2015 is a few days old and many of us are back at work and back to the rat race. As we start to plan our year ahead we need to plan for the obvious big things like weddings, child births and birthdays. But more importantly we need to look towards the 2015 Sport year and pick out some of the important things to look towards. Here is Jabu’s top 10 events to look forward to in 2015.
10. FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup (9 – 19 July) – Portugal
It doesn’t have the glamour of the FIFA World Cup, buhttp://allthingsjabu.co.za/wp-admin/post.php?post=6371&action=editt in a year with AFCON being the only major International tournament of interest for us (Yes there is the Asia Cup but no), the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will draw a fair amount of interest. It’s a tournament with a lot of excitement that could only improve if beach Bafana were involved, but the sand based Bafana haven’t competed in a competition since 2011.
9. Hong Kong Sevens (27 – 28 March)
With the Blitzbokke flying in the current World Series after victories in Dubai and at home in Port Elizabeth as well as Olympic qualification up for grabs, a serious eye must be cast towards the Hong Kong Sevens.The Hong Kong Sevens is arguably the most prestigious of Sevens tournaments and has an incredibly rich history. It’s also a tournament that South Africa have never won before and will definitely look to break that duck in 2015.
8. Presidents Cup (8-11 October) – South Korea
There is no doubt in my mind that this is my favourite golf event every second year. After another battering at the hands of Europe in the Ryder Cup, Team America will be desperate to make things right in 2015. They will host an International team that is short of any victories in this competition in over a decade and will desperately want to get another tick under the W column. Expect to see Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen representing South Africa as part of the International team.
7. All Africa Games (4 – 19 September) – DR of Congo
I remember growing up the year that South Africa hosted the All African Games. It was 1999 and our first major event since really the AFCON in 1996 and brought the continent together in this multi-sport gathering. South Africa won the event by finishing top of the medals table that year, a position they only regained in 2011 in Maputo again. (Egypt won in 2003 and 2007). This year the All African games take place in Brazaville in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 21 sporting events have been selected including swimming so expect a top finish for team South Africa.
6. FIH Mens World League Round 2 (7 – 15 March) – Cape Town
South Africans have been starved for quality mens hockey competition in our country. With the last high-profile series being the home series against Thailand in 2013. While Johannesburg misses out once again, Cape Town wont as the World League Round 2 takes place in March. South Africa will look to make the Semi-Final round again and will have a great opportunity hosting China, France, Azerbaijan, Belaraus, Czech Republic, Egypt & Switzerland. The top 3 advance to the Semi Final round which takes place in June.
5. IAAF World Athletics Championships (22 – 30 August) – China
Usain Bolt will return to the scene of his 2008 double Olympic Gold and double world records as the World Athletics Championship heads to Beijing. South Africa have won 17 medals in the 11 editions we have competed at. We will desperately want to improve on the 1 bronze medal (Johan Cronje) from the 2013 World Athletics Champs and would also love to win the first gold medal for the nation since 2009 when Caster Semenya and the late Mulaudzi won gold for Team SA.
4. FINA World Swimming Championships (July 24 – August 9) – Russia
Three words – Chad le Clos. The best swimmer in the world for 2014 will get the opportunity to cement that claim as he looks to take on the likes of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. South Africa collected their medals through Chad, Cameron and Guilio Zorzi in 2013 and will look to the same trio to win medals again in 2015. Sebastien Rousseau and Myles Brown will also be medal hopefuls as Graham Hills team look to take the step up towards Rio 2016.
3. Cricket World Cup (14 February – 29 March) – Australia & New Zealand
The premier showpiece in world cricket and the one that keeps getting away from South Africa takes place in Australia and New Zealand. The pitches down under largely suit the South African team, but the format does not. Two groups of 7 before 3 knock out stage games. It should be reminded that the Proteas have never won a knockout match at the World Cup (lost Semi final in 1992, QF in 1996, SF in 1999, SF in 2007 and QF in 2011) and you can bet if it happens again the headlines will all begin with “Ch…”. SA play against Zimbabwe (15 Feb), India (22 Feb), West Indies (27 Feb), Ireland (3 March), Pakistan (7 March) & UAE (12 March) before the Quarter Finals begin.
2. CAF African Cup of Nations (17 January – 18 February) – Equatorial Guinea
Bafana Bafana have qualified for a tournament for the first time since the 2008 AFCON (Only qualified for 2013 as hosts) and although the tournament undertook a last-minute move (Morrocco were scared to host this, but still hosted the FIFA Club World Cup and a few high-profile friendlies) the excitement is starting to build as Bafana are at a tournament on merit for the first time in 7 years. A tough group awaits Bafana with matches against Algeria (19 January), Senegal (23 January) and Ghana (27 January) in a quest to make the knock out stages
1. Rugby World Cup (18 September – 31 October) – England
The last time the Rugby World Cup was in Europe it was the Springboks who took home the prize and in 2015 South Africa will be looking to do the same again. The big three will all look to be the first nation to win the Web Ellis Trophy for the third time, while New Zealand want to be the first defending champions to win it again. If the Springboks win their pool they could face the hosts in the Quarter Finals and that is exciting enough already. Hopefully Heyneke and his men can do us proud.
What event are you most looking forward to in 2015???