9 July 2014
South Africa’s men’s and women’s hockey teams will be aiming to build on successful endings to the recent World Cup when they take part in the Investec Cup in London from Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the women open their challenge against Scotland, while the men’s first outing will be against Ireland.
With the Commonwealth Games starting in Glasgow on 23 July, the competition is an excellent opportunity for the South African teams to fine-tune their games in London.
The Investec Cup will also celebrate the opening of the new London Olympics 2012 legacy venue, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, which has now become England hockey’s national stadium.
England, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa, all Commonwealth Games contestants, make up the men’s line-up in London, while the women’s teams are also Commonwealth Games sides, namely England, Scotland, Wales and South Africa.
“We will only have one training here before the Scotland match so we be looking at getting our processes right in that game,” South African women’s captain Marsha Cox said on the bus to the venue on Tuesday afternoon.
World number 11 South Africa beat Japan, the world’s ninth-ranked team 2-0 to finish ninth at the World Cup and if they get can back into the groove quickly it will stand them in good stead. They also scored an impressive 4-1 win over England, who went into the tournament ranked third in the world.
Double Olympian defender Lenise Marais, so cruelly denied a World Cup experience after serious injury forced her out at the eleventh hour, returns to the women’s team.
Tough Irish challenge
Looking ahead to his side’s opener, South African men’s captain Austin Smith said after arriving at the team’s accommodation at East London University (ELU) that the Irish punch above their weight.
“The last time we met, before the Olympics in 2012, they beat us, and we will only have had one training session (Wednesday night), so we will be focusing more on getting ourselves familiar with the game plan and carrying on where we left off during the 6-2 win over Malaysia at the World Cup in June,” said Smith.
He also said former South African men’s assistant coach Craig Fulton, who is now the head of the Ireland coaching staff, will be familiar with the South African style of play.
South African Investec Cup fixtures (SA time)