Favourites draw in Zim | SASCOC - SASCOC

Favourites draw in Zim

South Africa drew their round-robin encounter with co-favourites Egypt 2-2 in the most intense of matches at the Africa Cup Olympic Games Qualifier tournament on the Khumalo Hockey Stadium pitch in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

SA began in controlled fashion, holding on to possession and spreading the ball wide. Lloyd Norris-Jones made the initial turnover deep in Egypt’s half and Miguel da Graca also had a hand before skipper Wade Paton set up Norris-Jones for the perfect deflection goal from close.

After going a goal down in the first eight minutes, Egypt kept their composure and continued to build patiently. A Houssam Ghabran pass to Amr Sayed forced the Egyptians’ first penalty corner but logging goalkeeper Brendon Botes was up for the shot at goal and SA kept their 1-0 lead.

With 15 to half-time Ezze Ahmed eliminated a number of defenders and delivered an effort that on another day might have earned him a goal but Botes was again on hand. Egypt were taking increasing control and Ahmed Gamal’s speculative lob shot was too close for comfort. Ghabran was a thorn in SA’s side and keeper Botes timed his run perfectly to block the striker’s effort with his pads.

SA were stealing away to get in a few close calls of their own ┬ábut the balance of play was Egypt’s as the teams went into a half-time to applause from the crowd for the intensely absorbing quality of hockey.

But after the break the Egyptians ignited the game through Mohamed Edris’ penalty corner and Ahmed Hakim’s field goal. Trailing 2-1, SA captain Paton was unfortunate to see his top-class shot flash over the crossbar, but Ezze was also close at the other end.

Then the teams were level 2-2 after a Justin Reid-Ross penalty corner flick bulged the net. And in the last five minutes Gareth Carr was just wide before Botes was on hand in the SA goal to save superbly ÔÇô and perhaps it was fitting the score ended 2-2, leaving Sunday’s final between these two a tantalising prospect.

The Investec South Africa women’s team meet Zimbabwe on┬á Thursday.