23 May 2014
South Africa’s national hockey teams are heading into their last week of preparation ahead of the World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands. Apart from focused training sessions, the men’s and women’s teams have a number of warm-up matches lined up.
“The training and preparation is going to plan and our processes are on track,” Investec South Africa women’s hockey team logistics planner and goalkeeper coach Sheldon Rostron said in a statement on Thursday.
“We still have some more training coming up and it’s important that we get time on the stadium pitches so that we get used to the new surface and environment.”
To help them make that transition the SA women, who have moved into the tournament hotel, were due to train at the 15 000-seater stadium pitch, as well as the 5 000-capacity alternate pitch, where the World Cup matches will take place.
The South African women have been in training in The Netherlands since mid-May. Head coach Giles Bonnet’s SA charges face training matches in their build-up against the likes of double Olympic champions The Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and Italy.
“Regarding the training game [against the Netherlands on Wednesday night], we achieved some important goals for the match and were quite satisfied with our second-half performance, especially on key focus points in defence, structures and creating opportunities,” Rostron said.
The national goalkeeper coach said Tarryn Bright was outstanding in the midfield, and the collective effort of the defence and goalkeepers Sanani Mangisa and Anelle van Deventer was also impressive.
“We feel happy with our ability to match their speed and strength and this gives us a lot of confidence. There are still some things to tighten up, but on the whole our focus will be on areas in our structure as well as tactically.”
Head coach Fabian Gregory’s South African men’s team arrived in The Netherlands on Wednesday, with their first preparation match scheduled for Thursday evening against Dutch Hoofdklasse (Premier League) team Rotterdam HC after a three-hour training session.
South African men’s warm-up matches
Team manager Reggie Smith said the South Africans were also due to play Dutch Hoofdklasse team Pinoke on 27 May, India on 28 May, and The Netherlands on 30 May.
The South African men will, no doubt, be working on their defence as this facet, both in field play and at penalty corners, has let them down in the past, which has forced the side to work that much harder to get back into the game.