Namibia’s men’s hockey team lost 3-1 to Ghana on Tuesday to virtually drop out of contention for top honours at the African Hockey Cup of Nations qualifying event in Stellenbosch.
After having also lost 3-1 to South Africa on Monday, Namibia are now bottom of the six-nation log with zero points from two matches and although they still have four matches to go, the chances of winning the tournament now are very remote.
Namibia once again gave a fighting performance, matching Ghana for most of the game, before conceding two late goals from short corners.
Ghana’s captain Salya Nsabini was their hero, scoring all three goals, while Namibian captain Ernest Jacobs scored Namibia’s goal.
Namibia created several chances, but could not capitalise, but Ghana had more chances and had it not been for some excellent saves by Namibian goalkeeper DJ Strauss, the score could have been much higher.
He already pulled off a few saves in the first chukka when Ghana did the early attacking and won two short corners.
By the second chukka, Namibia started attacking more with Cody van der Merwe and Dakota Hansen prominent and they won their first short corner, which was cleared by the Ghanaian defence.
Ghana immediately counter-attacked winning a short corner of their own and came very close to opening their account when Nsabini hit the post.
Ghana kept up the pressure, winning another short corner, and although Strauss saved the first shot, Nsabini was on hand to put the rebound into the net to put them 1-0 ahead three minutes before half time.
Namibia, however, equalised on the stroke of half time after a quick counter attack by Lenard Fick and Cody van der Merwe led to a short corner, and Jacobs scored from the rebound.
Ghana came close early in the second half when Johnny Botsio hit the post with a back stick shot, but Namibia also had their chances, with Brynn Cleak and Liam Hermanus prominent in build-up play.
In the final chukka, Dylan Finch narrowly missed connecting a cross into the box, while Strauss once again brought off a point blank save to deny another Botsio effort.
Ghana, however, finished stronger in the final chukka and Nsabinga completed his hat-trick with two short corner goals within three minutes as they eased to victory.
It was Ghana’s second victory at the tournament, after they beat Kenya 3-2 on Monday, after scoring the winning goal in the final minute of the match.
They are now on six points after two matches, but Egypt have been the form team in the early stages and now top the log with a better goal difference.
On Monday they beat Zimbabwe 6-0 and followed that up with another convincing 7-2 victory against Kenya yesterday to go to the top of the log.
They are followed by South Africa who won their opening match against Namibia, while Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya are all still on zero points.
Ghana and Kenya, meanwhile, took the early lead in the women’s competition after playing to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
Rhoda Kuira gave Kenya the lead after only seven minutes, but Mavis Berko equalised for Ghana on 21 minutes as they battled it out to a 1-1 stalemate.
Both teams, however, won their opening matches on Monday, with Kenya beating Namibia 1-0 and Ghana beating Zimbabwe 3-1, with the result that they are both top the log on four points each, while Namibia and Zimbabwe must still open their accounts.
South Africa’s men and women were still due to play Zimbabwe in the late matches on Tuesday.
Today is a rest day but the action continues at Stellenbosch on Thursday with Namibia’s men facing a tough encounter against Egypt at 13h00.