The Investec South Africa women's hockey team kicked off their 18-Test odyssey over the next month with an exciting 4-3 victory against Azerbaijan at Wanderers Club in Johannesburg Wednesday night.
Legendary SA goalscorer Pietie Coetzee picked up her umpteenth player of the match award as she thumped in a hat-trick and set up fellow striker Dirkie Chamberlain for South Africa's fourth.
Coetzee now has 204 goals in 208 appearances for Investec South Africa and the world all-time goalscoring record of 220 is not far off.
But SA didn't have things all their own way as "Azer" opened the scoring through the dazzling skills of forward Aliyevami Seon after just five minutes and clawed their way back from a 4-1 deficit with two goals near the end of the match to set up some nerve-jangling moments for the girls in green and gold in the final minutes.
After the early setback, SA enjoyed a purple patch to go 3-1 up at half-time, as Coetzee showed why, at 32, she is still one of the most feared players in the game.
At the end of the second half Seon got her second and Azer team-mate Ahmadova Mahira also got in on the goalscoring act.
Credit for victory must go also to defenders Kim Hubach – in her 75th Test appearance - Marcelle Keet and Lisa Deetlefs, as well as captain Marsha Marescia.
The second Test takes place at Wanderers Club at 7 pm Thursday, while the remainder of this bumper Investec International Series that includes world number four China and world 17 Belgium is played out in Johannesburg and the University of Free State in Bloemfontein over the next three weeks.
Source: SA Hockey Association media release
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