Beginning this afternoon at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in Accra through to Sunday, the Hockey World League Round One will push off with host Ghana taking on their bitter rivals Nigeria in the female category at exactly 3:15 pm.
The four-nation tournament which has Kenya and Namibia also competing will determine the male and female teams that will progress to the second round and move a step closer to the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) World Cup in 2018.
Both male and female national teams from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Namibia would sweat at each other for qualification to Valencia, Spain for the second round of the World League in the female category while the men’s edition is billed for Bangladesh in February 2017.
Hockey lovers could not have asked for a better opening fixture than this as the two countries have been at each other’s neck for over a decade in terms of supremacy with the host far ahead.
The August edition of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) ranking puts Ghana at 29th in the world while the Nigerians were at a distant 62nd in the world, lending credence to the fact that the female Black Sticks the better side.
The tournament dubbed “Make Your Mark” will have the Kenya men’s team who are ranked 38th in the world take on 53rd ranked Nigeria in the second match this evening while the male Black Sticks who are ranked 43rd in the world cross sticks with the 78th placed team in the world Namibia in the last game of day one.
Action would return tomorrow at the same venue in the women’s category where 62nd placed ranked Nigeria would come up against 40th placed ranked Kenya at 3:15pm with the Kenya men locking horns with Nigeria at 5:30pm with the Black Sticks playing Namibia in the final game of the day at 7:45pm.
The tournament enters its final day on Sunday with Ghana clashing with Kenya in the women’s category at 11:30am. At 1:45pm, the men would take center stage as Kenya engages Namibia while the final game of the tournament will be between Ghana and Nigeria.
For team Ghana, the tournament serves as an opportunity to build up enough ranking points for qualification to the next Commonwealth Games to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, in April 2018.
By Raymond Ackumey