By John Tuerijama
TTHE senior national hockey women’s team will unlock all its arsenal during the upcoming women’s Africa hockey road to Tokyo 2020 tournament pencilled from 12 to 18 August in Stellenbosch, South Africa in the hope of qualifying for the Olympic Summer Games.
Namibia is looking to end the campaign on the grandest stand as they hope to meet neighbouring South Africa in the final by avoiding the South African in the semi-final stages.
Speaking to Confidente this week senior national team head coach Erwin Handura said they have added three experienced players who will be able to bring depth to the squad during the tournament.
“These are players who were not part of the 2020 Olympic Games qualifying campaign in Valencia, Spain earlier this year. They are currently based in South Africa and we expect them to raise the bar during the campaign.”
Alhough Handura hoped to play South Africa in the final his charges have another daunting task to overcome in the group stages of the tournament, and that is overcoming another hockey power house Ghana.
“We need to beat Ghana on 14 August in what is expected to be an epic battle. We will open up our campaign against Uganda on 12 August and end the group stages against Zimbabwe on 15 August,” said Handura.
He noted that since returning from Spain the team has been hard at work during the training camp, as they focused more on fitness of players, conditioning and speed, all of which the coach expressed satisfaction with.
Handura added that only the winning team will qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, thus the inclusion of Marcia Venter, Phea Gerber and Marian Laubscher will come in handy to ensure a successful campaign.
He added that another objective is to come out as runners-up of the tournament, as that will work in Namibia’s favour in terms of world ranking and accumulating points that could be beneficial to Namibia’s 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification.
“This Africa qualification is our very last throw of the dice to qualify for Tokyo, it is very important for us to do well. As you know, Ghana is rated 32nd in the world and South Africa are ranked 15th, while we are ranked 40th. The last time we played Ghana was in 2015 where we lost by 1-0 during the Africa Cup of Nations in Randburg, South Africa.”
“We must finish top of the group to avoid South Africa in the semi-final and players have given their all during the training camp and I expect a good showing, even better than the performance we displayed in Spain,” he enthused.
He said the national women’s side had between April and June played ten international matches, which helped shape the team’s performance, adding that the battle-lines will be drawn in South Africa during the continental spectacle.
Players are Magreth Mengo (captain), Petro Stoffberg, Sunelle Ludwig, Jocelle Deysel, Emilia Kashapola, Jahntwa Kruger, Cele Wessels, Taramarie Myburg, Jerrica Bartlett, Gillian Hermanus, Ina Louis, Berencia Diamond, Armin van Staden, Phea Gerber, Joanne van Rooyen, Jivanka Kruger and Marian Laubscher.