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SA men’s hockey side are heading for World Cup

The South Africa men’s hockey team withstood a fierce Egypt challenge to win the Africa Cup of Nations title 2-0 in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday after leading 1-0 at half-time.

A stunning Julian Hykes action goal in the eighth minute was embellished by Clint Panther’s clincher two minutes from full-time during an emotion-charged gold medal match in which a berth in the 2014 World Cup finals event in The Netherlands was at stake.

SA should have made the game safe much earlier in the second half and their eight goal shots to two underlined a superiority against an Egyptian line-up that were nevertheless in the running right till the end.

Said SA coach Charlie Pereira: “The umpires missed some critical moments, Wade Paton got a stick to the chest from an Egyptian player, Jonty Robinson was taken out badly; those are red card moments that didn’t happen.

“African hockey has huge potential, I have been very impressed, but like us, it’s all about a lack of funding to build a sustainable international and domestic programme, but we are in the World Cup finals next year in May, and sponsors can’t now shy away, we have been talking to people but had to get this hurdle out of the way, now we can talk seriously.

And a happy captain Austin Smith: “I am elated that we have qualified for next year’s World Cup, a lot of people think it’s easy for us to win the Africa title but it is never the case in Africa, there are what we call so many thunderbolts and curve balls, the surface was incredibly difficult, very proud of the guys’ discipline, and today the direct physical challenge meant I am just grateful none of my players were seriously injured.

“Our management deserve congratulations too.”


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