African Road to Tokyo 2020: Winning starts for Ghana teams

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Hockey News of Tuesday, 13 August 2019


Ghana V Kenya Men Ghana’s men’s team staged a strong comeback to beat Kenya

Ghana’s male and female hockey teams made a bright start to their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games African qualifying campaign on Monday by winning their opening matches against Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively at the hockey stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The female team made light work of Zimbabwe with a 3-1 victory through a brace by Vivian Nakour in the 10th and 13th minutes of the first quarter and Roberta Sarfo’s strike in the seventh minute of the third quarter. However, Ghana’s male side needed a penalty stroke by the captain, Salya Nsalbini, in added-on time to earn a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Kenya earlier in the day.

It was a sweet victory for the Ghanaian men who twice came from behind in the 10th and 52nd minutes through Benjamin Kwofie’s short penalty stroke and Elikem Akaba’s field goal before Nsalbini’s goal two minutes into added-on time subdued a tough Kenyan side.

Kenya have always been tough opponents for Ghana at such tournaments and yesterday the east Africans gave their opponents a scare as they opened the scoring through Constant Wakhuru’s short corner goal in the sixth minute of the first quarter. It was an early goal which unsettled the Ghanaians who gradually worked themselves back into the game and earned the equaliser four minutes later when Kwofie beautifully finished off a short corner.

The two sides continued to attack each other in droves but the Kenyans restored the lead in the sixth minute of the last quarter when Festus Onyango connected a pass from a teammate to give his side a 2-1 advantage. The goal brought out the best from the Ghanaians who started making inroads into their opponents’ territory and snatched the equaliser through Akaba a minute later.

Ghana continued to probe for the match winner and needed inspiration from Nsalbini to snatch victory from the Kenyans late into the game to hand his side a winning start to the tournament.

In the second game in the men’s division, Egypt proved their superiority over Zimbabwe with a 6-0 with through a hat-trick by Ahmed El Ganaini, a brace by Amr Sayed and a goal by Amr Ibrahim to complete the rout.

Hosts South Africa proved too strong for neighbours Namibia with a 3-1 victory in the men’s division.

Earlier yesterday, the Ghanaian women made a strong statement of intent with 3-1 thumping of Zimbabwe as Vivian shot her team ahead 10 minutes into the first quarter, as she pounced on a loose ball, beat her markers on the run before connecting home beautifully.

She was on hand again three minutes later to give Ghana a 2-0 lead,. after which Zimbabwe started making inroads into Ghana’s half and succeeded in reducing the tally through Grace Makokha in the seventh minute of the second quarter.

In the sixth minute of the third quarter, Roberta scored to increase the tally and also ensured opening day victory for the Ghanaians.

The Ghanaian men will be in action on Tuesday as they take on Namibia in the second match of the day, while the female side play against Kenya for a chance to qualify for the final.

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