The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team take their Olympic Games preparation a step further when they tackle Great Britain, then Scotland before taking take part in the Investec London Cup over the next three weeks in the United Kingdom.
Captain Marsha Marescia’s squad have been working hard in Amsterdam this past month and the team that will take part in the three-week UK trip will be named Wednesday, and the selected players will then fly across to London.
Head coach Giles Bonnet’s team face world number four great Britain in two unofficial Tests on Thursday and Friday, the first at the official London 2012 hockey venue, the Riverbank Arena in Olympic Park, London at 3.30 pm (SA time) Thursday, before facing GB at Bisham Abbey at the same time Friday. This is the actual GB Olympic team, the first and only team to be named so far.
SA’s world number 12 team then move on the Clydesdale Hockey Club in Glasgow and a five-Test official series against world number 18 Scotland. The matches are at 3.30 pm (SA time) Sunday, the same time Monday, at 8.30 pm next Wednesday, the same time on the Thursday and at 3.30 pm next Friday.
The girls in green and gold return to Chiswick in London for the Investec London Cup that features world number one the Netherlands , world three Germany, GB, world seven Australia and world 14 Ireland.
SA face GB on Tuesday, June 5 at 5.30 pm (SA time); Germany at 9 pm on June 6; before the semi-finals on Saturday, June 9, and Sunday’s classification matches and the gold and bronze medal matches.
Meanwhile, the matches in the Olympic Games women’s competition, which is from July 29 to August 10, and the men’s event from July 30 to August 11, both at the Riverbank Arena on the Olympic Park, were announced Tuesday.
Based on world rankings, the 12 teams in both tournaments are divided into two pools of six, and each team plays every other in their pool. The top two teams in each pool qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners then going head-to-head for the gold medal. The other teams in the two groups play each other to determine final placings.
Women’s Pool A features Netherlands (world ranking 1), Great Britain (4), China (5), Korea (8), Japan (9), Belgium (16) and Women’s Pool B features Argentina (2), Germany (3), New Zealand (6), Australia (7), USA (10), South Africa (12).
Men’s Pool A features Australia (1), Great Britain (4), Spain (5), Pakistan (8), Argentina (9), South Africa (12) while Pool B features Germany (2), Netherlands (3), Korea (6), New Zealand (7), India (10), Belgium (11).
The men’s and women’s events only see the top two in each pool playing in cross-pool matches; the semi-finals. The other sides play directly for final placings according to where they finished in their pool.
For example, fifth in Pool A plays fifth in Pool B for ninth and 10th places and so on. This makes pool matches absolutely critical, as there are no second chances in cross-pools.
The women’s semi-finals are on August 8 with the bronze and gold medal matches on Friday, August 10. The men’s semis and medal matches are a day later respectively.
SA POOL MATCHES (all SA time)
Women: July 29 vs Argentina (5 pm); July 31 vs New Zealand (9.30 am); August 2 vs Germany (5 pm); August 4 vs Australia (9.30 am); August 6 vs USA (11.45 am).
Men: July 30 vs Australia (11.45 am); August 1 vs Great Britain (5 pm); August 3 vs Spain (8 pm); August 5 vs Pakistan (11.45 am); August 7 vs Argentina (2.45 pm).
Jon Cook will be reporting on the SA women’s matches on the UK tour from May 25 to June 10. Free action photos will be available from most matches. There may be some problems getting copy and photos straight after each match; will keep you posted.