The South African Hockey Men were looking to dust off the bruises and shake off the opening games performance at the FIH Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar. Having seen a dominant performance against USA produce a 2-0 defeat, the South Africans would have been keen to put in a better performance against Japan.

The two nations had met at the FIH World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg in 2017, where the South Africans won 4-2, but since that South Africa have played just 22 test matches, while the Japanese were playing their 61st since that Johannesburg encounter. The African champions were also featuring the second new coach since that tournament as Garreth Ewing has only recently been appointed with this his 5th test to his counterpart Siegfried Aikman in charge of his 66th.

South Africa also had to be aware that the Japanese ranking is only as low as it is due to historic non-competing in certain tournaments with heavy ranking points. Their victory at the 2018 Asian Cup underlined their commitment to developing their game ahead of the home-based Tokyo Olympics next year.

They started like they were the favourites and produced a professional display in holding the South Africans at bay and creating good chances with regularity. They were unlucky to find Rassie Pieterse in form as they took certain shots, but eventually broke the deadlock just before half time when Kentaro Fukuda expertly deflected past a helpless Siya Nolutshungu in the SA goals.

Although SA created a few chances, they were limited to much less dangerous possession than against USA and only three penalty corners in the game. Japan also had double the amount of circle penetrations as the South Africans in the 60 minutes. As South Africa sought to get back into the game they left gaps at the back and Kazuma Maruta finished off a counter attack after being left unmarked. There was nothing Pieterse could do in the goals for South Africa.

South Africa did pull a late goal back but unfortunately the strike from Tevin Kok, who had flown in to replace Dayaan Cassiem, was ruled to have crossed the line only after the siren. The decision means that South Africa are still without a goal after their first two group games.

For South Africa its is a simple equation for them regarding this competition. On Monday they will play Mexico for the rights to finish third in the group and earn a spot in the Quarter Final cross overs. Should they lose that game their tournament will be over.

With each game Ewing will learn more about his team, his combinations and his processes, but also the pressure that comes with being the coach of the South African Hockey Men!

South Africa 0-2 Japan (Fukuda 26’ & Murata 45’)

Image - Hockey India

The South African Hockey Men returned to the scene of the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup, the Kalinga Stadium, with a view on creating better memories and beginning their Road to Tokyo at the FIH Hockey Series Final. They opened their campaign this morning against United States of America.

With the FIH Hockey Series Final an Olympic qualifying event, the top 2 nations qualify for the Olympic Qualifying matches later this year to earn a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the ultimate carrot dangling between all teams the tournament promised to deliver superb excitement and tons of anxiety for good measure!

The opening quarter saw both sides play a bit on their back foot as both looked to not concede an early goal, but it was South Africa with the best early chance as Matt de Sousa fired wide after some good work. In the second quarter South Africa then raised the tempo and intensity and struck the post through the impressive Nic Spooner. In fact, South Africa did everything right except score in a quarter that saw USA Keeper Jonathan Klages the standout player in the half.

Despite all the penalty corners the South Africans won, they could not convert as USA eventually took the lead controversially at their own penalty corner when the ball was put home by Christian de Angelis after it appeared to strike his body. With no video referrals, the South Africans had to accept the call and charge up the other end.

As the Americans sat further back South Africa sieged forward but they were met time after time by the type of wall that would make an American president proud. The South Africans were then caught on the counter to rub salt into a very fresh wound and Paul Singh made no mistake to fire home. It deflated a South African side who will be left to rue the opportunities missed, having had three times as many penalty corners

South Africa will have very little time to wallow in disappointment as focus will quickly shift to the second game of the group stage against Japan on Saturday. The importance of this game has rocketed up as the tournament moves forward. And South Africa would definitely like to start creating happy memories at a venue that has frustrated more than pleased so far.

 South Africa 0-2 USA (De Angelis 47’ & Singh 58’)

All pictures courtesy of Hockey India

When the saying “time flies” was first phrased, the relevant person must have had the build up to an International Hockey tournament in mind because somehow, we are on the eve of the FIH Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar. The tournament is a Road to Tokyo Olympic Qualifying event, where the top 2 team progress to the Olympic Qualifying Matches later this year.

For South Africa’s Hockey Men, 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.

South Africa’s Men have been in India for a couple of days and have prepared with two warm up games against India (3-1 defeat) and Poland (2-0 victory) ahead of the tournament. This was on the back of a successful three test home series a Randburg where they won all three encounters without conceding a goal.  

Garreth Ewing has also made two changes to the squad initially announced. Before travelling Mo Mea withdrew and was replaced by Owen Mvimbi, while Dayaan Cassiem suffered a concussion in the friendly against India and for medical reasons has been withdrawn from the series. Tevin Kok has flown to India to join up with the team as a replacement.

