The SPAR South African ladies touched down in a freezing cold Zagreb yesterday, ahead of their first ever venture into the Croatian Cup. Following on from the successful SPAR test series against Zimbabwe, the Croatia Cup is seen as an apt opportunity to begin the journey to the next Indoor Hockey World Cup.
The Croatian Cup will be contested between the hosts Croatia, SPAR South Africa, Slovenia and Slovakia. Each team will also play a non-test match against a Croatia “League Select” side. The finals and semi-finals will take place on Sunday, with a winner being crowned.
For Coach Lennie Botha, nearing 100 international indoor caps, it is an exciting opportunity while also admitting that there is a major sense of the unknown too.
“The strength of European Hockey means that the rankings for the sides outside the top 8 are often not fully representative of the abilities of the teams. Croatia is going to be an incredibly tough team to play, but we are here to try and win the tournament.”
In the squad is the experienced trio of players to have reached 50 indoor hockey caps for South Africa in Cindy Hack (Captain), Kara Stella and Jessica O’Connor. They are also joined by 2016 SA Hockey Player of the year Celia Evans and together they will look to help guide the early careers of the three ladies who made their debuts against Zimbabwe, Tegan Fourie, Jamie Southgate and Cheree Greyvenstein.
There will be no live TV coverage, but Tyron Barnard is in Croatia and will be doing live updates on Twitter during games, follow him @TyronBarnard.
Cindy Hack (Captain), Nicole la Fleur (GK), Cheree Greyvenstein (GK), Celia Evans, Jessica O’Connor, Kelly Reed, Kara-lee Botes, Tegan Fourie, Jamie Southgate, Heather McEwan & Amore de Wet.
Management – Lennie Botha (Coach), Brighty Mashaba (Assistant Coach / Video Analyst) and Robyn Morgan (Manager)
Fixtures for Croatia Cup (Times are Croatian, 1 hour behind South Africa)