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05.10.2005 Sports News

Ghana face favourites S. Africa on Thursday

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(FROM: Daniel Kenu, GNA Special Correspondent in Pretoria, South Africa) Courtesy: Ministry of Education and Sports

Pretoria (SA), Oct. 5, GNA - South African deadly striker Henna Du Buisson scored a hat trick including a masterpiece drag-flick from a penalty corner as South African ladies recorded the highest goal in this year's African Hockey Cup of Nations, thrashing Nigeria ladies 13-0 in their penultimate group match in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. It was South Africa's 22nd goal in two matches after they had dismissed Namibia 9-0 in the first match.

The massive score-line sends strong signals to next opponents, Ghana of the grave danger that lies ahead of them. And after Tuesday's 13-0 whitewash of the Nigerians, watched by the Black Sticks Ladies, the Ghanaian players have conceded defeat to their hosts before the two sides meet on Wednesday.

They told the GNA Sports in unionism that their only ambition was to curb the ruthlessness of the South Africans to at least a single digit, adding that the days of double digits loses were over. This confidence crisis has given the Ghanaian technical men led by coach Winfred Sackey a lot of work to do.

The coach and his assistants are working on the psychology of the players to rekindle their confidence and make them believe that beating the South African ladies is possible.

Ghana has never beaten South Africa at any level and the possibility of ending that dominance looks a remote possibility. The Black Sticks Ladies have drawn all their two games with Nigeria and Namibia and must draw against S. Africa to qualify to play in the finals on Saturday; and even that will depend on the outcome of the Nigeria versus Namibia match.

Ghana is on two points, four less than S. Africa who occupy the summit, while Nigeria is at the heels of Ghana with just a point and Namibia are rooted to the bottom with nothing.

According to the rules of the tournament, the two top teams/countries would engage each other in a criss-cross to determine who qualifies for the Women's World Cup in Madrid, Spain while the two bottom countries vie for the third place.

Team Doctor Abgeko Ocloo is working very hard on wing-back Pamela Condoberry who was afflicted with malaria a couple of days ago, to recover quickly to beef-up the defensive network which pivot is Rejoice Noi.

In her absence however, skipper Grace Marmon-Halm is likely to be shifted from the middle to the back to curtail the surging runs of Du Buissoon, while Erica Amepe will keep an eye on Kate Hector, the other high flying striker of South Africa. A dressed-rehearsal is underway to frustrate the South Africans and to take them by surprise. If that feat materialises, it will certainly guarantee the Ladies a medal or they will play Namibia for the second time for the third place.

The South African have missed just two penalty corners out of 10, making the Ghanaians aware of how deadly they could be in the "D." In this regard, the Ghanaian defenders are being cautioned by their handlers to keep them at bay and avoid conceding short corners as much as possible.

Namibia plays Nigeria in the second game on Wednesday. Possible Line-up( Ghana):

Evelyn Ahiabor, Pamela Condoberry, Rejoice Noi, Erica Ametepe, Olivia Lartey, Mirabel Lamptey, Grace Marmon-Halm, Ramatu Abass, Beatrice Darko, Cecilia Ofoe, Greta Aryeetey.

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