The fifth hockey indoor World Cup will be held in Berlin, Germany, this week with the first games taking place on Wednesday and the finals scheduled for next Sunday.
The four-day tournament will see plenty of action-packed encounters and promises to be an engrossing event.
The South African men’s team had to qualify via the African Cup, which they clinched in a nail-biting clash against a classy Namibian outfit in Windhoek.
The Namibian men’s and women’s indoor hockey squads have improved dramatically over the last few years, so much so that their women’s side beat South Africa in their final to secure their first ever spot in the World Cup finals.
The South African men’s team have been preparing for the tournament with weekly training camps as well as playing in the superb Pro Series Indoor (PSI) series against world-class opposition in December.
The team has been together for some time and have become a cohesive and settled unit. There are nine KZN players in the 12-man squad and this continuity stands the squad in good stead.
Six players remain from the last World Cup in 2015 in Leipzig, and these players will bring valuable experience to the side.
Coach Pierre le Roux shared his thoughts on the squad: “It is rich with experience and the players selected have performed well over the past three years. We believe this consistency and maturity will be beneficial in the World Cup environment.”
Ryan Julius, the sole Western Province player in the squad, is excited about the tournament: “We have prepared well and cannot wait to get started. The players are all fit and we believe that if we execute our skills properly we will be more than competitive.”
SA (12th seeds) are drawn in a tough pool with newly-crowned European champions, Austria (2) and finalists Belgium (16) in their pool.
They will also face Russia (4), Iran (7) and Switzerland (8) and will do well to progress as far as the quarter-finals.
SA Indoor Team
Chris McCathie (GK) KZN, Richard Curtis (GK) KZN, Matthew Fairweather KZN, Justin Domleo KZN, Robin Jones KZN, Wade Paton KZN, Jethro Eustice KZN, Mohamed Mea KZN, Rusten Abrahams SG, Reza Rosenberg SG, Ryan Julius WP, Jarryd Jones KZN.
7 February: SA v Russia, SA v Austria
8 February: SA v Switzerland, SA v Iran
9 February: SA v Belgium