Nqobile Ntuli (centre) celebrates with his Proteas teammates. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa claimed a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Ghana in their African Hockey Cup of Nations match in Egypt.

The match could easily have ended in a stalemate or even worse - a shock defeat to the West Africans.

The Ghanaians made it clear from the get go they were not to be taken lightly.

Ghana went a goal up against the powerhouses of African hockey just one minute into the match courtesy of Michael Baiden.

Scoring a brace of goals, Nqobile Ntuli got South Africa out of an early, tight spot.

Ntuli scored the equaliser halfway into the first chukka before handing the defending African champions the lead a minute later.

South Africa went onto the second quarter with a 2-1 lead, with the scores remaining unchanged after the first half. Ghana battled with their discipline but South Africa failed to capitalise on the penalty corners that came their way. 

The West Africans copped their first of two yellow cards in the 35th minute with Luke Damalie earning five minutes in the bin.

South Africa failed to take advantage of Damalie’s absence and were made to pay once the Ghanaians were back to full strength.

Ernest Opoku enforced the stalemate in the 44th minute leaving the South Africans in dire straits. Ghana’s celebrations were short lived with Taine Paton swinging the match back in South Africa’s favour two minutes later.

With a penalty corner going awry, Ghana’s problems were further compounded when Stephen Asamoah was shown a yellow card with three minutes left in the match. South Africa will go up against Egypt, who will pose the biggest threat to their pursuit of an eighth straight continental title.

The winners of the tournament will be guaranteed a place in next year’s World Cup in India.

The Star

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