Pretoria, Oct. 3, GNA - The African hockey championship enters its third day on Tuesday but already, the boys have been separated from the men.
Clearly, the first two spots in the male division have been reserved for South Africa and Egypt, one of which will automatically for the Hockey World Cup in Germany next year and the other will engage in a play-off.
Egypt and host South Africa have both won their first two matches at the expense of Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia.
Ghana was the first to fall under the might of the North African giants with a 4-2 dubbing and they added Namibia to their foes, thrashing them 7-2 on the second day of the tournament. South Africa on the other hand whipped Nigeria 5-0 and hammered Ghana 4-0 to take charge of the summit on the log on six point just as Egypt but with superior goals. That makes the clash of the two giants on Tuesday very interesting with the South African coach Jenny King describing it as a "match of equals".
Egypt pulled a surprise over South Africa in the finals of the all Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria, two years ago but have since succumbed under the power South Africa twice at their own backyard in Alexandria in April this year.
The hosts will be hard pressed to shrug off the talent of the Egyptians team, whose temperament is often, sadly, their undoing. Both teams have drafted into the mainstream a number of under-21 players who competed in the World Youth Championship in Rotterdam this year, making it hard for any punter to bet on any of the teams. Of the 35 goals scored after just two days of the competition, which represents five per cent increase at the same stage in the last edition, South African male and females have banged in 18 goals between them while the men have conceded just two.
But while the two giants struggle for supremacy, Ghana is tying up some few loose knots to at least go home with silver and bronze in the female and male divisions respectively.
Apart from the South African ladies who remain a threat, the ladies are highly tipped to brush aside Namibia with ease on Tuesday to take silver. But that would also depend on the outcome of Nigeria/Namibian game on Thursday.
While in the ladies division, winning a medal is a forgone conclusion, the males would have to do some extra work to beat Nigeria whose game have improved greatly after the nation started using the artificial turf.
Ghana's difficulty has always been adjusting to the swift play on the artificial turf.
But the players, led by midfielder Ebenezer Frimpong, summed up the enthusiasm in camp - "Nigeria and Namibia are our classmates and since we are the best in the class they will be disciplined." 03 Oct. 05