JOHANNESBURG June 8 Sapa
SA HOCKEY WOMEN READY FOR SEMI-FINAL
The South African women's hockey team is pumped up Saturday's Investec London Cup semi-final against reigning Olympic champions Holland, said assistant coach Fabian Gregory.
Gregory said on Friday the prospect of playing the current world number one-ranked side will be a daunting task for all involved, but the team is relishing the prospect.
"Playing Holland is a fantastic challenge and our girls and management staff are excited at the opportunity to see how we perform against a team that in my opinion is undoubtedly the best side in the world," Gregory said.
"The girls love the added pressure and stimulation of playing the worlds top team."
South Africa shocked world number four Great Britain 3-1 on Tuesday and pushed world number three Germany all the way in a 1-0 defeat in their other Pool B match on Wednesday.
With just 49 days to the London Olympics, SA are in the final stages of preparations ahead of the hockey tournament which gets underway on July 29. Gregory said the team would benefit from playing a tough opponent like Holland before the start of the tournament.
"We are at the point where we are capable of challenging the best teams in the world," he said.
"We are not yet where we want to be by a long chalk, but if you had asked me when this group started 26 months ago that they would be where they are now, I would have said it was close to impossible.
"Through our sponsorship, we have accumulated a massive amount of experience in the past 26 months.
"We have played close to 130 international matches in that time."
Saturdays second semi-final sees the Germans take on Australias "Hockeyroos", the worlds seventh-ranked team.
The London Cup also includes world number 14 Ireland, who play Great Britain for fifth and sixth places on Sunday morning.
Sundays bronze medal match is followed by the gold medal match, where SA will be involved in one of the games, depending on the result of their semi-final clash.