South Africa women started their FIH Hockey Series Final in Valencia, Spain on Wednesday with a stutter as they drew 2-2 against Wales in their opening fixture.

The national team has an added incentive in this tournament as Sascoc will be using the event as a measure on their competitiveness for possible inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team, if they achieve a top two finish.

South Africa Captain Erin Hunter lamented the lack of international exposure, but feels the team could have started the tournament better against the Welsh.

South Africa featured four new caps, started the game slow, while the Welsh, who cannot qualify for the Olympics due to England being selected as Great Britain’s qualifying applicant, started a little more positively.

Former University of Johannesburg player, Lilian Du Plessis says the team will have to step up their intensity against Italy.

The FIH Series Final is the first major tournament for Robin van Ginkel as head coach as well as the first for the team under the leadership of Erin Hunter and they will be hard-pressed to prove themselves under this new regime.

Hunter knows the SA women have a tough challenge next up against Italy. Report by Jefferson Lupuwana