Despite losing a number of senior players, a young NMMU-Madibaz team will be out to make an impact in the first round of the Varsity Hockey tournament that starts at the University of Johannesburg on Friday.
Coach Cheslyn Gie said they would target an improvement after ending sixth in the 2014 edition of the biennial event.
“Our aim is to be in the top four,” he said. “Our strategy will differ for each team, depending on where their strengths lie.”
Gie said they would rely on some of their remaining senior members to assist with their strategy.
“Players like current national star Ignatius Malgraff, with his amazing speed and skill, and Chad Cairncross, who has improved his flicking ability, will play big roles.”
Goalkeeper Chad Durrheim, who has represented in the SA squad in the past year, would also be a key element, said Gie.
With the SA interprovincial only having finished last Saturday, Gie said the squad’s preparations had been slightly behind.
“We have given those coming back from the interprovincial a rest and not having lights at our new facility has also affected our practice times.”
With the Madibaz playing four games this weekend, plus a further four from May 13 to 16 after only a three-day break, Gie said the depth of the squads would be crucial.
He named champions UJ, along with Maties and Tuks, as the top contenders.
Gie said his players were excited to face all of their rivals and would do their best in the tournament.
NMMU’s fixtures are: UCT (May 6), Wits, (May 7), Maties (May 8) and Tuks (May 9).