THE first shots have been fired ahead of the Indoor Hockey Africa Cup in Durban this weekend with Namibia's women's coach Erwin Handura accusing his South African counterpart, Lenny Botha, of underhand tactics.
The Namibian men and women's teams arrived in Durban on Sunday and have been preparing for the World Cup qualifying tournament that starts tomorrow morning, but Handura said their hosts were making conditions tough for them.
"We've had a few setbacks since our arrival, and in the beginning it was a big challenge, but we are getting used to that. We wanted to train three hours a day from Monday until today (Wednesday), but they only gave us an hour, because that was the instruction from my counterpart, the South African women's coach. He has prepared everything so well for them and he controls everything, he's the king here, so things are quite tough for us," he said.
"We were supposed to get a chaperone, who was supposed to look after us and assist us to move to places, but til today we don't know who's our chaperone. We were reliably informed by one of the ladies at the venue that they are under strict instructions from my counterpart, that they must not be helpful to us, and even our training slots were reduced to just an hour a day, that's all we got," he said.
Handura said they had decided to take matters into their own hands.
"We decided to take matters into our own hands and called some of the local colleges down here and arranged an extra training session yesterday. So that is the situation we have here, but it's the same we have in football. The Brave Warriors also encountered the same whenever they travelled to other countries, where there are delays at the airport, the accommodation is not of the best, or the water is cold, but we can handle these situations and we specifically prepared our players to handle any type of distraction.
"But I think we are getting nicely focussed now, we still have one or two things to sort out before we can really say that we are 100 percent ready, but with two days and two training sessions to go, I think we will be ready, you bet we will be ready," he added.
Handura said they also had to adapt to a new playing surface.
"We are playing on a new court here in Durban, it's a bit sticky, it's not as smooth and is a bit slower than the surfaces in Windhoek, so that's not good for us, because we love the fast game," he said.
"Our captain Maggy (Mengo) arrived yesterday while Dure (Boshoff) will only arrive tomorrow (Thursday) from Stellenbosch, so she will only have one session with the team, but that's still fine and I think we might even be better prepared than for the 2017 World Cup qualifiers in Swakopmund. I have a good team of youngsters, with five new caps, but they are good players from the premier league, they are fit and mentally strong, so we are looking forward to the series," he said.
The assistant coach of the Namibian men's team, Jerrica Bartlett said they were also adapting fast, but eager to get started.
"The boys are doing really well and the vibe has been really great, considering one or two factors that we just cant control. The heat is pretty bad here in Durbs, but the boys are in good spirits nonetheless. The training sessions have been pretty productive and adapting to the court has been very interesting, but the boys have done really well in adjusting. We really are just so excited and ready to get this tournament started," she said.
Namibia, South Africa and Botswana are competing in the series which gets underway at 09h00 tomorrow morning when South Africa's women take on Botswana.
Next up is the Namibian men's team, sponsored by MTC, against Botswana at 10h30, while the Namibian women's team, with MTC the main sponsor and Namdia and Standard Bank the co-sponsors, take on Botswana at 13h00.
At 18h00 Namibia's women take on South Africa, while Namibia and South Africa's men's teams face off at 19h30.
The nations are involved in a second round of matches on Saturday, after which the top two teams will compete in the finals on Sunday.
The matches will be livestreamed on the Watch Hockey app or Rayder Media Facebook page.