Ghana prepare for Africa hockey Cup of Nations
22 October 2013, 12:07
Nairobi - Ghana have confirmed the participation in this year's Africa Hockey Cup of Nations scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya, from November 18-24.
Both the female and male senior national hockey teams have been training at the nation's foremost hockey pitch in the national capital, Accra, since February, this year, ahead of the continental event.
Winfred Sackey, head coach of the Black Sticks, Ghana's male national hockey team, told Xinhua on Monday his side was well poised to take the tournament by storm, hoping to reach for the ultimate.
He was hopeful the team would make an impact in the one-week cup of nations to qualify for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Cup in The Netherlands in 2014.
"We started training in February and have been training since then. Our standard level is very high and I think we are ready for the tournament," he told Xinhua in an interview.
"Our chances of winning the coveted prize are bright and we hope to qualify for the world cup next year," he said.
The tournament, which was to be staged in Nairobi at the beginning of October, was postponed at the last minute after a terror attack linked to Somali-based Al Shabaab hit the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people and injuring another 175.
Four countries have withdrawn from the tournament, citing security concerns and lack of funds.
Namibia, Nigeria, and The Seychelles will join another bigwig Egypt, who pulled out of the tournament two months ago because they could not get sufficient time to train back home due to the political uprising in Egypt.
This leaves South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya as the only teams who have confirmed their participation.
Both men and women's competitions will follow the one-pool league format.
The two top teams will clash for the ultimate prize and the right to represent Africa at the 2014 FIH World Cup in The Hague, The Netherlands.
This will be the second time Kenya will be staging the tournament, having hosted it back in 1995.
Nairobi also hosted the Olympic qualifiers in 2007.
The inaugural men's African Cup of Nations was held in Cairo, Egypt, where Ghana won the crown. The inaugural women's African Cup of Nations was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, with the host claiming the title.
Both male and female hockey teams won bronze medals in the Hockey competition at the 2011 All Africa Games, which was played in Zimbabwe due to the lack of facilities by the host nation, Mozambique.