By Mark Etheridge
Ace striker Candice Manuel is on the mend and eager to get back into the fray after breaking her right hand during South Africa’s victorious Continental Cup campaign in Egypt.
South Africa’s women won the tournament in Ismailia by beating Ghana in the final on Sunday.
Manuel played no small part in that success, netting the side’s opening goal in their first match of the FIH World Cup qualifier against Kenya last week.
She went on to score another goal during the 5-0 victory.
But the next day she took a heavy blow to her hand during the 5-0 win against Nigeria and flew back to Cape Town, South Africa.
‘I saw the doctor on Thursday and was booked in immediately for an op,’ Manuel told the Team SA website. ‘It was a success and Dr Steve Carter is a hand specialist so I’m grateful about that and sure all will be well very soon. I have about a 4-6 week rehab process and hopefully will be returning to the field shortly.’
Manuel, 26, who has also plied her trade at the Feudenheimer Hockey Club in Germany, described how the injury happened. ‘I was leading to receive the ball and just as I did, one of the Nigerian players came in from behind and hit my hand with her stick. It’s my right hand, where the thumb joint goes into the wrist.’
Manuel has painful memories of that particular hand. ‘When I was 17 I broke the very same hand but on that occasion it was my index finger.’
‘Unfortunately it’s my dominant hand, so no writing for me for a while. ‘I won’t be able to use my hand for the next four to six weeks, but I’ll try and find a way to still do some strengthening after I saw the physio on Monday for my follow-up.’
Working in marketing consultant and business development line for vending company Kazang when she’s not on the astro-turf, she’s determined to make a positive contribution to her return. ‘There’s nothing wrong with my legs thankfully so I will be back in the gym this week doing cardio and leg strengthening where I can.
‘It’s important to maintain fitness and to follow rehab to ensure I get back on the field fit and stronger than ever. This is just a minor setback and I have all the belief and determination to ensure this is only a minor bump in the road for me.’
No doubt her teammates’ triumph in Egypt will go a long way to keep her spirits up in the race back to full fitness.