NAMIBIA's senior women's hockey team will take on Zambia in a three-test series in Windhoek from 20 to 22 April.
The news was confirmed at the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) on Wednesday where Standard Bank Namibia announced a sponsorship of N$52 500 for the series, to be known as the Standard Bank Namibia Women's Hockey Series.
The series will take place at the Davin Trustco Hockey Field at Windhoek High School, with the first two tests on Saturday, 20 April and Sunday, 21 April starting at 17h00, while the final test on Monday, 22 April will start at 09h00.
According to national coach Erwin Handura, the Zambia series will provide crucial preparation for the Olympic Games qualifiers that Namibia will compete in, in Valencia, Spain from 19 to 27 June.
"The test series against Zambia will be crucial for our preparations for the Olympic qualifiers, so we are really grateful to Standard Bank for their support," he said.
Namibia should start as the favourites, although Zambia will provide strong opposition.
The two nations most recently met in December during the Open Series in Zimbabwe, where Namibia won the tournament after beating Zambia 3-0 and then Zimbabwe 1-0 in the final.
That result saw Namibia shooting up 18 places on the world rankings to 42nd overall, which puts them third in Africa behind South Africa (15th in the world) and Ghana (32nd).
Zambia follows 30 places below Namibia at 72nd in the world and ninth in Africa.
Handura, however, said they expected a tough series.
"Zambia have a young and upcoming team; they are very physical and fit and they have a strong local league with eight teams, so we can expect some tough competition. The last time we met at the Open Series we beat them, but they also beat Zimbabwe there, so we will not underestimate them," he said.
Handura has already selected his squad, but it still needs to be approved by the NSC and will only be announced later.
It can be expected though that the experienced Maggy Mengo will captain the team, while other members who represented Namibia at the 2018 Indoor World Cup like Petro Stoffberg, Gillian Hermanus, Sunelle Ludwig and Kiana Cormack could also be in the team.
Besides them some new youngsters who competed at the 2018 Junior Olympic Games like Cele Wessels, Tara Myburgh, Danja Meyer and Kaela Schimming could also be selected.
In Valencia Namibia will come up against some of the world's top teams like Spain, Belarus, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Thailand and Wales.