India and South Africa served up a pulsating affair in a seven-goal thriller on Saturday morning at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo. The Indians led three times only for the South Africans to peg them back, but eventually they got over the line in the final chukka.

South Africa and India met in the Women’s event at the Tokyo Olympics with both teams fighting for a place in the final 8, but both cognisant that it could also be their last game in the tournament.

India came out firing winning an early penalty corner, but before the game even started three long referrals took the momentum out of the early exchanges. India was the first to refocus and took the lead after a goal mouth scramble was bundled home. India was exerting the most force, which is when a South African will be the most dangerous and Tarryn Glasby restored parity with the deftest of touches to sneak the ball home with the final touch of the quarter.

India again gained the lead in the second quarter with Katariya playing the perfect deflection past Mbande. South Africa kept their composure, endured pressure and created a superb opportunity for Charne Maddocks that was spurned. But the African champions continued fighting and managed to level just before half time with skipper Erin Hunter (Christie) finishing a penalty corner. 2-2 the score at the break.

In the third quarter it was the Indians that landed the first blow as Katariya once again deflected a penalty corner home. They also had two great opportunities to stretch the lead but both times they were denied expertly by vice-captain Phumelela Mbande. And they would rue those chances as Marizen Marais burst into the circle and despite some tight challenges pushed the ball low and hard past the Indian Keeper to level the score. South Africa were growing in belief, but the quarter end came a bit too soon and it was 3-3.

The final chukka started with South Africa dominating proceedings winning three early penalty corners, but they were all well defended by India and the deadlock remained. But that deadlock was broken with 10 minutes remaining as Katariya completed a hat-trick of deflections at penalty corner time to make it 4-3.

South Africa thought they had a late penalty corner, but a video referral denied the opportunity and India saw out the game superbly that leaves them waiting eagerly on the result in the Ireland game later today. For South Africa

A very early morning became just an early morning as the SA Womens Hockey team and Germans had to wait for the action to start after the Oi hockey Stadium was hit by a tremendous rain storm. Incredible work at the stadium meant that the game was able to get started, just after South Africans watching at home had been able to see Tatjana Schoenmaker win the Olympic Gold Medal first!

Once the game did get underway it was the Germans who started brilliantly and took just 80 seconds to take the lead. A drive into the D fell onto the stick of Lisa Altenburg who finished superbly off the left upright. Germany would add a second before the end of the first quarter with Sonja Zimmerman converting from the PC off the post. It could have been more but for a few timely interventions from Tarryn Mallet and Phumi Mbande.

Altenburg netted her second in the 24th minute with another superb finish into the top left corner giving Mbande no chance over her shoulder. The South Africans were resolute but it was a dominant first half from the European silver medallists who are looking to step up and take home the Olympic Gold medal.

South Africa showed a much improved second half, competing more in the middle of the park and holding out a goal-less third quarter. Celia Seerane was sensational in defence clearing twice off the line and reading play superbly. South Africa were also showing improved discipline which was making it hard for the Germans to break them down.

The Germans did manage to get a fourth when a speculative drive into the D managed to get the deftest touch from Schroder and guided it past Mbande in goals. It was a sucker punch for the African champions as they had been growing into the game as the time progressed.

There was however a beautiful moment for the South Africans to end with a glimmer. A beautiful build up from Kristen Paton saw her create a pocket of space which she exploited superbly. A quick interchange with Quanita Bobbs, the captain on the day, saw a fine cross which Toni Marks finished superbly. It was a moment of true quality for the South Africans that will give them a lift ahead of the game against India tomorrow.

 

The South African Hockey Women were looking to kick start their Tokyo campaign with a bounce back performance against Great Britain, the defending champions on Monday evening. The two teams started the game showing a united front in taking the knee as a statement of standing against racism.

The South Africans started the game the better and went ahead as they caught a sluggish Great Britain napping. Some quick thinking from Celia Seerane created space for a shot off a penalty corner and it was fired through to an unmarked Nicole Walraven, who on her 50th test cap, gave the African champions the lead.

