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The South African men and Egyptian men locked horns in the final group stage game of the African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 competition. The way the results had played out the game was in essence a final.

A packed crowd at the University of Stellenbosch greeted the two teams and they produced a fantastic display of the best of African Hockey. The Egyptians had four penalty corners at the end of the first quarter, but the South African defence managed to repel all four. On the edge of half-time though the Egyptians did take the lead with Ahmed Elganaini reacted first after a rebound and finished into the bottom corner.

South Africa waited for the final quarter before Nicholas Spooner stood up and raised his hand to be the hero. Having scored in the last minute of the FIH Hockey Series Final semi-final to get the South Africans to that final. He popped up again to be the man to count as he netted two quick goals to turn it around. He then popped up with a third after Clinton Panther produced a sensational run but was taken out in a professional foul. Spooner finished the flick to complete a remarkable final hat-trick.

The Egyptians poured forward but found a resolute South African defence and an inspired Rassie Pieterse difficult to break down but did manage a late goal through Ashraf Said as a consolation. The result secured the title for South Africa and the African Hockey spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

Earlier in the day Ghana secured themselves the bronze medal in a pulsating encounter with Zimbabwe that set the tone for an incredible final day’s action. Michael Baden opened the scoring with his first in the tournament, but Zimbabwe pulled back through Rangarirai Mungwiniri. The scored remained that way until the second half when the action kicked off. In the 34th minute Johnny Botsio made it 2-1. The last quarter then produced more goals than the opening 3. Elikem Akaba made it 3-1 through a penalty stroke but Zimbabwe kept the game alive with a Gift Chomunorwa field goal. Elikem Akaba made the game safe with a 4-2 lead despite a late Tendayi Maredza penalty corner. For Ghana it meant a satisfying bronze medal after a tough week of hockey.

Kenya avoided the wooden spoon with a 3-1 win over Namibia. The Kenyans goals came through Willis Okeyo, Constant Wakhura and Festus Onyango while Nico Neethling earned a late consolation for the Namibians.

DJ Strauss from Namibia was the goalkeeper of the tournament while Austin Smith won the top goalscorer and player of the tournament double award!

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Results – 18 August 2019

Ghana 4-3 Zimbabwe
Namibia 1-3 Kenya
South Africa 3-2 Egypt

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Final Positions

  1. South Africa
  2. Egypt
  3. Ghana
  4. Zimbabwe
  5. Kenya
  6. Namibia

Photos - Eunice Visagie

The African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 headed into its penultimate day with the destination of the title winners still uncertain. After four days of action though we now know that the title will either be won by SuperGroup South Africa or Ghana in the Women’s tournament while it’s the age-old battle between South Africa and Egypt in the Men’s tournament.

The day started with Ghana’s women keeping the tournament alive by defeating the ever-improving Namibians 3-0. They scored a goal in each of the first three quarters to win the game that they were never truly in danger of losing. Elizabeth Opoku in the first, Debora Whyte in the second and Ernestina Coffie in the third meant that the 2017 Runners-Up kept the tournament alive to the final day regardless of the South African result against Kenya.

The Namibian and Zimbabwean men played off in a Southern African derby match that could give Zimbabwe a possibility of medalling should they win. With that motivation in check they took the lead through Tony O’Riordan in the 18th minute. The Namibians have been guilty of missing good opportunities in this tournament, but that accusation could not be levelled at them in the 41st minute when South African based star Brynn Cleak restored parity. That parity would not last until the end of the quarter as Gift Chomunorwa made it 2-1 to Zimbabwe. The pair, who could not be split at the FIH Opens Series, were in a similar position this time as Cody van der Merwe got the goal that the performance probably deserved.

Egypt were given an almighty scare in their quest to break the South African defence of the trophy as they found themselves trailing to spirited Ghanaians. Enrest Opoku opened the scoring in the first quarter but the West Africans only held that lead for four minutes before Hossam Ghobran levelled matters. The game looked destined to be all square at the end of the third quarter but a 44th minute penalty corner by Mohamed Ragab breaking the deadlock. Egypt only made the game safe with a late penalty corner from Amr Ibrahim, but the 3-1 result meant that Egypt would go into the final day with destiny in their own hands.

