Marsha: 'We're on track' | SASCOC - SASCOC

Marsha: ‘We’re on track’

The preparation is going well and South Africa are gaining a lot from it, was the summation of captain Marsha Marescia at the idyllic Club zur Vahr, venue for the Four Nations in Bremen, Germany and where our hockey girls in green and gold will meet an on-song New Zealand on Saturday, writes Jon Cook.

ÔÇ£Leading into the Olympic Games we are learning a lot about our team and the opposition, and while the scores have not been good on tour it’s good to go through it now rather than later and a lot of positives have come out,ÔÇØ said the two-time World All Stars midfielder who has been capped a record 291 times for her country.

ÔÇ£But we’ve got to make sure we put the team ‘learnings’ into action,ÔÇØ said the Johannesburger who has skippered the team well into the hundreds of matches since taking over the reins from previous record holder Lindsey Wright (nee Carlisle) in the mid-2000s.

ÔÇ£There is frustration when we watch the videos and see how easy it is to fix mistakes we are making so once we correct them by London we can expect to see a better team in terms of collective performance.ÔÇØ

SA lost 5-1 to world number three Germany in Thursday night’s Test match and Friday and Saturday has been about intensive team meetings, practice and then more meetings.

World number six New Zealand outplayed world 16 Belgium in the first half hour late Thursday afternoon with stunning, high-tempo hockey but got scrappy and their opponents came back well but were let down by technical errors when it mattered. Nevertheless, New Zealand’s 4-2 win set them up and athey tackle Germany in the Four Nations’ final game Sunday.

ÔÇ£New Zealand are extremely physical, play a fast game and have key players in midfield,ÔÇØ said the iconic Marescia. ÔÇ£We expect a tough game and want to be really competitive [Saturday] and then again against Belgium [at 12 noon Sunday].ÔÇØ

The captain said double Olympian Jen Wilson is the only player who has had an injury concern but her quad strain is expected to be healed sufficiently to ensure match time over the weekend. ÔÇ£Jen has managed the injury well,ÔÇØ said Marescia of the forward who was joint leading goalscorer with Holland’s Mijntje Donners at Athens 2004.

ÔÇ£We have been conceding way too many goals on tour, so we know the other teams are better right now but if we start play together as a group we can defend our goal and make more of our attacking opportunities,ÔÇØ Marescia added.

SA had more penalty corners than Germany and just about the same number of chances from open play but the difference was the space the host nation were able to create in the strike zone, which gave their forwards time to tee up the ball.

This has been the case in just about all of the SA games on tour and losing scorelines of 5-0 and 5-0 against world number one and defending Olympic champs Holland in Arnhem, 6-0 and 3-2 down against world four and Champions Trophy silver medallists Great Britain at Bisham Abbey outside London, and now the 5-1 by Germany, have most definitely not been true reflections of the game but are indicative of the devil in the detail the South Africans simply have to sort out before Argentina in 16 days’ time.

The good thing is Germany and New Zealand are in Pool B at London 2012. Better the devil you know.