It was a lead they would hold until the 29th minute when Elena Rayner levelled matters after a period of sustained pressure. That goal was the perfect tonic for the Olympic champions as they emerged after the half time break and proceeded to dominate the possession and circle penetrations.

They took the lead from a penalty corner variation, where Lily Owsley deflected a loop effort over Mbande and past Marizen Marias on the post. Having held the British out for 10 minutes in the third quarter before that goal, the Africans will be disappointed to have conceded so quickly after that. The goal made it 3-1 as Laura Unsworth rocketed the ball home for a cracking finish after a defensive error opened the opportunity for her.

South Africa were having to work incredibly hard to keep the British out with Mbande, Christie, Deetlefs and co having to repel a number of attacks and defend a number of penalty corners. They managed to get to the the end of the third quarter without conceding again, but the defending champions kept getting forward and were rewarded with a fourth as Elena Rayner blasted home leaving Mbande no chance.

The South Africans defended gainfully for the final 10 minutes and showed some good character, but they will be disappointed that they were unable to convert the performance of the opening half and in particular the opening quarter into points.

The SA Hockey Women are next in action against Netherlands, the Worlds top ranked side on Wednesday at 02:30.

Photo - Anton Geyser / SA Sports Images

The South African Hockey women opened their campaign with a tough match up against the 2018 FIH World Cup silver medallists Ireland. It would also be the South Africans official test match in two years after the COVID Pandemic hurt the programme badly.

The South Africans started the game by handing international debuts to Edith Molikoe, Charne Maddocks and Lerato Mahole.

South Africa had the clearest opening opportunity with Nicky Veto unable to convert after some great build up play and Ireland were able to convert from the first penalty corner of the game through a low drive from Roisin Upton. The Irish were creating a number of circle entries but were not generating outcomes with South Africa attempting to play the ball on the counter.

The defensive combination and Phumelela Mbande in goals were able to hold off the Irish, but there were so few opportunities being created by the South Africans. And at half time the score remained 1-0.

South Africa were able to create a few circle entries and managed to win a penalty corner, but were unable to convert and just after that Sarah Torrans completed a moment of real quality to divert the ball beyond Mbande and give the Irish the 2nd goal they were desperate for.

That second goal would be the final as neither team was able to create another meaningful opportunity and it was Ireland who got the tournament off to the perfect start.  For South Africa its back to the drawing board ahead of playing Great Britain on Monday.

 

Ahead of an action packed 12 months for the South African Women’s indoor and outdoor hockey sides, Kara Botes has decided to call time on her International career both on the astro and on the indoor courts.

The current Southern Gauteng defender is one of only three players to have amassed more than 50 caps for both indoor hockey and outdoor hockey. Having been schooled at the brilliant Pietermartizburg Girls High, there was hardly doubt that she would make a star of herself on the international stage and started her journey of 79 Indoor Hockey Caps for SPAR South Africa against Namibia back in 2014 and managed to score her first goal in her fourth game. That ratio quickly swung and Botes retires as the second highest goal scorer in South African Indoor Hockey history with 85 scored in her 79 games. A remarkable achievement considering she is primarily a defender. At the 2018 Croatia Indoor Cup, Kara netted five in a then world record 21-0 victory over Slovenia.

Kara’s Indoor Hockey captain, both for her time at the Raiders and with the national team, Cindy Hack was glowing in her praise of Botes:

“I have had the privilege of playing many years with Kara. She has an exceptional ability to read the game and her eye for the pinpoint pass was unrivalled on the court. She had such great tenacity and was always someone that was better to play with than against! Kara was also devastatingly dangerous at penalty corner time and a real weapon in our attack. Thank you for your service to our country and to our game! Good luck for the new endeavors, I have no doubt you will be an immense success!”

Her outdoor career was also a superb one after making her debut in 2016 against Argentina in Bloemfontein and going on to accumulate 53 test caps including playing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and at the Vitality Hockey World Cup in London. In recent times it has been alongside Erin Christie that she has built a superb understanding at both club, provincial and national teams.

