Adjusting to a different format at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) hockey tournament will be one of the biggest challenges for the NMMU-Madibaz men’s and women’s teams in Johannesburg next week.
The annual varsity event will take place at Wits from Monday to Friday, with the men’s Madibaz team determined to show what they are capable of after featuring in the last two finals.
Coach Cheslyn Gie said their main challenge would be to adjust to the playing conditions adopted by USSA, where matches are played over four quarters of 15 minutes each.
“We don’t play that format in our EP league and we saw the effects of this in the Varsity Hockey competition earlier this year.
“The strategy per quarter changes and we struggled to make the adjustment to the fast pace in the fourth.”
The Madibaz have also struggled to replace experienced players Dalan Phillips, who now coaches the women’s team, and Jason Maclachlan.
The Madibaz held a two-week camp to prepare for the USSA week and Gie said they were aiming to make the semifinals for a start.
“Our goalkeepers Chad Durrheim and Muzzamil Sheik will be vital defence players, as well as captain Grant Kapp, who had a great Varsity Hockey tournament.
“Chad Cairncross is our drag-flicker and if he scores a few goals, we will be in with a very big chance. Up front our strikers Ignatius Malgraff and Cerezo Comerasmy are very good as a combination.”
With EP not having sent a team to the interprovincial this year, Phillips said the Madibaz women had not had much competitive hockey and were currently in a rebuilding phase.
The women’s team have lost five players from last year, including former SA player Nicole Kemp and goalkeeper Saskia Cressey.
However, Gie remained upbeat.