The SuperGroup South African women never really got higher than second gear in a routine victory against Kenya. The Kenyan women were completing their program of fixtures and were hoping to get a victory to confirm a bronze medal at the minimum. Unfortunately, they will now have to wait and see if Namibia can do them a favour after they were beaten 3-0 by the South Africans. The South Africans scored all three goals in the first half before backing off and consolidating the victory. Tarryn Glasby and Erin Hunter got the opening two before Ongi Mali moved to the top of the goal scorers’ charts with the third. South Africa will know a draw against Ghana will confirm another title for Robin van Ginkel’s side.  

The South African men produced a less devastating display than they had in the previous games but secured a 4-0 win against a supremely fired up Kenya. It took South Africa 29 minutes to break the deadlock but when they did Austin Smith produced his most venomous flick of the tournament to score his 9th goal of the event. In the second half Smith added his second before a superb combination between Ryan Julius and Dayaan Cassiem allowed the latter to finish with a trademark scoop. The South Africans made it 4-0 with a late Keenan Horne strike but the Kenyans will be immensely proud of their performance. For the South Africans all eyes will be on the Egyptian game to decide title while Kenya will be looking to get their first win over Namibia.

All the action is broadcast live on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Results – 17 August 2019

(W) – Namibia 0-3 Ghana
(M) – Zimbabwe 2-2 Namibia
(M) – Ghana 1-3 Egypt
(W) – Kenya 0-3 South Africa
(M) – Kenya 0-4 South Africa

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Fixtures – 18 August 2019

(W) – 09:00 – Zimbabwe vs. Namibia
(M) – 11:00 – Zimbabwe vs. Ghana
(M) – 13:00 – Kenya vs. Namibia
(W) – 15:00 – Ghana vs. South Africa
(M) – 17:00 – Egypt vs. South Africa

 

Pictures Eunice Visagie

After three days of action South Africa and Egypt have surged ahead of the pack in the Men’s tournament at the African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 event, while SuperGroup South Africa are the only team with a 100%-win record after three days of action.

Zimbabwe had a remarkable day on day three as first their women and then their men completed a remarkable double against Kenya. The women produced a scintillating display of defensive hockey to quell the Kenyan attack and give themselves a chance of a medal. Roxanne Viviers broke the deadlock in the 44th minute before Nicola Watson made the game safe in the 51st minute. This group of players poised for the best performance since 1990.

The Zimbabwe men produced their finest African Hockey display in a come from behind victory. They first trailed to a Festus Onyango goal before levelling through Tatenda Kanyangarara before trailing to a goal from Arnold Marango. But facing defeat Zimbabwean captain Tendayi Maredza stirred a fightback with a superb double that sealed a remarkable victory for the Southern African nation.

Egypt continued their assault on the tournament with a very impressive performance in silencing the Namibian challenge. The North Africans opened the scoring early and never looked back throughout the match. Hosam Ghobran and Mohamed Adel made it 2-0 in the first quarter and by the time Dylan Finch scored for Namibia the Egyptians had added through Amr Elhady and Amr Ibrahim. The North Africans put extra shine on the result with a late brace from Ahmed Elnaggar.

SuperGroup South Africa made it two from two with a professional 5-0 win over Namibia. Namibia played a deep game looking to attack the hosts on the counter attack but were ultimately caught out by the superior finishing and class of the South Africans. Dirkie Chamberlain opened the scoring off a rebound, but the South Africans had to wait until the 39th minute for Tarryn Glasby to bundle over a goal. Nikki Veto then scored the goal of the day when she made it 3-0 before a Lilian du Plessis penalty corner made it 4-0. There was still time for Ongi Mali to get in on the action with the fifth and her second of the tournament. The 5-0 win moved South Africa to the top of the log as the only team with a 100% record.

South Africa were expecting a tough encounter against Ghana but managed to blow their opposition away with tournament top goalscorer Austin Smith netting himself another four goals. Tevin Kok scored a brace of superb deflections while Jethro Eustice also got himself a brace. Bili Ntuli also earned himself a goal with a superb team move that required a simple tap in. Ernest Opoku scored a late consolation for Ghana that was well appreciated by the crowed. The 9-1 score line took South Africa top of the log on goal difference.

Tomorrow the tournament has its second rest day before it reaches its climax over the weekend. The games are streamed live on the Shoott South Africa Facebook page.

