Coetzee has no plans of retirement
South African striker Pietie Coetzee says she has no intention of hanging up her boots any time soon.
The world record holder was speaking ahead of her team’s first match against Poland in the women’s Olympic hockey qualifying tournament in Delhi, India, on Saturday.
“At the moment I feel really good physically and in fact the best I’ve ever felt in my career, so it’ll be a shame for me to say that I’ll just end it now after the 2012 Olympics,” Coetzee said.
The SA veteran earned a well-deserved break when she, along with other senior players, was rested for the home tri-series tournament against Ireland and Belgium earlier this month.
The rest, Coetzee admitted, was welcome and well spent.
“I feel great. I’ve had a nice rest and I feel fresh and ready to go,” Coetzee said.
“The team, coming out of the last series, also feel very well prepared and I think we should have no excuses but to perform well in India.” Coetzee forms part of an SA women’s side who have no choice but to walk away with first prize if they are to compete at the London Games.
“You can never overemphasise how important this tournament is, and that brings a tremendous amount of pressure, especially because we know we only have one shot to make it to the Olympics.
“If we have a small hiccup in this tournament, the bottom line is, we won’t be going.” Coetzee has more than 200 international caps to her name and has scored over 220 international goals, a record she hopes to better in India.
“I would like to ensure that I score a goal in every game that I play, and hopefully at this tournament, even stretch it a bit further to make it maybe two or three goals, in particular those that really count,” Coetzee said.
The sharp-shooter added that, although her record in front of goal spoke for itself, the number one priority at the nine-day event was the team, and she was looking to score when her teammates needed her most.
“There’s no point in scoring just a goal — it needs to be when it counts and when we actually need to win the game.” The South Africans will not only have to win the tournament, but in doing so will also come up against the hosts of the qualifying competition, a side Coetzee has plenty of playing experience against.
“We all know the India game will be tough on the girls but if we just keep our structure well and play to our ability, we should be ok.” The tournament, however, will not be won or lost against India alone, according to Coetzee.
The SA women must navigate their way through a few tricky encounters against the likes of Italy, Poland and the Ukraine.
Despite the threat of the minnows upsetting the South African outfit’s plans, Coetzee was confident of a successful tournament.
“There are about four of those teams that we’ve hardly ever played, so it’s very hard to judge exactly what they do and how they play.
“However, I think looking at the world rankings, going into this tournament, we should probably be the favourites.”