“Kara will be missed in the SA outdoor team. Her flair, deception and creativity are what made her a great player and asset to the team. As a teammate, Kara was always available to everyone and loved picking our brains about the most interesting topics. Although she will deny it, the EXTROVERT in her brought a lot of fun and laughter to us all. We wish Kara all the best and happiness on her next adventure and no doubt it’ll be a successful one.”

Marissa Langeni, the CEO of SA Hockey shared her thoughts as well:

"An  extraordinary talent whether playing indoor hockey or outdoor. Kara's utmost dedication to the green & gold was rewarded by a stellar career and we would like to take this opportunity to thank her for representing South Africa over the years."

As Kara leaves a massive gap on the hockey field, we know she will be smashing it in the business world with that same flair!

Article was originally publish on FIH.CH

Marsha Cox is an undisputed legend of South African hockey. Making her senior international debut in 2001 at the tender age of 18, Cox – or Marsha Marescia, as she was known before her marriage to renowned Dutch hockey coach Alexander Cox – went on to represent her country a staggering 347 times over a 14-year career, competing at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, captaining her country both in Beijing and London.

As well as the Olympics, she also played in four World Cups, four Commonwealth Games competitions and is a multiple African continental champion. It was a remarkable journey for Cox, who grew up in Durban and experienced apartheid in her early years before going on to become a trailblazing and iconic figure in South African hockey, not to mention a truly world class player.

In the first of two interviews, Cox – who lives in the Netherlands with Alexander and their daughter, with baby number two set to arrive in September – reflects on her Olympic memories as a player, whilst also recalling the day she was left completely star-struck by meeting track icon Usain Bolt in the Olympic Village at Beijing 2008.

Hi Marsha, thank you for talking to us! Looking back on your international career, what moment would you say that you are most proud of, and why?

Marsha Cox:
 “I would probably say that one of my proudest moments would be my first Olympic Games. I think that would always be something special. You know, growing up in apartheid South Africa, and being part of pretty much the first generation of change as a teenager, being exposed to the Olympic Games at a time when for the first time we were possibly even allowed to dream of it, it was a seed that was planted. In 2004, when I was part of the Athens Olympic team for South Africa, that was huge honour and a huge achievement, and something that I had dreamt about, but never, as a teenager, thought that could ever become a reality. So, when it did, it definitely marked one of the most special moments in my playing career.”

What is your best memory from competing at the Olympics, either on or off the field?

Marsha Cox
: “It’s a bit tough! I think the first on-field amazing memory would be at the 2004 Games in Athens, which was my first Olympic Games. We were having a really rough start to the tournament, and in the pool stages we came up against Germany, and we ended up winning that game 3-1. As the tournament continued, it only got tougher of course, but Germany went onto win the Olympic gold medal. Actually, we were the only team to take points off Germany at the Olympics in Athens, so that one will definitely stick in the memory bank.

“Off the field, there have been so many great memories. I think one I’ll always treasure was at the Beijing [2008] Olympic Games, the moment that I met Usain Bolt just outside the Jamaica House in the Olympic Village. It was after he had broken the 200m world record. I remember being so star-struck, not knowing what to do! I didn’t have my telephone with me, I didn’t have anything. I just had my SA gear that I would need to travel back home to South Africa [wearing]. I asked him for his autograph, and as I had nothing, he signed his autograph on the leg of my tracksuit pants. So, I travelled back to South Africa in the tracksuit pants that had Usain Bolt’s signature on them. That is definitely one [moment] that I will remember as well.”

This month would have been the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which has now been delayed by one year due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. As a triple Olympian who captained the team at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, what did it mean to both you and your family to represent South Africa on the biggest sporting stage in the world?

