The African Cup for Nations ended with a very colorful closing ceremony at the Accra Hockey Stadium after both the men’s and women’s teams of South Africa had established their hockey supremacy on the continent.
In the men’s match, South Africa defeated Egypt 3-1 after taking a 1-0 half time lead to win their 5th consecutive championship, while their female counterparts defeated Ghana 5-1 (half time 2-0) to clinch their 4th consecutive championship.
The men’s final was worthy of a finals encounter. There was little difference between the two teams in the first few minutes of the game. Both sides produced an amazing display of attacking hockey with the goalkeepers called upon to make splendid saves. South Africa struck first with a penalty corner goal by Overall Player of the Tournament Gareth Carr in the 10th minute. The wounded Pharaohs went into attack and for the next few minutes put the seemingly invincible South Africans on the defensive. South Africa’s goalie was forced into making numerous saves. After surviving this onslaught, South Africa showed why they are Africa’s best when they turned the tide on the Egyptians and earned a series of penalty corners which their vaunted team uncharacteristically failed to utilize. The game continued to see-saw till the end of the half.
On resumption, Egypt went straight into attack in an attempt to get the equalizer. Their efforts were rewarded with a goal from open play in the 55th minute through Ahmed Ezz. This was the first goal conceded by South Africa in the tournament and the crowd showed their approval by giving the Egyptians a standing ovation. This seemed to have awoken the South Africans and they bombarded the Egyptian defense with droves of attacks. They scored their second goal through Thornton McDade in the 62nd minute from a penalty corner. From then on, the Egyptian team seemed to have lost their desire and South Africa capitalized on this and scored their third goal through Lloyd Norris Jones in the 68th minute from a sizzling connection during open play. It only seemed fitting that the best men’s team had won this well-organized tournament.
Not to be outdone, South Africa’s female team won the ladies version with a 5-1 trouncing of their Ghanaian hosts. Farah Fredericks (10th-FG), Vida Ryan (35th-FG), Shelly Russel (38th-FG, 41st-FG and 50th-FG) scored for South Africa, and Monica Sewell-Grant was the scorer of the only goal in the tournament against the African champions.
A very colorful ceremony rife with traditional pageantry brought this year’s tournament to a successful conclusion.
Deserving players and teams were given various awards with prestigious Fairplay Trophy names after the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills being won by the South African ladies team that picked up just one green and yellow cards each the entire tournament.