Good Africa Cup start for South Africa hockey teams

2009-07-13 00:00

THE South African men’s and women’s hockey teams both won their opening-round matches at the ninth Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Accra, Ghana over the weekend.

A full house saw the SA men thrash Ghana 8-0 after drag-flick specialist Justin Reid-Ross had scored a first-half hat-trick to give captain Austin Smith’s team a three-goal cushion at the changeover.

A second-half hat-trick from Durban’s Gareth Carr, another drag flicker of note in the SA team, plus a brace by striker Lloyd Norris-Jones saw head coach Gregg Clark’s line-up continue the great form that saw them beat world number 11-ranked country Canada 8-1 in the Four Nations final in Moscow a fortnight ago.

SA enjoyed a remarkable 100% success rate at penalty corners, slotting six from six, and minutes into the start of each half immediately put Ghana on the back foot with early goals.

With SA playing high-tempo hockey, striker Miguel da Graca combined well with Norris-Jones, his team-mate up front. “It was a good start to the tournament, but we still have some things to work on in order to play our purest hockey,” Norris-Jones told The Witness on Saturday night.

Head coach Jenny King’s Spar SA squad had a more frustrating encounter against the strong, robust Nigeria women’s national team, not playing their most effective hockey but eventually prevailing 3-0 after going 2-0 up at half-time.

Hard-hitting SA defender Cindy Brown opened the scoring inside the first couple of minutes from a penalty corner, and although captain Marsh Marescia’s back four stood firm, SA had to withstand some dangerous Nigerian counter-attacks.

Notwithstanding the midfield battling to be at their best, SA did create goalscoring opportunities at the other end, though the finishing touches were below par.

“The midfield didn’t show their best, as they held on to the ball straight into the contact areas and were dispossessed,” said Norris-Jones.

However, former Durbanite Loreen Irvine — now playing out of Potchefstroom — did score her first international goal with a powerful strike from top-left of the “D” to take SA into the break two goals to the good.

Still frustrating themselves with a lack of finishing, South Africa’s Kim Hubach made it 3-0 before full-time off a good PC slip-drag flick that netted halfway up on the post man’s side.

 

RESULTS

Men: SA (3) 8 (Justin Reid-Ross 3, Gareth Carr 3, Lloyd Norris-Jones 2) Ghana 0.

Egypt 2 Nigeria 1.

Women: Spar SA (2) 3 (Cindy Brown, Loreen Irvine, Kim Hubach) Nigeria 0.

Ghana 3 Egypt 0.

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