Marsha Cox:
 “I can totally understand the disappointment, for some athletes, that it has been extended by a year. But, for others, it is a great opportunity, to have an extra year of training and preparation. Being a triple Olympian is something that is special, and something that I am extremely proud of. For my family of course, growing up in a completely different time, this is something I think will always be dear to my family, the fact that I participated in three Olympic Games. It’s an amazing event, and I think participating and being one of those very unique athletes thereafter makes it something even more special. You truly understand how unique it is, to be an Olympian. I can only imagine the excitement and anxiety as we build up to Tokyo 2021, for some of the players. But for myself alone, being an Olympian is something that I am forever grateful for.”

South Africa’s teams, both women and men, will both be involved in Tokyo next year, something you must be delighted about. Do you have any words of advice for those younger members of the teams who will be attending their first Olympic Games?

Marsha Cox
: “It’s fantastic that South Africa will compete in Tokyo 2021, both the men and women’s hockey teams. For all the youngsters going to their first Olympic Games, I think the only advice I can give you is to cherish every single minute of it. It is going to be over before you know it, but one thing to bear in mind is that everyone is there to compete, and everyone is there with the winning mind-set. So, go out there with that exact same mentality, that exact same conviction, and do your best. But most of all, enjoy every single moment of every single experience that you are exposed to at the Olympic Games.”

The second part of our extensive interview with Marsha Cox will be published in the coming weeks.

Image - Kym Clayton

In the wake of the devastation caused by the Corona Virus, world wide sports fixtures have been postponed. The gap left on the calendar has meant that an opportunity opened for China’s national hockey team to have a training camp in South Africa and ultimately that has led to an unofficial four match series between the two Olympic competitors.

UCT Hockey ground in Cape Town will play host to four matches between Robin van Ginkels South Africa and a Chinese side that features Giles Bonnet as the assistant coach. Giles is no stranger to South African Hockey obviously having coached the national womens team at our last Olympic Game appearance in London. The matches will be played on 10, 11 and 13 March (14:30) and on the 14th March at 12:00. It is probably the last time Western Cape fans will be able to see the team in action before the Olympic Games begin in July this year.

China have seen their Pro League games against Belgium and Australia postponed, with other games likely to follow, so are looking for every opportunity to get some game time together. For the South Africans its an opportunity to build on the work done during the Summer Series earlier this year.

Although the matches will not have official test status and as such no ranking points, the South Africans will be excited at the opportunity to test themselves against a third top ten opponent of the year so far. China are currently ranked 10th in the World rankings, hot on the heels of India in 9th. The South Africans are currently ranked 16th.  

South Africa secured their spot at the Tokyo Olympics when they won the African Hockey Road to Tokyo event in Stellenbosch, while China came through a nerve wracking penalty shootout after a 2-2 aggregate score in their Olympic Qualifying playoff match against Belgium.

For China it will be their sixth successive games with a high of a silver medal in 2008 when they hosted the games. The South Africans will feature in their fifth with a best finish of 9th in 2004.

SA Squad vs. China (Unofficial Series)

Nicole Erasmus (Walraven), Tarryn Mallet, Nicky Veto, Erin Christie (Hunter), Quanita Bobbs, Izelle Verster, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt, Ongi Mali, Tarryn Glasby, Robyn Johnson, Lilian du Plessis, Kara Botes, Bianca Wood, Hannah Pearce, Stephanie Baxter, Onthatile Zulu, Marizen Marais, Lisa Deetlefs, Celia Evans, Kristen Paton

The South African ladies took on Germany in the final match of the three test Summer Series in Stellenbosch this morning. Although the Germans had already won the series by winning the opening two games, the South Africans knew that a shock victory would earn them more than just pride as ranking points are now available for every test match.

Having been completely outplayed on Sunday in the second test the South Africans wanted to give their fans a better showing in this match and for large portions they did just that. Kristen Paton continued to be a shining light for the South Africans while Erin Hunter and Onthatile Zulu themselves produced moments of quality to give real hope.

But in truth the South Africans were always second best to a very good Germany side. The South Africans were sitting back and absorbing waves of pressure looking to take advantage of counterattack opportunities. But once again the timing of a goal would have caused disappointment for Robin van Ginkel. Naomi Heyn beating her marker and finishing past Marlise van Tonder within a minute of break was perfect timing for the Europeans and more frustration for the South Africans.

