SA women's hockey side face 'group of death'

Mbande accepts they are in 'difficult group' in Tokyo

Sarah Mcauley of Ireland in action with Edith Molikoe of South Africa.
Sarah Mcauley of Ireland in action with Edith Molikoe of South Africa.
Image: Phil Noble

The SA women's hockey team is the lowest-ranked team in Group A at the Tokyo Olympics, and they have a mammoth task to qualify for the quarterfinals after starting their campaign with a 2-0 defeat against Ireland on Saturday.

They will play against Great Britain at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo tomorrow at 11.30am SA time.

Goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande,  the joint flag bearer for SA with swimming sensation Chad le Clos, said they want to use the opportunity to make history in the sport as they were absent from the previous Games.

“We are in a difficult group and it was always going to be tough. We are playing against some of the best teams in the world. We are currently ranked 16th in the world. We came into this tournament as the underdogs. Our target in this tournament is to be competitive, and we hope to deliver on our mandate,” she saide.

Mbande, 28, added they hope to do something big in the tournament to inspire the young generation at home.

She dedicated her role of being a flag bearer to all the black females in SA and sport.

“It is an honour, and it means a lot to me. I never thought it would happen to me at my debut Olympic Games. It is an exciting period not for me only, but for my sporting code and the black females in SA. It is a huge feat, and I am proud and hope to have a great competition.”

SA are in the group of death with the Netherlands, India, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany. The top three teams will advance to the quarterfinal.

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