Head coach Fabian Gregory’s unbeaten Investec South Africa women’s hockey team beat Zimbabwe 7-0 after leading 2-0 at half-time in their final round-robin match at the Africa Cup Olympic Qualifier tournament in Bulawayo Thursday.
South Africa will play Kenya, who were in an exciting 1-1 draw with Ghana, in Sunday’s 3 pm final at Khumalo Hockey Stadium.
The Eastern Cape-born Sulette Damons, now playing out of North West Province, was in her 50th international while Northern Blues keeper Sanani Mangisa and KZN Coastal Raiders captain sat out this one.
In the opening five minutes, Damons, Western Province’s Tarryn Bright, provincial team-mate Jade Mayne, Kaspersky Southern Gauteng and SA captain Marsha Marescia and Northern Blues right half Nicolene Terblanche got shots in but St Anne’s Diocesan College, Pietermaritzburg schoolgirl Stephanie McDonald was on hand to make the saves, including a stunning stick save from a Damons penalty stroke.
But the goal had to come and Marescia deflected in beautifully from a Bright PC. South Africa were transferring the ball impressively and Bernadette Coston did all the right things in clearing the path for Damons’s goal and soon after Eastern Province captain Liesel Dorothy smashed a shot into the post.
An inspired McDonald was the difference between an 8-0 scoreline at half-time, while the other opportunities went past the post. Zimbabwe captain Nicky Taylor, a fine player who is playing with an injury in this tournament, worked hard for her gutsy but outclassed side.
South Africa’s low conversion rate at penalty corners is a concern, though.
Damons made it 3-0 early in the second half before Mayne deservedly got on the scoresheet as the South Africans were able to eliminate McDonald from the equation with shots from close and the keeper faced with insurmountable odds. Terblanche banged one past the unsighted keeper for 5-0 and Illse Davids, Damons (hat-trick) also got on the second-half-scoreboard while Zimbabwe came close to scoring on more than one occasion. An injured McDonald was warmly applauded when subbed 10 minutes from time.
Friday, head coach Gregg Clark’s South Africa men’s side face Kenya in their final round-robin clash in match that will determine who goes through to Sunday’s 5.30 pm final.