The Germans finally made it 2-0 with their sixth penalty corner of the game when Sonja Zimmermans strike was deflected past Van Tonder and the resistance seemed to have finally been broken. Rebecca Grote made sure the Germans wouldn’t need another six penalty corners before they scored again as she finished the seventh expertly to make it 3-0. Their eighth corner produced another goal this time for the impressive Pia Maertens which rounded up the scoring.

The South Africans did produce a wonderful break away in the final minute of the game but Nicky Veto, who was on the end of the move, was denied by a good save. The play summing up the South African series as end-product is a significant concern for the management team.

That ends the Summer Series for the South Africans who disappointingly lost their six test matches. There was some good work and good processes put in place, but the hard yards are only going to get harder before the team embark on Tokyo.

Summer Series Results

First Test – SA 0-4 Germany
Second Test – SA 1-8 Germany
Third Test – SA 0-4 Germany

Image - Kym Clayton - Not for Reuse

The second test of the 2020 Summer Series between South Africa and Germany will be one that the Germans will fondly remember, and the hosts will look at for lessons on efficient and precise attacking.

It took the visitors less than a minute to take a lead through Pia Maertens with her third of the series and they doubled the lead in the 9th minute through a Pauline Heinz field goal. The South Africans ended the quarter with the perfect response though hard-working midfielder Kristen Paton. Having had to defend for the previous five minutes, Paton played a precision one-two with Robin Johnson produced a wonderful run and finish into the bottom corner. It was a bright moment for the African champions, but unfortunately the last true bright moment of the game as the German juggernaut punished the hosts in the remainder of the game.

Although the second quarter was still competitive, the Germans only managing the one goal in the session through Naomi Heyns, who tapped in from less than a metre after the hosts failed to deal with the cross to re-establish the two-goal cushion.

The decent crowd in attendance were then witness to German efficiency picking up goals at regular intervals in the second half. Rebecca Grote made it 4-1 through a “wrong side” penalty corner attack and it was quickly 5 for Germany when Sonja Zimmerman with a low drag flick. The Germans were accumulating the penalty corners through a sheer weight of pressure and Lena Micheel was the next to benefit with a rocket strike from the top of the D to make it 6.

It was a penalty corner again for the 7th with Sonja Zimmerman sending in a low drag that probably should have been stopped and the Germans made it 8 with their final goal of the game. Rebecca Grote probably didn’t catch the strike as well as she would like but the variation available to Germany made them a constant threat.

South Africa will be massively disappointed with their performance in the game, but this was more about just how good the Germans are. They are undoubtedly a medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics and have maybe laid down the mark for what South Africa need to do in our own road to Tokyo.

The South African side did not have a lot of time to mull over the series defeat to Ireland in Stellenbosch before they were back on the turf taking on the world number 4 Germany in a three-test series.

The Germans would be led by legendary captain Janne Muller-Wieland who has more than 300 caps for her country and would feature a mix of experience with Anne Schroder, Lisa Altenburg, Cecile Pieper all having more than 100 caps joined by Rosa Kruger, Pauline Heinz, Naomi Heyn and Pia Maertens all in the earlier part of their careers.

The South Africans obviously would keep the same squad that took on the Irish with Erin Hunter (Christie) leading the team, while Sandiswe Tabata was to earn her first cap in the opening test.

Germany started the game brightly earning an early goal through Pia Maertens. She picked up the ball just outside the D before doing a reverse turnaround to create a bit of space and her finish showed why she is so highly rated.

The South Africans to their credit managed to suffocate the play and frustrate the Germans throughout the contest but a 3-goal blitz from the visitors in the final quarter meant that the Europeans added some gloss to the score-line.

Maertens got her second and her teams second when she converted simply after a superb run by one of her team-mates, before Rebecca Grote and Lena Micheel added the gloss to the score-line.

For the South Africans the eyes turned to Sunday and an opportunity for revenge, and of course some much-desired world ranking points!

Photo – Kym Clayton Sport Photography – Not for re-use