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

The FIH Hockey Series Finals in Bhubaneswar hit the business end as the cross over Quarter finals took place on the hottest day of the tournament so far. South Africa had finished the group stage in third place and took on Russia in what form dictated would be a mouth-watering clash.

The tempo of the game was blistering as both teams gave 100% effort in creating a spectacle of hockey. The game flowed from side to side with each team having periods in the ascendancy and periods where they had to defend doggedly. Rassie Pieterse was in great form for South Africa and ahead of him Austin Smith, Jethro Eustice and Tim Drummond were showing the stability of experience is so integral in big matches.  

The game finally got its first goal in the third quarter when the man who knows where the goal is Nqobile Ntuli, continued to boost his reputation as a big goal getter. Bili responded to a half save from Gafarov at a penalty corner and finished coolly to the delight of the South African crowd watching on Supersport at home.

That lead was quickly pegged back at the start of the final quarter. Georgii Arussia fired home a penalty corner after Pieterse had superbly saved the previous one. This time the Russian striker made no mistake and put the ball into the net. A grandstand finish was set up as both teams would have the thought of a shootout in the back of their minds.

But it was South Africa that stood tall when it mattered most, and Richard Pautz took the opportunity to capitalize on the space he was afforded by the Russian defence to play through a perfect ball to Tevin Kok. Kok, who was a late injury replacement, showed a maturity that belied his age and squared to Ryan Julius who threw his stick at the ball and sent the South Africans into screams of joy that reverberated around the country much like 9 years and 1 day ago when Shaba scored.

The last four minutes offered South Africa a few chances to bury the game that weren’t taken, and fears were growing when Russia won a penalty corner in the last minute. They had struggled all game to beat Rassie Pieterse but at this corner they did only to be denied by a superb goal line save by captain Tim Drummond. South Africa had won the match and a space in the final four.

Nicholas Spooner: “We’re feeling pretty good. We didn’t play our best hockey tonight but we’re the winners at the end of the day against a good Russian side, so in these conditions we’re happy to get to the semi-finals. We didn’t have the best start against the USA in this tournament. It’s always hard from a South African point of view as we don’t have a lot of time together. We’ll be looking to put pressure on them and hopefully get a win there.”

South Africa know that a top 2 place finish will qualify them for the Olympic Qualifying Matches on the Road to Tokyo. To do that they will have to avenge the earlier defeat to USA in the semi-finals on Friday at 13:30 South African time. The whole country is behind the lads!

South Africa 2 (Ntuli 40’ & Julius 53’)
Russia 1 (Arusiia 47’)

Image - Hockey India

South Africa and Mexico took on each other for the first time in a winner takes all group stage game at the FIH Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar in India. Both teams knew that if they failed to win their tournament would be over but for placement games.

With the pressure cranked up to its highest level, South Africa took only 32 seconds to open the scoring, the quickest goal of the tournament. Matt de Sousa won South Africa a penalty corner and was on hand to deflect past Jose Hernandez. It was the only goal of an opening quarter in which South Africa exerted immense pressure but did not take enough of their chances.

The second quarter followed the same pattern and once again South Africa scored early as Nicholas Spooner benefitted from another penalty corner variation and deflected home. As the half time hooter sounded South Africa were feeling confident, however a two-goal lead is never enough in International Hockey.

Once again it was an early goal in the quarter that took the wind out of Mexico sails. Bili Ntuli, who was causing massive challenges for the Mexican defence, was on hand to finish after Hernandez saved from Richard Pautz.

South Africa finally bucked the trend in the final quarter when they scored as many goals in the quarter as in the previous three. Austin Smith netted from a penalty corner before Richard Pautz produced a sensational upright deflection for the goal of the game. There was still time for Keenan Horne to get on the scoresheet and South Africa to seal a 6-0 win.

South Africa will be pleased with getting a few goals on the scoresheet and how much more dangerous the penalty corners looked. Six different goal scorers will also please the management team.

The South Africans will now play Russia in the cross over Quarter Finals on Wednesday 12 June at 15:45. The winner of the game will play United States of America in the Semi-Finals on Friday 14 June.

South Africa 6 (de Sousa 1’, Spooner 17’, Ntuli 32’, Smith 50’, Pautz 53’ & Horne 58’)
Mexico 0

Pictures - Hockey India