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Results – 15 August 2019

(W) – Kenya 0-2 Zimbabwe
(M) – Kenya 2-3 Zimbabwe
(M) – Namibia 1-6 Egypt
(W) – Namibia 0-5 South Africa
(M) – Ghana 1-9 South Africa

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Fixtures – 17 August 2019

(W) – 09:00 – Namibia vs. Ghana
(M) – 11:00 – Zimbabwe vs. Namibia
(M) – 13:00 – Ghana vs. Egypt
(W) – 15:00 – Kenya vs. South Africa
(M) – 17:00 – Kenya vs. South Africa

Pictures - Eunice Visagie

SuperGroup South Africa opened their campaign in front of a vociferous crowd in Stellenbosch while both Egypt and the South African men kept up a 100% record in the men’s tournament.

As teams began changing gears on the African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 there was a pressure on teams looking to make a statement ahead of Wednesday’s rest day. If today could be likened to a road race, today was all about positioning yourself ahead of the tournament crescendo.

Ghana and Kenya opened the day in the women’s tournament with both teams buoyed by victories in their respective opening fixtures. They played out a thrilling draw to open the days proceedings. Kenya took a lead through an inventive penalty corner that was eventually turned home by Rhoda Kuira. Ghana levelled with a superb flick from Mavis Berko who put it well beyond the reach of Cynthia Onyango in the Kenyan goal. Despite both team’s best effort there was no further scoring.

Egypt made a statement of intent themselves with a superb 7-2 victory over Kenya. Mohamed Elganaini bagged himself another two to move clear at the top of the goal scorer charts. Mohamed Adel also bagged a brace, while Hossam Ghobran, Ahmed Gamal and Amr Ibrahim all bagged for Egypt. Constant Wakhura and Festus Onyango gave the Kenyan’s a moment to cheer in consolation.

Ghana also maintained a perfect start as they were pushed in a superb 3-1 win over Namibia. Salya Nsalbini was the star of the show with a hat-trick for Ghana all from the penalty corner. Namibia had trailed early before levelling through Pieter Jacobs. They had several opportunities but Nsalbini was ultimately the difference.

The SuperGroup South African women celebrated the debut of Thati Zulu as well as the 50th cap for national skipper Erin Hunter. They faced a determined Zimbabwean side who had a fire in their belly and did a great job in denying the South African’s big opportunities. When South Africa did beat Jorydn Clipstone, they found Michelle Williams on the line to deny them. SuperGroup South Africa did take the lead when Ongi Mali struck a brilliant reaction goal to set them on their way. They finally confirmed the game late on when a superb run from Tarryn Glasby before she unselfishly squared for Dirkie Chamberlain to net and confirm a 2-0 victory.

The South African Men produced a polished display 9-0 with Austin Smith netting another brace. Coach Garreth Ewing will be happy with the combination of goals from penalty corner and field goals. The goals also came from all around with 8 different goal scorers including Bili Ntuli, Clinton Panther, Dayaan Cassiem and an absolute thunderbolt Taine Paton strike. The result leaves South Africa and Egypt tied on 6 pts and a +11-goal difference at the top of the table.

Tomorrow will be a rest day as the teams regroup and then buckle down when the action returns on Thursday.

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Results – 13 August 2019

(W) – Ghana 1-1 Kenya
(M) – Egypt 7-2 Kenya
(M) – Namibia 1-3 Ghana
(W) – South Africa 2-0 Zimbabwe
(M) – South Africa 9-0 Zimbabwe

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Fixtures – 15 August 2019

(W) – 09:00 – Kenya vs. Zimbabwe
(M) – 11:00 – Kenya vs. Zimbabwe
(M) – 13:00 – Namibia vs. Egypt
(W) – 15:00 – Namibia vs. South Africa
(M) – 17:00 – Ghana vs. South Africa

Pictures Eunice Visagie

The opening day of the African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 got underway at University of Stellenbosch today with six African Hockey nations competing for the continents ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The South African Hockey Men got the tournament off to a good start with a 3-1 win over Namibia. The match was also the 150th cap for long-time goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and he was presented with a pennant to mark the achievement.

 

After a goalless first half the South Africans broke the deadlock through the mercurial Dayaan Cassiem. The Western Province local forced an error in defence by the Namibians before he surged into the D and finished expertly past the impressive DJ Strauss in goals for the Namibians.

