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Proteas look to build

Unbeaten South Africa play their third match in the all-important Olympic Qualifier hockey tournament in New Delhi, India on Tuesday morning.

After wins against Poland (2-1) and Ukraine (2-0), Marsha Maresica’s Investec SA girls come up against Italy. South Africa have to win this tournament if they are to join Team South Africa at the Olympic Games in London later this year. And head coach Giles Bonnet is under no illusions as to the task facing his players.

ÔÇ£In Alessia Padalino they have a very good striker who got a hat-trick in Italy’s 4-1 win over Poland on Sunday while there are other players we will have to keep an eye on as well,ÔÇØ said Bonnet.

The Italians are a very focused side who were unfortunate in being on the wrong side of some crucial umpiring decisions in their 2-2 draw with Canada on day one. On any other given day they would have stashed away three points instead of one and be level on six points with the South Africans.

SA are the only side with full points after two matches while Italy and India are on four with Ukraine on one point and Poland none. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿With three matches left, including Wednesday’s round, there is precious little time for any team to recover from a slip-up.

Both Italy and SA will be ultra-keen to win this one, which is shaping up to be one of the pivotal matches of the tournament.

Bonnet said that several of his Olympians, including defenders Kate Woods (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and Lenise Marais (Beijing 2008) had played important roles in the side’s 2-1 win over Poland and Sunday’s 2-0 defeat of Ukraine.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ He will be looking to this defensive duo as well as the other half-dozen Olympians in the line-up to pilot the less experienced players through the edgy moments that will inevitably surface against coach Fernando Ferrara’s determined Italians.

In Wednesday’s other pool matches, Canada face Ukraine and Poland tackle India.


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