South Africa were of course at the same venue in December playing at the FIH Hockey World Cup and speaking to the press in India Rassie Pieterse shared his thoughts: “The World Cup was not a good outing for us because as per our world ranking, we should have finished at least in No.8 - No.12 position but there were a lot of positives we have taken from that event and the team is confident of a good show here because we are familiar with this atmosphere, the stadium and the crowd and would like to use it to our advantage.”

South Africa are currently ranked 16th in the world but showed in bits and pieces at the FIH Hockey World Cup last year that they can thrill. In Nic Spooner and Bili Ntuli they have two men who know how to score on the biggest stage, while the experience of Tim Drummond, Jethro Eustice and Austin Smith will be pivotal in the chase for top 2.

South Africa’s first opponent will be USA, currently ranked 25th in the world. USA secured their place at the series when they won the FIH Open Series in Salamanca in Mexico. They are coached by Dutchman Rutger Wiese. Aki Kaeppeler, who plays club hockey Mannheimer HC, will be someone to keep an eagle eye on at penalty corner time while HC Almeerse player Deegan Huisman carries a big goal threat.

As far as I can go back on the FIH Tournament Management Site, there has not been a meeting between the SA Hockey Men and the USA Men. It promises to be a classic at 5:00 am South African time live on Supersport 8.

FIH Hockey Series Finals – South African Fixtures

06 June – South Africa vs. USA
08 June – South Africa vs. Japan
10 June – South Africa vs. Mexico
12 June – Crossovers
14 June – Semi-Finals
15 June – Final

SA Hockey Mens Squad

Tim Drummond (Captain), Matthew Brown, Taylor Dart, Tyson Dlungwana, Jethro Eustice, Keenan Horne, Ryan Julius, Tevin Kok, Nduduzo Lembethe, Owen Mvimbi, Siyavuya Nolutshungu, Nqobile Ntuli, Richard Pautz, Rassie Pieterse, Austin Smith, Matthew de Sousa, Nicholas Spooner & Alex Stewart.

Pictures - Hockey India

The South African Hockey Men's side will depart for India and the Hockey series Final on the back of a satisfying performance at Randburg Astro against the Namibian Men. The South Africans, using a number of younger players including debutant Sam Mvimbi, were professional in the performance against a well coached Namibian side. 

After winning the opening two tests 4-0 and 5-0 respectively, the Lads made it three out of three with another 5-0 victory. It was a very frustrating opening half as South Africa were denied any goal mouth action by a superb display by the Namibians led fantastically by Ernst Jacobs. 

But the resistance was broken in the third quarter with South Africa netting not once or twice but four times to tear the wind out of the Namibian sails in a devastating five minute spell. Owen Mvimbi scored superbly in the 39th minute to open the scoring for the hosts, it was a fine finish from one of the more senior players in the squad. 

The second from South Africa was particularly pleasing for the management team, but also for the hockey public as a beautiful team move broke into the D and Nqobile Ntuli added to his impressive haul of international goals with a very well placed finish on the reverse stick. A minute later and he added a second made by great pressure from Tevin Kok. Ntuli was only too happy to home the ball into the empty net. 

Richard Pautz then completed the dominant spell getting his name on the scoresheet finishing off a wonderful piece of hockey from Tevin Kok with a sublime deflection to give Strauss no chance in the Namibian goal. South Africa added a fifth when Keenan Horne pounced on a loose ball after a save from Strauss. 

So three games, three wins and three clean sheets. Coach Ewing will look to his team to take more of their short corner opportunities and build on the progress that they have made in India. But all in all it was a job well done! 

Photo | Robert Swanepoel | www.runridedive.com

24 hours after the opening test match between South Africa and Namibia, the two teams locked horns again at Randburg Astro. Namibia were unchanged, with Brynn Cleak still unavailable due to hospitalization, while South Africa had the services of the exciting Dayaan Cassiem back.

With the excitement of international hockey back on South African, a decent crowd were at Randburg Astro for the action, while a couple hundred more were streaming on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

South Africa, in the reverse white kit, were looking to build on their display from the opening game and particularly work on their penalty corner conversion, while Namibia would have liked to be more competitive in the attacking third while maintaining their resolute defence.

Namibia were fantastic in denying the South Africans opportunities in the early stages of the game while having a bit more possession than in the opening test. The hosts were left to half chances that their neighbours were denying either through some courageous defending or superb goalkeeping. At the same time Liam Hermanus and Dakota Hansen were proving to be massive thorns in the South African sides.

South Africa eventually snuck in the opening goal of the game when Jethro Eustice fired in a low penalty corner. South Africa held a 1-0 lead at the half-time break, a score that fairly represented the first half of the game.

Alex Stewart, playing in his fourth game for his country, scored South Africa’s second from a good penalty corner variation. The youngster was delighted as it was his first goal for his country. With seconds left in the third chukka Keenan Horne converted another penalty corner variation that really enthused the crowd.

