Namibia off to losing start

Inyemba Nangula in action against Zambia. Photo: SA Hockey Association

Namibia’s national women’s hockey team’s chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics took a blow when they lost their opening two matches at the African Olympic Games Outdoor Hockey Qualifier in Pretoria.

On Sunday they lost 2-1 to Ghana, and followed that up with a narrow 3-2 defeat to Zambia yesterday in a gripping encounter that could have gone either way.

In yesterday’s match, Zambia, ranked 75th in the world, started on the attack and  took an early lead when Martha Kalomo scored from a short corner. 

Namibia, ranked 61st in the world, started creating chances of their own with midfielder Jivanka Kruger at the heart of their attacks.

She created two great chances for Tara Myburgh and Charlize Rix who could not put them away and they were made to pay when Carol Nakombe put Zambia 2-0 ahead from a short corner in the third quarter. 

Namibia immediately struck back when Kruger found an unmarked Tisha Semedo, who’s acute shot just went over the line, and Kruger was once again the creator for Namibia’s equalising goal when she sent a long pass into the box, which Myburgh deflected to Adore Meyer, who put the ball away. 

There were more chances at both ends in the final quarter, but Zambia had the final say when Christine Kaluba scrambled a loose ball into the net with 10 minutes to go. 

On Sunday, Namibia took an early lead against Ghana, ranked 32nd in the world, when Rix stabbed home a cross by Myburgh into the box. 

Ghana struck back, winning some short corners, but Namibian keeper and captain Petro Stoffberg pulled off a fine save, while at the other end, Jivanka Kruger shot narrowly wide from a Namibian short corner. 

Ghana keeper Abigail Boye pulled off a diving save to deny Tisha Semedo, but Ghana finally equalised when they won a short corner and Mavis Berko fired a low shot home. 

Ghana picked up the tempo in the second quarter, launching some swift attacks, but Stoffberg twice came to Namibia’s rescue, pulling off a diving save to deny Elizabeth Opoku and then pulling off another diving save from a penalty when she deflected the ball with an outstretched leg. 

There were chances at both ends in the third quarter, with Myburgh and Vanessa Schoeman both coming close for Namibia, but Ghana scored the winner with a great backstick goal by Ernestina Coffie six minutes from time.

Namibia pushed hard in the closing stages, with a Jivanka Kruger shot cleared off the line, but Ghana held on for the 2-1 victory. 

South Africa, meanwhile, made an impressive start to the tournament with a 10-0 victory against Zimbabwe on Sunday. 

Quanita Bobbs scored a hattrick, while Ntsopa Mokoena and Tarryn Lombard scored two goals each; and Jean-Leigh du Toit, Bianca Wood and Marie Louw one goal each. 

In other matches, 

Kenya also got off to a winning start after beating Zambia 4-0 on Sunday, and Ghana 3-2 yesterday. 

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