(Photo: FIH)

Teams have been forced to abandon practice matches after tropical storms caused havoc with the teams’ final practice matches at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in Johannesburg.

As if the eight countries taking part in the Champions Challenge didn’t face enough pressure in the lead up to the tournament which starts on Saturday, they have also had to contend with the effects of La Nina.

La Nina, the weather phenomenon known to bring wetter than usual summers, is likely to cause increased rainfall across South Africa according to the South Africa Weather Service (saws). A senior forecaster said more heavy rain could be expected between December and February because of the effect.

Major motorways in the Johannesburg region have been closed due to flooding and there have been a spate of road traffic accidents.

South Africa were the first side to see their final preparations disrupted when their game against Malaysia was called off after only 15 minutes, and on Wednesday evening, all the matches were abandoned following a torrential downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning.

“It’s very frustrating “ said one South Africa player. “We know there’ll be rain in this part of the country but it’s impossible to play in those conditions.” Canada, meanwhile, have been lucky after practising during the day and their scheduled contest on Thursday against India went ahead thanks to a break in the weather.