Day 1 of the women’s Greenfields African Hockey Championships 2015 saw wins for Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ghana as the race to secure a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games got under way in Johannesburg, South Africa on Friday.
The women's competition sees all of the competing teams play each other once in a round-robin tournament, with three points awarded for a win and one point for a draw. At the end of the round-robin, the nation with the most points will be crowned African continental champions and qualify their nation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe (FIH World Ranking: 55) got their campaign off to a flying start with a 9-0 win over Tanzania (World Ranking: 46), with 22-year-old attacker Roxanne Viviers netting a hat-trick as the 1980 Olympic gold medallists recorded an opening day victory.
Viviers opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Sarah Evans and Amy Brooke took the score to 3-0 at half time.
A Kelly Kaulback double, split strikes from Michelle Williams and Iman Johnson to put the game well out of Tanzania’s reach in the third quarter, with Viviers completing her hat-trick with two goals in the final five minutes to seal the win.
The second match of the day saw Kenya (World Ranking: 37) overcome a strong challenge from unranked Namibia, battling to a 2-0 win.
Lilian Aura was on target in the 20th minute, with Audrey Omaido doubling the advantage four minutes after half time to ensure that Kenya - bronze medallists at the 2013 African Hockey Championships and winners of last year’s Hockey World League Round 1 event in Nairobi in their homeland - claimed all three points.
31-ranked Ghana - who suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat at the hands of South Africa in the final of the 2013 African Hockey Championships - were also given a stern test by supposedly lesser opposition, with Nigeria (World Ranking: 53) producing a fine performance before eventually falling to 2-1 defeat.
Martha Safoa put Ghana ahead with an 18th minute penalty corner before her side were pegged back by Roseline Ovoh’s open play effort 15 minutes from full-time to level the score at 1-1. However, Janet Adampa netted a late penalty corner to ensure that Ghana started their campaign in winning fashion.
The round-robin phase of the women’s competition continues on Saturday 24 October, with Kenya facing Zimbabwe, Ghana playing Namibia and South Africa taking on Nigeria.
Keep track of all the action from both the men’s and women’s competitions on social media by using the #AHC2015 hashtag.
Tanzania 0, Zimbabwe 9; Kenya 2, Namibia 0; Ghana 2, Nigeria 1.
Photo: Hockey Association of Zimbabwe