Rain agains halts hockey men

2011-11-23 21:39

Johannesburg - The South African men’s hockey team’s second and final warm-up match ahead of Saturday’s opening-round Champions Challenge clash against Poland was abandoned at half-time at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Wednesday night, the host venue succumbing to yet another massive rainstorm.

SA were leading Japan 1-0 at the time. This follows Tuesday night’s washed out practice match against Malaysia, which saw the sides deadlocked at 1-1 after 20 minutes when the heavens opened.

Head coach Gregg Clark’s pre-tournament training camp that began last week is now over, and the 24-player squad will be cut to the tournament 18 when the team is named on Thursday morning.

It could be an uneasy night for many of the players, as a number have come close to selection for major tournaments in the past, such as the Beijing Olympics, only to be left out. Western Province forward Ian Haley is one of them, as is KZN Coastal Raiders defender Gareth Carr.

The crucial Champions Challenge men’s tournament takes place at Randburg from November 26 to December 4 and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has tasked the Africa champions with nothing less than an appearance in the final if they are to be part of Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

SA are in the “Pool of Death”, with eight-time Olympic Games gold medallists India,  as well as Belgium, who have already qualified for London, and the difficult proposition that is Poland in their opponents.

South Africa’s Pool A matches at Randburg are against Poland on Saturday (5 pm), India on Sunday (5 pm) and Belgium next Tuesday (5 pm). Next Thursday (December 1) sees the teams go into the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals next Saturday and the gold medal match next Sunday, December 4.

Pool B features Canada, Malaysia, Japan and Argentina. Like the Belgians, the South Americans have also already qualified to be one of the 12 teams in the London Olympic Games next August.

The 24-player SA squad that will be cut to the final 18 comprises seven from KZN Coastal, six from Southern Gauteng, five from Western Province, four from Northerns Blues and one each from Eastern Province and Amatole (Border).


Brendon Botes (Eastern Province), Jacques le Roux, Andrew Cronje, Austin Smith (capt), Ian Haley, Lloyd Norris-Jones (all Western Province, Rassie Pieterse, Lance Louw, Ricky West, Clinton Panther, Miguel da Graca, Thornton McDade (all Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones, Lloyd Madsen, Gareth Carr, Wade Paton, Taine Paton, Tim Drummond, Marvin Harper (all KZN Coastal), Justin Reid-Ross, Rhett Halkett, Jonty Robinson, Nic Gonsalves (all Northerns Blues), Julian Hykes (Amatole-Border).