South African Men’s Hockey team register second successive victory
Dragflick Newsdesk : With both South Africa and Kenya having already qualified from Pool A for the Semi-Finals following respective victories against Namibia. The two sides have played some classic matches over the years, none more than the 2-1 victory for South Africa at the 2015 Greenfields African Championships.
Both teams were keen to secure top spot and the favourable draw in the Semi-Finals. For South Africa the match marked goalkeepers 50th cap for the country.
Kenya started the game a little bit faster than the South Africans and won an early penalty corner. What would become a theme of the game on an inconsistent turf was the opportunity was lost. But it hardly mattered, and Kenya created another chance from the resultant play which Festus Onyango should have done better with.
South Africa then created arguably the finest opportunity of the opening interchanges when a ball fell to Keenan Horne. The opportunity looked like a replica of his opportunity against Germany at the Tokyo Olympics, but it was well saved by Shidogo in the Kenyan goal.
A brilliant defensive block denied Brad Sherwood his third international goal after a scintillating run by the South African co vice-captain Bili Ntuli. South Africa and Kenya were awarded a number of penalty corners, but the titanic chess match played out as a goalless first half, much like a match between two teams already qualified for the semi-finals.
The second half saw South Africa take the lead, which was probably deserved on the balance of play. Keenan Horne called for a quick ball from the sideline that caught the Kenyan defenders napping and a selfless ball to Bili Ntuli left the striker a simple job of tapping in.
Ntuli and Spooner, a combination that works well for Harvestehuder in Germany, worked again for the South Africans as Spooner fired in a pinpoint cross and Ntuli was on hand to steer it home to give the South Africans a 2-0 lead.
With the number of penalty corners being given away, it felt like one would eventually go in for one of the teams. And to the disappointment of the South Africans, it was the Kenyans who scored it. Captain Constance Wankgura fired it past Siya Nolutshungu to set up a grandstand finish.
But rather than ending in a storm the game petered out with errors more telling than moments of brilliance. As a result, South Africa will now watch the action tomorrow to find out who they take on in the Semi-Finals on Saturday, while a date with Egypt is looming for the Kenyan Men.
Tim Drummond, captain of South Africa.
“Its always a physical game against Kenya. They are fit and a good team. We pride ourselves on our defence we will look at the video afterwards and see the areas that we need to improve. We always want to score goals and we will see different things we can do in the Semi-Final on Saturday.’