Marsha's girls out to reach Challenge final | SASCOC - SASCOC

Marsha’s girls out to reach Challenge final

By Mark Etheridge

Up against the world’s first, fourth and sixth ranked teams, national women’s hockey captain Marsha Marescia says that reaching the final of this week’s Investec Challenge in Cape Town is their mission.

Co-captain Marescia’s charges take on the Netherlands, England and Australia in the week-long challenge.

“Given where we are right now our main goal is to make the final. That would be seen as an indication of where we’ve come.”

The South Africans have racked up wins against both Australia and England in the run-in to the Challenge and gone down narrowly to Olympic champions, the Netherlands. But Marescia refuses to read too much into those results.

“The warm-up matches are obviously important but last week’s matches were a base. Now we must take steps forward. In warm-ups we should read more into the performance than the result.”

Now having laced on her boots for more than 300 Test matches, the recently married Marescia still finds it easy to motivate herself to do duty for her country.

“You just have to remember who you are doing it for and never under-estimate the power of people ÔÇô people that you are getting out of bed for when your body is in pain!”

For his part coach Giles Bonnet is happy with the progress of his team. “We’ve had a great build-up and are in a good position. We’ve had no injuries and have managed to protect our players nicely.”

In terms of team personnel, the South Africans have around six changes from the squad that did duty at last year’s Olympics. “The Australians have about five changes as well and England have eight new caps. The Dutch side is probably the least changed since the Olympics and they were very impressive against Australia yesterday [they won 6-1] so we really have everything to play for and make inroads into the world rankings.

“What’s important for us to do is put pressure on ourselves here.

South Africa are currently ranked 11th on the international rankings.

Team leader of the England side, Karin Brown and English hockey’s most capped player, confirmed that the competition is very much a rebuilding job.

“With eight new caps we’re allowing the players to experience a top international competition and that’s both on and off the field. We’ll be competitive and want to win games but the performance matters most. I must say though that I’ve been very pleased with the youngsters in the two warm-up games here”

The Investec Challenge officially kicks off on Monday at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town when Holland face Australia at 6pm before South Africa meet England at 8pm.

Investec SA team: Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Pietie Coetzee, Marsha Marescia (co-captain),  Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Quanita Bobbs, Tarryn Bright (all Western Province); Marcelle Keet (Amathole/Border); Lilian du Plessis, Phume Mbande, Dirkie Chamberlain, Nicolene Terblanche (all Northern Blues); Lenise Marais (co-captain), Kelly Madsen (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West).

Investec Challenge fixtures
Mon, 4 Feb 6pm: Holland vs Australia
Mon, 4 Feb 8pm: South Africa vs England
Tues, 5 Feb 6pm: Holland vs England
Tues, 5 Feb 8pm: South Africa vs Australia
Thurs, 7 Feb 6pm: England vs Australia
Thurs, 7 Feb 8pm: South Africa v s Holland
Sat, 9 Feb 2:30pm: Semi-Final 1
Sat, 9 Feb 5pm: Semi-Final 2
Sun, 10 Feb 11:30am: Bronze Medal Match
Sun, 10 Feb 2pm: Gold Medal Match