South African Hockey seal Olympic qualification in Stellies
STELLENBOSCH – The South African men’s hockey team has their Olympic qualification all but sealed after beating Egypt 3-2 at the African Championships in Stellenbosch yesterday.
It was double delight for the South African teams at the continental showpiece with the women topping the log to clinch the title after a runaway 6-0 win over Ghana on the same day.
According to the international hockey federation’s Olympic criteria, both teams have earned their places at the Tokyo 2020 Games by winning the continental tournament.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), however, do not allow continental qualification. Both teams missed the previous Games in Rio 2016 due to the same policy.
But the men’s team’s chances of making the South African team for the Tokyo Games has been given a shot in the arm after they finished second at the Hockey Series Finals in India which was part of the national federation’s suggested criteria. The women, in turn, missed out in the finals of their tournaments which was held in Valencia.
The South African men bowed out of the tournament as deserved champions. They on all five of their matches to retain the continental crown. The hosts and Egypt were unbeaten coming into the final game of the six-nation tournament.
The Proteas were in a class of their own conceding only four goals throughout their campaign. The home side managed to bounce back from an early setback with the Egyptians leading 1-0 going into the half-time break. Egypt’s Ahmed Alganaini landed the blow seconds before the recess with a field goal.
South African equalised at the start of the fourth quarter with Nicholas Spooner scoring his first of a hat-trick of goals. Spooner’s three goals all happened within a few minutes of each other, knocking the stuffing out of the Egyptians. Egypt scored a final goal at the death, which provided some consolation.
The South African women’s team enjoy a two-point lead over Ghana in second place going into yesterday’s decider. The Proteas steamrolled their way over their competitors winning the match 6-0 to clinch the title, They won all four of their games.