Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ghana 2009 Hockey: debrief (1)

Egypt arrived without their influential captain, Amro Abdul-Fattah. He was left because he wanted to focus on club hockey in Italy. Egypt was the second best hockey team in Africa at the start of the event.

Last month, the rest of the world played the Junior World Cup in Malaysia. Egypt, as defending champions, represented Africa and 10 of their players came to Ghana.

Ghana, itself, was not there. Leaving us to wonder how the hosts could fare against hotshots like the North Africans.

No such fears for Ghana’s coach Renould Wolff. He told the Graphic Sports paper before the tournament started:

“It is time for Ghana to assume the leadership of the continent.

“What the boys need now is the belief that they can do it and the ability to concentrate throughout the game.”

Ghana was, before the tournament started, ranked third on the continent behind South Africa and Egypt and the West Africans have been in the shadows for a long time.

For 35 years, Ghana has not won the African Nations’ Cup. In 1974 Ghana conquered Africa and a year later played in the competition for the last time.

South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria joined Ghana to jostle for one spot each in the male and female categories in the Hockey World Cup next February.

Kenya pulled out at the last minute due to some financial issues and it makes the race to the top even tighter.

This tournament was the 9th in the series.