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SA hockey teams have it all do to in Kenya

South Africa’s national hockey teams both know what’s at stake when they go to Nairobi, Kenya for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament from 26 September to 5 October.

The winners qualify as Africa’s representatives at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands from 31 May to 15 June next year and it is the South African teams’ last chance to gain entry to the four-yearly showpiece.

The SA men failed to end in the top four placings at the World League event in Malaysia in June/July. A top-four finish would have granted automatic entry to the World Cup. ┬áThe Investec South Africa women’s team are in the same boat, having failed to finish in the top four at the Investec World League Semi-Finals tournament in London.

Midfielder Tim Drummond of KZN Raiders has withdrawn because of an Achilles tendon injury while double Olympian defender Andrew Cronje is out due to work commitments. ÔÇ£We will not be replacing them, so we are going with 16 instead of the allowed 18, but will have two players out of seven non-travelling reserves on standby and listed on the team sheet,ÔÇØ said SA men’s head coach Charlie Pereira.

Interviewed on national television stations recently, midfielders Jonty Robinson and Clinton Panther, and goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse made it clear that only first place in Kenya matters. A silver medal will mean nothing in the context of World Cup qualification. Both Robinson and captain Austin Smith have recovered from Dengue Fever, the mosquito-borne disease that cut short their participation in the World League event in Malaysia in July.

SA women’s coach for this event, Fabian Gregory, said the 18 players selected in his line-up are good to go. SA co-captain Marsha Cox and the world’s leading Test match goalscorer, Pietie Coetzee, are unavailable for this trip. Gregory said the side will be led by Cox’s co-captain, Lenise Marais of KZN Raiders, pictured right.

The SA men and women won the last of the biannual events in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in September 2011.

Western Province’s star goalkeeper Jacque le Roux and Northern Blues defender Matt Guise-Brown return. Beijing 2008 Olympian striker Geoff Abbott makes a return to the side after a lengthy sabbatical. The new caps are SA Under-21 defenders Dylan Swanepoel of Stellenbosch and Mohamed Mea of Durban.

Six players who represented the SA men’s team at the World League in Malaysia have been omitted for various reasons. They are goalkeeper Gowan Jones (KZN Raiders), defenders Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues) and Lance Louw (Southern Gauteng) and strikers Craig Haley (Western Province) and Miguel da Graca (SG).

Six players who represented the Investec South Africa women’s team in London in June have been omitted for various reasons, including Southern Gauteng superstars Coetzee and Cox.

The other players left out are goalkeeper Phume Mbande of Northern Blues, defender Nicolene Terblanche (NB), midfielder Tarryn Bright (Western Province) and striker Dirkie Chamberlain (NB).

World Cup 2010 goalkeeper Hanli Hattingh (WP) is back, while London 2012 Olympians Bernie Coston and Lisa Deetlefs (both Southern Gauteng) return after injury. Christine Roos (SG) and Celia Evans (North West) are also back in the team, while Kaila Flemming of Southern Gauteng makes her debut.

The Africa Cup men’s and women’s tournaments will be played in a one-round league format with the top two teams playing in the respective finals. Egypt’s men’s side, always SA’s biggest opponents for Africa supremacy, have withdrawn due to political unrest in their country. There will be five men’s teams at Nairobi’s City Park Stadium. They are South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia and hosts Kenya. The six women’s teams are South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia and Tanzania.

SA TEAMS

Men: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Jacque le Roux (Western Province), Rhett Halkett (vice-capt, WP), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues), Jethro Eustice (SG), Dylan Swanepoel (SA U21 and WP), Mohamed Mea (SA U21 and KZN Raiders), Austin Smith (capt, WP),  Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KZNR), Taine Paton (KZNR), Julian Hykes (SG), Geoff Abbott (KZNR), Pierre de Voux (WP), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP).

Women: Sanani Mangisa (SG), Hanli Hattingh (WP), Lenise Marais (capt, KZNR), Marcelle Keet (Border), Lisa Deetlefs (SG), Illse Davids (WP), Celia Evans (North West), Shelley Russell (WP), Kaila Flemming (SG), Quanita Bobbs (WP), Sulette Damons (NW), Christine Roos (NB), Jade Mayne (WP), Bernie Coston (SG), Tanya Britz (Free State), Lilian du Plessis (NB), Izelle Lategan (FS), Kelly Madsen (KZNR).

SA FIXTURES
(SA time)

Women
Thurs, Sept 26: SA vs Tanzania (9am)
Sat, Sept 28: SA vs Namibia (9am)
Sun, Sept 29: SA vs Kenya (1pm)
Tues, Oct 1: SA vs Ghana (1pm)
Wed, Oct 2: SA vs Nigeria (9am)
Sat, Oct 5: FINAL (12pm)

Men
Sat, Sept 28: SA vs Namibia (1pm)
Sun, Sept 29: SA vs Kenya (3pm)
Tues, Oct 1: SA vs Ghana (1pm)
Wed, Oct 2: SA vs Nigeria (11am)
Sat, Oct 5: FINAL (2.30pm)

Photo: Plate Pictures


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