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Marsha Marescia © Reuters

Milestones beckon for Marescia, Coetzee



The heat at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium in Cape Town Monday did not deter the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team from putting in a two-hour session ahead of the girls in green and gold’s opening World League match against Ghana at 7 pm Tuesday.

While World League began Monday night with Azerbaijan tackling Ghana at 5 pm and Belgium facing Austria at 9 pm, the South Africans’ focus is firmly on day two, which coincides with celebrated captain Marsha Marescia’s 300th test match, a remarkable milestone.

“It’s the first time that I will be celebrating one of the milestones of my career in South Africa, so I am looking forward to the occasion in front of our home crowd,” Marescia said.

It could also be a memorable match for South Africa’s world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, who smashed the world mark of 220 set by Russia’s Natella Krasnikova against the USA at the Champions Challenge in Dublin in 2011.

Now on 248 goals in 254 test matches, an astonishing strike rate, Coetzee wants to get the 250-mark done and dusted.

“I’m feeling great and would love to reach 250 against Ghana on Tuesday night in front of the South African crowd and get it over with so I can concentrate on the rest of the matches coming up,” said Coetzee.

Whatever Coetzee’s goalscoring success may be Tuesday, there is still the rest of the World League as well as the Investec Challenge, which starts on February 4 to reach a mark that no women’s hockey player in the 100-year history of the modern game has achieved.

SA head coach Giles Bonnet said the Ghana match would present his side with the opportunity to get into rhythm before the big match against Belgium at 7 pm Wednesday.

“We want to see all the things we have been training brought into the Ghana game, to play at high speed, bring more quality ball in [to the strike zone] and get our set-piece plays working,” said the former SA men’s captain and coach.

Rank outsiders Ghana are very much an unknown quantity and tournament top seeds SA couldn’t have wished for a more ideal start to the five-country tournament that sees the top two qualify for the World League semifinals in Europe in June.

“This tournament is of huge value and we want to perform,” Bonnet added.

While the matches will not be televised in South Africa, fans can follow World League matches in real time at #World_League1 on Twitter.

Tickets, which can be bought at the gate, cost R20 for adults and R10 for children to each day’s World League matches while a season ticket to the WL tournament is R65.

REST OF MATCHES AT HARTLEYVALE IN CAPE TOWN

WORLD LEAGUE
Mon, 21 Jan 5 pm: Azerbaijan vs Ghana
Mon, 21 Jan 7 pm Belgium vs Austria
Tues, 22 Jan 5 pm: Azerbaijan vs Austria
Tues, 22 Jan 7 pm: South Africa vs Ghana
Thurs, 24 Jan 5 pm: Austria vs Ghana
Thurs, 24 Jan 7 pm: South Africa vs Belgium
Sat, 26 Jan 4 pm: Belgium vs Ghana
Sat, 26 Jan 6 pm: South Africa vs Azerbaijan
Sun, 27 Jan 4 pm: Belgium vs Azerbaijan
Sun, 27 Jan 6 pm: South Africa vs Austria

UNOFFICIAL INTERNATIONALS
Tues, 29 Jan 6 pm: South Africa vs Australia
Thurs, 31 Jan 6 pm: England vs Australia
Thurs, 31 Jan 8 pm: South Africa vs Holland
Saturday, 2 Feb 6 pm: Holland vs Australia
Saturday, 2 Feb 8 pm: South Africa vs England

INVESTEC CHALLENGE
Mon, 4 Feb 6 pm: Holland vs Australia
Mon, 4 Feb 8 pm: South Africa vs England
Tues, 5 Feb 6 pm: Holland vs England
Tues, 5 Feb 8 pm: South Africa vs Australia
Thurs, 7 Feb 6 pm: England vs Australia
Thurs, 7 Feb 8 pm: South Africa v s Holland
Sat, 9 Feb 3 pm: Semi-Final 1
Sat, 9 Feb 5 pm: Semi-Final 2
Sun, 10 Feb 3 pm: Bronze Medal Match
Sun, 10 Feb 5 pm: Gold Medal Match



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