The South African Hockey Association has today announced the South African Women’s U21 Team that will compete in the African Hockey Qualifier in Ghana in March. Although South Africa have already qualified for the tournament as hosts, they will still compete for the title as the best junior women’s hockey side in Africa.
Coach Lenise Marais will also be looking to take advantage of the lower pressure and match competition time for the team after the COVID Pandemic has limited opportunity for the team over the past year. The team will also be looking to defend their title they won in Windhoek in 2016. With a spot at the World Cup in Potchefstroom in December up for grabs, the competition promises to be intense throughout.
It’s a very exciting team, who are desperate for competitive action after both the 2020 PHL and IPT were cancelled cost them an opportunity. Bianca Wood and Onthatile Zulu were part of Robin van Ginkel’s champion side at the 2019 African Hockey Road to Tokyo in Stellenbosch. Their experience will be an integral part of a side navigating the challenges of the tournament.
Marais will also be able to call on Mishka Ellis, Nepo Serage, Kayla de Waal, Jacolene Mclaren, Samantha Smuts, Zimkhitha Weston and Angela Welham, who have big tournament experience. The group of players took South Africa all the way to the Bronze medal match at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. The experience this group gained from the big tournament, and in particular the Quarter Final victory against Australia, will be a massive asset to the rest of the team.
With qualification for the December tournament secured already, each of the players will also be looking to cement their place in the home tournament later this year where they will take on the likes of Germany, England, Netherlands, Australia and Argentina.
Convenor of Selectors Bridget Kee is looking forward to the team’s challenge.
“With an exciting balance of experience and new caps, the SA U21 Women’s team under the leadership of coach Lenise Marais are sure to do South Africa proud at the AFCON qualifications. It’s such a pleasure watching these young players on the field. They are dynamic, disciplined and confident. I wish the team and all the staff best of luck for their tournament”.
Head Coach Lenise Marais cant wait to get to Ghana:
“I'm looking forward to the next challenge with this group of players. The depth in the squad and progress each player has made since our last camp is very encouraging. This tournament will be an opportunity for us to implement some of the plans we've been working on. The staff is pleased and proud of the commitment and focus displayed by each of the players.”
The South African Hockey Association wishes the team best of luck for their challenge!