Coetzee raring to go for SA
New Delhi - Superstar striker Pietie Coetzee, a key figure in the South Africa women’s hockey team, is set to make a return to the starting line-up for Friday’s 10:30 (SA time) match against Canada at the Olympic Qualifier Tournament (OQT) here.
The game will be televised live on pay-channel, SuperSport.
Shuaib Manjra, the tournament’s chief medical officer, has been monitoring Coetzee and the SA team as part of his job is satisfied the world record goalscorer is ready.
“I am comfortable that Pietie has fully recovered from the viral infection,” said the Cape Town sports scientist. “A number of players have had mild infections from which they have made quick recoveries, so South Africa will have a full team in very good match condition.”
Coetzee herself is in no doubt. “The bed rest has been good and I am ready to go again,” she said.
South Africa’s 5-2 victory over co-favourites India in the fourth round of league action on Wednesday propelled them into Saturday’s 16:30 (SA time) final, where they will tackle either Italy or home team India, who meet in the deciding match on Friday afternoon, India needing to win while the Italians need only a draw.
“South Africa beat India in all departments, from fitness to physicality, speed, skills and technique,” said Manjra. “The number of matches they played in the build-up to the OQT means they are game fit.”
Canada have had a disappointing OQT but finally broke their duck with a 1-0 win over point-less Poland on Wednesday and will be looking to end the closing stages of the tournament on a high.
But SA captain Marsha Marescia has other ideas. “One of our goals has always been to remain unbeaten in the tournament and if we can do it, why not. We would also like to win more penalty corners to get some momentum going in that department ahead of the final.”
Dirkie Chamberlain, South Africa’s hat-trick hero against India, wants to get back on the goal trail on Friday and is unperturbed whether SA meet India or Italy in the final.
“I suppose the Italian defence was a bit tougher in that they got more players behind the ball, which meant less space for us [in the strike zone] while the Indians tended to follow the ball more and were not as disciplined in one-on-one marking,” said the striker. “It doesn’t really matter, though, you’ve still got to score the goals.”