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Zim hockey squads join long trek to Paris

MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Zimbabwe men and women hockey teams will have to qualify for the 2023 All-Africa Games scheduled for Ghana first if they are to entertain any hopes of making it to the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

According to a roadmap released by African Hockey Federation (AHF) on Wednesday, the All-Africa Games, which will be staged in three cities, namely Accra, Kumasi and the Cape Coast, shall be used as qualifiers for the Olympics Games.

The qualification process starts with three regional qualifiers, which will start as early as May this year where the top two teams will join the top-ranked teams on the continent, South Africa and Egypt in the men competition, as well as South Africa and Ghana women teams who have automatic qualification to the All-Africa Games.

Zimbabwe is set to host the Central South Africa qualifiers in Harare from August 27 to September 4, while the North East Africa regional games are the first to be played having been pencilled for May 17–21 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The North East Africa qualifiers will take place from June 25-30 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Gold medal winners at the All-Africa Games will qualify for the Olympics while the runners-up will have another opportunity to make the global games via Federation of International Hockey (FIH) organised Olympics qualifiers.

In the Central South Africa regional qualifiers, the Zimbabwe teams, both men and women, will have to contend with six other countries in Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Namibia and Swaziland.

The Zimbabwe women hockey team did the country proud at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana at the beginning of the year while the Under-21 side claimed their first win at the Junior World Cup, which is currently underway in South Africa after beating Canada last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe men’s field hockey teams are expected to host Zambia in a series between April and May in Harare as part of their preparations for the Central South Africa Tournament to be held in August.

The series is being organised by the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe in conjunction with St John’s College.

The national association has announced the Zimbabwe senior men and the Zimbabwe “A’’ men’s squads for the series that is going to take place from April 29 to May 1 at St John’s College.

The Zimbabwe “A’’ side will play a three-match friendly series against Zambia development side. The Zimbabwe national men’s team will play a three-match friendly series against the Zambian national side.

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