From 12-16 March 2023, the best young hockey teams, in both men’s and women’s category, from Africa competed in the Junior Africa Cup at Ismailia, Egypt for the title and two spots per gender, in the upcoming FIH Junior World Cups 2023. In the women’s competition, South Africa were crowned champions winning the finals against Zimbabwe, who also qualified for the FIH Junior Women’s World Cup Chile 2023. It was double delight for South Africa as they were the winners in the men’s competition as well, defeating hosts Egypt, with both teams securing qualification for the FIH Junior Hockey Men’s World Cup Malaysia 2023.
In the group stage of the women’s tournament South Africa were the dominant team, winning all three matches, scoring 19 goals and conceding none. In fact the South African team went through the entire tournament without conceding a single goal! Zimbabwe finished second in the group stage registering convincing wins over Kenya and Egypt, after recovering from an opening game 3-0 defeat to South Africa. The two teams faced off in the finals, and South Africa edged the hard fought match 1-0, thanks to a final quarter goal by Jesquinique Coltman. Zimbabwe’s second place finish assured them of a spot in the FIH Junior Women’s World Cup 2023, which is to be held in Santiago, Chile later this year.
Tinodiwanashe Elijah (ZIM), Tamlyn Kock (RSA), Kutlwano May (RSA) were the top scorers in the tournament, scoring 4 goals from 4 games.
Lenise Marais, coach of the victorious South African team, speaking on her team’s success said: “We are extremely pleased to have won the Junior Africa Cup and qualify for the Junior World Cup at the end of the year. The team has taken several key learnings away from the tournament last week and we trust these will help prepare us even more for the challenges coming ahead. As a team we would like to thank the AfHF, LOC and volunteers for a well organised event.”
In the group stage of the men’s tournament South Africa finished in the top spot winning all three matches, scoring 15 goals and conceding just 1. Egypt finished second, registering wins against Zimbabwe and Kenya on either side of a defeat to South Africa. The finals was an exciting affair as South Africa seemed to be in complete control heading into the final quarter with a 2-0 lead, but a remarkable comeback by Egypt, who struck twice in 3 minutes sent the match into a shoot-out. The teams were locked in at 3-3 after five attempts, but it was the South African team who held their nerves in the sudden death to prevail 4-3 in the shoot-outs. Egypt’s second place finish assured them of a spot in the FIH Junior Men’s World Cup 2023, which is to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia later this year.
James Flint (RSA) was the stand out scorer in the tournament, scoring 5 goals from penalty corners, including one in the finals.
Guy Elliott, coach of the South African team, speaking after his team’s title victory, said: “I am extremely proud of my team's performance. It has not been an easy process to get to Egypt, and for them to perform regardless of that, shows the strength and determination of the team. I feel that the team's spirit and identity reflects who South Africans are.”