South Africa’s run of winning form came to a grinding halt at the African Olympic Junior Hockey Qualifier in East London on Wednesday.
Until now the local boys and girls had got into a winning streak in the qualifying tournament for the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore later this year.
But on Wednesday the boys side went down 2-1 to Egypt for their first loss of the tournament.
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough the fact that Ghana thrashed Zimbabwe 11-0 means that if Ghana beat Egypt on Thursday, SA will be left with a mountain to climb against Kenya if they are to qualify for Saturday’s final.
The girls side avoided defeat but could only draw 1-1 with their Ghana counterparts.
In the boys game, it was the Egyptians who netted first with captain Mohamad Ragab firing home after Ahmed Nabil’s effort had been saved by SA keeper Hendrik Kroukamp. That was in the 15th minute and Kroukamp had already been in action to save superbly from tiny striker Reda Ahmed.
The visitors’ goalkeeper Wael Nour Elding also had some work to do after the host country went in search of an equaliser.
But there was no way through and in fact the Egyptians then got stronger as the half went on and went into the break a goal to the good.
After the break the South Africans came back stronger and eventually the pressure told as Ignatius Malgraff made the scores level from a short corner.
They continued to push for the win by Elding kept them out and, as is so often the case, the visitors stole the spoils when Ahmed produced an amazing solo effort to give Egypt the 2-1 win with just 90 seconds left on the clock.
Back to the girls competition and South Africa went a goal down after just four minutes.
The South Africans attacked in waves but every raid was covered by the Ghana defence who managed to stifle the efforts. The first half came and went with the score 1-0 to Ghana and the second half continued to see South Africa making most of the play but unable to finish the job.
Finally though it was the livewire Jacinta Jubb who equalised nine minutes into the half from a short corner.
On Thursday the local girls come up against Zimbabwe and will be hoping to get back on to the winning trail.