South Africa retain AFCON titles

By elvince joshua
Nov 23, 2013
  • South Africa beat Ghana 3-2 in the finals of the AFCON hockey on Saturday.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

South Africa successfully defended both the men and women's Africa Cup of Nations hockey tournament titles after beating Egypt and Ghana in the finals respectively.

South Africa men beat Egypt 2-0 while their women counterparts came from behind to beat Ghana 3-2 in the finals played at the City Park Hockey stadium Saturday.

Ghana were leading 2-0 courtsey of Elizabeth Opuko's brace a performance that saw her finish as the tournament top scorer with 11 goals.

Britz Tanya scored the winning goal for Fabian Gregory's girls in the dying minute of the game to send South Africa back to the World Hockey stage to be held next year at the Hague, Netherlands Opuko gave Ghana the lead just three minutes into the game before rounding her double, 11 minutes later after a defensive lapse from South Africa.

After the break, South Africa pulled one back through Cecilia Evans in the 48th minute. South Africa continued to pile pressure on their opponent and their constant attacks almost paid off when David Illse's Penalty Corner shot directed to the top of the net was cleared by Nafi Satu.

Two minutes later, Satu turned from a heroine to a villain when she scored an own goal to help South Africa level the score. With a minute left, Consien-Freestate player, Tanya hit the bar after a defensive scramble in the Ghanaian back line , failing to clear goalkeeper, Grace Mensah's save.

"We fought really hard to on our way to the World Cup and that most the best moment. It means so much to qualify," said an elated Tanya after the match. "We wanted to win but unfortunately we lost to them but am greatfull to finish top scorer,. That is a great achievement," said Opuku,19.

Poor officiating

Dylan Swanepoel and Clinton Panthers scored South Africa's two goals to hand them the win that will see them represent Africa at the World Cup next year in Netherlands.

Egypt were twice reduced to nine men when a poor judgement from Ghanaian umpire, Adima Salami sent Mahmoud Mahmoud (52) and Hassan Mohamed (70)to the bin, a call which could have gone the other way.

Salima who's judgement also came to focus during Kenya's game against Ghana also denied Egypt two penalty strokes after the South African defenders brought down an Egyptian player in the D-Area. "Everyone in the stadium saw the fouls, only the two umpires didn't.

He denied us two clear penalty Strokes and I think Africa Hockey and International Hockey federation should do something about umpiring in Africa," said a fuming Egyptian coach, Aly Shorbay. Fabiam Gregory, South Africa head coach also pointed out fingers at the umpires even though most decision went his way.

"There were one or two incidences where they (Umpires) didn't make the correct calls ," admitted Fabian. International Hockey Federation President, Leandro Negre who graced the finals alongside Africa Hockey Federation president, Seif Ahmed absolved the umpires from blame.

"I didn't watch most of the but know one can get all the calls right. Let the umpires do their jobs, no one is perfect," argued the Spaniard. Austine Smith (SA) and Opoku from Ghana went home with the golden sticks after finishing the tournament top scorers with seven and 11 goals respectively.

The pair were also voted the tournament's best players. Kenya finished third ahead of Tanzania and Ghana in the women's and men's categories where they ranked behind Egypt and South Africa.