Namibia Chasing History in Italy

Namibia Flag.
17 September 2021

NAMIBIA's national men's inline hockey team got off to a great start at the Inline Hockey World Championships in Roccaraso, Italy, going top of their group after winning their opening three matches.

They thrashed India 20-0 in their opening match on Tuesday, after leading 8-0 at half-time.

Nearly all of Namibia's players got on the score sheet, with Keanan Simpson and Max Finkeldey both scoring four goals, Johannes Coetzee three, and Luca Mentzel and Sean Lichti two each.

The other scorers were Pablo Laporte Amandus Rottcher, Henrik Diekmann, Rohan Sharma, Arian van der Plas and Julian Dedig.

On Wednesday they faced much tougher opposition in Argentina, and with the two teams weighing up evenly, the match seemed to be heading for a draw.

Namibia, however, struck in the dying seconds of the game when Rottcher scored the winning goal with 42 seconds remaining.

Yesterday they were once again among the goals beating Germany 8-2, after leading 5-1 at half-time.

Coetzee and Laporte scored two goals each and Finkeldey, Rottcher, Dedig and Kean Jean Redelinghuys one each.

That put Namibia at the top of Group D and booked them a place in the knockout stage which gets underway with the last 16 play-offs.

Namibia top the log on nine points, followed by Argentina on six, Germany on three and India on zero points.

Namibia will now face the bottom team in Group B, which has not been completed yet, but their opponents will most probably be Slovakia.

Namibia has never progressed past the last 16, with their best performance coming a few years ago when they came 15th.

The top-eight teams will qualify for the World Championships, while the bottom eight will contest the World Skate Cup.

Namibia, though, now have a dynamic young team, and are hoping to reach the quarter-finals, and the World Championships, for the first time.

Five of the members formed part of the national junior team that made history two years ago when they reached the top eight at the World Junior Championships for the first time.

Furthermore, a total of 10 players are still juniors, who were supposed to compete at the World Junior Championships in Colombia this year, which was cancelled due to Covid-19, while only one senior player remains from the 2019 senior team.

The president of the Namibia Ice and Inline Hockey Association, Bernd Bajorat, says he is thrilled with their performances.

"I am very pleased with the performances of our young senior team, especially since they missed six weeks of rink time during the lockdown period," he says.

"For me, they have done exceptionally well thus far, and the momentum is positive, but we will be taking it one game at a time and see how far we can progress," he says.

"I am proud of our boys and believe they will show the world that Namibia belongs in the top eight," he says.

The other teams competing at the World Championships are the Czech Republic, Spain, Colombia and Switzerland in Group A, Canada, Italy, France and Slovakia in Group B, and Latvia, Chinese Taipei, Mexico and Poland in Group C.

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