Investec South Africa women’s hockey team assistant coach Fabian Gregory is upbeat ahead of today’s crunch World League encounter against Belgium at 7 pm at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town.
“The way we have trained over the past few days and the addition of captain Marsha Marescia and world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee to our ranks has added huge value.
“Together, Marsha [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][300 on Tuesday] and Pietie  have over 500 Test matches’ worth of experience and have been at many major tournaments, and Pietie’s ability as an exceptional goalscorer in all phases [field goal, penalty corner, penalty stroke] alongside Marsha’s consummate skills in the midfield gives them a huge presence and frees up our other players.”
Gregory, who has been assistant coach of the national team since 2006, said Coetzee was a massive weapon at penalty corners and the fact that SA had won 25 penalty corners in the four Tests against Belgium, which the Belgians won 4-0 a week ago, without Coetzee being present meant that with her strike rate this may have added another five goals in that series.
SA beat Ghana 6-0 in their World League opener Tuesday night – Coetzee with two strikes reached 250 goals – while Belgium won their first WL match 8-0 against a hapless Austria the night before.
“We are still looking to make improvements in the attacking third of the field, it’s a major focus for us because we believe that’s where the match will be won or lost,” said Gregory, who added that Coetzee’s presence freed up Dirkie Chamberlain (hat-trick against Ghana) and the other goalscorer, Bernie Coston to show what the coaching staff are looking for.
Gregory singled out Jade Mayne’s stunning goal in the four-Test series, the level-headed, impressive form of 19-year-old Quanita Bobbs in right midfield and the third member of this Western Province trio, double Olympian Tarryn Bright, as just three of the players he was expecting big things from come Thursday night.
“Quanita, at just 19, has responded to the challenges we have put to her with maturity, while to mention Tarryn, she has been working very hard in training and I am confident she will bring a big performance Thursday night.”
Gregory said SA number one goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa had been a powerful influence on the field: “Sanani has kept us in each game with some great saves, she’s been fantastic and gives our defenders confidence.”
Gregory said Belgium head coach Pascal Kina had worked as technical advisor to the SA team before and was an astute tactician.
“Pascal has a team that makes life difficult for opponents and in captain Charlotte de Vos, Jill Boon and Stephanie de Groof he has influential players that make the team tick, and if the opportunities present themselves, they will punish you.
“This [Thursday night] is the game, the other four [against Belgium] count for nothing, we want to win this one and the players are exceptionally motivated,” Gregory added.World League Results Monday: Azerbaijan 4-0 Ghana Belgium 8-0 Austria Tuesday: Azerbaijan 2-1 Austria South Africa 6-0 Ghana Thursday’s Fixtures: 5pm: Ghana vs Austria 7pm: SA vs Belgium