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Ken Borland

Bonnet opts for continuity and pace

Posted on May 07, 2014 by Ken

South Africa's women's hockey World Cup squad

Investec South Africa women’s hockey coach Giles Bonnet said on Tuesday that he had chosen the World Cup squad based on the need for continuity and pace.

And so the same 18-strong squad that bowed out in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge – their only defeat of the tournament – last week will do duty at the World Cup in Holland from May 31 to June 15.

“We’re staying with continuity, although we’ve brought players in through the years, introducing eight U21 players since 2010. We’ve been exposing players for the last four years, bringing in future stars all the time, and we’ve played 150 games since the last World Cup, which was only possible because of the support and sponsorship of Investec.

“So the squad includes one triple Olympian [captain Marsha Cox (nee Marescia)], five double Olympians [goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa, Shelley Russell, Kathleen Taylor, Tarryn Bright, Lenise Marais] and seven who went to the last Olympics,” Bonnet said at the announcement of the squad at the sponsor’s headquarters in Sandton on Tuesday.

The squad includes 13 players with more than a hundred caps, while only goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer (10) has less than 50 appearances for South Africa.

Pietie Coetzee, arguably South Africa’s greatest women’s hockey player, is the glaring omission from the squad, but Bonnet said she had made herself unavailable, along with the injured Jade Mayne, because she did not feel physically up to the tournament.

“Pietie doesn’t feel in shape to play in the World Cup, which basically involves running 10km every game and that has a major impact on the body. Hockey these days is about speed and endurance. We have very quick players in this squad,” Bonnet said.

Endurance is epitomised by captain Cox, for whom international hockey must be like a drug as she looks to add to her 332 caps in Holland.

“The Champions Challenge was successful, getting bronze and laying a good platform for the World Cup. We were extremely disappointed after losing in a semi-final to Ireland that we dominated, but stats don’t win you games.

“But sometimes you need to fail before you succeed and we’ve gained confidence from all the chances we created in that tournament [a tournament-leading 60 in six games]. Realistically we’re aiming to finish in the top eight in the World Cup and, with the style of hockey we’re currently playing and all the experience in the squad, that’s in reach,” Cox said.

Waiting for South Africa, however, are three of the tournament favourites in their first three games – Argentina, Germany and England – and Bonnet is hoping to get a draw from one of those powerhouses before taking full points off China and the USA.

“It will be difficult. You want to go into a World Cup with confidence and build your way into the tournament, but hopefully we can make that middle pool,” the vastly experienced Bonnet said.

Mangisa said she was confident the team would make a good start to the tournament, whatever the opposition.

“We know all the games will be tough because, along with the Olympics, this is the pinnacle of hockey. We’ve learnt from the London Olympics and we won’t repeat that bad start. We have to start well and we’ve grown a lot in the last two years. With all these caps, we can’t have a repeat … we’ll think ‘hang on there, we’ve been here before’ and tighten up. Unlike Liverpool last night,” Mangisa said.

Squad (caps in brackets): Sanani Mangisa (92), Ilse Davids (122), Marsha Cox (332), Shelley Russell (212), Dirkie Chamberlain (168), Lisa Deetleefs (187), Nicolene Terblanche (145), Kathleen Taylor (214), Tarryn Bright (263), Sulette Damons (149), Lenise Marais (228), Bernie Coston (94), Anelle van Deventer (10), Marcelle Manson (nee Keet, 133), Kelly Madsen (113), Celia Evans (89), Lillian du Plessis (58), Quanita Bobbs (56).


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