The German women’s team clinched the SPAR Challenge Hockey Series courtesy of a convincing 5-0 win over South Africa in the final here on Saturday. This was the visitor’s third straight victory over the Proteas; they wrapped up the series 3-0 following 4-1 and 3-0 victories in the opening two tests.
By all rights the Europeans should have wilted in the heat measured at 38, 5 degrees Celsius but it was the visitors that turned up the heat on the hosts. Leading 1-0 at half-time through a magical goal set-up by multi-skilled and multi-capped Natascha Keller for Lydia Haase to open the scoring, the visitors never let up to score a further four.
The Germans showed why they are ranked third in the world through far superior skill and tactical nous compared to the local girls. Their counter attacks masterminded by the astute Keller were swift and performed with precision. Their first two goals after the break via penalty corners were a lesson in such and put South Africa out of the game in the 46th minute.
As the score line suggests the hosts came nowhere to scoring save a handful of penalty corners that came to naught. South Africa sorely needs a playmaker in the mould of Keller who can dictate midfield play and set up attacking ploys.
The Germans put the lid on the victory with further goals from open play via the sticks of Haase, for her second, and Lisa Hahn.
Head coach of the SPAR Proteas, Jenny King was far from satisfied with her team's performance. "I'm very disappointed. Individually we were poor. We couldn't put two passes together. It's not what you expect from international players."
King could not even blame the incessant heat. "I suppose we can blame it on fatigue. But the heat was the same for both sides. We even had the comfort of ice vests and Germany didn't.
"But I must give credit to Germany. They saw our weaknesses and exposed them to the fullest."
German coach Michi Behrmann was delighted with his charges performance. "I'm very proud of my players. They showed a lot of mental strength especially in this heat."
And Behrmann had only praise for his star player, Keller. "She is 32 or 33 now and she took a three month break before coming out here and she is really on fire. She is like a child, she loves to play.”
Source: BLD / South African Hockey Association