South Africa retained their African champs status for a remarkable seventh consecutive time after comfortably beating Ghana 4-0 at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, in the tournament finals held at Ismailia in Egypt on Sunday.
Whilst South Africa women had already qualified for next year’s Hockey Women’s World Cup in London via the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, their seventh consecutive African champs title goes much further in proving their merit.
The South Africans progressed undefeated throughout this event, with the women winning all their games.
The women’s final was a rematch of an earlier pool game against Ghana, which South Africa had won 3-0.
South Africa, who are currently ranked 13th in the FIH Hero World Rankings, played at their usual high tempo but it was not until the 19th minute that they broke down the resolute Ghana defence.
Illse Davids was able to make the most of a loose ball to put South Africa ahead. Lillian du Plessis hit the second South African goal from a penalty corner just before half-time to double her team’s lead.
After the break, Tarryn Glasby added two more well-taken goals from open play. Although she didn’t score in the final, Dirkie Chamberlain, who has returned from a long lay-off through injury, was the top scorer with eight goals.
The result meant that South Africa women have won this event every time since 1994, winning seven titles in total.
Ghana (World Ranking 32) took silver, with Nigeria (WR: 62) taking the bronze medal after they defeated Kenya (WR:42) on shoot-out after the match finished 3-3 in regulation time.
Goals from Beauty Irame and Eleho Ovo during the shoot-out meant Nigeria beat their higher ranked rivals.
- South Africa (Gold)
- Ghana (Silver)
- Nigeria (Bronze)
Photo 1 caption: Seven times African Champions South Africans celebrate an unbeaten path that lead to a comfortable 4-0 win over Ghana in the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the finals held at Ismailia in Egypt on Sunday. Photo: Celia Evans @3ceal on Twitter
Photo 2 caption: SA hockey icon Dirkie Chamberlain smiles the smile that only accompanies gold. Photo: Dirkie Chamberlain @dirkiewasha on Twitter
Photo 3 caption: After beating Ghana to retain the African champs title, SA have double-qualified for the 2018 World Cup after also gaining qualification via the Hockey World League Semi-Finals. Photo: Dirkie Chamberlain @dirkiewasha on Twitter
Photo 4 caption: What is the breakfast of champions? Photo: Dirkie Chamberlain @dirkiewasha on Twitter
Photo 5 caption: Though expected to perform well in Egypt, the South Africans raised their game in the tournament final to prolong their unbroken continental reign in emphatic fashion. Photo: Kristen ‘KP’ Paton @patonzz on Twitter
With editing by gsport