The South African U21 Men’s side are currently in India as they prepare to take part in the countries fifth FIH Hockey Junior World Cup. Under the tutelage of the brilliant Garreth Ewing there is a massive sense of anticipation as the men begin their journey against Canada on Thursday this week. As always we love to support our national hockey teams here at Sports 24 Seven and like to give as much information as we can.
The squad for the South African side was named quite long ago and they have been together for some great camps and importantly, as well as impressively, as the Golden Gate Gladiators in the Premier Hockey League. The team made huge waves by qualifying for the IPT final and were unlucky to not make the final of the PHL losing out to the champion Cavemen in the semi-final. The squad is also littered with a few players that have featured for the SA Mens side including Ryan Julius, Nqobilie Ntuli, Tevin Kok, Charles Bowren and team captain Alex Stewart. In goal Ewing is able to call on two of the most exciting keepers in SA history while there is a massive sense of excitement when you hear the name Ryan Crowe. Many pundits view this as the most well selected SA U21 side in history.
South Africa have been selected in Group D alongside the hosts India, European powerhouses England and Pan-American runners up Canada. Here is what they can expect from their pool opposition.
As champions of Asia, host nation India will be rightly considered as one of the favourites for the title in Lucknow. The team is packed full of high quality individuals, including senior internationals Harmanpreet Singh (another nominee for the 2016 FIH Rising Star of the Year award), Mandeep Singh, goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya, captain Harjeet Singh and Ajit Panday. With over 60 senior international appearances, 21-year-old striker Mandeep is the most experienced player of the squad, having represented his country at numerous major events including the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 and the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy 2016.
The European bronze medallists have named a strong side for Lucknow, featuring 14 of the athletes who came fourth behind Australia, Pakistan and Japan at the recent Sultan of Johor Cup, where Will Calnan and Jack Clee both scored three goal each. Jonty Griffiths, James Alberry, Chris Proctor and James Gall, the captain, are competing in their second successive Junior World Cup, having all been part of the squad that finished 14th three years ago in New Delhi.
Canada got off to a poor start at the Junior Pan-Am Championship on home soil in Toronto earlier this year, losing to Mexico before winning four successive matches to seal a place in the competition final. Argentina proved to be just too strong for the Canadians in the gold medal match, but they had done enough to secure their Junior World Cup ticket. Team captain Brandon Pereira and Kabir Aujla both scored four times for Canada on the way to their silver medal in Toronto and will be looking to continue the fine form in Lucknow. 16-year-old Rowan Childs is the youngest player in the competition.
History in the Hockey Junior World Cup
South Africa are at their fifth straight FIH Hockey Junior World Cup. In 2001 the South African U21 team failed to emerge into the top half from a group that featured against Netherlands, South Korea and France. They eventually beat Malaysia 7-5 to claim 11th spot, our best performance so far. In 2005 South Africa almost upset Germany leading 2-0 in the last 15 thanks to Justin Reid-Ross and Austin Smith, but ultimately fell short. South Africa blitzed their opponents in the non-medal round to finish 13th. With a little bit of luck that side could have finished in the top 6.
2009 saw 20 teams take part in four groups of five. South Africa finished third in their group after a Taine Paton and Clinton Panther inspired victory over Chile and a draw against Japan. In the second group stage South Africa struggled losing to Poland and Malaysia. Eventually the SA Men beat England on penalties as they sealed 15th place.
Our last venture in 2013 to the FIH Hockey Junior World Cup featured now National players Andrew Manson, Dylan Swanepoel, Dan Bell and Matthew Guise-Brown. Having finished third SA went to the 9-12 bracket where they met an inspired Pakistan side and ultimately fell short of the equal best finish when they lost to Argentina in the playoff game.
More great news was released last month as the South African Hockey Association confirmed that Supersport would be covering the majority of the matches that will be played at the Junior World Cup. Marissa Langeni, CEO of SAHA said: “For the 2016 event, 40 of the men’s JWC games, including all of South Africa men’s matches, the semi-finals and the finals will be broadcast live across selected SuperSport channels. We are grateful for SuperSport’s investment and commitment to growing hockey within South Africa.” We have to agree!
Remember to follow the action on the FIH Website and through social media via #RockTheJuniors