The African Cup of Nations hockey tournament starts in Accra, Ghana this weekend and the South African men’s and women’s hockey teams will be looking to take another step closer to next year’s World Cup tournaments.
Victory in Ghana means they go through to their respective cup events.
The Cup of Nations has been reduced to a four-nations tournament following the withdrawal of Kenya. The other teams taking part are Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria.
The South African men start their campaign with a match against hosts Ghana tonight, while the women play their first match, against Nigeria, on Saturday.
“South African are definitely the favorites,” said Jenny King, coach of the SPAR South African women’s hockey team. “But the International Hockey Federation has been pumping money into hockey in Africa, so we may find things a bit tougher this time” adds King
The women finished in third position in a recent four-nations tournament in Durban, which featured Argentina, Australia and India.
Although they failed to reach the final against teams ranked well above them King was very happy that they had played competitively in Durban.
The men’s team are fresh from victory in a four-nation’s tournament in Russia, where they beat Russia, Canada and Bangladesh to claim the gold medal.
Although the women, who are ranked 12th in the world, well ahead of any other African country, appear likely winners of the Cup of Nations, the men may have a more difficult task.
Currently ranked 16th, they could face some stiff opposition from Egypt, who are ranked 21st.┬á Egypt beat South Africa in the league section at the last All Africa Games in 2007, although the Proteas came back to beat Egypt in the final.
Spar South African women — Mariette Rix (WP), Hanli Hattingh (WP), Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (SG), Lenise Marais (WP), Cindy Brown (WP), Kim Hubach (Nor), Marsha Marescia (SG), Kelly Madsen (Kzn Coast), Kathleen Taylor (WP), Loreen Irvine (NW), Roxy Turner (SG), Farah Fredericks (WP), Vida Ryan (WP), Shelley Russells (WP), Cindy Botha (Kzn Coast), Vidette Ryan (WP), Jade Mayne (WP), Julia Cass (SG).
Men — Rassie Pieterse (WP), Brendon Botes (EP), Rhett Halkett (Nor), Justin Reid-Ross (Kzn Coastals), Lloyd Madsen (Kzn Coastals), Gareth Carr (Kzn Coastals), Lance Louw (SG), Paul Blake (WP), Austin Smith (WP), Tommy Hammond (Kzn Inlands), Wade Paton (Kzn Coastals), Lungile Tsolekile (WP), Ian Haley (WP), Lloyd Norris Jones (SG), Miguel da Graca (SG), Julian Hykes (Bor), Marvin Harper (Kzn Coastals), Thornton McDade (SG).