South Africa champions of Africa U21 hockey
The Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier Tournament reached a fitting climax at Randburg Hockey Stadium Saturday evening when the South Africa U21 men’s team won their final 4-2 on penalty shootout against Egypt to add to the feat of their women’s team who beat Ghana 4-0 in regulation time.
There was some consolation for the losers as a ruling by the International Hockey Federation is that both the African men’s and women’s tournaments will see two sides go through to the Junior World Cup finals in India and Germany respectively, which means the SA men and women, as well as the Egyptian men and Ghanaian women will be at the four-yearly events next year.
The men’s final was an absolute thriller that went into a penalty shootout after the scores were locked 1-1 after golden goal extra-time, this after the scores had been the same at the end of regulation time.
London 2012 Olympian Clint Panther had shrugged off Egyptian defenders to open the scoring for SA in the 41st minute while Egypt’s Ashraf Said equalised after Ahmed Gamal’s assist in the 58th minute.
Egypt hit the post twice in regulation time and SA hit the post in the second half of golden goal extra-time, while there were great chances for each side in the strike zones at both ends throughout this pulsating final.
Captain Izelle Lategan (2), Lilian du Plessis and Christine Roos scored the goals as the heavily favoured South African women’s team won their final against Ghana 4-0 after leading 2-0 at half-time.
The bronze medal matches were exciting affairs with Namibia’s women winning on golden goal against Kenya and Ghana beating Kenya 4-2 in a stormy encounter that saw seven yellow cards sending seven players to the sin-bin for five minutes or more at a time.
Zimbabwe’s men and women finished fifth.