Into the final quarter South Africa made the game safe as Austin Smith, another local in the South African team, earned himself a brace through penalty corners. The first was a low drag flick just over the backboard before the second was a rocket into the top right corner. There was time for a late consolation goal for Namibia that their performance deserved. Percy Barthram got onto the end of a penalty corner variation to finish the game 3-1.

Egypt had earlier laid down a marker with a 6-0 win over Zimbabwe. The star of the show was hat-trick king Ahmed Elganaini, while there was a brace from Amr Sayed and Amr Ibrahim completed the scoring to get the Northern Africans off to a fantastic start.

Ghana twice came from behind to deny Kenya and steal a big opening day win. The highlight being a last-minute winner that sent the Ghanaian fans into raptures. Constant Wakhura had opened the scoring for the Kenyans before Benjamin Kwofie levelled for Ghana. Festus Onganyo would have sent the fans into raptures giving Kenya a late lead before Ghana produced an outstanding fightback through Elikem Akaba and then skipper Salya Nsalbini to win a superb encounter.

The SuperGroup South African Hockey women had a bye on the opening day as the women’s tournament only has five nations competing and were able to get an early look at this opposition. In the opening game of the tournament it was the Ghanaian Women who landed the first strike. They were victorious 3-1 over Zimbabwe. Vivian Narkuor got herself a first quarter brace to give the West Africans an early 2-0 lead. Sophie McDonald gave the Zimbabweans a glimmer of hope with a 21st minute field goal before Roberta Sarfo made the game safe for Ghana.

A spirited performance from Namibia was not enough in the second game against Kenya with Grace Makokha scoring the only goal of the game to give the East Africans a winning start against their Southern African opponents.

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Results – 12 August 2019

(W) Ghana 3-1 Zimbabwe
(W) Namibia 0-1 Kenya
(M) Egypt 6-0 Zimbabwe
(M) Ghana 3-2 Kenya
(M) South Africa 3-1 Namibia

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Fixtures – 13 August 2019

(W) – 11:00 – Ghana vs. Kenya
(M) – 13:00 – Egypt vs. Kenya
(M) – 15:00 – Namibia vs. Ghana
(W) – 17:00 – South Africa vs. Zimbabwe
(M) – 19:00 – South Africa vs. Zimbabwe

 Pictures - Eunice Visagie

The waiting is over. The African countries have converged on Stellenbosch to contest the African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 Event. The tournament prize is ultimately the champions of African Hockey, but more pertinently it gives the winner the rights to one of the 12 spots in the hockey tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The fixtures, which were released a couple of months back, have had to be replaced as Nigeria and Uganda have withdrawn from the Men’s and Women’s competition. What it means for the tournaments is that the Women’s’ tournament will be contested between five nations, namely; Ghana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya and hosts South Africa. The men’s tournament will feature the same five sides with the addition of Egypt completing the six sides to fight for honour in the men’s tournament.

The one change in the tournament with the revised fixtures is that there is no final and the tournament will be decided over a round robin stage. 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw with the tie separator being goal difference first.

For Supergroup South Africa their opening game will be when they take on the Zimbabwean ladies at 17:00 on Tuesday, while for the South African Men their campaign will open against Namibia on Monday at 17:00.

For those in the Western Cape, get down to watch all the games at the University of Stellenbosch, while those that are unable to travel will be able to stream the games on Shoott South Africa’s Facebook page.

All the fixtures are in the images below.

The fixtures for the African Road to Tokyo Event in Stellenbosch from the 12-18 August have been released today. The tournament which will decide who Africa’s representative at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 will be, so there is more than enough carrot ahead of the horse.

The opening game of the entire tournament, which features both the men’s and women’s tournaments, will see the Ghanaian women take on the ever-improving Zimbabwean side. Ghana are the second highest ranked nation at the tournament and will look to at a minimum to match their silver medal in the previous event. The two teams are in Pool B along with Uganda and Namibia who are looking to build on their showing in Spain at the FIH Open Series Finals.

For South African fans watching International hockey in Stellenbosch for the first time in a very long time, their first taste of the home favourites and defending champions will be when Supergroup South Africa take on the Nigerian women at 18:00 on the opening night. They will not have to wait long for the second serving as the South African Men will be in action on the same night against Nigeria as well. Both teams will be looking to get one back for Bafana Bafana at the recent AFCON.

