The FIH Hockey World Cup takes place in Bhubaneswar in India from the 28 November until the 16 December this year. With the FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup completed this past weekend, the eyes of the International hockey audience will shift to India for the 14th edition of the men’s showpiece.
South Africa will be taking part in its 6th World Cup with a best finish of 10th achieved in 1994 and in 2010 when the World Cup was hosted in Delhi. With that in mind today South African Hockey announce a greater 29-man squad from which the final 18 will be picked following the completion of the South African Men’s IPT in Pietermaritzburg.
The new coaching team, appointed for before the Commonwealth Games and headed by coach Mark Hopkins, have adopted a transparent and informative culture within South African Hockey and it was refreshing to see regular discussions between Mark and the provincial coaches throughout the tournament. Mark firmly believes that the team selected should not just be heroes on the field, but most definitely heroes off it as well.
Convenor of Selectors Allistair Fredericks shared his thoughts on the squad; “The selection process was a robust process as the four selectors (Allistair Fredericks, Mark Sanders, Mark Hopkins and Devon van der Merwe) have identified quality players from which coach Mark Hopkins will have a talent pool to work with. We have put together an experienced squad with a great group of youngsters. Every player at the tournament was watched and considered for selection-based form at this IPT, not because of past performances. This is a fantastic group of players and a squad that we are excited about. We also know that it will be an incredibly challenging process to finalise the 18 for the World Cup, but we are looking forward to it immensely!”
Tim Drummond, who captained South Africa in the recent Commonwealth Games and World League Semi-Finals, has been reappointed as the captain for World Cup squad.
Rassie Pieterse earns a call up on the back of an outstanding IPT, where he was named keeper of the tournament, and he is joined by the IPT Player of the Tournament, Mo Mea. Jared Cass, a superb defender for the SA Invitational U21 side is also rewarded with a place in the 29-man squad.
The experienced trio of Rhett Halket, Julian Hykes and Jonty Robinson all return having featured in the FIH World League Semi-Finals last year but missed out on the Commonwealth Games. Their collective experience of about 400 combined caps will be a massive lift to younger players like Dayaan Cassiem, Ryan Julius and Nqobile Ntuli, but also to the squad.
Paebo Lembethe, who captained the Northerns Blues to fourth place in the IPT, earns his first call-up, while the likes of Taylor Dart, Clinton Panther, Lance Louw and Richard Pautz are given opportunities to add to their caps for the National team.
Of course, a major coup for the selection team is the availability of Nic Spooner, who showed consistently in Pietermaritzburg the class that has seen him win the EHL and included in the Hockey India League in the past.
The selectors have also taken the opportunity to name a further 12 squad members who form part of the initial plans for the next 18 months or so but will not be used for the World Cup. These include some exciting talents like Tevin Kok, Rusten Abrahams, Andrew Hobson and Mark Chong.
Next on the agenda for the men will be the Premier Hockey League starting on Saturday at Randburg Astro turf. Further announcements about camps and fixtures will be made on www.sahockey.co.za
SA Hockey Men’s World Cup Squad 2018*
*Squad will be trimmed to 18 players for the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup
** Caps as per the FIH TMS system at 06-08-2018