The SPAR South Africa indoor side was able to seal the first ever indoor hockey test series in Zimbabwe as they won both test matches played at Hellenic Academy in Harare today. The series, being played in conjunction with the launch of Pro Series Indoor in Zimbabwe, is a fantastic sign of the growth of indoor hockey in Africa.
In the morning test match the SPAR South Africa and Zimbabwe ladies played out a scrappy game with the amount of chances proving to be far less than in the opening test match. South Africa started Zimi Shange in goals, her first International start, and she was arguably the busier keeper in the early stages as the high press from Zimbabwe reaped benefits.
Zimbabwe’s inability to take chances at key moments was a big area they were looking to improve on, but they would probably be frustrated by the profligacy in front of goal. SPAR South Africa were building momentum in the game and were creating a lot of circle entries but will be frustrated that they did not test Jaime Haasbroek in the Zimbabwe goals enough.
The game was crying out for a moment of quality and that’s exactly what you can expect from national captain Cindy Hack. Creating a pocket of space Hack lined up to strike and as the defenders moved she sliced off a beautiful cross that Tegan Fourie finished her 13th International goal in her 11th match for SPAR South Africa.
Incredibly it was the only goal of a game that saw Jordyn Cripstone and Zimi Shange silence anything that was thrown their way. The win put SPAR South Africa on the verge of a series victory, which they would look to clinch in the evening game.
SPAR South Africa were in far more clinical mood in the evening game and played some spells of truly scintillating hockey. Zimbabwe to their credit were putting in significant effort to stay with their neighbours but when the South African ladies turn it on and it clicks there are few defences that would cope.
There was a great moment when South Africa scored their first as Edith Molikoe got onto the end of a superb team movement to score her first International goal. It was an absolute exquisite ball from Eloise Walters that left Molikoe with the opportunity. It was 2-0 a few minutes later when Cindy Hack set up Tegan Fourie and the youngster scored her 14th International goal, matching her shirt number! Hack was at it again when she combined wonderfully with Molikoe and unselfishly gave the ball to the youngster to finish into an empty net.
There was time for one more in the half as Jessica O’Connor got in on the action with a low drive that beat Jaime Haasbroek in the goal. That was the end of a very satisfactory first half for South Africa and coach Lennie Botha would be much happier with that performance.
After a static opening ten minutes of the second half, the game raised its intensity when Zimbabwe were given a penalty stroke. Greyvenstein was adjudged to have gone through the back of Nicolle Grant. Grant herself dispatched the stroke like Chris Gayle hitting a 6.
That woke SPAR South Africa up from their temporary slumber and they fired two quick goals. First it was Jess O’Connor with her own net bursting flick before Tegan Fourie got her second of the night to make it 6-1. Cheree Greyvenstein made a fantastic save with her helmet as Zimbabwe asked questions but each one was answered with the confidence of a matric doing Grade 6 maths.
There was time for one more Zimbabwe goal to the delight of their home crowd, but in truth SPAR South Africa managed the game well and were never in major trouble. South Africa have now won the series but will still offer two more entertaining test matches over the next two days!