The Supergroup South African women will be joined in pool B by Nigeria and Kenya with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals on Saturday. The SA Hockey Men will be in Pool A alongside Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, while arch rivals Egypt headline Pool B along with Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Egypt will be heavily fancied to triumph in Pool B and know that this is their last realistic Olympic hope after their disappointing showing in FIH Hockey Series Final in France.

For coaches Garreth Ewing and Robin van Ginkel the tournament offers their first opportunities to lead their teams in competitive tournaments on home soil and will hope for the kind of support that was seen in 2017 at the FIH World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg.

With the African Hockey game continuing to grow its fantastic to see an improved entry take on and the opportunity to develop more countries into competitive hockey. Ultimately the goal of the tournament, however, is in the name. Its all about the Road to Tokyo and on the 18 August one Men’s and one Women’s side will have earned their right to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The South African Hockey Men’s side to take on the African Road to Tokyo Event in Stellenbosch from 12-18 August has today been announced. The South African men, who recently rose in the world rankings from 16th to 14th will be looking to build on the form shown in their fantastic FIH Hockey Series Finals in India and defend their title as African Champions.

South Africa’s main opponents in that regards will be the Egyptians, who are ranked 20th in the World, and recently completed an unlikely victory against Ireland at their own FIH Hockey Series Final. The fact that they slipped up after that will raise the pressure on the Egyptians as this will be their last qualifying route for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The South Africans will also be weary of the challenge of the Zimbabweans, the Namibians and the Ghanaians who have all shown growth in their games since the last African Cup.

Garreth Ewing has taken the opportunity to recall the highly experienced duo of Clinton Panther and Taine Paton, while Dayaan Cassiem has overcome the concussion that ruled him out in India. Other players returning to the squad are Andrew Hobson, Daniel Bell and Mo Mea.

“I’m happy to say that our selection process for the African Road to Tokyo Event was a difficult one. There were many more players available and this made for some healthy discussion between the selectors. I believe we have a balanced and experienced team for this Olympic qualifier and I know they will be very competitive in the tournament.” Shared Ewing.

Be sure to back the lads as they take their next big step on the Road to Tokyo. Broadcasting and coverage details will be shared closer to the event when finalized.

SA Hockey Men Squad – African Road to Tokyo Event – 12-18 August 2019

No

Player

Province

Caps

1

Tim Drummond (Captain)

KZN Raiders

140

2

Dan Bell

Southern Gauteng

46

3

Dayaan Cassiem

Western Province

26

4

Taylor Dart

Southern Gauteng

33

5

Tyson Dlungwana

Northern Blues

34

6

Jethro Eustice

KZN Raiders

111

7

Andrew Hobson

Western Province

6

8

Keenan Horne

Western Province

50

9

Ryan Julius

Western Province

33

10

Tevin Kok

Northern Blues

28

11

Nduduzo Lembethe

Northern Blues

16

12

Mohammed Mea

KZN Raiders

21

13

Siyavuya Nolutshungu (GK)

Eastern Province

12

14

Nqobile Ntuli

KZN Raiders

42

15

Clinton Panther

KZN Raiders

100

16

Taine Paton

KZN Raiders

110

17

Rassie Pieterse (GK)

Southern Gauteng

149

18

Austin Smith

Western Province

171

19

Nicholas Spooner

Southern Gauteng

14

20

Alex Stewart

Western Province

9

*Caps per FIH Tournament Management System at 08 May 2019, Province is most recently represented province.

 

 

Heading to Bhubaneswar for the FIH Hockey Series Finals in India, South African hockey fans would have been hopeful but not overly optimistic of a top 2 finish. The men were at the start of a new coaching process and had very little time together heading to India. That they started the tournament with two disheartening defeats properly added to the lack of optimism. But on the edge of elimination South Africa fought back.

A superb win against Mexico was followed up by a hard-fought victory against Russia before a superb last gasp come from behind victory against USA to secure a spot in the final. That victory secured South Africa’s spot in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers and more importantly gave South Africa momentum ahead of the African Cup in Stellenbosch in August.

