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National women’s indoor side tackle Namibia

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The South Africa women’s indoor hockey team take on Namibia in a five-Test series starting in Windhoek on Friday.
The 11-player SA team shows two changes from the group that excelled in the play-off stages at the World Cup in Leipzig, Germany early February. South Africa finished in ninth place following a 4-2 win over Canada in the final classification match. In the earlier play-off round, coach Lennie Botha’s SA women had beaten Belgium 3-1 in an emotion-charged penalty shootout after the scores were locked 2-2 at full-time.
It was a noteworthy effort by the girls in green and gold, considering South Africa had come into the four-yearly showpiece ranked 18th in the world.
‘After the many positives of the World Cup, it is important to keep the momentum going and for this reason continuity is essential,’ said Botha.
Of the changes, one of South Africa’s two goalkeepers, Taryn de Winnaar, who was national vice-captain in Leipzig, has been forced to call it a day due to injury. The silver lining is De Winnaar’s appointment as the SA women’s indoor team’s assistant coach and goalkeeper coach. ‘Taryn will add huge value in her new role and it’s great to keep her on board,’ said Botha.
Another to miss out on the Windhoek trip is Tracy Martens, who had a major hip operation recently. ‘Tracy was a big part of our side in Germany and we trust she will recover well enough to compete for a place in the team again,’ said Botha.
Coming in for Martens is Tsoanelo Pholo, while De Winnaar is replaced by Hanli Hattingh. ‘Both are experienced players who have the capacity to add value,’ said Botha.
South Africa captain Cindy Hack said the team would be aiming to build on the standard of play that was evident in the two exciting World Cup play-off victories. ‘The vibe was great and we need to maintain that against the Namibians, who are always tough opposition.’
Recalling how the team stepped up a gear in a Test series against Australia in Mannheim, Germany before the World Cup, Hack said next month’s matches in Windhoek would be an indicator of the work that needs to be done to keep the team moving forward. ‘We need to continue our growth as a group and as individuals.’
After Windhoek, the SA interprovincial indoor hockey tournament in Cape Town is the next step. ‘The interprovincial in October is a great opportunity for our young players to put their hands up, as a fresh squad of 20 will be chosen ahead of final selection for another five-Test series against Namibia set for late November in Durban.’
But for now, all thoughts are geared towards next month’s series against Namibia in Windhoek.

SA WOMEN’S INDOOR HOCKEY TEAM
Amy Greaves, Eloise Walters, Faye Cooper, (KZN Inland); Cindy Hack (capt), Jess O’Connor, Kara Stella, Kelly Madsen, Shelley Higgo (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Celia Evans (North West); Hanli Hattingh (Western Province); Tsoanelo Pholo (Southern Gauteng). Head coach: Lennie Botha. Manager: Emma Bray. Assistant coach/goalkeeper coach: Taryn de Winnaar. Video analyst: Patrick Tshutshani.


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