Hockey: SA teams retain titles and qualify for 2012 London Olympic Games

2011-09-16 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s men’s and women’s national hockey teams retained their Africa Cup titles at the impressive Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo over the weekend and qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

According to the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the Africa Cup is the continent’s official Olympic qualifier event and winning it grants automatic entry to the four-yearly showpiece — the pinnacle of the game.

IOC rules state that each continent must be represented in the Olympics by at least one team in each of the women’s and men’s competitions, but the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has added further entry requirements in its bid to ensure SA have genuine medal contenders in London.

This applies to all team sports and not just hockey.

For hockey, Sascoc stipulated that the SA men must win the Africa Cup and reach the Champions Challenge final at Kaspersky Park in Randburg in November/December. The same applies to the Investec SA women’s side. They won Africa but ended a most unfortunate fifth at their Champions Challenge event in Dublin three months ago — a situation that arose after the FIH introduced an experimental format whereby all eight teams got another crack at the title no matter where they ended in the pool games.

SA won Pool A and beat eventual winners Japan 5-1 and led eventual finalists the U.S. 4-2 with 10 minutes left before allowing them back for a 5-5 draw. SA then lost on the most dubious of golden goals to Pool B wooden spoonists Spain in the quarter-finals.

This same experimental format will be used at the men’s event in Randburg just over two months from now. Although every supporter of the green-and-gold wouldn’t like it to come to that, this time it might be South Africa’s saviour in what is sure to be one of the most cut-throat top-level tournaments ever seen on SA soil.

Meanwhile, in KZN Super League action, the title-deciding match between reigning champions Maritzburg Varsity and arch-rivals Durban Varsity went the way of the Howard College campus to the tune of 4-3 after the coastal lads had led 2-0 at half-time.

In one of the most nail-biting, exciting matches in recent times, five field goals out of seven bears testimony to the entertainment value on offer in a spectacle that did justice to a rivalry that extends over decades.

The PMB campus side never recovered from the Howard College campus’s 3-0 lead with 33 minutes left, the Durban lads getting on the scoreboard through David Zwemke from a penalty corner, and two field goals, the last scored by Sihle Ntuli just after the change-over.

The PMB lads did well to draw level with three goals inside 11 minutes through SA U19 striker Damian Kimfley, a Carl Oftebro penalty corner drag flick and Mzamo Cele’s action goal, but on full-time Ntuli netted the title-deciding winner.

RESULTS

Africa Cup

Men: SA 18 Morocco 0; SA 10 Zimbabwe 0; SA 4 Ghana 0; SA 2 Egypt 2; SA 8 Kenya 3. SA 1 Egypt 0 (final).

Women: SA 9 Kenya 0; SA 4 Ghana 0; SA 7 Zimbabwe 0; SA 5 Kenya 0 (final).

KZN Super League

Men: Dbn Varsity 4 PMB Varsity 3; Rovers 3 Dbn Varsity II 1.

Women: Dbn Varsity 3 PMB Varsity 0; Rovers 8 Dbn Collegian II 0; Riverside 1 PMB Varsity 0; Rovers 2 Riverside 2; Dbn Varsity 3 Dbn Collegians I; Rovers II 1 PMB Varsity 1.

LOGS

KZN Super League

Men (played, goal difference, points): 1 Dbn Varsity P13, GD46, Pts 36; 2 PMB Varsity and Riverside P12, GD43, Pts 28; 4 Rovers P13, GD-15, Pts 17; 5 Pinetown P12 GD0, Pts 15; 6 Dbn Varsity II P12, GD-12, Pts 13; 7 PMB Collegians P 12, GD-45, Pts 7; 8 Riverside II P12, GD-50, Pts 0.

Women (played, goal difference, points): 1 Dbn Varsity P12, GD43, Pts 33; 2 Rovers P12, GD53, Pts 30; 3 Riverside P13, GD35, Pts 29; 4 Dbn Collegians P13, GD15, Pts 20; 5 PMB Varsity P13, GD-11, Pts 13; 6 PMB Collegians P14, GD-33, Pts 11; 7 Rovers II P14, GD-36, Pts 11; 8 Dbn Collegians II P13, GD-66, Pts 3.

FIXTURES

Today – Men: Dbn Varsity II vs PMB Varsity (7.30 pm); PMB Collegians vs Pinetown (AB Jackson 7.30 pm).

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