Abuja 2003: Kenya Deny Ghana Women's Hockey Bronze
Kenya put a spirited perofrmance to snatch the women's hockey bronze medal of the 8th All Africa Games from the grips of an inexperienced and internationally unexposed Ghanaian team on the last day of the hockey competition.
The Kenyans came into the game desperately seeking a result to justify the huge investment made in their preparations for the Games and to make amends for their initial 0-1 loss to the Ghanains in the group stages of competition. The Ghanaians started well but it was the Kenyans who showed more hunger for success with a near total committment on the part of each player. While the Kenyans exerted every muscle, the Ghanaians basked in the glory of the earlier defeat and knocked the ball around leisurely. The Kenyans fought for every ball and won the midfield battle. Against the run of play however, Abass Ramatu put Ghana ahead when she ghosted past the defence of Kenya in the 34th minute to plant the ball in the post for the first goal of the match.
The Kenyans resumed the second half stronger than they ended the first and took a series of runs at the Ghanaian defence. They however had to wait till the 52nd minute when Benedict Tiony rattled the Ghanaian backboard from a penalty corner to draw level. The goal awakened the Ghanaians, but the Kenyans had gone into an unstoppable mode. They dominated proceedings and managed to go ahead in the 58th minute when Rose Mbulo beat the Ghanaian defence and goalie Grace Mensah for what turned out to be the Bronze medal winning goal.
After the match, the Ghanains broke down and wept openly as they reflected on what could have been a lifetime achievement in sports for most of them. It was obvious they have been beaten by a combinantion of experience and international exposure and therefore the ability to perform on the big stage, qualities that the South Africans, Nigerians and Kenyans possessed that they did not. In all, it has been a good tournament and a learnnig experience for the coaches and players. The placings put into perspective what a nation can achieve if it invests in preparation of athletes for games. The GHA salutes the Men and Women who have made Ghana proud in hockey in particular and at the Games in general.
SOUTH AFRICA WOMEN SHOW CLASS
An impressive South African women's hockey team learnt a valuable lesson from the defeat of their men to Egypt in the men's competition and showed no mercy on host Nigeria who they pulverized 10-0 to clinch Gold. On a rainy day that was reminiscent of the group stages, push-off was delayed for some 30 minutes but the South Africans did not hide their hunger for Gold as they defied the downpour and engaged in pre-match warm-up sessions while the Nigerians hid under the shelter of the plush hockey stadium. It all showed when the match commenced with the South Africans in rhythm and the Nigerians struggling to settle.
The South Africans had to wait till the 10th minute before registering the first goal through Johke from a penalty corner. That was all the tonic needed as the South Africans scored 3 goals in rapid sucessions from penalty corners to the bemusement of the Nigerians. Coetzee (11th), Wilson (14th) and Webber (18th) did the South Africans the honours. Coetzee added one more in the 25th to end the half 5-0 in favour of the South Africans.
The second half was no different, the South Africans switched into cruise control, dominated the game and scored 4 times through Webber (43rd and 57th), Ntonloko (53rd) and Pholo (66th). Perhaps it was fitting that the star of the show and of the women's competiton, Piete Coetzee finished off the competition as she begun it for South Africa as she converted with an exclamation mark, the last penalty corner of the competition for South Africa's 10th, and to take her personal tally to 22.