Glasgow – The hard-fought battles between the world’s 11th ranked Investec South Africa women’s hockey team and world 15 Ireland over the last four years are not expected to let up when the two countries meet on day one of the Champions Challenge in Glasgow at 1pm SA time Sunday.
The South Africans are favoured to get off to a good start but the Irish are sure to have other ideas and SA head coach Giles Bonnet and his management team have been working tirelessly with their charges in the weeks leading up to the event, which takes place at the specially built venue that will host the Commonwealth Games hockey in July.
“We wish to place pressure on ourselves to win every game we play,” Bonnet said at the team hotel Saturday.
Bonnet introduced a new style of play in January and in warm-up matches the evidence was there that progress has been made.
“It’s direct, using speed and a high-risk approach in the final third,” said the Amsterdam-based former SA men’s captain and then head coach.
“We spent a week in Holland, acclimatising to The Hague [the 2014 World Cup city) and the environment for the World Cup [from May 31 to June 15] and then came through to Scotland via London, where we played training games against [world number three] England at Bisham Abbey.”
As a group, the SA players showed high energy levels during these trainings and the likes of Nicolene Terblanche will again be leading from the front when the kilometres travelled in the 70 minutes are tallied up after the match.
After Ireland, SA’s next Pool B opponents are world number 10 the USA on Monday before the meet World 14 Spain in their final group match on Wednesday.
Thursday heralds the quarter-finals with the semi-finals and bottom four playoffs next Saturday and the medial matches and lower classification encounters next Sunday.
SA’s world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee and Jade Mayne are injured and unavailable. Otherwise the team of 18 is at full-strength.
Pool A features world number eight Korea, world 12 Belgium, world 13 India and world 16 Scotland.
April (Three Pool B matches)
Sunday, 27th: SA vs Ireland (1pm); Monday, 28th: SA vs USA (3pm); Wednesday, 30th: SA vs Spain (10.30am).
May (Three playoff matches
Thursday 1st: SA in 1 of 4 quarter-finals - start times from 2pm to 9.15pm;
Saturday, 3rd: SA in playoff match (may be a semi-final, start times 10am to 5.15pm).
Sunday, 4th: SA in classification match (may be a medal match - start times 11.30am to 6.45pm).
Anelle van Deventer, Sanani Mangisa, Quanita Bobbs, Lisa Deetlefs, Lenise Marais, Marcelle Manson, Shelly Russell, Tarryn Bright, Marsha Cox, Bernie Coston, Kathleen Taylor, Nicolene Terblanche, Illse Davids, Sulette Damons, Celia Evans, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lilian du Plessis, Kelly Madsen.