The Zimbabwe women’s field hockey team broke a 24-year jinx after reaching the semi-finals of the Hockey Africa Cup of Nations following a 1-1 draw against Southern African rivals Namibia in a Pool A encounter at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in Accra, Ghana yesterday.
Sixteen-year-old rising Zimbabwean hockey sensation Tinodiwashe Elijah, who is a member of the Harare-based Redz Hockey Academy, continued her good form in the tournament by scoring the opening goal in the 15th minute.
It was Elijah’s second goal in the continental competition after also opening the scoring in Zimbabwe’s 5-0 thrashing of Uganda on Tuesday.
While her debut international goal earlier this week set Zimbabwe on course for a dominant win, yesterday’s strike ensured Zimbabwe progressed to the last four of the competition despite Namibia equalising through Taramarie Myburgh nine minutes from time to set up a nervy finish.
The hard-fought 1-1 draw secured the Zimbabwean ladies passage to the semi-finals of the competition as the runners’ ups in Pool A.
It also ended Zimbabwe’s long-standing jinx of failing to go beyond the group stages of the prestigious tournament since winning a bronze medal in 1998.
Zimbabwe, whose only gold medal win in the tournament came back in 1990, will face off against the winners of Pool B on Friday for a spot in the final to be played on Sunday.
Heading into yesterday’s final round of pool matches South Africa had already secured the top spot in Pool A on six points, after comfortably beating Namibia (6-0) and Zimbabwe (3-0).
Namibia and Zimbabwe were level on three points each after both teams had previously beaten Uganda, with Namibia winning 3-0 and Zimbabwe 5-0.
This set up an explosive battle for the second semi-final spot behind South Africa.
In the end, it was the Patricia Davies-coached Zimbabweans who progressed to the next stage on goal difference.
The draw meant Zimbabwe maintained their good record against the Namibian side who they beat 3-2 in their last encounter at the 2019 Afcon in Stellenbosch, South Africa. — Staff Writer.