South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia women all recorded wins on Thursday at the Greenfields African Hockey Championships being held in Randburg, Johannesburg in South Africa.
While South Africa, the highest ranked team at the event by some margin (FIH World Ranking: 11), would have expected to beat their 37th-ranked opponents, for Nigeria and Namibia, their winning results were against the world rankings and another indication of new nations breaking onto the international scene.
A tight opening match between Zimbabwe (World Ranking: 55) and Namibia (unranked) saw the Namibian team just edge the game by virtue of a 57th minute penalty corner strike from Marcia Venter.
Venter had put Namibia in the lead with her opening goal in the fourth minute, only to see that early advantage wiped out by a goal from Michelle Williams – also a penalty corner.
The result moves Namibia to fourth place in the pool, effectively leap-frogging Zimbabwe.
Nigeria, who are currently ranked 53 in the world, hit the goal-scoring jackpot as they rattled in 10 goals against Tanzania (World Ranking: 46).
Tanzania went behind after only ten minutes when Susan Bulus scored an opportunistic goal. Bulus’s opener was followed by Justina Onyedum’s first goal of the tournament - the skilful midfielder found the back of the net four times in total.
Also adding to the scoreline were Roseline Ovoh, Egw Bethel, Stella Nnanna and Alfa John. The last two goals – from John and Onyedum – were scored within seconds of each other in a blistering period of play from the lower ranked team.
The third game of the day saw South Africa continue their winning ways with an efficient 12-0 victory over Kenya (FIH World Ranking: 37). The goals included a hat trick apiece for Bernadette Coston, Candice Manuel and Lilian du Plessis. These latest goal scoring endeavours puts Du Plessis firmly at the top of the goal-scorer’s list with 11 goals to her credit.
Dirkie Chamberlan’s persistence and energy in midfield was rewarded with two goals and Celia Evans also got on the score-sheet with a penalty corner in the final minute of the game.
The results mean that South Africa sit at the top of the table, separated from second-placed Ghana by a superior goal difference. Kenya are in third, three points behind the leaders, with Namibia in fourth.
In the next round of matches, an upbeat Nigeria face Zimbabwe, the pool leaders South Africa will take on bottom-of-the-table Tanzania and there will be a fiercely competitive encounter between Ghana and Kenya.
Ghana will want to retain their unbeaten record, while Kenya will still fancy their chances of a second place finish in the group if either South Africa or Ghana slip up.
Keep track of all the action from both the men’s and women’s competitions on social media by using the #AHC2015 hashtag.
Zimbabwe 1, Namibia 2; Tanzania 0, Nigeria 10; South Africa 12, Kenya 0.