Namibia: World Cup, Here We Come!

NAMIBIA's women pulled off a sensational 2-0 victory against South Africa at the Africa Cup in Durban yesterday to once again qualify for the Indoor Hockey World Cup.

South Africa had beaten Namibia 2-1 and 4-0 in their earlier matches at the Africa Cup over the weekend, but Namibia kept their best for last as they convincingly won yesterday's final after goals by Caitlin Gillies and Sunelle Ludwig.

There were scenes of unbridled jubilation at the final whistle when captain Maggy Mengo and her team mates embraced each other and wept with joy.

It was the second time that they had beaten South Africa at the final hurdle after their previous success in Swakopmund in 2017 saw them qualifying for the 2018 Indoor World Cup in Berlin.

It was also a personal triumph for coach Erwin Handura who was under pressure to perform after their earlier defeats, but has now taken them to two successive world cups.

In yesterday's final, SA created some early chances, but Namibian keeper Petro Stoffberg brought off two fine saves from Celia Seerane.

Namibia weathered the early onslaught and took the lead at the end of the first quarter when they won a short corner and Caitlyn Gillies slammed the ball into the back of the net.

SA stepped up the pressure in the second quarter, but Stoffberg once again saved well from Kelly Reed, while Gillian Hermanus had a great match in Namibia's defence.

With the pace picking up with attacks and counter-attacks, Namibia went 2-0 up midway through the third quarter when Sunelle Ludwig slammed home a fine pass from Gillies.

SA went all out onto the attack in the final corner, winning a few more short corners, but they couldn't find a way past Stoffberg, who was in tremendous form, as Namibia held on for a fantastic victory.

The Namibian women's team is sponsored by MTC with Namdia and Standard Bank as co-sponsors.

Namibia's men's team, sponsored by MTC, failed to emulate their women as they went down 4-1 to South Africa in the men's final yesterday.

Namibia took the lead in the 12th minute through a great solo goal by Dakota Hansen, but South Africa equalised six minutes later when Mustaphaa Cassiem scored from a short corner.

The team's were still tied 1-1 at the half time break, but SA gradually pulled away in the second half.

Two goals in quick succession by Chad Futcher and Jethro Eustice put them 3-1 up, while Futcher added his second in the final quarter to complete a 4-1 victory for South Africa.

It was South Africa's third successive victory against Namibia at the Africa Cup after they earlier won their group matches 6-3 and 9-3.

Despite failing at the final hurdle, it was a fine performance by a young Namibian team that holds a lot of promise for the future.

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