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Shelley Russell © Planet Pictures

SA hockey women have pace aplenty upfront



There is much room for improvement but all is not lost for the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team as they go into the World League round two competition at Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town this week.

The fast, skilful double Olympian Shelley Russell is beginning to hit her straps down the left channel and the younger sister of former Springbok rugby player Brent Russell’s combination with former SA junior sprint champion Sulette Damons in the middle and fellow SA junior athletics star Bernie Coston on the right will provide the ideal platform for Pietie Coetzee to tee off her trademark shots.

Indeed, the World League will give the SA team under returning captain Marsha Marescia the perfect opportunity to get into their stride before the ultimate test – the Investec Challenge from February 4 to 10 at Hartleyvale - which includes 2012 Olympic Games gold medallists and world No 1 Holland and fellow hockey heavyweights England and Australia.

South Africa meet Ghana at 7 pm Tuesday at Hartleyvale in their opening World League match and the chances are that the Ghanaian goalkeeper will certainly be kept busy.

This encounter should provide a morale-boosting win for South Africa ahead of Wednesday’s 7 pm Hartleyvale clash with their recent nemesis, Belgium, who wrapped up a 4-0 series whitewash with an exciting 3-2 victory at the home of hockey in the Western Cape on Saturday afternoon.

South Africa’s other matches in World League round two at Hartleyvale see them facing Azerbaijan next Saturday, January 26 and then Austria - who only lost 3-2 to Belgium in World League round one in Europe - next Sunday, January 27.

World League round two opens at 5 pm Monday when Ghana meet Azerbaijan before Belgium tackle Austria at 7 pm.

SA TEAM

Quanita Bobbs, Tarryn Bright, Jade Mayne, Shelley Russell (all Western Province); Dirkie Chamberlain, Phume Mbande, Nicolene Terblanche (all Northern Blues); Pietie Coetzee, Marcia Marescia (capt), Bernie Coston, Lisa Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Sanani Mangisa (all Southern Gauteng); Sulette Damons (North West); Marcelle Keet (Amathole/Border); Izelle Lategan (Free State); Kelly Madsen, Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders).



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