The weekend action in the Greenfields Africa Hockey Championships on the Randburg Hockey Stadium turf gave a good indication of who can be considered serious contenders to win this Rio Olympic Games Qualifier event. The defending champion South Africa hockey men’s and women’s hockey teams laid down their marker on Saturday with emphatic performances in beating Botswana and Nigeria 30-0 and 15-0 respectively, while the Egyptian men scored 10 goals in the first 15 minutes against Tanzania Sunday before cantering to a 22-0 win. The SA women tackle Namibia at 19:00 on Monday before meeting Zimbabwe at 16:45pm Tuesday.
The SA men’s next match is against Ghana at 19:00 on Tuesday. Egypt’s Mahmoud Mamdouh netted five penalty corner drag-flick goals in an astonishing three minutes 25 seconds in that first quarter against Tanzania for what must surely constitute a record. On Saturday, the only other match was the best contest of the tournament to date. Played in front of passionate fans, the Kenya men’s team outlasted Nigeria 3-1.
A possible challenge for the SA women could come from Ghana, who ran the girls in green and gold so close in the 2013 Africa World cup Qualifier in Nairobi. However, both the SA national teams look to be in very good touch, as do the Egyptian men, who beat the SA men in a pulsating match for the bronze medal at the World League Round Two event in Cape Town seven months ago. The SA men’s goals in the Botswana rout went to Pierre De Voux (6), Julian Hykes (3), Matt Guise-Brown (4), Brandon Panther (6), Jonty Robinson (2), Jethro Eustice (3), Tim Drummond, Daniel Bell, Natius Malgraff, Dan Sibbald, Richard Pautz and Miguel Da Graca.
The SA women scored against Nigeria through Bernie Coston (2), Lilian Du Plessis (5), Jade Mayne (3), Lisa Deetlefs, Candice Manuel, Toni Marks (2) and Tanya Britz. At this stage it appears that the SA men will meet Kenya in Saturday’s semi-finals while Egypt are likely to face a competitive Ghana combination. The women’s event is a round-robin affair and the final match will likely see the Ghana women in a must-win against SA, while a draw would suffice for the South Africans.
Photo credit: ACTION PIX