Egypt and Kenya have taken a huge stride forward on the Road to Rio by reaching the Semi-Final stage of the men’s Greenfields African Hockey Championships, the Olympic qualification competition currently taking place in Randburg, Johannesburg in South Africa.
On Wednesday, Egypt (FIH World Ranking: 20) sealed top spot in Pool B with an 8-0 win over unranked Nigeria, a team that despite the scoreline gave their opponents a tough game throughout.
Egyptian scoring ace Mahmoud Mamdouh netted a hat-trick of penalty corner goals as well as one penalty stroke, with Amr Ibrahim (2), Mohamed Edris and Mohamed Essam also making their mark on the scoreboard.
Mamdouh now has 14 goals in the tournament and currently sits top of the scorers chart. Egypt’s first place finish in Pool B means that they face the team that finishes second in Pool A in Saturday's Semi-Finals.
Earlier in the day, Kenya (World Ranking: 39) booked their Semi-Final ticket with a comfortable 7-0 victory over Tanzania (World Ranking: 73), with Leon Magomere and Brian Saina both scoring twice in the contest.
George Mutria opened the scoring with an 11th minute field goal before Magomere scored twice in the third quarter.
Four goals arrived in the fourth quarter, with Saina’s double coming in between strikes from Zakaria Msumba and Constant Wakhura to confirm a place in the Semi-Finals.
A second place finish in Pool B means that they now face the unenviable task of taking on the winners of Pool A.
Following the completion of Pool B, on Thursday the focus switches to the final games in Pool A. The first match truly is a ‘winner takes all’ encounter, with Ghana (World Ranking: 41) and Zimbabwe (World Ranking: 55) going into the game locked on points and knowing that victory would seal a place in the competition Semi-Finals.
Ghana currently sit second in the pool thanks to a massively superior goal difference, meaning that a draw would be enough for the Ghanaians to qualify ahead of the third placed Zimbabweans.
The final match of Pool A sees the already qualified South Africa taking on unranked Namibia, with the host nation needing just a point to guarantee a first place finish and avoid facing impressive Pool B winners Egypt in the next phase.
As well as being three points clear at the top of the pool, the South Africans have a massive advantage in terms of goal difference over both Ghana and Zimbabwe, so even a defeat is unlikely to cost them a first place finish at this stage.
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Pool B: Tanzania 0, Kenya 7. Egypt 8, Nigeria 0.