Randburg - It’s men’s semi-final time on Saturday afternoon in the Greenfields Africa Hockey Championships at Randburg Hockey Stadium - and two pulsating contests are in store.
While South Africa’s national men’s team enjoyed a rest day on Friday, the SA women played the late game and beat Tanzania 27-0 (8-0 half-time)
Tanzania goalkeeper Sophia Rajabu made a host of remarkable saves but SA’s dominance was such that a flood was inevitable. Capitalising on the extra space and time afforded to a markedly stronger opponent, some of South Africa’s build-up and goal-shots were breath-taking in their execution.
SA scored through Lilian du Plessis (6), Bernie Coston (3), Candice Manuel, Toni Marks (3), Tanya Britz, Dirkie Chamberlain (7), Jade Mayne (2), Shelley Russell (2), Tarryn Bright and Illse Davids.
The SA men, first in Pool A, face Pool B runners-up Kenya at 16:30 in Saturday’s second semi-final, while in the first semi-final at 14:00 it’s Pool B winners Egypt against Pool A runners-up Ghana.
Kenya have talented players, but the overall cohesion of the men in green and gold - and their high-octane brand of attacking hockey - is likely to prove too much to contain.
The hugely impressive Egypt line-up come up against a skilful, physical Ghana team and this could develop into a no-holds-barred battle with emotions at fever pitch.
It certainly has the potential to explode and the umpires will have to be on top of transgressions from the outset.
The respective winners earn a berth in Sunday’s final (16:30) and a shot at the continent’s premier prize.
The women’s competition is played on a round-robin format and does not feature a final. However, Sunday’s women’s match (11:30) between South Africa and Ghana is, in effect, a final.
A victory earns three log points. Ghana, on 13 points, must beat SA (15 points) in order to book a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
It’s that simple - and that difficult. Men and women, the stage is set for a dramatic weekend.
Other results - Men: Tanzania 3 (Deep Visran, Sultan Issa, Castro Mayuma) Botswana 1 (Edward Ngara) Botswana finish in ninth place. Women: Zimbabwe 2 (Jenna Palmer, Michelle Williams) Nigeria 1 (Roseline Ovoh); Ghana 3 (Elizabeth Opoku, Nafisatu Umaru, Theresa Mills) Kenya 3 (Teresa Nekesa-Juma, Tracy Karanja, Audrey Omaido)
FINAL MEN’S LOGS
Pool A (all played four): 1 South Africa 61 goal difference, 12 points; 2 Ghana 30GD, 9pts; 3 Zimbabwe 4GD, 6pts; 4 Namibia -14GD, 3pts; 5 Botswana -81GD, 0pts).
Pool B (all played three): 1 Egypt 33GD, 9pts; 2 Kenya 6GD, 6pts; 3 Nigeria -7GD, 3pts; 4 Tanzania -32GD, 0pts.
WOMEN’S ROUND-ROBIN LOG
Matches played in brackets
1 South Africa (5) +65goal difference, 15pts; 2 Ghana (5) 18GD, 13pts; 3 Kenya (5) -5GD, 10pts; 4 Zimbabwe (6) -3GD, 6pts; 5 Namibia (5) -5GD, 6pts; 6 Nigeria (5) -9GD, 3pts; 7 Tanzania (5) -63GD, 0pts.
(Stadium pitch unless stated)
Saturday - Men: semi-final 1 - Egypt v Ghana (14:00); semi-final 2 - South Africa v Kenya (16:30); 5th/6th place - Zimbabwe v Nigeria (19:00). Women: (rest day).
Sunday - Men: 3rd/4th place (14:00); 7th/8th place Namibia v Tanzania (14:30 pitch 2); Final (16h30). Women: Tanzania v Namibia (09:00); South Africa v Ghana (11:30); Kenya v Nigeria (12:00 pitch 2).