Dayaan Cassiem had been growing into the game and his presence was felt in the final quarter as he first scored a goal before assisting Matt de Sousa with the final goal of the game. Like Stewart earlier in the game it was de Sousa’s first for his country and the team were delighted.

Once again there were massive positives for Garreth Ewing and his team as they continue to build on combinations towards the FIH Hockey Series Final. The penalty corner looked more dangerous, the younger players are taking their opportunities to put themselves in the picture going forward. Namibia have also offered a valuable opposition, hopefully leading to more test matches between the neighbours.

The final game of the series takes place on Thursday at 19:00.

The Garreth Ewing Era of South African Hockey got off to a winning start as the hosts defeated their African neighbours 4-0 at Randburg Astro on Monday night. The South African side marked several changes from the Hockey Series Final squad due to availability including Rassie Pieterse taking the captains armband and Sam Mvimibi earning his first cap for South Africa.

Iconically this was the first ever test series between South Africa and Namibia, having only met at African Cup competitions before this. It’s a great follow up to the statements made by Garreth after being appointed coach in his conversations with the Hockey 24 Seven podcast regarding playing more test matches against Southern African opposition.

South Africa started well on a cool evening in Johannesburg and Owen Mvimbi, playing in his 33rd match for the country, took advantage of a defensive error to strike with a superb tomahawk into the bottom right corner. They made it 2-0 just before the end of chukka as Bili Ntuli superbly stole in and finished superbly passed DJ Strauss.

South Africa had a significant amount of possession and were managing the Namibian counter well. They were also creating moments of danger in attack without making Strauss make too many saves disappointingly. They did get a third before half time, when Ryan Julius, back from a good club season in Europe, created an easy finish for Ntuli to get his brace.

Keenan Horne, South Africa’s vice-captain on the night, made it 4-0 in the 37th minute and perhaps surprisingly that’s where the scoring ended. Richard Pautz, Tyson Dlungwana, Jethro Eustice and Tevin Kok all created big opportunities but were denied by a wonderful display from the Namibian rear-guard.

The result was a pleasing result for Springs and his team, with a happiness with how the experienced players performed, while the young stars given an opportunity where highly impressive with the likes of Tevin Kok, Sam Mvimbi and Andrew Hobson all impressing at different times.

The second test match will take place at 19:00 on Tuesday night at Randburg Astro before the series completes on Thursday at the same time. All matches will be streamed live on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

 

The South African Hockey Association have today congratulated Peter Wright and Michelle Joubert on their selection to the FIH Pro Series Grand Final Series

With about 50 days to go until the start of the finale of the League, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has appointed the Officials (Umpires, Umpires Managers and Match Managers/Judges) who will be involved at the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) next month (27-30 June). South Africa's Peter Wright is one of the five umpires selected for the men while Michelle Joubert is one of the five umpires selected for the Women. 

Although the South Africans teams have not competed in the 2019 FIH Pro League, the umpiring teams and technical officials have continued to wave the South African Flag with pride. Wright, Joubert, Sean Rapaport, Annelize Rostron, Marelize de Klerk, Clive McMurray and Marie van Rensburg have all been called on at different times throughout the tournament with great success. It will also come as no surprise to hockey lovers in South Africa as Joubert has continued to perform at a high level after umpiring the 2016 Olympic Games final, while Wright has risen to the top of the game in recent years. 

Wright earned the Golden Whistle Award (100 tests) last year, becoming the third South African Man to receive it after his brother John in 2006 and Deon Nel in 2015. Michelle Joubert herself earned the golden whistle award in 2015 joining Marelize de Klerk (2004) as the two South African Women to have earned the award. 

SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni congratulated both on their selections.

"We are incredibly proud of the high standard of umpires we produce in this country and the continued performance of Peter and Michelle on the international stage. They are both consumate umpires with a fantastic quality and role models in our umpiring community. We wish them well for the FIH Pro League Grand Final series, we know they will do the country proud!"

The South African Hockey Association paid tribute to the retiring Rhett Halkett.

“SA Hockey is incredibly thankful and proud of the service of the game from Rhett. Having played for South Africa on 157 occasions Rhett always played with a grit and determination that is the embodiment of the South African spirit. We wish Rhett all the best for his future endeavours and have no doubt that he will be success wherever he goes.” Shared SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni.

Rhett was named as the 2016 South African Hockey Player of the Year and has represented South Africa 157 times. Included in those caps was a selection of the top hockey tournaments. Rhett played in three Hockey World Cups (2010, 2014 & 2018), 2 Commonwealth Games (2014 & 2018) and of course the London Olympic Games in 2012. He also competed in and won four African Cup of Nations.

