South Africa’s 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.
“The SA men’s team beat Namibia in all three of their matches, starting with an absolute cracker in the opening match,” said SA striker Gavin Jelley.
SA outplayed the Namibian side 10-4 in that first Test with the goals scored by Jelley (2), PG 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 the 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 playoff match [for a berth in the 2015 Indoor Hockey World Cup finals tournament],” said Jelley. “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 was their reward.
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 procession, 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); PG 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).