Randburg - The South Africa
men’s and women’s teams continued their winning ways with back-to-back
victories in the Greenfields Africa Hockey Championships at Randburg Hockey
Stadium on Tuesday.
In the earlier game the SA
women beat Zimbabwe 6-0, while the SA men beat Ghana 4-0.
The SA/Ghana clash had huge
implications as the winners were likely to finish top of Pool A and in so doing
avoid impressive Pool B frontrunners Egypt in Saturday afternoon’s
SA had central defender Rhett
Halkett in the side for the first time in this event, having returned home from
club duty in Germany.
Ghana talisman Johnny Botsio
immediately indicated the threat he poses down the left with his blistering
speed while SA striker Julian Hykes demonstrated the same pace at the other
Both defences were under
pressure and midway through the first quarter it was SA striker Pierre de Voux
who supplied the first serious threat on goal with some neat stick-work along
the left-side baseline but the Ghana defence held firm.
Massive physical contacts
were coming thick and fast, and umpires Tony Fernandes of Kenya and Egypt’s
Elsayed Ahmen had their hands full. From the outset it was the sort of contest
where volatility was always bubbling under the surface.
Ghana were defending bravely
and relying on swift breakouts from deep, while SA used width and good ball movement
to dominate territory and possession but the teams went into the first-quarter
break still level 0-0.
Superb flat-stick tackling by
Ghana captain Salya Nsabini denied a threatening thrust down the right by the
skilful Richard Pautz, but Lloyd Norris-Jones made the most of a fine
counter-move soon afterwards to win a penalty corner. And Matt Guise-Brown
stepped up to unwind a bullet drag-flick that ballooned the net, SA going 1-0
up in the 20th minute.
Both sides had chances after
the re-start in this match-up played at a frenetic pace. And both sides
incurred the displeasure of umpire Ahmed and had players banished to the
sin-bin, the teams going into half-time with SA 1-0 up.
Just 14 seconds after the
changeover, SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse made a fine save, this after Samuel
Afari got in as hot from inside the six-yard area. SA hit back and ‘keeper
Jeffrey Karikari made an assured save from a Hykes reverse-stick blast. Hykes
then lashed a shot from the top of the strike zone that flashed over the
Ghana were dealt a blow when
Botsio was sin-binned and SA capitalised to win a PC, which soon led to
another, much to consternation of the vociferous Ghanaian fans. Salt was rubbed
in when Guise-Brown opted to go low this time with his drag-flick and SA were
2-0 up in the 40th minute.
With Botsio back on, Ghana
won a PC and Pieterse did well to save Nsalbini’s drag-flick before being
called into action soon after but the score stayed at 2-0 to the host nation at
the close of the third quarter.
Three minutes into the fourth
quarter (48th) Norris-Jones weaved past defenders at will to open space and
time for Pautz to slap the ball into the backboard (3-0). Two minutes later the
Norris-Jones wizardry set up Hykes to establish a four-goal cushion (4-0 with 10
Both teams made a goalkeeper
change with nine minutes left, Eugene Acheampong replacing Karikari and Jacques
le Roux coming on for Pieterse, who was called into action as Ghana won three
PCs. There was goalmouth action at the other end too but the final score
remained 4-0 to SA.
SA WOMEN ON SONG
In the women’s match Lilian
du Plessis scored from her team’s fourth penalty corner, flicking high into the
net for SA to go 1-0 up in the 16th minute.
The deceptive Jade Mayne put
SA 2-0 up in the 22nd minute. SA earned a PC four minutes from half-time and a
stunning variation saw Nicole Walraven finish off for 3-0 to the girls in green
and gold at the changeover.
SA scored again in the 43rd
minute when Shelley Russell got off the first shot and Bernie Coston
capitalised from the goalmouth melee (4-0).
In the 52nd minute, great
dribbling skills by Celia Evans of SA down the left eventually led to Illse
Davids making it 5-0.
Four minutes from the end
(56th) fine skill by Bernie Coston along the right-side baseline saw her
pop-pass to Candice Manuel helped on its way to Du Plessis at the far post who
dinked the ball over the goalline for the 6-0 final score.
The SA women and men have a
bye on Wednesday before a double header on Thursday when the women face Kenya (16:45)
and the men tackle Namibia at 19:00.
Men: Zimbabwe 19 Botswana 0;
Nigeria 3 Tanzania 0; South Africa 4 Ghana 0
Women: Ghana 12 Tanzania 0;
Namibia 3 Nigeria 1; South Africa 6 Zimbabwe 0
Stadium pitch - Men: Tanzania
v Kenya (14:30); Egypt v Nigeria (16:45)