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)
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)