Defending champions keen to retain title

first_imgAfrica’s number one team and defending champions, South Africa, breezed into Accra last night full of confidence ahead of their opening day clash with hosts Ghana.The talented side are the experts’ favourites not only by virtue of being top ranked or the reigning African champions but also buoyed by their recent triumph in Europe.The South Africans lifted the 4-Nations Elektrostal Cup in Russia a couple of weeks ago and boast of an experienced world class team who destroyed Canada 8-1 in the final.That notwithstanding, Ghana’s Black Sticks will push for a spectacular upset as they begin the campaign to rule Men’s Hockey on the continent.The Friday evening fixture will start at 6:30 pm prompt after the opening ceremony.The Black Sticks would not mind being underdogs but will be highly motivated by pride and “host and win” euphoria which seems to have boosted team spirit and resolve. In addition, sound preparations and a vibrant home support should give the team that extra bite and desire to play the tournament of their lives. The Black Sticks would be hoping to spring some surprises in the opening game which could catch their more experienced but predictable opponents off guard.Both male and female teams were in Holland for a fortnight preparing for the competition.And according to Osei Boakye, coach of the team, they put finishing touches to their preparations before retuning home for the big take-off.In a slight adjustment to the opening day schedule, the encounter between Egypt and Nigeria would be played first before the official ceremony to usher in the championship. The Egyptians were the first to arrive on Saturday night from Cairo followed by Nigeria and South Africa who it appears may have peaked just in time for the Hockey Nations Cup.The two-week competition will bring crack male and female hockey nations from across the continent and has attracted huge international media.The new national stadium which was officially commissioned on Monday July 6 by His Excellency President Mills, will host over 1,200 fans backed by the acclaimed national supporters union.The CEO of Ghana 2009 African Cup For Nations Mr. Magnus Rex Danquah has assured Ghanaians, Africans and the world that Ghana is ready to let the games begin.last_img read more