SA hockey sides have everything to play for in Holland | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA hockey sides have everything to play for in Holland

At the bottom of their respective log tables, there is much to play for when our national hockey teams take the field in Friday’s third round of Group B matches at the World Cup in The Hague, Holland.

The world’s 11th-ranked Investec South Africa women’s hockey team tackle England at 2.30pm in a massive game for both sides, reports Jon Cook.

Underlining the fierce competition at this World Cup, London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallists and world number three England have suffered a 2-1 loss to world No10 the USA and a 3-0 shut-out by world No7 China. These setbacks have surely sent shockwaves through a side that need to find victory against SA if they are to make a go of living up to their semi-final seeding.

SA, too, have lost two matches from two starts and while the 4-1 defeat by World Cup holders Argentina was not unexpected by the pundits, the same seasoned observers were of the opinion that the girls in green and gold should probably have beaten world No6 Germany. SA had more shots at goal than the Europeans and three times as many penalty corners yet a 3-1 defeat was the outcome.

Should super-quick striker Sulette Damons, who missed the first two matches due to injury, be ready it will give the girls in green and gold more penetration against the English. Also in the team is midfielder Ilse Davids, right.

The world’s 12th-ranked SA men, defeated 4-0 by London 2012 Olympic champs Germany and 5-0 by the world number six New Zealand Black Sticks, face world seven South Korea at 5.30pm and again it’s a massive game for each team.

Both have lost twice from two starts and need to get away from the foot of the table in a hurry.

Korea were shaded 2-1 by both world number three Holland and Group B leaders New Zealand and have more of a right to feel confident going into the clash with the African champions.

Yet the SA men can draw encouragement from their loss to the Black Sticks, as they entered the strike zone more often than their opponents. But that’s where the good news ends. SA’s finishing was poor while the Kiwis succeeded in scoring 50% of the time.

Friday’s assignments are a tough ask for the SA teams, the only truly amateur World Cup sides in The Hague, but if they can right their wrongs it’s certainly not impossible.

Picture: Stanislas Brochier