By SANDRA MWILA –
SOUTH AFRICA became the first nation to arrive in the country for the Africa Hockey Championships that start on March 10 at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
The South African team arrived around lunch time at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport for the five-day tournament that will be used as qualifiers for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Zambia team coach Thomas Mumba said the South African team was expected to have a feel of the pitch at the OYDC later in the afternoon.
Mumba said Namibia and Kenya are expected to jet in today, while the Zimbabwean team is scheduled to arrive by road for the tournament that saw Nigeria pulling out.
Meanwhile, Mumba said the Zambian team was shaping up well for the tournament and was confident of qualifying for the Youth Olympics Games set for China.
Zambia kicks off her campaign on Monday against Zimbabwe before facing Kenya followed by matches against South Africa and Namibia.
“This will be the first time our Zambian team is participating in the Youth Olympics qualifiers and I am confident that they will win the competition and make history by qualifying for Games,” he said.
Mumba said the tournament will not be easy but believes that the 20-member squad that has been selected for the task will put in their best and compete favourably in the tournament.
And OYDC director Clement Chileshe said the centre is ready to host the tournament adding that the new boards that will be used for the first time, are ready.
“During this qualifiers, a new type of hockey has been introduced which is hockey 5 which requires the players to use a board with specific measurements rather than the ordinary hockey field,” he said.