South African girls miffed at forcing of qualifiers on them

New Delhi: South African women`s hockey team captain Marsha Marescia says winning Saturday`s final will be a fitting reply to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) which forced them to go through the qualification despite their gaining a direct entry to the 2012 London Olympics.

Marsha said the girls were under pressure after landing here for the qualifiers.

"We were under pressure because we found ourselves in unusual circumstances. Till some days back we thought we had already booked a direct berth but now we find ourselves fighting it out in qualifiers against quality games. By winning the final, we can tell the Olympic body that we are good enough against any team," said Marsha, after booking the final berth with a 4-1 win over Canada here Friday at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The 29-year-old from Durban was happy with the team`s performance and said they were ready to face any team in the final. South Africa, who are the highest ranked team in the tournament at World No.12, face the winners of the India-Italy match later in the day. South Africa were held 1-1 by Italy, World No.19, and they won 5-2 against India, World No.13.

Asked which team she prefers to face in the final, Marsha said: "Both teams are tough opponents. We are ready to face any team. Our preparations have been better. The final will be a totally different game."

Marsha said the team was experienced enough to take the game to a different level in the final. The team has 11 players, who have the experience of playing in Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympic Games.

"We are an experienced team. I think we have improved with every match. Playing the qualifiers have helped us only to get better as a team. As we approach the final, there will be a lot of nervous energy in the team, but the girls know how to handle it," she said.