It was a double delight for South Africa at Randburg Hockey Stadium on Sunday when the men’s and women’s national teams clinched the Greenfields Africa Hockey Championship titles.
The men team edged out Egypt 4-2 in a dramatic final yesterday while the ladies overcame Ghana 3-0 in the morning.
After a goalless, yet pulsating, first half in the men’s final; the second half went down in the annals of the classic clashes between Africa men’s hockey’s arch-rivals.
Egypt went 2-1 up in the 47th minute when dangerous skipper Amr Elhady set up Ahmed Elnaggar’s goal.
With 38 seconds left, Norris-Jones delivered a classic dive-and-slide goal for the 4-2 final score, which sent the players and their fans in the packed stadium into an unbridled celebration that knew no limit.
The women had too many options for Ghana and turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-0 winning final score.
Ghana – a point behind SA on the log in the round-robin format that was played in the women’s event – had to win on Sunday in order wrest the title away from the girls in green and gold.
However, the Ghanaian ladies couldn’t get hold of the ball for long enough to pose a serious threat.
The day was special for the SA camp as this was the last appearance in green and gold colours for Western Province’s Taryn Bright and Illse Davids, who have announced their retirement after 285 and 157 test matches respectively – and both delivered handsomely in spite of the sweltering heat.
The occasion also signaled the retirement of Ghana’s captain, Georgina Sam.
The gripping men’s bronze medal match saw Kenya beat Ghana 4-3 while Kenya also won the bronze medal in the ladies round-robin section despite losing 3-1 to Nigeria on Sunday.
South Africa has won the last five editions of the tournament for both the male and the female category and has dropped two places to 15th in the latest FIH World Ranking in the male category and standing on the 11th position for the female category.