Africa Cup of Nations rescheduled following Mall attack

By elvince joshua
Sep 24, 2013
  • National Hockey team coach Meshack Senge gives instructions to players at a training session.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

The Africa Cup of Nations hockey championship which also doubles up as a World Cup qualifier which was supposed to start on September 26th has been pushed back by at least three days.

Kenya Hockey Union,KHU on Tuesday said the games may start two to three days later following uncertainty caused by the insecurity situation that rocked the country in the past three days following a suspected Al-Shabaab terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi’s Westlands area.

"The tournament is still on. We are just waiting for the fixtures from IHF and Africa Hockey but the games will kick off two to three days later," said Elyna Shiveka, KHU vice chairlady.

The Union said they will only be able to release the exact dates after Africa Hockey Federation, AfH, and International Hockey Federation,FIH, released the draws.

Despite the tense security situation in Westlands, morale is high in the Kenyan team ahead of the games could start on October 1.

The two squads, men and women have intensified their training with two sessions a day. On Tuesday evening the men's team played a friendly match with a combined side.

According to sources close to the ongoings in the local hockey, Nigeria, Zambia and Seychelles have pulled out of the competitions but the Union rebutted the claims.

"We know who is spreading those rumours. No team has withdrawn from the games,” added Shiveka. It is not yet clear why Nigeria pulled out but according to Africa Hockey Federation, Namibia cited lack of funding. If the allegation of the latest withdrawal are true, only three countries, South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania will join Kenya in the fight for the World Cup ticket.

The tournament may be played on a round robin format with only South Africa, Kenya and Ghana battling it out for the men's ticket to the Hague, Netherlands while women will see hosts Kenya, neighbours Tanzania, South africa and Ghana square it out.

Two new rules introduced

It will be exciting to see how the players, the team officials and umpires will cope with two regulations to be observed during the tournament.

Two new rules were introduced by FIH in line with the reviewed FIH Outdoor Tournament Regulations released in August 2013.

According to Rule 9.7 of the Hockey Rules, “Players must not play the ball with any part of the stick when the ball is above shoulder height except that defenders are permitted to use the stick to stop or deflect a shot at goal at any height...” during this competition however, the Regulations provide that “Players may play the ball above shoulder height provided that it is not dangerous or leading to danger.”

The other new provision in the regulations is in relation to the award of Penalty Corners with the introduction of the penalty corner shot clock and players and officials will observe

“When a Penalty Corner is awarded, Umpires shall permit defenders to put on protective gear and allow not more than 45 seconds to pass before allowing the penalty corner is taken.

The engaged Umpire shall advise both the defence and the attackers as the shot clock approaches zero.

If both teams are ready before the 45 seconds has expired, the Umpire shall allow the Penalty Corner to commence. Upon expiry of the 45 seconds the Umpire may allow the taking of the Penalty Corner, provided that both teams are ready.

This regulation will apply only to the initial award of a Penalty Corner and not to any retake, or to any subsequent Penalty Corner awarded before the ball has travelled more than 5 metres outside the circle.”

Probable men's teams: Kenya, South Africa, Ghana Women's: Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania