Hockey World Cup 2018: Tim Drummond-led South Africa aiming for best ever finish at tournament
In preparation for the World Cup, South Africa played four matches against France and lost the series 0-3 after the first match was drawn 2-2. Coach Hopkins would hope that the team will improve their form in the World Cup.
South Africa are one of the lowest-ranked teams at the 2018 Hockey World Cup. Currently sitting at the 15th spot, the African side's realistic aim will be to improve on the 11th place finish from the last World Cup. Coached by Mark Hopkins, South Africa's previous best finish at a World Cup is 10th place, which was achieved in both 2010 and 1994. The Bhubaneswar World Cup will be the sixth time they will be playing at the mega event.
South Africa are in Pool C where they will face Belgium, India and Canada. It's going to be extremely tough for them against all three higher-ranked teams, but South Africa will look to avoid finishing fourth and at least progress to play the crossover matches. The team will try their best to beat the World No 11 side Canada.
Rassie Pieterse and Gowan Jones are key for South Africa when it comes to scoring goals. Both players were part of the 2014 World Cup so they have much-needed experience going into such an important tournament. Rhett Halkett and Austin Smith have played more than 100 matches for South Africa and they will lead the defence. Apart from these, players like Mo Mea, Jethro Eustice and youngster Tyson Dlungwana will also look to play important role in their team's campaign.
In preparation for the World Cup, South Africa played four matches against France and lost the series 0-3 after the first match was drawn 2-2. This came as some sort of a surprise because France are ranked 20th in the world rankings, but they were far superior when compared to South Africa. Coach Hopkins would hope that the team will improve their form in the World Cup.
"It is critical that we continue to focus on developing our offensive and defensive strategies and execute our game plan consistently. The squad will be led by Tim Drummond and I am sure everyone will get behind him to ensure we deliver our expectations," Hopkins said when the World Cup squad was announced.
South Africa Squad for 2018 Hockey World Cup: Tim Drummond, Dayaan Cassiem, Taylor Dart, Tyson Dlungwana, Jethro Eustice, Rhett Halkett, Tommy Hammond, Keenan Horne, Julian Hykes, Gowan Jones, Peabo Lembethe, Mo Mea, Bili Ntuli, Taine Paton, Richard Pautz, Rassie Pieterse, Austin Smith, Nic Spooner.
Head coach: Mark Hopkins
For the rest of the profiles of teams in the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here.
While Mithali, who retains her number one spot, is now tied in first place with Lee at 762 rating points, with Australia's Alyssa Healy in third place, India opener Smiriti Mandhana also held on to her ninth spot.
IPL resumes on Sunday after being suspended in May due to COVID cases in its bio-bubble.
The 37-year-old former South Africa skipper is in the UAE to represent his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the remainder of the 14th edition of the lucrative league.