Jon Cook
2 minute read
21 Dec 2013
11:30 am

2013: A year in review – South African hockey

Jon Cook

It has been a year of success and disappointment for the South African women's hockey team and the national men's side.

Picture: Plate Pictures

At international level it is well to remember that for various reasons senior players do not play in all the matches, rest being one, which has an influence on results, while certain tournaments are part of building processes towards greater goals. The aim to build a bigger pool of players is an example.

In January the SA women lost a Test series 4-0 to Belgium before winning the World League Round 2 event (WLR2). In February the world No 11-ranked SA women were beaten 4-2 by world No 1 the Netherlands in the final of the Investec Challenge. All took place in Cape Town.

In February, talismanic SA men’s captain Austin Smith’s Ranchi Rhinos won the inaugural Hockey India League.

In March the world No 12 SA men under new head coach Charlie Pereira came second at WLR2 in Brazil, while Marsha Cox (née Marescia), right, the iconic SA women’s captain, was honoured by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for reaching the 300-Test milestone.

In May, the SA men beat Malaysia 3-0 in a four-Test series at home.

In June the SA women beat Scotland 2-1 in a four-Test series in Edinburgh before ending a disappointing seventh at the Investec World League semifinal event in London, this after losing 3-1 to world No 2 Argentina in the quarterfinals.

In July, the SA men ended a disappointing eighth at their WL semifinal event in Johor, Malaysia. Despite losing key players Smith and Jonty Robinson to Dengue Fever, meltdown at key moments cost SA dearly. Against Japan in the quarterfinals, South Africa – after leading 2-1 until 90 seconds from the end – conceded an own goal. The Japanese won a penalty shootout 1-0.

SA then imploded, losing to world No 5 Pakistan, conceding three goals in five minutes to end eighth. An exasperated Pereira said that unless a main sponsor was found to enable SA to play 50 Tests a year and regularly train as a group, the players would find it very difficult to learn how to handle high pressure at major events.

In November the SA women qualified for the 2014 World Cup by beating Ghana 3-2 in the Africa Cup final in Nairobi after trailing for much of the game, this despite having a massive 22 shots, while the SA men qualified by beating Egypt 2-0.

In December, the SA men, coming off an intense week-long camp, were whitewashed 5-0 by a polished Argentina in a Test series in KwaZulu-Natal.