ZIMBABWE are set to step up their preparations for the African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 (Men/Women) qualifiers following the recent announcement of the final teams.
Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
The qualifiers will be held in Pretoria, South Africa from October 29 to November 5 at the University of Pretoria.
Hockey Association of Zimbabwe named the final teams last Friday for the qualifiers.
Zimbabwe women’s team coach Bhavik Chauhan (pictured) said their build-up has been going well with the team meeting three times a week.
“We have been very lucky that all the players have been committed…All our preparations have been on track.
“So the aim is getting our tactical plan correct. I think if we are able to understand what our tactical game is, we will be able to counter what all our opposition are able to do. That’s our main key focus at the moment,” said Chauhan.
The winners in each category – men and women qualify for the Olympics.
In the men’s section the second placed team will have another chance to try and qualify at the Olympic round two qualifiers next year.
Zimbabwe’s women are up against South Africa and Nigeria in Pool A.
Chauhan conceded it’s not going to be easy as they face African champions, South Africa in the pool stage but remains optimistic.
The two teams met at the Africa Cup of Nations last year in Ghana and Zimbabwe lost 3-0.
“Definitely extremely difficult. I think we have got South Africa as our first game, they are the current champions for Africa and they have got the highest ranking in Africa, so they are going to be tough.
“But I think we played them last year when we went to Africa Cup in Ghana, we did extremely well, we lost to them . . . But there were lots of opportunities we missed though.
“We have got a great chance . . . So from there, the main objective is to get to the semi-final position and if we are able to get into semi-final spot, that should hopefully be able to help us because the other pool is a lot trickier but at the same time the teams are definitely easier to beat compared to South Africa,” said Chauhan.
Pool B is made up of Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Zambia. HAZ hosted a development series involving Zambia in August and it featured the senior teams as part of the preparations. It also presented the coaches with a platform to assess the players in action, helping in the selection of the final teams.
HAZ secretary general Sarah Bennett said the teams will be intensifying their preparations but due to financial constraints they will not have any pre-tournament competitions.
“So obviously we used that Zambia Series we had in August as a major part with regards to selection. But they are taking up the intensity of their training.So there won’t be any pre-tournament tours or anything obviously due to finances and also you will notice our ladies team is quite young. So we have got some girls who are writing their A-level exams, you have got some involved in the Under-21s, so it’s a really juggling act at the moment.
“Obviously the gentlemen will increase their training whereas the ladies also have to be careful because they also involve some of the Under-21s that are going to the Junior World Cup, who also have their own training programmes,” said Bennett.
Tongai Mukwewa is in charge of the men’s team.
Evans Chikwani, Amos Chomunorwa, Alec Chomunorwa, Gift Chomunorwa (vice-captain), Tinokudzaishe Elijah, Tadiwa Kamusewu, Mutsawashe Kanyangarara, Tatenda Kanyangarara, Phinias Makarara, Eliah Mangere (GK), Pritchard Matambo (captain), Fleming Mazuwa (GK), Asme Mpofu, Arnold Mpofu, Constantine Muchono, Esau Mufandaedza, Tafadzwa Mugore, Onward Shumba.
Brad Heuer, Forbes Motsi, Norman Muchacha, Lucky Sikisa.
Mercedes Beekes, Briony Bray, Kelly Diplock, Roxy Frazer-Mackenzie, Nicolle Grant (captain), Simone Herbst, Iman Johnson, Tatenda Maswera, Jenna Mathieson (GK), Nakai Mujaranji, Tanatswa Mutarumuswa (GK), Farirai Nengare, Natalie Terblanche, Alexi Terblanche (vice-captain), Taya Trivella, Michelle Williams, Rumbidzaiishe Zimuto, Rumbi Zimuto (vice-captain).
Tsungai Chadzinya, Chiyedza Chiseya, Bethel Chiwondzo, Briangh Clark, Athina Mujiba, Kelcy Ndoro, Kaylee Sithole, Reinette Van Heerden.
Pool A: South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda.
Pool B: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia.
Pool A: South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe.
Pool B: Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia.