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Photo - Facebook - Russel Field (Sunlife Vitamins)

It’s been an incredibly tough week in Berlin for the BlitzStoks, having hoped to have closed the gap on the top end of the indoor hockey spectrum, but ultimately have identified differences that are there. Throughout the tournament, the South African men failed to capitalise on their moment of dominance and were then ruthlessly punished by the more efficient opposition. It gives the next era of BlitzStoks something to work on going forward.

Of course, after the disappointment of the group stage, the lads still had to get up for one more time and take on Kazakhstan for the 11th place in the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018. The game itself is worth an additional 50 World ranking points, so there was more than just pride up for grabs.

It was another good first half by the South Africans but this time they did not concede the late goals that have plagued them throughout the tournament and led through two goals from Matthew Fairweather, their skipper, playing in his 30th indoor hockey test match.

In the second half the BlitzStoks raised their game and showed the German crowd how devastating they could be in attack as Jarryd Jones, Ryan Julius and a Jethro Eustice brace took the South Africans to a convincing 6-0 lead that was only scuppered by a late consolation goal for Daulet Urmanov.

So after 6 matches, the BlitzStoks finish 11th, which has equalled their performances in 2007 and 2015, the ranking points will mean that South Africa will probably move into the top 10 in Indoor World Hockey as well. There is also a good sense of pride in the future as Richard Curtis, Jarryd Jones, Mo Mea, Ryan Julius and Rusten Abrahams are all 25 or younger and the experience will prove crucial in the future of South African Indoor Hockey.

Jethro Eustice shared: “FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018, has been an amazing experience. The BlitzStoks tried their best, but the margins are even tighter than anything I would’ve expected. I feel like I left a lot out there. And I wanted to give my best throughout. Just can’t believe how amazing this tournament is and hopefully make this process better for the next group to come through”

Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor.

South Africa Results at the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018

South Africa 0-5 Russia
South Africa 3-6 Austria
South Africa 1-3 Switzerland
South Africa 3-6 Iran
South Africa 2-8 Belgium

11th place Playoff
South Africa 6-1 Kazakhstan


WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

All eyes would have moved from the group stages to the positional playoff game in Berlin, but the BlitzStoks still had a match to play that could alter the tournament for other teams. With that in mind, the South African men headed to the venue to take on the Belgians. It should be remembered that Belgium was on the back of finishing as runner-up at the European Championship.

Once again the BlitzStoks appeared to employ a defensive setup, but in truth, it was just the class of the Belgians putting SA under immense pressure with each wave of attack. Within ten minutes Belgian had scored three goals through Maxime Plennevaux, Gaetan Dykmans, and Tanguy Zimmer. South Africa was offered a glimmer of hope when skipper Matt Fairweather scored and competed gamely for the next 10 minutes. However, on the stroke of half-time, the Belgians re-established their three-goal lead with Dykmans second. 4-1 at half-time and plenty to work on if they were to get back into the game and compete.

The second half followed a similar route before Tom Boon scored a penalty corner goal for the first time in the match by the Belgians. Skipper Matt Fairweather got his second of the game and third of the tournament and it again preceded a good period of opportunity that was not capitalised on. That period of dominance was put to a halt when Plennevaux popped up with his second. As the game wore down, South Africa wore down to and there was time for two more goals for the European Championship silver medallists, with both Tom de Groote and Dykmans getting on the score sheet.

The game had ended 8-2 and with it South Africa’s group stage of fixtures had come to an end without really showing their ability or class consistently enough. They will have one last chance to do so when they take on Kazakhstan for 11 and 12 on Saturday morning. The match is worth an additional 50 world ranking points for the winner and could prove massive in South Africa moving into the top 10 of the World Rankings.

Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor.

South Africa Results at the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018

South Africa 0-5 Russia
South Africa 3-6 Austria
South Africa 1-3 Switzerland
South Africa 3-6 Iran
South Africa 2-8 Belgium

Fixture for 10 February 2018

11th place playoff - Kazakhstan vs. South Africa @ 10:30 (German Time)

Such is the nature of the Indoor Hockey World Cup that South Africa’s BlitzStoks did not have time to wallow in the opening day defeats as the matches come quick and fast. Today the lads took on Switzerland and Iran knowing that they needed to pack up one victory at least to keep their hopes of top 8 alive.

In the early game the BlitzStoks took on the Swiss, a team they lost narrowly to in a warm-up game, and immediately looked like they knew the pressure they were under to force a result. Playing on the back foot and soaking up pressure the BlitzStoks produced only one circle entry in the entire first half and went into the break facing a 3-0 deficit through a Yves Morard hat-trick, but were thankful to Richard Curtis that the score was not more. Pierre le Roux and his coaching team would have been disappointed with the first half performance, but whatever they said at halftime kicked their side into action.

The game looked a complete mirror of the first half as the BlitzStoks laid siege after siege of attack and denied the Swiss any opportunities to re-establish control in the game. The BlitzStoks managed to pull a goal back through Reza Rosenberg, but the lack of finishing proved costly as South Africa were consigned to their third successive defeat of the tournament.

It was now all or nothing as the BlitzStoks took on the undefeated Iranians knowing that anything other than victory would deny them an opportunity to compete for the top 8 positions in world indoor hockey. With that in mind, the Lads finally played the brand of hockey that has made them so popular with the kids around the country. They played like a team with nothing to lose and found a halftime lead of 2-1 through Wade Paton and Jarryd Jones.

The scoreline remained that way until for another occasion in the tournament South Africa conceded twice in 1 minutes. Reza Norouzzadeh leveled from the PC before Behnam Sadi gave Iran the lead to punish the sloppy play. However, the BlitzStoks fought back and Reza Rosenberg pulled them square with his second goal of the day. But once again the lead did not last long and South Africa needlessly gave away a penalty stroke which Norouzzadeh dispatched. Try as they might the BlitzStoks could not pull level and conceded two more goals to give the scoreline a lopsided feel.

To add insult to injury, Switzerland were defeated by Belgium sending South Africa to the disappointment of the 11th and 12th place playoff with a group game remaining. The BlitzStoks will play against Belgium in tomorrow’s game before playing either Kazhakstan or Trinidad & Tobago in the 11th place match on Saturday morning.

Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor.

 

Photo - Helge Schutz 

Far away from the fanfare that has surrounded the last three years of PSi Hockey Nationals, the men are now 10 000km away in Berlin facing an altogether different challenge at the 2018 FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup. The opening day was always going to be the opportunity for the BlitzStoks to test if they have closed the gap over the elite of the world Indoor Hockey circuit.

In Leipzig in 2015, South Africa met Russia on day 2 and was soundly beaten by 10 goals to 2. The South African men were looking to show that defensively they were far more resolute this time around as they met the Eastern Europeans in their opening game of the tournament.

The BlitzStoks started the game with a degree of apprehension that saw them welcome a tough half-court press and territorial dominance for the Russians, however as the dust started to settle the BlitzStoks grew in composure. Rusten Abrahams, Ryan Julius, and Jethro Eustice fashioned goal scoring opportunities for South Africa who also won the opening penalty corner of the game. The BlitzStoks arguably had their best patch between the 10th and 14th minutes of the match. Their inability to create and finish goal chances would be costly as Russia turned the screw and broke the deadlock through Pavel Golubev.

On the stroke of half-time South Africa gave away a penalty corner and Chris McCathie had to pick the ball out the net for the second time after a precision Mikhail Proskuriakov flick found the corner. The second half followed a similar tentative start as the first, with South Africa doing sitting off and inviting pressure on to their defense. The major difference in the two teams was the cutting edge in front of goal. South African opportunities were denied relatively easily and Russia scored two more through Proskuriakov and a penalty stroke by Iaroslov Loginov. Proskuriakov would net his hat-trick in the last minute after the BlitzStoks had pulled off Curtis to play with 6 outfield players. 5-0 the game finished, but there was little time to ponder on the result as the BlitzStoks would return to the field a couple of hours later to take on European Champions Austria.

South Africa had only ever played Austria once before and that was 11 years ago when Austria handed South Africa their heaviest defeat at the 2007 World Cup in Vienna. That was an Austrian team that finished the tournament 6th, not the juggernaut that has come off the back of winning the European Championship just two weeks ago.

The BlitzStoks again employed a counter-attacking performance soaking up large periods of pressure and attempting to use their pace to break. The tactic is extremely effective if you can limit the opposition chances, but when you are playing Austria they don’t need too many chances to punish you. The early Austrian goal by Benjamin Stanzl did not deflate the South Africans, but they raised their game and after great work by Rusten Abrahams, Jethro Eustice leveled with a fine finish. Benjamin Stanzl put Austria back ahead before a contentious penalty stroke was awarded after the half-time hooter, but it was superbly denied by Richard Curtis.

Austria raised the game in the second half with two quick-fire goals including a bullet from Michael Korper. When it looked like South Africa would throw in the towel and fall to a heavy defeat, they continued to fight and Matt Fairweather and Mo Mea each added goals from the penalty corner as consolations for the South African men. The final score ending as Austria 6-3 South Africa.

Although there were positives from day one, there was a lot to think about for Pierre le Roux and his coaching staff. Tomorrow is a massive day as South Africa must get at least one win in the matches against Iran and Switzerland to maintain hopes of a top 4 group finish and a top 8 overall finish.

Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor. 

The South African Indoor Hockey Men, the BlitzStoks, are in Berlin and gearing up to take part in the fifth Indoor Hockey World Cup, South Africa’s fourth. In the BlitzStoks three previous World Cup appearances the team finished 10th, 11th, and 11th. Those teams, however, were not afforded the opportunities together that the current team has had and as such, there is a massive level of optimism surrounding the team.

The BlitzStoks are currently ranked 12th in the World rankings and are the 9th ranked team at the World Cup, but a good showing could see the SA Indoor Hockey Men move as high as 6th in the World Rankings, with a likely top 10 place after the World Cup probable.

Heading to the World Cup there are six players who featured at the 2015 Indoor Hockey World Cup as well as 2012 Olympian Wade Paton. It’s a squad with some superb experience and an average age of just below 27. The team may not have as many caps as some of their opponents, but they have also played 17 exhibition matches against the All-Stars over the last three years. It’s fair to say that Pierre le Roux has had more time with this team over three years than his predecessors, which really adds to the excitement.

The format of the Indoor Hockey World Cup means that the BlitzStoks will be keen to make the top four in their group and secure a spot in the Quarter Finals, which will secure a top 8 ranking. From there it will be knock out hockey and one win will secure a top 4 finish as well as a second spot at the 2021 Indoor Hockey World Cup for Africa. Of course, if you finish 5th or 6th it’s just a cross-pool playoff for position and your adventure is cut short.

The International Hockey Federation has announced that every single match from the main hall at the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018 will be live-streamed, free to air, on FIH's YouTube channel.

BlitzStoks Squad for the FIH 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup (Caps in Brackets)

Matthew Fairweather – captain (24)
Chris McCathie – Goalkeeper (20)
Richard Curtis – Goalkeeper (15)
Justin Domleo (18)
Wade Paton (5)
Jarryd Jones (14)
Mo Mea (16)
Robin Jones (10)
Jethro Eustice (10)
Reza Rosenberg (5)
Ryan Julius (10)
Rusten Abrahams (5)

Staff

Pierre le Roux – Coach
Ryan Hack – Assistant Coach
Lou-Lloyd Morgan – Physio
Robert Goslett – Video Analyst
Bruce Jacobs – Team Manager

BlitzStoks Fixtures for the FIH 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup (Times are in Germany)

7 February – Russia (13:40)
7 February – Austria (21:50)
8 February – Switzerland (13:55)
8 February – Iran (19:45)
9 February – Belgium (09:45)

 

Having previously announced a 15 man squad for the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup next year, today SA Hockey is pleased to announce the final 12 players for the SA Indoor Hockey BlitzStoks, powered by Tops at SPAR, which will head to Germany in February to take on the World.

Matthew Fairweather, who has captained the team since the last Indoor Hockey World Cup, will once again be the man asked to lead the team. This will be Fairweather’s second World Cup after featuring at Leipzig in 2015.

In 2015 the BlitzStoks finished in 11th place at the World Cup, after defeating Canada in the playoffs, but featured a largely inexperienced squad with most players only having a handful of caps from the African Indoor Hockey Cup of Nations. For 2018 the BlitzStoks will have significantly more experience at their disposal with Chris McCathie, Richard Curtis, Justin Domleo, Jarryd Jones and Mo Mea all joining Fairweather at a second World Cup. The experience of having played at the previous World Cup will be a massive benefit for the squad and something that coach Pierre le Roux has put immense confidence in.

Experience will also be provided in the form of Wade Paton, a man who counts the Olympic Games on his hockey resume and further complimented by Jethro Eustice, who featured for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games and the FIH Hockey World Cup. The consistent Robin Jones, a man who has won the African Cup of Nations in both Indoor and Outdoor Hockey alongside another teammate Reza Rosenberg, also add to a team with an incredible bond with one another.

Ryan Julius and Rusten Abrahams were also part of the South African Men’s side that just won the African Hockey Indoor Cup of Nations in Namibia and the two youngest members of the squad offer an exciting offensive prospect for the BlitzStoks to utilise in Germany.

The South African Indoor Hockey BlitzStoks are currently 12th in the World Indoor Hockey rankings, but with a good showing at the World Cup could set a realistic goal to move into the Top 10 of the Indoor rankings

The group of players assembled have the right makeup to achieve South Africa’s best ever finish at an Indoor Hockey World Cup. They have all been part of the SA Indoor Hockey structure over the past three years and have been exposed to many opportunities with each other at the various PSi Nationals. They will also have a further opportunity together when they play in the PSi Showdowns on 9, 10, 12 and 13 December in Cape Town.

The SA Indoor Hockey BlitzStoks – Final World Cup Squad

NAME

PROVINCE

Chris McCathie (GK)

KZN Raiders

Richard Curtis (GK)

KZN Raiders

Matthew Fairweather

KZN Raiders

Justin Domleo

KZN Raiders

Robin Jones

KZN Raiders

Wade Paton

KZN Raiders

Jethro Eustice

KZN Raiders

Mohamed Mea

KZN Raiders

Rusten Abrahams

Southern Gauteng

Reza Rosenberg

Southern Gauteng

Ryan Julius

Western Province

Jarryd Jones

KZN Raiders

 

The SA Indoor BlitzStoks, powered by Tops at SPAR, will be heading to Germany in February 2018 to take on the best in the World at the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup. The Men earned their spot with an outstanding victorious display at the African Hockey Indoor Cup of Nations in Swakopmund earlier this year. The 14 man squad, announced today, will take part in the All Stars series at the Pro Series Indoor Nationals in December, before a final 12 is selected for the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup.

Matthew Fairweather, who captained the team at the World Cup qualifier, returns to the squad after missing the All Stars series in July. Ryan Julius and Reza Rosenberg also missed out on that series while on commitment with the National Outdoor Team at the World League Semi-Final and they are also recalled. Ryan Julius had finished top goal scorer at the 2017 SA Hockey Indoor IPT. Another star from that tournament was Jethro Eustice, who won player of the tournament, who will be key to the BlitzStoks aiming for their highest ever World Cup finish.

The goalkeepers will be the two goalkeepers that went to the previous World Cup with both Richard Curtis and Chris McCathie doing enough over the past three years to secure their place on the plane to the All-Star Series in Cape Town. Some of the other seats on that plane will be taken by players who have been in the system in the last three years including Olympian Wade Paton, reliable (belated birthday boy) Robin Jones, world star Justin Domleo and the exciting young talent Rusten Abrahams.

The IPT that took part in Durban played a key part in the selector’s decision making, in line with selection policy for SA Hockey, which saw Julian Hykes and PG Geldenhuys work their way into the selector’s minds with a brilliant tournament that saw Southern Gauteng win another silver medal. The last two places in the 14 man squad were filled by Jarryd Jones, who has responded to missing out on the World Cup Qualifier with some scintillating form, and Craig Haley, who has shown over and over again that he knows how to find the back of the net.

This meant that there was no place in the side for Keagan Robinson, who has been ruled out by the selectors after he tore his ACL just before IPT.

Coach Pierre le Roux shared his thoughts on the squad:

“The squad is rich with experience and the players selected have performed well over the past three years. We believe this consistency and maturity will be beneficial in the World Cup environment.”

The SA Indoor Hockey BlitzStoks – World Cup Squad

NAME

PROVINCE

CHRIS  McCathie (GK)

KZN Raiders

Richard Curtis (GK)

KZN Raiders

Matthew Fairweather

KZN Raiders

Justin Domleo

KZN Raiders

Robin Jones

KZN Raiders

Wade Paton

KZN Raiders

Jethro Eustice

KZN Raiders

Rusten Abrahams

Southern Gauteng

Reza Rosenberg

Southern Gauteng

Ryan Julius

Western Province

PG Geldenhuys

Southern Gauteng

Jarryd Jones

KZN Raiders

Craig Hayley

Western Province

Julian Hykes

Southern Gauteng

 The BlitzStoks will be in action on the 9, 10, 12 and 13 December in Cape Town for the PSi All Stars


JONATHAN COOK

The South African men’s indoor hockey team has been named to face a strong PSi International All Stars line-up in the four-match Denbeys Indoor Series in Durban and Pietermaritzburg next month.

Read more ...

Men: (See their Facebook page)
Day 1
Poland 8 RSA 3
RSA 0 Netherlands 5

Day 2
RSA 2 Russia 10
Canada 5 RSA 5

Day 3
Switzerland 4 RSA 1

Men's Pool A (completed)

1. Germany (15 points)

2. Austria (10 points)

3. Sweden (5 points)

4. Iran (4 points)

5. Czech Republic (4 points)

6. Australia (2 points)

Men's Pool B (completed)

1. Russia (13 points)

2. Netherlands (10 points)

3. Poland (9 points)

4. Switzerland (7 points)

5. Canada (1 point)

6. South Africa (1 point)

9 - 12 place Crossover Match
Czech Republic 4 RSA 2 (RSA will meet Canada in the 11th/12th place playoff)

Women:
(See their Facebook page)

Day 1
Netherlands 14 RSA 0
RSA 3 Czech Republic 5

Day 2
RSA 0 Belarus 11
Poland 5 RSA 1

Day 3
Kazakhstan 5 RSA 5

Women's Pool A (completed)

1. Germany (12 points)

2. Australia (12 points)

3. Austria (6 points)

4. Ukraine (4 points)

5. Canada (1 point)

6. Belgium (0 points)

Women's Pool B (completed)

1. Netherlands (12 points)

2. Czech Republic (9 points)

3. Poland (7 points)

4. Belarus (7 points)

5. South Africa (1 point)

6. Kazahkstan (1 point)

9 - 12 place Crossover Match
RSA 2 Belgium 2 (RSA win 3 - 1 on Shoot Out. RSA will meet Canada in the 9th/10th place playoff)

Men: (See their Facebook page)
Day 1
Poland 8 RSA 3
RSA 0 Netherlands 5

Day 2
RSA 2 Russia 10
Canada 5 RSA 5

Pool A:
(After four games each)
1. Germany (12 points)
2. Austria (9 points)
3. Iran (4 points)
4. Czech Republic (3 points)
5. Australia (2 points)
6. Sweden (2 points)

Pool B:
(After four games each)
1. Russia (10 points)
2. Netherlands (10 points)
3. Poland (6 points)
4. Switzerland (4 points)
5. Canada (1 point)
6. South Africa (1 point)

 

Women: (See their Facebook page)

Day 1
Netherlands 14 RSA 0
RSA 3 Czech Republic 5

Day 2
RSA 0 Belarus 11
Poland 5 RSA 1

Pool A:
(After four games each)
1. Germany (12 points)
2. Australia (12 points)
3. Austria (6 points)
4. Ukraine (4 points)
5. Canada (1 points)
6. Belgium (0 points)

Pool B:
(After four games each)
1. Netherlands (12 points)
2. Czech Republic (9 points)
3. Poland (7 points)
4. Belarus (7 point)
5. South Africa (0 points)
6. Kazahkstan (0 points)