Namibia: Rude Awakening for Namibia

Namibia's men's team got a rude awakening when they lost 13-0 to South Africa in their opening match at the Afcon Hockey Championships in Accra on Monday evening.

After managing to limit the deficit to 4-0 at half time and 6-0 by the third quarter, Namibia were taken apart in the final quarter as South Africa added seven more goals to complete a one-sided romp.

South Africa dominated possession throughout and it was just a matter of time before the goals came.

Ignatius Malgraff opened their account with an acute shot, while Tim Drummond made it 2-0 when he put a rebound into the net.

Namibian keeper Robin Kambinda brought off a fine save from a SA short corner in the second quarter, but two field goals within two minutes by Richard Pautz and Nicholas Spooner put SA firmly in charge as they led 4-0 going into half time.

Namibia managed to restrict SA for most of the third quarter, as they only added two more goals by Matthew Guise-Brown and Taine Paton, but the floodgates opened in the final quarter as SA laid siege to Namibia's goals.

Pautz and Spooner both added their second goals, Guise-Brown scored two more to complete his hat-trick; Bradley Sherwood scored a brace; and Leneal Jackson one goal as they completed an emphatic victory.

For Namibia, Nicolai Hilbert and Josh van der Merwe put in some good runs in attack, while Matu Kavikairiua and Baggio Karigub worked hard in midfield and launched some promising counter-attacks, but they received little support and Namibia never troubled SA's defence.

It was South Africa's biggest victory against Namibia in recent years, beating an 11-0 victory in 2015, although the South African team was much more experienced, led by Jethro Eustice with 133 caps and Taine Paine with 120 caps, while Keenan Horne, Ignatius Malgraff, Nqobile Ntuli and Daniel Bell had all won more than 50 caps.

Namibia's experience paled in comparison, with Baggio Karigub and Percy Barthram their most capped players with 11 caps each, while nine players were making their international debuts.

After the match, Namibia coach Johan Weyhe said it was a tough task for his side.

"To play a team that's most probably a full Olympic team, as well as the defending champions, is not an easy task. South Africa had a brilliant game, they chased the ball, and moved it around and we eventually had to chase the ball and then the legs ran out, so it was a steep learning curve for my players," he said.

Despite the defeat, Namibia still have a chance of making the semi-finals, provided they beat Kenya in their second match, which was due to take place last night.

"I think Kenya is going to be a totally different match, so let's see how we will do - I think we can surprise Kenya," Weyhe said.

Namibian captain Tarry Butcher yesterday praised his players on a fine performance.

"We had a very tough game against South Africa, but the boys played really well and we stuck to our guns. They gave an excellent performance in the first three chukkas when we stuck to our game plan and the discipline was really good. Unfortunately the last chukka was a tough one for us, when our legs felt run-out a bit, but well done to SA for taking their game to the next level," he said.

Butcher said they were excited and looking forward to the Kenya match.

"We are playing Kenya next; that's going to be a really good match and the boys are very keen and looking forward to it. The atmosphere in the camp is one of excitement and I think it's going to be a really good result for us. If we beat Kenya we will go through to the semifinals, so all our concentration is on that game and I think it will be a good one," he said.

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