SA men’s and women’s indoor hockey qualify for World Cup finals

2014-04-19 00:00

THE South Africa men’s and women’s indoor hockey teams have qualified for the 2015 Indoor Hockey World Cup finals after defeating Namibia in three-Test Africa Qualifier series in Windhoek.

The SA men notched a 3-0 series win, with the SA women’s side winning 2-1.

The Indoor World Cup finals will be held in Leipzig, Germany, from February 3 to 8 next year.

SA outplayed the Namibian side 10-4 in the first Test, with the goals scored by Gavin Jelley (2), P.G. Geldenhuys (2), Geoff Abbott (2), and one apiece for Matt Fairweather, Jarryd Jones, Dale Isaac and Shaun Davenhill.

On Saturday, the SA men won 7-1, and on Sunday 6-1, with the goals in those two Test matches coming from Jelley (2), Justin Domleo, Geldenhuys (4), Abbott, Andrew Cronje, Keagan Kieck (2) and Isaac (2) to cement their place in Germany.

With one win and one loss, the SA women’s team had a battle on their hands going into Sunday’s play-off match for a World Cup berth. On Friday, they beat Namibia 3-1, but came unstuck on Saturday, having been edged 4-3, so only a win or draw would see them going to Germany.

The SA women, coached by Lennie Botha, rose to the occasion in that final countdown to the IHWC, emphatically winning the showdown clash 4-1 and a ticket to Germany.

SA men’s coach Ryan Hack was impressed with the performance of his side in Windhoek.

“The guys played really well and dominated all three Test matches,” said Hack. “Having qualified after the first two Tests, it also gave us an opportunity to play the European system, which, when in possession, you play with five players, having taken your ’keeper off.”

The advantage is that you have created an extra “field” player. It’s a high-risk tactical call, as with the absence of your Michelin Man-protected ’keeper, it means your goals are pretty bare of defensive hardware when your opponents are in possession.

“It requires a lot of patience, as well as having to be clinical,” said Hack. “If I’m honest, we played this system the best over the three Test matches, with Namibia only being awarded a single [penalty] corner, which was very encouraging.

“It also proved to be a fantastic opportunity for guys to get a taste of international indoor hockey and although we were not tested, as we will most certainly be going forward, it was a great opportunity that has left the guys wanting more.”

Hack said that with the rapid growth in the numbers of schoolboys and schoolgirls now playing indoor hockey, largely through the Pro Series Indoor (PSI) franchises scattered around the country and both the SA men and women qualifying for the IHWC, it’s a very exciting time for the indoor format of the sport in South Africa.

“With qualification now secured, we are looking forward to the Indoor Hockey World Cup next year,” the SA mentor added.

SA INDOOR HOCKEY TEAMS

Men: Richard Curtis, Matt Fairweather, Jarryd Jones, Geoff Abbott, Shaun Davenhill (all KZN Coastal); Chris McCathie, Justin Domleo, Gavin Jelley (all KZN Inland); P.G. Geldenhuys, Keagan Kieck (all Southern Gauteng); Andrew Cronje, Dale Isaac (both WP).

Women: Amy Greaves, Eloise Walters, Taryn de Winnaar, Tracy Bestall, Tracy Martens (all KZN Inland); Faye Cooper (KZN Inland B); Jessica O’Connor, Kara Stella, Kelly Madsen, Michelle Cogle, Shelley Freyer (all KZN Coastal); Jeanine Granger (Southern Gauteng).

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