It wasn’t six of the best but an incredible 16 of the best as the South Africa men’s hockey team got their Greenfields Africa Championships up and running at Randburg, Johannesburg on Friday night.
It was hapless northern neighbours Zimbabwe who were on the wrong end of a whopping 16-0 whipping after leading 9-0 at the break.
Jon Cook reports that accurate passing and high ball speed was the recipe and SA, captained by Tim Drummond (pictured above) delivered a quality performance.
Destroyer in chief was penalty corner ace Matt Guise-Brown who bagged five goals, with the rest going to Lloyd Norris Jones (3), Pierre de Voux (2), Brandon Panther (2), Natius Malgraff (2), Richard Pautz and Dan Sibbald.
The men in green and gold sniped down the left in the opening minute to earn a penalty corner and Guise-Brown fired low and hard, Zimbabwe keeper Tinavo Mushavi getting a stick to the ball but not preventing the goal (1-0).
A minute later SA launched at pace down the right and De Voux finished off in style (2-0). In the seventh minute they made it 3-0 through Pautz after captain Tim Drummond made the hard yards.
Mushavi made a great save from Pautz in the ninth– De Voux effecting the assist from Pautz after another accurate, high-energy SA move – and in the 10th a Guise-Brown PC crashed into the upright and stayed out.
In the 11th Miguel da Graca and Panther freed up space on the right and Norris-Jones smashed the ball first-time into the net (4-0). Two minutes later Malgraff’s powerful shot was well saved by Mushavi.
With SA overwhelmingly dominant in territory and possession, Zimbabwe were simply unable to hold onto the ball long enough to pose a serious threat.
A minute into the second chukka (16th) Guise-Brown made it 5-0 when he chose to fire his PC to the keeper’s left. SA’s high ball speed and precision passing won another PC in the 18th and Guise-Brown opted to go high for the first time, bulging the net in the top-right corner for his hat-trick.
Great work in the right channel from Dan Bell saw Pautz set up Norris-Jones whose reverse-stick shot blazed over the crossbar. It didn’t really matter as hardly a minute later Norris-Jones drilled a reverse-stick rocket into the backboard for 7-0.
In the 25th Panther made capital out of his foray down the left to win a PC and Guise-Brown nailed his fourth goal (8-0). Panther increased the lead to 9-0 in the 28th after fine interplay with Norris-Jones.
Within this goal avalanche Zimbabwe did well to break out with threatening snipes down either wing by Don Matupo and Tapiwa Mafi but Dylan Swanepoel and Bell snuffed out the threats.
Going into the second half with a 9-0 lead the challenge for SA lay in maintaining the accuracy of their play. For the gallant Zimbabweans the task ahead revolved around getting hold of the ball for long enough to make an impression.
But inside the first minute of the second half (31st minute of the match) De Voux smashed his shot into the backboard to take SA into double figures (10-0).
Mushavi made a couple of fine saves off SA corners before SA keeper Jacques le Roux was called on to impress at the other end from the Zimbabweans’ first serious goal-shot attempt. Towards the end of the third chukka SA countered at speed and Guise-Brown took the scoreline to 11-0 with his fifth PC strike.
In the fourth and final chukka the Zimbabweans might have made more of an excellent chance but it was SA’s Panther who nailed a beauty from an acute angle at the other end with a sublime piece of skill (12-0). A well-crafted team goal soon followed, Malgraff delivering the telling blow (13-0).
Shortly after, keeper Mushavi was adjudged to have fouled Pautz and a penalty stroke was the outcome but the brave Zimbabwean saved in superb fashion low to his right from Drummond. SA went to 14-0 with another Malgraff finish as the clock wound down.
In the closing minutes Norris-Jones put together a lovely display of skill to take the score to 15-0 before Dan Sibbald rounded off another quality build-up for the 16th and final goal of the match.
Men: Namibia 5 Botswana 0 Women: Zimbabwe 9 Tanzania 0; Kenya 2 Namibia 0.
12.15 Kenya vs Zimbabwe (women); 13.15 Ghana vs Namibia (women, pitch 2); 14.30 South Africa vs Nigeria (women); 15.30 Ghana vs Namibia (men, pitch 2); 16.45 South Africa vs Botswana (men).
– See more at: http://www.sascoc.co.za/2015/10/24/sa-mens-side-smash-16-in-first-africa-champs-match/#sthash.PdTBSyew.dpuf