A relatively youthful Madibaz men’s squad will be eager to make an impact when they compete in the Varsity Hockey tournament, starting in Johannesburg on Friday.
Since the last time the men’s competition was held in 2016, the Nelson Mandela University squad have lost a number of key players, including Ignatius Malgraff, Cerezo Comerasamy and Chad Cairncross.
However, they have attracted a number of young, talented players from Eastern Cape schools and coach Cheslyn Gie said it was a chance for them to grab the limelight.
“This is a huge opportunity for some of the first years at Nelson Mandela University to show their ability,” he said.
“I am looking forward to seeing youngsters like Jared de Kock, Christopher Wynford, José Smith (Grey High), Joshua Engole, Brodie Fanoe (Selborne) and Jacque Potgieter and Jason McGillivray (Pearson) provide an example of the strength of our local schools talent.”
With an eye on finishing in the top four, the Madibaz mentor said they had undergone extensive preparations.
“Besides the off-season training, the squad have had two gym sessions and two field sessions on a weekly basis since varsity started in February.
“We also played several warm-up games and have developed our playing pattern in two Premier league matches.”
This was followed by a training camp over the long weekend where they developed “a few more new concepts and worked on our playing shape”.
One of the specific strategies Madibaz had focused on was to work on their counter-attacks, said Gie.
“The power play has been extended to three minutes and in this time the defending team will be down to nine players.
“With teams looking to score during this period, we see this as a chance to score ourselves and have been concentrating on our counter-attacks.”
He felt their biggest challenge would be to travel up early on Friday and then to play their first match that evening.
“This will be physically taxing on the players, but we will be working on conserving our energy for the match.”
Madibaz play their first match against Stellenbosch on Friday at 5pm.