South Africa in action against Australia
11 Oct 2007 16:43
The South African women’s team have an opportunity to pit themselves against one of the best teams in the world next week, when they take on Australia in the three Test Spar Challenge series.
South Africa last beat Australia in the pre-Olympic Games tournament in Athens in 2004 -- a tournament which South Africa won. However, since then, Australia have been dominant, with South Africa unable to get the better of the team from Down Under. Australia, ranked fourth in the world, won the pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing in August, while South Africa came home with the wooden spoon.
But Proteas captain Marsha Marescia is looking forward to the challenge. “Australia are not unbeatable,” she said. “They are fourth in the world, but New Zealand, who are ranked below them, beat them in the final of the Oceania Olympic Games qualifier, so we know they can be beaten, and we think it’s time we did that ourselves.
“This is a great opportunity for us to see how we measure up against Australia. We have been working very hard, training in a 22-member squad in preparation for the Olympic Games next year, and everyone in the squad will now be working even harder as they try to stake a claim for a place in the team. “Also, we will be playing at home, and that always gives us a boost. We enjoy playing at home, where we have crowd support, and also it gives us an opportunity to get more people interested in the game we love.”
Coach Jenny King is also very enthusiastic about the Challenge series. “We need as much international experience as possible. Just getting out on the pitch and playing in match conditions helps us to prepare,” continued King. “We have a fairly young team, but the team is developing quickly through an abundance of recent International fixtures.
“Any international experience is good, but it is even better to play against teams that are stronger than us. We learn more from a tough defeat than from an easy victory. The girls really give their all when they play against the stronger teams.
“We love playing against Australia,” she added. “They are highly competitive and always challenge us. Thus a good performance against them always seems more satisfying than any other team we play against. I think it will be a great series.”
The Tests will be played at the Randburg Hockey Stadium at 19:00 on Wednesday 17 October, at the Tshwane University of Technology at 19:00 on Friday 19 October and at the Randburg Hockey Stadium at 15:30 on Saturday 30 October.
Source: BLD Communications / SPAR Group Ltd / South African Hockey Association