By Mark Etheridge
It may have not been the right colour but Team South Africa ended the 10th All Africa Games here the way they started it… with a medal and are the sporting champions of the continent.
Carlyn Fischer won the women’s triathlon event on Sunday 4 September to start the medal rush and on Saturday it was our soccer side that fought ever so bravely before going down to Ghana 4-2 on penalties in the final sporting event of the Games before Sunday’s closing ceremony.
South Africa were just four minutes from winning gold in the soccer final at the Estadio Nacional as Santos (PSL) player Riaan Eugene steered home what looked like the winner after Ghana keeper Daniel Agyei could only half-parry a strike away from goal.
The South Africans celebrated like crazy but just one minute into injury time, Ghana’s most dangerous player, Osumanu Otoo put paid to any festivities.
Wilson Mkhwanazi seemingly averted the Ghana threat but was adjudged to have fouled his opponent in the penalty area and referee Janny Sikazwe (who also reffed SA’s opening match against Mozambiqe) had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Otoo gave Brilliant Khuzwayo no chance.
On to penalties it was and it was all Ghana as first Vusumuzi Shongwe put his kick right of the post and then Eugene’s kick was saved by captain Agyei who moments earlier had coolly slotted home his own penalty past Khuzwayo.
Still, South Africa may have lost this battle on the field but they won the All Africa Games war where it counted ÔÇô on the medals table as they added three more medals on the final day.
Apart from the soccer team, our women’s combo of Chanel Simmonds and Natasha Fourouclas in the team competition against Madagascar. Fourouclas won 6-3 6-1 and Simmonds 6-0 6-1 to earn a joint bronze medal.
And then in the judo it was Siyabulela Mabulu who also earned silver in the 66kg category.
Final medal count as Team South Africa achieved their mission ÔÇô to regain their status as No1 sporting nation on the continent ÔÇô was 157 in total.
That was made up of 62 gold, 55 silver and 40 bronze. Details have been notoriously sketchy as to other nations’ tally here in Mozambique but with Nigeria (81 medals a day or so ago) there is no chance of South Africa being remotely challenged for the position of champions of Africa.