Matharu backs men’s hockey team as girls fall to SA

By: BRIAN YONGA

Kenya women’s dreams of qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games hockey were Thursday crashed after they were thrashed 12-0 by champions South Africa at the Randburg Stadium, Johannesburg.

South Africa’s forwards Lillian du Plessis, Candice Manuel and Bernadette Coston each scored thrice in the one-sided affair with Dirkie Chamberlian sounding the board twice as Celia Evans added a final goal.

The hosts raced to a 7-0 lead at the break in this 2015 Africa Cup of Nations cum 2016 Rio Olympics qualifier.

The defeat relegated Kenya to third place with nine points as South Africa moved to the top of the women’s standings with 12 points ahead of Ghana, who are also on 12 points but with an inferior goal difference. Only the winner will advance to Rio.

THRILLING SEMI-FINAL

At the same time, former Kenya international Inderjit ‘Coolly’ Matharu has backed the national men’s team to overcome South Africa in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Matharu, who was part of the Kenyan side that last featured at the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, has however warned that the team will need to be at their level best to beat the continental champions.

Kenya take on hosts South Africa in the first semi-final before Egypt tackle Ghana in the other semis for a place in Sunday’s final.

With only the winner assured of a place in next year’s Olympics, Matharu has challenged the current squad to rise to the occasion and take on the “big boys”.

“It is a semi-final, we have nothing to lose and this should therefore make us give our best if we want to win. South Africa are an excellent side but they are beatable. We just need to avoid any mistakes and stand up to them,” Matharu told Nation Sport.

Ruthless Kenya beat Tanzania 7-0 on Wednesday to sail into the last four finishing runners up in Pool “B” behind leaders Egypt. The north Africans edged out Kenya 4-1 in their second match and Matharu, who has 130 caps for Kenya, reckons South Africa play the same way as the Egyptians.

“Against Egypt we started well pressed them but we lost concentration and they punished us. South Africa play a fast game and we need to slow the game down and control the midfield,” he said.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION