Hockey: Africa Road to Tokyo 2020 qualifier: Ghana meet South Africa in must-win clash

kwahuonlineradio August 15, 2019 0
Hockey: Africa Road to Tokyo 2020 qualifier: Ghana meet South Africa in must-win clash

Ghana’s male hockey team returns to action today after a day’s rest to
face a tough encounter against hosts South Africa as they chase a
qualification ticket for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Today’s clash at the hockey stadium of the Stellenbosch University in
South Africa pits two sides with a perfect run in the competition, but
for Ghana, it is a chance to claim maximum points and also end their
opponent’s dominance over them at major international competitions.

Must-win affair

After victories over Kenya and Namibia, the Ghanaian side are geared up
for their toughest test yet against a free-scoring South African side
who were on rampage with a 9-0 drubbing of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, August
13 having earlier beaten Namibia 3-1 a day before in their opening
fixture of the African 2020 Olympic Games qualifying competition.

The last time the two sides clashed at the 2017 Africa Nations Hockey
Cup in the Egyptian city of Ismailia, South Africa ran away with the
maximum points with a 3-2 victory and went ahead to win the continental
competition.

Incidentally, all the players who scored in that match -South Africa’s
Taine Paton and Ntuli Nqobile, Ghana’s Michael Baiden and Ernest Opoku –
are expected to feature in today’s must-win clash.

With just one slot up for grabs, today’s game is a win-or-bust affair
for either side, especially as group leaders Egypt are also in a good
position to qualify for next year’s summer Olympics.

Ghana coach confident

Ghana’s Head Coach, Ebenezer Frimpong, told Graphic Sports Online via
telephone from their Stellenbosch base that his players were confident
they would turn the tables against their highly-rated opponents no
matter the resistance they may pose.

Coach Frimpong’s side have been dealt a big blow going into today’s
clash after losing two key players through injuries, while two others
are also in a race to recover from knocks they sustained in the
competition.

“We lost one of our best players, Emmanuel Ankomah, through an ankle
injury during one of our training sessions in South Africa and another
quality player, Christopher Dobge also sustained a head injury and ruled
out of the tournament.

“Christopher was replaced by Sylvester Apronti, while Francis Tettey
replaced Emmanuel Ankomah, but in our opening match against Kenya,
Francis was carried off the pitch after he was hit by a stick, while
Michael Baiden was also carried off for thigh injury,” bemoaned the
Ghana coach.

“The team is well settled now and getting used to the bouncy turf, and
against South Africa, we will not only control our balls, but also carry
the game to them and manage each quarter as it comes.”

In the other matches, Kenya and Zimbabwe will be eyeing their first win
of the competition when they clash, with table-topping Egypt tipped to
put fourth-placed Namibia to the sword.



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