Yesterday the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced the groups for the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup to be hosted in Berlin in February next year. With all but one spot finalised, the 12 teams in both Men’s and Women’s tournaments have been divided into two groups of 6. The top 4 will qualify for the Quarter Finals, which should be a definite goal for the African nations.
Africa’s hopes at the tournament will rest on the South African Men, affectionately known as the BlitzStoks, and Namibia’s women who caused a major upset when they qualified for their second Indoor World Cup earlier this year. In the Men’s tournament, there will be no defending champion after Netherlands failure to qualify meaning Germany will be the favourites to regain the title they have won three times.
The South African men will have to face off against Asian champions Iraq, and a four-party European attack including European Runners-up Austria, bronze medalists Russia, Belgium (who won EuroHockey Indoor Championship Division II) and Switzerland. All five opponents are ranked above South Africa in the World Rankings and it offers coach Pierre le Roux’s men a great opportunity to make a statement in the tournament.
The Namibian ladies, who this week cut their squad to 17 players, will have to face Australia who they beat in Durban in 2015, the hosts Germany, Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic in the slightly easier-looking pool. Of course, hockey is not decided on paper so they will be looking to make sure the efforts put in behind the scenes make an impact on the court.
MENS GROUPS AND SCHEDULE
LADIES GROUPS AND SCHEDULE
We will continue to build the excitement to the indoor hockey World Cup here on Sports 24 Seven as we look to run a few giveaways, interviews and of course squad announcements. You will also be able to follow the Indoor IPT on the site as Sports 24 Seven continues to be a leading voice of indoor hockey.