The South African Women’s Hockey team are African Champions for the 7th consecutive occassion. HEading to Ismailia in Egypt, our team had already qualified for the FIH Hockey World Cup, through finishing fifth at the FIH World League Semi-Finals, but were keen to emphasize their domination on the continent.
The team itself featured a few changes from the team that qualified for the World Cup back in July with the likes of Nicole Walraven, Shelley Jones, Lisa Deetlifs and Bernadette Costin all sitting out for various reasons. That didnt affect the start to the tournament too much as returning Olympian Dirkie Chamberlain and World League hero Candice Manuel both got braces in a 5-0 victory over Kenya.
That victory was followed up with another professional performance against Nigeria winning 5-0 on the back of a superb Sulette Damons hat-trick. South Africa would, however, take it up one more level when they took on the hosts Egypt and displayed a masterful display of attacking genius. Dirkie Chamberlain picked up four goals and Sylvia van Jaarsveldt scored her first ever international goal in a dominating 11-0 victory. Having secured a spot in the final against Ghana, the group stage game was always going to be a placid event. It was Celia Evans, Dirkie Chamberlain and Ilse Davids with the goals to complete a perfect group stage.
Watching on an Arabic stream was fairly tough and the quality was maybe not what we are used to for watching hockey, but there was no question of the quality of the South African display. Ilse Davids opened the scoring from a field goal with her second goal of the tournament against the same opposition. It took until late in the second chukka before South Africa made their dominance count with Lilian du Plessis finishing off a goalmouth scramble from a penalty corner.
The best was yet to come as on the stroke of half-time Tarryn Glasby produced a superb reverse stick shot that bulged the net. Glasby would get her second and the final goal of the game in the third chukka finishing off after great work from Quanita Bobbs and Sulette Damons. Incredibly the clean sheet meant that neither Phumelela Mbande or Nicole la Fleur had their goal breached once in the tournament! Dirkie Chamberlain, on her first tournament back from injury, secured the top goalscorer with 8 goals and would be a welcome return for Sheldon Rostron and the selectors.
The Job is done, the ranking points are secured and the focus can now switch to preparing for the FIH Hockey World Cup in 2018 (Along with the Commonwealth Games).