Of course, South Africa still had to play the final against hosts India and faced a massive crowd in support of the home nation. India on their day are simply breath-taking and today was one of those days as the hosts outshone the African champions from the start of the game. They won two penalty corners in the first quarter and scored from both. The first in the second minute from Varun Kumar before Harmanpreet Singh followed suite in the 13th minute.

Singh added another with a fortuitous penalty stroke awarded in the 25th minute and at half time India led 3-0 having had 18 circle entries to South Africa’s 3. That score quickly moved to 4-0 with Vivek Prasad netting from a field goal after some good aerial skills from Hardik Singh and Varun Khumar made it 5-0 early in the fourth to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Kalinga Stadium. South Africa managed to get one back from a penalty corner with Richard Pautz the scorer but in truth it was just a consolation goal.

For coach Garreth Ewing and his assistants Sihle Ntuli and Cheslyn Gie it will be a case of job done. The performances of some players will be particularly pleasing with Rassie Pieterse having his best series in goal, while Austin Smith, Jethro Eustice and Tyson Dlungwana were particularly pleasing in defence. Nicholas Spooner and Bili Ntuli both continued to build their reputations as well. The focus will turn quickly onto the African Cup as Ewing will know that a lot of the hard work is still ahead.

For South African hockey fans, the focus now switches from India to Spain, from Bhubaneswar to Valencia and from Men’s Hockey to Women’s hockey as the SuperGroup South Africa ladies attempt to continue their Road to Tokyo with a top two finish in a tough field. The action gets underway on the 19 June.

FIH Hockey Series Finals – Final

India 5 (Kumar 2’ & 49’, Singh 11’ & 25’ & Prasad 35’)
South Africa 1 (Pautz 53’)

Photos - Hockey India

South Africa had overcome a slow start to find themselves in the FIH Hockey Series Finals final four. On a sweltering hot Bhubaneswar, the African champions took on the team that defeated them in the opening game USA. USA had finished top of the pool and skipped the Quarter-Final stage, while South Africa had secured their place in the semi-final with a thrilling 2-1 win over Russia.

The South Africans started the game the better side and created a few opportunities including three penalty corners. USA however managed to keep the South Africans at bay and with 5 seconds left on the clock won their first penalty corner of the match. When Aki Kaeppeler fired home the corner there would have been a few flashbacks from the South Africans after a similar pattern had developed in the opening game between the two.

But Garreth Ewing’s side have come a long way in the tournament and they proceeded to dominate the game and dictate the pace under very trying conditions due to the heat. Although dominating the possession the South Africans were not quite creating enough circle penetrations and headed into the half-time break 1-0 down with a few players guilty of snatching at chances presented.

But the break eventually came when South Africa won their fifth penalty corner of the match and Austin Smith stood tall and fired home. Smith is the highest capped player in the squad and his ability to handle the emotions at the time of pressure was telling in setting the game up for a grand stand finish.

As the African’s surged forward looking for a winning goal USA created the best chance of the game when Christian de Angelis missed the ball in front of an open goal and it struck his foot. It was the kind of chance that could have broken the resilience of the South Africans, but instead inspired them that they had to take advantage of that get out of jail card.

They did just that in the fourth quarter creating 10 circle entries to the USA’s 2, but with 1-minute left in the game it looked like we were headed to showdowns. Siya Nolutshungu was out stretching in preparation before an entire field move from back to front fell to Owen Mvimbi, his pass looked out of reach for Bili Ntuli, but the superb forward dived forward to reach the ball and fired a shot towards goal. Nicholas Spooner was the quickest to react and diverted the ball passed Klages in the USA goal with 34 seconds on the clock. That would be all, and South Africa had secured their place in the final, but more importantly in the next stage of the Olympic Qualification process.

Having headed to the tournament with hopes of a top 2 finish, the slow start may have quelled that ambition slightly. Well it would have if this was not a South African side. South Africans are at their best when their backs are against the wall and the quintessential characteristic of a South African sportsman is their ability to dig deep when few give them a chance. This team is full of South Africans and that’s the ultimate compliment I can pay to them.

FIH Hockey series Finals – Semi-Finals

South Africa 2 (Smith 42’ & Spooner 60’)
USA 1 (Kaeppeler 15’)

Final

South Africa vs. India – 15 June 2019 – 15:45 SA Time

Picture - Hockey India

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