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Gregory’s SA men look to regain higher world ranking

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By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s men’s hockey side will attempt to claw their way up the world rankings at the Hockey World League semi-finals in Johannesburg starting this weekend.
Coach Fabian Gregory is hoping the team can get into the top 10 global nations within the next few years.

An 18-strong side was named to do duty in Randburg, where South Africa have been drawn in Pool B alongside Ireland, Germany, Egypt and Belgium.

Gregory took time out to give an update of team developments in the team:
‘We’ve tried to evolve the squad, hence the new players which have also enabled us to broaden the base, which has resulted in a more competitive group.

‘We also welcome back a number of players who haven’t played in a couple of years due to injuries and work commitments. Austin Smith is back and will add a lot of value as he is the most experienced player in the squad and has just come off another European season in Holland.

‘Julian Hykes, who had a fantastic IPT after being top goal-scorer at the event, also brings a lot of experience and it would be interesting to see how he links up with Dayaan Cassiem.

‘Matthew Guise-Brown also makes a return to the squad – he was top goal-scorer at the African Cup in 2015.

‘Tim Drummond assumes the captaincy and Erasmus Pieterse will be the vice captain. Erasmus was the captain of the successful Cavemen team that won the PHL last year.

‘Our achilles heel has always been that we don’t play enough Test matches, which stifles the progress of both the team and the individual players.

‘Our perennial African rivals, Egypt, are in the same pool, as well as Ireland, which will be games that we must target as possible wins. Ireland and Egypt will be more competitive for us, but still a huge challenge as Ireland have done really well over the last two years.

‘Then Belgium and Germany, who won silver and bronze at the Rio Olympics will be very hard to beat, but we will be in for the fight.

Gregory’s one to watch – DAYAAN CASSIEM

‘We’ve selected an 18-year-old school boy, Dayaan Cassiem, in the squad as a striker.

‘He’s from Bishops and made the national U18 team last year. He made his debut in January and scored two goals against Germany. He’s also an exceptional indoor player.

‘There’s huge expectation as he is a goal-scorer of note and plays with no fear and just wants to play forward.

‘He shows a very good level of maturity for somebody so young.

‘He toured Holland with Bishops and played in a tournament against the best teams in Holland,  and was named as player of the tournament, which generated a lot of interest  from overseas clubs, despite his tender age.’

The full SA side is: Rassie Pieterse, Gowan Jones, Jethro Eustice, Austin Smith, Rhett Halkett, Daniel Bell, Matt Guise-Brown, Jonty Robinson, Daniel Sibbald, Reza Rosenburg, Ryan Julius, Tim Drummond, Owen Mvimbi, Julian Hykes, Nqobile Ntuli, Ignatius Malgraff, Dayaan Cassiem, Tevin Kok

Pictures of Drummond and Cassiem courtesy of Peter Heeger/Gallo Images


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