The South African men’s hockey squad will take part in the FIH Olympic qualifier in Japan from Thursday 26 April to 6 May in search of a place at the London Olympic Games. South African pay-TV broadcaster SuperSport will broadcast the qualifiers from the fifth-sixth placed playoff onwards on SuperSport6.
The Japanese host broadcasters are not broadcasting any of the round-robin stage.
Having earlier won their Olympic qualifier in Zimbabwe, the SA men were then knocked back by Sascoc, who said they also had to earn a top-two finish at the Champions Challenge. They won bronze, forcing them into this final event.
However, they are in good form, having drawn a series with Great Britain, won a series against Austria and beaten hockey giants India away.
The men’s tournament is a wide-open affair with a mere five world ranking points separating the top three squads. South Africa comes in at the top of the group, ranked 12 by the FIH.
The South Africans will look to both join their women at the London Games and earn redemption after their third-place finish at last November’s Champions Challenge left them just shy of qualifying automatically for the Games.
Nipping at the heels of the South Africans will be number 15 Japan and 17th-ranked China. Both have had good results of late, but despite the closeness in the world ranking, Japan has emerged as the stronger contender of the two.
Japan finished well behind South Africa at the Champion Challenge in November, taking seventh place, but the head-to-head game between the two was quite close with South Africa winning, 3-2.
China, Austria (21) and the Czech Republic (23) all met at the last Champions Challenge level, where the Czech Republic had the best finish of the three, beating the Chinese 4-3 for fifth place. Austria finished in last place at the event.
Rounding out the men’s field is Brazil, ranked 42.
May 6: 5th/6th playoff (SuperSport 6, 3am)
May 6: 3rd/4th playoff (SuperSport 6, 5.30am)
May 6: Men’s final (SuperSport 6, 8am)