tougher.