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Namibia ready for World Cup

NAMIBIA’s men head into the Indoor Hockey World Cup in confident mood after completing three successive victories in warm-up matches this week.

The quadrennial showpiece will be held in Africa for the first time, with the action getting underway on Sunday at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria, when Namibia’s men take on the Netherlands, while Namibia’s women take on Kazakhstan.

On Tuesday, Namibia beat the USA 4-1 and followed that up with two more impressive victories against Australia (4-2) on Wednesday, and Argentina (7-3) on Thursday morning.

Against Australia, Namibia took a 1-0 halftime lead after a field goal by Dylan Finch, but stepped up the tempo with two more goals by Ernest Jacobs and Liam Hermanus to go 3-0 ahead in the third quarter.

Nico Neethling made it 4-0 before Australia replied with two field goals in the final quarter.

Against Argentina, the teams were tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter before Namibia edged into a 2-1 halftime lead. Namibia once again upped the tempo, going 4-1 ahead before completing an impressive 7-3 victory.

Liam Hermanus led the way, scoring a hat-trick, while Percy Barthram, Dylan Finch, Ernest Jacobs and Nico Neethling scored one goal each.

Namibia coach Trevor Cormack said he was very happy with their performances.

“I don’t think we could have asked for anything better than to win all three our preparation games. There’s still a bit of work to do, but we will hopefully solve that by virtue of our video analysis,” he said.

“I think after our three warmup victories we are very confident and adamant that we can give a good account of ourselves at the world cup now,” he added.

Namibia, which is ranked 16th in the world, will, however, face a much tougher task against the Netherlands, who are ranked seventh, compared to the USA (18th) and Argentina (19th), while Australia is ranked 10th.

“The Netherlands game will be a huge step-up from the three games that we have played, but we are going to take on the challenge and do our utmost to at least make sure that there is a respectable result from the game,” Cormack said.

“The team is looking very good, there are no injuries, they are fit and in good spirits, so the camp is very positive and I couldn’t have asked for better preparations ahead of our opening game,” he added.

Namibia’s women, meanwhile, have arrived in Pretoria from the Netherlands where they played several matches against the Dutch national side and top clubs, and although the results were not too positive, coach Erwin Handura said they had learnt a lot.

“It was a bit tough, we had to get used to the cold, the snow and the rain, but through all those obstacles we still managed to train and played seven matches against top sides,” he said.

“In the beginning we had to get used to the surfaces, the speed of the ball, and the system the Netherlands use – they put you under a lot of pressure where you have to think fast and your ball speed must be good,” he added.

“I think it was more about adaptation which we did quite well so the emphasis was not so much on winning. I think mentally, physically and spiritually we have come back stronger, and this is probably the best preparation I’ve ever had before the world cup. So for us this was a perfect preparation and we are looking forward to transform our preparation into the competition,” he said.

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