THE Zimbabwe national men’s hockey team went into camp in Bulawayo yesterday ahead of their departure for the African Olympic Qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa, an event which will run from 23 October to 1 November.
The Colin Williams-coached men’s team will have an opportunity to use the turf at Khumalo Hockey Stadium before they head off to South Africa by road tomorrow.
Team manager Kalpesh Parshotam said players from Harare and Hippo Valley will join their Bulawayo-based counterparts in camp, albeit for a few days.
However, Williams appears to have thrown in the towel even before they kick the ball saying that he was not expecting much from the qualifiers at Randburg Hockey Stadium due to “poor” preparations. The coach revealed that he would be satisfied with either a third or fourth place finish.
Zimbabwe had initially pulled out of the qualifiers which were initially scheduled for Egypt due to prohibitive travelling costs but that changed when the qualifiers were shifted to South Africa.
“We have been training in Bulawayo, the preparations have not been great, with eight weeks to try to raise money. We have been training everyday, that is just training, we are going to be short on match preparedness, I will be happy if we finish third or fourth. We need to get hockey back on track in Zimbabwe,’’ said Williams.
Led by locally based midfielder Tendayi Maredza of Hippo Valley, the Zimbabwe men’s team will pin their hopes on players such as vice-captain Rowland Rixon-Fuller who Williams described as playing top hockey in Ireland, the South Africa based trio of Warwick Ulrich, Tinavo Mushavi and Takudzwa Mangwenedeza.
Zimbabwe men will take on hosts South Africa on Friday, then Namibia three days later, before squaring it off against Botswana the following day with another clash against Ghana on 29 October.
Meanwhile, the Eddie Chiringa-coached women’s teams depart for SA on Tuesday. Part of the travelling party will fly while others will go by road. Chiringa said they had a training session in Harare last weekend which was attended by locally based players. The Zimbabwe women will play their preliminary matches against Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Namibia.
The teams will be presented with playing kit they will use in South Africa before departure. The uniforms are sponsored by Tongaat Hullets and ZOL who put in a combined $6 500 for the playing kits as well as tracksuits. They were sourced by former Hockey Association of Zimbabwe president Mark Manolios.
According to a statement from HAZ, the handover for the men will be done at Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo this afternoon, while the women’s donation will be done at Arundel Village in Harare.
Men: Arnold Mpofu, Cydreck Starch, Dominic Ashley, Donald Mutupo, Edwin Tholanah, Matthew Williams, Takudzwa Mangwenedeza, Michael Richards, Neil Davidson, Peter Trethowan, Pritchard Matambo, Ranga Mungwiniri, Rowland Rixon-Fuller, Takudzwa Chipuma, Tapiwa Mafi, Tendayi Maredza(captain), Tinavo Mushavi, Warwick Ulrich
Women: Jordyn Clipstone, Jaime Haasbroek, Sarah Evans, Jenna Palmer, Stephanie Campbell, Kelly Kaulback, Aimee Nativel, Chantelle Zietsman, Jessica Dollar, Jessica Hilton Barber, Audrey Mangwende, Roxy Viviers, Michelle Williams, Simone Karim, Michelle Mullins, Kelly Diplock, Iman Johnson