SA Out for Revenge in Hockey Test Series

Namibia host South Africa in the Africa Indoor Hockey Cup this weekend with a place at next year’s Indoor World Cup in Germany awaiting the winner.

The two countries will play a best-of-three test series for men and women at the Indoor Hockey Hall at the Windhoek Showgrounds, with matches scheduled for Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Namibia’s men and women competed at the last Indoor World Cup in Poland in 2011 when South Africa failed to compete in the qualifying tournament and the president of the Namibia Hockey Union Robert Offner was under no illusions about the task at hand.

“We basically competed at the last World Cup by default after South Africa failed to compete in the African qualifier, so we shouldn’t kid ourselves and they will come here to take revenge. But both our men and women’s teams have a good chance of qualifying since it’s an indoor tournament where our lack of an astro turf will not be a constraining factor,” he said.

According to Offner, the South African sides were selected after their Inter Provincial Tournament last month where Namibia also competed, coming third in the women’s competition and fifth in the men’s competition.

“We didn’t have our gest squads at the IPT, with some players injured or unavailable, while our preparation was also not the best. But now we have prepared well and have our gest sides available, while we are also playing at home,” he said.

Offner called on hockey lovers to come out in numbers and support the Namibian teams.

“We call on hockey lovers to come and support our teams. We have kept the ticket prices low – it will be N$25 for students and N$50 for adults – while we also brought in extra stands, so we would like to see as much support as possible over the weekend,” he said.

Namibia’s men’s coach Trevor Cormack said they expected a tough encounter.

“South Africa has selected a very g side and they are not holding back on this one, but our boys are ready and as well prepared as they can be, while the home ground aantage will also count in our favour,” he said.

The men’s team received a setback on Tuesday when star player Siabonga Martins was ruled out due to injury, but Cormack said that Martins would still be a part of the squad, while he had selected an experienced team.

“I’ve pulled Sia in as an assistant coach, while Thomas Duncan will take his place in the squad. The rest of the players are experienced players except for Ernest Jacobs who came into the squad after winning the Player of the Tournament award at the African Youth Qualifier in Zambia last month,” he said.

“I think we have closed the gap on South Africa in indoor hockey and the only difference now will be the mental aspect and who handles the pressure the best, so that’s why I’ve gone with our more experienced players,” he added.

The coach of the women’s team, Jeanne Davin said they had a good chance of qualifying.

“I think we’ve got a good chance of qualifying. We have Maggy Mengo back who was not available for the IPT due to injury, while the team has prepared well for the tournament. We also know the South African players from the IPT tournament so we know what to expect,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bank Windhoek announced a sponsorship of N$25 000 for the tournament earlier this week.

“Bank Windhoek is proud to be part of the Africa Indoor Cup, which serves as the continental qualifying tournament to the World Cup. Both the Namibian men and women’s teams impressed the world audience with their performance at the last World Cup and we hope that if they qualify for next year’s event, they will come back with the top honours. Bank Windhoek is proud to be part of the development of hockey and we hope more sponsors will support the game to make it more mainstream and introduce it to the wider Namibian society,” said Riaan van Rooyen of Bank Windhoek.

The other sponsors for the tournament are the Namibia Sports Commission, Telecom NamibiaTN Mobile and FampH Promotions.

The tournament starts at 18h00 on Thursday when South Africa and Namibia’s U17 men and women’s invitational sides take each other on.

The official opening is at 15h30 on Friday when the teams will be welcomed while the U17 teams will play two more matches starting at 16h30.

The Test series starts at 19h00 when Namibia and South Africa’s women’s teams compete, followed by the men at 20h30.

The second test is at the same times on Saturday, while the third test is on Sunday at 08h30 for the women and 10h00 for the men.

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Source : The Namibian