The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team opened their Africa Cup Olympic Games Qualifier tournament against Kenya at the Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo late Saturday afternoon and came away with a 9-0 win.
The Kenyans started well and Pauline Naise gave the favourites a fright early on, as the South Africans took a bit of time to settle down.
Kenya’s defence was nothing if not stubborn in the face of wave upon wave of SA attacking forays with debutants Nicole Kemp and Bernadette Coston prominent, but defenders got behind the ball to slow SA momentum down.
The ever-present Shelley Russell was scything through on the left and on-song debutant Catherine McNulty scored twice midway through the half.
Not long after captain Marsha Marescia in her 250th Test for SA, put the favourites 3-0 up after Kim Hubach had done the early damage. Then it was Sentraal, Bloemfontein schoolgirl Tanya Britz’s turn to get on the scoresheet with a neat deflection while Marescia demonstrated why she has twice made the World All Star team with a beautiful goal.
It was 6-0 one minute from half-time when Damons finished well and she added another two in the first quarter of the second half (8-0) before a stunning piece of stickwork from Cindy Botha made it 9-0 all of 12 minutes from the end.
South Africa were technically, tactically and physically too good for Kenya who tried throughout but simply couldn’t stay with the pace. SA keeper Hanli Hattingh had very little to do but worked hard in directing her composed defenders from the back.
The SA midfield swarmed all over their counterparts while the SA frontrunners ran with pace, skill and purpose.
Women: vs Ghana (Monday); vs Zimbabwe (Thursday; finals (Sunday).
Men: vs Zimbabwe (Sunday); vs Ghana (Monday); vs Egypt (Wednesday); vs Kenya (Friday); finals (Sunday).