Cape Town – Coach of the South African women's hockey team, Giles Bonnet, said on Sunday he wanted the team to do well at the Investec Challenge in Cape Town this week so they could make inroads on the world-ranking standings.
Bonnet said the high calibre of the participating teams meant that his side would benefit greatly from the week-long tournament.
The four-nations tournament features hosts South Africa, world No 1 and 2012 Olympic Games gold medallists Holland, world No 4 and Olympic bronze medallists England (as Great Britain) and world No 6 Australia at Hartleyvale, starting on Monday.
“The calibre of teams in this event is unique and good results will help us to make inroads in the world ranking,” said Bonnet.
“It offers a fantastic opportunity for our team to go up against the best in the world, in a matter of a week, and on home soil.
“In this tournament we need to put pressure on ourselves to play better, and learn to turn our game around when the going is tough. We must set ourselves the goal of being there on Sunday (when the final will be played).
“We've had a good build-up to this event and we have no injuries.”
Marsha Marescia, who was named as co-captain with Lenise Marais for the Challenge said the tournament was special for the South African team. “We're taking on the best in the world, and playing at home is something special,” said Marescia. “The best teams in the world will attract bigger crowds and that will be to our advantage. Playing in front of bigger crowds will fuel home ground advantage.”
“Given where we are right now our main goal is to make the final. That would be seen as an indication of where we’ve come.”
In recent weeks South Africans have racked up wins against Australia and England and suffered a close call against Olympic champions, Holland. Over the weekend, South Africa handed Australia's Hockeyroos a 3-1 drubbing at Hartleyvale.
Investec SA squad: Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Pietie Coetzee, Marsha Marescia (co-captain), Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Quanita Bobbs, Tarryn Bright (all Western Province); Marcelle Keet (Amathole/Border); Lilian du Plessis, Phume Mbande, Dirkie Chamberlain, Nicolene Terblanche (all Northern Blues); Lenise Marais (co-captain), Kelly Madsen (both KZN Coastal Raiders); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West). – Sapa