Zim Under-21 hockey team dreams big

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BY MAGRETH RUZVIDZO

The Zimbabwe’s Under-21 ladies field hockey team has set itself an ambitious target to reach classification stage when it competes at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

The tournament will start later this week, with coach Tendayi Maredza saying they were not in South Africa to make up the numbers.

Maredza and his squad arrived in South Africa on Sunday and will play a fine-tuning match against Wales tomorrow before their tournament opener against Canada on Friday. The tournament will run from April 1-12 and there are 16 teams taking part.

Maredza said he was happy with the preparations although he felt there were some areas that needed some finishing touches before the first game.

“Preparations for the tournament have been good. We are just putting some finishing touches, we have got a couple of sessions here and then we will have a warm-up game on Wednesday against Wales,” Maredza said.

“We are working on our field corners, set plays and our structure a bit before the warm-up game.”

He believes that the team is balanced, and is banking on some experienced players in the squad to carry the day against Canada.

“The squad is a strong squad and obviously there is a bit of experience with some girls having been part of the Youth Olympic teams and the National Ladies team. But here it’s a tournament, a World Cup, where everyone wants to win, so we will take it one game at a time and see how it goes,” he said.

“Our main target is to progress to the classification, so if we can come second in our group, that is our main target at the moment. The girls are looking forward to the tournament and we are going to take it one day at a time.”

Zimbabwe has been drawn in Pool A together with powerhouses Netherlands, Canada and United States.

“It’s a tough group. Obviously, all those teams are good teams and they will be looking forward to winning their games, so we are going to this tournament as the underdogs and we will try our best to win some of the games and pull some shockers.

The 16 teams participating in this tournament are grouped in four pools. Pool B has England, Ireland, South Africa and Ukraine while Pool C consists of Argentina, Korea, Austria and Uruguay.

Germany, India, Malaysia and Wales make up Pool D.

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