RANDBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 22, Pietie Coetzee of South Africa during the Investec Series Womens International Hockey match between South Africa and Spain on January 22, 2012 in Randburg, South Africa Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Cape Town – Investec South Africa women’s hockey team assistant coach Fabian Gregory has high praise for world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee.

“If there is one player you want to take a goal-scoring opportunity in the last few minutes, it must be be Pietie – she’s the ultimate professional and thrives under pressure,” was Gregory’s summation of Coetzee’s winner and her hat-trick goal in the electrifying 3-2 defeat of Belgium at Hartleyvale in Cape Town on Thursday night.

South Africa’s superstar took her tally to 253 goals in 256 Tests and her presence should ensure the girls in green and gold beat Azerbaijan today and Austria tomorrow (both 6pm) to win this World League round two competition.

“We missed 25 penalty corners in the 4-0 Test series loss to Belgium a week ago and in this game Pietie scored three from five. It is gratifying to see what we do on the training pitch materialise in a match situation,” said Gregory.

“It is remarkable how her teammates feed off Pietie’s confidence and the starring role of key players like Pietie and Sanani (Mangisa) means the supporting actors really come to the party, and this bodes well for the Investec Challenge matches at the beginning of next month against the likes of world No1 and 2012 Olympic Games gold medallists Holland,” Gregory added.

Belgium, who play Ghana today at 4pm and Azerbaijan tomorrow also at 4pm can only hope that SA lose to the outsiders and they win their remaining games – which is an unlikely scenario.

Gregory said captain Marsha Marescia, only the 10th player in the history of the women’s game to reach 300 Test caps, also brings much to the team, while goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa was in magnificent form in a clash that could have gone either way – had it not been for the Coetzee factor – while Tarryn Bright in midfield also produced a big performance.

SA squad: Quanita Bobbs, Tarryn Bright, Jade Mayne, Shelley Russell (all Western Province); Dirkie Chamberlain, Phume Mbande, Nicolene Terblanche (all Northern Blues); Pietie Coetzee, Marsha Marescia (capt), Bernie Coston, Lisa Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Sanani Mangisa (all Southern Gauteng); Sulette Damons (North West); Marcelle Keet (Amathole/Border); Izelle Lategan (Free State); Kelly Madsen, Lenise Marais (both KZN Coastal Raiders) – Supplied