SA hockey women fine-tune for London
5 July 2012
South African women's hockey coach Giles Bonnet will be using his charges' pre-Olympic tour to perfect the side's direct game plan against some of the world's leading hockey powers.
Captain Marsha Marescia's team plays unofficial tests against world number one and reigning Olympic Games champions, the Netherlands, in Arnhem beginning on Thursday before taking on world number four Great Britain in London.
After that, the team heads to Bremen in Germany to play the hosts, New Zealand and Belgium – who will all be at London 2012 – in a Four Nations event.
'A very direct style of play'
"We introduced a very direct style of play in the five-test series against Scotland in Glasgow last time out and continued at the Investec London Cup," said Bonnet ahead of the team flying to Amsterdam late on Tuesday night.
"This brought many scoring chances and penalty corners. We will be working hard to perfect this style. Linked to this will be a control game, which we will introduce on this tour in July.
"This we have not shown yet," he continued. "The control game still allows us to manage offensive pressure and guide teams into areas we are confident of playing in, and this is a key approach from us as a team; we wish to counter at all times pressure with pressure."
Bonnet said that in the games against Great Britain and the Netherlands (four unofficial test matches in all) the team will introduce new tactics and test these, as both teams are not in South Africa's pool at London 2012.
"This gives us a great moment to finally test aspects we will introduce against Argentina and Germany (in the pool stage in London)," he commented.
"We have spent a lot of time to create top-quality matches in our preparation period and since the Investec Cup (5 June) we will play nine matches against world-class teams, all of whom have ambitions to play for medals in London."
Bonnet said that all teams have made their full selections now and he wishes to see that South Africa can compete statistically in the warm-up games, that the team's penalty corners are effective, that they do not get exposed on speed, and that in a very tough 12-day training and match (seven games) schedule on tour the team is competitive in the final 10 minutes of all games.
He added that the indvidual form of the players was also important and said: "If we can achieve these objectives, they will generate a lot of confidence in our approach to the final nine-day preparation in London before our first game against Argentina on 29 July.
"The final result (in matches on tour) is not material at this stage of the preparation."SOUTH AFRICAN SQUAD
Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Tarryn Bright, Kathleen Taylor, Shelley Russell, Illse Davids, Lauren Penny (all Western Province); Dirkie Chamberlain, Nicolene Terblanche, Sanani Mangisa (all Northern Blues); Marsha Marescia (capt), Pietie Coetzee, Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Jen Wilson, Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders); Lesley-Ann George (Free State); Sulette Damons (North West)
Management: Giles Bonnet (head coach), Les Galloway (manager), Fabian Gregory (assistant coach), Carla Lodewijks (physio), Adrian Carolan (video), Phil Estourgie (specialist trainer), Sheldon Rostron (goalkeeper coach), Gijs Ten Kate (peak performance coach), Jan Stappenbelt (physical trainer)
South African pre-Olympics matches
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