No sooner had the dust settled on the FIH Hockey Series Finals in India than South African hockey eyes switched to Spain for the Valencia based Hockey Series Final. The tournament is a Road to Tokyo Olympic Qualifying event, where the top 2 teams progress to the Olympic Qualifying Matches later this year.
For South Africa’s Hockey Women, there is the added incentive that SASCOC will be using the event as a measure on the competitiveness of the side for inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics, with the goal of a top 2 finish to keep Olympic dreams alive.
Before they headed off to Spain, the team were given a fantastic send off by Supergroup at Bryanston Country Club, where Supergroup CEO Peter Mountford urged the team to take the opportunity and “Make it Count!” This has quickly become a mantra for the team ahead of the tournament with #MakeItCount featuring prominently in the individual’s social media profiles.
Supergroup South Africa have been in Spain for almost a week preparing for the tournament that starts tomorrow. It’s the first major tournament for Robin van Ginkel as head coach as well as the first for the team under the leadership of Erin Hunter. The beginning of the process offers exciting opportunity and the likes of Bianca Woods, Hannah Pearce, Nomnikelo Veto and Robyn Johnson will look to take full opportunity after recently making their debuts.
South Africa will open their tournament with a game against Wales today at 17:00. They will then take on Italy at 19:00 tomorrow before ending off the group stage against Thailand on Saturday at 11:00. The team that finishes first in the pool will progress straight to the semi-finals while 2nd and 3rd will move to the Quarter Final stage.
The Italians will prove a tough encounter after their impressive showing at the World Cup last year where they made it to the crossover stage. Roberta Carta is a fantastic coach who oversaw victories over China and Korea at the World cup and with Chiara Tiddi they have superb experience in the camp as they look to qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time.
Wales earned their place in this tournament by finishing third at the FIH Open Series in Lithuania. Although they cannot qualify for the Olympic Games due to England being the nominated country Great Britain’s Olympic Qualification pathway, the ranking points up for grabs will be enough motivation for the Welsh squad.
The last team in the South African pool are Thailand who finished second at the FIH Open Series in Malaysia. Kornkanok Sanpoung showed her goalscoring prowess in that competition and will be pivotal if Bae Young Wook’s team are to cause an upset in Spain.
In the other pool the hosts Spain are joined by Canada, coached Giles Bonnet the ex-South African coach, Belarus and fellow African side Namibia.
Although the matches will not be televised on Supersport, you can stream all the games at FIH Live. The links for each game in the group stage is below:
FIH Hockey Series Finals – South African Fixtures
19 June – Supergroup SA vs. Wales – https://fih.live/view/event/48845
20 June – Supergroup SA vs. Italy – https://fih.live/view/event/48848
22 June – Supergroup SA vs. Thailand – https://fih.live/view/event/48948
24 June – Crossovers
26 June – Semi-Finals
27 June – Final
Supergroup South Africa Squad
Erin Hunter (captain), Phumi Mbande (Vice-captain) (GK), Stephanie Baxter, Quanita Bobbs, Kara Botes, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lisa Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Celia Evans, Tarryn Glasby, Robyn Johnson, Marizen Marais, Mmathshepo Modipane (GK), Kristen Paton, Hannah Pearce, Izelle Verster, Nomnikelo Veto, Bianca Wood
Photos – Rayder Media