His abilities on the field saw him offered a contract in Europe a decade ago and in his time there he has played in 4 seasons in the Dutch top league, the Hoofdklasse, and 5 Bundesliga seasons with Mannheimer and now Hamburg. He has also appeared in two editions of club hockey’s finest competition the Euro Hockey League.

“There were few things that gave you as much of a sense of comfort watching hockey as having Rhett as your last line of defence,” shared SA Hockey Media Officer Tyron Barnard, “he had a superb ability to read the game and make interceptions, while his short corner defending offered many students the textbook approach to the game. I also think there are many strikers in the world that will not miss the sight of Rhett taking on kicking back duties!”

The South African Hockey Association would like to thank Rhett for his years of service and wish him well for the future.

#ThankYouRhett

The South African Hockey Association paid tribute to Julian Hykes who has announced his retirement from International Hockey. Hykes last appearance for South Africa was at the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup in India in December.  

“Julian has been an inspirational servant for the game of Hockey in South Africa. He has served the country fantastically well and has been a great role model having played most of his domestic hockey for both Border Hockey and Southern Gauteng at the top level. Thank you for your service and commitment to the game in South Africa Boetie and for the inspiration that you have been for youngsters in our country”, shared SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni.

Julian, or Boetie as he is known, was a win for hockey as the talented youngster was making waves at rugby and cricket, before broken ankles led him to choosing hockey. He then rose through the ranks through Border Hockey before eventually rising to represent South Africa. Something he went on to do 129 times.

Hykes has represented South Africa at the 2010, 2014 & 2018 Hockey World Cups, the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and of course the 2012 London Olympic Games. He is also the second highest goal scorer in the Premier Hockey League history, proving instrumental for the Addo Elephants throughout, and scored arguably one of the finest goals ever scored in South African Hockey at the 2018 IPT.

“There were few things more exciting to see as the one-handed break from Julian for South Africa,” shared SA Hockey Media Officer Tyron Barnard, “his turn of pace was sensational, and you always knew that while he was on the field South Africa had a chance to score. His signature reverse stick has inspired a whole generation of strikers for sure!”

The South African Hockey Association would like to thank Julian for his contribution to the game of hockey and wish him all the best for the future.

#ThankYouBoetie

The South African Hockey Association has today announced the SA Men’s side that will take part in the FIH Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar from the 6-15 June 2019. The tournament will be the first under the stewardship of Garreth Ewing with the goal of trying to finish in the top 2 to qualify for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.

South Africa will be in Pool B alongside USA, Mexico and Japan. With India, Poland, Russia and Uzbekistan competing in Pool A. The top team from each pool progresses to the Semi-Finals directly while the teams in 2nd and 3rd play a crossover Quarter Final.

Ewing has taken the opportunity to call up a few players who missed out on the 2018 FIH World Cup at the same venue. Siya Nolutshungu returns to the line-up alongside Ryan Julius, Alex Stewart and Matt de Sousa. Matt Brown, who is lethal at penalty corner time, will get the opportunity to earn his first cap for his country. With Rhett Halkett and Julian Hykes having announced their retirement from the International game, there is an opportunity for others to cement their spots in the squad.

“Selection was a tough series of decisions because there were a lot of conversations between the selection panel and me regarding player availability. I am sure that some guys will be thrilled, and some will be disappointed.” Shared Ewing, “I’m happy with the balance of the team and our depth in terms of penalty corner attack. Some players will be in slightly different positional roles which I believe will be mentally stimulating for them. I’m very positive about this group both in terms of its talent and the balance between experience and youthful energy. I believe we will compete well and take a positive step in the team’s process.”

South African Men’s Hockey Squad

No

Player

Province

Caps

1

Tim Drummond (Captain)

KZN Raiders

134

2

Matthew Brown

Southern Gauteng

0

3

Dayaan Cassiem

Western Province

24

4

Taylor Dart

Southern Gauteng

25

5

Tyson Dlungwana

Northern Blues

25

6

Jethro Eustice

KZN Raiders

102

7

Keenan Horne

Western Province

41

8

Ryan Julius

Western Province

24

9

Nduduzo Lembethe

Northern Blues

7

10

Mohammed Mea

KZN Raiders

21

11

Siyavuya Nolutshungu

Eastern Province

6

12

Nqobile Ntuli

KZN Raiders

33

13

Richard Pautz

Southern Gauteng

19

14

Rassie Pieterse

Southern Gauteng

140

15

Austin Smith

Western Province

165

16

Matthew de Sousa

KZN Raiders

1

17

Nicholas Spooner

Southern Gauteng

8

18

Alex Stewart

Western Province

2

*Caps per FIH Tournament Management System at 08 May 2019, Province is most recently represented province.

Fixtures – Hockey Series Final

06 June – South Africa vs. USA
08 June – South Africa vs. Japan
10 June – South Africa vs. Mexico
12 June – Crossovers
14 June – Semi-Finals
15 June – Final