Things are changing in South African Hockey and those changes have an aura of positivity surrounding them. Yesterday tickets went on sale for the Greenfields African Hockey Championship in Randburg. Yes you read that right, pre-sale tickets for a hockey event. That may seem strangely positive, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Last week, in a massive step in the right direction, the media were invited to a media day for the African Hockey Championship which runs from the 23 October to my birthday on the 1 November. It’s also the tournament that determines who has qualified for the final spot at the Rio Olympics in 2016 (We will talk about that shorlty). Lets look at the key things you need to know to prepare you for the first International hockey in Johannesburg since 2012.
Whats it all for?
The Greenfields African Hockey Championship is a FIH endorsed Olympic Qualifying event. In essence that means that whoever wins the tournament will qualify for the Olympic Games in terms of the qualification criteria as set out by the International Olympic Committee. In the mens tournament you would join already qualified Brazil (hosts), India (Asian Games), Germany, Canada, Spain, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain (all World League), Argentina (Pan American Games), Netherlands (Euro Cup) and the winner of the Oceania Games which commenced today. For the ladies the tournament the winners would qualify alongside South Korea (Asia), China, Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India (all World League), United States (Pan American Games), Great Britain (EuroHockey Nations) and the winner of the Oceania Games running side by side with the Mens.
Once the winner has qualified, it will then be up to their national Olympic Committee (SASCOC here in South Africa), to determine if they will be sending a team. The SA Hockey teams must put SASCOC in the position where they have to answer the question.
Who will be taking part?
The Mens tournament will feature nine teams split into two pools. Pool A features five countries; defending champions SA (ranked 15th in the world) along with the 2013 event’s fourth-placed Ghana (41), plus Zimbabwe (55), Namibia (Unranked) and Botswana (Unranked).
The silver medallists two years ago in this biannual competition, Egypt (20), top Pool B ahead of bronze medallists Kenya (39), who were the hosts at City Park Stadium in Nairobi, with Tanzania (73) and Nigeria (unranked) making up the field.
Cross pool semi-finals will then be played before the final takes place on the 1 November.
The Ladies tournament however sees a low of just seven teams entering the tournament; reigning champs South Africa (ranked 11th in the world), the 2013 finalists Ghana (31), as well as Kenya (37), Tanzania (46), Nigeria (53), Zimbabwe (55) and Namibia (unranked).
The women’s will play in a round-robin format. The team with the most points by the end of the round-robin will win the right to be the African continent’s representative at the Rio Olympics.
Who are the most likely to cause South Africa problems?
South Africa will be the favourites for the tournaments as the infrastructure and facilities here are far superior to those our opposition have. It’s also one of the few tournaments where South Africa are the most professional side. Just read this write-up by Tanzania Hockey to understand the circumstances they faced just to get to South Africa.
For the men you have to look at continental rivals and victors of the most recent meeting between the two sides when they met in the World League Round 2 early in 2015, that is Egypt. Egypt were supposed to host the tournament before the FIH decided to move the tournament to South Africa for safety concerns. This will have irked the Egyptians as their usual mind games and atrocious standards of hosting the South Africans would have to be removed from their arsenal. The other major challenge for the men is that our squad have only just assembled and we will only announce the squad today, we also will be mindful of what happened in our last tournament we hosted when we marched undefeated to the knock out games before falling short against Egypt.
Ghana will present the hardest competition for the South African ladies once again. The battle is a lot more physical than the usual pace that the ladies face and will also have to guard against complacency as they take on some of the developing nations of World hockey.
Who is in the South African Squads?
The ladies squad was named quite a while ago and they have been training together for a while. The team looked in good shape at the media day and still look strong despite the retirements of Marsha Cox and Pietie Coetzee as well as the unavailability of Kelly Madsen (Injured), Sulette Damons (Injured) and Marcelle Manson (Pregnant). The ladies squad is:
Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs, Christine Roos, Toni Marks, Shelly Russell, Bernie Coston, Lilian du Plessis (all Southern Gauteng); Anelle van Deventer, Celia Evans (both North West); Nicolene Terblanche, Dirkie Chamberlain (both Northern Blues); Candice Manuel, Illse Davids, Jade Mayne, Tarryn Bright (all Western Province); Tanya Britz, Nicole Walraven, Cornelle Botha (all Free State).
As mentioned previously the Men have only just pulled together from around the world and the squad will be announced today. We know that Austin Smith and Justin Reid-Ross are injured while Clinton Panther is unavailable. We should see a team that includes Rhett Halkett, Jethro Eustice, Daniel Bell, Rassie Pieterse, Gareth Heyns, Matthew Guise-Brown, Julian Hykes and Dan Sibbald amongst others. Rhett would be our choice of captain alongside Jonty Robinson if the long-haired defender is in the mix. We will post the squad on our social media channels.
Some Ticketing information?
Tickets have gone on sale and are available on Ticketpros and start at R30 for Scholars with R200 hospitality packages available as well. Lets fill the home of hockey in South Africa (Sorry Hartleyvale) like we did last time international hockey was here!
Where can we see the fixtures?
Right here, its a pleasure.
Stay tuned to All Things Jabu throughout the tournament as we will share content about hockey and the tournament that you will find nowhere else. You can also keep an eye on www.sahockey.co.za, Run Ride Dive and The Pundits who will give hockey the quality attention it deserves!