The African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 games came to an end today with South Africa men and women claiming the gold medals and securing qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024! The women’s team were the first to win their gold medal, defeating Nigeria comprehensively by a 9-goal margin in the finals. The South African men’s team faced Egypt in the finals and came away with a narrow 2-1 win to secure their place in the Olympics.
Following South Africa’s victory in the men’s competition, second placed Egypt will now move on to the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024 where they will get a second opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
In the women’s competition, South Africa in Pool A and Kenya in Pool B comfortably won all their matches to seal their semi-final berths. Nigeria won their Pool A fixture against Zimbabwe to finish second behind South Africa, while Ghana recorded two wins against Namibia and Zambia to finish second behind Kenya in Pool B.
The semi-finals saw South Africa and Nigeria come out as victors. Nigeria narrowly edged past Kenya, holding on to a 1-goal lead from the 3rd minute of the game until the very end, to win 1-0 in the first semi-final. South Africa dominated the second semi-final, winning 7-0 against Ghana with six different players getting on the scoresheet!
South Africa saved their best performance of the tournament for the last, as they ran riot against a spirited Nigeria side, winning 9-0, with Tarryn Lombard grabbing a hattrick, and six other players scoring a goal apiece. With the win, South Africa sealed their spot in the Olympic Games Paris 2024!
In the men’s competition, South Africa and Egypt recorded three wins in three to top their respective pools and qualify for the semi-finals. In Pool A, Uganda, Nigeria and Zimbabwe each recorded one win and two losses to finish tied with 3 points, but Uganda joined South Africa in qualifying for the semi-finals, thanks to a superior goal difference. It was more straightforward in Pool B with Ghana winning their two matches outside of the loss to Egypt, to secure their semi-final spot.
South Africa and Egypt were the two highest ranked sides entering the tournament and both put in outstanding performances in the semi-finals, securing big wins to make it to the finals. Egypt registered a 9-1 win over Uganda in the first semi-final. South Africa made light work of Ghana in the second semi-final, winning 7-0 to set up a tantalising finals match-up against Egypt.
The finals got off to a flying start with South Africa opening the scoring in the first minute of the game, but it took Egypt less than two minutes to get back level. The cagey affair followed for the rest of the game as neither team came particularly close to breaking the tie until Ryan Julius finally got South Africa back ahead in the 51st minute. Egypt tried their best to find the equaliser late on, replacing their keeper with an additional outfield player, but South Africa held on to win and grab Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification.
A total of 12 teams, in each of the men’s and women’s categories, will compete in Hockey at the Olympic Games. Hosts France have gained direct qualification. Australia (men and women) were winners of the Oceania Cup, which sealed their qualification, while Netherlands (men and women) qualified as the European champions. India (men) and China (women) clinched their spots at the Olympics through their gold medal victories at the Asian Games. Argentina (men and women) sealed their spots at the Olympics as winners of the Pan American Games. With South Africa (men and women) qualifying to the games, we now have all 5 direct qualifiers for the games joining the hosts France in the men’s and women’s competition. The FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, which will be held in January 2024, provide a second opportunity for teams to qualify for the remaining 6 spots at the Olympic Games.
Please visit Olympics.Hockey for the latest news and all the information from FIH about the Paris 2024 hockey Olympic tournaments!