SA side reign at hockey final

2012-10-23 00:00

THE Junior World Cup (JWC) Africa Qualifier Tournament that ended at Randburg Hockey Stadium on Saturday evening brought home the remarkable value that schools and tertiary institutions in the KZN capital and Midlands bring to the sport at national and international level.

Eight local South Africa U21 men’s players and two in the women’s team played key roles in the country winning qualification to next year’s JWC finals that will take place in India and Germany respectively, while a head coach, manager and physiotherapist were another three who contributed enormously to the cause.

The men’s players were Maritzburg College products Brad Logan (now Western Province), Andrew Manson (KZN Coastal), Rene de la Peyre, Grant Glutz and Matthew Guise-Brown (all Northern Blues) as well as Michaelhouse old boy and London 2012 olympian Clint Panther (Southern Gauteng) plus Maritzburg Varsity’s Robin Jones (the captain) and Damian Kimfley (both KZN Inland).

Vital players in the SA U21 women’s team’s gold medal success were St Anne’s old girl Taryn Mallet (now Western Province) and Carter High School’s star former goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande (Northern Blues).

In the epic final of the men’s competition, there was a defining moment of sublime skill that signalled the end for the combative Egyptians and captured the end result of the hours and hours of work that began for all these players on the school hockey turfs in the greater PMB region.

Despite Egypt hitting the post twice and SA once, the scores were still locked 1-1 following golden goal extra-time. It was penalty shootout time, where a striker on the 23-metre line in front of goal has eight seconds to beat the ’keeper in a one-on-one.

Centre forward Glutz ran at the Egyptian goalkeeper, who was lured towards him, then stopped dead and delicately flipped the ball over the keeper, ran around and knocked the white nut into the net.

Panther had kicked off South Africa’s shootout success in the most emphatic fashion before Kimfley’s quick hands added to the eventual 4-2 result from the set piece.

In the 85 minutes of field play earlier, defenders Logan, Guise-Brown and Jones successfully withstood a fierce assault on goal by the artful Egyptians, while attacking midfielder Panther had evaded several determined tacklers in scoring SA’s goal.

Manson, Glutz and Kimfley combined in adding value to an SA attack that on another day would have settled the outcome in normal time. Number two keeper De la Peyre did not get much action, but encapsulated the tight unit that was this team when he said: “As long as the first-choice is playing well, I don’t want game time.”

SA’s primary offensive weapon, penalty corner kingpin Guise-Brown was the tournament’s leading goalscorer with eight drag flicks of deadly ferocity and accuracy, while Glutz got six goals from field and set piece play.

Darryn Gallagher (ex-Maritzburg College) was the men’s head coach. That his team did not concede a single goal in field play until the final is just one indication of his coaching acumen, while the Beijing 2008 olympian’s prediction that “finals can become a game of chess with one goal defining it”, was spot-on.

Voortrekker director of sport Charmaine Koekemoer managed the women’s side with astonishing attention to detail.

The hardworking, ever-cheerful physio Garth Oliver (ex-Maritzburg College) gave up time at his PMB practice to attend to the players’ needs and completed the all-round contribution made by PMB schools and tertiaries in beginning the process of equipping sportspeople to aid the country’s hockey cause.

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