The South African Hockey Association has today released the names of the 18 men who will go to the FIH Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar in India for the 14th edition of the premier International Field Hockey tournament for Men.
South Africa will head to the tournament for the 6th time looking to outdo their previous best of 10th place, achieved in both 2010 and 1994. To do that they will have to get out of a tough group featuring the hosts India, the world number 3 Belgium and world number 11 Canada. The new format of the World Cup means that one victory could secure you a third place spot in the group where a crossover match awaits ahead of potential quarter finals. South Africa will most definitely be inspired by the journeys of Ireland and Spain at the Women’s Hockey World Cup earlier this year, in looking to cause an upset that would really cause waves in India.
In goals South Africa will call on the experience of Rassie Pieterse and Gowan Jones for the battle for number 1. Both were in fact in the South African squad for the 2014 edition so neither should be overwhelmed by the opportunity. European based duo Rhett Halkett and Austin Smith, both centurions for South Africa will lead the defensive line alongside 2018 IPT Player of the Tournament Mo Mea, 2018 PHL Player of the Tournament Jethro Eustice and of course U21 IPT victorious skipper Tyson Dlungwana.
If fans are excited about the defensive combinations available there is no doubt they will be absolutely salivating at the thought of Nic Spooner donning the green and gold again. The previous Hockey India League player is a star in Germany and his star quality is there for all to see. He is joined by arguably South Africa’s most consistent performer over the past 12 months in Tommy Hammond, as well as a man playing his best hockey in the past few years in Taylor Dart. Keenan Horne has continually impressed for club and province and gets the nod as well as the exciting Northern Blues man Peabo Lembethe. Of course the midfield will be anchored as always by national captain Tim Drummond, a man who shows you how the game should be played both on and off the pitch.
Up front the goal scoring form of Richard Pautz has made him a name that can’t be left out and he is joined by veteran striker Julian Hykes, who appears to be getting younger rather than older in the past 6 months. Another centurion in the team is Taine Paton who also featured at Holland 2014, and then the line-up is complete by the two most exciting young talents in the country. Big game goal scorer Bili Ntuli and the sensational hands of Dayaan Cassiem.
Coach Mark Hopkins shared his thoughts on the squad:
“The entire squad has focused on building our brand and culture off the pitch and our style on the pitch. I am extremely excited by the squad that is going to represent South Africa at the FIH Hockey World Cup, and humbled by the work behind the scenes to ensure we are as well prepared as possible. We have selected a squad that is able to play a style of hockey that we will get the most out of our talents and also compete against some of the best in the World.
It is critical that we continue to focus on developing our offensive and defensive strategies and execute our game plan consistently. The squad will be led by Tim Drummond and I am sure everyone will get behind him to ensure we deliver our expectations.”
South Africa’s World Cup group fixtures
28 November 2018 – India vs. South Africa
2 December 2018 – Canada vs. South Africa
8 December 2018 – Belgium vs. South Africa
South Africa’s World Cup squad (Caps after names)
- Tim Drummond (captain) - 131
- Dayaan Cassiem – 17
- Taylor Dart – 18
- Tyson Dlungwana – 18
- Jethro Eustice – 95
- Rhett Halkett – 148
- Tommy Hammond – 68
- Keenan Horne – 34
- Julian Hykes – 122
- Gowan Jones – GK – 42
- Peabo Lembethe – 0
- Mo Mea – 14
- Bili Ntuli – 26
- Taine Paton – 104
- Richard Pautz – 16
- Rassie Pieterse – GK – 133
- Austin Smith – 158
- Nic Spooner – 1