The Tayla clad SPAR South African ladies headed to Croatia to start the year to compete in the Annual Croatian Indoor Hockey Cup. They were up against the hosts and defending champions Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia, while also playing an exhibition match against the young Croatian League select side.
The tournament is used as a warm up for the EuroHockey Indoor Cup for the European nations, while for SPAR South Africa it was an opportunity to measure where they are in the world in terms of strength after the disappointment of missing out on the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup.
The South Africans got their tournament underway with a fine 10-1 victory over Slovakia largely inspired by hat-tricks from Captain Cindy Hack and striker Kelly Reed. The next match would see South Africa take on the Croatian League Select side and the exhibition match showed that the future is bright as PSi Alumni Tegan Fourie netted a hat-trick in a convincing 9-0 win.
Day two would start off with the expected toughest match up against Croatia and it proved thus as the opening ten minutes offered a tense battle. It was eventually the South Africans who would run away with the game thanks to another hat-trick by Cindy Hack and a 5-0 win was a fair reflection on the balance of the play.
SPAR South Africa then met Slovenia in their final group game, the Slovenians were missing their first choice keeper through illness and South Africa showed true class in finishing the biggest victory that I can find record of in international indoor hockey. Heather McEwan (3), Celia Evans (6), Kara-lee Botes (5) and Kelly Reed (3) all netted hat-tricks in the demolition.
To the semi-final we went and Slovenia would have to face their nemesis again. With their regular goalkeeper back, Slovenia were looking to limit the damage and save energy for the bronze medal match. In truth South Africa played better than in the 21-0 but only managed a 13-0 win due to some outstanding goalkeeping.
In the final South Africa would play Croatia and the superior fitness of the African ladies was evident as they laid siege after siege of attack. Kara-lee Botes was devastating off the short corners, while Cindy Hack, Celia Evans and Jessica O’Connor showed consistent class in dismantling the hosts. The final score of 9-1 could have been more and South Africa were the champions.
The objective for the team was to gauge their strength and they did this well, other teams in Europe will be looking at South Africa as a potential test series opponent and Lennie Botha’s ladies can be proud of their performance.
In terms of individual awards Cindy Hack won the player of the tournament and Kara-lee Botes was the tournament Top Goal scorer. Tayla are proud to be a sponsor of the national ladies
Written for Tayla by Tyron Barnard