South Africa’s beach volleyballers are brimming with confidence as they head into the knockout stages of the African Games unbeaten, writes GARY LEMKE in Rabat.
The men’s doubles pairing of Grant Goldschmidt and Leo Williams go into their quarter-final match against Nigeria on Sale Beach on Tuesday full of belief after topping their group in qualifying.
‘We are relaxed and confidence is high,’ said Goldschmidt. ‘We have watched them [Nigeria] a few times and Leo and I believe we have a good game plan set up for them. We are also armed with the knowledge – and the confidence that comes with it – that we beat them earlier this year on their own turf, or sand to be specific,’ he laughed.
Williams agreed. ‘We are in good form at the moment and if we play to our potential tomorrow we should put ourselves into a good position to take the win. Aside from some minor sinus issues we are feeling good after having the last two days off, and being able to relax.
‘We have been working on our serving quite a lot and will be looking to put Nigeria under pressure through our serves. Our focus levels, as well as our urgency we brought to the Games have been our strong points and we are going all out to keep it up in the remaining matches,’ Williams added.
The Cape Town pair, who have been together since 2013 and practise regularly on Camps Bay beach, will be looking to continue their fine form in the tournament, where they have yet to drop a set. They started off on Sale Beach, in Rabat, beating their Ghananian opponents 21-9, 21-10 in just 25 minutes, then beat Sudan 21-11, 21-7 (26 mins) and closed out their pool with a 21-16, 21-8 victory over Sierra Leona in 34 minutes.
At 11am (12 noon SA time) they come up against the Nigerian pair of Godwin Sam and Goodluck Anyasodike in their quarter-final encounter. The winners of that match will play in the semi-finals against the winners of Angola and hosts Morocco.
Beach volleyball is one of three codes competing at the African Games on Tuesday – the other two being table tennis and men’s football.
In the football, the men’s U20s open their campaign against Nigeria at 1pm (2pm SA time). The women’s U20s lost their opening game on Saturday to Nigeria 3-0.