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Another win for SA
- Updated: February 24, 2012
Now for the finalÔÇª our unbeaten Investec South Africa women’s hockey team ended the league action of the Olympic Qualifier tournament in New Delhi on Friday with a 4-1 victory over Canada.
The team are now just one match away from a spot at the Olympic Games in London later this year. They must win the final though to ensure their spot.
Player of the match Dirkie Chamberlain netted her second consecutive hat-trick to go top of the tournament goalscorers’ table with seven while fellow forward Sulette Damons made it three successful strikes from two matches. Thea Culley bagged Canada’s lone goal.
Chamberlain also got three goals in Wednesday’s crucial 5-2 win over India.
Who SA will play in Saturday’s final┬á (4.30pm) will only be determined once the outcome of Friday’s 2.30pm (SA time) match between India and Italy is decided, Italy needing a draw while for India it’s a must-win scenario.
World record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee returned to the starting line-up after missing the last two matches due to a viral infection. She had a penalty stroke saved by Kaitlyn Williams, who made some inspired stops .ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£I felt a bit weak but was grateful for the opportunity to get my muscles working again after three days of doing nothing. A couple more meals in me and I will be fine for the final,ÔÇØ said Coetzee.
Italy and India present different challenges and head coach Giles Bonnet was unconcerned as to who SA would meet in Saturday’s winner-takes-all match. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£India are incredibly quick on the ball, good individual skills and speed, while Italy are slower but more structured. Whoever you play, you still have to win,ÔÇØ said the SA mentor.
An example of the team’s fighting spirit was a brave, bandaged Nicolene Terblanche returning to the fray after taking a blow to the head that drew blood, while goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa, in her first match as regular stopper Mariette Rix sat this one out, was assured in managing the goalmouth.
Running from left midfield ┬áShelley Russell was at her incisive best but, certainly in the second half, there were too many players to mention who stood up to be counted.
In the 16th minute a turnover between the SA halfway line and 23-metre area led to Hannah Haughn’s cross from the right being tapped in by Canadian forward Culley (1-0). Seven minutes later Kim Hubach’s square pass across the back to Lenise Marais on the left led to the in-form Shelley Russell’s pace creating enough space for Sulette Damons to equalise (1-1). Then came Chamberlain’s second-half hat-trick heroics
While the match had no significance in terms of affecting SA’s certain berth in the final, it was important as far as maintaining the momentum of Wednesday’s win over India was concerned.
The SA players wore black armbands as a mark of respect to manager Les Galloway whose mother passed away.